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Recently Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Australia along with some of the former cricketers Kapil Dev,VVS Laxman and Sunil Gavaskar, as part of his delegation team. Modi was trying to replicate Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s gesture, wherein on his visit to India earlier this year, cricketers Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee had accompanied him.
Sport transcends national borders and has the power in it to bring the people of the nations together. The power of sport cannot be underestimated in maintaining a good international relation. Time and time again, sport has been used as a tool to bring two countries closer — even those who are not going on well with each other. In the 1970s, ping-pong diplomacy was instrumental in warming the relations between the United States of America and China. Likewise, cricket has played a crucial part in maintaining and taking forward India- Pakistan relations. Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan had travelled to India during the Jaipur Test played in 1987. Parvez Musharraf also had visited Delhi in 2005 during a One-Day International (ODI). And of course the two then-Prime Ministers met during the ICC World Cup 2011 semi-final which was played at Mohali. Sport can invariably be a diplomatic theatre.
Recognising the fact that the two countries share a common passion for the game, it has to be said they have done well to use cricket in the backdrop of their political summits.
In September, Tony Abbott arrived in India with Brett Lee and Adam Gilchrist, two Australian cricketers who are very popular in India. On the first day of the visit in the country, they caught up with Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar at an important function in Mumbai. Later, The Australian Prime Minister flew to Delhi where the two Aussie cricketers met Modi. So It was now India’s turn to reciprocate. Former Indian greats Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and VVS Laxman flew to Australia recently with Modi. It was appropriate that the meeting was held at some place which is somehow related to cricket, both met at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Glenn McGrath, Steve Waugh, Dean Jones, Michael Kasprowicz and Allan Border also joined Tony Abbott in hosting Modi and his cricketers. The picture of them posing with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy (which is contested between India and Australia) and the World Cup Trophy is sure to be featured in the museums for future references by the people. The series will be starting on 4th December, and the match will be played in Brisbane.
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