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How Dhoni stopped Jadeja from sleepwalking through the IPL

by Gaurav Sethi

 It was down to an open-door policy

On Labour Day, CSK delivered. It was a normal delivery. Everything seemed normal. MS Dhoni had appointed MS Dhoni in-charge of the mothership. He had relieved Ravindra Jadeja of what seemed like a spate of morning sickness evils on match days.   

Jadeja, once the safest hands, and often entrusted with babysitting players’ children, was now dropping not just catches but sitters. Often off fellow left-arm spinner, Mitchell Santner’s bowling. Santner, another reliable catcher and babysitter, dropped a few off Jadeja’s bowling. 

Dhoni had observed how captaincy was messing with Jadeja’s batting and bowling. That he had factored in. But this dip in fielding? Yet Dhoni did not intervene. He wanted Jadeja to take the call. Little did he anticipate, that his teammate was literally sleepwalking through the turbulent last few weeks.

***

Now it is well documented that the door to MS’ room is always open to his teammates, no matter what the time.

At a very odd hour, sometime in the middle of the night, Jadeja emerged from his bed. It’s another thing, he was still sleeping. He stood up and did his routine stretching exercises. After this, he emerged from his bedroom, arms stretched forward and parallel to each other. Oblivious, he knocked at MS’ door. Who opened, not surprised to see Jadeja. It took him an instant to realise Jadeja was sleepwalking. 

He let him be, knowing fully well, from experience, how many players had sleepwalked through the IPL, and it was never prudent to wake them up. He would often say in CSK meetings, “There will be a time when you may feel you are on autopilot, just going through the motions, match after match, it will be like sleepwalking but it’s not for me to wake you up. As you know, waking a sleepwalker can be dangerous.” It was based on this thinking that the CSK doctrine of not hurriedly changing players was based; and why they stuck with their core in the recent mega auction. 

Jadeja sat at the writing table. Removed a sheet from the hotel writing pad, and started to scribble something. It was evident, even in his sleep, he was struggling. He wrote, “Dear Mahi, thank you for the opp…” But at that, he rolled the paper into a ball and left the room. 

Over the next few days, Jadeja continued to emerge, in the middle of the night, often on match day. MS would leave the door slightly ajar with the table lamp on. Each time, Jadeja would scribble a few words but always roll the paper into a ball. 

MS could gauge Jadeja’s pain. He saw it on the field. And now here, in his sleepwalking and rolled up paper balls.  One day, he decided to write a note alongside the pad. If Jadeja read it, well and good. There were just a few words, “Jaddu, at least you tried” 

That night, Jadeja emerged again. Sat at the writing table. MS pretended to sleep. Jadeja did not write anything that day. Instead, he walked away with MS’ words. 

At breakfast when MS met Jadeja, he could tell a weight had been lifted off him. The smile was back on his face. Yet, he wanted to be sure. He hurled an apple, well wide of Jadeja. While Jadeja was sitting, immersed in his breakfast, he sprang from his chair and caught the apple single-handed. 

MS applauded Jadeja’s efforts with a, “Jaddu, good catch. I’m happy to say, Jaddu the fielder is back. And if that’s the case, Jaddu the batsman and Jaddu the bowler cannot be far behind. Of course, it remains to be seen if this catching is only with the red ball which is what the apple is or with the white ball too…otherwise we will have to practice with white apples.”

Everybody laughed. Jadeja bowed with élan. There was a sense of what was happening, but nobody said a word.  MS joined Jadeja at his breakfast table. They didn’t say a word about the note. They didn’t have to. Years of trust and love between the two had made their communication almost instinctive. 

During the day, a brief press release stated MS Dhoni’s return to captaincy. The following day, CSK’s openers added 182 off 17.5 overs. Ruturaj Gaikwad made only his second fifty of the IPL, his highest score of 99. In only his second match of the season, Devon Conway made 83*. MS Dhoni promoted himself to three, Jadeja came in at four. 

CSK went on to beat SRH by 13 runs. Jadeja bowled 3 overs for 15 runs. Everyone attributed everything good that happened that night to MS Dhoni. Much later that night, Jadeja emerged from his bed and walked to MS’ room. He went straight to the table and scribbled a few words. He did not roll the paper into a ball.

