Month: March 2006

Give a Thought-10?

  • Exam halls are like toilets; the longer you sit there, the more the crap that comes out
  • The best ideas always seem to come in the loo, Oh shit!
  • Gravity is a myth: Earth sucks!
  • Whoever said money can’t buy everything didn’t know where to shop
  • You can’t have everything;where would you put it?

Day 4 and 5 @ Wankhede:

India had probably done all the wrong it could on the first three days of the match and with the track assisting spinners somewhat here was a chance to redeem some pride in the match.
With my husband scheduled to fly home in the evening, I could only watch the first two sessions of the day. The two sessions yielded 3 wickets in addition to previous night’s two and somewhere there was an inkling that it would be very tough for us to come back.

It seemed that England was looking more to save the match than win it. Yes the pitch was making stroke play difficult (A fact Dravid should have taken into account when he went out to the toss) and any target above 250 would mean that India would be shut out of the match (Their batting wasn’t in the best form) A 121 run-lead proved handy and reaching close to 200 was just what England had hoped for seeing the nature of the track. So 312 to chase was a tough tough task.

Nevertheless the fan in me did not want to believe otherwise. I thought maybe on the last day:

  • Sachin will grab the opportunity to shut up those who booed him. After all it was his home ground
  • Dravid will be his solid self and hold fort
  • Dhoni will produce the required blitzkrieg and get some assistance from Yuvraj

The whole of Mumbai seemed to think the same. The queues outside the Bombay Hockey Stadium (Where tickets for the match on that day are sold) stretched to the Asiatic Store and beyond! I know people are crazy but this crazy? To stand in queue for long hours and also incur a stampede! No thanks. Taking the season pass well in advance is the right decision else I’d rather watch the game at home. Though I had a fine brain wave to sell of one of the 5 tickets I had for a huge sum (which I’m sure any idiot would have paid for considering the situation of the match) but I did not! So we entered the stadium on day 5 amidst huge cheering and high security alert.

I didn’t quite get it why we chose to open with Pathan on day 4. Agreed that we have done it before, he was even successful, but Hoggard, Flintoff and Anderson are no jokers with the new ball! What’s worst he got out to a full toss! And who do we send in next? Anil Kumble. I fail to understand Dravid’s thinking.

Anyways as day 5 began I got the feeling India were playing for a draw. Now in all probability that means a good chance we will end up losing. It seemed so when Jaffer got out. In came Sachin Tendulkar and he changed the face of the match. Gone was the awkwardness and hesitation seen in the first innings. He was looking at ease and getting back to doing what he does best. On the other hand the worrisome factor was that Rahul Dravid had gone into his shell. 9 runs in 2 hours is not something the Indian captain will be proud of. Anyways 75/3 at end of first session. With Sachin playing well, and Rahul rock solid, India looked good to draw the match.

Post-lunch a lot more people poured in anticipating some good knocks. Ball 2 after lunch Rahul got an unplayable delivery from Flintoff. There was nothing he could have done and the only real award that delivery deserved was w wicket which it did get! The real shock came in the next over when Sachin got out to Udal (Of all the bowlers) playing forward. There it all ended. There was not a single batsman left who could put his head down and last the next 4 hours!

But what followed after that was highly unimaginable. I’ve not seen such poor capitulation by the Indian batting in a long time. Players simply walked in to declare their presence and walked back having done so. They had decided not to trouble the poor scorers much! How the hell can you get 100 all out after being 75 for 3 in matter of an hour! The manner in which we played was indeed shameful and England with half-their side out due to injury put up an extremely spirited performance. The track was difficult to bat on (How Bhajji and Kumble must’ve cursed Dravid for opting to bat first.) but certainly not one where a team could get 100 all out!

Seeing the luck the Indian team had at Wankhede, I won’t be surprised if the venue is blacklisted by the team henceforth! The performance on the final day was a huge let down.

The Mumbai crowd was harsh on Dravid during the presentation by chanting shouts of ‘We Want Saurav’. They seemed to have a short memory; they were the ones who had booed Ganguly post the defeat Vs Australia in 2001! It’s tough indeed to please the crowds!

In banter or good humor shouting, whether intending to mean it or not, “Flintoff is a B******, Hoggard is a B******, C****** Banaya Bada Maja Aaya” is definitely not in good taste. The behavior of the crowds in this match has gone a long way in tampering the image and reputation of the Mumbai crowd. It’s the worst crowd I’ve ever seen and I am definitely sad about it. Sorry I’m not impressed neither do I fail to see the ‘humor’ in these chants. I’m being a spoilsport, call me that, but if this continues it would mean going downhill for the Mumbai crowd. Please don’t set such precedence for the rest to follow.

I think India has forgotten to play test cricket. If you cannot last 90 overs in both innings you certainly should not be playing it. And India did not deserve a win after dropping almost 12 catches in the field. Is Greg Chappell paying any heed? In their obsession to concentrate on the world Cup 2007, they have forgotten to play test cricket. Mumbai test match is ample proof of that following the recent Karachi debacle.

They will come back well in the ODIs, England is not the best team in ODI. They will even win the series but to me it won’t matter! Like it or not history remembers you more by the way you played test cricket and unfortunately India has been playing it pretty miserably in the last couple of series!

Boys are you listening?

Day 2 and 3 @Wankhede:

Day 2:
Day one wasn’t perfect and gave the crowd all the more reason to show their disappointment with Dravid for depriving them of watching Sehwag and Sachin’s batting on a fine Sunday. Every mistake committed by the captain was followed by chants of ‘We want Dada or Saurav’. And believe me that was not music to Dravid’s ears.

India began day 2 in the hope of making amends for the mistakes done on day one. One over from Munaf to Flintoff though proved that nothing had changed. Two regulation catches went down on successive deliveries. The first by Sehwag in slips and second by Kumble in the gully. First you let off Strauss and if that wasn’t good enough you give Flintoff two lives! Is that pardonable?Fortunately he didn’t make us pay with a hundred. England kept losing wickets at regular intervals once they crossed the 320 mark and India looked good to pull the plugs before the side hit 400 but the tail wagged a bit and England just managed to get that psychological advantage.

India needed a steady start, time was not an issue and if they applied themselves there was no reason to not achieve the 400 mark on a wicket that was still playing the same as day one. Well I had mentioned in one of my posts that Sehwag will have to face the music once the oppositions begun to figure him out. This is exactly what happened. For heaven’s sake he is also going the Ganguly way. Either gets bowled through his gate or is out fending a short-pitched delivery. If he does not sort out his problem we will see him more in the pavilion than outside! Tell me why is his place not in danger? If Laxman can be dropped I see no reason why Sehwag is still playing!

Then came in Dravid to partner Jaffer and I thought now is the time for a good a nap. But it was no to be as Jaffer to got out and Jones pulled of the first of his brilliant catches. In walked Mumbai’s hero and lad and the Wankhede stadium had gone berserk at his arrival. What we saw then was the most unsettling batting display. Not once did Sachin look comfortable and though I tried to convince myself that he will somehow see the day through and come out blasting the ext morning it was not to be. And what followed later was a sad day in Indian cricket. Sachin Tendulkar being booed out of the ground.

Honestly having been to the stadium for the last 13 years, this is the worst crowd I’ve seen in terms of its attitude. Yelling abuses at all players has become a habit and must do to fit into the crowd. They care little for the influence they have on the young kids around and the embarrassment they cause to the elderly. Respect to age and ladies is long forgotten and am not being biased when I say these youngsters are from the rich-hip crowd with little regard for anyone else. I was shocked to see a ten year old behind me mouth abuses like B******with his dad being around simply to follow the other group. And abuses like Ch***** and Freddie F&*^ O** went on and on. Is this what we have come to? And are hurling abuses impressive? Cigarette in one hand and Indian flag in another, chanting the national anthem like any other slogan, are these signs of showing patriotism? Disrespect to elders and creating a nuisance for one and all in the stands, is this the way to enjoy matches? I’ve never seen such a degraded crowd and that too in one of the most decent well behaved stands in Wankhede, the Garware Pavilion! What a shame they have brought on to the rest!

And on the other hand I met a few Britishers who have exemplified great sporting spirit and I have had some fine cricketing discussions with them. They are courteous enough to greet every policeman and security when they enter the stands, a warm morning handshake to one and all around them and enjoy every moment of the game; appreciating everything about the Wankhede despite its shortcomings. I know there will be a bad apple everywhere but the behavior I’ve seen from a section of the crowd is indeed shameful!

