Indian diplomats at UN turn star cricketers at rare match amid Cricket World Cup fervor

India’s diplomats, including women, at the UN turned into star cricketers as they joined forces with their counterparts from the Permanent Missions of Pakistan, Australia and Bangladesh and won a match against a team of British diplomats, as the excitement of the ongoing Cricket World Cup reached the world organisation’s headquarters in New York.

The UK Mission to the UN hosted a cricket match Friday evening in the sprawling North Lawn at the UN Headquarters, a rare occurrence that brought diplomats from the cricket-playing nations of the Commonwealth together for a “UK Vs Rest” match.

With England and Wales hosting the 2019 Cricket World Cup, the UK Mission sought to bring the excitement and fervor of cricket’s greatest tournament to the United Nations.

The UK Mission’s team played against a team that comprised diplomats from the Permanent Missions of India, Pakistan, Australia and Bangladesh.

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador K. Nagaraj Naidu, First Secretary/Legal Adviser in India’s Permanent Mission Yedla Umasankar, Counsellor Ashish Sinha and First Secretary Sandeep Kumar Bayyapu made up the team of Indian diplomats donning their cricketing gear and displaying their sporting talents during the match.

The teams also had three women players, bringing some amount of gender inclusion to the game.

The UK team, batting first, put up a score of 94 runs in the first one hour of the game.

The ‘Rest’ team, batting for the next one hour, put up a good fight and chased the runs, winning the match by a couple of wickets.

A day before the match, the UK Mission had tweeted a photo showing some of its diplomats practicing for the match, with the caption “We’re warming up for tomorrow’s #CricketWorldCup2019 clash against Australia, Pakistan & India on the UN North Lawn! Excited to play with our Commonwealth friends!

After the match, the UK Mission tweeted Laughs, teamwork and diplomacy through sport.

Naidu and Pakistan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Nabeel Munir went as opening batsmen for their team.

Naidu displayed his cricketing talent, hitting some good shots and scoring 16 runs, made up by two sixes and a four.

Umasankar took two wickets and scored 9 runs, while Sinha took a wicket and scored 10 runs that included a six.

Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the UN Masud Bin Momen scored the highest number of runs at 22, helping his team score a victory over the British diplomats.

“Great sportsmanship of all the cricket playing nations was on display. The cricketing finesse of South Asia was too overwhelming for the UK team. But at the end of the day, it’s cricket that was victorious, Naidu told PTI after the match.

The two-hour match had all the trappings of an exciting game, with some superb fours and sixes and great catches.

Several UN officials and diplomats, including Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Amrith Rohan Perera, UK’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Karen Pierce, along with some UN staff members showed up to watch the match and cheer for their colleagues.

As the winning shot was played, the ‘Rest’ team ran up to the middle of the lawn, cheering and applauding their win. A round of group photos and selfies followed as the players talked about the ongoing Cricket World Cup, the upcoming India-Pakistan match on June 16 and having more matches at the UN for the diplomatic corps.

The manicured lawns adjacent to the UN General Assembly building along the East River served as the cricket pitch for the match.

The North Lawn houses historic and iconic sculptures and artworks including three pieces from the Berlin Wall given to the UN by Germany in 2002, Antun Augustincic’s equestrian ‘Peace’ sculpture given by Yugoslavia in 1954 and the Good Defeats Evil’ sculpture depicting St. George slaying the dragon, presented by the Soviet Union in 1990.

At one point, one of the batsmen hit the ball for a six and as it made its way across the boundary, marked by orange safety cones, it just about missed hitting the pieces of the Berlin Wall, fortunately.