TeleScope: All in the gamehttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/telescope-all-in-the-game/

TeleScope: All in the game

World Cup has taken over TV — if we’re not watching it, news channels are talking about it.

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Most us have been doing our patriotic duty by rooting for India at the World Cup.

 

Cricket. Cricket. Cricket. Cricket. Cricket. That’s all it’s about this morning, as you watch India play Australia in the World Cup semi-final instead of reading this. Cricket. That’s all it’s been about for the entire week, except on Monday evening, when Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh tweeted his “disgust” after doing his “duty” by attending Pakistan’s national day celebrations in Delhi and discovered, surprisingly, that the news channels — Arnab Goswami in particular — agreed with him: his churlish behaviour was disgusting, and unbecoming of an officer and a minister.

Most us have been doing our patriotic duty by rooting for India at the World Cup. Why, cricketer Harbhajan Singh surely deserves a Padma award for predicting the four semi-finalists (so did Sachin Tendulkar on Headlines Today) and giving M.S. Dhoni the best possible incentive to return home with the World Cup: if you win, “I will come and see you at the airport,” he promised (Aaj Tak). How can Dhoni resist such an inducement? Or then, singer Mika Singh serenading the captain and the rest of the Indian team?

Former opening bat Gautam Gambhir, sporting a fashionable new perky hairstyle for the occasion (or is it for the Indian Premier League, just around the corner?), and opening bowler Ashish Nehra sporting his same old look, predicted that India could be lining up against New Zealand in Sunday’s final if they stick to the basics (ABP News). Easier said than done when Mitchell Starc  is steaming in at you.

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Meanwhile, news anchor Deepak Chaurasia and his merry band of experts, which included former Indian cricketers Anshuman Gaekwad and Vinod Kambli and an “abhinetri” whose name sadly eluded us, were preoccupied by the sight of a lady — apparently a member of the Australian cricket team’s support staff — practising ballet or yoga at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the venue of our semi-final. After

a lengthy debate, it was agreed by everyone that since the lady in question wasn’t damaging the pitch or the field, it didn’t really matter, after all (India News).

Typical of television news debates,  isn’t it, to discuss matters that don’t  really matter?

When experts forecast the outcome of a game, perhaps they should first consult the weather report. Monday night, former Australian captain Ian Chappell said that if South Africa batted first in Tuesday’s semi-final against New Zealand, they would win. As we all know, it rained on South Africa’s parade — not just H2O but Brendon McCullum’s sixes and fours. Chappell also spoke darkly about “weaknesses” in the New Zealand team without revealing their nature. Typical of an Aussie speaking of his neighbouring country (NDTV 24×7)? By the way, did you spot Mukesh and Nita Ambani at the game with Sourav Ganguly?

During Tuesday’s post-mortems of the first semi, former Indian opening batsman Navjot Singh Sidhu railed against the rain and the Duckworth/ Lewis method which, he said, always favoured the “chasers”. He was right, of course, as “chokers” South Africa, who batted first, didn’t complete  50 overs and went on to  lose (Zee News).

During the match itself, the cricketer-commentators tried to find new ways of describing the incredible batting genius of A.B. de Villiers and Brendon McCullum. As De Villiers helped himself to a couple of fours, it was “all skill, down the town, down the ground”. McCullum hit  “monster shots”, “dismantling Steyn” (Shane Warne).

Wait for more during  today’s commentary.

Meanwhile, we should aim to do our “duty” by watching the team play till the very end; if, perchance, we feel “disgust” at the end of the day, we can emulate our neighbours to the west by throwing the TVs outside, thereby dismantling them.

On to an entirely more serious issue than cricket — what can be more serious than cricket today? Deepika Padukone, her mother and the two doctors helping her, discuss Padukone’s battle against depression (NDTV 24×7). Refreshingly candid. Anchor Barkha Dutt explored with her guests the “pitted” emptiness in the stomach as Padukone encountered demons she didn’t know even existed within her. It was sensitive, informative and personal; Padukone’s frankness is as laudable as Angelina Jolie’s admitting to cancer-preventive surgeries.

Speaking of health, should Rajnigandha pan masala be advertised on television, or anywhere else for that matter?