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Virat Kohli and the art of keeping cool in IPL

Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper, presented a happy picture with fellow IPL skipper Gautam Gambhir and Steve Smith on the eve of the Indian Premier League kick-off.

ipl 2017 Updated: Apr 04, 2017 18:18 IST
Khurram Habib
Virat Kohli will be missed by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first two weeks on IPL 2017.
Virat Kohli will be missed by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first two weeks on IPL 2017.(PTI)

Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli tweeted on Tuesday a smiling picture of himself with other Indian Premier League skippers, who were all gathered in Hyderabad on the eve of the opening ceremony and the inaugural match of the T20 league’s 10th edition. (IPL Schedule)

It was striking that Virat Kohli was standing with Gautam Gambhir --- with the arm around his shoulder --- and Steve Smith, two players who have been involved in major on-field flare-ups with the India captain. Significantly, Kohli mentioned “Spirit of Cricket” in the tweet.

Gambhir, skipper of Kolkata Knight Riders, had an ugly spat with Kohli in the 2013 IPL edition and it required Rajat Bhatia, also a Delhi player, and others to intervene and separate them. The recent run-ins by Australia skipper Smith --- who leads Rising Pune Supergiant --- with Virat Kohli during the Test series are fresh in mind.

On Tuesday afternoon, the captains and match officials met in a city hotel ahead of the opening game between RCB and holders Sunrisers Hyderabad for a briefing on the tournament’s rules and regulations. It’s a routine before every IPL but assumes significance due to the recent incidents.

READ | From Virat Kohli to Steve Smith: Who’s the hottest player this IPL?

Rajeev Shukla, the IPL chairman, told HT before the meeting, “We have to ensure the game is played in the right spirit and the emphasis of the meeting will be on that. The referees and umpires will spell out the dos and donts.”

There has been a lot of criticism by former players of sledging. Bishan Singh Bedi even tweeted that sledging stood out as a sore thumb in an otherwise good India-Australia series, but players like Gambhir have no issues with it.

Gambhir told HT, “Sledging is absolutely fine with me if it happens on the field. But there is no point in getting personal about individuals. Some people do well only when they get aggressive, it gets the best out of them. But you shouldn’t take that off the field. Just keep it there.”

An official privy to Tuesday’s meeting said the captains have been told to maintain decency and play in the right spirit.

Match referees usually get access to all the conversation happening on the pitch, which is captured by the stump mike. Much of this is often blocked by broadcasters from the viewers.

However, there is some leeway given in this format, particularly in the IPL, as the intensity sometimes boils over. The referees and umpires do take that into account.

A senior IPL match official told HT on Tuesday, “Look, players are under severe pressure. Twenty20 is not an easy game, especially the IPL. It looks easy from the outside, but it is very intense. As it is there is so much heat and then the pressure from the crowd is bound to affect you. It is so charged up. So, quite often the players protest sanctions and request that they should be given some respite.”