This, that and the other. Mostly the other
Much hand-wringing, tongue-clucking, and assorted outmoded ways of showing displeasure have come to pass in the fortnight or so since MS Dhoni and company so gracefully and thoughtfully pirouetted to show their backs to what, if the newspapers are to be believed, was a surefire victory in the third Test against West Indies.
Speaking of newspapers, even Rupert Murdoch is reported to have found time to be offended, and be seen tut-tutting about it all in fine style. What sort of behaviour is this, we demand to know, from a World No. 1? Especially from one aspiring to be a World No. 1 with (prominently seamed) balls?
For those in the know, however, to ask such questions is to miss the point entirely. An Australia- or West Indies-of-yore style ruthlessness on the field of play, where as much quarter was given as prisoners taken, is simply not what the current world champions aspire to. Those legendary teams had their own proven method of world domination and India have their own. It's just more elegant, that's all. If Steve Waugh employed the as-legendary-as-it-was-unimaginatively-titled tactic of "mental disintegration", and a Malcolm Marshall kept rudely waking you into smelling the perfume ball, well, MS Dhoni would like to kill you as well, but with kindness.
This is the same captain, after all, who, instead of protecting his pit-bull pup, Sreesanth, from the slings and arrows of offended opposition captains, joined their ranks in censuring his certifiably insane bowler and telling him to rein his emotions in.
"We like to keep teams guessing, our own included," said the captain from his dedicated seat at Prick!, one of London's hippest, edgiest tattoo parlours, where he'd stopped by to ink out a hip, edgy portrait of what he would only say was a "special person" ("I play for one too," he said coyly) on his lower back.
"Imagine how boring and predictable it would have been to go for that win. Victory upon victory, it gets so tedious. That's just not us," he added while wincing through the pain of a busy needle.
"It just isn't the Indian way to be ruthless," agreed Anil Kumble, one of the much-touted "architects" of India's current success, who, along with fellow draftsmen Gary Kirsten, Sachin Tendulkar and Dhoni laid out the blueprint for the world-beating team India have today. "Except we'd rather not be called 'world beaters'", Kumble pointed out. "We prefer the less aggressive 'world fingledibblers'."
Kirsten fondly remembers the day Kumble presented a set of rules the team were to abide by if their project was going to be successful. "It was like Fight Club or something," he said. "Kumble was shirtless and ranting about the first rule of maintaining a winning habit being - 'You do not maintain a winning habit.' Same with the second rule…"
Should they find themselves lording it over India in a week's time, England would do well to keep in mind that India's apparent weakness is only a ruse. And let it be said now that if England win the series, say 2-1, they must realise that while they may have won a measly battle, they are still losing the war for No. 1, which India, sly devils, would have again held on to by doing just the bare minimum required.
"Gunning for success at any cost is just not how we envisioned ourselves as a modern-day spiritually grounded team," said Narayan Godbole, veteran Gandhian and sometime cross-country motorcycling companion to Dhoni, who also served in an advisory capacity to Kumble, Kirsten et al, a sort of Fifth Beatle of the Indian success story.
"On a personal level, what happened after the third Test was very satisfying," Godbole said. "Dhoni's decision to turn his back on victory lent new meaning to the favorite Gandhian maxim of turning the other cheek. It might not have been the right sort of situation for such a humble gesture, or even the right kind of cheek, but it gave us all a reflective, self-important glow afterwards."
"Somerset will come to know their place in the cosmic dance," he added enigmatically.
Meanwhile, responding to allegations that the volte face in Dominica was an act of cowardice in the face of a barely possible defeat, Dhoni reacted with anger. "Oh really? Tell me then, am I a coward if I had this done to me?" he said, lifting up his shirt and pirouetting (again) to show us his lower back, where the now-completed tattoo of the visage of, no, not Sachin Tendulkar, but Mother Teresa smiled beneficently at the world.
Some things you just can't argue with.
R Rajkumar also approached Daryl Harper for his thoughts on the subject of this article, but the umpire responded with a gesture of his own, one Gandhi may not have been familiar with.
All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up, but you knew that already, didn't you?
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