The steel beneath the calm…

The first time I saw you was in Singapore, a match after you had already debuted against Sri Lanka, this time it was arch rival Pakistan and all I could see was one stylish batsman, tall, upright, confident,  probably a bit too correct I must add, someone who was run-out and was gutted at that fact. I felt for you then as all those dreams, expectations, fantasies being dashed !!! Yes, it was 3 on debut and 4 in the match after ! Hardly a dream start but you had only begun..

.

Who would have predicted what was to come though !

.

Then came the terrible tour of England which saw everything – infighting, blaming quota selection, brilliant batting, pathetic teamwork, dream debut’s and a new beginning….

.

Fate has its own whims and has always been unkind to you somehow it always wanted to test you ! Throughout your entire career limelight would always be hogged by others ! You couldn’t make it to the honors board at Lord’s on that day having played equally well but you couldn’t care less as you hugged your left handed pal who glided there smug and drawing all the attention. I am sure you never seeked the attention, you quietly basked and smiled for you had found a place in the Test team. Yes for further battles were to be waged, for futher peaks had to be scaled.  Yes, you had arrived !

Behold one of Indian crickets fiercest fighters !

Then came the series in South Africa where you averaged higher than all else, where only once were we in a position to win a Test, for your hundred, but all people remember from that tour is the blazing tons by Sachin and Azhar in Cape Town in a Test we lost by 282 runs. The Indian fans, the masses, could only rave about that, never wonder about the lost opportunity in Johannesburg where your maiden hundred went in vain. Yes, you had established yourself ! 

.

In 1999, your team and you had your worst run, losing 3-0 and you came a cropper against what was expected. Of all batsmen it was thought you were a guaranteed success down under and you were handed an average of 15.50 at the end of the series. Yes, you had faltered big time, but you didn’t sulk, for you thought you had learnt a lot about yourself ! 

.

Then when the renaissance man took the reins of Indian cricket you probably played the best innings of your career till then, it was a fine innings amidst the most toughest of situation against the best of teams I have ever witnessed. You fought tooth and nail and yet there was this favorite batting partner of yours since junior cricket who churned out 101 runs more than your 180 which by no means was a mean feat. You were again in the midst of all the right things but the limelight would be hogged by an elegant Hyderabadi and fiesty Sikh youth. You had established yourself as a the silent contributor, the fighting team man. Yes, you also revived your career !

.

Then one cloudy, damp, heaven for swing bowling day your brash friend, our skipper threw the gauntlet as much at his own men as to the opponents and you couldn’t care less but, about your own batting. You had a mission, to protect your mates batting behind you. You left alone deliveries outside the off stump with immaculate precision making the bowlers scratch their heads, with a mind as strong as an ox you resisted all temptations, didn’t flirt and probably played an innings of a life time for many a great batsmen. It was you who had made the platform for the high rise to happen. Amazing that you had to be out stumped for 148 runs, each of them valuable but even more valuable were the 429 balls you made the bowlers toil. Your mates absolutely couldn’t thank you more for your efforts and they repaid by carting the hapless bowlers all around the park. You smiled as India won a famous victory ! A victory that signalled the change of attitude in Indian cricket but didn’t quite mark the fine efforts of yours. The fickle Indian fan couldn’t understand your contributions they could only clap at the masterly 193 scored ! But you had no business with glory you were too busy scoring hundreds !

.

You were a fierce warrior and a humble servant, you couldn’t say no, you kept wickets for us looking ugly only to make our team look better. You tried your best and gave it a gallant try with all your heart but what you never gave, were excuses. You had established yourself as a proud servant of Indian cricket but alas the Indian fan could only take you for granted. You still wouldn’t fret for you just had to challenge yourself and prove to yourself how good you could be. For you the team always came first !

.

For once though, God had to give in to your sincere humble efforts. 2003, Down Under, there was no one who could steal that moment from you I can never forget …

That endearing image…
that day…
when no one could steal his thunder…
that winning feeling…
the joy…
the tears…
the adrenalin rush…
the grinding of teeth…
the clenching of fists…
that don’t know what to do feeling…. !!!!

