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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tri-Series Cricket: India Do The Improbable! Now Wait, Watch and Pray!


A divided, devastated and demoralized team accomplished the impossible today at Hobart in the 11th ODI of the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Tri-Series in Australia. It was an improbable technicality, but finally it became a roaring reality.

Miserable Team India had been losing the tosses too apart from the games, but today they won the toss and skipper Dhoni elected to field first without any hesitation as India wanted the exact target before them and needed to chase it down within forty overs to win the bonus which could alone keep them alive in the tournament.

The story was no different with listless bowling and fielding by the Indians and Sri Lanka making merry from the very start. Dilshan and Sangakkara had their centuries in quick time and a total in excess of 300 runs looked possible. Sri Lanka amassed a huge 320 runs for 4 wickets in allotted fifty overs. Facing a target of 321 runs to chase down within forty overs and an asking rate of 8 runs per over India seemed ready to be kicked out of the tournament.

From hereon the story was different and it was a story you had never witnessed in this tournament. Team India put up a fight. For the first time the openers Tendulkar and Sehwag gave the team a fiery start scoring the first 50 runs in just 33 balls. At the personal score of 30 Sehwag got out, but the dream chase continued. Next to go was Tendulkar at 39 with the run-rate nearly 10 per over.

Then evolved the partnership of the day between Gambhir and Virat Kohli yielding 115 precious runs and most importantly the momentum was kept going. Never for a moment had they lost track of the target irrespective of how impossible it could have sounded at the start. ‘Youngster’ Virat Kohli finally delivered the innings of his life playing an incredible knock of 133 runs not out off just 86 balls. After Gambhir’s run-out for 63 Raina joined in and with Kohli they robbed 24 runs in the 35th over bowled by no other than the feared Malinga. And, the miracle win was achieved in 36.4 overs. India won by 7 wickets with a bonus point. This was the fourth highest run-chase ever by India and could very well be the fastest run-chase above 300 runs in one-day cricket history. Skipper Dhoni gave full credit to his ‘seniors’ for giving a quickfire start that made the run-chase possible. Kohli was the unanimous choice for the Player of the Match award. Scorecard.

Now it’s going to wait, watch and pray till the last league match between Australia and Sri Lanka on 2nd March. If Aus beat SL India will be in the finals. What about the mind games involved here! Sri Lanka must find themselves a bit unnerved today getting beaten after scoring the highest total of the tournament. Australia on the other hand would consider Team India a better opponent in the finals for its known obliging nature and for its glorious ability to capitulate anytime. But Aus and SL are teams that always aim to win and never give in to external pressure. You can get ready for a treat of a charged semi-final.

India never deserved to be in the finals. But today they have demonstrated a kind of a resurgence sorely missed all these days. Maybe if they get into the finals they can be a changed team altogether.

Meantime the Indian cricket selectors have their job cut out to announce the one-day team tomorrow for the forthcoming Asia Cup in Bangladesh.  On whom should the axe fall—the ‘seniors’ or some of the ‘youngsters’ or the captain or the vice-captain? And from where at all they are going to find the replacements?


Monday, February 27, 2012

Suspense At Midnight!


The family of four had frayed nerves, flying tempers and irritability throughout that miserable Saturday. Everybody quarreled with everybody over petty domestic issues or watching TV. Nobody could pinpoint the exact reason why though!

They had a quiet dinner. When they assembled again in the sitting room for their drinks they just froze. Their attention got riveted on the dining table. Knives of varying sizes were arranged there delicately. Night light shone ominously on those.

Loy looked at his younger sister Zuma who gave back an intrigued stare. ‘What’s happening? An inside job to be executed?  Then who is against whom? Or an outside assignment? Even then, someone from inside has to be involved!’, thought Loy furiously. Zuma was getting frightened. There were recent reports of a serial killer at large in the city.

Pop Dinesh sized up his children staring furtively towards the kitchen door with fear written large on his face. His wife told him nothing about what to expect next as was the rule always!

