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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sachin Tendulkar's cool demeanour is an example for Ishant Sharma & Virat Kohli to emulate

 from Sachin Tendulkar © Getty Images

Sachin Tendulkar's cool demeanour is an example for Ishant Sharma & Virat Kohli to emulate

Ishant Sharma (C) and Virat Kohli (L) should learn to handle critical situations from Sachin Tendulkar © Getty Images
By Nishad Pai Vaidya

If the tour of England exposed India’s shortcomings on the field of play, the ongoing tour of Australia threatens to break the morale, patience and spirit of the entire unit. Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma’s obscene gestures at fans, the priorities of the team management to go-karting when the players should be spending time at the nets, rumours of a rift within the team are byproducts of the disappointments and frustrations on the field of play.

Four years ago, Australia and India were engaged in a bitter controversy that threatened to ruin the relations between the two nations. The Indian team then headed to Perth as victims of poor umpiring decisions and disgraceful on-field behavior by the home team. Fast forward to the present, we face a contrasting setup as some of the Indians are responsible for poor behavior that doesn’t speak well of the team. Kohli and Ishant’s gestures are shameful, to say the least. It’s unbecoming of ambassadors who represent a billion people on the international stage.

As men who have the power to influence young and impressionable minds, they have set very poor examples with their reactions. This is not the first time sportspersons have encountered cheap and provocative public behavior, but by reacting in the way Kohli and Ishant did, they are only worsening matters. Now, spectators all over the world will try to rile them up knowing that they could lose control of themselves. There is a price to pay for fame and the sooner they learn the better it is for them and the team. Both players are keys to India’s future and the team can ill-afford to have men with brittle temperament who stoop to the level of the louts masquerading as fans.

When a team is having a bad time on the field, fans may become agitated and the opposition supporters may try to get under the skins of the frustrated players. Handling such situations is critical to success and the two young men need to look no further than team-mate Sachin Tendulkar.

Tendulkar has been on the international circuit since the age of 16. He would have unarguably encountered similar situations many, many times in his two decade-plus career. However, never have we heard of him losing his cool. He has never reacted to what the unruly mob may have thrown at him. Leaving all the runs aside, it is his demeanor that has won the hearts of millions. The standing ovations are not for the records alone but also for his exemplary conduct. The same people who may have made fun of him during his younger days now stand up and salute his genius.

Rumours of Dhoni-Sehwag rift – yet again

If the hammering on the field and Virat and Ishant’s mannerisms weren’t enough, rumors of a rift within the team rocked the Indian ship further. An Australian newspaper claimed that Virender Sehwag is behind the cracks within the Indian team. It’s said that a few members of the Indian team backed Sehwag as captain, ahead of Dhoni, creating disharmony. In fact, it quotes Australian pacer Ryan Harris who says that the Indians were “fighting amongst themselves.”

This isn’t the first time that rumours of a Mahendra Singh Dhoni-Sehwag rift have come to the fore. Prior to the ICC World T20 2009, there was widespread speculation in the press that the two men had a confrontation. It led to the whole Indian team attending a press conference and showing off their bond of unity to deny such murmurs.

The other time such stories did the rounds was during the Bangladesh tour of 2010. Dhoni had missed the first Test against Bangladesh due to injury and Sehwag had captained in his place. Amit Mishra performed well in that game but when Dhoni returned for the next encounter, Mishra was inexplicably excluded for Pragyan Ojha. Reports suggested that Dhoni and Sehwag had an argument regarding this choice. This too was denied.

Skeptics may say that there cannot be smoke without fire, though the team management will expectedly deny such incidents. The fact that these stories have done the rounds on more than an occasion strengthens their argument. If these alleged claims are true, one cannot expect the Indians to deliver and produce positive results. In such a case, feelings of ill-will and mistrust would brew to the detriment of their cause. Abraham Lincoln aptly said in one of his speeches, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

However, it may be another move played by the Australian media on the mind-games board. If there isn’t any factionalism within the team, the Aussies may be pulling yet another trick from their sleeve to disturb India’s progress (if one may use this word). It may be an attempt to revive a skeleton from India’s cupboard, if there is one that is.

The events in Australia clearly illustrate the fact that when things aren’t alright on the game front, most of the other aspects take a hit. It is a vicious cycle and the Indians have been engulfed by its force. The only way they can get out is by upping the ante and doing what is required. When they will start winning, no one will talk about infighting, nor will anyone care about a go-karting session and at last the forbidden fingers won’t spoil the party.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 21-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.") 

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