Anyways back to the match, Yuvraj walked in at the fall of Tendulkar’s wicket and brought the crowd alive with some fine shots on the offside. Dravid and he held fort till end of day but England had clearly dominated the day though my moment of the day was Munaf’s Patel ball that yorked Hoggard. What a lovely sight that was!

Day 3:
All that India needed to do was show some patience, a lot of resilience and common sense. The wicket was not devilish. Dravid and Yuvraj started well but after half-hour of the morning play Yuvraj lashed out at a delivery outside off-stump and was on his way back. Then Dravid and Dhoni had some what weathered the storm but Dravid was out again to a brilliant catch by Jones on the leg side, this after being let off at gully in the previous over and it was the sign that this would not be India’s day.

Dhoni and Pathan offered some resilience but it did not continue like in Multan and Pathan gifted his wicket to Udal. Dhoni then started to take things in his own hand and after a calm 50 went back to his old days. 3 fours of 3 balls and instead of simply playing the next one ran for a non-existent single! At 217 I thought it’s all over but Shreesanth who is having a great match walked in with other thoughts. The young lad hung around with Kumble to take the score past 275 at a time even when 250 looked impossible. One particular moment will stay etched in my mind. Flintoff knocked him up and the next over what does the little kid do? Dance down the track and hit him for a four. No one expected that and Flintoff was stunned

India’s innings wrapped up few minutes after tea. England’s tactics were perplexing when they bowled Udal and Panesar in tandem at a point when India was under tremendous pressure to void the follow-on. Some things can never be explained!

Having conceded a 121 run lead, India has some chance in the game provided they bowl out England under 180. A chase of 300 in 100 odd overs could do the trick for India. India have begun its fightback well with sending back the openers and well could have sent back Udal had Yuvraj not dropped a catch again! I just hope it does not prove too costly for us. Night-watchmans have always done well against us.

All and all interesting day’s play and the next two days will be interesting enough.

Will keep you all posted!

Day 1 @ Wankhede

If you are watching a match at the stadium there are a few norms you must follow:
– Get to the stadium early to see the players practice
– On day one do not miss the toss
– Never ever miss the first and last ball of each day in the test match!
– On the last day don’t miss the presentation ceremony!

So there, as is the norm I reached the stadium well in time anticipating that there would be a felicitation ceremony held for the three biggies of Indian cricket:
1. Rahul Dravid for his 100th test match
2. Sachin Tendulkar for becoming the most test-capped Indian player
3. Anil Kumble for claiming 500 wickets in test cricket, the first Indian bowler to do so!

Little did the MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) know that having this ceremony before start of play and delaying it by half hour than the usual would hit India later in the day.

Indian team went again with 5 bowlers. I don’t get why. After the performance in Mohali India needed to play an extra batsmen and Bhajji could have well sat out. Anyways, so India did what they did. Dravid is not as lucky as Saurav or Azhar in winning the tosses for matches that matter, and this time when he did, he disappointed by opting to bowl first. Well he thought Wankhede pitch known to assist seamers on day one, morning session could prove fruitful for India; or on the other hand he would have gone by history and avoided taking any chances. In the last 5 years in matches played in Wankhede, India’s batting has not had a great first day!
You can see for yourself:

Year 2000: India Vs SA
Year 2001: India Vs Aus
Year 2002:Ind Vs WI (Exception)
Year 2004: India Vs Aus

So there, choose to call it or attacking move or defensive either way I was not too happy with Dravid’s decision. With the start delayed by half-hour some advantage would be lost and Mumbai isn’t exactly cold at this time of the year for any dew to last longer!

The other reason for the Mumbai crowd’s disappointment with Dravid’s decision was that they would not get to see Sachin bat on Sunday, a holiday here. And when Sachin bats you won’t have any place to even stand in the stadium, it gets that jam-packed!The stadium was quite full than what you would expect for a test match and with the first two days nicely placed on a weekend most Mumbaikars made sure they were present to witness it.

England started steadily and only last one wicket to Shree Santh in the first session. I thought England won the first session cause when you are put into bat the opposition is expecting to get atlast 3 wickets in and when you don’t let them achieve that you go one up.

Session 2 belong entirely to England and Owais Shah. I agree Strauss batted well (and very lucky too. He got 3 lives, one by Dravid and 2 by Dhoni) but Owais Shah stole the show. Here is batsman who has class. The second ball he faced; he danced down the track to Bhajji. No England batsman would do that and Owais should attribute his confidence against spinners to the Asian blood running in him! He drove, cut and moved his feet to perfection. Not once did he look nervous or out of sorts. Confidence from the word go! Although I found his stance a bit odd, just as I find Pietersen, Chanderpaul and Gillepsie’s. Fortunately Owais is pretty steady and does not shuffle too much.

A trifle sad that he did not come out to bat after tea, but what a fine debut! Pitersen came and was his usual self. But boy was he ruffled up by Munaf. My heart went out to the lanky bowler. He bowled his heart out and was probably the best among the lot but sadly no wickes to show against his name! He was the reson why the crowd after falling asleep in the session after lunch woke up again post-tea. In that spell he indeed spit venom and how disappointed I was when he did not get that lbw appeal against Strauss. Simon Taufel why are you so damn accurate!!

Pitersen got out to a very poor shot and he will curse himself for not hanging in there, for there was only half-hour’s play left when he departed. Flintoff looked assured but I hope Munaf can shake these blokes again! Well if you can’t get them, hit them! Let them smell the leather, our batsman do it all the time.

India disappointed. The bowlers never made the batsmen play and fielding was average. How can you give a batsman three lives; that’s truly unpardonable. Dhoni’s keeping was not upto the mark; he failed to gather some pretty regulation takes. Bhajji’s dive to stop the off-drive was hilarious; he dived before the ball came in and only to see the ball shoot past him for a four. Nice way to make a complete fool of yourself. Even Sachin missed one! So you knew it was not going to be India’s day. I wonder why Dravid did not try Tendulkar for an over or two? It would have been worth the risk, any which ways the regular bowlers failed to get a wicket or stem the run-flow.

Well in all not such a great start to this historic test for India but the England batsmen can pat themselves on the back for putting up a good show. And did someone tell me that England was fielding its second best batting line-up? It definitely did not look like they did.

Wankhede was pretty much the same. Stands and facilities for public still in the pretty bad shape!

No water allowed inside and food and water being sold at 5 times the amount of their MRP. (On a serious note, can anyone tell me if we can take this matter up up to any authorities? This is daylight looting! A glass of water costing Rs 2.25 was being sold at Rs 10, Ice-cream costing Rs 12 at Rs 30. It’s ridiculous!)

Rude policemen and add to it the newly appointed private security guards. When we were standing in the gallery to watc hthe felicitation closesly, one guard kept pestering us to sit down on our seats! He didn’t even let us enjoy the proceedings! Fortunately they did not ask us to sit down when we were dancing at the fall of the wicket or ask us to shut up when we were cheering.

An announcement made very seriously caught my ears, ‘People in the north stand stadium are requested not to give any kind of abuses to any player’. This I think was a result of the unfortunate incident during the 2002 test match against WI were Harbhajan was humiliated by a few jerks in the North stand. But this announcement seemed to have had no effect on anyone! I’m personally against any kind of abuse towards the players or any person. And it was pretty bad to hear youngsters give a mouthful to players. Purely in bad taste and paints a very sorry picture to the touring English crowd. I see no reasons why people need to abuse players. Cheering can be done in good sense and with some fine clean humor, mouthing abuses not good. And most of it came from the so-called sophisticated blokes! The rich-spoilt brats, maybe their parents use the same language at home and if they don’t maybe they need to teach their kids how to behave in public! The most disheartening aspect at the stadium, that seems to increase very year. I’ve been to the stadium every year for 13 years now and only of late have I noticed this trend of abusing players. It’s got to stop!

I met a couple of Brit folks and had a great time talking about the game and the atmosphere at the stadium. When they heard chants of ‘Gali Gali mein shor hain, Pakistan chor hain’ from North stand, they asked me what was that all about; I told them it’s practically a ritual at the Wankhede stadium where Pakistan is cursed irrespective of the oppostion! The smile on their faces was worth a picture!

I wonder how pack the stadium will be tommorow after India’s no-show today. No Sachin batting either. Monday should be the day to watch out for! I’ll be there throughout and keep you all posted as well.Till tomorrow then!

