Category: Cricket Page 3 of 10

Ind-SA First Test Post-Mortem – Twitter Style

Selectors Goof-Up #Fail

Old war horse Kallis’s century  and Amla’s double hundred #Pass

Non-performance of Indian bowlers #Fail

Lack of support to Zaheer #Fail

Fielding a 3rd string batting line-up against one of the best pacemen in the world #Fail

Lack of runs from an experienced opening duo #Fail

Sehwag-Badri batting in first innings #Pass

Steyn’s explosive pace, outswing, reverse swing, 145Kph, full-length, short-pitch #Pass

Collapse – 6 wickets for 12 runs #Fail

Tendulkar’s ton #Pass but failure to own his test and save the day for India #Fail

Seniors failing to set an example to young debutants #Fail

Dhoni’s uneasiness at the pitch #Fail

Curator of the pitch #Pass

Selectors running for cover by recalling Raina, Karthik #Fail. Who told you to drop them in the first place !

Journalists trying to run down this team with unnecessary criticism #Fail

Media hyping the Indian Team #Fail. Media is the first to pull them down and lose faith in them.

Missed Dravid-Laxman sorely #Yes

Lost my faith in the Men in Blue #No

Expectations from this Indian team to turn around in Eden #Hope

Battlefield Nagpur

The series is being touted as the Championship series where the current No.1 and No. 2 test sides in the world will be at their wits end to conquer each other.

However, both the sides are entering the series with their own share of troubles. India taking field without Dravid against a team with a fine pair of fast bowlers is like swimming in the seas without a life jacket. In the last decade Dravid has been not only the major contributor to her wins at home and abroad against the best sides but also been the best equipped in the team to tackle the pacers and put a prize on his wicket.

Adding to this setback is that Laxman is a doubtful starter which further aggravates India’s woes cause he is India’s big hundred man and the one who sets up the pace of the innings. Missing Yuvraj is no big deal , his performance in tests to say the least, is dismal. It’s time he makes way for the young blokes who are firing on the domestic scene. He is undoubtedly a great T20 and ODI player but I’ve seen him for the last decade and every single time he has failed to impress me as a test player. If you cannot play spin at home and tackle the fast bowlers abroad, you have a problem – he does not seem to have ever acknowledged that. Don’t tell me he never got enough opportunities with the middle order occupied by the big 4. Ganguly has retired for 15 months now and yet Yuvraj has not seized his opportunity. Compare this with Gambhir in the same period and you will understand what I mean.

South Africa on the other hand are struggling with the recent political mess in their cricket circle – resignation of their coach and sacking of the selection committee. Smith did not want this off-field turmoil on what happens to be one of the most important series of his career.

India does not enjoy a great record against SA – the only team they have not done well against in the last decade. SA also can be blamed for inconsistency – after a stupendous tour in Australia in 2008, they let go the advantage once the Aussies came to SA. They did not have a great test series against Eng recently either. A series which could have been 3-1 in their favour was eventually drawn level by the Poms at 1-1.

If Laxman does not make it tomorrow, India will probably field its weakest middle-order in a decade, a fact that SA’s brilliant two pacers Morkel and Steyn will look to exploit. However, if India play sensibly and weather the initial storm, SA does not have the spin attack to trouble India. If Abhishek Nayar and Pandey could destroy Harris and Botha, it should be easy pickings for Sachin and Co.

My bet is on Gambhir and Murali to take up Dravid’s responsibility. Gambhir needs no introduction – go to any cricket website and check out his performance in the last 15 months! The bloke is on a roll, what’s more is that he can transform his game as per the situation and need of the moment. So Sehwag can still go hammer and tongs and we will rely on the hope that Gambhir will see us through the day. The series gives Murali a good chance to cement his place. Of what I saw of him against SL he impressed me. Straight Bat, the bloke plays as straight as one can and exudes tremendous confidence. The future seems assured, I’m not the only one to put my money on him – most cricket fans I know (whom I’ve very high regard for in terms of their knowledge of the game) rate him high too. So let’s wait and watch.

Bowling still is a worry – Ishaant has to strike form and support Zaheer who is the only one who can run through the side right now. If the spinners don’t strike we are well looking for trouble.

SA has a fairly balanced batting order , each batsmen capable of turning the game on his own – The old war-horse Kallis, Boucher the danger man, Smith the backbone and the youngsters DeVilliers, Prince, Amla and Duminy. Their biggest weak point is the spin attack and if India gets it right, this could well be the reason for their loss in the series.

Unless India wins in SA we cannot tell who is the better side, but before that India needs to get this one right on their home ground. India are being proclaimed as the favourites in this series and that worries me. I’ve been watching cricket for last 18 years and I’ve a theory which is a proven fact – We do far better when we are underdogs, place the favourites tag on us and we are bound to fail or underperform. So I’m going to put SA as favourites in terms of their stable batting order and pace attack, and therefore if we draw the series we have done a good job.

I would love to see India win and will be cheering for them, but if you ask me where I’d put my money – I’d play safe and put in on a drawn result.

What about you?

What draws a fan to watch the game..

Not the star players, not the big names, not the international stage, not the corporate franchises, not the big auctions, not the coloured clothing, not the half-clothed cheerleaders, not the millions spent on marketing gimmicks, not the shortened versions but the most basic need – “An equal contest between the bat and the ball.”

The match I’m referring to lacked the big names – Tendulkar, Dravid, Zaheer, it was not an international encounter, it was not the IPL. It was India’s premier domestic league – the Ranji Trophy final match between the best two teams in the nation. The Karnataka Vs Mumbai final in Mysore. The 5 day contest – the one which is termed boring. The one which Mumbai won by 6 runs amidst a million heartbroken Karnataka fans.

The most heartening aspect was the crowd turn-out and the spectators glued in to the internet from all over the world. The crazy cricket buffs- the true fans of the game – the ones I know who revere the 5 day game -were totally glued in. This brought a smile to my face. Who the hell says test cricket or the the 5 day contest is boring? Take the recent test matches in SA and Aus, and now this amazing final. Boring, you call this boring? Compare the viewers glued in to Idea Cup – the international tri-series competition and the Ranji Final. The latter will win the honours hands down.

The pitch was a fine example as to what the BCCI needs to build at all venues in the country. This will avoid dull draws and prepare the batsmen better to face green tops and give the bowlers confidence to do well on the bigger stage. Keep it equal, I’ve had enough of batsman hitting bowlers all over the park and run-rates of 6 an over seeming low. You could well not have any bowlers and put those bowling machines in if all you want to watch is batsmen get runs. Please get rid of that.

There is no need to re-format the shorter versions, making bikinis from business suits. When you need limited fun put the swimwear and go to the beach, when it is serious business – devising strategies, chasing targets and beating the competition- get those business formals out. Don’t you dare change test cricket – none of you who are sitting in ICC and BCCI. It does not need any change – get good pitches and the crowd will come in on its own. Stop driving the world crazy with your stupid marketing gimmicks – invest instead on the budding players and grounds. Ensure good cricket will be played and fans will step in automatically. A true fan of the game looks for what he knows best – a good contest between the bat and ball.

Let the ball seam, let it swing, let it bounce of the deck, let it be short and let the batsmen pull, hook, duck, sweep, and earn some applause for a delivery well left rather than well hit. Yeah give me some of that!

