The 'curse' of modern cricket

IPL5 hasn't been short of heated words and animated gestures, best exemplified by Ganguly's wild celebration of Pietersen's wicket.

Pune Warriors with their captain Sourav Ganguly (centre).

Our first target would be to finish among the top four - Sourav Ganguly


In their inaugural season last year, Pune Warriors India finished ninth among 10 teams, just ahead of Delhi Daredevils -- who are now the new favourites in the money-spinning league. With a line-up that includes Virender Sehwag, Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen, Ross Taylor and David Warner (to join later), Daredevils on flat Indian pitches are turning out to be a nightmare for bowlers. However, Delhi were put to sword by Warriors, and by one Sourav Ganguly in particular, on April 21 at Kotla. Sehwag and KP threatened to take the game away from Pune but the man with  the golden arm -- Dada -- ensured that they made it much more difficult for Delhi and its skipper to score through the gaps.

The home team -- chasing 193 runs -- were in control needing 106 from 66 balls until Sourav came along in the 10th over. The former Indian skipper struck with his first ball, getting rid of Pietersen for 32 and the celebration that followed had to be seen to believed. With his thinning hair flying backwards, Ganguly ran half a mile before being mobbed by his team-mates.

Flashback: remember the famous shirtless celebration at the historical Lord's balcony in 2002 after India's thrilling win over England in the Natwest series. Maybe it was the ‘Englishman’ factor that prompted him here again. What made it more remarkable was that this was his first ball in competitive cricket since 2010 – and what a game-changer it turned out to be. Pune defeated Delhi Daredevils by 20 runs in their own den. This may be the last time you see Dada storming through a field like a mad bull -- on the field.

But really, venting one’s feelings after a good or bad incident on the field is now passe. The frustration of not getting a wicket -- in Virat Kohli's case, getting a century -- demands a certain degree of frustration but not a full-fleged 'b*******', when you are aware the cameras are watching you. True, people can make their own choices of what to watch but cricketers in India are followed wildly with or without success. I would rather have them snarky and clever than hear them just throw f-bombs at regular intervals.

You misfield, you curse. You field well, you curse. You take a wicket, you curse. You don't take a wicket, you curse. You score a century, you curse. You score a half-century, you curse there too. You get run out; you abuse the hell out of your partner. It's like one of those bad Chinese movies with a lot of sex scenes that have nothing to do with the plot.

"Sourav was behaving like he was a 32-year old man. I have played under Sourav for 10 years and I know everything about him and he knows everything about me," said Virender Sehwag during the presentation ceremony standing alongside Ganguly who said, "When you get a wicket, it is relief, not happiness. We have played well in this tournament and everyone has chipped in. Pietersen's wicket was a relief as he was hitting the ball pretty hard."

What is evidently clear, however, is this: Warriors, in the midst of a fiercely contested season seem to be enjoying their brand of cricket, and importantly under the combined coaching experience of Ganguly, ex-South Africa paceman Allan Donald, former India batsman Praveen Amre and Paddy Upton, the mental conditioning and high performance coach.

"Ganguly played really well. He brought himself on at a crucial time and got those two wickets. It was pretty gutsy from him," said Australian Steven Smith. The handy all-rounder was dropped from all three formats and is working extra hard to regain his place back in the Australian setup.

We know that the Warriors had almost no time to prepare for the mega event, and they have to be applauded for how well they've coped up so far. It is, after all, only another peculiarity of the new, rejuvenated and maybe frustrated (for being robbed of Eden Gardens) Ganguly that is keeping his horde focused and determined.

Ganguly's third over -- the 14th of the match -- read 1,0,0,2 and also featured a catch dropped by Angelo Mathews off Pawan Negi at cover region. It was a sitter. Dada was furious; he looked at Angelo, uttered some words with head down (I could only make out 'f***') and was ready to bowl again. Negi, who was desperate to give it away, didn't last long and was run out by Mathews the next ball. The celebration, this time, was a quieter one much like Dhoni's.

Mumbai Indians pacer Munaf Patel has already been reprimand twice for indecent behaviour. He was fined 25 per cent of his match fee and received an official warning for altercation with umpire during their match against Deccan Chargers and was then fined 50 per cent of his match fee for making offensive gestures to Kings XI Punjab players at Wankhede, most recently. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra was also warned for using offensive language during their match against Rajasthan Royals.

Whatever happened to the gentleman's game?


OTHER COLUMNS:

Death to all bowlers, by Prem Panicker

No one is suggesting that a T20 thrash-about on even the most competitive wicket prepares you for the challenges of a five day game — however, the IPL could at the very least expose the youngster to the kind of pressures, magnified times 10, that they will face on the international circuit. And there is the added advantage that once they take their turn in the middle, they can get back to the dressing room, and seek quality inputs from high quality players who have been there, done it all.


Is Pakistan really ready?, by Akshay Iyer

While Bangladesh's forthcoming tour is apt reward for the patience of the country's cricket fans, the Pakistan government as well as the PCB officials will have to put in place stringent and tough security steps to ensure the short tour is held without any glitches on or off the field. Security will be of paramount importance and it is vital for Pakistan as a sporting destination that nothing untoward happens over the course of those two days. It may be a short tour in duration, but the outcome will have massive repercussions for Pakistan in the long run.


A time to build, by Kunal Diwan

Kieron Pollard and Chris Gayle can wreak havoc upon the opposition in 20 balls. Sunil Narine is fast turning out to be the next ‘with it’ spinner. Darren Bravo’s class is obvious and his half-brother Dwayne is a genuine, albeit unfulfilling, all-rounder. The fact remains — the West Indies, freed of internal conflict, have enough fire-power to build a more than capable team, at least in ODIs and T20s.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of the Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusia… More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »