Appeared in India Today Magazine, Feb 28
Saturday, February 19
It wasn’t easy getting hold of Agent Viru after his knock of 175 in the tournament opener against Bangladesh. Just short of midnight, though, I received his replies to my texts. And, they sure were worth the wait.
On how he got Sachin Tendulkar run out, Viru replied “Coach asked me to watch the ball. How can I watch the ball and the other batsman at the same time?”
On what it was like to bat for 47 overs, he texted “Life changing experience. Now, I know why Dravid and Gambhir have such long faces. The boredom of batting between overs 20 to 35 could make even Shah Rukh Khan look like a cow.”
Sunday, February 20
Agent Viru’s stated intention to bat 50 overs has sent bowlers in every team queuing for life insurance. One day before their first game, Mitchell Johnson said to Brett Lee, “Jeez, I didn’t think he was serious about it, mate. Any chance we may not crash out before facing him?”
Viru was not amused, though. “I am scared of Johnson. He is a smart man,” he said. “We Indian players only open restaurants. But he’s started Johnson’s baby powder. I used it on my son’s bums when he had rashes. See? Both his bowling and business involve him spraying it around. How smart is that?”
Monday, February 21
I caught up with Agent Viru in the coffee shop of ITC Gardenia, Bangalore where he was reading the Sri Lanka vs Canada match report. Without taking his eyes off the newspaper he confessed that for the longest time he had no idea countries like Canada also played cricket. “It turns out that even Canadians don’t know that,” a deadpanned Viru added.
Tuesday, February 22
One day after the Australia-Zimbabwe match, the Gujarat Cricket Association lodged a complaint against Australian captain Ricky Ponting for smashing a LCD TV in the dressing room after being run out. They are angry because they believe only their President, Narendra Modi, has the right to break unnecessary items like screens, cameras and the law.
When asked about it, Ponting initially claimed that he was in such good form that he was seeing the ball as large as a LCD screen and mistook the one in the dressing room for a ball. Later, smarter brains got together and drafted the official version. Apparently, the TV wasn’t working and Ponting simply tapped the top of the screen to get it started. “It’s not his fault that he’s built like Khalli and the TV like Ajit Agarkar,” the press release said.
Viru, on hearing of the controversy, looked concerned. “I hope Sreesanth doesn’t get fined for that smashed TV,” he told me.
Thursday, February 24
“What’s common between India in 2007 and Australia in 2011?” Agent Viru texted me early in the morning. “Greg Chappell,” promptly came the reply. The joke is now doing the rounds in every team.
Word has it that the Australian chief selector’s special liking for middle aged left handed batsmen will do to Australia what it did to India four years ago. Worse, Ponting believes so too and is said to have communicated some choice Australian pleasantries to Chappell after hearing about Michael Hussey’s recovery from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the World Cup squad.
Highlight of the week
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi was spotted thinking. No one remembers when he was last seen doing that.