Let’s have some pure unadulterated fun. I did not get to see the match live cause there is no telecast here in Dubai, but from what I read; the Karnataka and Mumbai pacers bowled extremely well on a pitch that had something for everyone. The batsmen with grit would survive and Manish Pandey showed what to do with the pitch. I’ve seen the bloke in the IPL and he seemed a good potential for the future, 144 of 151 balls chasing 334 to win on a good pitch is proof enough what this bloke can do!

At the end, it turned out to be the kind of game where one would feel heartbroken and elated at the same time. 6 runs was the victory margin, 6 runs, it was not a game for heart patients! Sigh!

Once again – kudos to the teams, kudos to the curator and more kudos to the crowd who thronged the stadium to watch – what we all know – CRICKET – The real 5 day game!

Best of the Decade – Indian Test Bowling Performances

This one was due 10 days back! Reasons for delay not being reported here cause I don’t want to spoil the mood as we go down the memory lane again.

Even though it is the batsmen who rule the roost, I’ve firmly believed that to win a test match you need to take 20 wickets. That’s the basic rule of test cricket, bowling is often a thankless job but it is by far the most important one.

So here are my picks of the decade:

1. Anil Kumble: 14-5-29-1 Vs WI, Antigua 2002

If you do not understand why this figures on the top of my list, you have just insulted India’s most affable cricketer. A lion at heart,a true fighter, the man who can replace the word “Gentleman” in dictionary.

I’ve seen people run away from the field with the slightest of injuries, this man bowled with a broken jaw. Takes guts, takes great courage and takes a truck load of patriotism. His 619 wickets and awesome hundred at Lord’s can be kept aside. This one act of his, puts him in World Cricket’s Hall of Fame.

Hit by Merv Dillon in the first innings it looked unlikely he would bowl. Despite no result in sight, he did not shy away. Stepped out with a bandaged jaw, bowled consecutive 14 overs and scalped Lara – and Jumbo won a million hearts all over again.

2. Ajit Agarkar: 16.2-2-41-6 Vs Aus, Adelaide 2003

No cricketer has disappointed me as much as he as. We had too many hopes pinned on him. But this one bowling performance of his will always find a place when the best bowling performances are listed.

Aus batted for 2 days and hit 550+. Dravid-Laxman came together, put up a fantastic effort, and India batted till morning of day 4 falling short by 30 odd runs. The match looked all set for a draw until Agarkar came onto bowl and turned the tide. Used the short ball to perfection and swing to his fancy, never giving the Aussies any reprieve, bagging 6 wickets in the process with the key wickets of Langer, Ponting and Katich.

Aus was bowled out for 196 and India went to record its first win in Aus since MCG 1981

Adelaide 2003 remains a jewel in the many victories that this Indian team brought us. Along with Dravid and Laxman, Agarkar deserves the credit for it.

3. Harbhajan Singh: 37.5-7-123-7 & 30.3-8-73-6 Vs Aus, Kolkata 2001

The series could not have begun on a more sorry note. Bad loss in Mumbai and no Kumble/Srinath for the series. India practically had no bowling attack – Zaheer was no where close to the bowling he does today and Prasad was not the most helpful bowler on Indian wickets.

In Mumbai, Harbhajan Singh had showed glimpses of what he could offer, but Kolkata was his platform to let go. The first hat-trick in test cricket for an Indian bowler and he had the Aussies reeling at 291/8 at close of the first day’s play. What transpired over the next 4 days is well-known.

Kolkata 2001 will always be Laxman’s test, but let’s not forget that if the young bloke, all of 20, had not spun his magic – the match could have well been drawn. Until tea on the final day Aus looked good to save the match; but Bhajji with little help from Tendulkar triggered the Aus collapse to give India a memorable victory. If not for Laxman, Bhajji could well have been the man of the match.

 4. Anil Kumble 30-10-72-6 Vs Pak, Multan 2004

He is responsible for majority of the Indian team’s victories. There have been very few times when he has been called upon and not delivered. It was only fitting that he deliver, in what would be one of the finest moments in Indian Cricket.  Just as he had the Pakistani batsmen in a trance in that match in Kotla in 1999, he proved to be their nemesis yet again.

On their own home ground, the batsmen found it difficult to read Kumble’s deliveries and kept getting beaten by the flight. It was only appropriate that India’s war horse guide them to their first ever win in Pakistan.

5. Anil Kumble: 22.4-3-78-6 Vs WI, Sabina Park 2006 

After sparking an unlikely revival, ably supporting his captain and long-time friend on Day 1; it was only appropriate that he would script the victory for India in 35 years on the Windies soil.

In one of the most low-scoring matches, the pitch seemed to offer more assistance to India’s spinners than WI pacers. Bhajji bowled the WI out for 103 in the first innings with a 5-wicket haul enabling a comfortable 77 run lead for India. Any score above 250+ in the final innings would be tough to get and India managed to make the target 269.

Kumble came onto bowl and despite resistance from the young Ramdin and Bravo, Kumble ran through the WI line to gift India a much deserving series win in WI.

6. Harbhajan Singh: 28-2-63-6 Vs NZ, Hamilton 2009

If the pacers showed the way in the first innings followed by a brilliant knock by the maestro, it was only fitting that the this young sardar bowled us to victory.

Many of us have been critical of the lad – for not being consistent enough but he has bowled when it mattered and how. Post Kumble, Harbhajjan has shouldered the responsibility fairly well and yes, occasionally he does drift but it does not take long for him to come back! And as my cricket expert friends (with whom I rarely debate) say – ‘If Bhajji gets to flight the ball and vary his pace he can be a tough nut to crack.’ This match proved the theory yet again!

A little bit of assistance from the pitch and Bhajji can work wonders just as he did in 2001.

His 6 wickets ensured India ended another drought and now that leaves only the shores of Aus and SA to be conquered in the coming decade.

7. Zaheer Khan: 21-5-59-4 & 27-10-75-5 Vs Eng, Trent Bridge 2007

After not so great previous seasons and having been kept out of reckoning, Zaheer Khan redefined himself on this tour. After an uninspiring show in the first test, he came out firing from all cylinders against the Poms.

A 4 wicket haul and classic display of swing and seam in the best conditions, Zaheer gave India a great start where England was found reeling at 169/7 and eventually getting bowled for 198. India lead the charge with 481 runs.

The jelly bean prank backfired, since an agitated Zaheer came back in the 2nd innings spitting more venom at the England batsman. His spell with the second new ball wrecked havoc; swinging the ball both ways and giving a torrid time to the batsmen. Sadly we do not have statistics that reflect the number of times the bowler beat the bat , if we did Zaheer would be topping those statistics.

He was the key architect of the Indian series victory packing a neat 18 wickets off the series.

8. Amit Mishra : 26.4-8-71-5 Vs Aus, Mohali 2008

In the absence of Anil Kumble due to injury, one wondered who would assist Bhajji in the spin department. The young Mishra was called and how he delivered, making us forget that he was making his debut.

If persisted with, he and Pragyan Ojha will make good support for Bhajji. Hopefully the selectors persist and the bowlers continue to deliver.

Mishra did not get much turn but he was not afraid to challenge the batsmen by tossing the ball and that spoke much of his attitude in his first test.

To ensure we did not miss Kumble, was a master achievement and for this effort he makes it to my favourite list.

India eventually amassed a huge lead and landed Aus its biggest defeat in a long time.

