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When scorpions fight to the finish

by Naked Cricket

There is much in common between Virat Kohli and David Warner:  Bully openers, closure masters, boss captains. While one had anger management issues, the other continues to fuel his cricket with fury.  Both share the same star sign, Scorpio. Both are in their late 20s, Kohli’s 27, Warner’s 29. Both have the identical top score in T20 internationals, a 90 not out.

Both are full-on Aussie in their approach to sport. Both have curbed their natural T20 instincts, preferring to battle boredom for the team. Both want to win this IPL so bad you can almost taste it on TV. Both have just about done enough to win it on their own. Going into the finals, Kohli has 919 runs, Warner, 779 runs. That’s the top two run scorers this IPL.

Both their cricket journeys have been shaped by Delhi in no small way. While Kohli is from Delhi, Warner’s opening for Delhi Daredevils (under Virender Sehwag) by his own admission, defined his game -

“When I went to Dehli, Sehwag watched me a couple of times and said to me, ‘You’ll be a better Test cricketer than what you will be a Twenty20 player’.”

And can both field. They hurl themselves at the cricket ball as if a magnetic field were pulling them to it. Both did not open in the World T20, but after this IPL, who will stop them?

Tonight, only one will win the IPL.

After winning five back-to-back knock-out matches and making it to the finals, the trophy seems like just another routine chase under lights for Virat Kohli.

Kohli has in his XI, four outright match winners with the bat, Gayle, de Villiers, Watson and himself. Warner has just one: himself. He’s pushed this Sunrisers’ campaign with his bat and his bowlers. 

Even the absence of Ashish Nehra and Mustafizur Rahman hasn’t stopped him.

The IPL finals are at Chinnaswamy. For RCB, it’s not a home game, it’s a backyard game, with friends and extended family - 40,000 chants of R-C-Bee, R-C-Bee will be baying for Warner’s blood.

On 12th April, when the two played in Bangalore, RCB sucked the Chinnaswamy for all the runs it was worth – 228, beating SRH (Nehra and Mustafizur included) by 45 runs. Warner made a 25 ball 58. For RCB, Kohli 75, de Villiers 82 sealed the deal. When the Sunrisers returned home, they knocked off 194 beating RCB by 15 runs. That man Warner again, a 50 ball 92.  One-all, one to play. 

For RCB, off spinner, Parvez Rasool played both games. He played the last of his four games this season more than three weeks back. Will RCB play him again to counter the two left handers on top? Or will they expect Gayle to bowl with his big bat? Will Kohli risk his left arm spinner, Abdulla against Warner? Or will he go as Raina did with Jadeja against Warner, and not bowl him at all? What about the leg spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal?

What about out of favour Sarfaraz Khan? Has he shed enough weight to be picked? Not only is he an October 27 born like Warner, he tonked a 10 ball 35 when he played the Sunrisers, most of those runs were behind the wicket, scooping, paddling, doing all kinds of horrible things to Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Such was his impact that day, poor Bhuvi all but gave up on bowling yorkers till just the other day. RCB might find more of baby Sachin in Sarfaraz than they will in Sachin Baby. It’ll be a gamble worth taking, negating Bhuvi could be the game. Bad memories do strange things to sportspersons.

The other big call for RCB is gambling with Lokesh Rahul behind the stumps. It could not just cost them runs, it could cost them the trophy. The only way wicketkeeper, Travis Head makes it to the playing XI if Chris Gayle does not.

Chances are RCB will go with their same winning eleven. And a prayer. It’ll be down to Warner to dismiss Warner. And hoping the other left handers, Dhawan and Yuvraj don’t mess up Abdulla and Chahal too badly.  
 
Either way, a loss in the IPL final will not make either a lesser player. A win for Virat Kohli though, will feed the IPL dream like few things can. (Like Dhoni’s used to in his heyday, you remember?) It’ll add yet another chapter to that story he continues to write on the field. Through the covers. And sometimes, even in the dugout when he fails to score.

