Virat's cricket kit has been put away. Even he doesn't know where it is. It's been hidden by Ravi Shastri and his loyalists, solely dedicated to the greater cause of Virat Kohli's switch-off regime.
In the last few months, Virat has trained so hard, it's scary. He's beaten the body, he's beaten the mind, just so he could stay unbeaten. Which he has, but cricket is a team game and he can't make the ten others endure what he has, he can't make the ten others unbeatable.
So, in spite of his nature defying best, the team fell short. First in the WorldT20 and then in the IPL. Shastri has continued to sermonise, "you must not be too hard on yourself, I would say, it's time to be soft on yourself".
In addition to the mandatory escape from cricket, Shastri has signed Virat up at the city's most indulgent spa. "It's time to put those overworked feet up, it's time to let go off the hunger to win... Just be... in the spa, I want you to feel utterly, totally brain dead... no thinking... just indulgence."
Curtains thick enough to block Bombay’s sun out were drawn. Phones and internet shut off. No newspapers. Just long, undisturbed sleep. Only a button for meals. Even the music had been tailored for Virat’s waking hours from Buddhist chants to mantras of a rare Hindu sect fast gaining popularity in the west. The temperature had been set between 24-26 degrees Celsius.
When Virat did wake from his deep slumber, Mick Jagger’s Goddess In The Doorway played and there she was – "A" in the doorway.
Virat mimicked a catch and asked an imaginary crowd to stay silent. He continued, "my best catch ever".
"A" laughed and made a sign to refer it, "I don’t think it was clean though."
"Oh please don’t refer it, it’ll be that same IPL third umpire, he’ll delay us forever and ever and I can’t wait."
"A" reminded him of the no-cricket clause. Virat blew her a flying kiss from an imaginary cricket bat, chiding her, "First Ravi, now you, just taking away my balls."
Virat and A were driven to their soon-to-be favourite restaurant. Even they didn’t know it existed. But by the end of their meal, this would become their go-to place.
Shastri had it all sorted. He’d booked the place out, ensured the side entrance, a sweeping view of the Arabian Sea. "Coaching India can wait, a chill pill for the Indian captain cannot," he would joke with his mates.
In Shastri’s mind, Virat was the only Indian captain. In Shastri’s mind, he was already India’s coach.
It had been days and Virat had not hit a cricket ball or a ball of any kind. Shastri knew this wasn’t easy. "Something’s gotta give which is why I’ve organised a football match with Virat’s charity... where to put it mildly, something’s gonna give."
The much publicised football match between cricketers and Bollywood stars was Shastri’s brainchild. Virat’s hunger knew no bounds, he not only scored the most goals, he also saved the most goals, and was also the player with the highest possession percentage.
In spite of all this, like in the WorldT20 and IPL, his team lost. In spite of the defeat, Virat was happy it was for a good cause, his speech was long, eloquent and even plugged Shastri’s charity "Something’s gotta give".
After the match, he asked Shastri, "Now can I have my cricket kit back, I’m really missing it." Shastri calmed him with his usual, "all in the fullness of time, Virat, all in the fullness of time, Virat."
Virat’s rejuvenation therapy was well underway, and Shastri did not want to hamper it with a premature return to cricket - "I have two tickets for a secret destination in the southern hemisphere*...the weather is very nice there."
Virat could not hide his excitement, "Thanks Ravi, thanks so much...you’ve booked me as a last minute replacement for the Zimbabwe T20 series. I love you, man."
Shastri looked bemused, "Zimbabwe, who said anything about Zimbabwe, I want you to go Maldives... I’ve already spoken to Mandira... Mandira Bedi...and she says, you and A will have a fantastic time...plus, she’s taken all the limelight, so you can enjoy a quiet vacation."
(However plausible this may sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)
*Maldives lies between latitudes 1°S and 8°N