New Delhi : A caveat : This is no solution for what ails India’s Men in Blue, who are struggling in England because they do not have a fast bowling attack, that can trouble the batsmen.
A nationwide poll conducted in 15 capital cities and 30 smaller towns in the last one month, has voted for who gets into India’s Fast-est team. Inspired by the country’s response to Anna Hazare’s 13-day fast, a 5-member selection panel of the Indian Council of Hunger Strikers, with help from the popular vote, announced the eleven who made it to the team.
The names are :
1. Anna Hazare : Obviously the captain. There was no dispute over his name. He also polled the highest number of votes.
2. Irom Sharmila : There was no way this veteran fast-er could be ignored though a couple of selectors expressed doubts over her fitness given that she has not been on proper diet for more than a decade.
3. K Chandrasekhar Rao : The Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader, whose fast in 2009 almost delivered statehood to Telangana. He is more furious than `fast’ but the selectors thought he would be good at sledging also given his sharp and acerbic tongue.
4. Medha Patkar : The Rahul Dravid of the side. Another seasoned practitioner of the art of fasting. Can control the innings in the middle order.
5. Chandrababu Naidu : Fasted recently for the cause of farmers. Not a natural fast-er, he has been drafted into the team because he could also help in video analysis and compiling statistics.
6. Karunanidhi : He will do a fast that begins after breakfast and ends before lunch. Ideal for the T20 version. Preferably under floodlights as he prefers to play `fast’ wearing his glares. And just like in the IPL, likes to have members of the fairer sex, cheering for him, by his side.
7. Jaganmohan Reddy : Suresh Raina of Indian Fast team. Goes for limited days fast. Has done the 1 day, 2-day, 3-day, 7-day versions so far successfully. But even after a week of fasting, packs a punch when he speaks to the audience. His backers in the selection committee say that is proof of his good fitness levels. Livewire on the field in Andhra Pradesh. But needs to be controlled as he may want to snatch the captaincy from Anna Hazare.
8. Jayalalithaa : Has done mini-fasts. A slow mover, could be difficult to hide on the field. But being articulate, could be used in fielding post-match questions from the media.
9. Narendra Modi : Yet to play a single `fast’ match. Has announced he will make his debut in a 3-day affair this Saturday. Those who have seen him at the nets say, he is a lambe race ka ghoda. Temperamental. In a gully match, he was accused of not interfering between two warring players, even though he was the captain. His critics in fact, say he encouraged one of them to hit the other.
10. H D Kumaraswamy : His selection has raised too many eyebrows. He is the son of former India captain Deve Gowda, who used to say that his heart beats more for the groundsmen who maintain the grass on the outfield at the stadia. Kumaraswamy gave up his fast in Bangalore in 24 hours, unable to handle the rats in his tummy. He is known to keep changing his teams and people suspect that even though he officially plays in the IPL, he still plays the rebel ICL on the side.
11. Rajinikanth : The all-rounder of the team. Expert at fasting in a group for the cause of Tamilians in Sri Lanka, whenever Kollywood decides to go on a weight-losing spree. Strikes the right poses. Turns up in New Zealand black. Could be a huge draw.
However, Union Agriculture minister and ICC president Sharad Pawar has objected to this team, challenging the selectors to go to any village in India. “You will find hundreds of Annas who go hungry every day,” he said. Pawar has branded this Fasters XI as an unofficial team, and said his ministry will not recognise it. Anna Hazare has taken the matter to the Ralegan Siddhi taluk court in Maharashtra.