“Well, of course it is important that you leave your other commitments and come and support us from the other side of the TV screens. Work can take a back seat once in a while. So, our team has taken a stand and five are not playing today to be able to watch the cricket coverage. It’s a crucial match, and hopefully, we will be able to win at least the toss. The support of the nation will do the trick,” said Dhoni just before the toss.
Just after the toss, we had a chat with Piyush Chawla, one of the seemingly-“injured” players, outside the team hotel, just as he was ready to go to his room to watch the match. “I injured my left cheek two days ago, when Ashwin slapped me. Since then, my bowling in the nets has declined even further. I won’t be able to play, even though it would have been a great opportunity to represent the country in such a crucial tie. But, it will be great to watch the match on TV, like most of India.”
Another player, not playing the match today, Sreesanth, said he tossed a coin to choose which injury to fake—an ankle injury or a persistent attitude injury. “I was watching the news today morning, and learned that college students are bunking classes, office-goers are leaving work early, and even the Prime Minister is going to wake up just to watch the cricket match. This was too much, and it was a disgrace if I didn’t sacrifice my commitments for the sake of supporting India. Even with an ankle injury, I can bowl just the way I’ve been bowling recently, but won’t be able to dance on the field. So I chose to fake an ankle sprain,” said the pacer, before leaving with Chawla.
Other team members who have injured themselves suddenly are Ashish Nehra, Yusuf Pathan and Sachin Tendulkar. Nehra told us that he plans to throw stones at the team bus, and disfigure the bungalows of team members including his own, if India lost. “I am a fan today, not a cricketer. I am going to watch every ball on TV, even if it’s Navjot Singh Sidhu doing the commentary.” Sachin, however, said he would play a bit, to complete the team XI. “If India bats first, I’ll hit a century, so that they allow me to take rest during the second innings,” said the Master Blaster.