The doorbell made a repulsive, screeching noise as Ambati Rayudu traipsed towards the door like a man defeated by life. At the door were standing Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Shami with a large crate of beer, and another guy holding a carton full of snacks, struggling to keep balance.
Rayudu’s plan initially was to watch India’s second T20I with Ireland in his isolated Mumbai flat with Yuvraj and Shami, in the silent hopes of turning the discussion into a rant session about BCCI’s flawed selection criteria (Yo-Yo Test). However, it was almost flushed down the gutter when he saw a third, unrecognizable man standing at his door, hiding his face with his cap and standing in a weird imbalanced posture.
An annoying Rayudu didn’t hurry to take the weight from his hands and tried to make out his face first, even before letting in Yuvi and Shami. “That’s Stewie boy (Stuart Binny),” said Yuvraj Singh, “Found him lingering at the sidelines of the cricket academy yesterday, so invited him.”
He stepped inside the flat pushing Rayudu aside with a cowardly looking Shami following him hastily as they settled on the recliners swiftly, as if to claim their spot for the rest of the night. With crooked eyebrows, Rayudu kept looking at Stuart Binny, who was still uncertain if he was allowed in or not.
“I have Pringles, cashews, and Lays..,” said Binny smiling unconvincingly. Rayudu stepped aside and let him in. The cart was evidently heavy as Binny’s hands trembled, but Rayudu decided to keep the unwanted guest waiting a little longer.
Keeping the beers in the refrigerator, Rayudu coaxed, “You all are late by almost an hour guys.”
“It was Stewie’s fault. He couldn’t find his phone and kept us waiting,” blurted out Shami abruptly as if he had kept the urge to complain pressed long inside with great difficulty like a kindergarten kid, who struggles to keep his pee in control during a class.
“I’m very sorry to interrupt but, where can I keep it?” said a shaky Binny softly, wary of disturbing the conversation. Rayudu pointed a corner to him and he dropped it with a huge thud.
Meanwhile, the toss had already happened with India being asked to bat first and Rayudu was stunned to see Shikhar Dhawan getting benched and Rohit Sharma demoted to make way for KL Rahul to open alongside Virat Kohli. Both he and Rahul had registered over 600 runs in the recently concluded IPL and Rayudu had largely blamed Rahul and Kohli to conspire to keep him out of the side as they didn’t need any more top-order batsmen.
Eyes widened and nostrils flaring, Rayudu
“Virat Bhai says it helps in gaining Yo-Yo Test fitness… that’s why…,” stopped Binny’s meek voice on its track realizing that it was going the wrong way. Rayudu had advanced enough to throw Binny out of the house before Yuvraj stopped him and pointed him that Kohli had already been sent to the pavilion for just 9 runs.
“I knew he won’t reach his 2000 T20I runs here. He wants it on the big screen, you know, at Old Trafford. These minnows coming to watch the game at the Village won’t give Virat enough correct publicity. Kohli is all about the show now,” said Shami.
A statement against Virat deviated Rayudu’s attention and he started watching the match again as Suresh Raina came next. “Huh… here comes Dhoni’s chamcha. During IPL, whenever he was asked to come down the order or up, he would get depressed, put his head down, and remind everyone how he has been successful in that batting position. I scored runs opening as well as in the number four position,” said a brooding Rayudu.
The room had become quiet for a while with Binny starting to believe he had evaded the trouble just when a message blipped on his screen. Everyone got distracted by the strange tone, which resembled something likes a soft toy getting squeezed. And even before Binny could react, everyone had seen the lock screen image. To get a double assurance, Rayudu snatched it from Binny’s hands and kept looking at it with a face that reflected confusion, anger and disgust.
Danny Morrison posing as a bathroom singer with a shampoo bottle, it flashed as all three looked at Binny with a puking face. It took Binny some time to process everything before he realized he had to take his wife’s spare phone in
It needed the stadium roars of
Yuvraj, who was almost silent all this while, could suddenly relate to this statement and said, “This… This is exactly what I say. As you age more, so does your number of retakes. This doesn’t mean your talent has decreased. I gave eight retakes to get my next advertisement right. I was terrible at first, but the director had patience… I don’t know why the selectors don’t have.”
Rayudu, however, couldn’t return Yuvraj the favour. He could neither relate nor understand what Yuvi was blabbering. His eyes and ears had turned to Binny, who had scooted to the farthest corner of the couch as he was speaking on the phone. Contrary to expectations, Binny was undoubtedly the most interesting person sitting amidst the miserable lot.
Not able to hear what he was whispering, Binny muted the TV and could hear Binny saying, “No… I’m not speaking in a deep woman’s voice. I’m a man. The phone is not with Mayanti at the moment. Could you please call after some time?”
The other three had heard it, but they were too spent to indulge their assumption and thought into it.
“The most overrated player I have ever seen. But, just because he is fit and can take some catches, Virat and Ravi Bhai are always turned on by him,“ said Rayudu.
But no sooner had Rayudu finished his rant than Pandya started his onslaught. 0, 1, 6, 6, 2, 6, 6, 4, 1; Pandya ended the innings making 32 runs off 9 balls. India had posted 214 runs as the target with the Irish players’ face reflecting that they were already defeated. And so were Rayudu, Yuvi and Shami. Rayudu switched off the TV as they took out the beers and went to the terrace, aiming to explore more about Binny’s adventures.
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