The Show Gets On The Road

49 Comments

Watching Extraa Innings without Mandira Bedi’s comforting presence and sharp cricketing knowledge is akin to experiencing spring without the koel bird, or more accurately a nuclear holocaust without radiation burns. Which is why when I saw Sameer Kochchar, the star of new-age movies like Bold and the international sleeper hit Ek Se Mera Kya Hoga (reportedly Shane Warne’s favorite flick), I felt a tightening of my neck muscles. Perceiving Navjyot Sidhu, the Adolf Eichmann of the English language, sitting next to him did nothing to lessen my sense of dread till presently my eyes alighted on the third person in the room, Arun Lal. He was looking serene and peaceful, almost like I imagined Lord Buddha, verily a teardrop on the cheek of time, dispensing zen-like knowledge as is his wont. It was then, especially when Sidhu and Arun Lal started getting into banter about pulling down trousers, that I could relax on my sofa. All waz well.

Things became better once their on-field expert Ravi the Chappatti shot took over. Ravi was looking like a vampire who had been in the coffin for too long, steaming his face. More curiously there was something about his hair—as if he was growing a crop of BT brinjal saplings on his scalp which later on I realized was part of IPL’s going green campaign. He set the ball rolling by reminding us of IPL commentary’s Rule no 1—the Hyperbole (not to be confused with Rajasthan Royal’s Halla Bol) Policy which consists of  using sentences like “There is electricity in the air” and “The crowd is going wild” and “This is immense”  every five sentences. He also invoked Rule no 2 which is to introduce Modi with adjectives like Supremo, Fuhrer, God Of All Things, Mahabali and to stress that the great man had been working “overtime”. Not that we ever doubt that.

The official part of the show got presently underway. Lalit Modi got hold of the mic and refused to let go of it, blabbering on like a corporation councillor at a junior school prize distribution function. Perhaps because he was working overtime, he did mix up IPL 3 with IPL 2 and just when I thought I should shift to watching the infinitely-more-entertaining movie Dalal on Zee, the speech ended. IPL then had the ceremonial signing of the “We wont be naughty boys” document and then the Green initiative was announced, if only to stress that IPL is driven by a love of the green. Cold hard cash that is.

There are many things the IPL can be accused of—-of bastardizing the game, of tearing apart world cricket, of bringing even more money into the sport. But one thing it has always been innocent of has been good taste. The opening ceremony was no different. It started off with a rendition of “I cant help falling in love with you” the “you” obviously being money with a bunch of backup dancers lamely cavorting around. On a careful dekkho, I thought I saw some of KKR’s bench players there—-I definitely thought I got a glimpse of Mortaza in a shiny white blouse slowly moving his hips. This was followed by a bunch of people in lighted Ku Klux Klan uniforms and some shadowy figures playing the drum inside a mosquito net.

Then came the mandatory Bollywood star. I was expecting Katrina Kaif since she typically has a no-bid contract over such events. But no this time it was Deepika who came out with a “Mumbai do you want More?” Good thing the crowd didnt respond otherwise I am sure Kiran More would have come out in disco tights. That perhaps would not have been such a bad thing since Deepika looked bored and disinterested, having the same expression that Sunil Joshi had in IPL season 1. Of course that was enough to electrify Arun Lal because later when Kochchar asked the panel “Any performance that stood out?” the Lal said “Deepika”, almost as worked up as he was in the finest hour of his career—-when he became Richard Hadlee’s 374th wicket.

The climactic act came from Lionel Ritchie, whose last hit was around the time Arun Lal opened for India. Since I could not make out what he was singing I suspected it was actually Tauseef Ahmed, the Ritchie-lookalike Pakistani spinner, who was on the stage, because the powers-that-be at IPL had decided to conserve some green. Their own.

Now with the fluff and hoopla finished, the time had come to get to the business end of the tournament, the real thing that we were all there for.

Namely the advertisements.

In some great innovations that could only have been conceived of by the Dark Lord Sauron, there were ads on giant screens in the stadium on which the camera would remain focused on between balls. Periodically the camera would pan up to a gigantic phallic-shape blimp in the sky with a sponsor’s name on it. Sometimes it would swing on to the Uber Supremo sitting right next to, what in scientific jargon is referred to as, item log. And for the few seconds that the IPL hadnt yet found a sponsor for, it would concentrate on the cricket match in the middle.

KKR started off exactly the way we expect it to. Manoj Tiwari, who bats worse than the Bhojpuri singer by the same name, was dismissed off the first ball he faced. Ganguly lasted two more balls. Pujara and Hodge flattered to deceive. Just when we could see IPL 2.0 all over again, Kolkata discovered the person who has the potential to be this season’s Shane Watson—an angel by the name of Angelo Matthews. Together with Owais Shah, he played professionally and strategically and took Kolkata to a score which was still 10-20 runs short of what the pitch demanded but still very competitive. KKR started off bowling exactly like they did batting, dropping chance upon chance, jumping over balls, hitting the umpire with the throw but then after a strategic time-out they radically upped their game doing something I have yet to see KKR do well—-that is bowl a very restrictive line. Things were so good that even Ishant Sharma didnt get carted for 20 runs in the end.

