Good, Bad & Ugly ft. Rishabh Pant, Manu Bhaker, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan

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Good, Bad & Ugly ft. Rishabh Pant, Manu Bhaker, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan

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Subhayan Dutta

01/06/2019

With Rishabh Pant swelling our hearts with his generous move to babysit, to Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan starting the 2019 calendar year promisingly, to Manu Bhaker giving us a timely reminder of what limits not to cross, we bring you a healthy dose of good, bad, and the ugly from the last week.

Good

When one says Cricket has progressed by leaps and bounds, it doesn’t necessarily imply the cut-throat competition of today, or the new parameters introduced to make the sport more entertaining. With the stump mics and individual opinions getting more and more vocal every day, nothing is ever under the carpet anymore. Hence, one isn’t left with many options other than to be tolerant towards the snarky on-field remarks. While that sounds like a lot of work, the end is actually very peaceful as Rishabh Pant exhibited. After Tim Paine’s proposal from behind the stumps for Pant to babysit his kids went viral, the 21-year-old did the most unbelievable thing. While both the teams were visiting Australia’s Prime Minister’s house during a meet, Pant agreed to take a picture with Paine’s wife Bonnie Paine and kids with the caption reading “best babysitter”. Not only did it cool down the simmering tension amongst the fans, the gesture pretty much cleared the resentment and insecurities out of Pant’s soul. The result – after Paine admitted, “I wish I played that way when I was his age. He looks like he has hell of a lot of fun”, Pant scored an unbeaten 159 at SCG. 

Talk about taking one step forward and two steps backward, and one of the best examples would be that of Indian tennis. After being introduced to the sport by their colonizers, India have done reasonably well in the field with the likes of Vijay Amritraj, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi all gaining prominence on the international circuit. However, after the Paes/Bhupathi heroics in the doubles category saw the dusk of the day, India had receded back to mediocrity. While the scenario hasn’t changed much on that front, Divij Dharan and Rohan Bopanna winning the Tata Open Title as the top seeded Indian duo beat the British pair of Luke Bambridge and Jonny O'Maara 6-3 6-4. It was the 18th ATP tour title for Bopanna, whose blended booming serves and impeccable backhand winner played a huge role in the duo winning the final. What’s more exciting is all the anticipation this win brings for the tennis fans with Australian Open coming on in less than 10 days. While Bopanna couldn’t go past the round of 16 in men’s doubles last time in the year’s first Grand Slam, he did make it to the final in the mixed doubles.

Bad

Since its inception in January last year, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (COA) has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. While one external body was provided to keep a check on BCCI’s notorious monopoly and repeated corruption allegations, the COA has only made the picture murkier. After the BCCI and COA feud, the conflict has crept in the house with Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji at loggerheads. With the controversy shifting to India’s women’s cricket, the former Indian women’s team captain has been very vocal and simultaneously, painting a bad image. Her support for former coach Ramesh Powar, who was involved in bad blood with Mithali Raj, didn’t make him a good figure and BCCI-COA’s decision to end tenure was the right decision. Edulji’s continuous attempt to stop the process has raised suspicion. As if that wasn’t enough, Edulji has now come in the way of the appointment of WV Raman as the next women’s coach. She has written to Rai asking Raman to travel New Zealand as an interim coach and let the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) pick the new coach, thereby leaving a small window for Pawar to make a comeback.

The I-League telecasting mess has finally been sorted with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) informing that all the matches of the top-flight Indian football league would be shown on digital platforms of Hotstar and Jio TV. The sudden announcement of Star cutting down I-League matches in the Star Sports 3 channel from 110 to total 80 games had caused a massive uproar among fans, the club owners and by AIFF themselves. Many had even accused Star of promoting Indian Super League as India’s biggest football league despite it having lesser audience than the 12-year-old I-League. What has been incomprehensible behind Star’s move has been the idea of not telecasting the majority of their matches. Most matches being in day time, the channel would hardly clash programmes with the elite ISL, making both the leagues equally relevant. To top that, with the international break going on, Star is largely occupied with ISL snippets, over which a viewer would always prefer a live I-League match. Star Sports, however, will telecast only 30 of the remaining season’s matches with five to six home games of Real Kashmir being telecasted by DD Kashir.

Ugly

The reason mob justice has survived the test of time over the centuries is because that the outcome is almost always the most expected one, regardless of it being fair or unfair. The very latest such example was the “Me Too” movement where the increasing number of sexual allegations on social media could bring instant name shaming and blame game. It resulted in many officials forced to step down from their posts temporarily but eventually, they faced no consequences. The desire for short attention span is real, hence, it was not surprising to find Manu Bhaker posting an old screenshot of Haryana Sports Minister Anil Vij’s tweet promising Bhaker Rs 2 crore reward. Bhaker put it up publicly following with the question, "Sir, Please confirm if it is correct... Or just Jumla (false promise)..." While the mob justice soon happened bringing instant criticism on Mr. Vij, who came out to clarify that he hasn’t forgotten his promise, Bhaker was also at the receiving end of a stern warning by the ministry for not discussing the matter internally before taking it on a public platform. But, that’s what social media at the palm of a 16-year-old could possibly do.

We’re happy to conclude that we are starting 2019 with a scenario where the good things have overweighed the ugly aspects of sports this week, and we hope to see more such weeks in the coming year. 

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