Indian skipper Virat Kohli is known for making bold statements on the field. On Friday, he made perhaps his boldest statement off the field with an impassioned appeal for social unity.
On the eve of a must-win game against New Zealand, Kohli spoke out strongly on the need to maintain the team’s “brotherhood”.
He also lashed out at those actively promoting toxic discourse, social disharmony and religious discrimination on social media.
Furious at the trolling of pacer Mohammed Shami on religious lines following India’s defeat to Pakistan last week, Kohli said, “Attacking someone over religion is the most pathetic thing a human being can do… it is the lowest level of human potential one can operate at. We stand by Shami fully. We are backing him 200%. All those who have attacked him can come with more force if they want to (but) our brotherhood, our friendship within the team… nothing can be shaken”.
Kohli also called those who trolled Shami, the lone Muslim member of India’s playing XI against Pakistan, as “spineless”.
Nothing can shake the brotherhood within the Indian team, says Kohli
‘Shami has been our primary bowler along with Bumrah‘
Ascertaining that nothing can shake the “brotherhood and friendship” within the Indian team, Virat said, “There’s a good reason why we are playing on the field and not some bunch of spineless people on social media. (They) have actually no courage to speak to any individual in person. They hide behind identities and go after people. On social media, making fun of people has become a source of entertainment in today’s world, which is so unfortunate and is so sad to see. This is literally the lowest level of human potential one can operate at. We as individuals understand what we want to do on the field and the strength of character and mental toughness we have… (this) is precisely why we are doing what we are doing on the field.”
Kohli added, “None of these people are even in the vicinity to imagine doing that. They do not have the courage or the spine to do it. All this drama created on the outside is purely based on people’s frustrations, their lack of self-confidence, their lack of compassion, and hence they find it so amusing to go after people. We as a group understand how we need to stick together, how we need to back individuals, how we need to focus on our strengths. People do not understand what it takes to do the job on the field at international level. How people on the outside portray it: being that India can’t afford to lose a game… that’s none of our business. We play sport and we understand exactly how sport goes. How people think on the outside has no value whatsoever within our group.”
Asked again how he was backing Shami after the tasteless trolling, Kohli said, “I would like to elaborate on that a little bit. Attacking someone over religion is the most pathetic thing a human being can do. Everyone has the right to voice their opinion but I personally have never, ever even thought of discriminating (against) anyone over their religion. That is a very sacred and personal thing to every human being. That should be left there.
“People take out their frustrations because they have no understanding of what we do as individuals. They have no understanding of how much effort we put on the field. They have no understanding of the fact that someone like Mohammed Shami has won India ‘n’ number of matches in the last few years and has been our primary bowler with Jasprit Bumrah.
“If people can overlook that and his passion for the country, I honestly don’t even want to waste one minute of my life to give any attention to those people. Neither does Shami.”
Driving the point home, Kohli said, “I can guarantee you as the captain of the team that we have built a culture where these things will not infiltrate into this environment…0.0001%. And that is the absolute guarantee from my side.”