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How SRK made a cheerleader a tearleader

by Naked Cricket

 As KKR went down to the Sunrisers in the eliminator at Feroze Shah Kotla, something didn't quite seem right: a cheerleader was overcome by emotion, with pearl shaped tears dripping down her beautiful face. At first it was believed she was Russian (or from one of the countries formed from the erstwhile Soviet Union) but reliable sources have revealed she was in fact South African, though possibly of Russian descent.
A drab affair at the Kotla suddenly came alive when Marianne Losetho (name changed for privacy sake) started to weep inconsolably in the last over, about the same time Gautam Gambhir removed his pads. In KKR circles, it is well known that when Gambhir takes his pads off, the fat lady has sung or in this case, it's time for the cheerleader to cry.
Cheerleaders in the IPL are known to be mindlessly mirthful at the worst of times, applauding wickets, even if it is one of their own. And, dancing with gaiety even if their bowlers are flogged for Yes Bank Maximums.
It's believed in spite of the best efforts of the IPL rules committee, they have failed to educate the cheerleaders - most of them are utterly clueless when it comes to cricket, and worse, thoroughly confused between sixes and Yes Bank Maximums.
So even when a cheerleader understands what a six is, she's miffed as to what a Yes Bank Maximum is and vice versa. The rules committee had all but given up on these cheerleaders, content to see them dance no matter what.
Until SRK came to their rescue. Fresh from playing two roles in one movie, the Fan superstar, said he was ready for yet another role. Not as senior or a junior but as the middleman in this case. SRK wanted to train cheerleaders to project their "inner beauty" in a way that would do "the first Miss Universe Sushi Sen proud".
SRK at his compelling best as always, impressed upon the IPL head honchos when he said, "It's 20 years since Sushi won the Miss Universe crown... today still everybody loves Sushi... and I don't mean those Japanese rolls, Sushi... I mean... of course you kkkknow what I-I-I mean... how did she win it? By being over-the-t-t-top B-B-Bollywood... and that's what we must bring to the IPL, gentlemen". Appears SRK addressing them as gentlemen is what swung the deal.
SRK took under his wing two KKR cheerleaders to start with. He trained them in the art of hamming and extending their arm skywards. At the same time, he also tutored them in SRK's Importance of Being Earnest School of Acting - one that harks back to films like Swades andChak De! India. He then merged the two approaches of OTP and Earnest and gave us the new SRK Formula.
The results were for all to see when the cheerleader wept inconsolably yet not letting go of her sexy persona. Even Marianne's partner in crime, Dianne Dreushantsk (name changed) was quite overcome with emotion, though playing second fiddle - SRK had tutored her quite well in the "sidekick sad sis" role that plays the supporting artist.
"The lead will be the tearjerker, the support cast is there to hold and console the inconsolable one", the actor explained quite overcome by the magic of his craft.
Even though his team had been knocked out of the IPL, he said, he was happy with the acting that went into the emotion. Not fazed by Gautam Gambhir, SRK said his next big challenge was to make the captain project more emotions. "Gauti gotta understand, he is not playing a deadpan Michael from The Godfather, he gotta ham it, this is the IPL... this is Bollywood... he is SRK's skipper... of course I couldn't do anything with Dada who was a natural non-actor but I have high hopes for Gauti who is the angry not so young man... maybe a French beard like Bachchan uncle will do the trick... but he has such a definite chin..."
(However plausible this may sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)

Hat tip @BollywoodGandu for his tweet.
First published here

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Is Virat making you fall in love again?

