The Case of the Missing Parathas

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

It all started on that cloudy morning on August 10, 2011.

It was the first day of the third test match between India and England at Edgbaston. It was the day Virender Sehwag, aka The Messiah, was destined to bring the English bowling attack to its knees and resurrect India’s defense of the world number 1 position. It was the day the whole country had been waiting for with bated breath.

But, as fate would have it, it turned out to be the day when it all started to go wrong.

A disastrous day led to a disastrous test match, which led to a disastrous series, which eventually led to a disastrous season. All culminating in the Indian team being split wide open.

And, at the centre of it all that fateful morning, was a missing piece of Indian bread, better known as Paratha.

Paratha in the Indian team?
Knowing his fondness for anything that accentuates his naturally curvy frame, Sehwag’s mother had sent him to England with a set of stuffed Parathas, neatly packed in microwavable silver foil.

A nearly paranoid Sehwag kept the package close to his chest, saving them for special occasions only.

The first day of the test match was one such occasion. But, no sooner than he bit into the first Paneer Paratha, he was called upon to go out and bat.

And, in the time that it took for Sehwag to walk into the middle, face one ball and return to the pavilion, his Paneer Paratha was gone. And nobody knew who the perpetrator of the crime was.

To protect his prized possession, Sehwag returned after another golden duck in the second inning only to find another Paratha missing.

Thus began the biggest manhunt since Veerappan. And, just like the Jungle King, the Paratha Prowler continued to evade the long arms of the law.

The Unusual Suspects
Over the next few months, despite India’s fluctuating fortunes, Sehwag’s Parathas kept disappearing with unerring regularity. A distraught Sehwag started to suspect everyone.

Sehwag’s initial list of suspects included Bhajji whose abdominal muscle pull, he thought, was a consequence of eating stolen Parathas. Also on the suspect list was RP Singh, whose legendary first over of the test match stank of the same stuff that Sehwag’s fielding efforts do.

Eventually, Dhoni turned out to be suspect number 1 after comparing Sehwag’s running to aunties’ running behind buses. “A result of eating too many Aloo Parathas,” he had commented.

Sachin and Gambhir, for obvious reasons, were in the clear, the main reason for Sehwag accepting the rotation policy. With one of the three always in the dressing room, the Parathas, he thought, would be safe.

The Loyalty Test
It all came to a head on the morning of India’s ODI versus Australia in Brisbane when players were forced to take sides.

Viru’s chelas showed their loyalty by taking an extra serving of butter. Dhoni’s ponies responded with an extra glass of milk.

Raina, true to form, swung both ways and asked for Butter Milk. Parthiv too was seen stuffing butter into his feeding bottle.

But most others made their loyalties very clear. Amongst them was Rohit Sharma, who soon paid a price for it.

Sehwag saw Rohit’s scores of zero as his way of mocking him, given the similarity between the shapes of a zero and a Paratha. No wonder Sehwag dropped him at the first opportunity.

As Dhoni returns, those who chose butter over milk await similar fate.

And the Paratha Prowler is…
It turns out that the Parathas were stuffed the entire time in the one place nobody bothered to look. Unfortunately, Duncan Fletcher would still not open his mouth for us to confirm.

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Hey, look. The Challenger’s back!

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Over the last week, sports viewers in India have been enthralled by a spectacle that has brought back memories of that fiercely competitive cricket tournament of the ‘90s called the Challenger Series.

Just like the great original, this spectacle brings us grainy smog-fuelled images of mediocre day-night cricket, cheered on by small crowds with boosted vocal chords, and commentary that’s destroyed the Mute button of many a remote control due to overuse.

The spectacle is none other than the Bangladesh Premier League, which a few creative minds have lovingly christened the BPL.

Agent 333
Chris Gayle, turning out for the Barisal Burners, is now officially cricket’s first gun-for-hire. You want a bowling attack decimated in any part of the world, you wire the money, send him first class tickets or a private jet, promise to take care of his entertainment needs, and he’ll do the job for you.

