Controversy struck the Indian Premier League (IPL) contest between Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) as Virat Kohli was given out on a dubious call by the umpires at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.


After the Shreyas Iyer-led KKR posted a healthy 222/6 on the board, RCB's opening pair of Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis had their work cut out as they needed a blistering start to their run chase and the former did begin in explosive fashion, smacking a boundary and a maximum in the first over of his side's essay.


The 35-year-old talismanic batter followed it up with another sumptuous six over the long-on boundary off the bowling of Mitchell Starc to advance RCB's score to 27/0 in only 2 overs.


However, drama unfolded on the maiden delivery of the next over when Harshit Rana produced a high full-toss and took Virat Kohli by surprise. As he was rushed into the shot, the former RCB skipper couldn't get any timing and the ball ballooned in the air. Subsequently, he was caught and bowled by Harshit Rana and KKR and the home side's fans erupted in celebrations at the historic venue. 


Yet, to the naked eye, it appeared to be an over-the-waist no ball, and Virat Kohli asked for a review. But his DRS call wasn't considered as the on-field umpire had himself referred the decision to the third umpire.


English umpire Michael Gough, who was occupying the third umpire's chair, adjudged Virat Kohli out, infuriating the latter to the extent that the Delhi-born cricketer argued with the on-field umpires before leaving the ground. Later, he was clicked hitting his bat on the boundary rope in anger. 


Cricket pundit Harsha Bhogle, who was commentating on the match at the time of the incident, stated, “RCB have been robbed here.”


According to ICC's rule for over-the-waist deliveries, “Any delivery, which passes or would have passed, without pitching, above waist height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease, is to be deemed to be unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker. If the bowler bowls such a delivery the umpire shall immediately call and signal No ball.”


The incident caused quite a stir on social media, with Virat Kohli's former RCB teammate and ex-South Africa captain AB de Villiers, terming the decision as a “grey area in the game.”


“Grey areas in the game open up room for anger and confusion. It’s not a tough fix this. Get the batter’s stance, draw the lines and use ball tracking. No confusion whatsoever,” AB de Villiers said in a post on X.


Virat Kohli would have hurt even more as RCB lost in a last-over thriller by the barest of margins. With 21 needed to win in the 20th over, Karn Sharma brought the equation down to 3 off 2 balls after smacking Mitchell Starc for three sixes in the first four balls. 


Just when it looked like RCB would run away with their second victory in IPL 2024, Mitchell Starc dismissed Karn Sharma on the fifth delivery before Lockie Ferguson was run out on the next, leaving the South India-based team heartbroken.


After the shattering loss, Virat Kohli's team is now at the bottom of the table, having registered only one win in eight fixtures in the 17th edition of the IPL, nearly ending their hopes of making it to the playoffs.


Earlier, former RCB player Varun Aaron and cricketer-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra slammed the side for its ongoing struggles in the cash-rich league, emphasizing that the franchise was too dependent on Virat Kohli to win games.

“If you have to be anywhere at the top of the table or the middle of the table at this point of the table, you have to have domestic players who are firing and you cannot always rely on Virat Kohli. The other guys have to step up and also all their money is sitting in the dug-out. You can't spend that much cash on players and not have them play,” Varon Aaron said on Star Sports.


“Bangalore are a good team but they are not playing well. How are they good? It's because they have Virat Kohli in batting and a team that has Virat Kohli cannot be bad. Faf du Plessis is also not a bad player. He played well in the last match as well. Faf's season has been above expectations, considering the form he came with, but the team hasn't played well,” Aakash Chopra said on his YouTube channel.


“A broken record will start playing one more time. I am saying Virat Kohli once again because there is no player apart from Virat Kohli who is consistently scoring runs. So you will once again expect from Virat Kohli as it's slightly a grudge match and the Eden Gardens suits him. It's not enjoyable if an iconic player doesn't score runs at an iconic ground,” he concluded.