In the past few decades, the sport of cricket has evolved considerably. It has gained increased traction and, as the years passed, makes it more commercialized as it attracts a lot more coverage. Each player's move (good or bad) is scrutinized exponentially by their fans. The audience looks for inspiration and moments to vent their frustration as well. As cricketers being humans, are also prone to the odd error in judgment, inevitably it leads to several controversies, both on and off-field. Here, we will take a trip down memory lane and relive the ten debates to have taken place in the history of Indian cricket.
10. Criminal Case Against MS Dhoni
Yes, the most beloved player is on this list. In 2015, a criminal case was filed against Dhoni, stating that the player had hurt Hindu sentiments by portraying as Hindu Lord Vishnu for a magazine advertorial. The petitioner was a social activist Jayakumar Hiremath. Registered the case under sections 295 and 34 of the IPC. Later, Dhoni was unhappy with the picture and expressed his guilt and displeasure. The Supreme Court also observed no hostile intent on Dhoni's part, and the case has dropped.
9. Hardik Pandya And KL Rahul At Koffee With Karan
In 2019, Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul got into a controversy with their sexist comments on a reality show. This controversy shook Indian cricket in 2018-19. They talked about their relationships, crushes, favorite movies, actors, and actresses with the show host and Bollywood director and producer Karan Johar. Hardik made some sexist and misogynist comments which got condemned by the audience. Both the players were suspended and sent back from Australia by BCCI. They also penalized Rs 20 lakh for each of them. Later, Pandya apologized to his fans and followers through Twitter.
8. Sreesanth On Slap-Gate Controversy
During the 2008 Indian Premiere League, things got heated up during the match between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians. Harbhajan publicly slapped Sreesanth in the middle of the game that reduced Sreesanth to tears. This infamous incident got widespread attention when Sreesanth saw sobbing uncontrollably before the presentation ceremony. Though the two Indian cricketers patched up later that night, Harbhajan was banned for the rest of the tournament after he was found guilty.
7. 1988 Road Rage Case Of Navjot Sidhu
On December 27, 1998, former Indian opener Navjot Singh Sidhu and his friend, Rupinder Singh Sidhu, were accused of murdering Patiala resident Gurnam Singh. The argument happened over parking space in Patiala. The two men allegedly dragged Gurnam Singh out of his car and hit him, who died soon after. The trial court discharged Sidhu. But later, in 2006, the Punjab and Haryana high court charged him with culpable homicide following the road rage incident and jailed him for three years, under section 304(ii). Sidhu approached the Supreme Court in 2007. The court suspended his sentence and granted him bail, enabling him to contest the Lok Sabha by-polls from Amritsar.
6. Middle Finger Gesture By Virat Kohli
In 2011-12, India got outplayed in the first Test at Melbourne. Everything was going wrong for the hot-headed Indian batsmen Kohli, as he could only manage a score of 23 in the first innings at Sydney. The crowd abused Kohli, making him lose his cool while fielding at the boundary line. He stuck out his middle finger at his tormentors in disgust. The Australian media ruthlessly criticized this shameful act and caught it on camera. The referee Ranjan Madugalle laid level two charges on him. This gesture also cost him 50% of his match fee.
5. Greg Chappell Vs Ganguly
Indian cricket's worst captain-coach controversy in 2005-06 involved Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell. Ganguly's differences with Chappell gave way to many headlines during India's tour of Zimbabwe Ganguly said it was his biggest mistake to recommend Greg Chappell as India's coach. Chappell wrote to BCCI that Ganguly was physically and mentally unfit to lead the team and that his divide and rule policy was damaging the Indian team. The leak of email to the media resulted in a backlash from the captain's fans. Later, the team dropped Chappell.
4. 2013 IPL Spot-Fixing Scandal
Spot-fixing and betting cases arose in the 2013 Indian Premier League when Delhi police arrested three players representing Rajasthan Royals, S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, and Ankeet Chavan, on the charges of alleged spot-fixing. The major incident stemmed from Gurunath Meyappan (son-in-law of then BCCI Chairman and CSK owner N Srinivasan) assertions of betting. Involving Raj Kundra, the owner of Rajasthan Royals, too for similar charges. Following the case, The Supreme court asked N Srinivasan to step down from his position as BCCI president. Patiala House Courts cleared the demands of the three players. However, BCCI banned Chandilain in January 2016 from all forms of cricket for life. Later in March 2019, The Supreme Court lifted the life ban on Sreesanth.
3. Mike Denness Vs India
On the final day of the second test between South Africa and India on November 4, 2001, in Port Elizabeth, Mike Denness, the match referee, noticed some incidents. The first incident was regarding the excessive appealing mounted by Harbhajan Singh, Shiv Sunder Das, and Deep Dasgupta. He also accused Tendulkar under Law 42.3 (b) and Ganguly of similar punishment for not controlling his team. Sehwag got charged for using crude and abusive language. The Indian media put a trial on Denness for punishing six people of one group. Denis Lindsay replaced Denness for refusing to stand down voluntarily.
2. Monkey Gate 2008
In 2008, India and Australia test in Sydney was mutilated by controversy, with off-spinner. Harbhajan racially abused all-rounder Andrew Symonds. Harbhajan was found guilty of calling Symonds a 'monkey.' The hearing of Bhajji's charge ended with a ban on three tests and 50% of his match fee. Indian management was not happy with the judgment as there was no evidence to prove that Bhajji did use any words related to racism. The former skipper and the team felt let down by the results.
1. The Fall Of Azharuddin
Renowned as one of India's most successful captains, Azhar was fixing international matches for money. The CBI reported that Azhar was the one to introduce Hansie Cronje (then South African captain) to the bookies. Things got worse in an emotional hearing, where Hansie went on to say that Azhar was the one who introduced those bookies to him. The scandal that threatened to tear the game apart involved Azhar's three teammates, Ajay Jadeja, Ajay Sharma, and Manoj Prabhakar. Additionally, BCCI and ICC banned Azhar for life. Later Andhra Pradesh high court lifted the ban in 2012. Azhar never returned to the field due to his age.