In the great traditions of cricketing creativity, Gayle is now known within the circles as Agent 333.

Right now, in addition to the Burners, Gayle is doing contract jobs for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sydney Thunder, Jamaica, and Matabeleland Tuskers. In the past, teams like Kolkata Knight Riders, Western Australia, Worcestshire, Stanford Superstars, and West Indies have used his services.

Such is the demand for Gayle’s services that he could be rented out to other teams during IPL in a bid to pay off Kingfisher Airlines’ debts.

Razzaq in a soup
Sticking with the BPL, Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq is in serious trouble.

He first declared himself unfit to bowl and escaped from the ODI series versus England. Then, he thunders in over after over in the BPL for Duronto Rajshahi, which, before you ask, isn’t Duronto Rajdhani and is not sponsored by Indian Railways.

More than the PCB, it’s the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) that has come down heavily on Abdul Razzaq for this callous behavior.

“Razzaq must pay a price for using such an old trick,” said a FICA representative. “Dwayne Bravo had used this trick three years ago.”

“We encourage professional cricketers from all over the world to use new and creative excuses to get out of national commitments for T20 leagues,” he explained.

He sang high praises for Chris Gayle who, instead of rejecting his national board, pushed his board to the point where they had no option but to reject him.

“He is now a martyr as well as a millionaire, something even Lalit Modi has failed to become after so many years,” he said with a nod of respect.

Intense BCCI workout
The working committee of the BCCI met on Monday to do an inquest into India’s humiliating defeats lately. After deliberations lasting one full day, they decided to get rid of the root of all evil – the bowling coach.

“Now we are sure that India will not lose another test series outside the subcontinent for the next two years,” one committee member said proudly.

India next travels outside the subcontinent for a test series in December 2013.

Also, in the meeting the BCCI rejected the Woolf report and Sahara’s demands, leaving both Lord Woolf and Sahara Shri heartbroken one day before Valentine’s Day.

Gambhir – the next Tendulkar
And while the country debates over the elusive 100, spare a thought for another Indian opening batsman who is stuck at the cursed 9, not too dissimilar from the cursed 99.

Gautam Gambhir scored two 90s over the last one week. If you add the 97 in the world cup finals, Gambhir now has three 90+ scores in his chase for his historic 10th ODI century.

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IPL may do away with cricket

Originally published in the Mirror

Last week, Bangalore was host to a cricket event that took the country by storm. Observers say that it was the most exciting and compelling cricket that India has produced since the world cup win. It was the IPL auctions.

In fact, so exciting was it that the BCCI is mulling the idea of scrapping the unnecessary cricket matches and converting IPL into a series of auctions.

N. Srinivasan’s astrologer is expected to decide on this soon.

Smart boys making smart buys
As has been customary over the last four seasons, the IPL teams showed up in full force with a collective IQ of one Chihuahua, with due apologies to all Chihuahuas around the world.

Sample this:
• World cup giant slayer, Irishman Kevin O’Brian, pegged at $50,000, went unsold. But, West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell was bought for $450,000
• Two players available for the entire tournament, Big Bash League hero Owais Shah went unsold and big hitter Herschelle Gibbs went for $50,000. While, Mahela Jayawardene, who is juggling national captaincy and is unlikely to be available for the entire tournament, was bought for $1.4 million.
• Pace sensation Vernon Philander was unsold, while Sri Lankan medium pacer Thisara Perera was bought for $650,000.
• Vinay Kumar went for $1 Million and RP Singh for $600,000. Enough said!

Classic KKR
Following up on the great success Mumbai-based spinner Iqbal Abdullah has had with the team, Kolkata Knight Riders wanted to add another spinner from western India to their ranks.

So, in their collective wisdom they decided to buy West Indian leggie Sunil Narine for $700,000.