Nobody could just speak it out. Who could be the predator and who the prey?

Mom Mridula came in with the tray of coffee cups and glasses of milk. Distributing the drinks she announced, ‘Get to bed immediately after, all of you. I have a very important assignment!’ All stared back at her from the knives.

Sitting down relaxed with her steaming cup of coffee Mridual continued, ‘Now you are staring at the knives! Do you understand how I suffered cooking for you, giving attention to your tastes and choices…and all that! …Don’t you see! Edges of the knives became useless long back.’ She took a sip and went on, ‘At last he is coming! You know, I’ve arranged! I am his first customer! At sharp 8 o’ clock tomorrow morning the knife-sharpener (dharwala) is coming with his machine!'

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cricket and Hockey: A Mixed Sunday For India!


India fielded a full-strength team today against Australia in its do or die match in Sydney. But, when you concentrate on rotation-experimentation instead of trying to win matches, when your ego-play gets prominence over cricket and when you mess up things unnecessarily even God does not help you when you finally wake up to reality. Team India exemplified that fully today in the tenth match of the CB Series one-day cricket played in Australia.

They wanted Zaheer Khan desperately today, but he was declared unfit. When he was fit you did not consider taking him! Even then, the Indian bowlers did a decent job getting Aus restricted to 252/9 in allotted fifty overs—a total that was very gettable. This time captain handed over the ball too to the vice captain Sehwag who obliged him with three wickets bowling the last over of the Aussie innings too. For the first time the Indian captain placed his full faith in the big three of top order. But it came too late.

Sehwag failed again with the bat getting out to the Demolition Man Hilfenhaus. Tendulkars’s run-out was the most tragic incident of the match. After that failure after failure including both seniors and youngsters with bowler Ashwin getting the highest individual score of 26! God thought you just did not deserve to go any further in the tournament.

And yes! India is out of the CB Series except for an improbable technicality of winning their last match against Sri Lanka with a bonus point and hoping that Aus beat SL in the last league match of the tournament.

Team India must learn its bitter lessons from this devastating Australian tour. It’s now or never for them if they really mean to improve their performance overseas.

Meantime great news from Indian hockey—the national sports of India! Indian Hockey Team qualified for playing in the London Olympics thumping France 8-1 in the Olympic Qualifier final today evening in New Delhi. Yes, the past king of hockey now has to qualify now-a-days for the Olympics by playing a tournament involving six teams! They won all their matches in the tournament and now are set to figure in London Olympic 2012 Hockey. Yesterday, the dream of playing in the London Olympics was cruelly broken for Indian Women’s Hockey Team when they lost against South Africa.

Hurray for the National Sport of India! And, shame for the cricket billionaires who care the least for their country India!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tri-Series Cricket: Sri Lanka Beat Australia Again! Do or Die For India!


After winning the toss and electing to bat first Australia did post a challenging total of 280 runs for 6 wickets in allotted fifty overs at the ninth match of the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Tri-series yesterday played at Hobart in Australia.  Dashing new-comer Forrest scored a brilliant century with masterly support from skipper Clarke who scored 72.

But the total did not prove to be enough with the Sri Lankans going great guns while chasing. Skipper Jaywardene led from the front making a quick-fire 85 opening the innings. Chandimal proved his consistency by making a superlative 80 that almost saw Sri Lanka through. Sri Lanka achieved 200 runs as early as in the 37th over and seemed to be coasting to an easy and emphatic victory. But after his dismissal in the 45th over Australia made a temporary comeback with wickets falling and the asking rate rising. Spirited Sri Lankans overcame that and achieved an exciting victory by 7 wickets with just 4 balls to spare.

Now, Sri Lanka is almost through to the finals with 15 points followed by Australia with 14 and India in the bottom with 10 points. Every team has two matches each at this stage and rotating-experimenting-ego clashing-divided Team India must win their remaining two matches to entertain the thought of figuring in the finals. If they lose tomorrow’s match against Australia both Sri Lanka and Aus will be in finals. If they win tomorrow but lose the second match against Sri Lanka, Aus will have to figure it out in their last match helped by a very healthy net run-rate. India might still harbor some hope of reaching the finals losing one, but winning the other with a bonus point plus drastic improvement in net run-rate. In the unlikely case of India winning both their matches they will be straight into the finals and the last match of the tournament between SL and Aus will be the huge virtual semi-final for the other finalist.

