Wednesday, October 29, 2008 

Tour Diary #3

Ponting ke Chhakke, hakke bakke!

Would have again loved to have gotten this post in yesterday, but with the Diwali celebration at home, I couldn’t get time and space to write. And just on that Diwali note, what is up with the smses for diwali greetings. Come on people, either send personal messages, or don’t take that pain, it won’t really matter. But sending spam messages, is quite irritating frankly. Especially when you have to read the entire message to find out who sent it.

Back to cricket then, Ponting has a very serious problem (literally ‘gambhir’) on his hands going in to day 2. Delhi boys are special anyways..hehe. But before we get into the third test, let me flaunt the drubbing that we gave the Australians in the second. I mean, 320 runs was the victory margin that is also effectively an innings victory. Australia is such an insipid cricket team. They lack depth in batting, they are not doing well in pace bowling and they don’t have spinners. Ishant Sharma has made Ponting his bunny, Hayden doesn’t seem to like spending time on Indian pitches and rest of the batsmen, save for Hussey, don’t look threatening even if they are batting on 60-70 odd. We are steam rolling this Australian side and hell we will crush them like the ganne ke juice ki machine crushes the dhaniye ka patta. We have tested blood alright.

Dhoni’s captaincy is not a revelation anymore, it’s becoming a hallmark of his cricket. What I like about his captaincy is that he looks and plays like a cricket captain and not a leader. I think the two most successful Indian captains, by number of wins, were very distinct personalities. They did get hundreds in their first two test matches, but one would lead by example and the other would lead. Both of them were successful. But Dhoni is somewhere in between, if not in a league of his own altogether. He never seems to be ‘dictating’ terms. He can be called senior only to Gambhir, Ishant and Mishra. Rest of the 7 are much more experienced than him. Yet he handles them with respect, care and authority. And the best way to do that is to hit Brett Lee for a boundary to square leg first ball. That to me was the shot of the test match.

Mishra impressed in the match. He maybe the future of Indian spin, but he doesn’t look like someone who would take 2-3 hundred wickets. But still he has done well and all credit to him. As I said earlier, it’s a beautiful art, leg spin. Sachin and Saurav made a lot of runs, so did Gambhir and Sehwag. Everyone made runs, everyone took wickets, everyone took catches. Boy we beat Australia and how.

So going into the third test, Ponting can only hope that his team bats a lot of overs. I doubt that there would be a draw in Delhi. I can’t remember when was the last time we had a draw here. Perhaps and India Zimbabwe match, where Andy Flower had net practice, in 2003. Generally the Kotla wicket is result oriented and having seen the first day, only one result looks likely.

By the way, the frustration and anxiety with the Australians showed today, with Katich doing a moving screen on Gambhir and then following it up with a bit of lip. Gambhir will give them some tomorrow morning, when the Aussies start chasing leather again. Ponting is absolutely devoid of any plans. There are no tricks left, no catching positions left where he can trap the Indian batsmen. All he is thinking of is batting and batting through the test match. Ricky mate, this is just the beginning, get ready for a mauling in South Africa next. Hard and Fair my ass.

And finally, as much as I would love to see him continue, I think its time for Dravid to hang up as well. He is not one of those who will do well in trying to prove it to someone. He is not someone who gives it back so to say. If he believes he wants to do it, he will do anything. He showed glimpses of that in the IPL. But he is now trying too hard to prove something. I don’t know what. Perhaps he is looking for that final purple patch with which he can sign off. But his options are dying out. He has another test match at Nagpur for sure, but if he doesn’t get a 100 till then, then I am not sure if he will be picked anymore. Maybe for one last series ;). Sachin on the other hand paid his premium for another year at least. The thing is that in the test side he deserves his place, but if he comes in the one-day side at the expense of a Gambhir or Sehwag, then it will be unfortunate.

I get the feeling that this could be another Kumble special test match. He bowls well with Harbhajan, but the added responsibility of being the premier strike bowler will be good for him. It’s all happening at Kotla, and India is doing it in style. Hope to make it to the Ambedkar Stadium stand once again on Saturday and revisit glory as I did that fateful Saturday evening in February 1999. Come on Jumbo!


Thursday, October 23, 2008 

Past Records!

It was 31 December 2007. I was walking the streets outside the airport at Bangalore with my friends. It must have been a good 2-3am. Since it was New Year now, we all decided to say our resolutions. Not that I made only one resolution, but of the many I made, I was able to fulfill one last Thursday. It is not a feeling of victory or achievement, but enormous self belief, that I am not that bad after all. What that resolution was, is academic for this post. Yet if I must, I had decided to make a well rounded application to a B-School.

