Sunday, March 02, 2014

History and winners

They say "History is written by the Victors"; but what they failed to know is that there are no permanent winners and losers; even if the vanquished had left the earth long ago; his spirit continues to live through one of  his descendants or through the descendants of his followers who upon winning; change the Past to suit their views.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The last gem!


In my earlier post, I hoped that Sachin with his bat will give us few more moments to cherish in his final outing as a batsman. And he did that with a brisk 74. It wasn't a century, nor was I expecting one till he actually arrived on crease and started batting really well. Even if it isn't; it doesn't matter- I am more than satisfied with this because his final knock tells us why he is so special- it isn't just about how much he scores, but also about how he gets them; the knock had every shot in the book (Except the pull/hook)-the on-drive, the straight drive, the cover drive, the square cut and the many variations of sweep shots; all came quite quick showing his intent to dominate the bowling more often than not. It's about the many possibilities that are on offer with a bat on his hand, which makes Sachin's batsmanship so special; the possibilities seem to be innumerable especially when he can play half-a-dozen different kind of shots to a similar delivery bowled to him.
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      Announcing his arrival as a technically correct and focused player with an intent to play his strokes more freely and dominate the bowling with his brutal hitting; he batted like this till the 2003 World Cup. With injuries taking the toll on his body and the scores dipping, he resorted to being more defensive during 2005-2007-England Series, even though his One day batting continued to be fantastic during the same period. However, the 56 and 82 he struck against Pakistan in 2007 Home Tests seemed to have improved his confidence and he began to adapt his style to score quickly despite lacking the brutal strokeplay power of his earlier days; resulting in great success in Australia and from then onwards in many more matches till 2010-11.

Indian cricket wizard Sachin Tendulkar executes a fine straight drive during the first day of the Ranji Trophy Group 'A' match between Mumbai and Railways at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on November 2, 2012. Tendulkar warmed for the first Test against England with a brilliant 137, on the opening day on Friday.
    While the last 2 years have been quite difficult for him; in his Final Test though, he delivered what his fans expect from him. Sachin in his final knock, did no harm to his reputation of being the most compact and complete strokeplayer of his era. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

2 more to go!!

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It is tough to digest that it's all going to come to an end!! For 19 years, I had seen him play; and the great man has left behind a great deal of memories for me and innumerable fans.
         There were times when we were wondering whether he'll get dismissed early after seeing him struggle to hit a couple of deliveries initially; only to see him craft a brilliant 100 in the end; and there were moments when he brought the ecstasy levels to a high for the fans after a couple of blazing drives; only to see him get out to a poor shot. And then there were times when it appears like he is in the zone and he simply can't do any wrong- this was on display in both formats (ODIs and Tests) on plenty of occasions and these innings are the reason why a legion of fans get tempted to call him 'God'. If the purity of his technique could amaze the purists; his tendency to go for the risky low percentage shots keeps his fans on the edge of their seats; occasionally making them wonder whether he'll succeed, fail or at-least escape with it; but more often they click and that's what makes him a genius!! It's due to his ability to score at-least a couple of breathtaking shots; almost every time he comes to bat that people wait for his arrival at the crease. At his peak, fans can't be satisfied with just a couple of shots-they want 'more' and even more when the opponents have scored quite big; the disappointment that fans express even when he scores a decent 40-something cameo; speaks high about how much the fans expect from him and also to a big extent- the standards he maintained for himself over the years. The greatness of a genius lies in the fact that even when he is operating at below his peak form; he can still do a lot of things that mere mortals couldn't. It's true that the last 2 years were quite painful and 2006 was a torrid year for Sachin in Tests. But even in those worst phases, he had the ability to come up with a mini-gem here and there ( Like the 44 in Wanderers' 2006, 63 in Durban 2006 or The Chepauk innings,2013) and it's due to this reason that I kept waiting for his arrival at the crease regardless of his form. I knew he'll soon call it quits; but before that I expected him to score big in the proposed South Africa tour. Alas, that's not going to happen as he has decided to retire after the 2 match home series against West Indies.
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         I know that the game is always bigger than the man, there were greats in the past generation, many more will arrive in the future; but no cricketer's arrival at the crease created as much excitement as Sachin's, no man could offer as much joy as Sachin did with his batting exploits.  I can't forget those fond moments when I shouted with joy the moment Sachin reached the magic 3 figure mark, nor the innumerable curses I uttered in frustration when there is a power cut or cable connection problem right when Sachin was hitting fiercely.
 I watched several matches featuring other Teams and innings of other greats; when I had time, but if it's Sachin at the crease; I just left all the other things aside and watch him play; there was nothing more important to me than watching him score big and sometimes even if he gets dismissed early; I felt satisfied that I was able to watch at-least one great shot. I may watch some matches in the future too; but it's unlikely that I'll stay glued on to the Television even when the batting team needs 8 runs off 4 balls with just 2 wickets left.
       There are 2 more Test matches left and I am sure Sachin will offer a few more great moments to relish!! And I'll wait till then to pay a bigger tribute to the Superman who's occupied my childhood!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rajesh Khanna's success streak.

You might have often heard of Rajesh Khanna holding the unique record of delivering 15 successful films in a row,but hardly any news article mentioned the 15 films correctly,nor the time period during which those 15 films released.
Anyway,I would list those 15 films here.It all began with his 5th film Aradhana and continued till Haathi Mera Saathi(Which released in May 1971)
1969
1.Aradhana (Golden jubilee)
2,Ittefaq (Silver Jubilee)
3.Doli
4.Do Raaste (Diamond Jubilee)
5.Bandhan (Silver Jubilee)
6.Khamoshi
1970
7.Safar  (Silver Jubilee)
8.Sacha Jhutha (Silver Jubilee)
9.The Train
10.Kati Patang (Silver Jubilee)
11.Aan Milo Sajna  (Silver Jubilee)
1971
12.Anand (Silver Jubilee)
13.Maryada (Silver Jubilee)
14.Andaz (Silver Jubilee)
15.Haathi Mera Saathi (Golden Jubilee)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thank you,Rajesh Khanna!


