The Pandora’s Box called 22 Yards

Posted: September 10, 2008 in Uncategorized

The countdown has well and truly begun.. Exactly 45 hours to go before the book is unveiled to the world.. Yes, finally I am feeling pangs of anxiety and some amount of nervousness too..

While I cope with them, here goes the second sneak glimpse into the book– an extract from the book’s first chapter..

My doorbell rings. I get up with a jerk, nervous that it might be bad news. When I see Raghav standing outside, tension writ all over his face, I know that I’m not going to like what he’s about to tell me.

‘Praveen Tiwari called from India. He says he has confirmation from bookies that three of our players have been fixed for the final match,’ he announces.

I’m speechless, and a full moment passes as the impact of his words fully sinks in.

‘Does he have any idea who these players are?’

‘No, not yet.’

I know there’s no point questioning Raghav any further. Tiwari is the master of sting operations; he first broke a story on bookies and match-fixing nearly ten years back, and the reach of his sources remains unparalleled.

Raghav leaves with the comment that, perhaps the law of averages exists for journalists too, and that Tiwari is wrong this time around. As captain of the side, I can’t possibly have the luxury of clinging to that hope. Any trace of sleepiness is gone now. Who could these three players be? I know for sure that the ‘genuine match-winners’ or ‘impact players’ are more susceptible to approaches from bookies. I’m also reminded of a whole lot of unpleasant incidents that have occurred with some of my team members in the past, including those that only I am privy to. Based on this, I zero-in on five players: Jeet Gohil, Ishan Sawant, Amod Ray, Asad Iqbal and Ramgopal. I know I may be terribly, terribly wrong; I know Tiwari could be wrong; yet this is not a press statement that I’m making. It’s a personal assessment based on things I know better than anybody else.

I grow more and more restless with each passing moment. I reach for my laptop and switch it on. Slowly, I click on a file named ‘22 Yards’, and type out the password that is requested. The file unfolds before my eyes, and as I begin to read, I realise that I’m trembling. I’m re-visiting a forgotten chapter; one that could complicate my life and my cricket.

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