Has Cricket found its true calling in US ?

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As they say, when you have Gods on your side, the call becomes much stronger. Only difference being, this time Gods shall be weilding power with a cricket bat and ball, instead of a holy book in hand. And I am not exagerating.

Introducing Sachin Tendulkar & Shane Warne.

Gods of the cricketing world. Their names wont mean a thing, to a native in the United States. But ask a random south asian in his cliched work place, “the gas station” or an Aussie chugging in the nearby pub and suddenly you would start hearing stories of their prowess.

Legends of the sport of Cricket — A game invented by the british in 1800. These two will be displaying their skill with bat and ball, in a baseball stadium that for a day will be transformed into a cricket pitch.

Their only motive being, introducing the sport and possibly warming up the American crowd to Cricket. The sport certainly has gone through a lot of transition. Starting out as a 5 day game, graduating to a 1 day event, to the recently successful T20 format, that gets over in less than 3 hours.

Gerard Butler is owner of Jamaica Tallawahs

In fact, Hollywood A listers like Mark Wahlberg and Gerard Butler have already envisioned the sport to grow in the US , having already bought cricket teams in the Caribbean Premier League, a T20 cricket tournament played in the beautiful islands of the West Indies in a NFL style tournament for Cricket.

It doesnt end here. Also playing with these two, will be other legends from both India & Australia, like Rahul Dravid, Glenn Mcgrath and VVS Laxman; making it a lip-smacking contest for not just a fan, but someone who wants to see cricketing skill being executed at its highest level.

For a Cricket nerd like myself, building technology to help cricket spread far and wide in the US with Cricket Huddle ; I have no doubt our team is gonna enjoy their glass of beer in the company of greats, we have admired growing up. Regardless of which team wins, I am gonna go in my Indian team jersey with full gusto to watch a glimpse of Tendulkar stepping onto the ground.

Coz, its gonna be time to scream out one more time — Sachin! Sachin! — Sachin! Sachin!

Could Gandhi’s Big Idea ever be funded ?

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3In the world of violence, it’s time Non-violence found its voice back

While sipping through coffee at work one afternoon, I came across this 300 word article on who was great , Gandhi or Jobs? Dumbfounded. I was trying to rationalize If such a comparison, could even produce a rational argument.

I am not siding either ways here, as both parties in this case, have their devotion to disciple ratio greater than 1. Which makes them Super G’s ie. Super Gods in their own right.

Pure logic tells me,

If a > b and b > c, then a > c

If Gandhi made it to Job’s wall in his studio apartment and featured in Steve Jobs homecoming ‘Think Different’ campaign, he certainly has the upper hand. But what made Gandhi different ?

Growing up in India, I always thought of him, as the chief architect of the India-Pakistan partition. My biggest bone of contention with the thought, was not being being not able to see a joint India-Pakistan Cricket team. But the immaturity was put to rest, when I read Steve Martin’s quote that changed it all.

“You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies — all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies”.

Which is exactly what happened to India in 1982. Ben Kingsley won the Oscar for Best Actor, for his iconic role of Gandhi. Making Gandhi suddenly exist for India once again.

I followed suit.

Later in life, when I got my hands on Gandhi’s autobiography ‘My experiments with truth’, I started to find semblance of his thought process. Before Gandhi, the world always thought that there was only one way of winning wars. Wars were always won, with swords and daggers. It was Gandhi who propelled the world, to think differently.

No kickstarter, no YC and no Venture Capital money. Just, sheer grunt work, working his way from village to village, using ‘Harijan’ as his personal blog and ‘word of mouth’ as his best marketing campaign. Slowly converting onlookers to followers. All traits of a classical startup founder incubating his idea of Non-violence through the World’s biggest startup — India’s Independence.

With ISIS releasing yet another video, Hong Kong protesting for Democracy and Gaza fiasco’s, it is time Gandhi’s idea needs a ‘Pivot’ in today’s world.

So, can some Investor, VC or risk taker please stand-up ?

What India did that even Elon Musk couldn’t

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1When you see a bunch of sari clad women, jubilant at India’s premier space research organization, ISRO; the typical stereotype within you, makes one think, if they are beaming with pride for their better halves working at the prestigious organization.

