Indian cricketers Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh have unleashed a social media storm by backing former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi's foundation in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The two countries are bitter rivals and the move touched a raw nerve in India.
Afridi's appeal for donations to help people affected by the deadly virus in Pakistan has had overwhelming support from leading cricketers.
Harbhajan urged people to contribute in a video message, and called on other cricketers in the two countries to make similar appeals.
"These are testing times, it's time to look out for each other," Yuvraj wrote on Twitter in a call for funds.
Thank you for all you support-both yourself & my brother @harbhajan_singh are huge pillars of support; this bond we have shows love & peace transgresses borders when it comes to humanity especially. Best wishes to you with your noble endeavours with @YOUWECAN #DonateKaroNa https://t.co/IVhqywdl3q— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) March 31, 2020
While Afridi thanked the two, Indian Twitter users reacted with fury at the support for a rival player who has been a vocal critic of India's handling of the Kashmir dispute.
"Do you have any sense?" wrote one Twitter user. "Lost respect" for Harbhajan Singh, added another. "Sorry guys you lost it."
Coronavirus in Punjab:— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) March 31, 2020
- Till now, 41 cases & 4 deaths
- 1330 NRIs untraceable.
- 36 medical professionals, including doctors are quarantined.
And our cricketers Yuvraj Singh & Harbhajan Singh (both from Punjab) are asking Indians to donate for Pak's Shahid Afridi Foundation.
India and Pakistan have not played a bilateral cricket series since 2012-2013 and have seen a new peak in tensions over Kashmir, which has been at the centre of two wars between the neighbours since 1947.
The world is passing through extremely testing and unprecedented times.Let’s do our bit to help @SAfridiOfficial @SAFoundationN doing gr8 work plz join hands with them nd contribute what ever u can https://t.co/t9OvfEPp79 for covid19 @wasimakramlive @YUVSTRONG12 @shoaib100mph pic.twitter.com/sB2fxCAQqY— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) March 29, 2020
Kashmir has been divided between the two since their independence seven decades ago and India frequently accuses Pakistan of organising "terrorism" on its side of the border.
How can 1 Forget Shahid Afridi is the Same man who was poking his nose in India's Internal Issue on Art 370/35A— एकता 🇮🇳 (@Ekta0001) March 31, 2020
Today #harbhajan & #Yuvraj r asking people 2 help his Foundation & help Pakistanis
When our Nation also Needs Help U people are Supporting them #ShameOnYuviBhajji
World Cup-winning batsman Yuvraj, who made a return from cancer before finally retiring last year, has also raised money to fight coronavirus through his 'YouWeCan' foundation.
My favorite player were Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh but They aren't favorite player now.#ShameOnYuviBhajji— संदीप गुप्ता🇮🇳 (@Sandeep_Gupta21) March 31, 2020
India, which has been under a 21-day lockdown since March 24, has so far confirmed more than 1,600 coronavirus cases and 38 deaths.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Prakash Singh