March 24, 2011

Wikileaks Exclusive: Dhoni’s secret & sensational plot to help India win the World Cup!

By H Natarajan

This is quite sensational – and incredibly bold, bizarre and desperate. One would never have believed it, had it not come from the undercover Wikileaks – no less.

Away from the prying eyes of India’s media hounds and even away from Indian team members, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten met at an undisclosed destination whose security would have done Fort Knox proud. This was not just another meeting. It was a Top Secret plot that Dhoni had masterminded in conjunction with the BCCI. There was one hitch: The plan was possible only if one man agreed – Sachin Tendulkar. “Operation TRS” (reverse of SRT and short for Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar) was extremely dangerous.

Kirsten and Dhoni huddled in the conclave to plot a new strategy that would help India win the World Cup. It was a desperate situation and the solutions were desperate. Both men agreed that the World Cup can only be won by Indian by minimizing the reliance on the rest of the Indian team! But what was shocking was the modus operandi unveiled by Dhoni.

Excerpts from the conclave:

Dhoni: Gary, we have to accept it: this team cannot be relied upon any longer to win the World Cup and make our common dream come true. We have to think of something revolutionary.

Kirsten: Hmmm…

Sachin has to do more than what he has done so far.

Kirsten: What?! What more can he do? He has scored two scored hundreds in this World Cup , has thrown himself on the field like a 22-year-old and has been sharing with the team all the wisdom that he gained over 22 years in international cricket. What more can he do?

Dhoni: This may seem bizarre, but this is the only way I think India has any hopes of winning the World Cup.

Kirsten: Hmmm…

Dhoni: You got to get Sachin to bowl… not as stop-gap, but as a front-line bowler… ten full overs.

Kirsten: Are your crazy?! He is not a bowler, MS.

Dhoni: Says who? He has got 154 wickets in ODIs. Jog your memory to the Hero Cup semi-final against South Africa. None of India’s frontline bowlers wanted to bowl that decisive last over against South Africa. Just six runs were needed and South Africa had Brian McMillan at the crease. And Sachin bowled India to victory in the cauldron of Eden. How could you forget that! You are a South African!

Kirsten: But Sachin can’t run through sides with his bowling.

Dhoni: Not true! He has taken five wickets in an innings – against Australia and Pakistan. Besides that, on four other occasions he has taken four wickets in an innings.

Kirsten: But that was long time ago… Anyways, if that’s what you want, I’ll ask Sachin to bowl 10 overs.

Dhoni: Gary, that’s not all! You need to ask Sachin to bowl more than 10 overs!

Kirsten: Did you have one peg too many, MS!

Dhoni: You know I don’t have alcohol - milk is my favourite drink. I have read the rule book well. And after consulting a high-powered legal team of the BCCI, I’m advised that we can punch holes in the wording of the rule book which will allow Sachin to bowl 10 overs of left-arm!

Kirsten: I’m convinced, you have not had alcohol; you are on drugs!

Dhoni: I come from a very principled family whose value systems are very strong. I don’t even know what drugs look like. I’m merely punching holes in the rule book, much like Greg Chappell did when he asked his brother Trevor to bowl underarm. By the time the ICC makes amendments to the rules, we would have achieved our goal of winning the World Cup. I’m convinced that if Sachin bowls left-handed at 50% of his ability, he would exercise greater control than Ashish, Munaf and Sree. And what’s the big deal about being left-handed? Sachin is left-handed as well. Everybody knows that. The world has seen him signing autographs left-handed.

Kirsten: So you want me to ask Sachin to bowl 20 overs? Anything else?

Dhoni: Yes!

Kirsten: Yes!!!!

Dhoni: I want you to get Sachin to bowl 30 overs.

Kirsten: I think you need to get a MRI of your brain. NOW! You have lost it, MS. No doubt about that. Stop reading the newspapers, watching TV and giving so much importance to what’s said on Facebook and Twitter and you will be less stressed out.

Dhoni: Chill, Gary. Just hear my plan in it’s entirely… Sometime during the course of the game and before he has bowled a single ball, Piyush (Chawla) will leave the field to go into the dressing room and a substitute will take his place. In the next over, Sachin will also go inside the pavilion and another substitute will take his place in the field… an expert quick-change artist, flown especially from America, will be in the dressing room…

Kirsten: Can we talk tomorrow when you are sane - hopefully?

