Month: March 2007

Déjà vu…

Am I at a loss for words on yesterday’s performance? No I’m not!! I’ve so much to say that I think I’ll take up Terabytes raised to n space on the web!
I normally do not react badly to India’s losses. If you’ve been watching them play for the last 16 years and have had a lovely set of rational fans around you, it ensures that you do not react to losses as any other normal fan would. I mean it’s simply a game why make a fuss about it.

I remember the WC losses against Aus in ’92, SL in semi-final in Kolkatta ’96 and the huge plundering against Aus in ’03 in the league match.

I still remember the ’92 match as a victory because we put up an awesome fight. Neither will I forget Azhar’s 93 and Manjrekar’s 47 nor will I forget Srinath’s blunder. It was a strong reminder for me that this guy will never ever think when he plays, he always proved me right!
But it was a wonderful match, yes the loss by one run broke my heart but the respect for the team grew ten folds.

In the ’96 semi-final, when I saw the crowds react the way they did I had asked my dad why are they reacting this way? Sure we made a mess of it by some crazy decisions but come on we reached the semis, didn’t we? Was that not creditable enough, considering we never had a chance to even make it to the final four?

After the ’03 league match thumping, when effigies were burnt I was wondering what is wrong with the junta, it’s only a league match, we are not out of the cup and we have so many matches to perform!
We have seen worse losses than this.

But this time around I will not put any sort of rationale to the team’s defeat. There isn’t any to put. I’m trying to see if there are any positives, if we gave it our best, if we put up a fight. The answer to all is ZILCH, ZERO, NIL, NOTHING!

What a shameful surrender it was! Did it not remind you of the ’96 semi-final? But then there was some consolation that we had made it to the semi-final after a strong performance against Pak in the quarters. But the scripts were almost similar:
  • Both times India won the toss
  • Both put SL to bat, in pressure games
  • Jayasurya was out early in both the games
  • Both times Silvas (Aravinda-96 and Chamara here) stole the game
  • Similar achievable targets (252then and 255 now)and a similar collapse…

Sigh too much of a Déjà Vu and that too at an early stage in the WC!

I dunno where to begin actually. Sure it was a great batting pitch in the second innings but it was not a pitch where we could bowl the opposition under 200 after they are put into bat first. We do not have the bowlers to do that. Though we bowled much better than we did against Bangladesh it was not good enough cause I think we gave away 20-30 runs too many at the end.

I did not see any determination in the players on the field to win the match. There was no urgency, no energy! They seemed to go through the motions as if it was another match. Yes it is only a match but your Cup future depended on it and I don’t think that realisation dawned upon them.

I feel like a fool now for having shown so much faith in the team and betting with my friends that yes they will beat SL and make it to the super 8. Mind you if this match was a do-die situation in the Super 8 or semis or finals and we had lost I would’ve been disappointed but not hurt. I would’ve known they had fought and got that far but this was shameful. You could not even put up a fight!

So 255 seemed a gettable target however I always get a good feeling if we gonna win or not and somehow that feeling had faded away when Vaas hit 14 of an over off Munaf. I kept cribbing to my husband that these last runs are not good for us and he said you are just over reacting, wait and watch.

Then I saw Uthappa and Ganguly start off, and there was nothing in their body language that inspired confidence in me that we would win. Every player who walked in had the same language. Not interested, not keen, not willing to put up a fight. Uthappa got out to a rash shot, Ganguly to one that was not needed, Sehwag the lesser said the better, I was never for him being in the team for this cup so let me not say anything more.
Time and again against SL it is a very simple ploy, play out Vaas and Murali and then its easy to tackle others. If Ganguly, Dravid and Sachin won’t last till Murali comes into play how does one expect Dhoni & Yuvraj to tackle him especially Yuvraj who dances even to a Galli spinner!

The most heartbreaking though was Sachin’s dismissal and I’m not ashamed to proclaim that I almost cried when I saw it. He did not understand Fernando’s delivery at all, he simply had no clue and out to a duck. That hurt me more than the defeat, it really did. And only the die-hard Sachin fans will understand my sentiment here.

What a meek surrender. In both the matches we lost the batsmen did not last the whole 50 overs nor did they cross the 200 mark and that clearly shows who faltered. This was a problem for us the whole of last year and we did nothing about it.

I’m not going to get into the blame game or point fingers. I could care less cause the entire exercise is not worth it. If the players are not bothered about winning I wonder why we are breaking our hearts over it?

But one word to Mr. Chappell the great. Read this in his interview on cricinfo.com: “I’m not answerable to anyone but the BCCI”
For your kindest information Mr. Chappell, first and foremost you are answerable to every Indian cricket fan in the world. If it weren’t for them there would be no money in the game, there would be no BCCI sitting on a gold mine, there would be no way your huge pay packet would come through, there would be no sponsors, there would be no players raised to the status of demi-gods, there would be no advertisements for these players to mint money. So before you make statements like that please get a grip of the game in India. I think everyone would agree with me on that you and your team are fist and foremost answerable to the Indian cricket fans all over the world and you better know that!

