Don’t stray out of your crease: Indian cricketers ram home lockdown message

Published March 26, 2020
Ashwin, Kohli and Sharma tell Indians to stay safe. — AFP/File
Ashwin, Kohli and Sharma tell Indians to stay safe. — AFP/File

NEW DELHI: Ravichandran Ashwin lightheartedly invoked his ‘mankad’ controversy with England’s Jos Buttler as India’s superstar cricketers urged the nation of 1.3 billion to observe its strict lockdown to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus.

The spin bowler tweeted a picture of his dismissal of Buttler exactly a year ago in the Indian Premier League, when he spotted the batsman out of his crease at the non-striker’s end and ran him out.

“Hahaha, somebody sent me this and told me it’s exactly been 1 year since this run out happened,” wrote Ashwin, who has changed his Twitter display name to “let’s stay indoors India”.

“As the nation goes into a lockdown, this is a good reminder to my citizens. Don’t wander out. Stay inside, stay safe! #21DayLockdown.”

The method of dismissal, named after former India player Vinoo Mankad, is legal but is seen by many as going against the game’s values, unless the batsman has been warned first.

India, which has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, went into a 21-day “total lockdown” at midnight on Tuesday, with anyone ignoring the order facing up to two years in jail and a fine.

This year’s IPL, the world’s richest cricket league, is one of the many sports events worldwide to be postponed including the Tokyo Olympics, which has been delayed until next year.

Ashwin wasn’t the only cricketer to urge people to stay at home, with India skipper Virat Kohli and his Bollywood actress wife Anushka Sharma also appealing to the public to observe the lockdown.

Kohli and Sharma have a combined 55 million followers on Twitter, and posted their joint message on the platform.

“These are testing times and we need to wake up to the seriousness of this situation,” Kohli said in the message recorded in Hindi. “Please let us all follow what’s been told to us and stand united please. It’s a plea to everyone. Stay at home and save your family from coronavirus,”

The couple said it will take time to combat the pandemic and people should adhere to the government’s call for a curfews.

“If you show carelessness, the whole nation will have to pay a heavy price,” Kohli said. “For 21 days India has to stay at home and save the Indian nation.”

Together, the couple say: “Show your unity, save lives and your country.”

Batting icon Sachin Tendulkar posted: “This simple task [staying indoors] can save millions of lives”.

Meanwhile India opener Shikhar Dhawan posted a skit of him doing household chores, such as washing his clothes and cleaning the toilet seat, while getting orders from his wife.

“Life after one week at home. Reality hits hard,” he wrote.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2020

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