Cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal has shocked the sports world, recounting in a podcast a few incidents of bullying from his Mumbai Indians days. In an incident he has recalled, Australians Andrew Symonds and James Franklin tied, gagged and forgot him the whole night. He cannot identify the player in the second incident but remembers that a “drunk teammate” had hung him from the 15th floor.
Another cricketer Robin Uthappa shared a chilling episode of bullying from an unnamed Mumbai Indians player who had forced him to sign the transfer papers with a threat that Uthappa “won’t play in the playing XI unless he signs”.
Chahal says Symonds and Franklin had bullied him in 2011. “It was in 2011 after winning the Champions League in a Chennai hotel,” he says. Symonds had drunk a lot of “fruit juice” (laughs), he recalls, “I was with him only (sic). James Franklin and he tied my hands and legs, and said ‘now you have to open’. They were in so much masti (fun), they taped my mouth and forgot all about me.
“Party got over and in the morning, when a cleaner came, he saw me and freed me. They asked from when have I been here like this and I told them, ‘from the night itself’ (sic).”
When the podcast host asks him if Symonds and Franklin had apologised to him in the morning, Chahal says, “No, they said sometimes when they drink “juice” so much, they ca not handle it and they ca not remember anything”.
Yesterday, Chahal shared details of the second episode that dates back to 2013.
“I never told this story, from today, everyone will know. I never shared this. This dates back to 2013 when I was with Mumbai Indians, we had a match in Bangalore. There was a get-together after that. So, there was a player who was very drunk, I won’t say his name. He was very drunk, he was looking at me for a long time and he just called me and he took me outside and he hung me on the balcony,” Chahal said in a video posted by Rajasthan Royals.
Sceptics are asking whether this is rivalry, innocent banter between IPL franchises or a marketing gimmick involving a fabricated story aimed at arousing more public interest in the pop cricket tournament.
“And my hands were around him, like this (behind the neck). Had I lost my grip, I was on the 15th floor. Suddenly many people who were there came and they handled it. I kind of fainted, they gave me water. Then I realised how responsible we need to be when we go anywhere. So, this was one incident where I felt I made a narrow escape. Had there been slightest of mistakes, I would’ve fallen down,” Chahal said.
The day before yesterday, Robin Uthappa, now with Chennai Super Kings, shared his unpleasant tale from his time with Mumbai Indians too. Uthappa’s story dates back to 2009 when he was about to be transferred from Mumbai Indians to RCB. Uthappa says he did not want to be transferred and took his time to sign the transfer papers. That was when a person from Mumbai Indians — Uthappa does not identify him — bullied him.
“Someone from the Mumbai Indians, I am not going to say the name. But they said to me, “Listen if you do not sign these transfer papers, you will not get to play in the XI for Mumbai Indians. So you might as well sign it and get transferred. I signed it eventually,” Uthappa told in R Ashwin’s YouTube channel.
Uthappa talks about how that episode combined with “personal problems” had him spiralling towards depression. “I was one of the first players in IPL, along with Zaheer Khan and Manish Pandey, to be transferred to another team. It was very difficult as my loyalties completely were with Mumbai Indians … I did not want to leave. It happened one month before the  IPL …
“I was also going through something personal at that point in time. And that pushed me further into whatever was going through emotionally. I spiralled completely into depression in my time with RCB. I did not play any match well that season. The only time I scored in that IPL was against Mumbai Indians. I played thinking, ‘I have to do something this match. I have to do well.”
In 2018, in a show Breakfast with Champions, Chahal had spoken a lot about his friendship with Symonds and how he was still in touch with him and went fishing with him whenever he would visit Australia. “Whenever I go to Australia, I love to go fishing with him. He is a great host. His wife even learnt how to cook Butter Chicken for me by following recipes on the internet. When I went there to meet them, there was Butter Chicken ready for me,” he had said. However, the three incidents – two shared by Chahal and one by Uthappa – has turned the spotlight on the unsavoury culture in Mumbai Indians in the past.