Please note: This is a humorous piece – pure fiction.
It’s the 2030 World Cup final. It’s India versus Pakistan at the Mecca of Indian cricket, Eden Gardens. The stadiums are packed to the hilt, and the noise is deafening.
The spectators are enjoying themselves thoroughly. The evening’s entertainment begins on a cracking note, with an acrobatic performance by cheerleaders, followed by a stand-up comedy show with laughter track by Navjot Singh Sidhu. That’s followed by a tap dance performance, a puppet show and various sundry performances. The three-hour programme ends with the spectators going wild as Shah Rukh Khan dances on stage with Aaradhya Bachchan.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Eden Gardens! The atmosphere is electrifying; the crowd is on its feet. Looks like we are going to have a cracker of a match on our hands, Ian?”
Ian doesn’t respond, prompting Shastri to nudge him.
“Oh my God, Ian, are you…,” blurts Ravi.
Chappell wakes up with a jolt, startling Ravi out of his wits. The Aussie reaches into his bag, brings out a set of dentures and fits them into his mouth.
“Still alive,” he grumbles.
“Thank God,” sighs Ravi. “I was just saying, wonderful day for cricket, eh?”
“Absolutely,” concurs Chappell. “India versus Pakistan in the final of a World Cup! What a wonderful advertisement it is for this format, mate! One-day cricket seems like a distant memory, and Test cricket seems like it was played in the Biblical age. Hell, I can’t even remember when I last saw a T20!”
As the commentators continue their pre-match banter, the camera pans to the Indian dugout. Sachin Tendulkar and his son Arjun Tendulkar are seen padded up, both warming up with a bit of spot jogging, before going on to adjust their respective crotch guards in traditional Tendulkar fashion. The rest of the Indian players are seen stretching and doing short sprints.
“He’s still going strong, isn’t he?” says Chappell, as the camera remains focused on Tendulkar. “What a champion! Forty years of international cricket and his love for the game is still as strong as ever.”
“Absolutely, Chappell,” purrs Shastri. “I was speaking to him this morning, and asked him what kept him going when there’s so much talk and insinuation about his retirement. He told me that playing for the country was his childhood dream, and he’s living it.”
The camera now shifts to the Pakistani dugout, where the players are charging themselves up emotionally for the match. Shahid Afridi, who is now 23, is busy shouting words of encouragement to his team-mates.
“They have done well to reach so far Ravi,” says Ian. “But history is against them, and they are yet to open their account against India in World Cup tournaments. That must weigh heavily on their minds.”
“They have got the talent, but do they have the big-match temperament? It would all depend on how well they handle the nerves,” says Shastri.
At this point, one player each from the Indian and Pakistani dugout walks towards the centre.
“Okay, here we go guys,” says Shastri. “The captains are out on the field and are walking towards the centre from their respective dugouts. Game on!”
The captains’ walk to the centre is played on the big screen, in live, slow motion, super slo-mo and super-duper slo-mo modes. While the Pakistani captain walks out aggressively to, the Indian captain follows him at a distance, head bowed and shoulders slumped. At this, a section of the crowd gets up to make its way towards the exit.
“The Indian captain’s body language does not inspire confidence. Pakistan has already established a stranglehold on this game, Ian,” says Shastri.
Ian doesn’t respond.
Shastri turns to him and finds that Chappell has, yet again, gone back to sleep.
At the centre, match referee Javagal Srinath, is seen talking to the two captains.
Javagal Srinath flips the coin.
“The Pakistani captain seems upbeat, whereas the match referee can barely hear the Indian captain’s answers. Pakistan has all but won this game. It would take a miracle for the Indians to get back from this.”
“Here we go! The match referee has flipped the coin… and the Indian captain has called it Heads… Has he called it right?… Has he done it for the team?… Every pair of eyes in the stadium on the airborne coin now… Every spectator at the edge of his or her seat…This game has gone down all the way to the wire…This is the moment we have been waiting for… this is what cricket is all about…”
“…AND IT IS HEADS!!!” roars Shastri.
The partisan crowd erupts. The Indian players rush onto the ground towards their captain and envelop him in a bear hug. The Pakistani captain, however, looks shattered and looks on despondently at his team-mates.
“What a comeback! What a comeback by the Indians! The Indian captain has truly played a captain’s knock, one that would be remembered for ages to come!” screams Shastri.
After a team huddle, the Indian players shake hands with the Pakistani players, and mutter words of consolation. A few minutes later the Indian players go on a victory lap around the ground, waving the Indian flag, and acknowledging the support of the crowd. Arjun Tendulkar walks with Sachin Tendulkar on his shoulders.
“He has lifted me on his shoulders all my childhood, it was time I lifted him on mine,” says Arjun solemnly to a cameraperson.
The camera pans back to Shastri.
“Ladies and gentlemen, what a game we have had!” exults Shastri breathlessly. “20 artists have performed, 20 ex-players have given one-on-one interviews on the side to hot television anchors, 400 ads have been sneaked in. At the end of it all, cricket is still the real winner!”
“That, ladies and gentlemen, is the final word from Eden Gardens. Once again, congratulations India, the champions of the inaugural edition of the T-0 World Cup. Back to the studio.”
(Reproduced with permission from http://www.