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The Long Handle

Rhapsody in blue

Never before was one colour seared into our eyeballs as on the night of the Champions League final

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes
A million dollars says that heave's not ugly  •  BCCI

A million dollars says that heave's not ugly  •  BCCI

On Sunday, three weeks of bewildering intercontinental T20 tussling came to an appropriately Indian end. The non-IPL participants had been ejected from the party and the Blues took on the other Blues for the right to call themselves Champions of Everything.
Not since that episode of The Smurfs in which the little blue chaps had to transport a cargo of blueberries across the Pacific Ocean on the back of a blue whale had I seen so much of a certain colour on the screen at once. It was bluer than Muddy Waters strumming his guitar in the rain while waiting for a bus on a miserable Monday morning.
But although it was blue, it was not blue-collar. In fact, collars were the only way you could tell the teams apart. Rajasthan had gone for a daring streak of glitter ascending from the v-neck of their jersey, but Mumbai had gold lamé sewn onto the inside of theirs, so when anyone turned up a collar, onlookers were dazzled by the tailored bling.
The lesser Blues bowled first and ended up facing a gargantuan 202. And to make it worse, they had to start their chase against Million Dollar Maxwell.
Normally, mention of Glenn's name would be the cue for a predictable, only slightly amusing, riff on a particularly egregious example of Australia's new breed of achievement-light, endorsement-heavy youngster, drawing attention both to his IPL fee ($1m) and his IPL appearances (three).
Sadly, we must now consider such cheap humour to be outdated. For Glenn, with a Pietersen-lite exhibition of rubber-limbed thwackery had turned a good score into a great score, and when he hunched up his collar as he prepared to open the Mumbai bowling, he displayed not the gaudy gleam of an overpaid chancer but the gold trim of minor godliness.
The Royals started well enough. In the first over, Perera hit a couple of tidy fours, and then pushing the ball past the bowler, he ran for a quick single.
Non-striker Rahane had also set off, but then, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a fielder picking up the ball. In that instant, the 19 yards he had left to cover were transformed in his imagination into an obstacle course, complete with bear-traps, crocodile pits, a piranha buffet, and Danny Morrison waiting to do a quirky mid-run-out interview.
"Nooooooooooooo!" screamed Rahane, as though waking from one of those nightmares in which no matter how much you urge your legs to carry you away from the gang of flesh-eating zombie hamsters, you don't seem to be moving at all.
Yet despite this setback, for a while Fate allowed Rajasthan to think they had a chance. There aren't many batsmen I would voluntarily watch all day, but Rahane is one of them, and Samson has some pillar-rocking shots. Together they got the Royals into the suburbs of Victory City, before they took a sudden and inexplicable wrong turn into an ugly district.
Samson holed out, then Watson and Rahane began to find run scoring as tricky as quadratic equations. While they were wrestling with the maths, trying to squeeze out an extra fraction here and there, the game slipped from its unlocked cage, crept across the kitchen floor in its slippers and sneaked out through the cat flap.
Harbhajan finished the job. He coughed up a knee-tickler that Rahane cuffed mightily, but as our view panned round, the sector of the ground into which he'd hit it seemed to be getting longer and longer, until, when it seemed ball must drop beyond rope, the boundary fielder revealed himself. Three balls later, Binny gave us the horrible heave to end all horrible heaves and two balls after that, Cooper was stumped by Karthik, who flattened the timber as completely as a hippopotamus belly-flopping onto a lollipop-stick model of the Taj Mahal.
Rajasthan had run out of steam, whistle, engine, track and driver. But it wasn't quite over yet. Suddenly, in the middle of the end of a 20-over thrash, we found ourselves saying goodbye to a legend. Don't let him get out having a wild slog, we all prayed. It was not to be. The situation demanded slogging of the wilder sort, and Rahul Dravid did his duty. His glorious career ended with an extravagant lash, as though unleashing all those years of pent-up biffery in one reckless fling. There was a sickeningly hollow clatter of stumps and that was that. Congratulations to the Blues, and farewell, Rahul.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here