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.
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.
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.”
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. 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.
Reacting to the criticism, Yuvraj said he never intended to hurt anyone and his call for help has been “blown out of proportion.”
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“I really don’t understand how a message to help the most vulnerable gets blown out of proportion! All I tried to achieve via that message was that to help people in our respective countries by providing healthcare, my intention was not to hurt anyone’s feelings,” Yuvraj wrote on Twitter.
“I am an Indian and I will always bleed blue and will always stand for humanity. Jai hind,” he added.