The already frosty relations between the Indian cricket team and the media took a turn for the worse at a press conference here on Tuesday.
With no one really in the know about the exact status or extent of Virender Sehwag’s injury, and speculation rife about his participation in the tournament, certain journalists wanted some straightforward answers from the India skipper. Dhoni, though, did not quite like the tenor of the questions — he thought he himself was being accused of leaking information about Sehwag’s status to certain reporters.
While the first question about Sehwag was met with a curt, one-line reply of “Anything related to the fitness, a press release will be sent by the BCCI,” from Dhoni.
For the rest of the 25-minute long presser, journalists were staying off the contentious, and burning, issue, instead sticking to strictly cricket.
That, however, was the lull before the storm.
The topic was brought up once again, this time by another journalist.
“Shouldn’t the captain update us about an injury, especially with all the mystery around?” was the question that started the fire.
While the media manager, Anirudh Chaudhary, tried to dismiss the question like Dhoni had done earlier, the journalists were not having any of it. “The question was asked to Dhoni, and he should answer,” shot back a reporter.
Dhoni reiterated his point of the BCCI sending out a press release about the status of the injury, but the scribes weren’t going to give up the chase.
“Who is leaking the stories to the media? Tell me,” the reporter asked Dhoni.
Then, all hell broke lose.
“Well, I am not. That’s for sure,” Dhoni said, his voice getting firmer by the minute. “All the guys are here, if you are blaming me, why don’t one of you stand up and say I have (leaked)? You’re accusing me. You just blamed me of leaking news.”
The situation was suddenly rapidly deteriorating when the team manager, V. Chamundeswarnath, stepped in. “What do you want, tell me?” he asked. “See if Sehwag has a pain in the hand he might not bat. If he is comfortable he will play in the nets. Today he tried and had some discomfort. Tomorrow we will take the final decision. If he is not fit enough we will inform the BCCI and then they will issue a press release. How much pain Sehwag is having, when Dhoni himself is batting in the nets, he cannot answer that.”
While this drama was playing out in Nottingham the BCCI had issued a release saying that Sehwag would return to India after consulting specialists in England and that Dinesh Karthik would replace him. The release said Sehwag suffered a Grade-1 tear in the shoulder.
The cold war between the team and the media has been brewing for a while now, and Tuesday’s high intense drama was just waiting to happen.