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Dhoni

I did not have a chance to blog about THE event of our lives – India winning the cricket world cup, since I was busy delivering BabyN the night after the win. The whole match was watched counting contractions, and timing them, to determine when to rush to the hospital!

What do I think about the win? Of course it was spectacular and I cried when I saw Sachin being hoisted up by Pathan and Kohli by turns, and the whole team dedicating the win to him. I had tears in my eyes when Gambhir dedicated the win to everyone who suffered on 26/11. I jumped with joy when I saw Dhoni go and accept the cup and the whole team take multiple victory walks around the stadium, popping out the huge champagne bottle and having a go at it! Speaking of which, I am totally sold on the Dhoni era. How amazing is this guy? At first I thought he was totally thanda and ineffective, not rising to the occasion and playing captain;s innings ever. Not yelling at his team for poor fielding and bowling, not pointing fingers at his team, and standing by poor players. But now I see the merits of his methods. He showed confidence in his team and they returned the favor by playing their hearts out. And the way Dhoni melted into the background during the celebrations, to allow Sachin take all the credit and the rest of the team bask in glory. How very leader like! The Dhoni effect was fully visible, with the team being relaxed and everyone just going with the flow in the final, as opposed to getting overwhelmed by the momentousness of the occasion.

So I humbly submit to all those (especially Hitchy) who asked me to have patience and trust Dhoni’s abilities. The man has nerves of steel, and is a master manager. Here’s to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Take a bow MS!

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  • It was great to see Pakistan losing. Australia is the only side now that has not lost a single match. Well, there is India, but we know what can happen with the Indian team! Australia still has Kenya, Canada and Pakistan to play, and I have my hopes on Pakistan. A loss to Pakistan will open up group A as well, just like Group B opened up with the loss of South Africa. Then it will be a contest!
  • Is it just me or does Ravi Shastri appear either heavily drunk or heavily stoned whenever he is hosting the presentation ceremony? Exhibit A – he never looks at the camera. Exhibit B – his eyes are semi closed and he seems like he is going to fall off any second. Bewda?
  • Like someone mentioned in an FB posting, why does PiyushChawla keep getting selected to the team? Even today, after the sub par win against the Netherlands, Dhoni praised Chawla! The guy gives way more runs at crucial times, damn it!
  • It is heartening to see all recently retired players like Gary Kirsten, Tom Moody, Lance Klusner, Andy Flower, WaqarYounis, Venkatesh Prasad, NassirHussain either taking up the roles of coaches or commentators. My favorite new commentators so far have been Ganguly, NassirHussain and Lance Klusner. The least favorite HAS to be Rameez Raja!
  • I was shocked to see Daniel Vettori so plump. I remember him(from 2 world cups ago) to be lanky, reed thin. Even his glasses seem to have put on weight! The husband observed, and I agreed, that he looks more and more like Kumble these days. Especially the way he flubbed to catch that one ball against Pakistan, and ended up injuring himself was so Kumble-like!
  • Why does the Indian fielding suck so much? The other day NZ fielding against Pakistan was super, so was the way the Irish were fielding against us! Fielding is always going to be India’s weak point. And why is Yuvraj Singh so sluggish between the wickets? It is like he doesn’t want to move his ample backside fast enough!
  • KamranAkmal! He is a character! To me his “ShahidBhaiShahidBhaiShahidBhai” before and after every ball Shahid Afridi bowled was super annoying. Anyone else in my camp?
  • Why are we(India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh) having no name no face politicians give away the man of the match awards? In fact, why is there a man of the match award for EVERY SINGLE MATCH? It just seems like a waste of money! Does the man of the match win any monetary prize or is it just that little trophy? What do they do with such trophies?
  • We watch the world cup on Willow.tv. We got the world cup package subscription. While the broadcast is great, I am wondering about the advertisements. There are ads on 2 themes. One, sending money to India, to your parents and 2, MARRIAGE. Marriage is also subdivided into nationalities, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Indian. And as you might have already guessed, Indian is further Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Kerala, Tamil, Telugu etc! As these ads clearly depict, we are obsessed with money and marriage. Maybe they should make an ad where the son/daughter sends money to their parents, the parents call back to let him/her know “beta/beti paise mil gaye, oh ab shadi kar lo by enrolling on ____ matrimony.com!” Two birds with one stone! No?
  • Last but not the least, what is this World Cup called? I mean, who is the main sponsor? There were Hero cup, Wills World cup etc. What is this one called? Or maybe the ICC is so flush with cash that it does not need a sponsor anymore!

