• Monday, June 24, 2024

CRICKET

‘Release Imran Khan’ banner flies over New York venue as India, Pakistan clash in WC

Displaying banners with political messages is not new at sporting events, particularly cricket, as similar incidents were seen during the 50-over cricket World Cup in England in 2019.

Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan (Photo by ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

WHILE cricketers from India and Pakistan locked horns in a high-voltage clash in the T20 World Cup 2024 in New York on Sunday (9), something unique happened in the sky above the ground.

A banner flew over the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium ground that urged for the release of Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan, who has remained in jail over the last 10 months for his involvement in a number of cases, some of which even resulted in conviction. Khan heads the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and was in power between 2018 and 2022 when he was ousted by a no-confidence voting.

In a video that went viral on social media, an aircraft was seen flying with the banner reading ‘Release Imran Khan’ trailing it above the ground after play was temporarily halted due to rain after India openers Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli played one over from Pakistan left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Read: Cricket World Cup in US & the south Asian diaspora

The match resumed later and in a thrilling contest, India went on to defeat Pakistan by just six runs despite getting all out for 119 in 19 overs.

This is not the first time that fans and supporters of the 71-year-old Khan, who led Pakistan to their maiden World Cup victory in 1992 in Australia, have unfurled banners during cricket matches. Recently, in Ireland where Pakistan went to play a T20 series, a fan of the former Pakistani prime minister was seen taking an autograph of Pakistan wicket-keeper-batter Muhammad Rizwan on a poster reading ‘Release Imran Khan’.

During the 2019 cricket World Cup (50 over) in England and Wales, a similar aircraft was seen flying above the ground in Edgbaston while England and Australia were playing with a banner saying ‘World must speak up for Balochistan’.

Read: Pakistan snatch defeat against India from jaws of victory

Messages related to Kashmir were also displayed during India’s match against Sri Lanka in Headingley at the same edition.

‘Justice for Kashmir’, and ‘India stop genocide & free Kashmir’ messages were also seen in banners and posters during India’s match against Sri Lanka in Headingley during that edition.

Earlier in June, the high court in Islamabad overturned the jail sentence of Khan in a case related to leaking of state secrets, Reuters reported, citing local media and his lawyer.

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