LONDON: The ICC World Cup 2019 opening ceremony brought cricketers and celebrities from all the 10 participating nations together for a fun 60-second challenge of gully cricket.
After the challenge, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousufzai, who attended the event in front of Buckingham Palace in London, couldn’t help but take a dig at India.
While former Indian skipper Anil Kumble and Bollywood actor-director Farhan Akhtar represented India in the game, Malala had turned out for Pakistan in the challenge along with former cricketer Azhar Ali.
Things didn’t go according to plan for India as Kumble, who has been away from the game for a while and never been one to hit big, and Akhtar, who in his own words had “retired” in 2011, failed to put bat to the ball and scored just 19 runs, the least among all nations.
Host nation England, a favourite to lift the World Cup, came out on top here as well as Kevin Pieterson and Love Island’s Chris Hughes scored 74 runs, edging out Australia, who scored 69. Pakistan scored 38 runs, exactly double that of India.
After the game, when host Shibani Dandekar asked her about her team’s performance, took a dig at India. “Pakistan, we were okay, not too bad. We came seventh. But at least we were not last like India,” she said.
Although the comment was made in jest, not everyone took it in the right spirit, with some people on Twitter calling it a display of “hate towards India”.
This, despite Malala quickly adding that she hopes that the game unites people and is played in the right spirit.
Yousafzai, who has been an advocate of women’s cricket, stressed the importance of women taking up sports.
“Right now were are seeing more and more women taking part in sporting activities. In Pakistan, we have some amazing cricketers, including Sana Mir. These role models are inspiring women to believe in themselves that they are capable of anything. Women should engage more in sports and we all have to contribute to that and encourage women and girls,” Yousafzai said.
Following the 60-second challenge, the Cricket World Cup trophy was carried to the stage by 2015 World Cup-winning Australian captain Michael Clarke.