The God of Cricket


“Beneath the helmet, under that unruly curly hair, inside the cranium, there is something we don’t know, something beyond scientific measure. Something that allows him to soar, to roam a territory of sport that, forget us, even those who are gifted enough to play alongside him cannot even fathom. When he goes out to bat, people switch on their television sets and switch off their lives– BBC Sports, on Sachin Tendulkar.”

This tribute is to the man I admire most, the man from whom I picked up cricket as a sport-playing, watching and even imitating to some extent. The Super Man from India, the Little Master-Sachin Tendulkar.
As a kid, used to imitate him taking guard while practicing batting,sometimes people around me used to wonder what am I doing as I used to do it so often. Then went on to emulate the same in the form of HIS Boost ad role-play in a local fancy dress competition dressing up like him. Reminiscing now, realising how funny it was 🙂 Back then, Doordarshan (DD1) was the only source of cricket viewing. Vividly remember many adventures tweaking the direction of the antenna as the TV screen used to go blur when it rained or any other disturance.
I was over the moon when was able to watch HIM for whole 10 minutes standing in front of HIS car when he was in my native for a function.

Back story: We (with 2 of my cousins in a bike doing triple riding) followed HIS car after greeting him in middle of the road when no person in the locality had any clue about his arrival. We had to give up the chase in between as HIS car was speeding up. As luck would have it, HIS car stopped at petrol pump on our way to our home. Didn’t get a chance to get his autograph but was ecstatic to see him from very close quarters. A wave of HIS hand before leaving is something which I cannot forget. Since that day, we call that petrol pump as Tendulkar petrol pump. 🙂 That was the time when he was making a comeback after career threatening tennis elbow injury. Was elated to see him score century in next couple of matches and stamp his authority over bowlers.

There was something about HIS batting which gives nothing but sheer pleasure. Whether it’s dancing down the track and hitting say a Shane Warne (who can forget Sand Storm in Sharjah 98?) for a six and in turn giving the bowler a nightmare even in his sleep or premeditating a bouncer from a fast bowler like McGrath or for that matter a Andy Caddick (Remember 2003 WC Ind/Eng league match?) and hitting a hook shot. In Centurion 2003, Tendulkar’s upper cut to Shoaib Akhtar to hit a magnificent six and then guiding India to win is part of a folklore now. HE had all the time in the world to guide a high pitched ball from a bowler like Brett Lee over wicket keeper’s head by a perfectly executed shot fetching nothing less than six. Not to forget the exquisite timing involved in a text book stuff cover drive or a square cut for that matter. Rarely missed a leg glance when the ball was pitched middle and leg or a paddle sweep for a spinning ball towards HIS legs. Playing according to the field was HIS forte and don’t find any batsman play a straight drive as he does. HIS straight drive with full face of the bat, also HIS straight sixes of Shane Warne and others are as straight as it gets and out of fashion as he has retired now.

Then came the moment to score first 200 in ODI history and it was only fitting for HIM to do it. I was serving for Infy as a trainee in Mysore then. As he was inching towards this unbelievable milestone, got myself a forced break from training session. Since there was no TV access at the lecture hall, got into a call for around 30 minutes hearing the updates and getting expert commentary from my cousin bashing Dhoni for not giving enough strike to the Master. In a span of his career he has given sheer pleasure and tremendous joy by his batting in spite of carrying burden of billion people expectations right through his career. For 90’s kids, it was sense of assurance that the game is in our grasp when Tendulkar was batting and many would switch off their TV when he got out. Just for a moment think you are Tendulkar and you’re coming into bat amidst cheering fans hoping you score in that critical juncture of the match. More often than not you would get bogged down and succumb to the pressure and fail to show your application but not Tendulkar. If HIS batting was nightmare to the opposition he looked ominous with the ball too. He could do off spin, leg spin and medium pace depending on the batsman and match situation. Most of the time, he would get vicious spin and batsman failed to pick him often when it was pitched in line with the stump. He has won us many game with his bowling too.Remember his last over against South Africa in 93 Hero Cup? Apart from this, a great fielder and was good slip catcher. In short, he was a cricketer’s guide to be a champion batsman, effective bowler and a better fielder.

Off the field he was a gentleman and had a great influence over his team mates by his mere presence. He has achieved so many things which no can ever think off but still he looks like same young man who is hunger for success and better himself.Before him we had Sunil Gavaskar who was too good and when the last generation thought there will be no Indian cricketer like him we got Sachin Tendulkar who captured the imagination of my generation. In that terms, we are very lucky to witness his brilliance in his whole career. As he has retired now it pains to write in retrospect rather than introspection. Now that he has retired, we have found someone special who can fit the bill in the near future if he performs well and maintains his class-Virat Kohli. If Virat Kohli is special, Sunil Gavaskar was brilliant during those days of West Indies domination batting without a helmet, Sachin Tendulkar was something else. A place and stature which no one can match.

Reflections on Cricket..