Rahul Dravid Claiming Victory for India in Adelaide.

For once in life you had no one to wretch glory from you. For once the Indian fan had no option but to acknowledge your Fighting Bulldog Spirit. They finally realized the worth of your fierce focus, your dedication, your class, your champion status. Again none more fitting compliment then the one  that came from your same left handed mate who debuted with you.

.

“He batted like God out there” – Sourav Ganguly

.

But life had to move on, it couldn’t be as gracious always to people who were as humble as you.

It was you who scored the 270 in the decider in Pakistan to win that Landmark test series, but it was a portly lad from Najarfgadh who would always be remembered by the public for his disdainful treatment of Pakistani bowlers. The series victory was as much yours as all of your team mates. You probably quietly sank in that winning feeling in a swimming pool in Rawalpindi while all and sundry couldn’t rave enough about the Multan bashing of Shoaib Akhtar. You were never symbolic for the Indian fan but all you cared for was the series victory !

.

Being a Skipper was never a bed of roses and you never one who asked for the roses. You never asked for a quarter and gave none. The thorns had to be taken as you thought it was your responsibility. You could never turn Indian cricket down !

.

You took us to a Test Series win in West Indies after 35 years, averaging 82 in the 4 match series it was a significant achievement for a batsman who was also a captain leading from the front. You missed out tragically in rewriting India’s record as a Test touring team in South Africa and then your wonderful career as captain had to bear the shock defeat of the World Cup. The daggers were out and you were to be a scapegoat. You took all the blame along with your team mates you apologised, whilst all could see the apology very few could see the angst inside you. No one would be more disappointed than you I am sure.

.

Life moved on and you were back to scoring runs regularly, catching everything that came your way in slips and always volunteering whenever Indian openers were injured or they had new ball-itis !! How could you ever back down, for you couldn’t ever imagine saying ‘no’ to your beloved team India !

,

You were the steel that the team stood upon in the last decade especially when touring abroad. You were one of the prime reasons that Indian cricket witnessed one of its finest decade in its cricketing history. Your contributions were second to none !

.

Today writing about you and thinking of those moments you gave us to rave about I have my eyes over flowing. I myself never knew I felt so much for you.

.

Rahul Dravid you were one of the most Fiercest Fighters Indian cricket ever possessed. No, being fierce doesn’t mean snarling at the opposition. You never did, you were the finest, most humblest of members of Indian cricket fraternity. Adjectives wouldn’t do justice to your contributions.

.

But you knew how much you were one of the most fierce opponents when the skipper of the most dominating team of your era sent in a request to write the ‘Foreword’ of his autobiography.

.

Your chest surely would have swelled with pride reading Glenn Mcgrath quoted in papers saying if there was one Indian player who would get an automatic entry into an Australian team filled with stars, it would be Rahul Dravid.

.

The fact that you were the fiercest of opponents can be made out from this statement by Mathew Hayden “All this going around is not aggression. If you want to see aggression on cricket field, look into Rahul Dravid’s eyes”

.

Never mind the fan, your opponents always knew your worth and dreaded it. Thank you for the memories Rahul 🙂 Wish you all the very best in life ahead 🙂

Advertisements

SRK and The Brinjal ! Unbelievable similarities !

A few of us friends were standing at our frequently visited Net Paan for our Paan when this discussion came up. Btw our Paan which is for some reason called 30(Tees) number its a very sexist Paan, its certainly a male Paan as it has no tutti fruity or gulkand and no it doesnt have tobacco ! Its a Saada Paan ! The female (meetha) Paan is called 150(Dedhso)number ! Yes any guy who eats the Meetha Paan is ridiculed by us that he is having a Ladies Paan !!!! 😛 😛 😛  Now have I given enough food for thought to IHM to write a post in response to this ???? 👿 :mrgreen:  Raam is the name of the guy who makes the Paan and we all swear that his is the only Paan we like and have acquired a taste of. Almost all of us are now in unison that we cannot enjoy any Paan anywhere as much as at Net Paan !!! Anyways that is not the reason for this post but as usual I must digress a bit. After all wordpress has given me this space free and I may use it as is my whim. 😛

