Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli has expressed disbelief at "the hatred towards the opposition" in Mumbai that, he said, he finds prevalent during the IPL. Speaking after his team's 58-run loss to Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium, Kohli said the spectators seemed to have forgotten that he represents "their country" in international cricket.
"I don't know what is wrong with people in this venue. It feels a bit weird because at the end of the day you play for India and you don't come here to be hated," Kohli said. "It has happened to a few players in the past as well. I don't know why they get so worked up during IPL. IPL is not the end of the world. They forget that the players they are booing for also play for their country.
"It is only creating hatred among the players. When I come back and play for India, they are going to cheer for me. It doesn't work that way."
Kohli seemingly incurred the crowd's wrath after effecting the run out of Ambati Rayudu without the Mumbai Indians batsman facing a ball. Kohli had just run out Dinesh Karthik with a direct hit, bringing Rayudu to the non-striker's end. From there, Rayudu had taken a start as Kieron Pollard hit towards Kohli in the covers. Kohli scored another direct hit, and Rayudu was short of his ground after getting into a tangle with the bowler, Vinay Kumar. The collision was not intentional, with Vinay backing away from the stumps to collect the throw, his back to Rayudu. It however resulted in the batsman's bat lifting off the ground as the stumps were dislodged.
Talking about that run-out, Kohli said: "It is very important to have knowledge of cricket. If it was any intentional interruption from the bowler then the umpire would have stopped the batsman [from walking off]. It is his job not mine. The bowler didn't see the batsman and the batsman didn't see the bowler, and they collided. It was perfectly fine to be honest."
"It is very important to have knowledge of cricket. If it was any intentional interruption from the bowler then the umpire would have stopped the batsman [from walking off]. It is his job not mine." Virat Kohli on Ambati Rayudu's run-out
Kohli hinted that the batsman should have been more alert. "You should have that much cricket awareness to see where the bowler is coming back. He [Vinay] had to back up when there was no one behind him."
Following that incident, the crowd consistently jeered Kohli, reportedly calling him a 'cheat' and booing him even at the post-match presentation. The experience was very different from the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, Kohli said, where all "Indian players are appreciated". "Whoever wins or loses, in any of the games in Bangalore, every captain is cheered, every Indian player is cheered. People appreciate good cricket."
This comes on the same day former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, in a newspaper column, backed the Mumbai crowd's "big heart". "The beauty of a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai is that there are enough supporters of other teams, so there won't be the one-sided expectations as in some other cities - where if your team does not do well, there's silence, while there is raucous applause for even a single off an inside-edge if it comes from the blade of their batsmen," Gavaskar wrote. "Mumbai has a big heart to accommodate such behavior, for it has seen how most people who have made careers and a profitable living in the metropolis after coming from outside still do not have affection for it."