Pak minister slams 'yawning' Sarfaraz, 'sheesha smoking' for India loss

Shireen Mazari is the Minister for Human Rights in Imran Khan's government

Shireen Sarfaraz collage A collage of Shireen Mazari (left) and Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed yawning in the World Cup match against India | Via Twitter

With Pakistan succumbing to their seventh consecutive defeat to India in World Cup history on Sunday, the knives are out for the men in green. And it's not just common fans or journalists who are seething. Shireen Mazari, the Minister for Human Rights in the Imran Khan government, tweeted that the team were a “bunch of stragglers disconnected and led by a yawning captain”.

Mazari, who was an academic and journalist before she joined Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) over a decade ago, became a minister in August last year. Mazari posted two tweets after midnight about the match at Old Trafford that India won by 89 runs.

Mazari first tweeted, “When the captain is yawning on the field & the fielding is non existent; & when sheesha smoking is indulged in hours before the match—what can one expect but humiliation. That the captain decided to let India bat first was simply the last straw! Or was that Malik's instant out?”

In a second tweet, Mazari wrote, “Hate to admit it but today there was a professional well-gelled cricket team that was the Indian team & a bunch of stragglers disconnected & led by a yawning captain that passed for the Pak team! Winning & losing r part of the game but there must be a modicum of professionalism!”

Mazari was referring to viral clips of Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed yawning while he was keeping wicket in the Indian innings. Several social media users, from both sides of the border, posted the footage of Ahmed yawning, which triggered a plethora of memes. Ahmed was also subject to strident criticism for his decision to field after winning the toss, even before the Indian innings reached the half-way mark. Imran Khan, who was the captain who led Pakistan to their only World Cup triumph in 1992, had tweeted that Ahmed should bat first if he won the toss.

Mazari also referred to another, arguably more controversial, bit of news that emerged via social media. Several Pakistani social media users circulated videos and photos showing Pakistan batsman Shoaib Malik and his wife, Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, purportedly at a sheesha (hookah) bar at night before the match against India. Several Pakistani social media users claim all-rounder Imad Waseem, batsman Imam ul-Haq and bowler Wahab Riaz were present with Shoaib at the sheesha bar.

The time the footage was recorded was unclear; Pakistani newspaper The News International reported, “Some of the Pakistani cricket fans said they have seen Shoaib Malik and others smoking sheesha at 2am on Sunday, Winslow Road.”

Shoaib Malik has had a torrid World Cup, scoring just eight runs in three matches. He was dismissed for a first-ball duck against India and was out for the same score against Australia in Pakistan's previous match. Sarfaraz and the Pakistan team management were heavily criticised for including Shoaib in the side against India.