IPL: LSG owner’s tirade against captain KL Rahul certainly crosses the line

It’s not without reason that Sourav Ganguly said he found captaining India ‘easier’ than the franchises

An animated Sanjiv Goenka scolding KL Rahul (photo: @cricketnmore/X)
An animated Sanjiv Goenka scolding KL Rahul (photo: @cricketnmore/X)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

How much of a sense of entitlement can an IPL franchise owner take for granted? This seems to be a raging talking point after Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) owner Sanjiv Goenka’s tirade at his skipper KL Rahul – in full gaze of TV cameras – after they were whipped by Sunrisers Hyderabad by a whopping 10-wicket margin on Wednesday, 8 May.

There was no doubt that Rahul had a bad day in office – first with the bat with critics pointing out how he vindicated his snub for T20 World Cup despite him being a prolific scorer in the IPL and then his bowlers were mercilessly carted all around the park by Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma for the fastest ever chase of a 100-plus total in the league. However, more humiliation was to follow as Goenka was seen in an animated conversation with the senior Indian cricketer with frantic gestures – all in the presence of the former’s wife.

The episode was so jarring that TV pundits weighed in on the topic on Jio Cinema with the opinion that such conversations should happen behind closed doors and that these images are never helpful for any team.

‘’You always feel these conversations should be happening behind closed doors. There are so many cameras around the stadium and they miss nothing. You know KL Rahul is now gonna go to press conferences and other things and potentially explain what’s been discussed here,’’ said Scott Styris, former New Zealand allrounder.‘’He (Rahul) has done well to keep his cool in Kolkata. I think you are bang on,’’ he added.

The video clip has gone viral with most fans showing their solidarity with Rahul as no amount of one-sided result can justify such a fit of anger from the owner, who at the end of the day, is a non-technical person. The ecosystem of IPL, where the owners and their corporate bigwigs call the shots in the majority of the franchises, has often been the source of several unconfirmed stories of how respected cricketers have often earned the ire of those bankrolling the teams.  

While not too many of these cricketers at the receiving end have spilled the beans, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly – who had led two franchises in the last leg of his career – was candid in an interview way back in 2012. Saying that captaining a franchise is more difficult than India, Dada said as the national captain, he was not liable to answer anybody after the day’s play.

‘’But when I captained the IPL teams I had to answer the owner before the game and after the game, and I am telling you seriously there is enormous pressure,’’ Ganguly had told www. Rediff.com. ‘’It is much easier to captain India: much, much easier. I captained India for six years but I never had the board president or the chairman of selectors picking up the phone and telling me that you should have done this at this time,’’ he said.

Well, the IPL has moved on and got bigger – but then some things have never changed. The humiliating experience of David Warner, an IPL giant and the talismanic captain who played a stellar role in leading SRH to their only title so far in 2016 is still fresh in memory.

The Australian was shunted out of captaincy rather unceremoniously and the team and worse still, was blocked by SRH from social media – a move which Warner said in a recent interview had ‘hurt’ him. The silent coup in which Rohit Sharma was replaced by Hardik Pandya as the Mumbai Indians captain is still creating ripples.

However, it’s one thing to take harsh decisions in IPL boardrooms and quite another to take your captain to task under the public gaze. Say what?

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