The debate around Indian skipper Virat Kohli’s decision to return home after the first Test match against Australia to attend the birth of his and Bollywood actor and wife Anushka Sharma’s first child once again heated up on social media after veteran cricketer-turned-commentator Sunil Gavaskar penned a column in Sportstar.
Indicating that there’s a divide in the Indian cricket team, Gavaskar said that bowlers like Ravichandran Ashwin are sidelined if they do not pick “heaps of wickets" in a game while the established batsmen in the team have it easy and are awarded chances upon chances despite their failure.
The veteran opener added that the newcomer T Natarajan was “forced" to stay back as a net bowler after the birth of his daughter following his brilliant performances in the limited-overs cricket.
“A match winner, albeit in another format, being asked to be a net bowler. He will thus return home only after the series ends in the third week of January and get to see his daughter for the first time then. And there is the captain going back after the first Test for the birth of his first child. That’s Indian cricket. Different rules for different people. If you don’t believe me ask Ravi Ashwin and T. Natarajan," Gavaskar wrote.
Gavaskar’s column and certain dig at captain Kohli were met with disagreement on Twitter. Many wondered if the cricket pundit was “unnecessarily" picking on the captain.
“Disagree with Gavaskar. No one is forcing Natarajan to bowl in the nets. He realizes it’s a stepping stone for him. Kohli deciding to go back is a personal choice. Cricket is his profession, a part of life, not his entire life. If that renders him unfit to play, sure, fire him," wrote one Twitter user.
With all due respect to Gavaskar, Kohli enjoys the equivalent stature of Sachin Tendulkar in World Cricket, and he is an automatic selection, whenever he is available.. Did he have the guts to question Sachin, when he had opted out of several International series? #Natarajan https://t.co/U96qCP6yYb— Satish (@perfect_indian) December 24, 2020
Gavaskar again goes after #ViratKohli. His serial backing of Mumbaikar Rohit Sharma against the Delhi-ite Kohli is now both ferocious and heightened. Don't understand the #Delhi players still shying away from calling it out. #cricket #bias #remember #KapilDev— Keep It Simple (@profdrumroll) December 24, 2020
Fellow Mumbaikar, Rohit Sharma missed a test match in Australia for the same reason as Kohli.. Did Mr. Gavaskar question him or the BCCI rules? 😛 It's sheer hatred..
It is a one-off situation.. Quarantine Rules in Aus, made it, a longer breakhttps://t.co/KAQRTpo4ne
— Satish (@perfect_indian) December 24, 2020
Disagree with Gavaskar.No one is forcing Natarajan to bowl in the nets. He realizes it's a stepping stone for him.
Kohli deciding to go back is a personal choice. Cricket is his profession, a part of life, not his entire life. If that renders him unfit to play, sure, fire him. https://t.co/cr1QUw3kGc
— Kartikeya Tanna (@KartikeyaTanna) December 24, 2020
Abey kohli ne 5 month pahele apply kiya tha Natarajan naya hai usko carrier banana hai kohli ka bana hua hai. Pagal hai kya gavaskar— Raj Thakar (@RajThak43420624) December 24, 2020
Sunil Gavaskar maybe a legend but him poking at Kohli everytime is infuriating. Let that man live peacefully jeez.And why should he drag Ash and Nattu 🙄— M✿ (@mxriaxoxo_) December 24, 2020
What rubbish does Sunil Gavaskar speak…doesn't he realise, Rohit Sharma had also come home for birth of his child…always targeting kohli unnecessarily— Jason Dsouza (@jdnats) December 24, 2020
Rather than blaming Kohli, Gavaskar should have urged BCCI to institutionalise paternal leave to all players so that new players can take it without feeling insecure about their place. If all other professions give paternity leave, why not professional cricket?— Venky (@venkybengaluru) December 24, 2020
Nobody forced Natarajan to stay with the team .. it's individual thing .. why Sunil Gavaskar sir asking this question now ?? Why didn't he ask same question 2 years ago when Mumbaikar Rohit Sharma took paternity leave …why only fuss about Kohli now .— shivuvirat (@shivuvirat) December 23, 2020
However, many lauded Gavaskar for putting his point of view across bluntly. The cricket fans believed that Kohli should have stayed back as a leader especially after the humiliating loss to Aussies at the Adelaide Oval.
Yes, Mr. Gavaskar is right. Kohli going back for the birth of his first child is emotional, manh current players does that. However considering the loss we had in first test, he should have stayed back with the team and help leveling the series.— Naveen Shandilya (@ShandilyaNaveen) December 24, 2020
Every once in a while Gavaskar speaks bluntly & boldly. One of the few that still do. Even Kapil Dev plays safe. High time Kohli is fired as LOI skipper and Rohit brought in ASAP. Cannot afford any more losses.— కార్తిక్ (@karthiknyc) December 24, 2020
I think Sunil gavaskar is right which they wrote about in natarajan and virat kohli In indian team, the rules and leaves are vary among different person or player— Palak Parashar (@PalakParashar5) December 24, 2020
Personal preferences but Gavaskar is 200% right. Natarajan is staying as a net bowler to serve his country without seeing his daughter for months, but Kohli choose to skip 3 Tests when he is the most important batsman for us. https://t.co/70G6zY0ufV— (@KodelaDeepak) December 24, 2020
Meanwhile, a day ahead of the ODI clash, Kohli made his stance very clear over why he chose to return home to be with Anushka.
“I will be flying back after the first Test and that was purely based on the fact that we have a quarantine period both ways and I had explained the same to the selectors during our selection meeting," Kohli said in a virtual conference, a video of which was shared by the BCCI on Twitter.
“I wanted to be back home in time to be with my wife for the birth of our first child and it is a very very special and very very beautiful moment in our lives and something I truly want to experience," the skipper said before adding, “That was the reason behind my decision which was communicated to the selectors during the selection meeting."