Maiden bowled over


THE PAKISTAN cricket team opens with a Butt. That might not be a reason why backbiting rules the game in a country inhabited partly by Pathans.

Perennial problems aside, Pakistani cricketers do have balls. And there are no ifs and buts about their bowling maidens over. That goes for the Butts with the bats too.

Many an Indian actress has had flings with big Pakistani boys who played at night. We thought the MiG (Men in Green) believed in one-night stands until Mohsin Khan – an opener, aptly – showed he had spunk for the longer version of the game.

After he started playing house with someone used to dancing around trees in a 22-yard sari, Khan’s game on a different pitch – the 22 yards – went down. His subsequent stint as a Hindi film hero was no-balled.

Reena Roy presumably made a silly point by backing hubby Khan’s acting talent, never imagining it could hit their marriage for a six. She lost custody of daughter Sanam after the talaaq and tried taking fresh guard in Bollywood. But this is the age of T20 and faster running between wickets.

This in no way suggests the script could be similar for Indian tennis star Sania Mirza and her Pakistani cricketer-shauhar Shoaib Malik. She is more likely to have an army of Pakistanis worrying about the length of her skirt than the odd cleric back home in Hyderabad.

Nikaah – after negotiating an Ayesha Siddiqui googly – hasn’t proved lucky for Shoaib, though. He isn’t in the Pak T20 World Cup team. One hopes life with a player once reported for a suspect action would for Sania be brighter than Number 27, the highest individual ranking she had in international tennis (August 2007).

There’s something with foreign cricketers called for illegal delivery that draws them to Indian women. Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan ended up marrying Madhimalar, daughter of S Ramamurthy of Chennai’s Malar Hospitals, on 21 March 2005. They have a child, Naren, born in January 2006. One cannot rule out a second from the doosra specialist.

Reena, Sania and Madhimalar probably do not fall in the same category as actress Neena Gupta, once the face of the bold Indian woman. The fiercely independent Neena caught a hard-hitting West Indian – Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards – to have a brief affair and a daughter named Masaba.

The most dignified of Indian wives of foreign cricketers is undoubtedly Dame Sukhwinder ‘Sukhi’ Kaur Gill Turner. She wasn’t only the first Green Party mayor in New Zealand; she was also the antipodal country’s most prominent politician among Indian settlers.

Born in Ludhiana to Squadron Leader Jasbir Singh Gill and Premjit Kaur, Sukhi moved to New Zealand after marrying cricketer Glenn Turner. She could have carried on for a fourth term as Dunedin’s mayor, but chose to retire after October 2004. That year, she received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman from the Indian government for contribution to Indian immigrant communities in other countries.

Sania isn’t likely to get that Samman (honour) – because immigration is usually the other way round and not because New Delhi isn’t on a sporting pitch with Islamabad.

Most speakers of the Bodo tribal language in Assam and the Syllheti variant of Bengali accentuate their ‘P’ with an ‘h’. For cricket and for peace in South Asia – for tennis too – we certainly hope the rest of the world doesn’t start pronouncing Pakistan the way they do.

Even if it does, there’s likely to be a Butt opening for Pakistan, holding the middle or using the long handle at the tail-end. Howzzat?

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About rahconteur

A mid-career journalist who's worked horizontally across India - from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat
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