There has been more controversy than tick marks on the win column of the national cricket team in the build-up to the Test series against South Africa.
The mother of all current controversies was the Ravi Shastri-Sudhir Naik feud in which the Team India director fired a salvo at the Wankhede Stadium curator for dishing out a flat pitch for the one-day international series decider on October 25.
While those close to Shastri reckon the former India captain merely made a sarcastic comment, Naik insists that Shastri abused him during the innings break. The controversy followed predictable lines — denials, reactions, innuendo and then the formulation of a one-man committee by the MCA. Next the public may see photographs of the two erstwhile Mumbai captains shaking hands and laughing it off.
Then came the story about Kapil Dev saying at a function in Dubai that Sachin Tendulkar, who he played with in India colours and had a coach-captain relationship with, did not play to potential. Even if the controversy will die down, there is no guarantee that Tendulkar won’t remember it at a later date.
On Saturday, Virender Sehwag agrees to be part of a television show and tells the host that he was disappointed at not being given a farewell. The flames of this controversy will take a few days to douse.
If one looks closer — to the 22-yard strip, as it were — there is a Test series about to unfold against South Africa and every die-hard cricket fan knows how critical this is to India’s cricketing credibility. India has not beaten the Proteas in a home series since 2004. Both sides have some catching up to do and this time it is a four-Test series unlike the last three tours that witnessed meaningless two-Test contests.
A South African side of heavy artillery is all set to do battle with an Indian side of quality and Virat Kohli’s team, ranked No 5 on the Test charts, has a great chance to topple the No 1 Test side in the world. That will help Indian cricket to make news for all the right reasons.