Dhoni: All visionaries who thought out of the box have been laughed at, so I don’t blame you for laughing at me. Allow me to complete what I have to say…

Kirsten: You think nobody would find out that it’s Sachin masquerading as Piyush?

Dhoni: Nobody in the world would ever doubt Sachin’s credibility. He is God! How can God lie? Oh, I forgot… During the makeover, a Hollywood whiz who will be part of the operation would stretch a Piyush-lookalike rubber mask over Sachin’s face. Trust me, even Piyush’s mom won’t recognize that it’s not her son!

Kirsten: What’s the big idea of making Sachin look like Piyush?

Dhoni: I want you to get Sachin to bowl 10 of Piyush’s overs as well!!!

Kirsten: I think I’m going to faint. Let me leave…

Dhoni: Relax, Gary. Sachin turns the leg-spin long way more than Piyush can ever hope to. With Sachin bowling 30 overs, Zaheer and Ashwin bowling 10 each, our bowling would suddenly look brilliant. As a backup, we have Yuvi.

Kirsten: This is crazy.

Dhoni: No, this is cricket’s Mahabharat. You should have been the Krishna, but somehow I have to be the Krishna and you are the Arjuna. I know Sachin is very correct and extremely conscientious, but sometimes white lies have to be told if Dharma has to prevail. Even Yudishtra – the epitome of truth - had to lie to his guru Droncharya on the advice of Lord Krishna. Tell Sachin that his Dharma is towards his motherland. It’s his duty to defend her at ALL COSTS. Ask him to reflect at the number of times he was given out by biased umpires. Ask him to think of the times the Kalyug ka Raavans adopted foul means to get his wicket. All that I’m imploring you is to ask him to protect Team India from outside forces… and, if I may say so, even inside forces! Sachin is very patriotic and he is also very devout Hindu. Appeal to those two reasons.

Kirsten: I’m confused…

Dhoni: All is fair in love and war. And the World Cup is cricket’s World War!

Kirsten: But the batting problem remains, MS. The team has embarrassingly collapsed far too often in the qualifying stage of this World Cup.

Dhoni: I have a plan for that as well!

Kirsten: Now what else?!!

Dhoni: My plan goes thus… Unlike his normal practice, Sachin will take strike to the first ball of the innings. And then take a single off the last ball… and he will have to be asked to continue keep taking singles off the last ball of every over … till the 50th over if we bat first or till our target is achieved, if we are chasing!

Kirsten: I saw a Hindi movie recently… (scratching his bald head) what is the name? …. yes, Sholay! In that there is a dialogue (Kirsten says in his South African accent) …"Gabbar ko pakkadna hai, aur who bhi zinda! Gabbar koi bakri ka baccha hai?” You made it sound as sound so simple MS!

Dhoni: Look at the mountain of records Sachin has created. Did anybody in his wildest of fantasies ever think all those were possible? Yet he achieved it. There is nothing Sachin can’t. There is always a first time, and for that first time there is nobody better than Sachin! If you get Sachin to follow my plan, he can bat 50 overs all by himself! Now see the probability of India winning the World Cup with Sachin batting the FULL 50 overs and bowling 30 overs! That’s 80 overs in Sachin’s control! Wow!

By the way, this is the plan for the quarter-final game against Australia. If you can get Sachin to implement my plan and win the game, then India lifting the World Cup itself is assured. The semi-final and final have been taken care. Now I don’t know how, but I’m told they have been! We don’t have to do anything other than just go out and play without any pressure of winning! It’s difficult to strike deals with Australia, hence my master plan is for Australia.

I would like to reveal a secret. The Aussies will be forced by the umpires into going for their two UDRS very early in the game. After which decisions will be in our favour as they would have exhausted their two referral options. Everything has been planned to perfection. It’s a high-powered operation involving lot of power people in high places.

Kirsten: What if your grand plan fails. Is their a Plan B?

