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With cricket and politics being our national obsessions, it is only natural to draw parallels between India’s leading cricketers and our most colourful politicians. Leading cricket pundit, Barsha Hogle, drawing on his expertise in both these games, analyses the striking similarities between the men in blue jerseys on one hand and men in dhoti-kurtas or women in cotton sarees, on the other.
Sachin as Sonia Gandhi – Like madam ji, he is the most powerful member of the team and beyond the pale of criticism. He is considered ‘undroppable’ and revered to the point of sycophancy. He picks and chooses his appearances for the team these days and is sometimes seen with his Swiss friends. Gave up the captaincy for the greater good and carries the burden of a nation on his shoulders. No one in the team dares to ask any questions of him and some feel he is waiting for his son to play for the team before he can retire in peace.
Dhoni as Manmohan Singh – He is a slightly more verbose version of Manmohan Singh. But we wish that occasionally he would shut up and be quiet like our PM. He sometimes delivers these singularly boring team-talks much like our PM’s speeches – totally devoid of any charm or inspiration. Like Manmohanji, he began his career with a bang and it was a big surprise when he was chosen the captain. Rumour has it that Sachin had a big part to play in that. Till recently, it seemed he could do no wrong. He was praised world over for leading the country to great heights. But lately, seems to have run out of luck and is getting shit from all sides. His decisions are being criticized and some of his own team mates are apparently unhappy with his leadership. He also has the tendency to wait and wait and wait till half the country has a heart-attack before pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. Sometimes, the rabbit turns out to be just a rat.
Piyush Chawla as Pratibha Patil – Well, I can’t think of anyone active presently but I would say he is like Pratibha Patil of this team. He has this habit of stealing stuff from the hotel rooms. This one time, he even stole a broken bathroom tile saying he is a tile collector. That’s what he always says – he is a collector. Absolutely no one has a clue what the selectors see in him but he seems to enjoy the confidence of Sachin. He always manages to get selected out of nowhere. He cooks for Sachin sometimes. With a World Cup in his bag, he will surely go down as one of the greatest overachievers ever.
Raina as Mamata Bannerjee – He is most hyper-active member of the team. I heard he is regularly sedated without his knowledge. Like Mamata Di, he has the ugly habit of pulling everyone’s hair – literally and metaphorically. You saw what he did to Dougie Bollinger in the IPL. He says it is his way of showing love but everyone in the team is scared of being near him. Though, most of the time he is completely useless at his own job, he can be seen prodding and willing others to perform better. He is known to swing away regardless of the state of the match which gets him dropped from the team sometimes.
Sehwag as Sharad Pawar – Like Sharadji believing he should be the Prime Minister, Sehwag also thinks he should be the captain. He doesn’t believe Dhoni is good enough to be the captain of our Test team. But he should realize that he is not able to lead his own team very well. He always sulks about Dhoni in private and sometimes even in public. And he constantly badgers him for more respect and for better coordination with the senior members of the team.
Virat Kohli as Narendra Modi – He is easily the strongest performer in the team today. Recognized as the man who delivers and lets his performances talk for themselves. Made a few mistakes in the early part of the career but seems to have learnt quickly from those mistakes. Though he says has come a long way from those early deeds, they continue to be mandatorily mentioned along with any of his achievements. His quick rise to the vice-captaincy in the team was seen as a threat by some of the more senior members in the team though the public in general sees him as the next captain and leader.
Ashwin as Chidambaram – The smiling assassin. Dhoni’s most trusted lieutenant. He is the brainy one in the team. Typical Tamilian – erudite and articulate, which sometimes helps him make up for bad days on the field. But he is always surreptitiously plotting against others. Rumors are doing the rounds in the team that he had once tapped Bhajji’s phone to see if the feisty sardar was up to any new tricks. It is advisable not to get on the wrong side of him as he seems to enjoy the patronage of some higher powers. But the team loves him in general as he is also willing to take one for the team whenever necessary.
Zaheer Khan as SM Krishna – This one might be bit of a stretch but I guess he is a bit like SM Krishna. Like SMK, he has a thing for Foreign Affairs, as in he enjoys bowling on the foreign pitches. Also, like SMK, he is smooth with the ladies, unleashing his charm offensive at every instance. Also considered a geriatric in the team now.
Yuvraj Singh as Mulayam Singh Yadav – Like Mulayamji wanting to be a key player in the Central Government, Yuvi also always dreams of becoming a great Test cricketer and skipper of the team. But he is best suited to the limited overs format and the public knows that. Also, like Mulayamji helping out congress whenever it is in trouble, Yuvi helps Dhoni retain the captaincy by performing in the major tournaments. He still believes that, after retirement of some seniors, he can make it big at the Test level in the new look team with the younger breed. But it ain’t gonna happen.
Gambhir as Jairam Ramesh: Can’t think of anyone very similar to Gauti but if I have to choose someone, it would be Jairam Ramesh. He works extremely hard and performs well but hardly ever gets credit for it. In his enthusiasm to do well for the team, runs out a lot of his team mates just like Jairamji troubles lot of other ministers with his well-meaning bills. Has this irritating habit of writing letters to Sachin on how to improve the team – some see it as an application for a bigger role in the team.
Ashish Nehra as Digvijaya Singh – This is the most obvious one. Like Digvijayaji mentoring RahulG, Nehra has the thankless job of giving batting practice to Arjun Tendulkar and to entertain him when Sachin paji is busy with the match. Easily one of the most hated persons in India. I don’t know what the poor guy ever did but his mere existence seems to disturb many people. Merely looking at him causes high blood pressure in the team members and also the public. But, my God, is he thick-skinned or what? Nothing ever seems to perturb him. He is there for a purpose and he serves it well.
(Disclaimer: Of course, this is all made up. What is important is whether, after reading this, the reader exclaims ‘are haan be!!’ Also, I’m an ardent devotee of Sachin aka God, and this article, like most other things in life, was written in good faith.)