Former India batsman and television commentator Sanjay Manjrekar has hit out at aggressive philosophy developed by India's Team Director Ravi Shastri and Test captain Virat Kohli after in-form pacer Ishant Sharma was slapped with a one-Test ban for ugly send-off during the third Test against Sri Lanka recently. The visitors won the final Test to clinch the series 2-1 — their first series win in Sri Lanka in 22 years.
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Ishant will miss the first Test in Mohali against South Africa in November. "This is where I am a bit concerned with the Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri partnership. That the Indians are not trying to tone their behaviour down after Australia, and have got into ugly confrontations with even a team like Sri Lanka, tells me that they don't see these actions as misdemeanours at all.
Perhaps this is all part of their new brand of aggressive cricket. If that's the case, it does not make any cricketing sense at all. For this version of aggressive cricket has cost India the services of their strike bowler, a player who is in great form, in a crucial Test match," Manjrekar wrote in his column for ESPNCricinfo.
Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri
Ishant's coach Shravan Kumar in an interview to mid-day last week also put the blame on Kohli and Shastri for the pacer's aggressive conduct on the field. Manjrekar asked why aggression did not win India matches in Australia (2014-15) if that is the key element for winning Tests. "But India may say, 'We won the series (vs SL), and this is what you need to be a winning team — a bit of aggression.' A simple retort would be: 'Why didn't aggression win you games in Australia?'
"What I can't fathom about these send-offs is: when a wicket falls, it means the batsman has failed and the bowler has succeeded, but it's the bowler who is angry for some reason. Why should anger follow success? When the anger of the victor is aimed at the vanquished, it's a brawl waiting to happen," he wrote.
Long and short of it: Sri Lankan tailender Rangana Herath (left) and India's Ishant Sharma exchange words during the third Test at Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo on August 30, 2015. Pic/AFP
Manjrekar, who played 37 Tests and 74 ODIs, was surprised that no Sri Lankan player "punched Ishant Sharma in the face" for his antics. "It's important to note here that when a batsman gets out, his whole world comes crashing down on him, and he is emotionally extremely vulnerable. It's a surprise that no Sri Lankan batsman punched Ishant in the face.
"Not once as he took his 15 wickets in the series did Dhammika Prasad scream angrily into an Indian batsman's face. Instead he chose to join his team-mates to savour the moment with a smile. Right there, I thought, was a lesson for Ishant and India to learn," he wrote.
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Manjrekar added: "There was one instance right towards the end of the last Test that the TV cameras did not show. Prasad came out to bat in the second innings with India within arm's reach of a win.
"Ishant was on high, having got India back into the game with a superb spell with the second new ball, in which he picked up the big wicket of Angelo Mathews. Believe it or not, Ishant was still keen to have a go at Prasad, but Virat Kohli stopped him.
"That moment told me that, one, Ishant was not willing to learn a lesson on his own, and two, that perhaps — and this is speculation — he was not talked to sternly enough by the team management for him to have dared repeat the offence," he noted.