Former India opener Gautam Gambhir explained his controversial gesture directed at the crowd during an Asia Cup 2023 match in Sri Lanka, saying he reacted to ‘anti-India chants’ from a set of Pakistani fans in the crowd. Gambhir said he is not someone who will keep quiet after hearing such comments and urged the cricket fans to keep politics away from sport.
Gautam Gambhir landed in controversy when a viral video of him showing the middle finger to the crowd in Pallekele during India’s Group A match of Asia Cup 2023 against Pakistan surfaced online. In the video, chants of “Kohli, Kohli” were heard when Gambhir was walking back to the broadcasting area from the ground in Pallekele.
However, Gambhir said not everything is shown on social media, alleging anti-India chants from Pakistan supporters in the crowd.
“Whatever is shown on social media, there is no truth to it. People show what they want to show on social media. What actually happened was there were anti-India slogans being chanted, I heard chants of ‘Hindustan Murdabad’. There were slogans about Kashmir also. So there will obviously be a reaction, one way or the other or laugh at it. There were a couple of Pakistani people… they were shouting anti-India stuff. Obviously, it was a natural reaction. I can’t hear things being said about my country,” Gambhir told the media on Monday, September 4.
Gambhir was back for commentary for India’s second Group B match against Nepal in Pallekele when he explained his stance on the issue.
“That’s why that reaction came out. If you talk bad about the country, what do expect me to do? Should I smile and go away or keep quiet? I am not that kind of a person.
“I just want to say this, when you have come to watch a match, support your team. There’s no need to give political reactions there. There is no need to bring up Kashmir there. There is no need to speak ill about India. You support your team, your country. There were Indian crowd also, they were supporting their team.
“I am telling this to both sets of fans, when you come to watch a match, support your teams. No need to talk about the country and Kashmir.
“Social media don’t capture everything,” he added.
Notably, India and Pakistan shared points after the Group A match in Pallekele on Saturday was washed out due to rain after India posted 266 on the board. Pakistan did not get an opportunity to chase due to the steady rain.
India and Pakistan cricketers flaunted their camaraderie by meeting and greeting each other in the lead-up to the Asia Cup contest while training on Friday. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Siraj were among the few who chatted with their Pakistani counterparts in Pallekele.