Only to your dismay, to find out, that they themselves form the nucleus to the nation’s most significant space program; which just successfully launched Mangalayan. An Indian born, bred and manufactured satellite into Mars’s orbit. A feat only 3 other nations have been able to achieve so far. India being the only nation to accomplish it, in their first attempt.

What strikes one is not the achievement, but the scale at which it was executed. Majority of the work-force is not part of the elitist educational institutions like IITs or IIMs. In fact, 80% of young engineers come from the regional engineering colleges and small towns. Not with the aim of getting a government job. But with that of making their voices heard, at a place that is known to encourage freedom of speech in its truest sense. Where questioning comes from knowledge not with age, position or hierarchy. That’s ISRO for you.

Everyone seems to be talking about frugal engineering. Which at times can be misinterpreted as cheap or discounted. The best of materials, state of the art system design and surgical planning with contingency scenarios thought through for Plans A, B, C and till F show not only the maturity of India’s space program but also the robustness of its engineering excellence.

Every smile on the face of every engineer in that room, just spoke one language. That of relief & satisfaction. No feats of bravado, no pumping of chests and no shouting of slogans. These are simple people like you and me, travelling in trains, buses and cars. $1000 by american standards for a scientist, clearly does not suffice the best of brains. But what keeps them motivated is challenges. Where salary is not the be all and end all. All they need is one corner to play in their very own sand box.

Elon Musk, an inspiration to today’s generation, formerly Co-founder of Pay Pal and currently running the American Electric Car company Tesla and Space company Space X also failed in his first attempts with the Falcon rocket.

Is it safe to say, these Engineers are better than Iron Man himself ?

This achievement is for every naysayer, who said India did not have cutting edge technology. Well, if this not what you call, cutting edge I don’t know what is. It’s time, India and Indians, start taking themselves seriously.

Coz , clearly the world already is. What are you waiting for?

Get, Set and Go!

One Last time – Sachin Sachin!

Sachin Tendulkar Farewell Test
sachinfan
sachinfan

Phew ! So it’s really happening then. I don’t even know what has hit me, but It definitely is falling apart. The sinking feeling is  taking its toll.

As a 10 year old boy, all I wanted to do was play Cricket. I clearly remember, our teacher asking us Fifth graders, what we wanted to become when we grew up, and 90% of the class wanted to become a Cricketer like Sachin. Little did we know, what we were talking about.

Being admitted in an all-boys schools, made matters worse. The long & short breaks were spent rushing onto the cricket field and playing Leg Cricket ( A version we invented, as we could not bring a cricket bats to school).

The obsession exaggerated in 1996. India had just lost their World Cup Semi Finals to Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens and the country was coping with the loss in their regular old fashion. Angry bottle throwing fans and a sobbing Vinod Kambli. Images best forgotten.

Never did I know, that this Semifinal loss would turn out to be my blessing in disguise. In April 1996, a month after the World Cup loss, dad told me about Sachin being in town and there was a faint possibility to meet him. Actually, one of dad’s friend, used to work as a Caretaker in Anand Mehta’s ( Sachin’s in-laws) bungalow in Lonavla, and had informed him about Sachin’s arrival. That was enough information, for my world to turn upside down. I was slowly sensing blood rush through my brains. Two days later, I was waiting with my dad and sister in the bungalow’s corridor with my newly bought Autograph book ( Yes, you needed one then!).

Meeting Sachin Tendulkar
Meeting Sachin Tendulkar

And then opened the door. Welcoming us was the man himself. Dang, gives me Goosebumps even today. I have no idea what happened for the next 30 minutes. There is a good possibility I must have been staring at Sachin’s face with my mouth wide open. I am pretty sure my dad did the talking. Still staring. 30 minutes go by. Then something happened, which I remember distinctly. While we were talking there was a Dachshund kind of a stray dog sleeping on the floor . Sachin didn’t realize the dog was just behind him and while taking a step back, accidentally stepped on the dog’s tail; to which the dog whimpered in pain. That’s when my dad said in Marathi

 

“ Tyala mahit nahi ahe, to Sachin cha pai ahe”  

( The dog has no idea, but it’s Sachin’s foot, that’s is making him wry with pain)

And I remember Sachin chuckling his heart out. The meeting was over , I shook his hand and stepped out smiling, but had forgotten to do an important part. I had forgotten to click a picture with Sachin and realized that as soon as we stepped out of the house. There was no way we were going to go, without a click. Knock, knock.