9. Laxmipati Balaji 19-4-63-4 Vs Pak, Rawalpindi 2004

Wonder why one time wonders are on this list? Well am not comparing the best bowlers – I’m just listing the match/innings based performance, so today L.Balaji may be in obscurity but recall the famous Pak win in 2004 and you will never dissociate his name from it.

His contribution made a difference to that win and so he earns a mention in the decade best list. Selected ahead of Ajit Agarkar, the inexperienced Balaji justified his selection by lending a great support to Pathan and Nehra in the series. The trio ensured that India would not miss Zaheer and Bhajji.

Balaji had his limitations as a bowler and he bowled well within those; to the extent that he did a swell job swinging the ball. He did lose his way in between but came back well when he stuck to his line and length and made the batsmen play his deliveries.

The result – 7 wickets in the final test sealing a fantastic series victory for India – her first in Pakistan. He undoubtedly was the find of this tour but sadly disappeared soon due to injury.

But his contribution cannot be forgotten and is engraved in the history books forever.

10. Irfan Pathan: 26-3-80-2 Vs Aus, Sydney 2003

Not a match-winning performance, not a one that ripped through a batting line-up. In fact Pathan started miserably with the new ball in the Aus innings. So what is it doing here superseding Ishaant’s and Zaheer’s efforts in NZ.

The reason is the Gilchrist dismissal in the last over of the day. A perfect yorker. Remove Irfan from the frame and just watch that delivery – you will tell me it is Wasim Akram bowling. The young lad, all of 19 then, on his debut series, made everyone sit up and take notice of him with that one delivery.

Gilchrist left the field a shocked man. The ball had rattled his stumps and he must’ve looked up to convince himself that it was not Wasim he was facing.

Oh yeah and Irfan had also bagged Steve Waugh’s prized wicket – this was Tugga’s farewell test.

Sometimes results don’t matter – moments do; and Irfan has given one such moment to treasure that will last a lifetime.

The Best of the Decade – Test Innings by an Indian Batsman


This post was picked for Blogadda’s Top 25  posts of 2010 for the Spicy Saturday Picks 


This post was picked for Blogadda’s Spicy Saturday Picks 

(In no specific order of preference) 

 1. 167, V.V.S Laxman – SCG, 2000  

If you ever wondered how did Laxman learn to weave his magic wand on 14Mar,2001 in Kolkata, go back a year in Jan’00, to the last test of the disastrous tour down under. He had opened in the test match and single-handedly destroyed the Aussie bowling. His 167 in the team total of 261 was followed by second highest score of 25! That just about explains his dominance over the Aussie attack. The reason why the Aussies respect him a lot can be traced to this very knock. 

The innings was intoxication at its best – you would just drown in the beauty and wide array of strokes on display, the ease in his batting, the delicacy of his wrist play! Sigh a-la Azhar in prime form. As a friend once said, “Sachin is God, but there are strokes that Laxman plays at times, which Sachin would only dream of.” I dare not debate with him! 


2. 281, V.V.S Laxman – Eden Gardens, 2001  

If a list of the best knocks in the history of Indian cricket or World Cricket is written – this one will feature right at the top of the list and stand there undisputed. What he achieved with this knock does not merely amount to an Indian victory to be stored in cricket’s record books. In that one knock, he truly reflected the attitude that John Wright and Ganguly were trying to build into this team – to make them world beaters. In that one knock, he showed that his team was not the one to give up, had the courage to get up and fight, had the courage to conquer all demons and withstand all attacks. In that one knock, he got Dravid out of his self-imposed shell, did wonders to the team’s confidence, and laid the first brick to India’s success in test cricket – of achieving the Numero Uno position. In that one knock, he re-assured the fans of their belief in this team. In that one knock he thanked his family, team-mates and the fans for their undying, relentless support to this crazy bunch. 

In that one knock – Laxman weaved his magic forever on us. 

Of the numerous shots he played that day – one remains stuck in my head forever – replayed a million times, in awe of this man. Warne bowled a delivery leaving the leg stump, Laxman got behind the delivery, his bat almost facing the on-side and hit the ball in the extra-cover region. That was as classy an extra-cover drive you will ever see but against a ball wide of the leg-stump! Not a single soul moved on the field – Warne stood still wondering what had just happened. 

The magic had begun – one hour into the day’s play, my friends called me to check if I was coming to college for the final year project. I had said, “Are you kidding me, did you even see the first hour of play? Laxman and Dravid seem to be onto something special today – cannot miss that. I’m not getting out of the house for the next 2 days!” 

I never regretted bunking college for those 2 days. 


3. 180, Rahul Dravid – Eden Gardens, 2001  

93 runs of 6 innings in his last tour down under was not a memory that could be erased easily for someone who had a 50+ average in tests since his debut in 1996 and was India’s most dependable batsmen. The failure on that tour had played on his mind for long. He looked in good form against Zim before the Aussies set their foot on Indian soil; but double failure in the Mumbai tests had the fans wondering if the demons had been erased at all. 

This knock broke all the shackles in his mind, and it was fitting reply to all his critics who had run him down. Did you see the expression when he got to his hundred on day 4? Fist punched in the air, a jump and bat pointed at the press box – Dravid almost mouthing Take That! I cannot forget that – the ever so calm Dravid reacting in that manner. He had finally let the steam out! 

The knock resulted in setting up India’s famous win and one of the best test matches the world ever witnessed. The innings transformed him completely and did wonders to his confidence. He has not looked back since then. He has gone to play many pivotal knocks for India in her wins abroad and at home. Till date he remains her “Wall”, the most dependable man in the team – The Best Man ever! 

4. 148 Rahul Dravid – Headingly, 2002  

In conditions that were fully conducive to swing, Ganguly made the bold attempt to bat first on winning the toss. Dravid and Bangar held fort, one of the finest displays of batting in test match cricket. Dravid’s defence was par excellence and his shot selection impeccable. His innings laid the foundation for the huge total which inspired two fantastic centuries by the Captain and Sachin later next day. This innings set the tone right for the rest of the series, one in which India hardly faltered. A series win was not possible then, but it was fitting that he came back as captain in 2007 to lead India to a series win against the Poms in 21 years. 



5. 144 Saurav Ganguly – The Gabba, 2003  

If it weren’t for the magic woven by Laxman and Dravid in 2001, this one would be right on the top of my list. Call me a sentimental fool, but I’ve immense respect for Dada whatever people may say about that bloke. He is responsible for India’s turnaround in cricket – he deserves as much credit as anyone else, for India becoming the best side in the world today. 

In a test foiled by the rain gods, Ganguly came out to bat when India were 62-3 against Australia’s 323. Along with Laxman he launched a fantastic counter attack against the Aussies. He did not have a great record against them and had dealt with enough sledging from McGrath and Co. This knock was a nice slap in the face at their home ground. They did not expect Ganguly to fight it out and he kept surprising them as always. India took lead in the first innings which made a huge difference to the psyche of the team. The knock defined the series to follow – India was on the backfoot only once in the entire series in MCG. The remaining three tests tilted heavily in India’s favour. 

Ganguly has always been the ‘Capital A of Attitude’ installed in this Indian Team. 




