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Friday, December 13, 2019

Ladies at Lord’s

In the last few weeks, the women in blue have hit the men out of the TV headlines like Harman hit the ball out of the ground and Australia out of the Women’s Cricket World Cup and all the drama that went with that.

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published: July 27, 2017 12:41:24 am
Women's World Cup, Mithali Raj, Lords, Ladies at Lord's, World Cup, Cricket, Indian Express India players stand dejected prior to receiving their runners-up medals after losing the CC Women’s World Cup final match against England, at Lord’s, in London, Sunday, July 23, 2017. (AP Photo, File)

Whatever happened to the gentleman’s game? Ladies at Lord’s? Good God, what is cricket coming to? When almost every news channel on DTH or cable, from ABP to Times Now have been chanting, “Chak de India” (ABP), “Chak de Girls” (Times Now), you realise that at least for a little while, when you say Mithali, Jhulan, Deepti, Veda, Gayakwad or Ekta, no one will ask, “Who?”

In the last few weeks, the women in blue have hit the men out of the TV headlines like Harman hit the ball out of the ground and Australia out of the Women’s Cricket World Cup — barring of course a certain Mr Shastri who interrupted the breaking news of their progress to the finals like the intermittent English rain, with his appointment as the coach of the men’s team — and all the drama that went with that.

By their individual and collective exploits, Mithali & Co. stole not only “hearts” but eyeballs as more people watched them and their “dream” final (Star Sports) than probably ever before — Hotstar claimed a record 1.9 million simultaneous viewers of the final.

By Sunday, the TV anchors and reporters were so entranced by the winning ways of the women over the last month, they were willing to soak in the atmosphere — literally — across the country from Shimla via Udaipur (Zee News) to Bhopal (News World India) — asking girls (why only girls?) that ultimate, fundamental TV question: Aapko kaise lag raha hai?

Myth-making ensued. Aaj Tak’s reporter in Moga — home to the big hitting Harmanpreet Kaur — held up a T-shirt, saying she wore it soon after she was born. Well, extraordinary exploits deserve extraordinary babies and “Super” baby Harman (CNN News 18) must have been extraordinarily large to fit into that big a T-shirt. He then asked her mother: “Aapko kya ummeed hai? India jeetega?” As if she could have said, “Nahin, India haarega” on national television? That would have been downright anti-national and un-maternal.

Well, Gaurav Kalra was and did. On WION, he was unpatriotic enough to say he didn’t think when he met the Indian team before the tournament that they would reach the finals. Sunday proved him wrong. The day, as TV news ceaselessly reminded us, when Mithali’s minnows would replicate Kapil’s Devils World Cup victory of 1983; “a historic” day (Zee Hindustan), a “tryst with destiny” (WION). Exaggerations but what is TV news if not a perpetual exclamation mark?

Forget about trysts, comparisons, etc: In the end, it was an exciting game to watch, with a nail-biting finish. That we remained engaged with the match until the final ball is the real tribute to women’s cricket.

Meanwhile, closer home, News Nation informed us that “Cheen” was scared of India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval who was on his way to visit China — if so, why not simply send him to the Doklam plateau? China, it added, was caught in a “chakravyuh” and didn’t know its way out.

News 24×7 said “Cheen” was strong, but India was stronger, strong like the mountains — no wonder relations are rocky — and CNN News 18 took on Chinese “lies, threats and muscle flexing” by cross-questioning commentator Einar Tangen in Beijing. He behaved in a very Indian manner in the way he talked continuously and misunderstood everything said to him.

Interestingly, as many people have pointed out, our usual pyromaniacs on TV — meant literally and not as a pejorative — who ask burning questions have been reluctant to ignite fires along the eastern border. If they had lit into China with even a quarter of the fire power they aim at Pakistan or militancy in Kashmir, who knows where the war of words may have led.

That Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka and Robert Vadra’s visit to a food festival at the Chinese embassy is as close as Times Now and Republic seem willing to go — that too with an “undated”, “unverified” photograph, suggests they are low on ammunition — like the CAG said the Indian army was — or that they intentionally train their guns on easier targets — this week, Bofors and Rajiv Gandhi (Republic), Samjhauta Express and UPA (Times Now), and the Hurriyat “Truth Tapes” (India Today).

Did the government advise them to go easy on “Cheen”? Then what should we make of their attacks on Pakistan, opposition parties, anti nationals and the basket of many other “deplorables” (Hillary Clinton)?

Worth thinking about before you watch their next super exclusive, prime time “expose”.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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