Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir were involved in a verbal argument after the Indian Premier League (IPL) game number 43 between Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) at Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow Monday.
The ugly skirmish between Kohli and Gambhir was essentially Delhi waiting to happen. The two don’t believe in punches and carry their own baggage of mutual dislike for each other.
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In their last confrontation, there was a liberal use of North Indian profanity resembling the name of English cricketer “Ben Stokes”.
Some found the ‘bust-up’ juvenile, a few others liked the spice and the idea of intense rivalry, while staunch supporters of the ‘Gentlemen’s Game’ thought it could have been avoided.
So what happened in Lucknow on Monday night?
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An eyewitness, who was in one of the team’s shelters, recounted the events to PTI.
“You saw on TV that Mayers and Virat were walking side by side for a few yards after the game. Mayers asked Kohli why he was constantly abusing them and Virat, in turn, asked why he (Mayers) was ‘watching’ him. ?Before that (Amit) Mishra had complained to the umpire that Virat was constantly abusing Naveen (ul-Haq) who is a No.10 hitter.
“Gautam, sensing things could go wrong, fired Mayers and told him not to have a conversation, when Virat made a comment. The heated exchange that followed felt a bit juvenile,” he said.
“Gautam asked “Kya bol raha hain bol” (What were you saying?) And Virat replied: “Maine aapko kuch bola hi naahin, aap kyon ghus rahein ho” (Why do you come between the two when I don’t didn’t say anything).
“Gautam replied, ‘Tuney agar single player ko bola hai, matlab tune meri family ko gaali diya hai. (You abused my player and that’s like you abused my family) and Virat’s response was, ” Toh aap apne family ko sambhal ke rakhiye” (Then you take care of your family).
“Gambhir’s last response before they were separated was: ‘Toh ab tu mujhe sikhayega…’ (So now I have to learn from you…).”
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The eyewitness said that while it was tense and close to turning into every man for himself, it all felt a bit juvenile on both sides.
It was a deja vu moment for anyone who had seen the duo come to blows in 2013, when Kolkata Knight Riders played against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Kohli was the rising superstar then and India’s Gambhir was a savvy captain at KKR.
Cut to 2023, Gambhir remains an arsonist who is a television pundit and also the mentor of a franchise where he is the remote-controlled skipper.
Ditto for Kohli, who remains the skipper of RCB in spirit. On paper however, Faf du Plessis is the captain.
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“It’s a bit of a complicated relationship between the two. Gautam is not a bad human being but not the easiest person to deal with. He didn’t have to wave that finger to the lips at the crowd of Chinnaswamy, who swears by the name Virat.
“Now here, Virat had the chance to show a one-upmanship, and he did. He knows Gautam has been a staunch critic of his captaincy and even he won’t back down,” said a former India player, who shared the dressing room with the two.
As Kohli said in an RCB video, “You gotta take it, or don’t give it.”
Both players were fined their full match fees, although it is unclear how a mentor’s penalty is calculated by the BCCI.
It also didn’t help that Kohli has 55.4 million followers on Twitter alone, while the BJP parliamentarian is also not lighthearted, with 12.5 million followers of his own.
People in their close quarters either try to brag about them or create a false narrative. Like a member of RCB’s social media content team asking the regular skipper of Le Plessis about Kohli’s “aggression”, which bordered on rudeness. It’s the same kind of assault the former India skipper admitted he felt “wrong”.
But the RCB social media team, in trying to justify it, make themselves look like an idiot.
On the other hand, Gambhir’s political secretary, Gaurav Arora, from his Twitter account @gauravbir786, wrote: “Asking your trolls to abuse Gautam Gambhir’s daughters is unacceptable baseness. Matches come and go. Show Kohli class!”
In the end, it was another pointless bust-up and a rivalry that no one came out of smelling the roses.
(With agency contributions)
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