Kolkata: It's a whodunit that would interest Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock and might even intrigue John Le Carre. The search for the assassins of India's ambitions in the T20 World Cup, depressing the sentiments of millions. Well, I have a succinct candidate but prior to robust revelation, let me round up the usual suspects.
It could well be Rahul Dravid, the direly boring head coach, sans the effluent flair of Ravishankar Jayadith Shastri. In the press conference post the debacle, he resembled an IIT aspirant who has barely made it to general stream college, thus deflating the name and fame of uncountable generations. Modern sport is competitive and serious, but it's also about spunk and Nehruvian humility is perhaps an avoidable anachronism.
Next in line is the skipper himself, who unwillingly seemed out of timing. He looked worried throughout the tourney as if given the mandate for solving Delhi's foul air crisis, considering the ICC pressures to be no less than ICU. His usual Madhubala grace in strokeplay was abruptly substituted by Ajmal Kasab-like butchery, and a shrink is surely in order.
Maybe the villain is Chetan Sharma, in tandem with his band of frustrated selectors, who denied both the glories and money of modern sport. By ignoring sparky youngsters like Shubnam Gill, Rituraj Gaekwad, Sanju Samson and Vande Bharat fast bowlers who would have instilled chutzpah in the hierarchy. Instead of investing in a civil service-like staffing policy, seniority reigning supreme, with modest signs of retirement.
Let's not forget the possibility of the wicketkeeper imbroglio, Karthik and Pant playing Tom and Jerry. The former selected for volcanic closures while the latter a volcano in proven regalia, but alas utter confusion did reign. As the management swivelled between destruction and disruption, eventually settling for elimination.
The bowlers must qualify for a Gestapo interrogation, as they have been caught red-handed in the carnage, no prisoners taken. Bhuvi seemed superannuated, good soul albeit, while Shami and Arshdeep were clearly easy fodder for splendid dragons. On spinners, though, the tragedy is not short of Grecian, as the terrifying twosome were lovingly invitational in their miseries.
It will be necessary to consider the role of the fitness agents, who ably ensured that Bumrah missed the grand wedding party, while merrily attending the sangeet and mehndi. I do mean the bilateral series he was persuaded to play in, which orchestrated a sincere relapse and thus the debilitating absence. Roger Michael Humphrey Binny mentioned this clearly in the acceptance speech and he earnestly deserves Godspeed in the matter of a sensible rehab regime.
One may also blame the lure of lucre, the seductive advertising revenues rather irritating when the fellows need viagra onfield. Many talk about the enforced secondage of Dream 11 advertising, poor clients under the abject mercy of bulk media rates and equally bulky emotional censure. For in our humble middle-class world view, conveniently on call, it's not kosher for the reject to project.
Now that I have exposed the many candidates for internment by Scotland Yard, it is time to reveal my chosen candidate, surprisingly an unexpected outlier. The 'unfair burden of expectations', to me, is why we lose so often in Derby ties, inspite of our spellbinding acumen. Just because we run the marquee IPL, and indeed much of the ICC, our audiences expect our chaps to win everytime and anytime, like an ATM machine.
Unlike say the SENA nations, where victory is a delightful occurence but not a life and death incidence like in South Asia. In West Indies as well, the passions have diminished over the years and in the nascent countries, the sport enjoys niche attraction. Just because we are hosts to the finest league is not sufficient logic to ensure victory, and the football parallels of the EPL and the Spanish league are way too visible.
If like a templatised whodunit, there should be a drawing room finale, the chief inspector would be rather disappointed. For the villain in this case is a dangerous emotion and not a deliberate act of a person, although far more venomous. We must learn to expect less from our champions and that is possibly when they will start to deliver more.