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I like it: On the ‘Kohli…Kohli’ taunting, Naveen-ul-Haq

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Chants of “Kohli, Kohli” have accompanied Naveen-ul-Haq everywhere he has performed for the past 25 days. An argument with the RCB stalwart during their match in Lucknow on May 1 set off a commotion among spectators in stadiums throughout India. Every time the Afghanistan pacer came on to bowl, bat, or even field at the boundary line, they felt compelled to make fun of him, and Wednesday was no exception.

The atmosphere was set by Krunal Pandya, who bowled three overs of spin up front before getting destroyed by both Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan. The audience turned out in large numbers to support the five-time champions. When Krunal changed his mind and tossed the ball to Naveen, there were loud cries for Kohli. Even Rohit was receiving applause for his smooth start, but the atmosphere changed as soon as Naveen approached for his run-up. Even when Naveen ran in to bowl the fourth over, cries of “Kohli… Kohli” could be heard across the stadium.

Having Rohit Sharma caught at cover on the second ball of that over, Naveen celebrated by putting two fingers in his ears in an apparent attempt to drown out the heckling crowd. The early innings were characterized by this back-and-forth sparring between the Chepauk audience and Naveen.

Naveen said of the chanting, “I like it. “I adore how everyone in the stadium is singing his name or the name of any other player. It fuels my desire to do well for my team.

“I don’t focus on the sounds outside. I only concentrate on my own cricket. It’s not as if the chants of the audience or anything anyone says doesn’t bother me. You have to accept it in stride since you are a professional athlete. One day you won’t give the team your all, and these fans will let you know it. The same people will sing your name when you do something spectacular for your team on another day, Naveen continued.

Fans all over the nation might not want to see Naveen after his antics on that particular day, but the Afghanistan pacer had a good season overall and closed it off with 11 wickets, including four on Wednesday.

Even after LSG struck out both of the openers during the PowerPlay, MI flew with a stand between Suryakumar Yadav and Cameron Green, two of their strongest hitters. In a 66-run partnership off 38 balls, the pair hammered eight fours and three sixes while Krunal failed to set up proper fields to stop the leak. In the eleventh over, he quickly went to Naveen and gained immediate benefits once more.

On a surface that occasionally helped with change of pace, both batsmen were confidently hitting through line until Naveen unfurled two cutters, one leg and one off, to stop them. Suryakumar tried to loft one down the leg side but failed to cover because to the leg cutter’s slow bowling speed of 107.3 kmph. The outcome was an error that had height but not distance and was intercepted far away. Green managed to get one that slightly veered off course and slowed down to 104.9 kmph, which allowed him to get past the big batter’s defense and knock back the stumps.

“You evaluate the circumstances. You can view the terms and what they’re offering. The pitch, in my opinion, was providing some assistance, Naveen said. Although we didn’t bowl three or four slower deliveries in a row, you still need to alter your pace as well as your line and length to keep the batsmen guessing. You must rapidly adapt to the fast format of T20 and stay one step ahead of the batter.

He had to contend with the left-handed duo of Tilak Varma and Nehal Wadhera towards the end. He attempted to go full and outside the off-stump against the pair in the 18th over, but instead bowled three wides to Varma. However, he persisted and picked up the tempo once again (105.3 kph) as the southpaw charged in and hit it to Deepak Hooda at long range.

After halftime, his 4 for 38 effort kept LSG in the game, but their batting collapsed in the face of Akash Madhwal’s five-wicket haul. Naveen still has a successful first season under his belt, and he intends to build on it when he returns.

“To be very honest, his season was great. As a team, we could have performed better. There is no credit for individual performances. Our team’s ultimate objective was to take home the prize. My performance as an individual comes in second. It was a successful season for me; I gained a lot of knowledge from this IPL, and hopefully I’ll return better than ever, he remarked.

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