Life as a lookalike of an Indian cricket star can have its perks, but lately it`s had a nasty downside, with some hiding from irate fans after India`s loss to Sri Lanka, a news report said Sunday.
India`s defeat to Sri Lanka on Friday disappointed millions of Indians with the team facing its ouster from the World Cup in the Caribbean. Fans vented their anger by burning effigies and posters of the players in several Indian cities and towns.
The team`s participation in the tournament has also resulted in the deaths of two Indians, one who hanged himself and another who died of a heart attack.
Lookalikes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Mohinder Dhoni - popular among cricket-mad Indians during better performances - have been watching their backs in recent days. In the past, they made frequent appearances on television and were cheered by spectators during cricket matches.
`When Sehwag plays well, I am treated well by people. But when he scores badly, even the lives of my wife and child are in jeopardy as people threaten to beat me up for Sehwag`s bad performance,` The Times Of India newspaper quoted Yogendra Shah as saying.
He has temporarily moved out of Mehsana, his home town in western Indian state of Gujarat, to escape the wrath of cricket fans, the daily said.
Police have been drafted to protect the homes of some players and prevent a recurrence of the vandalism that followed a five-wicket upset loss to Bangladesh on March 17.
Suresh Rathod said he was treated like a very important person by cricket fans because he resembled India`s star batsman Tendulkar.
He said people`s extreme reactions were understandable as they felt let down by their heroes. `The Indian players have betrayed the trust of millions of people who worship them.`
He said he had joined thousands of people in praying for the Indian team`s success in the World Cup.
However, Mukesh Patel, a clone of wicket-keeper Dhoni, has refused to go into hiding or shorten his long hair just because his idol got out without scoring in Friday`s match against Sri Lanka.
`I had long hair before Dhoni burst on to the cricket scene,` the daily quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile, cricket fan Mahadeb Swarnakar, 28, allegedly hanged himself Friday after an argument with his wife because he wanted to watch the India-Sri Lanka match on a neighbor`s color television, while his wife wanted him to watch it with her at home on their monochrome set, said police superintendent Hari Kishore Kusumakar.
The poor farmer`s wife, Sadhana Swarnakar, panicked and also tried to hang herself, but survived when the rope broke. The incident took place in Shaktinagar, a village 60 kilometers north of Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal state, Kusumakar said.
Also Friday, P. Raju, a 28-year-old cricket enthusiast, died after he suffered a heart attack in Hyderabad, the capital of southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, while watching India losing badly to Sri Lanka, said his wife, P. Kavita. He died on arrival at a hospital.
Kavita told The Associated Press that her husband was shocked by India`s poor performance.