Remember Mohamed Nilam, the Sri Lankan cricket fan who was in the news when the Sri Lankans toured India in December last year?
The super fan, who is a long time admirer of Rohit Sharma, had travelled to India to support his side but then had to rush back to his homeland after finding out that his father had been diagnosed with cancer.
Along with the financial help, the Indian batsman had also promised Nilam that he would pay him and his family a visit the next time he was in the island nation.
The Mumbai-based batsman is currently leading the Men in Blue in Nidahas T20I tri-series in Sri Lanka where his side will meet Bangladesh in the final on Sunday.
True to his word, the stand-in skipper paid Nilam and his folks a visit on Friday.
“I know him (Nilam) for many years now. He has cheered for me for so long now. I still remember he was crying a day after the Test in India, telling me how his father was not feeling well,” Rohit told Indian Express after the visit.
“These are the people who make who we are today. They are the ones who pray for you, they stand beside you in your bad times. I had told him in December that if I come to Sri Lanka this March for series, I will come to his house to see his father. Today, I could feel the happiness they got seeing me,” he added.
“Rohit is clean-hearted guy. I still remember the day when I got a call from my family that my father is not feeling well,” Nilam was quoted as saying.
“Frankly, I didn’t have any money then (December) and didn’t know anyone else also in India. The last moment flights are expensive, so Rohit got to know from Sudhir Gautam (Sachin Tendulkar fan) and he called me to the hotel. He handed me the tickets and money. Who will do this in today’s time?
“It’s not that only Rohit knows me in the Indian team, I know everyone but everybody knows that my loyalty towards Rohit is more than other players. If Sudhir is known as Tendulkar fan, I am known as Rohit’s number one fan.”
India take on Bangladesh in the final of the Nidahas T20I tri-series on Sunday at Colombo and India wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Karthik says pressure will be on his team to deliver as fans back home expect victory against the Tigers irrespective of form or squad strength.
“Let’s be fair to India as a cricketing nation – whether we play the second string or the first-string team it’s always the case (expected to win),” he said at the pre-match press conference on Saturday.
“When we play Bangladesh and we win it’s like: ‘Ok, you’ve won against Bangladesh’. But if we lose it’s like: ‘Dude, you’ve lost to Bangladesh. What are you doing?’ I’m sure that’s going to be there. With Rohit (Sharma), the first thing that he said was that although we have a few of our other players missing, we’re looking to play exactly the sort of cricket that we’ve played in the past one year,” he added.
Between the trophy and them lies Bangladesh, who have never beaten India in seven previous T20I meetings between the two sides. Karthik however, is not taking Shakib Al Hasan’s men lightly.
“But especially in subcontinent conditions, Bangladesh are a very good team. They are known for their tenacity. They really try hard. They are team that achieved Test status not many years ago, and from there on they have propelled in all formats of the game and done well for themselves,” Karthik said.
Five of the six games in the tournament so far have been won by the chasing side and Karthik believes dew will be crucial factor on Sunday.
“Chasing is not necessarily easy. I don’t know much about the wicket, but if the dew settles it’s much easier for the team that bats second. If there’s no dew then it’s going to be a great game. If the wicket is sow and it’s going to turn, it will be a challenge. The team that bowls better has a better chance to win the final,” he said.
The middle-order batsman has been around in international cricket for some time now but has failed to cement a place in the India setup. Asked if there was pressure on him to perform or perish, Karthik replied: “From where I sit, every tournament is important. One bad tournament and I will be on the way out. So, in every tournament I need to be at the top of my game and try to do as well as I can.”
Bangladesh had on Friday defeated the hosts in a virtual shootout for the final. Shakib’s men won by two-wickets in a dramatic finish which was marred by ugly altercations between players on both sides.
The fast-bowler has been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons after allegations of domestic violence, extra marital affairs and even corruption by his wife Hasin Jahan surfaced last week.
The corruption angle is being viewed very seriously by the BCCI and the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) designated to handle the workings of the governing body.
Shami’s wife has alleged that the 28-year-old had received some money from a Pakistan woman named Alisba at the insistence of an England-based businessman named Mohammad.
A leaked audio of a supposed phone call between Shami and his wife where the allegations were made have been doing the rounds on social media and CoA chief Vinod Rai has asked the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) to look into the matter.
In a report by the Indian Express, the CoA’s chief’s email to the ACU has been revealed.
“The said audio recording is available in public domain. The CoA is concerned only with such portion of the said audio recording in which the person who it is claimed is Mohammad Shami is heard saying another person by the name of Mohammad Bhai had sent money to Md. Shami through a Pakistani lady by the name of ‘Alisba’,” the email from Rai states.
“Please investigate the above assertions/ allegations under the BCCI Anti-Corruption Code and submit a report to the Committee of Administrators with your findings as to whether there is any basis to proceed further in terms thereof. The investigation should cover (i) the identity and antecedents of “Mohammad Bhai” and “Alisba”; (ii) whether any money was in fact sent by the said Mohammad Bhai he through the said Alisba to Md. Shami; and (iii) if yes, the purpose for which the said money was received by Md. Shami,” the email further adds.
The CoA is not looking to probe other personal allegations against the pacer but has asked the ACU to take them into account if they do indeed violate the BCCI Anti-Corruption Code.
“The handbook for players specifically says that if they receive money from some extraneous sources, they are required to inform the BCCI. So we are asking him, what’s the money for? The ACU will look into this. Rest we will follow the police inquiry,” Rai had told The Indian Express.
Shami is reported to have been interrogated for three hours by the ACU on Thursday evening regarding the corruption allegations.