New heroes make northeast India a good sport

THE FLAG-BEARER of independent India’s first Olympic (London, 1948) contingent was Talimeren Ao. He was also the captain of the Indian football team that went down 2-1 to France in the second match.

In the 1966 Bangkok Asiad, Assamese sprinter Bhogeswar Baruah shaved three seconds off the record that Japan’s Y Marawi had set in the earlier edition of the Games.

Ao, son of a Naga reverend, was perhaps the ideal icon of nationalism that India overlooked at a time when the seeds of separatism were being sown across Naga-inhabited areas. And Baruah, many felt, was no ‘mainstream’ Milkha Singh to be a national celebrity.

Then MC Mary Kom happened, a star enough for Bollywood to make an eponymous biopic.

“The northeast has always produced quality sportspersons. But the spotlight on everything negative about the region made them non-entities. There was also this psychological divide between people on either side of the Chicken’s Neck (narrow strip in West Bengal linking the northeast to the rest of the country). Mary Kom changed that, allaying the feeling of alienation in the region and making others accept we are as Indian as they are despite our looks and cultural differences,” sports organiser Balen Chakraborty said.

Chakraborty organises the annual Abhiruchi Sports Day on September 23 to celebrate Baruah’s birthday.

“Much of the region’s problems are linked to joblessness. Our youth are physically endowed to excel in various sports that ensure employment. This is why sports infrastructure is our priority,” said Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla.

The region has at least 1,200 sportspersons employed in the public sector besides the state police and central armed forces. Besides, some 150 footballers from Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Assam are regulars in India’s top soccer clubs.

“The time for the northeast to be India’s sporting superpower has arrived, and it will change the perception people elsewhere in the country and beyond have about the region,” sports journalist Subodh Malla Barua said.

The region’s sporting strength was clear in the 2010 Guangjhou Asian Games that had 59 athletes besides six coaches and officials from Manipur. And in the recently concluded Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Manipuri athletes won eight medals.

Here is a list of new sporting heroes of the northeast.

Jeje Lalpheklua Fanai, 23: This striker from Mizoram is tipped to be the next big thing in Indian football, and the Indian Super League is expected to showcase his talent

Chekrovolu Swuro, 32: This archer from Nagaland didn’t just win a silver medal in the 2011 World Archery Championships in Turin; the state took pride when she qualified to represent India in the 2012 London Olympics.

Jayanta Talukdar, 28: Seeded No 1 in the 2009 Copenhagen World Cup, this archer from Assam made it to the Indian men’s recurve team in the 2012 Olympics.

Shiva Thapa, 21: Third in the bantamweight category in AIBA Men’s world ranking, this boxer from Assam is the third Indian to win an Asian Games gold and is tipped for greater glory in the 2016 Olympics.

Anshu Jamsenpa, 35: World’s first mother to scale Mt Everest twice in 10 days, this mountaineer from Arunachal Pradesh is often cited as an example of sheer grit and determination.

Yumnam Sanathoi, 27: This Manipuri might have lost her semifinal bout to China’s Zhang Luan in Sanda 52kg category in the ongoing Asian Games, but she is one of the reasons behind wushu’s popularity in India.

Laishram Devendro Singh, 24: One of Manipur’s many international boxers, he won a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games but lost his semifinal bout at the Incheon Asian Games amid controversy.

Laishram Sarita Devi, 29: Also a victim of controversy at Incheon, this Manipuri boxer is a world champion.

Sanjita Khumukcham, 21: This weightlifter from Manipur won gold in the 48kg category at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Tarundeep Rai, 30: This archer from Sikkim made his international debut in the Asian Archery Championship 2003 in Myanmar, and went on to become the first Indian to win an individual archery medal (silver) at the Guangzhou Asian Games, 2010.

(A truncated version appeared in the Hindustan Times today)

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Indian rhinos have skewed sex ratio

Photos by Rajibaksha Rakshit

THE ONE-HORNED rhino has defecated its way to a worrisome revelation – its sex ratio is more skewed than that of humans in India.

The first ever rhino census through genetic analysis of dung samples collected from Gorumara National Park in West Bengal in April 2011 put the number of the armour-plated herbivore at 43. More importantly, it confirmed what error-prone conventional animal census methods said earlier this year – rhinos have a male-female sex ratio of 4:1.

The census was carried out by Assam-based NGO Aaranyak, which developed the technique of DNA fingerprinting by analysing dung over a year. The NGO has also provided technical support to genetic population estimation of Javan and Sumatran rhinos, the other two species of Asian rhinos.