by Naked Cricket

Just for the record, Virat Kohli does not open for India in T20s. He opens for RCB in the IPL. He now has four centuries in one season. All while opening. And he isn’t quite done yet.
He’s just warming up with seven stitches in his left hand. How does he do it? He grimaces when he takes a catch. Not when he bats though. Virat Kohli does not captain India in T20s. Does any of this make sense? After this IPL, not really.
Why should Kohli play under Dhoni? What is there for him to learn under Dhoni? If he captains the team in a match that lasts five days, surely being Dhoni’s understudy in a 100-over or 40-over match will not rock his world.
Right now, Kohli is not scoring runs, he’s bossing runs. He’s not captaining a team, he’s bossing a tournament. And RCB, including the world’s best in the format, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and Shane Watson are happy to have him as their boss, their supreme leader.
This season, there’s no owner - Virat Kohli owns RCB. He owns the IPL. He owns you and me. He feeds on our energy just as we feed on his. He can be the reason why cricket finds love in India again.
How long will it take for India to recalibrate and embrace the power of Virat Kohli? Not half-heartedly as a Test captain but the boss in all three formats, how long? The longer it takes, the more they’re draining Kohli’s powers. Right now, Indian cricket needs to feed on the Kohli alternate energy plant. And suck it for all its worth.
You can bet, the more he gives Indian cricket, the more energy he’ll regenerate. This is a time for both India and Kohli to go all the way dammit, not tickle each other with some teenage flirtations.
Elsewhere, Dhoni has captained a team fraught with injuries. Not that it has changed Dhoni’s thinking: he has sat back, content to play the last few overs, even promoting Ashwin before himself. For Dhoni, it’s still finding contentment in that last over or hit a last-ball six, and going at a little faster than run-a-ball.
Possibly, the format has overtaken Dhoni, and the wily cricketer that he is, he is not in denial, nor is he trying to fight it. He’s content, playing the game the way he knows it, waiting it out, fighting battles he can win, and white flagging those he can’t.
It’s a good time for Dhoni to reflect on what lies ahead. He still might be India’s best wicketkeeper but is he their best wicketkeeper batsman? What does Dhoni bring to the team if he doesn’t lead it?
Just as Dhoni made a differential between Test cricket and the limited overs format, is it time for MS to take a call between ODIs and T20s? If not as a player, then at least as a captain?
Dhoni would know, better than most, that Indian cricket is not set in cement any longer. 
 And all the cheerleaders sing Vir-at!
But since when did cheerleaders start to sing?
And the soundtrack of the match goes Vir-at!
But since when did matches have soundtracks?
And all those lofty politicians in their VIP boxes chirp Vir-at
Hey, this doesn’t make any sense
But then neither does Vir-at

The IPL was forlorn and forgotten
Limping on a broken crutch
Of those same old voices
Of those same old noises
It didn’t stand a chance
RCB didn’t stand a chance
It all was such a f**king nuisance
Oh yeah, a terrible, terrible nuisance

Of injuries and perjuries
The Supreme Court was still breathing down hard
The only buzz was Big B and Bhogle
And Dhoni had nothing to add
On Twitter, or on the cricket field
It was IPL season 9
Nothing quite appeared fine

Virat scored his first T20 hundred
In a losing cause
Nobody as much as paused
The Sachin comparisons were out
Hell, he even got there on the last ball

Next time he didn’t wait so long
He got there a full over before
First one was with a four
Here he hit a six
To reach his three- digit score
In a winning cause
Another six, another century
In a winning cause
Nobody as much as paused
Fourth one was the fastest
T20 shrunk in size
Yet he seized his prize
Another four, another century
In a winning cause
Nobody as much as paused
Except for the rain
It stopped.
For Vir-at to start
Go bang, bang, bang
And once he was done
And the match was all but stitched up
It started to rain again
It’s a new start of Vir-at’s reign
And if you refuse to see it
You are blind
And if you refuse to see it
You have lost your mind.

And all of Bangalore sings Vir-at
And all of India sings Vir-at
Vir-at has won the IPL
Without even making the playoffs

It was IPL season 9
Everything appeared f-i-n-e.
It’s just that it wasn’t
Old chiefs can be so stubborn
When they want to hang on to what they’ve lost
When all they’ve lost is all that they’ve won,
Once upon a time. 

