Gautam Gambhir is no stranger to on-field spats, and the combative left-handed batsman now finds himself at the centre of a controversy that has put the out-of-favour India opener’s temper tantrums in the limelight again.
Delhi & District Cricket Association's (DDCA) pitch curator Venkat Sundaram has alleged that Gambhir threatened him with a bat during a heated verbal exchange between the pair. Sundaram has made an official complaint to the top officials of DDCA and said he was willing to forget the matter had Gambhir not raised his bat at him in anger.
The alleged incident occurred during Delhi’s practice session at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Monday, ahead of the team’s Vijay Hazare Trophy match against Jammu & Kashmir on February 27. Sundaram said the incident happened when he was instructing the ground staff about "preparing wicket for the upcoming February 27th one-day game".
Sundaram, a former Delhi opening batsman, told DNA: "I was routinely passing on instructions to my ground staff when suddenly Gautam intervened and asked my staff to not follow any of my orders. He shouted at me... 'You go and give interviews to newspapers. Don't interfere here', Gautam shouted in front of everyone present there."
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On his part, Gambhir denied the incident. “I got calls from the media saying that DDCA curator Venkat Sundaram has accused me of using abusive language. I can categorically tell you that there is no truth in this. Yes I did meet him on Monday at Ferozshah Kotla but there was no heated argument at all. Being the well-wisher of Delhi cricket my only suggestion to Venkat Sundaram was to give us a wicket that suits the Delhi team. Yes we have differences of opinion when it comes to the nature of pitch but to say that I abused him is a piece of fiction,” Gambhir said in a statement.
Gambhir also recalled that this was not the first time that Sundaram had criticised him.
“Even some time back he accused me in the media of interfering in his job as a curator. Being the captain of the Delhi team I have enough things to worry about and Venkat is the last person on my mind. We are the defending champions of Vijay Hazare trophy and therefore the onus is on us to maintain consistency this year as well. Stories like these are a distraction and I’d like to stay away from them,” Gambhir added.
Sundaram has threatened to report the matter to BCCI if no action is taken by DDCA disciplinary committee in the next couple of days.
A top official confirmed to Indian Express that Sundaram had informed DDCA president Sne Bansal that Gambhir had abused him on Monday. “We will talk to both sides and listen to their versions. It does not reflect well on Delhi cricket if the curator and captain can’t get along,” the DDCA official said.
THE FIRST SPAT
This is not the first time this season that Gambhir and Sundaram have been embroiled in an argument. Gambhir had refused to play Delhi’s home Ranji Trophy matches at the Kotla because of the dead and slow nature of the pitch. Delhi had played three home matches at the seaming Roshanara track, but were forced to play their final group league encounter against Karnataka at the Kotla as the Roshanara Club was not available due to New Year celebrations.
Ahead of the match against Karnataka, Sundaram had accused Gambhir of “interfering into his job”. Gambhir, had however said that he was only trying to go for an outright win.
At that time, Sundaram slammed Gambhir and said, "If you have to fiddle with pitches so much then you are not fit for playing Test cricket," referring to Gambhir's repeated insistence on getting the grass shaved off to make it a turner.
"I had got three pitches ready with one on which we had grown grass. They (Delhi team management) got the grass shaved off and now they are not playing on that track. Instead, they have chosen the centre wicket. We have made it match ready," Sundaram had said.