“Dung provides the source of DNA sample of every individual and find out its sex. Besides being error-free,this method negates catching of animals which is easier said than done,” UdayanBorthakur, Aaranyak’s dung analysis expert said. “The only thing we cannot estimate is the animal’s age.”

The conventional method – headcount by field workers – applied by the West Bengal forest department at Gorumara almost matched with the genetic method. It revealed the park had one female for 3.5 males.

“The conventional method is suspect because it is not easy to ascertain the sex of rhinos in the field, particularly the sub-adults whose genitals are difficult to notice,” Borthakur said.

According to Assam chief wildlife warden Suresh Chand, the skewed sex ratio is a matter of concern since it could impact the animal’s reproduction. “The dung route to DNA fingerprinting will be taken for rhino habitats in Assam too,” he said.

Assam has 55% of the world’s one-horned rhinos, the bulk of them in Kaziranga National Park followed by Orang National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. These three habitats together have 2,483 rhinos.

“We hope the rhino population in these preserves do not turn out to be as skewed as in Gorumara,”Aaranyak secretary Bibhab K Talukdar said.

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Crap concept 2: Mathematical

  • Trash is jabor in Assamese
  • In Bengali it’s jabra
  • Arabs found it doubly apt
  • And called their stuff Algebra
  • Tri is three, gund buttock
  • And friendship is maitri
  • So gay triangular love
  • Did sire Trigonometry
  • Butt naturally comes anus
  • And all that it releases
  • Brains who shat in the fields
  • Found in crap the plusses
  • The pyramids they left behind
  • And cylinders and pellets
  • Shaped shitty Geometry
  • Thrust down our gullets
  • A chap with semi-loose motion
  • Studied his spherical goo
  • “All I ate has come to nought”
  • The Zero he thus gave you
  • Zero’s the greatest invention
  • Despite Stats and Calculus
  • If it butts in, into your sum
  • You’re left holding your phallus
  • What zero tells us is so plain:
  • “Math is crap, you bum
  • It screws up your budget –
  • The income-outgo sum”
  • What you add up in life
  • They multiply with zero
  • So just crap your ass off
  • Not be a calculating hero
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The cow strikes back

Netted from

COWS GIVE us gobar. Bulls shit.

We weren’t aware of this gendered faecal fact when we wrote those essays in school. Heck, we didn’t even know a cow wasn’t a ‘he’ that gave us milk. Until we were old enough to find out writing on ‘The cow’ for 10 marks was basically bullshitting.

If you consider half the children on this planet went to school since 1912, the cow is the most written about earthling. This assertion is based on those who opted for ‘Our school’ but ended up writing on the cow that ate grass on the field behind/beside their school and possessed a range of assets from the grass swallower to the gobar ejector.

Before we could master B for bull – oops, ball – and C for cow (cat?), we knew the creature in old McDonald’s farm that moo-mooed everywhere and the one that jumped over the moon because the cat was in the fiddle. We could make no head or tail of those nursery rhymes, but the teachers ensured they were moosic to our ears.

As we grew older, books told us pigs, horses, dogs, cats and donkeys – rats and cockroaches too – were more equal than cows. George Orwell didn’t live long enough in his Bihar birthplace to make the Animal Farm cows ruminate on fictitious chara, but those bechara bovines were traumatised by Napoleon’s milk-pinching pigs. Walter Wangerin’s Dun Cow was more fortunate as a riddle-happy messenger god sent to help a rooster king battle the forces of evil.

Cows presumably began calling the shots after Dana Lyons and Jeff Sinclair gave us Cows with Guns, which a website said was a sure-shot Bullitzer winner. Another site listed the top 10 limericks on cows, the only printable among them being:

  • There lived a young cow in MA
  • He always had his own say
  • On the grass he would chew
  • Saying merrily moo-moo
  • He often even ate hay

Only a gai – the ‘he’ is a giveaway – could have written this limerick. He presumably hadn’t heard about Mangala’s academic appetite. If you didn’t know, Mangala is the cow that ate some 150 class 10 exam answer sheets in the western Assam town of Goalpara in March 2012.

Mangala probably chewed on Assamese answer papers to cownter decades of sexist exaggeration about her tribe. And on history to find out, in this land of holy cows, if the celestial Nandi and Kamdhenu were her ancestors. But experts couldn’t fathom why she also made a meal of science, if not to learn the art of making synthetic milk or to discover how security is beefed up in a rebel region.

