IPL 11

CSK’s tryst with last-over heists continue during monumental homecoming against KKR

In a script that was too cliched even for their own good, Chennai pulled off yet another stunning last-over heist in a high-scoring game.

For the first time in a little more than a decade, the Chennai Super Kings’ fierce loyalists were a divided lot going into their grand Indian Premier League homecoming following their two-year ban.

Social issues play a key construct in the Tamil Nadu’s fabric. After widespread agitations last week over the Cauvery water issue, few from the film fraternity, who are massive players in TN’s social and political framework, questioned why MA Chidambaram should be hosting games in the first place.

There were calls for moving Chennai’s games outside the state. Then, there were the ones who wanted fans to vent their ire by swapping their yellow for black during the games.

One of the most popular voices of the state announced that he won’t be doing commentary for the game as the issue gathered steam on social media. Some staunch faithfuls even decided against watching the match.

As the clocked ticked towards the start of the much-awaited contest, there were fears of the match being called off altogether: There were widespread demonstrations from metres away from the stadium.

An unprecedented number of security personnel were deployed. Scant little was going to challenge the fans’ resolve. They had sent out a message that entertainment and politics do not mix and match – after all, it was nearly a 35-month wait to see MS Dhoni lead the franchise that established him as the captain supreme of modern day white-ball cricket.

But the wait continued. By this time, the sea of yellow had taken their seats and in full volume, anxious. There was an uncharacteristic delay during the toss and an almighty roar went around the ground when Dhoni made the right call. Almost nothing had changed in the CSK-verse. Suresh Raina was displaying cat-like reflexes on the field, Dwayne Bravo was dancing away to glory. The good ol’ days were back again.

Ecstasy that tuned into agony

Image credit: IPL/SPORTZPICS
Image credit: IPL/SPORTZPICS

Some protests continued inside the stadium too. There were reports of shoes being thrown in the direction of substitute fielder Faf du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja.

By the 10th over, it was turning into quite a party. Even though After Kolkata pressed home early advantage, quick wickets had reduced the visitors to 89/5. And then came a hailstorm in the form of Andre Russell. The burly West Indian was fighting his own personal battle here after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

From thereon, Tamil Nadu versus Karnataka took a backseat. It was a battle for bragging rights between Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. Russell picked apart Bravo during his brutal essay, which even saw him hammer the ball out of the park with a jaw-dropping 105-metre six. Kolkata had set a humongous 203-run target.

Chennai got off to a dream start through openers Ambati Rayudu and Shane Watson. But dark clouds once again engulfed the world that was bright and yellow. The two-time champions were struggling to keep up. Their second favourite son, Raina, perished. Worryingly, he was in a lot of discomfort due to a cramp he suffered during his short stay at the crease.

A new hero is born

Image credit: Faheem Hussain/SPORTZPICS
Image credit: Faheem Hussain/SPORTZPICS

Given how deep Chennai bat and with Dhoni at the crease, the fans should have been breathing easy. But this was a different beast. Dhoni the finisher has come under the scanner in recent times. The skipper played a small part in the run-chase by milking out Kuldeep Yadav for a four and a six, but, once again, there was a lack of fluency in a game where one had to keep a tab on the required run-rate every few seconds.

It was a young Englishman, though, who was making his presence felt with some fearless hitting. Apart from Kevin Pietersen and to a lesser degree, Eoin Morgan, none of the players from England have managed to create any sort of impact in the years gone by. For the better part of a decade, they had looked down on IPL with much derision.

Billings is new-age, Twenty20 bread, and possesses a 360 degree scoring range. For all the old-fashioned muscle that was on display, the 26-year-old’s wicked paddle off Russell to the fine-leg boundary for a six was arguably the shot of the match – that bit artistry that would have made AB de Villiers proud.

Adventure, however, got the better of Billings just before his team got over the finish line after making a timely 23-ball 56. After being picked up by Chennai in the auctions, Billings had waxed lyrical about the prospect of picking up the tricks of the trade from Dhoni. The former Indian skipper was out for a 28-ball 25 during a knock that saw him largely wilt under pressure.

The grand finale

Despite scripting an extraordinary heist at the Wankhede Stadium during the season opener, it was Jadeja who was sent ahead of Bravo. With 17 needed from the final over, pressure had griped the stands. A few hardly had any fingernails left to chew on. There were prayers on offer and a handful of them, looked like even a breeze could trigger a breakdown.

Over the past decade, Chennai made last-over heroics an art that was the prized possession of only a select few. It was almost like a painful lesson in opposition bowler’s reputation being ripped to shreds.

Vinay Kumar, one of Indian domestic cricket’s pivotal figures in this millennium, was the latest victim. Bravo had set the tone early in the over. The stage was set for Jadeja to seal the deal. Like Dhoni and Raina before, the Saurashtra all-rounder too, is an adopted son of the city. Once mocked with the prefix ‘Sir’, Jadeja, in 2013 made a mockery of his detractors with a scarcely believable last-ball heist in 2013 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

It was fairly straightforward here: A straight bat to usher his side into the new era. But the belief and spirit of old still lingers in the Chennai Super Kings camp, however challenging the circumstances.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.