Following the fourth one-dayer on Thursday, MS Dhoni called on N Srinivasan at his residence, on Friday morning for a breakfast befitting of the IPL Champions, CSK. Somewhat ironic, as little of either the CSK or IPL remains. But this was a breakfast built on hope, and the possibilities a new IPL team could bring. In hindsight, there were many breakfasts rolled into one, behind closed doors, here's how many an interest unfolded, that too without hardly any conflict.
9.28am: Mahi's superbike announces him even before Srini's butler can. Inside Srini sits at the head of a somewhat dauntingly long dining table. The room is unlit, with its thick curtains undrawn. Light strains of a song, I have but one heart, from a Coppola film, trickle through. Mahi tip-toes into the room, much as he has often done from 0-40 in his many memorable ODI innings, largely unnoticed, mostly singles and twos.
Srini looks up from his filter coffee, nods at Mahi, who approaches him, and kisses his outstretched hand. "Godfather..." he mumbles under his breath. Srini replies - "Mahi, I'm gonna call you, Michael, sit down, Michael..." Srini gestures nowhere in particular, so Mahi (Michael) sits at the far end of the table. Srini speaks softly, so softly, Mahi can barely hear him. He shifts to the next chair. Still can't hear him. Advances yet another chair and another chair and still another chair until he's ultimately sitting under Srini's nose. Mahi asks Srini - "Sorry Godfather, could you repeat yourself, I didn't hear a thing you said?" Srini nods undramatically, mumbles, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" To which Mahi snaps, "What, you got me a new bike? A new IPL team?" Unmoved, Srini says, "Fresh masala dosa and filter coffee". Dhoni feigns enthusiasm - "Of course, that beats any bike, and yesterday's win has really whetted my appetite."
The masala dosa and filter coffee arrive but are largely untouched as Srini and Mahi have much to talk. Finally Srini dismisses the dosa, "That will be cold, bring Michael a fresh masala dosa..." The butler is baffled, Mahi helps him out, "He means me." Mahi excuses himself to go to the washroom.
Meanwhile, all along, there's a suspicious form hiding behind the curtain.
MS walks in, in a business suit, the butler announces him as the vice-president, India Cements. He greets Srini with a sir, and places his laptop and file next to him as he draws a chair alongside the boss. The curtains have been drawn. Light strains of a song, "Speak softly, love", from a Coppola film, trickle through. Srini draws MS and his laptop closer, a masala dosa appears, goes largely unnoticed, as the two talk of the drop in share prices. "MS, what do you make of this development?" Srini asks largely befuddled by the latest development. Dhoni nods, runs the chairman through a detailed PowerPoint presentation - "Sir, as you can see, it's quite clear, that the economy has taken a beating, but that is unimportant, as the process is what is important to us, and cement is part of the process... So even though construction has taken a beating we must continue working on the process, sir." Srini nods, "Yes, I have employed you as VP for just such answers, long as we live in denial and refuse to let these rumours of conflict of interest affect us, we have a healthy future ahead of us in the building industry, any other suggestions?" MS ponders and then as if hit by a lightning bolt, confesses, "Yes sir, I have been thinking, that vital to the process is diversification, even as we remain true to our core values of building, how about we extend our interests into Lego? Srini is beatific, "Soooper, boy, soooper, your increment will be a fat one... Oh look, your masala dosa will be all soggy, new one for you".
MS excuses himself to go to the washroom. Meanwhile, all along, there's a suspicious form hiding behind the last folds of the drawn curtain.
Dhoni bustles in, in his yellow CSK jersey. Light strains of a song, The pickup, from a Coppola film, trickle through. Part of the room is floodlit and a recreation of the Chepauk VIP box. TVs with CSK's various IPL triumphs are playing. Srini has his sporty shades on, is dressed casually, having just returned from a game of morning golf. Masala dosas arrive, and so do, Raina, Jadeja, Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey. Raina insists on taking a selfie with Srini. Dhoni and his bunch of CSK boys look at Srini expectedly. Srini asks, "Would you like to all join the ICC, we could float a T20 league called the ICC-PL?" Raina and Jadeja sound chuffed by this latest suggestion, however, Dhoni, is far more contemplative when he says, "But what about that old bastard, conflict of interest? Should we not just join a new IPL team for two years?"
Meanwhile, all along, there's a suspicious form hiding behind the curtain. Dhoni looks at the curtain and then at Srini, "All along, I've noticed there's something behind the curtain..."
Srini dismisses it, "Oh that, nothing, just a cricket enthusiast."
(However plausible this might sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)
First published here