Thursday, March 29, 2007

And luck deserts ....

And lady luck deserted Sri Lanka when a thick edge past the first slip resulted in a boundary. They collapsed from 205/5 to 207/9 when Malinga took 4 wickets off 4 balls. The irony was even pronounced when the edge was off Malinga's bowling - Sri Lanka's nearly hero.

Two things could have swung the match for Sri Lanka:

1. Sri Lanka had an equally spectacular collapse when they batted. They collapsed from 206/5 to 209 all out with 5 balls remaining. 4 runs and 5 wickets loses you matches, not win them.

2. The boundary would have been stopped if only there was a second slip

Overall a great match. I wonder who will walk with the Man of the Match Award. "The March Beauty" Malinga or "The Steady" Jacques Kallis. I think it would be great if the award is shared. Both deserve it.

Thriller - SL v/s SA

What a game it is turning out to be? Sri Lanka collapsed from 207/6 to 209 all out. The same is happening with Malinga taking 4 wickets in 4 balls. SA needs 3 to win and SL needs one wicket. Who will win. Stay tune

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Of Peyton Manning and Cricket!

I love Peyton Manning as much as most Indians love their cricketers at this moment. In short, not much

But his show at the Saturday Night Live, where he was completely open to ridiculing himself was pretty good. Watch it as he pokes fun at himself and at football as well (his joke on his mom would have drawn widespread contempt India in politically correct India, but something tells me that she gave her blessings to him on this one!)

Oh, talking of cricket, i absolutely loved this piece from Mukul Kesavan from Cricinfo. His opening statement is very provocative:
The subcontinental cricket fan is a lazy, pampered know-nothing who thinks he owns the cricket teams that he supports

Read the rest and let me know if you agree.

And the worst thing is the overanalysis from the news channels. i flipped through NDTV, Headlines Today, CNN-IBN, Times-Now, Star News (Hindi), Zee News (Hindi) between 2230 and 2300 and all the channels were mouning India's exit from the world cup. Come on, gimme a break - we lost and life goes on. I want to pray God that we need to show these media people how stressful it is to be in the limelight for every moment of a waking day. Please grant this wish alone.

and please, spare me of linking money, advertisments and cricketers. Do you think that our cricketers are dumb enough not to realise that there is more money in sponsorship than match fees and that sponsorship is directly dependent on the number of wins and big sixes on the cricket ground. Talk of the sterotype Indian cricket fan!

I watched BBC as they showed an clipping of the streets of Dhaka after Bangladesh qualified for the Super-8. Only a heartless person wouldn't have felt happy for the B'deshi guys.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The real reason for loss to Bangladesh

" .... these minnows have some guts. They have always created upsets and it's foolish for the big teams to overlook them as there might be some surprises ...."

I wrote this without any idea that the world cup upset would be India and Pakistan. I know, India still has a chance but i am not for a backdoor entry. We lost to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and still entering Super-8 would be anything but shameful.

Lets revert back to the real reason for the loss to Bangladesh. What a lot of folks forget is that India won the toss. What do you do when you win a toss on a overcast day? You bowl. Right? Not so with India for whom the lack of practice from the West Indies match still fresh in their minds. Someone in the management decided that Bangladesh was not a major threat and that the batsmen should get some match practice. If anyone followed Bangladesh recently, they won a couple of big matches - all chasing. If anyone in Indian cricket board (is there someone like a scout who follows opponents and reports to team management on the strengths and weaknesses of opposite side players) paid attention to this, they would have ensured that we won this match before worrying about match practice (Match#2: Bermuda would have been the ideal game for the same)

So, i would like the team management to volunteer the information on the person/committee (seriously! do you think Indian cricket works without committees) who made the decision to bat against Bangladesh. They need to explain their reasoning to the nation and the board and only if we discover something new or a better reasoning, we should continue with them. Lets not punish the entire team for the fault of a few.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

100th Post!

Yipee., i finally made it to 100th post. I was not sure if i could make it to here. Some big time back-slapping. Thank you, Thank you.