6. 103 Sachin Tendulkar – Chidambaram Stadium, 2008  

The knock helped erase his ghosts of past. The knock helped shut the critics up who always had one sore point against him, that he does not guide India to victory. (I have always disputed that point and the proofs will run into pages!) But more than anything, the knock helped a nation smile. Mumbai’s favourite son had this to say after the knock: 

“By no means am I saying this will make everyone forget what happened in Mumbai but I’d like to thank England for coming back and playing Test cricket and we’ve witnessed a wonderful Test match – people are enjoying cricket the way it’s meant to be. 

“What happened in Mumbai was extremely unfortunate and I don’t think by India winning or me scoring a hundred, people who have lost their loved ones will feel any better. It’s a terrible loss for all of them and our hearts are with them, but whatever manner we can contribute to making them feel better we’ll make that effort 

Somehow it was only apt that her favourite son was responsible in giving the city something to cheer about. 



7. 83 Virender Sehwag – Chidambaram Stadium, 2008 

As much as Sachin’s knock helped take the ship safely to the harbour, it was Sehwag’s blitzkrieg that set the ship racing like a speed boat. His 83 of 68 not only demoralized the England bowlers but almost sealed the victory for India. A target close to 400 was reduced to 250+ in no time on day 4 and that makes a huge psychological difference. The disdain and total disregard he showed to the England bowlers never got them out of their shell. Sehwag proved once again that on his day there is no one yet born who can stop his hammering. 

8. 160 Sachin Tendulkar – Seddon Park, 2009 

Sachin’s most tons abroad have gone in vain – either in losses or drawn matches. There have been very few instances where he has hit tons abroad and we have won. There is nothing to fault with him – in the 90s he was the sole performing batsmen until Dravid walked in to keep him company. It’s only since 2001 that India began to record wins abroad and a good unit was built with some excellent batsmen and competitive bowlers. 

This knock contributed heavily to Indian’s first series win in NZ in 2009. The master blaster was exquisite and if someone said that this bloke was playing for 20 years and was 36 years old – one would be shocked. The hunger for runs remains unchanged, the balance still perfect. It will remain one of Sachin’s best knocks – he played like the old Sachin would and finally resulted in an Indian victory 

9. 137 Gautam Gambhir – Napier, 2009 

To last 11 hours and ensure a draw, after being asked to follow-on with two days to go and a deficit of 314 runs, is definitely not an easy task. He has had an awesome two years being adjudged the best player of the year and topping the batting ranks. But for me, this young lad is all about Attitude and Adaptation. He adapts to any situation perfectly – defend, attack, anchor. The bloke can do it all, and he shifts gears with amazing ease! If it comes so easy to him imagine what a great car racer he will make. His attitude is an inspiration for youngsters aiming for the India Cap. Heads down – work to be done – will do it! We need so many more like him. 

He is my bet for the future and I am willing to put my money on him. The one guy who has impressed me after the Fab Four, my sole hope that the team will not falter after the 3 big guns of Indian batting call it quits. 

Along with Laxman,Dravid and Sachin, he ensured India would see through the day and not squander the lead in the series. 

To me he is undoubtedly the second Wall – truly a man of steel. 




10. 293 Virender Sehwag, Brabourne ,2009  

You don’t need to go to a dictionary to understand the meaning of the word – Mayhem. Just search for this innings and you will get your answer. Sehwag unleashed havoc and terror in one go on the Sri Lankan team that day. What an innings to end the decade for India. I was so freaking irritated when he got out on 293 and I think so was he for the first time in his life. Disappointed on missing a milestone, of being the only person in test cricket to achieve 3 triple centuries. 

Sehwag is the mad-man of Indian cricket. I don’t think we will ever have a character like him again. His “I-don’t-care-what-you-bowl-if -it-is-there-to-be-hit-I-will-hit” attitude has more often than not WORKED and worked big time. 

At times like this I hate being in Dubai, Brabourne is 20 minutes away from my home in Mumbai. He butchered the SL attack and effectively messed up their confidence. The other batsmen had to walk in and mark their attendance – Sehwag had sealed SL’s fate and ensured India would have it easy on their way to No.1 

This amazing filmy video on the terror unleashed by Sehwag here



It’s only ten best knocks I’m picking but I cannot end the post without mentioning these: 

233 Rahul Dravid – Adelaide, 2003  

Another Dravid-Laxman partnership, this time around Dravid was in the Groom’s place. Set up India’s win. One of the best knocks I’ve seen. It makes you forget Ponting’s double in the first innings. 



270 Rahul Dravid – Rawalpindi, 2004 

If he makes a double, India will not lose – this was almost the mantra when India started winning. Stood like a Rock of Gibraltar and was out only when he tried to accelerate. Pakis never looked like they could get him out. 


155 Sachin Tendulkar – Bloemfontein, 2001 

Sehwag century on debut at one end and Sachin in prime form. Cricketing fans couldn’t have asked for a better viewing. The God and His Follower at their supreme best. India were racing at 4 an over and then at the end of the test match, one was left wondering how could a team that rushed to 350+ in a day could lose the game! Sachin scripted another beauty following his 169 on the previous tour in ‘96. 


309 Virender Sehwag – Multan, 2004 

First triple hundred by hitting a six when on 295 and that too against Pakistan on their home soil! If it weren’t for those other ten exciting knocks this one was a sure shot in my ten favourite innings of the decade. 


These are my personal favourites for different reasons – pure cricketing reasons, sentimental ones, for the attitude change those knocks brought in. I’m waiting to learn about yours! 

P.S: Yes best Indian bowling performances and my personal year end wrap up will follow but maybe a day or two into the new year!

The Best of the Decade – Cricket Series

This is going to be one long post. The year end brings lots of memories – the decade even more. Tried to pick the best of what lies in my memory.

1. India Vs Australia – 2001

This has to be undoubtedly the series of the decade and the best in the history of Cricket! Aussies riding high on a world record, looking to conquer the “Final Frontier” landed on the shores of Mumbai in Mar 2001. They annihilated the Indian Team in Mumbai barring a sparkling batting display by God who produced not one but two gems – 76 and 62. Anyone present at the stadium on that day will never be able to forget the straight drives belted out by the little master. The innings remain stuck in the head more vividly than Gilchrist’s fire-power 100 off 84 balls.

The only time I cursed the curator of the Wankhede pitch for preparing an almost perfect wicket for test match cricket – only to have the Indian batsmen play spoilsport.

Verbal duels between Tugga and Dada followed leading to an interesting “mental disintegration” by both teams. Come Kolkatta Mar 13 and India looked all set to lose the series staring at a 274 run deficit from the first innings and ending the third day at 254/4. Miracles happen – did not believe in it until this day 14Mar,2001 – carved in gold in the history of Indian Cricket! Laxman and Dravid lasted the entire day – India did not lose a single wicket; wiped out the deficit and led the Aussies by 315 at the end of it. It was not defence but an awesome counter attack launched by the two men on everything that the Aussies happened to throw at them. The partnership was good enough to inspire the remaining 9 who bundled out the Aussies in the final session on Day 5. Kolkatta created a history that might never be repeated.

Aussies earned the dubious distinction of being the only team to have lost thrice in the history of cricket after enforcing a follow-on. The match left a permanent scar on the Aussie aggression; the Aussies since then have hesitated to impose a follow-on despite being in the most solid position.

