Archive for October, 2008

“I planned to stay till the end but it didn’t happen. I thought I didn’t use my feet well but that’s the beauty of the game. The ball changes and so does the game.” These are the words of arguably the world’s greatest ever batsman – Sachin Tendulkar – on scaling another peak when none seemed left to be conquered. He has toppled Lara to become the world’s highest run-getter in Test matches.

He further added and I quote, “There are stones thrown at you and you turn it into milestones.” These words substantiate what I tried to convey in my last post on Sachin. That statement clearly suggests how hurt he must have been on hearing the criticism after falling 15 runs short in the first Test at Bengaluru. This was a very humble reply to those thankless comments published everywhere a few days back.

On my part, I won’t lose this moment to thank the man whose achievements puff up my chest with proud. Thank you Sachin, for all those moments that we lived with you. Thanks for providing that space which makes us proud to be an Indian.

The pictures accompanying this post tell a story themselves. It seems like the story of a very common man – like us – whose grit and determination took him to where he stands right now, with his feet still firmly on ground.

 

It’s 5 p.m. on October 13, 2008, and the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is inevitably drifting towards a draw. Considering the state of pitch on the fourth and fifth days, a draw was least expected. However, Harbhajan and Zaheer had other ideas and their antics – both with bat and ball – stood in way of an Australian win. India would certainly be the more satisfied team, not for their performance with the bat but for the end result, as they were on back foot on the fifth day.

After the final tea break – when India had almost saved the match – the only interest left was whether Sachin could get those 64 runs required to break Lara’s record of most Test runs. It wasn’t to be and he went out to a soft dismissal after scoring 49, giving Craig White his first Test wicket.

After watching Sachin’s dismissal, many would wonder if it was really the bad light (he indicated it to the umpire before he got out) or the record-breaking moment at the back of his mind that cost him dearly. I won’t choose the latter one, as this is not the first record coming his way. The simple reason being that I can’t think of any other Indian in the recent past who has handled unrelenting pressure the way he has and delivered the goods. It will be disrespectful on our part to point a finger at him. Can you imagine going out to face bowlers like Lee, McGrath, Donald, Akram, Shoaib, Waqar, Ambrose, Walsh hurling missiles at you and people expecting a hundred every time. Gosh, even the thought is frightening!

Sachin Tendulkar is a man who has been up to that pressure and gave what we asked for, time and again, without ever being bigheaded. So then why we are making remarks like ”can he get the monkey off his back.” I find this ridiculous, more so when I hear it coming from experienced quarters. Why we keep thinking what more he can give us rather than being thankful for what he has already given? It’s a very valid question today!

I wish the readers of this post come forward and add strength to my voice through their views on the issue. Don’t you think those who question Sachin’s abilities are being disrespectful towards him?

 

The Bigg Boss inmate count is shrinking – now down to six – and anxiety level of the survivors is increasing ad infinitum. It’s surprising why the female count dies earlier than the male count; however, some ladies have themselves to blame for their ouster, with Sambhavna being leader of the pack.

Anyway, rather than dwelling on those who are out, let’s concentrate on those who are in and try to predict the winner.  All of us might have personal choices with their respective reasons but for once put your choices in the backpack and predict the winner on rational thinking considering present situation in the house. I have tried to do an autopsy of four characters and what can take them through to win the fat cheque. Check this out!

ZULFI SYED: Seems to have come in with Rahul Roy – the first Bigg Boss winner – as his idol. Striking similarities between how he is vying for the crown to what Rahul Roy did. Very seldom gets nominated. Way to go man!

RAHUL MAHAJAN: A real TRP man. He or Raja goes off and the Colors channel might become black and white. Became kind of a Casanova of late. Might lose on female votes for that but still going strong. Will be hard to beat!

RAJA CHAUDHARY: Another TRP generator, though for different reasons than Rahul Mahajan. A real prankster, hides his reasons very well. Known for his panic attacks and can go haywire with his language but still loved by the public, may be for his deceptive looks. Won’t give it up easily!

DIANA HAYDEN: Gorgeous looks with a sense of what to wear. Late entry might be her weakest point but has won hearts in the house, especially Ashutosh. Hard thought to digest though. Can lead the women brigade.

 

So then, we are just hours away from recommencing the most grueling contest of modern-day Test cricket. India and Australia will vie for the Border-Gavaskar trophy yet again – Australia to retain it and India to reclaim it. Enough words have been exchanged and enough has been written. The off-field rituals are over, and its time now to let your cricket skills take over.  