Between, some sweet news mixed with some sad ones. On the bright side, in the real and the important world, the 8 accussed of killing Manjunath have been found guilty. Let the verdict in the cases of Priyadarshini Mattoo, Manjunath, Jessica Lall be a reminder to all the criminals that they can buy time but these days, there is no escape from the grip of the Judiciary. Long live Indian judiciary

This is also the week when Cricket lost Bob Woolmer. Frankly, my interest in the Cricket World Cup diminished as soon as i heard the news of his death last week. His loss happened in the real world while India's loss to Bangladesh did not. Please don't insult the Bangladesh cricket team by stating that the Indians played poor, they did not - the Bangladeshi youngsters played out of their skins. They knew not of fear and took the fight to the surprised and startled Indians. As i write now, India has lost to Sri Lanka as well. Once again, only a blind man who hasn't seen the matches would tell that India lost these games, when in reality, it is the superior play of India's opponents that won them the game.

I hope the Indian cricket fans get some maturity and avoid incidents like these.

Oh! Between did someone read my post on the minnows - so prophetic, i know - i am a genius. thank you very much.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pause in cricketing debates ...

A loss in real world always hurts and to lose a young cricketer right during the biggest tournament is devastating.

Prayers to the family of Manjural Islam - the youngest test cricketer to pass away. I wish this is one record none break.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Of Minnows., seriously

I hope everyone is enjoying the Cricket World Cup through now. I liked the Pakistan-West Indies game and i think that this WC will turn out to be a good one as there are a lot of serious games ahead of us. Yeah! just after we are done with the minnows!

Not so fast., these minnows have some guts. They have always created upsets and it's foolish for the big teams to overlook them as there might be some surprises. Lets recap:
  • 1975: None
  • 1979: Sri Lanka defeats India
  • 1983: Zimbabwe defeats Australia
  • 1987: None
  • 1992: Zimbabwe defeats England
  • 1996: Kenya defeats West Indies
  • 1999: Bangladesh defeats Pakistan
  • 2003: Kenya defeats Sri Lanka as well as Zimbabwe; Canada defeats Bangladesh

Dravid has supported minnow participation and so have many a captains over the last few years made at least a cursory experience-will-benefit-them remark! However it is sad to note that the cricket administration has done nothing or near-nothing about getting the associate teams into the main fold. Kenya is no closer to the dream of being a full fledged cricketing nation while we have lost Zimbabwe from the test playing fratenity (or nearly!) and the not so great cricket administration sits in meeting across the world's most expensive hotels to just discuss and very little.

Here's my 2 cent plan for the next 8 years (thru 2015):

  • All test playing nations to modify their policy that each of their domestic team (or atleast in the Elite division) will have atleast one player from the associate nations and a maximum of 3
  • Each of the associate members can have a maximum of 2 international cricketers on the team for the world cup subject to the fact that they should play atleast 2 years in the associate nation's domestic cricket
  • Of the 10 test playing nations, the big-8 (leave BAN & ZIM) will send their top domestic team (or 'A' team) on a tour to atleast one associate nation for 5 ODI series (or 3 tests/ 3 ODIs)
  • The big-8 will send their national team to tour atleast 1 associate nation for a 5-ODI series, once every 4 years. ICC to plan that it is staggered that there is one tourney every year

I guess my 2 cents above is not too expensive to implement or too radical that the whole cricketing world will feel bad about. So time to stop uttering the sympathy line and time for action.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

And that's what i call as a good fight ...

Sunil Gavaskar is a legend in world cricket. He is a stickler to his priniciples and he hardly backs down from a good fight. Was he not the same batsman who protested the ODI WC with an unbelievable 36* off a zillion balls in 1975. For crying out loud, he scored 700 runs in his debut test series against the West Indies attack and remained as one of the few batsmen that looked the fearsome four in their eyes during the west indies dream run in the 70s and 80s. He heads atleast a few powerful committees in the ICC today and is an influential figure across the globe. After his conquests on the field, war of words would seem like kids play to him.

