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I suspect, if she’s being honest with herself, Katy Perry only has the vaguest idea what all that was about. But still, a gig’s a gig, and she fulfilled her contractual obligations admirably, as did MS Dhoni and chums, who were required to stand on stage in their best canary yellow outfits, like self-conscious children at a family gathering, with Priyanka Chopra in the role of the embarrassing aunt. At least they didn’t have to sing.
Game one of 76 wasn’t lacking in showbiz either. Mumbai are as glamorous as sweaty men in polyester can get and took to the field sporting the kind of costumes you usually see worn by circus trapeze artists, complete with fetching gold café lame flashes. And in the commentary booth, we welcomed back the unique vocal stylings of Mr Daniel Morrison, with his trademark mix of 1980s New Zealand street slang and random. Pauses.
Early on in proceedings, he gave us all food for thought by reminding us of that old adage, “a fast game is a good game”, although he did then have to clarify that it wasn’t that old, and since we’d never heard of it before, it didn’t really qualify as an adage either. In any case, today’s game was neither fast nor good. At one point Chennai went 28 balls without scoring a boundary, which quite frankly is heresy in the church of Twenty20.
M Vijay was the main culprit. He looked like a child with stage fright who had been ushered onto stage and told to do a few impressions. Sadly the only impression he could manage was that of a nervous mouse at an owl convention. He poked and prodded as though trying not to alert anyone to his presence, before chipping a straight slow one to Harbhajan, who, as is his wont, roared to the skies.
Chennai eventually stuttered to one hundred and not very many, and then Mumbai reached their target with all the urgency of a builder who knows he’s being paid by the hour, though their reply did include a sublime Tendulkar six. At full stretch, to a Morkel outswinger, he still managed to send it sighing on its way over extra cover with a modest swing of the blade. And then he shook his head because he hadn’t been quite to the pitch of the ball.
At the other end was new boy Richard Levi, who, like most of the new generation of South African cricketers, is around eight feet tall with arms like tree trunks. What do they feed them on? If Rocky IV had been a cricket movie, this is how Dolph Lundgren would have played. Levi is a towering force of biffery, an elaborate steam-powered Edwardian thwacking machine. At the moment, he only has the one shot but it’s a good one.
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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. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73