Here, dedicated to Dwayne Bravo’s stunning last ball six are six thoughts on the absurd, ridiculous theater that is the Chennai Super Kings :
a) Spare a thought for Sunil Narine who dominated an instance of cricket’s unfairest format in a manner that seemed unfair and impossible. Not since Mohammed Azharuddin has a cricketer had this sort of a love affair with Calcutta. Every one of his twenty four deliveries were treated with the sort of respect and deference reserved for senior citizens and dictators. The defending champions may have won the game quicker if they had chosen to chase the target in 16 overs giving the home team a golf-like handicap of Sunil Narine’s four overs for zero runs. Many times in his life, Sunil Narine will bowl a lot worse and be on the winning team. Rarely will he evoke the sort of awe and demonstrate the kind of superhuman control he did this Monday night. It was a spell worthy of the venue and unworthy of the result.
b) Spare a thought for Rajat Bhatia who did all that was asked off him. A couple of inches lower or a fraction of a second slower on the last delivery and he may have been the toast of the town. With the national bowling cupboard bare, he may even have cemented a place in the World T-20 squad as the default bowler at the death. Instead he will be the Chetan Sharma to Dwayne Bravo’s Javed Miandad. He will go on to take a hat-trick and score a hundred but will always be remembered as the guy who let the Chennai Super Kings out of jail that one night in Kolkata.
c) Spare a thought for Shah Rukh Khan. His enormous wealth and fan following have yielded him exactly zero playoff wins in four years. An all-star staff, a moneyball inspired CEO, a cavalcade of diverse talents has made his bunch one of the favorites for this year’s competition. Yet, time after time, his Knight Riders have proven that they are as adept at sealing the deal as he was in his famous Baazigar and Darr roles. He is a billionaire with no real ties to the sport or to the city. Blowing kisses at the camera have never felt harder on the heart. If the Knight Riders choke one more time and fail to win a playoff game for the fifth season in a row, Mr Khan may just sell his prized asset. Owning a sports team is fun and exciting until they lose games. Dwayne Bravo’s six may have just triggered the Shah Rukh sale.
d) Spare a thought for Dwayne Bravo. With five needed off two, he lost control of his bat. The bat went further than the ball and he retained his position at the crease by the thinnest of margins. To undo the mental effects of that just 45 seconds later to unleash the only possible stroke that would win the game for his team is beyond ballsy. It is the sort of spirit that few possess and all seek. It is the kind of spirit that pokes fun at the gods of probability and makes fools out of a million adoring fans. The ashes of the two-time defending champions were just about doused for good when Mr. Bravo played the shot that will be heard around Chennai for a long time to come.
e) Spare a though for MS Dhoni. Surely he was Mr. Rube Goldberg in his prior birth. The wins are never easy, the strokes are never smooth and this generation’s most successful captain takes his fans to a special place every game. It’s a place where the severely constipated party with the ones that are insanely calm. It is a place where expressions are tight, gesticulations are banned and nirvana is achieved one bitten nail at a time.
f) Finally, spare a thought for the city of Chennai. 20 overs cricket run by corporate megaliths should not mean this much. But to the cricket-crazy people of Chennai, it does. And for them to be taken thru a Disneyland ride of emotions the last four weeks borders on the mean and cruel. I know that most fan bases would gladly swap their records for Chennai’s. I understand that. But to be asked to celebrate this many last ball wins and mourn last over losses borders is surely the handiwork of a bipolar god.
Thursday at Dharamsala promises to be another ride thru the grinder.
Until then, Whistle Podu!