Mumbai Indians all-rounder Kieron Pollard's over-the-top celebration to send off Rajasthan Royals batsman Shane Watson in an IPL match here has invited strong criticism from visiting team's skipper Rahul Dravid who termed it as an "act of cowardice".
"One of the things that I find when you send off batsman after you have got him out is that it is an act of cowardice. That is my personal opinion. Batsman can never respond after you have got him out and you send him off," said the former India captain in the post-match media conference last night.
"Saying something on the field is part and parcel of the game. Having a chat, a bit of banter while the game is on is fine but my personal opinion is that when you send a batsman off after you have got him out is an act of cowardice," Dravid said in a strong reaction to the incident at the Wankhede Stadium.
It started when Pollard said something to Watson who had just come out to bat, and a miffed Australian all-rounder retorted leading to a verbal spat. On-field umpires had to intervene and separate the two players before the incident got ugly.
Watson was later caught by Pollard and the West Indian gave the batsman a send-off with his hand gesture after celebrating the dismissal. Dravid also felt that the umpires could have handled the situation better.
"I guess it was a competitive game. Things can get tough in a T20 game. These things can happen, so I wasn't very surprised. I thought it could have been managed a little bit better. In terms the way the umpires managed it, it could have been managed a lot better. It's the way things are sometimes. Things can get heated in the middle," he said. The unsavoury episode also invited the ire of the match referee who hauled up the home team skipper Rohit Sharma and the errant fielder in a hearing after the game.
Sharma, however, played down the incident and the Trinidadian always celebrated a dismissal like that and there was nothing personal in it.
"We were just at the match referee's hearing (before attending the presser) and what Pollard said was that is what he always does. That is the kind of celebration he does even when he takes wickets. You can go and watch the video of his celebration. I don't think he was personally pointing to anyone. It was his personal celebration," he said.
"All these things happen. It is part of the game. I don't think we should take it too seriously. All these things keep happening, we shouldn't be talking about this I feel," he said.
Sharma also alleged that it was Watson who had started the fight when Pollard was at the crease by saying something to the big-built West Indian all-rounder. "Not me but certainly Pollard got something from Watson. So these things keep happening, so there isn't too much to look into," Sharma said when asked if Mumbai had got a bit of sledging when they were batting.
The MI skipper further said that aggressive cricket brings out the best in his players and he refused to agree that his team took it a bit too far. "I don't think we were verbal. We always play aggressive cricket and that's how we bring the best out of us. We really don't care about what other people say. I don't see any reason for not being aggressive. We play the cricket we know and display the kind of cricket we want to show," he said.