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Hardik Pandya apologises for 'regretful' behaviour on talk show

Comments made by Pandya and team-mate KL Rahul on TV attracted widespread social media backlash for their perceived misogyny, sexism and racism

Nagraj Gollapudi
KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya have a chat after the game, Mumbai Indians v Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2018, Mumbai, May 16, 2018

KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya have a chat after the game  •  BCCI

Hardik Pandya has apologised for comments made on a talk show in India, which he'd been asked to explain by the BCCI after it was met with widespread social media backlash over its perceived misogyny, sexism and racism.
The BCCI, on Wednesday, issued showcause notices to Pandya, and KL Rahul, who had been the other guest on the episode of 'Koffee with Karan' aired January 6, to explain their behaviour.
"You have made a few statements during your appearance that have not been well received in the media and within the BCCI," the board's CEO Rahul Johri wrote in an email to both players. "You will appreciate that being a BCCI contracted player, such statements on your part also reflect poorly on BCCI."
Pandya was the first to reply. His email, accessed by ESPNcricinfo, said: "As you are aware, I made an appearance on the chat show where I have made certain statements without realising that these could be disrespectful and offend sensitivities of viewers for which I am sincerely regretful.
"I would like to assure you that there was no malice or any sort of ill-intent on my part to offend anyone or portray any section of the society in bad light. I made these statements in the flow of the show and had not comprehended the extent to which my statements would be found offensive."
Pandya and Rahul appeared on a popular talk show hosted by the Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar earlier this week. In it, the two cricketers were asked several questions about their personal lives and relationships.
Having mentioned that he felt West Indian in spirit earlier on the programme, Pandya answered a question about he approached women in night clubs in this way: "I like to watch and observe how they move. I'm little from the black side so I need to see how they move."
There was another anecdote as well. "The other day there was a party," Pandya said, "My parents are sitting there and (referring to the female guests) they're like "Which one is yours?" and I sat with them and said "This, this this, everyone's got something with me."
These replies came in for plenty of condemnation on social media.
"... the sheer disrespect and sexist way these guys discussed women and relationships made me cringe," was one response on Twitter. "Cricket is a religion in this country and young boys watching the show are going to follow in the footsteps of their heroes. Do they not have any social responsibility?"
Ratnakar Shetty, the former BCCI general manager of cricket administration, also had his say, as did the commentator Harsha Bhogle.
As the backlash began to mount, Pandya issued an apology on his Instagram feed. "After reflecting on my comments on Koffee with Karan, I would like to apologise to everyone concerned who I may have hurt in any way. Honestly, I got a bit carried away with the nature of the show. In no way did I mean to disrespect or hurt anyone's sentiments. Respect."
But the Committee of Administrators, which is overseeing the functioning of the BCCI, decided to pull him and Rahul up as contractual obligations include the players safe-guarding BCCI's reputation.
Pandya's father Himanshu defended his son saying he was "innocent" and the comments on the show should not be taken "seriously".
"I don't think people should read too much into his comments," Himanshu told the Mid-Day newspaper. "It was an entertainment show and his comments were made in a light- hearted manner. he was only looking to entertain the audience. So, it [his comments] should not be viewed very seriously or negatively. He is an innocent boy with a very fun- loving nature."
This episode puts the BCCI and its attitude towards women in the spotlight once again, soon after its CEO Johri was given a contentious "clean chit" by a three-member independent inquiry committee that looked into allegations of sexual harrassment levelled against him by two women. Though the committee did not find Johri guilty, one of its members, the women's rights lawyer Veena Gowda, said it was "essential that… [Johri] undergo some form of gender sensitivity counselling/training."

Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo