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Sikh Indian player faces online abuse over dropped catch in Pakistan match

A torrent of online abuse has hit Indian cricketer Arshdeep Singh after he dropped a catch against Pakistan, with much of the vitriol focusing on the fact that he is from the Sikh minority.

Singh missed the easy but crucial chance in the closing stages of the arch rivals’ dramatic Asia Cup clash on Sunday won by Pakistan in Dubai in the final over –– when the 23-year-old was the bowler.

Singh’s Wikipedia entry was briefly altered to link him to the Khalistan Sikh separatist movement, reportedly prompting the Indian government to summon executives from the open-edit online encyclopedia.

“He is a Khalistani and has secret ties with Pakistan,” said one Twitter user. “Arshdeep Singh has taken money as a Khalistani agent,” wrote another.

After the match, star Indian player Virat Kohli backed Singh, saying that “anyone can make a mistake”. The hashtag #IndiaWithArshdeep, supporting the young player, was trending on Twitter.

READ MORE: Cricket rivals India, Pakistan set for high-voltage Dubai contest

Attacked over religion?

It is not the first time that cricketers from Hindu-majority India’s religious minorities have faced such attacks.

Last year Muslim player Mohammed Shami became a target of abuse after India was thrashed by Pakistan in the T20 World Cup.

Thousands of hate messages flooded social media, including Shami’s Instagram account, calling him a traitor and alleging he had taken money to throw the game.

Kohli, at the time India captain, also vigorously backed Shami, saying: “Attacking someone over their religion is the most pathetic thing that a human being can do.”

India close to exiting Asia Cup

The Super Four match on Sunday was the second time India and Pakistan have played against each other in the ongoing Asia Cup.

India won the first game but were trounced in the second crucial game.

On Tuesday,  Sri Lanka produced an impressive run chase to down India by six wickets and leave their opponents staring at an early exit from the Asia Cup –– a match that again saw fans abusing Arshdeep. 

If Pakistan beat Afghanistan on Wednesday, they will face Sri Lanka in Sunday’s final and knock out arch-rivals India in the process.

Singh delivered the final over in both the matches and faced a torrent of social media abuse after dropping Asif Ali on nought in the 18th over against Pakistan.

Ali went on to smash a match-winning 16 off eight balls, but sipper Rohit Sharma insisted the 23-year-old had been unaffected.

“Honestly guys here guys don’t look too much into social media these days. Few losses here and there, one dropped catch, we don’t look too much into it,” said Rohit.

“Yes, he was himself disappointed because it was a catch that could have been taken but again if you saw his confidence when he came and bowled that last over… he is a confident lad.”

Rohit and India, who have a poor recent record in global tournaments, are under pressure to deliver at the T20 World Cup in Australia in October and November, having won it only once at the inaugural 2007 event. 

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