Back to my Love Affair…

I started viewing cricket in the 1991-92 season and took a keen interest in the game thereafter. I kept pestering my father as to why we could not see a match live at a stadium in Mumbai. He told me that for quite sometime now India was touring abroad and had not hosted any series at home. The day Mumbai was granted a match, he promised me he would take me to watch it “Live”

Finally 13 years ago, India played host to a full fledged series with England and with the last test match scheduled in Mumbai from Feb 19-23 my father kept his promise. I went for my first live match at the Wankhede to watch the already shattered and cribbing English team under Graham Gooch; with no exciting players except Graeme Hick to watch. It was the series famous for Kumble’s rise as India’s strike bowler (He claimed 21 in that series and the Man-of-the-Series award) return to form by Azhar( his 182 in Eden Garnden was a delight!), young Tendulkar’s consistency and Kambli’s rocking debut!

13 years, many matches and teams later each moment of that match is vividly present in my memory. 3 Mumbai batsmen were part of the Indian batting order. Tendulkar–Kambli had a great partnership. Tendulkar played too patiently but Kambli brought the house down with his double hundred; Graeme Hick’ s 178 being clearly overshadowed in the process but good enough to earn him the Man-of-the -Match. The Indian spin trio then brought about the collapse of the England team in the second innings and India whitewashed England for the very first time!

Like one never forgets the first date, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the beginning of my love affair with Wankhede!

Tomorrow I get a chance to revisit those moments yet again. It’s the same team with much more exciting players, I don’t know the last time I was so excited about seeing an English team. Andrew Flintoff was around in the 2002 ODI and I distinctly remember his famous shirt-off gesture (I was in the stands near the pavillion at pretty close quarters when he chose to do what he did!) Though Ganguly does not make a pretty sight with his bare torso, I was ecstatic when he gave back the Poms in their own fashion 5 months later at Lords!
Only if you had been at the stadium, you would have realised how much it had hurt to lose a close game yet again and later see Flintoff dare to bare!

But Flintoff has come a long way from that episode and so has his team. I’m excited to watch some fireworks from the Pieterson-Flintoff duo. Though I’m a trifle sad that Pietersen has shaved off his hair. Now I won’t get to brag to my friends about how I got to see the famous skunk hairdo!

The only team that excited me was the Australian Team. They interacted amazingly well with the crowds. The crowds simply loved them. I remember distinctly in the 2001 test on day 2 when Gilchrist –Hayden hammered centuries, the Mumbai crowd was up on its feet cheering them. Allan Donald in the 1996 Titan Cup final and 2000 test also was a hit with the crowd while responding to the sounds of ‘Quack Quack Donald’. I hope the English players have some fun as well. The crowd would love that.

I’m just too thrilled to witness important milestones in the careers of two of my favourite batsmen. When India takes field tomorrow Rahul Dravid will become the 6th Indian player to earn 100 test caps and Sachin Tendulkar will surpass Kapil Dev’s record of most tests played by an Indian. I’m hoping they decide to celebrate the occasion with some blitzkrieg attack on the English bowlers.

So there, it’s back to Wankhede and back to my love affair. It’s not the best stadium in the world and the security can get to you, but once you are in and you view the lush green ground; all you want to do is relax, grab a sandwich, shout yourself hoarse and yes enjoy the game of cricket!

P.S: Will try to post regular EOD updates of my experience at the Mumbai Test match

An Exhilarating Day of Cricket!

What a day it was for the world of cricket! Three men inspired their teams to commanding positions! Two matches yet to see the result while the one that finished yesterday left an unforgettable mark in history!

First the sensational final match of SA-Aus ODI series at Wanderers. Well I got home at 9.00 p.m. and switched on the TV set for surfing channels; I just stood still in my seat as I read the score of 392-7 and South Africa still requiring 43 runs to win in 26 balls on ESPN! I did not know how to react! How much did Australia score in the first place when South Africa was so close to 400 and still a fair distance from winning it! Now that Aus had scored 400-odd the first time ever in the history of ODI, how the hell did SA get so close to the target and also looked good enough to win it!!! Was I dreaming? What kind of a match is this! From then on I did not move from my seat till the final ball was bowled!!!