What are India’s options? Hardly encouraging at the moment. They may consider stopping rotation or experimentation, but this could come as too late now. Top order batsmen are yet to settle down in some sort of a form or consistency and the youngsters are not at all predictable. The young pace bowlers are bound to get affected by their recent experiences with Zaheer Khan hopefully making a comeback. Irfan Pathan, if persisted with, will be another crucial factor. They must in any case regroup well and fast and give an all-round robust performance as a national team playing for their country’s pride. Unfortunately, this looks a doubtful proposition at the current state of affairs with the team.

The insensitive Indian cricket Board denied the very existence of any rift or any problems within Team India. You must understand! The Board has been terribly busy preparing and  raising money for the forthcoming IPL-Season Five and for making it a grand success. For their gratification all star players to figure in IPL-5  now playing  the Tri-Series had had good practice except perhaps for Manoj Tiwary. If club cricket brings in more bucks for the Board why bother about national team’s performance and so-called national pride! Finally it’s money that counts!

For the time being it’s over to Sidney for Sunday’s match between Australia and India.



Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Celebrity Punch!


Hindi movie (read Bollywood) superstar hero Saif Ali Khan punched a South African businessman of Indian origin at a restaurant of five-star hotel in uptown Mumbai on the night of February 21, 2012. The superstar was in the company of his Bollywood-heroine wife Kareena Kapoor and few other friends including more celebrity actors. Saif was arrested and released on bail the next day evening.
The day following the midnight brawl all Indian news channels started devouring the huge story carrying bytes of the victims—South African businessman Iqbal Sharma and his dad-in-law. Saif Ali Khan could not be traced the whole day and the Mumbai police visited his residence leaving summons to come to police station immediately. The superstar was to be arrested anytime, cried on the news channels.

Iqbal Sharma revealed that he went to the restaurant along with his dad-in-law for dinner and they were deeply distracted by the noise emanating from the adjacent table occupied by the superstar and his friends. They complained repeatedly to no avail and finally decided to leave the hotel. At that time Saif chased them and punched Iqbal on his nose that started bleeding. His dad-in-law was also punched and pushed down the stairs by Saif’s friends. Getting admitted in a local hospital Iqbal further alleged that all in Saif’s group behaved like rowdy elements.


By evening of the eventful day Saif Ali Khan, eldest son of Indian cricket legend Tiger Pataudi who died only five months back, surrendered to police. He was arrested immediately and released on bail immediately too. Section 325 of the Indian Penal Code under which the actor was framed allows bail though imprisonment under the same section could go up to 7 years if found guilty in due course of trial.

Saif Ali Khan lodged a counter-charge alleging that Iqbal punched him first after a heated argument during which ladies in his groups were also insulted and humiliated. He only acted in self-defense; the movie hero fumed adding that the hotel close circuit cameras would definitely vindicate his stand later. Unfortunately latest reports today suggest that there is no CCTV footage as there were no cameras in that area where the fighting took place! 

                                                                 

                                                                    Read more...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tri-Series Cricket: Team India Demolished!


Team India has gone down to the last position from the top of the table in the Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series one-day cricket being played in Australia. In today’s match at the Gabba, Brisbane Sri Lanka thoroughly demolished Team India though not being able to earn the bonus point thanks to some resistance displayed by the ‘youngsters’. And breaking news! Rohit Sharma was finally dropped or rotated or rested. Scorecard

The buzz is that the ‘senior’ players have let the team down. Yes, they did let down the team in the Test series earlier and you did not consider rotating or resting or dropping them then. Now in the one-day tournament you have hardly allowed them to play! They never know when they are going to figure in the team and when not. Sehwag came in as the skipper in today’s match and captained the team where he does not even find a place most of the time. The rotation policy had been consistently followed, but even then Gambhir or Tendulkar played when they were not due to be in as per the same policy. Zaheer Khan just does not know what he is doing—helping the team win or helping the policy become unwritten law. There was no method in the madness.

