Social media exploded with outrage again! Seeing Tendulkar trend, wasn't particularly surprising. But wait, this wasn't Sachin Tendulkar. Instead, it was his son, Arjun Tendulkar, who was generating the buzz. And with him, there was one more name hovering on top of the trends section, a name one might have heard several times early this year - Pranav Dhanawade.
Remember him? The 15-year-old player from Mumbai who took the cricket world by storm with his 1000-run knock in a local game in January 2016. So what had he done now? What was Arjun Tendulkar up to?
They were not in the news because of a massive showing on the cricket pitch by either. The hype was a reaction to Arjun Tendulkar's selection in the U-16 West Zone squad, supposedly over the 1000-run hero Pranav Dhanawade.
The news caused furore across social networking platforms as people questioned why Sachin Tendulkar's son had made it instead of an auto driver's son who seemingly deserved it more. Twitterati who had warmed up to Dhanawade after his record-smashing innings, refurbished their love for the youngster, and cried foul about no place for the poor. People had given their verdict already.
Please RT! pic.twitter.com/YIo5ouqcoF
— Pramod Speaks (@PramodSpeaks) May 31, 2016
Dear Pranav Dhanawade, the mistake is yours...
You weren't born in a rich and powerful family.
Only talent is NOT enough! :'(
— Pratyush Mayank (@pratyushmayank) May 30, 2016
It wasn't long before Sachin Tendulkar was blamed.
— Divyanshu Pandey (@chintuhits) May 31, 2016
The fact that the very same social media site was also going bonkers over Tanmay Bhat's spoof video of Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar wherein they were left offended as Bhat tried to undermine Tendulkar's stature, was ironic.
However, before turning crusaders for Dhanawade, very few people actually bothered to find out why why Arjun Tendulkar was picked over Dhanawade. The reason is simple, Dhanawade was not eligible for selection.
Dhanawade, who turned sixteen recently was ineligible for selection in the West Zone side. According to the selection procedure, the candidate needs to play for Mumbai in order to be considered for selection in the zonal side. Unfortunately, Dhanawade's swash-buckling innings came after the Mumbai side was picked and played few games already.
"The selection for Mumbai's U-16 team happened before Pranav's record. They had also played a few matches. So since Pranav didn't feature for the Mumbai U-16 team, he cannot be a part of the West zone side, that's the procedure," Pranav's father Prashant Dhanawade told Firstpost.
Senior Dhanawade was also quick to quash claims that Arjun Tendulkar was preferred for being a son of a former great cricketer. "Arjun and Pranav are good friends, they speak regularly with each other. Pranav too has now moved under the U-19 category, but since the selection was made when he was under the age of sixteen, he will complete his zonal matches before moving to the U-19 category, as per the BCCI rule," Prashant Dhanawade clarified.
Mubin Sheikh, Dhanawade's coach also gave a frank assessment of his pupil. "Pranav still has time. Maybe another two years to even make it to the U-19 team. We don't need to pressurise him. Just let him enjoy the game," Sheikh told DNA.
Sheikh's words were echoed by the sixteen-year-old's father. "They are kids and they should be allowed to play (freely). Let them prove themselves on the field," he added.
And he couldn't be more right. The last thing budding talents like Arjun Tendulkar or Pranav Dhanawade need is controversy., negativity and most importantly, pressure.
Will all this media uproar add more pressure on Arjun Tendulkar to perform? It probably could. Does he need any more pressure, being the son of the best batsman of all time? The answer is no.
On the other hand, Dhanawade could also do with some time away from the limelight as it won't take much time for people to turn on on the young boy, calling his innings a flash in the pan. That may or may not be true, but let time be the judge of that.
Controversy helps no sportsman and there couldn't be a better example than the Sushil Kumar-Narsingh Yadav tussle, that has snowballed into a controversy involving the government and the courts for an issue that could be solved with little understanding and proper communication. While it is still uncertain who will be on the plane to Rio, its certain that whoever goes to Brazil wouldn't have had the best of preparations.
While the stakes are a lot higher in case of the wrestlers, the matter of zonal tournaments means no less to young cricketers. There will be a time when they won't be able to avoid altercations, but till then let them breathe, let them play, let them grow.
It doesn't matter whether you are born to the greatest batsman ever or to an auto-driver, a budding cricketer needs cricket not controversies.