Thursday, October 20, 2011

You have a good run rate guys

There is this India club in the university where I study. All ABCDs[1] meet up every now and then and indulge in dubious activities like dancing the bhangra, throwing coloured water on each other, chatting-up female undergrads and in general making a fool out of themselves. They also indulge in the occasional game of cricket with our friendly cricketing cousins - the Pakistanis. So, at 8 PM one Friday, Prashanth and I made our way to the Campus Recreation Center. There, all cricket enthusiasts[2] had turned up and were warming up[3]. Eventually, a couple of people managed to get hold of a bat each. The people who'd managed to get a ball stood some 60 feet away from the batsmen and were giving suave impressions of Shane Warne spinning the ball from one hand to another across their face.

The ball was a tape ball. This was the first time I'd ever seen one, let alone play with one. It was no more squishy like a tennis ball. It was no more furry like a tennis ball. It was the end of cricket as we knew it. There also was a mongoose bat[5] lying around and I picked it up. Someone bowled and it was pretty nice to get bat on ball. We swung around for a while and suddenly it was time for us to start the match. Our captain won the toss and elected to field in a fitting imitation of Sourav Ganguly at Johannesburg circa 2003.

The match started with captain sir asking the host team for a pair of gloves because he was the wicket keeper. The opposing captain stared him down with such viciousness that our man retreated into the uncharted backwaters of deep long stop. Play began. Our strike bowler bowled the first ball. A peach of a delivery. Swung in, pitched on off, and cut away. I could almost hear Ravi Shastri chant the previous two sentences. I could almost hear Gavaskar go on about how the weight of the batsman was not forward, how the elbow wasn't high and how the maker of the said bat wasn't shown to the bowler. I could really hear Arun Lal go on about the local flora and fauna.

Things pretty much started going down hill from then. The second ball was a wide down the leg side. The umpire stretched out both his arms and shouted "Wide". He then counted the score - One for no loss. Oh-oh. Wides and no balls were counted as runs. This wasn't acceptable under the rules of street cricket. Anyway, we rolled with the punches. At the end of ten overs, they'd managed a meagre score of 117. This included one over where yours truly restricted them to a mere 22 runs.

Now it was our turn to bat. Our openers hit a couple of boundaries in the very first over. Things were looking up. We were rejoicing. Then one of the openers got out. Then the other opener got out. So did the following batsmen. Presently it was my turn to bat. I stood at the crease and squinted down the pitch. The bowler, a midget wearing a Pakistani shirt walked out to the outskirts of Dubai where the top of his run-up was. I stood and waited. Suddenly he appeared out of the gloom and bowled a ripper. The ball was coming at the off-stump, swung late and went past my bat. Is it in their genes? Pretty soon it was down to the last wicket. Prashanth and I were batting.

Prashanth played the sheet anchor role while I played the - sheet anchor role. We essayed perfect forward defensive strokes, closely watched the ball as it went past the stumps and weaved away from the occasional bouncer. Our captain demonstrated the perfect pose of the head-in-hands-asana. We were generally having a good time out there and laughing and joking about everything, when one the fielder at silly point said, "Guys, they still have a good run rate. Get them out!" We doubled up with laughter. Eventually a Shane Warne wannabe actually managed to turn the ball a bit and I nicked it to the keeper. The Pakistanis vociferously appealed while the umpire turned it down. I however, had enough. So, in the spirit of cricket and in the interest of friendly relations with our neighbours, I walked[6].

Thus it came to pass that one of the greatest games of cricket played passed into the murky depths of history with neither ICC nor Sharad Pawar noticing.

Glossary: 1. ABCD - American Born Confused Desi
2. Cricket Enthusiast - All men who're currently not at the bar drinking
3. Warming up - making a beeline for the two available bats, calling up friends and begging them to come so as to reach a strength of 11, making jokes not generally made in the company of women or children
4. Tape ball - Tennis ball covered in a layer of adhesive tape so that it swings more in the air
5. Mongoose Bat - Stop bugging me. Go google it
6. Walking - The act of getting the hell out of the ground when you don't want to make a fool out of yourself anymore.