May 28, 2012

Through rivers of sweat we swim

A sea of yellow
30

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Deepank on May 30, 2012, 3:25 GMT

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

  • 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!

  • 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 !

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Deepank on May 30, 2012, 3:25 GMT

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

  • 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!

  • 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 !

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • krazycric on May 28, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    Thanks Andrew... That was one of the best, most humorous article that I have read anywhere since a long time!!!!

  • Anonymous on May 28, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    thanks for not mentioning shakib al hasan! i really dont know whats so hard to accept that maybe, just maybe a bengali cricketer might be talented...

  • Ashwin on May 28, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    Nice one

  • Francis Tuohy on May 28, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    Love your column! clever and hilarious. You should string it together in something that, rumour has it, some used to call a book. Don't quite know if that is anything like what we get on e-readers, but it might be worth a go :)

  • ziaul Hoque Mallick on May 28, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    At last!!! Great WIN KKR.

  • Caulfield on May 28, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    "I found some live coverage of what looked like vegetable gardening from Trent Bridge, which was a pleasant change of pace."

    Hahahahahahaha!

  • Ambuj on May 28, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    Brilliant.

  • sandeep desai on May 28, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    It is so fun to read Andrew's columns -his writing has that Wodehouse quality which makes him an endangered species ......

  • Dhruv on May 28, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    LOL! brilliant humour

  • vinod on May 28, 2012, 7:50 GMT

    hilarious andrew ur the best im gonna miss ur ipl aricles as much as the cricket itself see u next april

  • Ramesh on May 28, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    lovely comment on Kallis and the hydel plant. Watching IPL and England/ WI in parallel, does feel like watching golf and soccer in different channels.

  • Kaustubh on May 28, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    Andrew, this is your best article this IPL! "..But Yusuf 2012 doesn’t roll like that. Instead, he gave us another two-ball chameleon cameo..."

  • Raman Muthuswamy on May 28, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    Hats off to you Andrew ! I enjoyed every bit & pce of yr wonderful coverage .. alas it was NOT from the "line of action" when the Kings & Knights fought roaringly, to cap it up with another King Khan's dance in merriment with his wonderful kids--but from your cozy dressing room ! If you were to cover personally, you could taken a few gallons of the player's sweat, as a momento .. who knows .. there would be buyers in an auction in the US or UK ! We the ardent cricket-fans want you to cover each & every match that the INDIAN PLAY, as your style of writing as I find is inimitable and get us that joy of reading & savouring it .. Best of Luck .. Here is an humble fan's tribute from the distant Bangalore in India .. Raman Muthuswamy**

  • amol on May 28, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    How about "Talent meets opportunity" Manvinder Bisla...what a gem he played.

  • Saahil Kapoor on May 28, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    I don't know if you get enough credit for your writing and if you have enough people telling you how brilliant this is. Let me just be one of what should be a legion. And thankyou for showing me just how good non-dreary writing can be. Shall watch out for that book on village cricket :-)

  • natmastak on May 28, 2012, 5:47 GMT

    is it really meant for page 2 ?

  • wasim on May 28, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    Beautifully written.....would have been great if it had, bisla,hussey, kallis and vijay mentioned!

  • Sundaresasubramanian on May 28, 2012, 4:46 GMT

    Andrew got it completely wrong i guess :) The board just flashed "Its rain-ing boundaries" and not "Raina-ing". I was there in the ground with a clear view to the board.

    This again proves that authors see what they want to see and not the real thing.

  • Roy on May 28, 2012, 4:32 GMT

    It seems to me that writer is not at all happy with the final result. Sorry to say but this is a pathetically boring reporting where frustration of Chennai's defeat is coming out.

    KKR's brave effort has been totally ignored in this reporting. Writer mentioned about Raina but didn't spent a single word about Bisla's innings. Bisla over shadowed Raina's innings totally and this fact is missing. Sorry to say that I am surprised enough to see this type of "BIASED" reporting in TOI.

  • CSK fan on May 28, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Entertaining blog. Made for good reading. Was chuckling about Shahrukh possibly still hanging around the stadium doing his usual antics. It is very likely :)

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  • CSK fan on May 28, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Entertaining blog. Made for good reading. Was chuckling about Shahrukh possibly still hanging around the stadium doing his usual antics. It is very likely :)

  • Roy on May 28, 2012, 4:32 GMT

    It seems to me that writer is not at all happy with the final result. Sorry to say but this is a pathetically boring reporting where frustration of Chennai's defeat is coming out.

    KKR's brave effort has been totally ignored in this reporting. Writer mentioned about Raina but didn't spent a single word about Bisla's innings. Bisla over shadowed Raina's innings totally and this fact is missing. Sorry to say that I am surprised enough to see this type of "BIASED" reporting in TOI.

  • Sundaresasubramanian on May 28, 2012, 4:46 GMT

    Andrew got it completely wrong i guess :) The board just flashed "Its rain-ing boundaries" and not "Raina-ing". I was there in the ground with a clear view to the board.

    This again proves that authors see what they want to see and not the real thing.

  • wasim on May 28, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    Beautifully written.....would have been great if it had, bisla,hussey, kallis and vijay mentioned!

  • natmastak on May 28, 2012, 5:47 GMT

    is it really meant for page 2 ?

  • Saahil Kapoor on May 28, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    I don't know if you get enough credit for your writing and if you have enough people telling you how brilliant this is. Let me just be one of what should be a legion. And thankyou for showing me just how good non-dreary writing can be. Shall watch out for that book on village cricket :-)

  • amol on May 28, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    How about "Talent meets opportunity" Manvinder Bisla...what a gem he played.

  • Raman Muthuswamy on May 28, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    Hats off to you Andrew ! I enjoyed every bit & pce of yr wonderful coverage .. alas it was NOT from the "line of action" when the Kings & Knights fought roaringly, to cap it up with another King Khan's dance in merriment with his wonderful kids--but from your cozy dressing room ! If you were to cover personally, you could taken a few gallons of the player's sweat, as a momento .. who knows .. there would be buyers in an auction in the US or UK ! We the ardent cricket-fans want you to cover each & every match that the INDIAN PLAY, as your style of writing as I find is inimitable and get us that joy of reading & savouring it .. Best of Luck .. Here is an humble fan's tribute from the distant Bangalore in India .. Raman Muthuswamy**

  • Kaustubh on May 28, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    Andrew, this is your best article this IPL! "..But Yusuf 2012 doesn’t roll like that. Instead, he gave us another two-ball chameleon cameo..."

  • Ramesh on May 28, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    lovely comment on Kallis and the hydel plant. Watching IPL and England/ WI in parallel, does feel like watching golf and soccer in different channels.