Hailed as the most positive Indian captain ever, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been busy dividing the team and putting in a lot of negative spirit. Like the tactics adopted by an Indian politician along caste lines Dhoni had divided team India into ‘seniors’ and ‘youngsters’ clearly favoring the latter. He did not allow the ‘seniors’ to settle down with the justification that these seniors tend to cost the team 20 extra runs due to poor fielding in Aus outfield. To our cricketing experience Tendulkar had always been praised as a committed batsman, bowler and fielder on the field. The other two—Sehwag and Gambhir—had never been termed slow or slothful either. All three figured and contributed positively in the best World Cup-2011 Team India that won the cup.  Dhoni must blame himself for giving away at least fifty runs extra in most of the matches and his ’20 run justification’ stands nowhere. If you are not fielding the best team possible you have no business to talk about winning. Dhoni’s negativity has been so overfilling that he took resort to slow overrate in the last match for which he penalized and could not play today’s match.

When seniors fail to deliver consistently they do need to be dropped or they should indeed seriously consider retiring. Rickey Ponting was dropped from the Aussie team and he retired from one-day cricket today. But he was not harassed by some weird policy and was given lots of opportunities before the inevitable decision. In fact, he captained in his last match coasting his team to a huge victory over India. All is not at all well in Team India.

From hereon Team India’s journey looks  set to go further downhill Down Under!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Temples of Alandi and Dehu, Pune.

On a visit to Pune recently we found some time for visiting a few famous temples at Alandi and Dehu in the outskirts of Pune, a major city of Maharashtra, India. We found peace and tranquility in the temples and the surroundings. Here are some of the moments captured:


 

 

 

Saint Dnyaneshwar(1275-1296)

Temple at Alandi.  






 

 

Leading to the Temple






 

 

And Surroundings....








 

 

Saint Tukaram (1608 - 1650) Temple at Dehu.










GathaMandir or Temple at Dehu






Have peace of mind and enjoy! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cricket Tri-Series: India Restore Australian Pride!


Australia had been in bit of a spot after its last-ball loss to India in the fourth match and the thrashing in the hands of Sri Lanka conceding a bonus point too in the sixth match of the cricket Tri-Series played in Australia. But when there is Team India, there is always a way! ‘Hum hain na!’(We are there, not to worry!). And, they have risen to the occasion at the Gabba, Brisbane for the seventh one-day international of the Commonwealth Bank Tri-series today in all glory!

Australia won the toss and elected to bat. India started in their generosity mission by dropping catches. Thanks to rotation Zaheer Khan came in, but out went R Ashwin who had been consistently bowling well and also providing good and crucial batting knocks too. Because Irfan Pathan, the weakest link, needed to be kept in the team maybe to prepare well for the IPL-5 that is round the corner. In the earlier match the last ten overs gave Australia only 57 runs. Nothing doing, Team India vowed. So, 110 runs were given away this time helping Australia to get to a mammoth 288/5 in fifty overs.

Indian batting started disastrously. Gautam Gambhir was supposed to be rotated out, but due to some injury or whatever Virender Sehwag was rested and Gambhir continued to be in the team. But since he was almost resigned to his fate Gambhir could not adjust to the sudden responsibility imposed upon him and got out cheaply. Besides, you cannot go on depending on just one batsman to keep you winning or tying. Tendulkar gave a catch in the third man area and it was dropped. No problems! He gave another one in the same area in the next ball and it was taken gratefully. Kohli, Sharma, Raina, and Jadeja came and went as usual. They can never be dropped or rotated because they have the impregnable virtue of being ‘bright’ youngsters. Maybe they too desperately need some good practice for the IPL-5. Dhoni got to a half century again, but this time amidst the ruins of exemplary generosity. India lost exactly by 110 runs. ‘Hum hain na!’ worked wonders and restored Australian supremacy in full measure helping Ricky Ponting whose place in the team has been under question mark register a big win with a bonus point too as stand-in Aussie skipper.

