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Vijay Swaroop, Hindustan Times
Indore, February 05, 2013
When the political class is playing cricket in an election year, then don't expect anything but double entendre, sharp quips and a lot of chatter about how the real 'match' will be played out later this year. The two bitter rivals of Madhya Pradesh politics - the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main Opposition Congress - played a six-a-side cricket match of 12 overs at the Devi Ahilya Vishwavidalaya (DAVV) ground on Monday.

The BJP team, led by Indore unit president Shankar Lalwani, had Jitu Jirati (MLA from Rau) and Chandu Shinde (corporator) in its ranks, while Congress was led by city chief Pramod Tandon and boasted of Shajapur MP Sajjan Singh Verma, Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Raghu Parmar and former MLA Jitu Patwari.

The match, although a 'friendly' one, was played with the intensity of an electoral battle. Every six and four scored by the Congress were interpreted by commentators (the batting side had the privilege to do the commentary) as numbers of seats won. The party scored 108 for the loss of three wickets in six overs. BJP reached the target with a ball to spare and without losing a wicket - losing no time in declaring this as a sign of days to come.

When BJP's turn to wield the bat came, they got a go at the microphones too. When one over of Sajjan Verma cost him 29 runs, a commentator remarked that he would be "hit for a six from Shajapur this time."

 “It was a friendly match,” said Verma later. “This also proves that we can go beyond political boundaries and play like friends. Winning and losing hardly matters,” he added. But it did matter to the BJP team. “We have won all the three matches. We will win other matches as well. It is just a small prelude of things to come,” said BJP captain Lalwani, referring obviously to the assembly polls. “We will win all the seats of Indore,” he added. Jitu Jirati, the BJP MLA from Rau, said: “The way we achieved the run target shows how dominant the BJP is.” He was sitting next to his nearest rival Jitu Patwari - perhaps trying to prove the “friendliness” of the match.