April 20, 2010


The Dalai Lama, the Chennai slammer

Andrew Hughes

The Dalai Lama extracts a promise of non-violence from MS Dhoni, which the Chennai captain soon broke © Indian Premier League

It is election time in the UK, and as you might expect, carbon dioxide emissions are reaching dangerous levels. In an effort to avoid the hot air, I remained indoors on Sunday and sought sanctuary with the IPL. But election madness has even affected the land of Modi, because I learned that polls have just opened in an even more significant vote: the election of the best IPL commentator 2010.

Campaigning has already begun. Ahead of Sunday’s game, several of the candidates headed for the hills for a bit of a walk. Naturally, it wasn’t enough for them to take a stroll; like many tourists, they had to bore us all with it afterwards. It felt like an audio retelling of that 1995 Hugh Grant film, The Men Who Went Up A Mountain And Wouldn’t Stop Going On About It.

By the close of play, we knew the exact composition of the walking party, how steep the mountain was (fairly steep), what effect it had on Michael Kasprowicz’s meniscus cartilage (a slight tear), how near they got to snow (quite near), and so on. Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and Harsha Bhogle had opted to stay in their hotel, leaving them bereft of hilly anecdotes but comfortably to the fore in a swiftly conducted opinion poll in the Hughes living room.

But mountains were not the only feature of the action from Dharamsala. A religious leader was in the house. Who was it, Danny? The Dalai. Lama! That’s right. On a day that I’m sure Tibet’s spiritual leader will long remember, he shook hands with Yuvraj Singh, came face to face with the Morrison, and sat in the stands wearing a vaguely amused expression as a certain Bollywood star explained to him the rules of our peculiar game.

This coming together of celebrity and guru has led some to speculate that we could be about to see the first ever IPL-franchised offshoot of a major world religion. Zinta Buddhism has a simple doctrine, based on the four noble truths:

1. Losing in the semi-finals is suffering. 2. This suffering is caused by qualifying for the semi-finals. 3. The way to cessation of this suffering is not qualifying for the semi-finals. 4. Not qualifying for the semi-finals can be achieved by following the Eightfold Path of the Kings XI.

The Eightfold Path is as follows:

1. Employ Sreesanth. 2. Put all your bowling hopes on an ageing Aussie with a dodgy elbow. 3. Don’t pick your talented West Indian opener. 4. Field badly on the ground. 5. Field badly in the air. 6. Make random bowling changes. 7. Pick your team out of a hat. 8. Ensure that your best batsman is feeling particularly peeved.

The Dalai Lama left after just nine overs (no patience, these Buddhists). Or possibly he had one or two other things to deal with. At any rate, he missed a classic of its kind that had just about everything. There was curly, drifty, tantalising spin bowling from Powar and Ashwin, and there was some genuinely nasty fast bowling from Doug the Rug, who smacked Shaun Marsh in the chest, bruised him on the hip and then had him hopping around in the crease with a brute of a yorker. Do they not get on?

There was also some shocking fielding, but it seems churlish to witter on about the occasional outbreak of butterfingers. Instead, I want to mention Tyagi’s memorable catch. Watching him organise his collection of limbs into a spearing upwards effort was fascinating, like witnessing a crane rising slowly upwards from a river bank to catch a dragonfly. If cranes do that sort of thing.

But above all, there was Dhoni. As the tension increased, the music was cranked up louder, Siva gripped his microphone more tightly, and Sangakkara started to take 20 minutes to arrange his field, the Chennai captain discovered his inner Dhoni. For a long time we were watching the 2010 version: patient, calm in a crisis, hustling singles, apparently wearing the burden of captaincy easily.

But in the last two overs, we got a glimpse of Dhoni 2005 as he exhibited a range of astonishing shots that had the crowd twisting their necks to follow the ball into the darkness, threatened to dislodge snow from the mountains, induced a look on the face of Priety Zinta that could curdle milk and launched the Super Kings into the semi-finals. Badhai ho, Chennai.


Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by scrat9009 on (April 28, 2010, 16:33 GMT)

Hey Andrew

your good sport, no two words of that .....keep up the spirit,

cheers mate

Posted by Thirukadavur Shivaraju on (April 24, 2010, 5:14 GMT)

Guys.......We need Sreesanth to be part of the league or it will be like, Tinkle without Suppandi.

Posted by Archana Suresh on (April 23, 2010, 9:04 GMT)

Awesome article.... Enjoyed it thoroughly... LOL


Posted by Mohan. K on (April 23, 2010, 8:21 GMT)

Way to go Andrew!! I commented, not so generously, on the article on DADA. But i can assure u, nobody else can put sarcasm and satire to such gud use(except maybe Andy)!! Good to know ur back to ur high standards of writing!! Awesum article, had me laughing in office(eliciting quite a few stares from my colleagues)!! Keep going Andrew!! U rock!!

Posted by Mayooran on (April 22, 2010, 21:10 GMT)


Posted by KK on (April 22, 2010, 13:23 GMT)

Hi Hughes Excellent article and the Eight doctrines made our roof to come down (hahahahahaha) Will V C MSD of 2005 in West Indies? KK

Posted by raghu on (April 22, 2010, 4:53 GMT)

i bet half of these people who are appreciating your work this time around were the same people who bashed u when you wrote about the generosity of chennai when they lost to kolkata..............but truly an amazing article as always............you are the best mr. hughes.

Posted by Andrew Hughes on (April 21, 2010, 14:54 GMT)

As ever, thank you all who took the time to comment and your kind words were much appreciated. I am used to more abuse than this so don't quite know how to respond, but there were a couple of things I wanted to say.

Scrat9009, it would be entirely inappopriate for me to criticise or comment on religion, which is why I did not do so.

akheel, I can't deny that I am drifting towards the Kings XI and if I were to actually support a team in the IPL, it would probably be the men in red, white and silver. Everybody loves an underdog.

alex, the cheque's in the post, now tell me, will I win the lottery this weekend?

Posted by Christy on (April 21, 2010, 10:37 GMT)

Andrew, we hear Sreesanth is headed towards Kochi -poor them, as if playing IPL as the 10th team is not enough in itself, they have to play it with the stand-up comedian in their ranks. they better recruit the Dalai Lama as their Mentor or whatever !

Posted by Sujee on (April 21, 2010, 9:49 GMT)

@RC: well I heard him speak after the match and I thought that it was very humble of him to say what he said.. I am sorry if you do not agree :-)

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Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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