The note said, “Thanx Mahi bhai. xxx Jaddu”

(However plausible this may sound, this is a work of fiction)
First published here

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Inside Virat Kohli’s mind

by Gaurav Sethi

 Is Virat vs. Kohli the biggest matchup this IPL?

Match Day, on the back of two consecutive ducks, the conflict in Virat Kohli’s mind is apparent. He sits by himself staring into the mid-distance. Almost subconsciously he’s taking his specs off, then putting them on and having a dialogue with himself. 

Virat represents specs-off mode, Kohli specs-on mode. There’s a third mode lurking somewhere: Cheeku.

Virat: You got this, you got this, got this, got this...

Kohli: You got squat. 

Virat: WTF, you’re putting me down, not what I need. I need up, up, up. I need to…

Kohli: Do you know what you need? You need to know how to score runs. Not some psychobabble that you’re squirting. Who’s gonna tell you that? Which coach? Do you even care what they say? Do you even think they know better than you do? Where’s your humility, it kicked in only in the last few months, when you lost captaincy after captaincy and you looked like you had lost it.

Virat: Don’t talk sh**

Kohli: Well, you know it’s far from sh**

Virat: Ok, we’ve been there before, can we focus on now, how I don’t get another duck? I don’t want to be looking like MI with 8 consecutive ducks.

Kohli: What do you want? Ask yourself, what-do-you-want? Pause. You don’t have to answer right away, ask. But at least ask. 

Virat: What do you want?

Kohli: Good, that’s a start…

Virat: I want to…

Kohli: No, no, not so fast Virat. Not so fast. Chew on that question. Don’t swallow it and spit it out. Chew. 20 times. Like you were taught as a kid. Chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew…

Virat: Okay stop, chew chew ka murabba…

Kohli: Ha good, you remember that…

Virat: Yeah.

Kohli: Now let’s take a break…

Virat: Break, what break? Even you want me to take a break, whose side are you on, man?? First, it was everyone and their uncle on social media, then the firangis like KP, THEN Ravi…yeah, Ravi, off all people…now even you??

Kohli: Y’kno Ravi, you’ve always known Ravi, he’s loyal to his bosses. When you were boss, he was loyal to you. But you stopped being boss, a long time ago.

Virat: I didn’t. 

Kohli: Can we stop lying to ourselves. Can we take a break?

Virat: NO.

Kohli: I meant a break from this, specs on, specs off, dual personality BS, and come back when we are refreshed to restart the conversation.

Virat: Ok, I concede. We need a break. But only from this conversation.

***

After a break from his heady conversation with himself, Virat Kohli steps out to the balcony. His wife, Anushka is there. He sits alongside her. They don’t say a word for a few minutes. Then she breaks the silence.

Anushka: How did it go?

VK: Hmmm!

They continue to sit in silence, then Kohli breaks the silence.

VK: I dunno

Anushka: That’s a start, admitting you don’t know.

Kohli takes a deep breath and sighs. They sit in silence for what seems to be an eternity. 

VK: OK, I’m gonna go in and continue…

Anushka: I’ll go in, this change of scene will do you good…do you want your specs?

VK: Nope, I’m wearing my lenses…

***

Virat and Kohli are at it again.

Virat: What did she mean by that’s a start?

Kohli: You said, “I dunno” She said, “that’s a start”. 

Virat: What’s a start? 

Kohli: Dunno. You know. You know.

Virat: Dunno what scares me more, not scoring runs, scoring another first-ball duck or being dropped. 

Kohli: When you were captain, you dropped a lotta guys. You know who. Sometimes they came back. Maybe you need to know what it is to make a comeback in the truest sense, not to be feeding on past laurels.

Virat: Or past Hardys…hehehe past Laurels & Hardys…I used to be a Hardy…

Kohli: Good to see you laugh again.

Virat: Yaar, think I should start tikka shikka again…

Kohli: Don’t digress, bite it.

Virat: Right, right, bite the bullet, Virat. Bite it. Another first ball duck scares the hell out of me. Think it will scare any batsman to have it festering inside, that fear, it kills me.

