The Indian media, especially electronic, makes an attempt a day to whip up mass hysteria and create a villain who is then ripped apart with such venomous ferocity that would do Adolf Hitler proud.
Though Suresh Kalmadi still tops the charts as the country's enemy number one, he was replaced this week by an unlikely figure from the world of cricket. Suraj Randiv is his name and till he overstepped the crease to deny Virender Sehwag his century, he was being hailed as a bowler of considerable potential. The tall off-spinner from Sri Lanka, who delivers the ball from an unusual height and gets it to turn and bounce to leave the batsman to play a guessing game, is now a household name in India, known for his infamy, and not for his skills with the ball. The outrage over denying Sehwag a statistical achievement, that too resorting to a "foul most shameful" Randiv created a new low in cricket history, comparable to Trevor Chappell's underarm treachery that had denied New Zealand a victory.
On television channels and in newspapers, demands were being made to change the rule which allows someone to fiddle with it and leave an India batsman stranded on 99! Like most around me, I too for a brief while was taken in by the argument that this reprehensible act deserves strong punishment and agreed with those who wanted the ICC to step in and have a re-look at the law.
I must confess that I was unaware that cricketing laws clearly stipulate that in case the scores are level and if a bowler bowls an illegal delivery, the match is immediately over and if the batsman scores any runs off that ball, they will not be counted. The confusion was simply because in normal circumstances even if a team requires one run to win and the batsman hits a boundary or a six, those runs are credited to his score. So, why deny Sehwag his six and a hundred?
Randiv's "deliberate" overstepping of the crease fuelled the angry reaction. No doubt, his act was against the spirit of the game, but was the crime so great that it deserved lengthy debates that even Kumar Sangakara was drawn into and dubbed as an instigator who deserved greater punishment.
I think we reacted too harshly and even childishly just because Sehwag was denied a hundred, which is not the same as denying a team victory. After all, two teams play each other to win, statistical landmarks being secondary to the main contest. If viewed from this perspective, the law which calls for a match to be deemed over the moment a team has won, is perfectly justified. No rules governing a game can be framed keeping in mind an individual's statistical needs. Randiv was mischievous if not mean in denying Sehwag his hundred. The Sri Lankan Board, by reacting swiftly and banning him for a match, quelled the hysteria which the Indian media was building up and avoided a direct confrontation with the Indian Board. Had an Indian bowler done the same thing and been called a cheat by the Lankans, how would we have reacted? What a useless question to ask. Those who rule the world never break a law and never go against the spirit of the game! In fact, they create their own laws for others to follow.