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Let the games begin

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the biggest reality show, the T20 cricket carnival into your living rooms, offering heroics, drama, slaps, tears, abuses, writes Arif Zakaria.

entertainment Updated: Apr 18, 2009 19:35 IST

As you read this, the other circus would have hit town. We are already in the throes of witnessing some intense verbal gymnastics from our politicians preparing for E-Day.

To boost the rest of our metabolism, here come the flannelled clowns, wearing fluorescent clothes and chucking white
balls against the heady backdrop of fair maidens (are the cheerleaders Russian, English or Serbian?), waving their skirts at us.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the biggest reality show, the T20 cricket carnival into your living rooms, offering heroics, drama, slaps, tears, abuses — the same thrills as a Balaji serial minus the mother-in-law!

I call it high-cholesterol cricket played in a modern gladiatorial arena in which multi-coloured, multi-cultured denizens wield their sponsored bats as swords. Trust me, after this, even the tiny speck of apartheid in South Africa will blow away.

What Nelson Mandela started, IPL will finish with cheerleaders in tow! While analysing this at a party last night, there was a clear division. The purists said that T20 is rubbish, it just isn’t cricket but a sophisticated version of gilli-danda, the sprightly amongst us favoured this new Truncated format and have been advocating it since its inception.

Interestingly, a spot poll was taken and the results were amusing. All those who supported Test cricket or its traditional version were blissfully married, for at least five years and more, while the flag-bearers of T20 were the young and single.

T20 man
A line originated that night and was passed around — ‘That each of us is a T20 player
pre-marriage — vibrant, colourful and enjoying short bursts of romance and passion.. while matrimony makes us tTest players, where each day is a long drawn battle. There are sporadic cases of excitement and the result is usually a dull draw!’

Life draws parallels, as I jokingly refer to my unmarried friend Pramod Pathak as a T20 man. He has the uncanny ability of getting into enthralling short-term relationships.

Recently, he was getting his visa stamped at a foreign consulate. Since the wait was interminable, he started chatting with a pretty young girl.

Over the next hour, he was floored by the vibrant mind with a passion for life, a zeal for exploration, that had travelled around the world and tasted different cultures and cuisines. Her demeanour, intelligence and composure belied her 27 years.

Final over
They spoke about politics, sports, films and all things topical. He felt she could change his world. So he asked her out. He assumed this to be the final over and he would emerge victorious. But then came the last ball and he was run out when she disclosed the fact that she was engaged and waiting for a visa to join her fiancé abroad. He left the consulate with mixed feelings.

Awestruck by this short and sweet encounter, yet hoping that the moment had stretched longer, he aptly termed it as
a T20 match — short and intense with a definitive end.

So brace yourself for some fun in the coming weeks with a remote in your hand. Alternate between Sonia Gandhi and Shane Warne, both marshalling their troops. But I’m more interested in figuring out how Mandira Bedi holds them up without her noodle straps! Oops, let the games begin.

First Published: Apr 18, 2009 19:25 IST