I have just returned from my first and last interview with a candidate for the coming elections. Excerpts:
Mr. Mansur Ali Khab Pataudi, what are the prospects of your party in the elections?
I would rather you asked the question that question than me. However, since you have asked, I would say that they are quite bright. We are a good team, strong in all departments, and the natting line-up has tremendous stability, from No. 1 to No. 11. Unlike some other teams, we should play out the full innings.
Who would you say is likely to be your biggest rival?
"Well, the team to defeat is obiviously the BJP. I see it as a straight fight between us, one to one. They have got a reasonbly good attack, and though their batting tail is rather long… I mean, who is there after Advani and Vajpayee, they have a very dependable opener in Chetan Chauhan. He can be relied on for 90, 95 runs, though not a century.
Mr. Pautaudi, what do you have to say about the other teams?
I do not know if the board would approve of my shooting my mouth like this, especially when it has appointed so many official spokesmen, but since you have asked we should be able to quite comfortably dispose the Samajwadi Janata party, who are the babes of the tournament, and the Laftist teams, except on certain grounds, where they have all the conditions favouring them. But then you can never tell in politics."
What about the Janata Dal? Do you expect some resistance from it?
We never sell our opponents cheaply, that is not the way we play the game. However, it must be noted that the Janata Dal is not the team it was two years back. A lot of its senior players have retired or been forced to retire, others have joined new teams, and there is dissension in the team, particularly against the caption. Let us say it is not a happy team.
Mr. Pataudi, what about your own chances? Do you think you will be included in the final eleven?
Well, I would be selected for the tour, of that I am confident, but making it to the cabinet, I cannot say. There are several more experiecned than myself and I think they should be given the chance to play first and prove that they have retained the form. Still, it all dependes on the captain and the tour selection committee.
Are you comfortable in politics?
The more I am getting into it, the more comfortable I am feeling. It is just like cricket, you with a straight bat - you win some, you lose some.
One last question: How many runs do you think your team will win by?
We should win by a margin of 180 to 190 runs, though we could surprise everybody and win by an innings.