“May be we can invoke the principles of ‘natural justice’ and pass him off as an Indian player,” they were overheard saying later.

Patriotism stretched too far
The teams ignored all recent India tormentors, including Englishmen like James Anderson, Ian Bell Graeme Swann, and Australian Peter Siddle.

Why Ravi Bopara was included in this list of tormentors is proving difficult to understand.

Bopara had first shunned the IPL to focus on his international career, only to be shunned by the English team forcing him to focus on his IPL career, only to be eventually shunned by the IPL as well.

Now he must truly know what it feels to be an immigrant.

The mysterious case of Sahara
As the mystery unfolds, the reason behind Sahara’s melodramatic pullout is finally coming to light.

It turns out that the last straw for Sahara Shri Subroto Roy was the midnight phone call he made to BCCI chief N. Srinivasan to tell him that he was pulling out. And Srinivasan allegedly responded with “Well done!”

“It was Subroto. It was midnight. What else do you expect me to assume?” Srini asked as he threw up his hands in exasperation.

In Srini’s defence, the term ‘pullout’ deserved better clarification.

Viru, the teacher
Apparently, Indian opener Virender Sehwag has been giving batting lessons to actor Randeep Hooda, preparing him for the role of a cricketer in his upcoming film ‘Heroine’, which also stars Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal.

As news of Sehwag’s involvement spread across film circles, director Madhur Bhandarkar was bombarded with phone calls from across the country asking if he was making a short film this time.

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Ten blogging lessons only Lalit Modi could teach you

He may be better known for being the genius behind IPL, but the man’s true genius lies elsewhere. It lies in a special talent that’s unfortunately been overshadowed by his more obvious talents.

And, if it weren’t for him losing his job, the world may have never known that behind Lord Lalit’s great business mind lies an even greater blogging mind.

Here are ten things you can learn from his latest blog post.

Read the rest of the article on

And Lalit Modi’s blog post that inspired this piece available here (Pls open in new tab)

IPL’s Flawed Logic

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

It was supposed to be a Super Saturday, when the country would waste a couple of hours watching a bunch of billionaires imagining themselves to be Roman emperors trading gladiators. But, even before the auctions began, yet another chapter in the soap opera called IPL unfolded in full public view.

“Our emotions were never appreciated and many genuine situations were not given due consideration at all. We really feel such one-sided emotional relationship cannot be dragged any further,” Sahara’s statement was less of a press release and more of a jilted lover’s desperate plea.

Why did Sahara pull out in such dramatic fashion on the morning of the auctions?

And would they snap off a decade-long relationship with Indian cricket over $400,000 being deducted from their purse?

IPL – lacking business fundamentals
Everyone knows that IPL has never been about the cricket. Most people are also realising that it’s not about business either because every element of IPL defies business and financial logic.

For example, how could a Pune Warriors India, bought at $370 Million, be more valuable than a Manchester City Football Club, valued by Forbes at $290 Million?

Such glaring flaws aren’t hard to find at every level of the IPL structure. And several franchises are realising the financial infeasibility of running their IPL teams. A few franchise owners have also, supposedly, tried selling their stake, unsuccessfully so.

The consortium owning Kochi Tuskers Kerala did manage to put a team together, but couldn’t bear the expenses coming with the team, with almost none of it recovered.

Lalit Modi’s inflated vision
Modi wanted to build the most valuable sports property in the world. And, it seems, he wanted to do it in one day.

Consequently, he grossly over-valued the property and used his natural charisma to get many veteran businessmen to buy into his idea.

As a result, right from the first year, Modi was under pressure from franchise owners to show them the promised riches.

No wonder, every element of IPL was oversold. From rights, to TV spots, to in-ground advertising, to rebranding of cricket terms, Modi left no inch blank while generating revenues for teams. The promised revenue that team valuations were based on.

But despite everything that Modi did, IPL remained unviable. Things got only worse after Modi left.