For those bullish on education, Mangala’s was the final cowntdown for a system that has apparently discarded its archaic bovine craft to board the RTE flight. Her progeny will eventually find out if it is powered by gobar gas.

Let’s fasten the cow belt and wait until the cows come home.

(This appeared as a ‘middle’ on the edit page of Hindustan Times on 26 April 2012; RTE is Right To Education)

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Regional writers handling revival script for Congress in Bihar

What Ashoka Road and Akbar Road in Delhi are for BJP and Congress, Patna’s Beer Chand Patel Marg is for all political parties that matter in Bihar. It is the state’s rajnaitik dil or political heart.

The Congress has no place in this heart because Sadaquat Ashram, its headquarters with a view of river Ganga is 5km north – quite a distance in a congested city where squalor rules the roads.

The 20-acre ashram is part of Congress’ history in Bihar. Mahatma Gandhi had established it in 1921 on the land donated by his close associate Maulana Mazharul Haque.

The history has a post-1990 gloomy chapter that the Congress wants rewritten. Handling the script, for now, are two regional allies in its Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance (GA) – chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United and his predecessor Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal.

The headquarters of the JD-U is on the western flank of BCP Marg as one turns south from the Income-Tax roundabout, one of Patna’s busiest. Diagonally across the road, about 50 metres away, is the RJD headquarters almost adjoining that of the BJP.

The pre-poll GA has virtually erased the road between the RJD and JD-U headquarters. But there are too many streets and lanes between them and Sadaquat Ashram.

“Physical distance is no barrier when minds meet,” says Suman Kumar Mallik, Bihar PCC spokesperson.

The Congress, he adds, is the smallest of the three mismatched cogs in the GA wheel. But they will roll “smoothly together” to stop the BJP train from chugging into the Rajya Sabha via the 243-seat Bihar assembly.

The Congress is contesting 41 of these seats while JD-U and RJD are contesting 101 each.

Congress leaders say it is not a bad bargain for a party that, despite having ruled Bihar the longest, has no leaders of the stature of those of its allies and rivals. But they admit they have been allotted seats that are the toughest to win.

“There’s no point ignoring the reality. We can start rebuilding in Bihar if we get close to 50% of our seats,” Harku Jha, former Congress MLA, says.

The party is wary of its 2010 performance. It had won only four seats that year with 214 of its 243 candidates losing their deposits.

“We are campaigning for each other to ensure maximum seats and keep the communal forces in check,” says JD-U president Basishtha Narayan Singh.

But three chunks of voters have moved away from the Congress in the last three decades just as the Ganga – a stone’s throw from Sadaquat Ashram earlier – has shifted to an alignment 2 km north. These are the Muslims since the 1989 Bhagalpur riots, the backward castes who found a messiah in Lalu Prasad in the 1990s and the upper castes believed to have gone with BJP.

Rajendra Prasad, India’s first President spent his last days in Sadaquat Ashram. He was a Kayasth, an upper caste that is a potent voting force in Patna.

Therein lies the irony for the Congress.

(This appeared in Hindustan Times on 19 October 2015)

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Bihar ballot battleground: Where VIP is a party with BED fellow

IF DELHI has Aam Aadmi Party, Bihar has Aam Aadmi (United). And BHAJP in the state is not Hindi for BJP; it expands to Bharatiya Jagaran Party.

Political parties are born by the baker’s dozen in Bihar, particularly in the election season. Some like former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha align with major parties in a bid to become key regional players.

Most end up as also-rans.

In 2010, Bihar recorded an average 14 contestants per assembly constituency. Of the total 3,523 candidates across 243 seats, 591 represented 70 unrecognised but registered parties.

These included Vanchitsamaj Insaaf Party (VIP), Sarvhara Dal, Garib Vikas Party, Lal Morcha, All India Babu Jagjivan Ram Saheb National Congress, Akhil Bhartiya Atyanta Pichhra Sangharsh Morcha Party and Bharatiya Ekta Dal (BED).

Barring eight, all the candidates of these parties had their deposits forfeited. But they did account for 3.89% of the total votes polled.

Mandate 2015 has seen newer parties join the fray. A few have found it hard to get candidates, others claimed to have been spoilt for choice.

The Bharat Nirman Party, for instance, has shortlisted the “best of candidates” to contest seven seats – one in the first phase on October 12 and six in the third phase on October 28.