Kohli: So what’s the alternative?

Virat: Dunno

Kohli: You do.

Virat: Ask Faf to give me a break for a few games?

Kohli: Yes

Virat: What if he refuses?

Kohli: Have you asked?

Virat: What if they don’t pick me again, what if RCB win the IPL without me?

Kohli: Are you helping them win it just now?

Virat: I took Pant’s catch…hehehe

Kohli: Your contribution is starting to resemble Manish Pandey’s.

Virat: Stop it. I’m averaging 17 to his 14, I’m striking at 122 to his 110.

Kohli: hear yourself?

Virat: we’re both gun fielders, we’re both more or less the same age too.

Kohli: Yeah, you’ve played far more than him. Being dropped may not be such a big deal for him. Each time he plays it’s like a comeback for him. Yet his team backs him match after match, then they drop him…then they pick him…only to drop him again.

Virat: Are you saying, I speak to him?

Kohli: You could. Who knows? Maybe he’ll give you a sense of what it feels like to be on the edge, to never be sure of your spot, yet turn up. Or you could ask DK, how it was, those lows? Or you could ask yourself? Or you could ask Anushka?

Virat: Or I could ask Paaji…

Kohli takes his phone, texts Tendulkar, who replies right away, they get on to a call. After the call, Virat walks back in, beaming. 

Anushka: You look happy, like a load just came off you, think I know what happened.

Kohli: Yes, all these years, I didn’t realise…after carrying the team for years, I was carrying myself for years…the team is doing fine, with me, without me. But my load, my expectation of myself, Virat competing with Kohli, and Kohli competing with Virat, it has to stop. At some point, I just needed to know, I’m as much Virat as Kohli. And basically, deep down I’m this kid who played cricket, a kid called Cheeku. 

Virat Kohli went on to eliminate the cover drive. In doing so, he lost a part of himself but gained so much more. 

(However plausible this may sound, this is a work of fiction)


First published here

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Two teams with nothing to lose, decide to lose it in style

by Gaurav Sethi

 To paraphrase Ravi Shastri, “It’s just what the defeats ordered”

Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) both agreed to skip another practise session on the eve of their match. Both teams also agreed not to use the phrase, ‘playing for pride’. Instead, they are determined to ‘enjoy the ride’.

Seated in the common room to lighten the heavy atmosphere, here’s what transpired: 

MI coach, Mahela Jayawardene cut to the chase, “let’s not be delusional anymore. We are against CSK who if I know something always know exactly what they are about. So my guess is they know they are bad. They also know we are worse. We have to somehow up our performance to bad and theirs to worse.” 

Mentor Sachin Tendulkar nods, “can I say something, I was just speaking to my driver. No, not the same guy in the Mutual Fund ad. Anyway, he asked me, what has gone wrong with Mumbai Indians, do they not believe in themselves anymore. I said, they believe in their future selves. That’s when his eyes popped like my driver in the MF ad. I explained to him, how MI is like a sci-fi film, set in the future, and to win next year’s IPL, they had to lose this one. Like how CSK won last year’s so they could lose this one. That’s when we both tightened our seat-belts”

Zaks claps his hands and snaps, “I’d like to keep it short, but you guys will have to vary your lengths” 

Dewald Brevis chips in, “I have a cousin who’s 9-10 years old, back home they call him AB Baby square - seeing as you’re planning for the future, should he turn up?” 

Right then Jofra Archer appears on the screen with an obscure message - “on the rocks is not rock bottom. Musk can make his pitch. But you can still tweet. Or maybe he can’t and you can still tweet. You can be last but you can still tweet. Err win. Thanks for believing in my future self. I believe in your past, baby”

Finally, skipper, Rohit Sharma speaks, “I’m going for a net. Who wants to join can stay and talk…can come”

Rohit’s deputy, Jasprit Bumrah joins him.

The two leave the room. For some reason, both players are wearing a mosquito net. Kieron Pollard explains they’re going for a fantasy cricket shoot, where they will have to say the words, “Yeh mein kar leta hoon”. Pollard’s Hindi accent rips into the sombre atmosphere in the room. 