Team owner profiles
For some owners, like the Ambanis, it’s small change to play around with. For some, like the Mallyas, there’s too much pride involved to let it all go. And there are those unknown owners with unverified sources of income, who have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

For these owners, business fundamentals or the lack of it in IPL and its teams make little difference.

But, there are some team owners with limited pockets and legitimate businesses. For them, their teams are like white elephants who can bleed them to bankruptcy. These are the teams that will find it difficult to survive in the game for much longer.

What about Sahara?
Sahara, for one, definitely doesn’t fall in the last bracket of owners. Their pockets should be sufficiently deep and their business isn’t exactly public.

Then why are they pulling out?

From their emotional press release, it seems that they are unhappy about being treated as second grade citizens of the club. They have seen teams like Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, and Royal Challengers Bangalore enjoy privileges and bending of rules. But, when it comes to their requests, they have faced complete obstinacy on the part of the BCCI.

Brace for unpredictability
There’s still a likelihood that a backroom deal may be struck, Pune Warriors may survive and Sahara may continue in IPL. But one thing’s for sure, in a tournament so fundamentally flawed, this kind of news will not be few and far between.

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Don’t worry folks. India will win soon.

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

All those plunging into depths of depression over the Indian team’s performance can now look up and smile. Those abstaining from the television in an effort to keep the latest scorecard from staring at them in their faces can now reach out for that lonesome remote. The light at the end of the tunnel for Indian cricket is finally here.

At last a tournament where India is assured to win every match, where Vinay Kumar can intimidate batsmen with his pace, where Gautam Gambhir’s pokes can be applauded, where MS Dhoni can feel like King again.

Tomorrow, as the hammer goes down on the first player at the auctions, IPL 2012 will be formally open. Soon, horrors of the previous six months will be forgotten in a hallucinatory haze of psychedelic lights, electronic music and artificial fireworks. And our demi-gods can rest easy that there are very few to challenge them in their own backyards.

Life will be good again.

KKR gearing up
KKR owner Shahrukh Khan, showing the kind of timing his batsmen are more famous for, has already blown the war bugle. A bit too early.

His slap to Shirish Kunder is being considered part-symbolic, part-shambolic, but most of all a warning to all those who dare challenge his IPL dream. Such is the fear in the KKR camp now that some fragile built players like Iqbal Abdullah have asked for titanium visors and extra padding on the insides of their helmets.

KKR to play a larger role
But this IPL will not be only about personal glory. This year, some of the franchises will be expected to play a much larger role. Most notably, KKR.

History suggests that once a player plays for KKR, he heads in only one direction – down. Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Brendon McCullum, Ajanta Mendis, John Buchanan’s laptop, SRK’s Lux Cozy. The list is endless.

Few people know that James Pattinson, the man who tormented India during the recent test series, was part of the KKR squad the entire last season without getting a game. The BCCI has asked KKR to play him this season. Every match.

That’s the best way to hit back at the Australians, the BCCI is said to believe.

Who’ll get Jadeja?
Ravindra Jadeja is being talked about as the hottest buy in this auction. Starting at a modest reserve price of $100,000, Jadeja is expected to easily cross the Million Dollar mark. And Mumbai Indians is said to be the favourite to buy him.

“Over the last couple of seasons, Mumbai Indians has shown their commitment to building a team that makes that monstrosity called Antilia seem beautiful and value for money,” said someone loosely associated with the team.

“Kierron Pollard and Dinesh Karthik were purchased keeping this noble objective in mind. Ravindra Jadeja could add a special feather to that cap,” he added.

Back-door entry for Pakistanis
Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood is in the auction list on the basis of his British passport. And Pakistan-born leggie Imran Tahir gets into the list flashing his blonde hair and South African passport.

Salman Butt has asked his lawyers to find out if he can apply for British citizenship based on the two and half years he spends in prison there. An IPL contract will be a reasonable return on his investment of time.