This time Jesus opened the door. As if all the god’s from across the continents, had gathered up and showing their faces one by one. With the same amount of composure, he agreed this picture with me and my sister, making a happy boy leave the room with this favorite trophy.

Having watched him for 2 decades on the Television screen and once in person, hasn’t changed anything. I still feel the same sadness, I used to, when he gets out and still feel like blowing up the TV set when that happens time and time again.  Why don’t I do it for a Dhoni or Kohli ?Coz, Sachin feels like one of u, even today.

There are innumerable Sachin moments that I can recollect, be it the 114 at Perth in 1994, 98 against Pakistan in 2003 or 175 against Australia in Hyderabad, but my favorite one; was the interview Virat Kohli’s mother gave on India winning the 2011 World Cup.

She was more happy for Sachin winning the World Cup than her own son, which really summed up, what the nation feels for its most loved son. The call has been made. History has been written again. But be sure of the fact,  that we will cheer for you the loudest with full-throttle guffaw, this last time as well, when you take on the field.

Sachin Sachin! Sachin Sachin!

Sachin Tendulkar- From being the Answer to Becoming the Solution

Sachin Tendulkar_Solution to Cricket problems
Sachin Tendulkar_Solution to Cricket problems
Sachin Tendulkar_Solution to Cricket problems

When Harsha Bhogle penned his Letter to Sachin in December 2012 , he just added another Ode to the 700 other featured articles on Cricinfo since 2007 World Cup, when the first time an article had been published about Sachin’s retirement.

Starting out as the answer to every Indian cricketing  fan, this player has now become a solution to every cricketing writer’s block.

No wonder people call him  ‘ God’.

With 10 Million Likes on Facebook and 3.5 Million followers on Twitter, he is not just in hearts and minds of people, but part of their Social circles. As they say, God is Everywhere. So is Sachin.

Recently he surpassed MS Dhoni as the Most Searched Cricketer in 2013.  Now, With him retiring from the IPL, we are certainly going to see more thank you letters in the coming days.

His retirement has been a topic of national importance and continue to garner the highest TRP s for news channels all across. Sometimes by cricketing experts and commentators, but  most of the times by cricketing clowns who break apart his statistics, form and temperament, every time he comes to bat.

Greatness lies in humility. No press conferences, no felicitation functions, just a 1-page press release. That’s what summed up the limited overs journey for Sachin. A goodbye in the subtlest possible ways. I am sure, whenever he takes the call for his Test retirement, there won’t be announcements, hoopla’s or grandeur functions to do the same. If It was otherwise, he would have made the announcement after the recently concluded India-Australia Test series, which many may have assumed to be his last series at Home; leaving the game on a high note.

But then, It would not have been the Tendulkar we all know.

The 16 year school kid playing against Pakistan with a bloodied nose,  to scoring a century against Kenya a day after his father’s demise to gleaming cherubically lifting the World Cup trophy in 2011. These are all images of the little man, the world will never forget.

While coming up with the title for this article, I tried my hand at all possible adjectives, but all of them seem to have been taken up by articles written about him. Thus, Words did fall short and adjectives did seem futile.

With Probity and propriety being the need of the hour in Cricket today, a lot of cleansing needs to be done in order to restore the damage that has befallen the game. It’s time, Cricket’s biggest ambassador bails out the sport, the same way he did the Indian Cricket team, in their times of crisis.

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IPL 6- Cricket’s Biggest Party of 2013

IPL6- Cricket's Biggest Party of 2013
IPL6- Cricket's Biggest Party of 2013
IPL6- Cricket’s Biggest Party of 2013

Some call it the biggest blockbuster of the Indian summer; others call it the Biggest Controversy in Cricket.

Love it or Hate it. The fact is – You can’t – Ignore it.

Time to throw away the Whites and Don the Colors. Coz, it’s time to get dressed. Dressed for Cricket’s biggest party of 2013.  Time for IPL-6.

A party that not only the fans, players and organizers await, but one that the cash cows of BCCI eagerly await.