We have been through in what could be The dramatic Cricket World Cup ever. When 99 happened, aka the gripping semifinals between South Africa and Australia,everyone thought that was the best match, ODI cricket has ever seen. [SA, 9 wicket down needed 9 to get off last over,Klusener hit 2 boundaries and he along with Allan Donald couldn’t manage one more single buckling under pressure].For the fact that it was a tie, for the fact that Australia made it through to the finals because of their better run rate, the dramatic scenes, everyone thought we had seen it all. But NO!! We had to witness another drama unfold, one could never have imagined,that too in a prestigious World Cup final at Mecca of cricket-Lord’s. Every since,much has been talked about,debated at lengths,with generous amount of What if’s, because the match ended in a TIE, AGAIN on a World Cup FINAL TWICE. Notwithstanding, Some one of a kind, never seen before scenarios.CRUNCH moments got Crunchier as the stakes were high. To start with, in the dramatic final over, a grounded shot of quick 2 runs near the boundary turned to 6 runs(invaluable in the context of the game) because of a deflected overthrow (When have we seen this happen in the past?Ball ricocheting off the bat and across the boundary for four) due to which England managed to get 14 runs. At this moment, they were happier to go into Super over as they got 14 runs of Boult’s last 4 balls after scoring nil in first 2 balls.So to break the tie, Super over was undertaken(Introduced in place of Bowl-out.Remember India v Pakistan in 2007 T20 WC? ) and to the surprise of it, we had SAME result, a TIE. So what you do? Rules come into play and team which hit more boundaries(during the entire match including the super over) wins the match(This rule which is under scrutiny was introduced from T20 international and professional leagues). To be fair to England,  this rule was well known to both the teams, but for the fact that this scenario of Super over ending in a tie never occurred.

Not too far away from Lord’s, during the same time, in Wimbledon there was an equally engrossing match between two champions Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.[Lot for work for the TV remote as alt button was pressed umpteenth time to switch between channels.Cant miss both the matches, you see :)] In a very rare occasion, the 5th set moved to a tie breaker. And the match continued until one player bowed down to hand over the trophy to the deserved winner. Match ended in 13-12 in favor of Novak, a historic win in 5th set tie breaker.To take a leaf out of Wimbledon, it would be much better if winner was decided based on some valid criterion. May be, another super over to break the tie.Because New Zealand never lost. It must have been devastating and frustrating to end their successful World Cup campaign like this. Lot of practice, hard work, strategic thinking goes into the preparation(over a period of 2-3 years), to compete in a prestigious and high profile tournament like this. All 22 players on the field played well, but only 11 players were celebrating. Lots being said about Kane Williamson’s leadership and state of composure he showed in such a heart breaking/devastating outcome. It was only fitting for him to carry the Man of the Tournament award for steering his team through from challenging situations in many occasions. So,England,gallantly fought their way through to win knockout games at the fag end of league matches against tough opposition and in the semis with their nemesis,to win the World Cup for the very first time. In the end, they looked like the tough team to beat and deserved to win, albeit with a fairy tale ending.

Pic courtesy: ESPN Cricinfo

Usually the cricket series just after a high profile tournament like World Cup looks boring or too much of a overdose. Not this time though, as Ashes series is starting soon.There is always a sense of excitement within cricket fraternity leading to the build up to the series, as it is most celebrated series amongst the Cricket’s most enduring rivalries.Oz would be hungry to get their act together against the newly crowned World Champions. What makes it more exciting is there is lot of context coming in for Test series starting from Ashes series. For next 2 years, Top 9 Test teams will be competing for World Test Championship making all the upcoming Test series more alluring and exciting. India is set to start their Test championship campaign with West Indies tour. Each team is ought to play 6 Test series (3 Home and 3 away) over the next 2 years to grab points after each match. At the end of 2 year cycle, Top 2 teams will compete in 5 day match to own the first ever prestigious World Championship(in line with ODI and T20). In a move to make Test cricket popular(especially dwindling young fans) and grab the attention of spectators at the ground and cricket fans in general, this seems to be a very good move. After lot of pondering over reducing Test matches from 5 to 4 days,  introduction of Day Night matches, this is a welcome move.

Pic courtesy: ESPN Cricinfo

For cricket connoisseurs, just like the cricketers, TEST cricket is the ultimate contest. I am excited and looking forward for pulsating encounters of Red Ball Cricket,a mouth watering prospect. Are you excited? Thoughts? 

Cricket World Cup over the years….



Cricket(especially World Cup) then and now has evolved as wine getting better with age.At least I would like to think so.With the advent of T20 and the success of popular tournaments like IPL and Big Bash League,cricket over the years has changed rapidly.Sure enough,batsman have a slight upper hand than the bowlers but with time,bowlers are getting smarter too.

In 90s and until early next decade,240-270 was a challenging score but not anymore.300 is a norm these days.But it’s great to see that in this WC edition,bowlers have a say on par with the batsman though changing of rules like 5 fielders always inside the circle is bit harsh on them.On a positive note,captain would play his 5 attacking bowlers rather than depending too much on part timers.Along with the likes of Mitchell Starc,Trent Boult,Imran Tahir,Tim Southee,Morne Morkel who are doing well clinching wickets consistently in this WC,it feels proud to see our bowlers with the likes of Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma,Mohd Shami (strong contender for highest wickets) and Ravi Ashwin bowling equally good.

