A sports connoisseur couldn’t have asked for a better moment. As David Beckham stepped onto the ground with Sachin Tendulkar at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, Virat Kohli - who was busy with a game of football near one end - assisted the football icon.
With a smile on his face, Beckham showed glimpses of his brilliance with a right-footer, drawing huge cheers from a packed stadium. The toss for the World Cup semifinal was about half-an-hour away, but the Indian players - Prasidh Krishna, Mohammed Siraj, Suryakumar Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah - made it a point to rally around Beckham, who watched a World Cup game in a stadium for the first time.
While the former England international and Manchester United, Real Madrid star shared some light moments with Kohli, he also brought the World Cup trophy in the middle, along with Tendulkar as a UNICEF ambassador. Later, he also clicked pictures with former India cricketers Mohammed Kaif and Harbhajan Singh, and watched the semifinal from the MCA President’s Box along with other dignitaries.
Beckham has been on a three-day tour of India and visited different places in
Gujarat and to a university to meet young kids, and also visited a few villages to promote women’s projects before heading to Mumbai for the marquee game.
Riding the Kohli wave
A walk around Marine Drive on Wednesday was nothing less than walking through a sea of blue. Several fans, who did not have tickets for the semifinal, waited eagerly outside the Wankhede Stadium since early morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of the players. And around 12.20 pm, the team bus reached the venue amid huge cheers of ‘Virat, Virat’ and Kohli, too, made it a point to wave back at the waiting crowd.
Despite Rohit Sharma being a homeboy and the captain, Kohli’s jersey was in demand and the local vendors sold them at a steep price. “Normally, we sell Kohli jerseys for Rs 350, but it being a semifinal, the demands were high and the price shot up to Rs 700-800,” said Nirmal, a local vendor. “But we are happy because it’s good business for us…”
And, Kohli also made sure that his fans had an afternoon to remember as he brought up his 50th ODI century and guided India to breach the 300-run mark at ease.
Hardik in the house
An ankle injury ruled him out of the tournament a few weeks ago, but Hardik Pandya was back at the stadium to cheer for the Men in Blue. Donning India colours, the all-rounder watched the proceedings from the president’s box and rooted for Kohli as he reached his milestone.
One of the key members of the squad, Pandya injured his ankle during a clash against Bangladesh. Though there were hopes of him gaining fitness in time for the knockout stages, he was eventually ruled out. While Pandya cheered for his team, Bollywood actors - Ranbir Kapoor and John Abraham - could also be spotted.
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