Even as the diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan continue to remain volatile, the friendship between cricketers from the two neighboring countries stay unaffected. The spirit of sportsmanship was on display at the recently-concluded ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in England where the arch-rivals faced each other twice in a span of two weeks - first during the group stage and then in the mega final. While India won the bragging rights in the opening match, Pakistan took their revenge in the final by beating their much-fancied neighbour to win the tournament for the first time.
Winning and losing are part and parcel of the game but the logic fails to apply whenever India and Pakistan face off on the cricket field. Players are projected as warriors and often carry the huge burden of expectation on their shoulders before any India-Pakistan encounter.
However, despite the hype and projected animosity between the two teams, the players have time and again proved that cricket is just a sport and they are just players. Period.
They might be fierce rivals on the field but also share a relation of warmth off it. It was evident when India captain Virat Kohli hailed the Pakistan team after the final - a gesture which was appreciated across the world.
A day before the final, former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was photographed holding Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed's son. The picture was received with much love and garnered admiration throughout India and Pakistan.
In another proof of the love and mutual admiration shared between these two teams, a video shared by the ICC showed a few Indian and Pakistani cricketers enjoying a light moment just after the tense clash.
Adding to the bonhomie, a new picture has been shared by Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali, who played an instrumental role in paving the way for Pakistan's victory in the final. Azhar has posted a picture on his Twitter account, which shows his kids posing with Indian players Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and captain Kohli.
Azhar also thanked the Indian stars for taking out time to pose with his kids. He even showed his respect by calling them "legends".
These incidents just go on to prove that players from India and Pakistan share a close bond that is unaffected by the prevailing hostility in the relationship between the two South Asian neighbours.