To talk some genuine cricketing sense, the Gabba had a bit of a bounce that seemed to overpower India like in the Test series. The main Aussie demolition man for India, Ben Hilfenhaus, staged a come-back in this match and justified his selection fully by capturing five hapless Indian wickets for 33 runs becoming the player of the match. Well, it was just a one-sided match that you tend to get sometimes. And of course, Australia roared back into the series by superlative batting, bowling and fielding performances.

There was some more humor in the match. Mike Hussey was given out stumped by the third umpire at Australia 119/3. But as Hussey started walking the two field umpires raced towards him and brought him back. Well, it transpired that the third umpire pressed the wrong button—‘out’ when it should have been ‘not out’! Cricket experts commented, ‘How ridiculous! He is paid to sit there whole day just to select one of the two buttons only! How could he go wrong in that?’ Captain cool Dhoni must have lost his cool, just once!

For Team India, the questions remain. When would they revoke rotation and stick to a winning combination? Do they seriously want to reach the finals or win matches? Is just IPL-5 the overriding perception for the ‘star’-ridden team?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cricket: BCCI--Sahara Truce!

Article first published as Indian Cricket: The IPL Stakes on Technorati.

 The Sahara Group, main sponsor of Indian Cricket for 11 years, suddenly decided to withdraw sponsorship and withdraw also from the Indian Premiere League (IPL) just before the Players’ Auction extravaganza on February 4, 2012 for IPL season five. Long standing disagreement with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the BCCI’s arrogant behavior had been cited as the main reasons for this ‘emotional’ decision.

A hue and cry followed across the country and raged on with the media playing a crucial role. It signified a huge loss of money for Indian cricket and also for the cash-rich BCCI. While Sahara Group said new sponsors could very well be arranged very soon by the Board the BCCI kept silent till a written communication was received. Then the hard negotiations started between the two Indian business giants.

Of course, the imprint of Sahara on the uniforms of the Indian cricket team had been accepted as a symbol of national spirit and even patriotism whenever India played against a rival cricketing nation. Sahara had become synonymous with the game of cricket in India. But what were the actual stakes involved?

Most significantly, Sahara withdrew from the IPL too leaving its franchisee Pune Warriors without an owner. The real bone of contention was the fat price of the ailing Yuvraj Singh. Sahara Group wanted that money to be put into its Auction Purse for reinvestment in buying players. There were several other reasons most of which related to the IPL only.

After days of negotiations the BCCI and Sahara reached an agreement on February 16, 2012 with the BCCI agreeing to all the IPL related demands that it rejected earlier as violation of the rule-book. Maybe the BCCI had been extra cautious after the irregularities done by Lalit Modi, the founder-commissioner of the IPL, who was later sacked in 2010. But how could it put the huge IPL stakes at stake? Those stakes finally prevailed over and the rule-book was discarded once again for business and money.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Postscript!

More than half of Mumbaikars did not vote yesterday. In fact, the miserable 30% finally rose to 45% at the end of the polling day. Almost equal to the voting percentage in 2007. We can call it Mumbai's genetic apathy to casting votes! Status quo maintained. 

And, status quo maintained too in the governance of the Municipal corporation. Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI alliance came roaring back to power. They have won 107 wards in the 227-ward corporation, falling just 7 short of the magic majority figure of 114. With a sizable number of independents the majority can be achieved easily without having to look for support or allying with Raj Thackeray's MNS who won 29 seats--a huge beginning. 

Approximately 54,00,000 Mumbaikars did not vote and it will never be clear to which alternative they would have voted for. Maybe the state ruling coalition or even MNS would have come to power if they voted. Now, they will have to accept the status quo in all civic matters and they will hardly be able to or empowered to complain too much. If you can shout about red-tap ism or corruption or potholes or water shortage or have joined Anna Hazare's movement they just why didn't you vote?   

