“I have never seen 18 girls on stilts” says a visibly excited Robin Jackman (he may have seen seventeen it seems) ,a part of the commentary team on “Extraa Innings”.
Ajay Jadeja speculates on the whereabouts of Laxman Sivaramakrishnan who has mysteriously vanished into the night during a cheerleader routine.
Rameez Raja, his hair dyed as black as the ashbuds in front of March, can barely conceal his glee at the overall proceedings.
The Washington Redskins cheerleaders, clad in yellow sports bras and hot pants, strut their stuff as the camera goes wide angle taking in a shot of Sharad Pawar framed by the ample derrières of two fetching women. With so much flesh around (both the Red Skin’s as well as The Power’s) one barely notices the absence of Extraa Innings’s iconic Mandira Bedi.
However the biggest boob is on stage— IPL supremo, our very own Lalita bhabi, the official Indian cricket-bhagya-bidhataa, rambling on and on, wallowing in his self-importance.
Despite all that however, the Indian Premier League got off to an explosive start with a fireworks display and an air ballet performance one is likely to remember for some time to come. And while the purists may be justified in brushing it all off with a “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre” (It’s magnificent but it is not war), at least for the guy in the crowd carrying a placard saying he had come to watch girls dance and not to see cricket, this was everything that he had paid money for — a spectacle of Roman proportions together with gladiators, eye candy and the presence of a few men who would make the Caesars and Augustuses of old appear self-effacing and modest.
Of course the cricket was there also. As an added bonus. And that was pretty awesome too even though it was less a battle and more a “throw the prisoners to the lions” as Bangalore was decimated by an innings of rare savagery from Brendon McCullum. Forget IPL and Twenty20—this was as much raw power as one could expect to see at a batting crease, a performance matching the very best of a Gilchrist or a Afridi.
It was just Kolkata’s day. What else can one say when a team scores upwards of 220 runs in 20 overs, Agarkar takes three wickets and manufactures a run-out and Ricky Ponting avuncularly ruffles principal tormentor Ishant Sharma’s flowing locks after the latter knocks over Rahul Dravid?
The only jarring bit about the Knight Rider’s performance however was Shahrukh Khan’s hyper-animated cheering (with Arjun Rampal in lockstep) that, at least to me, looked a bit too forced and rehearsed —once again when will this otherwise talented man learn to tone his hamming down?
For Bangalore Royal Challengers, it was a day that needed more than a few Kingfishers to forget. Unfortunate enough to not have available two of their best selections—Misbah and Bracken, the Royal Challengers were mighty challenged from the get-go —anytime you have an opening pair of Dravid and Jaffer, considered too pedestrian for Test matches, opening a Twenty20 game against an asking rate of 11 and a graying Sunil Joshi patrolling the deep with a dolorous expression that says “Give me the cheque already. I am too old for this shit”, you are in deep trouble.
The fun however is just beginning.
As Shankar Mahadevan sang in the opening act: ” Paisa phenk. Tamasha dekh.”