Let’s look back at India’s performances in world cups over the years. I started getting to know and watch cricket in 96 and have fond memories of India beating Pakistan and clearly remember the confrontation of Aamer Sohail and Venkatesh Prasad.The best part was Venky didn’t say a word when Sohail provoked him but at the very next ball when he bowled Sohail, the reaction he gave showing him the way to pavilion,was just awesome to see being an Indian fan.In death over, Ajay Jadeja’s hitting Waqar Younis for boundary and sixes consistently was a rare sight to see then which is quite regular these days where batsman takes on the bowlers at will. And then the infamous chase against Srilanka in semis in Eden Gardens where the match was stalled and awarded to Srilanka.Tendulkar gave us an excellent start but once he got out, everyone else got out like a pack of cards.In 99 world cup in England,India were expected not to perform as much we would want them to as they had lost couple of tournament finals consistently just before the world cup and clearly lacked some firepower in latter half of tournaments.India did well going into the Super Six stage but had to bow down after loosing too many matches.The highlight for me was the rise of what I call the holy trinity of Indian cricket- Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid (highest run getter in 99 world cup,including 2 massive partnership with Ganguly and Tendulkar).There was a ad campaign by Brittania-Brittania Khao WorldCup Jao in 99. In that one month, I along with my family and friends had eaten as much biscuits as we had eaten in our combined entire life.Such was the craze then-Anything for worldcup. In 2003,we played very well and were looking to win the world cup given our form when Ricky Ponting spoiled our plans in the finals.I think we lost the match by our poor bowling and our batsman couldn’t do much chasing a massive score.But still there was slight chance as it was raining in patches and D/L came into play.I had my SSC board exams the very next day and had to peep in and out to see the scores.But most of the times,it didn’t look good and it was a shock to loose after doing so well until the finals.2007 world cup was a forgetful affair as India were out in the first round,felt really sorry for Dravid who was leading the side then.Who knows,he would have been an exceptional captain had he continued to lead the side.And then came 2011,when we lived our dream to lift the world cup 28 years after Kapil Dev and his team had made us proud in 83.So far,2015 looks promising too to defend the title.By the way,Mauka mauka ad campaign has won hearts of everyone with its brilliant script and creativity.Over the years,cricket on a whole has gone through so many changes,it has got richer with new technology used,new shots being invented to score runs,new tricks being employed by bowlers to deceive the batsman and new techniques adopted by fielders especially on the boundary line to convert a certain six to a wicket.

Let’s analyze some specific players and how it has impacted our psyche and the game.Take for instance AB De Villiers-the most innovative contemporary batsman who is literally changing the rules of the game.Some of the shots he has played are beyond imagination.More importantly he makes the bowlers bowl the way he want him to,even though they don’t want to. When the bowl coming from bowler by the time it reaches him he has all the time in the world to choose and perfectly execute 2 or 3 scoring shots.And very little can the bowler and fielding side do to stop him when he is in zone.Players like Chris Gayle and lot many batsmen of this generation can score a double and more importantly even think of it unlike last decade.In short, the approach to a game has changed completely,a batsman can chase 100 runs or may be more than that easily in last 10 overs. Sunil Narine who has a great impact especially in IPL can stun and deceive the batsman quite consistently by his mystery deliveries which is difficult to read.He is one of the few spinners who captain turns to during death overs as along with taking wickets,he can choke runs too.Unfortunately he is not playing in this WC.Dale Steyn needs a special mention here as he is the best bowler in an era dominated by batsman.When he is in rhythm bowling fiery,clinching wickets consistently,it is a beautiful sight to watch.Ever so magnificent bowlers like Mitchell Johnson, Daniel Vettori,Morne Morkel,Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ravi Rampaul have only got smarter with power hitters like Chris Gayle, Glen Maxwell, Keiron Pollard, David Miller, Brendon McCullum,David Warner, our very own MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli becoming ever so powerful with the bat.Fielding standard over the years have only improved.Jonty Rhodes who made people recognise that fielding can also be a art and who changed the facet of a match though his fantastic catches,brillant save and crucial runouts would be very proud to see some exceptional fielders like ABD, Raina, Warner,Dilshan,Kohli,Steven Smith, Rahane and many others in this generation.The other day,in quarter finals against Bangladesh,Shikhar Dhawan took a excellent juggling catch at the boundary which we would not have imagined say 10 years ago.So overall,the game is changing and changing for good.

Having followed cricket over the years and being a ardent fan,it feels great to see the game evolving and getting better.

