Was Virat Kohli unforgivingly patriotic while asking a mischievous fan, who said he prefers watching English and Australian batsmen, to leave the country? Or was his ego pricked by the use of the word ‘overrated’ with regard to him? Was he being stupid or consciously joining the growing chorus that advises you to become an NRI if you don’t wax eloquent about them? It can be all, none or a combination of these.
Whatever it is, this outburst again shows that India’s cricket captain doesn’t mind being hypocritical and impolite in public if someone airs a preference for something else. It can be an opposition player, a journalist or just a fan who has the right to choice. Kohli’s assertion, “I don’t mind you not liking me but I don’t think you should live in our country and like other things” reeks of double standards, and similar comments have already been criticised on Twitter.
But here are a few reminders. Among the many brands Kohli endorses, there are foreign companies which have Indian counterparts. According to an online report published a few months ago, his favourite food is sushi and his favourite book Andre Agassi’s autobiography. He likes watching Aamir Khan and Aishwarya Rai as well as Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Paris and Barcelona are his dream destinations. Why on earth should such a person disapprove of another Indian liking players like AB de Villiers, Joe Root or Steve Smith?
It is more pardonable if the reason for this outburst is brashness bordering on stupidity and Kohli made the statement at the heat of the moment. For, it is scarier to think that India’s biggest role model in sports for this generation is someone who is incapable of taking criticism and propagates an idea which has sensitive and serious connotations in the present climate. Campaigning for a certain political school of thought from the field of sports is not something India has come across that often.