May 2009 - Posts
In this uncertain ever changing world, men have found solace in some absolute Truths. Some rules that are proved without any exceptions. Rules, that have laid the foundation for human faith. Rules, that give some justification to one's existence in the surrounding chaos. That one plus one equals two, that day comes after night, that water turns into ice at a particular temperature, that the earth revolves round the sun are absolute truths. Most of these absolute truths have a scientific/mathematical base. To a Tennis Fan, Rafael Nadal (even in that shocking pink) winning French Open 2009 was an absolute truth, the theory of probability notwithstanding. The man's French Open career stats told the story. They are too well documented to be repeated. But not losing a match EVER for 4 years and being the greatest clay court player helped to form that opinion. His victory was preordained. It was destiny unachieved as yet. And this tryst with destiny could have been jeopardised only by Roger Federer (if Fedrerer managed to reach the date for the finals).
The edifice was shattered on Sunday. One week before the possible duel with Federer.
Robin Soderling from Sweden was to rejoice in the fact that he would be added to the history books as another victim in Rafa's march to No. 5. He was involved in an ugly spat with Rafa at Wimbeldon in 2007 when he
had given vent to a majority of players' feelings by mocking Rafa's pre service
routine. But having lost all his earlier 3 encounters with the Chosen One, he was supposed to do the right thing, hit a few, roll over and let the Master pass. Robin thought of it, not as a competitive match, but his practice session. Therein lay the seeds of Doomsday.
The lesser players come to a match with the 'devil may care' attitude not pulling any punches against their fancied opponent. Robin did the same. His start to the match was ferocious and with his booming forehand, pushing Rafa to the corner (literally and metaphorically) consistently. His serve was a wonderful ally in the endeavour. Tongues were starting to wag after he pocketed the first set itself. The honour of taking a set off Rafa at Roland Garros was previously bestowed upon Roger Federer in 2007.
Normally this is the stage of the match when the lesser player loses steam. Physically, the adrelanine of the initial build up is waning and mentally the fact that he has actually taken a set off Nadal at the French Open creates such a sense of euphoria that he relaxes. And this is where the normal 'devil may care' attitude unravels.
Robin Soderling did lose his first service game in the second set to elicit 'been here seen that' viewer's response. But the man was made of sterner stuff. He managed to break Nadal and took the set to the tie break. All this while, Nadal was looking a bit off colour, trying too hard, but in vain. He pulled up his clay reddened socks to win the tie break comfortably.
Soderling continued to play his 'practice session version' of tennis with panache, matching Nadal stroke for stroke and getting better of him on the bigger points winning the third set. He started tiring by the end of the 4th set and the tie break would be crucial to his dream. Nadal was getting a whiff of a 5th set and salivating at the prospect. His superhuman fitness would take him through, one felt. Any such hopes were put to rest by Robin Soderling in the tie break thereby creating one of the biggest upsets in Tennis history.
There's a famous market probability theory of a black swan, which discounts the possibility of an almost impossible event happening. The market always underprices the black swan event. One believes it was the shocking pink T-shirt that caused the upset.Hence one is going to call it the Pink Swan theory at the French Open. Wanna bet against it?
One has been going through a lot of news reports (a plethora of them actually) about attacks (please note the absence of the word 'racial' as that is open to debate) on Indian students in Australia. Soulberry has written his opinions here. Some comments are worth a read.
One came up with a couple of news reports which carried the follwing snaps.
These are the latest photos of India students entering a pub in an undisclosed city in Victoria. Special note of thanks to the Chief of Police for conducting self defence courses. Note the absence of any expensive gadegetery on any of the students.
Reports are also coming in that Kapil Dev will be appointed as next head of security for the Indian cricket team. He has undergone intensive training programs of late to qualify for the same. Though the next tour of Australia is not in the near future, steps rae being taken to be ready for any eventuality.
Reports are coming in that even MSD has taken commando lessons.
There's a video available on this link as well.
India might not be calling off the next tour to Australia for security reasons for sure.
