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How Kohli and Kumble should be blamed for India's defeat

by Gaurav Sethi

Not to forget, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman
India could have won the Champions Trophy, and everything being written about them would've been quite different. It was one game, it doesn't change much about this team, what it achieved in this tournament or before it.
But the defeat gives an opportunity to look at what's wrong, far more clinically than otherwise. There are lacks, in this post I've already spoken about selection issues, the perils of picking only four front-line bowlers, and Virat Kohli's RCB mindset.
What may go unnoticed is, the disintegration of the BCCI as a non-negotiable power centre. Previously, even at the height of Tendulkar or Dhoni's powers, no star player could (not in the press at least) take on open negotiations with the BCCI.
Virat Kohli, along with the coach, Anil Kumble, have taken it upon themselves to start a conversation with the BCCI on pay concerns of players. It was noted that the two barged into the BCCI office, with Kohli snapping at the office bearers, "Show me the money!" And with Anil Kumble adding for good measure, "shouldn't that be your agent's line? Oh right, you are an agent of change, Virat".
It is reported that Kumble proceeded in a headmasterly fashion to dictate to Kohli (in front of the BCCI office bearers) the Dos and Don'ts of negotiations. This didn't go down too well with Kohli, who next quoted Pink Floyd, "Hey teacher, leave them kids alone, All in all, it's just another brick in the wall". Kumble was distraught at Kohli's attempt to use a song to make his point. The two saw eye-to-eye when discussing Cheteshwar Pujara's case, how for a Grade A player without an IPL contract he was making less money than say, "someone like X, Y or Z does in a few weeks of f**cking around on the field".
Even though Kumble and Kohli returned buoyed by their belligerence, the cracks were too obvious to ignore. Messages to BCCI babus were being leaked and misinterpreted to the press. By taking on the BCCI together, the Kumble-Kohli duo had taken on the wrath of the Indian Board, weakened like Sauron but still The Dark Lord of Mumbai. The Board's wrath fell upon the two.
Going into the Champions Trophy, news of a rift as wide as the Grand Canyon between the two was everywhere – even in Women's magazines that had nothing to do with cricket under normal circumstances. This was far from normal though. Neither captain nor coach refuted the claims, and that only fed the flames.
There were rumours of the entire team sledging Kumble with Pink Floyd's, "Hey Teacher, leave them kids alone". The press was buzzing with talk of a new coach. A disobedience movement to spite Kumble was underway, players were eating paranthas and butter chicken for breakfast. Instead of training, they were gaming, right under Kumble's nose.
But how then did India make it to the finals? Great teams don't become ordinary overnight; they do after a sustained bout of madness, however. After weeks of excess, on the morning of 18th June, four out of five players woke up with hyperacidity, a few others had diarrhea. Others were just feeling lazily elegant, and one guy was clearly overstepping the line during the pre-match strategy meeting. He kept saying, "I'm a beach Bum' hurrah, don't expect much from me today".
Kumble would have intervened but he had been locked in the loo. The mutiny on the bounty was set for a re-screening. And Kohli's revolt was complete, every player was at his revolting best, they had disposed of the headmaster. It was then that Kumble messaged Kohli and three others (SRT, VVS, SCG) - "Help, locked in the loo and I don't have my SLR".
VVS appeared with Kumble's SLR, gave it to his old mate but then locked him in again. As the match started, Tendulkar was spotted in a dazzling printed shirt with a few buttons open. What nobody knows is that Tendulkar was stuck in traffic and only made it once the match had started. Kohli was distraught, he wanted to start the 'big finals' against the 'old foe' with blessings from his cricket 'God' and mentor. Without these blessings, he was going mental -he refused to use his main strike bowler, Kedar Jadhav, till it was already too late.
Worse, during the innings break, none of the players went to the loo as they didn't want to let Kumble out. By some, this is being seen as a reason the Indians were so full of sh*t when they came out to bat. Except for Hardik Pandya, who crossed over to the Pakistani dressing room and was a much-relieved man, until Jadeja appeared out of nowhere, knocking at his door - "Come out already, you're next".
Instead of meeting Tendulkar, the Indian team met Ganguly who gave each player a pep talk but undid all the good work by mispronouncing everybody's name - he really got stuck into Dhawan's ear with leftie-to-leftie advise, "Shekhar, you're a good bat, Shekhar, you will have to be the one to launch the counter attack on Mohammad Amul…" By the time he was done with Umesh Yadav, who he kept calling Shivlal, the Indians were on the brink.
It didn't help, that after Ganguly, the players met a mirthful VVS Laxman. He emptied the world's clichés on the team - with a "you have to perform to the best of your abilities and not squander any opportunities that come your way and first get your eye in and then capitalize on the bad ball" being his standard routine to the batsmen and "maintain a good line and length, look to bowl in good areas, force the batsmen to make a mistake, and keep it tight, I'm confident you will do well and end up on the winning side" his set for the bowlers. By the time he was done, the Indians had keeled over.
It was only when Hardik Pandya went out to bat that Kumble was a free man again. He and Kohli looked at each other in the eye. Kohli looked at Kumble's strong jawline and commented, "Eh…you've got a strong chin, Anil bhai". To which Kumble said, "Eh…I can't see yours…it's hidden by your beard". The awkwardness between the two was stifling.
Kedar Jadhav had just been dismissed, India was 72/6. Jadeja was about to walk out to bat. Kumble spoke, "Just stay with Pandya, don't do anything silly". Just to contradict Kumble, Kohli said, "No, no, please do something silly"
Kumble looked at Kohli with a wry smile, "think I was better off in the loo".
(However plausible this may sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)

First published here

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