'The Ashes' DD left behind

AFTER the 'Vijayawadamper' that was the 7th ODI decider, could even Shah Rukh have us Khan make-believe: "Koie pressure naheen"? Kareena, for her barely backing India part, must now think thrice about asking them to "keep looking cute". After watching the way her "men in blue" were beaten black and blue, as Sehwag (12) failed to impersonate Sachin any better than did Shah Rukh in that 1999 World Cup Pepsip spot. So much for Rahul being proclaimed as the Ruby 'Bachelor Of The Year' and getting Vijayawada-set to hum, in soft and sweet Bhimpalasi, "Raveena madhur madhur kachchu bol"! Marlon Samuels' balla-in-haath 108, LGenius Ravi told us, "was like seeing Viv Richards in his prime". Neena might or might not endorse that point of view as coming from one who gave the 'Ritu aaye Ritu jaaye' slip to Amrita. A Ravi, on TV, once viewed to be agile enough swiftly to change the subject to cricket just when Tony Greig was on the impish point of quizzing him on the Amrita connection vis-a-vis Azhar showing himself to be Bijli-heeled in pursuing Sangita.

All such glossy hook-ups carry a flavour to savour only so long as India is winning. Or the man of the 'match' is scoring. This was the discovery Rahul made as the moment of truth arrived for him to agonise about shedding his sheen as a 100 per cent victorious ODI captain. Sourav in front of his Kolkatan monitor would not exactly have been smacking his Naghmanly lips with approval at this grim turn of events. As for Sachin, away from it all, Ten - to invoke the media jargon - "was not available for comment". Feeling as he did overwhelmed by the STAR compulsion to conform in having to speak on the talent - latent till then - of Andrew Flintoff as a World Cup prospect for England. It was like asking Dilip Kumar to speak on Dara Singh. Come on, Harsharp, Sachin-pick and choose those with true STAR value when you have a five-star performer as your 'Destination South Africa' Rand Ambassador.

A mixed joy it was at best to hear Sachin merely studio-speak when it was as an Action Hero he was being missed in the India middle. The 'Sunilife ho to aisi' message should be going out to the Sehwager of so many hit battles, by now, that it is not enough to come good in every alternate ODI innings. We know Najafgarh can't be expected to deliver each time out. But 229 runs from 7 ODI knockouts for an average of 38.16 (just one 50 to go with that Rajkotempestuous 114 not out) does not quite put Seh in the same Kalanagar street as Ten. What Veeru mustn't forget is that there are busybody statistical analysts, on telly today, to Sachin compare and Sehwag contrast. Charuminating chaps just refusing to go away. Who knows, they might be still there if we condescended to switch on DD Sports again.

During that rubber-sealing Vijayawada ODI, on a pat Sunday, all of us were razor keen to view the style of reply 'Rahulost' India would be framing to the 315 for 6 challenge set up by Hoopla's West Indies. Impatiently reasoning that it was past the hour-long interval - the break during which it sank in that the Caribbeans had all but turned the lunch tables on India - we kept reaching for our remote. Only to discover the 20:20 mindset to be still there. This after we had taken the first opportunity to 'press' for The Ashes series so grippingly unfolding on STAR. The Ashes came first, Wisden after. In point of fact, there would have been no Wisden if The Ashes had not been there. Naturally therefore the DD luncheon advent of WISDEN 20:20 was but the signal for us to move on to the STAR-presented Greek tragedy of Nasser Hussain's England being Adelaide low.

I have the gut feel that, after this column made the dot-ball point, Sanjay M was not so politely asked to hand over in 20:20 time rather than 15:5 time. Sanjay, for all his Manjrekaramat, should by now know that you do not keep Anupam Gulati eternally waiting. Aren't we happy to be rid of the DD millstone round our neck! The mills of DD grind as slowly as the mills of God. But not as surely! What could be a more telling indictment of DD than to observe that the numberless spots on its Dadasaheb Phalke screen got to be almost as entertaining to watch as the spot-censored cricket it brought us. How DD persists in its 'Prasariyasat' ploy of being 'spot' on at the expense of the action in the middle. What a refreshing change, in the concatenation of circumstances, was STAR's 'Best Of The Day'!

Now it is going to be all espnstar - as our 'Kiwindow' on Sourav's India dress rehearsing for the World Cup. There's many a slip between Sourav Cup and Sourav 'lip'. Our Sou-in-one BratPacker leader, if he is not to emerge as the captain of a sinking ship, should learn to keep his powder dry. As he is baited by the media - out to make a meal of it - all the way on the bumpy Hero Honda ride from New Zealand to South Africa. Through 7 ODIs testing, to the Hadlee hilt, not only the punch Sou packs in his 'left' but also India's true World Cup staying power. Testing whether Sourav has the power to be a Kapil in the Veldt. Not in the Beauty Jungle by which Dev, right now, looks to be on the point of being devoured.