Meanwhile, Tim David (dropped after 2 matches) is sitting in a far corner. In another far corner is Daniel Sams with an economy rate of 12.64.  

Ishan Kishan reluctantly raises his hand asking if he can speak – I think we need to put a price on our wicket. 

For some reason, everyone finds this funny. Which is when Tendulkar pipes up, “Guys, a lot of people on social media have been comparing a third umpire’s voice with mine. I can either accept that and laugh or be upset. I choose to accept it. Ishan, you must accept that you went for this price…”

Arjun Tendulkar interrupts, “Dad, why must you play everybody’s dad all the time”. 

Sachin Tendulkar: I’m Jagat Papa

DJ Bravo knocks at the door – Guys, I’m organising a musical net where we can all dance in the nets for a while. Do join us. 

***

At the nets, Jadeja is doing his vigorous sword dance. Nobody else is present except Mitchell Santner who is sitting on a bench. 

The MI team is quite upset calling it an ambush. Just then Dhoni walks out with a production crew. Uthappa and Gaikwad follow. 

All these ads by the bottom-ranked two teams, the irony is not lost on the players. 

After the shoot is wrapped, the two teams assemble for a team-building exercise. The exercise lasts two minutes, with silence maintained throughout. 

A ball crashes through to break the silence. It’s none other than Surya Kumar Yadav’s doing. After the camera crew had packed up, SKY had decided to go for a net. He had convinced Santner to get off the bench and bowl to him. Santner who had played in 7 games across 3 IPLs was initially surprised someone wanted him to bowl, albeit in a net. 

When everyone stepped out, they also spotted Shivam Dube who was turning on the heat. Riley Meredith, yet to get a game for MI yet, was spotted turning his arm over. 

Rohit and MS smiled at each other, posing and embracing, both now being interviewed, speaking about how the IPL brought teams together. Rohit quipped, “especially losing teams”

Dhoni waxed eloquently, “Just when you think all is lost, the turnaround starts. Of course, as you know, I have changed my game. Not just in the ad but otherwise also…from a captain, now I’m a Marg Darshak.”

Jadeja joins, “Mahi Bhai has shown me a lotta margs, and it is a learning process for me…I know many times I look clueless but that is because I am clueless. Captaining a side is tough and will tell on performance…all this while everyone was after Virat but look at Rohit and me now…hope this is off the record (looking straight into the camera)

Both MS and Rohit crack up, and Jadeja joins in somewhat involuntarily, not quite knowing what the joke is. 

In the background, Dube and SKY are pounding the bowlers.

Rohit: This SKY is too serious…pata nahi kai ko net karta (don’t know why he’s getting a net)

 Dhoni: Dube too, very serious. Glad that I didn’t…I mean Jadeja didn’t give him bowling…otherwise he would be netting all day

Rayudu appears, “Guys, the biryani is ready”

Shane Bond walks past with a weak smile, followed by Stephen Fleming, bobbing his eyes, as if he’s just woken up. 

Fleming: Certainly, we are up to it, what will be a great contest between two great sides. 

Interviewer: Do you think CSK and MI have left it too late?

Fleming: No, I don’t think so

Interviewer: What will you be playing for

Fleming: Daresay, think we’ve been undercooked, hopefully we’re warmed up now. 

Interviewer: Is this a dig at Virat Kohli who Shastri called overcooked 

Fleming refutes with a deadpan No and moves on. 

Interviewer (to Rohit): Both you and Virat have scored less than 120 runs averaging only 19, what do have to say about that

Rohit: Virat is averaging nearly 20…don’t diffuse facts…

Sanjay Bangar appears out of nowhere (diplomatic as ever): I think Rohit and Virat are just one innings away from a big score. By the time Bangar finished his sentence, everyone has walked off, including the interviewer. 

In the far distance, batters were queueing up for a net.  Chris Jordan had ball in hand. 

The Mumbai Indians issued a statement saying that Kieron Pollard retired from international cricket to focus on the make-or-break match vs CSK. 

