Ind v SL: Balancing fair play with competitiveness

After an acrimonious Test series between India and Australia earlier this year, where verbal barrage had become the order of the day, the current series between Virat Kohli’s men and Sri Lanka has been largely incident-free.

Kohli: 'When people do well, you understand how much strength and hard work it takes.'   -  AP

Play hard but play fair, is a benchmark that teams strive to achieve in sport. But within the raging fires of combative matches, niceties are often discarded. The last time India played a Test series back home and against Australia, earlier this year, there was acrimony between the rivals.

Cut to the present, there is a marked difference and the current clash between Virat Kohli’s men and Sri Lanka has been largely incident-free though Ravindra Jadeja’s run-in with Dimuth Karunaratne here on Saturday, was an aberration. The spinner, with a previous history of violating the ICC’s Code of Conduct, has been suspended for the next Test at Pallekele.  

Casting aside the Jadeja-episode, it is a fact that the rivals share mutual-respect and it was evident when Karunaratne departed after a fine century during the second Test. A few Indian fielders patted his back and Kohli expressed his admiration too and said: “We were actually watching in awe yesterday (Saturday), the sweeping was outstanding and we congratulated both the batters (Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis) because it was proper Test cricket batting with high quality temperament.”

Explaining the rationale behind lauding the opposition, the India captain said: “I always try and create as difficult a situation as possible so that the batsman gets out but at the same time, if he bats well, then you must also appreciate because this is Test cricket. When people do well, you understand how much strength and hard work it takes. You must appreciate that, it is very necessary. When you do well, other people appreciate you. It can’t be that none from the opposition will play well. We keep saying in the dressing-room that we must praise the guys who do well and learn from them about what they did well in an innings.”

A change is evident and hopefully this bonhomie will last despite Jadeja’s one-match ban.

 

Meanwhile, the Indian skipper also paid his tribute to the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt who's currently competing at the IAAF World Championships in London.

Kohli said, "He (Bolt) deserves it (Justin Gatlin’s gesture of bowing to Usain Bolt) because there is no one greater than him and it was his last race. I also wished him because we both are Puma athletes. We have not seen a career like that in athletics and I don’t think that going forward, these records will be broken in a hurry."