With a  400 crore ($71.77 million) bid for the next 5 years, almost double than what its predecessor DLF paid in 2008, It surely is Pepsi’s way of hitting a ‘DLF Maximum’ to stake its claim in India’s Cricketing foray. A thought reiterated by its CEO Gautham Mukkavilli ‘Cricket is a religion in India and IPL is now its most revered temple where the faithful flock to’.

With a rejuvenated campaign, new teams and changed sponsorship’s, the Sixth edition promises to become even bigger. So what are you waiting for-?

The carpets are all rolled out. People got their Popcorn’s. Let the games begin.

If IPL seems so good to be true. Why the conspiracy theory about the IPL’s boom and burst hypnosis.

It’s not a new phenomenon. People have always raised questions about the fragile foundations of the league, be it through its overvaluation in 2010, when the league was valued at $ 4.13 billion; to the financial irregularities of the playing franchises to penalizing the string pullers (BCCI) for indulging in market abuse and anti-competitive practices.

In fact, some of its critics are certainly waiting patiently in the sidelines to witness its slow motion death and then its downfall.

What they have failed to disintegrate in their analysis of the league and its predicaments are the sentiments of the cricketing fan, every time he cheers for his team from the cricketing stands or from their television sets.

And buoy, do they roar with full gusto

After all, who wouldn’t want to see Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar, in the same colors discussing a field placement or fist thump each other at the fall of a wicket for Mumbai Indians or for that matter a 19 year old Unmukt Chand, having just taken baby steps in International Cricket lofting the mighty Dale Steyn for a Six across the boundary ropes to help the Delhi Daredevils Win.

Its adrenaline rushes and hair –raising moments like these that give the cricket fan pure joy. All of which are amply exhibited and justified  by not only the amount of noise the fans make in the stands but also by the amount the spend from their wallets .

Who says it’s been a clean-cut controversy free cricketing spectacle. If the first season was marred by the Harbhajan Singh- Sreesanth Slapgate scandal, this year it’s the banning of Sri Lankan cricketers from playing in Chennai.

And next year, it might be something else.

Teams and players will always come and go. If there was a Deccan Charger, now there is a Hyderabad Sunrisers. If there was a Sanath Jayasuriya, now there is a Chris Gayle and tomorrow there might be someone else. What seems to have remained intact is the spirit with which the cricketing fan has followed his team.

Even the recently concluded the India-Australia Border Gavaskar series was not able to rake in crowds like some of last year’s IPL games.

If English Premier League was the basis on which the tournament was started, the future of Cricket might just only be the IPL with the other International games and Qualifiers being limited to the Cricket World Cup. You might just be seeing the sport in a new form altogether. Imagine a scenario where MS Dhoni is playing more with Dwayne Bravo than Virat Kohli and you would get your answer.

So, when Pitbull blasts away his ‘Don’t stop the party’ at the opening ceremony of this year’s IPL, you better come prepared in your dancing shoes, coz who knows It might just be the only cricketing party in true sense you would be able to enjoy all this year.

Cheteshwar Pujara- A Poster Boy for India’s Test Cricketing future

Pujara 204 vs Australia
Pujara 204 vs Australia
Pujara 204 vs Australia

With too many eyeballs and cricketing trolls waiting to devour on the flesh and skin of the Indian cricket team before the start of the Australian tour, It was always going to become a tour worth forgetting or worth remembering for the Indian Cricket fan.

Worth forgetting because of the Indian team’s dismal performances in the last one year of Test Cricket and Worth remembering coz It might just be the last time their Little Champion- Sachin Tendulkar entered the cricketing field.

In the midst of all the expectations from Dhoni and his comrades, one man who definitely seems to have gone unnoticed, having stood quietly in one corner is the Unflinching Cheteshwar Pujara.

A man, who kept knocking on the selection door for the last 5 years,finally getting his call up for the national team in 2012 for scoring not just hundreds, but big ones for his state side Saurashtra  in domestic cricket.

With immediate expectations, of him being the successor of Rahul Dravid, Pujara had his critics scrutinizing his every move right from Day one.