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De ghuma ke…errr…..

Watching the India England match this sunday made me squirm.

We got up early and sharp on Sunday to watch the match, having just paid a decent sum to ‘buy’ the online World Cup 2011 package. Sure, I wanted all the World cup matches to be paisa vasool, but not even in my nightmares did I ever think that a total in excess of 300 was paltry. When England started the chase, and they were above the required run rate, I thought One Day cricket had changed from 4 years ago, when 280 was a big target, and the chasing team had a task on their hands. On sunday it did not seem like England even had a task on their hands, let alone a battle. Catches were dropped, there was an absence of ‘good’ bowlers, as usual, and there were no appeals for caught behinds that should have been appealed. The Indian team’s shoulders were hunched over, and they lacked all motivation to win. Maybe a loss would have shaken them up, a tie does not help them fight this slumber off. One look at Chawla ‘celebrating’ the loss of Bresnan, after giving away 15 runs off that over was a pathetic display that make me throw up in my mouth! While the glares Dhoni was giving his fielders after every misfiled were understandable, I could not understand how Dhoni ended up not accepting that we were pathetic in all departments except batting. And that is why I keep thinking a loss would have drilled the fear of an early ouster from the World cup in their heads. Not they are all happy and cozy, thinking they haven’t lost. (Dhoni did not even say that the tie was probably not a desirable result, he said he was glad it was not a loss…WTH)! Sure we will win against Ireland and minions like that, but we would have to eventually face better teams like South Africa, Australia, even Pakistan. Then what? More and more it seems like our dream of being World Cup champions this go around will remain just that, a dream!

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Dada – reposted

I wrote this post more than 2 years ago, when Dada quit international cricket, though he was still active in IPL. Now we hear him saying if he is not getting opportunities in domestic cricket, maybe it is time for him to say goodbye. So here is a tribute to him. It is as fitting now, as it was when I wrote it, in November 2008, and it is sad to see him go out in such a meek manner. But he was anything but meek when he was at the peak of his career, and even otherwise. John Wright was possibly the only coach who understood and used Dada’s passion for winning. People like Chappel and other Indian selectors were always trying to bring him down but he fought all his detractors and proved everyone wrong, until now. Now he bows out, being sidelined in the recent IPL auctions. Of course no King Khans or Dimply beauties or leggy lasses or moneyed birds will ever understand what Dada stands for, and he deserves better. Here is to Saurav Ganguly then!

From Nov 12, 2008:

I first noticed dada during his first ever test tour to England, where he hit a century on debut(I was in the tenth grade). I was impressed. So impressed that his cutout from The Hindu found a place in my cricket scrapbook(yes I had one). Since then I have been following the career trajectory and personal life of this charming man. His beginnings were humble but he was always style personified!
It was only later that I came to know that he had actually played for India in 1992 against the West Indies and was dropped because “he was perceived to be “arrogant” and his attitude towards the game was openly questioned” (source: Wikipedia.) It was only after he played prolifically in two seasons of domestic cricket that he was picked for the National team. Then after the Sidhu tamasha in England about how he was treated, Sourav got a chance to play.
Slowly he blossomed into a fine batsman and a good motivator and my admiration for him only grew with time. In 1997 he started opening in ODIs with Sachin and they made a great opening pair. He became the captain in 2000 after the match fixing mess and ruled his way to a 2003 world cup final against Australia which we lost.
My admiration for him is for the way he motivated the team both as a team player as well as a campain. He brought home the idea that we have to play hard in order to win. He brought the fighting spirit to the Indian team. Even though he was not very athletic, he motivated everyone to field well, and his field placements were always effective. His fighter spirit slowly permeated to the rest of the team and we saw a side of the Indian team we never do, the fighting side. Instead of the drooping chests and sad demeanor, we saw them pumping fists in the air, doing dances, huddles and also taking their shirts off! Ofcourse dada was not at all noncontroversial. He was critisized for taking his shirt off after India won a nailbiter at Lords in 2002. They said he was disrespecting the gentleman’s game(I remember thinking, gentleman;’s game my foot, there are players fixing matches, using swear words and racial slurs, what gentleman’s game are you talking about?) He had his differences with Greg Chappel (I have mine with Greg too……he did not understand Indian cricket.) He was always thought of as an arrogant man, although there were players far worse than him in that department, who were never critisized(gori chamdi.) He was known to have Dalmia dancing to his fingertips too.
Irrespective of the controversies his captaincy brought, that was an era of cricket I really loved because the Indian team was finally getting away from its ‘paper tiger’ image and actually becoming a tiger on the ground and roar! That was an era of cricket when the Indian team actually huddled before a match and motivated itself. That was an era of cricket when we fought till the very end of even a losing match. Dada’s contribution to cricket is not just ODI, Test runs, wickets or wins but the attitude of fighting for a game. The game is all the better for him.
We are going to miss you dada!

