Time for Kohli & Co To Defend Teammate & Take the Knee for All Shamis of India

Like many other players, Shami had a bad day, but was subjected to comments like "Bloody Pakistani in Team India."

5 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>India's Mohammad Shami reacts after he was hit for three consecutive boundaries during the Twenty20 World Cup match against Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday, 24 October.<br></p></div>

Months after helping India in that famous victory against England at Lord's, Indian pace bowler Mohammad Shami was brutally abused and trolled online after India's 10-wicket loss to Pakistan in their opening match of the T20 World Cup in Dubai on Sunday, 24 October. After being set a target of 152, Pakistan easily won the match with 13 balls to spare.

Having conceded 43 runs in 3.5 overs at an economy rate of 11.21, Shami, like many other players in the team (KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, among others), had a bad day, but was subjected to comments like "Bloody Pakistani in Team India."

Shami, who bowled the 18th over of the match, went for 17 runs in just five balls, giving Pakistan the victory. Later, so-called fans, upset and angry on losing to arch-nemesis Pakistan, vented on Shami's social media page, solely and undeservedly, blaming him for the loss, questioning his loyalty to the country and calling him anti-national.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Comments on Mohammad Shami's Instagram page.</p></div>

Comments on Mohammad Shami's Instagram page.

(Image: Instagram Screenshot)

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Comments on Mohammad Shami's Instagram page.</p></div>

Comments on Mohammad Shami's Instagram page.

(Image: Instagram Screenshot)

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Comments on Mohammad Shami's Instagram page.</p></div>

Comments on Mohammad Shami's Instagram page.

(Image: Instagram Screenshot)


Some users called for his retirement, while others asked him to go to Pakistan. "Sir, how much money did you receive to help your community (Muslims) win?"

Another user wrote in Hindi: "A Muslim sided with Pakistan. How much money did you receive?"

However, before we go any further, let's first look at Shami's limited-overs statistics.

Shami Starred Against Pakistan at the 2015 ODI WC

Shami has played 79 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), in which he has taken 148 wickets at an average of 25.62. Shami has often been a top performer for India as out of those 148 wickets, 96 have come in a winning cause, at an average of 20.56. He has also taken 31 wickets in 11 matches at an average of 15.70, extremely impressive stats for any bowler in the world, in the two World Cups he has played so far.

Shami has only played three ODIs against Pakistan (the two teams hardly play each other due to non-cricketing reasons), in which he has taken five wickets.

Interestingly, Shami was the star of the match against Pakistan in the 2015 World Cup held in Australia. Having set Pakistan a target of 301 runs, Shami's 4/35 were the best figures by an Indian bowler on the day.

Moreover, he took the crucial wickets of the most experienced Pakistani batsmen (Younis Khan, top-scorer Misbah-ul-Haq, and Shahid Afridi) and helped India win the match by 76 runs.

Just months before India's 2015 tour of Australia, which preceded the World Cup, Shami, the highest wicket-taker in ODIs in 2014, told the writer of this article how he would keep giving his best for India and wanted to do well in the Australia series so that the team could enter the World Cup full of confidence.

The 31-year-old has also played just 13 T20Is in which he has taken 12 wickets. Before Sunday's match against Pakistan, Shami had played against the team just once before. In the 2014 T20 WC match in Dhaka, Shami finished with figures of 1/31 in his four overs, taking the vital wicket of Umar Akmal (33), the highest scorer for Pakistan.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Indian players take the knee in support of  BLM movement in Dubai on Sunday, 24 October.</p></div>

Indian players take the knee in support of BLM movement in Dubai on Sunday, 24 October.

(Photo Courytesy: Twitter/Arfa Khanum Sherwani)

Ironic How Shami Was Abused After India Took the Knee in Support of BLM

What's ironic is this came on a day when the Indian team took the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which, too, generated mixed reactions from the public.

Some users called the move hollow, saying the Indian players' 'knees and spines seemed to be broken' when it came to Indian affairs. Others urged Virat Kohli, Team India, and the BCCI to stand up for their colleague, oppose communalism, and condemn the fans' behaviour.

On Monday afternoon, 25 October, former India opener Virender Sehwag took to Twitter and called the Shami incident 'shocking'.

Later, legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar too tweeted in support of Shami.

Irfan Pathan, too, took to social media and condemned the flak Shami has been receiving. "Even I was part of India vs Pakistan battles on the field where we have lost but never been told to go to Pakistan! I’m talking about a few years back. THIS CRAP NEEDS TO STOP," he wrote on his Twitter handle.

Later, current India cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal, too, expressed his support for Shami, saying, "We are so proud of you Shami bhaiya."


Time for Kohli & Team India to Take a Stand

While the Indian team taking a stand for the BLM movement was commendable, it's time for skipper Virat Kohli and the rest of the Team India members to speak up and take a stand.

Irrespective of his performance, the person being subjected to such hate is a member of the Indian squad. However, like many others in the country, Shami is being targeted for being a Muslim, a member of the minority community in the country.

Therefore, a condemnation of the incident is the minimum Kohli & co can do.

Earlier this year in July, during the Euro 2020, three England players, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka, faced racist abuse after they missed their penalties in the 3-2 shootout loss in the final at the hands of Italy.

England manager Gareth Southgate and the whole team condemned the incident and called it unforgivable. The incident was also condemned by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, European football's governing body Uefa and the Football Association.

Closer to home, Indian women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal had called the casteist slurs hurled at India forward Vandana Katariya's family after the team's semi-final loss to Argentina in the Olympics a 'shameful act'.

Two men had burst crackers outside Katariya's house in Haridwar hours after the team's loss. They had even mocked them and said that the team did not win because it had 'too many Dalit players'.

"Our team works together and is above all such things. We belong to different religions. Some are Hindu; some are Muslim; some are Sikhs. When we play at this level, we only look at the fact that we are playing for India. We work for that Indian flag," Rani Rampal had said.

I just want to tell people to stop doing all these things – religious attacks, casteism. It is shameful when we see that there are people like this out there," she had said.

It's time for Kohli and co to move out of their secure and comfortable bubbles and face the unfortunate reality going around in the country.

Maybe, the team can take inspiration from both the England football team and women's hockey skipper Rani Rampal and this time take the knee for their teammate Shami and all others who are regularly facing such hate, being forced to prove their loyalty, just for belonging to a different religion.

Otherwise, the whole process of 'taking the knee' would lose its value and simply be reduced to a marketing gimmick.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Edited By :Saundarya Talwar
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