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   Those last few afternoons... (October 24, 1991)

Those last few afternoons, I have been spending my time sitting in front of the TV and watching Parmeshwar Godrej, Simi Garewal and some of he most beautiful women in the world... dressed to their pretty ears. I have never seen so many beautiful women, all dressed like models, in one place. Certainly not in any Indian stadium, and not at Wimbledon or any other internation sports meets, where the women are distinctly horsy.

There were others also at the Sharjah stadium. The two Khan brothers of the Hindi cinema, and two of the three Kapoor brothers, looking as if they were born to cricket. And Dawood Ibrahim, the well-known underworld NRI. Then there were occasional glimpses of the local king (the Grand Sheikh of UAE, I do not know his name), though I understand he is more at home on an English racecourse than a cricket stadium. And ther there was Sheikh Bukhatir, the camera kept coming to him, which was only natural. I mean, if the Doordarshan camera can be concentrated on Mr. Ajit Panja, there is no reason why Sharjah TV should not feature Bukhatir, who at least has contributed considerably to life and the general welfare of Sharjah. Just consider his contribution: apart from getting the finest cricketers in the world to play in Sharjah, he has managed to get the whole world to come there and see them play.

Apart from the audience, these last few afternoons, I have also been watching the cricket. And it has been the best cricket I have watched in a long time, mainly because India has been on a winning spree after a long time. Yesterday's hiccup does not count, it is not going into the record books and India had qualified into the finals even before it went into the game.

And more than the wins, it is the manner in which we have won that has been so impressive and heart-warming. Playing to a premeditated plan, coolly and effeciently, slowly securing the batting against a collapse, then gently accelerating and finally sailing forth. And the bowlers, rising above themselves and their limited abilities.

To talk at this time of Vengsarkar, and whether he should have been included in the team or not, is absurd. There is no place for him now in the Indian team, Nos. 3, 4 and 5 are booked for a long time to come. And for Srikkanth and Arshad Auyub and the rest. It is a new-old team that will be going to Australia, already tried and tested.

After tomorrow's finals on TV, it would be a pleasure to watch on Monday at the Wankhede Stadium Bombay's own Manjrekar and Tendulkar exhibiting their many-splendoured talents on their home wicket and before their home wicket and before their home crowds. I find it difficult to believe that there are people who would deny them that pleasure, whatever may be their personal or politicians reasons to do so.

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