Anushka Sharma: Indian media defend actress after cricket loss
Papers, former players and pundits have criticised Twitter users for blaming cricketer Virat Kohli's girlfriend Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma for India's defeat against Australia in the World Cup semi-final match.
Australia powered into the World Cup final with a 95-run victory over defending champions India in Sydney on Thursday.
Kohli, who is the team's vice captain, went out after making just one run.
Indians follow cricket passionately and millions of fans were disappointed by his poor show.
As India's chase hit roadblocks and it became clear that India was losing to Australia, many fans started to vent their anger on Twitter and some began to target Sharma, who was present in the stadium, watching the match.
But this anger was met with strong resistance from others on Twitter who felt it was wrong to blame the actress for Kohli's "poor performance".
Tweets supporting the duo soon outnumbered those who made jokes about Sharma's presence in the stadium.
Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor, tennis star Sania Mirza, senior journalists and other users came to the defence of the couple.
Former Indian cricket captain Saurav Ganguly also criticised those who blamed the actress for the team's defeat.
"What wrong Anushka has done? She had only gone to see a cricket match like the families of other players. It is unfair to blame her for Kohli's performance. It is the immaturity of people," he told The Indian Express.
Newspapers and websites have also published reports, criticising the "irrational behaviour by Indian fans".
"Such extreme reactions only go on to show the misogynist character of Indian society where a woman is blamed for anything and everything that goes wrong with the man. Anushka just like millions of other Indians is a fan of cricket and her boyfriend is a star batsman in Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team," writes Senha Thakur on the CNN-IBN website.
In an interview with the NDTV earlier in the month, Sharma had said "it's primitive to call me his distraction and blame me for his performance".
Meanwhile, leading news channel Times Now and its editor Arnab Goswami are also being criticised for their harsh review of India's performance.
The channel ran its shows with headlines like "Team India mess it up", "Team India #ShamedinSydeny, and "India disgraced in Sydney".
Some Twitter users criticised the channel for being "sensational" and tweeted with their own hashtag #ShameonTimesNow.