The Indian cricket team crashed out of the T20 World Cup on Sunday (November 7) after Afghanistan was clinically beaten by New Zealand. Tugging onto the minuscule belief that the Afghans will stage an upset to send the Indian team to the knockouts, the fans rallied behind the neighbours.
However, once again, the Kiwi contingent broke India’s dream of an ICC trophy with the previous two occasions being the 2019 WC semifinal and the World Test Championship final. However, more than the loss, and the eventual ejection out of the tournament, it is the fake activism of Virat Kohli and his abrasive attitude towards the fans that has hurt the romantics of the game.
Reportedly, in one of the media interactions, while answering a question regarding trolls, Kohli used the same metric to gauge social media trolls to the ardent followers of the game. He remarked, “We do not need to prove to anyone, not as an individual, not as a team. Whatever people have to say outside, whatever the talk in the country regarding our team, it doesn’t matter to us. I have told you already and I’ll say again, whatever people say, it doesn’t bother us.”
Kohli needs to give respect to fans
It’s a good trait to be aloof to criticism- several high-performing athletes tend to have blinkers around them for it. However, when valid criticism comes their way, even the best in the business pick it up, take it in their stride and use it to better themselves. It’s the hallmark of champions who consider their fans as the topmost priority.
Without fans, BCCI is nothing, Virat Kohli is nothing and hence taking them for granted means you are not giving the sport and its fans back when they have for all practical purposes, made you from the ground up.
Shout at us, abuse us, criticize us – Sunil Chettri
Compare Kohli’s brash attitude regarding the public and criticism to the way legend of Indian Footballing setup, Sunil Chettri handles it. In 2018, Sunil Chhetri had posted a video on Twitter, asking his country to come out, support, and watch the Indian national football team play in the stadium during the Intercontinental Cup in Mumbai.
Pleading the public with folded hands, Sunil asked them to throng the stadium, criticize them, abuse them so that the team and the players could grow from it, “To all of you, who have lost hope and do not have any hope in Indian football, I request you to come and watch us in the stadiums. It is not fun to criticise or abuse on the internet. Come to the stadium, do it on our face, scream at us, shout at us, abuse us and who knows, one day we might change you guys. You might start cheering for us.”
This is nothing but a small plea from me to you. Take out a little time and give me a listen. pic.twitter.com/fcOA3qPH8i
— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) June 2, 2018
He further stated, “To all of you, who are fans but couldn’t come, didn’t come, play, work, school…please! Come and watch us in the stadiums. You guys have no idea how important you guys are and how important your support is. So, today I’m requesting all of you 4th, 7th and hopefully the 10th June, we are playing in Mumbai and please come and support us, encourage us, abuse us, criticise us, talk about the game, go back home, have discussions about the game. But, please get involved. This is a very important time and juncture in Indian football and football in India needs you guys.”
Taking the knee and the Mohammed Shami controversy
It all went haywire for Kohli and his men the moment the entire team and backroom staff took the knee in its opening match against Pakistan. The match set the tone for what was to come later in the tournament. Kohli in his final assignment as a captain looked more interested in taking symbolic gestures rather than leading his troops on the field.
Then came the Mohammed Shami controversy where once again, the Social Justice Warrior in Virat Kohli created a sensation.
Kohli remarked during a passionate outburst in front of the media cameras, “There’s a good reason why we are playing on the field and not a bunch of spineless people on social media that have no courage to actually speak to any individual in person,” said Kohli. “It has become a social pandemic in today’s world, which is so unfortunate and so sad to see because this is literally the lowest level of human potential that one can operate at. And that’s how I look at these people.”
However, as reported by TFI, the hate campaign against Shami on which Kohli was commenting did not emanate from India. The tweets and comments were sent from Pakistan-based handles in an attempt to ignite social harmony in India. A majority of tweets against Shami were sent from Karachi, Islamabad, and Multan.
Read More: How the anti-Shami campaign was manufactured in Pakistan to malign Hindus
One such Pakistani account hurled abuses to Shami in 28 different tweets. Bot accounts were created on Instagram where Shami was targeted, while the real Indian accounts showered love and sympathy for the pacer.
Kohli knowingly or unknowingly played to the agenda of the communal netizens who made it a discussion of Shami’s religion. Kohli always has had trouble leaving the outswinging ball and once again he poked at a ball which he should have ideally left.
Read More: By condemning imaginary hate campaign against Shami, Virat Kohli fuels anti-Hindu rhetoric on social media
With Rahul Dravid coming into the setup and Rohit Sharma set to shoulder the captaincy responsibilities, one can be hopeful that focus once again becomes the performance in the field. Moreover, the fans can accept a much tolerant Indian team that treats its fans and their criticism with respect, not a testosterone-fueled teenager.
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