No hard feelings but no soft ones either. That’s the attitude Kumble and his men will carry onto the field. Let’s join them in their crack at the Aussies and win back what we deserved more than Australia last time around.

Wish the Indian team and let them know that every Indian is behind them!

 

The honorable Speaker of the Lok Sabha – Somnath Chatterjee – questioned the circumstances surrounding Ganguly’s decision to retire after the current series. “I don’t see any cricketing reasons for Ganguly’s retirement,” he quoted.

You won’t find the politicians getting overly involved in cricket anywhere else other than India. There is lot else for them to concentrate on and I don’t think this remark came because he is a cricket enthusiast or a Ganguly fan. Interestingly, this remark came on heels of the news that Mr. Chatterjee has canceled his trip to London after being told that he will not be exempted from frisking. So its quite possible that his ego was hurt and he used this naive comment as an outlet for the steam building inside him. Quite kiddish!

Question: Do you think politicians should question a player’s decision or add fuel to the fire at a time when the player is on national duty? 

 

All good things come to an end and one feels the content within if it happens at the right time. While writing my post ‘Ganguly’s Last Hurrah…Possibly’, I had an inkling that dada won’t take time now to pull down the curtains on his illustrious career that made him India’s most successful captain. 

Saurav announced his retirement today as a concluding note while addressing the routine press conference in Bangalore. “Just one last thing lads, before I leave, I just want to say that this is going to be my last series,” he said rather hastily. Understandably, he did not want to face anymore volleys from the pressmen that may cause a shift of focus before his last series. He wants to end on a winning note and him performing well for a victorious cause will be an icing on the cake.

Now I feel that his selection in the Test squad despite not being considered for the Irani trophy was a signal from the selectors. The series of events in the past week indicates as if the selectors were saying that we are giving you a chance to retire while being part of the team rather than as a player who retires after being overlooked repeatedly. If this is the case, then it also shows that the selectors have faith in the seniors – especially the Fab Four.  The selectors believe that the seniors know when the dusk of their careers will arrive and will not account for any youngster missing the bus because of them. 

Ganguly has again acted as the leader in this regard. He is the first of many in queue to do what he has done today on October 7, 2008. He was the one who instilled self-belief and the killer instinct that was always missing from an Indian team. He stood by his team in periods of trouble and showed us the kind of will power and determination he possessed with his comeback in 2006.

He captained India in 49 Tests with 21 wins under his belt. Nobody has captained India in more Tests than him and his win-loss record makes him the most successful Indian captain until now.  He last played an ODI almost a year back in November 2007 but has an enviable ODI record with more than 10,000 runs and 22 centuries.

Many were calling for his head and honestly I don’t feel that he is going to be missed a lot and that’s because the present pool of talent provides a wide range of choices. However, it doesn’t take the shine away from his contribution to Indian cricket. 

He will be remembered as the Prince of Kolkata or Dada or Bengal Tiger by many but I will remember him as the first to show the world that Indians too know how to give it back to the opponents. We no longer lack the killer instinct and for that we will remain indebted to a man called Saurav Chandidas Ganguly.

Thank you Saurav!

 

The Ashes is considered the most coveted bilateral series in the cricket calendar but it has faced a stiff competition of late. The quality of cricket and the ruthless intent on display makes an India-Australia series the most sought-after contest of the present era and leaves the Ashes way behind.

It all started with the Dravid-Laxman partnership in the famous Kolkata Test in 2001 where India turned the tables on Australia after being asked to follow on. It marked the beginning of rivalry between the two teams that matched the Ashes in every sense and sometimes went a notch ahead. What has been noticeable of late is that the rivalry has instigated individual battles, sometimes even leading to the courtrooms. Sledging, alleged racism, skirmishes, complaints, hearings have all been part of an India-Australia series on a very consistent basis. 

Talking of individual battles, there will be a plenty on show in the upcoming Test series beginning October 9. Andrew Symonds – reportedly gone fishing – is going to be missed badly. Nevertheless, the script has many more characters who will be going after each other. I have tried to highlight a few of those individual battles to look forward to. Which one of the following you think is going to top the charts?

1. Sehwag versus Lee

2. Tendulkar versus Lee

3. Hayden versus Harbhajan

4. Ponting versus Harbhajan

5. Ponting versus Ishant

6. Hayden versus Ishant

Your comments will decide which of these is the most-awaited contests of the series!