“Our agenda includes shutting down 70% liquor shops in Bihar, criminalising conversion and creation of a Bharat Nirman Sena towards ending unemployment,” party president Shiv Bihari Singhalia told HT.

The Arakshan Samarthak Party, or ASP, intends to field at least two candidates in each of Bihar’s 38 districts, but is sure of only one candidate – Renu Kushwaha from Patna’s Kumhrarh assembly constituency – as of now.

“We want to guarantee government job for at least one member of each family in the state, build toilets at every crossing and rest houses for poor daily-wagers who come to the cities from villages,” Uday Shankar Mehta, ASP spokesperson, said.

The Bahujan Mukti Party wants to do away with the creamy layer of OBC and MOBC (More Other Backward Classes) if it comes to power.

“We hope to put up a tough fight in the 32 seats we are contesting in the first two phases,” party chief Vijay Kumar Singh said.

Other similarly ambitious parties include the Rashtriya Yadav Adhikar Manch, Janta Dal Rashtravadi and Sarvajan Kalyan Loktantrik Party.

The Non-Political Front is not contesting, but it has been campaigning against 33 MLAs who have changed parties. “We are also asking people not to vote for political families and candidates with criminal records,” Om Prakash Mehta, the Front’s coordinator, said.

Besides, the Front plans to move the EC for making the Mizoram-style campaigning mandatory across India.

In that north-eastern state, social organisations impose certain restrictions on political parties. Accordingly, candidates are not allowed to badmouth each other, and campaigning usually means sharing a common dais where each candidate is given a chance to say why he or she deserves to be voted.

(A truncated version of this story appeared in Hindustan Times today)

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India’s Swachh Bharat list of cities has Nagaland capital wrong

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TERE NAAM: A short biography of Salman Khan

Ek Thaa Tiger.

Dabangg, Veer, bit Baaghi too.

His survival mantra was Andaaz Apna Apna.

Was Ready to romp with many a Chand Kaa Tukdaa without believing in the Bandhan of marriage.

“Agreed Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in your heart, but Janam Samjha Karo, there’s No Entry in my life,” he told each of them.

Said Hello Brother to anyone he thought was being human.

Got a Kick out of being Wanted — by fans, producers and the law.

Had the right drive to be Yuvvraj, Partner, Bodyguard, Jaan-e-Mann

But couldn’t drive right.

So judge was in the driver’s seat to tell him: “You did it Chori Chori Chupke Chupke!”

A driver came along to Singh a song that could have given him a Lucky break.

But the law prevailed. Jai Ho, judiciary!

It, however, took 10 years.

God Tussi Great Ho… that I could endure the drama Isi Life Mein.

Guess Hum Aapke Hain Koun?



The greatest Heist in Indian history..How Indian History was changed and we didn’t even notice. Part 1:The lost eon 6th Century B.C to 1174 A.D

Worth a read

The Kaipullai's Vetti Thoughts : The outer playground of my inner devil

Remember those long-staying, TV-remote hogging, serial TV-serial watching distant relatives who used to arrive unannounced when you were a kid. And then stopped you from watching cricket in favour of their crappy TV serial. What were your feelings towards them? Whatever it was, it did not resemble love and affection.  Now replace those crummy, intractable relatives of yore with your school subject of History or Social Sciences. Weren’t your feelings towards History kinda similar? I stake all the contents of  my nearly empty wallet, that at least for the most of you, it was.

History for most of us, was always a major impediment, an obstacle, an immovable object opposing our unstoppable drive towards knowledge ( Read Maths and Science). Useless questions like  ‘how does Babar’s fun and frolic in 1476 affect my future’ were raised, without an iota of  hope for a definite answer. What we used to get…

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Prawns and chicken are now two varieties of edible snakes

Prawns WHILE NARENDRA Modi, India’s Prime Minister who hails from a state known for its snacks, was snacking it up in the US, a Chinese restaurant in Guwahati, Assam, proved through its menu that prawns and chicken are essentially two varieties of snakes. Yes, those wriggling creatures that spit venom (well, not all).

This could be the restaurant’s ASP, if not USP, and leave many of you Rattlered. Hood’ve believed we were eating serpents for so long.

Some of you would have been a Nag and complained. But I’ve been an adventurous foodie. And I think I’ll be the first to turn up if this restaurant offers Mambaship.

If not, I’ll just drop in regularly to place the Adder.

Will check if the restaurant provides home delivery by the Krait load.

Last checked, the restaurant got a new bottomline: Always at your saanpvice.

