Dubai: Former and current Indian stars such as Sachin Tendulkar, along with some political bigwigs, extended their support to pacer Mohammad Shami on Monday after he was subjected to a fierce online attack following the national team's first ever loss to Pakistan in World Cup history.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah and AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi joined several past and present Indian cricketers in condemning the targetting of Shami's religious identity by social media trolls.
India lost their T20 World Cup opener by 10 wickets on Sunday with Shami emerging the most expensive bowler on the night, leaking 43 runs in 3.5 overs.
"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 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 Indian opener Sehwag.
Former Indian 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 trolls on social media linked his ordinary performance on Sunday night to his religion which did not go down well with fellow netizens with several of them offering support to the 31-year-old.
The other Indian players were also trolled online after the crushing loss on Sunday.
Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh and current leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who was controversially 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 teammate who is being horribly abused & trolled on social media," he tweeted.