What has been most gratifying about this collected cricketer is not just his composure in piling up runs steadily, but making each and every run that flew from his bat count. With the growing hoopla around Twenty20 cricket replacing One day cricket and with experts like SanjayManjrekar vouching for the shorter format going forward,  here is a Cricketer who seems to have become the tranquilizer shot in Adrenaline rushed Indian team following their stints with Twenty20 cricket.

Nobody denies, that all these runs by Pujara  have been amassed in Indian sub-continental conditions. He has yet to make himself count overseas. Has got out at the pull-shot thrice, making him more vulnerable to the stinging delivery on bouncy tracks abroad.

What cannot be forgotten is his innate ability to stay at the wicket for longer hours. His four centuries to date have totaled to 1800 minutes at the wicket , i.e.; almost 30 hours of Pujara slogging it out in the middle. With Test matches, getting over in 4 days’ time, here is a cricketer who is doing just more than scoring big runs in the middle in his bit to tire the opposition out. If ever the growing speculation of fielding three separate teams for the different formats comes to fruition, here is a Cricketer who definitely fits the bill, for more than one reason.

As Sunil Gavaskar in this year’s inaugural MAK Pataudi Lecture in February 2013, emphasized the importance of Ensuring Test Cricket remains the Pinnacle of the sport, Pujara could very well become the poster boy for the longer format inspiring the next generation which seems to be getting lured to the glitz and glitterati of the fast-food ( Twenty20) cricket.

Only time will tell, how long this young lad continues to serve the sport, which has just started to take his notice.

Border-Gavaskar trophy – 10 years of Extraordinary Cricket

Laxman played another historic knock with Sharma and Ojha

On February 22, the Border-Gavaskar trophy will be fought for the 11th time between India & Australia. Here is a look at the last 10 years of this coveted trophy which has presented the Cricketing world with great contests time and time again.

1996-97: Nayan Mongia’s 152

The one-off test match which kickstarted the Border-Gavaskar trophy at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, proved to be Nayan Mongia’s rise. Probably regarded as one of the best wicketkeepers after Syed Kirmani then, Mongia doubled up as an opener in order to have 3 spinners included in the team. Notching a brilliant 152 in the first innings against a Mark Taylor led Australian team, Mongia setup Team India’s victory in the first edition of the Border Gavaskar trophy.

1997-98: Clash of the Titans: Sachin vs Warne Rivalry

Warne Tendulkar Rivalry
Warne Tendulkar Rivalry

The 1997-98 series presented a dilapidated Australian fast bowling lineup without Mcgrath and Gillespie, who were left home nursing their injuries. With Paul Reiffel, the only experienced campaigner suffering a recurring shoulder injury after the First Test, It was only becoming a gloomy affair for the visitors. Mcgrath or No-Mcgrath. The stadiums were still jam-packed, as the crowds had paid their money to watch the Clash of the two titans- Warne and Tendulkar, both at their cricketing best.

With Tendulkar’s blitzkrieg innings of 204 notout for Mumbai in the first Australian tour game, , It was only going to create an adrenaline rush for the spectators going to watch him bat against the Aussies. In the end, Tendulkar obliterated the Australian attack scoring 446 runs in the series at a strike rate of 80.65 at a Bradmanesque average of 111.50 in the series. On the other hand, Warne’s ten wickets cost 54 runs apiece; almost twice his career best 23.81 then. Of the five times, the two locked horns, only once did Warne get the better of Tendulkar. The cans of baked beans and spaghetti that flew out from down-under, did not work its charm either on Warne’s appetite or pacify Warne’s Tendulkar nightmares.

1999-2000: India’s poor record on bouncy wickets continued

Indian batsman always have a difficult time on bouncy pitches
Indian batsman always have a difficult time on bouncy pitches

A 10 wicket loss against any practice side is never encouraging for any visiting team playing their first tour game. That’s exactly what happened, when India played Queensland, in their first practice game of the 1999-2000 tour to Australia. The tour turned out to be a complete whitewash with the Australians winning the series 3-0 against a mediocre Indian side making the cricketing contest rather boring. The massive margins of victories in the 3-Test match series – 285 runs in the First test, 180 runs in the Second Test and Innings and 141 runs in the 3rd test, only suggested complete annihilation of the Indian team at the hands of their Australian counterparts. The only positive outcome of the series being, the discovery of VVS Laxman’s batting prowess. A brilliant 167 off 198 deliveries in the 3rd Test , that ripped apart a full-throttle bowling attack to pieces, ensured Laxman’s selection in the next series against the Australians, not knowing that very series two years later would prove to be his calling.

