Sunday, August 22, 2010

Word of the Day

Shahid Afridi Years (noun; abv. - SAY; etymo - Cricinfo)

It is a system of measurement of unit (like the SI and CGS system) used to quantify age. It can range from 1.14 times 3.142 times the actual age depending on mood, climate, opposition, current chairman of PCB as well as current exchange rate.

Of late the term has entered colloquial usage.

Example :
At a social event:
Host - "Welcome Mrs. Anderson... You look really fabulous. Nobody can tell that you are a mother two"
Wannabe Socialite Aunty - "Ohh.. come one Mr. Clark .. I am just 29"
Disgruntled Trophy Husband - (thinking to himself) "Yeah Right ! Only in Shahid Afridi Years"

Did sun rise in the west ?

The sun did rise from the West. Why on earth would Ashish Nehra even come out to bat at 9 !!

Today was a day when Dharmasena gave 3 horrendous decisions. My mind went back to 2008 when he had given out Sachin LBW thrice (all of which turned out to be wrong !) . Why is he still on the ICC Panel ? More importantly why did he even consider becoming an umpire ?
A look at Dharmasena's record against India gives us the answer to the second ques... He tried all that he could to dismiss Indian batsmen but to no avail. He tried more and still failed. And then one day he tried 'Mentos'. His 'dimaag ki batti jal gayi'. There's a simpler way to get Indian batsmen out. Lets become an umpire !

And what is Ravindra Jadeja still doing in the team ?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Of Cricket and Natural Disasters !

Friends... This is going to be a short post.

A few weeks ago, I came across an article (I can't recollect the source!) on the state of politics in India. It was more in tune with that of a political satire and had little to do with cricket. But a line in the opening paragraph just stayed with me, which I would like to share ....

"...... India is on the cusp of ........ God has been very unfair on India. It has blessed India with poverty, inequality, illiteracy, corruption, natural disasters and Sreesanth........."

courtesy - Apologies for not being able to recollect the source

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pak Recruitment drive

Waqar unveiled the poster.

"Top-order batsmen, we want YOU for the Pakistan cricket team," it read.

"Any takers so far?" asked Salman Butt. "Please say there are."

"We had one bloke in for a look," said Waqar. "He's a student, lives in Birmingham. Opens the batting for Perry Bar Thirds in their Tuesday League. He'd definitely be an improvement on what we've got."

"Nice," said Salman. "Ask him if he's free for the next two Tests?"

"Nothing doing," said Waqar. "He's going on holiday to Butlin's in Minehead with his mum and dad."

"Mum and dad? How old is he?"

"He's 12," said Waqar.

"Shahid Afridi years or real years?" asked Salman.

"Real, unfortunately," said Waqar. "His mum and dad won't let him go all the way down to London on his own."

"Shame," said Salman. "What else?"

"Well, we had this girl in, about seven she was. She wasn't bad. Decent defence, plenty of ticker. Rounders is more her game, really. But it's a no-no: some of the lads seen her catching the tennis ball in practice and got a bit intimidated."

"Too right," said Salman. "We can't have the boys being shown up in fielding practice by a seven-year-old girl."

"Yeah, not again," said Waqar. "And get this: she wasn't even scared of the ball."

"Blimey," said Salman. "Impressive stuff. Can she teach the boys? Get her in as fielding coach?"

Waqar nodded and gestured for a pen to make a note. Salman threw one over at him, but it bounced off the edge of the table, rebounded and hit Umar Amin. Umar began to cry.

Salman sighed.

"Anyone else?" he asked

"Well, we've had two more applications. But they sound like a couple of chancers to me: Test averages of 50, played 150 Tests between them."

"Too risky," said Salman.

"Mo something and somebody Kahn," said Waqar.

"Nah," said Salman. "Shot in the dark, innit. Better to get a youngster in."

"Yeah," said the coach. "Actually, the board have sent one lad over."

"Oh yeah?" said Salman. "Any good?"

"Well, he's never played cricket before as such," said Waqar.

"So much the better," said Salman. "He won't have had a chance to be affiliated with any faction."

"That's my thinking."

"We don't want another bloody row on our hands," said Salman. "Umar Akmal's already threatening to go on strike."

"Oh yeah?" said Waqar. "What now?"

"Says that new keeper dropping all the catches is taking a job that could be filled by a union-recognised Akmal," said Salman. "Says we're doing his brother out of a day's work. Reckons it's a striking matter."

"One out, all out?" said Waqar.

"Yeah," said Salman. "Same old story."

Note: Alan Tyers is a freelance journalist based in London. All the quotes and "facts" in this article are made up (but you knew that already, didn't you?)

Cricket this week - 1

Saturday, August 7th
I understand that Pakistan’s representatives at the ICC are seeking to amend the outdated rules on catching. Specifically, they will ask for the whole of Law 32 to be struck from the Laws of Cricket on health and safety grounds. A spokesperson for the PCB claimed that players risked a nasty bruise if they attempted to catch the ball, and abuse from television pundits if they dropped it, and that this constituted a violation of their right not to be laughed at in the workplace.

Sunday, August 8th
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better for English cricket, it has been revealed that John Buchanan is to help the England players with their Ashes preparations. And big JB is already throwing up some fascinating ideas. For instance, the England management are said to be very keen on his five-captains-per-series proposal and are seriously considering the theories outlined in his bestselling pamphlet, “Setting Your Field the Feng Shui Way”. This innovative approach does away with the traditional method of placing fielders in areas where you expect the ball to go and instead focuses on arranging them at auspicious points on the field, to maximise the flow of cricket energy. Andrew Strauss has already implemented some of these suggestions, refusing to have more than two slips for long periods of the second Test on the grounds that negative energy usually escapes in the direction of third slip. As, from time to time, does the ball.

Monday, August 9th
The fallout from Edgbaston continues. It has emerged that during the tea interval yesterday, England’s prettiest fast bowler approached the ECB’s head nutritionist to ask whether it might be okay if he had some sweeties. Upon being refused on the grounds that f had some sweeties, he wouldn’t want his tea, Sulky Stuart stuck out his bottom lip, stamped his foot and stormed out of the dressing room, insisting that it wasn’t fair, and furthermore that he hated everyone. Broad was later fined half his pocket money and grounded for the rest of the week; punishment that his captain Andrew Strauss feels was over the top. “As everyone knows, it’s the summer holidays and forcing a young lad like Stuey to stay indoors when all his mates are hanging around outside the chip shop is harsh. Adolescent petulance has always been part of his game and if we made him behave like a grown-up, he wouldn’t be able to bowl as fast.”

Tuesday, August 10th
The latest from the Pakistan camp is that coach Waqar is contemplating some radical changes ahead of the third Test. The word is that the top six in the batting order will be dropped and replaced by Mohammad Yousuf. It is believed that top-secret analysis of Pakistan’s performances so far has demonstrated that dropping all these specialist batsmen is likely to have very little effect on the outcome of future games in terms of runs scored or catches taken, whilst it will offer significant savings in hotel and laundry bills and free up much needed bickering space in the dressing room.

Note: Its a part of Andrew Hughes' fan diary

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tendulkar relishes the ache of endurance

Sachin Tendulkar drives

It is a record Sachin Tendulkar was expected to break. Opening his innings at the tail-end of the last millennium, no one could spend two decades in the international game and not go past his other peers in terms of the number of Tests played.

