Round Two: A glimpse into the future
- Breaking: Navy officer dies on board INS Kolkata off Mumbai
- Subrata Roy to remain in Tihar, Supreme Court calls Sahara's proposal "dishonourable"
- Arvind Kejriwal stopped on way to meet Narendra Modi
- Modi's next round of Chai pe charcha doesn't have police permission yet
- SC issues notice to Centre on Kiran Reddy's PIL against creation of Telangana
Had this been the puerile world of entertainment wrestling, the upcoming bout would have been the sale of the season. The equivalent of Hulk Hogan, a legend, versus CM Punk, the reigning two-time heavyweight champion.
But such parallels across sports — if entertainment wrestling is at all a sport, that is — can rarely be exact. In this case, the Hogans, 39-time champions Mumbai, are as much the punks. They are young, agile, without their ageing stars and led by the effervescent Rohit Sharma.
With Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and Ajinkya Rahane returning to the Test camp, Ajit Agarkar injured and Wasim Jaffer yet to return from Haj, Rohit will lead Mumbai in a Ranji Trophy game for the first time. And he will have with him a group of happy-go-lucky performers in Abhishek Nayar, Kshemal Waigankar, Dhawal Kulkarni and Prashant Naik — all mates of Rohit's from his age-group days. This bunch, unlike Hogan, have their best ahead of them.
Rajasthan aren't out-and-out 'Punk' either. They are a recent phenomenon, but, led by a 38-year-old Hrishikesh Kanitkar, also have the appearance of an ageing champion. Their most consistent performers include Kanitkar, fellow outstation pro Rashmi Ranjan Parida, opener Vineet Saxena and the unflagging Pankaj Singh, all of whom have been around for a while. They are more Mumbai — the true veterans who have mastered the art of winning the title — than Mumbai themselves.
Had this been the Madison Square Garden, ring announcers would have purred at the pre-fight weigh ins, calling out the achievements of the challenger and champion with modular changes to their vocal cords. This, however, is the Ranji Trophy and this is the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, which a day before the big clash welcomes you with a banner that reads: "Home of the Rajasthan Royals, 2008 IPL champions."