2000-01: The birth of Australia’s future nemesis: Very Very Special Laxman & Turbunator

Laxman-Dravid partnership was crucial in India winning the 2nd Test in Kolkata
Laxman-Dravid partnership was crucial in India winning the 2nd Test in Kolkata

If there is an India-Australia contest that the world remembers time and time again. It’s got to be the 2000-01 Border-Gavaskar series. Touted as Steve Waugh’s final frontier, the series did start off for the Aussie captain on a fairy tale note. The Australians continued their ruthlessness on the field winning the first test in Mumbai by 10 wickets.

The dream run continued, making it 16 wins in a row for Steve Waugh and his comrades, only to last until their nemesis, VVS Laxman arrived at the crease on the third day of 2nd Test match. After that moment, what really followed on was one of the best Test Cricket innings and partnership of all time. Eden Gardens which erupted to the cry of Harbhajan Singh when he claimed India’s first-ever Test hat-trick on the first day of play, now exploded with VVS Laxman’s poetic 281 against the very best in the business attack of Warne, McGrath and Gillespie. Barring the Wicketkeeper and the Captain, every possible bowling option was utilized by Steve Waugh to break the 376 run partnership between Dravid and Laxman all proving futile. The final day was reserved for the Turbunator ‘ Harbhajan Singh’ show that demoralized the Aussie spirit with figures of 6-73 snatching victory for team India in the second test drawing the series 1-1.

If the 2nd Test proved to be Harbhajan Singh’s reckoning, the third only triggered the Beast Mode within the Punjab lad. With figures of 7-133 and hitting the winning runs against a Mcgrath Yorker, Harbhajan Singh sealed his arrival for Team India.

Enjoy this 57 minute compilation by Trevor Byres to relive the moments from the Greatest Test Match of All Time

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2003–04 series: See-saw battle for glory

Of the 10 editions, the 2003-04 series is the only battle that ended in a 1-1 draw. The 4 match Test Series slated to be Steve Waugh’s Farewell series was a display of cricketing dexterity at its best. The very fact, that every other series has produced a result, doesn’t mean there was a lot to choose from either of the sides, but in this particular edition, the margin of error from both sides was equalized by pure free flowing cricket oozing through their willows. With crucial knocks by Langer & Ganguly in the First Test, to scintillating wrist work by Laxman & Dravid in Second Test, to exquisite pull-shots from Ponting in the third Test to the composure of Tendulkar in the 4th Test were exhibited with the greatest of aplomb. The bowlers were at their lethal best, Kumble leading the pack with 24 wickets, followed by Agarkar with 16 and then Stuart McGill with 14 wickets. With India edging past Australia in the series, the scoreboard still reflected a tame draw.

2004–05 series: Rejoice they conquer: Australia win a Test series in India after 35 years.

Victorious Australian team after winning in India after 35 years
Victorious Australian team after winning in India after 35 years

Finally the 35 year wait was over. Australia were able to conquer the terrains of the Indian sub-continent winning the series 2-1. Although the Indians won the Final test match, It was hardly a pitch fitting a Test match. Some consolation at the end. The Australians had a plan from the beginning and they executed it to perfection. Leading this time was Australia’s silent assassin, Damien Martyn who 104, 114 and 97 in the 2nd and 3rd Test to ensure India did not have the upper hand in the series. But the find for Australia was Michael Clarke who scored a 100 in his debut Test match. Champagne finally filled the Australian dressing room at the end of third test, ensuring a fitting farewell to their bowling legends – Warne & McGrath, playing their final series in India.

2007-08: Series of Trials & Tribulations

Court room drama with Harbhajan and Symonds
Court room drama with Harbhajan and Symonds

If there was a series that left a sour taste in both the countries mind, it was the 2007-08 series played in Australia. A series that would always be remembered for the wrong reasons. It all started on the third day of the 2nd Test Match being played at SCG, Australia leading the series 1-0, when Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh had the famous altercation about the latter calling him the ‘M’ word. The matter then went to the courts. Then came the lawyers, mercy petitions, hearings. The Aussie spirit of playing the sport was questioned, when dropped catches were claimed, pacts were broken, dubious umpiring decisions were overlooked. All this leading to a lot of bad blood between the two sides. Cricket was no more just a game. If there was a series where you could see players playing for each other’s lives, It was that. Not to forget Michael Clarke’s cameo with nine minutes remaining to wrap up the Indian team’s tail or Sehwag’s bowling Gilchrist round the legs in the 4th Test to give India that win. Even with all these glorious moments, the game of Cricket took a backseat.

