Intolerably Painful Lies – The IPL, For Short

My Dad has been a cricket buff [to put it lightly] for as long as I can remember. From waking up at unearthly hours to catch a test match in its entirety to hauling the family along to watch domestic games, his love for the sport has always shone through and has, to a very small extent, rubbed off on me too.

Sort of.

I’m guessing that a lot of you follow or at least know about the nation-wide cricketing tournament, the Indian Premier League –IPL for short- that’s played over the course of a month and a half across various Indian states every year.

And I suppose that most of you know about the Chennai Super Kings [CSK], arguably the IPLs strongest team. Well, ex-team.

You see, a few months ago, CSK was caught in the middle of a heated match-fixing scandal along with two other teams and all three of them have been sentenced to a two-year suspension from the league.

This may not seem like such a big deal to some of you, but to me, it means a LOT. Here’s the thing; I was born in Chennai and M.S Dhoni, CSK’s cucumber-cool skipper is one of my favourite cricketers.

Do I need more reason to root for CSK so passionately that sometimes when I start talking about the championship my friends need to forcibly get me to sit down and breathe normally??

Apparently not.

IPL season used to be my favourite time of year and the fact that it coincides with my school’s summer break is a delicious added bonus. Two months of no homework and daily, exhilarating T20 matches to look forward to?? Count me in!!

During CSK matches, you’d usually catch me hunched in front of the telly, my fingernails white because of nervously gripping the armrest so tightly, my throat hoarse thanks to all the screaming.

Not anymore, though.

Ever since the match-fixing was unveiled, things have changed. At first, I was just mad about not being able to see my favourite squad out on the field for two long years. But as time unfolded, I realised that, more than anything, I was disappointed.

This was all one big sham, wasn’t it?? Were any of those spectacular displays of athleticism genuine in the least?? Had we even won a single match on merit alone?? Are important contacts and money all that dictate success anymore??

Incredulous questions buzzed in my mind for weeks and in the process, my faith was shattered.

CSK has lost before, of course. Like every sports team in history, we’ve lost matches and we’ve been beaten at a couple of finals and we’ve had humiliating, crushing defeats.

Like any true fangirl, though, that didn’t weaken my support in the least. If anything, it made me cheer more fervently at the next game. It made my shouts of encouragement the next time around even louder –which is saying a LOT. It made the obsessive supporter in me creep out a little more.

But this?? Stooping this low?? Using cold, hard cash and influence to buy out your opponents?? To CHEAT??

Not only has this ruined my perfectly pleasant status as a fanatical devotee, but it’s crushed my faith in sport as a whole. Now when I see a particularly impressive play, the first thing I think isn’t “WOAH, that is some serious talent” but “I wonder how much they had to shell out to win this match.”

All I’m going to say is that I highly doubt that when CSK comes out to bat in 2018 that I will still be tensely waiting like I used to. The catchy Chennai Super Kings chant won’t be repeating itself in my mind. I won’t feel that physical pang in my stomach every time a batsman gets bowled.

I’ll be indifferent.

And that stinks.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

I’ve got four words for you; India vs. West Indies.

I know, I know; everyone’s still reeling from the shock of it all, wondering whether it really happened. I know I’m still miserably walking around, hoping against hope that I’m going to wake up and realise that it was all some sort of twisted dream.

If you are among the 5% of people in Goa who are NOT into cricket and have no idea what I’m going on about, then let me explain as briefly as possible; India had a semi-final match against the West Indies on Thursday night and India lost [that was a harder to write than you’d think].

It may not seem like that big a deal, but you have to keep in mind a couple of things;

First of all, almost all Indian cricket buffs [and casual viewers like myself] had more-or-less taken it for granted that India would go on to win the entire World Cup and why not?? India entered the tournament backed by a recent win in the Asia Cup and a pretty great winning-streak.

To add to that, the West Indies’ power hitter and MVP, Chris Gayle, was bowled out after scoring a mere handful of runs, which drastically increased both, the odds of India winning as well as the hopes of the Indians watching.

So it seemed pretty obvious to the masses following the match on both sides of the Indian Ocean that Captain Dhoni and team had this one in the bag.

Unfortunately, the night took a shocking turn that left us Indians swearing at our TV sets, surprise and incredulity etched onto our expressions.

More than anything else, it was the sheer unexpectedness of it that felt like a kick in the stomach; even with my limited knowledge of the game, I’d been so certain that we were going to win, whatever it took. So HOW did we lose?

What I [and about half of the Indian population] am facing, Dear Reader, is something I like to call the Gold Medal Paradox.

In simple terms, it’s when one expects a situation to roll out a certain way just because it has in the past and let me assure you that I [and about half of the Indian population] could not be more wrong.

For example, just because you’ve always won gold medals at karate competitions, doesn’t mean you’ll continue to always win gold medals at karate competitions [hence the name of the phenomenon; the Gold Medal Paradox].

Just because India has won a majority of the previous matches this year doesn’t mean we’ll remain on top for the rest of 2016.

Change is inevitable and nobody can be the best or the worst forever. Remember, Dear Reader, life is a fickle thing and everything we take for granted can change in snap of a finger. All that is in our control is the way we respond to that change; whether we allow it to eat us up or whether we fight back and give it our all at the NEXT karate championships.

So the next time you find your class rank slipping, don’t beat yourself up too much. Just regroup, recover and give it your all at the next pop quiz. You never know; the next A+ paper could be yours! On the other hand, the next time you bag the number one spot on the “athlete of the month” list, don’t get too ahead of yourself. A twisted ankle is all it takes for that title to be snatched away [and that’s a lesson I learned the hard way… Ouch!].

And It’s A Six!!

Our lives are rather like test cricket!

With their batsmen -and their bowlers, too,

There’s space for more than the talented,

The intelligent, selected few.

First, there are the batsmen,

Or the extroverted lionhearts,

They walk onto the pitch with a confident air,

And inspire us to break out of our parts.

In real life, they’re the revolutionaries,

The leaders with ideas galore,

They teach us to see things differently,

With perspectives we haven’t tried before.

And then there come the bowlers,

The lethal masterminds!

The fate of the game’s in the flick of their wrist,

Their intellect leaves us far, far behind,

In real life, they’re the introverts,

The quiet-but-phenomenal ones,

They change the world without a hue and cry,

And limit the “batsmen’s” runs!

And, of course, we have the fielders,

The support, the family, the friends,

They pick us up and dust us off,

And tie up our loose ends!

How can we forget the coaches,

Who train the above three,

‘Til their arms ache and their heads throb,

But they can throw/hit/catch perfectly?

Of course, they are our parents,

And our influential teachers, too,

They correct and guide us when they ought,

And then set us free to see our own lives through.

And then, there’s the rest of us,

The spectators on the stands,

The insatiable, picky critics,

And the crazy, star-struck fans,

We can strive to be the next Bradman,

Or be satisfied in our place,

Whatever it is, just remain calm,

Remember, none of it’s a race…

And -above all- remember,

That there’s a chance for new beginnings,

Because just when everything seems lost,

Commences the second innings!!