Chennai was another enthralling test and the series saw the rise of Bhajji termed as Turbanator. The series laid the foundation for India to aim for the No.1 status (achieved a month back as the decade drew to an end) and the fascinating Aussie-India rivalry that followed in the decade. If you ask me where did India’s journey to No1 begin – I’d take you back in time to revisit 14Mar,2001 Kolkatta when two men put their hands up and proved the old adage that ‘Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties’. Well, if we get to see such uncertainties we will devour them with great relish and joy!

2. The Ashes 2005

This series paralleled the 2001 series in terms of intensity and tense contests but what puts 2001 on the top of the list is the Laxman-Dravid batting miracle.

Aussies bullied the Poms in the opening test at Lords and it seemed like the old Ashes story would repeat. I don’t remember following any other series not involving India, as closely as I followed this one, ball-by-ball, not missing a single test match!

This was pretty much termed as Flintoff’s Ashes just ad the 1981 series was termed as Botham’s Ashes. 400 runs and 24 wickets pretty much ensured a victory for the Poms. What a pity the guy chose ODI and T20 over tests! I miss him on the field. With no great histrionics on field he played the silent assassin to perfection.

Pietersen couldn’t have asked for a better debut. His SA roots combined with the Aus-Brit rivalry made him a force to reckon with against the Aussies. When these two batted you wondered if the Aussies were batting seeing the aggression being oozed out.

This was the Wizard of Oz’s last Ashes in England and how well he said goodbye. He revived the memories of the “ball of the century” when he had Strauss out in a similar fashion in the second test. He took 40 wickets in this series and crossed the coveted 600 figure mark! I miss him too. Don’t you wish that some players remain immortal? Warne was one such player. There will be none as good as him ever again! For a lovely write up when he called it quits – read this piece from another cricket fan I respect, who also happens to be one of my best friends and cricket buddy.

The series went right down to the wire after the first test match. Second one was won by England by a mere 2 runs – Brett Lee and Kasparowicz’s heartbroken faces are still etched in memory. Ponting’s brilliant match-saving hundred at Edbagston along with Warne and Lee for company; and Lee and McGrath’s rejoicing at the end of the tense 4 overs was worth savouring. The Trent bridge match was Flintoff’s match all the way – a few hiccups getting to 129. Finally Pietersen ended the series with a stunning 158 at the Oval.

To both the teams we take a bow!

3. T20 WC India Victory – 2007

This was my dream come true – in the form of the game I detest, but hell we beat Pakistan in a World Cup Final. It made up for everything I hate about T20.

Every damn Indian cricket fan I know has cherished this dream and Dhoni’s young brigade made it a reality for us. I can never forget the screams and the shrieking that followed as Shreesanth waited for the miscued hit of Misbah-Ul-Haq, with Pakistan needing 6 runs of 4 balls to win the cup! We almost died of a collective heart failure.

Yuvraj’s sixes of Broad and the hammering lent to Australia, the tied league match with Pak. The first T20 cup in SA had some memorable moments and every time India won we gaped in awe. Who would have expected this kind of performance after the dreadful debacle at the ODI WC in WI just a few months back. The celebrations that followed in the country were humungous and as the Boys in Blue passed my Worli house I was stuck in Dubai following it live on TV with mom on the phone commenting live! Cruel fate wasn’t it?

4. ODI World Cup SA – India’s Dream Run 2003

WTF was my exact expression when Sehwag and Sachin belted sixes off third-man and square against the Pakistani pacers. Chasing 270 odd they had raced to 50+ in a mere 5 overs. The match’s fate was sealed in those 5 overs. Though we lost 2 wickets to consecutive deliveries, Sachin, Dravid and Yuvraj wiped out any hopes the Paki bowlers might have had. Sachin’s 98 of 75 will always be among his best knocks – listed in the hall-of-fame. Pakistan dropped him thrice in the match – so even though it was not a chanceless knock, it was still a priceless gem among the many he has gifted us.

The entire brigade did well barring the league match against Aus which was India’s second match at the Cup. They turned the tide around after that match – not losing a single one on their way to the WC final in 20 years. Sure I was crushed when they failed to win or put up a great fight but the matches against Eng, Pak, SL, and NZ were fantastic. The key to India’s success was its pace attack – Srinath and the 2 left armers – Zaheer, Nehra. They bowled exceedingly well in the conditions – remember Nehra’s fantastic 6/23 against England at Kingsmead. The top 5 batsmen were in the best form and fired when needed ably supported by young guns Yuvraj And Kaif

As much as we rue India’s lost chance, the campaign remains special for the way the team fought and looked the next best team to the dominating Aussies in the tournament.

5. India Vs Pakistan 2004

The bliss of a much awaited first ever test series win in Pakistan soil. Remember 1989 – Manjrekar’s solidity and Sachin’s fearlessness against the terrifying Pakistani bowlers. Drawing that series was a victory in itself. The scene set-up again 15 years later was different – the Indian team was more aggressive and assertive having scuffed up some victories abroad by then. Sehwag’s first triple hundred at Multan is unforgettable – only he can think of going for a six and getting to his maiden triple hundred when batting on 295! The series was marred a little by Dravid’s controversial declaration when Sachin was on 194* but the victories at Multan and Rawalpindi pretty much put that in the backburner.

Dravid’s masterful 270 in the third test ensured that we would not lose. Balaji and Pathan did a fantastic job and were ably supported by old war-horse Kumble. The last wicket was that of Kaneria c Ganguly bTendulkar. There could not have been a better ending to this fairy tale.

6. South Africa Vs Australia 2008

This one makes my list only for the awesome run-chase of 414 by the young South Africans. It will not make it to the top spot among the best run-chases of the decade. WI chasing 418 against Australia and winning by 3 wickets is No.1 in my opinion cause Australia was on the top of its game during those years and no one had expected such a comeback after a 3-0 rubbing in the previous 3 test matches. The second best is 387/6 by India against England purely for the sentiments attached to it. The England side was valiant enough to comeback to a terror-stricken country to complete the test series. Kudos to them for their attitude! 11 days following the Mumbai terror attack (one of the worst the country had seen), the run-chase was set up by the Mad-Man who blasted 83 of 68 deliveries and later led by India and Mumbai’s favourite son. The victory brought some much needed smiles to this terror-stricken nation.

Going back to the 3rd best run-chase of the decade – Duminy was on his debut and supported AB DeVilliers ably to pull the final plug on the Aussies. Watching the South Africans beat the lights out of the Aussies in broad daylight on their home ground was a delight!

SA won the next test easily and lost the third – setting up an exciting revenge series at home but sadly they lost it without much fight! This is an interesting rivalry building up as SA gains strength with its youngsters and Aus looks to rebuild the void left by Langer, Gilchrist, Warne, McGrath, Hayden.

7. T20 World Cup – Pakistan Victorious 2009

When was the last time before this event that I was happy to see Pak win; let me recollect – Never. I like their players – I am a huge fan of Wasim Akram but the fandom ends at that. I do not cheer their wins but this time I did. They have not had any international cricket thanks to the terrorism in their country and the World Cup too has been taken away post that dreadful attack on the SL players. I’m not sympathetic to the country but to the players yes. No athlete deserves to lose out on the opportunities cause of the political mess his country is in. They are a bunch of talented blokes – sheer raw talent and the world needs to see it. We need the Pakistani team – heck how will we enjoy India-Pak rivalry?

