Friday, April 25, 2008 

Lights, Camera…..PLAY!

As an honest confession, we all have been cribbing about monotonicity in life and lack of change. Well not often so happens that change comes and almost sweeps you of the ground. So much so, that the change becomes, albeit momentarily, the major focus of the day. Welcome to the IPL, accept it or not, everyone is talking about it and you are talking about it to everyone.

Leave behind the big bucks for a second, leave behind the hypocritic moral high of playing for the country, this really smells like cricket at its very best. The problem is that such a feast of cricket is being served literally on a platter, that people find it unreal and sometimes, surprisingly, unacceptable. I’ll stick my head out and say that the IPL has given Ekta Kapoor and the likes (read Shahrukh and Salman Khan) a run for their money. You know its like that famous tag line from pizza hut - ‘you just can’t the beats’.

It’s now been a week since the tournament started, and it’s already been more entertaining than the 2007 World Cup (50 over). Since we won the 20-20 world championship, this tournament may not be able to take that place. But it’s up there. And there is only one reason why this tournament has been so popular, the quality of cricket period.

Whether it was the explosive McCullum, one of my favourites, or the audacious Veeru, the stylist Mr. Cricket or Shane Warne, the game has been played with enormous enthusiasm and a will to honestly do well for the team that’s paying you. I guess you come to expect that kind of professionalism from an Australian, South African and New Zealander. But I was most impressed to see Afridi take on Shane Warne with a verbal assault, even if it was poorly timed and out of nowhere. David Hussey’s rallied effort to win the game against the Chargers was a perfect example of the high level of intent and intensity.

The only major threat that I feared to this idea was the over dramatization of the event. Its good, atleast so far, that the game has been let alone to do the talking. The Zinta’s, Khans etc have been only dancing in their own groups in the stadium and so they should be. The cheerleaders are very indulging, but the cricketers have done well to keep their focus on the cricket because some of the cheer leaders are very very hot. The irony is that, the batsman who makes the cheerleaders dance to his tune by hitting the boundaries is a fair distance away from them and the third man enjoys the fine legs.

But what if the show was dramatized. There are a lot of Australian and kiwi players who are about to make their way back to their homes and with the IPL already being touted as an APL effectively, some of the excitement may be lost. So maybe to spice it up the creators may add a few theatrics to the show. For example, Shahrukh Khan will walk into the dressing room and deliver his ‘sattar minut’ speech to Dada and his boys. Or Pathan might get Sehwag out first ball clean bowled and suddenly the umpire will say…’theharo….No Ball’ and the camera will register the detailed shock faces of all the fielders from every angle, zooming in on each face. Or maybe Ricky Ponting will return to the pavilion after not making many runs and at the end of the game Ganguly and Shahrukh Khan will tell him ‘aaj tumhare energy levels kuch ache nahi the, aap aaj chakravyuh me hain’. Or after every game the Mumbai Indians lose, there will be a vote out and one player will go, which simply means that half way through the tournament they will have to buy new players. And maybe Dravid will be called in by Aamir Khan in his new television show ‘Kya aap under-15 se tez hain’, to which Dravid will reply ‘nahi me to us zamane se hi slow hu’…you know what I mean.

My major worry is that the galvanizing may cause televisionizing of the game. I still remember the days of 2003 world cup, when I could not go and watch the pre match show because a half naked women did not help the cause of an interesting discussion and I used to feel embarrassed. If the cricket remains cricket, rest assured there is a lot of money to be earned by everyone who is putting in stakes. But too much television coverage and influence will ruin it. I remember watching an interview of an old cricket photographer from England and he said some of the best pictures he had taken of cricketers were when they were by themselves and being themselves. But the insurgence of media has made them very cautious about their body language and they don’t seem natural on TV or pictures anymore.

Anyways, as per the ‘script’ so far, my team is doing well. Yeah the Delhi Daredevils are here to rule. Initially I had my doubts over the composition of the team. But Pidgie and Asif form a lethal combination, Vettori is exemplary and the kind of form Sehwag and Gauti are in its going to be very difficult for the rest of the teams. Shoaib Mallik, Karthik and Dhawan are ideal for this format in the middle order. And especially when the Australians leave our shores, Delhi will have the strongest lineup without any doubt. Hyderabad might come into the picture then, as they lose Symonds, but gain Gibbs who is an equally good fielder and batsman and less said about Symonds’ bowling the better. So my favourite picks for the semi final spots will be Delhi, Chennai for sure and two teams out of Hyderabad, Mohali and Rajasthan Royals. I am really excited to see how the RRs go from here, because they have the fire and nobody is ready to take them seriously yet, but they will have to pretty soon. Mumbai Indians are by far the worst team and once Sachin joins the team they are going to achieve new heights.

