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Clean bowled!!!

`It's very difficult to adjust to a person like me.'

SHE'S AN enthu pataki who confesses shooting off her mouth. He's the quiet, composed, sturdy one who'll look on admiringly and address her Kanna. When ace fast-bowler Venkatesh Prasad married the then Titan PRO Jayanthi seven years ago, the unlikely pair created quite a stir.

Hurt at being kept away from active bowling for the national team for no apparent reason, Prasad has turned his energies to being a bowling coach at the National Cricket Academy for two years now. Jayanthi is all praise and admiration for the man, by whom she's stood through rough weather. Together with son Prithvi (who's turning out to be a cricket enthusiast), they make a perfect picture in their stunning wood-and-stone home, put together tastefully by the lady. The couple, who attribute the spark in their relationship to a body-and-mind chemistry, sit down with BHUMIKA K. to an unpretentious lunch of dosa, yam curry, pickle and sambar rice, and talk loads about their relationship. They get straight to the point:

Jayanthi: You know, we're such different people I've definitely sat back sometimes and thought how come our relationship's working. Haven't you?

Venky:You are very outgoing and social. I'm not. I just like to do my job and come back home where I'm happy be with you all...

Jayanthi: No, in terms of personality, I must say hats off to you because it's very difficult to adjust to a person like me. Most often I tend to be very dominating.

Venky: I never thought you were dominating, Jai; you might be so in office or outside the house (laughs). But I think both of us have understood each other very well. And yes, at times it's a bit difficult to understand you. That's where the patience and taking a step back in my case helps.

Jayanthi: So isn't it lovely that God created it that way that you take a step back. Just imagine if you didn't take a step back, it would have been disaster, wouldn't it?

Venky: (sounding unsure) Well...

Jayanthi: No, let's go back to the time I met you... you said two things. You said you didn't like a woman having beer and you said you certainly don't like a woman chewing gum. Did you or didn't you? (Looks straight into his eyes.)

Venky: No, well, to a certain... maybe I did. I don't really remember that. But I have changed. I would like to let them be themselves. I don't want to change you ...

Jayanthi: (flailing her hands in the air in protest) No, no, no, come on, come on, now let's not ...

Venky: See, I like you for what you are ...

Jayanthi: (not allowing his say) I agree with you. But even now, if I say, `Can I have another glass of beer?' you'll say `No, that's enough'.

Venky: That's because of the background I came from. I had never met, to be very frank, any...

Jayanthi: Overpowering women?

Venky: No, a lady drinking beer or something like that. Now it's fine. Because I know you well and I know you won't cross the limit. I never even had girlfriends in Vijaya College. My passion was always cricket. To be very frank, I don't know I got close to you. In fact, you were the one who tried to call me and follow me...

Jayanthi: (glaring at him) How rude!! But true. I did propose, I agree. When I met you, you weren't that popular as you became later.

Venky: So you mean to say you're my Lady Luck? (Both laugh.)

Jayanthi: Honestly, tell me, five days after we got married you went to play your first Test at Lords and didn't you get a five-wicket haul? (Both laugh.)

Venky: (getting very nostalgic about the game and with dreamy eyes) You know, a lot of things I've learnt in life is through cricket — that you need to have patience. It's not easy being a fast bowler in India. The game's really taught me a whole lot of things, not just bowling on these dead tracks and getting wickets. I've learnt not to over-react... I have done it in a few instances. But whatever happens on field, I never bring it back home.

Jayanthi: Yeah, but I do precisely that. The moment I come from office I scream... (Venky laughs heartily.)You never do. Sometimes I feel like shaking you up and asking, `Why don't you tell me what happened?' Why can't you say more?

Venky: But you do most of the talking, and listen sometimes (both laugh) but otherwise it's been — touch wood — great so far. We do love going for long drives and visit a lot of temples. But sometimes you're over-religious. I believe more in hard work.

Jayanthi: (nonchalantly) And I believe in astrologers.

Venky: I don't. (Both laugh.)

Jayanthi: (Suddenly changing the course of the conversation.) But Venky, you never share professional feelings and frustrations with me...

Venky: Yes, professional hiccups I don't like to share.

Jayanthi: Why, don't you think I give good advice?

Venky: No, not in cricket! (Laughs.) You never knew what cricket was all about and how it was played when you married me.

Jayanthi: But when I saw the lovely cheques rolling in from the board, I said why don't I learn more about the game? (Both laugh heartily.)

Venky: (very reassuringly) Right now I'm coaching. But I've not really made up my mind to call it a day as far as playing is concerned. But looking at the future, I'm looking at becoming a successful coach.

Jayanthi: I think you have the right temperament for that, you know?

Venky: I think if I can understand you, I can understand anybody!

Jayanthi: (amused) Now, what was the need for that statement? But seriously, being a cricketer's wife can be very difficult. It sometimes hurts. At some stage, you tend to get involved with the game, and my involvement stopped with Venkatesh Prasad getting wickets. I couldn't care a damn if India won or lost or made it to the World Cup. But I used to watch all your matches.

Venky: You even chewed off your fingers!

Jayanthi: (Showing off her perfectly manicured hands.) Yes, it's only after he stopped playing cricket that my nails are looking lovely (both laugh).

Venky: I believe in planning and believe that if you fail to prepare, you're preparing to fail.

Jayanthi: Ay! Kya dialogue maara, ya!

Venky: (To us) And I even used write out my strategy for each batsman before a match. (And turning to Jayanthi) But hey, you never give me all these compliments.

Jayanthi: Yeah, then ego badh jayega na?!! (Both guffaw.)

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