The first semi-final game of T20 World Cup 2021 between England and New Zealand kicked off on Wednesday night with the Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson winning the toss and opting to bowl first. England sent their openers on the field in the form of Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow as Jason Roy has already been ruled out of the mega event due to injury.
While Bairstow took over the opening duties in absence of Roy, Sam Billings, who had only played a practice game against New Zealand at the T20 World Cup, got the chance to enter the batting middle-order. As soon as the players lined up for their respective national anthems, one thing that caught everyone's attention was the black armbands the players of both the sides were wearing.
Here is why the players are wearing black armbands
The players of both the sides are wearing black armbands to pay tribute to Mohan Singh- the chief curator of Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, who recently passed away last week. Notably, Mohan Singh was with the stadium for the past 15 years, playing a crucial role in its development.
The chief curator was found dead in his room hours ahead of Afghanistan's game against New Zealand at the same venue, however, the match went ahead as scheduled with the help of ground staff and Mohan's family.
Earlier, Abu Dhabi Cricket had also released a statement remembering Mohan's services. "Mohan has been with Abu Dhabi Cricket for 15 years and has played a pivotal role in all of the venue's success during that time. Tributes to Mohan and his incredible achievements will be honoured in the coming days," it said.
Meanwhile, mourning the loss, the ICC said, "We are deeply saddened and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, Abu Dhabi Cricket and everyone connected with the event."
We'll have to play out of our skins: Eoin Morgan
After England had lost the decisive toss in the semi-final, captain Eoin Morgan said: "We can't take New Zealand lightly at all, they've been playing semi-finals and finals for a lot longer than we have, so we'll have to play out of our skins to beat them. Looking forward to a great contest today."