First published here

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WTF!? Preity Zinta now abuses Mumbai Indians’ coaching staff

by Naked Cricket

Just the other day, Kings XI Punjab owner Preity Zinta lashed out at her coach, Sanjay Bangar. Preity who appears to be a cricket ignoramus, waving and jumping wildly when anyone hits a six, and  totally devastated when someone is dismissed, surprised one and all with her knowledge of the game.
She was upset by the lack of thought that went into the KXIP’s batting order: that some bloke called Behardien was sent in before some guy called Axar.
The buzz is that Preity Zinta was so upset that she targeted Sanjay Bangar with the F word, and we don’t mean fool and fraud here. But all that is history. After her team defeated Mumbai Indians in a one-sided contest, she appeared even more upset. This time with the Mumbai Indians’ coaching staff. Her displeasure even extended to their mentor, Sachin Tendulkar.
When contacted, Preity Zinta said she was an unbiased cricket fan and just like good cricket made her euphoric, bad cricket tore her apart. "These one-sided matches are starting to tell on my dimples," she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Onlookers were shocked when she walked right up to MI coach, Ricky Ponting and exploded.  Ponting who had barely recovered from his team’s defeat, sat stumped as the erstwhile actress put a performance worthy of a Filmfare award.
Preity could be heard saying, "This is not how you play, mate. There are easier ways to give us a walkover, mate. What the F**K do you mean by not turning up for today’s match, mate. As if Kings XI Punjab doesn’t matter to you, mate."
Finally, Ponting mustered enough courage to mumble a quick, "sorry, mate" before he walked away from the dugout. But Preity wasn’t done, she next targeted fielding coaches, Jonty Rhodes and Robin Singh.
What followed was a tirade on how to field and what field placements to have for a batsman like Murali Vijay who favours the inside-out shot.
Both Rhodes and Singh appeared flummoxed, more by Preity’s knowledge of the game than anything else. Rhodes’ whispered to Singh, "How does she know what inside-out is, her cricket knowledge is really very attractive..."
Preity was within earshot and exploded again, "Hey, you guys think I’m a cricket bimbo or what, I didn’t become the Kings XI Punjab owner just like that, I read up everything on the IPL and ICL and the twenty20 leagues in England.”
A demure Shane Bond (MI’s bowling coach) was looking blankly at his nails when Preity accosted him with a, "Hey, you’re cute, are you some coach or something also...hehehe...oh right, you’re the one my boys keep joking about... his name’s Bond, Shame Bond...what a joke of a bowling attack...oh sorry...for calling it an attack...it’s anything but that, I’ll have you know." In spite of Preity’s scathing attack, Bond was unaffected, looking his usual dour self.
There were other coaches who Zinta did not recognise, who in fact, nobody recognises. They were dismissed with a chilling glare. Until Preity’s eyes stopped at Sachin Tendulkar.  She greeted Sachin with a coy, "Hi Sachin."
Sachin in turn, returned the greeting with an equally coy, "Hi Preity", almost mimicking the erstwhile actress. The niceties stopped there, however.
Out of nowhere, Zinta exploded again, "Sachin yaar, really, after 200 centuries, this is all your team can do?? What yaar, very disappointed, yaar, against a lowly team like Punjab, yaar, too bad, yaar."
Sachin retained his sense of humour, put his arm around Preity Zinta, with a comforting tone, "Areh Preity, it was 100 centuries and 200 Test matches, and I only scored one century in T20 cricket and you kno what, we lost that match, this is a young guy’s format... I’m just here to enjoy the game. What stops you from being bubbly all the time, yaaar?”
Preity Zinta was speechless. She had met her match. She walked away in a huff.
On her way back to the KXIP dugout she ran into her coach, Sanjay Bangar. It is alleged that she used the F word again. Both parties have denied it though.
(However plausible this may sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)

