Dubai: Sunil Gavaskar on Friday found himself in the midst of a controversy for a comment on India skipper Virat Kohli and his wife Anushka Sharma but the legendary batsman asserted that his remarks, construed as sexist, were misinterpreted.
Kohli had a bad day in office on Thursday when he led Royal Challengers Bangalore against Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match. He dropped two catches of rival skipper KL Rahul and managed only a run off five balls in RCB's chase.
While Kohli was still at crease, Gavaskar said 'India captain is keen to improve and he knows that he can do so only by practicing more and more'. He then added that 'during the lockdown Kohli faced only Anushka's bowling and it is showing that it did not help much'.
Gavaskar was speaking in Hindi when he made the comment.
However, the comment did not go down well with Kohli and Anushka's fans and some even demanded his sacking from Star Sports commentary panel, lashing out at him on social media.
Reacting to it, Anushka also issued a statement on her Instagram page and said that Gavaskar's message was "distasteful". She was livid that her name was unnecessarily mentioned by a respected personality like him.
She wrote, "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 am sure over the years you have respected the private lives of every cricketer while commentating on the game. Don't you think you should have equal amount of respect for me and us?"
"I am sure you can have many words and sentences in your mind to use to comment on my husband's performance from last night or are your words only relevant if you use my name in the process?"
"......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."
— Filmfare (@filmfare) September 25, 2020
Gavaskar though said his comments were not understood in right context.
The remark according to Gavaskar was in reference to a video clip where Kohli and Anushka were seen enjoying some tennis ball cricket in their compound.
"Firstly, I would like to say, where am I blaming her, I'm not blaming her. I am only saying that the video showed she was bowling to Virat. Virat has only played that much bowling in this lockdown period," Gavaskar told India Today channel.
"It is tennis ball fun game that people have to pass time during the lockdown, so that's all, so where am I blaming her for Virat's failures."
Gavaskar also rubbished allegations on social media that he made a "sexist comment".
"I'm the one who has always batted for wives going with husbands on tours. I am the one who has always said that like a normal guy going to office for a 9-5 job, when he comes back home, he comes back to his wife, similarly why can't cricketers have their wives with them," Gavaskar said.
He also tried to explain his comment.
"As you can hear from the commentary, Aakash was talking about the fact there has been very little chance for any proper practice in the lockdown, for everybody...
".....that has actually shown in rustiness of some of the players in their first matches. Rohit (Sharma) didn't strike the ball well, now in the second match he has got runs, MSD (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) didn't strike the ball well in the first match."
".....Anushka was bowling to him, so 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, where am I blaming her, where I am being sexist in this."
"I'm just only stating what was seen on the video which was maybe recorded by somebody in the neighbouring buildings and put up and that's the only thing I'm doing, but the point I'm making trying to make is that there was no practice for anybody including Virat in the lockdown.
"...I have not been sexist, if somebody has interpreted it, what can I do," Gavaskar said.
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While RCB will look to start afresh, CSK got a confidence-boosting 20-run win against defending champions Mumbai Indians on Sunday night.
Kohli's announcement comes on the back of his decision to step down as India's T20 captain.
The 37-year-old former South Africa skipper is in the UAE to represent his Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the remainder of the 14th edition of the lucrative league.