Rajasthan Royals must have lost quite a few fans on Wednesday night. The franchise withdrew Sreesanth from the contest against the Mumbai Indians, thereby killing his much anticipated clash — on the field that is — with Harbhajan Singh.
Everyone had been looking forward to this 'contest' after Sreesanth's rant on Twitter about the off-spinner, who slapped the pacer during the inaugural edition in 2008. To their disappointment though, it just didn't come about. While the Royals reportedly said the bowler was rested from the game "to manage his workload as he was coming off a long layoff", it's easy to see the hosts didn't want to handle any unwarranted trouble in the big game and decided to play it safe.
Why else would someone drop the bowler who won you the last game? Sreesanth was their best bowler against Kings XI Punjab and nothing much has changed since then in terms of cricket.
The "work load" theory isn't very convincing. He has just played four games, and their last game was at home. So, there was no travel involved and he had enough time to relax and recover from whatever fatigue bowling four overs could have caused three days back.
Come to think of it, this is the same league where players have played through injuries, although only they would know whether they did it on their own or were forced to. So, resting a key bowler, who is fit by all accounts, looks a bit strange.
Incidentally, Sreesanth had skipped the team's practice session on Tuesday, which coincided with that of the Mumbai Indians. But it's just not the Royals who seemed to be wary of the duo coming face to face on the field. The Mumbai Indians, though they didn't hide Harbhajan, too refrained from talking about the issue. John Wright, their coach, when asked if there could be some tension in the game, skirted the issue.
While nobody could tell how the game would have panned out had Sreesanth played, it sure robbed the game of that extra spice.