Dubai: What could’ve been a sweet celebration of victory for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) has turned sour with an ugly spat between former Indian captain Virat Kohli and ex-Indian player turned Lucknow Super Giants mentor Gautam Gambhir on Monday.
As soon as RCB won a low-scoring clash against LSG by 18 runs in Super Giant’s home ground Lucknow, Virat Kohli, known for his aggression as much as for his audacity with the bat, yelled: “That’s a sweet win boys! Sweet win, Let’s Go!”.
That by itself cannot be termed an affront, but the seeds of enmity had been sown a few overs earlier, when LSG’s Afghanistan pacer Naveen-ul-Haq was batting. Naveen apparently said something, to which Kohli was seen replying, pointing to his shoes.
Consequently, Kohli’s wild celebration after the win left Naveen incensed and they again got into a verbal spat during the customary handshake at the end of the match.
In their last encounter, LSG team mentor Gambhir had signalled the RCB home crowd to be quiet after LSG's narrow win. This time, not only did Kohli blow kisses at the Lucknow crowd when their team lost a wicket, but he also emulated Gambhir by pressing his finger to his lips.
LSG's West Indian allrounder Mayers was seen talking to Kohli after the match. Gambhir, who already had a history of clashes with Kohli, entered the scene and pulled away Kyle Mayers. A verbal duel started between Gambir and Kohli and players of both teams had to intervene and separate the two.
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The Board of Control for Cricket in India fined all three players heavily for breaching the IPL Code of Conduct. Gambhir and Kohli were fined 100 per cent of their match fee for Level 2 offence under Article 2.21 of the IPL Code of Conduct while Naveen was fined 50 per cent of the match fees for Level 1 offence.
Players were seen dancing with joy and singing the RCB team song as the team got closer to the playoff spot with 10 points from nine matches.
“It was a really important win on the road. It’s a very sweet win for many reasons, most importantly for the kind of character we showed defending that total. I think everyone had the belief that we can do it and we ended up on the winning side which is really great,” Kohli said.
Kohli expressed his gratitude to all the RCB fans who had an upper hand in the Stadium during the match, which also played a role in motivating the players to give their best in a crucial match that brought both teams level on points.
“The win was great and the fact that we got more support than the home crowd is an unbelievable feeling, it tells you all about how much we are liked as a team and how people come out and back us.”
Gambhir and Kohli have had numerous spats in the past. The first one happened in 2013, during a match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Similar to Monday’s incident, they had heated exchanges before the teammates separated the two.
In 2016 at Eden Gardens, a frustrated Gambhir threw the ball towards Kohli, who had completed a run when guiding RCB to a nine-wicket win. Again the move led to the altercation before others intervened to resolve the issue.
There were signs of easing tensions and Gambhir said in an interview that he never took it personally and said both him and Kohli were competitive on the field. However, the latest incident suggests their personal rivalry is anything but over.
Kohli, in the meantime, dropped a cryptic post on his social media handle. The quote he used was from the former Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who ruled from 161 to 180AD and was a philosopher as well.
In his Instagram story, the former skipper posted; “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
— With inputs from IANS