Hush hush… We won the ODI series against Sri Lanka 3-1, there were some spanking innings to remember and a few solid bowling spells apart from an odd super catch or two. That’s it. We shall not remember the abandoned ODI at my very own Feroz Shah Kotla (I call it my own for the fact that being a local boy, I’ve grown up watching matches here and seen the ground develop and break in front of my eyes).
I’ve always had the upper hand in the bragging competitions with my friends from Punjab in many Kotla Vs Mohali debates. Be it the security, greenery, parking, toilets (yeah, those too), the national capital scores above Mohali. Of course, their pitch has always been better, their home-stars usually do a decent job on their own turfs and they are more applauding of the other team’s efforts, but we still had an edge.
With so much going for us, we went into the final match of a great series, having drubbed the islanders with the Delhi trio of captain Sehwag, centurions Gambhir and Kohli setting the stage for an awesome clash (even the weather was pleasant). Then what happened, my dear friends, all I can say is… <i>Hush</i>.
Now, New Delhi is the proud capital of a billion strong cricket crazy nation and I could not hide the ignominy of the fact that we could not come with one god@#$% pitch on which a small ODI could be played. To add insult to injury, we had 99-run wonders like Chetan Chauhan claiming that the Lankans chickened out and that ‘he’ had played on worse pitches (your pathetic record in the cricketing world asserts the fact that you were slightly below average even in your times sir, so please shut the @#$% up).
One of my friends who was there for the match (sorry, I was nursing a hangover) told me, “Dude it was good that you weren’t there, when I was driving back, I could see the people on the road and felt that they held me, an avid Kotla fan, responsible for the embarrassing act.” I’m simply glad for the fact that I wasn’t on the road, facing the glare of the nation for not being able to have a ground with a decent pitch (I thank my office for throwing a New Year party just at the right time!).
Now, a ban is inevitable, even though the BCCI will use all its muscle to counter it. It seems that the apex board is more embroiled in a teenager-type power tussle without actually thinking about the root cause of the problem. We had a pathetic pitch and deserve a ban, period. But such plain logic doesn’t work here.
BCCI will twist and turn arms till a slap-on-the-wrist ban is imposed to keep their 2011 World Cup matches intact (I wonder if the pitch will be re-laid or will we simply keep on calling hurt batsmen chickens). This is a common phenomenon in our country. Think 1996 World Cup, a crumbling Eden Gardens pitch and our devout fans torching the ground cause they felt that something blasphemous had happened, their team was supposed to have been bowling when the darn thing broke-down and not vice-versa.
It is this mentality that gives the grounds committees the audacity to go ahead with the under-preparation of turfs. We need to partake in the humiliation and demand action if the trend of constant shame has to be wiped off the face of Indian cricket.
Only and only then will I be able to move out to meet people from other parts of the country and the world, be able to sit in brag-about-your-cricket-ground debates and give the game of cricket a befitting apology for the infamous ‘Kotla Pitch Fiasco’ of 2009.