Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli’s spat was uncouth and unsavoury, but perhaps ended up raising the viewership of IPL. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at the ugly incident which brings back memories of the slap-gate incident in the same tournament few years back involving Harbhajan Singh and S Sreesanth.
When the Indians won the World Cup in 2011, Sachin Tendulkar was chaired around the ground by his teammates. Young Virat Kohli had then captured the hearts of many with his words, “He has carried the team for 21 years. It is our turn to carry him.”
If Thursday’s incident is anything to go by, it seems that while Kohli had been accurate in his appreciation of how the great man had carried the nation on his shoulders, the Delhi lad has somehow totally missed noticing how the master carried himself.
And of course, he is not alone. Gautam Gambhir has shared the dressing room for more than eight years with the likes of Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble. All these exemplary legends that he has rubbed his shoulders with have made him none the wiser.
The spectacle of Indian Premier League (IPL) is fuelled by sound and fury that surrounds the heaves and hoiks of condensed cricket. In that respect, what followed after Kohli had hit Lakshmipathy Balaji down the throat of Eoin Morgan has perhaps done loads of good to the corporations, the media and probably the paying public too.
The tournament is the closest cricket ever comes to the reality TV shows so popular for mass eyeballs. If there is one thing that entices more and more people to follow such programmes, it is the vicious delight at witnessing the basest instincts and reactions rising to the surface in full public view.
That way, Kohli and Gambhir charging at each other, the foulest of words flying across the charged air and landing with blistering effect on the adversary, must have given many the full value for their money. There will surely be a good proportion of people who consider Rajat Bhatia some sort of a killjoy, a spoilsport — Bhatia had the presence of mind and good sense to step between the two combative stars. Joy and sport are words that have become quite malleable with the current day corporatisation of cricket.