It was a wonderful afternoon at Murdoch Oval, or so I thought. I was chatting with two Murdoch University employees about Indian newspapers and the country in general. One of them was assigned to serve refreshments to the media contingent. At the same time, I was keeping an eye on India’s practice session and the dugout. Suddenly, I saw Virat Kohli, who had finished his nets by then, standing beside the dugout and saying something to us.
He looked agitated and continuously pointed his finger at us. Initially, I thought he had some issue with people standing behind me. As I have never had an issue with him, I ignored him and continued my conversation with the university employees.
However, one of the guys I was speaking with pointed out that I was at the end of Kohli’s aggression. When I turned my attention toward Virat, I realised he was getting worked up and raising his voice at me. Despite the distance, I could hear invectives like g***u and be***hod pretty clearly.
His furiously wagging index finger left no room for doubt --- I was clearly the victim of his scorn. However, to confirm, just in case, I pointed towards myself and gestured if he was talking to me. The confirmation came with another gesticulation.
Unable to believe that I was the one being singled out, I looked askance in either direction. Huffing and puffing, Kohli said, “Yes, you ba****d. You are here also”.
It came as a shocker to me. I told the guys beside me that I was clueless about his anger being directed at me. I didn’t understand why he was trying to intimidate me without any possible provocation. Before I could gather myself, he walked towards the dressing room with his kit in hand, murmuring continuously, “m** ki c***”. He was staring at me all this while without batting an eyelid.
The abuses kept coming till he disappeared into the dressing room. Fellow journalists kept asking what had happened but I too was as clueless as them. All this happened in the span of about 15 minutes and it was only later I learned why he was targeting me.
Some 10 minutes later, he emerged from the dressing room and waved his hand at me and smiled. I was confused. I didn’t react.
Kohli then called Sumit Ghosh, reporter of Bangla daily Ebela reporter, and had a short conversation with him. The next moment Sumit, an old friend of mine, walked toward me and said, “Sidhu, he has apologised to you for his behaviour. He mistook you for a reporter from another English daily... It was mistaken identity.”
However, I told Sumit that such behaviour doesn’t behove of an international player, even if it was not directed at me. I told Sumit, “Go and tell him that he is an international player and he should learn how to behave. How can he abuse and intimidate someone?”
All this happened in front of the dressing room, with R Sathish (support staff), who later took Kohli inside the dressing room, being the witness. I would like to reiterate that Kohli did not apologise to me directly.