For a country that usually finds itself at the bottom of the table in most sports competitions, the sparkling exploits of the Indian cricket team over the years have not only been a source of delight but also of immense pride for India. Along the way, as game’s popularity rose in the country, everyone benefitted. While cricket lovers these days have a steady source of entertainment round the year from the different formats of the game, cricketers too — not only the ones that get to wear the much-coveted blue cap — have reaped the benefits of such adulation with several enjoying almost demigod status. This symbiotic relationship, however, comes under tremendous pressure every time the ‘unthinkable’ happens: India losing a crunch match in a mega tournament, as it happened on Thursday in Sydney. The Indian team, which was playing top-class cricket till then, lost to Australia by 95 runs in the second semifinal of the cricket World Cup. And then all hell broke loose.
Instead of debating the cricketing reasons behind the loss and giving Australia their due for providing a spectacular all-round performance, many went after India batsman Virat Kohli and his girlfriend actor Anushka Sharma, blaming her for the defeat.
The social media ‘roast’ of Kohli, the vice-captain, and Ms Sharma was tasteless and must be condemned in the strongest possible words. Actor Kamaal R Khan, whose own body of work in Bollywood is suspect, asked his ‘fans’ on Twitter to throw stones at Ms Sharma’s residence because she was the ‘main reason’ for India’s defeat. Even Gautam Bhimani, a cricket commentator, tweeted: ‘Hey how far is the NH10 [a film which has Sharma in a lead role] from the SCG?’ This is not all: Expecting trouble from such a loony fringe, security has been beefed up at captain MS Dhoni’s house in Ranchi. The security cover was not without reason: After the 2007 world cup, irate fans smashed a part of Dhoni’s house and also attacked Harbhajan Singh’s home in Jalandhar.
As if these irresponsible cricket ‘fans’ were not enough, a certain section of the media also equated the loss with national shame and said that the loss was abject ‘surrender’, as if this was some war that was being fought and lives have been lost because of wrong strategy. Though they had done the damage for their TRPs, they must now accept that the team had a bad day at office, like we all do once in a while. This constant equating of the Indian cricket team’s wins/losses with national pride reflects a poor attitude and it only shows that we’re are not only bad losers but have no sporting spirit in our veins.