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Indian Premier League 2023

Explained: The Kohli-Ganguly handshake-staredown controversy

Virat Kohli Sourav Ganguly fight
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

What is brewing between Virat Kohli and Sourav Ganguly? Why is the internet and social media flooded with reports of a possible ‘rift’? What is the backstory? Here is all you need to know.

Unless you have been living under a rock, or are not on social media, it is unlikely that you have not come across repeated mentions of “something” between Virat Kohli and Sourav Ganguly. The two former India captains have been in the news since the IPL 2023 match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals.

What is the story?

An image of Kohli supposedly staring at Sourav Ganguly, who was sitting in the Delhi Capitals dugout, started doing the rounds towards the end of the IPL match between the two teams. In the image, one can only see the back of Kohli, fielding in the deep and facing Ganguly, who was looking in a different direction with a pensive face.

Ganguly is the team director of the Capitals, who suffered a 23-run defeat to the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and have now lost five games on the bounce.

The story subsequently intensified when Ganguly and Kohli skipped each other at the customary post-match handshake. Just before their turn came, Ganguly seemed to move away from the queue, while Kohli skipped past and went ahead.

What is the backstory?

Oh yes. While there has been nothing directly said from both parties, the “snub/stare” has been widely inferred to be from the manner of Kohli’s exit as India captain. In 2021, Kohli stepped down as T20I captain and, months later, was removed from ODI.

There is more to the latter that meets the eye, for it was a somewhat dramatic affair, reportedly before a selection meeting. Kohli later gave up Test captaincy as well.

At that time, Ganguly said that the BCCI had requested Kohli not to step down from T20I captaincy. Kohli, however, maintained there had been no such requests.

Earlier this year, in a sting operation that cost him his job, former chief selector Chetan Sharma mentioned a “battle of egos” between Ganguly and Kohli, and that Kohli had been “seeking revenge” for being removed from captaincy. He added that Kohli had been trying to make statements to defame the then-BCCI president.

What’s new?

Two days have passed since that match, their most recent public “meet-up”, but the story refuses to die. Social media factions, favouring both parties, continue to dig deeper into the story.

Another video from the same game, of a padded-up supposedly Kohli staring at Ganguly as he walked past, has now sprung up on Twitter. There are also reports of Kohli unfollowing Ganguly on Instagram, although the veracity of the claim hasn’t been confirmed.

The story, fuelled by conjecture and speculation, is likely to continue doing the rounds on social media. In Indian cricket, though, it does not take long for the lead story of the week to change. The two teams will meet again, in Delhi, on May 6. Who knows if there is a round two – or three, or four – waiting?

To bet on the IPL with our Match Centre partners bet365, head here.

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