Coming back to the discussion, after I heard all sorts of things about The Dirty Picture and after I sighed enough telling I am yet to watch, someone mentioned Don-II is coming ! Immediately another friend commented, “Hum Bhil (read SRK) Logo ke picture nahi dekhte” It is pretty usual in Gujarat to consider Bhil as downcast people although wrong but thats not an issue this post is going to discuss.

Its quite amazing that SRK always evokes extreme reactions ain’t it ? I see people who just love love and love him like IHM, Solilo and then there are some like my cousin who wont hear a word against him and if I do that she wont speak to me for a year or pick my calls ! I myself cannot hate him enough. I don’t even have a reason to hate him, I used to be a fan till I saw Baazigar and Anjaam !! Dunno what happened and I hate him ever since. I must though put my hand up and say that in Chak De and Swadesh this guy has acted and proved that he actually can act quite well but time and again he will do the run of the mill and make you cry and fill you with emotions, an easy thing to do in my opinion. The Yash Chopra Karan Johar are so not my type of movies !

I regret not watching Chak De and Swadesh in the movie hall, sometimes I so wish SRK hadn’t done these movies and I would have seen the movies in the Hall. No, me and Mrs. both never watch his movies, havent even watched DDLJ or KKHH in halls, infact I have not seen them full on TV either !  Had he not acted in Chak De and Swadesh I could justify my hating him and saying to all he can’t act. The fact is he can and can do it quite well and yet I continue to hate him whether he says he will dance in weddings for money (which should entirely be his own prerogative 😛 ) or when he supports Pakistani player bidding in the media and doesn’t bid for any of them himself. I have always found reasons to hate him. I was heart broken to know Ganguly was going to play for KKR in the first edition of the IPL !!!! My most favourite cricketer playing for the guy I hated the most !!!!!! It was a relation so destined to be broken The fact that the John Buchanan’s multiple captain theory and the controversies surrounding SRK and Sourav didn’t help make the matters any better. For the first time in my life, I would wish a team with Sourav would lose and lose badly. You may want to discount these feelings like those of a lil kid but that is what I felt !!!

SRK has an amazing Love Hate relationship with his fans, very rarely I find neutrals, there are people who rave him and love him and there are those who cant hate him enough !

Very similar to SRK is one vegetable, The Brinjal !

Interestingly, there are quite a few similarities between Shahrukh and the Brinjal than you would imagine. The Brinjal is how I call it, that is how I learnt in school and no its not an egglant *period* ! Eggs are laid they don’t grow plus this is my blog ! Yes ! Adamant !

Now like we all are told that SRK is a good actor, so are we told Brinjal is a good vegetable with lots of Iron, atleast that is what I always heard when growing up from my Mom ! But hey, like SRK no where on Wiki is it mentioned that Brinjal gives us Iron ! Please help me here Suranga if you can ! After the Iron puzzle is solved … the other point to be noted is SRK can be addictive as some fans would admit, similarly the brinjal, The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and contains numerous small, soft seeds, which are edible, but have a bitter taste because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids; this is unsurprising as it is a close relative of tobacco. Eggplant is richer in nicotine than any other edible plant, with a concentration of 100 ng/g (or 0.01 mg/100g). However, the amount of nicotine from eggplant or any other food is negligible compared to passive smoking.[11] On average, 20 lbs (9 kg) of eggplant contains about the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette. Again its Wiki that speaketh and not the mortal me ! 😀 😀 😀 😀 I am sure SRK would also do well to eat the Brinjals and cut down on the Cigarettes :mrgreen:

Love / Hate !?

