- Nasima Akter
Mumbai Indians' Subtle Jab at Naveen-ul-Haq Online
Naveen-ul-Haq, the Afghan pacer, has become a sensation in the IPL 2023, leaving a lasting impact as he departs the tournament. Known for his exceptional skills both in the infield and outfield, Naveen-ul-Haq has become a hot topic in the league, making him one of the top trending cricketers worldwide.
The moment Lucknow Super Giants were eliminated from IPL 2023 on Wednesday, Naveen-ul-Haq, sweet mangoes, and Gautam Gambhir started trending on Twitter. Fans of Virat Kohli took this opportunity to mock the Afghan pacer and former Indian opener Gambhir.
Ever since the May 1 altercation between Naveen and Gambhir involving Virat Kohli, this has been the recurring narrative. Wherever Naveen goes, chants of "Kohli Kohli" from fans follow him.
Naveen's indirect jabs at Kohli and RCB have further fueled the fire, leading to a situation where the seamer has restricted comments on his Instagram account and has even blocked numerous Twitter users.
After the elimination of RCB by GT in IPL 2023, Naveen posted another cryptic Instagram story. The story featured a famous African TV reporter saying, "God have mercy upon us," before bursting into laughter. The timing and content of the post strongly suggested a reference to RCB's exit, as AB de Villiers and Kohli had discussed this funny video extensively earlier in the year.
Between the altercation and the cryptic post, Naveen cleverly incorporated mentions of mangoes, earning himself the title "The Mango Man," given to him by his teammate Nicholas Pooran on social media. Mangoes have never received such widespread attention before. It took just moments after Mumbai Indians' victory for a player from their team, Sandeep Warrier, to indirectly take a dig at Naveen's celebrations and, of course, the mangoes. He posted a picture with Kumar Kartikeya and Vishnu Vinod, where three mangoes were placed prominently on the table, captioning it as the "Sweet season of mangoes." The post quickly went viral but was later deleted from their social media accounts.
Naveen has received a lot of attention, trolling, and booing, but he is embracing it. During the post-match press conference on Wednesday, the LSG seamer expressed his enjoyment of the chants, stating that they fuel his passion to perform well.
"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.
"I don't concentrate on the noise from outside or anything else. I solely focus on my own cricket and my own process. Crowd chants or anyone's comments don't affect me. As professional sportsmen, we have to take these things in our stride. When you don't perform well for your team, fans are going to criticize you. And when you do perform well, those same people are going to chant your name. It's all part and parcel of the game," Naveen added.
When asked about his relationship with Gambhir and how it has contributed to his growth as a player during the IPL, Naveen emphasized the importance of supporting one's own teammates.
"Everyone should support their own players, whether it's a mentor, coach, player, or anyone else. I stand by each of my teammates on the field, and I expect the same from every individual. Gambhir has been a legend for India, earning immense respect in the country. He has contributed so much to Indian cricket. As a mentor, coach, and cricketing legend, I hold him in high regard and have learned many valuable lessons from him about how to approach my cricket both on and off the field," Naveen expressed.
In the match against Mumbai Indians on Wednesday, Naveen-ul-Haq took four wickets for LSG. However, despite his impressive performance, the multiple-time champions Mumbai Indians emerged victorious against LSG.