Controversies aplenty

TV Grab: Suraj Randiv bowls a deliberate no-ball to Virender Sehwag, who hit the delivery for a six in Dambulla. Randiv's deliberate no-ball denied Sehwag (below) a century.-PTI TV Grab: Suraj Randiv bowls a deliberate no-ball to Virender Sehwag, who hit the delivery for a six in Dambulla. Randiv's deliberate no-ball denied Sehwag (below) a century.

This ODI competition has not been short of controversies. First the Suraj Randiv no-ball incident and then Dhoni's strange attitude towards the media. Over to S. Dinakar.

Virender Sehwag talks like he bats. The explosive opener does not hold himself back as he expresses his views. The man is fuming after remaining unbeaten on a match-winning 99. The scores are level and Sehwag launches into off-spinner Suraj Randiv for a six over long-off.

The shot does not count since Randiv has delivered a big no-ball taking India past the Sri Lankan target.

Asked about Randiv over-stepping the crease, Sehwag calls it “deliberate.” The opener adds, “He (Randiv) should have shown sportsman spirit.”

Sehwag points out that Randiv, normally, does not bowl no-balls. He hardly sent down one during his long spells in the two Tests that he played against India before the ODI tri-series. And, in this game, he has been without a blemish until the final act.

During times when the media laps up even the smallest of controversies, Sehwag's words set in motion a chain of events.

Before long, Randiv walked up to Sehwag's room in the team-hotel to personally apologise. And Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) appointed a panel headed by team manager Anura Tennekoon to probe the incident.

The matches between India and Sri Lanka have largely been played in excellent spirit. And the cricketing relations between the two boards have been one of trust and friendship. Both the sides are keen to put the incident behind and move on.

AP

The local media is critical of Randiv. There are also revelations that Tillakaratne Dilshan, fielding at cover-point during the time, may have coaxed Randiv to send down a no-ball.

While the match as a contest was virtually over, there was a duel within a duel. There is a bit of history this season in the Sehwag versus Randiv face-offs.

The opener was just one short of a hundred in the second Test at the SSC ground when Randiv sent down a widish delivery to the opener.

Sehwag jumped out, was stumped. Then, in the second innings of the final Test at the P. Sara Stadium, Randiv, bowling with the new ball, has Sehwag caught at slip for a nought.

There might have been some friction between the two in the middle as the ODI at the Rangiri Stadium, powered by Sehwag's blazing strokes, hurtled towards a finish.

M.S. Dhoni... facing the anger of the print media.-AP

The SLC's inquiry is swift and decisive. Randiv, found guilty of deliberately sending down a no-ball, is suspended for an ODI. He loses his entire match-fee too.

And Dilshan is docked his match fee for his role in the incident. Skipper Kumar Sangakkara is also asked to be in control of the proceedings during all times.

The competition moves from one crisis to another. Dambulla is among the driest regions in Sri Lanka during this time of the year. The organisers have been doubly careful about cricket not being disrupted by inclement weather. There is a reserve day for every match in the tournament.

But then, there is no such thing as a sure thing. The skies open up and persistent rain makes the 1000th ODI game under the lights a non-starter after the toss. This is also the first ODI in Dambulla that has failed to produce a result.

Then it becomes two in two as showers end the match played on the reserve day just when Sri Lanka is poised to put its foot on the accelerator during the final stretch of its innings against New Zealand.

Despite the depressing forecast, the weather clears up. India takes on Sri Lanka. In a must-win situation, the host overwhelm the Indians. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men are also undone by at least three umpiring errors. But as Sangakkara points out later, it is the Indians who have been opposing the use of technology (referral system).

Things turn worse for skipper Dhoni. He prefers playing football with his men than attending the post-match media conference in time. When he finally comes in around 90 minutes after the conclusion of the match for the interaction with presspersons, he finds out that the print media, after waiting for more than an hour, has decided to boycott the event.

Indeed, this competition has not been short of controversies.