Rajesh Khanna is my favorite Hindi film actor.I know that Rajesh Khanna's film career was almost finished by the time I was born, but then it isn't difficult to figure out he was such a Phenomenon during 1969-74.
         Although Hindi Film Industry is known to frequently churn out romantic films which clicked at the Box Office,even before Rajesh Khanna's advent and after his fall too; it is Rajesh Khanna who was considered the Emperor of Romance- the ease with which he could convey the romantic feelings and impress his girl, the cute mannerisms and the smile which brought an immeasurable joy to anyone who watches his performances; altogether might have made him so popular among the masses and the youth.The 1973 Documentary Bombay Superstar (Which wasn't entirely kind to Rajesh Khanna) tells one thing right about him-He has probably used more ways of implying love on-screen,than what's been shown in India's most popular book-the crinkling of his eyes,the tilt of his forehead and the smile- he didn't really need long poems to express his love; he could just use the trademark mannerisms economically to imply it; and they were all so magical, as it made his chocolate boyish face so adorable and likable for the audience, he was a common man who liked to show his feelings in a rather stylised manner onscreen.The thing I liked the most about him was how he elevated many characters he played by performing straight from the heart and for giving the feel of living the role he plays . The sincerity with which he performed the sentimental roles, made them more appealing to the viewers,who felt like the character was probably their friend or a family member. And he was also careful enough to not amount to hamming,at-least during those early years.
    Rajesh Khanna's superstardom is unique because he mostly did not play the 'Larger than life' roles that's associated with many Superstars,nor did he often play the Ideal upright person; many of his characters face the difficulties which every middle-class person faces,they lead a seemingly simple and ordinary life with all its vulnerabilities, yet they approach the fate or death with a smile and enjoy the moments of difficulty with words of sarcasm or just look on the optimistic side. In short,his Superstardom was a celebration of the Ordinary man's life,his films didn't offer solutions to fight the problems,rather it gave the people a hope and made them enjoy their lives,despite the problems they face.
     While the death of Rajesh Khanna has made me feel very sad,I do not want to express my sadness here,I rather wanted to express the reasons why he will forever stay in the hearts of many admirers like me. The masterpiece Anand alone is enough to be thankful for him.But,it doesn't just end there. I am thankful for the fact that,even at the height of his Superstardom-when even a sureflop story was converted to a hit,as it had Rajesh Khanna in it,or when his 15 minute Appearance was enough to pull a Big hit-he did several memorable films many of which are still delightful to watch (Anand,Aradhana,Amar Prem,Daag,Dushmun, Kati Patang, Namak Haraam,Roti,Sacha Jhutha et al) and even after he lost it,he didn't fail to do good films,although they didn't match the magic of his best years. And his biggest contribution is undoubtedly his taste for good music-perhaps no other Hindi film actor showed so much of interest in the music of his film as Rajesh Khanna did and that is reflected in the quality of the music in his films-It isn't an exaggeration to state that his films had the best music among all the Hindi films. In fact, when I tried to list the number of excellent songs that were a part of his films' soundtracks; I found it went beyond 30,even if I just tried to include the films he did in those 5 Golden years. 
      Although Rajesh Khanna had a very large fanbase and also probably liked by many of the later generations too,he couldn't quite stage a good comeback during the later age,nor could he succeed much during the late Seventies,when Action films were ruling the roost. It might be perhaps the fans always wanted to look at him as the Handsome and cheerful actor at his peak and not a person,who put on significant weight and lost the charm of the past.(He did succeed in the early 80s with hits like Souten, Avtaar though.)
     Alas,one wishes that his Superstardom lasted for a longer period or maybe he deserved to live for more years; but none can deny that he has left behind a very great body of work even in that short reign and as the popular saying goes (from Anand)-Zindagi badi honi chahiye,Lambi nahi. Good bye,Kaka-I hope you enjoy your stay in heaven with your pals Kishore Kumar and R D Burman. Thank you for the great memories!

      

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fantastic Federer!


2 and a half years since the last Grand Slam title win and still,people and fans were eager to watch every match of his in TV Sets or in the Stadia,it didn't matter to most whether he will win another Grand Slam Major or not,they just wanted to see him play.Why?
It's because Roger Federer is such an awesome shot maker in Tennis-the aggression and readiness he shows in quickly grabbing the points through plenty of aces and winners rather than waiting for the opponent's game to deteriorate and commit mistakes,makes the match look so exciting and keeps you on the edge of your seats and it appears like no other Sport can be as exciting as Tennis,when Roger plays.
     It is the delight and pleasure that he offers even when he plays at slightly below his best form,that people love watching him and cheer for him,even when he isn't ranked 1st. Throughout this 'bad period',he actually reached the Quarterfinals of all the Grand Slam events,Semifinalist in 6 of the 9 and a Finalist in one;apart from winning Masters and back to back World Tour Finals,defeating top ranked players consistently. It's because of the class he shown in those matches when he defeated the Top players (Djokovic in Frenc Open 2011 Semifinals,Nadal in WTF 2010 and 2011.) and the remarkable fight he gave even in the matches he lost,that fans still hoped that Federer will get another Grand Slam title,sooner or later.
   And finally,Roger Federer won another Grand Slam title at Wimbledon this year.I wondered if I may not be able to watch the matches due to the long trip. Thankfully,there were TV sets in most of the Hotels where we had to stop by during the tour and I was able to watch the best of Federer's matches.
   It wasn't an easy journey for Federer,even if Nadal's early exit in 2nd Round might have made it easier for him. When Nadal was defeated by an unknown player,I thought well he has to defeat only tough opponent-the red-hot Djokovic. But,even before he could meet Djokovic,he had to handle 2 big scares. The scare in the 3rd Round was something,he had faced many times earlier at that level and his usual resilience and determination was enough to come back from 2 sets down to win the match. Then I thought-hmm,he'll never lose against an ordinary opponent at such an early part of the Big tournament, nothing unusual.
   Then came the 4th Round,despite suffering from lower-Back pain he fought determinedly to win the match in 4 Sets,if anything this was the match which made me believe that Roger was determined to win this,and I was forced to pray that this back-pain may not affect his performance in the rest of the Tournament.
The Quarterfinals was definitely the first of the 2 awesome matches Roger played in this Tournament. Federer showed none of the apprehensions which his fans had(Who were disappointed with his Quarterfinal exits in 2010 and 2011 and worried about his back pain.)  while dispatching his opponent Youzhny in straight sets,he was in such a dominating form and he was dictating terms even on Youzhny's serve,he simply looked invincible.
The Semifinals was Roger's biggest test as he had to face the Title holder and no.1 ranked Djokovic. When 2 of the best shotmakers of the current era clash,it's bound to be a treat for the fans and it brought out the best out of Roger Federer. The first set was won in a dominating fashion by Federer,even though Djokovic fought back to win the 2nd set. Roger responded to the challenge by rising his level of game to win the 3rd and 4th Sets comfortably. What an exciting battle it was! It had plenty of rallies with 3 of them going to more than 20 strokes,with the best being the one where Federer won a point with a brilliant Backhand winner after an exchange of 26 strokes.
With that win,it was obvious that the Final was a mere formality and that Federer will be the new number one and the Wimbledon Champion.It was amazing how even at the age of 30,having already won 16 Grand Slams and all that matters; he still has enough firepower and energy to beat the player who is in his best form of his life and ranked number one for the last 50 weeks!
  Although the 1st Set of the Final looked a bit tepid,with Federer committing too many Forehand errors and even a double-fault,I felt all that Federer needs is a Set to win to regain the form. During his best years,what I admired the most about Federer is that when he senses that this is the point or game which can turn the match in his favour,he will fight for it to get it and then win the set and match. And that's exactly what happened in the 2nd and 3rd Sets. While Murray seemed to win with ease the games on his serve,Federer seemed to be threatened to get broken on his serve more than once,yet he managed to level it at 5-5 and then lead at 6-5 on his serve. I think the game he won to make it 6-5 really changed the complexion of the match,as Federer started playing more confidently after that. And when he sensed an opportunity to break Murray's serve finally,he grabbed it and won the Set 7-5.
Yet another display of his class and determination was visible in the 3rd Set,when he overcome over 11 Deuces to finally break Murray's serve again and thus win that game and gain a good lead to win the 3rd Set.
And then a Brilliant Backhand pass helped Federer to break Murray's serve early in the 4th Set and Federer didn't try hard to break Murray's serve again,as all he needed was to win games on his own serve to win the Set and thus the Championship.
And when he finally won,I couldn't hide my joy. It doesn't matter if Roger Federer continues to reign on top for more number of weeks,I am just happy that he will be finally able to break Sampras's record stay at ATP number 1,as Roger deserves it more.
I am more than satisfied that even in this highly competitive era,where his rivals have improved to higher levels and playing at their peak,Roger showed he can still defeat them to win the Big Tournament. I just want him to win another US Open Tournament.
All-round Domination


