Scenario 1: Occasion: The Asia Cup in Afghanistan: The First One-Day Match in Kabul: India v/s Sri Lanka
(The Indian team has arrived in Kabul after losing the Triangular Series in Australia. Actually India had a chance of entering the final if only Sri Lanka had lost the last league match to Australia. But that was not to be. However, Sri Lanka lost to Australia in the finals. Sachin’s search for the elusive 200th century continues. He has been again included in the team to enable him to achieve the coveted landmark. The Afghan team is in the limelight and has been admitted to the big league. Kabul is venue to such a great event for the first time. There is excitement all-round. The commentators include Gavaskar, Sastri, Rohit Sharma, Ramiz Raja, Wasim Akram, Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardhane)
Gavaskar: So here we are. It is another opportunity to Sachin to complete that coveted landmark! I remember he had completed his 100th century in Asia Cup held in Bangladesh in 2012. Of course India lost the match and Asia Cup as well!
Sastri: True. One should appreciate the spirit of Sachin even at this age to achieve all types of landmarks! Hats off to him!
Ramiz Raja: It appears to me nowadays India is more focused on Sachin’s achievements than winning the matches. Do you remember when they won their last series?
Wasim Akram: Quite contrary to what happens to such heroes in Pakistan! They are forgotten and consigned to dustbin within no time! I think I need not quote my own example!
Ramiz: You are right Wasim. That is why I forayed into commentary box immediately after retirement. But our fees are nowhere near what Gavaskar and Sastri get!
Dilshan: But you are still better. We in Sri Lanka are paid the fee in installments! To be frank, the fee they paid me last time was for the year 2020! I have maintained an excel sheet for the arrears from 2021 till date!
Mahela: By the by, I am interested to know whether Gavaskar and Sastri are still paid that annual fee of Re one crore by the BCCI? I understand that is over and above the commentary fees paid by the channels. Am I right?
Gavaskar: We do get it regularly even now. But we are perturbed that there has been no increase in the fee after all these years. Not only that even Sharad Pawar Saab took retirement without settling my assured fee of another few crores for IPL-1 & 2!
Wasim: If I remember correctly you are pursuing it since 2011! I appreciate your perseverance!
Gavaskar: I am not going to leave it at any cost. Right now I am pursuing it with Ajit Pawar Saab who has entered the cricket scenario after Sharad Pawar Saab’s retirement on health grounds. He is the current President of BCCI!
Ramiz Raja: Hats off to your patience! I remember your Marathon innings in the inaugural World Cup One-day match in England in 1975!
Rohit: I never heard about it. I am interested to know.
Sastri: Sunny created a record of sorts by playing throughout the match! And it was a 60-over match at that time! He came as opener and ended up not out by lasting till the last ball of the 60th over!
Rohit: Oh my God! And how many runs he scored? He should have scored the winning run, I presume!
Sastri: No way! India lost by 202 runs! The team scored 132 for the loss of three wickets against England’s massive total of 334 for four!
Dilshan: Can’t believe it! What was Sunny Sir’s score then?
Sastri: He scored 36 runs off 174 balls at a strike rate of 21 (per 100 balls) and remained not out! The total included a single four!
(The discussion ends suddenly. There is stunned silence all around. Gavaskar is looking the other way!)
Gavaskar: (Thank God! The discussion has ended. This is one topic I hate to discuss. Forget about giving any explanation for what I did! I myself do not know till date what made me play that stupid innings! Hope Bishan (Singh Bedi) is not viewing the telecast right now!)
Sastri: The game has begun now. Oh! India has lost the first wicket in the very first ball! That brings Sachin into the game!
Ramiz: Let us make it a point not to mention anything about Sachin’s 200th century till he actually achieves it.
(India beats Sri Lanka in the match. Sachin fails to achieve the landmark once again)
Scenario 2: Occasion: The Asia Cup in Afghanistan: The One-Day Match in Kabul: India v/s Afghanistan
(India has already played three matches in the series and lost two of them. But Sachin has failed to complete his 200th century. This is India’s first match against Afghans. Afghans won the toss and elected to bat. The team scored 250 runs. The Indian team has just commenced the innings)
Gavaskar: It is good that Afghans scored 250 runs. If they had made a small score it would have been difficult for Sachin to achieve his landmark!
Ramiz: Oh! It is the same story again. Why don’t you people talk about India winning the match?
Rohit: Sachin is a legend and continues to be so. The whole of India is excited about his achieving the landmark!
Mahela: Oh! India has lost the first wicket! That brings Sachin into the game!
Sastri: Hopefully somebody in the team will put up a partnership to enable Sachin to achieve the landmark.
Wasim: Doesn’t matter even if it is against Afghans - the minnows in the tournament!
Gavaskar: A century is a century against whatever team it is!
(The match moves on. Sachin is playing a defensive waiting game to achieve his landmark. But in the process the run rate slows down and the game slips away. The wickets keep falling around Sachin. India is on the verge of defeat)
Sastri: India has already lost eight wickets. Sachin is in his nineties now! The coveted landmark is just ten runs away!
Ramiz: Another Indian wicket falls! Sachin is on 99 now! The Indian total is also at 199!
Dilshan: Oh! It is the last ball of the 50th over and Sachin is facing the ball! India has already lost the match!
Sastri: The bowler is taking his own time! Oh! He is on the move now!
Gavaskar: The Little Master pushes the ball to midwicket and takes a single run! Oh! He has achieved the landmark!
Ramiz: In the process India has lost the match with a huge margin! Now it has almost become a rule that India loses the match when Sachin achieves a record!
Sastri: Forget it! The landmark is achieved and it is time to celebrate! Oh! The entire stadium is giving a standing ovation to Sachin!
Ramiz: I am sorry Sastri. The standing ovation by the crowd is for the Afghan team that has won its first match against Indians!
(The defeat against Afghans results in the elimination of India from the finals. The tournament ends with Pakistan winning the Asia Cup. The newspapers and the TV channels in India go overboard to highlight Sachin’s achievement. Interestingly nobody talks about the defeat of Indian team against the underdogs - the Afghan team!)
Scenario 3: Occasion: The Dinner Party at Mukesh Ambani’s House Antilia in Mumbai to Celebrate Sachin’s 200th Century
(Sachin arrives at the party. A huge battalion of TV journalists surrounds him as he gets down from the car)
One Journo: Sir! Now that you have achieved the landmark any ideas of retiring from cricket?
Sachin: Let me make it clear to all of you. Nobody should tell me when to retire. I will continue to play so long as I love to play the game. Right now retirement is not in my mind!
Another journo: Sir! But some of your well-wishers are telling that it is the right time for you to retire!
Sachin: Let me tell you. These well-wishers are not the one who got me into cricket!
Another journo: Sir! What about the young and upcoming cricketers? Don’t you think you are denying entry to at least one young cricketer?
Sachin: But that is not my look out! They can wait! They may continue watching me and follow my footsteps!
Another Journo: Sir! I hear that the Congress Party is thinking of nominating you as their candidate in the ensuing President of India election!
Sachin: It would be an honour for me to accept!
Another Journo: What about cricket then? We know you are sure to get elected unanimously!
Sachin: You are trying to put words in my mouth! Let me repeat. I would not retire from cricket even if I am elected as the President of India!
(Sachin moves into Antilia. The party goes on)
A V Krishnamurthy
4th May 2012