The highlight of the match to me was the way Symonds was dismissed. If anyone had been following his recent games in the Australian T20 series, they would see Roy has been increasingly getting out to the pull wherein he mistimes the shot and the ball rockets up. Today he was continuously fed short balls directed to his chest and he fell under this continuous barrage at his weak spot without causing much damage. As an aside, KKR would do well not to drop Angelo and Langeveldt when the big names—Gayle, McCullum, Hussey become available because these two are very good at-death bowlers. And they should get Vignesh, ICL’s stand-out performer, into the side as soon as possible in place of Manoj Tiwari.

But somehow KKR’s vastly improved performance didnt make any sense to me. I mean what could have happened to make these wimps into lean mean fighting machines? Surely it couldnt be Wasim Akram. Finally I had the answer when during one of the crowd shots, my eyes fell on a lady in a KKR uniform sitting in the VIP enclosure, a lady who looked Kate Winslett. And when the match finished, Dada went over and gave her a hug.

Relief. At last the KKR had got it, the fundamental lesson from Royals and Punjab. Hugs from SRK may work for some but not for all. Of course it was a bit unfair that only Dada got a hug but then again as a captain he does represent the team. Even when he makes a zero.

And so the tournament looks interestingly set-up. Will Arun Lal get excited again? Will Sidhu plumb new depths? Will Ravi Chapatti’s head see a Green Revolution? Will we get to see Ajit Agarkar? Will a gigantic Jackie Shroff shaped blimp advertising Musli power make an appearance? Will we find out the name of Winslett-look-alike? What other devious advertising schemes shall be conjured up by the magicians at the IPL? And when will Rameez Raja join the commentary team, thus completing Arun Lal?

Keep watching.

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49 thoughts on “The Show Gets On The Road

  1. Good stuff Arnab Da. I enjoyed your tweets even more during the opening ceremony. Compensated for being stuck in office at that time.
    FYI – Winslet has only T in her name, unless it is some joke that you are playing and I am not getting it

  2. “Then came the mandatory Bollywood star.” Sometimes it seems that we Indians are left with Bollywood culture only… cheap idea to pull the crowd. Unfortunate, that we can’t think beyond that!

  3. “Then came the mandatory Bollywood star.” Sometimes it seems that we Indians are left with Bollywood culture only… cheap idea to pull the crowd. Unfortunate, that we can’t think beyond that!

    Thank you for such an wonderful post!

  4. Awesome post….it seems yr creativity is getting “enlarged” exponentially after coming to India…

    When Ganguly got out…he looked like a schools kid..who is crying after being bullied…m sure he would have gone to some Baba Bengali Tantrik to magic potion

    Also, the chick looked more like Carmen Electra…then Kate Winslet…being an analyst by profession, i take it as a challenge to do her due diligence and share on this blog….

    Till then…you can check out the old hen … http://www.kkr.in/message-juhi.aspx

  5. Hello there…

    Don’t you say anything about the ‘Lal’ of India. He called it right when he said that KKR will win and they did. This when everyone including you predicted IPL 2 encore for KKR. Ha!

    When Sameer Kochhar complimented him on getting it right in extraaaaaaa….. innings he did not let his emotions run wild like Dada but accepted it with humility as if it was just another day in office.

  6. Whenever Ipl starts it is like a 30 day ongoing birthday party for you with every other day you being gifted a huge punching bag , isn’t it?
    Nice post on IPL as usual, but for me the best of all remains your inaugural post on IPL2. Hope you can beat that in future despite all the engagements.

  7. one of the best piece you have written. Keep’em comin!! Wonder where is FakeIPLplayer….would love to see him rip all apart!

  8. wonderful post GB! laugh out loud funny. dude did you know Arun Lal appears in the Mile Sur Mera Tumhara video? yes he does! getting out of the Kolkata metro.

  9. was following you on twitter yesterday. it was amazing. waiting for the live commentary from the stadium. Hope Arun lal spots u in the audience and brings u in the commentary box…!!!

  10. Hey! did u notice the JNNURM buses yet!

    And if someone can the routes these buses ply and their frequency..would be very helpful!! could not find that on net.

  11. The difference between McCullum and Dada’s captaincy is that, last year Ishant was bowling the 19th over and he got clubbed all over the ground. But this time Dada did the right thing. He gave the ball to the best bowler in the 19th over so that in the last over Ishant will not have any pressure

  12. Great post….. welcome back greatbong, seems you are back in your element.
    Can’t follow the greed circus called IPL & the advertisements between which we get to watch a few seconds of cricket…..let’s hope there is more idiocracy coming our way in this season.

