Inzamam-ul-Haq: A trailblazer who has sadly been reduced to a subject of trolls

September 14, 1997, at Toronto, India were playing Pakistan in the second game of the second edition of Sahara Cup, which had by then started gaining cult status among the fans, who longed for India-Pakistan cricket action. The first edition of the tournament was won by Pakistan the previous year, and the pressure was on India to win it this time around. They did start it on a good note, winning the first game by 20 runs and went into the next match on a high. But little did they know that the focus will shift from cricket to off-field activities in the second match.

Deciding to bat first after winning the toss, Pakistan struggled throughout their innings and managed to score only 116. The Indian bowlers had a good day in office as it was their collective effort that restricted Pakistan to a low total. When India came out to bat, a large chunk of Indian-Canadian fans who had come to the stadium to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat,  got their wish fulfilled as he finished the game with his 25 not out batting at No. 4. From the outside, it looks as if the match would have been completely devoid of action. Yes, it indeed was, of some on-field action. But there was an off-field incident, which shamed cricket that day.

Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, who was playing in that match, had been the subject of jokes right from the beginning. A certain section of crowd, sitting at the stand located at fine leg when the bowling was from Wilson Avenue end, had been hurling abuses at Inzamam and making fun of his physique. He was abused when he came out to bat by an Indian fan and when he came out to field, the trolling simply went to a different, and unbearable, manner. So much so that Inzamam decided to take things in his hands and aided by the 12th man Mohammad Hussain, he charged into the crowed and thrashed the miscreant, only to be separated by the Canadian police.

The situation was diffused later on, but things never really changed for Inzamam, who has since been a subject of some or the other troll. They call him ‘Aaloo’, make fun of him for being overweight, troll him for his run outs, his English speaking skills, so on and so forth. This is utterly gross and completely uncalled for, especially against a player of Inzamam’s class. The player who has represented his country in around 500 international games and has been their highest run scorer across formats, deserves nothing but respect.

Recently, he was made the butt of jokes once again by some haters on social media. Inzamam, who is now the head coach of the Afghanistan cricket team (yes, his country did not find it appropriate to seek his services for their struggling batting unit but ironically the neighbours valued him), was trolled for being snubbed by Mohammad Shehzad, who apparently went past Inzamam in the dug-out despite the coach raising his hand for a high-five. The videos and pictures were being circulated extensively, disgracing the legend of the game. Incidentally, Inzamam was not even going for a high-five. Watching the video gives clear signs that the coach was trying to convey a message to the batsmen in the middle during the break caused by the fall of Mohammadi’s wicket. He was not even looking at the batsman, so there was simply no question of the snub.

This brings to my mind, the possible scenario, when Indian batting legends are being trolled on a constant basis. If the stalwarts, who have gained the status of demigods in the country, are trolled for their physique, language skills or any other reason by their counterparts from the neighbouring nations, just imagine the kind of outrage that will follow. We all saw what happened when tennis sensation Maria Sharapova failed to recognise Tendulkar and how personally his fans took it. The objective of this piece is not to garner sympathy for Inzamam, or to denounce all those who have been trolling him or others for unfair reasons. It just aims to put things straight; give respect where respect is due. What you give, is what you get.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)