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.
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.
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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