Off The Field

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Take 14 : The Game Begins

“He's got there!" Exclaimed the commentators with joy.

Rehaan took off his helmet and raised it in the air along with his bat as a mark of celebration. He looked up in the air with joy for a few seconds and then started running in delight. The audience stood up and clapped for the young gem Indian cricket had just produced. The entire Indian Team Management were also on their feet. His two hours of toiling had just produced a positive result. He had finally scored his maiden Test hundred after waiting for 10 games. And today, he wasn't stopping here, he was hungry for more.

By the time he left the crease, he had already scored 175 runs and successfully saved the Test match for India. The entire audience of the stadium stood up to applaud the effort. The Lord's Cricket Ground had witnessed a history. A hundred at the Home of Cricket is a dream for many a batsmen throughout the world and Rehaan had just done that. That day, India had a new hero and the Lord's honours board had a new name in it's legendary list...

The alarm woke Rehaan up from the reminiscent dream. The sudden wake up call made him realize the happy days were gone. He didn't want to wake up from what had been one of the most wonderful days in his life. A maiden Test hundred and that too at the historic Lord's Cricket Ground. Why was it ever 4 years to that day? Clearly, his present was not all that great. He was afraid to get off his bed, as he feared, this another day might bring some more trouble, and maybe another heartbreak.

Rehaan stood up and went straight to the bathroom to get a quick shower before he visits the gym. Throughout the shower the only thing Rehaan thought was, why was this happening? Why was life trying to test him?

At this point, it was hard for him to even decide whom to trust. The day before had been a tough day for him. He had a fight with a rude reporter who tried to criticize his lack of form in the tournament. This wasn't him. What made him behave in such a way with the reporter? He shouldn't have let his frustration take over him.

Later at night, after dinner he decided to meet Mr. Peter and tell him of all the happenings since the start of the tournament. He thought he might get a solution from his Coach. But, the visit rather than relaxing him, brought more stress to the tough day he was already having. His world fell apart when he overheard Mr. Peter talking over the phone. He decided to walk back to his room, rather than bothering to talk to Mr. Peter. He knew, he might end up overreacting to the situation and that might end up making it more critical.

The conversation he heard was still bothering him. He wasn't able to believe the fact that Mr. Peter could be talking what he had overheard. He just thought somebody comes​ in and wakes him from the nightmare his life had become.

Since then he hadn't talked to anybody. Whom would he talk to anyway? His trust in people around him had taken a dent since his visit to the doorstep of Mr. Peter's room.

After taking a shower, he put up his gym clothes. And, just when he was ready to leave, there was a knock at his door.

“Good Morning Priyansh! You are up this early?" Rehaan greeted his buddy with a fake smile.

“Can I not follow the footsteps of my skipper?" Priyansh questioned without expecting a reply.

“So, I guess you're here to join me to the gym. Let's go apprentice, you need to work hard to reach your skipper's footsteps. So you ready?" Rehaan challenged his friend with a smile. Priyansh smiled while rubbing his hair.

“On a serious note, I am sorry for the way I behaved with you yesterday. I went too overboard with my words, I hope you just forgive me...." Rehaan said with an apologetic look towards Priyansh.

“Do you really think I would have kept you alive if those words would have hurt me?" Priyansh asked, rhetorically. Rehaan was relieved seeing his friend in a good mood. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew Priyansh won't have been hurt and he was right.

“So, what else? We have a little break before the semis, don't you think we must go on a field trip? How about a trek to the Sahyadris?" Rehaan asked, in order to strike a conversation.

“Dude, do you think I am up at 7 on a holiday to discuss this with you? I'd rather prefer sleeping till 10 than discussing this with you", Priyansh replied. Field trips and treks never interested him.

“I knew you won't be up this early just like that.... Anyway, what's so important that a sleepy head like you has bothered to visit his skipper at 7 in the morning?" Rehaan asked whilst teasingly yawning.

“It's you breaching the bro-code", Priyansh said while sitting on the arm chair kept in the room, folding his arms and resting his head on the back of the chair.

“Me, what did I do? I said sorry for yesterday, didn't I?" Rehaan enquired with curiosity and seated on the bed opposite to the chair.

“Don't act this innocent, Rehaan. Buddy, you know exactly what I am talking about.... Yesterday was not the Rehaan I have known for years now. You won't even raise your voice at somebody, and you almost got involved in a fight with that reporter? I know he was being an as****** there, but you are not somebody who would do that. Now just tell me what's wrong with you" Priyansh demanded.

There was silence in the entire room. One could hear a pin drop. Rehaan started channelling his inner energies. He knew can't hide it from Priyansh anymore.

“To be honest, I don't even know if I can trust you with this. I don't know who is behind this, but I am pretty sure this is someone very wrong and in the illegal world, this person maybe one of the most experienced", Rehaan finally spoke up after a while with a sad, a rather tense tone. He rested both his arms next to the respective legs and looked towards the ground with an upset face.

“Can you be a little precise?" Priyansh was clueless, “Something illegal and you were quiet all this while? Speak it up!" He raised his voice opening up his arms and lifting his head off the chair.

“Yes. Actually,.... I have been receiving calls from somebody since the start of the tournament and the person is asking me to underperform or rather threatening me.... He even offered me money. Remember​, I was attacked in Delhi by those goons? I lied that I don't suspect anybody, because these people have been keeping an eye on my family, on us and so I didn't want to put anybody in trouble...." Rehaan explained with a sad tone.

“So much has been happening around you and you didn't tell me a word? I feel like punching you in your face", Priyansh​ shouted and clenched his fists. He was fuming and that was evident on has face.

“Calm down man! I am sorry. I was scared. They told me they are constantly keeping an eye on everyone around me. How could I take a chance? They sent me pictures of my family, of our practice sessions, I had to be cautious. And with what I heard last night I'll have to be all the more cautious​"

“Let's just report it to the police or let's talk to the ACC officers who are constantly around us", Priyansh got up from his chair after speaking the statement, rage was all through his body by now. He started to move out.

“Priyansh! You're overreacting to the situation. It was the first thing that came to my mind. But, after my attack I thought about it logically. Do you really think the ACC people won't have found something suspicious while this transpired. Even if they didn't, the attack should have rung the bells. They are trained to find things suspicious. This person has bigger plans"

“That sounds correct under the circumstances", Priyansh replied after a thought over the things' breakdown. After some more thoughts, he asked, “Hey, wait, you just mentioned you heard something last night?"

“Yes. I overheard Mr. Peter Hamilton over the phone. I think he has something to do with the bookies who have been threatening me"

“What?" Priyansh was astonished.

“Yes. Even I am surprised", Rehaan said with grief.

“I don't believe this, Mr. Peets is involved with these guys? What did you hear, by the way?"

“His exact words are still reverberating in my ears. He said, ‘The young bloke is ready. And, I'll convince Rehaan as well, I know what is to be done. You just send me the advanced' "

“I don't believe this! I think we are already late... But, we need to do something before someone else goes rogue", Priyansh replied, the tensions on his face were visible. Being the senior most players, they had to figure out a solution before it gets late.

“I have a plan and it has already begun, a couple of days before", Rehaan said and patted his buddy on the shoulder....

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