Sunday, February 13, 10.35 p.m., Chinnaswamy Stadium, BangaloreI was standing near the team bus, waiting for the Indian team to emerge from the dressing room. They had just thumped Australia in the warm-up game and I expected a bunch of beaming faces to board the bus. In a few minutes, the players started strolling out, excited at the prospect of a night-out. But the captain and the coach looked grim. Behind them was my man, Agent Viru. Our eyes met and a half-nod prompted me to stealthily walk closer to him. “Kya hua Viru,” I asked. He said something in English which, putting mildly, was somewhat incoherent. “There’s something black in the pulses,” he repeated under his breath. Just before boarding the bus, he turned around, and with his fingers, signalled me the number 7.Monday, February 14, 7.00 a.m., ITC Gardenia Hotel, BangaloreI saw Viru cringing at the sight of a bowl of cornflakes when I joined him at his table in the morning. He updated me on the situation. Apparently, Kirsten Kaku and Dhoni Babu were locked up till late night worrying about what had happened in the warm-up game. “What could be wrong?” I asked. After all, India’s batting had performed true to form, Munaf Patel had bowled fast and got dispatched faster, and Ashish Nehra had misfielded in ways more comical than his facial expressions. But Piyush Chawla and Sreesanth had bowled India to victory. “That is the problem,” Viru said, “how come the Australians made Sree look like Gillespie and Piyush Warne?” The Indian think tank is exploring the possibility of this being an Australian conspiracy to get these two in India’s playing XI. “That’s what I don’t understand yaar,” Viru said, “if you pick a lucky mascot, why play him?” “Lucky mascot?” I probed. And then, Agent Viru showed me a hitherto unknown facet of India’s selection process. Chairman Cheeka clashed with the captain over the 14th member of the squad, someone who wouldn’t play a game but would bring a lucky charm. Parthiv Patel, waterboy in the 2003 World Cup, and Piyush Chawla, benchwarmer in the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup, were the two top contenders. “If you play Piyush, it defeats the purpose,” Viru said, “in that case, they might as well have picked Joginder Sharma. At least, we could laugh at him.”advertisementMonday, February 14, 4.15 p.m., Bangalore AirportJust before boarding the flight to Chennai, Dhoni called Praveen Kumar to wish him on Valentine’s Day. An emotional Praveen broke down. “How could you do this to me?” he asked. “I compared you with Obama and you call me just street smart? Kamse kam Mulayam Singh toh bolna tha na.”Tuesday, February 15, 8.00 p,m., Chola Sheraton Hotel, ChennaiSelect players joined the coaching staff in the coach’s suite to discuss the first game against Bangladesh. Within 15 minutes, walked out a nonchalant Viru. “They don’t even know which team we are playing against,” he told me at the elevator. “They are talking about Abdur Razzak. Don’t they know he plays for Pakistan?” I reminded him of the Bangladeshi left-handed bowler by the same name. “Right handed, left handed, whatever handed he may be, the ball is going out,” he said before entering his room where a plate of aloo parathas waited for him.- The writer was formerly known as the Fake IPL Player. He will observe the 2011 World Cup through Agent Viru’s eyes.