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Kieron Pollard vs Mitchell Starc and other on-field confrontations in IPL history

Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir (bottom left) were involved in an ugly spat in the 2013 edition of IPL © IANS & PTI
Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir (bottom left) were involved in an ugly spat in the 2013 edition of IPL © IANS & PTI

Kieron Pollard and Mitchell Starc’s altercation is perhaps the ugliest on-field controversy in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Nishad Pai Vaidya revisits some of the other instances of controversy on the field of play in the IPL.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is no stranger to controversy. The Kieron Pollard-Mitchell Starc confrontation during the IPL 2014 match came as a rude shock to many cricket fans as things looked intense in the centre. It was the first time when it looked likely that the players could come to blows with one another.In the past, we have seen controversies on the field of play as well. Here are some of the biggest on-field controversies and altercations in the history of the IPL:

1. Mitchell Starc vs Kieron Pollard, Mumbai Indians vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2014

This has to be the worst confrontation in the history of IPL. Never before have we seen temperatures soar to a point where there could have been imminent bodily harm to some player. As Mumbai Indians were trying to build a good total, Starc came back to bowl to the dangerous Pollard in the slog overs. He first bowled a short one, that Pollard couldn’t play. They then had a small exchange of words. What happened next was simply shocking. As Starc was running in, Pollard took a step or two down the track. And, at the very last minute, he backed away and was walking towards square-leg. However, Starc continued and angled a full-paced delivery towards Pollard. As it went past Pollard, the West Indian lost his temper and lifted it bat and almost threw it in Starc’s direction. While the whole incident cast a shadow on the game, one may say that we were lucky that the bat landed in front of Pollard. It could have well flown towards Starc and perhaps hurt him.

Gautam Gambhir (left) and Virat Kohli during their verbal spat © IANS
Gautam Gambhir (left) and Virat Kohli during their verbal spat © IANS

2. Gautam Gambhir vs Virat Kohli, Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2013

When you have two mercurial characters in the centre, things can heat up anytime. However, what made this incident glaring was the fact that it involved two India players and captains of the two respective franchises. Kohli had holed out to the deep during this game and just as he was walking back, he heard something and stood his ground. From the Kolkata huddle, Gambhir emerged and the two moved towards each other swiftly. Then, Rajat Bhatia, a domestic stalwart, who is Gambhir and Kohli’s Delhi teammate intervened and didn’t let the two come in contact of each other. It required Bhatia’s maturity to defuse the situation and one shudders to think what might have happened had they moved even closer to one another.

3.  Munaf Patel vs Amit Mishra, Mumbai Indians vs Deccan Chargers, IPL 2011.

This was another incident where two India players had a go at each other. Deccan Chargers were batting first and were tottering at 112 for six after 19 overs. Munaf Patel came on to bowl the last over and Amit Mishra was ready for the challenge. Shikhar Dhawan smashed the first ball for six and later when Mishra hit a four, both of them had a heated exchange. That did not get any better as when Mishra hit another four, the two actually had physical contact as the batsman was trying to run. But through all that, Mishra had the last laugh as he had hit four fours in the over. That propelled Deccan to 135, a score they defended by 10 runs.

4. Sourav Ganguly vs Shane Warne, Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2008.

Warne and Ganguly were fierce competitors when they played for their country. And, when it came to a new field in 2008, that rivalry did not calm down. During a game between Rajasthan and Kolkata, Ganguly hit one to the deep, where Graeme Smith claimed a catch. However, Ganguly pushed the umpire to refer it and he gave in. As the replays were not quite clear, Ganguly got the benefit of the doubt. But, that had far reaching implications on the most match press conference. Shane Warne, the Rajasthan Royals captain lashed out at Ganguly when he spoke to the media. Warne pressed for the fact that it was against the spirit of the game and later Ganguly retorted by questioning the Aussie’s right to comment on it.

Adam Gilchrist (right) convinces Preity Zinta after she has an animated discussion with the umpires © IANS
Adam Gilchrist (right) convinces Preity Zinta after she has an animated discussion with the umpires © IANS

5. Priety Zinta vs the umpires, Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2012

The popular Bollywood actress, Zinta is perhaps the most vocal and passionate supporter of the Kings XI Punjab. During a game against the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012, she may have gone a bit too far when she reacted to a dubious dismissal of Shaun Marsh. During the game, Marsh had edged one to the wicketkeeper Manvinder Bisla and accepted his word that he had taken the catch. However, TV replays were not conclusive and the benefit of the doubt could have gone to the batsman. There was a strategic timeout and the cameras captured Zinta being quite animated and was involved in a chat with the umpires. For the first time, an owner expressed disappointment during the game. Adam Gilchrist however managed to calm her down.

6. Brendon McCullum vs the umpires, Deccan Chargers vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2009

The Kolkata Knight Riders had a terrible IPL 2009 in South Africa. It was so bad that their desperation for victory pushed their skipper Brendon McCullum to argue with the umpires over a decion. The game was in Kolkata’s grasp as Deccan needed 21 to win off the last over. Mashrafe Mortaza was handed the ball and he bowled a full toss upfront which was smashed by Rohit Sharma through square-leg. However, to add to Kolkata’s problems was the fact that the umpire signaled a no-ball. It was because Kolkata had only three players inside the 30-yard circle. McCullum argued with the umpires to no avail. Nothing could be done as he tried endlessly. Ultimately, they had to go on and Rohit fashioned an unlikely victory. McCullum was fined for the whole affair.

7. Kieron Pollard vs Shane Watson, Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals, IPL 2013

When the Rajasthan Royals were chasing a competitive score against the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium, Pollard was constantly chatting with Shane Watson. The Australain all-rounder was clearly angry and even the umpires came to sort things out. But, Pollard was cheeky and was smirking even as Watson was filled with rage. Ultimately, Watson was dismissed and went to cool his heals in the dug-out. Pollard was fielding close to the Rajasthan pit and continued to verbal duel there. Watson was red in rage and left the dugout even as Pollard continued.

8.  The prelude to the S Sreesanth-Harbhajan encounter, IPL 2008

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was one bowler who loved having a go at the opposition. During the first season of the IPL, teammates found themselves in opposing camps and some may have been shocked at Sreesanth’s behavior. It is said that during the Kings XI Punjab vs Mumbai Indians game in 2008, Sreesanth kept on having a go at the opposition and had a verbal duel with Robin Uthappa. During the game, Sreesanth had also been warned for his over-the-top celebrations. And, then once the game was done came the news of the infamous slapgate incident where Harbhajan Singh, the Mumbai captain on the day had allegedly slapped Sreesanth. But, it may have all happened because of what transpired on the field.

9. Munaf Patel and Harbhajan Singh argue with the umpires, Mumbai Indians vs Deccan Chargers, IPL 2012.

Munaf was bowling to Deccan Chargers captain Kumar Sangakkara when he got an inside edge that went back onto the stumps. Initially, the umpires were under the impression that it may have come off the keeper’s pads. But then, Munaf and Harbhajan had a go at the umpires and coaxed them into referring it to the third umpire. Under pressure, the umpires gave in and their call was overturned. While the correct decision was made, one could help but condemn the behavior of two India players in a tournament that has many youngsters waiting to hone their skills alongside them.

10. Munaf Patel vs Nitin Saini, Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2012.

There is some romanticism about Munaf’s story as this boy from a small village made it big. However, he was a serial offender when it came to discipline. The usually smiling pacer would often lose his cool and that would result in ugly scenarios. During a match against Punjab in IPL 2012, he was fined for making offensive gestures at the young batsman Nitin Saini. It was a result of the frustration of being hit for two boundaries.

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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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