On June 12, 2019, two things happened in the cricket world: Pakistan lost against Australia, and a legendary Internet meme ‘Disappointed Pakistani cricket fan’ was born. It was perhaps Pakistan’s sloppy fielding against Australia in Taunton that became the difference between the two sides and despite Pakistan’s resilience with the bat, Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side had to settle with a disappointing 41-run defeat in an otherwise exciting game. And it was Asif Ali’s unfortunate butterfingers that pulled him into the spotlight not once but twice during the World Cup contest as the Pakistani middle-order batsman dropped a couple of chances during the match played at the Country Ground. The first slip by Ali came on the fourth delivery of the 13th over bowled by pacer Wahab Riaz, when skipper Aaron Finch was given life as he edged one to the 27-year-old cricketer guarding the slip cordon area. To make matters worse, the ball sailed away for a boundary. Finch, batting on 26, went on to score 82 (84). The second drop, a sitter at the fence, was captured by the broadcast cameras as Ali failed to capture the ball yet again. This time, it was centurion David Warner, who decided to upper-cut Riaz. The ball landed in Ali’s pouch and slipped out - almost prophesying Pakistan’s loss against Australia. Warner, who had notched up 104 runs already, was eventually dismissed for 107 in the next over by Shaheen Afridi. Ali had done the damage and it was Pakistani fans who bore the brunt. Anger ran through all the fans in attendance but one man, standing right behind Ali, refused to show any emotions.
With hands on his hips and disappointment written all over his face, the fan perfectly summed up Pakistan’s slipped opportunity to win the match.
A two-second gif started it, and two years later, he’s become an iconic meme and an Internet legend known by the name ‘Dissapointed Pakistani cricket fan.’ Two years later, it still retains its cult status.
In a recent interview to VICE India, Muhammad Sarim Akhtar, the man behind the meme opens up on what its been like to be recognized as the meme. While Akhtar’s reaction was genuine, he realized after the match was over when an interviewer came over, that he had gone viral.
“After my name was leaked, I got thousands of friend requests on Facebook and my phone was ringing through the night,” he tells VICE. “It went way beyond the cricket space, especially in countries like Uganda, Botswana, Malaysia and Indonesia,” he said. “It’s relatable because it fits into any situation that involves an unpopular decision.”
“One person in Europe asked me if he could use my face on his credit card so that my disappointed expression would prevent him from using his card too often,” he added to VICE. The European man isn’t the only one — others told Akhtar that their companies printed his face on keychains to express their disappointment with employees or on mugs, presumably to prevent them from drinking too much coffee.
Akhtar went so viral, that Coca-Cola last year contracted him for a promotional campaign, where he got to meet his cricket idol, Wasim Akram. Sarim Akhtar now has started Instagram and a Twitter account where he shares memes of himself on the Internet in various situations.
It’s not been just Internet strangers, Akhtar said this his kids have complained that their friends’ parents keep recognising him when he drops them off at school. “At the same time, it’s a great icebreaker,” said, adding that it’s helped him become more popular in his office as well. The photo has even been used during presentations.
Currently, Akhtar is considering turning his meme into an NFT and has already received multiple offers, reports VICE.