Mumbai Indians all-rounder Hardik Pandya became the first player in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) to take a knee in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
On Sunday, Pandya, who made a brilliant 21-ball 60, went down on a knee with his right arm raised after reaching his half-century off the penultimate ball of the innings against Rajasthan Royals. He signalled towards the Mumbai Indians dugout to which stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard responded with a raised right fist during the match which Rajasthan won at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
After the match, the all-rounder posted a picture of his gesture on his social media handles with the caption, “Black Lives Matter”.
Sportspersons have been coming out in open and speaking more about racism since the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police personnel in May earlier this year.
Cricket joined hands with the ‘BLM’ movement for the first time when both England and the West Indies teams, along with the match officials, took a knee earlier this summer during their three-match Test serce. Recently, Delhi Capitals pacer Kagiso Rabada stated that sportspersons should spread the message of racial equality.
“It is important for people not to feel inferior. Liberation of mind is the most important thing. I think this is the message you want to spread especially as a sportsman when you do have a platform to express this. Lot of people follow what you do, because that is the nature of sportsman — there’s nothing different if I compare myself with every other person who hasn’t played cricket — but I am on a stage where people can now listen to me,” Rabada had told reporters during an interaction.
West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder, who is playing for the SunRisers Hyderabad in the IPL, also said to the Cricket Writers Club that he had not seen any discussion about BLM in the IPL which he found “sad.”
“I personally was a bit disappointed to see how the Pakistan and Australia tours, that went on after ours, that they were not showing their solidarity afterwards. It’s a hard challenge and a long hard road. It’s not an overnight fix but the most important thing is we need to come together and see each other as equal human beings,” he said.
The Women’s Big Bash League, which started on Sunday, also saw a team take the knee where the Sydney Thunder decided to show the gesture throughout the tournament.