Toss provides unexpected drama


MUMBAI – The toss, usually a mundane affair, caused confusion all around on Saturday and had to be performed twice before the start of the World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka. The boisterous crowd at the Wankhede Stadium gave a rousing welcome to Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his Sri Lankan counterpart Kumar Sangakkara when they walked out for toss, with both eager to bat first and avoid a potentially tricky chase under the lights.
Flanked by former Indian all-rounder Ravi Shastri, who was hosting the toss, and match referee Jeff Crowe, Dhoni spun the coin into the air and Sangakkara mumbled his call which was drowned out by the din. Dhoni was under the impression that Sangakkara called it incorrectly and told Shastri India would bat. However, Crowe said he had not heard Sangakkara’s call.
A few seconds of confusion followed as the two captains shrugged their shoulders and exchange bemused looks before Crowe called for a re-toss, which went Sangakkara’s way and the gleeful Sri Lankan captain had no hesitation in choosing to bat first. With so much riding on toss, and with conflicting reports emerging on what Sangakkara’s first call had been, some former players accused the Sri Lankan captain of gamesmanship.
“Sangakkarra has stuffed Dhoni… He shouted tail in the 1st toss and lost it …You can hear it in on air,” former England captain Michael Vaughan wrote on his Twitter page. “I hear tails shout at the toss…Others hear heads… Inconclusive on the replays.” He was more forthright in BBC Test Match Special commentary. “I think there was a bit of skullduggery (sic) at the toss – Kumar Sangakkara knew he’d lost that first toss but he saw Dhoni hadn’t really heard him!”
The comical situation baffled former India player Sanjay Manjrekar too. “Who would have expected that in the big finals?” asked the player-turned-commentator. “2 tosses !Had to do re toss bcoz (because) the referee did not hear sanga’s call the 1st time,” Manjrekar wrote on the micro-blogging site. England’s mercurial batsman Kevin Pietersen reckoned the toss might provide decisive in the end.
“SL winning the toss could cause an upset…This is gonna be a cracker,” he wrote. If it proves decisive indeed, a fan tweeted, the noisy crowd at Wankhede Stadium would have only themselves to blame. “Mumbai crowd lost the toss for India by screaming and causing chaos. If India loses, I blame it on the people in the stadium.” Former Sri Lankan pacer Ravindra Pushpakumara blamed Dhoni for not paying attention to Sangakkara’s call. “This is the first time in the history I have seen a toss being repeated since 1975 World Cup,” he said.
“I think Dhoni seems to be down psychologically and could not focus on what his counterpart called. “Also Dhoni’s reaction after Sri Lanka won the toss showed he was lacking in confidence.” This is the second World Cup final in succession in which Crowe has been dogged by controversy. Crowe was the match referee in Bridgetown, Barbados, four years ago when Australia and Sri Lanka were sent back on to the field amid farcical scenes during the rain-reduced match.
Australia were already celebrating their third final win in a row when the teams were asked to play a further three overs in near total darkness even though the match had already been completed under international cricket rules. Crowe, a former New Zealand captain, later admitted he had been mistaken.