Bhajji in Bangladesh. Bhajji in Zimbabwe. Bhajji in Sri Lanka. In almost Asterix like adventures, after a shot of the magic potion, Bhajji appears to be everywhere. Bhajji's return coincides with Dhoni's retirement from Test cricket (as for the One Day Internationals (ODIs) in Zimbabwe, Dhoni gave it a miss). Previously I had written here of how once good friends became largely indifferent to each other. What I'd like to explore now is if Bhajji can play again with Dhoni, how would it pan out?
1. Dhoni appears in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Auction. Mumbai Indians snap him up at an obscene price and appoint him captain. Bhajji being an MI mainstay will naturally play. Though don't put it beyond MI to bench both players to add to their already formidable bench strength of coaches - Dhoni as coaching captain, Bhajji hug coach
2. Bhajji has a terrific Test series in Sri Lanka, a series so good that comparisons with the VVS-Dravid Australia series hurl themselves at us - to top it, Bhajji even takes a hat-trick. If this comes to pass, Sandeep Patil, Anurag Thakur, N Srinivasan, Sreesanth, just about everybody except the Lankans will demand Bhajji be included in the ODI series.
3. Bhajji is included in the ODI squad for the Sri Lanka series but not in the playing XI. Dhoni asks Bhajji to bowl to him in the nets, technically that's playing together, right?
4. Tendulkar is known to be close to both Bhajji and Dhoni. He invites both over for a chai pe charcha, they knock around in the backyard to let bygones be bygones. For good measure, and to show he really means it, he even invites his old mate, Kambli; who agrees to attend just so that he can "fire his friend".
5. The mature beyond his years, R Ashwin, who only recently admitted to being prepared to lay down his life for Dhoni and even more recently that Bhajji was his role model in the early 2000s, arranges a "Smash it over sambar!" event in his cricket academy. To add to the levity, Ashwin shrewdly asks MS to bowl to Bhajji while he himself keeps wickets. Mrs Ashwin tweets about the event, Mrs Dhoni shares yet another candid pic (of Mahi and Bhajji in the 2007 World T20 Cup) and it breaks the deadlock. Bhajji and Dhoni start to appear in ads again, this time without getting personal.
Much as I'd like Bhajji and Dhoni to chill together, it does seem unlikely. To keep the positivity going, here are some more likely events:
1. Virat Kohli decides that a drawn Test match is way better than a lost one - abandons his quest to win his first Test as captain and starts to work in earnest towards a draw. Mouths platitudes such as "Defence is the best form of attack" and "we need someone like Pujara to bat at No 3 so he can control the innings while the rest of the team bats around him".
2. N Srinivasan distances himself from cricket. Admits that he has neglected golf for way too long, starts a golf league with his bête noire, Lalit Modi, together they form the IPSML (Indian Premier Srini Modi League)
3. Ravi Shastri maintains a two-minute silence during commentary. Breaks his silence with a subtle chuckle (Benaud style) and proceeds to stay quiet again. Breaks the silence with a whisper, a precious gem almost lost to the inattentive ear. Fails to mention even one of his Shastrisms. Finishes his stint by saying it was wrong of him to call the English jealous.
4. Dhoni returns to Test cricket after taking retirement from ODIs. Claims that he doesn't see himself playing in the 2019 World Cup and "It's now up to Virat to put together a young team like I did in 2007". Goes on to say his return to Test cricket was prompted to tour Bangladesh, West Indies and Zimbabwe, nations he had neglected in the past.
5. Former cricket greats finally break their silence on match fixing, claim they knew all along, didn't dare speak as there was too much at stake. But finally the love of the game (read as an obscure First Class cricketer's confession with condemning evidence) changed their views.
First published here