Facing the heat for his team’s 2-0 series defeat at the hands of New Zealand and for his own wretched run of form, India captain Virat Kohli was involved in a tense exchange with a journalist when confronted with a question regarding his on-field behaviour during the Christchurch Test on Monday.
Kohli’s animated celebrations on day two, when India’s bowlers were in the middle of an uplifting performance to bring their team out of the dark, have been the subject of much attention.
Most notable among his actions was the send-off to his opposite number when Kane Williamson nicked off to Rishabh Pant off Jasprit Bumrah, with Kohli seen to be yelling loudly in the direction of the departing batsman.
Furthermore, when Tom Latham misjudged a ball from Mohammed Shami that seamed into him and flattened the stumps, Kohli turned towards a section of the crowd and brought a finger up to his lips, while seemingly mouthing the words: “Shut the f*** up.”
Asked by a member of the local media after the conclusion of the Test if he needed to set a better example as India’s captain with his on-field behaviour, Kohli retorted with a question of his own, asking the journalist: “What do you think?”
After the reporter said, “I asked you the question”, Kohli fired back: “I am asking you the answer. You need to find out exactly what happened and then come with a better question. You can’t come here with half-questions and half-details of what happened. And also, if you want to create controversy, this is not the right place to be. I have spoken to the match referee [Ranjan Madugalle], I have no issues with what happened, so thank you.”
This is not the first run-in that Kohli has had with a member of the press. After his side succumbed to a Test series defeat in South Africa in 2018, Kohli, asked about his team’s line-up and overseas Test record, similarly posed a question in reply when he asked the journalist: “What is the best XI?”
“If we had won this, was this the best XI?” he went on. “We don’t decide the XI according to results. You are telling me that you could have played the best XI. You tell me the best XI and we will play that.”
Williamson, for his part, played down the apparent send-off he received from Kohli, telling PTI: “It is Virat and he is passionate on the field. I don’t think we need to read too much into it.”
India’s 2-0 series defeat was their first under the new World Test Championship model. Before the series against New Zealand, they had gone unbeaten in seven consecutive Tests to take a massive lead atop the championship table, a position they still hold.