Whether India can bring back the 2019 World Cup depends on the weather, but even so, the excitement it generates is best explained by playwright Harold Pinter who wrote: “I tend to think that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on earth—certainly greater than sex, although sex isn’t too bad either.” Right now, cold showers are what fans and players are experiencing but the smart money is on India emerging victorious thanks to the outstanding players they have in the team.
Narendra Modi: Captain, opening bat, inspirational figure capable of hitting the ball out of the park. His game is built much in the manner and style of West Indian Chris Gayle in terms of his destructive hitting, 56-inch chest and someone who revels in the title of Universe Boss, as his teammates refer to him. When he walks out to bat, the chants of “Modi, Modi” are louder and more aggressive than when we used to hear “Sachin, Sachin”. He has already impressed his fan base by his desire to hug every opposing captain in public even if relations go for a toss. Moreover, his surgical strikes have already got opposing teams running for cover. As he has shown
in earlier campaigns, when he comes out to bat, it is as if there are no boundaries.
Amit Shah: As head coach, mentor and master strategist, Shah’s ability to exploit the weaknesses of opposing teams has been successfully proven in more than one tournament. Machiavellian is the word most frequently associated with him but more than that is his ability to win over opposing players, also known in bureaucratic circles as lateral entry. His biggest advantage is that, like Ravi Shastri, he has the full backing of the captain, making him indispensable as far as the selectors are concerned. In fact, he even decides who the selectors will be, which basically confirms his ability to change the rules of the game unopposed.
Nirmala Sitharaman: Both captain and coach seem to have immense faith in her abilities and value as an all-rounder, ensuing that she comes up the order, much like filling that elusive Number Four spot in the Indian team. In her earlier stint with the team, she proved to be solid in defence, much like Rahul Dravid, ducking under the barrage of bouncers bowled by the opposition and blocking all attempts to make her play an indiscreet shot. Her promotion up the order is a signal that she is capable of doing her sums right and handling taxing situations.
Arun Jaitley: Although prone to injury and different kinds of surgical strikes, Jaitley has proven to be invaluable in terms of being a team player and the master of spin, which is why his stock ball is the one that can turn adversity into triumph. While batting, he also has the capability of effortlessly deflecting beamers bowled by the opposition. His value addition is that even while hors de combat, he can still confuse and confound the opposing team with his verbal googlies and statistical sundries. He has opted out of being a member of the current team but will continue to play the role of twelfth man, confined to the sidelines but never far from the action.
Rajnath Singh: The utility man for all seasons, can be dropped one day and elevated the next. He is officially number two in the playing eleven as vice-captain and performs unassumingly and keeps a low profile, but like Dinesh Karkit and Ravindra Jadeja, his usefulness and loyalty is constantly under scrutiny. Once at the crease, however, he is capable of playing a long if unspectacular innings.
Giriraj Singh: One of those players who hits out at every ball a la Virendra Sehwag, and seems to revel in constant sledging of opponents, which is why he is invariably under the scrutiny of the Third Umpire or being evaluated by the DRS system which can declare him out if found guilty, except he seems to have the approval and backing of his captain.
Smriti Irani: Her single-minded focus on the team’s main threat, a rival captain, led to her success in getting him clean bowled for the first time in his career. Her reward was hardly in keeping with her astonishing feat but that is the strategy adopted by team India since 2014—only one player gets the credit, and the reward, resplendent in designer suits.