Off The Field

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Take 11 : A Worried Friend

Priyansh's Point Of View :

Rehaan has been acting strange since the last few days...

He considers me the closest, of course after his family and Riya, and yet I think he's hiding something from all of us, what, I don't know...

We have been playing together since the last 7 to 8 years now. We first met during the Under-19 World ODI Championship, from there to our first ever major tournament for the senior team now; it's been a great journey of playing with each other and becoming the best buddies, the crime partners... We both have been through the thick and the thin together.

He always wanted to play this prestigious tournament and leading the team in his first ever World ODI Championship, is just the icing on the cake! He was so excited when the tournament started. But, after the first two matches of the on going tournament, he has been acting strange. He hasn't opened up to me since the day he was attacked. Yes, we did have a talk yesterday, but it wasn't something major.

He loves playing Xbox and video games, although he always looses against most of us, but, it was strange of him to say no to Sudhanshu and me when we gatecrashed into Sundhanshu's room, pranking the young guy. That took me by surprise. He just told us he had some work before he joins us to the practice, but he forgot that I can read his face, it had tension written all over it, there's something very wrong going on with him.

It's been on my mind since yesterday. What important work did he have towards the emergency exit? Is he doping?... Nope, not really... I mean, I know my friend more than anything else in this world, Rehaan will end his life before he thinks of doing drugs and cheating with the game...

I think, I am just over thinking and hopefully that's the case. But, again, what's wrong with him?

He was quiet throughout the game yesterday, except for giving the prep talk or setting up the field, he didn't speak a word, not even on the way towards the stadium, nor on the way back. He is not the kind of a guy he has been behaving like. Yes, he's a quiet and a shy person, but not the type who'd be quiet around the people he's been comfortable with all through these years. He's all fun and games when it comes to being around the team.

He also didn't oblige to the fans after the match. What he did was, signed just a single autograph and walked off to the dressing room, as if it was just a mere obligation, forced onto him. Didn't do the post match press conference either. We had to send in Sujit, my opening partner for the bit.

That was again, not him. He's a man who'll never disappoint his well-wishers or any other people around him. To add to that, what I saw today morning was just the opposite of the person he is, he talked rudely with a media person. There was far more frustration in his tone than rudeness. I had to intervene and calm him down.

"Mahn! I am done with it! I am tired!" He said in a frustrated tone in reply to my enquiry about what exactly made him talk so bluntly with the reporter.

"Dude! Just tell me what's wrong and we'll get through it! I'll help you..." I tried to assure him.

"Shut up! Priyansh you're just an immature idiot, you know? You'll help me? A guy who doesn't know a thing other than fooling around will help me? Seriously? Let me get through this all alone!" He replied, I felt short of words but, what could I do? I just decided to leave him alone. There was no point in disturbing him all the more. I don't mind the words, I am just worried about what has been wrong with him...

It's only been a few hours and it's been all over the media. Some say, he's being arrogant, some other believe, he's trying to misuse his status and many are framing it as a mere PR stunt. He wants earn some negative publicity, according to them. Negative Publicity? Like, seriously? A national team captain in the middle of high intensity tournament such as this will think of gaining Negative Publicity? For somebody who has been in this field for quiet sometime now, all I can say is, it would be suicidal do that. These people are just mercilessly tainting his image. My buddy has put himself into such a mess! Why did he ever talk to the reporter in that way?

Meanwhile, Mr. Peets is trying to bring the situation under control. He called for a press conference just after lunch. I hope he might have instilled some brains into the reporters.

Mr. Peets has been a really good Coach, he's handled such situations so well in the past. Even when Rehaan got attacked in Delhi, Mr. Peets was the one who answered the media, the police and everyone else. He's never let the players get exposed to the heat in such situations. He says, he doesn't want us to carry all the pressure to the field. So, since he's not the one taking the field, he faces it all off it. Despite of all the pressure, you would always see him relaxed and happy. I don't know from where does he bring in so much calm into himself. Even Rehaan is the same. You'd never see him under the pump, the last few days have been an exception though. He and Mr. Peets form a good Captain-Coach duo, they share a lot in common, as far as their approach towards their professional lives is concerned. I am still a learner...

I and the rest of the players have decided to stay packed inside our rooms as a precaution to not encounter the media. I am the guy who'll be fooling around his friends and stuff, but when it comes to the outside world I get nerves. That's why I'll mostly end up not doing interviews and attending press conferences. So, it came as a relief for me when Mr. Peets asked us to stay indoors.

At lunch, Rehaan was quiet. I tried to talk with him, but again he brushed me off and took a separate table. He had his lunch and was in a rush.

When I was leaving after lunch, I saw he with his kitbag and one of our bowlers in the nets, Vishwa, he's a rare talent, he can bowl pace as well as spin, so one can practice for hours under the same guy, that's what makes him so different and unusual from others.

Rehaan had once told me, whenever he gets frustrated or angry over something, he vents it out in the nets. He says, this really helps him flush off all the frustration out of his mind and has been vital for improving his concentration. He says, one of his coaches back in his domestic days had once advised him to practice this.

I hope it works today as well. I hope he gets well and forgets about his altercation with the media person. Seeing him like this worries me, I just can't sit and watch Rehaan's changed attitude.

Fortunately, we have a week's gap before we play the Semi-Final match, it's an important match and I want my buddy to get back to his normal self, before it's too late. I hope it doesn't affect his on-field game and the team as a whole... But, I am pretty sure he's hiding some secrets...

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