Owners confident
Team owners like Mrs. Nita Ambani, Preity Zinta, Shilpa Shetty are expected to arrive at the auction more confident of themselves than ever before.

They’ve been told that even if they buy Brad Hogg thinking he is Brad Hodge, they wouldn’t do any worse than Duncan Fletcher.

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Once upon a time Tendulkar scored his 99th

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Chepauk, Motera, Mohali, Wankhede, Lord’s, Trent Bridge, The Oval, Kotla, Eden, MCG, SCG, WACA, Adelaide – this is a list of historical cricket venues that have packed themselves over the last year in anticipation of Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international century.

In the meantime, 117 international centuries have been scored by 59 different players, including by batsmen like Kierron Pollard, R Ashwin, Mushfir Rahim, and TMK Mawyao. Michael Clarke and Kumar Sangakarra have, in fact, scored six each in the same period.

During this time Shahid Afridi has quit captaincy, retired from international cricket, taken the PCB to court, annulled his retirement and has also made a successful comeback into international cricket. While India’s wait for the Mahashatak continues endlessly.

So much has happened that one can barely remember when Sachin’s 99th century occurred. It was on March 12, 2011. At Nagpur. In that world cup match against South Africa that we lost after being 266/1.

It really was the good old days, when we were still fretting and fuming over Piyush Chawla. A time when Anna Kournikova would show up first on a Google search for Anna. When the Akmal behind the stumps was better known for dropping catches than taking them. When Kapil meant Dev and not Sibal. It was a time when there were ten year olds who had never seen India being whitewashed in a test series. Now they have seen it twice.

But it’s not been all in vain. Through the two white-washes, Tendulkar’s finally washed off that long-standing and unjustified accusation that India loses whenever Tendulkar scores a century. Now we know that India loses even when he doesn’t score one.

Silver lining for Dravid too
Rahul Dravid’s been bowled nine times in his last eleven innings. Given that wickets aren’t safe in his charge anymore, now he can rest easy that he’ll never be asked to keep wickets again.

Winter camp at Sehwag’s school
Sehwag International School recently advertised a winter camp for all cricket hopefuls. The first person to enrol in it was Sehwag himself. Gambhir has used his contacts with Sehwag to get himself a discount.

More people are expected to turn up at the camp than at the Bangladesh Premier League.

At least make an omelette
As far as Indian cricket is concerned, Jagmohan Dalmiya discovered the goose that lays golden eggs, Sharad Pawar fattened it up, and Lalit Modi showed how to kill it.
Now that the goose is almost dead, nobody quite knows what to do with the eggs left behind. If only Modi was still around, he could have at least made an omelette out of them. And what better an omelette than a reality show.

With TRPs plummeting and advertisers losing millions every day, Modi would have created a reality show to discover the new messiahs of Indian cricket – an unknown batsman and an unknown bowler who would be sent to Australia for the fourth test to win the match and restore India’s pride.

With thousands auditioning and millions watching on TV and voting for their candidate, the show was sure to be a winner. Not that the result on the field would have been any different, but most people would have tuned in to the match to see how the two guys performed.

At least some excitement in this ‘mother of all non-events’.

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The curse of the number one test side

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Sportsmen are known to be superstitious but this really is stretching it a bit too far.

Hushed voices in the corridors of uncertainty are revealing that the race to the world number 1 spot in tests has been called off. Teams like South Africa, Australia, and Sri Lanka, formerly vying for that coveted crown in test cricket, are now reportedly happy with being just number 2.

The reason for this sudden change of heart is a rumour doing the rounds that the world number 1 spot is cursed. Even the two erudite Michaels – Atherton and Vaughan – were overheard comparing it to the mythical poisoned chalice, where the person drinks the wine thinking that he’s becoming the king, but is actually swallowing down what will eventually end up consuming the consumer.

The signs are there for everyone to see.

On Day 1 of the first test match between England and Pakistan, the newly crowned world number 1 team was bundled out for a measly score. And very few Indians can actually forget what happened to the previous world number 1 when they played England not so long ago.

