Sunil Gavaskar has responded to allegations of being a sexist following his mention of Anushka Sharma during commentary of Thursday’s Kings XI Punjab vs Royals Challengers Bangalore game in the IPL.
While commentating and speaking on the topic of players not having got enough opportunities to practice cricket, since the start of the lockdown in March, Gavaskar mentioned that the only time Virat was seen practising was when a video of him playing a game of friendly cricket with Anushka went viral on social media.
To this, Sharma posted a message on Instagram, questioning the former cricketer for dragging her name into a conversation about her husband’s profession.
And, almost 24 hours after the live broadcast, Gavaskar has now issued a statement.
Speaking to India Today, he said: "As you hear from the commentary, Aakash was talking about the fact that there has been very little chance for proper practice for everybody. Rohit didn't strike the ball well in his first match, MSD didn't strike the ball well, Virat also didn't strike the ball. Most of the batsmen have... because of the lack of practice.”
"That was the point that was being made. Virat also had no practice and the only practice that he had was when they were seen playing in their building compound and Anushka was bowling to him. That's what I said. That's the only bowling, I have not used any other word. She was bowling to him, that's all,” Gavakar added.
“Where am I blaming her? Where am I being sexist in this? I am just stating what was seen in the video. That’s the only thing I am doing,” Gavaskar told India Today.
Earlier in the day, Bollywood actor-producer Sharma had hit out at Gavaskar following his comment, calling his message ‘distasteful’.
She wrote on Instagram:
"That, Mr Gavaskar, your message is distasteful is a fact but I would love for you to explain why you thought of making such a sweeping statement on a wife accusing her for her husband's game? I'm sure over the years you have respected the private lives of every cricketer while commenting on the game. Don't you think you should have equal amount of respect for me and us?
I'm sure you can have many other words and sentences in your mind to use to comment on my husband's performance from last night or yourwords only relevant if you use my name in the process?
It's 2020 and things still don't change for me. When will I stop getting dragged into cricket and stop being used to pass sweeping statements?
Respected Mr Gavaskar, you are a legend whose name stands tall in this gentleman's game. Just wanted to tell you what I felt when I heard you say this."
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