Cricket-Former players back India's Shami after abuse following loss to Pakistan

Cricket - ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 - Super 12 - Group 2 - India v Pakistan - Dubai International Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - October 24, 2021 India's Mohammad Shami in action REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

(Reuters) - Former India players rallied around pace bowler Mohammed Shami on Monday, after the 31-year-old was targeted online following his team's 10-wicket defeat by arch-rivals Pakistan in the Twenty20 World Cup a day earlier.

Shami conceded 43 runs from his 3.5 overs in the Super 12 blockbuster meeting in Dubai, as Pakistan secured their first victory over India in a World Cup at the 13th attempt.

Despite the Indian team's collective failure, Shami, who is Muslim, was the victim of online abuse that included Islamophobic messages.

"The online attack on 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," former India opener Virender Sehwag wrote on Twitter.

Former India batsman VVS Laxman reminded fans that Shami had been a "stellar performer" for India for eight years and helped them win many matches.

"He can't be defined by one performance. My best wishes are always with him. I urge fans and followers of the game to support @MdShami11 and the Indian team," Laxman wrote in a tweet.

Former India pace bowler Irfan Pathan, who is also Muslim, said he was angered by the abuse.

"Even I was part of #IndvsPak battles on the field where we have lost but never been told to go to Pakistan," Pathan said on Twitter. "THIS CRAP NEEDS TO STOP."

Another former paceman Venkatesh Prasad added: "355 international wickets. It is India that beats in the heart of anyone representing India.

"And Shami has been an outstanding and yet unsung servant of Indian cricket. More power to him."

India take on New Zealand in their next match on Sunday.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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