Virat Kohli and Naveen-ul-Haq will be up against each other when India face Afghanistan in the 2023 World Cup match at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on Wednesday. The seasoned Indian batter and Afghanistan fast bowler were involved in an on-field altercation during the Indian Premier League (IPL) earlier this year, which snowballed into the biggest controversy of the season in the T20 league.
The ugly incident took place during the IPL 2023 match between Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on May 1. After RCB batted first and posted 126/9, LSG were struggling in the chase.
When Naveen was batting for Lucknow during the chase, he got involved in a heated exchange with Kohli. As per reports, the Afghanistan fast bowler was unhappy with Kohli’s suggestion that the bowler must send down some bouncers to the tailender. Both players had a go at each other, with neither of the two willing to back down.
The story, however, did not end there. On the contrary, it had just begun. After the game ended, with Bangalore winning by 18 runs, Kohli and Naveen were involved in another ugly exchange during the customary post-match handshakes. A few moments later, it seemed LSG skipper KL Rahul was trying to play mediator between the two, but the Afghanistan cricketer was not interested and walked away.
The worst was of course the squabble between Kohli and LSG mentor Gautam Gambhir, who have themselves been involved in on-field altercations in the past. Gambhir and Kohli had an extremely ugly exchange in what seemed like a mini WWE-type scene.
Players from both sides tried to calm down things but to no avail. As a result, the trio of Naveen, Kohli, and Gambhir were fined for breaching the IPL code of conduct.
“I didn’t start the fight” – Naveen-ul-Haq blamed Virat Kohli for IPL 2023 controversy
In an interview with BBC Pashto, Naveen blamed Kohli for the IPL 2023 controversy, claiming that the Indian cricketer started the fight.
According to the Afghanistan fast bowler, who will retire from ODIs after the ongoing World Cup, Kohli caught his hand forcefully during the post-match handshakes.
“He (Kohli) shouldn’t have said all those things during the match and after it. I didn’t start the fight. After the match, when we were shaking hands, Virat Kohli started the fight. I just want to say one thing I generally don’t sledge anyone, and even if I do it I would say it to the batters only when I am bowling because I am a bowler. In that match, I didn’t utter a single word. I didn’t sledge anyone,” the 24-year-old claimed.
“Players who were there, they know how I dealt with the situation. I never lost my temper, when I was batting or after the match. What I did after the match can be seen by everyone. I was just shaking hands and then he (Kohli) caught my hand forcefully and I am also a human being and I reacted,” he added.
Naveen has featured in eight ODIs so far and has claimed 15 wickets at an average of 25.80 and an economy rate of 5.76.