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World cup again

I cannot seem to stop thinking about the World Cup. Although I am not as big a cricket fan as some other people are, World cup certainly brings out the fan in me. The very first world cup I have memories of is 1992. Faint though the memories are, this was the first time I felt like cricket was a sport that evoked emotion in me. All I remember now is Imran Khan, handsome in green, lifting the transparent, crystal trophy to loud cheers. I had no idea of the Indo-Pak rivalry, and was mighty pleased that our neighbor won. That, until my very smart, jingoistic friend said – “pagal, Pakistani apne dushman hain, kyun unko support karri?”. After that I never loudly cheered for the men in green, although I liked a few of their players.

Obviously now I was pumped and couldn’t wait for 1996. But 1996 was Sri Lanka’s year from the get go. Scoring atleast 100 in the first 15 overs became the norm and that left me huffing and puffing, until they reached the quarterfinals, and were facing Pakistan. It was a do or die situation, for the Indian team, as well as for me, because that same year, a month later, we had our 10th class board examinations! And I was supposed to be preparing for the exams, not sneaking out to watch cricket with friends. But that is precisely what I did. Helped amply by my sister, we both sneaked out to a friend’s place, whose parents were out of town. Boy! Was I glad I ditched studying for this. Where Aamir Sohail’s 4, and his gesturing to Prasad enraged me, Prasad’s clean bowling Sohail a few balls later brought a lump to my throat. Was this really the Indian cricket team? That quarterfinal win felt amazing, and little did I know that this win was the last one of the tournament. We then ran into the Sri Lankan juggernaut in the Semis at Eden Gardens. Eden Gardens has never sounded the same to me me ever again. The only memory I have of that match is Kambli crying. Crying his eyes out because he really tried to play well, but wickets kept falling, the pitch kept disintegrating. Such a shame.

1999 was a blur again. I was excited about cricket going back to its country of origin, but we crashed out in the super six. The good news, though, was that we defeated Pakistan yet again. The whole tournament seemed iffy for India, we barely scraped out wins! This was a year to forget.

2003 brought the tournament to South Africa. This was the year we came closest to winning, after 1983. We were in top form, starting with the indomitable Sachin. I was in Mumbai at the time and my dad was visiting the day India was to play Pakistan in one of the early rounds. My dad was to take the afternoon flight back to Hyderabad, and I refused to go see him off because I wanted to watch the match :D And it was totally worth incurring my dad’s wrath. Sachin brought the stadium down with his masterful strokeplay, and was fittingly, the man of the match. I had high hopes for the Indian team, and they did deliver, until the finals, that is. Australia, led by Ponting, did a complete dhulai of the Indian bowlers and scored 359 in their 50 overs. India could not stand up to McGrath’s fury and were bowled out for a measely 234 in 40 overs. It was a sad sad match to watch, but Australia did deserve to win.

2007 is one world cup year I would love to forget. India lost to Bangladesh in its very first match. And things only went downhill from there. Pakistan fared similarly, and for the very first time in years, India and Pakistan did not play each other in the World cup. I checked out of the tournament as soon as we lost to Bangladesh. And that was that. I swore never to trust the Indian team again.

But here we are. 2011 is when the World cup comes rolling into India. And this year, I hope we win. For this would be the very last time we would see the little master play in a world cup. In all likelihood he would have retired by 2015, and what better way to go out of the game than to win cricket’s most coveted trophy, in your home stadium? I am sure Mumbai is on tenterhooks right now, waiting for the world cup to be brought home. I hope this is the year the rest of the team does not let the man down, and he does not let a billion people down. Bring home the cup Sachin!

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The World cup comes knocking.

