Visuals that hit the eye

TANDON splits into TAN DON - 'Brown Bradman' to Raveena Tandon (if to no one else) Rahul must have looked that June 29 Saturday night without end. As India's Atlas, eminently advancing in years, at long last rediscovered his roving-eye boundary-line touch (7 fours). His Lord's bat-in-hand 73 (off 86 balls) certainly made Rahul eligible, afresh, to the young ladies at Lord's. To the Kapil-historic Lord's should India logically be returning for a Prudential Cup-like final this (July 13) Saturday afternoon. That as but the first shot to be fired in our rejuvenated World Cup campaign. Rahul's 73 not out came as just the platform the stylish Yuveraj Singh needed to mount a timely comeback (64 off 65 balls with 7 fours as a follow-up to 7-0-39-3). The 131-run Yuveraj-Rahul stand put the Britannia stamp on Sourav's India as the ultra-sharp winner of the needle NatWest triangular opener by 6 wickets from Nasser's England. In front of what Ray Illingworth so descriptively defined as "India's home crowd" as far back as the Ganesh Chathurthi Tuesday of August 24, 1971. That was the Ashes-smeared Illy addressing the delirious India-crazy crowd at The Oval. A venue set to prove the Waterloo of Sri Lanka on June 30. The Sunday that was Germany's D-Day. With all India, coffee cup in hand, rooting for Brazil. How brazenly Brazilian the TV-hugging eyes of Indians had turned!

Incredibly, cricket took over even before that world happening. Illy's Indian "home crowd" turned up in near football force to watch the neo-Britannia called Veeru Sehwag Lord's sledgehammer England for 74 (69 balls: 9 fours, 1 six). So there you are, it is now Britannia 'raised to the Power of 5' - Sourav (43), Sehwag (74), Yuveraj (64 not out), Rahul (73 not out) vs England, Mohammed Kaif (38 not out) vs Sri Lanka! A quintet viewed as pooling its Britannia resources to neutralise the striking charisma of the one-and-only MRF in the team - loner Tendulkar (1 & 49). In such a superstarry stand-off did Yuveraj Singh (64 vs England, 31 vs Sri Lanka) find his 'HRS' southpaw niche. As the 'Man of the March' towards India's planned-assault Lord's win over Nasser's England. Yuvy here first thanked "my Mom". Only a full match later did the Sky Sports camera deign to pick up the personable young woman in The Oval crowd. For Navjot promptly to pinpoint her as the Yuvy lady. Sky Sports thankfully began obliging ESPN with further close-ups of 'My Fair Lady' after that.

Of course two back-to-back Indian wins triangularly proved nothing. But at least thoroughbred India did not 'dwell' at the starting-post itself in keeping with the Sourav Maharaj tradition! That 'Souravenous' India went on to take the brickbatting Sanath (36 off 38 balls) and his Sri Lanka too in their 4-wicket stride (on The Oval Sunday of June 30) made the football final doubly worth watching for 'Brazilian' Indians! Just look, how many 'coat hangers-on' do we have tele-zeroing in on India if we are winning! In line with his 'RU-BA-RU' TV-interacting personality, Rajiv Shukla was there by the June 29 celebratory side of Sourav. As the movie-struck Jagmohan Dalmiya's Indian plant in England, Rajiv Shukla could as well have taken this Lord's victory as the opportunity to burst into song if not dance - 'Mera naam RU-BA-RU, RU-BA-RU, baaba RU-BA-RU'!

So much by way of TV byplay. How have viewers in general reacted to the ongoing ESPN coverage via the Sky Sports picture? There have been times when, DD style, the spot has come on even while the screen is still in the thick of cricket. This is happening because the narrow gap to 'monitor' between two one-day overs is being filled by ESPN's own multiple spots in India, by Sky Sports' limited ads in England. One tempting spot more by ESPN and its display is at the expense of the action in the middle! How fulfilled do viewers then feel watching the ESPN commentators having, all the time, to attune to the Sky Sports visuals? The entire telecast, as indeed each action replay, by Sky Sports is naturally England-centric. Given this harsh visual reality, the ESPN commentators are certainly making the best of a bad basement bargain. But somewhere something is visibly missing. Telewatchers, in one instance, must have been confounded seeing Sunil 'speaking' into the (Sky Sports) mike while the 'voiceover' was of (ESPN) Navjot! As for Geoffrey, his Yorkshire-pudding accent rules him out of Sky Sports even while STAR watchers vibrantly vibe with Boycs as the English voice that goes straight to the Indian heart. 'Sherry' is in a different 'Aha!' bottle altogether. Sherry and moderation, the twain can no more meet than can East and Mae West.

Now for a promo point. STAR pictorially misled prospective viewers when it announced this NatWest triangular contest under its own 'Vijay Tilak' mast-head. STAR's "Kis ka hoga Vijay Tilak?" clarification came only later. Such a Hindi catchline to a series played in England struck one as catchpenny. Sounding no more freewheeling than did Rani in a saree awkwardly spot-enacting 'Mera HERO rang rangeela main to naachoongee'. There was one cricketing nugget at The Oval, though, that was probably lost on viewers. How many of you realised that Dave Orchard - who 'nodded out' Sachin (49 off 70 balls: 3 fours, 1 six) vs Sri Lanka - would not have been standing there at The Oval at all? That is, if the more seasoned umpire at the other end, Peter Willey, had accepted the original ICC invite to be in the Elitist Panel.