Today I went to the Bangalore cricket ground for a little Indian Premier League action: the Royal Challengers of Bangalore took on Kolkata’s Knight Riders. The roads near the ground were chockablock with tuktuks, the muddy path that lead to the ground a river of excited, face-painted cricket fans making a lot of noise. So far, so Indian.
I was startled, then, when a dozen white 19 year old cheerleaders entered the ground. Six for Bangalore, six for Kolkata, they twirled their batons in the tiniest of outfits. It seemed incongruous, inappropriate even, in a country which pixelates nipples on the TV.
(Hang on. Nipples get the pixelation treatment in the US, and yet their cheerleaders dance like overenthusiastic strippers in butt-cheek baring hotpants.)
The IPL is, I know, all about bringing some glitz to the game. I had thought this was glitz of the Indian, Bollywood style type. Witness the batsmen’s incredible golden pads, for example.
But skinny white cheerleaders shaking their booty? It just seems wrong. I googled to learn that they are on loan from the Washington Redskins (TLOML’s team), and claim to be delivering a blend of traditional all-American cheerleading moves and Bollywood hip-hop steps. It looked like made-up-on-the-spot booty twirling to me, but I’m no expert.
The Indian cricket goers seemed to like it well enough. The cheerleaders had a little gang of fans who gathered around their podium when they did their stuff.
I wondered, though, what these skinny teenagers from DC made of it all. Has anyone explained to them the vagaries of the Duckworth / Lewis system*, by which reckoning RCB needed to make 102 to beat KKR’s 89 runs? Do they understand the intricacies of various LBW* scenarios, or do they think some dismissals are completely random?
And most importantly, when they signed a contract saying they’d do a sexy jig every time RCB scored a boundary, did they have any idea it could be as often as every 30 seconds? Chris Gayle made a quick 38 almost entirely from boundaries: every time the poor kids sat down from celebrating one, they had to get up to celebrate the next.
I shouldn’t worry too much I suppose. The season only lasts a couple of months, and these girls, once the pom pom twirling is done for the day, get to hobnob with the biggest stars in India and – if my time as a foreigner in a posh Bengalore hotel is anything to go by – get pampered right up.
Judging by the controversy their presence has apparently created, and the threats to their security (they have been banned from post-match parties for their own protection), they may not be around much longer. Enjoy them while you can...
*Translations for Americans:
Duckworth/ Lewis is the calculation of a revised target when rain stops play.
LBW is the dismissal of a batsman for placing his leg before the wicket, with no attempt to play the ball.