A sage-like figure sets off on a short run-up, sleeves folded, shoulders stooping. Since he doesn’t pack much pace, the bowler’s stress is on swing. Despite straying down the leg now and then, the septuagenarian keeps batsmen quiet, some a third his age. No flare-up follows a spilt catch but palms thump forehead at fate’s cruel hand. Foxed by the friendly fire, one batsman is castled.

Another scalp is added to R.K. Pachauri’s pile of over 500 wickets in corporate cricket. Returning to the pavilion, he shakes his head, disappointed at his showing with ball and bat.

From a renowned environmentalist who received the Nobel Prize as Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), nature’s pre-eminent peacemaker turns weekend warrior, whenever he’s in the capital.

The ‘lair’ is often the ‘Oval’ at The Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI) lush spread at Gual Pahari in Gurgaon near New Delhi. The grass is free from fertilizer and pesticide and dense foliage envelops the ground giving it the feel of a forest.

Setting an example

“Here you see the stars at night, the air is clear,” says the scientist, squinting skywards. “Rains sustain the greenery. Cricketers set a poor example, especially for impressionable fans, when they take a sip or two and then hurl a mineral water bottle to the ropes.”

Scams and scandals may taint cricket’s name but the game can still flourish, he believes. “V.V.S Laxman was never soiled by anything around him, delivering for the team against heavy odds,” he cites as an example. “Cricket contains a class and character; all of which is its own and it is a great escape to childhood. It’s a game I’ll play till I drop dead.”

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