Will India 'Kap' it or cop it in the World Cup?

TRADITIONAL Indian hospitality dictated that we fed the underdog in such a way that the West Indies, in no position to bark after the first two Tests, got back to bite India afresh in the 5th ODI. Thus 'Barodamned' we stood as the Windies' Gayle hit India with the force of a thunderbolt. All but wiping out the telly memory of the style Sourav & Co had evoked to 325- 'Ahmedbadger' the Caribbeans at a stage in the series when His Majesty Vivian's Opposition looked to be on Kingfisher Calypsong. Indeed Sourav needed the unlikely-looking umpiring help of Asoka de Silva to send Chris Gayle Baroda-packing after 10 fours and 3 sixes in a hat-trick of hundreds (101 from 107 balls). A glistening showing that had Gayle coming over the sightscreen as a Black Blaster reminder of the Perth earth-shaking Roy Fredericks - 100 off 71 balls for the West Indies during his 169 (from 258) in the December 1975 second Test vs Ian Chappell's Australia.

If Chris (140 off 127 balls: 12 fours, 5 sixes)), not Rahul (Britannia-in-hand 109 off 124 balls: 8 fours), was Man of the Ahmedabad Match in Mike Procter's South African World Cup eyes, Natty Natterer Ruby had quite another 'Cricket Masala' tale to tell. Ruby identified Rahul as 'Bachelor Of The Year' in a Straw 'Street Talk' Poll that was revealing for Hamlet Laxman failing to be a turn-on in even a 'single' pair of Ophelian eyes! Veeru and Yuvey were both in the 'Mr Deeds' bachelor picture here, of course, but 'the field to play' clearly Ruby - belonged to Rahul. Cause for Raveena - bred to stay on the big screen - to worry? On small screened evidence, the competition building up looks so much younger and fresher. As the TV Monitor of India's Batting, Rahul - rotating those teenyboppers as groovily as the strike - reigns supreme as 'Mr Eligible'.

This was the first time I beheld, by a Remote accident, 'Cricket Masala' from fade-in to fade-out. Stunned I was by the paparazzi lines on which I viewed Ruby preparing the SonyMax ground for the World Cup. Ajay, with all that Jadejazz, is still current coin in Ruby's Talking Eyes. Eyelashingly playing Maneka Bose in 'Kasautii Zindagii Key' (as the flamboyant foil to 'Pears' Prerna), Ruby as emcee has only to say "Shoot!" for the debonair Ajay to sizzle even now. Watching Ajay consigned to those film sets, you felt immensely saddened that such a striking talent should have lost the way to the wicket when another World Cup is almost upon us.

Even as I touch on Ajay, who should come visiting us but the petite Pia Rai-Choudhury - so empathisingly playing Juliet in Alyque Padamsee's 'Romeo and Juliet'. "But where's the cricket connection" you will ask. If the play is the thing, the man essaying Romeo (in Alyque's stage presentation) is Aditya Hitkari - so personably blending, into your telewatch, as 'Peter England'! "Info of so much relevance and no more," you will say at a point when we have had our dreary DD fill of spots. Yet you have to accept that you stay hooked on these spots even as you stay pulled by the game. Now that our cricketers are off the razzledazzle screen for a while, you insight how these spots have become Kareena part and Shah Rukh parcel of your viewing our "men in blue" not always able to "keep looking cute".

The Baroda ODI was a pointer that the 325 Ahmedabad chase had taken more out of our men than we watchers are ever prepared to tele-concede. We expect a stroke-loaded Sehwagering encore each time - that is the Cadbury-Preity beauty of the beast that is 'Buffalo TV'. If that buffalo you saw on the screen instantly reminded you of one Laloo, be under no illusion about how The Bovine One got into the famous Yadav spot. You feel it was the spot director's ringside idea to so place the buffalo as to suggest Laloo's rural political persona? Perish the thought! So 'spot on' is TV Savvy Laloo that it was the YadaVIP who insisted upon that buffalo being strategically there in the vote-catching frame!

How TV savvy, from Laloo's Jamshedpur down, are our cricketers for the World Cup? Having in one single year gone in red-hot pursuit of a 325 target twice, can India do it again where it matters - during the World Cup in South Africa as we either 'Kap' it or cop it? Recall Geoffrey's famous words: "No matter how many India have to get, they are always a few runs short!" How, while Boycs was being missed all the way, our men went after sizeable totals in a vein calculated to fill Geoffrey's Sourav-centric heart with joy! Do we get to view Geoffrey anew at least in the professionally riveting 'Best Of The Day' on espnstar during February-March 2003, remembering how all the spot World Cup action is already with SonyMax? Viewers must sincerely wish that Boycs is there to weigh whether or not to repeat his famous forecast - "India are not making it!" A forecast forthcoming as Steve Waugh's Australia (sent in to bat by Azhar Hyderabadi courtesy) ran up a tele-vivid 'Super Six' total of 282 on the Friday afternoon of June 4, 1999. For Glenn McGrath to send Azhar's India down for The Oval 17-for-4 count in the 1999 World Cup. Is it a different India Geoffrey is now going to see under a defiant Sourav in the World Cup? Get back here and now, Boycs, so that "The Prince of Calcutta" acquires the AVIVA impetus to orchestrate a 282-plus World Cup chase, come February!