Active Stocks
Fri Dec 01 2023 15:59:55
  1. Tata Steel share price
  2. 129.95 1.56%
  1. Reliance Industries share price
  2. 2,393.45 0.72%
  1. NTPC share price
  2. 269.05 2.97%
  1. ICICI Bank share price
  2. 946.35 1.19%
  1. HDFC Bank share price
  2. 1,555.5 -0.22%
Business News/ Opinion / Columns/  World cup: India’s talisman against negativity, hate
Back Back

World cup: India’s talisman against negativity, hate

If Kohli is brand ambassador of New India, right now, Shami is the poster boy for Indian unity

India coach Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli looks dejected during the presentation ceremony after losing the ICC Cricket World Cup final. (REUTERS)Premium
India coach Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli looks dejected during the presentation ceremony after losing the ICC Cricket World Cup final. (REUTERS)

The bursting of firecrackers till late on Diwali night in the national capital—a Supreme Court-imposed ban notwithstanding—continued to distress environmentally conscious individuals this year, too. According to some pollution measuring agencies, the air quality index of Delhi and National Capital Region had peaked at 999, even as official figures were indicating something else.

Strong winds and mild rain two days before the festival of lights had dramatically decreased pollution levels, but the relief was fleeting. Social media debates on the subject raged on. Who knew that a miracle awaited the following week, silencing those spreading hatred?

Yes, I’m referring to cricket. On Wednesday, Mohammed Shami took seven wickets to ensure India’s victory over New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. This is the same Shami who had been trolled for India’s devastating defeat against Pakistan in the T-20 World Cup two years back. Some advised him to go to Pakistan, while others accused him of being a Pakistani agent.

What most people didn’t know or care about was the fact that at that point, this player from Amroha, a little town in Uttar Pradesh, had been going through a rough patch in his life. His now estranged wife, Hasin Jahan (formerly a cheerleader), had levelled numerous charges against him since 2018. This wrecked Shami. He said in an Instagram chat with captain Rohit Sharma in 2020 that he had even contemplated suicide in those circumstances.

Following India’s T-20 World Cup loss to Pakistan, Shami was mostly silent about the hatemongering. He only said: “Those who troll someone, they can neither be a true fan nor a true Indian!" The then captain of Team India, Virat Kohli, also came out strongly against hatemongering on the basis of a player’s religion. “Attacking someone on the basis of their faith is the most sad thing as a human being," Kohli said at a press conference, and added, “We completely support him. Team India’s brotherhood cannot be shaken."

Bad times don’t last for ever. And Shami is no exception to this.

Though he was Initially left out of the World Cup playing eleven, an opportunity came Shami’s way when Hardik Pandya got injured and was dropped from the squad. Shami has played only six matches at the World Cup so far, but has already taken a record 23 wickets. The way the entire country has praised him after the New Zealand game makes up for some of the pain inflicted upon him after the T-20 defeat.

The semi-final match not only gave us back Shami but also provided a peek into Kohli’s newfound prowess. By scoring his 50th ODI century, he surpassed the mark set by the ‘God of Cricket’ Sachin Tendulkar. Kohli represents the vitality and spirit of a modern India. Today, at the age of 35, the vigour with which he plays should be regarded as a living example of Indians’ newfound spirit. When Sunil Gavaskar used to score centuries in our childhood and Sachin used to score tons in our youth, they were the great hope of a poor country. Virat is a symbol of developing India’s fresh enthusiasm, looking healthier and fitter than in his youth. In contrast to past norms, when athletes retired at the age of 30 and ordinary people at the age of 50, this indicates a shift in the outlook of the new India, where the equation of age and productivity has changed totally.

If Kohli is the brand ambassador of New India, right now, Shami is the poster boy for Indian unity. Together, they have undone the damage hatemongers have been trying to inflict for months, in just a few hours.

This phenomenon is not limited to cricket—Indian cinema also embraces the timeless spirit of this Indianness. When the movie Pathaan was released earlier this year, an attempt was made to propagate a divisive agenda of communalism due to the religion of Shah Rukh Khan, but the film’s enormous success at the box office proved that divisive techniques had no place in a nation that cherishes its cinema. Later on, Shah Rukh’s subsequent film, Jawan, even surpassed Pathaan’s box office success. Meanwhile, Salman Khan’s Tiger-3, which debuted shortly before Diwali, is outperforming both these films at the box office.

The hope is that the vitality exhibited in sports, film, literature and cultural endeavours will continue to reject negativity in the times to come.

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. Views are personal.

Milestone Alert!
Livemint tops charts as the fastest growing news website in the world 🌏 Click here to know more.

Catch all the Elections News, Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Updated: 19 Nov 2023, 10:37 PM IST
Next Story footLogo
Recommended For You
Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App