May 28, 2012

Through rivers of sweat we swim

Andrew Hughes
Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni walk off at the end of Chennai's innings, Kolkata Knight Riders v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2012, final, Chennai, May 27, 2012
So hot, Dhoni literally had steam pouring out of his ears  © Associated Press
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So, after all that, we were stuck with Chennai Perishing Super Kings in the final again. And it was being held in Chennai itself, the capital city of yellow. Every shade of yellow t-shirt was represented in the crowd, from dubious mustard through overripe banana to bilious canary, and even the bails were a kind of lemony-amber Super Kings hue.

Inevitably the home team was soon enjoying itself, like it was 2010 all over again. One big shot from Suresh even provoked the scoreboard operator to flash up what has to be a contender for the worst pun in IPL history: “It’s Raina-ing Boundaries.”

As the total hit three digits, Shahrukh Khan removed his sunglasses and rubbed his eyes, in the hope that he was dreaming, or perhaps because the insurance for his shades did not include a clause for perspiration damage.

Yes, besides yellow, sweat was the other popular theme. It was everywhere, dripping from noses, chins and ear lobes, running down the aisles and threatening to drown those sitting in the front row. Brett Lee sweated so much that all the blond ran out of his hair. After a few overs, I was suffering from sympathy perspiration and had to retreat to the kitchen for a damp face towel and a packet of frozen peas.

Eventually Gautam gave Super Narine the ball, but it was beyond one man to stem the yellow onslaught. Offered the challenge of bowling to Raina, Hussey and Dhoni on that pitch, even Hercules would have shrugged and retired from the hero business. Sunil went for 37, and 15 minutes later, with Gautam sitting glumly on the Kolkata bench and 180 odd runs still to get, I decided I’d had enough.

Rather than watching the Knight Riders collapse, I thought I’d catch up on some non-IPL news. I found some live coverage of what looked like vegetable gardening from Trent Bridge, which was a pleasant change of pace. I learned that the euro is in a bit of trouble, that Mark Webber had won a car race, and that I was running low on semi-skimmed milk.

A few minutes later I wandered back into the living room to check on the carnage in Chennai. Kolkata’s total still only had a 1 next to it, and stranger still the 1 was preceded by 100. Shahrukh Khan was leaning on the railings, rocking back and forth, and Gautam, who still hadn’t taken off his pads, was playing furiously with his upper lip.

Four overs to go and Yusuf “The Path” Pathan strode to the crease. Jacques Kallis, who by now was sweating so much he could have powered a small hydro-electric facility, showed him what to do, biffing the ball, and one of the Husseys who had foolishly attempted to intercept it, over the rope for six. A couple like that, Yusuf, and the game would be over.

But Yusuf 2012 doesn’t roll like that. Instead, he gave us another two-ball chameleon cameo: it’s almost as though he isn’t there and then he isn’t.

Into the penultimate over and Kolkata were still faltering. It was at this point that Ben Hilfenhaus for some reason decided it was time to bring out the waist-high full toss. Now, in my playing days (ten of them, unevenly spaced between 1991 and 1999) I did let slip the odd waist-high full toss or six, and I could have told you Ben, that, barring the odd miracle, the usual resting place of the waist-high full toss is in an adjacent field.

Yes, he got Kallis caught on the boundary, but then the next one was a no-ball, the third one was clipped lovingly over short fine leg and 16 needed off seven had become 9 off six.

So, the final over. Dhoni organised some tedious arm-waving conferences, the crowd sweated any remaining moisture out of their bodies, and Gautam and I supplemented our calcium intake with fragments of fingernail. But we need not have worried. Bravo’s slow long hops were even easier to hit than Ben’s full tosses, and Tiwary heaved Kolkata to victory.

Cue a certain amount of jubilation in the Hughes living room, a chorus of dogs outside my window, fireworks in Chennai, and Shahrukh, in addition to offering us an unscheduled glimpse of his right nipple, rattling the railings of the upper tier so vigorously that he was in danger of bringing the MA Chidambaram Stadium down around him. Even now he may still be there, roaring his triumph at the heavens. I don’t blame him.

And just like that, it’s all over. Like astronauts returning to earth, those who’ve been on planet franchise for the last seven weeks may need to lie down in a quiet room for a few days to acclimatise to life after IPL. I hear there is other cricket going on. But it’s not quite the same. See you again next April.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Deepank on (May 30, 2012, 3:25 GMT)

"almost as though he isn’t there and then he isn’t." hehehe...

Posted by Karan on (May 29, 2012, 5:33 GMT)

Deccan Chargers fielding, and the 'little BIG Ambani' running onto the field and engulfing the entire MI team in one lethal bear hug came quite close, but reading 'The View From Row Z' was much better! My sides are aching after laughing so much! Take a bow, but don't perspire while doing that!

Posted by Sagir Parkar on (May 28, 2012, 19:52 GMT)

@Roy >> i wonder if you actually read the article.. if so, you'd have realised the author's joy at Kolkata winning. and this is not a journalist's report in the Times.. it is the writer's blog.. he has every right to express himself in whatsoever humorous way he wishes..

To Andrew >> brilliant piece as usual.. and yes, i watched that bit of gardening at Trent Bridge too... there was more fun in the IPL !

Posted by Ananth on (May 28, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

If its cricket blog. Just stay to cricket. Why did you have to mention about mark webber winning the race. Now no point in watching my recorded show

Posted by Shishir on (May 28, 2012, 13:35 GMT)

Wonderful article with the immortal, subtle, Wodehouseish humour! The heading itself is very good. And "even Hercules would have shrugged and retired from the hero business" - too good. BTW, Andrew, you oughtn't to worry about the naysayers in to this article, as I believe you would well know, since there are always critics and then there are some. Again, a very good and humourous article.

Posted by FFHH on (May 28, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

@Roy its just a humorous blog no need to get so emotional about him mentioning raina and not bisla

Posted by Nitin Jaswani on (May 28, 2012, 12:25 GMT)

Intresting outlook on the IPL Finale. I still cant believe you stopped watching after Gambhir got out. We Indians never give up on our cricket however dire the situation becomes.

Posted by Mike Atherton on (May 28, 2012, 11:34 GMT)

Andrew, I have to agree with the comments above, apart from those by a couple of curmudgeonly jerks who don't appreciate good, humorous sports writing. I shall miss your column almost as much as I'll miss my regular early-evening IPL viewing, and much more than I'll miss "the unique vocal stylings of D. Morrison". Thanks.

Posted by kkrfan on (May 28, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

nice article, like ur take on Yusuf. I actually left earlier than thou, looking at the csk batting, and tuned back at only after the match was over, to found...KKR WINS!!!!!!! now searching youtube for the entire game to download....grrr.

Posted by Ravi Manghat on (May 28, 2012, 10:17 GMT)

Deeply imaginative. Couldn't care less for who won. It was Chak De for some, Chuttini for others. SRK's somersault, I think, typified the atmosphere. IPL had well and truly lived up to the hype. Till next year and more fun and frolics.... leg bye!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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