With this Wimbledon win,Roger holds the record for having the highest number of Title wins in 3 of the 4 Individual Grand Slam Events in the Open Era (Albeit jointly.) -Australian Open(4-level with Agassi),US Open (5-level with Sampras and Jimmy Connors) and Wimbledon(7-level with Sampras.). And with,a 1 French Open win along with being runner up in 4 other occasions;he has shown why he is considered the most Complete Tennis player.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Long trip.

After 10 long years,I'm visiting Delhi and Haridwar again. But this time,it is going to be a bigger and more well recorded trip.
Finally,my parents bought a Camera,which can be considered as among the very good ones in the market.(Unlike the one given to me and my brother back then,which can get good snaps only in daylight and worse we visited those places in late foggy December.)
As part of the Char Dham yatra, we will get the once in a life-time opportunity of visiting the 4 Holy places located in the ice-capped regions-Badrinath,Kedarnath,Gangotri and Yamunotri.
Last year, we visited Nashik and witnessed the origin of the great Godavari river. This year,we'll get to see the origins of 2 more great rivers-Ganga and Yamuna.
For the first time,I'm going to travel by air and I would like to witness how good our International Airport is (About which I wrote 4 years ago.)
With the Camera in hand,I want to make this Trip a really memorable one,capturing several great moments in the form of videos and pictures.
It may not be possible for me to stay connected to the Web World during the next 2 weeks,but once I return,I do hope I can show some really good snaps to the visitors of my blog.:)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fistful of Dollars (1964)


A Freemake of Akira's Japanese classic Yojimbo,Fistful of Dollars is first of the 3 films of 'Man With No Name' series and the first major film,where Clint starred in a Leading role.
The plot of the film is about a Stranger(Clint Eastwood),who enters a town,dominated by 2 families,one the Baxters and other is Rojos;who indulge in the Smuggling Business.
In a town,where anyone outside the 2 families must either flee or get killed,The Stranger prefers to rather make a quick buck by playing one family against the other,and after one family gets massacred and the Stranger's Tricks get revealed,he prefers to shoot down the last remaining family and moves out of the town.
Firstly,the film does not much of a high script value and also appears a bit dated(Oh,it released in 1964!),yet it's watchable mainly for 1 Reason-Clint's Portrayal of the Cunning,Accurate Gunslinger;true to what's been said in the Promotional Trailer,he's indeed Brought in a New Style in the Adventure Genre;he has dared to portray one of the darkest of the Antihero roles,darkest because;almost none of his actions related with treating the 2 Families had anything to do with giving A 'moral Redemption' and just a couple of actions have some kinda good intentions.
To the director's credit,the Film has quite a raw feel of the Violence shown and of the Ruthless Killings and as Clint had said in the Promotional Interview,the major highlight here is that it's the Hero who has prolonged the ongoing fight between the families and also provoked many,rather than being the one who'll solve the problems!
Ennio Morricane composes a very funny,whistling Musical theme,providing an Operatic feel to the film.
Finally,it's Clint who carries the film on his Shoulders aided by Ennio Morricane's music;to give a good repeat value to the film
Rating:7/10(Good)
PS: While the late realisation that this film was an unauthorised copy of Yojimbo did disappoint me,I preferred to rate this film based on how I felt when I watched it 1st time,rather than comparing it with the original.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Modern Times(1936)

Charlie Chaplin makes another great comedy feature,based on the difficult times of Depression era.
Charlie Chaplin again plays a Tramp,who now works in an Automobile Assembly-line factory.With the Employers trying various experiments to increase the working hours(Like using a Robot to feed the workers to cut the Lunch time.) and forcing the workers to work at a frenetic pace to meet the Market demands,the Tramp becomes a poor victim,unable to cope up with the Modern Times,nor able to get over the trauma of a Failed experiment on him.
The mentally broke Tramp is sent to a Hospital.After recovering,he has to face more problems as he is unable to find work.Then,he gets jailed for holding a Communist flag.The Tramp loves staying in jail,as he is assured of a daily meals.But,an accidental rescue of the Warden and foiling a prison break,meant that he has to face the Harsh reality of the outside world again.
In one of his attempts to get arrested,he encounters an Orphan girl.The two people,with a common aim-to satiate their hunger;join hands and decide to overcome the various hurdles to survive during the difficult times.
It's not that easy,though-the Orphan gets chased by the Police as she's a minor,while The Tramp is often quite incompetent,even when he gets a few things right,the Orphan's presence will pose a problem to him-yet they fight and are optimistic of a bright future!
Fun,Irony and thought provoking
The Tramp character,naturally provides fun,through his incompetence,but Charlie Chaplin doesn't fail to show through his character,how a normally competent person himself found it tough to survive then.His attempts to get into the Jail,despite not being a criminal,just tells us how difficult people found it difficult to get 2 square meals per day during the Great Depression in the America itself.How merely holding a red flag landed him in Jail,shows how the Americans feared and despised the Communists.He even convinces how the System,with its rules,rather made life difficult for people like The Orphan to survive on their own.
The Silent film has its share of dialogues-extremely sparse though,the one at the beginning and then the Tramp sings,but not in English,he rather utters some Gibberish which with good music passes off as quite a funny song.
Watch Modern Times-there are some films,where it doesn't matter whether they are made in a language alien to you,or like in this case, even no language used at all;this is one Silent film,which you won't regret watching.It's damn funny and as serious as 'Grapes of Wrath',when it comes to portraying the Difficult times of Great Depression era.
Rating:10/10

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)


