N Srinivasan (left) and Zaka Ashraf © AFP & Getty Images
By Amrut Thobbi
Please note: This is a humorous piece – pure fiction.
The just-concluded India-Pakistan One-Day International (ODI) series failed to live up to its high-profile billing, thanks to India’s below-par performance.
Worried officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) met on Wednesday to take stock of the situation and come up with a solution that will heighten the interest levels among fans on either side of the border.
Exclusive excerpts of the meeting in New Delhi between BCCI and PCB officials to discuss the future of bilateral cricket between India and Pakistan:
BCCI chief N Srinivasan: Gentlemen, thank you for coming to the meeting. First of all, Mr Ashraf saab (PCB chief), I would like to extend our heartiest congratulations to you and your team. I must say it was fantastic win.
Zaka Ashraf: Thank you, Mr Srinivasan for your kind words as well as your hospitality. Now that we have had a successful limited-overs series, it’s only logical that the way forward would be for resumption of Test series as well. We should hype the series to catch the attention of the entire world. Something like Ash.
N Srinivasan: Ash? You mean you want a global attraction like Aishwarya Rai?
Zaka Ashraf: Did I say Ash? Oh! It’s a Freudian slip. It’s Pakistan’s fixation with Bollywood, you see! (Ha ha ha ha). What I meant was a Pakistan-India series should be like the Ashes.
N Srinivasan: Ashraf saab, the emotional churn that an India-Pakistan cricket match offers is way ahead of any Ashes encounter. If need be, we can have the Indian Premier League (IPL) clashing with the Ashes and lure the key players with big money to dilute the interest in the Ashes. I can assure you that our marketing team can whip up unprecedented levels of excitement for the proposed India-Pakistan Test series.
Zaka Ashraf: I have no doubt about that, Mr Srinivasan. We have seen how you have made the IPL into a global phenomenon.
N Srinivasan: What can we call the proposed Test series?
Rajiv Shukla (excitedly): How about an Aman iss-series? The theme of this iss-series will promote Aman (peace) between the two countries.
N Srinivasan: Great concept, Rajiv. There is more to life than cricket.
Srinivasan whispers into Rajiv Shukla’s ears, “Plus it will provide a lifeline for MS’s captaincy!” and smiles
N Srinivasan: I like Rajiv’s proposal, Ashraaf saab. It’s a win-win situation, you see. If our team wins, the nation is happy. If our team loses, we can always ask fans to look beyond victory and defeat and talk about the greater purpose the series does for fostering peace between the two countries.
Now Rajiv Shukla whispers into Srinivasan’s ears, “I thought of this because it also gives us board officials a lifeline”.
Zaka Ashraf: Sounds great. But before we sign on the papers, there are two things that I need to know: One, will your government give the necessary permission. Two, the sponsors. Finding a good sponsor for a Test series has become difficult these days.
Rajiv Shukla: Well, as far as government permission is considered, you don’t have to worry. I will talk to Soniaji and get it. As far as the sponsors are concerned, there is no dearth.
N Srinivasan: Gentleman, let’s break for lunch and resume in an hour’s time.
Officials quickly make a beeline for the buffet and get back to their respective seats an hour later.
N Srinivasan: I hope everybody had a good lunch.
Zaka Ashraf: As always, Mr Srinivasan. Coming to the point we….
Rajiv Shukla’s cell phone rings and interrupts Ashraf.
Rajiv Shukla: Hello… How are you?…How did you know that we are hosting an Aman series?… Ok, fine! Don’t scream. I will get back to you soon on this.
N Srinivasan: What happened, Rajiv? Who was it?
Rajiv Shukla: It was Arnab Goswami! He somehow came to know about The Aman series. He wants us to assign his channel media rights for exclusive interviews.
Zaka Ashraf: What? Arnab Goswami!!!! You mean the same guy who butchers people on his show! No way! I’m sorry, we can’t do this series. Sorry, but we are out of here! The meeting is over for us.
Ashraf along with his Pakistani compatriots vacated the room in a huff, leaving Srinivasan and the company totally stunned.
The nation will know more tonight on this developing story from Arnab Goswami. Don’t forget to tune in to Newshour tonight to watch the Aman Ki Ashes (Destruction of Peace) story.
(Amrut Thobbi, an engineering graduate and a Masters in Communication & Journalism, is an ardent cricket fan who likes to write spoofs. His passion for writing inspired him to give up a sales and marketing job, which he does not regret. He has also worked as a freelance writer in education and technology sectors. He can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/amrut.thobbi and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/amrutti)