Dhoni: Of course! If things go completely awry, Plan B is to fake a terrorist attack! “Terrorists’ would be taking positions at strategic places in the ground before the game against Australia starts. A Supreme Commander appointed for this very purpose will be told if and when to give the green signal to the ‘terrorists’ to create panic – mind you, there will not be any killings. Once the ‘terrorists’ swing into action, a Swift Action Force (SAF) would huddle the Australian team into safety. The Australian team management would be informed about the ‘terrorists’ and give them the choice of staying back or getting airlifted out of the country in a waiting chopper next to the stadium. You know the Aussies… they chickened out of the Sri Lankan leg in the 1996 World Cup due to fear of terror attacks. They WILL leave. Once we know that they are well and gone, it would be announced that the ‘terror’ attack was a prank – an advance April 1 joke. Of course, the ‘terrorists’ would be ‘captured’ and taken to an unknown destination. In reality, the ‘unknown destination’ is Andamans, where they will be on a fully-paid vacation with their families! Since the Aussies would have packed off, the match would be forfeited to India.

I know you can be trusted and that’s why I’m confiding what I’m going to tell you now. Please don’t reveal it to anybody. Actually Sharad Pawar is part of the master plan. He wants India to win the World Cup during his tenure as ICC president. He also wants to get back at the Aussies by ensuring that they can’t shove him off the stage during the post-presentation photo-shoot by the global media! And for that to happen, the Aussies would have to be stopped in the quarter-final itself!

When the nation of 1 billion celebrates India’s World Cup triumph, the terror prank will be forgotten… and the IPL that starts six days after the end of the World Cup will ensure that!

You and Sachin can go back to your respective families and live happily ever after with your common dream of winning the World Cup fulfilled! And, yes, my dream to figure in the Forbes List of richest men in the world would also take a giant leap!

(Disclaimer: The above piece is pure fiction. It’s just a spoof and none of the incidents mentioned ever took place nor anything about the people mentioned in the article is true)

(H Natarajan is the Executive Editor of

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March 22, 2011

“Dharmaraj” Tendulkar ‘walks’; makes the nation proud!

By H Natarajan

The great Barry Richards once said: “The Australians will walk only when they run out of gas!”

His reference was to the Australian batsmen and their philosophy that it’s not for them to walk if the umpire has given them not out, even if they know they are out. While the romantics would believe that winning is not everything, the Aussies believe that winning is the only thing.

Rewind to the 1981 Benson & Hedges World Series Cup at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australian captain Greg Chappell ordered his kid brother Trevor to bowl underarm to prevent Brian McKechnie from hitting a six off the last ball and tying the game.

Flashback to 2007-08 series against India when Ricky Ponting raised a ruckus after Michael Clarke caught the ball that obviously came off the ground. Ponting came up with Oscar-winning histrionics to hoodwink the umpire into giving a decision against Sourav Ganguly. It was another chapter in the history of ‘Ugly Australian” image.

But one Australian who was an anachronism of his times was Adam Gilchrist - the epitome of honesty. He was the last of the dinosaurs who played his cricket the way it was in the pristine past when it was a gentleman’s game.

One of the finest examples of Gilchrist’s honesty came in the 2003 World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka when he “walked”. Yes, in the semi-final of a World Cup! Here was a true gentleman who knew he had to obey the dictates of his conscience, no matter how big the theatre. If something was not right, it was not right. Period. Integrity cannot be circumstantial. By the way, the appeal against Gilchrist was turned down by umpire Rudi Koertzen.

I don’t know how much Gilchrist was appreciated in an Australian team that was brought up with values that was Polar opposite to that of his own, but it did not matter to him what anybody in the world thought of his actions. It was in the fitness of things that Gilchrist’s nickname is “Church”!

One sportsperson who enjoys divine status is Sachin Tendulkar. Here is a man who, in an international career spanning three decades, has reached dizzying heights. While his head is lost high somewhere in the clouds, his feet are firmly planted on terra firma. The middle-class values that have been inculcated in him by his humble family are still intact despite the surreal trappings of fame and money that can so easily set astray mere mortals. But Tendulkar is anointed as “God” by an adoring nation. And God cannot be seen doing something that is wrong.

He gave an exemplary account of his status when he walked after nicking Ravi Rampaul, even as the umpire was nodding his head sideways to turn down the West Indies’ appeal. Even if the matter was referred to the third umpire, the replays would have been inconclusive - in the absence of Hot Spot and Snickometer – and the challenge would have only resulted in the benefit of the doubt going to the batsman. But Tendulkar’s high integrity ensured that the matter did not have to go that route.