In their time, the cricketers whose names will now follow Tendulkar's on this list of iron men were once indefatigable: Steve Waugh, it seemed, would never melt and Allan Border looked like he would never crumble.

Yet after them Tendulkar arrived. As he steps into the P Sara stadium on Tuesday morning, this blazing comet of a cricketer, who batted at a rhythm different from Border and Waugh, will become the last of their kind - the long-surviving Test titan.

Stretch the imagination 22 years ahead and see if you can pick any fresh Test stripling of today - Umar Akmal, Eoin Morgan, Steven Smith, Adrian Barath - to go past 170 Tests.

Other than Bradman's 99.94, Tendulkar now owns the marks that batsmen dream about: most runs and most centuries. If those were about skill, this one, 169 Tests, is about his hunger. More than anything else, it is what has taken him this far and what has given his career a mind-bender of a second wind after the gloom of 2006.

The day before his 169th Test appearance, he described his sport much like Glenn McGrath did, calling it 'simple'. In an interview he had once talked about its more complex layers. "There is not a single boring day," he said, "when you don't learn anything new."

Those could have been the words of a young man in his tenth Test but that was circa 2003. Tendulkar the cricketer has switched effortlessly between youth and maturity. When he turned 18 and was by then an 11-Test veteran, his city's signature tabloid Mid-Day put him on the cover of their Sunday magazine supplement, posing on Marine Drive, dressed in a shirt of riotous colour at the wheel of his first car, a Maruti 800.

A taciturn teenager, far from the confident sage of the 21st century, he had these words of wisdom to offer on his coming of age. "When you are 18," he said, "you're not young anymore." When he had gone two series without a hundred, it was said that far too many allowances were being made for his age. In his third series and his ninth Test, three months after turning 17, he batted at No. 6 just ahead of Manoj Prabhakar and produced the first of his 48 centuries in Manchester. It was expected and it happened. This was the prodigy who fit into his India cap with ease, without open tantrum, controversy or angst.

With 168 Tests, Tendulkar has grown up in public and so appears timeless but he is a different man from the cherub who couldn't hide under the helmet grille. Until the first crack of his bat made the annoucement of intent that is. The noise of the crowd lifted him but in the first half of his career, even when captain, Tendulkar lived with a peculiar strain of white line fever. The competitor on the field was a man of deep reserve when outside its boundaries.

Even though he grew up in a slightly more mellow age - one in which his telephone number could be found by looking for his father's name in the Mumbai telephone directory - he lived with public expectation and dependence like no other teammate peer or contemporary. Still, whatever his inner debates about a youth lived in the open, his batting remained reliably resplendent. As he would himself say, there wasn't a day he wasn't learning, be it how to season a long innings with strokes that had until then belonged to his one-day repertoire or experimenting with what it meant to be anchor over aggressor.

What defined him most sharply as the youngest of men in Indian cricket still remains as he becomes the game's oldest. Before the icon and the brand and the deification and the 37kg coffee table books comes the batsman.

It is as if his mind has always been deliberate, undistracted and his heart, when stepping on the field, full with youthful optimism.

He will prepare for his 169th Test just like he always has, in calculated, thoughtful steps.

During nets on Monday, he would have inspected the P Sara wicket and calibrated all the information into method and shot selection. He described it once: "I look at the wicket and the opposition and analyse their strengths and weaknesses and then pick my shots. These are the shots that will bring me closer to 100 per cent success. You try and minimise your risks. But in spite of that you make mistakes."

Then when back in his room, on his own, he will spend ten minutes on a visualisation, part of his pre-match preparation since he was a school boy. He will see the bowlers before him, the stationing of the field, the feel of the ground, the heat or the breeze, the noise of the crowd, "so when I actually go there in the middle it's the second time I'm going there, not the first".

He may pick up the bat he has carried back with him to his hotel like he does every time and maybe shadow practice a little. Just before his 169th match, he will do all of this, part-drill, part-prayer, equal respect given to practice and providence.

When he goes out on the field, with India creaking at their joints, Sachin Tendulkar will have with him a record that is a reminder not of champagne and glory but the ache of endurance. But he will walk lightly because, like always, he will be the young man of 16.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at Cricinfo

Thursday, July 15, 2010

PCB Hires Paul

July16, Berlin, Germany - In a fiercely competitive bidding for the annual rights for Paul the Octopus, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) emerged victorious by defeating BCCI in the tie breaker round. The actual bidding process held under closed doors at the Berlin Grand in Potsdamer Platz and spread over 14 hours involved some of the biggest names in the industry as well as some of the leading organizations throughout the world including Donald Trump, The US Department of Defence and a consortium of the 4 leading I-Banks in the world.
Bookies had bet heavily on Goldman Sachs winning the auction but surprisingly Goldmann Sachs bowed out in the second round of bidding itself. Goldman Sachs decided to enter the auction independently unlike the 4 other leading I-Banks which had entered the field as a consortium. The huge bets on Goldman Sachs had been propelled by an article in the Bloomberg News which had reported that Goldman Sachs had won the auction.
PCB auctioned of Ayesha Gilani (Miss Pakistan 2009) along with half the GDP of Pakistan in the tie breaker round which left the other contender, the BCCI clueless and in effect sealed the deal. Till then it had been a close fight between the two boards, whose parent nations are involved in proxy war off the cricket field. The bidding seemed to have taken an interesting twist in the penultimate round when rumours spread that the PCB had been asked to withdraw their bids else the US would impose economic sanctions on the strife ridden country. After a couple of hours harakiri, the US Department of Defence backed out citing 'highly classified' reasons setting the field open for the two subcontinental cricket boards to clash in the tie breaker.
In a fashion much similar to the Spanish Football Team who decided to rename Paul as Pablo, the PCB has decided to rechristen Paul as Paulad, after the mystical Islamic hero Poulad. When asked about how Paul the Octopus will be used, the PCB chief Ijaz Butt replied ”Paul will be an important part of our WC 2011 strategy. His primary responsibility will be to select the captain of our national cricket team. The other options which we are exploring are team selections, selections of match venue for the home test between Lords and the Oval.". A leading cricketer, popular among his mates for his love for Indian tennis players, revealed that PCB is also planning to use Paul for the Disciplinary Committee. Whether a player will be banned, fined or left untouched will be taken care by Paul from now onwards. Paul will also be deciding whether the ban can be revoked or needs to be extended.
Shahid Afridi left no stone unturned to mark his displeasure on the appointment of Paul as the chief selector. In his interview to cricket-without-balls he told “Why do we need to have a Octopus for it when we already have an established lottery system for it that has been vastly successful over the past 50 years.” This reaction was on expected lines as Paul had revealed last summer that the real age of Shahid Afridi was 41. Pakistan armed forces chief, Ashfaq Kiyyani has issued a national statement on behalf of the people of Pakistan that they are more than happy to welcome Paul in the country. He seemed to be in a very jovial mood as he even joked about using Paul to solve the Kashmir issue.
On the other end of the spectrum, it was a heartbreak for the BCCI. The BCCI had made grand plans about using Paul as its brand ambassador apart from its regular duties that would have included determining whether Sreesanth would be selected as a player or a cheerleader, choosing sponsors for the Indian cricket team and the distribution of TV rights.