Being a big fan of Oscar Wilde's works,it pains me that he has written just one Novel and a handful of plays.He is undoubtedly one of the biggest underachievers in the Literary World.
Come on,how many Literary giants have coined as many Famous witty quotes as Wilde did?I doubt if any of the modern Best-selling authors can at-best boast of having half-a-dozen famous quotes to their credit.So many of the funny quotes I receive in the form of 'Chain SMSes' bear the name of Oscar Wilde.(At-least 50% of them.)
Imagine the kind of Treasure trove of quotes,he would have given us,had he written more Novels or plays.
Anyway,this Short novel is excellent,extremely complex and quite thoughtful too,with a bit of fantasy added in too.The theme of this novel can be interpreted in different ways.Anyway,here I'll post here what I felt about the Novel.
    Dorian Gray is a handsome young man,whose soul has not been attacked by the Evil forces.It's this purity which makes him a favorite of Basil Hallward,an artist.The artist considers him as an inspiring force,which brings out the best in him as an artist.Every work of his was influenced by Dorian's features.And then there is Henry Wotton,who appears to be a theorist,who's found in Dorian Gray,a model for experimenting his theories;viewing him as an innocent person,who can be easily influenced.Unfortunately,his theories are hedonist,which refuses to conform to any form of Morality or Ethics.Dorian Gray falls prey to Wotton's charm and gets influenced by everything he says.He even begins to follow his theories.And what would perhaps remain of Dorian Gray is only the pure Youthful face and not the purity of the soul.
One fine day,Basil completes the portrait of Dorian Gray;and when Dorian looks at it,he's worried that the face in his portrait will continue to look young,while he would grow old and lose the charm.He wishes that the opposite happen!As the pages move,we realise that his wish has been fulfilled.With this obsession for materialistic pleasures and outward appearance;the obvious loser is the inner soul.Influenced by Wotton,he would turn out to be more and more bad,a man who wold use his charm to wreck others' lives,his ageless charm will attract Womenfolk from all sections,only to get their names spoiled due to the affairs.As he becomes more and more notorious,every aspect of this gets reflected in his Portrait,which has now become an image of his conscience.
The Novel,in my opinion,advocates people to follow a minimum set of ethics and Morality.It rather explains, to what extent a man can go,in committing evil,when he lacks ethics,or forgets the Moral values.It gives a picture of how man will be when he detaches from the sensitive Human feelings,but gets attached to the Materialistic aspect of Life.
It also provides an argument for the case of how Evil force can influence a man,more easier than noble thoughts.(Considering how Wutton succeeded with ease,while Basil's pleas fell on deaf ears.)
And,as usual,there are hell number of witty quotes in this 180+ pages work,including some,which aren't meant to be taken seriously too.


Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm back!

Somehow,it has turned out to be one of my many weaknesses.Whenever I take a break from an activity,it takes ages for me to come back and get the rhythm again!
First,it's been with reading Books,then a website,then visiting the Temple everyday and now Blogging.I didn't write anything since March.
When India finally won the World Cup,I wanted to write so much,but just couldn't get the right words;perhaps the joy was too much for me to bear,as a Fan,i had been watching Cricket since 1996,I knew how India fared then,winning an odd ODI tournament here or there and having a good Test record only at home.Then came 1998,a glorious year,when Sachin's brilliance helped India achieve some great ODI successes,with an unprecedented consistency(At-least for India.)
Then came the Pakistanis in 1999.Our defeat against them in back-to-back Tournaments dimmed our hopes.None of my friends then,were expecting India to win.We just didn't care whether India loses in Super Six or Semi Final,we rather expected Pakistan or South Africa to win.
Further disasters and scandals were to emerge a year later,which threatened to kill people's interest in Cricket.But, good performances against top Teams in the so-called Mini-World cup(2000),once again brought joy to me.(Only to be disappointed by the loss in Final against a lesser Team like New Zealand.) and the Series win against the all-conquering Australian Team,resurrected the Indian Team and the fans' expectations soared to a level like it never did before.Somehow,a fine captain though Ganguly was,our ODI fortunes never really bettered the ones India achieved in 1990s(Mostly due to Sachin Tendulkar's contributions.),barring Natwest Trophy and 2003 World cup Final performance,no Tri-Series+ performances were remarkable.the Test fortunes though improved with Sporadic Overseas wins,finally helping us to remove the 'Poor travelers' tag.
Then there was a phase when it appeared like India was underachieving and the World Cup 2007 disaster,alienated many fans.Somehow,I felt it's not fair to criticise our cricketers like this,who have achieved more Wins than their predecessors.I was sure that,India can perform better than this.And they did!First a series win in England,then the T20 Cup win,then the CB Series win(After so many Finals losses.) and then onwards,winning became a habit for Indian Team.
Although India lost some Tournament Finals,I was confident that India will win the cup this time,as I thought they didn't seem to suffer from the Final phobia as they appeared to during 2000-05,and after all they even won some in last 3 years!
Finally,India won the World Cup,at-last I too watched a Great Tournament Triumph achieved by India,no need for me anymore to watch some highlights of the 1983 triumph!Thank you Yuvraj,Dhoni,Zaheer Khan,Sachin et al!! Now,my stand has been vindicated!Under Dhoni's captaincy,we can expect more great Triumphs to come.
And by the way,I'll try to write more regularly.I rarely received many comments,though I received many Hits(If I were to trust Sitemeter or Hitscounter.).I hope the visitors will come back again.I'll try to write better stuff from now onwards.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thank you South Africa!

On behalf of Indian,English and even West Indies cricket fans,I thank South Africa for not only defeating Bangladesh(Which ensures a Quarterfinal berth for both England and India);but also trashing them so hard that even if West Indies loses tomorrow and remains stranded on same number of points as Bangladesh does,West Indies will enter the Quartfinals thanks to a better Net Run Rate.

As usual,the England team performed well against a top team(West Indies),after losing to a minnow like Bangladesh;which meant that they too kept their chances of entering Quarterfinals alive,by defending a moderate target of 245 against the Windies.It was a disappointing sight to see even an attacking batsman like Chris Gayle play in a defensive mode against a spinner,there are only 2 ways you can survive against a Spinner-Atack him for boundaries,or nudge and push for easy singles;defence means you play into their hands in ODIs.Darren Bravo,Sarwan and others too committed the same mistake,giving respect to Tredwell and also a trundler like Bopara.Darren Sammy and Russell attacked the bowlers quite freely;Gayle too attacked the quicks early on,but that wasn't enough as the wickets fell easily to the spinners and Bopara,even as they were approaching the target.
So,we had to watch the South Africa-Bangladesh match;expecting the latter to lose badly.After winning the toss,Graeme Smith surprised everyone by resting his key bowlers Steyn and Morkel;and tried Tsotsobe and Parnell instead.But,I thought-Smith might not be wrong,guess Tsotsobe alone is more than enough for the Saffers to trash the Banglas and it turned out to be true.First,the South Africans batted smoothly,the loss of wickets too didn't affect their rhythm,even in the Powerplays they mostly played the balls acording to their merit,picking singles mostly and then dispatching the bad balls to the boundaries.Even a tail-ender like Robin Peterson attacked well playing some good orthodox drives and get a 9-ball 22 to reach an imposing 285.And when you've a good bowling attack,you can confidently defend even 250+,leave alone 300+.Then came Tsotsobe who demolished the top order,picking 3 Bangla wickets,the Spinners Peterson and Botha did the rest and bundled the Banglas out for a meagre 78.The Bangla fans in the Stadium were content that their team had not been bundled for less than 58.(Their lowest ODI score till date.:P)
The only chance for West Indies to get eliminated is to get bundled out for less than 75 and India then chasing it down in just 7-8 overs or India piling up 500+ and then bundling the Windies for just <200.(Which is not likely,as first,though Indians tend to win regularly these days,they rarely slaughter an opponent.The last time,their bowling attack slaughtered consistently was in 2003 World Cup before the Final match.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

England complicates the things in Group B.

