Satire | Ravi Shastri gives performance reviews to his players in PTA meeting

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Satire | Ravi Shastri gives performance reviews to his players in PTA meeting

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Subhayan Dutta

02/28/2018

The D Road of Mumbai’s Churchgate area saw a sudden flurry of vehicles Wednesday morning as the cameras caught Indian cricket stars entering BCCI office with their families. What was first thought to be a success party for SA tour, turned out to be a PTA meeting as "close sources" confirmed later.

Head coach Ravi Shastri entered the grand hall on the fourth floor amidst the whispery fuss to reveal the reason for the call-up. The absence of any sort of celebration material had given some players enough indication that it was not any kind of a meeting, but hardly had they thought that they were taken to school all over again. While the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and MS Dhoni remained calm upon hearing this, the likes of Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya, who hadn’t finished their schooling, remained anxious and kept staring at each other.

“Lads, this was not my plan. In fact, I was all set to leave for Thailand in the afternoon flight,” said a dejected Shastri pointing to his three newly bought Johny Walker-stitched liquor bags. “As per Lodha Committee, I have to report your assessment to them after an individual meeting with you all.” 

“Can’t believe I have to go to Sri Lanka now without any vacation in between…,” murmured Shastri as he disappeared into his office. 

Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav, who were busy making sandwiches for themselves in the cafeteria, suddenly realized the silence in the hall and quickly took their seats beside their parents. Bharat Arun came out in a few minutes and clarified the procedure, “When I call your name, you will enter the office with your father, or mother, or spouse (looking at Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Dhoni from the corner of his eyes).” 

“Don’t break the line or try to bribe me to get your meeting before the other, there are cameras everywhere,” said Arun in a tight-lipped voice before rushing back to the office again.

Rohit entered the office first, not because the list followed according to the Indian batting order, but Arun had spotted tears in Ritika Sajdeh’s eyes. The sudden call-up had disrupted Sharmas’ plans of a short trip to Bali before going to Sri Lanka, and an early meeting could see them catching the early evening flight.

“Rohit, I must warn you. There won’t be Dhoni in Sri Lanka. Are you sure you will be able to manage captaincy? I don’t like the cameras focusing on me whenever you guys screw up in the field. As if it is my mistake your brain couldn’t master the art of running between the wickets yet,” said a semi-furious Shastri hiding his drowsy-reddish eyes behind the familiar shades.

“Virat won't be there coach. So I guess that thing is ruled out. I don’t think the rest of the side would need batting, as you know my record against the Lankans. And we are celebrating our fifth breakup anniversary during that time, so I guess things are looking up for me,” said a confident and smiling Rohit as he left with a B+ for his century in Port Elizabeth that had sealed the ODI series for India.

Kohli came in next, looking around the office with tensed eyebrows as he sat down. Shastri, who was shuffling through the news channels with his legs up on the couch, urgently corrected his position and signalled Arun to go out. In an act of drinking water, he dropped the cap under the table and touched Kohli’s feet while picking it up, all the while deceiving the camera over his head.

“What nonsense is this Ravi? You knew I had an appointment with ONGC. I work there for god’s sake! What if they kick me out and give MS Dhoni the job? I was also supposed to attend Anushka’s new film promotion and give pep talk to my ISL team. See, unlike you, I have work,” said the infuriated skipper.

“My hands are tied, sir,” said a meek Shastri. “I suggested if I could send your report card through Pandya’s hands, but they didn’t agree. Here, take it,” said Shastri handing Kohli a blank card and a pen, asking him to review himself. An appeased Kohli exited the office with an A followed by four '+' signs, one for every century he had scored on the tour, alongside a proud mother.

Dhoni entered with his wife next as Arun carried their daughter following them. Shastri got up to welcome them and before he could speak, Dhoni’s better-half signalled Arun to put the headphones on for their daughter. “She is pretty cautious after the stump mic incident,” said an awkward looking Dhoni.

“I must admit, I am tensed with your absence in the Nidahas Trophy,” said Shastri cutting him halfway. “You could have been present for the finals at least. Yuzvendra Chahal looks like a mindless horse as it is, and without your tips at the other end…”

“I had already booked the slot before going to the SA series. CSK guys have some elaborate ceremonies before my return in yellow colours again. Plus, you know we are taking our backend operations totally underground this time. This is far too important than playing Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” said a busy Dhoni fidgeting with his phone. Seeing that he won’t be able to persuade Dhoni, Shastri furthered the meeting by letting Dhoni go quickly by allotting an A+.