I was glad they won the cup, they needed it and their country needed it much more. The players to re-assure themselves that they are competitive enough for the world cricket and the country cause in the numerous terrorist attacks only this good news could help bring a smile and forget the woes for a little time.

8. VB Series – Aus/SA/NZ – 2002

This series was one of the most interesting ones wherein the pendulum kept swinging in favour of SA and NZ and Australians were never in contention for the final race. I don’t recollect that happening in a tournament that involved Australia at their home ground.

The series most memorable for Shane Bond’s outstanding bowling. Why he was never able to sustain himself is such a mystery, he is a delight to watch! Sad we get to see so less of him! NZ were led splendidly by Stephen Fleming. My favourite though were the two knocks which I caught live on television. Cairns’ century against SA and Bevan’s century against NZ; the two innings and the two matches had the same script written all over again in a span of 10 days.

Cairns walked in at 73/4 in the 19th over chasing 244 and hit a marvellous 102* enabling NZ to win by 4 wickets. We witnessed a re-run of the match with a different cast later. Chasing 246, Aus was reeling at 82/6 against the Black Caps when Bevan produced the magical innings of 102* to glide them through. However Aus failed to make it to the finals and the two better teams in the tournament were through. SA finally won the series

9. Commonwealth Bank Series India/Australia/Sri Lanka

This was India’s moment of glory and a fine revenge after the much maligned Sydney Test. Gambhir was the pivot in the league matches and scored 440 runs at the end of the series. Dhoni played the perfect finisher but the finals belonged to Sachin Tendulkar. His innings in both matches helped set up wins for India. The young bowling brigade of India – Sreesanth, Bhajji, Pathan, Praveen Kumar and Ishaant bowled extremely well to guide India to its win in Australia after 23 years!

10. India Vs Australia – 2004

This features in my list purely for my love for Tugga’s side not Ponting’s blokes. This was the side whose foundation was laid in Taylor’s reign and ruled supreme under Tugga’s leadership. Steve Waugh was a heartbroken man after the 2001 series loss; the one land which he so badly wanted to conquer remained unconquered during his reign.

I’m extremely clear about my feelings for Ponting. He is a great batsman but a miserable example for his team-mates in terms of attitude off and on the field. His brashness has rubbed on to his teammates leading to fiascos such as the Sydney test which had his own country men turn against the team. Therefore, if Ponting had captained in the winning test match it would’ve been painful – but he was out due to injury and one of my favourite Aussie players Adam Gilchrist, led his team to a fine victory.

The final score read 2-1 but it was never a close series. Australia had the upper hand from the first test. India put up a spineless defence marred by injuries to Sachin and Ganguly’s last moment back out from Nagpur match after seeing the green top. The series saw the birth of another fine player – Michael Clarke whose century debut reminded me of Steve Waugh of the earlier days. McGrath and Warne could not have asked for a better last series in India! The Aussie team had finally won their “Final Frontier”, a dream long cherished by Waugh!

Those are my favourite series of the decade – and you were saying yours were?

And we are No.1

Not justified? Why should anyone justify – ICC put a ranking system in place 8 years back agreeable to all test playing nations and we passed through that system to gain the top spot. So all those who are shouting hoarse as to how India does not deserve to be at the top, please shout more and lose your voices. Fact of the matter is we are at the top and that’s it!

The details of the ranking system and calculation here.

We have had 3 series wins outside – WI, Eng (2007) and NZ ( 2009). We beat Aus at home in 2008 and drew with SA. Barring SA, the only team to have challenged the Aussies during their decade of dominance was India. Only the 2004 home series was forgettable; while in all others we dominated equally. We won the epic 2001 series, we levelled 2003 series in Australia, 2007 was almost ours if not for that awful,awful Sydney test, and in 2008 we decimated the Aussies at Home.

We won test matches in Eng, WI , Zimbabwe, SL, NZ, Pak and SA in the said period and recorded our first test series wins in Pak(2004) and NZ(2009) and series wins after ages against England(2007) and WI(2006).

Statistics below in terms of matches played and series played.




Total no. of tests played


Total no. of test-series played














Overall Success %


Overall Success %










Won – Home


Won – Home


Won – Away


Won – Away


Success % Home


Success % Home


Success % Away


Success % Away


We were given a paper to solve, we knew the marks per question and we knew what answers would fetch what amount of marks. The formulae were spelled out and all we had to do was to deliver the results. So we did, we did not cheat or copy like Australia did in the 2007 series in Sydney which would’ve been ours. We solved the paper to the best of our knowledge and we scored the top marks.

So now you think the paper and marks system is a farce cause finally an Asian country got to the top and the big daddies of world cricket stand defeated. Isn’t it the same system by virtue of which Aus and SA ruled at the top. No system can be foolproof or perfect and will always have its pros and cons. This one was accepted and now we are at the top. The equation is fairly simple isn’t it?

Take a hike – all of you. Yeah we are inconsistent, yeah we don’t have a great bowling attack, yeah our batsmen may not fire all the time and yes we will lose the crown cause our stupid board thinks that test cricket is boring with no tests for 10 months in 2010. But yet, we passed with flying colours and proved a point to the world and our stupid board.

Test cricket is where our heart lies and I speak for all those true cricket fans and for the players. This is where the real skill is tested – it’s now time to say Wake Up BCCI. We need more tests to ensure that we prove it was no fluke and we can sustain ourselves at the top.

A big thank you to Jumbo, The Fab Four – Dada, the Wall, the God & Laxman, the Mad-Man, the New Wall – Gambhir, the Speedsters – Zaheer, Ishant, Pathan, Sreesanth, the spinners – Bhajji,Ojha, Mishra, the Fill-in Guys – Karthik and M. Vijay & Captain Cool. To the entire support staff of the team. To Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad. To Mr. Greg Chappell for the turbulence you brought, which helped the team unite against you and prove your crazy proclamations false.

To you Mr. John Wright for showing us the way – for believing in the crazy team when no one did – for instilling that self-belief and finally to you Gary Kirsten, for carrying on the fine legacy of John Wright.

Thank you all for this proud moment– a moment carved in history – one that will be remembered for a long time to come!

The Mad- Man of Indian Cricket

Sehwag is a phenomenon of his own kind. There was none and there will be none. When he stepped onto the scene comparisons were often drawn between him and the God. He sometimes plays shots similar to Sachin and has still maintained that brazenness and rebellious streak of the Sachin we saw in 90s; but I think the similarities end at that.

Sehwag’s brains work differently – rather abnormally from those of most cricketers. Would you and I who have just about got to playing gully cricket or maybe school or college level cricket , and approaching our personal milestone even in those inconsequential matches; ever think of hitting a six to get to it? I don’t think so and that sets him apart. From the time he has hit the scene, he has kept it simple – if the ball is there to be hit, I will hit it. Let’s keep it that. So whether he is on 99 or 199 or 299 and tomorrow, hopefully he will be on 399 gunning for Lara’s record, it will still not matter to him.

He is one cricketer who has managed to get most fans to be awe-struck and frustrated at the same time. When he is on song there is none other batsman we want to see – heck he even had our attention stolen on his debut in 2001 against SA when the maestro was batting with him on the other end. In that partnership of 220 for the 5th wicket with Sachin, we often felt that we were watching the same guy bat at both ends- only the scoreboard seemed to change the name.

