India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin launched into an unexpected Twitter tirade on Monday, admonishing former South African cricketer Herschelle Gibbs as a match-fixer following a seemingly innocuous jibe by Gibbs on Ashwin’s running.
It started off when Gibbs replied to Ashwin’s tweet on his new pair of running shoes, joking that the Indian spinner should be able to run faster. The India cricketer shot back by saying while he is not as athletically gifted as Gibbs, at least he had “the ethical mind not to fix games which put food on my plate”.
That reply was pulled down by Ashwin after a severe backlash on social media, labelling it as just a joke. Ashwin was referring to the 2000 Hansie Cronje match-fixing scandal in which Gibbs received a six-month ban.
This is the latest incident of Indian cricketers going on the offensive for no apparent reason. Here we list three other instances when current Indian players got into an unnecessary battle.
MS DHONI, WORLD T20 2016
After India exited the 2016 World T20 following a loss against the West Indies in Mumbai, the India wicketkeeper captain was asked by an Aussie journalist whether he was keen to play on. Since Dhoni had already retired from Test cricket abruptly and had turned 34 in 2016, it seemed a simple enough question.
But Dhoni, instead of answering the question or refusing to do so, invited the journalist to sit next to him and asked him if the scribe thought he is fit and should play until the 2019 World Cup. What made the interaction uncomfortable was Dhoni’s comment that he wanted the question to come from an India journalist so that he could ask if he had a “son or a brother who is a wicketkeeper” who could play in his stead. Dhoni was ready for a media war that day.
VIRAT KOHLI, CENTURION TEST 2018
One of the most combative instances involving the explosive batsman, Kohli refused to blame an inconsistent selection policy for the defeat in the second Test against South Africa in Centurion. Under Kohli’s captaincy, India have yet to field the same playing XI in Tests and after Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ajinkya Rahane – seemingly straightforward picks – were not selected for the crucial second Test, a question on team selection and the best playing XI saw Kohli lose his cool.
“If we had won this, was this the best 11? We don’t decide the 11 according to results. You are telling me that you could have played the best 11. You tell me the best 11 and we will play that,” Kohli said.
For the record, Kumar and Rahane returned to the playing XI in the next Test which India won.
RAVI ASHWIN, MUMBAI TEST 2016
During England’s tour of India in 2016, which ended in a 4-0 thrashing, England seamer James Anderson found himself in the middle of a verbal battle with Ashwin. The issue started when Anderson was asked during a presser whether Kohli’s technique had changed in the series, where he ended up scoring nearly 700 runs in five Tests. Anderson said his technique hadn’t been properly tested on docile Indian wickets. Kohli had earlier managed just 134 runs in five Tests in England in 2014 with Anderson his tormentor.
However, the next day when Anderson came out to bat, Ashwin greeted the Englishman with a few heated words and said he needs to “accept defeat as it is”. Ashwin was given an unofficial warning by umpires for his conduct.
Kohli packs quite a punch in his relatively small but muscular frame, outperforming players much bigger in size with his timing, fitness and running between the wickets. Though he doesn’t have the power of a Chris Gayle, David Warner or Chris Lynn, Kohli more than makes up for it with his ability to find gaps and convert good balls into boundaries.
While his 175cm frame doesn’t give him a lot of leverage, his placement and timing allow Kohli to maintain a high strike rate and average in all formats. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he is the only batsman to average more than 50 in all formats of the game.
Kiwi captain and prolific scorer Kane Williamson is of similar stature – 173cms – and the two batsmen have shown that bigger is not always better.
Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were mainly responsible for India’s 28-run win, just two days after the tourists completed a 5-1 thrashing of the hosts in the ODI series.
India captain Kohli left the field 13 overs into South Africa’s innings after suffering a left leg strain while batting.
“I tweaked my glute a little bit. Thankfully it’s not my hamstring,” he said.
“I felt a little more stiffness (in the field) so I decided to go off and not be stupid and tear a muscle.”
Dhawan made 72 in an Indian total of 203-5 after they were sent in to bat.
Then opening bowler Kumar claimed career-best figures of 5-24 as South Africa were restricted to 175-9.
Kumar took the first two wickets and put a clamp on South Africa’s scoring rate with an opening spell of two for 19 in three overs, displaying superb control and changes of pace.
Then he came back to settle the contest and secure the man-of-the-match award by taking three wickets and conceding only five runs in the 18th over.
South Africa were outplayed once again despite a fourth wicket partnership of 81 off 54 balls between Reeza Hendricks (70) and Farhaan Behardien (39) with India superior in all departments.
Virat Kohli has a left hip problem. Being monitored by physio. Team management says 'nothing serious'. #SAvInd— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) February 18, 2018
Kohli hailed “one of our most balanced performances” in a T20 international.
South African captain JP Duminy admitted he was disappointed but backed a policy of short-pitched bowling in an attempt to take wickets when India batted.
The left-handed Dhawan hit ten fours and two sixes in a 39-ball innings.
He was lucky to escape on ten when he flicked a ball down the leg side from Junior Dala.
South Africa appealed half-heartedly for a catch behind and the ball was called wide. Replays showed the ball had brushed his glove.
India made a flying start, with Rohit Sharma cutting the second ball from Dane Paterson for six. He added a second six in an over which yielded 18 runs.
Sharma was caught behind off new cap Dala in the second over but all the Indian batsmen followed his attacking example on a ground where there had been three successful run chases of over 200 in T20 internationals.
Kohli’s run of big scores ended when he was leg before wicket to left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi for 26. He had been dropped off the same bowler at long-on when he had ten.
South Africa were without star batsman AB de Villiers, who was ruled out of the series after suffering a blow to his left knee ahead of the sixth one-day international in Centurion on Friday.
India also suffered an injury blow, with left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav missing because of a thumb injury suffered in Centurion when India completed a 5-1 series win.