As I started by saying, forget about the money, forget about who wins, don’t even think that this game will hamper cricket in general, just look at the little things that have made the event so big. Remember the spell from Pragyan Ojha at Kolkatta, remember Piyush Chawla’s spell on a batting paradise, remember Shane Warne’ heroics in the final over, remember Abhishek Nayyar’s valiant effort for Mumbai against the Royals, remember the spell bowled by young Gony, remember the catch taken by Yuvraj, remember, would you believe it, Kaif hitting 3 sixes in an over off Symonds. These and many more are the moments to cherish from the tournament and really without them cricket is not cricket and without cricket IPL goes nowhere.

As I have said in earlier posts, whether the IPL stays for long or not is something that will be known in 2-3 years and I feel its unlikely that it will retain the effect it has now, simply because BCCI is going to lose interest in this initiative soon. But for the current edition things are going well and look all set for a competitive tournament of cricket.

Garv Nahi To Kuch Nahi….Aur Ab Dilli Door Nahin....


Saturday, April 12, 2008 

form is temporary, class is permanent...

I have been infrequent with my posts on this blog, and even the posts that I put up have started becoming predictable. Although that should be the essence of blogging. Anyways, the point is that being predictable is one thing, but there is a fine line between it and being mundane.

Nobody’s life, I believe, is mundane though. We all have our share of surprises, planned or otherwise. Some of these surprises are pleasant some aren’t as much. But it is difficult to decide how much predictability you want in life and how much do you want to leave to the unknown. Week after week, month after month, as I pass through the motions of life, I wonder whether I have the right balance of the constants and variables in life. Confused? I think you have started to understand me better.

As I look back at my achievements in life, I think of what was it is that I did differently than when I did not achieve. Hard work is probably a basic explanation. But I think its too simplistic to relate hard work to achievement. A lot of times a lot of hard work does not yield anything. But from a practical point of view it’s unfair to doubt hard work in lack of success. But then again sometimes, the weight of one achievement can blind you into assuming another. In fact that is not just hypothesis, I have been through that experience once and it still hurts to think about those times.

As another year of our lives slowly makes its way to the ones gone by, I am trying to get hold of as much as I can in life. Money has been a constant issue with me, throughout life actually. Not that I don’t or didn’t have money to eat or buy clothes or something. I still have sympathy for the millions of poor and homeless, jobless and without any ‘life’. But once you get to one place you want to look up and keep going up. And that’s where my fundamental problem lies. By going to IIT, I suddenly achieved something that took me way ahead of people of similar calibre, who were perhaps not at the right place doing the right thing and got left behind. So my initial peer group basically ended behind me in terms of one quantum achievement. And I will not mince words in saying that I am proud of it. But from there on I have had much better peers, who have done so much and so well in life, and now I am slowly ending behind. Not to mention, I am not proud of it.

So where do I go from here, look up and aim for higher and risk falling in the process? Or just look below and live in a celebration of where I am? I am never too bothered about other people’s expectations. I know parents can sometimes ask for too much. But then my parents expected me to do well in studies in college (i.e. get a CGPA of at least 7.5), but I turned down the offer immediately. So nothing can affect me in terms of expectations more than that. But constantly achieving new things and feats lends a lot of contentment in life, which like every other person, I strive for. Maybe don’t get it as often enough. It does make me feel, that maybe I am just not good enough and one good show has got me where I am. Maybe I am not able to carry my weight on my own, you know till school and JEE aai would use the long handle, as it were, if I wouldn’t work hard. But slowly as I got on my own, I started to loose my grip. Of course on the cricket field, aai papa had little influence, after the first few days when I got my first ‘leather ki ball wala bat’ and a pack of 6 samrat balls, which to my pleasant disbelief were also used for the Delhi Inter IIT in 2002. So I did a bit by myself on the field. But academically and professionally, I have more or less failed to get things going too well. And if this is more or less true, then my dilemma is that I know the problem and not the solution.

Of course, as the wise would have it, success and failure are phases in life. You win some and you lose some. It will be better if you, or I, don’t take it personally. But that doesn’t mean that you stop caring about success totally. I guess living the dilemma is the challenge of life. Its like learning to swim, when you go down, the only way you can survive is by telling yourself that you will come up again. Which is funny because I don’t know how to swim and I am not that fond of water either.

The Ahmedabad test match, definitely put a few things into perspective. After a huge win in Perth and a respectable draw in Adelaide, and the 319 massacre in Chennai, the shabby display of cricket has helped set the expectations right with this team. A while back when the Sydney controversy broke, I had said that if we win in Perth, which looked unlikely, and then win the one day series, MI, we could be the next world rulers in the game. Perhaps not, not for some years to come atleast.

Zindagi ki yahi reet hai….haar ke baad hi jeet hai

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