Banter with a betting man

I noticed him perhaps because he looked disappointed when Adam Gilchrist had the Kingsmead roaring with swashbuckling strokeplay on Wednesday evening. Delhi Daredevils had set a stiff target (173) and Gilchrist, the Deccan Chargers skipper, was counterattacking as only he can.

And as Gilchrist let it rip, the man’s expression darkened. Mouth cupped, I noticed him mumbling into a tiny phone all the while.

“You from India,” he asked. I nodded and, wearing my most innocent expression, asked whether he was a commentator.

“Nahin, apna dhanda alag hai (My line of work is different),” he said, winking. The man refused to identify himself but said he had bet on the match adding “it’s just among a couple of us friends.”

All the while he was speaking on the phone. “Single, single, single…,” or “two, two, two” he would say, the conversation getting frenzied after every over as he tried to figure out who would bowl next.

Once he mistook Daredevils’ medium-pacer Rajat Bhatia for leg-spinner Amit Mishra and on realising it, immediately hollered “Bhatia, Bhatia, Bhatia” into the phone.

He celebrated wildly when Gilchrist fell but with Andrew Symonds taking over the Chargers chase, couldn’t stay upbeat for long. “Ab to gaya match (It’s over for Daredevils),” he said.

For the next few overs, his expression mirrored the game’s swinging fortunes but once the last Chargers wicket fell, he punched the air.

“So, you got it right,” I asked the excited man. He winked again, this time his face breaking into a big smile.


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