Then again, as a kid I used to hate the vegetable Brinjal and we brothers would revolt by eating maggi whenever my Brinjal Lover mom/dad decided to treat their own taste buds and forget about their 3 sons ! 😥 This hate continued till long, then one fine day in College in Hostel in Baroda we went to a legendary Kathiawadi restaurant near Vasad called Kismet and I ate Bajra Ka Rotla and Baigan Ka Bharta and the rest as they say is history.  I am a total lover of the Brinjal now and can eat it in any form and actually quite adore the vegetable ! It is also known as the poor man’s meat ! As SRK is known as today’s Dilip Kumar 😛 😛 😛 👿 okay that was a cheap one… but its my blo… you get it rite 😛 😛 😛

Like SRK, Brinjal, has its hard core lovers in me and equal number of people who won’t let brinjal even touch their plates. They too like SRK share a love / hate relationship with their fans… !!!! Cool Ain’t it ! 😛

DISCLAIMER : Woke up with this post in my brain at 4 am ! So if you find it delusional kindly excuse yourself 😈

The Renaissance Man

French meaning of the word : Renaissance : from ri- “again” and nascere “be born”

——————————————————————-

“The key to change… is to let go of fear” – Rosanne Cash

Accepting changes to the norm is never easy, bringing them in is even more difficult even more so when it involves getting others around to accept that change and get them to channelise their energies towards the change…. If ever an Indian were to be named the man who brought about a change to Indian cricket it would have to be Sourav Ganguly.

SOURAV GANGULY – The man who taught us to look in the eye of the enemy and not blink !

People who have followed Indian cricket closely since the late 80’s to till date would definitely know what has changed. Indian cricket was a bunch of talented cricketers before in the twentieth century. Some magnificient players, super talented who on their day could single handedly put any team down but consistently and regularly be beaten by a more organised unit. The twentieth century also witnessed an Indian team who were tigers at home, however the less said about our performances abraod the better. A few victories apart, cricketers abroad licked their lips at the prospect of a visiting Indian team.

However in the beginning of the 21st century one temperamental Bengali often termed as spoiled child or quota player was given the reins of the Indian team at its nadir.

India under Sachin had been badly bruised in Australia 3-0 in tests. In 8 one dayers against Pakistan and Australia we managed to win 1, incidentally in that 1 ODI win it was Sourav who scored a century. Coming back from that tour Sachin had lost the will to lead but he was asked to carry on for the South Afrian Tests and that was the time disaster struck and the Proteas sneaked the Test Series which was after a very long time that a visiting test team won a series in India.

Ganguly was made ODI captain and we won the series against Africa but that was not the headlines, it was Hansie Cronje…

People lost faith, people like me who loved the game dreaded discussing it as people would only say one thing… Its FIXED !

Sigh…

Indian cricket couldnt be any lower than that point… faced with another THRASHING… as Steve Waugh’s side was to tour India. This Steve Waugh side was being compared to the invincibles of Bradman. They were the best team that ever was, better than the windies in the 80’s as they even had a spinner and were not only reliant on pace. It was all conquering and they didnt even play draws. The only thing missing in Steve Waugh’s portfolio was a Test Series Win in India…

They had won 15 consecutive Tests and won the first in Mumbai inside 3 days convincingly to make it 16 in a row. In Eden Gardens in the second Test India were staring down the barrel having been made to follow on. The only hope India had was if Steve Waugh inflicted the follow on. Steve Waugh was ultra aggressive and in the process he left a door open for India. It was slight, but in the second innings what followed was mind boggling as two men played as if possessed. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid batted out the fourth day without losing a wicket.

On the fourth day evening after Harsha Bhogle interviewed VVS & Rahul he went to Sourav to discuss how would the match progress and Sourav just put his hand around Harbhajan and told Harsha this guy will win me the test match tomorrow and the rest as they say, is history!!!!!!

Yes, Sourav will forever be indebted to VVS and Rahul who enabled the fightback, but leadership is about belief, it would have been not at all a worthy Test had it been drawn. The belief that Sourav had in Bhajji and the confidence he gave his players was something extraordinary.