P.S : This blog post is written for a blogging contest by Harsha Bhogle, one of the few cricket commentators I admire and look up to.Hope this blog post and being his namesake gives me a slight edge to be a part in his Bloggers Dream Team 🙂

Final Haara Re…


We lived our dream to win WC 2011. It was an emotional moment for everyone involved. A dream come true. Another dream to win WC 2014, this time a T20 was on cards. Our team India was looking ominous by being the only team to remain unbeaten in the entire tournament. We had a star studded batting lineup as it has always been the case. Our bowling especially spinners were looking good given the assisting pitch and similar home conditions. So Indian team were tough to beat. But in the finals we had to face an equally good, another subcontinent team SriLanka.
After loosing toss and batting first we had a blessing in disguise. It was always a good option to put up a challenging score and put pressure on the opposition as this being a big tense final even 150-160 would translate into 170-180 because of the pressure. At halfway stage we had a decent run rate and looked good to put up a huge total as we had lost only 2 wickets and had some hard hitters to come. But what India finally managed to make a meager 130 runs with wickets in hand was something no one would have predicted or imagined.
Fast-forwarding, Sri Lanka were almost in a similar stage at 14-15 overs with our bowlers especially spinners bowling beautifully and hitherto clinching wickets. But Indians couldn’t match the death bowling what Sri Lanka managed to display in what could be the best death bowling in recent times. So Sri Lanka win and India loose. Now that India have lost that too in a final we have to criticize someone.
So we analyze it further. Tat India’s batting session between 16-20 over’s where India managed to score only 19 runs is under the scanner. Batsman involved were Kohli who was on song yet again and Yuvi who was out of touch yet again. So we blame that Yuvi did not score enough runs after have come to bat at 11th over. Yuvi was completely out of touch as was evident clearly. The ball he got out was a full toss. But he tried hard not to get bogged down. He tried and tried but never succeeded. To add to his misery,the Sri Lankans particularly Malinga were bowling with a plan which was difficult to counter attack wen he decided to score after he depended mostly on singles wen spinners were bowling.Pacers were bowling wide yorkers which doesn’t seem to be present in dictionary of Indian bowlers. Even captain cool Dhoni couldn’t get enough runs in few balls he faced after he promoted himself to bat. This shows that India couldn’t get enough runs because Yuvi was not scoring, Srilankans were bowling exceptionally well and Kohli couldn’t get enough strike. So we have already selected the bait Yuvi and criticize singling him out. We don’t care what the rest of the 10 players do. As rightly said by Sachin, he can be criticized but not crucified and be written off for the rest of his life.But what do we do???We go overboard and attack his house, troll him on social networking sites.This is complete rubbish. We worship players when we win but we need to be more strong/supportive during our defeat.
Yuvi has won us more games than most of the other teammates. During 2007 T20 WC, he was exceptional in scripting famous wins. During 2011 ODI WC, he was man of the series. He was exceptional not only with the bat but he bowled minimum 8 over’s almost every match consistently clinching wickets at crucial time of the game and thus becoming the game changer. Apart from these he has been a match winner for many many games.After famous WC win(when he nauseated and vomited blood) he was diagnosed with career(if not life) threatening cancer. He fought that with great gusto and made a inspirational comeback. After that he fought hard to be the match winner he has been over the years, every time he donned India cap. He tried every time giving his everything. That’s Wat he did the other day. But he failed when it mattered the most in a final. Never mind that’s part and parcel of the game.

P.S : Having said that, I fear we are seeing last of Yuvraj Singh on a cricket field.

 

IPL Appraisal Process


Prologue: It’s appraisal time and IPL season. Let’s see how will our favorite IPL players fare in their IPL performance evaluation. NOM to any players. Written purely for fun.

Rating 1:Exceptional 2:Good 3:Average 4:Worrisome

Sachin Tendulkar

Coach: Happy birthday Sachin.
Birthday cake
. You look so young.

Sachin: Thanks
Open-mouthed smile
.

Coach: But your rating is not looking good. You’re not in good touch. God knows what happened to you.
Thinking smile

Sachin: Ailaa!! I think I know.

Coach: God knows.
Confused smile

Sachin: I know.I know I am not in good touch.
Disappointed smile
What’s my rating?

Coach: I am afraid. You’ll get only average rating this time. i.e. Rating 3. I have reserved rating 4 for Ponting.

Sachin: (Thinking)Is he eligible to get a rating? I knew I am the best amongst the best.

Thanks.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Coach: Welcome Captain Cool. You’re doing good both as a batsman and a captain,but you need to improve.You finish things off well when there is target(deadline) but you need to start well. I have one question though. Why do you force a 16th over winning match and take it till last over?

Dhoni: Well, I am giving you my secret
Secret telling smile
by telling this-Jo Honi ko anhoni karke, anhoni ko honi karta hai Usey Dhoni kehte hain. Mind it!!

Coach: What?

Dhoni: Well, I make possible things impossible and then turn impossible into possible and become an overnight hero. People in Chennai love me just for that.

Coach: Oh k.
Surprised smile
But what an IDEA.
Light bulb
Whistle Podu.
Thumbs up
But you will get only rating 2 as I am forced to give 1 to someone else.

Dhoni: Well,Who’s that?
Crying face
I have won more matches for CSK being a very successful captain.

Coach: (imitating Dhoni) Well, it’s a Secret.
Don't tell anyone smile

AB De Villiers

Coach: SouthAfrican Ho Ya Bangalorean, Sixers-Oh Yes AB!! Come-on have a seat.

