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Friday, February 25, 2011

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(Published in on 23 February 2011, retrieved from

“Does your father have to watch TV so loudly?” Sunita hissed.

“Tell him to lower it, then,” Arvind hissed back, “he can’t hear anyway.”

“Why are the ads so much louder than the match?” Sunita sighed.

“Welcome to cricket telecasting!” Arvind snorted, “first the ads, then the experts flirting with the token bimbo. Analysis! As if it’s not a foregone conclusion that Australia’s going to win.”

“Australia will lose this time,” his father yelled over the TV, “we’ll have a new winner for 2011.”

“Who, Pa, South Africa?” Arvind asked, scornfully.

“No, no, no. They’re chokers!” the old man brushed him off, without looking away from the TV, “it’s that apartheid problem.”

“What, karma?” Arvind smirked.

“No, no, reservation. The same thing that is killing Indian education,” his father said, lifting a finger in the air confidently.

Arvind rolled his eyes.

“Gone are the days when cricket was a gentleman’s game,” his father sighed, and added darkly, “it’s a gambler’s game.”

“So what is your theory, Pa? Kenya, Holland or Canada will win? Odds are 1000-1, best way to make money!” Arvind laughed.

“Oh no! Poor Tendu has to win the World Cup at least once!” Sunita exclaimed, “how else will he run his orphanage?”

“He can use the money from his ad campaigns,” Arvind said, and then looked puzzled, “what does the orphanage have to do with winning the World Cup?”

“It’s all about money,” and the old man waved his ‘India’ cap, “this has no significance now. No patriotism. The bookies are telling all the papers that they want India to lose. All greed and money.”

“Dad, dad! I need new leg pads for the World Cup!” Sachin panted, as he ran in with his friend Arjun, “we’re replaying every match the next day.”

“Yeah, look, it’s all about the money,” Arvind looked at Sunita, and then told his son, firmly, “no.”

“But, Dad!” whined Sachin, “Arjun and I have decided we won’t take money to play for India!”

“Yeah, right!” laughed Samyuktha, as she walked in, “like someone’s going to pay you both to play for India! Who’ll select you?”

“Ssh,” Sunita said, “stop being nasty to your brother!”

“Aunty, we’re not going to take money because we’ll make lots more from the ads,” Arjun said, excited, “Sachin – I mean, the real Sachin – got 36 crores in January from ads!”

The unreal Sachin, who was now begging his grandfather for leg pads, turned, “I’m going to make even more!”

“You know, that’s a good idea,” Sunita said, wonderingly, “why should the countries pay the cricketers when they make so much money from ads?”

“And Sachin’s the one who gets tax exemptions,” grumbled Arvind, “when he’s the only person in India who can afford to pay the whole country’s tax!”

“It’s a conspiracy,” his father said.

“What, Sachin’s tax?”

“No, the World Cup itself.”

“Pa, you sound like Dalmiya now!”

“I agree with him about Eden Gardens. It’s the home of cricket,” his father said, “why should they stop it from holding a match? The wall in Chepauk also collapsed when people went to buy tickets. But they didn’t cancel the match! What does that tell you?”

“That the ground is more important than the wall?” Arvind asked.

“No!” his father said, impatiently, “everything’s fixed! Look at the scorecard of India vs. Bangladesh! Bangladesh scored 283 runs. Bangladesh! That country wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for us! Are you telling me they almost made 300 runs?! How is that possible? FIXED!”

As Arvind opened his mouth, his father held up a hand, “And Holland and England had a close match! This is cricket, not colonialism. It’s not possible. FIXED!”

“They should just let it be like that,” Samyuktha said, “you know, like the WWE. Everything’s fixed already, but the audience won’t know who’s going to win. It’ll be exciting also!”

“Australia will win,” Arvind said, confidently.

“No, I don’t want that,” Sunita shook her head in worry, “they’re always swearing – what’s it called, sledging? And they’re killing all our students!”

“India has higher odds than Australia, anyway,” Samyuktha said, “it’s 3-1. Australia is 5-1.”

“It doesn’t matter. Everything’s fixed!” her grandfather grunted.

“Pa, no one’s going to fix the World Cup! It’s impossible!”

“No, Dad, he’s right!” Sachin said, excitedly, pointing at the screen, “see, it’s saying ‘FIXTURES’ there itself!”


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