'If you want to have a comment on the selection committee and their qualifications please do so as it's your opinion but don't drag my name into it to substantiate your claim or sensationalise your opinion.'
India cricket captain Virat Kohli's wife and Bollywood actor Anuskha Sharma reacted strongly to former wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer's claims that the national selectors were getting her 'cups of tea' during the World Cup in UK earlier this year.
"I have always been of the opinion that maintaining silence on false & fabricated news and stories against one is the best way to deal with your detractors. This is how I have handled my career for 11 years now. I always saw dignity & truth embedded in the shadow of my silence.
"They say, say a lie so many times repeatedly that it starts to look like the truth and I am afraid this is what has been happening with me. My silence has made the lies spitted against me seem true but that ends today," Anushka said in a statement on social media.
Engineer slammed the current selection committee led by MSK Prasad, labelling them as a 'Mickey Mouse selection committee', saying they were busy serving tea to Anushka during the World Cup.
The selection committee, led by former India wicketkeeper Prasad, comprises of Devang Gandhi, Gagan Khoda, Sarandeep Singh and Jatin Paranjpe.
"Virat Kohli has a major impact (in the process) which is very good. But how are the selectors qualified? Between them, have they played about 10-12 Test matches. I didn't even know one of the selectors during the World Cup and I asked him 'who the hell he was', because he was wearing the India blazer and he said he was one of the selectors," Engineer told TOI in Pune on Thursday.
Reacting strongly to the claims, Anushka stated: "The latest version of these ill intended lies is that I was being served tea by selectors at matches during the World Cup! I came to one game during the World Cup and sat in the family box and not the selectors box as reported but when has the truth mattered when it's about convenience!
If you want to have a comment on the selection committee and their qualifications please do so as it's your opinion but don't drag my name into it to substantiate your claim or sensationalise your opinion. I refuse to allow anyone from using my name in such conversations," she added.
Anuskha also clarified that her name was also used in the past to create "false stories to make it look like the board was being bothered for my tickets or security, etc. when in reality I bought my own tickets for matches and flights and I still kept quiet."
She also disclosed why she has decided not to stay quiet anymore against such personal allegations.
"Today I have decided to speak up because someone's silence cannot be taken as their weakness. I am not and will not be a pawn to be used by anyone's thoughts or beliefs or agendas and next time you want to use my name to discredit someone or the board or even my husband, do it with facts and proof & leave me OUT of it."
"I have led my life, built my own career with utmost dignity and I am not going to compromise that for anything. Maybe it's hard for someone to believe that, because, I am a self-made, independent woman who only happens to the wife of a cricketer."
... and for the record I drink coffee."
Prasad, while speaking on behalf of his colleagues rubbished the allegations.
"During the World Cup, none of the selectors were sitting in the box where the Indian captain's wife sat and this is an absolutely rubbish, malicious and defamatory assertion," Prasad said.
"I feel sad for someone deriving sadistic pleasure out of indulging in petty talk, thereby demeaning and disrespecting the selectors and wife of Indian captain through false and frivolous allegations," an angry Prasad added.
"Let's not forget that this selection committee has been appointed by BCCI through a proper process in an AGM."
The former India wicketkeeper believes that it's time that Engineer behaved his age as it doesn't behove his stature to pass such nasty comments about anyone's wife, be it Indian captain or any ordinary man.
"Someone at the age of 82 should reflect maturity and enjoy the progress of Indian cricket from his time to the current day."
Last year too, Anushka faced some flak on social media over her presence in the Indian team's official photo in London after their dinner at the Indian high commission.
Clarifying the same, she stated: "I was asked to stand in a group photo by the High Commissioner's wife despite my hesitation to be in it, and a huge issue was created over this blaming me for intentionally wanting to be part of it and the said event, even though I was invited for it. An official clarification was issued by the board on the same and I still kept quiet," Anushka went on to add in the post on Thursday."
The full statement from Anushka Sharma: