Driving in from Netaji Subhash airport to South Calcutta, in between posters of Konkona advertising real-estate, my eyes were assailed by gigantic cut-outs of the great King Khan, wearing KKR’s new purple jersey (tough luck to all the suckers who spent moolah buying their black jerseys), cut out of the same lingerie cloth as their old uniform but with a kinkier color, having the suitably pithy slogan “Luck De” (which I initially read as “Lick De”). Suitably seduced, I leaned back, closed my eyes and thought to myself—-Oh to be in India now that IPL is here. Front page of newspapers replaced by a gigantic advertisement for the tournament. IPL countdown clocks on every channel.The stench of money, greed and cheap thrills.
So who will win the IPL? Its futile speculating and frankly I am not interested. Okay if you really want me to stick my head out, it should be Delhi Daredevils because very simply put, they have an overwhelmingly strong team, so strong that in the interests of fairness the fight should be stopped before it begins. Sehwag, Gambhir, Dilshan, Warner, De Villiers are five of the world’s best devastators and they are ALL in one team and could potentially play together. But then again, who really cares as to who wins except those who place the bets and those who carry home the prize money?
I personally only care for one thing. And that is entertainment. What kind of entertainment? Let me explain.
Now when I saw this (picture taken by Suhel) I think I understood the ostensible theme of the ad—badass men with charger-like horns you dont mess with, even if one them bowls at 125 Kmph nowadays. But what truly entertained me was the subtext—-I am “horny”. Yes. And while the horny angle is lost on Andrew Symonds, about whom those beautiful lines were penned in Dilli 6 “Humare pyar mein yeh bandar baan baithe”, who looks as usual angry and drunk, it is RP the Role Player with the bedroom eyes and the whole “My bowling is like my love-making style—slow, gentle and very compassionate” thing he has got going which makes me all weak in the knees. This is why I give Chargers my thumbs-up and I will definitely be behind them through the season.
The team I am most disappointed in is the Bangalore Royal Challengers. In 2008, they regaled us with bald-pate-glistening I-have-no-clue-about-cricket-but-watch-my-lips-move Charu Sharma as the CEO, T20 superstar Wasim Jaffer galloping like a snail, old age home escapee Sunil Joshi out for a walk in the park and a red-faced maniacal owner. Since then, they have radically firmed up their act and look a very strong and balanced cricketing side with Manish Pandey, Virat Kohli and Morgan forming a crux of next-gen stars backed up by the experience of a Dravid, Kumble, Kallis, Boucher and by mid-career players like White, Taylor and Steyn at the top of their games. Which means there will be no room for Wasim Jaffer’s pyrotechnics or of the King of Good Times blowing his top.
My favorite team of course, purely on the basis of the entertainment they provide, will remain the KKR. And I will be at the Eden come Sunday to support them against the Bangalore Royal Challengers. I will raise the slogan of “Amar lokkhi roton chele” (My darling gem of a boy) in the tremulous voice of a thakuma (grandmother) as Laxmi Ratan comes in to bowl. I shall roll my tongue around “Jol-e chul taja, tel-e chun taja, bench-e Mor Taja” (sorry no translation for non-Bong readers) as I try to spy with my right eye the world’s most highly paid benchwarmer. I shall shout till I go hoarse if (I hear he is injured) UnLucky Chikna Agarkar, his ears flopping in the breeze, comes in to bowl like a Santa Claus bearing gifts for the batsman. I shall snigger at the sight of Ishant Sharma, standing mid-pitch after being struck for a six, with the expression of a man whose pocket has been picked. Twice in one day.
Will all this be worth the Rs 1200 I will shell out for my ticket—-around the same price one would pay, once upton a time, to watch 5 days of Test cricket?
I think you know the answer to that one.