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MS Dhoni wins hearts with picture of Sarfaraz's son

Updated June 18, 2017

As expectations and emotions peak on both sides of the border ahead of the Champions Trophy final between Pakistan and India, a picture reportedly showing former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni carrying the son of Pakistani skipper Safaraz Ahmed in his arms has given fans a glimpse of a softer side of the Gentleman's Game.

Hours before the two cricket-crazy nations are going to face each other at the Oval in London, the picture, apparently taken in the lobby of a hotel, has gone viral on social media.

While heartwarming, this is not the only time an Indian cricketer has shown remarkable goodwill to a Pakistani counterpart. A couple of months ago, reports suggested that Indian skipper Virat Kohli had gifted his shirt to Pakistan's star cricketer Shahid Afridi on the latter's retirement.

However, the picture of Dhoni with Sarfaraz's son has symbolic significance as it appears at a time when media on both sides of the border has been ramping up the rhetoric against the other side in the lead-up to the match.

Hopes for a bilateral cricket tournament between the two countries have also all but collapsed as the Indian cricket board repeatedly excuses the team from playing against Pakistan without formal approval from New Delhi, where the political party in power sees it against its interests.

Expressing support for each others' cricket teams openly has also cost admirers jail time in some instances. In December last year, 21-year-old Indian youngster Ripon Chaudhry was arrested for wearing the Pakistan team's shirt while watching a local cricket tournament in India's Assam state.

Similarly, earlier last year, a Pakistani fan of Virat Kohli was booked and arrested for hoisting the Indian flag on the roof of his house as an expression of support and admiration for his idol.

This endearing picture in the prevailing environment has therefore drawn overwhelming praise from cricket fans all around the globe as a fine show of sportsmanship.