“VANAKKAM CHENNAI!!! It’s match 54 of DLF IPL, Chennai Super Kings versus Mumbai Indians!! We are minutes away from the toss!” a hysterical Ravi Shastri tests the threshold of his vocal cord, bringing back fond memories of my childhood when we ambled through the mela ground in my town and the circus party announced various activities on the mike. He continues his relentless assault on my television speaker, “Jam-packed stadium here in Chepauk today . . . I mean, people are still coming and by the time the match starts, I am sure, we will have a full house watching this clash of titans!!!”
Wriddhiman Saha (grins): He called me titan!!
Badrinath: You are not in the team today.
Shastri reduces his decibel level and wanly looks at Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, “I had asked you to bring your family along; they would have at least occupied few seats.”
Sivaramakrishnan: No, they are watching a movie. By the way, why do you chant everything like shloka? Anyway, continue.
“I have Harbhajan Singh with me. So Bhajji, how is the morale in the dressing room after your win in the last match?” the messiah of Indian cricket poses a billion dollar question; the nation awaits an answer.
“Excellent, the team is jelling pretty well. Our owner has been very supportive.” his eyes dart towards the VIP box inadvertently.
“What do you think your chances are of winning the cup this time?”
“We are taking one game at a time, but yes, we would love to win the cup . . . for our owner.” Nita Ambani nods from the VIP box.
“And is the big man, Kieron Pollard, playing today? He can change the course of the match single-handedly.” Shastri portrays the picture with dramatic intonation.
Harbhajan grunts ‘I have been hearing this for past 5 years. He hasn’t accomplished anything so far other than guzzling down some free booze during after match parties.’ He glares at the hypothetically destructive batsman, currently signing autographs “yes, he is playing.” Harbhajan replies matter of factly.
“Thanks Bhajji; over to you Shiva.”
Sivaramakrishnan: So Dhoni, who is replacing Ravindra Jadeja today?
Dhoni: No, he is playing. He is one of the key members of our side.
Shivaramakrisnan (grumbles): He should ideally be looking into alternative career options.
Everyone looks at Jadeja warming up in one corner with his new CSK haircut; an explicit artwork symbolizing joy, confusion, fear, and lack of self respect. Due to scarcity of space on his head, he couldn’t inscribe the full message i.e. – ‘I will always be grateful to CSK for paying me two million dollars.’
‘I think I deserve it. Don’t know why a section of people believe that the decision to sign me for two million dollars was carried out under the influence of alcohol.’ He runs towards the dressing room to get some water for Dhoni.
Somewhere in India Vikas asks Ramesh: Why a haircut and not a tattoo?
Ramesh: Because he is not sure about his future with CSK. He is a tad smarter than Deepika Padukone.
Harbhajan wins the toss and decides to bowl.
“Why have you chosen to bowl, Bhajji?”
He glances towards the VIP box again. He wishes he could pour his heart out today. He wants to wipe his tears, point his finger at Nita Ambani and whine, “She said!!! And, you know, she wants Munaf Patel to open the batting! She also said that if we don’t win today then I will be dancing with cheerleaders in all the remaining matches.” However, he controls his emotions and replies observantly “there is some dew on the pitch which should be helpful for our seamers.”
Shastri looks at the scorching sun to identify the source of dew and ponders ‘which seamer? Malinga doesn’t need a pitch and Munaf Patel’s bowling endeavors cannot be described with cricketing terminologies.’
“Back to you guys in the studio.” Shastri concludes the pre-match formalities.
Isa Guha (Indian origin, played for England, now in India [the land of opportunities for pretty girls, NRIs, and people with criminal records] to maximize her post-retirement benefits) in the studio clad in appropriate attire for the summer. Sidhu mutters, ‘Even I should have come in my shorts, it’s too hot outside.’
“Mumbai versus Chennai, Sachin versus Dhoni; it’s a mouth watering prospect!!” beaming with smile Gaurav Kapoor looks at the guests “We caught up with some of the fans before the match. Let’s take a look.” everyone turns towards the screen hurriedly before Sidhu could launch his garrulous onslaught.
“Which team are you supporting today?”
“CSKKKKKKK……..” a frenzied wail establishes the grim realities of careless attitude towards mental illness in our country.
Sidhu: Who is he?
Gaurav: An out-of-work theater actor from Delhi.
“Sounds like your profile.” Sidhu quips and looks at the screen again, “RAVI BHAIYA, what do you have to say about this fan support?”
“This is called city loyalty. Look at the craze amongst the fans!” Shastri exclaims with an enthusiasm that can otherwise be seen in HomeShop 18 ads.
Shastri: This year it’s all cricket. Quality of the tournament has improved by leaps and bounds from where it was during Lalit Modi’s tenure as chairman.
Danny Morrison: Psst . . . I think Lalit Modi has won the case against BCCI and might come back as chairman again.
Shastri (continues): Having said that, what Lalit Modi has done for IPL is commendable, COMMENDABLE!! (Whispers) Where do you get so much of inside scoop from?
Morrison: I love Indian cricket. I love India.
Shastri: You just stalk everyone on twitter. And didn’t you have a different opinion about India before IPL became your primary source of income? Anyway, we have a pulse question here – ‘who is India’s all time great batsman?’
80% says Dhoni and 20% Sachin.
“They are our new generation of cricket fans. They just check the latest score on internet.” Harsha Bhogle explains in a hushed tone.
Pommie Mbangwa: Wait a second! Now it’s 19% Sachin and 1% says . . . Munaf Patel?
Harsha: Well, that must be Mrs. Ambani.
Shastri: We have one more question for you all – ‘Who is Sunil Gavaskar?’
Gavaskar (shudders): Why drag me into all this?
Shastri: Ok, 1% says former cricketer, 30% says television presenter and 69% says Vodafone contest winner.
Pommie: Just wondering who those 1% are ha ha ha.
Gavaskar (mumbles): Thanks Rohan.
Mumbai wins a last-ball thriller, keeping everyone on the edge of the seat. This has been the trend this year; it generates more TRP.
Somewhere, Vipin asks Raju: Did you watch the match?
Raju: No, I think the match was abandoned because they were showing some sher-o-shayari program.
Vipin: No, no, that was Sidhu doing team analysis. That’s when you are supposed to take your loo break.