Why was this, such a big deal? Mainly because my previous two attempts had been very weak, uncomprehensive and remotely tasteful. Needless to say, not much happened of these applications. But as many of you would know, writing your essays is an activity of great introspection. It is actually useful for everyone my age to just sit back for a month or two and make an account of what really has transpired. With some of the “adjustments” that I made to my applications, I realized that I was promising more than I really was. Much more in fact. And so this time, the desire was really to prove and tell conclusively that the potential really exists. And that I can make stories and make them true as well. That very frankly was the objective of this resolution. My fruit was only in this proof to myself. The judgement of an adcom can hardly come close and those who have ever applied will concur with me.

Miraculously, or call it hard work, things went well this year. I took the GMAT again and did considerably better than last time. I had more faith in my essays, and of course due to the additional experience, I had more professional stuff to write about. I was better prepared for the interview and most definitely had a better interview, which is only to suggest how bad the first one was.

But the key to getting many of these things right is not hard work. And it quite surprisingly is not miracle either. It was just a question of getting in touch with myself and realizing what I am really made of and what I am capable of. That is the lowest common factor of all achievements. Without understanding oneself, it is useless to set targets. If I know I can’t bowl a bouncer at 140k, it is pointless to have a short leg fielder, you know. If I know I can’t hit the big sixes, it is better to do it in singles.

Through the process of application I realized many things about myself. But one of these things surprised me. I realized that I give a lot of importance to the past. That I am a keeper. And as much as I never show it, my folders and old bags are filled with stuff from the previous decade. I don’t know how many of us keep our 3, 4, 5 class marksheets (of course I had reasons to keep it). But as I dug deep into my past there we so many wonderful memories that came like a gush of cool breeze to me. There was an old photo from school, of the tree plantation day. There were birthday cards given by dear friends in 2nd and 3rd years at IIT. And why I am so sure of the years they were given in, is because of the distinct names of women they carry on them. I couldn’t stop laughing J. Then there were two letters from cricket team mates, who as parting gifts had written some really heartening words full of praise for me. There was this birthday-card, which I bought for a friend who was slightly fat, and the card had a funny illustration on it. But I resisted giving him that card, thinking he might not take it in such good faith. So I decided to keep the card and give him next year. I bought that card in 1999, my friend’s birth date is “17 November”. Maybe this year. But knowing me now, I am not making that promise (smile)

The best part is that these things can hold so much meaning. So much more than just a piece of paper. The play ticket from my first date, the bails from the last time I played for IIT Delhi, the notepad having notes of my treacherous internship experience. They all are just things, but they connect me back to those times so vividly. Your past is important for what you are today. It may perhaps not have the same effect on your future, but you never know what does.

Funnily all this stuff was happening while I was rummaging to find some of my certificates to show in the interview. I didn’t find all of them, but I found the certificates which really matter in the end. And in a spirit of my vindication, the ISB interview committee didn’t even ask for the certificates.

P.S. – I am not posting my interview experience. It was just a few run of the mill questions and well err… my answers!


Friday, October 17, 2008 

Tour Diary #2

$@@&# fati to Australia bola… “Old school, old school”

I am slightly disappointed that I could not get this post in time before the start of the second test. But my opinion would not have been much different either side of today. We may not have Australia on the mat yet, but boy are they ruffled. “He has done well in the last test match, and this is unusual for him. He should concentrate on his own game”. I think that was my favourite part of the entire first test façade. (For those who didn’t remember, this is what Ponting said about Zaheer, when the latter commented on Australia’s defensive approach). And shortly after that the descendent of Raja Harishchandra aka Punter, went ahead and said “Kumble’s poor form is a worry for India”. I was a little sad that Kumble could not play, because he is at his best when he is poked at.

There is huge controversy surrounding Kumble’s fitness and form. I am not a worshipper of Tendulkar, but still I think such things time and again prop up the issue of how batsmen centric this game is. Margin for error for bowlers is very tiny. All said and done, if I see Anil Kumble on the field I am assured that there is aggression in our bowling and something can happen. Yes he is out of form and in the twilight of his career but he is still a force. I hope Amit Mishra does justice to his selection and bowls well. I have always had a thing for leg spinners, because I think this is the most artistic practice in the game of cricket. As far as Kumble’s captaincy is concerned, I believe he is fulfilling a particular job and that is of buying time for Dhoni. Its not that Dhoni may not be ready yet, but you want to have the captain experienced enough so that these Ian Chappels do not get another opportunity of mud slinging at the opposition captain. I really hope that whenever, the selectors think Dhoni is ready, they should ask Kumble to discontinue his services. I think captaincy is the highest honour that a player can get, and one should really be a captain when he has effectively learnt everything he could and can continuously give it back to the team. And therefore, your resignation from captaincy should be your retirement call as well. Although it was a different scenario for Dravid, but that’s in the past.