Congratulations- You’re the most innovative player of IPL 2013.

AB:
Smile
Will that translate into rating 1?

Coach: Jokinga?

AB: Atleast STAR PLUS Nayi Soch Award?

Coach: We will try. Ok lets get on with the business. What rating are you expecting?

AB: Certainly the best. I am in good touch. I am performing well. I am the impact player.

Coach: You are the impact player but doesn’t have as much influence as much Gayle has on team winning.

AB: No doubt about it, But I am as good as him.

Coach: Well, you have to be content with rating 2 this time. Have more impact on the game and take rating 1 next time.

Yusuf Pathan

Coach: Welcome. Please take a seat.

Yusuf Pathan: I will rather stand.
Embarrassed smile

Coach: Fine. Your performance is dismal. Your rating is 4. Any comments?

Yusuf Pathan: No comments. Thanks.
Confused smile

Coach: That was quick.
I don't know smile

Rohit Sharma

Coach: Welcome Rohit.

I am happy to announce that you have improved a lot. You are no longer a 2 minutes “maggi” batsman where you would get out in 2 minutes(1 minute each to come from/to pavilion).

You are showing shades of leadership qualities as well. You will go a long way.

Rohit: (Stumped
Surprised smile
) Long way? Great. Which way-Right or Left? Am I getting rating 1?

Coach: No. Only 1 person can get it and it’s not you.

Rohit: Oh k.
Disappointed smile

Vinay Kumar

Coach: You’re among the wickets this season and even topping the list.

Vinay: Thanks. I am maturing as a bowler match after match.

Coach: The other day you denied SH a win in Hyderabad by taking it to the super over. Job well done.

But why did you bowl length balls in super over and leak runs such that even Gayle could not score off given the stiff target?

Vinay: Actually I was testing the batsman. I think it was Cameron White. I thought he was expecting yorkers from me,being a frontline bowler. But I surprised him by bowling length balls.

But I was duped as he surprised me by hitting six.
Surprised smile

Coach:
Laughing out loud
Vinay,you need to improve. You are getting rating 2 because of this.

Vinay: Thanks. Play me for every match. I will improve one day.

Ricky Ponting

Coach: Do you know why did we hire you even though you didn’t had relevant experience for 5 years?

Ponting: For captaincy?

Coach: Batting is paramount reason.Captaincy is secondary. You will be first to be fired if you don’t fire.

Ponting: I will fight fire with fire.

Coach: That’s confusing.
Confused smile
Anyways, you’re getting rating 4.

Ponting: (Thinking)Thank God. I got a rating at least.

Virat Kohli

Coach: Hello Virat. You’re rising star
Star
of IPL 6. I am very much impressed with your captaincy apart from your batting which is very impressive which tells me

that you’re in zone.

Virat: Thanks.

Coach: But you are taking it till the end. Forcing the match to the super over by giving an opportunity to opposition to win the match.

You need to improve in this aspect.

Virat: I will certainly do. My rating? 1?

Coach: You will get only 2 as there is lot of competition for rating 1. Be happy with it. Better luck next time.

Virat signs off expressing his disgust with fresh set of expletives dedicated to the coach.
Devil

Sunil Narine

Coach: You’re excellent with the ball. Getting lot of wickets.

Narine: Thanks.

Coach: You’re winning the matches with your balling for KKR.You even got a hatrick.

Narine: Thanks.

Coach: But…

Narine:(Smiling) I was waiting for this but part.
Winking smile

Coach: Smart.

You’re too predictable. You spin the ball only 3 ways- right,left or the one that doesn’t spin.

Narine: Well,that’s the trick. Batsman doesn’t pick which ball spins what way.
Annoyed

Coach: Don’t argue now.

You’re no longer a mystery bowler. Batsman have found out there are only 3 ways you can spin the ball.

Narine: Heights.
Surprised smile
Now can I know my rating?

Coach: 2. Better luck next time.

Rahul Dravid

Coach:  A great captaincy material. Makes me think you needed a long run to captain Indian side.

Rahul: Thanks for your kind words.
Smile

Coach: Hardly any big names in the squad and you have made them play their ‘A’ game beating some strong teams in the process. Excellent.

Rahul: Thanks.
Smile

Coach: You’re excellent with the bat too even though you’re 40 years old. But you need to slog better after laying a foundation for the team.

You need to improve your six hitting capabilities. Improve on that and you’ll get rating 1. For now, it’s 2.

Rahul: Thanks.
Broken heart
I will work on that aspect.

Chris Gayle

Coach: You’re the man. 175 in 66 outstanding,unbelievable,out of the world. To be frank I am speechless.
Don't tell anyone smile

Gayle: Thanks with his typical smile.
Open-mouthed smile

Coach: I have never seen some one hit the ball so hard as you do. You’re modern day great. Gayle Storm
Storm cloud
Rocks!!

Gayle: That sounds encouraging. Go On

Coach: You have the ability to hit 6s and 4s effortlessly which makes you a dangerous batsman in T20.

