GAME PLAN: Pro wrestling to slow pitches

Jaideep Ghosh

cricket_sportsSo now we have a professional wrestling league. I guess it always was on the cards, especially since the stars of Indian wrestling, particularly Sushil Kumar, head for the end of their notable careers.

Call me a cynic, but it seems that all the professional leagues coming up like mushrooms around India have much to do with a retirement plan.

The Indian Soccer League is a classic example – all the guys in international football who were planning their post-career armchairs suddenly found themselves huffing and puffing around hot steamy grounds in India, a nation they hadn’t even seen on the map when things were good.

The only league that actually saw current players from around the world in action was the Indian Premier League. But then, we really should have learned that cricket isn’t quite a sport, especially at the professional level.

But the sum total of ‘promoting’ Indian cricket was an unqualified disaster. So much so that we can’t stitch together even a half-decent T20 side, or a consistent ODI contingent.

The ISL also has made no impact in India’s prospects when it comes to real football, where we are spiralling downwards at alarming pace.

The interesting part of the Professional Wrestling League bidding was how many of the male wrestlers were bought for less than the female counterparts. Sushil Kumar did not gain as much as our star-struck mindset would want. People actually had to scramble to explain that there wasn’t any ‘insult’ intended! It was just business.

But given the records of the other professional leagues – from cricket to football to hockey and other sports – not quite sure how this will boost wrestling in India.

FEET FEAT: Cut to Mohali, where the first Test between India and South Africa began on Thursday morning.

The pre-match news was highlighted with skipper Virat Kohli touching the feet of veteran curator Daljit Singh.

Nothing wrong there. Kohli has a long-standing relationship with the pitch expert. But as the cynical side would say, the Indian skipper was gifted with a track where the ball isn’t reaching the batsmen, even on Day One morning.

But I guess it’s better to touch the curator’s feet before the match rather than pick up a fight with him after, like Team Director Ravi Shastri did after South Africa destroyed India in the final ODI at the Wankhede in Mumbai.

But for sheer voyeuristic delight, a scrap between Shastri and Sudhir Naik was way better.

Not that it really helped Kohli much, as the skipper’s birthday bash in the middle was brought to a juddering halt on a pitch where the ball will need a second wind to reach the wicketkeeper.

Not a great advertisement for Indian cricket, is it? After all, one would expect a track where both the bowlers and batsmen have a fair chance.

Here, on the Punjab Cricket Association strip at Mohali, it would be interesting to see if the Test actually reaches Day Five.

But better that than having to fight Shastri, right?

ELSEWHERE: This is the season for sports to blossom. Cricket has begun everywhere.

England are finding it a hard grind against Pakistan at Sharjah, after having lost previously as well.

They are brave, these English, to come and take on Pakistan in an away series. Even if the series is an away series for Pakistan as well.

It’s a pity really, strictly from a sports fan’s viewpoint, that Pakistan isn’t getting as much cricket as it should. They are one of the best sides in the business now, but because they are plying their craft in the Arabian desert almost unnoticed, they tend to pass under the radar most of the time.

The Australians realised it wouldn’t be a smart move to take on Pakistan in Dubai or Sharjah, so they opted out. Smart move, since they would have lost.

Instead, they are hosting the New Zealanders in Brisbane for a start, with David Warner destroying the Kiwi bowling with gusto as the Aussies congratulate themselves for making the right choices in terms of opposition.

The match in Sharjah also saw Moin Ali being hit on the back of his helmet by Wahab Riyaz. Wasn’t the kind of thing one would want to see, but to be fair, it is equally a technical flaw as it is an accident.

Sania_reWhat else? Sania Mirza snared another doubles title with Martina Hingis and then said she would be targetting the Rio Olympics. Good plan, though I think it may be a little difficult for her to partner Hingis there. Unless the Swiss was changing nationality.

Great times for fans, especially if you are a Bayern Munich supporter. A 5-1 score against Arsenal decisively put the sides in their deserved places.

It promises to be a great season of sport, so finish whatever you’re doing and set yourself up for the fun and games.

Let the games begin!