The Board of Control for Cricket in India is doing what it does best when cornered: Deny.
A day after Virat Kohli hurled abuses at Hindustan Times journalist Jasvinder Sidhu in front of the Indian team and a huge media contingent at a practice session in Perth, the Indian board trivialised the outburst that has caused widespread anger.
A statement issued by team’s media manager Dr RN Baba denied that Kohli, fast attaining reputation of cricket’s bad boy, used invectives. “There was a misunderstanding and no abusive language was used, Kohli has spoken to the concerned gentlemen (sic) immediately and matter ends,” the press release said.
There was no clarity on what the misunderstanding was and Baba did not reply to clarification sought on the statement.
There was more. The statement — the subject of which read clarity on yesterday’s (Tuesday's) incident — said the Indian vice-captain had spoken to the “gentleman” concerned.
That is a lie. HT can vouch for the fact that Kohli has not “clarified” anything to Sidhu. He asked a reporter of a Kolkata-based tabloid to mediate and tell Sidhu it was a case of mistaken identity.
But, the board is speaking in different voices. Newly-elected BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said in Delhi that Kohli had clarified and the issue should be put to rest.
“He (Kohli) has clarified on the issue. For India, the ongoing World Cup is very important. We need to put all these issues to rest and (he) indirectly has communicated that he misunderstood the situation. Let’s put this matter to an end,” Thakur said.
Given that the incident happened off the field, it doesn’t fall under the ICC code of conduct but is covered by the rules laid out for the Indian team. Hence, the onus is on the BCCI.
A letter from HT apprising BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya was delivered to him in Kolkata. However, he, too, skirted the matter. “I will not say anything right now. I will speak though, but in good time — what happened, why it happened. But I don’t want to drag it into any kind of controversy,” he said.
A complaint has also been made to the ICC.
Later in the evening, there was an effort by the BCCI to control the damage. An official got in touch with HT and was told of the incident in details. The official gave the impression of trying to elicit a response from the team management as well as the HT correspondent in Perth.