Excellent, excellent stuff! This is what ODI cricket is made of; nail-biting finish, fight to the finale, every ball being bowled just wrecking your nerves! The SA & Aus teams managed to give me a heart attack quite easily! Seriously, I could sense my heart skipping beats! I was ruing the fact that I had missed both Ponting’s awesome 105 ball 164 earlier in the day and later Herschelle Gibbs’ 175 to lead the South African valiant fightback. Boucher played a brilliant knock in the tense situation; he was really as cool as a cucumber! And he got some excellent support from Van der Wath, Telemachus, and Ntini! Telemachus hit some lusty blows along with Boucher and brought down the target from 30 in 18 balls to 13 in 12 balls. From there on it was going to be SA‘s game but Brett Lee and Co. had some other plans! With 3 balls left and 2 runs to get Lee had Andrew Hall caught at mid-on and the chokers tag began to haunt the SA again! If they were to lose this one by one run I doubt they would have come back strongly ever against any team in the world!

Ntini walked in with all the pressure in the world that is possible, on his head! Calmly he hit the ball down to the third man to grab a single and made sure SA would not lose! At that point I felt maybe a tie would be a befitting result but cricket can be a cruel game at times and Boucher’s four of the next ball sealed SA victory and slashed Aus’s hopes!

With that hit, not only did they win an enthralling match and create history but also wrapped up a keenly fought ODI series 3-2. The series going right down to the wire, the very last ball! South Africans were in nth heaven and deserve fully to be there. The Aussies left wondering what more could we have done? When Ricky Punting blasted that 164 and then had his men walk back o the dressing room having scored 434 , the first time ever a team had achieved 400 in ODI, he must have felt that his team had won the match and with that the series! What a fine comeback by Ponting’s men after being 0-2 down in the series! Little would he have imagined the SAs would chase this one successfully! Cricket can be a cruel, cruel heart-wrenching game!

And while this will go down as the greatest match ever; here are a few things to think about. Why were the boundaries shortened? To enable the batsmen get more runs? Does anyone care for the bowlers anymore? I think they will get extinct in ODIs if 300-350 continues to be an average score. Agreed that seeing a team bowled out under 100 does not make an exciting match but neither does a team getting 400 odd! Spare a thought for the bowlers. This is a game for both and lets not make it so batsmen-friendly! Bracken got 5 wickets in the match and yet his contribution amounts to zilch! For heaven’s sake what more must a bowler do?

But it was an exciting game and I loved the fight the two teams gave till the very end! Though I didn’t quite get the logic of bowling full-tosses and short pitch deliveries towards the end which were easy meal for the set SA batsman! Aussie will have to think about that!!

The other two matches were in the pure version of the game. Shane Bond and Anil Kumble both inspired their teams back into the game with their fine bowling performances.

What seemed to be heading towards a seemingly dull draw what with two days played not completed in Mohali; Kumble turned on his magic in the last session and had England on the back-foot. 112-5 out of which Kumble picked up 3 wickets to follow up his previous 5 in the first innings! What a lovely way to celebrate his 500 wickets in test cricket. He deserves a standing ovation for his grit and gumption shown throughout his career. He has been Team India’s silent warrior! There have been times when he has been criticized, yours truly being an equal accomplice! He has never been deterred though and gone about his game plan quietly, just like his nature. No controversies, no verbal attacks. He has achieved everything a bowler would wish for in his international career and done that without any hooplah or noise. Anil we salute you, and you have set affine fine example for youngsters to follow!

Kumble’s effort has set up an exciting 5th day’s play for Mohali. The 38 run lead could prove to be a handful if we are able to bowl out England cheaply and then chase around 150 -180 in the last two sessions! That should make for an exciting day and it’s pretty sad that it is not a weekend and I will miss the match live once again!

And now for the final hero among the three, Shane Bond. One of my favourite bowlers in the international arena. I still remember the VB series of 2001-02 when Bond shone into limelight. After Hadlee, New Zealand finally had a bowler who could bring the opposition down to its feet! Sheer pace again! Yesterday while chasing 290, WI looked good to win having started off at 148-0 but Bond came in and triggered a collapse and today morning NZ sealed their victory!

A fine day for world cricket, savour it folks! There is a reason why test cricket is still the best form of cricket. Bowlers get their due; and more often than not, it’s the bowlers who win matches for their teams! Bond and Kumble have given some fine examples yesterday and on the other hand only batsmen dominate the ODI, there is no room for bowlers there. Don’t believe me? Go watch Ponting and Gibbs knocks of yesterday!

