Former Indian spinner and Railways captain Murali Kartik on Sunday found himself at the centre of a controversy when he 'Mankaded' Bengal batsman Sandipan Das leading to an ugly altercation with opposition coach Ashok Malhotra during a Ranji Trophy game here.
This is not the first time that Kartik has 'Mankaded' a player in a first-class game. He did the same playing for Surrey against Somerset last year, where he ran Alex Barrow out in the same fashion, which is widely believed to be a reason for the loss of his county contract.
The incident happened in the 80th over of the Bengal innings with their score at 120 for three. Sandipan, batting on 19, just backed up at non-striker's end as Kartik whipped off the bails and appealed for run-out which is also known as 'Mankading'. Umpire Milind Pathak referred to the TV umpire and Sandipan was given out.
A disgusted Bengal bench stood up at what happened with their skipper Malhotra and senior pacer Ashoke Dinda being furious as they found it against the 'Spirit of the Game'.
As per rules, Kartik was well within his rights as he had warned Sandipan in the previous over for backing up too far.
At lunch when the players were coming out, the Bengal players started clapping with one of the senior guys even calling Kartik a 'cheat'. The sarcasm of the clap was not lost on Kartik, who said something to Malhotra, leading to things blowing up badly.
Malhotra just rushed from his place and was seen shouting at Kartik.
"You are an India player and this is how you play cricket. This is an example you set for juniors," a fuming Malhotra was seen shouting at Kartik as the left-arm spinner snapped back and told him to shut up as he entered the dressing room.
Once the lunch was over, a senior Bengal player showered the choicest abuses on Kartik as he engaged in a team huddle before getting on to the field, which led to the match referee Kalyansundaram telling the player to keep quiet.
Malhotra was angry even after the match had ended as he cited the example of Courtney Walsh's sportsmanship during 1987 World Cup match where he didn't run Pakistan No 11 Salim Jaffer out which helped Abdul Qadir win the match.
"On one side you have Courtney Walsh and on the other side you have 'Sir' Murali Kartik. He is supposed to be a Test player, county player, a commentator and what not. And this is what you do? I don't see him bowling or batting. Probably he is there for 'Mankading' a 19-year-old youngster. What does that little boy learn about Spirit of the Game," Malhotra told mediapersons at the end of day's play.
"I can understand you are playing one day cricket where a batsman tries to steal a single. This is a day's game and he is just an inch out. I am not talking about rules but about 'Spirit of the Game'."
When asked whether he and a senior Bengal player have earned the sanction of match referee B Kalyansundaram, Malhotra was unperturbed.
"I haven't but I will and I know that."
But why did he shout at Kartik when he was entering the dressing room, Malhotra smiled and said, "I didn't start it. We were clapping and Kartik said something and I reacted. I am not someone who backs off. You can call me that I am a little bit so and so."
Match referee Kalyansundaram didn't offer any comments as he is bound by BCCI's code of conduct.
However, it will be interesting to know his take on Railways coach Abhay Sharma constantly advising his pacers at boundary line which is prohibited as per playing rules.