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‘You truly are a special ambassador’: Modi sends R-Day greetings to Jonty Rhodes, Chris Gayle

Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanks the two international cricketers for developing a 'profound connection' with India and its culture.

Former cricketers Jonty Rhodes & Chris Gayle | Photos: Twitter

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent personalised Republic Day greetings to legendary former cricketers Jonty Rhodes of South Africa and Chris Gayle of the West Indies.

Rhodes took to Twitter Wednesday to share a letter from PM Modi on India’s 73rd Republic Day. “26th January this year is even more special because it is happening at a time when India marks 75 years since freedom from colonial rule. Thus, I decided to write to you and a few other friends of India, with a sense of gratitude for your affection towards India and a hope that you continue to work closely with our nation as well as our people,” the letter reads.

Acknowledging the fact that Rhodes named his daughter after India, PM Modi thanked the South African cricketer for developing a “profound connection” with the country and its culture, saying that, “This special bond was truly reflected when you named your daughter after this great nation. You truly are a special ambassador of the strong relations between our nations.”

Rhodes thanked Modi for the greetings and said, “I have indeed grown so much as an individual on every visit to India. My whole family celebrates Republic Day with all of India, honouring the importance of a Constitution that protects the rights of the Indian people #JaiHind”.

Modi wrote to Jamaican legend Gayle as well, and he expressed his gratitude for “reaffirming” his close personal ties with the PM and the people of India.

Gayle wrote, “I would like to congratulate India on their 73rd Republic Day. I woke up to a personal message from Prime Minister Modi @narendramodi reaffirming my close personal ties with him and to the people of India. Congratulations from the Universe Boss and nuff love”.

Legends of cricket

Jonty Rhodes, now 52 years old, was one of the young stars of South Africa when the country returned to international cricket in 1991 after a 21-year hiatus due to the apartheid regime. But unlike traditional cricketing heroes whose primary skill was batting or bowling, Rhodes made his name as an electrifying fielder and catcher, who also scored three centuries in Test cricket and two in ODIs. After his retirement, he was the fielding coach for the Indian Premier League’s Mumbai Indians franchise for nine years, starting in 2009, and then for the Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) in the 13th edition of the league in 2020.

Gayle, the explosive opening batsman from Jamaica, made his ODI debut against India way back in 1999, but his ties with the country grew with the advent of the IPL. After a lacklustre first few years, he really hit his stride and became synonymous with the Royal Challengers Bangalore side. In 2013, he blasted the fastest hundred in the T20 format off just 30 balls en route to a memorable 175 off 66 balls at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium against Pune Warriors India.

Since leaving RCB, he has appeared for the Kings XI Punjab.

He made his last Test appearance for the West Indies in 2014, his last ODI appearance against India in 2019, and his last T20 International appearance at last year’s T20 World Cup, and is currently playing in the Bangladesh Premier League at the age of 42.

(Edited by Neha Mahajan)

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