‘I enjoy when everyone chants Kohli’s name': Naveen-ul-Haq hits back at crowd hostility, social media trolls in IPL 2023
Naveen-ul-Haq said he enjoyed the "Kohli, Kohli" chants at the Chepauk during LSG vs MI IPL 2023 Eliminator as it urged him to give his best for his team.
Afghanistan cricketers have graced the IPL quite regularly since Rashid Khan's emergence as a match-winner but none has been able to create the kind of impact Naveen-ul-Haq has for Lucknow Super Giants in the 16th edition of the tournament. Naveen-ul-Haq has been a revelation both on and off the field in IPL 2023. Some may disagree with his on-field antics and social media posts, which were a bit uncalled for, to be honest, but the way he has taken Virat Kohli head-on in his own den speaks volumes about the confidence he has for a 23-year-old.
It was once again on full display during the IPL 2023 Eliminator between LSG and Mumbai Indians. The right-arm pacer not only picked up the four biggest MI wickets of Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma and Cameron Green but also celebrated them in his own way. He put both fingers on his ears to suggest to the crowd that he doesn't hear any of their taunts, which has become a regular affair ever since that night in Lucknow where he had a heated argument with Kohli followed by some quirky posts on social media.
Every time Naveen has run in to bowl since then doesn't matter which ground LSG play in, he has been greeted with 'Kohli' chants. The Chepauk crowd was no different. The youngster, however, said he enjoyed the "Kohli, Kohli" chants at the stadium on Wednesday as it gave him the passion to play well for his team.
"I enjoy it. I like everyone on the ground chanting his (Virat Kohli) name or any other player's name. It gives me the passion to play well for my team," he said after his brilliant spell of 4/38 against MI, albeit in a losing cause.
"Well I don't concentrate on the outside or the noise from outside or anything else. I just focus on my own cricket and my own process. Crowd chanting or anyone saying something doesn't affect me.
"As professional sportsmen, you have to take this in your stride. When you don't do well for your team, fans are going to give it to you. And when you do good for your team, (the) same people are going to chant your name. Basically, this is part and parcel of the game," he added.
‘Gambhir is a legend in Indian cricket’: Naveen on LSG mentor
About team mentor Gautam Gambhir, who stood behind him after the on-field spat with Kohli, Naveen-ul-Haq said, "Everyone should back their players. Mentor, coach, player or anyone. I will stand for each teammate on the ground and that's what I expect from each individual also.
“He (Gambhir) has been a legend for India, he has huge respect in India. He has given so much to Indian cricket. As a mentor, as a coach, and as a legend of cricket, I respect him a lot and have learnt so many things from him. How I should go about my cricket inside the field and the same thing outside.”