So, Virat Kohli's wife Anushka Sharma, a Bollywood actress herself, has issued a strong reply to Farokh Engineer after the latter claimed that Indian team selectors were serving her tea during the ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup, a few months ago.
A lot of people have come out and praised Anushka Sharma for being forthright in setting the record straight. Many others are also criticising Engineer for his remarks. However, there is another aspect of the entire episode that needs to be looked at closely.
This is not the first time Anushka has become indignant over comments related to her companionship of Virat. It was in 2014 that the relationship between the Indian captain and the PK actress became a major issue. Sharma was with Kohli when the latter was having a hellish series in England. Anushka became a major talking point on social media.
The matter flared up at an official level when the manager of that Indian team CK Khanna criticised Kohli for staying with Anushka during the tour without the two being married. Later that year, Kohli redeemed himself by returning to form on the Australian tour and scoring four hundreds in a 4-Test series.
However, in the 2015 World Cup semi-final, when Kohli got out for a personal score of just 1, with Anushka being in the stands and the cameras panning to her instantly, she became the butt of jokes and target of criticism. Some members of the Twitterati blamed her for 'distracting' the Indian batsman while some decided to have a chuckle at her expense.
"Dhoni told Kohli to go and spend time with Sharma. Virat didn't realise that MSD was talking about Rohit Sharma and not Anushka Sharma," one user wrote on social media.
Sometime after that, Anushka gave an interview to Barkha Dutt on NDTV 24X7 where she expressed her anger at people blaming her for Virat's failure.
"My relationship with the person has nothing to do with either my profession, or the person's profession. Why can't the person be a strength to somebody, a supporter, a morale booster? Just because you are attaching a physical relationship. I found that to be extremely primitive."
Now, when people described Anushka Sharma as a 'distraction,' there was no insinuation of physical relationship. People just thought that the Indian batting star was giving more attention to Anushka than to his game. That may have been a misinformed view and overly judgemental. It could have been criticised on those grounds but to say that people are 'attaching a physical relationship' was nothing but an overreaction.
Now, the first lady of Indian cricket has put out a post in social media where she strongly criticises Farokh Engineer for his comments.
She wrote: "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. "
In this case, a clarification from Anushka would have been sufficient. That would have also provoked a statement from Engineer clearing up the matter. But to write such a long post and that too, in an angry tone can be classified as an over-reaction.
This raises the question: Is Sharma being unfairly kept in the news by the media or is she starting to feel a little insecure about being constantly seen with Virat. It is a fact that the cricketers of the former generation, the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, etc. were hardly seen with their wives.
The cricketers of this generation, aided by social media, are much more open about their feelings for their spouses. This is bound to draw more attention, some of it unwarranted. One wonders whether some of Anushka's anger is due to a realisation that she is in the spotlight along with Virat too often.