A number of former cricketers and politicians came together to defend Mohammed Shami after the Indian pacer was the subjected to a torrent of online abuse following India’s 10-wicket loss to Pakistan in the T20 World Cup on Sunday.
Pakistan ended their World Cup jinx against India in emphatic style at the Dubai International Stadium as openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan chased down a respectable 152-run target in 17.5 overs to seal a historic 10-wicket win. Shami was the most expensive Indian bowler on the night, leaking 43 runs in 3.5 overs.
After the loss, social media trolls targetted Shami’s religious identity. Former Indian cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, as well as politicians like Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah and others have condemned the abuse, extending their support to Shami.
“When we support #TeamIndia, we support every person who represents Team India. @MdShami11 is a committed, world-class bowler. He had an off day like any other sportsperson can have. I stand behind Shami & Team India,” tweeted the iconic Tendulkar.
“The online attack on Mohammad Shami is shocking and we stand by him. He is a champion and anyone who wears the India cap has India in their hearts far more than any online mob. With you Shami. Agle match mein dikado jalwa,” stated former India opener Sehwag.
Former India pacer Irfan Pathan described the attack on Shami as unprecedented.
“Even I was part of #IndvsPak battles on the field where we have lost but never been told to go to Pakistan! I’m talking about Flag of India of few years back. THIS CRAP NEEDS TO STOP. #Shami,” he posted.
Shami has been one of India’s best fast bowlers in recent times and has performed well over the last five years.
The other Indian players were also trolled online after the crushing loss on Sunday.
Former India spinner Harbhajan and current leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal – who was not included in the World Cup squad – also came to Shami’s support.
“We love you @MdShami11,” wrote Harbhajan on Twitter.
Chahal added: “We are so proud of you @MdShami11 bhaiya.” Former India pacer R P Singh tweeted: “@MdShami1 is an Indian cricketer and we are proud of him. To target him after the loss against Pak is pathetic.” The player also got backing from political bigwigs like Gandhi, Owaisi and Abdullah.
“Mohammad #Shami we are all with you. These people are filled with hate because nobody gives them any love. Forgive them,” tweeted Gandhi, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Kerala’s Wayanad.
Owaisi was sharper in his criticism of the trolling.
“As far as I am concerned, this match itself should not have been played with Pakistan. .. Mohammed Shami is being targeted for the defeat of the Indian team yesterday. This indicates that the radicalisation and hatred is growing against Muslims,” the AIMIM party chief said.
“A cricket team will have 11 members. There is one Muslim in the team and he is being targeted,” the Hyderabad MP added.
Abdullah, who is the vice president of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference party, said the Indian team’s gesture of showing support to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement doesn’t count for much given how Shami was targetted.
“#MohammedShami was one of 11 players who lost last night, he wasn’t the only player on the field. Team India your BLM knee taking counts for nothing if you can’t stand up for your team mate who is being horribly abused & trolled on social media,” he tweeted.