India's opener and stand-in limited-overs captain Rohit Sharma has sponsored the ticket of a Sri Lankan fan who had to urgently return home to Colombo due to his father's deteriorating health. Mohamed Nilam, the visiting fan whose father had been diagnosed with throat cancer, was supposed to fly back home from Mumbai only on December 26 after the end of the T20I leg of the ongoing series.
Three of Sri Lanka's passionate cricket fans, Gayan Senanayake, Pubudu and Nilam, have been in India right since the beginning of the tour in mid-November, having visited all the grounds to witness their country play India. Nilam's father had to undergo an emergency surgery but the former could not afford immediately returning home from New Delhi when he heard of the news while the third and final Test between India and Sri Lanka was underway.
In fact, India's regular captain Virat Kohli had also offered to help Nilam despite being in Italy for his wedding. Rohit was aware of Nilam's situation only when Indian fan Sudhir Gautam informed him of the same.
"Rohit called me to the team hotel and gave me the [Rs 20,000 approx] ticket," Nilam told mid-day.com from Colombo on December 12.
Eventually, he was able to land in Colombo before the scheduled surgery for December 9. Also, Rohit had gone as far as to even offer financial aid for the surgery, but Nilam did not accept the money.
"My father is much better now. The surgery went well. I was disturbed when I heard about my father's health, but Rohit has a big heart and he immediately arranged for my return ticket. He is a gem of a person," said Nilam.
He also thanked Kohli for his gratefulness and said that both Indian batsmen 'have always been very helpful in arranging match tickets whenever we come to watch them'.
As international sportspersons and role models for hundreds of aspiring cricketers, this kind gesture by Rohit and Kohli will go a long way in acting like an inspiration for others, especially those who idolise them. This is a step which youngsters should surely follow in the times to come.