Dhoni’s wife Sakshi Rawat is also disappointed since she was eager to meet the great Paul and invite him to dinner in their newly decorated home. Rakhi Sawant similar to Sakshi, from whose name Rakhi Sawant can be derived has also expressed her disappointment that she was ready with a special item number for his welcome (conspicuously titled "paul paul dil ke paas tum rehte ho"). But the biggest setback yet has been to the BJP, who were planning to use Paul with the aid of Sharad Pawar to decide whether 'To Modi' or 'not to Modi'. The RSS has registered its protest through an online petition “bring Paul home” while Mamta has called for 3 days bandh in Kolkata to create pressure on central and state and neighbor and local and municipal and even governments of the neighbouring countries. In between all this, Meneka Gandhi is still continuing her fast against cruelty against Paul through her animal rights organization.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tendulkar 169 v South Africa, Cape Town, 1996-97; Almanack Report

Toss: South Africa. Test debut: D. Ganesh.

A stand of 222 between Tendulkar and Azharuddin not only averted another abbreviated Test but illuminated the game with its sheer brilliance and aggression in the face of adversity. It occupied just 40 overs. Azharuddin, scoring 115 in 110 balls, with 19 fours and a six, provided the major share. But Tendulkar kept going to save India from following on and was last out, after nearly six hours, to an outstanding catch by Bacher at deep mid wicket.

India were 58 for five when Tendulkar and Azharuddin came together, replying to South Africa's highest total since isolation. It included three centuries. The first, from Kirsten, took nearly five hours; chastened by escapes at nought and ten, he avoided risks, yet batted positively, keeping in step with Cullinan during a partnership of 114. Srinath and Prasad had bowled splendidly when fresh but, once they tired, the attack was innocuous, and a firm, true pitch encouraged aggression. Kirsten was eventually run out off a no-ball and early on the second day South Africa, at 299 for six, were not safe.

But the limited Indian attack stalled as McMillan and Richardson put on 83 before the No. 9, Klusener, launched a spectacular century - 102 in 100 balls, the fastest recorded in terms of balls by a South African Test player - with 13 fours and two pulled sixes. Klusener and McMillan, who also reached a valuable hundred, put on 147, breaking a 94-year-old South African eighth-wicket record. Klusener had not finished. Before the close, he ran out Raman and had experimental opener Dravid playing on. Night-watchman Prasad lasted only one ball against Adams. In the first over next morning, Ganguly steered Donald to second slip. Laxman, after an uneasy half-hour, deflected Pollock down the leg side.

That was the start of the Tendulkar-Azharuddin stand, whose tone belied India's desperate plight. Azharuddin, free of the responsibilities of the captaincy, played the more exotic - and often unorthodox - shots; Tendulkar was more orderly, but attacked in a grand manner. In a six-over spell after lunch, Klusener was hit for 30 and South Africa were forced on to the defensive. Azharuddin constantly took risks and, with the stand at 197, Cronje held a skimming drive at extra cover, but, landing on his elbows, lost his grip. A run later, Tendulkar played a square cut to gully which a juggling Hudson muffed. But an over or two of restraint caused Azharuddin to fret, and he ran himself out with India 50 short of saving the follow-on. Tendulkar averted it with two wickets standing. Strangely, one of the most enjoyable of all Test cricketing afternoons was also a short one. The lunch interval was extended by 15 minutes because the early part of the break had been taken up by a lengthy presentation of the players to President Mandela, who warmly expressed his support for cricket's contribution to the new South Africa. In extreme heat the fielders needed all the rest they could get.

India's recovery continued as they captured three wickets for only 33, but partnerships between Hudson and Cullinan and then McMillan and Pollock played them out of the match. Cronje's declaration, 426 ahead, left South Africa a minimum of 118 overs to bowl India out, but they needed only 67. The openers - this time, Raman and Mongia - were again easy meat and all the middle order played careless shots.

Man of the Match: B. M. McMillan. Attendance: 74,009.

Close of play: First day, South Africa 280-4 (W. J. Cronje 35*, B. M. McMillan 13*); Second day, India 29-3 (S. C. Ganguly 19*, S. R. Tendulkar 1*); Third day, South Africa 24-2 (A. C. Hudson 7*, L. Klusener 10*); Fourth day, India 52-3 (S. C. Ganguly 11*, S. R. Tendulkar 6*).

Tendulkar 155 not out v Australia, Chennai, 1997-98 ; Almanack Report

Toss: India. Test debuts: Harvinder Singh; G. R. Robertson.

The head-to-head contest between Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne was the key to this opening encounter. Warne's quick conquest of Tendulkar in the first innings gave Australia the initial advantage. But Tendulkar retaliated so devastatingly in the second, scoring 155 not out, that India were able to declare with a lead of 347, and 105 overs to bowl Australia out on a spinners' pitch. They had three men out overnight and won in comfort on the final afternoon.

On the first day, Tendulkar had been as much a victim of Warne's guile as of his own daring. He drove his first ball with scorching power past the bowler. But the fifth dipped as he rushed forward, and turned to take the edge of his flailing bat; Taylor completed a marvellous slip catch. In the second innings, however, when Tendulkar scored his third and highest century in seven Tests against Australia, he was as severe on Warne as on the rest. Warne followed up his first-innings four for 85 with a deflating one for 122. Tendulkar's belligerence was awesome and his shot-placement enthralling.

Both sides batted erratically at their first attempt. After an opening stand of 122 between Sidhu and Mongia, three Indian wickets went down for eight and the last five for ten. They were saved because Dravid batted four hours and built respectable stands with Azharuddin and Kumble. On a bare pitch of little pace, the quick bowlers could only contain. But it readily offered purchase to spin and was so generous with lift that Mongia was wearing a helmet to keep to Kumble by the second day. Warne and the tall debutant off-spinner Gavin Robertson skilfully exploited the batsmen's indiscretions. Each picked up four wickets; Robertson struck back admirably after being severely mauled by Sidhu in his maiden Test spell.

In reply, Australia stumbled to 137 for six: only Mark Waugh, who lasted three hours, batted with distinction. They were hauled back into the game by the indomitable Healy. He made a fighting 90, and put on 96 with Robertson, splendidly accomplished for a No. 10. They looked so much at ease as they set up a lead of 71 that the pitch seemed to have dozed off.

This impression stayed when India resumed on the third evening. Warne had already been softened up by Sidhu before Tendulkar came in at 115 for two. He and Dravid almost doubled that. Then, when Australia rather fortuitously prised Dravid out, Azharuddin joined Tendulkar to pound a wilting attack for another 127 runs in even time, a stand reminiscent of their epic in Cape Town 14 months earlier. In all, Tendulkar batted for 286 minutes and 191 balls, and struck 14 fours and four sixes.

Azharuddin's declaration gave Australia 15 overs on the fourth evening, in which India grabbed three wickets. Slater drove expansively at Srinath and played on; Kumble had Blewett caught at silly point; and Taylor bottom-edged a pull on to his pad and was caught on the ricochet.

These disasters extinguished Australia's hopes of winning. But a calm start on the final morning did raise their prospects for survival before four wickets fell for 42 runs. All four batsmen looked displeased and television suggested three decisions were harsh and the fourth dubious. The umpires did have a difficult task with the ball turning the fielders clustered round the bat; referee van der Merwe, who had reprimanded Mongia for excessive appealing earlier, took no action now, attributing the Australians' reactions to more disappointment.

But with seven down at lunch, Australia were sunk. Again, Healy batted as if to gag the proverbial fat lady; he was undefeated after an hour and a half when Kumble completed victory with his eighth wicket of the match.