By losing against Bangladesh,the England cricket team missed an opportunity to hit two birds with one stone.(Although they could've taken away only one of the Two birds.) I mean,if England won against Bangladesh,the path would have been clear for both India and England to reach the Quarterfinals,because if Bangladesh lost the match,then Group B would have had 3 teams with 3 defeats each against their names-which meant that Teams which can't lose more than 2 matches each,will qualify for the Quarters easily(India already posted 3 wins and a half,with 2 more games to go;while England might've gained 7 points out of 10,with one more game to go.)
 Thanks to England losing against both Ireland and Bangladesh,the latter two teams too have a chance of reaching the Quarterfinals.Now that India too has lost against South Africa,both teams' fate depends a lot on their next game against West Indies-the difference being that even if England wins against West Indies,it must depend on other factors like Bangladesh not achieving an improbable Upset win over South Africa(Bangladesh now have 3 wins,after defeating Netherlands coolly.One more win,will make England depend on Net Run Rate to enter the Quarter finals.) and West Indies too failing to win against India. While in the case of India,it can afford a loss against West Indies and still have 80% chances of reaching the Quarterfinals(Only if England thrashes West Indies by a huge margin along with an improbable win by Bangla against Saffers can things look difficult for India.).Also,theirs(India) being the last match,they'll even be aware of whether they can enter the Quarter finals,even if they don't win the last match and perhaps play without pressure.
 Right from 1997(Probably began with the Indian Independence Cup,I think :D),I and my father would often come up with many equations and probabilities of India's chances of entering the next round(Like how many losses can India afford,if X and Y teams win so many matches,Should X lose or Y lose in X vs Y match,so that it can benefit India etc.);every time a Quadrangular or Bigger Multi-Series ODI tournaments with the Round Robin format is played.I don't think even the Team Captains and their managements might have spent so much time on it!::D And when I told my father that India is through to the Quarter Finals after India won against Netherlands in this World Cup,perhaps I under-estimated England's unpredictability in this World Cup then.:D
 England's loss  against West Indies though will make it more easier for India and even Bangladesh now to enter the Quarter Finals.(Ireland's chances of winning 3 of 6 looks dim,as it appears to be no match against South Africa.)
So far,only one team has been eliminated from Group A and that's Netherlands.The rest all can still fancy their chances.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bring it on!

The pessimists might argue that whenever India performs well in the practice matches,it will not perform well in the Main World Cup matches;but it must be pointed out that last time,the 2 practice matches India played before the World Cup-2007 were against 2 Teams,who were so worse(Netherlands and West Indies-this team will either perform brilliant occasionally,and horrible mostly) that they could hardly post a sizeable score as a target for us.So,it hardly gave an indication of how India might perform when it's forced to chase some 250+ scores.
On the other hand,this time,India defeated the current number one ranked ODI Team Australia(Depleted though they are of the 2 biggest stars of their 2007 campaign.) and also New Zealand,whose recent track record in ODIs might be worse,but then they're always known to perform better in World Cups(4 time Semifinallists),than they normally perform in the other ODIs;off-course without creating any major upsets like knocking out the Tournament favorite et al.
    While,not everything looked perfect,there's no doubt that India has the best Team to pick the World Cup and also,the best Conditions(Playing at home.).Nothing less than winning the Cup will satisfy the fans,not even a Runners-up position like in 2003;might look acceptable now,as there aren't many formidable opponents,like in the past.

South Africa looks like a perfectly balanced team,but apart from already bearing the "Chokers" tag for repeatedly losing in SemiFinals,despite having much better line-up on those occasions(In 1999,you can rely even on a no.9 batsman to score runs,so deep was their Battingline-up.);they have not won any Tri-series either since 2002;let's see if they are mentally strong enough to overcome their past failures.

Among the other Teams,despite lacking Mathew Hayden(Top-scorer of 2007 Edition),Glenn McGrath(Leading Wicket-taker of 2007 edition) and the destructive Gilchrist;I'm sure the current Australian team will reach the Quarterfinals undefeated,as I don't find any team in their Group,who can defeat them in an ODI.
As for India,it will again begin its campaign against Bangladesh,a Team against which it lost miserably in their previous World Cup encounter.If the players are mentally fit,I don't think India will find it difficult to defeat Bangladesh.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Australian Open 2011:Repeat of 2008.

For the first time in 3 years,you will find neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal playing in the Grand Slam Final.
While in the case of Rafael Nadal,it was once again an injury-affected loss,which meant that he was ousted in the QuarterFinal itself.
After struggling in the 2nd round,Roger Federer won comfortably in the 3rd round,4th Round and looked extremely good while defeating Wawrinka in the Quarterfinal.And when Nadal lost the match yesterday,I thought the path for another Australian Open looks quite comfortable for Federer.
Thanks to the 5-hour power-cut in my locality,I couldn't catch much of today's match.Finally,when I indeed managed to watch the match,I wished I didn't watch it,I wished it was a FAKE.I was shocked to see Roger Federer 2 sets down and then,being broken on his own serve.Later,when he broke Novak Djokovic's serve again to level the games won tally 4-4,I expected Federer to win another game on his serve and then win the 3rd set 6-4 or 7-5;instead he committed 3 consecutive Forehand errors to give 40-0 lead to Djokovic and then lost the game too.And he didn't make much of an effort to break Djokovic's serve either,resulting in a Straight Sets' loss.
Despite being in super form,during the last 2 Tournaments(Dubai and World Tour Finals.) and having a better career record against Djokovic,I'm surprised that he failed badly in SemiFinals of this Tournament. Watching the highlights made me realise that the First Set was indeed a closely fought one,lost in the Tie-breaker;but the Second set performance was surprisingly disappointing;from 4-2 lead Federer conceded a 5-7 loss!
Despite this loss,I still admire Roger Federer;he will always remain the Best Athlete,I'd seen.Having won 16 Grand Slam titles,there's little that Roger needs to achieve to prove anything;I believe he's enjoying his game,as he's still playing some wonderful shots;just that he couldn't control the errors during some crucial moments of the match,or maybe the hunger has gone down.
Nearing the age of 30 years,it's not that easy for a Tennis player to still defeat easily the same players,who might've improved with experience and also reached a peak age,where they play at their best.I would just like to see one more year,when the talk is all about the 'All-conquering' Federer,winning almost every Tournament,the way he did during 2004-07.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Satisfying performances.