Note: It's a light hearted look at a very serious issue and this piece is not intending to hurt anybody's feelings.
I know I am late by 2 full days and then some but to savour a Manu defeat and recover fast enough is nigh impossible. To read all those post match reports/ analysis does take its time. The fact that I had put up the pictures of the European Champions of the last year with a very heavy heart prodded me to continue the traditionbut this time with a jump in my step and song on my breath.
And no, the title as the intellegent reader would have guessed by now, has nothing to do with casteism.
P.S. As some of the regular visitors to the blog may know that I am a Arsenal supporter but constant gloating of my friends who swear by the reds, over the last 2 years has taken its toll and one has turned into a Manu baiter. The final was watched with a couple of Red supporters and one of them dropped me home in his car. Luckily I wasn't standing in front of his car at any point in time.
Lleyton Hewitt thought beating Rafa Nadal at the French open was almost as easy as hitting out at the ITF for slapping the lowest possible fine on his Davis cup team.
Rafa talked about Hewitt being a very tough opponent to beat before his 3rd round match. He is a bit more subtle than Lleyton Hewitt in his talk and far rougher than Hewitt on the Roland Garros court.
Hewitt had declared that he had got Nadal's number. He obviously got the wrong number!!
Ivan Lendl perfectly represented the t-shirts he used to wear. They were supremely geometrical. Squares, circles, triqangles. He also looked like a machine. His jaw, his chiselled face. He looked like the perfect Tennis Robot. Many other tennis super stars wrote him off as being too mechanical, talentless. He came from eastern europe and during that era of the cold war, he was the perfect guy to hate.
And yet somehow one was such a big fan. That familiar shrug, that fine tuning of the racket guts, the intensity in his eyes. The romantic saga of talent v/s blood sweat and tears was happening in front of your eyes when Mc'nroe played Lendl. And those hearbreaks in the Pat Cash final (I still think Cash didn't deserve to win that final), the frustrating match against Chang at the French Open, the 'grass is for cows' comment that epitomised the fallen hero saga. Lendl was an enigma. Lendl was a champion and Lendl was a man who nobody (well almost) knew about.
Ivan Lendl was the ultimate worker bee who became king(or is it a queen) bee. One came across this brilliant interview (thanks to SFX) which gives an insight into the man's personality. One may feel even more confused after reading the interview. But Lendl comes across as the guy who one hero worshipped once.
For a man who hated grass, golf seems an ironical choice.
“I belong to four clubs and between the four of them I have won the club championships 25 times now, which is a highlight for me ...
It sounds silly in a way when you’ve won the French and the US Opens to be worrying about the club championships but the competitiveness is still there.”
“So golf has filled the void?”
“Yes, golf has been a saviour. I would have been at home biting my dogs!”
“How has Samantha put up with you for so long?”
“I don’t know,” he smiles.
“You must have some good qualities?”
“I think I’m fairly reasonable as long as I get those juices out of me.
If I don’t, I’m miserable.”
“You’re obviously still in love?”
“Of course, and not only with my family, I love my life.”
There was some thing called a fair play award
which didnt strike many a hoodlum's chord
to get that trophy studded with diamonds
so desperate was Andrew Symonds
that he managed to better his own record
Chain Nahi Sopper Kings?
C Tsk C Tsk CTsk?
Tamil Na Do?
Low on MSD?
Mid ass touch?
HZero number 3?
Pardon my confusion dear reader.. Was just thinking of a title for yesterday's match.. Oh I give up.. words can't describe how one feels :)
P.S. CSK fans pardon my gloating.. but was too bugged of the MSD bandwagon.. maybe sanity will prevail in a day or 2 and I'll repent writing this.. but what the heck.. one will repent at leisure :)
A few Pictionary clues for today's match between RCB and DDD
Do I really need to give the answers?
The main reason behind the shifting of IPL 2009 to South Africa was taken to its conclusion today. The results last time around were as shocking as the Rajasthan Royals winning the inaugural IPL 2008.