Tendulkar’s act on Sunday in the 2011 World Cup was in sharp contrast to Ponting’s, less than 24 hours earlier in the game against Pakistan. The Australian captain refused to leave, despite knowing full well he was out. It needed technology to issue him an undignified exit.

Some people may say that it was an inconsequential game and hence Tendulkar walked. They are wrong. These are the cynics who would also say that Tendulkar is self-centered and is obsessed with his own records. Yes, this was an inconsequential game. By that token, here was a fantastic opportunity for him to score without any pressure and chalk up hundred that would have given him an incredible hundred centuries in international (Tests + ODIs) cricket. Chennai’s Chidambaram Stadium is one of his favourite, high-scoring venues, and here was a game in which West Indies did not have Kemar Roach – their lynchpin.

People like Tendulkar are made of a different mettle. They will simply not cheat. In that sense he is like the great GR Viswanath, who recalled Bob Taylor in that 1978-79 Jubilee Test – a gesture that cost India the match. Ask GRV if he regretted that generosity and he would tell you that he would do that every time! The outcome is incidental; what matters is the intent.

Tendulkar has been a victim of many wrong decisions in his career. That is only to be expected as umpires are humans as well. Many batsmen around the world justify not walking by saying that “these things even out” over a period of time because they have been wrongly given out at other times in their careers.Tendulkar does not cater to such thinking.

And that’s incredible because in an era where corruption in thought and action has become a way of life in India, where the Radias, Rajas and Kalmadis show the way to impressionable minds that there is no percentage in ethical behaviour, where the nation’s fabric and soul is destroyed by politicians who are systematically destroying the country, Tendulkar stands as a paragon of virtue.

To all those who unfairly indict him of being selfish, here was an act to show that he is like a lotus in a filthy pond. In my book, he emerged a bigger hero today. He showed a generation of young people that there is place for honesty in a dog-eat-dog world of cut-throat professionalism where anybody can be ethical – if he wants to.

Tendulkar made India proud - yet again! And how!

( H Natarajan is the Executive Editor of )

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March 11, 2011

Home truths before India and Dhoni

By H Natarajan

The optimists bracketed India among the pre-tournament favourties while the jingoists hailed the Men in Blue as champions-in-waiting. But only a miniscule minority of realists squeaked, amid the hype and hoopla, that’s India’s progress in the 2011 World Cup hinged heavily on the side’s anemic bowling.

For a long time now, the potency of the Indian batting has covered up glaring deficiencies in the bowling department. This weapon, many felt, would be considerably enhanced on the flat tracks of the subcontinent. There was also the belief that the subcontinent wickets would blunt the warheads of teams like Australia, South Africa and England that relied heavily on pace while at the same time place a team like India, banking on three specialist spinners, in a favorable position.

As India found out quickly, reality check does not bounce! The first reality was that a total of 300-plus can no longer be considered a match-winning total – a point that was spectacularly hammered home by Ireland when they successfully chased England’s target of 327 and England’s near-successful chase of 338 in that tied game against India. The second reality check is that quality pace bowlers can cause considerable damage, whatever be the conditions as Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga, Kemar Roach, Tim Bresnan and Zaheer Khan have proved so far in this championship.

India is sitting on top of the heap in Group B. But that position will give the team little comfort, given how the matches have panned so far.

So where have things gone wrong for India for me to strike the note of guarded optimism, if not downright pessimism?
The first mistake is a well-documented one: The resurrection of Piyush Chawla and the overlooking of a proven performer like Pragyan Ojha. Chawla was creamed by the English tailender that India almost lost from a winning position. He failed yet again against Ireland and was surprisingly chosen to play a third successive match – this time against Netherlands.

Chawla’s disastrous outings have read: 10-0-71-2 vs England; 8-0-56-0 vs Ireland; 10-0-47-2 vs Netherlands. In all three games, he was India’s most expensive bowler. It’s human to err, but it’s downright stupid to persist with an error. Foolhardy obstinacy can never be a virtue.

