Right from his introduction to the world of cricket, Virat Kohli has always been controversy's favorite child. From the infamous middle-finger incident in Australia to the 'untenable' relationship with erstwhile head coach Anil Kumble, he has never been one to sit on the fence.
One underlying theme running through all of Kohli's previous controversies is the fact that he is not going to lie down while taking uncalled for blows, even if it means being politically incorrect. Political correctness at times is highly overrated, and especially for a cricket team captain cockiness is not necessarily an area of improvement but a virtue.
Sourav Ganguly making Steve Waugh wait for the toss, Ian Chappell's perpetually in your face attitude or even the icy cool's MS Dhoni's witty but cocky retort to a reporter when asked about his retirement plans are great examples of legendary cricket captains violating what often is considered the ideal code of conduct.
However, all of this is not a justification for Kohli's response to the 'over-rated' jibe. But there is definitely a scope for some justification only if we choose to take the idealistic garb of our eyes and view this entire incident with some sort of pragmatism.
The respect and admiration that Kohli has for a number of foreign players including the likes of AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and for upcoming players such as Aiden Markram is pretty well known to the world. He even went ahead and gifted a bat to Mohammad Amir and has often been publicly praised by a lot of other Pakistani players for what is generally accepted as positive behavior.
Almost everyone who has shared the dressing room with the Indian skipper or know him well enough have often praised his humility, politeness and other so called positive virtues which are often masked by his 'bad boy attitude'. Be it youngsters such as Khaleel Ahmed or the experienced veterans like Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra, plenty of cricketers have voiced their opinion on how Kohli is not just a terrific cricketer but also a terrific human being.
With the latest controversy, it is not just the intention but his behavior which is being questioned and maybe even rightly so. It doesn't suit the captain of the national team to lash out the way he did. But is there another side to it? The problem with a lot of people on the social media is that they do not even want to acknowledge the other side, leave alone examining it. Its about time we flip the page and delve into the whole story.
A distasteful reply to a distasteful comment
The comment which had Kohli lash out is arguably a racist comment subjecting his countrymen as 'these Indians' (quite evidently in a derogatory manner). It didn't mention anything about Kohli's technique or temperament. The statement just fleetingly mentioned the dislike towards his batting and his fellow teammates.
The distasteful comment was directed not just towards Kohli but towards the entire Indian batting clan and backed with no logic. People who understand the intricacies of cricket - very few in the social media do - would know that there are certain traits associated with Indian /subcontinental batsmanship such as their use of wrists and stroke-play against spin.
However, none of these technical aspects were mentioned while blatantly abusing the entire Indian cricket fraternity. The response by Kohli might not be fully justifiable but definitely doesn't warrant a criticism as harsh as he is getting now.
Throughout his professional career, Kohli has given enough examples of mutual respect towards players of different nationalities and this was nothing but an inappropriate and excusable response to a social media miscreant.
Kohli is an Indian legend who has already made the country proud much more than a lot of the populace would ever do. Hence, it is imperative that at least the true cricket fans give him some leeway which he deserves at this point in time.
It was a Q and A session on a social media app and not a formal press conference and hence the captain's reply does not need to be scrutinised overtly. To sum it up with a cricketing analogy, Kohli might have been dismissed off a full toss here by playing a bad shot. However, we've got to acknowledge that the delivery was a bad one and the shot was on.