(Combo Picture) India's Virat Kohli blows a flying kiss to his wife Anushka Sharma as she applauds his century during the semi-final match against New Zealand in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023, at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday. Image Credit: ANI

Indian cricketer Virat Kohli is undoubtedly the man of the moment, having triumphantly scored his 50th one-day international hundred, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar’s record. However, there was another silent winner in today’s game: his wife and seasoned actress, Anushka Sharma, who was once labeled as this token of bad luck and a terrible distraction to her husband. 

For years, the rules of this senseless witch-hunt against Sharma were simple – If her husband scored well, it was pegged to his hard work, sporting prowess, luck, and everything in between. However, if he performed poorly, all the blame was put squarely on an unsuspecting Bollywood actress and producer, whose life and occupation had nothing to do with cricket.

Cricket - Virat-Anushka
Virat Kohli and his wife Anushka Sharma share a warm moment as he shines on the cricketing field

At one point, frenzied cricketing fans, fueled by superstition, put out pleas and online petitions urging Sharma to sit at home instead of the stadium. They were armed with an irrational conspiracy theory that her presence might cost India the game. The verbal chucking was so bad that self-proclaimed critic Kamal R Khan even put out a sexist and distasteful tweet about how a divorce might help Kohli regain his bad form. While we don’t expect KRK to do any better, the true knock came when former cricketer and star commentator Sunil Gavaskar decided to drag Sharma into his cricketing analysis back in September 2020 during the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League.

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He snidely remarked about how Kohli’s cricketing form had taken a harsh hit during COVID-19 since he faced balls thrown by his wife Sharma in his yard during the lockdown. The comment was uncalled for, and Sharma didn’t take it lying down. Taking to her social media, the fiery talent who’s a respected actress in her own right clapped back in her inimitable style. Her response? "It's 2020, and things still don't change for me. When will I stop getting dragged into cricket and stop being used to pass sweeping statements?"

Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli
Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Her husband was equally vocal about his wife being unfairly blamed. In 2016, he put out a post with a picture that had a single word emblazoned on it: Shame. He wrote, “Shame on those people who have been having a go at Anushka for the longest time and connecting every negative thing to her. Shame on those blaming and making fun of her when she has no control over what I do with my sport. If anything, she has only motivated and given me more positivity.” He was rightfully enraged and hurt at his wife being knocked down over his professional missteps.

Today, with his incredible record-busting knock, Kohli may have given Sharma’s legion of sexist haters the biggest slap of the decade. As he sets a new world record in scoring runs, he also sets the record straight about his better half. Unlike those who believed that her presence would mar the game, he triumphantly made history as she cheered him on from the sidelines.

Bollywood actress and wife of India's Virat Kohli, Anushka Sharma is pictured in the stands during the match REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Actress Anushka Sharma cheers for her cricketer husband Virat Kohli during the World Cup match at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai

Today, he has drilled in the fact that his wife’s presence or absence in a stadium as he plays cricket does not dictate the outcome. Preying on her because she’s an easy target may not stick any longer because today she’s right there witnessing her husband make history. If anything her presence, once deemed unlucky, only dialed up the glamour and heartwarming goodness on display.

In other words, Kohli emerged today’s winner, but the real victor could easily be Sharma who was a portrait of grit and grace when his cards were down. And if we are truly lucky, his knock could have knocked some sense into those who believe that Sharma has supernatural powers of dictating the outcome of the hallowed gentleman's game.

Plus, this victory isn't just about runs; it's a win against baseless judgment.