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Cricket news - Trivial, yet uplifting

As there is sadness in the world, there is the joy of seeing other young people try and bring a smile to worried faces

It is a very rare day that I go to a cricket match with my mind elsewhere, struggling to come to terms with the enormous irrelevance of where I am headed. On the short drive to the Chinnaswamy Stadium for the second T20 international, all I could think of was Wing Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman. Since my childhood I have abhorred war and have had nothing but respect for people in the defence forces. And here I was, having to get excited about a mere cricket match.

But cricket didn't let me down. As there is sadness in the world, there is the joy of seeing other young people, similarly putting aside their concerns to try and bring a smile to worried faces. I saw some wonderful talent on display from KL Rahul and Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell. Amidst the tension, there were excited faces. C'est la vie. Amidst the triviality of sport, I was uplifted by sport.

India lost both matches but I wasn't certain they had their heart in them. The greater objective was to put some players to the test and see how they respond. It is a peculiar paradox. You must want to win every game you play and yet you are preparing for something bigger. And so India went in a bowler short specifically to see if Vijay Shankar could deliver four overs. In essence he was auditioning for a bigger role. It is funny where life takes you. A batsman who occasionally bowled a few overs was seeing if he could impress as a bowler.

Kohli gave him the relatively easier overs and probably came to the conclusion that he has found a bowling option if not a bowler. Even that was a good result.

Increasingly these days, as my eyes seek out Kohli, they search for Bumrah. For a man so young, he bears the responsibility of being the lead bowler, of bowling the tough overs, so lightly. I am fascinated by the calm that seems to envelop him. He bowled an expensive 17th over and an excellent 19th. And you couldn't tell from his actions which over was which. Being calm allows you to be shrewd, being excitable and noisy, like a lot of that deplorable television these few days, forces you into errors.

India's other big plus was KL Rahul. I don't know if the shorter form releases him from the tension of having to build an innings (which incidentally he did well for India 'A' after returning from Australia) but his strokeplay was sumptuous. He said the days post his inadvisable interview with Karan Johar had humbled him. I was happy to hear that for adversity is often an opportunity in different clothes. I believed then that both Pandya and Rahul would benefit from the turbulence they had walked into because it would allow them time to reflect on where they were headed. The bubble in public life that I often talk about is true and dangerous. Talent is important, Rahul and Pandya have it in abundance, but discipline takes it further. For both, that should be a target.

Now, the dress rehearsal for the World Cup begins and ideally, India should have locked in all fifteen by now. But that hasn't happened and the ODI series is now the final test for the two spots still open because the IPL will not be an ideal selection ground. There are different objectives at work there and the match winning 20 or 25 ball innings don't tell you a lot about ability in a 300-ball game.

By the time the last ODI on the 13th of March is played, the World Cup team should be sealed and locked.

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