Why his bio? I admire him more today than ever for standing up to the Aussies and dishing them the same stuff that the Aussies strutted for way too long. It started with his article in India Today where he stated that the Aussies were not 'popular winners' and they left a lot to be desired when it came to on-field etiquettes.

Like a true Aussie, Ricky Ponting did not back-off from a good fight and took a shot at Sunny's career and India's recent test record. He sounded a lot like Leo. F. Drummond from 'The Rainmaker'. In fact Ponting's retort can be equated to the slip in class of the hon. Drummond from the novel.

The Aussies do not take it well when it is dished to them. Did they not incessently complaint when Sourav Ganguly payed back in kind during the 2001 test series? Weren't the Aussies who pushed India's federal minister and Cricket board head - Sharad Pawar off the podium after the recent Championship trophy. Was it not Michael Slater who went after Venkataraghavan like a madman for not allowing a catch in a test match, when replays showed repeatedly that Slater did not make the catch. Ricky, the list is endless.

The best thing in the whole incident is that Sunny has not backed off - an uncommon trait for an Indian. He responded back to Ricky & the Aussies team and hinted to them that the famed WI team of the 70s and 80s did not require classless behavior on the field to win when Aussies incessently indulge in sledging. Because Ricky could not keep off from picking a fight, Sunny - rightly so - did even bring the sad David Hookes incident as an example of Aussie behavior. If Hookes incident does not put senses in Ponting's mind, i don't know what will.

Ricky, Gavaskar is a legend of the sport - listen to what he says. If you disagree, keep it private. As a cricketer, Gavaskar has earned the right to voice his opinion. You are not going to win media battles with him. Focus on the upcoming tournament.

Cricket World Cup - Some Random Thoughts

What is common between Mohinder Amarnath, Ajay Jadeja and Navjot Singh Sidhu.

They were the 3 debutants that won their first ODI cap in World Cup Matches. In fact can you believe that our World Cup team had such great players like
  • Sunil Valson (who features as an answer to a great trivia question - Name the only player in the 1983 Cricket squad who never played in the World Cup event / never got an international match in his career)
  • Subroto Banerjee: 2 Matches in WC'92 & 6 ODI matches in his illustrious career
  • Salil Ankola: Remembered forever for dropping Arjuna Ranatunga in the Ind-SL group match at Feroz Shah Kotla - his only WC match. He played a grand total of 20 ODIs and 1 test match. Now better known for his roles in Indian movies and television
  • Aashish Kapoor: My childhood or whatever was left of it was spoilt when i witnessed a portly and slow Aashish Kapoor chasing the ball to the third man fence in the doomed Ind-SL Semifinal WC'96. Or was bowling the rank bad deliveries that the Sri Lankans cherised in the match or his golden duck during the batting collapse.
  • Amay Khurasiya: Paid rich tributes to his cricketing idol - Sunil Valson, when he did not feature in a single '99 WC match inspite of being in the team.
  • Nikhil Chopra: Another 'star' performer (not in studio!) of '99 WC squad. Failed to appear in any of the matches (Did we not play Kenya?)
  • Parthiv Patel: A decent keeper more reputed (or ill-reputed) for appealing for LBW decisions on straight drives (no, i am kidding - but he appealed for everything else!). However he made Sunil Valson proud - made squad of 2003 WC but did not see the cricket field
  • Ajit Agarkar: Of all the people on the list, this is the biggest surprise. Ajit Agarkar made it to the 2003 WC squad but did not play a single match (No Kenya? No Namibia? No Holland?)

Why did i put out the list? To prove 2 things:

(1): In no world cup did we have contributions from the full squad. In most of the world cups, we had players who did not play a single game or were the season flavors who got gettisoned after the World Cup (as listed above)

(2)It takes only 4-5 decent performances to win a cricket match and not all 11; forget all 15.