Prior to the start of the series,I wrote that,I would be satisfied if India wins 1-0 or even levels 1-1;I shall still stick by what I had said then,India's performance overall in this India-South Africa Test series was satisfying over-all, by leveling the series in Overseas soil,against a team,which has currently the Best Bowling attack.As of now,India has silenced the cynics,who wondered whether India deserves the Number one ranking in ICC Test Ratings.
While the most empathic Overseas win achieved by the post-2001 Indian team will certainly be the 2-1 win in Pakistan,this 1-1 performance will certainly rank better than the 1-1 Draw,India achieved in Australia(2003-04);as India had achieved it against a full-strength bowling Attack of Proteas,the match they won was on a Green-top(Durban) and they even overcome Steyn's deadly spells to gain a 2-run lead in their First Innings in Newlands;whereas the Australian attack then were deprived of their 2 best Bowlers(McGrath and Warne),and the match was won on a Flat wicket(Adelaide).
The only reason,why I felt a bit disappointed was India actually had the chance of winning the series,during the Third Test,when South Africa was down 130-6 before Lunch on 4th Day.I thought they'll get bowled out to less than 200 and India will easily win it with several overs to spare.Instead,the pace bowlers disappointed after such a good platform was provided by Harbhajan Singh.Zaheer Khan,whose presence brought back the spark and confidence into the bowlers during the Durban test,too disappointed by suddenly reducing his best to less than 120 kph.He couldn't get even the tail-enders out,despite taking the new ball after Boucher's dismissal.
The harmless medium pace was good enough for the tail to get some easy runs,and there was Kallis,who batted like a Colossus,despite a broken rib.At-last they were bundled out for 340,when we expected them to get out for 270.:( With just a day's game of play left,India preferred to bat for a Draw,than trying for win.
 The defensive attitude showed later on was understandable and partly justified,because India has lost Series while touring South Africa,so what if they lose this Test while trying to batting aggressively and then get out cheaply? It would only make this Series' performance look similar to their previous Tours.So,a Draw and a Drawn series will look certainly better,and after all;it's against the Second best ranked Team,in their own Den.So,it only gives an indication of how evenly matched the 2 sides are.After all,only 2 teams have defeated South Africa-England(Lastly in 2004) and Australia(Thy do it regularly since 1998).
   The most disappointed person would certainly be Graeme Smith,as he has failed to win a Home series,for the 3rd time in a row.While,they had a chance to defeat England 3-1 in the previous Home Series(Which ended 1-1);here their best chance to win was only in 1st Test ;the remaining 2 Tests went completely in India's way;the 5th Day performance showed more a reflection of South Africa's inability to pick 10 wickets on a day.(They just got 3,1 per Session.:D) That,this was despite having the world's best bowler Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel bowl at their best,has only shown,how determined the Indian batsmen were.(Especially Gowtham Gambhir,Sachin Tendulkar and Laxman.) Their home series loss to Australia,right after beating them in Away series,made me wonder whether the Australians have a psychological hold over the Proteas.
I felt the South Africans were a slightly better team than Australia during 1998(Donald-Pollock was certainly a better combination than McGrath-Gillespie.) and 2009 series(Australia came with 2 debutantes too.);yet they lost on both occasions.While the 2002 series and 2006(A Whitewash at home!) series were a no-contest-Australia had a better player at almost every Batting/Bowling position.
   In a way,I guess a Drawn series may also turn out to be a Blessing in future for Indian team-maybe the BCCI will realise the importance of having Practice matches,before the start of the Tour(India had none this time. ) and also the need for Fast Bowlers,who bowl at 140-145 Kph.While Zaheer has been bowling well since 2008-09,despite operating at a nominal 132-136 kph range;the same cannot be said of Sreesanth or Ishant,every fourth delivery from them may touch the 138-140 mark,but the rest will be completely harmless;
Ishant's wayward bowling was completely disappointing.Sreesanth may bowl 4-5 unplayable deliveries in a spell;but what a 'number one' team needs is a Bowler who's hungry for Wickets,not some 'Rhythm type';who bowls superb,when in form and then fizzles away.
   In my opinion,one Great bowler is as good as 2 Great batsmen.In fact,when Zaheer was at his peak,India won the series in England 1-0,despite not a Single specialist Indian batsman scoring a 100;and not to forget India looked like winning the South Africa series in 2006-07,despite every batsman being out-of-form then;because Sreesanth was at his best then.So,who knows,just like we waited for more than a Decade to get the perfect Opening combo for Batting and finally got one in Sehwag-Gambhir(Who are the best right now,in the world.);we may get one Great bowler soon and India may win a Series then in South Africa,even f they miss Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S.Laxman then(For close to 3 years,India has got used to playing well, despite Dravid being out-of-form;so it's more likely to miss the services of the 2 batsmen I'd mentioned,when they retire soon,than when Dravid retires.);hoping that either Raina or Pujara(Or both) improve themselves by then.
   What I liked about this series was that many of my predictions came true,and that satisfies me even more!:D
1.Harbhajan Singh:No one might've expected this.But,I did!I thought he may play a key role and he did it almost;he is India's leading wicket-taker in this series with 15 wickets.(He's been the leading Wicket-taker in every match for India.).Well done Harby,hope you do better in forthcoming Overseas series too.
2.Sachin Tendulkar:His modest 39.76 average in South Africa,prior to this series,didn't match up to his over-all high standards.But,I expected him to do better,as I thought-Despite not completely recovering from injuries and in his worst form,if he could score two 50s in S.A. in 06-07;he would certainly score 2 100s this time against them.He indeed scored 2 centuries this time,the 2nd one being one of his best.It coud've been talked in the same breath as Steve Waugh's 200 against W.Indies(Which ended the W.Indies dominance and marked the beginning of Australia's supremacy.),if the Indian bowlers picked the remaining 4 wickets soon enough on 4th day.Still,it was good enough to ensure that India didn't lose the 3rd match and ensure that Laxman's match-winning 96 in previous Test will not go in waste/.The 2 100s he scored in this series,will rank high for me along with the 116 in Melbourne and the 136 in Chennai;as his best efforts against a Quality attack.He certainly has 2 more years of cricket left in him,I'm sure he'll be the top-scorer in the England tour.  His failure in Durban is the only thing I cannot forgive,as he twice got out to deliveries,which could have been left alone.(One bad shot in a match is pardonable,but not 2.)
3.V.V.S.Laxman:The miracle man does it again.His 96 in Durban was identical to G.R.Viswanath's celebrated 97*.Yet,again in a low-scoring match,on a difficult wicket-he compiles a masterpiece,which won us the match.Can't forgive his failure in 3rd Innings of Centurion Test,but was in really good form in the rest. He was unlucky to be run-out in the Newlands test,when he started well,but in 2nd Innings,he didn't mind going for some easy runs(While pushing for a draw.);while Sachin preferred to just block the deliveries.:D
Now,all eyes will be on the ODI series between India and South Africa,which maybe seen as Dress-rehearsal for the World Cup.By the way,Sachin Tendulkar will beat Javed Miandad's record for having the longest ODI career,if he plays today's match.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Horror start!