The similarities don’t end there. India lost Zaheer Khan on Day 1 of the first test. England lost Tim Bresnan before he could even board the flight. India lost Yuvraj Singh midway through the second test. England almost lost Ian Bell before the first ball was bowled. Bell may have delayed the curse but he could not deny it, failing to score a run during an inning that brought back memories of 2005.

The panic has spread
If reports are to be believed, so scared is Australia about regaining the world number 1 spot that they have decided to go easy on India in the Adelaide test match.

Australia’s coach Mickey Arthur who had set his sights on the No. 1 rank has now publicly re-aligned his radar to the Ashes. After all, who would know it better than the former South Africa coach that South Africa didn’t win a single home test series for four years after becoming world number 1, a spell that was broken recently against Sri Lanka.

And South Africa, next in line for the cursed position, have smartly proposed to the ICC that Chennai Super Kings be made honorary world number 1 for the next five years.

ICC seems warm to the idea and are awaiting a green signal from Mr. N Srinivasan’s astrologer before making it official.

But if the curse really is true the question everyone’s asking is, why is India still playing like they are world number 1?

Ajmal tries an Agarkar
Pakistan off-spinner and destroyer-in-chief in England’s first inning Saeed Ajmal thought he could pull off an Agarkar.

Ajmal had said at the start of the series that he has developed a new ball, the teesra.

Throughout their first inning, the English batsmen remained pre-occupied with identifying the teesra. In the meantime, Kevin Pietersen lost his wicket to the pehla, Ian Bell to the doosra and Andrew Strauss to one that isn’t even numbered.

But, Ajmal’s teesra ball remained as illusionary as Agarkar’s promised all-rounder avatar.

But pulling off such hoaxes in the post-Agarkar era isn’t easy. The wisened English team is almost sure that the only teesra ball Saeed Ajmal may have developed can only be revealed in a thorough physical examination.

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From agneepath to agony-path: How KJo lost out

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

The much-touted Agneepath series has, so far, proved to be ‘agnee’ for the Indians and ‘path’ for the Australians.

In the first two tests, the Indians have scored a measly 26 runs per wicket compared to the Australians’ 51 runs per wicket. The Australians have scored 3 centuries including an unbeaten triple while the Indians’ highest score is 83 scored by, believe it or not, Gautam Gambhir.

So mismatched has this contest been that the ‘Border-Gavaskar Trophy’ has been reduced to the ‘Border-Rohan Gavaskar Trophy’.

It doesn’t augur well for film producer Karan Johar who would have hoped that this tour would do to his upcoming film Agneepath what the 2007 T20 world cup did to Chak De India.

All that the series has managed for his film so far is half the nation calling it the ‘agony-path’, a description that should have been reserved till at least the release of the film.

But the guys who are turning out to be the smartest of the lot are the producers of The Dirty Picture. For not succumbing to the temptation of piggybacking the other slogan being irresponsibly bandied around by the channel – Thunder Down Under.

Securing the Indian team

After getting their fingers taped by the team management, the Indian team finds itself woefully exposed and vulnerable. Quite understandably, the team has asked for extra protection from the dangerously aggressive Australian crowds.

Given that there have hardly been any missiles from the crowd, the security team was hard spent to find out what it is that they are supposed to protect the Indian team from. It’s only when Virat Kohli explained to them the verbal volleys he was subjected to, “the worst he has ever heard”, the officials finally understood the magnitude of the problem facing them.

They have acted swiftly and decisively, and gifted each Indian player a pair of earplugs.

Masala cricket update

Mumbai Indians needed a wicketkeeper-batsman almost as desperately as King’s XI Punjab needed hard cash. So, they have spent $2.35 million of Mukesh Ambani’s hard earned money to buy Dinesh Karthik from King’s XI Punjab.

To celebrate the occasion, Dinesh Karthik promptly scored a duck in the next match he played against Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals.

