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Cricket eases tension in Australia

June 19, 2009 21:16 IST

Cricket eases tension in Australia

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After Steve Waugh, Brett Lee and Adam Gilchrist, it was the turn of Brad Hodge to express solidarity with Indian students following racist attacks.

Hodge on Friday took part in a street cricket match between Victoria Police and the students, aimed at fostering peace and harmony.

Australia have been reeling under racism with activists claiming there have been close to 70 such attacks on Indian students in Melbourne this year.

This has also strained relations between the two countries.

Image: Indian students and the police play cricket on the street
Photographs: Reuters
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We're always welcomed in India with open arms: Hodge

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Hodge, who turned out for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and had also toured the sub-continent with the Australia team, chose the occasion to show solidarity for the Indian students, about 95,000 of whom study Down Under.

"Whenever any Australian cricketers go to India, we're welcomed with open arms," said Hodge.

Representatives of the groups formed mixed teams to take part in the game.

"Today is about standing alongside Indians who've come to Australia and letting them know that we welcome them, and value highly their contribution to our country," he told reporters after the game.

Image: Representatives of the groups formed mixed teams to take part in the game
Photographs: Reuters
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'It's heartening to see cricket helping reinforce the bond'

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Amit Menghani, president of the Federation of Indian Students in Australia, welcomed the move.

"It is wonderful to see such a positive initiative from the cricket community and the Victorian Police," he said.

"Recent weeks have been extremely tough so it's most heartening to see cricket helping reinforce the need for mutual understanding and respect.

"There remains work to be done but even little events like these can go a long way," he said.


Image: An Indian student bowls during the match
Photographs: Reuters
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