IPL 2020 in UAE: Sunil Gavaskar — I was not sexist to Anushka Sharma in comment on Virat Kohli about bowling

India and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli with Sunil Gavaskar in 2017.
India and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli with Sunil Gavaskar in 2017.
Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Former India captain and commentator Sunil Gavaskar has insisted his comments about Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma and her husband, Royal Challengers Bangalore and India captain Virat Kohli, have been misinterpreted.

Gavaskar faced a social media backlash after a remark he made about Anushka helping Kohli with his practice during the coronavirus lockdown, with the actress herself demanding an explanation from the legendary former India captain in a post on her social media handle.

Gavaskar was a commentator during the match that RCB lost by 97 runs to Kings XI Punjab in Dubai on Thursday night. Speaking about Kohli’s poor form during the match — the Bangalore skipper dropped two catches before a poor batting show — former India opener Gavaskar made a crass remark Kohli’s lack of practice during the COVID-19 pandemic and mentioned Anushka by name — a comment many thought was in poor taste. “It seems during the lockdown Kohli only got to practise against Anushka’s bowling,” he said in Hindi.

Later on Friday, Gavaskar moved to clarify his commentary. “As you hear from the commentary, Aakash [Chopra] and I were doing commentary for an Hindi channel. And Aakash was talking about the fact that there has been very little chance for proper practice for everybody. That has actually shown in the rustiness of some of the players in their first matches,” Gavaskar told India Today.

“Rohit [Sharma] didn’t strike the ball well in his first match, MSD [Mahendra Singh Dhoni] didn’t strike the ball well, Virat [Kohli] 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 they had when they were seen them playing in their building compound and Anushka was bowling to him. That’s what I said.

“She was bowling to him, that’s all. Where am I blaming her? Where am I being sexist in this? I am just stating what was seen in the video which was maybe recorded by somebody in the neighbouring buildings and then put up. That’s the only thing I am doing.”

Gavaskar said that the point he was trying to make was that there was “no practice for anybody, including Virat in the lockdown”.

“I am not being sexist. If somebody has interpreted it, what can I do?” he said. “I would like to say it again: Where am I blaming her? I am not blaming her. I am only saying that the video said that she was bowling to Virat. Virat has played only that bowling during the lockdown period. It’s a tennis ball, a fun game that people have to pass time [with] during the lockdown. That’s all. Where am I blaming her for Virat’s failures?”

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