And then I figured out why a guy always cleans the restaurant facade with a Viper.

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Footpathetic: Autobiography of a footpath

IF YOU feel for the downtrodden, you might feel for me.

I am not sure if you know me, though you see me often. But I know you from an angle even you don’t know yourself – feet up.

Rest assured. I look the other way when you walk across in a sari, skirt, sarong or lungi.

A bit of voyeurism, though, could have given me a break from the drudgery of being trod upon. But my masters are cruel; they make me to break me. I guess that’s the disadvantage of being laid, and re-laid.

I, footpath, knew I was born to be trampled. I did not mind because those who sired me had assured me that I would on any given day record more footfalls than the most desirable event on earth. They also told me I would set an example as a cover-up operation.

When I realized I was concealing Guwahati’s gooey filth, it was too late to refuse. And it drained my happiness forever.

My sorrow grew when I saw on Nat Geo – I do get to watch TV on this showroom display window beside – how footpaths are taken care of elsewhere. They even give my foreign counterparts fancy names – causeway, boardwalk, bridleway, walkway…

What’s in a name, you might ask. And a footpath by any other name would smell just as rotten, you might tell yourself. I am not sure if Shakespeare would have agreed.

Pardon my litterary outburst. This is the outcome of imagining things, such as those who plan, fund and execute me would feel for me. But they seldom use me to find out how I am, and those who do are too harried to really care.

I knew my time would come. All I had to do was sabotage the flow of the filth in my belly. My well-wishers helped by feeding me with everything from polythene to the biodegradables while my municipal masters let me be, perhaps inspired by the Bengali chartbuster Aamake aamaar mato thaakte dao (Let me live the way I am). Great guys, they anticipated I would suffocate from all the clogging within. So they left me uncovered in patches to help me breathe easy.

I saved my best – worst, if you may – for a rainy day, transforming into a man-eater as soon as I went undercover… oops… underwater. I thought getting even with those who squash me with missiles (footwear are weapons these days, aren’t they?) would be fun. Trust me, swallowing people wasn’t what I wanted to do.

Today, I miss the kiss of your shoes and sandals and the prick of your stilettos. I know you avoid me because I have tarnished my image. But I tell you I am not all that bad; you can ask any of the vendors who have made my unblemished portions their trade centers.

Sometimes I feel like yelling cavity… oops again… caveat emptor. But I am a dumb footpath that uses its many mouths to gulp waste or those destined to be wasted. And to think I was led to believe a roofed gutter could be guttural!

I presume in a place with a rebellious history, being holed up is more in fashion than picking holes. That’s why I am what I am – a fissured footpath that blames no one for being forced to deviate from its fundamental duty.

This, then, is my (w)hole story. But before signing off, I would like to tell you there are a few positives to my state of being. For instance, open drains no longer mock me for being elitist – the class divide has been removed. And like them, I have begun to offer my viscous bed to anyone who’s too intoxicated to go home.

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Waste side story

Laden Bin

PEOPLE CALL me Dumpster, but my name is Laden Bin. And I am not a terrorist.

I am as harmless as the maggots I sustain in my system. Yet I am accused of waging a microbial jihad, of attacking passersby with stench guns and of sabotaging the surroundings in a city that got its name from fermented, smelly areca nut.

My cousin Trash Course nestled in the tutorial yonder had warned me that I would never get my due for accommodating throwaways. I thought he – I don’t care if you assert a waste container is female – was talking rubbish until I found out I was being taken for granted.

When I was being conceived in a metal factory, I overheard my makers say I was destined for literary greatness. My excitement knew no bounds when they made me stand near a bus stop soon after my birth; I thought I would be riding to a school or a library. But my dreams were shattered when I had my first polythene-packed morsel thrown in from a swanky car. The polythene burst on impact splashing some vegetable and animal remains in my abdomen. I realized then that I had heard my creators wrong; they had meant ‘litter’ary, literally.

Morning shows the day, I was told. But I didn’t want the morning of my public life to start with a repulsive breakfast, and the thought of having been grounded for good to gulp garbage was even more revolting. The more I thought the hungrier I became, and as the day turned into night I began wondering why nobody offered me lunch and dinner.

A missile woke me up the next morning; it was another plastic carry-bag containing some gooey substance, lobbed from another car. But why didn’t it satiate my hunger? I looked down to see the contents of the plastic bag splashed on my exterior. Then I looked around to see my ‘food’ scattered all around. I didn’t understand the logic behind wasting waste.