Anyway, the Shiv Sena alliance who have ruled the Corporation for last 16 years thanked the voters for bringing them back into power. Rightly so. 

Meanwhile, in the Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series cricket Sri Lanka finally scored a win defeating Australia by 8 wickets in a rain-curtailed match. Rickey Ponting captained today in place of injured Clarke. India thus continue to remain on top of the table and hope to score more points in their match against Australia on Sunday.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Voter Apathy: Mumbai Shows The Way!

Polling was held today for Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (BMC) and nine other municipal corporations of the state of Maharashtra. Low turnout has been the trend almost everywhere with average voting in the state put around 45% and the highest being just around 60%, 

For BMC, the richest civic body of India, the turnout was a dismal 30% till the latest reports came in. This is even lower than the poor 46% recorded in 2007. This is despite the huge propaganda and campaigning and the continuous educative messages to citizens to definitely exercise their basic fundamental democratic right. This is despite today being declared a holiday for all state government and private offices, banks and establishments. Mumbai just did not want to vote. 

What could be the reasons? Maybe due to the hundred-something potholes in the city that plagued Mumbaikars throughout the rainy season and even afterwards. Or maybe they just wanted an extended weekend to go out for a trip. Or maybe they wanted to enjoy sitting at home watching the idiot box. 

But demonstration of such monstrous apathy is hardly a solution. You must vote irrespective of whether you do want an alternative or do not want a change. There were three alternatives available—the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine that ruled BMC for the past 16 years and joined by the Republican Party of India too this time, the ruling coalition of Maharashtra-Congress + Nationalist Congress Party-who joined hands for the first time to fight BMC elections and the youths’ favorites Maharahstra Navnirman Sena (MNS—breakaway party under Raj Thackeray from Shiv Sena) who made tremendous inroads into Mumbai in its maiden effort during the last Assembly Elections in 2009. Thanks to the involvement of these huge political groups this hard-fought BMC elections has been termed a mini-assembly election or a semi-final to the coming big elections in 2014. But Mumbaikars were not interested. 

A little interesting fact that may be of more use for Mumbaikars! In view of the municipality elections the state government had declared dry days on 15th, 16th and 17th February, 2012. The Bar owners appealed against this order in the High Court citing disastrous losses for a business already under pressure.  Today the High Court delivered the verdict asking the government to allow the bars to open tomorrow evening after counting of votes is over. Business loss was not the reason cited in the verdict. The justification was to allow ‘the victorious to celebrate and the defeated depressed to drown their sorrows’! 

Meanwhile suspense builds up for tomorrow’s counting. Anyone interested? 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cricket Tri-Series: Rotate, Experiment And…Tie!


 Winning the toss and electing to bat first Sri Lanka made 236 for the loss of 9 wickets in allotted fifty overs. India replied making 236 runs for the loss of 9 wickets in allotted fifty overs. So, it was India’s first tied one-day international (ODI) cricket match against Sri Lanka and total six against other teams. It was also the first ever tied ODI at the Adelaide oval in Australia. Both the teams earned two points each at the fifth Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series played today.

It was the perfect thriller swinging either way all the time down the wire. On a flat and slow wicket Sri Lanka made a modest 236 despite cruising at one stage with Chandimal and Jaywardene in full swing. Indian pacer Vinay Kumar again did an excellent job by capturing 3 wickets and the Indian fielding effort was also commendable. So far in the series, Sri Lanka has not been able to put its batting in top gear as evident in the earlier two matches it played and lost.

Midway in the Indian innings if you put Gambhir out the batting was just dismal with three top batsmen Tendulkar, Kohli and Rohit getting out at the seemingly obsessed score of 15 each. Raina and Jadeja failed too. Captain cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni, like in the earlier match against Australia, played the sheet anchor’s role keeping one end going till the end.