Sehwag is not consistent. Halt before you start gunning me for this. When Sachin and Dravid are on the team, you will get what I mean. You are pretty sure that one of them will get a century in a series, you can’t say the same for this mad man. It’s almost upto him to decide that. He will show some short genius spurts and then get out in the most stupid manner; then he will comeback and turn the pitch into a slaughter house making you feel really sorry for the opposition. Yeah only he can bring that feeling into you, in fact I think he must also be feeling sorry for the condescending attitude he shows to the opposition when he is on a song. Sorry symphony is not what you associate with this man – you associate only murder.

He sets up the match for India every time he decides to go berserk. His innings need not result in a century every time but he ensures that the match has turned in India’s favour and it leaves little for his team-mates to do to seal the win. His innings has not only demoralized the opposition but has also ensured enough inspiration for his team to follow his suit.

If he gets going he gets going big. Of his 17 100s – 12 are over 150 of which 6 are over 200 and of which 2 are triple hundreds and he is on the verge of becoming the first test player ever in the history of the game to crack 3 triple hundreds! None of India’s best batsmen – Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid boast of such huge scores. No I’m not comparing them – I’m just trying to make a point that this man too deserves his place which is unique in Indian Cricket’s hall of fame.

He might’ve got the total runs a grand or two less than he would’ve had he played himself in but that is not Sehwag and then there is no fun watching him. We have the Dravids, Laxmans, Gambhirs and Tendulkars take care of the consistency aspect, let Sehwag just be himself. He did play himself in after an unsteady start in the last match and see what resulted. Gambhir is a great influence on him, they play together in the Delhi team which has helped their rapport immensely at the international level. On Gambhir – the new wall of Indian cricket in another post.

Let Sehwag be the mad-man don’t ask him to change his game-plan. It will not work in 4 innings but it will work in the 5th and that should be enough for us. He does not move his feet, damn it not even when he hits those cover drives or those sixes with a straight bat and leaves me with a WTF expression in my mouth and on my face. So let him continue to do that till he decides to hang his boots. He will never get an expression like what a beauty or what timing or what a delight from us – all that we will keep saying is WTF! Yeah that’s the only expression that can describe this Mad-Man of Indian Cricket. So just let him be.

For there will be none again like him and we will keep reminding ourselves how god damn lucky we are to have had the bloody privilege to witness this Brutal Murderer – A Murderer we are so damn proud of!

20 random thoughts from 20 years of Sachin

Loads of tributes were up on the net, television, radio and every possible media yesterday, and it got me wondering if I should chip in my two cents or probably even lesser. I thought I should not, just be a good reader, after all who am I to comment or even write about the Maestro. I’m no cricket journalist nor have I played the game – I’m just a small fan among the millions, that the game and God have.

But Siddhartha Vaidyanathan – one of the finest young cricket writers I’ve seen and met, goes ahead and writes ‘20 random thoughts from 20 years of Sachin’ (He wrote it on FB – Notes – once I figure how to link it up I’ll put it up); temptation enough for me to come out of my small ‘No post on SachinTwenty’ hibernation. With Siddhartha’s due permission to continue the tag – here goes my list of ’20 random things from 20 years of Sachin’.

Forgive the repetition, if any innings mentioned in Siddharth’s post are referenced below. Most Sachin fans will have at least 5-6 common ones. Those were defining moments for us – a generation that grew up with the Fab Five – Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Kumble.

1) A short young bloke – all of 18 years of age hammered the Pakistani bowling of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Aaqib Javed and Waqar Younis. Some 50 odd off 40 balls and a partnership with Sanjay Manjrekar. I had just started watching the game, he is one of the reasons why my interest in the game has not faded away.

2) 1992: Sydney –148 * and Perth – 114 Vs Aus. India had a disastrous tour down under. Sachin ensured Warne had a forgettable debut . I woke up early every morning along with Papa, to follow his innings live on the radio. I still have the recordings of the highlights. Sachin, according to my mum managed to do the impossible – wake me up in a jiffy without an alarm and her yelling. That mesmerising innings of 114 tops my list of his best knocks. I cannot forget it, that image of him, all of 5ft4in. standing tall and hitting straight drives off the likes of Merv Hughes and McDermott, will never fade away from my memory.

3) His disappointed face after getting out at 88 in Napier in 1990. He was only 16 then. I saw the recording later – I did not know to react! Heck most guys don’t even know what to do in life at that age – and this bloke understood the importance of a 100 in a test match.

4) 59 in his second test against Pak in Pakistan after a bloodbath! Guts, determination, rock solid concentration, man of steel. The nation knew a star was born, the kid knew he had passed the acid test. Still have the newspaper cuttings.

5) 1992-93 tour Vs SA – What I remember is he was given out in one of the ODIs when he was batting well on 20 odd. I cannot recollect the match or the umpire – he was given out caught when he had not edged or gloved the ball. I saw a small tear in the eye of a 19 year old then. The only time I think he reacted as a teenager.

6) I had seen him play live at the stadium before but this one was special. I had bunked school and gone to see him bat. On a dreadful Wankhede pitch, he played a gem of an innings of 85 against the WI in 1994. He showed why he is a class apart. His knock and partnership with Manjrekar – inspired Srinath to play havoc with the bat and ball later.

7) 1994 Vs NZ. The Kamikaze Kid -he was called after that innings hit NZ real hard. 82 of 49 balls which changed the way India approached opening batting in ODIs. I’m glad I was wide wake- I’m glad Papa had the VCR on. I watched that knock a million times later. And again when he got out , he had the regret of not getting the century. That hunger for runs is still alive – 20 years on.

8) Wankhede is the only place where they cheer the fall of Indian wicket; that is until Sachin arrives to bat. They are a fair crowd appreciating a good game, but they are only human and they are hugely flawed when it comes to Mumbai’s favourite son.

9) As Siddhartha mentioned in his post – Gods had descended on the cricket field in Cape Town 1996-97 SA tour. Azhar and Sachin had murdered the SA attack in the most delicate manner one could visualize. The array and beauty of the stroked played that afternoon will remain unparalleled for a long time. Adam Bacher pulled a stunner out of mid-air. and Sachin did not move for 2 whole minutes. He was the last to get off the ground – stunned by the catch and not able to believe that his dream run was foiled at 169.

10) 1993 – Hero Cup Semi-final Vs SA. I need not say more – that last over he bowled. His eagerness to come on to bowl when SA needed 6 runs and people call him a choker. Blah!

11) 1998 Vs Australia – Chennai. He hit a first ball 4 of Warne and was out the same over. He was in crackling form and he messed up – the anger showed. The brunt was borne by Aus in the 2nd innings – that 155* will make to any best innings list in the world

12) 1998 Vs Australia – Sharjah. 1998 was his year – his year of complete dominance in world cricket and over Australia. No player has as many runs and centuries as he does against the Big Daddy of international cricket. A reason why he is so loved and revered Down Under. I rate his innings in the league match much higher than the one in the final. India came out to bat needing 8 per over to qualify, after the sandstorm break. Aussies would’ve preferred to have been hit by the sandstorm than the Sachinstorm that hit them later. Again given out erroneously – he wasn’t looking to qualify he was looking to win!

13) 1999 Vs Aus. LBW or HBW ( Hand before wicket). That whole dismissal is replayed a million times in my mind and even after a decade I cannot fathom how weird it was. I hated Daryl Harper for that!

