We were in the dressing room. I was waiting to see if his face reveals an expression. It didn't. In the bus as we headed back to our hotel, I was still waiting. Nothing happened. At the hotel a cake shaped in numerical "13" to mark our winning streak was waiting for us.
A cake riot followed but my man offered just a 12 second smile. Later in the night we were all huddled in our team-room on the 16th floor. The boys were having fun downing beers and chicken wings rejoicing our achievement. My expression-less friend and I were in one corner playing football on Playstation. He played a flowing game and won. I thought he’d exult but nothing happened except a smile.
I think Sunil Narine will offer just another 12-second smile even if one day he sees pigs fly. I have been playing with him for four years but I really don’t know what gets my West Indian friend going. Good or bad, success or failure, win or loss Sunil has never showed emotions. Therefore, when he was warned for a suspect bowling action after our win over Dolphins on Monday night, I was worried. I didn’t know how he would react. I kept observing him searching for a hint of disappointment, worry or the likes on his face, but his expression was consistent.
I knew deep down he was hurt and his pride dented. No sportsperson likes to be nudged for unfair practice. Sunil is no different. He must have been simmering deep down but he didn’t show it to anyone. We had a one-sided conversation for about 40 seconds. I told him, “Sunny (Sunil’s nickname), I have full faith in you.” He offered a straight face. I continued: “I know you are not resorting to any unfair practice.” He nodded. “Just don’t worry, the entire KKR team is with you,” I said.
He adjusted his dying Mohawk hairstyle, nodded again and this time gave a three-second smile. My experience with Sunil told me he was fine.
The next morning I met an influential BCCI official in the know of the matter. He promptly dispelled some steamy idlis and my doubts both in one go saying that there was just the odd delivery under scanner. I felt reassured.
Frankly, the moment I got to know that Sunil has been warned, I was on the edge. It was an absolute dampener on our celebrations for 13 wins in a row but post this breakfast conversation I was much better. I now wanted to reflect on our winning spree.
I stepped out of the breakfast area and was looking for a newspaper as I love reading one when we do well. “KKR Juggernaut Rolls On”, “Lucky 13 For Men In Purple”…I was expecting similar headlines as I excitedly headed towards a newspaper rack in the hotel lobby. Some excited voices and commotion behind me spiked my brisk move. I turned around.
There were a few men, speaking in a loaded Aussie accent and dressed in a slightly lighter purple marching in our hotel. They were members of the Hobart Hurricanes team, our rivals for the semifinal on Thursday. I promptly dropped the idea of savoring newspaper reports. There was an unfinished job at hand.
Dinesh Chopra Media & Communications