Tuesday, January 24, 2006

K-mystery: the little-known apparition

On my way to work I was self-exploring for a suitable New Year’s mantra. It was already the 2nd of January in 2006 and I simply could not delay it any further. I reached office toying with a few flamboyant options. A look at my table promptly evoked a largely acceptable though less romantic one: tidiness.

Half an hour later I was sitting at a somewhat cleaner desk (it took longer, to be honest). Now came the digital housekeeping; mostly the two and a half million e-mails. Shift-deleting through some age-old folders with scarce discretion I chanced upon this freak e-discussion about an Indo-Australian Test match at Mumbai in 2004, the one of pitch-controversy fame. The curious coincidence discussed in that string looked a bit creepier in retrospect of the horrors (on-field ones) that these Ashes held in store for the Aussies. I attempted to recompile the multiple bit contributions from participants. It shapes up roughly like this:

Rahul Dravid, the stop-gap Indian skipper for the 4th and concluding Test, was not one to waste precious time and energy in brooding over lessons learnt from the series already lost or theorising about the possible impact of being shot out for 104 in the first innings after winning the toss. It was time to salvage some pride. India came out with a positive outlook after the changeover and made a strong comeback into the game through a clinical field performance. Klinical rather – because they were aided by an inexplicable consonant in the Australian innings.
The Australians were sewn up for 203 in their first essay and the ‘k’ in that knockout was far from silent, as the scorecard here suggests.

India (1st innings) 104 all outAustralia (1st innings)

JL Langer c Dravid b Khan 12
ML Hayden c Kaif b Kartik 35
*RT Ponting lbw b Kumble 11
DR Martyn b Kartik 55
SM Katich c Kaif b Kumble 7
MJ Clarke st Karthik b Kumble 17
+AC Gilchrist c Kaif b Kartik 26
JN Gillespie c Kaif b Kumble 2
NM Hauritz c Harbhajan Singh b Kumble 0
MS Kasprowicz c Kumble b Kartik 19
GD McGrath not out 9

The abundance of k’s in the kredits (believe me it’s getting real tough to resist the k’s from ruling the dialect) there reminded some of us Indian viewers of a certain production house for local television. There were 5 non-k Indians playing that match and yet of them only Harbhajan could get on that scorecard. He looks like a standout pendant to that rather weird piece of jewellery. Am I missing Dravid as the 6th non-k? But then he was the kaptain!

Normalcy (along with normal ‘c’) prevailed thereafter and the only consonant sound that resonated when Australia came back to field was the ‘clunk’ of resurgent bat on ball as Sachin and VVS hammered vital partnership runs. The chilling clatter of mysterious k, however, was yet to be heard one last time in that innings. All those successful k’s from the Indian 1st innings fielding card - Kaptain, Kaif, Kumble, Karthik, Kartik along with the gatecrashing ‘Bhajji’ - were gobbled up by……Michael Klarke!

The new kid on the block capped off his fabulous debut series in Tests with a numbing bowling display of 6/9 and brought the Indian second essay to an all-too-rapid close. That the Aussies capitulated while chasing a 4th-innings 107 has little relevance to the current issue.

The Australian media folk are adequately world-beating in their coverage of supernatural oddities. Wonder how they managed to miss out on this unique spectre. In all probability the horror, coming as it did after the series was decided, was way too inconsequential to beat Symonds' new hairdo at attracting press.
'K-mystery' left the Australian cricket team alone thereafter, only to be back Terminator-like in the final Test match of a far more riveting series. Pietersen of the Kevin name, two k's adorning his nickname and dropped by Shane K Warne, went on to annihilate any last-minute Australian hopes of retaining the Ashes. He did it in the royal company of King of Spain.

Kool, isn’t it?
[cross posted at Different strokes]

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