Pakistan has called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to act against the Indian cricket team for wearing military caps during its match against Australia, accusing the Indian side of “politicising” the sport.
Indian cricketers wore army camouflage-style caps during the home side’s loss on Friday to Australia in the third One-Day International (ODI) of their five-match series in the eastern Indian city of Ranchi.
The Indian cricket board, BCCI, had announced that the team would be sporting the headgear instead of their usual blue caps in solidarity with Indian paramilitary police killed in a suicide attack by a Pakistan-based rebel group in the disputed Kashmir region last month.
“The world saw that the Indian cricket team wore military caps instead of their own, did ICC not see this?” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked on Saturday.
“We think that it is the ICC’s responsibility to take notice of this without the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) bringing it up,” he was quoted as saying by local media.
#TeamIndia will be sporting camouflage caps today as mark of tribute to the loss of lives in Pulwama terror attack and the armed forces
And to encourage countrymen to donate to the National Defence Fund for taking care of the education of the dependents of the martyrs #JaiHind pic.twitter.com/fvFxHG20vi
— BCCI (@BCCI) March 8, 2019
The idea to sport the olive-and-black caps bearing the BCCI’s logo came from former Indian cricket captain and current player Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of the game’s biggest stars and an honorary lieutenant colonel with the Indian army.
“It’s a special cap,” Indian captain Virat Kohli said before the start of the game. “This is to pay respect to the martyrs … and their families.”
He said all the players would be donating their fees from the match to a national defence fund to help the families of defence personnel who die in the line of duty. Kohli also urged all Indians to contribute to the fund.
“No team in the history of modern cricket has worn military camouflage caps or symbols during an international match to make a statement,” wrote Indian journalist Binoo John.
Calls for isolation
Patriotic fervour has been running high in India amid tensions with neighbouring Pakistan after the suicide attack on February 14, which killed at least 40 paramilitary troops in Indian-administered Kashmir.
The bombing prompted India to launch an air raid inside Pakistan, which responded with an aerial attack the next day, setting off the current standoff between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Politics and differences over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which India and Pakistan rule in part but claim in full as their own, have already curtailed the two countries’ sporting ties.
“It’s just not Cricket”, I hope ICC ll take action for politicising Gentleman’s game … if Indian Cricket team ll not be stopped, Pak Cricket team should wear black bands to remind The World about Indian atrocities in Kashmir… I urge #PCB to lodge formal protest pic.twitter.com/GoCHM9aQqm
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) March 8, 2019
Condemning the Indian cricket team’s nationalistic gesture on the field, Pakistan’s information minister said he hoped the sport’s world governing body takes action against the “politicisation” of the “gentleman’s game”.
“If the Indian cricket team will not be stopped, Pakistan’s cricket team should wear black bands to remind the world about Indian atrocities in Kashmir,” Fawad Chaudhry wrote on Twitter, urging the PCB to a lodge formal protest.
Making overt political statements on the playing field is often subject to sanctions and penalties.
The BCCI has in recent days tried unsuccessfully to isolate Pakistan in the cricketing world.
The ICC rejected India’s calls to boycott games against Pakistan, whose prime minister is former cricketing hero, Imran Khan.
Pakistan and India are scheduled to play at the cricket World Cup in June in England, but there are growing calls within India to pull out of the match.