Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's collision with Bangladesh's debutant bowler Mustafizur Rahman during the first ODI in Mirpur on Thursday has drawn criticism for both and some Twitter jokes.
On the second ball of the 25th over, Rahman appeared to get in Dhoni's path as the batsman was taking a single. Dhoni bumped shoulders with Rahman, who was shoved out of the way and left the field for treatment. Rahman rejoined the action in the 37th over and immediately made an impact, claiming the wickets of Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Ravindra Jadeja to complete his five-wicket haul, for which he received the man of the match award.
The incident was the one blemish on what was a fine debut by Rahman. The left-arm pacer, on his part, appeared to have gotten in the way of the Indian batsmen on more than one occasion, also getting in the way of Rohit Sharma earlier in the innings. A softer collision ensued and Rohit Sharma immediately raised a finger to indicate that the bowler was in the wrong, given that Rahman appeared to have glanced towards the batsmen after his follow-through.
When Dhoni was dismissed in the following over, the celebrations by the Bangladesh players, especially by wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, who let out a scream in the direction of a watching Dhoni, showed they had not taken well to the incident. Bangladesh went on to complete an impressive and well-earned 79-run win.
A Times of India report pointed out that Dhoni didn't appear to make any effort to change his course when he saw that Rahman was in his way. The report called Dhoni's action unsporting and would lose him a lot of fans, especially those from Bangladesh.
Some fans on Twitter agreed with this assessment. Here's what they had to say:
While another user argued Dhoni's case, saying the incident was not fair on Rahman's part, either.
A PTI report said there was no residual tension from the incident and that both teams' captains did not wish to make an issue out of the incident. Dhoni was quoted as saying, "The bowler (Mustafizur) thought I would move away while I thought he would. But as none of us did, we collided." "I think this can happen in any match. It’s nothing big. I spoke to him later," said the Indian captain with a smile.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza said, "Things like this can happen on the field during a match." "We all shake hands at the end of the day and such situations can be discussed with the on-field umpires. It’s nothing serious," he added.
This ESPNcricinfo article found that penalties imposed for the incident, if any, were a matter of interpretation of ICC's rules.
Later on Friday, Dhoni was summoned by match referee Andy Pycroft for a hearing about the incident. A collective decision was taken by the Indian team management that the Indian skipper would not plead guilty at the hearing as he had not tried to hurt Rahman intentionally.
The Indian team's defence was that Dhoni never raised his elbow and the officials said that he just wanted to complete the run. Their bone of contention was that according to replays, there was no gap between shoulder and armpit which justifies that he did not try to elbow the bowler.
However, it was learnt that any sort of body contact can't be termed as a Level 1 offence and match referee Pycroft had to press Level 2 charges, which is a fine between 50% to 100% match fees or a two-match ban. Pycroft fined Dhoni 75% of his match fee.
Pycroft said: "In the hearing, Dhoni defended the charge on the basis that the bowler was on the wrong line and realising that he couldn't avoid the collision, he used his hand and arm to push him away as he went through to 'minimise the impact'.
"However, my assessment was that Dhoni deliberately pushed and shouldered Mustafizur, which was inappropriate. Even if there was a narrow gap between the runner (Suresh Raina) and the bowler, an experienced Dhoni should have tried to avoid the collision as cricket is a non-contact sport and the players are expected to avoid physical contact at all times. On this basis, I fined Dhoni 75% of his match fee."
Mustafizur was fined 50% of his match fee. Having initially pleaded not guilty to the offence, upon being faced with the evidence during the hearing and upon questioning, Mustafizur admitted his guilt and accepted the proposed sanction.
Pycroft said, "Mustafizur was fined 50% of his match fee after he admitted that that his actions in not getting out of the batsman's way were inappropriate and he should have done more to avoid the contact."
The reactions by fans on Twitter to this latest development, were, not surprisingly, also mixed. There were some who strongly endorsed Dhoni's guilt in the matter.
— Gora Lorca (@gora_lorca) June 19, 2015
And there were some who thought the collision was not intentional from Dhoni.
(With inputs from PTI)