IPL April 3, 2010

The Punjab horror show

Even Hitchcock couldn't have inflicted such psychological torment on his audience as the Kings XI did in their match against Bangalore

This can't be scripted, can it? © Indian Premier League
The Hugheses have long been cursed with sensitive stomachs but until Friday, I had assumed that only horror films or surgical documentaries could cause me to reach for the remote control or shield my eyes with a copy of Lily Livered Pansies Monthly. But I now must add a third genre of broadcasting to the list. Henceforth I shall be avoiding any game of cricket involving the Kings XI Punjab and have emailed His Modiness suggesting that he classify all such fixtures as 18 certificates.

It was all the more disturbing because most of the horror was packed into the last quarter of the game. Up until then, I had thought I was watching an entirely different production; a sentimental straight to DVD American movie about a bunch of misfit but likeable kids on a sports team that has never won a game, who finally discover that if they just believe in themselves, they can do it.

It all seemed to be going so well. The bookish boy who had reluctantly accepted the captaincy was threading elegant boundaries in all directions. There was the streetwise youngster Ravi, fighting back with a gutsy little innings. Later came clean-cut Brett, quirky but loveable Sreesanth and brave little Yuvi facing up to the big South African bully who had called him such horrible pie-related names. It was heart-warming stuff.

Then without warning, not even any sinister background music, the dropped catches began. To be strictly accurate, Sreesanth didn’t really drop his chance, since he didn’t at any point have hold of it. Dominic Cork, a new, strident recruit to the ranks of pontificators with microphones deemed it a schoolboy error. Those of us who can remember standing out in the long grass, experiencing that familiar feeling of rising terror as the ball soared inexorably towards us, felt instant affinity with Sreesanth.

The dropped catches continued to rain to earth. Bopara went down on both knees to spill his. Sangakkara, pursuing a high one clutched desperately at it, once, twice, bounced it off his left thigh, got another finger on it, then watched helpless as gravity dashed it from his reach and his left foot involuntarily booted it for four. Slips, slides, wides and mistimed dives diminished Bangalore’s target as Punjab spent their advantage with the recklessness of a millionaire frittering away his fortune.

And all the time, nasty Kevin Pietersen, he of the sinister stubble and evil grin, remained at large. He was joined, when Punjab finally contrived to take a catch, by Robin Uthappa and his newly inflated muscles. Robin has apparently been hitting the gym of late and this has given him new superhuman power. When he hit poor Lee’s best yorkers into the middle of next week, the game was up and the plot had taken a cruel and frankly unnecessary twist.

Even horror films and surgery shows have reasonably happy conclusions, with monsters slain and gaping wounds sewn up neatly. But there was no uplifting conclusion at the end of Friday’s carnage. Sangakkara did a passable impression in the last four overs of one of those minor characters in a Shakespeare bloodfest, wandering about the stage in bewildered fashion as the bodies pile up all around. Even Alfred Hitchcock might have baulked at inflicting such a level of psychological torment on his audience.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on April 14, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    sanga cant do anything without help of other team, they r not playing as a team, specially UV.UV has divided the punjab team into pieces due loose his captaincy..Without help other team mates sanga cant do anything special...

  • testli5504537 on April 8, 2010, 12:24 GMT

    So what if King's XI are on a losing streak, I still support them. Can't change loyalties just because they don't win. I am sure with continued support from diehard fans like me, they will bounce back - next year hopefully,

  • testli5504537 on April 7, 2010, 2:32 GMT

    i think KXIP is still a pretty good......they have so mny players with class...... oh please everyone can't be da first i da class rit..........

  • testli5504537 on April 7, 2010, 2:00 GMT

    Its absolutely a horror show by kxip,all the matches losed by them are close.if they bat well fail on bowling and viceversa.a good sign that they are coming strongly into the field but its to late

  • testli5504537 on April 6, 2010, 8:56 GMT

    Just read your piece. Funny along the lines of PGW. Instead of a whimsical book about village cricket, you might try writing about a modern day Bertie Wooster and Jeeves perhaps! As for the cricket and the state of the Punjab Kings X1, you captured my feelings exactly, as I watched the horror show. Regards

  • testli5504537 on April 5, 2010, 12:28 GMT

    I must agree with the first comment - your articles ARE getting less funny (still good though)

  • testli5504537 on April 5, 2010, 11:53 GMT

    KKR should try Mashrafee.KKR bowling line is not good enough.

  • testli5504537 on April 4, 2010, 20:57 GMT

    Ipl's been awesome. @Cricketer84 i agree that some of the commentating has been childish but disagree about the cricket standards which have been excellent (catching apart). The sad thing is the inferiority complex many cricket fans suffer from-unlike soccer fans.This self fulfilling prophecy is the biggest threat to the IPL (fickle,complaining cricket fans). For the first time cricket is glamourous-yes test cricket is the ultimate but youngsters dont watch it.Seems like "traditional" cricket fans would rather people not watch the IPL and tune in to soccer,etc. Instead of continuously disparaging cricket (IPL) why not either concentrate on the contest which always has focal points of interest or just switch off altogether.I dont ever hear soccer fans complain about their sport-not when they have a winning bet like the IPL is.

  • testli5504537 on April 4, 2010, 14:51 GMT

    notice not only to his highness Modiness but also to His Excellency Moodinesss, latter having spread Moodiness across the team

  • testli5504537 on April 4, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    Well then, Punjab shut you up tonight.

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