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A Dressing Down in the Dressing Room

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The white plastic chairs are set around the table. They trickle in one by one, each taking a chair and easing himself on it.

He waits for them to settle down, cursing under his breath, but holding the cool exterior that he was known for. When the last one of them had settled down, Ravi Shastri began speaking.

‘Right, so here we are in the dressing room today…and it looks like this one is going down to the wire’. ‘Cliché’ mutters someone under his breath as the bowlers begin to giggle. Shastri glares at them and they stop.

‘We have been asked by the higher-ups to have a meeting and discuss what’s happening. One just gets a feeling-‘

Suddenly, Varun Aaron stands up, yells, and charges at the wall. He crashes into it, then turns around, and charges towards the opposite wall. Dhoni shares a glance with Shastri. They understood.

Ishant Sharma sat on his chair, his lanky frame hunched. ‘Idontwanttobowlwiththenewballbutbehnchodtheseguyskeepaskingmeto…’
‘Is there something you want to say, Ishant?’
‘Mmmmmgrumblegrumblemumblemumble’
‘You are the leader of the attack, you need to pull up your socks now.’ Ishant stops, bends down near his bag, pulls out his socks, and runs out of the hall. Dhoni shrugs his shoulder and looks at Shastri.

Ever so slowly, the chairs begin to shift a little, gravitating towards comfort zones of their own. Dhoni is gradually surrounded by the calmer ones – Pujara, Rahane, Ashwin, Vijay and Shami. Towards the other side, Virat, Rohit, Dhawan and Yadav are forming a circle of their own.

Shastri looks at the team, wondering if he should have brought Sunny along. But Sunny was growing older, and one couldn’t control what he’d do to the players when he lost his cool. Shastri’s mind went back to the last time Sunny bhai had addressed the team. Sreesanth had picked his nose, and Sunny bhai abruptly poked a burning agarbathi in his cheek. May be he was better off doing this by himself. We have to fight our demons alone. He had jumped at the opportunity to guide the team. Little did he know he’d have to deal with such nutcases.

He cleared his throat. ‘Alright, bright sunny day out here in Brisbane today, packed crowd, you can feel the excitement out here…’ Suddenly, a loud crash was heard from the other room.

Yadav ran across, and dragged Varun Aaron back to the room. He had charged at the television and smashed it into bits. ‘Leave me, I’m a fast bowler,’ he kept grumbling, but Yadav made him sit on the chair.

‘Right. So let’s begin with the meeting. I’d like each of you to state out the reason, according to you, for our loss. Let’s begin with Pujara’.
Pujara:
Shastri: Are you sure? But what about the wickets?
Pujara:
Shastri: Alright. Now let’s move on to Rohit. Why did we lose the match?

Rohit stands up, pulls out a handkerchief from his pocket, spreads it out on the table, and begins rolling it into a ball. Shastri is now losing his cool. ‘Let’s move on to Virat, then.’

Virat stares at him for a while, anger writ large on his face. And then, he speaks – ‘Motherchod teri maa ki choot saale bhonsdi ke haraami kaat daalunga saale behenchod harami’.
Rohit Sharma quickly turns around, takes out a notepad, and jots down some points.

‘If only he did that for his cover drives too,’ Shastri thinks, but knows better than to tell the players anything. He had been like them once – young, hot-blooded, brash, arrogant. The team managers had tried to stop him too, but it was a lost cause. His mind went back to that mad drunken night when he had 17 beers and humped Laxman Sivaramakrishnan. The world was shocked when he announced his retirement later that month.

‘Alright, then. May be we should move on with the-
Suddenly, Varun Aaron was up again. He took off his shirt, bellowed like a drunk bull, and charged at Shastri. Dhoni shook his head, looked at Kohli, and cursed under his breath.

Kohli, Rohit and Yadav ran to hold Aaron down, when Ashwin flung a chair at them. Enraged, they ran towards him, when Dhawan twirled his moustache and slapped his thigh, egging them forward. Rahane now stood up to block the marauding gang, but they got to him and slammed him down on the table.

Chairs were flying around, the screams inside the room had reached a crescendo. The voices grew louder and louder, as furniture, plastic, cloth, and bottles were flung across the room.

Dhoni sat in a corner and was quietly doodling on a piece of paper.

Two mountains, with a half-sun peeping out between them. There were a few clouds, r shaped crows, and a river that began at the point where the two mountains met. He proceeded to draw a house in the plains below, with three steps leading to the house. Should I add a window- BOOM!

There was a monstrous noise, as they all froze, and turned to look at the door.

Dressed in a black leather jacket, brown corduroy trousers, and dark brown boots. The jacket was open, revealing chest hair, and his hair was carelessly thrown across his forehead. There was no mistaking that look, no mistaking the magnetic power it had all over all – man, woman, object. It could only be –

Jackie Shroff. He walked towards the group, the click-clack of his boots echoing in the new silence. He said nothing, walking till he reached Dhawan.

‘Maushichigand!’ he slapped him hard across the face, as Dhawan flew across and landed on his knees. Dhoni made a mental note to put him in the slips.

Jackie walked on to the rest of the group. ‘Mach mach mach mach, all you fuckers do is talk all the time. But when it comes to playing-

He pulled Rahane up by his collar, till his toes were hanging in the air, shook him violently and threw him back on the chair. Rahane, facing yet another unplayable delivery, fainted.

‘And you,’ Jackie spat, his eyes on Varun Aaron. ‘You make even that monster (pointing at Yadav) seem like Gandhi in comparison’. He lifted Yadav and threw him on Aaron. Aaron yelled and began to charge at Jackie. Jackie raises his hand, and Aaron stops, whimpering and simpering.

‘And you’, He turned to Kohli and raised his hand. Only to smile and high five him. ‘Your girlfriend is hot. Kal dekha main. Kadak item hai’. He then turned to Pujara. ‘Do you have anything to say?’ Pujara stared – his lips moved, but you couldn’t hear what he was saying. Jackie lifted him up and slammed him on the table.

Ashwin was punched in the stomach once. And then kicked in the balls. ‘That’s the doosra, asshole. Use it’. He walks across to Rohit Sharma. ‘You. Talented cricketer. When the fuck is your talent going to win us matches? Or are you happy hammering West Indian bowlers in Vadodara? Behnchod go play in Ranji, then.’ He raised a beer bottle and smashed it down on his head.

‘And you’, he said, turning to Vijay. ‘Your name is Vijay, but you never get your team to a winning position. Look at me, my name is Jackie, and I’m Jackie Shroff’. He slaps him hard across the face.

Finally, as the rest of the team lies on the floor, twisting and writhing in pain, He approaches Dhoni, who seems unfazed by it all.

‘Abey oh, cool customer! Maushichigand!’ He lifts Dhoni up and choke-slams him down on the floor. ‘Don’t give me that calm and composed drama, understood? I played Shirdi Sai Baba for fuck’s sake. No one can be calmer than me’. With this, he lifted Dhoni and slammed him down on the rest of his teammates.

Amidst the noise, Shastri listened from the opposite room. He had sneaked out just in time, and sat huddled next to Duncan Fletcher on the floor. Jackie walked around the room. Varun Aaron stands up, looks at Jackie, but folds his hands in obeisance to The Lord.

‘Motherchod. I wake up every morning at five o clock, only to see your sad, idiotic drama. Maushichigand!’.

His work here done, Jackie gives the team a look of disdain, and leaves.

As he retires to bed that night, Jackie is a relieved man. Tomorrow he’ll wake up to watch the third test.

***