Don’t forget to stay tuned into the final day’s play at Mohali, let’s hope that the Indians don’t disappoint. Maybe they could draw inspiration from the NZ-WI game and the SA-Aus game. Fight till the last ball of the day is bowled! It surely ain’t over till the fat lady sings!

P.S.: I also thought it was a fine sporting gesture by Ponting to refuse the joint man-of-the-match award saying Gibbs deserved it as he not only got more but also helped his team to win. Excellent stuff Ricky and a good example set again!!
And on another note; highly, highly impressed by Munaf Patel! Where has he been for so long? He has wrecked England again!

England – India: Review and Preview

Offline activities are simply not giving me enough time to blog! But I’m a strong believer in better late than never and so we go to the current series being played. In the quest for World Cup 2007, I think we are forgetting the real essence of the game, the lifeline, the highest form of the game. The real test of a cricketer, players would kill for to play atleast once in their lifetime on the international scene. Test Cricket!

In the last five years we were not a strong force in the ODIs but those losses never hurt( the final at WC 2003 did, but that’s an exception!) as were building ourselves into a potent force in test cricket. Right from 2001 we played some super games in all parts of the world and earned victories across continents, though a series victory outside the subcontinent remains elusive (I do not consider the one against Zimbabwe recently anything to brag about!) So why this sudden loss of form in test arena? The loss at Karachi was heartbreaking because we did not even have the patience to pull off a draw! And Nagpur seemed no different!

How do you allow a team that steps in demoralized, to climb upto 393 after having 7 wickets for 240 odd? How do you manage to get yourself in a position of 190/6 against a team without their best bowler in Indian conditions? Only the India team has answers to these! And who were you trying to fool when you go for a non-existent win at the end of day’s play when all day you were clearly playing for a draw! Although the dash at the end was good to lift the spirits and to scare away the Poms (I cannot believe Flintoff actually got scared by India’s late charge and decided to play safe. Half the team was on the boundary!!! Oh for heavens’ sake it’s not an ODI where 8 an over is a very manageable target! There is difference!)

Though I did not see the match in its entirety, one person who needs to do some serious thinking is Harbhajan Singh. His performance in the last few series is dismal and unless he starts getting wickets I don’t see him keeping his place in the side for long, what with Piyuh Chawla following him on close heels. The little I saw of that lad in the U-19 World Cup Final I feel he will give these blokes a serious run for their money. The guy can tease, and deceive the batsmen with his turn and flight!

England won the battle in Nagpur 3 out of 5 days with India taking the honors on day 1 and day 5. When I saw the target of 368 in 90 overs it seemed so tempting; but there was a very slim chance that India would go for a win from the word go. However they did think of it later but then it should have come an hour earlier (Dravid candidly admitted that) and definitely not at the expense of sending Sachin Tendulkar at no. 6! Did anyone see the shots he played in his 28! The guy was on a roll and I hope he captialises on this form at Mohali and Mumbai. A century in his home ground is long overdue! He got one here way back in 1997 Vs SL and came tantalizingly close Vs SA in 2000. I’m praying he gets one and praying even hard that I get to see it live!

As I end this, something unexpected has happened or was it waiting in the wings for sometime now. VVS Laxman hasn’t been in great form with bat or in the field and this did come as a bit of a shock! In the larger interests of the team the move looks worthwhile, but I’m not too sure of roping Yuvraj in immediately and not giving him time to adjust after his injury! Kaif will rue his luck but he must realise he was never the first choice and to become that, he needs more 3 figure scores on the test arena when presented with the opportunity! He blew away one in Nagpur. And yes can anyone please dare to hang a sword on Sehwag’s head now? Why do I get the feeling he is taking his place for granted! That attitude will help none and as a senior player now he needs to show some amount of patience and steadiness in his approach!
Let’s see how the 5 bowler strategy works out, having Dhoni in the team sure gives Rahul Dravid that extra option and it seems a good move to go ahead with the 5 –bowler option when the situation seems right.