India seemed to be cruising to victory at 178 for 4 in the 41st over and at 91 Gambhir seemed to be heading towards his well-deserved century that he missed in the last match. But at that very moment Gambhir got run out due to a horrible call by Dhoni for a non-existent single. Gambhir could not regain his crease and the ball broke the stumps at the non-striker’s end breaking his and so many Indian hearts. After the match Dhoni acknowledged it as his fateful decision that cost India the match.

Sri Lanka, flooring a few crucial catches, came back roaring into the match and started pouncing on the ball making run-making most difficult. The asking rate kept around at the manageable level of under six an over kept on rising—to 7, 8, 9 and nearing 10. Wickets kept on falling too at regular intervals. Nine runs were needed in the last over and four off the last ball. Dhoni managed three and there was a historic tie.

Meantime rotation continued and this time it combined with even experimentation. As feared, Tendulkar came back in Sehwag’s place and Irfan Pathan was inducted for the first time inexplicably in place of in-form Zaheer Khan. Due to this weird rotation top three batsmen are not being able to get used to playing and so failing consistently. Gambhir capitalized on his two consecutive chances playing pivotal innings on both occasions and maybe he will be out next time—against Australia! And, Team India is yet to ensure its place in the finals!

For a cricket team in its worst ever overseas performance phase winning should have been the only priority and for that you must always put in your best possible team. For what reason? Only for playing Rohit Sharma persistently, consistently and insistently in al the matches till he makes a substantive score? I have been saying this again and again and maybe almost earning the tag of an India cricket fanatic!

No! You may be going great-guns for being able to watch a classic and historic tied thriller! But winning is always the best result. Particularly for India--at this stage or any stage. And, India have in them to win, but not allowed to do so. For some obscure reasons that only Indian cricket is capable of concocting. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cricket: India Beat Australia! Headline Most Wanted!

India almost fielded the best possible team today and pulled off a dramatic nail-biting victory against Australia in the fourth Commonwealth Bank Cricket Tri-series in Adelaide. Gambhir came in as Tendulkar was rested as a continuation of the weird rotation policy. Now, Tendulkar had not been a regular in India's one-day team except for the World Cup-2011 and so this time the weird policy did not affect the team much. As the take-it-rough policy continues we have to keep our fingers crossed for next time! If Tendulkar comes back it should never be at the cost of either Sehwag or Gambhir.
Australia made a challenging 269/8 thanks to India's tight bowling in the last ten overs of the innings that yielded only 57 runs. But the target of 270 was the biggest target for India to chase successfully against any team in Australia. The big game was set up perfectly.
The opening pair of Sehwag-Gambhir started well both looking to be in good nick. But as usual in this tour Segwag fell again cheaply for 20 runs. Getting on Gambhir laid the foundation of the win with an excellent 92 off 111 balls finally perishing to a doubtful LBW decision.
The suspense started building up at India 178/4 in 35 overs and skipper Dhoni laid anchors with Raina playing a cameo. The asking rate hovered around 7 and started climbing when Raina got out.
At 239/5 40 runs needed off last five overs. 19 needed off last two. Doherty gives only 4 in penultimate over and thus 13 required for win in 6 balls!
Dhoni-the slow but sound anchor-hits a huge six and India finally romped home by four wickets and two balls to spare.
For Australia David Hussey top scored with 72 and debutante Forrest made 66.
Australia looked invincible after their five run victory over Sri Lanka. Now India stops them and the Tri-series opens up tantalisingly.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Aggressive Marketing: Are You Game For A Ride?


Even if you put your cell phone number in the National Do-Not-Call Registry you can hardly escape from this aggressive tribe of telemarketers. Somebody somewhere somehow will find your number and call you up asking you for a minute to describe the offers that have to be taken immediately. You can cut the line rudely, but because most of the callers are ladies you cannot be too rude either. Banks are becoming masters of this art and they have the ability to shower you with pre-sanctioned personal loans, credit cards and the like anytime. Not that only your mobiles are vulnerable, they stalk you in every corner of your everyday existence. Sometimes you win and sometimes they make a perfect fool of you.

