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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Those who heckled Ravi Rampaul shamed Mumbai and India

Ravi Rampaul (C) is elated after dismissing Sachin Tendulkar on 94 on the fourth day of the third and final Test match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

“When I went back to the boundary it was not all that nice,” Ravi Rampaul said about being heckled by the Mumbai fans. That statement was more saddening than the fact that the widely-anticipated Tendulkar hundred didn’t materialise.

The hype and the expectations built around the much-awaited 100th international hundred was given a further boost as Tendulkar started majestically. There was nothing uncertain as he drove, flicked and cut boundaries with supreme authority. That he was stopped in his tracks by Rampaul, if anything, should have been applauded by the crowd. Getting your star batsman who is in such wonderful nick takes effort and intelligent cricket, which exactly was what happened at Wankhede Stadium.

Boorish behavior by a small section of the crowd is a sad commentary not only on the spectators present or even Mumbai but a shame on the entire nation. One recalls the standing ovation given by the spectators at Chennai in 1999 after arch-rivals Pakistan defeated India in a tense game where Tendulkar played a valiant innings of 136. We once had the situation of the Indian captain recalling a batsman who had been declared out in a Test match, since he held the spirit in which the game was played as more important. Recalling some of these landmark instances, one could take some comfort that we are not an unsporting cricketing nation, be it the spectators or the players.

There have been instances galore of games being disrupted by crowd behavior but for the most part this has been owing to some situation of the game. There have also been instances where players have been taunted as it happened with Andrew Symonds copping abuse again, unfortunately, at Wankhede Stadium.

Where damage is done, the best course is to engage in acts that could redeem the situation to the extent possible. One wishes that the Indian team, or even better Tendulkar himself, conveys a message to Rampaul expressing regret over the behavior exhibited by some mindless morons - clearly not true blue cricketing fans. That may assuage any ill feelings that the abused player suffered, who incidentally is of Indian origin.

More importantly the ground authorities now need to have in place security people who watch the crowd and not the game, and eject anyone disrupting the game or bringing disrepute to the county by their behavior.
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