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Monday, 8 December 2014

Malang Man!

Gully cricket! Those who have played it know it has uniqueness written all over it. The rules of the game are as varied as the gully themselves. And the only common one among those varied rules is the absence of a Cricket copybook. Not for us the coaching manuals. You struck the rising ball pitched outside off to Rina aunty's balcony somewhere in the deep thirdman's direction to score the 'declared two'. You moved inside the line to scoop the full pitched ball straight above the mid on's head simultaneously imparting heavy top spin on it so that it misses Ghosh uncle's protruding television antenna and still hits the C Block water tank for an 'aththa'! You also cheekily but skillfully pushed the ball square to ensure it went below Raman uncle's Ambassador parked there since eternity so you can score a ' all run 3'. Imagine an 'all run 3'! In gully cricket! Now tell me when have you seen me do this? You haven't? Means you have not prodded your mind enough! I have seen me do it. I have seen you do it too! And I saw it everytime Virendra Sehwag padded up and took strike. That audacious 'upar cut', that walking away from the ball to nonchalantly scoop/hoik it above the mid on's head and yet place it beyond the unorthodox long on's reach or the cheeky push away from the slip to a ball which has beaten you on its flight. NOW you get the connection! 

Ganguly retired, a part of my childhood memories vanished. Dravid took away a portion when he hung up the boots. VVS did the same. And Sachin..............sigh! They all helped me get nostalgic. They kindled fond memories about my past. They made me miss some of the most beautiful moments of my life. But I lived on. But Sehwag? Sehwag killed my childhood! He was me! He was you! He was us! With all our shortcomings and infirmities. The lack of footwork and straight bats. He was that imp who stole an 'all run 3' in gully cricket. He was that supreme exponent with the bat who conquered the world with all our limitations, blemishes, drawbacks and weaknesses. I am Viru! The gully cricketer who could dream and then win the world. 

Topspin to take it past Ghosh Uncle's TV antenna! 
Cheeky push to send it below Raman Uncle's car!!
Malang! Mast Malang!!

Malang. Malang! No it is not an ode to Aamir Khan and Dhoom 3. Malang is a word used to describe the ascetics and sufis who live in a world of their own oblivious of everything that goes around them. In a communion with whoever they are in love with and despite the distractions of the world. Beyond love or hate, beyond the plethora of material needs at their disposal or none of it. In a daze, in a zone of their own. Nothing affected them, nothing could upset their veneer. A seering bouncer fended off awkwardly is wiped off from memory. An ugly swipe at the swinging delivery leaving you looking foolish. An unorthodox reverse sweep attempted off an express paceman. Nothing affected him, nothing could upset his veneer. All that mattered was that the next ball was on its way and presented an opportunity to belt it to the boundary or beyond it. Equanimity never lost and never needed to be restored. Peace reigned in his mind as the bowler lost it. MalangMan!

I have this nagging feeling that whenever the history of modern Indian Cricket especially its willow wielders is written the writer may run out of space, pen and ink by the time one is done with the Fab Four and leave a gaping hole in the narrative which will never be noticed by the generation to follow us. Mundane statistics will be quoted and what will be missed is the essence. You will talk about Dada's aggression with bat as well as a captain. Paeans will be written about Dravid's struggle. The languid slayer that the Very Very Special player was. And Sachin.................sigh! They gave joy, they offered delight, happiness from the platform built by a certain Nawab of Najafgarh! Remember the roller coaster, the giant wheel, the horror movie? They didn't give joy or delight or happiness. They gave you pure, unadulterated thrill! Thrill that the Sultan of Multan packed into every minute of his stay at the crease. Whether he scored 2, 22 or those monster  hundreds! THRILL! 

Rewrite the Books! It is Fabulous Fivesome!!


PS: I first heard Imran Khan of Pakistan call him 'Malang'. One of the few occasions post retirement from active cricket when Khan got something right!


Aththa : Delhi slang for the one which goes beyond the rudimentary 'Sixer', an 'Eighter'!


  1. Excellent tribute to a man who deserved much more than what he got. He transformed Indian cricket and as an opener paved the way for the others who followed him in the batting order. One guy who, on his day, could totally demolish any bowling attack.

  2. Indeed Sir! An entertainer par excellence. Thanks:)