Man of the Match: S. R. Tendulkar.

Close of play: First day, India 232-5 (R. Dravid 42*, A. Kumble 19*); Second day, Australia 193-7 (I. A. Healy 31*, S. K. Warne 13*); Third day, India 100-1 (N. S. Sidhu 55*, R. Dravid 18*); Fourth day, Australia 31-3 (P. R. Reiffel 0*).

Tendulkar 114 v Australia, Perth, 1991-92 ; Almanack Report

Toss: Australia.

Tom Moody made a triumphant return as the final Test brought another resounding victory. The substitution of the uncapped opener Wayne Philips (no relation to the former Test opener of the same name) for Marsh was less successful. But another newcomer, the fast-medium Paul Reiffel, was preferred to a spinner on the WACA pitch and he assisted in the demolition of India's second innings by Whitney, who returned match figures of 11 for 95.

Though India took only four wickets on the first day, they restricted Australia to 222 runs. Once again Boon, who completed his third hundred of the series early on the second day, shored up the innings. Prabhakar, who bowled with great heart, accounted for Boon and Moody in 40 minutes on the second morning. But as the ball lost its shine, the last four wickets added 87 and Healy collected his 1,000th Test run, to go with his 100th Test dismissal earlier in the series. Srikkanth's five catches in the innings, four in bat-pad positions, earned him a fourth share in the Test record for fielders.

India's bedrock was a captivating 114 from Tendulkar from 161 balls with 16 fours, the bulk of them square cuts. He came in at 69 for two and was ninth out at 240, after 228 minutes, and a record ninth-wicket stand for India against Australia, of 81, with More. On the third morning, as he ran out of partners, he scored his second 50 from 55 balls. While Hughes and Whitney shared the bowling honours, McDermott's two wickets took him past the series record for an Australian against India, jointly held by Richie Benaud and Alan Davidson with 29. In his second spell of Australia's second innings, Kapil Dev claimed his 400th wicket when Taylor was lbw. With Australia's overall lead just 105, the match was still wide open, until Boon, Jones and Moody - who shared 173 for the fourth wicket - put it out of India's reach. Jones, who had disappointed hitherto, batted discreetly but positively for an unbeaten 150 in 265 balls while Moody, lethal off the front foot, took 101 from 149 balls.

India were left a minimum of 107 overs to chase 442. With McDermott enervated by a stiff neck, Srikkanth and Sidhu started briskly, and on the final morning took their stand to 82, India's highest opening partnership of the series. Yet less than two hours after Reiffel broke it with his maiden Test wicket, Australia were winners. Whitney, brought on 40 minutes before lunch, toppled seven batsmen in 8.5 overs, while conceding 26 runs. Five of his victims were caught in the arc between wicket-keeper and gully, as were both of Reiffel's including the prize wicket of Tendulkar.

Man of the Match: M. R. Whitney.
Attendance: 30,908.

Man of the Series: C. J. McDermott.

Close of play: First day, Australia 222-4 (D. C. Boon 91*, T. M. Moody 42*); Second day, India 135-5 (S. R. Tendulkar 31*, S. L. V. Raju 1*); Third day, Australia 104-2 (D. C. Boon 35*, D. M. Jones 34*); Fourth day, India 55-0 (Srikkanth 26*, N. S. Sidhu 24*).

Tendulkar 119, England v India 1990; Almanack Report

Toss: England. Test debuts: India - A.Kumble.

Of the six individual centuries scored in this fascinating contest, none was more outstanding than Tendulkar's, which rescued India on the final afternoon. At 17 years and 112 days, he was only 30 days older than Mushtaq Mohammad was when, against India at Delhi in 1960-61, he became the youngest player to score a Test hundred, More significantly, after several of his colleagues had fallen to reckless strokes, Tendulkar held the England attack at bay with a disciplined display of immense maturity.

India were placed on the defensive once Gooch chose to bat first. The Old Trafford groundsman, Peter Marron, wrong-footed by a cold change in the weather after watering, had predicted even bounce but little pace, and England quickly grasped the opportunity. Leading an unchanged side, Gooch put on 73 untroubled runs with Atherton in the first hour, and India soon resorted to their leg-spinners, Hirwani and Kumble, the latter replacing seamer Sharma from the team at Lord's. They slowed down England's progress, but could do little to prevent a 225-run opening partnership, which overtook by 21 runs the record Gooch and Atherton had set at Lord's a fortnight earlier. In scoring 116, Gooch became the first English batsman for nineteen years to record centuries in three successive Test innings, but on the day he was eclipsed by his junior partner. In five and a half hours, Atherton carefully constructed 131, exactly matching the feat of G. Pullar, the only other Lancastrian to score a Test century for England at Old Trafford, against India 31 years earlier. Smith batted for just over four hours, passing his century during a last-wicket partnership of 60 with Malcolm, an unexpectedly supportive ally, as England reached 519.

The loss of three quick wickets for 57 to the seam movement of Fraser, in the final hour of the second day, placed India in immediate peril. On Saturday, however, they were rescued in style by their captain, Azharuddin, and Manjrekar, whose fourth-wicket stand of 189 set the pace for an entertaining day's play in which 355 runs were scored. Manjrekar made 93 in three and three-quarter hours before falling to a bat-pad catch at silly point off the tireless Hemmings, but Azharuddin could not be stopped so easily. In a breathtaking 281-minute stay for 179, he hit 21 fours and a six, and between lunch and tea he became the first player to score 100 runs for India in a Test session. After he had miscued a drive off Fraser to Atherton, the second new ball accounted for most of the remaining Indian batting, although Tendulkar, after taking 54 minutes to get off the mark, gave warning of his talents in scoring 68 from 136 balls to reduce the England lead to just 87.

As England's second innings began on the fourth morning, Gooch suffered a rare failure in a rich summer, departing for 7. But Atherton added a further 74 to his first-innings hundred, and a winning position was achieved through the efforts of Lamb. Earlier in the game he had looked out of his depth against the Indian spinners, but, relishing the challenge, he hit Hirwani for two successive sixes early on, and his 109 from 141 balls, followed by Smith's unbeaten 61, allowed Gooch to declare 25 minutes into the final day.

To win and square the series, India were offered a minimum of 88 overs in which to score 408, 2 runs more than their own record for the highest winning total by a side batting second in a Test. From the seventh ball of their innings, when Sidhu was brilliantly caught off Fraser by the substitute, Adams, at short leg, it looked a tall order. On a slowly wearing pitch Hemmings produced just enough deviation to have both Manjrekar and Azharuddin caught in the leg trap - but it was the gay abandon of three senior Indian batsmen which might have set Tendulkar a bad example. Shastri dragged a wide ball on to his stumps, Vengsarkar offered no stroke to Lewis, and Kapil Dev sallied down the pitch to Hemmings.

When the all-rounder, Prabhakar, joined Tendulkar, India were 183 for six and there were two and half hours of the match remaining. Gooch crowded the bat and shuffled his bowlers like a croupier, but England were to be denied by their own mistakes. Hemmings put down a simple return catch when Tendulkar was 10, and Gooch failed to get a hand at second slip to a chance offered by Prabhakar. England could ill afford such lapses, and the pair had seen India to safety when the game was halted with two of the final twenty overs still to be bowled.

