Jersey swap has been a long-time ritual in football, which is believed to have begun in 1931 at the end of an international match between France and England. With time, the gentlemanly gesture evolved and became more prevalent, especially in FIFA World Cup tournaments.
Often, jersey swap is seen as a way to insist on the friendship that exists between athletes beyond the on-field rivalries. An opponent's shirt is also seen as a memento that helps players revisit the past.
Such a gesture had been prevalent in football and quite a few other American sports as well but not in cricket. Nonetheless, just like franchise-based leagues, jersey swapping might slowly make its way into the gentleman's game.
Kings XI Punjab and India batsman KL Rahul has said he hopes to bring the tradition to cricket. He insisted that there are no friendships when it comes to Indian Premier League (IPL) and that's indeed the "beauty" of the cash-rich Twenty20 league.
The 26-year-old, who is enjoying the form of his life in the ongoing IPL season, swapped shirts with Mumbai Indians all-rounder Hardik Pandya after a hard-fought match at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday, May 16.
Rahul hit a hard-fought 94 but it ended in vain as KXIP fell short of a 187-run target in what was a must-win game for the hosts.
"We've seen this happening a lot in football. Obviously, Hardik and I are good friends. I felt it would be nice to collect some jerseys and bring that tradition in cricket," Rahul told IPL's official website Wednesday.
The opener added: "We didn't speak about this earlier. As we were talking, I said 'give me your jersey'. He wanted my jersey too. So we exchanged it. It's a nice, nice thing."
"We play really hard, aggressive. We all want to win the game. Even though we play 300 days of cricket together, these two months, there is no friendship once we step onto the field. I want to take him down, he wants to get my wicket.
"That's how the IPL is. It's not just between me and him, all the eight teams compete hard between one another. That's what made this tournament the biggest in the world."
Watch video: Kings XI Punjab star KL Rahul swaps shirt with Mumbai Indians all-rounder Hardik Pandya
Wanted to take extra responsibility: Rahul
Meanwhile, Rahul revealed he wanted to stay till the end and help his team, who had lost five out of their last six games until Wednesday, past the finish line. As conceded by the opener himself, KXIP's middle order has been a cause for concern in the ongoing season.
While Rahul and his opening partner, Chris Gayle have given Kings XI solid starts in the past, the likes of Aaron Finch, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and Yuvraj Singh have struggled to get going.
Rahul was steering the chase well even as the asking rate increased towards the end overs in Wednesday's outing. However, he got out trying to clear the long-off boundary in the 19th over after which KXIP lost their way.
"As an opener, I wanted to take that extra responsibility. I knew if I bat 20 overs, more often than not, we would end up winning, getting big targets. Unfortunately, the last two innings haven't gone my way or the team's way," Rahul said.
"In the first half, I was still looking good. I was hitting the ball well but I would get out on the 50s and 60s. I would see my team struggle sometimes because it's never easy for a middle-order batsman to come in and keep going," the Karnataka batsman added.
"But everything is part of a learning curve. Hopefully, if a situation like this comes while playing for the country or any other tournament, I am sure I will have better answers."
With Wednesday's win, Mumbai have given themselves a good chance to stay in the race for the playoff spot. The defending champions are likely to seal a berth in the knockout stage if they beat Delhi Daredevils in their final league game on the road on Sunday, May 20.
On the other hand, Kings XI will find it difficult even to make the progress even if they win their final match — against Chennai Super Kings on the road Sunday, as their Net Run Rate is the worst among the five teams that are in contention for the last two spots of the playoffs.