Sports teams are often portrayed as a happy family by many observers and it is usually a carefully cultivated image that most teams like to carry. However, frictions among teammates are part and parcel of most team sports and in this regard, the Indian cricket team is no different.
Ever since India played its first Test series, back in 1932, tiffs between teammates have been quite common. From issue about players' attitude towards each other to fights over captaincy and rivalries emerging out of competitiveness between two cricketers, Indian cricket has seen it all.
More importantly, some of the most iconic Indian cricketers have been involved in barely disguised feuds with one another for the large parts of their careers. Here is a look at 5 of the biggest ones.
5. Lala Amarnath and Maharaja of Vizianagaram, 1936
One of India's best cricketers of the time clashed with a king during the 1936 tour to England and it was probably the first big controversy in the realms of the country's cricket history. The Maharaja of Vizianagaram, better known simply as Vizzy, was India's second ever Test captain but he got the job on the back of backroom lobbying rather than through any cricketing merit and the 1936 tour of England had soon turned into a farce.
Lala Amarnath and many other senior cricketers did not respect him and during a tour game, Vizzy asked Amarnath to be prepared to bat but did not send him in. Since he had a finger injury already he was not able to tend to it and when he did get to bat, he got out cheaply. After returning to the dressing room, he let fly and said that he understood what was going on. Vizzy took this as a personal insult and Amarnath was sent packing to India, ahead of the 1st Test. The two men never saw eye to eye.
4. Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni
One was probably India's greatest ever opener in Test cricket and perhaps one of the greatest batsmen, while the other is arguably the best captain India has ever had and in the last years of the former's career, the two did not seem to get along.
It all started with the 2012 tri-series in Australia when Dhoni decided one of the three top order batsmen - Sehwag, Sachin and Gambhir - will be rested. He stated that he needed to do so since all of them were slow movers in the field, hence it was not possible to play them together.
In the very next game, Sehwag took a brilliant catch and retorted, "Did you see my catch? We are same for the last 10 years. Nothing has changed.” Dhoni, of course, refused to be drawn into a mudslinging contest but Sehwag was eventually frozen out of the team.
3. Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar
Perhaps two of India's greatest batsmen had a pretty ugly fight that is discussed to this day by every Indian cricket fan and Tendulkar even wrote about it in his autobiography.
Standing in for the injured Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid was the captain during the 1st Test vs Pakistan in Multan and in one of the most infamous declarations in Indian cricket history, he declared on the 2nd day with Tendulkar stranded on 194 not out.
It appeared that Dravid had declared after giving Tendulkar ample warnings but the latter has always stated that the declaration came two overs prior to what had been promised.
In his autobiography, Playing it my Way, published 10 years after the incident, Tendulkar wrote, “Rahul said that the call was taken with the interests of the team in mind. It was important to demonstrate that we meant business and were keen to win. I wasn’t convinced.”
Although Tendulkar insists that the two remained friends, it is hard to believe considering the feeling with which he wrote about it a decade later. Dravid never spoke much about it.
2. Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev
Sunil Gavaskar was Indian cricket's biggest star since he made his memorable debut in 1971 and seven years later, India got its next big star when Kapil Dev burst onto the scene. However, the relationship between two of India's greatest ever cricketers soured within a few years when Kapil Dev became the captain at the expense of Gavaskar in 1983 following a disastrous tour of Pakistan. The captaincy was exchanged between the two during the mid-1980s and happenings on the field did not mend matters either.
Gavaskar wasn't happy when Kapil declared the innings with the former batting at 236 at Madras (now Chennai) in 1983 and relations remained strained between the two.
However, the matter came to a head in 1984 when Kapil Dev was dropped for having played an attacking shot that cost him his wicket and India the Test match at Delhi against England in 1984.
Kapil believed it was Gavaskar's doing while the latter wrote in his book One Day Wonders that he wasn't even present at the selection committee meeting. Eventually, BCCI President NKP Salve had to call a meeting to reach a truce between the two. Despite all this, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev maintain that the media often overplayed their rift. Things apparently were not as bad.
1. Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin
Mohammad Azharuddin was India's (and perhaps one of the world's) best batsmen when Sachin Tendulkar came onto the scene in 1989, but instead of the two getting along famously, things started to sour in 1996. After a shocking exit from the 1996 World Cup and a poor tour of England, Tendulkar replaced Azhar as captain and things never remained the same between the two.
Tendulkar suspected Azhar of not putting in the effort while he batted and believed that he was trying to sabotage the team.
Eventually, he lost the captaincy to Azhar in 1998 but he was made the captain a year later once again after India crashed out of the 1999 World Cup. This time, Tendulkar did not allow Azhar into the team and even refused to take him to the tough tour to Australia. In early 2000, Azhar came back to the Indian team and Sachin resigned ahead of the two match Test series against South Africa, stating that it would be his last series as captain.
Although it is widely believed that he quit since Azhar had been brought back into the team, Tendulkar stated that he was taking 'moral responsibility' for the failure of the team.
However, the worst was yet to come. In the same year, the match-fixing scandal threatened to tear the cricketing world apart and a CBI investigation was ordered in. During his testimony to the CBI, Sachin stated that he believed that Azhar was in league with bookies and had not been putting in 100% effort during games at most times. The former Indian captain was banned by the BCCI and never played for India again.