'Respect your stars': Rizwan lends support to India's Shami amidst social media hate following match loss
Batsman Mohammad Rizwan on Tuesday lent support to Indian bowler Mohammad Shami after the latter faced a torrent of social media abuse following his team's defeat in the T20 World Cup match against Pakistan.
Rizwan, who alongside skipper Babar Azam beat the 151 target set by India, faced Shami's bowling in the highly anticipated match.
Shami, 31, became the main target after the defeat in Dubai, even though India captain Virat Kohli acknowledged that his side had been “outplayed”.
Hundreds of messages were left on Shami's Instagram account saying he was a “traitor” and should be thrown out of the Indian team.
"The kind of pressure, struggles and sacrifices a player has to go through for his country and his people is immeasurable," tweeted Rizwan, calling Shami a "a star" and "one of the best bowlers in the world".
"Please respect your stars," he urged, adding cricket should bring people together instead of dividing them.
Amidst the hate, many Indian fans and politicians also urged support for the bowler. Congress member Rahul Gandhi asked Shami to "forgive" the trolls.
"These people are filled with hate because nobody gives them any love," he tweeted.
Cricket giant Sachin Tendulkar highlighted that support for the Indian team means support for all its players.
"Shami is a committed, world-class bowler. He had an off day like any other sportsperson can have," he tweeted, adding "I stand behind Shami & Team India."
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), however, has yet to make an official statement on the backlash the player has received.