Mohammed Shami, who was targeted over his faith and was subjected to social media abuse in the aftermath of India’s 10-wicket drubbing against arch-rivals Pakistan in the T20 World Cup 2021, has opened up on the instance and said that those who sit behind the mask of anonymity to create such mischief are not “real Indians”.
Shami returned with figures of 3.5-0-43-0 against Pakistan in Dubai on October 24, the day India’s unblemished record against Pakistan at the World Cups was brought to halt as Babar Azam and Co. handed a comprehensive defeat to India. A loss against New Zealand later meant that India, the pre-tournament favourites, took a group-stage exit, as they crashed out of an ICC event in the league stage itself for the first time since 2012.Shami received widespread support from former cricketers including Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Irfan Pathan, Virender Sehwag, while then Indian skipper Virat Kohli also publicly voiced his opinion, branding the trolls “spineless“.
“There is no cure for this kind of thinking. Those who troll (on religion) are not real fans, nor are they real Indians. If you consider a player as a hero and then behave this way, you are not being an Indian supporter. And I feel one should not get hurt by comments made by such people,” Shami said. “There was just one thing going on in my mind. If I consider someone as my role model, I will never speak ill about that person. And in case someone is saying something hurtful to me, he can’t be my fan or a fan of the Indian team. So actually, I don’t mind what he says. It is the mindset of people. It shows their low level of education. When people with unknown social media profiles, or even one with a few followers, point fingers at someone, they don’t have anything to lose. For them, nothing is at stake because they are nobodies. But in case we react to them as a role model, as a celebrity, as an Indian cricketer, we are giving them undue importance. We don’t need to engage with them.”
“We know what we are, we don’t need to say what India means to us because we represent the country and we fight for our country. So we don’t need to prove anything to anyone by saying or reacting to such trolls,” he added. Shami added that real fans “would definitely appreciate” the efforts their players put in, while adding that he gets disappointed too when the team loses or he fails to deliver. However, the pacer did not mince words in calling out the trolls and abusers.
“The real fans would definitely appreciate it. Even those who have played a little bit of the game can understand it. But for those who look for controversy, I don’t care what they think or whether they appreciate my game or not. I don’t care if they are laughing or crying. True fans and my team-mates do understand,” he said. “Of course, I am also hurt inside if runs go. I respect that sentiment in the true fans and team-mates. Because I am also hurt. Just as I am disappointed, I can understand true fans are also disappointed. I always respect true fans. Don’t care about the abusers,” he added.
When asked what went wrong for the team during the World Cup, Shami candidly admitted that the team could not ensure to apply themselves properly and the lack of execution led to their downfall. “Yes, there were great expectations. But we are also human. Mistakes can happen. We didn’t execute properly and I admit that, but it’s not like that we can always execute 100 per cent and no team can defeat us. It doesn’t work like that. It’s a game.”