Harbhajan Singh was expected to be one of the two strike bowlers for India, alongside Zaheer Khan. But he has taken just two wickets from four outings in this World Cup and has been restrictive at best. When you factor the performances – rather, the non-performances - of the two spinners and juxtapose their report card with that of the Indian fast bowlers in this tournament, it does not augur well for India.

Shantakumaran Sreesanth was clobbered for 53 runs in five overs by Bangladesh and lost the confidence of the team management; Munaf Patel has been inconsistent while Ashish Nehra has been unimpressive in first outing in his own backyard of Delhi. One shudders to think the plight of the team had Yuvraj Singh not come to the rescue as a match-winning bowler.

Yuvraj is doing for India in this World Cup what Mohinder Amarnath did in India’s victorious campaign in 1983. But Amarnath played a great supporting role as a bowler; here Yuvraj is asked to be the lead actor! And that’s where they have to get it right if the script has to unfold to box office expectations.

Had India been chasing against Bangladesh, the script would have been lot different. That spirited performance by Bangladesh, against a mammoth Indian total of 370 for four, put the Indian bowling in proper perspective in the very opening game of the tournament.

The Indian batting machine, powered by Sachin Tendulkar’s hundred, scored 338 against England, but what seemed a match-winning score was made to look woefully inadequate as Andrew Strauss made mincemeat of the Indian bowling. It was only Zaheer’s genius with the old ball that brought about a dramatic transformation in the game and, in the end, allowed India to tie the game.

If there was further confirmation needed about the insipid Indian bowling, then successive matches against Associate nations Ireland and Netherlands gave ample evidence. In fact, had Mahendra Singh Dhoni or Yusuf Pathan got out early, India may well have lost the game to Ireland. And against Netherlands, India needed more than 50 runs with just the bowlers left to bat. But for the second time running, Yuvraj Singh bailed the side out if a possible ignominy.

The single biggest gain in the last one year has been Virat Kohli’s exemplary batting. At No 4, Kohli is a sane and stabilizing influence in a side loaded with ballistic batsmen. But the run out against Ireland and the tinkering with his batting slot would have negated much of the confidence he had gained from that marvelous century on his World Cup debut. It will be suicidal for India to do anything that will dent the youngster’s confidence.

If sides like Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands have caused much grief to India, the alarm bells would be ringing in the Indian camp for the matches ahead. Dhoni has very little at his command to juggle around in case of bowling emergencies. In the light of frontline bowlers failing in a heap, it would make sense for India to abandon the four-bowler theory and go in for a fifth specialist bowler.

The team management cannot waste any further time in inducting the talented Ravichandran Ashwin in the eleven. Ashwin should open the bowling in place of Zaheer, who will be lot more dangerous with the old ball in the middle overs. And the time to unfold that strategy would have to be against South Africa on Saturday. It’s a game I would also like to see Sreesanth coming back into the team. He has done well against the South Africans in the recent series and it his confidence against the Proteas will be that much higher. Sreesanth is a strike bowler and if he finds his form and confidence, it will do immense good in the crucial matches ahead.

Matches are won on the field and not by TV hype. The team has to take their game to a higher level. If not, for at least four more years, Ritesh Deshmukh will not be able to eat chocolates, Sajid Khan will have to eschew non-veg, John Abraham will have to stay away from veg and Akshay Kumar will probably die of hunger! Get the point?!

( H Natarajan is the Executive Editor of )

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March 08, 2011

Ireland’s display against India shows why they are ready for big league

By H Natarajan

The ICC effected a subtle change in its “beyond-the-2.5 meter rule” with regard to lbw referrals under the UDRS system. As per the amendment, if replays indicate that the ball would travel in excess of 2.5 metres from the point of impact, the batsman can still be given out if Hawk-Eye shows the ball striking any part of the middle stump at a comfortable height.

And it’s because of the rule change by the ICC, bang in the middle of the World Cup, that saw umpire Rod Tucker reverse his earlier decision and adjudge Ireland's Alex Cusack lbw toYuvraj Singh. The ICC took the decision to bring about this dramatic change following a similar incident in the India-England game where Ian Bell was controversially declared not out.

Commenting in the group Cricket Fans on Facebook, Srinivasan Narayanan hit the nail on the head: “If you can change a rule midway, then why not grant Ireland full status now?”

