The controversy-courting Test series between India and Australia has ended but it seems like it will be a while before the dust settles.
Former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir has jumped into the fray by taking exception to the comments made by Brad Hodge about Virat Kohli’s commitment to the Indian cricket team.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar also came to Kohli’s aid.
“I really don’t think we should give any importance to these guys,” Gavaskar said. “These guys are all frustrated that the team has not been able to do well and therefore they are trying to take it out on Virat Kohli.”
However, India captain Virat Kohli did not feature in the match because of a shoulder injury he suffered in the previous Test and did not fully recover from.
Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane led the Indian team to victory over the visitors to also become the ninth Indian Test captain to win his first match in-charge of the side.
The decision made by Virat Kohli and the Indian team management for the captain not to feature in the fourth Test did not go down too well with all parties as former Australian cricketer Hodge questioned his commitment to the national team.
Hodge inferred that Kohli sat out the series decider so he could be fully fit to play for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL).
The 2017 IPL season begins on April 5 with Kohli’s RCB playing the season opener against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
After the final Test on Tuesday, Virat Kohli hinted that he might be unavailable for the first few games since he has “a few weeks to go till I can be 100 per cent on the field”.
However, speaking to Australian media earlier in the day, Hodge lambasted Kohli for not featuring in Dharamsala and said he might be saving himself for the “cash-rich tournament” that is IPL.
“You’d hope as a sportsman that he’s seriously injured… because if you miss one game of Test match cricket and you’re fronting up the next week for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) versus whoever … you’d be pretty dirty if he didn’t front up to a Test match and try and win a valuable series against Australia,” Hodge had said on Tuesday.
Jumping to the defence of his compatriot, Gautam Gambhir said no player would put any other team over their national side, and especially that an Indian captain wouldn’t do it.
“That’s absolutely not valid,” Gambhir told CNN.
“I feel that someone who’s playing for their country and captaining it would never want to miss a Test match and would definitely want to play for India more than any other tournament. That’s always been the case.
When asked about his detractors, Kohli was heard telling commentator Ravi Shastri after the match that criticism has been levelled his way when he has been down and out. The Indian captain suggested that certain people use it in an attempt to piggyback their way to fame.
Gambhir seconded Kohli’s thoughts, saying that Hodge just wanted to see his name in the headlines with an article that said he was criticising Kohli.
“Knowing Virat he would have never done that and these people, look if you want to be in the headline you can say anything you want and it’s just about making a headline or trying to get your name in the press by making such statements,” Gambhir added.
As a passing word of advice, Gambhir suggested that Hodge should not be commenting on a player’s fitness if he isn’t in close quarters with the problem.
“If you don’t know the extent of the injury you should not be talking about it,” Gambhir said.