Pandya came next to face an irked Shastri wearing a dark shower cap. A distracted Shastri had a questionable countenance when he the all-rounder’s getup.

“Mumbai Indians fans want me to go all celeste (sky blue) for the campaign. It will take some time to experiment and get the perfect hue. That’s why I had to skip the Nibhdas Trophy,” explained Pandya.

“It’s Nidahas, and if you hadn’t been Kohli’s pet you’d be out of the squad a long time back. Did you read what Roger Binny said about you?” asked Shastri smiling wryly. Anyway, the coach knew giving Pandya poor review won’t matter as he is going to be in the limelight the entire IPL and get back into the squad. He ended up getting B -.

Cheteshwar Pujara entered the office next with bountiful luggage. “Leaving for Yorkshire a bit early. Would like to have a British vacation before the county season starts,” said he desperately hiding his pain behind the smile. Standing near the door, Arun couldn’t control his laughter as he kept his bags in a corner. Opposite to him, Shastri was watching Karnataka players celebrating as Pujara returned to the pavilion after scoring 94 runs in 127 balls.

“Does Harmanpreet Kaur have a better run rate than you?” asked a thoughtful Shastri as both of them broke into laughter with Pujara sitting helplessly. “I would give you C- but it won’t matter because media would call you our most technically gifted player on the England tour after your posh county stint. By the way, good luck seeing Mayank Agarwal earning more than you in IPL,” smiled Shastri as he bid Pujara goodbye.

The meeting went into lunch break and with evening endowing fast, Shastri was willing to finish things. He decided to call two players at a time now. Pandey and Jadhav came in next with tensed body language, knowing their contributions in South Africa were hardly impressive and looked ready to appease the boss right from the start go.

Shastri, who was well aware of the fact, asked them, “Do you think Dravid’s generous stupidity would cost us our salaries in the future? Because I work hard, brain-storming and team selection and all that. I wouldn’t want to lose it just because of my lazy subordinates.”

“We will revolt if that happens,” said promptly both Pandey and Jadhav, even before Shastri finished his question.

“I know. I am preparing a group that will voice their opinion if and when that circus starts. Start including other players as well. You both will be sticking around for long as we will never find our ideal no. 4. So, keep the fraternity tight,” concluded Shastri as the duo left with C+ reviews.

The next players to enter were Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik, nervous after seeing their juniors high-fiving outside the office, and already wary of losing the no. 4 spot. Shastri, after convincing them of the lobby in the making, decided to give Karthik a reality check. 

“I have sources who have revealed that Robin Uthappa will be KKR skipper. So, I would suggest you don’t get your hopes high and focus on the Nidahas Trophy. Though, it is not as if a good display in Sri Lanka would influence your World Cup selection in any way, though,” Shastri clarified giving Raina B+ and Karthik C.

As players came and went, the meeting finally came to the end with Ravichandran Ashwin and Jaydev Unadkat being the last candidates. The veteran and the rookie sat side by side in an empty office as they could hear voices from the hallway of Shastri and Arun discussing and glasses clinking. Shastri returned in some time and was delighted to see the duo sitting inside.

“I am a big fan of what you did to Herschelle Gibbs. Deleting the tweet just after everyone read it, was a great touch too,” said Shastri laughing loudly and shaking Ashwin’s hand violently. 

As Shastri struggled to go around the table to reach his chair, Ashwin said, “I can do it a few more times with your closet enemies if you guarantee me a place in 2019 World Cup. I am learning leggies too, and Chahal looked like a headless chicken in Centurion.”

Ensuring Ashwin that he will look into it by handing him a B, Shastri turned to Unadkat. “Is it true what Gavaskar said? Are u making good use of your IPL price?” asked a curious Shastri as Unadkat started looking elsewhere.

“See, as rare as a left-arm pace bowler is, we can always look at Shardul Thakur and Mohammad Siraj. Here I hold a C and B+. You can get whatever you want if you actually…,” Shastri signalled with his eyes as Unadkat called his accountant.

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