England might have it to their liking at Mohali but definitely not at Wankhede. Although I’m praying hard they do not prepare a minefield of a pitch as they did the last time around! For heaven’s sake the last time a game of test cricket last a full 5 days was way back in 1994 against the WI. Sanjay Manjrekar and Sachin Tendulkar had demonstrated the art of batting on wickets that did not suit the batsman at all! If you were getting cricket coaching your coach would have definitely taken you to show those innings live! I was there and the two were among the best knocks I have witnessed at the ground for their sheer technique, patience and brilliance! I’m hoping we get better this time around, Mumbai has been starved for a long time now!

On the Occasion of Women’s Day

A day to celebrate women worldwide! But how often do we give them their space in this world and let them be.

Two must reads today, real eye-openers. I’m terribly sad about having missed blogging on the issues and will try to plug in a delayed response( no promise but will try to pull in my two cents). Terrible workload!
But all you readers do read these

  1. From one of my favourite bloggers Uma:Carnival of Feminists

Happy Women’s Day to all the wonderful women I know!

Once upon a Furore: Lost Pages of Indian cricket- Boria Majumdar

History for cricket often chronicles matches played, batting and bowling records and a few tit-bits, anecdotes and trivia associated with cricketers. Cricket was brought to India by the British. Though the game is today more Indian than British we take a backseat when it comes to writing about the game. We do not have much documentation on the early rise and development of the game; about events that brought glory and events that could well be forgotten.‘Once upon a Furore’ is a fine attempt at revisiting those events.

The book traces the ‘Lost pages in the history of Indian cricket’ through some fine research and substantiates the events discussed with media references available from those times. Boria Majumdar and his research team have done some great work to revisit the birth of cricket in India, the earlier tournaments, the birth of Ranji Trophy(not without its share of controversies), the power play by the BCCI and the controversies surrounding some of India’s greatest players, Ranjitsinghji, CK Nayadu, Lala Amarnath and Vinoo Mankad.

The chapters that visit the trials of these players come down to one common point that no player escaped the wrath of politics and power play; and the scenario does not seem to have changed much in the present day unless you are a Sachin Tendulkar!

As we traverse these cricketing memories, we discern a few commonalties that recur through time. Communalism will be an issue with everyone but those playing the game. (A point brought to the forefront to ban the Pentangular Tournament.) Camaraderie, sporting spirit and loyalty to the team are qualities that most sportsmen consider important and will always be present in the finest of them. Money always makes the world go round, it was so during the princely rule, during the 50s and 60s decades and even today the picture is not different.

We are not aware about all aspects that go into the selection of players but over the years it has been seen that merit is not the sole criteria in being awarded a place in the team. Power play exercised by Vizzy against Amarnath and then later CK Nayadu, both being India’s finest players, proves the above fact. Both suffered due to non-cricketing reasons and so did Vinoo Mankad as we see later in the book. Surely these players had earned enough respect through their performances on-field to not deserve such treatment off it.

The Player-Board conflict has continued through decades. A stark example would be the Rajputana Cricket Club’s tour of England and the events that followed it. We see some changes in the modern era but the Board’s insistence to be the Boss continues even today.

In uncovering the events, the author fortunately does not sideline the always ignored ‘Men in Black and White’. This is an interesting chapter where the author reflects on the selection of umpires and the reasons behind India not producing excellent umpires to perform on the international arena despite producing the world’s best cricketers. How dirty the politics was regarding umpire selection and the depths it plunged to; is observed in this very chapter.

I was disappointed about the coverage given to the match fixing episode which shook Indian cricket in 2000. There was much more media coverage then and maybe a bit more perspective on the issue could have been given. It is mentioned fleetingly and could have been dealt with in detail.

At the end of it, I found the book lacking in one aspect. It fails to hold the reader’s attention continuously. It does so in parts especially towards the latter half. Reading the early chapters is like going through news archives and some better narration would have helped to maintain the reader’s attention.

If you are neither a cricket fan nor with any interest in history then you might not appreciate this effort but if you are both, then I feel you should give it one glance atleast. Boria Majumdar and his team have done fine justice in compiling the events of early days in Indian cricket and giving every fan a chance to revisit them.

As we reach the end of this fine effort we realize one thing that we learn from history that ‘We never learn from history.’ The saga continues in the modern era albeit with different actors enacting the parts in the drama called Indian Cricket.
Crossposted on My first book review.
p.s: Thanks to Aaman @ and Parul of Yoda Press for giving me this opportunity.

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