14) 1999 Vs Pak, Chennai – 136. We were in our college following the match on the radio. Cheering and shouting every time he got a run. My heart skipped a beat when he got out and I almost died when we lost the match. I came home mouthing all possible abuses the guys had taught me against those 10 buggers who could not get the balance 49.82% of the victory target. I came home and cried – the only time I recollect doing that after India’s defeat. I know Sachin too cried after that defeat. He proved why he was ‘GOD’ in cricket and a mere mortal like us at the same time.

15) 1999 WC Vs Kenya–England. Grit, courage, determination, concentration, patriot, team player, awesome role model, obedient son. That one moment defined all of that for me in him – Sachin kissed his helmet, looked up and waited a moment, then wiped his eyes and got onto his business of decimating the Kenyan attack. Of all the centuries against all the best attacks – this one is my sentimental favourite. It’s not easy to deal with the loss of a parent and get on with your work in a matter of days. I’ve been through it so I know – not comparable to his feat but I could relate to his psyche then.

16) 2001 Vs Australia – Kolkatta. You cannot keep him away from contributing to famous wins. His 3 wickets in the second innings were as valuable as Laxman and Dravid’s knocks! His delight after getting Warne out to a googly was as innocent as a child getting his favourite chocolate. Sachin remains that little innocent 16 year old still at heart.

17) 2003 WC – 98 Vs Pak. Phenomenal. He slaughtered and butchered the Pakistani bowling and along with what was left of their confidence. He made them mere spectators as he unleashed terror all around. I loved his comment at the presentation – never seen him rub salt on opposition’s wounds so hard – “Well they are yet to beat us in a World Cup”. How true!!

18) His run of 90s in ODIs in 2007 – He would’ve amassed 50 centuries by now had he converted those 6 ( 2 each against Pak,SA, and Eng). I’m not getting any young to handle these heartbreaks, I told my husband then.

19) 103* Vs England , Dec 2008. Following close after the worst terrorist attack on Mumbai – Sachin, Sehwag and the rest gave the country and Mumbaikars a reason to smile. It did not wipe out the scars but it did lift the spirits of millions a little, just a little, but it did. Dilip Premchandran summed it up for us

“Those that aren’t Indian struggle to fathom exactly what Tendulkar means to so many millions, and it’s doubtful whether even those that live here really comprehend just how much a part of the national consciousness he has become. He is such a unifying force, a personality capable of stirring the emotions in every nook and corner of a vast land. And in these times of distress and anger, it was so very appropriate that it would be Tendulkar who put the smiles back on at least a few faces.”

20) His recent 175. Almost, almost there again. Sigh! Heartbreaking and scintillating at the same time. Brought back memories of his old knocks – Vs NZ 82 of 49 and Sharjah ‘98 Vs Aus.

Sachin has given us more than 20 reasons to smile and cry in the last 20 years – it’s difficult to sum up only 20.

My favourite tributes here – Harsha Bhogle, Peter Roebuck, Dilip Premchandran and The Great Bong.

My favourite quotes to end this tribute:

“I’ve seen God, he bats at no. 4 for India” – Mathew Hayden

“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

Reminiscences from cricket fans – 1

In response to this, my friend ‘Ramster’ of college days sent me this in an e-mail! The more I get hold of such pieces from the blokes I knew in college – the ones who helped enhance my knowledge of the game and had the patience to indulge in endless cricketing debates – the more posts will follow randomly. Most of these guys are currently in oblivion and I have hope that they will write in bits and pieces sooner or later! So let’s sit back and enjoy these interesting reads.

A bit about Ramster – rarely spoke in college but post-college, online discussions proved interesting and was pleasantly surprised to receive this long mail from him.
I could not, not post it on a blog because this one needs a wider audience. With his due permission here it goes, verbatim from his mail.

It is hardpoint to pinpoint turning points because fandom evolves but I will try my best.

First up, I would rather play than watch. I am not sure if that makes me less of a fan but going in with 100 to win in 12 overs even in my college edges out watching India try to do the same. There is a certain magical feeling about trying to achieve something individually for a bigger team but maybe that why I always fared better in individual sports than team sports. You cannot replace the feeling of being out there all alone against an undefined force.

I think I love cricket more than IPL, test cricket, ODI and whatever. I truly believe any sport surpasses the stage on which it is played. I love sport. Any sport. I think sports have the ability to bring vast masses of people together for a common cause. I respect every athlete no matter what level they play because as a very bad college player I know how hard it is. The difference between good and great is so small in terms of results but so large in terms of effort. I have watched people way less talented than me make it and I love them for it. I remember losing a soccer final in penalties in Azad Maidan to St.Francis, Bandra and crying for 1 week because of it. I have watched Dennis Xavier be the brightest young tennis star in India and die at 22. I have watched his dad coach him way into sunset at Chembur Gymkhana.
I believe sports gives you a natural setting to experience these emotions like no other. Some events that enhanced my cricket fandom, in no particular order of effect, they are:
1.Vivian Richards 100(77) in Rajkot.
I remember it was some Nehru centennial celebration. Centuries were not supposed to be scored in 77 balls in those times. There was nothing elegant about batting that morning. It was pure violence and maybe thats why I like to watch boxing. I don’t think I ever missed Vivian Richards batting after that. The chewing gum, the front-foot hooks and pulls, the utter disdain for the ball but much respect for the bowler. Although the sport is what attracted me, I quickly realized in sport…No Heroes, No game. Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards changed the way I looked at all sports and maybe what it takes to be successful in life…you must look to dominate or you will lose, it is kind of cliched and I don’t follow it all the time, but I do while playing any sport 🙂 I never paid for posters except one of his, a big Sportstar poster of him chewing gum – Rs.2

2.Australian TV and commentary
There was something magical about waking up with my dad at 4 in the morning and watch Terry Alderman/Mike Whitney/Craig Mcdermott (ok and everybody else) run in to wreck India. Maybe it was Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry and the gang. I hated waking up in the morning to watch India lose but I did it anyway.

3.Sachin Tendulkar

For what he does off the field – nothing, is what makes him so great. His batting isn’t too shabby. To be able to make a billion peoples moods swing along with your willow is a little hard to understand.

4.Wasim Akram 1992 World Cup final vs England
I remember he scored around 40 but there was a cover drive which he hit which is etched in my mind. The ball was hit so hard that the sound of leather on wood and then leader on bill boards was at the most 2 seconds apart. Of course, Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis are still wondering where the 2 balls came from. I hate Wasim Akram, I hate Pakistan but I can never forget those 2 deliveries.

5.Venkatesh Prasad knocking off Aamir Sohail’s off stump, 96 WC QF vs Pak

Prasad is enshrined in my hall of fame for that one ball. He needn’t do anything else to impress me.

6.Mumbai – Hyderabad Ranji Trophy semi finals, Wankhede, forget the year

Lots of stories, Tendlya losing captaincy to Azhar, Laxman possibly taking over the mantle as India’s top batsman, maybe Tendulkar should stop opening since he has lost aggression. Some Hyderabadi bowler got rid of Samir Dighe – biggest mistake in his life. Tendulkar score 124 not out by stumps. It was unlike 1. There was no violence, just a gradually asphyxiation of the opposition. I can recall nobody compared Laxman with Tendulkar after that. My respect for him increased even more because he was advised to rest in that match. Again, the ability to dominate never ceases to inspire.

I think that’s it. But my favorite player is still Steven Waugh.


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