Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar and ex-England skipper Nasser Hussain were involved in a heated exchange before the start of the third England-India Test at Headingley in Leeds on Wednesday.
Gavaskar was offended by comments made by Hussain in his recent article for the publication Daily Mail where he wrote that the current Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team will not be bullied like the previous Indian generations.
“Virat Kohli is the right man at the right time to lead this formidable India side. His players, in particular the bowlers, want an aggressive captain. They want Kohli stirring things up, as he did so effectively in that brilliant second Test at Lord’s… This India are not a side who will be bullied, as perhaps previous generations have been,” Nasser Hussain wrote in his column.
Gavaskar took exception to Hussain’s assessment of Indian teams from the past and asked the former English skipper to explain what he meant by bullying.
“You said this India will not be bullied as perhaps the previous generations would be. (I) Belonging to previous generation, could you perhaps enlighten which generation? And what is the exact meaning of bully?” Gavaskar asked Hussain during the pre-match show on air.
The Madras-born British cricket commentator then insisted that what he meant was similar to what Gavaskar assumed in the first place.
“I just think, the Indian side under the aggression of the past, would have said ‘no no no’. But what Kohli has done is to make them go doubly hard. I saw a little bit of that in Sourav Ganguly’s side and he started that, Virat is continuing with it. Even when Virat was not there, Ajinkya really went hard at the Australians. I just don’t think you want to wake this Indian side up,” Hussain said.
However, the 72-year-old Indian batting great proceeded to slam Hussain and pointed at the past records of Indian teams during the 70s and 80s.
“But when you say previous generations were bullied, I don't think so. I'd be very upset if my generation was being talked about as being bullied. If you have a look at the record, in 1971 we won, that was my first tour in England. (In) 1974, we had internal problems so we lost 3-0. (In) 1979, we lost 1-0, it could have been 1-1 if we chased down 438 at the Oval (match ended with India stranded at 429 for 8).
"(In) 1982, we again lost 1-0. In 1986 we won 2-0, we could have won it 3-0. So, I don't think my generation we were bullied. I don’t think aggression means you have always got to be at the face of the opposition. You can show passion, you can show your commitment towards your team without yelling after each fall of wicket,” Gavaskar said.
Hussain though remained adamant and stuck to his guns, saying that he likes the way Virat Kohli leads India.
“I for one, quite like the way Kohli leads this side. That’s what I wanted to say. That team talk in which he said ‘let’s unleash fire on this English side’ and you could see the fire that they unleashed,” Hussain said.
Gavaskar agreed with Hussain’s take on Kohli’s India team and said, “There is no argument in that. The question is saying that the previous generations were bullied. I don’t think this is right.”
Meanwhile, India were bundled out for 78 on the first day of the third Test at Headingley in Leeds. England pacers James Anderson and Craig Overton were the pick of the bowlers as they took three wickets each. Rohit Sharma was the top-scorer for India after making 19.
Featured photo: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / ALESSANDRO ABBONIZIO / AFP