It is a day like no other in Indian cricket. In front of a packed media gathering Justice Lodha and his team read out what is clearly a death blow for the Rajasthan Royals, India Cements and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and more importantly the Indian Premier League (IPL). In all of this, many have asked one straight question - what will happen to the players? Some have even gone further and asked what will happen to MS Dhoni? The Indian captain, in many ways the face of the IPL and the CSK stands the risk of not playing in the tournament he loves for the next two years. Why should Dhoni be penalised is the sentiment. And it is only common from his legion of fans.
If the Indian captain has done no wrong it is perfectly valid to ask why should he be penalised? As a cricketer who earns his bread and butter from playing the sport it is unfair to penalise someone for a crime he has not committed. But MSD’s case his different. MSD, it must be recalled was called by the Justice Mudgal committee and asked if Gurunath Meyiappan was indeed the team principal? His answer - which is well documented by now in the public domain, was not something befitting of the Indian captain. It is very difficult to believe Dhoni did not know who his own team principal was. It is rather impossible to believe that Dhoni was unaware that Gurunath was a key official and was part of the ownership structure. As the skipper, who interacts with the owners on a daily basis, it is only natural to expect that Dhoni knew. As vice president of India Cements which owns CSK, it is fair to conjecture that Dhoni was aware of Gurunath’s exact position in the team hierarchy. Frankly, this is the same premise that the Justice Lodha committee has used with respect to India Cements. India Cements has been trying to tell the world for the longest time that Gurunath was not team owner and was not part of the ownership structure. This draws on the famous Srinivasan comment where he called Guru an enthusiast.
Was it not befitting of the Indian captain, in the spirit of the game, that he told the Mudgal Committee who Gurunath was? Was it not proper on his part to stand up to the integrity of the game rather than trying to defend his team owner? Clearly MSD has let the game and his fans down by not disclosing the true identity of Gurunath to the Mudgal committee. As a result if he faces the brunt of the Lodha committee’s announcement there is very little that one can say to defend him. Frankly, he had his chance to stand up to his position as India captain. He chose his franchise. His loyalty was to CSK and not to the game of cricket. And now his franchise stands suspended. So perhaps it is fair that MSD faces the consequences as well.