Once upon a time, there were 17 men. Well, 16 men and Ishant Sharma's hair, actually, but this is no time for semantics. These men, brave knights of the realm, did many things. They promoted cola, hair-care products, and anti-virus systems. They dated beautiful women (and Bobby Darling). And ever so often, almost too often, they played cricket.
They were worshipped in their land, especially since they had returned but a few short months earlier with the game's ultimate prize; an IPL contract. A few weeks before that, they had also won a magical object known as the 2011 World Cup, whose primary power was the ability to shut people up about the 1983 World Cup.
Rise before the fall? Last year, Team India won a magical object known as the 2011 World Cup, whose primary power was the ability to shut people up about the 1983 World Cup
As a result of this victory, they were christened "The Greatest Indian Team Ever", a title that stuck to every newspaper headline in the country, irrespective of how the knights performed. When they won, they were "The Greatest Indian Team Ever!", and when they lost, they were "The Greatest Indian Team Ever?" This headline tells us much about Indian cricket fans. And the importance of punctuation.
Ever so often, the great knights would ready their ships and sail across the seas to slay foreign dragons. More often than not, they would come back burnt to a meaty crisp by those very dragons, but the knights would have their revenge by not giving those dragons a place in the Bangalore Royal Challengers.
If this tactic also failed to slay the dragon, the knights turned to their masters, a cabal of corpulent men made of money, power and Lalit Modi's tears, called the BCCI, the Board For Control of Cricket in India. By 'cricket', they meant 'money', and by 'board', they meant "Whatever Sharad Pawar says". Some in the land (Rajiv Shukla) argued that the BCCI only wanted what was best for cricket in India. Those people clearly had never seen the BCCI's official website and realised that it was not a .com or a .in, but a .tv, and thus, a clear indicator of their priorities.
When the knights told the BCCI of their woes, the old men laughed, for they had access to the darkest, oldest form of sorcery of all time: money. And they used this money to bully and humiliate the foreign dragons. And many of these dragons, like the English ones, just shrugged, took the money and went away, knowing that most people in their own lands had already moved on to other sport that was more lucrative, more TV-friendly, and more filled with Wayne-Rooney awesomeness than cricket could ever be.
And one day, the knights set off for the land of Australia, described excitedly (and often) as "The final frontier". Their performance there made one glad that the knights were not in charge of the USS Enterprise on her chase of the real final frontier, as her mission would have ended with them crashing her onto the moon and breaking it, if that had been the case. Their journey to Australia was not a pleasant one, but their fate at the hands of the Aussies had been foretold. Not by soothsayers or shamans, but by history itself.
Because this tale was all too familiar. "The Greatest Team Ever" had set off to capture "the final frontier". It was the knights' "best chance to do this", and it was "now or never". If those words sound familiar, it is because they are ripped from the headlines of every pre-Australia-tour-newspaper ever.
And all that follows shall be no different. We will question the captain's 'Midas-touch', we will write reams about "hard questions that need asking", and yet, nothing will change, and in the end, our defeat will be blamed on "too much cricket." Yes, god forbid your overpaid knights should be made to do too much of their overpaid job.
The bards of the realm will talk of the time Virat Kohli raised his middle-finger at the crowd once, when the ballad should be about how the umpire raised his index finger at Virat Kohli four times for a total of just 44 runs. But fret not, for soon our knights shall return. And there shall be another IPL, and we'll live happily ever until-our-next-foreign-jaunt.
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo