Fans were holding out immense hope for the Indian Cricket Team in their first overseas day-night test against Australia in Adelaide. Unfortunately, India recorded a disappointing loss on Saturday after losing to Australia by eight wickets. The results of the match have collectively sobered legions of people, as is naturally expected in a country where cricket is religion. However, it has irked some more than most who are infuriated, not just by team captain Virat Kohli, but also his family back home in India. In what has almost become the norm anytime our team loses a match now, trolls have resorted to blaming Anushka Sharma and her pregnancy for Kohli’s allegedly poor captaincy and output. What’s more, many on social media are even demanding for the paternity leave Kohli has issued ahead of his child’s birth to be revoked, so he can be available for what’s apparently more important: the next three test matches.
It’s an ugly wonder how, even in 2020, we are incapable of nuanced discourse. In our frantic bid to tie two and two together – in order to avoid accepting the realities of life – we scramble for solutions that will be easy to swallow. Consider, for instance, how much more convenient it is for fans of cricket to pin down Kohli and his team’s loss to a force outside their purview. In this case, Anushka Sharma and the child in her belly. It is far easier to take her down as the cause behind Kohli’s (and by extension, the team’s) “distraction” than it is to face the fact that the team probably underperformed in the India-Australia match or that fate perhaps just wasn’t in their favour this time around.
Also Read: Virat Kohli’s Paternity Leave Will Help Fans Normalise That Parenting Is A Partnership
Because why confront your disappointment with the Indian cricket team’s performance when you can let it manifest in unhealthier ways like asking Kohli to cancel his paternity leave or hating on Sharma for being pregnant? Here are some social media reactions along those lines:
Cancel Virat Kohli’s paternity leave @BCCI . We are doomed otherwise #AUSvIND
— Ashwin Kumar (@bee_2790) December 17, 2020
“Lads, Anushka’s going in labor, let’s make it quick yeah?” pic.twitter.com/hMUty0V9Ip
— notrophyszn (@ElGujju) December 19, 2020
@AnushkaSharma Anushkaji, please insist Virat to cancel paternity leave and continue with tour for the sake of Indian Cricket
— Thankaraj (@josthankaraj) December 18, 2020
Shame on Virat captaincy…he is just worried about his paternity leave.
— Subramaniam (@Subrama62243991) December 19, 2020
Forget paternity leave of Virat Kohli, the way we're being fucked, whole team's gonna get maternity leave soon.#IndvsAus #INDvsAUSTest#INDvsAUSTest
— Ｗａｓｉｍ Bin Ｔａｈｉｒ (@_Wasim_Tweets) December 19, 2020
Also Read: 6 Times Anushka Sharma Reminded Us Why Women Should Stand Up for Themselves
Is It Fair To Demand Kohli’s Paternity Leave To Be Cancelled?
While it is understandable that fans would like to see their dependable cricket captain prolong his stay for the rest of the test matches, it isn’t in the least fair. What’s worse is the way he and Sharma are being reprimanded for their pregnancy. It’s bizarre, how seriously the audience values their own importance in having a say in another person’s life. Especially when that person is a celebrity. By virtue of showering adulation upon their idols, people believe it’s only legitimate that when the time comes, they are entitled to shower equal amounts of rage, disapproval, and even their own decisions.
But are they?
Shouldn’t Kohli’s choice of prioritising the care of his wife and birth of his child over and above his sport be respected without judgment? Agreed, that he took this decision prior to India’s loss in the match, but shouldn’t he be given some credit for having assessed the team’s strengths before applying for paternity leave? Even if he didn’t, why must he be at the mercy of a million opinions if he chooses to put his family above his career?
Also Read: Why Must Working Women Pretend To Be Strong Or Masculine To Fit In At Workplaces?
Seldom does it happen that a man – a global figure, no less – has enough resolve to take paternity leave, which may endanger “weakening” his public image and masculinity (even though these ideas are all fabricated). That Kohli chose to break this taboo, mustn’t it be upheld?
No one knows whether Kohli will now choose to withdraw his paternity leave or not after the devastating loss at Adelaide. But shouldn’t this decision be entirely his to take, without the crushing weight of countless expectations urging him to do so? If he chooses to go through with his paternity leave, should it in any way “lessen” the regard cricketing fans hold for him?
Why Must Anushka Sharma Be Dragged Into Cricket?
Despite repeated protests by Sharma, to not drag her name into the field when her husband is playing, trolls pay no heed. Like a crass running joke, every performance by Kohli (more, if his team loses) is estimated in relation to Sharma. Recently, after veteran cricketer, Sunil Gavaskar’s words during his commentary were misconstrued to demean Sharma, she had taken to Instagram to write, “It’s 2020 and things still don’t change for me. When will I stop getting dragged into cricket and stop being used to pass sweeping statements?” Read more here.
Earlier in 2019, cricketer Farokh Engineer had taken a dig at her during the World Cup, saying, “All they [selectors] were doing was getting Anushka Sharma cups of tea.” Following this events, Sharma had uploaded a long media statement elaborating on her grievances, saying, “Next time you want to use my name to discredit someone… or even my husband, do it with facts… and leave me OUT of it.”
Also Read: Pregnant Anushka Sharma Performs Shirshasana, Husband Virat Kohli Helps
And now that the NH10 actor is pregnant with her first child, the trolling is bigger, uglier, and far more brutal than usual. Why must the brunt of a man’s life fall on his wife and children? Is it because we take the phrase “Behind every successful man is a woman” too seriously? Or is it because we are so entrapped within patriarchal mindsets that a woman is expected to take responsibility for every single facet of her husband’s life?
Whatever the case, and whether or not Kohli goes forth with his paternity leave, cricket fans should hit pause on their fanaticism to do some soul-searching.
Views expressed are the author’s own.