India and Pakistan share a rivalry like no other in international cricket. The two countries absolutely love cricket, and whenever they lock horns, it creates a unique aura, both inside and outside the stadium.
Whether it's the 2011 World Cup semi-final between the two teams attracting over 988 million viewers or the fact that the tickets for their 2015 World Cup match were sold out within 12 minutes, the Indo-Pak rivalry generates a lot of excitement amongst anxious fans as there is never a dull moment in the match.
But, over the years, the political stands of the two countries over cross-border tensions took a hit on their cricketing ties. The last time India and Pakistan locked horns in a bilateral series was back in 2012 for 3 ODIs and 2 T20s.
And since then, the two teams have only clashed with each other in ICC events. But, while they appear to be fierce competitors on the field, the players from both the sides share mutual respect and a cordial relationship off the field.
And Team India's recent goodwill gesture is a testimony to that.
The Indian cricket extended a hand of support to Pakistan's former captain and one of their most iconic cricketers - Shahid Afridi - after his retirement from international cricket.
The Indian squad signed the national jersey of their captain Virat Kohli and gifted it to Afridi after the Pakistani cricketer announced his retirement earlier this year.
Virat Kohli's shirt, signed by Indian team, for Shahid Afridi, with a message "always a pleasure playing against you." pic.twitter.com/KexlCjTNeZ— Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) April 15, 2017
The shirt carried a message in Kohli's handwriting which said, "To Shahid Bhai, best wishes, always a pleasure playing against you."
The image of the shirt was recently uploaded to Twitter by a Pakistani journalist who snapped a quick snap of the said shirt. The Kohli jersey carried signatures of the Indian captain, Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah, Suresh Raina, Pawan Negi, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, R Ashwin, Hardik Pandya, and then coach Ravi Shashtri.
The 'Boom Boom' cricketer announced his retirement from all formats in February this year.
He had previously retired from Test and ODI cricket but continued to lead the Pakistani T20I side until the 2016 World T20. After the tournament, Afridi stepped down as Pakistan's T20I captain.
His retirement at the age of 36 brought an end to a 21-year international career during which he played 27 Test, 398 ODIs and 98 T20I games.
@faizanlakhani good to see that players of both nations respect each other.— amir sohail (@amirsohail392) April 16, 2017 April 15, 2017 April 18, 2017 April 16, 2017
@faizanlakhani Heart warming gesture!— Salman Saeed (@salman_539) April 16, 2017
@faizanlakhani that is what its all about kohli he is not just good player he also khows how to respect greats like Boom boom or ABD— usama iqbal (@roman52613212) April 17, 2017