David Beckham makes surprise appearance at Cricket World Cup semi-final in India

David Beckham was a surprise guest at the Cricket World Cup semi-final between hosts India and New Zealand in Mumbai.

Beckham walked on to the pitch before the match began with batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, who introduced the Inter Miami owner to the Indian players, and they then took their seats to watch the showdown against the Black Caps.

The 48-year-old has spent several days in Gujurat, India’s western-most state just north of Mumbai, in his role as a Unicef ambassdor, and was invited to the game by the International Cricket Council (ICC), which has partnered with Unicef in a project to empower women and girls through cricket.

“It’s a great privilege to see first-hand the work Unicef is doing on the ground to support children and their families,” Beckham posted on Instagram. “The energy and innovation I have seen here has been so inspiring and I loved hearing the children’s stories and their hopes and dreams for the future.”

David Beckham with Sachin Tendulkar before the coin toss (AP)
David Beckham with Sachin Tendulkar before the coin toss (AP)
Beckham meets the New Zealand players (AP)
Beckham meets the New Zealand players (AP)

Beckham was unable to attend Sir Bobby Charlton’s funeral on Monday and sent apologies to Charlton’s family and Manchester United. Charlton was his father’s hero and Beckham had a close relationship with the United great.

Unicef’s India representative, Cynthia McCaffrey, said: “Unicef goodwill ambassador David Beckham’s visit to India spotlights the message on the importance of equal opportunities and rights for every child. His visit reinforces Unicef mission to support equal opportunities to empower all, especially girls.”

Beckham added: “I have always been a strong believer in the power of sport in levelling the playing field for children. Sports promotes participation, breaks down gender stereotypes and is a powerful way to help girls to realise their dreams.”

India are strong favourites to win the World Cup after obliterating the field in the Super 10s standings, winning every one of their nine matches, and they made a blistering start to the semi-final courtesy of captain Rohit Sharma’s explosive batting.

South Africa and Australia face off in the other semi-final on Thursday, before Sunday’s final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.