Virat Kohli seems to be in the thick of things even when he's not in action. With the Indian skipper missing out on the crucial fourth Test against Australia in Dharamsala due to a shoulder injury, the Australian media now quotes former batsman Brad Hodge as suggesting that he may have done so to ensure that he is available for the Indian Premier League, beginning on April 5. Hodge is currently the coach of the Gujarat Lions in the IPL.
"You'd hope as a sportsman that he's seriously injured. I'm hopeful, as a Gujarat Lions coach, that when we play RCB in a couple of weeks, that he's not playing," Hodge was quoted by Daily Telegraph as having told Fox Sports News' Gameday Live.
Hodge said that it would be "pretty dirty" of Kohli if he turns out for the IPL opening match as Royal Challengers Bangalore captain against David Warner's Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 5.
"Because if you miss one game of Test match cricket and you're fronting up the next week for RCB versus whoever, Bangalore, at Chinnaswamy Stadium -- you'd be pretty dirty if he did not front up to a Test match and try and win a valuable series against Australia - which has been pretty spiteful as well," said Hodge, who played five Tests and 25 ODIs between 2005 and 2008.
"You would think that your captain would get out there and get among the fight and get in there."
Kohli pulled out of the Dharamsala Test after the injury he picked up in Ranchi did not heal enough for him to play. The Indian skipper had made it clear on the day before the Test that he would play only if 100 per cent fit.
As it turned out, he failed the fitness test in the morning of the match and did not play.
Hodge hoped the Indian skipper would not turn out to be like the many cricketers who have "limped" into the lucrative IPL.
"It's happened before. Not just Virat but there's many players that have come up to IPL time and ... look, we know it's a cash rich tournament, there's some money up for grabs.
"He (Kohli) gets paid a helluva lot of money, he gets paid a helluva lot of money anyway, so it does not matter, but there are certain players that will limp in, to IPL time, to make sure they get there and perform well, because it is an important tournament for everyone around the world."
Kohli also was in the thick of things for carrying drinks for the Indian fielders during the Australian first innings.
Former Test players Brendon Julian and Brad Haddin have also questioned Kohli that.
"The one sight out there that was quite puzzling was Virat Kohli out there running some drinks. This is the captain that said, 'I can't actually play because I have a shoulder injury' out there running the drinks," Julian said.
"I don't get that. I don't get that. I like Kohli. I think he's a very good captain and he's great for Indian cricket, but you don't need to be doing that. You're out injured. What is the point?"
Haddin said Kohli risked derailing the captaincy of his stand-in, Ajinkya Rahane.
"I also think he's good for the game and he's a world class batter, but what about Rahane," said Haddin.
"He (Rahane) was out their captaining the team and you don't want him running on because you know how big a personality he is in the change-room.
"It's his time to captain and what if he had different views on what Kohli has. Talk to him by all means in the change-room, but you're injured. Sit down and get some ice on your shoulder."
(With PTI Inputs)