Only 5 times in the past did Australia get bowled out for less than 100 against England,when they batted in the First Innings of a Test match.
Not surprisingly,Australia lost on 4 occasions and the only time they won was in 1882(Which began the fight for Ashes!)
And today,the Aussies have got bundled out for 98.Never did they got out for such a low score in the First Innings of a match against England in Australia.
Innings by innings list
Australia 98 42.5 2.28 98 1 -
v England Melbourne 26 Dec 2010 investigate this query
Australia 92 65.2x5 1.68 92 1 lost
v England The Oval 11 Aug 1890 investigate this query
Australia 80 90.3x4 1.32 80 1 lost
v England The Oval 13 Aug 1888 investigate this query
Australia 74 46.0 1.60 74 1 lost
v England Birmingham 27 May 1909 investigate this query
Australia 63 80.0x4 1.18 63 1 won
v England The Oval 28 Aug 1882 investigate this query
Australia 53 22.3x5 2.81 53 1 lost
v England Lord's 22 Jun 1896

When I woke up today morning to find the Aussies reeling at 58-4,I thought it was a familiar story;as they were in a similar state in the previous match too(36-4) and managed to score a decent 268.Still,I thought England had the edge,as I believed England had a better Batting line-up,but Mitch's magic meant that they fared even more worse and lost the match.
So,I preferred to keep quiet till England starts batting.An hour later,when I found Australia's score to be 92-9,I thought it's all over;there's no way England can perform worse than this.They might take a lead by the end of this day.
The Poms must bat relatively careful to avoid another 'Perth-like' collapse.The match has a chance to end within 3 days and it's not a tough thing to guess who will be the winner.(I don't think even Rain can play spoilsport here.)
P.S:The England fast bowlers(Anderson,Tremlett) have been so good so far that their Spinner Graeme Swann hasn't got many chances to prove himself.Swann has bowled just one over today.:D

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A First day defeat.

 Well,no point in giving excuses-the South Africans have played really well overall,and they deserved to win the match.
Now,regarding India's performance;they lost the chance to win the match in the first day itself when they were bowled out for 136.Losing the toss on a rain-affected damp pitch was bad luck,but the bowling was really superb;I doubt whether bowling at 128-130 kph range could have bowled the Saffers out if India won the toss.
But,that alone didn't win them the match.India could have still drawn the match,which they couldn't because of the inept bowling attack and a collectively good batting performance from the South Africans.
Run-rate was the key
As I had predicted then,Graeme Smith declared the innings,almost immediately after Jacques Kallis reached his First ever Double Century in Test cricket(201*).At the time of the declaration,South Africa's score was a whopping 620/4.Normally,to reach these kind of totals,a team has to spend at-least 180 overs at the crease;
(They spent exactly 2 days to score 558 in India,this year.) and with Stonewallers like Kallis and Hashim Amla,it could have even taken a few more overs.
So,it means to score this much,Smith should have made his team bat till the end of 3rd day and maybe make India bat after the Lunch in 4th day,which means India might have had less than 150 overs to defend themselves while batting and with rains having the potential to wash out a session(30 overs) or two of the match;it could have been even more easy for India to draw the match,as the pitch flattened out from Day 2 and even the Saffers know that India can also score many runs under flat conditions,as they too have a good batting line-up.

Instead,all the South African batsmen scored at nearly or above 70 strike rates;even Kallis and Amla,who normally take ages to score a Hundred,batted enthusiastically,Kallis for a change batted at 75 strike-rate instead of the normal 43-45.They scored 200 runs more than what they might have scored normally,in similar circumstances in the past.And the final blow was delivered by Ab de Villiers.My blogging friend mentioned that de Villiers' knock tipped the balance,he was partly right;as he took 20 overs less than what he might have normally consumed to score so much;so his blazing knock(the first 100 runs came off just 75 deliveries.) created an additional session's Game available for the 3rd to his team's bowlers.But,the batsmen preceding him too did the job perfectly to give the team,2 more sessions to bowl out the Indians;than what's normally needed.It was over-all,a perfect Team strategy which actually worked well on the field,and not one individual blaze which increased the run-rate.
And considering the fact that India indeed survived 130 overs(Almost the same number as that of South Africa's innings.);the real culprits have been the Indian bowlers rather.It's not like India never suffered such a first day collapse,nor that they didn't recover from it in the  past.Way back in 1999,when India got bowled out for 83 in Mohali,Javagal Srinath responded by bowling out the Kiwis for just 215,making the job easier for India in 3rd Innings(We almost went for a win.).Unfortunately,none of our 3 fast(??) bowlers can hold a candle even to Srinath,leave alone the World-class Dale Steyn.
They could not pick wickets,at-least they should have tried to contain the run-flow.The debutant Jaidev Unadkat surprisingly conceded runs at a slightly lesser over-rate than others,but it was he disappointed the most,because I couldn't bear watching those numbers of 120-125 kph speed,while he was bowling.And,watching Steyn bowl consistently at 140-145 kph range to the Indian batsmen,only added to the misery of fans like me!With that speed,can you frighten any batsman?Wonder when will India get a Hadlee, Marshal,Donald kind of super-fast bowlers?When will I see Indian bowlers torturing the opposition with their 150+ pace,and not torture us,fans with their 'Slow-Medium pace'.
Raina's performance can only be rivaled by Ravindra Jadeja's T20 World Cup performances.His bowling cost a whopping 78 runs in just 7 overs.And twice,he got out to a stupid shot.I believe he deserves a punishment,he has failed to deliver in his last 5 matches.
The 2 batsmen who played really well for India were rather Sachin tendulkar and Dhoni.I really liked Dhoni's performance with the bat in 3rd Innings,the hopes of saving the match were alive as long as both the batsmen were on the crease.Dhoni's dismissal to a really nasty ball of Steyn,crushed our hopes.
Although Sachin disappointed me with his slow batting against the Kiwis at home,he was really impressive in this match.I always thought a century against South Africa would really be a masterpiece,it's good that he's achieved the landmark of 50 Test Hundreds against them.His brief moments of aggression in 1st Innings took me by surprise,all the quicks,including Steyn were dealt well in that 36 runs' knock which included 8 boundaries.Sad that he was out immediately to a good delivery from Steyn.A century in 1st innings would have looked really good,might've been his fastest Century and maybe,the match fate would have been different.
I think it was Sehwag's dismissal in both innings and Sachin's dismissal in 1st Innings which cost us while batting.I'm a big fan of Sehwag,but I didn't like the way he got out twice attempting to slog.He should have at-least avoided it in 3rd Innings,as we needed to just move calmly,don't know what was the need for that slog shot,when he was looking good,he should have gone for a big Hundred,should have set up a much better platform;sadly he left the field,half-finished.
And I don't know why some fans suddenly start blaming Sachin for the Innings defeat,for not farming the tail-enders? The match was almost over when Dhoni departed,but he could have done something if the tail-enders showed some resolve.Why Harbhajan,who scored some 29 odd when there was nothing at stake,failed immediately in 3rd Innings?Sachin can't be blamed for Sreesanth's dismissal either;the latter indeed was involved in some partnerships in the past(In Durban itself),he should have tried facing at-least a couple of deliveries in the over.The critics are talking like as if Sachin had to chase 30 runs to win the match,damn!He had to score 30 runs and then even more runs to give the Saffers a decent target,at some point he should have exposed them;for how long can he protect them?98 overs?It's just a case of 'Success justifies everything';what if Peter Siddle got out immediately in that Sydney match(They were yet to erase deficit when Hussey exposed him.),what if Ishant was dismissed immediately?I'm sure they would have blasted Hussey and Laxman too!They succeeded,Sachin flopped,that's it.The bowlers who didn't show any resolve while bowling or even while batting.(At-least Ishant did the latter.)
Lastly,give credit to the Saffers,they played really good!About winning the toss?Yeah,Ricky Ponting won the toss on the Flat Adelaide wicket,decided to bat first and ended losing the match on 1st day itself(Virtually) thanks to a horror start;so luck alone is not enough,making the best use of it too matters.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Final Frontier? Hmm..

