Cat and Mouse

It’s been a hell of a week. Since last Sunday, my Facebook wall has been peppered with posts and comments on the Chennai Super Kings’ triumph at the Champions League, A.R. Rahman’s Jai Ho tour of North America, the Commonwealth Games howlers & the feverish excitement of the build-up towards the release of Endhiran! Just in case you put us down to be a group of hedonists, we’ve been quite concerned about the Ayodhya verdict too. Finally, last evening, amongst the babble of “Gummthalakdi gumma vaa”, Kalmadi jokes & Rajni punch dialogues, a friend put up a status that simply said “Ah! Test cricket.”

Is it just me, or did the Aussies slip in unnoticed? Sure, there’s been some chirp. Hauritz threatens to target Sachin & Johnson promises to pepper Sehwag. Ahem guys, you’d do better to ape Pidge on the field! Clarke is wary of Harbhajan. Shouldn’t he be calling him an obnoxious whatsits? Ponting looks to Tendulkar for inspiration. Whatever happened to Gilly’s autobiography? Where’s the rancour fella? We signed on for blood and gore, not a peace summit.

The anticipation amongst fans has been muted too. Anaesthetised by a deluge of India-Sri Lanka cricket? Or disappointed with a 2 match rubber? Harsha Bhogle calls it a quickie. I’d say it’s just a striptease. Millimeter from 3 Idiots might have a more colourful description, though not very parliamentary!

I settled down last night (9.5 hours behind IST), armed with a combination of Cricinfo, Test Match Sofa & live streaming, playing the highlights of Chennai 1998, Eden Gardens 2001, Adelaide 2003 & Perth 2008 in my head. I could not have been more disappointed. Mohali resembled the last day of the Asian Test Championship match at Kolkata, when most of the stadium had to be evacuated. Things got worse with the pitch report, and Ishant’s first delivery, which bounced twice on its way to Dhoni. Creeper for lbw, as the commentator from Test Match Sofa put it! Attrition is not a pleasant word, whether it is in context of the software industry or Test match cricket.

Catches were dropped, Ishant broke down, and the Aussies strung together a stand. Was it getting worse and worse? Not quite! It was a grind alright, but it was also intense Test cricket action. The passion simmered beneath the surface. Not high octane, but definitely not low voltage. The restraint of a Mani Ratnam terror flick, as against the celebration of violence in a Quentin Tarantino offering. Then Ponting got out. A send-off, an exchange of words & frayed tempers.

Clear your diaries people. The Border-Gavaskar is back in town!

(Guest post from TS Kartik)

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