Oh yes and I’m proclaiming loud and clear that I’m off Indian cricket for sometime now. Not cricket mind you, only Indian cricket. Aus, SA, NZ, WI have given me enough to cheer for them in this WC so if anyone wants me to go off cricket that’s not happening as long the game is being played well. If India does not want to do it why should I quit watching the game. I’d rather they quit playing it!

So before I end, now it’s time to pray for Bermuda’s win and whole lot of prayers will go into it. But as for me I’ll pray that Bangladesh wins cause more than India they deserve to go to the Super 8. And if Bermuda wins, the Indian team, if it has an ounce of dignity and self-respect left, should allow Bermuda to proceed to the Super 8 cause we definitely don’t deserve to be there!
Do that and yes I’ll be proud of you.

You were never unlucky cause you never gave it your best. This post would’ve never happened from me if I felt you had tried your best. You know it in your hearts you simply did not!

This will be hard for me to forget but not for the board back home. There are talks of a major overhaul. Who will they drop? Dravid, Saurav, Sachin, Dhoni, Sehwag, Yuvraj? None, they could not drop Sehwag after 2 yrs of pathetic performance they don’t have the guts to drop any one of the above. They will land up sacking Irfan, Shreesanth, Uthappa, Kartik, Agarkar (the perennial scapegoat). There will be no major overhaul and things will go ahead as before.

Don’t expect a thing! That is the sad story of Indian cricket!

P.S: And on another note….GO Bangladesh!! Praying hard that you all win.

A Shocking Beginning…

On seeing the WC schedule I had thought to myself that I can relax the till the super eight stage cause the first round seemed a waste of time to me with unknown teams like Ireland Bermuda, Netherlands( sure they played the last cup but who remembers!),Canada, Scotland being involved in the WC.
Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties a saying so well-known it’s almost cliché to use it now! But time and again this saying is proved right and this time the little minnows were the ones who proved it right. I can bet my life not one cricket fan would’ve predicted Pakistan’s ouster in the first round, not one die-hard Indian fan would’ve expected defeat in the first match against Bangladesh and not even the Bangladeshi supporters would’ve expected their team to beat two big guns back to back. NZ in the warm up and India in the first match of the opening round!!! No one and if someone tells me he or she did they are lying through the roof!!!

Pakistan’s ouster was a shocker and I’m yet to recover from it. No WC is good without an India –Pak tie and yes I wanted to see my team keep their WC record intact of being unbeatable against Pak. It was definitely not their best side that they have fielded for the cup and Asif-Shoaib would’ve made hell of a difference. But to be not able to get past Ireland was tough to digest. As much as the batsmen should be blamed for the loss I must give it to Ireland for pulling an incredible performance in both the matches. No one thought they would win but as of now they are leading their group table! First the tie against Zim and then a victory against Pak. They sure have the made the entire cricketing world sit up and take notice of them. And honestly I was seeing the highlights I liked that guy Neil O’ Brien. He single-handedly tackled the Pak attack with confidence. Good footwork and solid shots. They sure have a long way to go but this man did make mark!

Australia, SL and SA started off in pompous style much to our expectations and Gibbs’s sixes against Netherlands sure brought a smile to my face. It’s not against the best cricketing nation but a record is a record and with so many non-test playing nations involved these will come abound. But what the heck savour it! It does not come often and whether against top class or bottom class teams six 6s in six consecutive balls is no mean feat; proven by the fact that it is the first time in international cricket. Sobers and Shastri hold the record in first-class fixtures, so give the guy some due

I loved the way WI won. They were really struggling but having seen them hit 230 odd from 3 an over in the 20th over, I told my husband that it seems a good total to defend on a slow pitch and I’m glad they proved me right. Pakistan can only blame themselves for both the losses.

And coming to my dear team India, I felt like a fool when people asked about our chances and I proudly said yes I see them in the final four. I would still like to stand by it. Considering our record against SL in the recent past, I actually feel we can win. As for the match against Bangladesh, the lesser said the better. The batting is clearly a problem and as much as Sehwag has got a century as I’m writing this article I still feel he will struggle against the better attacks! The batsmen got to get their act right and yes if someone is near the team can you please pass on a message to our bowler that an offside- middle stump line exists when you bowl. They only seemed to see the leg-stump! How they miss the basics often really surprises me.
The only positive so far is Saurav Ganguly. I so wanted to write since his comeback that his batting and attitude has been refreshing. That is exactly what I wanted of him and a little late but it has come at the best time. He is old self and seems to enjoy his batting. He is relaxed, his feet are moving well and he is confident. There is no clutter in his head and things are clear. Batting like a dream, now only if he would continue throughout the innings and not give it up the way he did against Bangladesh.