First published here

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Virat Kohli's character building exercises

by Naked Cricket

Captaining Royal Challengers Bangalore is making Virat Kohli appreciate the small things in life: like beating Kings XI Punjab by one run. "Not that any side in the IPL can be taken for granted" as Delhi Daredevils found out by resting all their match winners and losing to Rising Pune Supergiants.
But this IPL has been a humbling experience for the great Virat, there are days when he doesn't score a 50 or a 100. Days when RCB bats first, and Virat's Google Maps has no obvious destination. There are days, like yesterday, when even Virat scores at less than a run a ball and is dismissed at the wrong time. For Virat, being dismissed at any time is the wrong time, so imagine what it must feel like to be dismissed.
"I'M OUT?? I DON'T GET OUT? How can I be out? Why?" And slowly it sinks in, as he drags his feet to the dugout, to sit alongside this season's benchwarmer, Chris Gayle.
Yes, that Chris Henry Gayle, now a daddy off the field but no longer on it. Gayle has scored just eight runs in three games. He missed a few because of his baby's delivery, and then he's missed a few more because of his own non-delivery.
Virat has had to drop the undroppable Gayle and said so in so many words: "No, Gayle wasn't rested, we chose Travis Head in his place." How can someone drop Gayle in a T20 match? Well, Virat just did and continues to. He's been upfront about it, not shying behind sugar-coated explanations of resting a player or using the usual face-saving reasons such as injury niggles for big players.
Talking of big players, Virat has also dropped the rather rotund Sarfaraz Khan. And again, shot straight from the hip, citing fitness or lack of it, for Sarfaraz's drop. Is there a Kingfisher Honesty Award? Create one just for captain Kohli.
If facing brutal facts such as, "I can't win every game on my own" weren't bad enough, realising that neither can AB de Villiers has been a revelation. Virat has made no qualms about being all fanboy about AB's batting. According to him, the South African freak is the world's best batsman.
No wonder he's all freaked out when AB is dismissed. In many ways, AB's dismissal rips through him far deeper than his own. It's as if he's been wronged. It's as if Virat believes he's privileged to play alongside de Villiers. There is a blue chip mutual fund respect between the two.
After RCB lost three in seven deliveries, it took an AB de Villiers laser show to light up the night sky, and with it, Virat's face. All was good with the world again. Virat's belief in mankind was restored.
Though it would take a lot more to restore any belief in his bowling. Is it okay to call them that? Opening with Stuart Binny, where does Virat go from there? Closing with Chris Jordan, that's where. In between there's Varun Aaron. And an uninjured Shane Watson, still somehow bowling, is his best bet at the death.
Virat knows with his bowling no score is safe, so he's constantly trying to outdo himself, but all with an almost bipolar cocktail of caution tossed with aggression. And he's still striking in excess of 140-150. Just imagine what could be, if he went out there and played a frolicking T20 innings, no stress, just strut. But that's not how it is for Virat Kohli.
He's the captain. And with every match as his team's ship continues to sink, he wages a lone war against this deceptive iceberg: the visible part is the opposition, the unseen part is his own team. So far Virat has kept the RCB Enterprise afloat. But can he take it where no Royal Challenger has gone before? This is one captain's voyage, we don't want to miss. Beam us up.