“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.” – Mahatma Gandhi

More than just the victory in this series one thing was most noticeable, the Aussies are sledging champs and they prided in the fact that they never could be gotten back at. This was the series, this was the time when the Indians learnt to give it back as good as they got. No one could get away saying what they liked. The new confident India which was economically becoming a strong power now seemed evident on the cricket field.

Sourav’s keen eye for talent has given India discoveries that we are still gushing about. Sehwag, Yuvraj, Zaheer, Dhoni they all came in while Sourav was at the helm.

I also remember this particular story when Mr. Pradeep Magazine was going to a Indian Airlines match and met Sourav on the way and he told him to watch out of the the keeper, saying he was a “Chabook Player” !!!

That Chabook Player is no one else but our own M S Dhoni !!!!

Yes, it was Sourav who told Veeru that he is too good a player to be sitting out and that while there was no space in the middle order he must open the innings and today we all gush about our greatest possession in Virender Sehwag’s Dare Devil Act.

Sourav’s belief in his men and the confidence and security he provided them led to some famous overseas wins like Headingly and Adelaide. Indian team was no longer just one or two talented spinners or a wristy batsman… They were a team, a galvanised team. Not many captains preceeding Ganguly could claim that feat.

Sourav’s contribution to Indian cricket cannot be measured, but all who follow Indian cricket understand what changed since 2001.

Another favourite Sourav story…

When Andrew Flintoff in Mumbai after equalling a ODI series took off his T-shirt and ran amok in Wankhede, Ganguly caught on camera smashed a bottle of water in disgust as his team was unable to pull off the series win. The hurt man never forgot this act it was to be returned yes, a world record chase by two young kids was set up and the response to the series levelling win in Mumbai was a series win in England. Yes the brash in Sourav was out there at its best on the Balcony when he took off his T-shirt and waved pronoucing the choicest words… !!!!! The guy didnt forget and yes, what was given to him was returned with interest.

Hisaab Chukta...... !!!!

We were most proud then Sourav… Most proud even now of you… !!!!! As you hang your boots and retire from cricket you can rest assured you will never retire from our hearts, we shall always remember you as a man who changed Indian cricket forever, the man that brought in the change, the man that injected the steel, the man who galvanised the team.
handing over the baton... !
Your contributions are second to none !!!!

The race to the top !!!!!

 

The lions have aged and retired… the cubs still to mature into lions… the territory is up for grabs… Every week there is a new number one in the rankings these days… these indeed are exciting times for cricket and the top of the table was never as open as now…

 

Australia is no longer the powerhouse it used to be, their aura of invincibility shattered. The 6-0 series lead notwithstanding the fear of the Kangaroos is gone… The Indians defeated them 2-0 in 2008 in India which incidentally was their worst defeat in 25 years. The South Africans beat them in their own den. The top spot in all forms of the game is open for all and there is going to be an interesting race in the coming two years which will firmly establish who is the best. The Sri Lankans are the only other team that may harbour any such aspirations of trying to contest this claim of the top team in the world but for that their overseas record needs to improve.

 

That leaves us with two contenders, the Proteas and the Indians.

 

The Proteas have always been a bunch of hardened cricketers who always give their best however they have always been humiliated time and again by the Aussies and even though they beat the Aussies in their backyard for the first time last year the Aussies promptly exacted their revenge. Over a period they have never matched up against Australia and so we need to see if they can do this over a consistent period of time. The one problem South Africa face is their selection policy with quota’s and second their over dependence on just seam bowling. However the emergence of Johan Botha and Paul Harris augurs well for them. They have some exciting youngsters and it will be interesting times for them as they seem to have finally got the Australian monkey over their back.

 

However lets take a look at India’s fortunes more closely…  

 

India started playing test cricket in 1932 and from then to the November of the year 2000 India had won just 13 Test matches abroad. We always had a couple of stylish batsmen and a bunch of excellent spinners with maybe a seamer thrown in here and there. However the true test of a cricket team is when they go abroad and it is only fair to say we had an abysmal record. We were favourite whipping boys when we travelled abroad.