Gayle: Music to the ears.
Note
Go On..

Coach: But…
Disappointed smile

Gayle: But?
Broken heart

Coach: You’re not a team player. You don’t leave enough overs for others to score. I think you’re selfish. You win matches single-handedly. Ditto with your balling. Given a chance, you take wickets so that front line bowlers get blank in wickets column. Moreover you have tremendous capability to hit ball out of the stadium almost every time but you are only content to hit the ball till 2nd or 3rd tier and clear the stadium sometimes which tells me you’re not playing to your potential. You have to improve a lot.

Gayle: Are you mad?
Angry smile

Coach: Would like to add, you have to improve your behavioral skills also.

Gayle:  I am going nuts.
Steaming mad

Coach: Don’t you want to hear your rating?

Gayle:  Tell me so that I can leave.

Coach: You have got a healthy rating of 2. Concentrate on points I have mentioned you will be soon get a rating 1.

Gayle: Thanks a lot . You have made my day with a healthy rating.
Sarcastic smile
My foot!
Steaming mad

Ravindra Jadeja

Coach: Welcome SIR.

Ravindra Jadeja: Thanks SIR(Giggling).

Coach: Call me by name. You are the real SIR.

SIR: Thanks(Giggling).

Coach:The other day you won a match against Kolkata chasing a modest total with a quick fire 30.

Excellent stuff.
High five

SIR:Thanks(Giggling).

Coach: How do you do it SIR?
Smile

SIR: Do what?

Coach: Get out on the last ball and still win the match. That RCB-CSK close match.

SIR: It happens. Rather I make it happen. Even force people to bowl a no ball.

Coach: I was right. I knew it. You’re the 1. I mean you get rating 1.
Angel

SIR: Thanks(Giggling). But I didn’t expect it.

Coach: That’s your modesty SIR. You deserve a 1. Others are mediocre.

SIR: Are you joking? Really ? I am the one? I am yet to show my best game.

Coach: When we will witness it SIR?

SIR: At the right place and at the right time.
Be right back

Coach: I will be eagerly waiting for it. Now give me “Jaddu” ki Jhappi
Left hug
 
Right hug

We Lived our Dream


It took 28 years for an Indian to hold the much coveted World Cup trophy and what a time to get it on our own backyard with crazy fans cheering all around and over 1 billion eye-balls on TV screen. To bring smiles on every Indian and to make them feel proud after India was plagued by corruption, scams and what not in past few months was a much greater achievement. Winning the way we did,with emotions running high and Sachin playing his last world cup saying the win was an ultimate thing and proudest moment in his 21 year career suggested what the trophy meant to him and each one of us. We lived our dream, a  beautiful dream indeed.

I feel the key to India’s success was peaking at the right time and Dhoni’s captaincy.We had arguably the best batting line-up ever to take field on a WC but our bowling was not at all on par. A leader is the one who knows his strengths and knows his weaknesses better. To get the best of his team is Mahi Way of doing things.He backed the bowlers to bowl the crucial overs and more often than not the plan clicked. And one man we cannot forget,our coach Gary Kirsten who was always there toiling hard with the team. More importantly each player played their best game in whatever roles they were supposed to play.

CRICKET-WC2011-IND-PAK-MATCH 48

Our batting was always a threat to the opposition and with the starts given by Viru and Sachin decimating the bowling attack,it looked more ominous. Sachin needs a special mention here. Lot was talked about him going into the tournament-His last world cup,only trophy he is missing in his kitty,best chance to win a world cup for the very reason it is played in India.It was indeed a privilege to see him bat the way he did. Being the second  leading scorer in the tournament giving solid starts for the lower batsmen to consolidate is what he did best most of the time. Viru was at his explosive best-Especially the 175 knock that he played against Bangla in the tournament opener, was crucial to settle the nerves. Then came Gauti to play THE innings of his life in the finals.Tat 97 was very crucial after India lost both the openers cheaply. Virat Kohli is the future and present of India.Whenever I see him bat,I feel India is in safe hands.Then came Yuvraj-the flavour of Indian cricket in the world cup. Making a comeback into the tournament with not so good 1-2 years, he was the game changer for India.4 man of the match awards and man of the tournament.Wow! A dream outing.He played the sheet anchor role with perfection. We all know what he can do with the bat when on song,but the way he bowled with 15 wickets in all, was astounding.India found an all rounder in him.Suresh Raina’s cameo  against Aussies and Pakistan was very very crucial given the situation.With his surprise entry into the team in quarters replacing Yusuf Pathan, he proved his point big time. And with his inclusion the fielding standards were raised automatically. Then the captain who looked patchy in the entire tournament and to play a innings like that he did in finals was simply special.It was only fitting for him to finish things off with a thunderous six. Zaheer Khan was the bowler of the tournament for me.Especially the way he bowled with the old ball, every time a bowl was thrown at him with India needing wickets desperately he didn’t disappoint at all. He leaded the bowling attack with elan. Bhajji looked good in patches especially against the match against Pak. That void in spin bowling was filled by Yuvi’s bowling. Munaf,Nehra and Ashwin played the supporting role.

