The gang of four is up at one in the night of the Adelaidebacle. The fielding coach, Shridhar, is shocked to receive a message from Kohli at this ungodly hour, because the captain had not touched alcohol in seven years, and goes to bed early after face-chatting with his wife.
Shridhar- The skip wants to join us.
Shaz (demanding to know)- Hasn’t the Caesar left yet?
Rathour (chipped in)- We folded a day early, Pa. He could not have planned.
Bharat Arun- I wish Cleopatra had allowed him to stay for one more test. Running away from these ruins might not look so good.
Shaz (stressing each word)- Boss, family. Comes. First. No. Matter. What. Besides he is a woke. W.O.K.E. They are pregnant as a unit, she is not alone in this. This is the new generation, boss. Hats off. Salutes.
Shridhar- He sounded concerned. Three tests still to go. Shami is out. Ishant cannot get in. Even Rohit won’t play in Melbourne. A long summer lies ahead.
Shaz- Boss, he is the Generalissimo of the side that was bundled out today for a grand total of Thirty-six. History would never forget that. That is what must be keeping him awake. What does he want? Call him down for a drink or two. Tell him we are conferring on the ‘Mission Melbourne’ already. As for the long summer ahead, just keep it flowing.
Shridhar- But Jinks is not here. Should we not call him too? Mission Melbourne sans Jinks would look like Mission Bourbon!
Bharat Arun- Twice he has led so far, and both times he went in with five bowlers- in Dharmasala Vs Australia, and Vs Afghanistan.
Rathour- Tough days ahead for Jinks. Don’t envy his job.
Shaz- Damn right you don’t. Now shut up and drink.
Kohli arrives, looking tense, anxious, sleepless. Copious amounts of alcohol arrives for the Gang.
Kohli- So what is this Mission Melbourne.
B Arun- You say what changes do you want, Skip.
Kohli- I did not want Kuldeep in the Dharmsala squad. But Jinks gave him his debut, and he took four wickets. I received a lot of flak after that.
Shaz- Dedh Shana hai Rahane. Dedh Shana. Khadoos. Mumbai ka Khadoos. Silent assassin, meethi churi, I tell you.
Kohli- How long have you been drinking, Coach?
Shaz- How long have you been on phone with your better half? Chill. Permission lia hai aj pine ka ki nahin? Go ask! Tell her we need to drown our sorrows tonight. Badge of honour. Wear these 36 on your chest to remind yourself of the humiliation. It will help to turn this around.
Kohli- You did not even address the team after the collapse!
Shaz- I don’t do speeches after losses. I talk after you win it for me. Anyway, do not forget that it was because of Koomblee that Jinks got away with that Kuldeep coup. Koomblee, ha ha ha ha.The Professor.
Rathour- This time it is no rocket science. Our best batsman is leaving, so we need a batsman. But Shaw is gonna be dropped too, hence Gill would open. Pant for Saha is a certainty. That was a bad call anyway. That only leaves Jadeja to be drafted for VK.
Kohli, Shaz, Shridhar- Five bowlers! Give Jinks what he wants!
(Jinks anyway had no other choice, and his desire to go in with five bowlers was strong. In the absence of Pandya, the Jadu decision was a no-brainer. But spin doctors would later attribute this brain-wave to Virat Kohli.)
Kohli (frenetically calls Shaz after the Gabba win): ShazPa you must be on cloud nine. But what about me? You have won without me. I feel so left out. Don’t leave me in the cold. Everyone is trolling me on the internet, asking me to take a longer Paternity Leave. Sabko Jinks Chahiye ab Captain, ghar baith Kohli, ghar baith bc….Five tests, four wins, three of those wins against the Ozzies, and without their best batsman in the side! A large enough sample size, Pa. Onfield captaincy sabko dikhta hai…The greatest ever series win!
SHAZ: You are my King,my Lord. I’ve got your back. How is the Queen? How is the Princess? Cheers! They tell you that History is written by victors. But they do not divulge that it is the loudmouths among the victors who end up stealing all credit. They say that success has many fathers, but one needs to claim paternity by shouting from the rooftop to be recognized as one. Wait for my presser!