 

But in November 2000 Sourav Ganguly was handed the reins of Indian cricket while it was probably at its nadir with the match fixing controversy. Under him a group of youngsters gathered, he along with Sachin, Rahul, Anil and Laxman have laid a great platform ahead. The new crop of youngsters have tasted success very early in their careers and the fearlessness that we see in the Sehwag’s, Yuvraj’s, Zaheer’s and Bhajji’s can be attributed to this early success in their careers. Sourav Ganguly injected a steel in Indian Cricket which was missing, this led to the change of attitude and a team that used to dread going abroad suddenly was raring to go abroad.

 

The talent apart the sudden transformation of Indian cricketers under Sourav’s leadership where they would stare the opponent in the eye and not blink and the tendency to give back as good as they got or even better then what they got has gone a long way in helping India building a fearless image in the cricket world. They psychologically even disintegrated  the father (Tugga – Steve Waugh) of this theory called Psychological Disintegration 

 

India started playing test cricket in 1932 and from then to the November of the year 2000 India had won just 13 Test matches abroad.Quite amazingly since November 2000 when Sourav became captain to today India has won 19 Test Matches Abroad including series wins in England, West Indies, New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They also were leading in Test series in South Africa and Australia but eventually squandered the lead.

 

 

 

Mindset has changed today when India travel’s abroad it goes with a belief that they can win. The main reason behind this has to be the amazing bench strength of fast bowlers to choose from provided they all are fit. Ishant Sharma is already the envy of all cricketing nations. Zaheer at the peak of his career and they are well supported by Ashish Nehra, R. P. Singh and Sree Santh. They have back up and even in the domestic structure there are still quite a few who can make the cut like Sudeep Tyagi, Munaf Patel & Irfan Pathan to just name a few. These fast bowlers are a big reason why India is starting to win tests and for a change we don’t have just one or two fast bowlers like a Kapil here and a Srinath there… we have 4-5 bowlers and that is the most heartening thing.

 

 

The batting line up is as awesome as it can ever get. Today arguably we possess the most explosive opening pair in Tests in Sehwag and Gautam followed by ever solid Rahul Dravid, the never ageing Sachin and the elegant Laxman. The best part is this doesn’t end here, we have Yuvraj who can be mercurial on this day and Dhoni a player who can easily be in any Test Team in the world just for his batting. The prescence of the youngsters like Rohit Sharma, Uthappa, Virat Kohli, Raina, Yusuf Pathan can only be a blessing.

 

 

The spin department is also well taken care of with Harbhajan, Amit Mishra & Pragyan Ojha. Thanks to the IPL the Indian domestic players will receive a lot of encouragement and also exposure to top flight cricket. It also means a lot more cricketers can now harbour living life simply playing domestic cricket even if they don’t get to play for India coz they can earn enough. More cricketers could only be a blessing.

 

 

In the coming two years India will have to stake their claim for the top spot, the race is tight between Australia who are undergoing transition, South Africa who are at their peak probably and India who have consistently given Australia a run for their money and beaten them on several occasions for almost a decade that too while Shane Warne and Mcgrath were playing.

 

 

Under Mahendra Singh Dhoni we have a skipper who will have to carry on the good work started by Sourav and place India on a pedestal befitting its following… the interesting times they say are just beginning… The Champions trophy will be ideal place to start this new season and a victory in all the matches should put us on top of the ODI rankings….

 

Quite interestingly since the 2006 Champions trophy India has won 11 out of the 17 ODI tournaments it has played and we currently have won 6 ODI series on the trot. Is Champions trophy going to be the 7th on the trot ????

 

Tighten your seat belt folks !!! Its gonna be a helluva interesting period for Indian fans to watch…

 

——————-

 

Last but not the least… please remember to Vote for me HERE for the blogger job challenge.

6 days remain… there are lots of contestants… !!! VOTES NEEDED !!!!