Indian cricket in 2015 : Virat Kohli leads a new dawn
December 28 : A phase of transition gripped India’s favourite obsession both on and off the field . That cricket dominated headlines for most part of the year was hardly a surprise given the drama which unfolded in an episodic manner, be it on the field or inside the BCCI power corridors. Whether it was Virat Kohli starting his Test captaincy reign in the middle of a high-profile series in Australia or N Srinivasan waging a lone battle to save his chair before eventually bowing out from both the BCCI and the ICC, cricket was undoubtedly a soap opera that had the fans hooked.
The feisty and ferocious Kohli ushered in the new age Indian cricket team with an approach which had the purists divided. The sight of an Indian team unabashed about getting under the opponents’ skin as much with words and gestures as with sheer superiority of skill was met with mixed response from both the fans and yesteryear stars of the game. It was also a year which marked the end of an era with the retirement of swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan.
Away from the cricket field
However, as has been the case for several years, administration of sports in India remained woefully managed. While the men and women who matter got busy preparing for Rio Olympics next year, the politicking among officials, especially boxing, made for a depressing footnote. In fact, the sport does not have a national federation anymore and the effect is beginning to show inside the ring as well with none of the boxers managing to secure an Olympic berth so far.
The year began with the cricket series against Australia well in progress. The team was recovering from the shock of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement after the Melbourne Test and there was eagerness to see Kohli’s approach to captaincy amid the dramatic turn of events. The Indians lost the series but there was near unanimity that Kohli was the man to take Indian cricket forward. The Delhi batsman did not disappoint and delivered the first series win as captain in Sri Lanka, ending a 22-year wait.
The young leader then made history when he led India to a 3-0 series win at home against No.1 Test side South Africa, who were made to taste an overseas loss after nine years. But even in its moment of glory, controversy did not leave the Indian team with a furore on the pitches prepared for the series culminating into an ICC warning for the country.
There were googlies being bowled inside the BCCI boardroom as well and after brazening out the 2013 spot-fixing storm for more than a year, Srinivasan was finally bowled out. Shashan Manohar, under whom Srinivasan served as Secretary, managed to get the BCCI rally behind him for a second stint as President of the country’s richest sports body.
Eventually, Srinivasan also had to give up on his ICC Chairmanship after the BCCI withdrew its support to the once all-powerful figure. It was Manohar again who replaced Srinivasan. The Indian Premier League continued to churn out on and off field drama with Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals suspended for two years for involvement of their key officials Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra in betting-related activities during the 2013 season.
Meiyappan, the former Team Principal of CSK, and RR co-owner Kundra were suspended for life for indulging in betting and bringing the IPL and the game into disrepute. But the players of the two teams were not made to suffer even as they had to split ways with new inductees Pune and Rajkot pitching for the big guns from the suspended sides. If Pune got the prized catch in Dhoni, then Rajkot bagged Suresh Raina, the two CSK veterans, who had seen the champion side win three editions of the cash-rich league.
Courtesy : PTI