Kolkata Knight Riders played courteous in-law to Aussie son-in-law David Warner
May 1 happens to be my daughter Aazeen’s birthday. I was unsure whether to take a break and join her in Delhi or head straight to Kolkata after the Indian Premier League (IPL) game against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on Sunday.
But the ‘manhandling’ by David Warner helped me take the call. I was on the first flight to Delhi. If airlines staff could read my mind, they’d have surely charged for excess baggage as I was carrying a torrent of thoughts.
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling was not as bad as it was made to look by Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper David Warner. We didn’t tick the fielding box either. But what worried me was the ease with which Warner could play some audacious strokes. He cut us, pulled us, switch-hit-slog-swept us, drove us and hoisted us. It seemed KKR was one those courteous in-laws who was head over heels to please the Aussie son-in-law.
The only place I’d get some solace was at home, at least I thought so.
“TV papa picking nose, TV papa picking nose,” was the ‘sledge’ echoing at home, never mind the liberty my little girl took with the grammar. I didn’t realise why Aazeen was on my case till Natasha showed me the recording of our Hyderabad game.
There I was all of 35, former captain of India, part of two World Cup-winning teams, captain of two-times Indian Premier League winners KKR and a Modern School-Hindu College pass out caught on camera picking my nose. I forgot I was also father to a three-year-old whom I constantly pester not to do that.
That ‘Warner bat’
A few birthday gifts later, peace was restored and Aazeen dropped her ‘sledging’. Once again ‘papa was the best’. By evening, I had forgotten all about the Warner slam and was getting ready for the party. The door-bell rang. It was my brother-in-law Ekaansh with his wife. Pleasantries exchanged, gifts were handed over to Aazeen. She wanted to know what maamu had got for her.
She was unwrapping the first gift set as we all looked on. A doll, a game, an interactive book set...we were guessing. But what? It was a shining, neon orange, mini Gray Nicolls cricket bat with Kaboom plastered at the back.
It is the same brand of bat Warner plays with. I thudded back to reality. It was like a pothole on UK’s M1, a bit like someone tuning your radio to heavy metal while you were flowing with Gulzar saab.
Knight Riders in ideal spot
I am back in Kolkata. We play Rising Pune Supergiant on Wednesday. My team is in a good position, having won seven of our 10 games. But I will be the first to say we haven’t been at the top of our game, not just yet. Or, let me put it this way; we haven’t had a single game where we batted, bowled or fielded on a par with our talent.
We can’t afford to repeat this against Pune. On Monday, Ben Stokes gave the first significant dividend on the investment made on him. His hundred, with a cramping body barely helping, was high on quality and grit.
I met a few of my teammates and none was talking about Warner. I found that comforting. Perhaps I was once again over-analysing. May be the Warner-slam doesn’t have enough shelf life.
But we have to bring our A game as all eyes are on us. This includes a certain three-year-old who doesn’t want to be embarrassed in her classroom because of her nose-picking papa.