Pssst…Dinesh, Mumbai is not Mumbai Indians.

Last year’s bottom-rungers Delhi Daredevils have compensated for their lack of on-field daredevilry by buying Kevin Pietersen for $2.3 million from Deccan Chargers who had bought him for $650,000 in the last auctions.

Kevin Pietersen’s buy sets a new record for the biggest IPL blunder, breaking the previous record set by the creation of Kochi Tuskers.

Bangladesh Premier League or BPL is set to take off later this year. Their franchises went under the hammer recently with Chittagong emerging as the most expensive franchise at $1.2 million.

In a magnanimous move, the BCCI is offering each franchise a BPL card.

The next big Patel

A young medium fast bowler who goes by the name Harshal Vikram Patel has hit the headlines by taking two consecutive 8-fers in the Ranji Trophy knockout matches.

After Dipak Patel retired and Parthiv Patel’s career refused to hit puberty and Munaf Patel’s good name was dishonoured by Bobby Darling, Harshal Patel has emerged as the next big Patel hope in cricket.

Although, given how big Samit Patel is, bagging that title will certainly not come easy for young Harshal.

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Virat’s finger, the new research topic

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Virat Kohli will now be known as Virat Ungli. Not because he has the longest finger in the world. But because he thinks he does.

“Why else would he be so keen to proudly display it to the world?” asked Darwinian sociologist Dr. Terryman Key, who took a break from his study on the common DNA strain between Sreesanth and Pattinson to explain to me how an obsession with size and public exhibition is a natural primate instinct.

Virat, in his short international career, has shown all signs of becoming an interest of study for Dr. Key.

“His usage of the finger makes him a unique primate and makes him deserving of a species title,” Dr. Key said. “And Ungli just feels like the right name for him.”

Despite his conviction on the discovery of the Ungli species, Dr. Key found some contradictions that even he couldn’t explain. Take for example Virat’s tweet after the act.

“I agree cricketers don’t have to retaliate. What when the crowd says the worst things about your mother and sister. The worst I’ve heard,” he had tweeted.

Dr. Key compared this with a specially edited package of Virat’s catches and dismissals, each of which was followed by expletives about one’s sister. “In my years of research, I haven’t come across any primate who couldn’t hear himself,” he said still shaking his head.

No sympathy
The man on the street isn’t sympathetic to Virat and feels that the defensive tweet was not befitting of a Delhiite. Gurgaon property dealer Balwinder Singh feels that Virat should have done something more “mardaana” like what Inzamam and Afridi had done.

At least something ban-worthy.

BCCI Unmoved
It’s hard for even the die-hard Virat fan to condone Virat’s act, as you can’t possibly be succumbing to every animal instinct unless you are a politician. And let’s face it, Virat is no neta.

So he must face the consequences like some other sportsmen have in the past.

In the 1994 FIFA World Cup, German midfielder Stefan Effenberg was dropped from the squad and sent back home after he showed the finger to fans at Dallas. He never played for Germany again.

The BCCI’s reaction has been as extreme as the German Football Federation’s, except that it’s at the other end of the spectrum. Forget any immediate punishment, there’s not even been a statement condemning the act or a show cause notice or an explanation from team management. Just dead silence.

To probe the BCCI’s view, I called up a couple of senior officials.

“There has been a very big misunderstanding. Virat had earlier seen both Ponting and Clarke raise their bats after reaching their centuries,” the official explained. “In this case, Virat had showed a great fielding effort after which he wanted to acknowledge the crowd. And, unfortunately, he had nothing in his hands other than his finger.”

The other official was far more pragmatic and believable. He said that the Board usually expects its players to respond to criticism by performing on the field. But that you will score runs or take wickets can’t be guaranteed. With the IPL and a packed cricket calendar, the board has been looking at ways of reducing each player’s workload.

“I think Virat did the right thing,” he said. “Why take the tough route when a simpler one is available?”

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