Indian_Team_Squad_for_2011_Cricket_World_Cup
CRICKET-WC2011-IND-PAK-MATCH 48

To dethrone the Aussies who ruled the world cricket for a decade or so, was special. Aussies were not all at their best in this tournament. To defeat them and to go on to win the title was icing on the cake. With West Indian domination of world cricket in 70-80s and Australian domination in late 90s,this could be the time for India for world domination. I liked Ponting’s face of disappointment after playing an innings of substance to end on loosing side. India held it’s nerves to go on to win the match in style. Yuvraj’s celebration said it all.

Then came the mother of all battles- the much hyped Indo Pak encounter. With ticket rates touching sky high,Pakistan PM  and Pak delegation along with Indian PM witnessing the match,likes of  2G s-SoniaG and RahulG in the stands giving political angle to it added much to the hoopla. It was a self declared national holiday on that day. Sachin getting dropped 5 times,Yuvi and Raina’s rescue act,Umar Akmal’s fabuluous shots,Bhajji’s roar to celebrate a wicket, Misbah’s late hitting- the match had it all.

India were never beaten in a world cup game against Pak and history repeated itself.With that confidence,India went on to conquer the final frontier-the Lankan juggernaut.I felt Lankan side were mightier than Oz and Pakis and looked a much more balanced side then we were.Taming the lions was not impossible but difficult. After they set a stiff target with an amazing innings from Jayawardene,Indians had to bat very well to win,keeping in mind the pressure always building up to the chase,after all it was a world cup final.Early wickets of Sachin and Sehwag added to our batting woes in big finals. I sought for divine intervention- a rare occasion in my cricket watching career.Some of my friends went on to switch off the tv thinking it’s all over.But Lankans were up to a resurgent Indian batting. Gauti rose to the occasion and deserved a 100 the way he batted, equally well supported by first Virat and then MS who promoted himself ahead of in form Yuvi. As India looked confident to seal a victory,MS began to cut loose letting his bat do the talking to silence his critics. After Gauti’s unfortunate dismissal,it was only fitting for Yuvi to join in and finish things off along with MS. India winning the world cup and winning in style led to night long celebration as though India got independence.People dancing on the streets,bursting crackers with joy all around,distributing sweets to their loved ones was a common sight across the nation.

6543-22320-mahendra_dhoni_1863203c
6543-22322-Sachin-Tendulkar-takes-a-victory-l

Someone rightly said -As long as Rajnikanth was on the stands cheering the team,India would never loose. After it was proved ,quite obvious though,people were wondering where was Rajnikanth when India played 2003 World cup final.We as fans by being superstitious did anything and everything to bring back the cup. Aamir Khan who saw India winning against the arch rivals Pak in Mohali,went on to wear the same T shirt (thinking it as lucky)to cheer the team in Mumbai. The great Amitabh Bachchan did not watch the quarters,semis and almost resisted to not watch finals with the belief that if he watches India would never win.It was a grand celebration in field too. Emotions were running high with likes of Harbhajan,Yuvi,Sachin in tears-tears of joy,tears of success. Then it was time to hold the world cup-the moment everyone longed for. With hand shakes,hugs all around someone had an idea to take Sachin on their shoulders and go around Wankhede- the hometown of Sachin and the very ground where he was an ball boy in one of the 1987 World Cup matches.It was apt for Virat Kohli to say that it was high time, to take Sachin on their shoulders after he served for 21 long years by taking responsibility on his shoulders.Most of them went on to say they were playing for Sachin as he deserved to hold a world cup after representing the country for so many years.Indeed it was a fitting tribute to his illustrious career to lift the ultimate prize which had eluded him in his past 5 world cup appearances.

Then it was chance of Guru Gary who was taken around the stadium for some time. It was unbelievable scenes from Wankhede and  people were getting crazy and it took long time for the news to sink in. I had never seen people so happy dancing with joy. I got up from the bed the next day realised we were world champs recalling the match felt very happy and slept again.

With this win comes an additional responsibility of maintaining the tag of world beaters.HOPE we do so…

Harsha Unplugged:Cricket Mania


world-cup-2011-india-small-86171

After 14 long years India get to host the cricket world cup along with other associate nations like Srilanka and Bangladesh(Pakistan missed out due to security reasons).Hosting the world cup in the subcontinent
especially in cricket frenzy India is good for the future of sport(due to lack of interest for longer versions of cricket with the advent of 20-20).

In India, people follow cricket religiously. Cricketers(apart from Bollywood actors) are worshipped like any other God.Such is the enthusiasm and passion for the game that people throng to get a sight of their favourite cricketers in action,there are dedicated temples and worship places for players,people conduct special pujas praying for India’s win.However people In India are very emotional,just like they worship their cricketers when they entertain,the same people pelt stones at player’s possessions when they flop at critical games. However our cricketers are used to playing under such pressures at big stage.