2008–09 series: Fab Five breaks apart; Dhoni’s era begins

Fab Five broke apart with the retirement of Ganguly and Kumble
Fab Five broke apart with the retirement of Ganguly and Kumble

The Fab Five for the Indian contingent was finally breaking apart. Sourav Ganguly had announced his retirement before the start of the series. The prince was about to roar one last time before hanging up his boots. And boy he did it in style. Scoring a century in the 2nd Test match, helping India win the Test. And the other surprise was Kumble’s departure which came under unfortunate circumstances, when he ruptured his finger bowling in the 3rd test passing over the mantle to MSD who had anyways been leading the side in the shorter format of the game. The series went in India’s favor 2-0 winning the 2nd test & 4th Test match by 320 runs and 172 runs respectively. What gave me as a Cricket fan that day was seeing Ganguly lead the Indian side one last time with his collar up bringing back memories of the way Indian Cricket had changed under his wings. From being timid to being in their face, from being reserved to being flamboyant and mostly from regretting loss to enjoying victory.

2010–11 series: The return of the Australian Nemesis

Laxman played another historic knock with Sharma and Ojha
Laxman played another historic knock with Sharma and Ojha

The 2010-11 Border Gavaskar series was cut down to two test matches this time around, so It was do or die for both teams from the beginning. What started as Australia’s cruise in the First Test, turned upside down for them. The demons of 2000-01 series came back haunting the Aussies again. With 92 needed and only Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha to follow, It would have seemed to be a cake-walk for the Australians. Not on VVS’s watch. With a hurting back and runner, VVS Laxman marshaled Ishant Sharma and later Ojha to win one of the most dramatic Test matches to have been played between the 2 sides. The second test saw, the majestic Tendulkar take centerstage, once again scoring a 214 to win the Test match for the India. The Indians winning the trophy emphatically for the first time.

2011-12: Total Domination – The Australian Way

Australian team after winning in 2011-12
Australian team after winning in 2011-12

If there was a tour the Indians would love to forget, It would have to be the 2011-12 tour of Australia. Fresh from their World cup winning success in the summer of 2011, a lot was expected from the World cup winning team. They were thwarted and punished like school kids, clueless of what was happening around them. It wasn’t 4-0 loss, but the manner in which the Indian team was butchered really showed Australia’s seriousness in preparation and India’s lack of it before the series. The Australians exposed India in all departments. Ever since that tour, the Indians have lost the plot so badly, that nothing seems to be working for the otherwise Midasian regime. Having lost 4-0 to England at home.

The 2012-13 series promises to be probably the last one for India’s master blaster- Sachin Tendulkar. In the current circumstances, It will be interesting to see what Tendulkar’s last act promises to be.

Parvez Rasool – Valley’s reason to Smile

Parvez Rasool Giving valley a reason to smile
Parvez Rasool Giving valley a reason to smile
Parvez Rasool Giving valley a reason to smile

The curfew in the valley still hasn’t been lifted. The streets still seem to have no names. The silence which continues to haunt most of his hometown, has not yet deterred Parvez Rasool, the 23 year old Jammu and Kashmir all-rounder, who wielded his spinning wand on the visiting Australian team’s fortune, on the opening day of the Board President’s XI vs Australia at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Chennai.

The  very place where it all started. The very place which brought the young cricketer unfounded limelight for the wrong reasons. And the very place, where he was made to prove his integrity as a cricketer, a price Rasool had to pay for hailing from the valley.

Looking at the bright side, scalping a 7-45 against the mighty Australians, is a feat which would easily not go unnoticed.  A feat, which not only earned him the respect, from his Indian counterpart R. Ashwin, but also got him the opposition team’s top scorer and opening batsman Ed Cowan‘s acknowledgement.

