He was the only Australian player not to be granted a visa to leave with the team on February 1, before ensuing public outrage resulted in a delayed visa.
Khawaja suffered similar delays in obtaining a visa for the 2011 Champions Trophy, prompting Cricket Australia and Cricket NSW to petition the Indian High Commission.
While domestically the BJP does well to take a strong stance on Muslims, Modi and his cronies are particularly sensitive to criticism.
This became clear last month when Indian tax officials raided BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai after the BBC aired a two-part documentary. India: the Modi question, Investigating the sectarian riots of 2002 when he was Prime Minister of Gujarat.
More than 1,000 people died in the riots, most of them Muslims, and police were urged to drop the allegations.
Modi was acquitted of an Indian Supreme Court inquiry for lack of evidence but barred from entering the United States because of “very serious” doubts about the role he had played. The ban was lifted when Modi became prime minister in 2014.
This puts Shami in an awkward position as the only Indian Muslim on the team.
Shami, Thursday’s Indian bowlers’ pick, has been the scapegoat for poor Indian performances in the past, with vile social media mobs targeting his religion.
It peaked 18 months ago when India suffered a loss to Pakistan in the Men’s ICC T20 World Championship, leading to strong support for Shami from current and former teammates, particularly captain Virat Kohli.
“Attacking someone because of their religion is the most pathetic thing a human being can do. They have no understanding of how much effort we put into it on the pitch,” said Kohli at the time. “They have no understanding that someone like Shami has won games in India in recent years.
“Honestly, I don’t want to waste even a minute of my life paying attention to these people, and neither does Shami, and neither does anyone else on the team.”
Unfortunately, this unwavering support for one of India’s best has not been reflected by Modi or anyone else in the BJP.
But while Modi won’t be at Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday, Khawaja will continue his glorious innings.
If he can spend another day at the kink with the encouraging support of young all-rounder Cameron Green, Australia can beat India out of the game and pursue a remarkable series-leveling win.
Because politics and religion are pushed aside for the joy of cricket.
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https://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/a-hundred-in-india-as-an-australian-that-s-what-you-want-khawaja-20230309-p5cqx1.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport “A hundred in India, that’s what you want as an Australian,” says Khawaja