Tendulkar remained undefeated on 119, having batted for 224 minutes and hit seventeen fours. He looked the embodiment of India's famous opener, Gavaskar, and indeed was wearing a pair of his pads. While he displayed a full repertoire of strokes in compiling his maiden Test hundred, most remarkable were his off-side shots from the back foot. Though only 5ft 5in tall, he was still able to control without difficulty short deliveries from the English paceman.

Man of the Match: S. R. Tendulkar. Attendance: 42,424; receipts £521,100.

Close of play: First day, England 322-3 (A. J. Lamb 20*, R. C. Russell 7*); Second day, India 77-3 (S. V. Manjrekar 21*, M. Azharuddin 4*); Third day, India 432; Fourth day, England 290-4 (R. A. Smith 49*, J. E. Morris 15*).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kick it up a notch

Cricketers who wouldn't be half-bad at football

Kevin Pietersen
Trophy wife? Check.

Shahid Afridi
Footballers need to be light and nimble on their feet. Shahid Afridi is light and nimble on his feet. You should have seen him back in 2005, doing the fandango all over the Faisalabad pitch, with spikes on.

Colin Cowdrey and Peter May
For their dexterous and skilful use of their legs to play the cricket ball during their epic stand of 411 against West Indies in 1957.

MS Dhoni
He used to be a goalie, you know.

Ross Taylor
He hates going off side, you know.

Every fast bowler in the world
Why use your hands when your feet will do? The likes of Munaf Patel have been endorsing this fine philosophy for years on the boundary, sticking a boot out at the ball as it hurries by - with mixed results, but of course it's the thought that counts.

For the requisite drama, breast-beating and on-field crying, general acting ability, and full-on lunacy that make footie the world's greatest game, you need cricket's greatest showman bar none.

James Anderson
If you think cricket's short of sensitive, well-coiffed, immaculately moisturised metrosexuals like David Beckham, you've got another think coming.

Yuvraj Singh
With Yuvi in the side you know the gratuitous-diving department is in good hands. Oh wait, that was three years ago.

Kamran Akmal
Without a good goalkeeper, a football side is nothing.

Ricky Ponting
What do you mean spitting is not close enough to dribbling?

Ashish Nehra
Cricketers with experience of having their shirts tugged would naturally be an asset in football. Not only did our Nehra allegedly recently get his shirt pulled in the course of an alleged brawl in an alleged restaurant in the West Indies, he got it pulled so forcefully, it tore.

Michael Holding
Back in 1979, Mikey displayed a fetching ability to kick, as the photograph above will testify, and to look graceful and balletic while doing it.

Brian Close
Speaking of Holding, how can one forget Closey? Shoulders, chest, head - he used them all to play the cricket ball.

Andrew Flintoff and Sourav Ganguly
What does cricket need to make it more like football? A display of manboobs at the end of games, of course.

Chris Lewis
Cocaine? Lewis was caught with enough to keep Diego Maradona happy for a year of Sundays, back in the day.

Andrew Symonds
He has a way with a tackle, in more ways than one.

Mitchell Johnson
Johnson gently applied his head to Scott Styris' helmet grille during a game in New Zealand last year. However, lest Zinedine Zidane fans get all misty-eyed, it was not, repeat not, a head-butt. "The only thing I'm quite annoyed about is that it has been classed as a head-butt," Mitch declared. "I'm not that silly. I'm not going to head-butt someone who has a helmet on."


Cut That out

In order to preserve his ailing body and ensure he maintains himself for the long haul, Prince Brendon McCullum has given up wicketkeeping. It is a brave move for someone with a Test batting average of 34, but the Prince has never lacked confidence. If this works there could be a spate of players doing the same thing. Because players are too divergent with their energies in this day and age, they need to focus their chakras and their body-mind interface to get the personal momentum you need to be a winner. Here are a few who could shed some of their workload in order to prolong or improve their careers.

Chris Gayle
Being cool
You hear it all the time, the man is effortlessly cool. Nonsense. I don't care who it is - Johnny Cash included - there is effort in being cool. How much effort? Well, at least 10% of his life must go towards being cool, if not more. He could start by giving up the designer sunnies, get a short back-and-sides haircut and stop looking like nothing is bothering him. With that extra 10% he could run between the wickets like Mike Hussey, and you don't need to be cool to be Mike Hussey.

Graeme Swann
Any cricket fans on the social-networking micro-blogging platform know how important Swann is to it. Sehwag - prophet of Sehwagology that he is - is rather boring, Michael Clarke's tweets have never reached the heady heights of dull, and pictures of Sulieman Benn on a motorcycle are enjoyable, but not fulfilling. Swann obviously puts time and effort into his tweeting. Coming up with witty one-liners and new ways to abuse Tim Bresnan. While this is great for us, if he was to cut Twitter out of his life, he could learn how to play short-pitched bowling and become a real allrounder.

Lasith Malinga
Kissing the ball
It seems like such a small thing, but Malinga's ball-kissing must be taking so much out of his game. You could say it is the one reason he is no longer a Test bowler. Think of all the disgusting things on that ball, Murali's sweat, other bowlers' spit, possible bird droppings and the manure they use to fertilise grass. All this must eat away at the mental side of Malinga's game. In the shorter formats this might not be a problem, but in a Test match he might have to do this over 150 times a day: 150 times a day he is kissing a ball that just got rubbed all over Dilshan's crotch. That is too much for any man.

Sulieman Benn
Annoying everyone
No one can annoy like Benn. Batsmen, umpires and his own captain are the usual subjects. In the history of cricket there have been few players who can get under the skin of players on both sides so brilliantly. But this is a skill. Skills need time, patience and hard work. While being the annoying spinner can work - Paul Harris has made a career from it - Benn can actually bowl. If he spent all the time he usually uses on annoying people on bowling, wow, the man could be a cult hero spin-bowling god, the Manute Bol of finger spin. And he wouldn't get sent off the field by his captain as much.

Daniel Vettori
Coaching, selecting, running New Zealand, writing press releases, peeling oranges and everything else
For some the term "allrounder" means that there are two reasons why their country could pick them. For Dan Vettori it means he does absolutely everything his country needs of him. It is a good thing New Zealand isn't in a war, as Dan would be feeding the soldiers, driving the tanks and sorting out strategy. If Dan gave up just 12 of his out-of-cricket tasks, he could be an even better "allrounder" than he is now. Then he could probably play cricket until he is 43.

AB de Villiers
Guitar-based pop
I'm sure you don't need to be reminded of the sweet pop stylings of AB's song "Show Them Who You Are". It is on your mobile music apparatus on constant repeat. As obviously talented as AB must be, making the perfect tune still takes time away from cricket. Imagine how great a batsman he could be if he just put down the guitar. With his hands now free, he could spend time with them in keeping gloves - you know, just in case.

Other players who could give up things to improve their careers: Shahid Afridi could give up his day job as a comedian. Mitchell Johnson could give up his mother. Ryan Sidebottom could give up being stroppy. And even Ravi Shastri could give up saying the phrase "tracer bullet".

Note: the Article is written byJarrod Kimber, the mind responsible for, is an Australian writer based in London. His new book is now on sale

Intikhab Alam declares the Pakistan Cricket Team is Mentally Retarded and insults all those with mental handicaps

It is a big claim. Some accuse them of being shit, some of being match fixers, some of being shit match fixers, but mentally retarded, wow.

