Indian speedster S Sreesanth is almost as famous for his bowling as he is for his dubious on-field behaviour. He may be deemed a "colourful" character because of the surprise element he brings to proceedings, but he has become notorious for his "off-colour" antics.
Now captain M S Dhoni has decided to rein him in and get him in line after discovering the nature of the words he unleashed on South African captain Graeme Smith on the third day of the second Test between the two sides, at Durban. Dhoni has told Sreesanth that the latter had crossed the line when he brought Smith's family into a personal comment that he spewed at the Proteas skipper. Smith for his part, however, has remained tight-lipped on the exchange, indicating that the verbal joust was only between him and Sreesanth.
Sreesanth has developed a habit of needling players from the opposition with gibes, taunts and emotionally-charged gestures. During India's last tour of South Africa, after fast bowler Andre Nel chided him for attempted a slog shot during the first Test, with the words, "You don't have the heart", Sreesanth responded by lofting Nel for a six and then wildly swinging his bat overhead.
On another occasion, when India was touring England, in 2007, Sreesanth bowled a beamer to English batsman Kevin Pietersen, literally flooring him. During the same Test match, he deliberately banged his shoulder into captain Michael Vaughan's while walking past him. Sreesanth would probably joke that he was "rubbing shoulders" with the batsman, but the intent was clearly acrimonious and provocative.
Whatever was the motivation behind his tangle with Graeme Smith at Durban last week, it appeared to have worked in India's favour as the incident contributed to Smith's downfall - he was caught by Dhoni trying to pull Sreesanth for a boundary and India had thus got its opening breakthrough in a crucial innings.
Dhoni even claimed that it was sometimes difficult to discipline Sreesanth when he was in an aggressive mood. Hopefully, that ugly side of the Kerala paceman won't show face in the third and deciding Test beginning later today, Jan 2. With tensions soaring and stakes very high in the decider, something's got to give. Let's hope, it won't be Sreesanth's temper!