Chennai's legendary heat seems like a jacket soaked in warm water clinging to you. The newly built stands at the Chidambaram Stadium with the white canopies on top have been neatly cleaved, allowing a steady sea breeze into the ground. But despite the breeze and Saturday's relatively pleasant 32 degrees Celsius, the humidity can leave your throat parched if you as much as took a walk along the boundaries.
This writer doesn't possess Olympian fitness, and his thoughts immediately turned to Yuvraj Singh who had joined the Indian team in a warm-up game of football in the middle.
A few minutes into the game, Yuvraj had veered towards the sidelines. His hands were on his hips as he let the others pass the ball around. Even Munaf Patel and Ashish Nehra, Universally Recognised Slouches, seemed fresh as daisies as they enthusiastically partook in the game.
Despite his runs and wickets in the World Cup, Yuvraj's sluggishness is becoming the stuff of cricketing legends. Remember Gary Kirsten's jibe at the team saying he is fitter than the 20-somethings of the team? That was one year ago. Kirsten still looks fitter compared to some Indian players; and Yuvraj's paunch still wobbles like a serving of Bombay Halwa.
In one of the World Cup warm-up games, only a few minutes after India had taken the field, Yuvraj had to run from point to third-man to stop a shot. He returned to his position huffing and puffing. During Saturday's nets, having taken throw-downs from Kirsten, he was the first batsman to return to the shade while India's other batsmen were getting ready to practice the big shots. Meanwhile, Kirsten continued with the throw-downs with an unwavering intensity. Doesn't his arm ever hurt?
Earlier at the fielding drills, Universally Recognised Slouches were scoring direct hits while Yuvraj was fumbling and missing the stumps from only a few feet away. What have they done to the man who once put Jonty Rhodes in the shade with his brilliant fielding?
Let's make a conservative estimate of the situation - perhaps Yuvraj is simply conserving himself for the challenges ahead. If not, he needs to pop one of those energy pills he endorses. Or to paraphrase what once Ian Healy said of Arjuna Ranatunga: put a Mars bar at the non-striker's end. That will get Yuvraj to run his singles faster.
As for Kirsten, if India win the World Cup, someone should make the effort to immortalise his right arm in a bronze sculpture for fans to revere.