I was destined to watch the crucial group B India – Sri Lanka cricket match in the crucial group encounter along with Rajan Gupta in a restaurant. He was tensed. He as the marketing head of his multi-product consumer durable company did not foresee this situation where India could well be knocked out of WC at the group stage itself. “We are stuck,” is all that he would say as he lit another cigarette. “Our exposure is nearly Rs 150 crores in advertising in the later stages of the tournament alone. And should team India exit early, my bosses would be livid with my decision of putting all eggs in one basket,” he said as I consoled him between the fall of another Indian wicket. “My career, my promotion and my future all are going in smoke,” he said, blowing yet another cigarette. We ordered for our dinner.

“The failure of team India is akin to the failure of the UPA Government,” I said in a desperate attempt to divert attention of an inconsolable young man. Strangely it seemed to work. “Yeah,” he said appreciatively. “Narada, like Dravid, the PM is a nice man, but unable to assert himself.” I nodded approvingly. That seemed to give him the necessary stimulus. “Greg Chappell is like Sonia Gandhi, a thoroughbred professional, yet unable to understand the nuances and complications of the Indian mind. Consequently, their communication prowess is suspect in the Indian context.” By this time Rajan pulled a paper from his pocket. It seemed that he had long before compared the key players of the UPA Government with Team India. “Like Shivraj Patil, Sachin’s days are over. Pranab Mukherjee like Saurav is still India’s best bet - man for all seasons. P Chidambaram is like Anil Kumble, well past his sell by date and like Anil must seek retirement. Today, if you look at it seriously, it is RBI like Harbajhan Singh, Anil’s junior, is more active in policy intervention than PC himself.”

By this time he has me splits. Seeing me thus, others in the restaurant too joined the party. “How do you compare somebody like Sreesanth?” I posed. “Narada, I compare a player with a Minister from that State. For Sreesanth it should be A K Anthony. Right? Like Anthony, he has lots of potential but yet to play to his promise.” Rajan said. “Laloo?” I interjected as he finished. “Dhoni” was the prompt reply. I chuckled. By this time more people joined us sensing that we were upto something really naughty. “Why” I enquired. “Like Laloo, Dhoni is a success in Indian conditions. But when it came to foreign conditions, like Dhoni, Laloo is a failure,” he said. By this time we had lost count of the Indian wickets that fell rather rapidly. Everyone was watching only us and our antics. “Shehwag?” somebody from the crowd enquired. Montek Singh, I replied pronto. “Correct” said Rajan. “Lots depended on him and he has been performing below par,” Rajan said as he explained the rationale and his logic to the crowd that gathered at our table. “Finally, Sharad Pawar?” I enquired. “Agarkar – no one knows why is in the team in the first place,” someone answered from the crowd. Everyone laughed heartily forgetting that by that time it was curtains for the Indian team. The loss took a back seat. We had by then finished our dinner and it was time to go. “What’s the plan now?” I enquired Rajan hoping that he would drop me at my residence at that unearthly hour. “They need fresh blood,” he said. “You meant the Indian Team?” I enquired. “No I meant the UPA Government.” he quipped as we moved out of the restaurant. Suddenly I stopped and asked Rajan playfully “Who compares with the bookies in your list?” “There is an exception to the rule here Narada. Though I do not believe that bookies had a role in the poor performance of team India, Communists would be bookies. The poor performance of every player in the government is directly attributed to their indulgence,” he said without batting an eyelid and drove off. In the summer heat, I froze.

Last modified on Sunday, 07 July 2013 07:36

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