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.

Naveen had Rohit Sharma caught at cover on the second ball of that over, and in response to the jeering crowd, he pointedly celebrated by sticking his two fingers in his ears in an attempt to block out the noise. The theme of the first innings was this back-and-forth sparring between the Chepauk crowd and Naveen.

“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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