 (However plausible this may sound, this is a work of fiction)


First published here


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A note to the comeback kid, DK.

by Gaurav Sethi

 It’s not yet halfway through the IPL, but you have gone down on one knee, serenading Indian cricket

Dear DK,

Often when I see you, the lyrics of Peter Gabriel’s Biko are paraphrased to DK – so the chorus, “DK, Oh DK, because DK” rings in my ears. You’d probably get this, you may even have heard this song.

In any case, your cricketing career appears no different from one of those rockers that continue to evolve, reinvent and rediscover themselves.

How long has it been? Pretty long, right? Just checked, you made your India debut in 2004. You last played for the country in 2019. But that hasn’t stopped you from doing your thing, helming KKR, losing the captaincy, not being retained; to almost everyone’s surprise, being picked by RCB. Regrouping at RCB. Rediscovering yourself. Yet again.

You appeared reluctant to speak about your future plans at a post-match. You did mention, there were plans. You spoke of your prep then. You did not take names. Then the match against Delhi Capitals happened. If DK wasn’t already box office, he was now. Everyone wanted a piece of you, as did the IPL, RCB and IPLT20.com – Virat Kohli interviewed you.

Now, you are no stranger to interviews. Be it being interviewed or the other way round. You are gracious to a fault. Even during those rough days at KKR. And of course, through golden runs, when everyone delighted in your smile, most notably, Harsha Bhogle.

There always has been that endearing quality to you, as a person. But as a cricketer, it’s been an altogether different story, no? Stats do not tell the DK story, not by a long shot. In no way will they ever do justice to your skill, talent; perhaps as a viewer, your impatience with both was sometimes evident. Dare I compare a younger DK with a younger Rohit Sharma here.

Oh, the reverse sweep. It’s as if being a right-handed bat was your bane. Few batters, would lapse into the reverse so early in their piece. Perhaps you looked solely at scoring opportunities. Perhaps you just wanted to outdo yourself. It was often puzzling.   

Your career overlapped with that of MSD. Talk about being born in the wrong time to Indian cricket. It’s one thing to compete with a cricketer, quite another, to compete with a phenomenon. One whose looming shadow swept and kept every other wicketkeeper in the shade; far, far away from ever shining too bright.

Who knows, your high-risk game, those reverse sweeps, were meant to make that impression – to break away from that shadow. After all, how does one defy that which is written in stone. How does one defy a narrative that India wanted to continue to believe in, no matter what. A narrative that CSK still believes in. That so much of India hold on to, in the belief of cricket immortality.

***

Perhaps you have made peace with all of that. Your batsmanship certainly seems to suggest so. You have grasped the role of finisher – that it entails one thing above all – to be a finisher, in the truest sense, you are the last man standing. Over the years, that was MS. The cricket world accepted that, and spoke about it incessantly. Even when MS’ finishing powers were on the wane, the broadcasters never lost sight of the great MSD story. That glimmer of hope. That he still can, because he did.

You, however, are doing it. Not as a memory but NOW. You are finishing games. One after the other. Not out after not out. Your batting numbers are bonkers, as a student of the game, one who speaks about it professionally, you know this.

This resurgence of yours is about details. About being in the present with such aplomb that it is not just talk – it is happening. There is an almost Zen-like quality to it all. After the acceptance of your entire career, your cricketing life, you have washed all that regret, those what-ifs. How else does someone transcend to the present so seamlessly? You have shed many a skin to be here. It is a lesson for us all. 

It is a lesson for you. Of accepting what your cricket skill is. As Tendulkar mentioned only the other day, "There are not many right now who are picking up line & length of a bowler so quickly like @DineshKarthik has been doing" Isn’t that what batting is all about – picking up line and length? Transmitting that signal to your cricketing brain and acting upon it?

And how you’ve acted upon those signals, with such clarity. Your all-round angles and hitting zones are at play. You’re sweeping, reverse-sweeping, guiding, gliding, lofting, driving. 

DK, you are down on one knee, serenading Indian cricket again. Oh my, how can we not be taken in. 

You have rekindled a cricket romance that so few knew existed. You have made us look back, and acknowledge, that you were always there. A part of our lives even when you weren’t. If we forgot to take notice, it’s only appropriate that we collectively apologise. 