When Steve Waugh called India as the 'Final Frontier' prior to the 2001 series,it indeed made sense because Australia then had conquered every Test nation,winning Tests series in all countries,except in India during the 1990s;apart from maintaining an impeccable home record(Not lost a single home series since 1992).
So,all that was left was to win against India in India.(Which,Steve couldn't.)
Now,the media(Beginning with Ten Sports channel) have started hyping the forthcoming India-South Africa series as India's Final Frontier.I find it quite funny,because India is yet to win a series in Australia too! Guess,the reason why it's hyped as India's Final Frontier might be that Australia has become quite a weak team,so winning in South Africa matters more;or maybe they're following the concept of "What's coming next soon,must be promoted as the best thing ever,so that it can attract more eyeballs.:D"
Anyway,this will certainly be the most exciting series of this year;because both the sides have really powerful batting line-up(Sehwag,Dravid,Sachin,Laxman for India;Graeme,Amla,Kallis and deVilliers for South Africa);
the South African team also has the World's best bowler in Dale Steyn;and then,India has Zaheer Khan,who has bowled so well even on flat wickets in recent Tests,the fast bowler has picked most number of wickets for India since 2009,while Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma can be really good if they are in good form and the conditions suit them.
So,why they are expecting India to fare better?
Although India was quite powerful team at home even during 1990s,the series win against Steve Waugh's Australia at home was considered a very great achievement;and suddenly we even started dreaming of India winning more matches Overseas(Something which didn't happen for over a decade.) That was because,the Mark Taylor led Australia was quite powerful,but they more looked like a 'Cut above the rest',and not ruthless;so our wins against them(1998) just showed how good we are at home;not the guys who're going to conquer the world soon.
Whereas,Steve Waugh's side were just bulldozing the Opposition,so ruthless they were that they didn't even spare a dead rubber;and after 15 Consecutive Test wins,they were expected to trash India too,which was already affected by MatchFixing scandal then and suffered a humiliating Home series defeat too against South Africa(2000) and then,the way Laxman and Dravid scripted a miraculous comeback which happened only thrice in Cricket history and a somewhat comfortable win in Chennai; when the bowlers(McGrath,Warne,Gillespie- can't get better) were breathing fire and they had Hayden standing upto Indian bowlers,they didn't even give up while we were chasing a 155 odd in Chennai and that we won both matches despite losing the toss,gave us the belief that we need not rely on 'Other factors' and that the side indeed can come from behind and win under impossible situations.
To an extent,they indeed achieved something better,better than the predecessors,with some 1-2 defeats(Something is better than nothing.:D),then many 1-1 series levels and also few 1-0 Overseas triumphs(Wow!:D) under Ganguly-Dravid captaincy(2001-07).The 2-1 win in Pakistan was the most empathic one,as we won more than one match(:D) and completely outplayed the opposition.
   Then,even under Dhoni's captaincy,so far we've been playing most matches at home.Not often did it happen in the past for us);yet we're expecting them to fare better in South Africa now,why? Simple,because not only did we win 3 matches in a row recently despite losing the toss,on all occasions;we had to chase targets of 200 above and we did it successfully(Something,which happened just 6 times before for India)And not to forget the great 384 run chase,we won with ease.On 3 occasions,we lost 5 wickets before 100(And once,at 15 too) and yet we didn't lose.A Great team won't get into such situations often;but then the Current team is a really good team,which doesn't want to lose even,if some of the players commit blunders.
And that's what makes many believe that India has a good chance to win the Series;I won't mind if it's even 1-0 or 1-1 level;as both are better than what India achieved in the past- A 1-2 loss in 2006-07(Despite having an edge in the 3rd Test,failing to score real big on a Flat Capetown pitch-414 isn't that big anymore.); no wins in previous 3 series(India had a Golden chance to win Johannesburg test in 1997,when Dravid struck a good 100+;rain on last day screwed it!:X)

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Ashes(2010-11)

As only 1 drawn match is over in this 5 match series,we can't deliver immediate verdicts on how one Team is playing much better,the other team has declined considerably,or who has the 'edge' etc.As of now,the verdict has been out on just one issue-Whitewash,that's the issue which has been solved immediately in Gabba,Brisbane.
 Yes,Ricky Ponting has failed to whitewash the Poms this time.However,Ponting still has a chance to win the series,so does England's Strauss too.
The few things which have become clear after the first Test are:
1.Pitches in Australia too have become quite flat and good batting paradises,like the much reviled one in the Asian Subcontinent.But,the factor which made many people think otherwise,was the huge percentage of wins/results they got in Home venues.(The belief being Flat wickets won't give results,as bowlers can't pick up wickets quick and easily.) Well,that was possible because of the extremely good run-rate at which the Australian batsmen used to bat,so the bowlers got more time to bowl out the Opposition and also aided by a great score to frighten the Opposition.
The next match being played in Adelaide now,is also a Traditionally Flat wicket.So,the key for Australia's win certainly lies in Ricky Ponting trying to convert a good start into huge 100s,Michael Clarke getting back to form,and Hussey to fire again.A massive collective effort by the Batting order,must be followed by fine bowling;and we can't comment on it because,we're yet to know who are the bowlers likely to make it to the playing XI now.
2.The Poms have improved:I've been observing it since 2-3 years.The one thing I like about this team is they do care a thing or 2 about winning,unlike the one which I grew up watching in 1990s-the ones which get satisfied for dead rubber win or a hard fought Draw after being awarded a humiliating 3-0 or 4-0 trashing by the Aussies.Although,the bowlers failed to take advantage after restricting Australia to 143-5,the batsmen Strauss,Trott and Cook scored huge 100s to pile up 517-1,thus erasing the deficit and also building a big lead.
They aren't afraid looking at the big score,nor affected by the Past failures or Team reputations.They've improved  very well at home,and are starting to do well Overseas too.
I hope both sides Try for a win and not another Rub-feast draw.