The facebook page `Thankyou Pakistan for taking Sania Mirza. Now please take Rakhi Sawant also :)’ had 1,39,331 facebook members who `liked’ it on Wednesday. When I checked today, the number had climbed to 1,45,613.
The rate at which Shoaib Malik has been doing a Hyderabad darshan of different sport facilities, and leaving a trail of controversy, may provoke Facebook users to soon open another page. `Please keep Shoaib Malik in Pakistan. Give us Hafiz Saeed instead’.
This week, Malik drove down to the Gymkhana grounds in Hyderabad, wife Sania in tow, to practise at the cricket facility. Family friend Chamundeswaranath may have helped fix the practise session for Malik, given the fact that the former Pakistan skipper is banned by his country’s Cricket Board, on suspicion that he played the gentleman’s game Down Under in December 2009 in not such a gentlemanly manner. Chamundi is an influential cricketing official with all the right contacts at the right places but the fact remains that he too was removed unceremoniously as the secretary of the Andhra Cricket Association last year, on various cricketing and non-cricketing charges.
Mr and Mrs Malik of course got a warm welcome from the cricketers who were practising there. The pleasantly surprised lot even clicked photographs with them for posterity. They were clearly overwhelmed. “Shoaib Malik is such a big player. I felt very excited bowling to him.”
But the time that Malik spent there, hitting a few sixes, sent the Hyderabad Cricket Association into a tizzy. Because Malik was extended a privilege that had been denied even to Hyderabad boy and former captain Mohammed Azharuddin. Azhar was never allowed to enter the Gymkhana after December 2000, when he was banned by the BCCI on charges of match-fixing. Ditto eight Hyderabad cricketers including Ambati Rayudu, when they started playing for the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL). Different rules for sons of the soil and different rules for a son-in-law, a former cricketer smirked.
As the finger-pointing began, no one in the HCA wanted to take the blame, particularly with the BCCI expressing its displeasure at Malik padding up on Indian wickets. And Hyderabadis, already miffed with the controversies surrounding the Pakistani’s two innings in the city, did not want another T20-like cameo from him now.
And in an atmosphere that has been Kasav-ified, a small-time politician even lodged a complaint with the local police station, accusing the Pakistani cricketer of trespassing. The local inspector was more amused as he wondered if the complainant wanted Malik and Kasav to be dealt with in the same manner. But the purpose of the politician was served, as he went on to hog airtime on more than one Telugu news channel.
A joke doing the rounds is that Malik could make himself available for bidding by the Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League, if the ban on him is revoked. The sight of this damaad in Hyderabad’s blues, sweating it out for his biwi’s city team, with the parivaar cheering him on, could well be the photo-op of the next IPL.
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