As the Indian Premier League had edged nearer,my self-professed purist friend was growing increasingly frantic over people,and the media,taking the cricketainment too seriously. I didnt think I cared so much about cricket and its tampered-with,new form to argue against too much,and moreover,wasnt I the one who would vehemently extol the beauty of 0-0 draws in football while fighting for the remote.
In the past week or so,some of those beliefs have been left a little kicked about and sort of hit out of the ground.
I had never ever been entertained so much while watching two football teams I mostly pray for to lose. Liverpool were playing Arsenal at home in the English league,and my scant attention to the goings-on on the television late at night was shaken out of its slumber as first one,and then the other team tried to shoot themselves in the foot. There was some shoddy defending from both sides,and consequently,a barrage of goals. But each of those seven goals in the second half was constructed with such sweet,crisp passing,or in Arsenals case,remarkable individual brilliance,that I could only stop and stare. The scoreboard seemed to be on steroids as first Liverpool levelled,then they took the lead,then Arsenal levelled,then they went ahead,then Liverpool levelled again,then Arsenal went ahead again,then Liverpool levelled before unfortunately for all of us,the spoilsport referee blew the final whistle.
On the weekend,Manchester United and Everton had played 120 minutes of drab football in their FA Cup semi-final,before even the cricket die-hards were pulled away from the wide,flat-screen wall TV to mill around the bosss cabin for the thrills of the penalty shootout.
Then the IPL,which had given me the most entertainment on its opening day when the dog brought Dhoni & Co to a halt,suddenly found itself a spark. Two matches with last-ball,anyones-game finishes had the late-night crowd in office stealing moments from frantic deadlines. The Super Over might may seem like a random way of settling matches and Lalit Modis latest impromptu innovation it is definitely better than the bowl out but Yusuf Pathans belligerent hitting totally sold it. A few hours earlier,AB de Villierss rampant century was in danger of being rendered totally useless before Delhi just about managed to stop Chennais contemptuous chasing down of the big score at the very last gasp.
Test matches are thrilling,and I would still anyday choose replays of 0-0 draws as a pleasant evenings entertainment,but the recent advertisement of rapid-fire,basic-skill tests has been too effective to ignore.
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