First published here

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Yuvi and you

by Naked Cricket

On Friday, May 6, 2016, Yuvraj Singh played his first match in IPL 9. It helped his franchise, Sunrisers Hyderabad make more headlines than they had in the last month with David Warner and Mustafizur Rahman.  Warner is the league's top batsman, Rahman is its top bowler. One's an Aussie, the other a Bangladeshi. Yuvraj is more Indian than the IPL.
So far in this edition, there have been no Indian heroes. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane's many half centuries have been in cruise control. You've seen one, you've seen them all.
They've been scored opening, with much method and little madness. In spite of their big runs, their teams are rotting in the bottom half of the points table. Along with Dhoni's Rising Pune Super Giants.
While Virat, Rohit and Rahane open, Dhoni tends to close an innings. By the time he walks out, it's already the death overs. His short spurts at the crease are about hustling between the wickets, the solitary six in the last over. As with the openers, with Dhoni too, you almost know what to expect.
The IPL's calling card was always the unexpected. It made players just as quickly as it unmade them. Today, the league is tired. It's taken two retired India greats, Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan to shake the tournament up.
With Virat's RCB and Dhoni's RPS on the brink of elimination, Yuvraj walks out, seemingly oblivious, to play his first match. Yuvraj's absence is what feeds Yuvraj's presence. His being there, on the field, with ball in hand, comes close to a Sachin wave from the dugout.
It stirs memories. Some are cricket memories but mostly they are untraceable abstract feelings, stuck deep in our subconscious. Even we are not fully aware of them or what they mean to us.
They make us smile, live in hope, want something good to happen, want Yuvi to make that good happen.
Yuvi catwalks to bowl in the ninth over. It's a wide. He's bowling after a long time, we collectively say. The commentators will tell us again that Yuvraj is not a big spinner of the ball. They will talk of his speed variations. There is comfort in this talk, we've heard it many, many times before.
Just as there is comfort in Yuvi. The over is bowled before you know it. And before you know it, Yuvi's back to bowl his second over. He nearly has Bravo's wicket. There could be talk of Yuvraj's knack of taking wickets, that's why Dhoni has often turned to him at crucial times. All this is embedded within you.
Just as Yuvi is embedded within you. Yuvraj faced his first ball in the tenth over. Yuvraj faces his last ball in the 14th over. It's been a forgettable innings, most of us will forget about it.
Yuvi will forget about it. Till he catwalks to bat another day. And play from that memory of yours. What he hasn't done in the IPL is unimportant. It's always what he can do that pushes the bid at the auction.
Yuvraj Singh sold for Rs 7 crore to Sunrisers Hyderabad. You sold yourself to Yuvi for...some things money can't buy.  
First published here

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Delhi Daredevils pull out of the IPL

by Naked Cricket


Decision prompted by team’s second rank
 
After playing six matches, Delhi Daredevils has won four and is ranked second in the IPL points’ table. For a team that has found comfort at the bottom for the last many years, this has not been entirely easy to handle. There is thinking in the camp that one bad game is just round the corner and the slide will start again. One loss will lead to another and then yet another, and before you know it, Delhi will be keeping Punjab company at the bottom.

Still it does seem drastic for a team to pull out of the tournament but that’s just what DD has done. After a surprise win against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Daredevils’ owners decided to pull the plug on their team’s participation in the tournament.

This did not go down to well with their mentor, Rahul Dravid who was at first very upset and unavailable for comment. Only yesterday during Carlos Brathwaite’s over, a perceptive DD coach, Paddy Upton had remarked, “awesome theatre unfolding”. What followed were no balls galore, a beamer, byes and a six, all off one ball. That ended a 22 run over for the hosts.

Few knew then that DD’s end in IPL 2016 was also round the corner. Players and team management have all been directed to take screenshots of the points’ table for posterity. At 8 points after six matches, DD is just behind table toppers, Gujarat Lions. 

A screenshot as taken by a Daredevil

The Rs 8.5 crore player, Pawan Negi is reported to have taken some of the blame on himself. After scoring just 32 runs in five matches, Negi believes he is responsible for the pessimism in the DD camp. A hangdog Negi mumbled, “Even though I have three not outs in five innings, I have not done enough with the bat.” Negi has only bowled five overs so far, last of which went for 19 runs. The bowler adds, “Zaks’ bhai trusted me with the ball in the third over, how did I repay his trust? I gave away 19 runs. I was throwing darts not bowling balls”

After a spectacular catch and direct hit run out, a buoyant Shreyas Iyer wants to share some of the blame with Pawan Negi, “What Negi has not achieved this season pales in comparison to what I have not achieved. Rahul bhai believes in me so much, even more than me believes in me. Yet each innings I have thrown it all away. As an opener to score a duck is bad but to score three ducks is unforgivable because a duck in no score in my book. Negi has scored 32 in five, what have I scored? Nothing. 22 runs! In five innings. No not outs also.”

