India lost to Pakistan at the T20 World Cup cricket match in Dubai on Sunday, October 25. While the team as a collective was defeated, only one member of the Indian cricket team was blamed for it — pacer Mohammad Shami. From being called a “traitor” to a “Pakistani,” the Indian cricketer’s social media handles were flooded with abuses and hate messages.
Despite this, some of his fellow team players are yet to extend their support to Shami, the only Muslim player in the team. Ironically, the same team players had taken the knee at the Dubai International Stadium, just before the Sunday’s match, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, which is a stand against racism and discrimination.
However, a few former and current India players, including Sachin Tendulkar, did extend their support to Mohammad Shami, who was subjected to a fierce online attack following the national team's first-ever loss to Pakistan in the World Cup history. “When we support #TeamIndia, we support every person who represents Team India. Mohammad Shami is a committed, world-class bowler. He had an off day like any other sportsperson can have. I stand behind Shami and Team India,” wrote former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
Shami has been one of India's best fast bowlers in recent times and has performed well over the last five years. India lost their T20 World Cup opener by 10 wickets, with Shami emerging as the most expensive bowler on the night, leaking 43 runs in 3.5 overs. The trollers on social media linked his performance on Sunday night to his religion.
"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," tweeted former India opener Sehwag.
Former India spinner Harbhajan and current leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who was controversially not included in the World Cup squad, also came to Shami's support. "We are so proud of you @MdShami11 bhaiya." Harbhajan Singh also wrote, “We love you @MdShami11." wrote
Former India pacer RP Singh tweeted: "Mohammad Shami is an Indian cricketer and we are proud of him. To target him after the loss against Pakistan is pathetic."
Former Indian batsman VV Laxman pointed out that Mohammed Shami has been a stellar performer for India for eight years, playing a significant role in many a victory. “He cannot be defined by one performance. My best wishes are always with him. I urge fans and followers of the game to support Mohammad Shami and the Indian team.”
Former cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin, too, condemned the online attack on Shami. "Winning and losing is a part of the game. The personal attack on Shami is uncalled for. I stand with Mohammad Shami."
The other Indian players were also trolled online after the crushing loss on Sunday, however, they were not as abusive as what Shami was subjected to. Cricketer Irfan Pathan pointed out that India has lost to Pakistan before but he was never asked to go to Pakistan. “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 the flag of India of a few years back. This crap needs to stop. #Shami,” he tweeted.
Cricket Commentator Harsha Bhogle also had a message, in Hindi, for those who were actively engaged in trolling Shami. “Those who are saying horrible things against Mohammad Shami, I only have one request for you — do not watch cricket and your absence will not be felt. #Shami #355WicketsforIndia," he wrote.
Apart from personalities from the cricket fraternity, several fans, too, extended their support to Mohammad Shami. Politicians, too, jumped on board to extend support to Shami.
Terming the trolling unfortunate and shameful, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi said it shows how communalism, radicalisation, and hatred against Muslims has spread in the country. "There are 11 players in the team and there is only one Muslim but you are still targeting him. A win or a loss is part of the game. A team wins and another team loses but the way a player is being trolled on social media and the kind of rubbish being said about him shows how communalism and hatred has spread. Who is responsible for this," he asked during an interaction with media persons.
Extending support to Shami, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Mohammad said, "These people are filled with hate because nobody gives them any love. Forgive them."
(With input from PTI and IANS)