The Devil’s Line-up

Let’s start with the two openers – Sonia & Rahul. No, this is not cricket, it’s team Congress. Whereas one opener is a veteran, the other is Rahul. Yes, Rahul – whether it is the Indian cricket team or the Congress picket team, Rahul is a timid underperformer who plays well only in the shadows of the better players. And yet they spearhead their respective lines – a hilarious mischief by the Devil.

While team India has a strong number 3 batsman in Kohli, team Congress has many contestants vying for the same coveted position. That’s why in spite of both openers vacating the pitch long back, there’s still no sign of who would be the next to walk in, or rather, totter in. The contenders are none like Kolhi, on the contrary they are closer to Dhoni, or rather nearly twice his age. So, imagine a Dhoni, with batting strike rate twice as slow, staggering in. Oh, my Devilness!
One might think there are younger and fitter players such as Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia who should step up to the crucial number 3 position. But how can one play for the national team when they are not even considered for their domestic league? Kamal Nath Singh and Ashok Gehlot may be older than the terra firma that they play on, but their experience is invaluable. Irrespective of whether they are able to limp between the wickets, spot a straight delivery, or for that matter even lift their bats, their experience is deemed invaluable. What experience you may ask. Well, better ask who is the Devil and you can hope to find an answer sooner. So, there it is, Kamal Nath at number 3 and Gehlot slightly behind at 6.

P Chidambaram is the ideal candidate for the 4th spot, as he has a wealth of…well, er…Wealth! No matter the level of conviction of the opposite bowlers in their appeals, he always manages to evade the rising index finger of the umpires and steadfastly stays at the crease. And he also has a successor in line for the bewitched number 4 position – his son. Whether to opt or not, the ball is entirely in his son’s court (pun intended). Number 5 belongs to the swashbuckling player. Who else, but Shashi Tharoor! Whether he can move the score or not, but he can definitely woo the audience with his charisma. So much so that the ladies would still be cheering for the team long past the team has been annihilated. Devilish charms at work!

Position 7 belongs to the allrounder, or even a bits and pieces player who floats around in many roles or portfolios without distinction. Kapil Sibal can bat here. He’s also a handy spinner – one who can spin words in any direction, no matter whether it’s a grass pitch or a hard court. Number 8 should not flinch from pinch hitting, or rash batting. He should just swing his bat blindly even if it means gifting away his wicket to a complete novice. Enter Digvijay Singh. Slots 9, 10 and 11 are the realm of the specialist bowlers. The hard hitting Amarinder Singh can bat at number 9. In bowling, he’s treading a line and length that the opponents are unable to breach. Considering that the rival batsmen are most of the time stoned, you never know whether it’s the quality of delivery or the psychedelic effect of Ahem! chitta – a local drug, that is mesmerizing. Every team will have one errant bowler who usually bats at 9, 10 or 11. There is one such player at number 10 – Mani Shankar Aiyar. When he speaks, his wayward cutters, seamers and swingers tend to hit his own players more than the opposition wicket. While he is capable of sledging the bowler and the ten fielders to shame, more often than not he ends up embarrassing his own team. It doesn’t matter whether the number 11 bats or not, it’s inconsequential. Gulam Nabi Azad can bat here and then bowl very defensive and insipid deliveries later on. So, that’s the starting eleven. Well, better the Devil you know than the Devil you don’t know!

So, where exactly are the young and resourceful Pilot and Scindia? They are the 12th and 13th men treating the playing, or rather, resting eleven with snubs and curses. At number 14 and 15 are Navjot Singh Sidhu and Ahmed Patel. The reason for the garrulous and high-octane Sidhu not being present in the playing eleven is because he would most probably look to run out Amarinder Singh. And then misfield off the bowlers he doesn’t like and gift away free runs to the opponents. Ahmed is more of a coach than a player and 15th position is aptly suited for him to call the shots away from the limelight. If you are wondering about Manmohan Singh and A K Anthony, team Congress is hoping that one day they would return to strengthen the team. Hope team India is not likewise wishing for the return of Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar to win the world cup!

There is a famous adage that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. When the idleness is omnivalent as in team Congress, the workshop turns into a castle, which is ruled by the Devil known for his dark and sardonic sense of humour. And when the Devil jests, team Congress has no option but to comedize and amuse the country by obliging to the Devil’s line-up!

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