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'Kohli was lying, but no one knows why'

February 15, 2023 07:30 IST
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IMAGE: Virat Kohli's clash with Sourav Ganguly in 2021 is one of the biggest talking points of Indian cricket. Photograph: BCCI

Chairman of Selectors Chetan Sharma found himself embroiled in a huge controversy on Tuesday as he revisited the infamous clash between former skipper Virat Kohli and then BCCI president Sourav Ganguly in December 2021.

Sharma was caught completely unawares as he gave every detail of that incident during a sting operation conducted by Zee News.

Kohli had countered Ganguly's claims that the Board had asked him not to quit as the T20I captain at a press conference ahead of the Indian team's departure for South Africa.

While Ganguly had claimed that 'the BCCI had requested Virat to not step down as the T20I skipper, but, obviously, he did not agree', Kohli retorted: 'When I communicated to BCCI about quitting as India's T20 captaincy, it was received very well. There was no offence or no hesitation. I was never told that 'you should not leave T20 captaincy', in fact it was received very well, as a progressive step and in the right direction.'

Sharma, who was part of the decision making process as the chief selector, stated Kohli was not saying the truth.

'Ganguly gave a statement somewhere that Virat Kohli was telling us that he wanted to give up the captaincy I had told him that he should not give up the captaincy. This he told the media.

'On the other hand, Virat said in the media that the president never told me this (not to give up T20 captaincy). So that became a big controversy,' Sharma was quoted as saying in the sting video on Tuesday.

When probed further, Sharma revealed: 'He (Ganguly) said it, he told him to think about it once. Maybe Kohli didn't hear it because there were nine others there (in the online video conference) including myself and all other selectors, all the BCCI officials, Virat might not have heard him or I don't know why Virat did that.'

When questioned again if Virat lied, Sharma replied: 'I don't know, Virat will know. What was the need for Virat to say all that? As a captain he was going to South Africa, and the press conference was there to talk about the team, he didn't need to bring up this topic but Virat deliberately brought up this topic.'

'The truth is that that he (Ganguly) did tell him. 8-9 people were there, and Ganguly told him (not to give up captaincy). Virat was lying, but no one knows why... and that is his personal matter, but it became a huge controversy. It became a Board versus player clash.'

Sharma states that it was wrong for a player even of Kohli's stature to take on the BCCI president.

'When a conflict happens between a player and a president it is very dangerous because it becomes players versus BCCI then. Who was right and who was wrong, we can see that later, but it is a direct attack on the BCCI and the player only stands to lose in that case.

'What will happen is that they will all come together even if the president is wrong, it's a matter of the chair.'

'When a player becomes a little big, he thinks he is very big, bigger than the Board and he believes no one can touch him. Without me, Indian cricket won't work. Has this ever happened?

'Many big players have come and gone but cricket is still there. So that time he tried to directly target the BCCI president but Ganguly had never told me all that, so that came a big issue.'

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