“This is human strategy,” some scavengers had told me once, grumbling that members of my untouchable community had taken over their job. “They make you starve so that you are compelled to eat garbage. And once you start taking crap, there’s no getting out of it,” said a vulture. “Make your presence felt,” said a crow, adding: “Stinkers can be thinkers too. Plan your revenge.”

I can’t refuse the bipeds’ refuse, I told myself. But I can give it back in some other form. So I began burping to burn the olfactory senses. I thought the smelly salvo would make the garbage throwers aim correctly. They continued to be off the mark, derisively so. Those who had better aim lobbed grenades killing a couple of my brothers. Call that an occupational hazard in an extremism-prone city.

I gave up. How could I teach these people a lesson when they just don’t bother? As I reconciled to being a dumb dump, I understood why they placed me and others of my ilk strategically at bus stops and outside shopping malls. If you have a bus to catch, you can’t really catch the smell, can you? And if you do, you can always step into one of those malls and buy perfumes and handkerchiefs to neutralize my putrid presence.

But all was not lost. My municipal masters found out I was bursting with power. They began emptying me regularly to feed an allegedly imaginary power plant near a wetland. The stuff I ruminated is yet to translate into wattage, but it is learnt to have empowered that wetland with wastage.

This reminds me of a 1996 song titled ‘Garbage’ by Australian alternative rock band TISM. The song goes: “I know that we should separate our garbage/The environment will give us thanks…” I hope the urban environment will thank me one day, whether you learn to separate your garbage or not. After all, I am the most happening in one of India’s most happening cities.

(Autobiography of a typical garbage container in Guwahati)

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A cricket match should be over in 11 balls

ImageCRICKET IS a batsman’s game? My footwork!

It is a bowler’s game because a batsman’s score depends on how good or bad a bowler bowls.

As a mediocre leg spinner whose googly was the right ’un – I still have no clue how I bowled the occasional leg-spinning delivery between googlies refusing to stick to line and length – I have a soft corner for the cherry-hurling labourers on the cricket field.

I love it when a batsman, godlike or mortal, ducks to or is flattened by 150kmph deliveries (Hail Mitchell Johnson for scaring the shit out of the Englishmen at Brisbane). And hops, skips and jumps to prevent the traditional turners or doosras from going through the gate or taking the edge.

To put it bluntly, I hate batsmen getting on top. So much so that I want a 50-over cricket match to end in 11 balls. Or 31 balls in the case of a Test.

But having majored in Statistics, I cannot rule out the likelihood of a cricket match – Test, ODI or T20 – ending in fewer balls. Better still, no ball at all.

Here’s how.

Team A gets bundled out in 10 no-balls and wides. You can get run out off a no-ball and stumped off a wide, remember?

The extras, though, give 10 runs to Team A leaving Team B to score 11 to win.

Team B then gets two wide balls, each going to the boundary. It wins with the third delivery, a no-ball or a wide. History is created; a cricket match is decided without a single legitimate ball being delivered.

But someone with a bowler’s mentality wants his wickets the only way – one or two of the three stumps, preferably middle, uprooted. So let’s cut the sundries out and stick to balls that are counted.

The match starts. The ball is seaming and swinging and the bounce is uneven. All the Team A batsmen fall first ball, bowled, caught, leg before wicket, hit wicket or run out. The inning gets over in 1.4 overs or 10 balls. The scoreboard reads 0 against Team A.

Team B has its job cut out. Only 1 run to get in 50 overs. Required run rate: 0.02 per over. Gettable.

Sure enough, Team B opener lobs first ball over the close-in fielders and doesn’t bother to run. Match over in 11 balls.

Imagine a similar scenario for a Test. Team A gets out in 10 balls without scoring a run in the first inning. Team B follows suit. Team A falter again in the second inning and Team B openers manage to scamper for a run first ball in their second inning.

The outcome is a world record. A five-day match is won in 31 balls and before lunch on Day One. It saves us time and money spent on watching 24 people (don’t forget the umpires) and those behind the scenes make money. And the agony of counting sixes and centuries scored by this god or that anti-god.

But such a result is as improbable as it is probable, unless you tip off a Mohammed Aamer or a Shantakumaran Sreesanth with or without a towel.

So here’s a quiz if you have nothing better to do. What is the least number of balls – with a maximum of two non-leg bye extras per over factored in – for an ODI or T20 cricket match to get over?

Mail your answer to Winner gets all-expense paid holiday to the fabulous island of Ocraposhitzska.

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