Let us look at Mental Retardation with some help from Wikipedia:

Delays in oral language development

Well Mohammad Asif called Shane Watson a “bloody white”. If you have been playing cricket for this many years and “bloody white” is the best insult you can give to Shane Watson I would say you have a delay in Oral devolpment.

Deficits in memory skills

Shoaib Malik seemed to forget he was married. I’m married, and I remember it. So I would say his memory is not really that skilful.

Difficulty learning social rules

Don’t bite the ball. Don’t take opiates through an airport. Don’t fuck unclean women with Genital warts. Don’t leave a game of cricket mid way through. Don’t dance on a good length. Don’t match fix. Don’t match fix in Essex. Are these all social rules, probably.

Difficulty with problem solving skills

When bowling to Mike Hussey Pakistan either move the field out so he can put on a test winning partnership, or bowl length balls from spinners to see how far he can hit them. If Michael Hussey is a problem, Pakistan have not solved it.

Delays in the development of adaptive behaviors such as self-help or self-care skills

Kamran Akmal’s keeping in Sydney shows that he has no self care or self help skills. If he was a small child a parent would have stepped in to help.

Lack of social inhibitors

I think this has been covered.

An Intelligence Quotient score under 70

Moyo’s captaincy?

According to Wiki Mental Retardation has various classes.

Class IQ
Profound mental retardation Below 20
Severe mental retardation 20–34
Moderate mental retardation 35–49
Mild mental retardation 50–69
Borderline intellectual functioning 70–84

Alam never stated which exact class the Pakistani players are in.

Wiki goes on to say, “there is no “cure” for an established disability, though with appropriate support and teaching, most individuals can learn to do many things.”

I’ve known semi functional Mentally Retarded people before, it is unfair to give Pakistan that label, they are hardly functional.

Note: The article is written by Jarrod Kimber, the mind responsible for, is an Australian writer based in London. His new book is now on sale

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Top 5 cricketing moments of Indian Test Cricket : Batting (2)

I am 23. I belong to a generation who started watching cricket around world cup 1996. The first article was I read was about how the WC 1996 was marked by the three greatest batsmen of the decade – Sachin Tendulkar, Mark Waugh and Brian Lara; Spin Bowling was dominated by the trio of Anil Kumble, Mushtaq Ahmed and Shane Warne. All the memories for cricket start from there for me. Me and bunch of the greatest cricket fans, cricket has ever seen has come up with the top moments of Indian cricket. This is first in the series: Top 5 moments of Indian Test cricket: batting. We have taken only the matches after 1996 into consideration because we haven’t watched anything of cricket before 96. We might have missed, we might be wrong but this is what we think. Enjoy guys. This is second in the series.

Top 5 cricketing moments of Indian Test Cricket : Batting

2. Rahul Dravid 233 and 72* v/s Australia, Adelaide, December, 2003

No team in the world can think of loosing a test match after scoring 556 in first inning, Australia had done the same.

Having watched helplessly as Australia piled up 400 for 5 on the opening day, going on to reach a daunting first-innings total of 556, in which Ricky Ponting made a brilliant 242, India's captain, Ganguly, was himself a casualty - run out for two - as the tourists' reply wobbled precariously at 85 for 4.
But India turned the match around with a 303-run partnership between their vice-captain, Dravid (233), and VVS Laxman (148),

Bichel struck three vital blows. He bowled straight to a canny, defensive field set by Waugh and India slumped from 66 without loss to 85 for four when Ganguly was run out. Laxman joined Dravid. It took Australia 94 overs to separate them. It was not quite Kolkata; there, they had added 376 for the fifth wicket, here it was a mere 303.

This time, it was Dravid's turn to score the double-hundred. He simply played everything on its merits, leaving every ball that carried the threat of an edge alone, while taking advantage of every scoring opportunity. After he played himself in, his cover driving was sublime, and the only time he was in danger of getting out was when he top-edged a hook off Gillespie. But it sailed over backward square leg and brought up his hundred

India did not look back and scored 523 in reply of Australia’s first inning with the help of Dravid and Laxman. Dravid was again rock solid in his 233 with 23 fours and one six. Australia collapsed in their second inning to 196 and India were given a target of 232.

The final day was as engrossing as any you could wish to see. Each time India appeared to be cruising, Australia would fight back. Every batsman got a start, but only Dravid stayed on, combining limpet-like adhesion with unflappable temperament. With the pressure on, it was Australia that cracked. Laxman's breezy 32 sealed it, but it was fitting that the last act belonged to Dravid, who had done a Waugh in the great man's final series.

When MacGill pitched one short and wide of off stump, Rahul Dravid gave himself room and cut hard. As it sped across the outfield towards the fence in front of the George Giffen stand, he let out a yell of delight. As the team poured on to the field to celebrate coming back to win after conceding 400 for 5 on the opening day, Steve Waugh jogged across to pick up the ball. Once he did, he presented it to Dravid, whose 72 not out had glued together a run chase that was anything but straightforward.

Less than three years after decimating Australian hopes with a 376-run stand at Eden Gardens, Dravid and VVS Laxman had added 303, albeit at a more sedate pace. The circumstances when they came together had been similarly dire, with India reeling at 85 for 4 after the openers had cruised to 66.

Dravid once again stood rock solid to get India clinch the match. He was declared the “Man of the match” and not to forget he was also the “Man of the series”. Everybody sees the architectural beauty but no one thinks about the foundation which gives the strength to the building.

Foundation is the very reason for the building to be in standing position on the first place. Dravid is the foundation of the Team. It was one of those inning in which he was not the man behind the scene. He was the protagonist of this victory. A rare occasion when everybody noticed him. But I guess it doesn’t matter to him. He likes to play the game for the sheer love of it. How many do you think are left now??

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Top 5 cricketing moments of Indian Test Cricket : Batting (1)

I am 23. I belong to a generation who started watching cricket around world cup 1996. The first article was I read was about how the WC 1996 was marked by the three greatest batsmen of the decade – Sachin Tendulkar, Mark Waugh and Brian Lara; Spin Bowling was dominated by the trio of Anil Kumble, Mushtaq Ahmed and Shane Warne. All the memories for cricket start from there for me. Me and bunch of the greatest cricket fans, cricket has ever seen has come up with the top moments of Indian cricket. This is first in the series: Top 5 moments of Indian Test cricket: batting. We have taken only the matches after 1996 into consideration because we haven’t watched anything of cricket before 96. We might have missed, we might be wrong but this is what we think. Enjoy guys

Top 5 cricketing moments of Indian Test Cricket : Batting

1. Sachin Tendulkar 136 v/s Pakistan, Chennai, 31 January 1999

Every once in a while, there are moments in sport that transcend the action on the field and yet help establish the very essence of sport by carrying it beyond the confines of nationalism, and indeed victory and defeat. By all standards the first Test of the 1998-99 series between India and Pakistan was a similar example.

It see-sawed for four days: bowled out for 238 on the first day, Pakistan struck back, restricting India to 254. Then Shahid Afridi threatened to take the match beyond India's pale with a violent 141 before Venkatesh Prasad engineered the most sensational of collapses, which sunk Pakistan from 275 for 4 to 286 all out. But at 82 for 5 before lunch on the fourth day, it all seemed over for India - barring Sachin Tendulkar, of course.

Sachin backed himself up against his longtime nemesis Waqar & Wasim. Sachin's determination was more fierce than Chennai's heat. The wicket turned out to be a two-paced one. When the fast bowlers bowled it was reverse swinging and when the spinners bowled the ball turned square.

