Reports of team owner Preity Zinta and the mentor of Kings XI, Virender Sehwag, falling out made it to media space after the Punjab team crashed in a modest chase against Sunrisers Hyderabad last Sunday. The heated argument between them was perceived as yet another of those owner-coach-mentor-captain-player issues that crop up with defeat in the high-stakes, big money IPL.
And this is not the first time Zinta has lost her cool and ironically, her team has consistently not made it to the IPL finals till now!
Where do owners draw the line in seeking accountability from their IPL teams in which they invest huge chunks of money? Cricketers seem to resent it when owners step into the technical side of things like Preity Zinta may have done when questioning Ashwin Ravichandran promoting himself in the order as a pinch hitter, a strategy commonly used by teams.
However, Preity Zinta slammed the report tweeting, “a conversation between Viru & me has been blown out of proportion & suddenly I’m a Villain! Wow!”
Owners may have every right to seek 100 per cent effort and a sense of commitment from the highly paid cricketers who have all become multimillionaires with the advent of IPL. But they are seen to be stepping on the toes of highly egotistical cricketers when they talk team tactics and technique with professional sportsmen.
Sehwag, who tweets at the drop of a hat, may have decided that he wasn’t going to stretch this spat by getting onto social media. But he is said to have remarked to a friend that he doesn’t question how Preity Zinta acts in movies, so she too better stay out of questioning his tactics.
Team owners do get angry
A number of IPL owners have been known to express their disappointment to their teams when they underperform. Even the usually unflappable sporting owner Shah Rukh Khan has been known to lose his cool in long losing streaks. He apologised this time to the public, saying “my team lacked spirit”.
Another owner, Harsh Goenka of Rising Pune Supergiant, got into a kerfuffle with one of India’s most respected cricketers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. In fact, a change at the helm in that team came about because the owner thought the super star was not pulling his weight. Steve Smith displaced Dhoni at the top at RPS leading to a lot of heartburn in Indian players and dissatisfaction among fans and underperformance from the team itself.
Dhoni sparkles when in yellow!
The owner may have had a point against Dhoni as the star batsman seems to have regained his sparkle when back in his favourite yellow jersey of Chennai Super Kings, for whom he has been putting on mighty shows as a match winner this season. There has been a vast difference in his levels of motivation since switching back to his ‘home’ team.
While back room analysis might lead to a lot of frank talking between players, coaches and owners, it is the public spat in the glare of the cameras that is setting Preity Zinta apart as an overbearing owner, say those who have been avid followers of IPL over the years.
Of course, she follows every moment of her team, rising and falling with the ebb and flow of games. She may have indeed overstepped the line in asking for an explanation about tactics....