By Dhananjay Devasper
I had left the Australian team in a foul mood (here’s the reason: Mahendra Singh Dhoni's master plan to cripple Cricket Australia) and decided to follow Mahendra Singh Dhoni to the go-karting arena in the hopes of a good story. Boy! Did I get a juicy one! The mood in the Indian dressing room was in complete contrast to the Australian one. The Test series loss did not seem to deter them in the least. The team was in high spirits and even the normally serious-faced Duncan Fletcher was smiling.
I approached Ishant Sharma and Virat Kohli, who seemed to be the only ones not driving a go-kart, and inquired: “What’s up, guys! You don’t like go-karting?”
They simultaneously flashed their taped middle fingers! “These come off only when we go into bat or bowl,” said Kohli.
“Yeah,” squeaked Ishant: “We are being punished because we showed the middle finger to the crowd.”
I was amused, “Disciplinary action for being rude and unsportsmanlike, I believe?”
“Rude! What rude?” shot back Kohli. “This is because more people came in to jeer us after we started showing the finger. The team management was angry we did not stick to our well-laid plan of ensuring that the stands in the stadium and the TV ratings in Australia were low. Am lucky I scored a few runs in the last couple of innings, but am not sure Ishant will be that lucky.”
“What do you mean?” blurted Ishant. “I bowled the fastest ball by an Indian and I was just bowling within myself. Am sure someone has noticed that.”
I turned my attention to the go-karting track and Rohit Sharma was driving like a maniac each time he approached VVS Laxman, trying to either run him off the track, or cause some serious damage.
“I think he’s trying to give me a message that he should be played in place of Laxman,” said Dhoni. “You see, I was afraid that he would score runs if he played.”
Rahul Dravid was having a torrid time with almost everyone overtaking him through any gap they could find.
“That pretty much sums up how he’s doing nowadays,” said Dhoni with a smirk ”On the field or off it, it’s easy to get through his gaps nowadays.”
I countered: “But Mahi, you are about to go down as the captain with the worst overseas record.”
Dhoni looked at me, flashed his trademark smile and replied: “Technically, no. You see, I am banned for the next Test and Viru (Sehwag) will be the captain. So this loss will not count against my stats. Besides the only people who are obsessed with statistics are commentators. When we play in the subcontinent all will be forgotten. The Indian fan is very fickle. He is quick to admonish and forget.”
He left me to get a few laps on the track. I walked over to Sehwag to get his perspective on being captain for the last Test.
“We must not let up,” he said determinedly. “We must continue to demolish the Aussies. Mental degradation! When people do not get paid well, it tells on their performance in the long run. My job is easy, no pressure. We have the foot on their throat. We will now deliver the final blow at Adelaide. Two and a half days is our target.”
Duncan Fletcher signaled the end of the stress-busting session and all the karts came in.
Sachin Tendulkar didn’t look too happy. “I just did 99 laps. Even here I’m denied my hundred!”
I shook my head. it was time for me to leave. Cricket can sometimes give you a huge “reality” check!
(Dhananjay Devasper is an "IT guy" by profession and a sports fanatic at heart. He has an unbridled passion for sports and Indian achievements in sport. Extremely opinionated, he attempts offering perspectives around sports which are simple to understand and easy to relate with)