The Ravi Shastris' and Jeremy Coneys' ( aka the 'experts') of the psephological world had predicted a hung parliament. The team owners (business community) were rueing another 2-3 years of policy snooze and alleged match fixers (Amarinder Singh) with dreams in their eyes and USD in their Swiss Banks were licking their lips. Welcome to the world of Indian PoliticaL League. The IPL that superceded Lalit Modi's IPL in the country was as rigorous, as exciting, as nerve wrecking and as pulsating if not more.
But it all turned out to be a Maya. The Indian voter returned a unanimous verdict to the ruling UPA combine and even a cynic like your's truly, who never thought one would see the day when the John Buchanans (Prakash Karat) of Indian polity would be made to eat humble pie. Prakash Karat has been an outsider in the CPM Bengal just like Bhookha (he came from Kerala) and had his theories and ideologies all fine tuned for the ultimate political victory. Just like Bhookha, his constituents shunned him and handed him one of the biggest defeats in the CPM's history in West Bengal. These Bongs really are crazy tap tap.
The MIndians (BJP) who were one of the hot favourites to win the title were thrown out even before the final results came out. They were a bit smug in the knowledge that they would be the next emperors. They will have to wait another 5 years now. They can play in some other local leagues like state assemblies etc to be in touch with the game. Their old statesman maynot be leading them in their next bid for the title unlike his cricketing IPL counterpart.
The winner has been Rajasthan Royals (Congress) once again. An even bigger surprise than their time win in 2004. No body gave them a chance. They actually followed Bhookha's 4 captain theory. Sonia, Mannu, Rahul and Priyanka, everybody took a leadership role. And the 4 captain theory worked in this IPL for sure.
There were other teams in the fray who had gotten too cocky like the Delhi daredevils (Lalu and Paswan), CSK (Amma), Deccan Chargers (TDP/TRS).. They were all blown away too.
Yours truly has been a Mumbai Indian supporter but a comprehensive win for the Royals is a welcome relief.
P Chidambaram who scuttled Lalit Modi's IPL 2009 India plans has lost these elections but will still get a cabinet berth. So this IPL will cast a shadow over Lalit Modi's IPL for the coming few years for sure.
One will miss the constant analysis, the unending coverage by news channels and interviews of all key personalities in this drama.One will miss the excitement and the drama that went under the banner of the Indian Political League.
But so what if this IPL has come to a close. We have the cricket IPL entertaining us for another few days. Maybe the winner there maynot be the Rajasthan Royals.
So lets revisit that old jungle saying. The IPL is over. Long live the IPL!
PS. Chidambaram actually managed to win his seat after a recount.
This is what the bottoms up approach does to one. Mumbai Indians tried it and find themselves in the same position in IPL 2009 as the poor lady in the picture. Yogesh Takawale, Bravo and Rahane playing top 3 with Jaya, SRT and Duminy playing the 4th, 5th and the 6th fiddle respectively. Rajasthan Royals were in the position of the photographer. Having fun without doing too much..
If one thought that the Bajji interview in the previous post was hilarious, the Nehra one reproduced below goes one better.
DURBAN: A waiter in the team hotel walks up to Ashish Nehra as he’s reclining on a sofa in the lobby. "You’re really bowling well, man. It’s like those old days," says the elderly gentleman, patting the Team Delhi pacer on the back. Nehra’s eyes light up. "You see, it’s not me but the others who are saying I’m bowling well. That’s what pleases me most. I feel so young again," Nehra says with a smile.
It’s South Africa once again and Nehra is in the mood to go back in time. "Yes, you people remember me by my performances in the World Cup six years back, but let me tell you, I feel as good as I did in 2003. Everything’s coming back," Nehra says.
He insists that swing is something that comes naturally to him. "That’s something I’ll never lose. It’s the pace that matters, but I can work up a decent pace any time I bowl," he adds.
He feels that a pace bowler is at his best at 30. "So many things come with maturity. You learn different variations, you learn to get the yorker right. Then, the T20 format is here which has made me work on my game and I feel as good as I ever was," Nehra says.
