As Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma walked to the toss on the opening day of the 2020 IPL and the TV cameras moved from their faces down to their midriff regions, my eyes couldn't believe what they saw.
Just like everyone else, I had been eagerly waiting for what is considered India's greatest sporting festival but that sight dampened my spirits. Their excess belly fat brought on more of an after-festival feel, if truth be told.
And as I saw more and more Indian players during the course of the match, things just got worse, to the point where my mind accepted that it was normal to have a 'conspicuous' belly. Can you believe that? Mumbai Indians' Saurabh Tiwary showed such an all-dimensional growth that my mind went numb. He totally epitomised what's called "adrak ki tarah phailna".
The next game between Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab last evening brought Rishabh Pant to the fore and do what you would, there was no avoiding noticing his love handles.
Yes, the corona pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns didn't allow any outdoor fitness activities for sportspersons the world over but sorry to say only the Indian players appeared largely affected — visibly the only bunch which didn't show any kind of interest in online fitness classes.
And to be honest it was just ridiculous. If the Indian players can't watch their diet and keep themselves in shape, how are they going to inspire a 1.25b-strong population in these taxing times? Players from other countries like England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand may have looked sluggish at times, but there were no real alarming signs.
And forget them, even retirees like Delhi coach Ricky Ponting and Punjab fielding coach Jonty Rhodes looked much fitter than many of our Indian players.
Not just that it's aesthetically unappealing, it's dangerous to play unfit at such a demanding level. What happened to R Ashwin was a classic example. An innocuous-looking dive only resulted in that freak shoulder injury because his muscles were not prepared enough to complement the mind, and he had to leave the field in tremendous pain.
These could be career-threatening injuries and the rest of the players, Indians particularly, should take their lessons from the mishap and avoid putting in too much effort especially while fielding. As it is, these last few months have been extremely stressful and fans don't want more bad news.
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