Srini’s is not a voice in the wilderness. As Ireland soldier on impressively in the 2011 World Cup, they are winning the respect and admiration of opponents, critics, the cricketing cognoscenti around the world and the masses.

Not since Sri Lanka’s compelling and consistent on-field performances, an associate member nation has made such forceful claims for full ICC membership as Ireland. In fact, cricket has undergone a sea change in the near three decades since Sri Lanka got Test status.

It’s now a high-pressure game with the demands on the players scaling stratospheric levels in keeping with the high stakes. It’s in this dramatically different scenario, Ireland has measured up to the best in the business.

It’s all quiet on the Western Front after the din of the day-night drama at Bengaluru. The scoreboard says, India beat Ireland by five wickets. Fairly convincing, it may seem. But what cold statistics don’t reveal to those who had not followed the match closely is how things could have been vastly different with just the loss of one more Indian wicket at a critical juncture.

India were fortunate that one of the coolest heads in the game, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, walked in with India’s score reading an uneasy 100 for the loss of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. Another 108 runs were needed for victory and there was just Yusuf Pathan in the hut.

Had Dhoni got out quickly at this point, the pressure on Pathan would have been enormous as the last of the recognized batsman. Pathan would not have been able to throw his bat as freely as he did. Yes, one wicket was all that Ireland needed at this stage which could have plunged a nation of billion-plus people into a huge disappointment. And another victory would have meant Ireland’s claims for higher recognition was almost guaranteed, as it would have followed that epic, back-from-the-dead victory over England at the same venue.

The Indian captain had ensured that victory was well within India’s grasp when he left with the score at 167. In a manner of speaking, Dhoni ‘took’ the Batting Powerplay by getting out, as the man to follow was that “Dexterous Destroyer”, Yusuf Pathan. And “Air Marshall” Pathan lit the night skies with the kind of pyrotechnics that only he can. In the end, few realized how perilously close India came to losing against Ireland.

There are three departments in the game of cricket: Batting, Bowling and Fielding. Ireland were superior to India in two of the three - and yet lost the game. The Irish bowlers very disciplined, bowling to the field and making the nuclear-powered Indian batting earn their runs. The Ireland fielding was a marvel – I dare say one of the best fielding sides in the world, if not the best. Their commitment and professionalism was top class. Despite the absence of a good foundation back home, their batsmen still showed guts, gumption and character to stand up to international class bowlers. Yesterday, it was the turn of skipper William Poterfield to put his hand up.

The chasm is huge between most domestic cricket and the game at international level. Indian cricket, for example, is replete with ‘kings’ in first class cricket forced to look like paupers at the international level. What the ICC needs to do is to help Ireland give greater and more meaningful exposure to the part-time cricketers of Ireland - with the co-operation of full-member nations - before easing them into Test cricket in a year or two.

What’s most admirable about Ireland is that the talent that you see in their ranks is home bred and not a motley collection of expats. And for a team that did not generate pre-tournament expectations from the world, they had sizable support from their own countrymen in the stands. Obviously, they knew their players better than the rest of the world were willing to believe.

What Ireland needs is a sense of fairplay and justice from the ICC. The ICC has been criticized for its protectionism attitude towards the full member nations – an indication of that is reflected in the World Cup format, which is favoured to ensure the safe passage of the fancied teams into the next stage. Encouragement, if any, needs to be given to the minnows. But then the ICC decisions are governed with one eye on sponsorship moolah. But Ireland has proved emphatically that minnows can be a draw as well. They need the blessings of the ICC to take their game to the next level.

A Shah Rukh Khan would still have been doing insignificant TV soaps had his talented not been noticed and pitchforked into celluloid. A Sonu Nigam would still have been singing in small, social gatherings than be one of the nation’s prized singers had he not been given due recognition at the right time. Ireland are like SRK and Sonu in their struggling days. If they need to join the big league, the patronage of the ICC is vital.

(H Natarajan is the Executive Editor of

February 12, 2011

Nobody killed Sourav Ganguly!

By H Natarajan

Sourav Ganguly could be the first victim of the corporate culture that is invading Indian cricket through the Indian Premier League (IPL). When the cold and calculating czars of the corporate world are flexing their financial muscle, they don’t allow sentiments and emotions to come into the equation.

