`Who let the dogs out?'

Though nothing should be taken away from the "Bond With The Rest" performance yardstick devised by Sourav Ganguly, it is clearly an overt stratagem easily imitated.

BHARATAN

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly may need a new bonding strategy.-Pic. V. V. KRISHNAN

WHAT a joy it was to see the Pakistan team NatWest regroup on the tube! The huddle into which Rashid Latif (as the Big Daddy With The Big Gloves) got his boys was a reminder of how tellingly Sourav set the teamwork pace. Only one thing sounded out of sync — Rameez Raja chipping in as a live commentator. Any telly observation Pak CEO Rameez now makes acquires overtones. So Rameez, in keeping with Urdu tameez, should be opting out, only selectively stepping into the box. To shed light, not heat.

I say this because you would remember how carpingly critical Arjuna Ranatunga (even as a mere Sony Panel commentator) was of the Sri Lanka team during the World Cup. Arjuna's barbed remarks only appeared further to demoralise a Sri Lanka team already low on World Cup motivation. There were times when Arjuna sounded as if he was pursuing an agenda for emerging as the new Board President. Now that we know Ranatunga to have garnered but 7 votes in that non-contest, was it cricket for Sony to have brought Arjuna so tartly face to face with Mandira? Expecting Mandira to look slim and trim even while taking Arjuna in her rotund stride?

Actually, I was way off the Nicholas Mark when I said Mandira Bedi should have come out of the KSBKBT serial. Her World Cup aura ensured her KSBKBT role being rewritten for Mandira (playing Mandira) to move centrestage as the serial killer. Mandira now is a Mid Day columnist too. Writing of how she held her noodle strap strategically in place. To prove a Sony revelation. Even if it is in soothing sepia tones we now view Mandira with Praveen Dabas in that "Celebration Diamonds'' spot. All the Mandirage the Bedi diva still is. Cricket, Lovely Cricket!

A game now becomingly seeing Jason Dasey graduate to being STAR's on-the-spot NatWest anchor. A timely "Harshake'' this for the Bhogle Boy? "Jasey'', for his punchy part, was swiftly in commentary tow, given his Sportsline gift of being concise and precise Only, the spectacle of Dean Jones staying Kangaroo put, in the Cheetah vacated Harsha box, is a bit hard now to swallow. It is as if Deano never left his espnstar perch after the World Cup! STAR clearly needs more panel variety seeing how Geoffrey distance does not lend enchantment to the scene.

Yet Ravi Shastri was good, very good. Even if Ravi overreached himself in suggesting that the creation of a dog squad (along the boundary line) is all we need to hold the ground invading crowds at bay. We do telly recall seeing such deadly dogs (held on a tight leash) inside South African grounds when the Proteas first returned to world cricket. But those fierce dogs are no longer to be stadium viewed even in the Veldt. As Jason tunefully put it, somebody sometime must have sung: "Who let the dogs out'' Ravi could have checked out on that one while addressing the South African team. Wow to Ravi's "bow'', yet Cricket Ka Asli Badshah appears to be ignoring the ground reality in India.

Ravi here has only to carry out a dog selection, all his own, for Maneka Gandhi to gatecrash into the telly picture. In Maneka, even Ravi encounters his willowy match. I say this from my experience of viewing Maneka Gandhi — tough as cricket-boot nails even as an under-18 — being trained to debut as the Surya Editor. Guess who put today's telly activist Maneka Gandhi through her emergency editorial paces at the behest of Khushwant Singh? None other than Jiggs Kalra as The Weekly staffer! Jiggs Kalra's Maneka mode of training provided "food for thought'' even then. As a Brigadier's cricket-playing son, Jiggs, effectively, was Maneka's military medium.

Cover Girl point — Ravi, even while being biting in his comment, could be so dogged, and no more, about pursuing his pet remedy. What about the chain reaction, inside the cricket ground, if a dog cut loose? So let telecasters concentrate on the action. Wondering about what happens, for instance, if more teams in the middle choose to go into a huddle. How do we know that the mixers of today are not going to be the fixers of tomorrow? Oh yes, this practice of male bonding, in the theatre of play, could get to be overdone. Cricket is not rugby for each wicket falling to be turned into a scrum. Maybe it worked — as Dada masterminded through 8 matches — for India during the World Cup.

It might work for others too — for a while. For the rest, it is well to comprehend that Steve Waugh — like Tiger Pataudi — gets results by maintaining a discreet distance from the 10 other members of the team. I want to take away nothing from the "Bond With The Rest'' performance yardstick so shoulder rubbingly devised by Sourav. The idea jelled in its time. Yet it is clearly an overt stratagem easily imitated. So our Sou-in-one captain needs to do some urgent rethinking after this groupsy strategy failed to deliver in the World Cup Final. When we were up against a team for whom success, in itself, is the true-blue adhesive.

Sourav ODI confronts Australia and New Zealand, all over again, in October-November. An India-Australia Final is what Sourav is inevitably expected to fashion by November 18. But shoving the Kiwis to 3rd place is going to be no piece of Kareena cheesecake. Dated in his outlook Sourav just cannot afford to look now. Not when Ganguly Mouli, on the MOOV, is fetching as fetching could be in spot after spot — in which Sourav could find himself.