Rishabh Pant was struck by the ball and if at all anybody should have known the tradition of not taking a run after the ball is deflected, it was the Delhi skipper
R Ashwin. Pics/BCCI; IPL
The reason why the IPL is the toughest T20 league in the world is not simply because the world’s best players are playing in it, but also because the rewards for winning are so high. It’s not just a matter of the player’s individual value that shoots up or down with his performances, but also the prizes for winning the tournament or finishing in the top four are pretty huge and the franchise owners give it entirely to the players and support staff to share between themselves. For many players, especially the uncapped Indian players, that share can be as much as what their price was at the auction, where they were bought. There’s always the knowledge that there could be a transfer or like now, a big auction coming up what with two new teams being inducted into the league. That is a huge incentive to give it everything and in trying that, sometimes the lines can be crossed.
Just about every match goes down to the last over and therefore every run, every dot ball matters and in that effort, some players may inadvertently do something that can cause an uproar.
Delhi skipper Rishabh Pant
The recent game between Kolkata and Delhi was one such, where a run was taken when the ball hit batsman Rishabh Pant and ricocheted away. Now, tradition is that where the ball, after hitting the batsman looking for a run, has been deflected away from the fielder backing the throw, then the batsmen don’t take that run. The umpires don’t call it dead ball because there is a possibility that there could still be a run-out chance after that deflection.
So when the extra run was taken, there was a reaction from the Kolkata team especially the bowler Tim Southee, whose bowling figures had one run added and the skipper Eoin Morgan, who naturally thought that it’s one more run for them to chase and as mentioned earlier, every run counts in this ultra competitive league. When Ravichandran Ashwin who was batting with Pant got out a few balls later, he was given a spray by the bowler Southee and as Ashwin, who is not the kind to take a backward step retorted, Morgan joined in the verbals before Dinesh Karthik separated them. Once again, the spirit of cricket was bandied about by those, who in their playing days talked about that imaginary line, which only they know, but not the rest of the cricketing world.
Why did Pant run?
What nobody asked is, why Pant ran? He was the one who was struck by the ball and if at all anybody should have known that the tradition is not to take the run after ball is deflected, then it was the Delhi skipper. Maybe, in the heat of the battle and the anxiety to add runs to the team’s total, he took that extra run. But why blame Ashwin? He may not have even seen the ball hitting his skipper as he would be intent on getting to his end and may have only seen the ball that was away from a fielder and so responded for the extra run. Pant could have stepped in and defused the situation, but in the intensity of the battle and especially in the hot and humid desert atmosphere, it is extremely tough to keep a cool head, so he may have not realised what had happened.
There was another incident a couple of days later which didn’t grab the headlines since it involved two uncapped Indian youngsters. Yashasvi Jaiswal cut a ball to point and stayed in his crease as the throw came in. The wicketkeeper gathered the throw and waited for Jaiswal to lift his back foot to whip the bails off and appeal. Mind you, there was no effort to take a run as Jaiswal had stayed in the same position after he played the shot and the entire action of the ball being stopped, thrown to the ‘keeper happened in a matter of seconds. The umpire quite rightly negated the appeal and didn’t even go up to the TV umpire since there had been no attempt to run by Jaiswal. But the very fact that the wicketkeeper even thought about such a dismissal is disturbing because this mentality of winning at all costs may get you wins, but will make the team most unpopular with the general cricketing world.
That also is the pressure that IPL brings and while it produces players who get used to the intense pressure, it can also encourage sharp practices that the game can do without.
Indian cricket is well poised to dominate the world in all formats of the game and that would be most thrilling for all Indian cricket supporters, but hopefully it will be the kind of cricket that the West Indian team of the 70s and 80s played, where despite hammering the opposition hollow, they were the most loved team across the cricketing globe.
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