Wipro chairman Azim Premji gave the sack to two of his loyal and long-standing allies recently. They did not fit into scheme of his things and they had to go. It’s the same dispassionate corporate logic that one witnessed at the IPL4 auction where none of the ten teams made any attempt to buy Ganguly.

The reasons were clear in the minds of the brains trust of the teams, even as the world outside speculate the reasons till date. The numbers guru had crunched the figures, the itinerants had a microscopic look at the ICC cricket calendar, the legal team vetted the players’ contracts and the cricketing masters had their say on the players’ ability, form and fitness to last the next three years. Nothing was left to chance, no room for ambiguity.

Certainly there was no place for sentiments like son of the soil. Rahul Dravid, Bangaluru’s home-bred hero, was not wanted by Royal Challengers, whose Chief Mentor - sitting next to Vijay Mallya at the auction table - was Dravid’s stable mate Anil Kumble. VVS Laxman, Indian cricket’s crisis management expert and Hyderabad once iconic player, also did not fit into the scheme of Deccan Chargers and had to leave.

But what shook Indian cricket at its very roots was impassive and stony ignore of Ganguly. The media went into an overdrive, Ganguly fans went on the offensive to stage rallies, protests, burn effigies. Between the end of the auction and February 4, Indian cricket witnessed a “Hope opera” - hope that the Prince of Kolkata would make a royal back door entrance. But the “Hope Opera” ended in a “Reality show” on February 4, when the corporate czars sent Ganguly on the mat with a flurry of punches. From the Ambanis in the West, to Mallya in the South to Manoj Badale in the North, the poison arrows flew thick and fast at Ganguly.

The man - venerated as Bhismapitama by many of India current superstars for his care and mentoring during their infancy in international cricket - lay mortally wounded in a bed of arrows. It was sad to see the “God of the off-side” dumped by the wayside.

There is a school of thought that Australian cricket has adopted the same ruthless approach as the IPL team owners. Not quite, in my opinion. While it’s true that some of the biggest cricketing legends Down Under left international cricket because the decision was taken by the selectors, it’s also true that the players were told before hand and given the chance to make a dignified exit.

The legends retired amid much pomp, celebrated by the nation, chaired by the team mates, feted by the media and the fans. Those were befittingly a hero’s farewell. In sharp contrast, it was very sad to see Ganguly treated like a pariah – unwanted by all ten team in what seemed like a conspiracy of silence – and then blocked by three teams when one team had a rethink.

It was sad to see a great champion, a man who changed the face of Indian cricket with his spunk, a man who changed India’s cricket’s attitude of showing the other cheek… Gandhigiri to Dadagiri was a paradigm shift. To see such a hero pink-slipped in an ignominious manner is rather sad - denied the one last hurrah that he so badly wanted.

The team owners would say that Ganguly was fair game once he was in the auction ring. Even if one accepts that none of the team thought he was good enough to be among India’s top 70 players, what difference it made to them if another team was willing to accommodate him after a rethink? Some of the team owners became Pontiffs of morality to say that it’s not fair to twist the rule! I think THAT would have hurt Ganguly more than the initial ignore. This was rubbing salt in his wounds.“This is not cricket at all. I am surprised that things can go down to a level that a cricketer cannot play in his own country for no fault of his…I was very disappointed the franchises stalled the repurchase. The rules of the IPL have been changed in the past. Every rule in sport should give an opportunity to play, not keep them out - whether it's Sourav Ganguly today or some other player sometime," a hurt Ganguly reacted.

Ganguly is not the kind of man who will forgive or forget things easily. The subtle humiliation first and then the more brazen later will have its repercussion – eventually. I have no doubt in my mind that Ganguly will reincarnate as an influential cricket administrator, even as the President of the BCCI some day. That is when the some of the team owners will feel the heat.I’m certain many men who mattered from various teams would have walked up to Ganguly – or will do so in future – to tell him that they fought for his inclusion in their team and that the decision not to bid for him was taken by someone else. Yes, nobody killed Sourav Ganguly!

The Royal Bengal tiger has been killed and nobody wants to think he is a poacher. Well, saving the Tiger is nothing more than a slogan in our country!

(H Natarajan is the Executive Editor of

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