New 'cricketers' all set for their debut

ANDA BHAI, Gilli Swamy, Yogi and Runjeet Singh will be the four players to watch out for at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Bangladesh from April 11. They are yet to open their scorecards, but they are animated performers if nothing else.

With no "Sehwag Ki Ma'' to worry about, these characters are straight out of the drawing-board as it were. "Created'' to bring in more excitement to the game, these four embody the spirit of the cricket-crazed Indian fan.

``Anda Bhai sneaks out sheepishly when a batsman goes out for a duck, Gilli Swamy gleefully uproots the stumps whenever a batsman is clean bowled, shade-sporting Yogi rules as the "other'' third umpire. And Runjeet Singh, the most enthusiastic of the lot, does two special jigs for ace batsmen to celebrate their centuries and half-centuries,'' explains the Director, Cricket Production, for ESPN STAR Sports, Ray Hume.

This is one wicket Indians are definitely united on. And it seems their creators are certainly inspired by the spirit of national integration, as these four belong to different parts of the country -- Anda Bhai is from Hyderabad, Gilli Swamy lives at Kochi in Kerala, Yogi comes from Laloo's State and Runjeet Singh is a son of the soil from Punjab.

And while real cricketers might be put on strict regulation during the matches, these animated creatures seem to have a life. With no restrictions on diet, they seem to enjoy their food.

While Gilli Swamy eats `appam and stew', Runjeet Singh is strictly non-vegetarian who loves birds, especially the roasted kind! Yogi has a sweet tooth and can be caught gorging on "jalebis'' and "rabri'' in the local market. And in true Hyderabadi style, Anda Bhai loves his biryani. Getting their cuisine might not be easy in Bongland but this doesn't seem to bother them.

Unlike the World Cup tiger that broke into a "bhangra'' every time a six was scored, these four have a screen presence. Anda Bhai is no ordinary duck. He has an unenviable record -- he has never scored ever.

And this time viewers might not have Mandira's outfits to look forward to but Runjeet promises to make it up. He loves colourful clothes and has a special costume for every match.

A chance to catch new talent, this cricketing season promises to be interesting viewing even if it is not all about runs.

By Mandira Nayar