Sorry, DK. 

You are representative of not just your personal journey but that of so many others that are often forgotten. Some hang in. As you have. Very few make a comeback that is so mind-bending – at a time as this, it’s noteworthy to mention journeymen cricketers such as Robin Uthappa and Umesh Yadav. Who have continued to believe, flattening perceptions. 

In your wonderful cricketing stories, there is a lesson of hope. What we do not see is the effort. You have spoken of the effort repeatedly. When you go all Modesty Blaise, talking about being “Lucky” and “Fortunate” repeatedly, you also speak about your efforts. 

A reminder that at nearly 37, in your 6th IPL franchise, in your 14th IPL season, after lapsing into cricket commentary in England, vowing one and all with your outfits and eloquence, it’s never too late to bounce back. 

Last season, you had 5 not outs from 17 games. This season, you’ve already remained unbeaten 5 times out of 6 games. That manic strike rate of yours, that searing batting average, 197 and 209.57. This is nuts. This is also T20. High-risk. Where even the most earnest efforts and calculations go awry. 

Even the most calculated attacks at the death are high-risk. Especially the sustained ones, such as yours, match after match. You will know only too well, that with these risks often comes the cost of looking foolish, of being dismissed. 

But when a sportsperson surmounts the fear of failure, he probably occupies a zone, that we all simply know as the zone. 

You played for South Zone. Now DK, you play in the zone. If you read this, you will probably chuckle that customary chuckle of yours.

Here’s to the last laugh, DK. May it be yours. 

Sincerely,

GS

First published here

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A note to Rahul Tewatia

by Gaurav Sethi

Thank you for challenging perceptions, for re-opening the selection debate, for making us look at the role of a finisher

Dear Rahul,

You may not ever play for India. If you had to, you should have in the previous T20 World Cup. But then that night happened. Again. You’re a repeat offender, offending the sensibilities of these written scripts, that proclaim repeatedly who are the chosen ones.

You are not the chosen one. Yet you choose to be. Perhaps you know what they refuse to know. Perhaps you know, you play with freedom - with a middle finger to everything that is stacked up against you. 

That in itself is beautiful. To play with freedom. Very few do. The great Indian stars, once they become great or on the threshold of greatness, cannot. 

You are an Indian star. But you are not great. You may never be great. That is a blessing. Great Indian stars are Virat, Rohit, Rishabh, Jasprit, Hardik and Mahi. 

Just as they have their highs, they have their lows. Their lows are often far more terrific than their highs. 

But you, Rahul, you achieve great things. You take the uncertainty and shove it somewhere deeply painful in the opposition’s unmentionables. 

It’s great to see, that you will be mentioned throughout this IPL again. Not just as a memory of what you did in Sharjah, but what you did in Brabourne. 

What did you do? What. Did. You. Do. It’s beyond how and to whom. It’s 12 off the last 2 is what you did. 

There will be jokes. Jokes in awe of you. That Tewatia pulled off a Tewatia. Again. 

Do you realise what that is? Tomorrow if one of those bigger names pull off something similar, they will be pulling off a Tewatia. It will be spoken as such on air. And not just by Graeme Swann. 

Secretly, they are in awe of you. As they shepherd their flock, without the freedom to let loose their own batting. 

***

There are two designated Indian greats in your team, Gujarat Titans: Shubman Gill, who opens the batting, and your skip, Hardik Pandya, who opens the bowling and bats at four. Both have played for India. And when they don’t play for India, India waits for them to turn up. To turn a corner. To regain form. To rehabilitate. 

The wait can be tricky, much as it can be a carrot. Prior to this season, Gill’s T20 striking wasn’t even compelling enough for his franchise to retain him. Pandya’s fitness and lack of form, meant his erstwhile team, Mumbai Indians let him go. 

You found yourself at Gujarat with them. While Gill is going through a T20 renaissance in his last two innings, his IPL career strike rate is 126.15 

As for Pandya, (mostly a lower middle-order batter and finisher as yourself) strikes a shade over 150. However, in his last season, his strike dipped to 113, his batting average to a mere 14. Your batting numbers weren’t any better. Subsequently, your franchise didn’t retain you either. 