Of course Sachin finally reached the landmark of maximum runs. But I don’t want to make much out of it. It is a great feat, but it is a feat which should really be celebrated at the end of a career. Anyways, as an Indian it feels proud that we got that record back. We put up a good show through the day. Although we should have got much more for fewer wickets. But that’s ok. With no Stuart Clark in the side, Australia will be feeling very good about restricting India to 311 for 5. India should look to cross 400.

The Mohali pitch has always been a good cricket pitch, i.e batting pitch. (Sadly these terms are synonymous). Getting Australia out twice will be slightly difficult, especially without Kumble. Moreover, Australia has two local boys in their team and India has none. But once we have the runs on the board, it will be easier to apply pressure on Australia. Obviously they will play their “aggressive” brand of cricket. And I am sure that this is what is going to bring about their downfall. Something tells me intuitively that Ponting is going to make that one bold decision and its going to go against him in this series. He almost did that at Bengaluru, if only Sehwag would have batted for an hour or so. I think the Australian bubble of aggression, if you will, is going to explode in this series. Sunil Gavaskar made a good comment on air about the Australian aggressive strategy. Ponting dropped the third man and deep point on the boundary and had only one slip. SG’s co-commentator was about to say that it’s a strategy employed to block the flow of runs and create pressure and how Ponting has made specific plans for specific batsmen. SG said if India would have done it, it would have been defensive, but if Ponting does it, its strategy. The Australian team is full of this bull shit and this October we are going to help them get relieved of some of it.

Waiting for tomorrow as it will be a crucial day in this test match, how many India get in the first innings is going to decide the fate of this match. I am loving Dada for every run he scores in this series. And he is not letting down. Even Sachin scored a 50, you know he is big match player and only plays in the big matches. I am glad he thought of this match as big too. Gambhir is a rockstar; he is like the left handed version of Sehwag. Only more technically correct.

This is cooking up to something historic. Keep going boys, one more here!


Wednesday, October 08, 2008 

Follow On

Aaj to khatiya yahin gadegi…..

So the time has come. To seek revenge. It’s what I have waited for the last 9 months and more. One of my favourite films Don, had this song which comes to my mind – Jiska mujhe, tha intezaar, jiske liye dil, tha bekarar. Who ghadi aa gayi aa gayi…The Australians are now cornered. They are at full strength and yet they are unable to put it across and Rajasthan Cricket Assoc. XI side. This is going to be a mouth watering cricket series. Hang on boys and girls. But first the other major happening of the last 48 hours.

The other thing jiska mujhe tha intezaar – Saurav Ganguly quits international cricket. The wait is finally over. The man has got some wisdom, albeit borrowed, to decide what’s best for him and the team at the same time. Well everyone is saying that he is going so at least be polite to him now. So let me try, but I don’t promise anything. The only time I really wanted him to score runs was, one when he was batting at Taunton, as it were the nets at eden garden and he was closing on a double hundred….but he got out. The second time when he was batting against sri lanka in the world cup 2007. He dint just get out, he wasted balls and then got out.

As a captain, he was good. But he turned from good to bad, when he was disposed from captaincy. With every offence to many Bengalis, they are whimsical. They wouldn’t listen to anyone and do what they want to do. While this is not such a bad thing, they are also against any kind of growth of people around them, if they don’t get a share of it. If mamta banerji is not enough to exemplify that, Shorav does it for Bengal. He couldn’t stand the site of someone captaining India and actually excelling in it. In fact doing better than him. Still I think there are some positives that he brought to Indian cricket as a captain and as a one day batsman. Really if you look at how India will remember Ganguly you don’t get one pivotal moment. Maybe his hundred on debut at Lords. He was hardly inspirational in the field. I can’t think of a test inning that helped India win or save a game on its own. Maybe the coca cola cup in Dhaka, the final, but even there a certain Hrishikehsh Kanitkar will take the cake. His pivotal moments are actually the following:

  1. his denial to carry drinks on his first tour in Australia in 1991-92
  2. his naked shirt waving in the lords balcony
  3. his ugly spat with Greg Chappel
  4. and the sabotage of India’s world cup hopes in 2007

But I think his announcement of retirement could not be better timed. VRS or not, I think he is going to give it to the Aussies one last time. I think ganguly will now play as if there is no tomorrow and he will beat the shit out of the Lees and the Johnsons. Lucky McGain got a shoulder injury, his career is safe now. But I feel sorry for Cameroon White. I mean he is already playing for the Bangalore RCs. How bad could things be. The Indian batting will murder him, if he dares to step in. Krejza might cause some concern with ishant Sharma, but all the rest of the Indian squad, including Munaf Patel are capable of handling him.