So Wasim pressed on Saqlain for the whole day. There were just two fielders on the offside a backward point and a mid off. Saqlain started bowling a teasing line around the off stump. All throughout the day Saqlain was testing Sachin's patience and Sachin showed Herculean patience and runs started flowing slowly but surely, as time is not a problem here. Sachin never batted his eyelid all day and it was like He was meditating on the field.. Ganguly was given a bad decision and in walked Nayan Mongia.

Tendulkar finds an able ally in Nayan Mongia, and rebuilds the innings in a painstaking, un-Tendulkar like manner. After helping add 136 for the sixth wicket, Mongia departs to an ungainly pull, and Tendulkar’s back is also giving way. Tendulkar shifts up a gear or two, and starts dealing only in boundaries

But one error of judgment and it’s all over. Saqlain Mushtaq defeats his intended lofted on-drive with a magical ball that drifts the other way, catches the outer part of Tendulkar’s bat and balloons up to mid-off. The tail disgrace themselves, and India fall short by a gut-wrenching 13 runs.
Later Moin revealed in the press conference that he has never seen shots like that in his career before. This is what every true fan of Cricket wants to see. An even battle between bat & ball .Sometimes I used to wonder why life is so cruel to me and this was the first time I thought like that. If anyone wants to know what is meant by an unfinished classic, this is it. The whole innings was so beautifully conceived and played.

In India, 1 billion people watched the match and 1 billion hearts were crushed that day. Nobody can forget Sachin's expressions when he received the MOM award, which counted nothing for him. Sachin has scored 47 centuries till date. There are infinite numbers in this universe. But you mention Sachin or 136, a true Indian is bound to remember that composure, that face, that Sachin, that god who failed and yet won!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Series Updates - May'10

I have been off from the general cricket viewing-following-discussing scenario due to some personal commitments but now that I am done, thought I’ll enlighten you with what’s happening around the world.

India-Zimbabwe-Sri Lanka series:
I just realized that this series is also going somewhere, thanks to the over-hyped portrayal of the Indian teams performance in the TOI. Seriously ! Who on earth is following this series ? Apart from Dinda’s fans of course! I checked the scores and saw Rohit Sharma doing things, which he does best. Scoring in who-gives-a–shit matches or in lost cause scenarios. Dinesh Karthik is again repeating the same things - failing against teams that would not even give a serious fight to his club team. I have never been a huge fan of Murali Vijay. Maybe the way he celebrated the catch of a dehydrated and Injured Sachin in IPL has got him to the nadir of likings in my book so I don’t care how much he scores. The sole interesting aspect is to see Virat Kohli and Rohit fighting for a spot in a full-fledged Indian team. I have lost my faith in Rohit Sharma for now so my vote is still with Virat Kohli.

And yeah… I did observe one thing. Rohit might just make it through to the Indian team if there’s a “Who’s got a bigger paunch?” competition

WI-SA series:
Isn’t it appropriate to name the series as the Hashim series ? More than hard work and perseverance, Hashim Amla owes a big thank you to the Indian cricket team. The Indian team has made the careers of lot of players sky dive (in much the same way that Mayawati has made to the careers of her followers) , including but not limited to the likes of Mathew Hayden, Jacques Kallis, Marvan Attapattu and the latest to join the list is Amla. The last Indian tour has given a fresh breath to his ODI career.

But I have always believed WI to be the number 2 entertainer after Sreesanth. There are so many emotions, smiles and celebrations displayed on the field that you fill so attached to them. And don’t forget the indiscipline and strikes on and off the field. I just love WI and thy lived up to my expectations when the dictator Gayle arrogantly ordered Benn off the field for refusing to run in circles around the stump, do a summer sault and then bowl a bouncer at 50 mph. Or did he ask hi to bowl over the wicket?

But this series has been quite predictable in terms of talents explored. AB for Africa and Bravo of WI have been the only scorers for respective teams. I wish the series wasn’t so one-sided.

Bangladesh-England Series:
I was following the series keenly till Tamim Iqbal tried to talk like a typical Pakistan commentator. Tamim Iqbal, after the century against England, his 2nd overall in his career: “I can't compete with Sachin Tendulkar in one day, after getting one century. I'll need to work very, very hard to get close to what he has achieved."
I say - "Mate, You need much more than hard work. You have to take a rebirth." ( And probably the big bang to happen again !)

PS: I saw this amazing link on Cricinfo :

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lagaan - A Match Report

The match started on a bright sunny morning and a clear blue sky, without a hint of rain or clouds, in the middle of monsoons, which was actually the reason for the match to be staged in the 1st place. The atmosphere was delightful with the entire province turning up for the match to cheer the home team. Their uniformly white attire which matched the visitors' colors, may have sent a wrong message about their loyalties towards the visitors. The different stands of service provided by the ground staff was appalling as the general public was not allowed placards, food items or even water bottles, while the visitors' guests could comfortably smoke a cigar in the pavilion. So much for atithi devo bhava.

apt. Russell of England won the toss and adhering to conventional wisdom, elected to bat first. The Indian captain, taking a leaf out of the IPL, opted to open with a spinner, in a Test Match. No prizes for guessing who was sent on a leather chase. Later in the day, the home team unleashed an unconventional bowler who rotated his arm 10 times before bowling. Doubt if his shoulder can withstand the wear and tear for more than 2 years in the international circuit. In spite of the dedication displayed by the home team, England took the honours for the day.

Late at night, the Indian team were spotted visiting the temple with their supporters seeking a divine intervention which came a while later. It was reported that one of the team members, who was in love with the Indian captain's arm-candy was accused of conspiring with the opposition captain and fixing the match result. While links with bookies are being investigated, he was allowed to continue in the match as the hearing was pending with ICC.

Day 2 belonged to India as they cleaned up the tail easily as Kachra found some help from the track and managed a hat-trick, eliciting fears of the track cracking on the final day. This was, however a false alarm as the track behaved true and accommodated, supported and even cheered cross-batted shots from the whole Indian batting line-up. Shots, which wouldn't last an over outside the subcontinent and their inadequate technique was exploited by the mean English pacer with a Merv Hughes beard when he hit Lakha on the head with a vicious bouncer.

lthough India scored at a healthy rate, the fall of wickets at regular intervals meant the English were always ahead. It took an injured Ismail, a no-ball in the final delivery and a last ball DLF Maximum to see India home. In a typical IPL fashion, the captain received a Zintaesque hug from the main cheerleader as supporters cheered around him and the rain gods finally let go after holding their bladder for 3 days.

This was a match that will be remembered through ages for various reasons; the underdogs beat the favorites on their debut, India held their nerve in crunch situations, the last-ball finish, and above all, for the big prize money worth 3 years of Lagaan.

Post Match, speculations were rife regarding the nationality of the visitors. While their on-field sledging suggested Aussie roots, their failure to contain Bhuvan and remove Kachra in the last over left no doubt over their SA origin, although they kept swearing their loyalty to the Queen. Turns out that ECB hiring Saffers is a century old concept after all.

A special mention should be made of the sole commentator who stuck to his job of announcing the score without sounding foolish, a welcome relief after the crass Danny Morrison we witnessed during the IPL.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

IPL Diaries IV

The famous ones from the legendary commentary section of IPL 3 - Manoranjan ka Baap.