While Negi and Iyer are in a tug of war for Delhi’s self enforced ouster, Quinton de Kock appeared quite unscathed. “I have a fifty and a hundred, and even though it was against Punjab and Bangalore’s bowling, no complaints, I like to see the ball and hit it even if it isn’t in my hitting arc that may explain the low scores but I’ve now played six matches on the go and that’s more than I’ve ever done for Delhi before”  

Not everyone is unhappy with DD’s decision. The folks at Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) are delirious, attributing Murali Vijay’s appointment as captain for the team’s change in fortunes. That too without playing a match under him. Even though Punjab has lost five of its six matches, they need to win just three more to draw level with the vanquished Daredevils. If they ensure a better run-rate then they may not rest at the bottom of the table.

Finally when Rahul Dravid was cornered for a comment, he did say in a somewhat weary, deadpan way, “Our next match was to be against table toppers, Gujarat, but to pull out like this is an extreme measure. I’m in talks with the owners to at least wait till 7th May...that’s when we play table toppers from the bottom, Kings XI Punjab”

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

Also published here

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Was Rohit Sharma born a cricketer?

by Naked Cricket

Or was April’s cricket greatness thrust upon him?

It seems everyday a cricketer is born in India. Yesterday, Ashish Nehra, today, Rohit Sharma. And who can forget, just the other week, Sachin Tendulkar. Yeah, that very one whose middle name is Ramesh. The great Indian cricket harvest all starts with Murali Vijay on April Fools’ Day. And if you were cued to cricket in the 60s and 70s, you’d know even before Vijay was born, April 1st was Ajit Wadekar’s birthday. Five days later, it’s the Colonel’s. Colonel who? That dude, Dilip Vengsarkar who kept wickets as the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton batted for the media. Mid month is when the dates for Dinesh Mongia and Manoj Prabhakar were fixed.  April 21st is good old Venki’s. Yeah, the umpire for you, kiddo, but an integral part of India’s great spinning quartet in the 60s and 70s.

Just a couple of days before Venki’s is Deepak Hooda. Whooda? That kid from Rajasthan Royals who’s now with Sunrisers Hyderabad. Definitely a future great, just you watch out.

 By the look of it, doctors certainly are. After foetal sex determination has been banned in the country, doctors have started to promise hopeful couples, hold your breath, cricketers. Even though doctors say they cannot ensure boy cricketers, they encourage couples to time their delivery in the month of April, ideally in Mumbai. (if not somewhere in Maharashtara)  

As the saying goes, “An April born in Mumbai is born to play cricket for India” Not just that, they claim, a player born in April will get far more chances to succeed than one born in May or any other month. A spokesperson for ABCD (April Born Cricket Doctors) explains: “Just look at Rohit Sharma, he played 100 ODIs not doing much, but because he was born on 30th April (a very favourable date for cricket), his talent and potential was for all to see again and again and again. Also people knew that he was April born, like the great Tendulkar, and was blessed with timing and a good catcher in the slips too and enjoyed Sachin’s blessings...”  

Rohit Sharma isn’t taking the April timing of his birth for granted. An unusually eloquent Rohit summed it up when he said: “I have had to work on it. Surely being born after Sachin in the same month and state as him has helped me a lot but like Sachin I have had to work on it every day, every month and not just April. Sometimes I have had to work even harder in April because that’s when the IPL starts and there is non-stop travel and now as you all know our home venue has been moved from Mumbai. But that is from May so no complaints. In April the stars were very favourable for me, personally”

Few know that Rohit Sharma wasn’t born in Mumbai but in Nagpur. Nagpur is a BCCI stronghold, with the Board President, Shashank Manohar, both a Nagpur born and resident of that city. In many ways, the power of Indian cricket is centred in Nagpur. Being born in Nagpur (and not Mumbai) has given both Shashank Manohar and Rohit Sharma a second chance to rule Indian cricket.

Future parents of April born children are hopeful. According to a ABCD spokesperson, “Earlier, parents wanted their child to be born with a silver spoon in their mouth, now they want silver bat in mouth”

There is another school of thought, doctors who believe that a child born in July has a very good chance to lead the Indian cricket team. A spokesperson for JBCD (July Born Cricket Doctors) minced no words, “April fool they are making you, it’s joyous July honestly speaking – look at it, Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni, all July born that too within four days of each other, beat that April!”

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

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