He is justified in some ways because the left-armer has been very good in the IPL so far, especially in tandem with Dirk Nannes.
"Dirk can really be fast, I rely on swing. So even if we both are left-armers, it never becomes too predictable," Nehra says, talking about his IPL exploits so far.
But somewhere down the line, it’s the desire to play for India once again that comes across. And the paceman makes it clear that his one-time opening partner Zaheer Khan is his role model in that aspect.
"Look at Zaheer’s game, he used to bowl 140kmph easy when he came in. Now it’s a consistent 130kmph pace and those little variations here and there which are making him such a potent customer. And let me tell you, I, too, can do all those things that he can." There’s sheer conviction in Nehra’s voice.
The lanky left-arm pacer believes that it’s the IPL that opens up so many avenues for players like him, who are not in the fray at the moment. "That’s the best thing about this tournament. Last year, (Manpreet) Gony got an opportunity as well out of nowhere just because he bowled in the IPL. RP (Singh) has got a World T20 call-up for the same reason.
"I have every reason to keep my fingers crossed for the way I’ve been bowling," he adds.
But with the Indian pace attack having a settled look about it, does he really fit in? "Where is the settled look you’re talking about?" Nehra snaps back. "Barring Zaheer and Ishant, nobody is a certainty. I won’t buy that Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Dhawal Kulkarni and L. Balaji are absolute certainties in the Indian team."
Nehra is sincerely hoping that Team Delhi goes all the way, given the form they are in. "Everything has fallen in place for us. And if we do go on to make the final, the spotlight is bound to fall on me. And if I get five One-dayers, I can show what I am still capable of."
Whether it's the TOI reporter who comes up with some outrageous statements from players or is it some human foot in the mouth disease sweeping across South Africa one may never know. Nehra graciously concedes that Ishant maybe a certainty (thank god for small mercies) in the Indiann team. But his Saint Nehra act stops abruptly. His views on the other pacers are condescending to say the least.
One may also notice that he doesn't talk about a comeback in the test team. The unofficial reason for his axing from the Indian team in his last stint was the injuries that conveniently cropped up during or just before a test series and disappeared miraculously when an ODI series beckoned. Gayle admitted his penchant for T20 quite candidly in his latest soul searching interview. Nehra also may be hinting at the same. No tests please. I wan(t)twenty /ODIs only.
I want to have what Nehra was having before this interview.
PORT ELIZABETH: Harbhajan Singh is a
worried man. Mumbai Indians are not doing well and he is not too sure what his
role in the team is. The team is on the brink of ouster in IPL-2 and the Sardar
knows that one or two wins won't mean anything for them
win all," he says, sounding concerned. He also talked about what's going wrong
in a heart-to-heart chat with TOI.
You have such a balanced
side. What's going wrong?
It's the batting that has let us
down. T20 is all about getting runs on the board and when that doesn't happen,
it becomes virtually impossible to make a fight of it. It's not that we haven't
got the starts, but after that, things have fallen apart
Shouldn't the bowlers too
accept some blame?
What can the bowlers do when there are not
enough runs to bowl at. Take my case for example, I don't quite know what my
role in the team is. I am asked to bowl in the powerplays with the field up and
asked to take wickets. When so much pressure comes along, I have to try too many
things and nothing works.
spinners in other teams are doing the job?
It's not the same.
I haven't got the opportunity to bowl the way I would like to, it's as simple as
that. In T20 cricket, a bowler's job is to contain. The other day, Suresh Raina
came in and bowled a couple of tight overs for Team Chennai and that won them
the match. Somebody may feel pleased taking three wickets for 35 runs, but that
don't mean a thing.In some games, I have bowled only two overs and that doesn't
help my cause either. The basic problem is we have failed to play as a
Do you think that it is
possible to fight your way back from here?
If I get my chance,
I can do my best. I think I was coming into my own in the East London game
against Team Hyderabad. Even Gautam Gambhir was telling me that they, at one
point, felt that the game is going away. But a couple of bad overs, which can
happen in T20 cricket, turned things around. From now on, we've to be at our
best and hope that the rest falls in
You've been very good in T20
cricket in general. What's the secret?