•“We'll aim at getting a good start, not get all out, put a good total on board and then defend it" - Sanga's strategy after being asked to bat first.
•"One team will go home happy, the other will go home unhappy" - Shastri, before a match
•“The last shot was from Yuvraj. He came on strike after the last single." - Shastri again
•"God is prayed today more than ever, at this stadium here in Chennai" - Shastri baba!
•"Ishant to Tendulkar, who has played cricket for longer than Ishant has lived" - cricinfo commentator inspired by Bhogle
•"sorry Dwayne, no Bravo there"
•"Ishant is gonna go up to Sachin and ask, "What is it about me, that makes you go like this" - Harsha
•"In IPL you want to be disciplined and not naughty if you want to win the KF fairplay award
•"Of course Chennai will win. We got the Mongoose, and oh, also Hayden!!!" - Srikkant
•"Sirf India nahin, poora desh inka fan hai" - Angad Bedi
•"You put up a good total ony if all departments (bowling and fielding???) click" - Shilpa Shetty
•"Next match will feature an engrossing contest between...... SRK and Preity Zinta"
•"Shikhar Dhawan is the other half of the partnership" - Harsha Bhogle
•"DC have a bull in their logo but they didn't play like one today!!!

( Courtesy: Ashtung, Proxy and me)

Monday, April 12, 2010


Shahid Afridi, the captain of Pakistan's squad for the World Twenty20, believes that not being selected to play in the IPL is a "blessing in disguise" for his players. "No I don't have any regrets at all. In a way it is a blessing in disguise for all our players that we are not playing in the IPL before the World Cup," Afridi told PTI.

So Shahid Afridi doesn’t have regrets. That’s really good. But dear Shahid did you have any regrets when you were found biting the ball like a chimpanzee? Oh I guess you had some but since it’s a common practice among your species so you don’t mind being traditional on field. What a true gentleman. Always keeps his feet on the ground. I wish the new generation can be like you: Modern, yet close to their roots.

"Given the problems that have besieged Pakistan cricket in recent months it is good that we have got time to work together as a team in the World Cup training camp, it has allowed us to settle down and focus on the World Twenty20," Afridi said.

Hmmm so you said something like work together. Am I right?? When was the last time when the entire Pakistan team worked together except while sacking their captain from the team? Oh yea of course Praying is another thing which the complete Pakistani team does together but since you are traditional so it’s quite obvious. But it’s really good that you guys got the time to settle down. You have been on quite a losing spree for a long time. You need a break or punishment as PCB imposed.

Pakistan's cricketers were unanimously cold-shouldered by IPL franchises despite being put up for auction before the current season of the tournament. This was the second successive year that Pakistan players missed out on the IPL, after being left out of the 2009 edition due to political tensions between the two countries. On that occasion, Pakistan went on to win the World Twenty20 tournament that followed.

And you blame India for all your miseries.

The Pakistan squad is undergoing rigorous training in Lahore in a bid to improve fielding and general fitness before the World Twenty20, and Afridi said it did not give his players time to follow the IPL. "We really are not following the IPL closely. We don't know who is playing or who is not playing because the purpose of holding this training camp has been to gel the players and allow them to prepare as a team for the World Twenty20," he said.

Now that’s what we call focus. Some morons will say watching some of the greatest players like Shane, Adam and Anil for their last time is incomparable but how does it can even stand in front of watching the veteran Legend Misbah-ul-Haq getting himself out in the most bizarre fashion possible. Right?? Or watching Umar Gul snuff it up again over looking out for your competitors' strengths and weaknesses so vividly on display. Perfectly understandable since that would amount to cheating as your team's skill-set will remain a mystery while exposing others and that is just too cunning even for the whole team's IQ put together.

And it’s very obvious since you don’t even know who are going to captain your own team then how can it be expected of you to know who is the fourth foreign player for RR.

Being the captain and most senior member in the team, Afridi admitted he had to shoulder extra responsibility. "[If we win] I would definitely feel that I have achieved the biggest landmark of my career, I want the team to do well in the World Cup. It is a big ambition for me and I know as a senior player I will have to show the way in every department of the game," he said.

Extra responsibility?? Definitely!! Now apart from bowling, batting and fielding you will have the added stress of getting it right even while taking a bite of the cherry. The captaincy of a Pakistani team is such a tough job but I am glad PCB has decided to take the advice of captain in the team selection from next year. That is great news for you.I mean not for you but for the captain following you. I guess that’s the average tenure for the Pakistan’s team captain – 1 tour. Right?

The World Twenty20 is scheduled to begin from April 30 with Pakistan slated to play Bangladesh and Australia in the league phase, on May 1st and 2nd respectively

BTW It will be interesting to see Shahid’s stance on next IPL. I don’t want to imagine because I know what will happen.

Did anybody say – “ thook ke chatna” or “ Swallowing-his-own-spit”

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Letter to Ramiz Raja

Dear Ramiz,

For years I have tolerated your ubiquitous presence at any post-match presentation ceremony or in the commentary box. I have cringed at your 80s hair-style, wondering if you actually realised that the hairdo, as well as you, were way past your popularity peak. While your command over the Queen's language made me doubt your nationality, the on-the-brink-of-crying voice during Pakistan's defeats confirmed it.

Even as a kid, your post match interviews either made me belch or laugh, depending upon the match's outcome and my mood. You however, managed to keep them senseless and directionless with a bloody minded persistence. And every time you uttered the word 'tremendous' more than thrice in a minute, I swore to God to torture you to a recording of that single word, played over and over again, until that was the only word you could speak. But the next second I used to remind myself that that would be redundant. And just when our relationship had hit rock bottom, you went ahead and started digging the bottom by doing this.

But isn't life funny? You ask why. Because I miss you. I miss your directionless remarks because they were at least cricket. I miss you because of the new presentation team in IPL. True, you sucked at it, but you sucked at it with the authority. Albeit, the authority of an ordinary and somewhat experienced ex-cricketer, but some authority nevertheless. Unlike the bunch of nincompoops who don't have any knowledge either of cricket and (hopefully) of what they are saying. Well, if they did really know what they were saying and still said it, they should be sent on a political and media exile to the US for being so dumb.

True, you are biased against India and are miserable when India wins. But here, any time winning would be Indian so you will always be miserable, unlike the partial Sunny who roots shamelessly for MI. To be honest, I'd enjoy that more than Sunny going hero-worshipping over a Sachin single. Between you and me, I also hate Sunny getting all poetic about the moon when showing off his GK on MRF and it's horrible offspring, the blimp.

To put things in perspective, if you were to be part of IPL, I doubt if I'd feel like breaking the TV any less than I do now. But at least I'll not feel ashamed of my fellow countrymen and feel like migrating to Bangladesh every time I wake up in the morning and will be able to blame it on Pakistan. Hence, dear Ramiz, please write a letter, or e-mail, or tweet, or court summon, to Mr. Modi, his assistant or his peon, depending upon your approach inside his office and offer yourself as Pakistan's gift to Indian cricket, in lieu of Sania Mirza. I am sure he will comply

(Writer is insanely passionate about Sachin, RR and anything related or starting with word 'BIO'. In his last 1.5 year stint he has been bumped from 11 Job interviews, 2 Management college admission interviews, started and shut down a start-up in a week, worked in a company, handled the parental business and again went back to work in some other company. He blogs at : ashtung where he enlighten the world with his experience of life. To reach the writer mail on to :