Hailing from the beautiful ‘Town of Chinars’, Bijbehara; a small town situated on the banks of river Jhelum, one of India’s transcendental river’s with a population of 20,000, Parvez Rasool has a story worth making a movie about. Starting out watching his father play the sport at district level, Rasool took up Cricket seriously playing for his school and state’s U-14 and U-16 team followed by his Club cricket representation for Bijbehara Sports Club, a prominent base for South Kashmir cricketers. But his big break came when he shifted base to Srinagar, playing for Srinagar Sports Club which led to his selection in Jammu & Kashmir Senior team in 2008.

But, the coming of age for this young cricketer came in three seasons later when he plundered 594 runs and pillaged 33 wickets in 2012-13 Ranji season, only to be rewarded with a selection to the India A side that played England in November 2012, the first cricketer from the valley to have the honor of playing against an International team. Not only that, he was hand-picked to bowl at the nets to the senior Indian team ahead of India’s third and final game against Pakistan in December 2012 getting to rub shoulders with Dhoni and Virat Kohli, which still happens to be the cricketer’s best moment.

The 11th season of the Border-Gavaskar trophy, which starts on February 22nd in Chennai promises to be a nail-biting affair, like its previous encounters. The visitors on the first day of play must certainly have got a taste and smell of  what would be offered on their platter, this Indian summer. With speculations over the team’s selection for the First test, especially around the choice of the out-of form Harbhajan Singh, being awarded a last chance based on his past laurels against the Aussies and that of R. Ashwin, who seemed to have had a rather disastrous outing against the English, Parvez Rasool’s performance certainly seems to have given a wake up call to the two spinners. The selectors are clearly looking to make bold choices. They proved it with selection of Rahane, Dhawan and Vijay over Gambhir, Yuvraj and Raina and wouldn’t hesitate putting either or both of them under the chopping block.

After all, Dhoni has stated his desire of creating a pool of players for 2015 World Cup and with Rasool’s batting average of 38.57 with three hundreds and two fifties in his 7 First class matches along with 33 wickets with Economy rate of 3.04 this Ranji season, should definitely motivate the youngster to knock harder at the selector’s doorstep, if his turn comes up.

In the wake of the recent tragedies at the India-Pakistan border along with everyday accounts of gunfire and bloodshed, the valley and its people are in dire need of reasons to smile. Parvez Rasool has this chance of proving out to be that reason.

Are the String pullers (BCCI) of Cricket, being pulled this time around

String pullers BCCI
String pullers BCCI
String pullers BCCI

These are testing times for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). I don’t know If it’s the team’s bad fortune, that’s rubbing off or just pure plain karma. The string pullers are certainly being pulled this time around.

The Fair trade regulator Competition Commission has charged the Cricket governing body with a whooping penalty of Rs. 52.24 crore ( US$ 9.792 M) for indulging in market abuse and anti-competitive practices. For more details click here. All this, before the sixth edition of the much anticipated Pepsi IPL6 starting in April 2013.

Be it the recent account of 100 crore (US$ 18.709M) penalty levied on the owners of Rajasthan Royals by Enforcement Directorate (ED) or the Indian captain MS Dhoni being made the Vice President of India Cements, a company under the chairmanship of the BCCI President, N. Srinivasan. The recent spate of checkered accounts within the BCCI, provides good indication of the trouble brewing within its quarters.

I feel bad for the 12 million dollar babies recently adopted or selected, in the recently held IPL auction . They must be a worried lot right now.

Not to forget, the recent allegations of doping and betting in Cricket Australia, thus shedding poor light on the sport all across.

Question marks like these, clearly raises eyebrows of the general public paying their hard earned money, watching these games in stadiums. If transparency is diluted in matters of sports regulations and sport controls, it only makes the Cricket fan lose confidence, thus making the game lose its credibility.

Transparency International, a non-profit which monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development, has released a blue print defining boundaries of cricket and cricket administration in January 2012.

It’s time the International Cricket council which in Oct 2012 had promised to fight the war against corruption takes stringent measures to eradicate this problem.

Coz, It won’t take long, for a thriving sport to lose its sheen . Not because of individuals playing the sport, but because of the people pulling its strings, sitting in an office, somewhere else.