A crash course in catching, fielding for our heroes

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The IPL boss and future BCCI chief, Lalit Modi, was a worried man. Irfan Pathan had muffed a sitter of Tilakaratne Dilshan in the T20 match against Sri Lanka.

If this is how we field, how will India defend its World Championship title in England in June ‘09, he wondered.

That the Pathan brothers won the match for India with a late onslaught was no consolation for Modi. Something had to be done quickly to improve fielding, especially catching.

Luckily, the solution came live on the TV while he was watching the news. Modi with his customary zeal started moving things and put an action plan.

He phoned Behen Mayawati and put forth his proposal. She quickly agreed but wanted a discussion along with Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Congress.

If it is a matter of money even political diehards come to an agreement quickly. The three parties quoted their combined price. Since money was the least of problems for Modi, the deal was signed quickly between BCCI and the UP government.

As Governor T.V. Rajeshwar addressed the joint session again, the marshals, er, members of the Indian team surrounding the Governor were ready for fielding/catching practice.

The boys in blue team were dressed in red bandhgala with black pants, the uniform for marshals in UP along with their helmets.

Irfan Pathan this time caught a chappal easily as did Yusuf Pathan who caught a glass paperweight aimed at the governor’s head. Mahendra Singh Dhoni with his gloves dived and caught a chair mid-air.

Apart from valuable fielding practice, the Indian team got to know how democracy functions in our Assemblies at close quarters.

Normally the 12th man brings the drinks during the drinks interval, but since mineral water bottles flew thick and fast from all directions during play, er, Governor’s address, the 12th man was allowed to be in the field of play.

Fielding coach Robin Singh himself had a narrow escape when the microphone aimed at Mayawati by a disgruntled Bahujan Samaj Party member came flying towards him. Coach Gary Kirsten, still agile at his age, dived and saved Singh’s head.

Sunny Gavaskar and selection committee chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth, present along with Modi in the visitors’ gallery, were happy with the facilities provided at UP Assembly and the progress of the team by the end of Governor’s address.

Meanwhile looking at the win-win deal, other States pursued Modi to enter in to MoUs with the BCCI.

Bihar, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu Assemblies were short- listed as their MLAs had proven expertise at throwing mikes, shoes, chairs as well as knives and cycle chains.

In Bihar, where it generally rains stones during the Governor’s address non-stop, it was decided to allow even outfielders like Sehwag and Sachin to wear helmets. The players were also informed of the existence of secret doors to the Governor’s chambers should they find it difficult to cope with the avalanche.

In Punjab, the chief Minister and his Deputy digned the deal for themselves than for the Government.

In Andhra Pradesh, since stones as well as all kind of rubbish are routinely thrown at the Governor as well as at each other by both supporters of Chandrababu Naidu and Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy, there would be a surprise element as fielders will never know from which side a missile would land on his head. This would help the team to be on their toes all the time, felt coach Kirsten.

Lalit Modi was a happy man. At the end of the camps in Madras, Patna, Hyderabad and Goa the fielding would be top class. They won’t drop skiers any more. Of course BCCI would have to shell out few hundreds of crores at each of these camps, but it would be money well spent, thought Modi. That would also keep all the politicians a happy lot.

For some strange reason he didn’t arrange a camp in the Maharashtra Assembly which has ace shooters like Narayan Rane, Chhagan Bhujabal and the Shiv Sena.

May be he didn’t want to step on his boss Sharad Pawar’s shoes.