31e1f428518141fc21b2ea1c1576cf61

           Winning Cricket world cup in 1983(highly unexpected in era of West Indian domination)under inspirational leadership of Kapil paaji changed the whole facet of cricket in India. After 20 long years India went close enough to win another one(which was hugely expected the way we were playing) until our bowlers chose world cup final as their off day to set a huge target for our batsman to chase. Dreams Of Sourav Ganguly (arguably the best captain India has ever had) holding the world cup were shattered. Then came the 2007 WC which was by far India’s worst performance to get knocked out(after barely 2 weeks at WC) at group stages considering the fact that we were one of the favourites.

Cricket-Worldcup-Players-Wallpapers4

So 2011 WC holds lot of significance for India to win the championship. One, It is played on our own backyard allowing our players well-equipped and assimilated to the conditions than any other overseas player. Two,it is the last world cup of architect of many Indian wins-Sachin Tendulkar. Even Indian cap. MSD went on to say tat a world cup win would be ideal gift to batting maestro for all that he has done over the years. Carrying a billion people expectations on his shoulders over the span of 21 years and winning matches is no mean task and for the fact that Sachin has done it with great gusto with his never ending passion for the game is an inspiration.

Winning a world cup with Sachin leading from the front will be huge and there’s no reason why one cannot believe on such lines because Tendulkar has delivered in most of the occasions.Its said that the whole nation comes to a standstill when Sachin is nearing his century.Name any batting record he has it, whether its highest number of runs, centuries, individual score etc the list goes on(During my school days, etc  was what I  used quite often to convince the examiner that i know more than what is required).But some people dare to differ that Sachin plays only for records considering every other batting record under his name. Given his longevity and consistent performance over the years(Just when critics starts to question his place in the team he shuts them off with a brilliant hundred) if records come in way while piling runs for the team its not his fault. And as far as runs are concerned his dil maange more. So the stage is all set for India to win and win handsomely to bring smiles to billion people supporters.

As far as team is considered it looks settled. The weakest link one can think of will be in bowling department given that we have best batting line-up compared to any other team. Zaheer Khan(Zak) leading the attack to bring all his experience into play would do whole lot of good given the way he has been bowling for past 1-1.5 years. His form with the ball would be vital for India’s chances supported by our other pacers  Munaf Patel(coming from a great SA tour), Ashish Nehra (His 6/23 against England in WC 2003 is still best bowling performance from an Indian in WCs) and Sreesanth (aggressive and genuine wicket taker). As far as spin is concerned it largely depends on the turbanator Bhajji’s form given that he will play almost all matches.Also he is very handy with the bat as well.He is backed up with some more spin from R.Ashwin(smart spinner-impressed his bowling skills in IPL)and Piyush Chawla( a surprise pick in final 15 as he is a lone leg spinner). Not to forget that our part timers  Yuvi, Pathan,Raina who have been doing well consistently to contain runs and grab wickets.Likes of Yuvi, Kohli,Raina will bring some energy in the field to back the bowlers.Brilliant catches here and there or a crucial run out  can change the course of the game very quickly.

world-cup-2011-opening-ceremony-41

As far as batting goes God save the opposition because the batting line up looks ominous at least on paper. Lead from the batting legend himself Sachin(already lots have been said about him)paired with most aggressive batsman in modern era Virendar Sehwag (Viru as he is fondly called). Most destructive opening pair one can ever think of. Followed by the likes of Gambhir, Yuvi, Kohli,Raina,Yusuf and not to forget our Cap.MSD. So here is the trade-off given that Yusuf is playing,you play either Kohli (in the form of his life) or Raina (genuine match-winner). The way Kohli is batting consistently (looks like the records will be up for grabs, not to forget he is the fastest Indian to complete first 1000 runs in ODI) has  a slight edge over Raina (too good a player to miss).Last but not the least the man who invented the Helicopter shot- Mahendra Singh Dhoni our captain. The man who works as per his intuition by which his moves click most often. I get livid when people attribute success of Indian team due to MSD’s good luck. I feel its just due to his gut feeling about his moves backed up with support which plays an important part. As Tendulkar who was more of a aggressive player in his early days,MSD has become more of a composed batsman(guess that comes up with responsibility) than his early days where he used to hit the ball with disdain.However he has unique ability to play a cricketing(this adjective is v.imp) shot with a great power(drinking milk helps) and can up the ante at his own will when the situation demands. Overall batting looks v.good with some technically solid batsman and couple of hard hitters,so as per the start we can fiddle with player’s position keeping in mind the remaining overs,power-plays etc.Overall it looks a v.good team to take on any opposition.

But playing in front of the home crowd will have its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Crowd backing you every time is ok but when the chips are down the pressure can play on your mind,But as I said our team is used to all this and I am pretty confident we will have a positive result this time around.

Go India Go! We want you to bring back the cup this time.

P.S: So here I go, I am done with my first post. Blogging was in my mind for a long time. Finally content,that I pulled it off somehow.Could not find a better way to start blogging when the cricket fever was on. Loving the telecast on Star Cricket with every bit of cricketing action and when India does well it will be a icing on the cake. Also loving  Pepsi’s Change the Game ad campaign…

Thanks & Regards

untitled