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Search on for unlikely heroes

Guest Column

dEREK OíbRIEN

I landed in Delhi this morning for the IPL: the Indian Parliamentary League. This past evening, on Sunday, June 1, I was in Bangalore for the other IPL: the Indian Premier League.

Iím more a soccer fan than a cricket fan, I must confess, and I donít usually have club loyalties. I donít follow the EPL or the IPL and prefer matches ó whether the Fifa World Cup or limited-overs cricket ó where countries play each other.

This year, persuaded by my 18-year-old daughter, I made an exception for the IPL. Together, father and daughter saw two games at the Eden Gardens and then flew to Bangalore for the final.

We politely refused KKRís gracious offer to be guests in the team ownerís box. Thereís nothing like watching a sports game in the midst of ordinary crowds and enthusiasts, and cheering with a thousand others. Thatís what we did on Sunday.

We were in KKR T-shirts and skinny-fit jeans in a box that had a largely neutral crowd. By the end of the match I think most of the people in the box were KKR converts.

Watching a match in Bangalore is different from watching it at Eden. Both are bubbly, but if Bangalore is beer then Calcutta is champagne, and they donít know how to do a Mexican wave in Bangalore.

The other difference is that unlike Calcutta there is a full bar in Bangalore. It was very tempting but I drink only beer and too much beer makes you go somewhere very often, and I wasnít ready to take that many breaks from the match.

I chickened out of the KKR team party that would probably go on till 7am because I thought I was too old to join but I was thrilled to feel like a teenager at Bangalore jumping for every six and every four and cheering quite a lot.

When Suryakumar Yadav sliced the ball to midwicket and it went very high I was the only one who got up and did a balle balle jig only to slide back into my seat when he was caught by Manan Vohra. My desire for a KKR win became fiercer after that.

I expected Robin Uthappa, the Bangalore boy whoís been so devastatingly good for KKR this season, to fire away in the final. Inexplicably he failed.

Two unlikely heroes emerged. Wriddhiman Saha, a tiny young man from Siliguri, north Bengal, and resident of Rajarhat played an unbelievable innings for Kings XI Punjab. Next Manish Pandey, a lad from Nainital who lives in Bangalore and plays for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy, delivered a spellbinding 94 for KKR. It was a pulsating contest, made sweeter by KKRís victory.

The new parliamentary session begins this week. In the days and weeks and months and years to come, the 16th Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha will throw up new and unlikely stars.

The Opposition is now in government but the old government is not quite in Opposition. The BJP will depend on its new batting order to put up a good score.

The Congress, with only 44 seats, is short of piercing fast bowlers; it will be for parties such as the AIADMK, the Trinamul Congress and the BJD to spin a web around the new government and confound it with their googlies. Inevitably, hitherto unheralded parliamentary heroes will emerge.

The game is on.