Hardik Pandya would have never thought that his ‘harmless’ comments, according to the all-rounder, in the talk show Koffee with Karan will blow into such a controversy that he will not only get suspended but even stare at a possible ban. KL Rahul, who accompanied Pandya on the show, too stare at the same fate although he hardly said anything controversial; he is more of a victim of collateral damage for Pandya’s comments on the show.
Currently, they have been suspended pending enquiry. They have already missed the ODI series against Australia and are set to miss the New Zealand series as well. Pandya, as per reports, have not even stepped out of the house once he was sent back home mid-way from the series in Australia.
Pandya has to suffer more as his endorsement deal has been suspended post the controversy. He is not even taking calls on his return.
Although he has apologied for his comments, the damage has been done and BCCI is taking the matter seriously?
Earlier, it was mooted that a two-ODI ban will be handed over to the players. But the uproar it has caused over the controversy that nothing less than a lengthy ban, of around six months (as proposed by netizens), will be enough to reprimand the cricketers and set an example that BCCI is against conduct that is in contrast to the image of cricketers in the country.
So, will a six-month ban or more will be sufficient to set the right example for the next generation of cricketers?
Pros of a lengthy ban
A six-month ban or more will put the BCCI on a high pedestal of moral ground, setting an example that the richest cricket board is all for fair conduct and practices on and off the field as well.
In the wake of #MeToo, BCCI can show that they treat the fairer sex with the utmost respect, condemning the sexist comments by Pandya and banning him from all forms of cricket for six months or more.
It will serve as a right ground for BCCI to exert its zero-tolerance policy and treat all cricketers at the same level.
Had it been Australia cricket board, would they have done the same?
Yes, and maybe even more. They took the bold steps of banning their star players David Warner, Steve Smith for a year from all forms of cricket post the ball-tampering saga.
They did not relent to the public cry of bringing them back into the fold earlier as Australian cricket pummels to one low after another. The board has also taken some strong and bold steps before to restore order in their cricket. They had once fined Mark Waugh and Shane Warne for sharing information with bookies.
Six-month ban too harsh?
Can India jeopardise their chances of World Cup title by banning their star all-rounder Hardik Pandya for six months? On the pace bowling-friendly conditions in England where the 2019 World Cup will be played, Pandya can be extremely useful with his medium-pace and big hitting lower down the order.
Can India risk their star all-rounder Hardik Pandya to the ban?
Pandya can make the difference to India’s fortunes in the 2019 World Cup with his all-round skills on pitch and conditions most suitable for his game. Remember, he took a five-wicket haul in England in Nottingham Test last year.
The IPL lure
KL Rahul for Kings XI Punjab and Hardik Pandya for Mumbai Indians are big draws in the IPL, which will start early in March itself. A lot rests on these two star players to lift their team’s standings in the IPL.
The franchise owners would use their clout to pressurise BCCI to give a lenient punishment to the duo. As IPL is BCCI’s biggest money earners, they would look to keep the franchise owners happy with their demands. And you can expect not more than few matches ban or a month or two ban for the Pandya-Rahul duo.
Do Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul really deserve a harsh punishment?
Rahul is a victim of collateral damage. He did the wise thing of talking only when necessary but disheartened many fans by saying Virat Kohli is a better batsman than Sachin Tendulkar.
But Pandya went overboard with his comments, highlight his brass and over-the-top bling personal on national television.
Nevertheless, Pandya’s brash attitude is how he is and he did not fake himself on the show. But he could have perhaps restrained himself from speaking sexist remarks that do not go well in Indian culture.
This episode will serve a big lesson for Hardik Pandya who, along with KL Rahul, should be let off with a lenient punishment and a warning. It will be India’s loss if the star all-rounder misses the World Cup bus.
(Disclaimer: The comments by the author are his own and he bears full responsibility for it)