SHAZ (in the presser): You saw Rahane lifting the trophy. You saw Pujara taking hits on his body. You saw Shardul playing cover drives, Sundar hooking Cummins for a six, Jadu sitting with a padded thumb and waiting for his turn. Pant played with such intent in the fourth innings of Sydney and Brisbane. Even though you saw these individual players playing their small parts to provide a historical result, I only saw one man, one force of nature, Virat Mayur Kohli performing all these deeds. Behind Rahane’s calm was Kohli’s confidence. Behind Pujara’s fortitude was Kohli’s stern discipline. Behind Pant’s exuberance was Virat’s trust in him. If Siraj could keep the death of his father in the background and yet focus on the job at hand, do not forget that it was Virat who had first hugged him. If Ashwin was so animated, it was because Kohli had inspired and backed him. Vihari did not want to let Virat down, Sundar wanted to express his gratitude at being a part of the RCB. Most of you think B here stands for Bangalore, far from it. It actually stands for the Bench, and might also be used for bc, Virat’s favourite expletive. You say Virat Kohli was not present in Australia because you did not get to hear f-words, bcmcbk-bcmcbk; I say I could see Him and only him in all the twenty players because his motivational abuses kept ringing in my head. You might argue that I am drunk. To hell with your insinuations and my swollen belly, and to hell with God for inspiring the Ozzies to manufacture such magnificent beer Down Under, I am. That does not change the fact that Virat Kohli has created a team of champions and is a champion captain and batsman himself.
SHAZ (in Dirty Harry, the Enforcer mode, calling up his gang on virtual conference): I told you that the time would come when I would come knocking to collect my dues, expecting that you would pay up. I took care of you because you called me your friend. About time you demonstrate your friendship.
B Arun: I shall recount that phone call in July when we discussed the Kiwis’, especially Wagner’s bodyline bowling to Smith. Would add something like you said that we should bowl a straighter line, pack the on-side and take the off-side out of the Australian reckoning. Brilliant thinking !
SHAZ: But this conversation did take place, I recall. Or did it?
Kohli: Haan to hona bhi chahiye na. Head Coach and Bowling coach should be talking upcoming series too, besides drinks and chicks. It is quite logical. Add also that I bought into this theory, and implemented it in Adelaide, but that batting let us down.
SHAZ: Someone plant the Mission Melbourne story! Shridhar,anyone?
Shridhar: I am going for Ashwin’s Kutty show. I will just say it was your idea to get Ashwin to bowl early on at Melbourne, within first ten overs that is.
B Arun: It had rained a day before, there was moisture, pitch was damp. Of course, he had to bowl.
SHAZ (growls): You want to hog some? You want some credit, prick?
B Arun (stung): You also sent Shardul to deliver some message to Vihari and Ash in Sydney…..
(Shardul has now revealed that he went into the middle, but thought better than delivering the obvious message)
SHAZ: Only that they should finish the job and not leave it for Jadu or someone else.
Rathour: Of course, the set batsmen, the set batsmen…..
Rathour: What about your refusal to acknowledge Pant after he got out for 97 in Sydney?
SHAZ: That Lil’ Shit. Should have stayed till the new ball. We would have lost in Sydney, but for Vihari and Ash, God Bless them. God bless Gujju Pujju too.
Kohli: Someone please add that it was Shaz’s displeasure which inspired Pant to remain till the end, and finish the job in Brisbane.
SHAZ: Don’t worry Skip. It is your team. Have you read Chappelli’s comments? That Indian bench is so strong, system is so rigorous, Aussie junior cricketers are schoolboys etc. We will spin it all in your favour. Legacy. Five years of hard work. Confidence rubbed on others. Resilience. Management blah shit. The Gang shall get busy. The Empire strikes back. Meanwhile, Jinks and Pujara must focus on batting well against the English because we are now full of options.
Busy as hell, they have become. The public does not care. Trolls don’t give a damn. They saw the series live and understand Kohli’s insecurities, and Shaz’s bombast. For now, it is over to the series against the Poms.
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