You need to be sure
what your role is and go according to that. And if one thing doesn't click, then
you have to try Plan B. A spinner has to be smart if he has to succeed in this
How do you define Anil
Kumble's success in T20 cricket?
He has played enough cricket
to adjust to different situations. He has all the experience in the world and
the determination to succeed. I'm not at all surprised that he has done so
The other day Sreesanth had a
tiff with Matthew Hayden. Any comments?
There's no need to
react the way Sreesanth did. After giving away so many runs, if you start
abusing the batsman, you only look stupid. It's better to just appreciate the
fact that the batsman has beaten you on the day and think how to get him out
early the next time.
Are you happy
with the way India's World T20 players are shaping up?
been excellent. The batsmen have looked in good touch. We have won everywhere
around the world and now it's a case of carrying that forward. I hope things go
the way we want to and we retain the World Cup.
What does one do with this man? In the middle of a tournament after being completely ineffective he blames the captain, blames other team mates, blames the entire world other than himself and then goes on to give courtsey lessons to Sreesanth. Shows that last year's huge financial loss hasn't been forgotten. The team management should sit him out of the next 5 games as a punishment. Will the MIndians have the guts to take this harsh decision? Time will tell.
Come to think of it, was this interview aimed at appeasing MSD because Pragyan Ojha seems to be the first choice spinner in the T20 WC and by talking about not having a clear role in the team, is he trying to imply that MSD understands him better and hence he deserves a chance?
Anyone heard of this before?
Both the MI v/s DDD match and the RRs v/s the CSK match seem to be following a similar pattern. Both teams batting first ended up scoring a smallish total against formidable batting opponents. Whereas the MI's batting fell apart from the word 'go' which the batters accepted as marching orders, the Royals kept on pushing and plodding against the Raina's and Orams of the world hoping General Patten would do the job for them. The blind faith in him is beginning to wear a bit thin. Sending a messenger with a water bottle after every over didn't do much to change their fortunes.
Knowing that the wicket was offering slow turn, all spinners were going to play an important role in both the second innings'. Both captains tried their best to bring the 'bowl slow' strategy into effect. Shane Harwood was brought into the attack with the asking rate at almost 9 an over, which turned out to be a master stroke.He hadn't bowled only over till then with a few overs from Warne, Patten and Jadeja still up the sleeve. Actually there were many master strokes in the Harwood over. MI had SRT bowling himself at the same juncture with similar results.
One is waiting to see if there are howls of disapproval of Warne's strategy as one has witnessed about SRT. One match doesn't make a great or a mediocre captain and this is certainly not a defence of SRT's captaincy record till date. But Sehwag summed it brilliantly in yesterday's match. Each team has a few batters/ bowlers who can change the game and you hope that it's your key players who emerge better at the end of the day. All the berating of Sehwag as a captain in the one test that he captained against the Kiwis can't be thrown out of the window if DDD win the IPL 2009 and MSD's good captaincy record won't come to a naught if CSK fails to win it. The only point of contention is why is a CSK v/s RR match built up as a Warne v/s MSD clash whereas a DDD v/s CSK match hailed as a match between 2 strong teams? Captaincy is important in a T20 match for sure but there are more digital decisions that a captain has to take in this format.He will surely have more role to play in behind the scene activities in terms of the team spirit, building a winning combination; more of the softer issues of the game.
Jo Jeeta wahi asli captain need not be true all the time.
Have been reading some really ranting anti T20 stuff on some expert 'views' berating the concept and comparing it to a mere flip of a coin. It gets tiresome after a point in time. The fact that people are spending more time on continuing their tirade against a 'trivial' pursuit is missed by them.One remembered a story heard decades back. To the cricketing purist (?), the very idea is sacrilegious whereas to the modern viewer, its entertainment. The truth obviously lies some where in between. The fact that such visually impaired views are expressed about a game proclaiming perfect vision is indeed ironical.
With Many thanks to Bill Waterson.
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