Please note: This is a humorous piece – pure fiction.
“To be effective, we’ll need to go within a dream within a dream within a dream to firmly plan the idea of retirement. For that, we’ll need an architect. Someone who can conjure up rich, vivid and realistic landscapes for each stage. We ought to let Ashwin be the architect,” coach Duncan Fletcher says.
There is a murmur of approval.
“Any suggestions regarding the dream settings?” Yuvraj Singh queries.
“Hmm…We need to drive home three points. First, the game’s changing and He’s not getting younger. Second, the increasing generation gap between Him and the rest. Third, He’s blocking the entry of a very promising player,” suggests R Ashwin.
“Excellent! In the first level dream, let’s convey the message about how radically the game’s changed. Any suggestions for the dreamscape?” asks Fletcher.
Virender Sehwag goes first. “A flat, life-less pitch in Multan. I am on strike with Him at the non-strikers’ end. Umar Gul with the new ball. With minimal footwork, I upper cut his first good length ball over third slip for a boundary. The second one I dispatch to the ropes with a crisp back foot drive, feet not moving at all. The third I flick to the square leg boundary. The fourth, I let it go to the keeper. The fifth I drive down the ground to collect 4 more. And then the coup-de-grace by walking down the pitch and lofting Gul over long off with the ball sailing into the stands.”
“And your point being?” asks MS Dhoni.
Sehwag is nonplussed. “What the…the point being Test cricket is all about playing it like a T-20 and…“
“And playing T-20s like a Test. Dude, your display of strokes, if anything, will only motivate Him to stay on for longer. And anyway, if it’s a flat, life-less pitch, then everyone will want to pile on the gravy train, your high strike-rate notwithstanding,” says Dhoni.
“Oh yeah, so anyone has a better idea?” snorts Sehwag.
“How about a green top at the Centurion?” suggests Virat Kohli. “Dale Steyn bowling over 150. The ball’s seaming and there’s also high bounce. Steyn balls a snorter that kicks into the ribs of Dhoni and fells him. God looks on in dismay..“. Kohli is cut short by Dhoni.
“No, no. Er…this is a little too dangerous. And remember, if anyone gets injured in the dream, he can go into limbo. Anyway, all of us suck on these pitches and if anything, it will reinforce His sense of being the cornerstone of the line-up on seaming tracks.”
“So what’s your plan?” they ask.
Dhoni goes into a reverie, a beatific smile replacing his grim mien. “Its CSK vs MI in Chennai. 13 required off the last 8 balls for CSK to triumph. CSK has no more wickets in hand. I am taking strike with a tail-ender at the other end. With Sunil Narine to bowl the last over, it’s imperative that I retain strike. I tap the penultimate ball back. The field closes in to save the single. Malinga runs in and hurls a yorker. I step forward and give it a punch. The ball pierces the inner field and I take off like my life depends on it to steal an improbable single.“
“If it’s one of your ugly jabs, then yeah, He’s going to feel pissed about the levels batsmanship in IPL has plummeted to,” sniggers Sehwag. Everyone laughs.
Ignoring them, Dhoni continues. “So 12 required off the last over. I can do it in the first two balls itself, but no. It’s not just about winning but winning in style. There’s got to be suspense, drama, a sense of the occasion. I dab the first delivery to third man but refuse a single. I slog-sweep the next one but one of the fielders cuts it off and prevents a boundary. I refuse to run yet again even though I could have run two. That would make it too easy. The crowd now begins to shout ‘Dhoni, Dhoni, Dhoni’. I come down the track for the next one and tap it back. The crowd sighs. 12 off three. I take fresh guard. The pressure is mounting.”
Gautam Gambhir shakes his head and murmurs, “There goes the drama queen.”
Dhoni continues, “Narine comes around the wicket. The ball’s drifting to off. Now’s the time to let the world know what Dhoni is made off. I helicopter it to the stands for a six. The crowd erupts. Crackers go off. Six off two. I now come down the track and loft him over long-off. I freeze in the follow-through, watching the ball fly into the stands. I twirl the bat, and pose for the cameras as flash-bulbs light up all over the stadium. And then I point the bat to the dressing room as if to say ‘that’s how it’s done.’”
Clearly, Dhoni’s colleagues aren’t impressed. “This is a little too cheesy,” snipes Sehwag. “Don’t like it at all,” snaps Gambhir. Fletcher intervenes: “Guys, lets agree to disagree about the first-level dream setting. We can decide later. For the second level, I suggest it be Kohli’s dream to drive home the generation gap.“
Kohli gets excited. “Yeah, yeah. Life on the fast-track and moving on and all that. The iPad and Facebook generation. I host a party for the team and invite all my girlfriends. I will talk about how I was a toddler when God debuted. How I’ve looked up to him ever since.”
“And also don’t forget the lingo of your generation,” suggests Sehwag.
“Of course, references to maa-behen and all. Will do,” assures Kohli.
“I have a problem with this dream-setting,” interjects Dhoni. “In these glamorous settings, the first thing that comes to my mind is Deepika Padukone’s projection. And she can sabotage the entire operation.”
“What?” exclaims Yuvraj. “You’ve still not moved on from her. Me neither.”
Sehwag interrupts: “Guys, please get over these silly issues. I’ll be on hand to make sure her projection doesn’t botch the operation. Unlike you guys, I don’t think too much. I just act.”
“Right then, let’s move on to the final stage. It’s gotta have the emotional punch. Any suggestions, guys?” says Fletcher.
To be continued.
(Reproduced with permission from http://www.theunrealtimes.com/. The UnReal Times is one of the top websites for satire, spoof, parody and humour in India.)
Click here for Part I