Tendulkar’s unsportsmanlike act
Like millions of others, I too watched on television, the IPL final played at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Sunday. I was, however, pained to see that a player of Sachin Tendulkar’s stature did not walk when he had snicked a catch to Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps and stayed put in his position.
To add to the horror, the Umpire who should have adjudged the master blaster out went on to declare the ball as a wide. TV replays showed beyond any doubt that Tendulkar indeed had touched the ball and was legitimately out but decided to look the other way. It is to Dhoni’s credit that he did not lose his cool and continued on with the game despite the feeling of total disgust, which may have encompassed him at that point of time.
Many would argue that Tendulkar was within his right to stay at crease but from an iconic player of his stature one expects loads of sportsman spirit. Great players do not wait for the umpire’s signal but walk out when they know they are out. Adam Gilchrist, the former Australian Vice Captain has done it on several occasions. Garfield Sobers, one of the greatest all rounders of the Game used to also do it. Therefore the expectation from Tendulkar to do a similar thing is not unjustified. That is the stuff legends like him should be made off since thousands of aspirants look towards him for inspiration. I know many may argue that it was a final with high stakes and why would Tendulkar declare himself out when the umpire did not think so. Yes, these are arguments but my regard for him would have multiplied manifolds had he walked.
Many Cricketers who write their columns in various newspapers have mostly applauded the little master for being brave to play the final despite an injury to his hand. But many of them have not mentioned anything about his dismissal, which was not given. Tendulkar is a great marketing entity too and crores of rupees ride on him. The money’s worth would have multiplied with an element of fair play injected on such an occasion on such a big stage like the IPL final.
Another disappointing thought which has been with me ever since the IPL final prize distribution ceremony pertains to the award for the man of the tournament. Without sounding like someone who is only picking on the Little Master, I want to state upfront that objectively speaking the award instead of Tendulkar should have gone to Suresh Raina. Tendulkar has so many awards under his belt and this award did not enhance his existing elevated position. Had Raina, a youngster who emerged as a real impact player of the tournament been selected, it would have encouraged him immensely. He played a stellar role in the Chennai victory all the way in this tournament.
It would have been even better had Tendulkar after receiving the award handed it over to Raina who everyone expected to be the real and true contender for it. Even the TV crew covering the occasion thought so and focused the camera on Raina but suddenly shifted it towards the Little Master after his name was called. I can recall an occasion a few months ago when in Bangladesh both Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli made big scores in a match. The organizers declared Gambhir as the winner but he asked Kohli to collect it since he thought that his teammate deserved it more than him. These are little things but go a long way.
Finally, there was a big miscalculation while shuffling the batting order in the finals. K.Pollard was the man in form and any cricket expert would tell you that he should have batted much higher in the batting order. But Tendulkar preferred to first bring in Harbhajan Singh in the role of a pinch hitter and a few others followed him before Pollard was asked to bat. Pollard nearly pulled it off for Mumbai Indians with a quickfire 26 runs.
But so down the batting order, the task was indeed a Herculean one. I do not agree with the suggestions in many quarters that the final game was fixed but I do feel that Pollard was not utilized at the right time. It would have made a big difference. It was a decision which was something like the decision of the Delhi Daredevils not to play Glen Mcgrath, the greatest pace baller of his time in most games in IPL 2. For IPL 3 he was bought out by the same team and did not play even a single game. The blog is not to belittle the enormous achievements of Sachin Tendulkar, one of the greatest batsmen in Cricket history. It is only to show that even great men sometimes falter.