An eyewitness unveiled shocking details of the fight between Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) talisman Virat Kohli and Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) mentor Gautam Gambhir that erupted during a recent Indian Premier League (IPL) game in the Uttar Pradesh capital.
“Lucknow Super Giants’ Mentor Gautam Gambhir has been fined 100 percent of his match fee for breaching the IPL Code of Conduct during the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 match against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow. Mr Gambhir admitted to the Level 2 offense under Article 2.21 of the IPL Code of Conduct,” a statement from the Indian cricket board said.
“Royal Challengers Bangalore batter Virat Kohli has been fined 100 percent of his match fee for breaching the IPL Code of Conduct during the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 match against Lucknow Super Giants at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow. Mr Kohli admitted to the Level 2 offense under Article 2.21 of the IPL Code of Conduct.”
“Lucknow Super Giants’ Bowler Naveen-ul-Haq has been fined 50 percent of his match fees for breaching the IPL Code of Conduct during the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 match against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow. Mr Naveen-ul-Haq admitted to the Level 1 offense under Article 2.21 of the IPL Code of Conduct,” the official release added.
However, the one question doing the rounds everywhere was what triggered such an ugly verbal spat between two legends of Indian cricket.
The trigger for the war of words between the two Delhi-born cricketers appeared to be LSG batter Kyle Mayers’ exchange with the RCB superstar. Their exchange was subsequently interrupted by Gautam Gambhir, who pulled Kyle Mayers away from Virat Kohli.
Additionally, Gautam Gambhir’s wild celebrations in RCB’s previous encounter with LSG, resulting in a one-run victory for the KL Rahul-led side, angered Virat Kohli. But this time, Virat Kohli shot back at LSG as he celebrated with aggression after RCB defeated the hosts by 18 runs, successfully defending a below-par total of 126.
“You saw on TV that Mayers and Virat were walking side by side for a few metres post match. Mayers asked Kohli why was he constantly abusing them and Virat, in turn, questioned why was he (Mayers) ‘staring’ at him? Before that (Amit) Mishra had complained to umpire about Virat constantly abusing Naveen (ul-Haq), who is a No. 10 batter,” an eyewitness told a local news agency.
“Gautam, sensing that things could turn ugly, pulled Mayers and told him not to have a conversation, when Virat made a comment. The heated exchange that followed seemed a bit juvenile,” the eyewitness added.
“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 are you coming in between when I haven’t told you anything).”
“Gautam responded, ‘Tuney agar mere player ko bola hai, matlab tune meri family ko gaali diya hai. (You abused my player and that’s like abusing my family) and Virat’s reply was, ‘Toh aap apne family ko sambhal ke rakhiye’. (Then you take care of your family).
“Gambhir’s final reply before they were separated was, ‘Toh ab tu mujhe sikhayega…’ (So now I have to learn from you…).”
A source also witnessed the turn of events in the Uttar Pradesh capital said, “It was expected Kohli would turn up fired up in Lucknow. He was having a go at every LSG player right through the match. Naveen-ul-Haq was also not shying away when Kohli was batting. But things got out of hand during the chase. Kohli was gesturing to the crowd and mimicking Gambhir. And then he said something to Naveen while pointing at his shoe. Naveen was very upset.”
“Mayers wasn’t having a cricketing conversation with Kohli. He just went up to Kohli to ask why he was saying unsavory things for a mere stare from Mayers. Gambhir interjected and told Mayers there was no point of (having) a discussion and that irked Kohli further,” the source added.
“I guess after the last match here at the Chinnaswamy where we lost off the last ball, it always felt like we were desperate to get this one. I guess you probably saw a little bit of that boil over,” said Mike Hesson, RCB’s director of cricket operations.
RCB skipper Faf du Plessis defended Virat Kohli: “That’s the best version of Virat, isn’t it? That’s when he’s at his best. It’s awesome to be a part of it. My job is to keep things calm on the field, which I thought we did really well.”
Former Australian cricketer Shane Watson was critical of Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli’s attitudes, urging them to leave their hatred towards each other on the field and not carry it outside the ground.
“Being competitive on the field is great, I’m all for that. That’s where people are at their best… it hones their instincts and focuses their mind. But when that boils over off the field, that’s when you got to leave it. On the field, you can have a crack because you’re fighting for survival, trying to win and be at your best. Once the game’s done, the game’s done. Let’s just move on,” Shane Watson told The Grade Cricketer podcast.
“What happened with Virat and Gautam Gambhir… no one wants to see that boil over. GG’s not even playing!” the former Australian cricketer added.
Veteran Team India batter Manoj Tiwary joined the group of cricketers who have raised questions about the BCCI’s role in the Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli saga.
Tiwary dubbed the incident as “unpleasant”.
“BCCI should step in. This is not a pleasant sight, especially when you are an ambassador of the game, you shouldn’t do such things. IPL is one of the most popular tournaments in the world, a lot of people watch it, especially youngsters. A lot of young people want to become like Virat Kohli. So, it is important to find the root cause of clashes like these. Healthy competition is good for the sport but not incidents like these,” Tiwary said on Cricbuzz.
“This cannot go on. These two are icons as I had said earlier. When icons quit cricket, people want to remember them for what they have done on the field rather than other things. People mostly will remember Gambhir for his aggression, that will be the first thing that will come to their mind. They will forget that he has played a major role in India winning two World Cups. This should not happen. This is not the right example to set,” Tiwary, who was part of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) squad that was captained by Gautam Gambhir, said.
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