Naveen-ul-Haq will be remembered from IPL 2023 less for his wicket-taking prowess but for the social media banter. For his coming together with Royal Challengers Bangalore batter Virat Kohli and being part of the ugly clash that followed.
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On Wednesday, as the Lucknow Super Giants player took 4/38 against Mumbai Indians in the Eliminator, he did that with the crowd chanting “Kohli, Kohli!”
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It isn’t new for him this season ever since LSG vs RCB had an ugly conclusion and Naveen has posted multiple sly digs at Kohli and/or Bangalore since. In the immediate aftermath, the Afghanistan player posted on Instagram: “You get what you deserve that’s how it should be and that’s how it goes.”
During MI vs RCB, as Kohli walked back to the dugout, Naveen posted: ‘Sweet mango’s [sic]’ with an image of Piyush Chawla and the fruit.
As RCB were eliminated from IPL playoff contention, Naveen shared a meme video of an unnamed reporter saying “God have mercy upon us” before laughing loudly.
The spat has been picked up by the fans who have loudly chanted “Kohli, Kohli” in at least two of LSG’s last two matches – including at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday. Every time he would reach the top of the bowling mark, concede a boundary or bowl a wide, the crowd erupted.
Instead of being negatively affected by it, the Afghanistan player said he is spurred on by such gestures.
“I enjoy it. I like everyone in the ground chanting his (Virat Kohli) name or any other player’s name. It gives me passion to play well for my team,” said Naveen.
“Well I don’t concentrate on the outside or the noise from outside or anything else. I just focus on my own cricket and my own process. Crowd chanting or anyone saying something doesn’t affect me. As professional sportsmen you have to take this in your stride. One does that when you don’t do good for your team, fans are going to give it to you. And when you do good for your team, same people are going to chant your name. Basically this is part and parcel of the game,” said Naveen.
Naveen hails mentor Gambhir
During the LSG-RCB tussle, Lucknow mentor Gautam Gambhir stood up for Naveen and the seamer has publicly acknowledged his support over the weeks. After the defeat against Mumbai Indians, Naveen once again hailed Gambhir and said, “Everyone should back their own players. Mentor, coach, player or anyone – I will stand for each teammate on the ground and that’s what I expect from each individual also. He (Gambhir) has been a legend for India; he has huge respect in India. He has given so much to Indian cricket.”
“As a mentor, as a coach, as a legend of cricket, I respect him a lot and have learnt so many things from him – how I should go about my cricket inside the field and same thing outside.”
Mango meme fest continues
After MI beat LSG, three of Mumbai’s players Kumar Kartikeya, Vishnu Vinod and Sandeep Warrier clicked a photo on the dining table with mangoes. Sandeep and Vishnu posted the photo on their Instagram profiles with the caption, “Sweet season of mangoes.” They did, however, take it down but not before screenshots were taken of the act.
Meanwhile LSG who were eliminated from the competition with the 81 run defeat, jokingly tweeted: “Issued in our interest. Muted words – Mango, Mangoes, Sweet, Aam and mango emoji.”
The season is now over for LSG and Naveen-Ul-Haq but once again he finished off in style: with an image of his ears shut, akin to KL Rahul, and appreciation for the franchise.
“Have lots to say but for now all I’ll say is thank you for all the love and support to the coaches,management and everyone involved in this journey thanks @lucknowsupergiants ,” Naveen posted on Instagram.
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