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Once the subject of online abuse, Indian bowler Mohammed Shami is celebrated ahead of Cricket World Cup final


An Indian bowler previously attacked on social media for his Muslim faith has emerged as a hero of the national team as it prepares to take on Australia in the Cricket World Cup final on Sunday.

Fast bowler Mohammed Shami took seven wickets in Wednesday’s semifinal against New Zealand – the biggest haul in the tournament’s history – cementing his status as a standout of this World Cup.

Millions of cricket fans celebrated their beloved team’s win on Wednesday – and Shami has been singled out as a bowling sensation who could lead them to victory in the final.

“The bowling by (Mohammed Shami) in this game and also through the World Cup will be cherished by cricket lovers for generations to come,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, shortly after the game. “Well played Shami!”

Celebratory headlines dominated local news, with the Times of India, one of the country’s largest English-language newspapers, writing at length about how Shami left the cricketing world “spellbound.”

Yet, as admiration reverberated around the country, commentators were quick to remind fans that Shami – as one of the only Muslim cricketers on the national team – recently endured harmful and racist online abuse for his identity and faith.

In 2021, the player received a torrent of online hate after India lost to Pakistan during the Twenty20 World Cup.

Often described as one of the greatest sporting grudges in the world, India-Pakistan cricket matches are bound up in geopolitical fault lines. The two countries have fought three wars and restrict the movement of trade and people across borders, despite sharing a culture and deeply entwined history.

The vitriol against Shami got so bad that former