Mumbai Indians all-rounder Hardik Pandya on Sunday became the first Indian cricketer to take a knee in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
On Sunday, after completing his half-century against Rajasthan Royals, Pandya went down on a knee with his right arm raised after reaching his half-century. He was seen signalling towards the dugout where stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard responded with a raised right fist.
After the match, the all-rounder posted a picture of his gesture on his social media handles with the caption, “Black Lives Matter”.
After a black civilian was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, United States of America, in May this year, massive anti-racism protests under the banner of ‘Black Lives Matter’ are taking place in several parts of the globe.
George Floyd, aged 46, was choked to death by officer Derek Chauvin. He held Floyd down with a knee on his neck though he repeatedly pleaded, “I can’t breathe,” and “please, I can’t breathe”.
To condemn the brutal action of the officer, protesters have made bending knees as a symbol of the current anti-racism movement.
The action has been prevalent in sports as well. NFL player Colin Kapernick had knelt during the national anthem, before one of the games in 2016. His action triggered a movement and black players across many teams had resorted to kneeling during the national anthem to protest against the police brutality and racism.
The cricketers started participating in the movement for the first time during the test series between England and the West Indies. Both the teams started the three matches of the series after taking a knee.
West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder, who is playing for the SunRisers Hyderabad in the IPL, also said to the Cricket Writers Club that he had not seen any discussion about BLM in the IPL which he found “sad.”
“I personally was a bit disappointed to see how the Pakistan and Australia tours, that went on after ours, that they were not showing their solidarity afterwards. It’s a hard challenge and a long hard road. It’s not an overnight fix but the most important thing is we need to come together and see each other as equal human beings,” he said.
The Women’s Big Bash League, which started on Sunday, also saw a team take the knee where the Sydney Thunder decided to show the gesture throughout the tournament.