While Pandya didn’t bowl in either of the last two seasons, he has now, bending his back, not just opening, but closing too. 

Though you didn’t bowl in GT’s first outing, you won it with the bat 40* (24). Meanwhile, Pandya had already settled into a sustaining role, looking to bat out the innings, with his 33 (28). Pandya continued with his approach in the second game, as you blazed on 15(8) in the death overs. This match, you bowled. 

By the third match, Pandya got a move on 27(18), but your batting exploded: 13(3). You sealed the deal. 

While India is on the lookout for a lower order finisher who can bowl, Pandya is bang in the middle, more top order than finisher, looking to be the glue in a relatively thin batting line-up. 

Previously: Pandya made the T20 World Cup. After a couple of uneventful outings against New Zealand and Pakistan, where he bowled a sum total of 2 overs. In all likelihood, he will be back in the reckoning. As too will most of India’s alleged T20 mainstay. 

This may even be at the cost of outstanding performances by yourself and many other lesser names. 

Already written in stone are the following: Rohit, Rahul, Kohli, Pant, Ishan, SKY, and who knows, Pandya. Or are they? Out of these, only Pandya may bowl. All these are top-order batters for their franchise. 

What performances such as yours do is open the debate again – that there is an alternative. And even if you may not be the answer, there is someone else. That India can, and should move beyond the greats first, in the shortest format, as they did in 2007. 

***

What makes the debate confusing is that players tend to adopt roles for their franchise which contradict what is expected of them if and when they play for India. A case in point is Rishabh Pant. Who faces a similar predicament as Pandya. Bats at four, and tends to restrain himself and look to bat through the innings. 

Pant has over the last three seasons been striking at much less than 130. Compare that with the promise of the three seasons before that, which were in excess of 160. Captaincy, senior player tag, restraint, responsibility, it’s terribly confusing, and not easy to undo, as Indian stars try to change their approach from the IPL to internationals. 

Sanju Samson may not yet be the chosen one, but he is an alternative to Pant. He captains his franchise, also bats at four, is flexible to move up to three; and significantly, has been striking at well above 130 for the last six years. He also goes big from ball one. 

But then, against KKR, Pant rushed himself up to three, striking at nearly 200; scoring 27(14). 

***

Team India tends to zero in on all-format players. While Pant has been exceptional in Tests, his white-ball performances haven’t quite cut it yet – his overall strike rate in T20Is for India is 125. In his fledgling career, Pant has already been over-scrutinised, called-out, dropped repeatedly. His comebacks have been nothing short of stunning. But mostly in Test cricket.

India waits on him, in the hope that he will transplant his Test form into the shorter format.

Just as well, the white ball auditions are on. This month, and the next one.

Go for it, Rahul. And all of you who dare to dream and defy the status quo. There is no door to knock at. It’s just the ball you have to knock the stuffing out of. India is watching.

Best to you, and all those who want to pull off a Tewatia,

Sincerely,

Gaurav Sethi 

PS: Last night, Stoinis nearly pulled off a Tewatia. 


First published here

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#IPL DK, Buttler and back in the studio.

by Gaurav Sethi


 




Great to be back in the studio. Full on about the IPL with Chetan Narula, Jamie Alter and Vikram Sathaye.

@glancescreen

Watch here  


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#IPL Dhoni's long, long shadow over CSK

by Gaurav Sethi



Here you go, watch here, lot of laughs about Dhoni's long shadow that has swept over the new CSK captain, Jadeja. Watch with funny man Suresh Menon bringing his SRT wig and imitations along. Among other personas. 

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#IPL No smiles.

by Gaurav Sethi

 


On the #LSGvsCSK prematch chat @editorji , called the result, Dube and Moeen factor. And dwelled on the irresistible Ayush Badoni. Also spoke of Avesh Khan’s troubles at the death. Much of this came to be.
It was becoming we hardly smiled, a h/t to GG. Watch here

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Pandara Road Solution

by Gaurav Sethi

 


Here you go, watch me talk about Pandara Road, as a solution to Kohli's woes. Watch here

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Kohli, IPL and the other.

by Gaurav Sethi

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