Indian cricketers... (Spluttering sound.) Indian cricketers... (Spluttering sound.) Indian cricketers... (Spluttering sound.) Damn, this engine simply won't start if I begin my column with those two words any more! Considering that the only cricketing news that the nation is interested in is whether it's right for the BCCI to decide that Indian cricketers (shudder) can go to the toilet a maximum five times and a minimum four times a day, I do apologise that I have been forced to mull over digressions like Bangladesh's smashing win over South Africa and the Australian juggernaut juggernauting everything in its way. But then, as the BCCI unflinchingly punishes itself for its own failings, the World Cup continues. I swear it does.
I missed watching Mohammed Ashraful's 87 off 83 balls not because my contractual obligations make it mandatory to boycott teams instrumental in knocking out India from the World Cup at a stage where Ireland is still playing, but because I was busy watching the second best thing after an Arsenal victory Manchester United defeat (against Portsmouth) at a friend's place. It was only after I had finished watching replays of the stunningly comical Rio Ferdinand own-goal (and my Man U-supplicant of a host forced to also watch) that I switched channels to find that Habibul and Co. had posted a 251 score.
Large chunks of the evening were spent watching Herschelle Gibbs fending off 11 estuarine crocodiles from the Sundarbans (no Amitav Ghosh-type Irawaddy dolphins, Graeme, sorry!). And for the second time in the tournament, a better team from Bangladesh was beating a giant turtle.
I had planned to drive back home from my friend's so that I could watch the final overs from the splendour of my Batcave. But as luck would have it, my Batmobile's engine wouldn't start. Bruce Wayne had to call a taxi and miss the finalé of the match.
Which is why on Sunday night, I refused to budge from my room, where on the world's smallest large-screen TV I watched, with my jaw dropping to my genitalia, the raw power of Australian batting --- Hayden, Ponting and Clarke chewing England and throwing away their bones. As I have always told those groaning about the asymmetrical war and the supposedly 'boring' time arising out of any Australia vs non-Autsralia match, the trick is to measure the Aussies against the Aussies. (Eg. Three dot balls? Gilchrist's losing his touch. That shot was meant for the on-side boundary, not the off-side boundary. What's wrong with Ponting?)
In any case, the thrill of still not knowing how deep this Aussie batting side is remains the high point for me this World Cup. As for Indian crick...uh-oh. (Sputters. Shudders. Total shutdown.)