While on India, ‘Inconsistency is Thy Name’, as my husband always puts it! Bowled out under 200 against minnows now they thrash Bermuda to get a WC record of highest runs in an innings! It is possible only with us in back to back matches!
The latest match has been halted by rain as I write this. Why am I not surprised? One, because rain gods have never favoured us, and second, we did bring it upon ourselves to this situation. So if this is a washout with no reserve day in place India will bid goodbye to the WC and then I’m left wondering for commercial reasons this WC will be in a soup! No Pakistan, no India it’s not a good thing for the WC organisers!
But Tendulkar entertained, and so did Yuvraj, but sending Dhoni and him ahead of Sachin. Not done, simply not done because the little master is in a good nick! Sometimes I feel we leave our brains behind in experimenting unnecessary things. Too much of anything is not good and India better realise that sooner than later!

Apart from the all of the above the most rude shock of the WC, Bob Woolmer’s Death. A fine, fine coach and I was completely aghast at the news. That it came one day after Pak’s ouster leaves me wondering if the pressure and stress got to him. The cricket world will miss him; the teams will miss him the most. He had so much to offer to the game in him. May his soul rest in peace.

The End of My Era….

Long hiatus, no explanations just that setting in to work and this city did take my time off from my writing! No promises to keep this going regularly but yes the world cup will get me writing more frequently than before!

The world cup begins today. Sadly the opening ceremony will be missed due to the unearthly timings of the telecast. My interest in the ODIs is going down day by day, thanks to the growing predictable and uneventful nature of the matches involved and the WC long format is not going to help my case either. However seeing the performance of the some of the teams in the last month I sure am not placing my bets on the winner right away. That could make up for another article!

So before I go onto preview matches and predict winners, here is the real reason for writing the article. In ’91 when I started watching cricket, taking serious interest in it, catching the old matches missed on all possible channels, I saw a whole lot of players emerge and become reckoning forces in the world of cricket. Seeing their amazing displays on the field, the thought of them ever quitting the game never struck my mind. It still does not, despite the fact being there right in front of my eyes, I just turn a blind eye to it.

They were players from my era! Having seen them play for the last fifteen years. I saw my friends have crushes on them, I remember making fun of them for not understanding their game, I remember having long debates and discussions with the guys over who is the better player and who was not playing upto his potential, discussing their awesome display of talent time and again.

They excited, they enthralled, they entertained, they charmed, they made me smile! The game will not be the same again. Yes it has been said before, new players have emerged and I’m not denying that better might emerge too, but these will always be special because they were one of the reason my cricket interest grew.

Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble, Lara, Jayasurya, Inzy, McGrath, Pollock, Gilchrist, Fleming, Ponting. Cricket will not be the same again!

It still feels like only yesterday when:

  • I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to see young Sachin rock the NZ shores in ’94 blasting 84 of 49 balls when he opened first.
  • I saw Inzy being run-out by Rhodes in ’92 WC and kept wondering if he would ever create a World record for the same, but realising Pakistan had been blessed with a talent.
  • I saw a young man from the WI battle out with ease the Aussie attack and hit a masterpiece 277 to lead WI to victory. Lara won many a matches in the years to come single-handedly and I think he leads every great batmen of his era in this aspect!
  • I saw McGrath bowl super straight relentlessly time and again leading to the destruction of every batsmen who faced him
  • I was left zapped by the maddening batting display of Jayasurya in the ’96 WC who redefined opening batting in ODIs and made the cricket ball defy the laws of gravity.
  • I saw Gilchrist come at the top order and thrash bowlers all around the park
  • I saw Ponting take charge of Steve’s team and lead them to a dominating victory in the ’03 WC keeping the Aussie flag flying high.
  • I saw Kumble take the Golden 10 against Pakistan
  • I saw Ganguly dance down the wicket at Taunton and beat Kapil’s long standing record of highest ODI Score
  • I saw Dravid turn into a valuable ODI player in ’99 WC with his back to back hundreds only to end up as the best man in both matches
  • I saw Fleming’s shrewd captaincy lead NZ to an unforgettable victory agaisnt Aus from a no-win situation in the VB series 2001.
  • I saw Pollock carry his dad and uncle’s legacy ably on his shoulders.

There are many more memories of them to write about and I could go on and on. But before I end, here’s putting these blokes in a small perspective for the joy they brought this game. The next WC will surely miss:

Sachin’s Masterplay and Lara’s Faultless Display
Inzy’s Serenity and Fleming’s Solidity
Ponting’s Brashness and McGrath’s Relentlessness
Kumble’s Perseverance and Pollock’s Consistence
Gilchrist’s Bashing and Jayasurya’s Thrashing
Gagnuly’s Off-side Divinity and Dravid’s Austerity!

The next WC is not going to be the same. As much as I’m digesting the departure of the Waugh Brothers, Justin Langer, Warne and Martyn, the departure of these players as and when it comes is most dreaded!

So here is what I’m going to do, sit back and enjoy them as long as they last and hope this WC brings out the best in all of them!

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