With a pot of tea, a slice of cake, sit back in a deep arm chair around 14.30 GMT and set the co-ordinates (in theUK) to Channel 120. It’s that time of year again – all blue and gold and silver, yellow and red.
It’s IPL 2012 from Chennai and look, there’s our old friends, Malinga, Sachin, Bhaji, Raina, Vijay and the rest of the troupe. The circus is in town.
And the experience is instantly as comfortable and as reassuring as a favourite pair of shoes: a Strategic Time Out, a DLF Maximum, back-lifts as high as the Himalayas and Mumbai fielders fresh from their boot camp serving notice to the rest, “This time!”
Their opponents, Chennai, on the other hand were jet-lagged from partying in SA for the benefit of Jacque Kallis, sluggish and as slow as an England Football side in the opening match of a World Cup tournament.
The resulting wicket looked like a green Bengal striped shirt with variable pace and bounce to unsettle and humble the great gladiators who, in their BAE Air Buses, bestride the cricketing world.
Dear Bhaji has found new confidence and purpose as captain of the Indians and he brought obvious relish and leadership to the role, with positive, involving, encouraging body language and support for his bowlers and fielders, who responded with élan and éclat. The Indian’s throwing had the zip of a Wild Bill Hickok knife-throwing act.
Three run outs soiled the shirts of the diving, despairing Super Kings and knocked the stuffing out of them.
The debased champions, hobbled from the field for a miserable 112, the spoils of the engagement shared equitably by Pollard 2-15, Malinga 2-16 and Ojha 2-17.
Thus they made way for Tendulka and Levi and annihilation.
Richard Levi, who makes Dave Warner look like the skinny kid on the beach, plants his left foot across to the off stump line and from this vantage point pulls every ball to leg like a meteor.
Chennai could have set a 9 – 0 field had they not realised they might need one somewhere on the off to take a catch if the Protean ever assayed one of these pulls from too wide of the off-stump.
But when this did come to pass, Levi had already made 50 off 35 balls having crashed 6 fours and 3 sixes. He also enjoyed a Master Class from TLM (The Little Master) 20 yards away at the other end. Sachin interspersed tips and advice for Levi with SUBLIME shots off front and back feet.
Who knows, with the monkey of the 100th hundred off his back, fans may about to witness a golden sunset or even an ‘Indian Summer’ from this extraordinary batsman.
That said, when a ball flew off one of the green Bengal stripes on the wicket, crashed into and brought blood gushing from TLM’s bottom hand forcing him to leave the field, we were reminded that, however exceptional and heroic, Tendulka like Hercules, is made from clay.
Meanwhile in Columbo, Kevin Pietersen appears to have caught the IPL bug. It is that time of year!