The 2011 Cricket World Cup begins in a little more than a month and circket fever is beginning to creep up on me. The last few years have been a confusing time for me vis-a-vis cricket. Do I like 20-20? Do I like the shorter format? What are my views on IPL? But I am certain about one thing. I firmly believe this world cup we have the best team of the past 4-5 times. 2003 was when I thought India might win the cup finally, but we lost meekly in the finals, 2007 was, of course, forgettable. This year, on the other hand, we are one of the best teams out there, and I would bet my money on either India, England or South Africa. This time, for a change, Australia is down in the dumps, and I hope it stays so. I have always liked South Africa, so if India does not win, I’d rather SA does.

Another reason I am excited about the world cup is Sachin. This is possibly his very last time playing to win it, and it is only fitting that his career ends on a high of being the World Champions. And the cherry on the top? The finals are in Mumbai! So here’s to Sachin!

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The cricket I talk about is before the era of IPL and Twenty-Twenty. The cricket I talk about is the ‘real’ cricket….not the one on steroids!

 

Things that I miss:

  • Sanjay Manjarekar’s pronunciation of ‘Tendulkar’! (I cannot describe that pronunciation, you have to listen to it….)
  • Ramiz Raja and Ravi Shastri arguing about who would win……Ramiz keeps saying Pakistan has a chance even if they are really in the dumps. Ramiz Raja’s english….sigh I miss the guy.
  • Indian fielders’ reaction at a shot that is destined for the boundary(all of them point fingers at the ball…like the other guy/some one else would magically run after the ball merely by their pointing to it)
  • Azharuddin saying ‘The boys really played well blah blah blah’ every time India lost.
  • Harsha Bhogle.
  • Pakistani Captains referring to their team in the third person(I think Pakistan played well…..hehe)
  • Warne and Sohaib Akhtar’s dhulayi at the hands of Tendlya.
  • Hindi commentary – Maninder Singh, Yashpal Sharma. (Gend balle ke bahri kone se lag ke ja rahi hain boundary ki ore….aur….char run!)
  • David Shepherd jumping around the stadium whenever the score read 111 or multiples thereof.

 

Things I DON’T miss:

  • Mandira Bedi and Charu Sharma’s takeover of commentary. C’mon man, this is cricket, give us some real analysis. We don’t care for eye candy!
  • Sidhuisms.
  • Indian team losing over and over again.
  • Sledging. Did not like it then, do not like it now.
  • That the first 15 overs have become the most important and that scoring 6 runs per over is not good enough anymore.
  • Dada being treated badly :-(
  • Zone politics. Selection committee politics. Team politics. POLITICS.

 

Things I wish would happen:

  • Narottam Puri returns to commentary – the guy is a gem.
  • Dada comes back to play and his former glory is restored.
  • Someone makes Yashpal Sharma listen to what he says. Pure drivel.
  • ODIs and tests are taken seriously again.
  • IPL is disbanded. (IPL has only added to the murky web of cricket politics).

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Nelson…quick…jump!

This is my 111th post. Fans of cricket will definitely associate this number with Umpire David Shepherd and his one legged stand at a score of 111.

So in his honor, and to ward off any bad luck from my blog, please indulge me and nelson jump.

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Too old for 20-20? Huh!

By now everyone who knows my dear sister knows that she has become a big fan of the new version of one day(?) cricket….the 20 overs a side game! I remember during the world cup in 1996, I and my friends were watching the final match between Srilanka and Australia and our tuition sir said ‘kya ye one-day cricket…asli cricket tho test cricket hain’ and I remember thinking granted that test cricket is real cricket watched by die-hard fans but one-day cricket is more interesting and quick and you dont have to watch men in whites run along slowly over the course of 5 days. Of course, the fact that one-day players had colourful uniforms was an added attraction. Surely test cricket was for the oldies!
Cut to today. Shweta, who normally doesn’t care much about cricket suddenly tells me over chat that she’s hooked to the new 20-20 world cup! Here I am, a big cricket fan myself not really feeling excited about 20-20. ‘How is a game that finishes in 3 hours, cricket? Whats the point in both teams just breezing thourgh the overs, hitting hard with no technique at all(thats my view people…dont get all jumpy on me)? Is it that I didn’t like 20-20 as much as my sis because I am getting old? Like my tuition sir? Is 20-20 next-generation cricket and I am far behind in the last?

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