  13. Gentlemen,

    I believe this is the Kate Winslet lookalike being mentioned :

    Her name is Colleen Venning. She is the “Director of Operations” of KKR. Appears to be South African from her accent.

  14. LMAO…amazing post! actually I too noticed and was horrified at Ravi Chapatti’s shiny scalp and the few locks of hair that he has, gelled with coconut oil. I initially thought that it was an infection of fungus, but now that you have cleared my doubt, I know it is BT Brinjal saplings..hehehe! Loved your take on Arun Lal, Sidhu, Modi and others…request you bring the spot light on sidhu’s verbal diarrhea…he was saying the other day, in one of the news channels, “IPL is like Alladin’s Lamp..You don’t know what will come out of it!”

  15. Hi Arnab,

    Well, I am definitely happy that Mandira is not there with her diaphanous saris and embarrassing comments. I gave IPL opening a miss and have only been watching the matches in bits and pieces. The late timings and kids’ exams clashes don’t help much. I think the Hockey World Cup was much more exciting. Your post was quite nice, btw.

  16. Superb comparison of Arun Lal’s electrified panel discussion with his ‘finest hour in cricket’! hehe…
    KKR has got a ‘Director of Operations’?? A South-African, Kate Winslet look-alike? This clearly proves that BCCI or for that matter, the Hockey federation, has not learnt from 2 editions of IPL. How come they haven’t spotted that ‘secret for victory’ that you have discovered by just watching 2 or 3 IPL teams? If you get a chance to walk into a BCCI board meeting, do tell them the benefits of having Bollywood heroines or Hollywood heroine look-alike around the team. Bring them on, this World Cup is going to be ours! 🙂

  17. GB, atleast you will get to hear some Siddhuisms, while we are suffering Mandira Bedi in the UK… she is giving expert commentary with some goras with Indian lineages, live on ITV channel.

  18. I had the same reaction after seeing that babe. She’s amazing. I’d play out of my skin t get a hug from her, so I presume most other players (actual cricket players, not the other kind) would as well. Some theories I had:

    1) Physio – rubbing players up the right way!
    2) WAG – in which case we can soon expect a scandal
    3) Dav’s daughter – who obviously looks like the mother

    But I see I was mistaken. But what a delightfully vague designation Director of Operations is! I love it. Could mean anything! ;))

  19. Good going GB. Thoroughly enjoyed this post and the last one. The vintage GB humor and your signature one liners were awesome.

    Just a query after today’s match though… Would you still consider dropping Manoj Tiwari ?


  20. Of course that was enough to electrify Arun Lal because later when Kochchar asked the panel “Any performance that stood out?” the Lal said “Deepika”, almost as worked up as he was in the finest hour of his career—-when he became Richard Hadlee’s 374th wicket.

    lol…GB is back!

  21. The best part about the entire thing is that Sidhu is back, and with a bang! He is getting more and more excited by the day, the other day before KKR’s match he was shouting “mishti doi! mishti doi!” like a mad man who has been bitten on his backside by a dog, even when the cameras had moved into the advertisements, I thought I heard him shouting!

  22. #1 what could have happened to make these wimps into lean mean fighting machines?
    #2 Will a gigantic Jackie Shroff shaped blimp advertising Musli power make an appearance?

    Awesome Sir!!!

  23. Ditto on the firangan. My only thought after KKR’s win was who is this firangan? And she was nowhere to be seen in the second match. My observation says that Sharukh Khan and the firnagan are mutually exclusive events. Khan was not to be seen in the first match & she was not to be seen in the second.

  24. hey have been randomly reading ur posts, slow reader ur book is kick ass and its Gita to the cohort that prefers to be awake, awesome take on things and hopefully gets a radical change in the generation something tat satellite tv brought 19 years ago.. people are bound to abide by the popular opinion and stick to such monotonic perspective of things, can relate this disconnect to the one bollywood had from 90s to early naughties, society moved ahead but movies dint keep up the pace and hence many precious years wasted… coming back to this specific post, could relate two of ur earlier posts to the current one, something that goes like a commentator who acts like a dj with all his hyperbole & second the more recent one which makes a mention of the muscle power of India & the best example used is some rookie phirang fast bowler, keeping ashish nehra as his idol… summed it up mate…
    & infact the long developed grudge & the affiliated helplessness was coming out in form of steam when i was browsing thru some of the articles in the book, but I guess out there you were a little restricted, though I dint finish reading it completely… very rightly mr bong its apposite if a title on lines of ‘Blog-Father’ is bestowed upon you and you keep coming up with blogs we cant resist to read… Hail Bong!

  25. @Arvind:

    Please let me introduce you to two good friends of writing – Periods, and Capital Letters. Get to know them. They will serve you well.

  26. @Shan(e)
    done on purpose(may be felt like kafka while doing so)..help yourself if u want to get the message, you wont be missing much & even if you do ignorance is bliss anyways..

  27. Pingback: A genius account of mediocrity | Cricket | Vasudev Kutumbakam

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