Mumbai may have failed to reach the Ranji semi-finals this year, but there’s hope. For decades, Mumbai’s star-studded batting line-up was the envy of every other team; but, of late, due to the absence of Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, waning prowess of ‘Wasim-bhai’ and the first-ball ducks of Abhishek Nayar, things seemed to have reached their nadir. Enter Surya Kumar Yadav, 23, top-scorer in both innings of the QF against Maharashtra. His first innings century was as sparkling as what appears to be his muse – a bright-eyed, pretty and well-mannered collegian named Devisha Shetty who told this diarist that she is “just a very good friend”.
The likeable lass, who says she is not exactly a cricket nut, nevertheless made it to the Garware Pavilion with her female classmate to cheer for Yadav. As he threatened to do an encore in the second innings, several calls were made inviting others to come partake of the fun. But the moment he was given out LBW for 33, even cricket novice Devisha instinctively knew it was curtains for Mumbai. More calls again, asking friends to stay put because “Surya is out”. Pads and other gear off, Yadav quickly appeared on the Maharashtra dressing room balcony to be as near as possible to his ‘very good friend’ and exchange sweet nothings via a sign language (mobile phones are banned during play hours). Mumbai Indians or any other IPL team that signs Yadav on for this season now know whom to place near the dugout if they wish to cheer Yadav on to sterling performances. There aren’t going to be any of those bum-shaking, bust-heaving cheerleaders this year anyway.