Some emperical evidence from last world Cup:

  • Holland: Sachin - 50+; Mongia - 40+; Srinath & Kumble 4-for
  • Australia: Lets forget this one. Mulligan
  • Zimbabwe: Sachin: 50+; Dravid: 40+; Ganguly (yes!) - 3-for; Srinath, Zaheer & Bhajji - 2 for: This game was a real team effort
  • Namibia: Tendulkar & Ganguly - 100+; Yuvraj: 4-for; Zaheer, Bhajji & Mongia - 2 for
  • England: Tendulkar & Dravid - 50+; Kaif - 40+; Nehra: 6-for; Srinath: 2-for; Dravid- 3 catches; Sehwag - 3 catches (including a brilliant one of the dangerous Andrew Flintoff)
  • Pakistan: Zaheer & Nehra - 2 for; Sachin & Yuvraj - 50+; Dravid - 40+
  • Kenya (Super 6): Srinath & Bhajji - 2 for; Ganguly - 100+; Yuvraj - 50+
  • Sri Lanka (Super 6): Sachin & Sehwag - 50+; Ganguly - 40+; Srinath & Nehra - 4 for; Zaheer - 2 for
  • New Zealand (Super 6): Zaheer - 4 for; Bhajji - 2 for; Kaif & Dravid - 50+
  • Kenya (Semi-Finals): Sachin-50+; Ganguly-100+; Zaheer - 3 for; Sachin & Nehra - 2 for
  • Australia (Final): Mulligan. Did i already not have one? Forget it. This was a rank bad match for most involved - so lets remove it as well

In Summary: Sachin (7/9); Zaheer (6/9); Ganguly (5/9); Srinath (5/9); Dravid (4/9); Nehra (4/9); Bhajji (4/9); Yuvraj (3/9); Kaif (2/9); Sehwag (2/9); Mongia (2/9); Kumle (1/2)

So as you notice above - we had significant contributions from not more than 7 players in match (England) and if we remove catches - 6 (Zim & Namibia matches). This debunks the theory that we need all 11 players to fire on any given day. Yes! in a match like the finals - under normal circumstances, you need a core that fires and others contribute as opportunities presents itself.

In summary -

  • I wish that either of Sachin or Dravid be the backbone of the scoring for the indian team and fire consistently
  • I wish for 5+ good performances (total estimated: 11 = 3 (round) + 6 (Super 8)+ SF + F)from the following: Ganguly, Sachin/Dravid, Zaheer, Ajit Agarkar
  • I wish for 5 good performances from: Yuvraj, Dhoni, Sehwag, Bhajji,
  • I wish for 3-4 good performances from: Uthappa, Pathan, Sreesanth, Munaf
  • Atleast 2 good performances from: Dinesh Karthik, Kumble

Thus - i think if the team plays at it best and gets beaten by a better team (ala WC'03) and not panic (ala WC'96) - i would be smiling at the end of the WC campaign - WC in hand or not!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Why me?

In the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow cusses when towards the end and on the gallows - the soldier reads out "Jack Sparrow ...". He nods in disbelief as to how they could address his incorrectly and offers a correct way of addressal as "Captain Jack Sparrow"

I was reminded of this scene when i was sent an email from an old colleague of mine listing me as a 'Gems of Sairam' in the college's website. The first thought that struck me was - how can misspell my name as CH.V.Kalyan when it is Ch.V.Kalyan. Yes! I am very sensitive about the caps as, to me they are 2 different things. I am planning to write to the principal and see if he can correct it.

Yet another feather in the queer mind of mine!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

HSC Exams

I wanted to write a million blogs in the last 45 days and my performance is akin to the promises made by a election fighting politician - all promise, no delivery!

One of the main issues that i wanted to blog recently was the HSC Exams - commonly known as XII Exams started a couple of days back. I can only imagine the kind of pressure that one goes through for these exams. For not the first time in their lives, the kids are gonna be preached to put in their maximum efforts for a 'rosy and great future' - except that 'that' future never arrives. Welcome guys, to the rat race!