So for Australia, it’s up to Lee, Johnson and Clark. Well don’t count too much on them, not from the evidence of the BP XI game. If Sehwag cuts lose tomorrow, it could be a long day for the Aussies. The batting looks okish. Katich and Hussey will do well, because all left-handers do well against India. Ponting will do some stuff, so will Clarke. Who is the sixth batsman? This is the check mate for Australia, with Haddin at 7 it’s a lost cause. When Kumble will zip through his flippers, the tail will come to their aukaad instantly. Ofcourse, Ishant vs Ricky will be fun to watch, so will be Bhajji vs Clarke. Lee vs Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar vs. Ricky Ponting bowling left arm and the most fun will be to see Laxman cream the so called spinners to all corners of the ground.

Its time to give it back and hell we are going to give it back. Anil bhai the whole country is behind you. We will cheer every run the team scores and every ball that we bowl. In so many years I have seen cricket, never have I felt this confident that India will win the series against Australia. This is the perfect moment. Loha Garam hai, Maar do Hathauda!


Thursday, October 02, 2008 


So another bomb went off. A thirteen year old died. I played a game of cricket and spent three grand on dinner with friends. Nothing really changed, did it? Apart from some anxious moments for my family, because I didn’t pick up the phone as I was playing. I, huh, I didn’t even bother to call my family, afterall only 3 had died, and there was only one blast. I am becoming shameless, and so are you.

I do not understand much of biology. Not chemical engineering either, but thats not important to the following point. When we get fever, our body shivers. Its the immunity function of our body to remind us that we need to be warmer, our body temperature needs to be elevated so as to kill the germ. The germ is unable to survive at higher temperatures. We spend one night inside the rajai/blanket and wake up the next morning all sweaty and feeling better. But sometimes there is malaria or dengue or any other serious effect. Our body temperature goes above 102, 103 maybe. Our body still shivers but the temperature is too high for other body parts to function. Now we have to put ‘geeli paatiyan’ on the forehead to reduce the temperature. Along with that some other medication is required to debug the virus, and aggressive techniques such as increasing temperature may not work for our own good.

Combat is perhaps not the right way to deal with terrorism, which is to say that terrorism has risen to that stature and not to undermine its effect. If we consider ourselves as a country, then of course we can take any approach. We are country of 1.2 billion approx. and few people dying here and there will make no effect to our ‘integrity’ and we will still lead our lives in a similar fashion. In fact the blasts might just positively impact the population, as people will stay at home more and produce more babies. But even individuals have some worth. We can’t live in the fear of becoming a part of blast, a part of a news bulletin. Lot of people have already become that.

But on the other hand, it is hard to believe that all terrorist groups around the world are barbaric tribes. I don’t know the definitions of any of them, but I suppose some of them could be rightful in the sense we define it. Some of them maybe asking for things they deserve or are worthy of. The entire idea of terrorism is, I believe, built upon the old saying of – ‘hum bhi khelenge nahi to khel bigadenge’. These people are looking to get something they want, which some others have gotten easily. Perhaps they feel that terror is their easier alibi for achieving that something. Right or wrong, ethical or non-ethical, I don’t know. After all I am one man and can see only in one direction at a time.

Although I don’t consider Mahatma Gandhi a god, but I think he has done respectable service to the nation and one of his comments that I concur is about terror. Gandhiji said he who terrorises is actually afraid of himself. Its quite true, if not obvious, and that’s why I feel combating terrorists is just our way of showing that we are afraid now. And that perhaps there is no difference between me and a terrorist. Its just that today, there are more of my kind. Who knows what will happen tomorrow.

A person I met in college, whom I despise to my very breath, more than probably anyone else, once gave me an interesting theory. Of course we were all IITians, alias geeks, so our fundas also revolved around physics. He said to me that entropy (randomness) is always increasing. dS > 0 for all t > 0. Which means that with every passing second, the world, the universe and what ever you want to call it, is becoming more weird, unorganized and disordered. Therefore, negative vibes such as crime, corruption, pollution and the likes will always keep increasing. Till the time that this system comes to an end. There is no stopping it. Me being a straight jacket, optimistic 20 year-old at that time, responded to his remark saying that even if that be true, let us not help that cause by giving in to this belief. We still need to fight against it. Yes entropy will increase, but by how much it will increase is in our control. We can make it negligible. Perhaps one day we can do one better.

But today its falling apart. Physics can make emotions look so meaningless, but we are unable to separate ourselves from these. And the fear lingers on. Agla Indian idol kaun? I think the end is near.

aaj bhi hain pakde ye ummeed ki dori, don’t lose hope is the moral of the story. Jisne sekha inse life me kabhi bhi na jhukna, hot seat pe milega bhaiyya….

Umeed se Dugna!


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