That day my mobile rang and on answering the same sweet-talking lady voice resonated through it.

‘Sir, I am calling from ----finance company. Can I talk to you for a minute?’

‘Well, regarding what?’

‘We have pre-sanctioned a personal loan of -----rupees for you on the basis of your home loan repayment performance. This comes with a very attractive rate of interest…’

‘What home loan?’ Honestly I never took a home loan so far.

‘Sir! It’s based on the home loan you are repaying now’.

‘I never took a home loan! How come?’

‘Sir, what is your name?’ At that very moment I cut the line!

                                                                   ***

Another day we were shopping in a supermarket. Our bill became a big one due to long-pending purchases of a variety of items. The moment I paid the bill with my card one lady appeared out of nowhere and took us aside promising a 200 bucks voucher for our big payment. She took Xerox copies of my credit card, my bill and my income tax ID card. ‘Where is my voucher?’ I asked getting suspicious. ‘Just a minute Sir, you will get it. First sign on here..here…and here.’ She had been doing it in a break-neck speed and by the time I knew that was an application form for a credit card the process was over. I asked indignantly now,’ Where is my voucher?’ ‘You will get your new credit card in two weeks sir!’ ‘But where the hell is my voucher?’ ‘It will come with the card sir! Thanks a lot!’ ‘You see, you have given me a card I don’t want. I’ll never use it, I promise!’ And, we stormed out.

The new card came indeed in two weeks, but no voucher as I had already presumed. I put the card unsigned in my unused files vowing never to use it. ‘You have made a fool of me and got your commission! But I will not allow the marketer behind you to profit from it!’

The lesson? Never give in to the temptations of low interest rates, discounts, one plus one, vouchers and all that! But we are only human beings! Next time around this could be the deal of your life! Or we may think so!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Karnataka's Shame: Debauch Ministers in Dirty Business!

Article first published as Debauch Ministers in Dirty Business! on Technorati.

The ten day session of the Karnataka Assembly was going on debating heatedly on an intriguing local issue. And television cameras covering the session found something unspeakably dirty going on in the same floor.

Karnataka is a southern state of India and the lone domain of the main national opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in entire south India. Recently the then Chief Minister of the state, BS Yeddyurappa, was charged and convicted with a land scam, arrested and put in jail. After much brainstorming the BJP decided to dislodge him, but the next government could be installed only with the tacit support of the tainted ex-chief minister himself who ruled from his jail. The BJP never wanted to lose the only southern state it ruled and the tight number game compelled the party to fall in line with Yeddyurappa.

Two ministers of that government were found to be glued to a porn clip in the cell phone of the third minister on Tuesday in the on-going Karnataka assembly session. While occupying the designated assembly seats of the ruling party the three ministers were gleefully engaged in the dirty business of their own.

A nation wide hue and cry followed with the blurred shots of the mobile clip running in all the news channels. Outraged citizens, scholars and intellectuals, activists including Anna Hazare, leaders of other political parties and the media demanded the immediate sacking and expulsion of the three debauch ministers. Embarrassed and red faced, the BJP could not still manage to come out with clear action to condemn the horrendous act.

The three ministers were only allowed to resign and the state government promptly accepted their resignations. They were barred from the Assembly too, but the session being adjourned sine die immediately it was hardly effective action. And, it seemed to be all that the BJP was capable of doing considering its strategically compelling politics. So, the defiant three ministers announced that they did nothing seriously wrong and resigned only to help the party pass over the problem. One of them allegedly cut off the power supply and disabled the cable feed in his constituency so that his voters could not tune in to the news. Adding insult to injury both the present and the former Chief Ministers commended their party men for their brave action.  

Hardly surprising. The BJP nurtures within its folds several right-wing lumpen elements who exhort the oppressed Indian women to behave.  They hold the women themselves responsible for all the tortures, atrocities and molestations heaped on them throughout the nooks and corners of India. They ask them to cover as much skin as possible so that the male marauders do not invade or attack or rape them. Just fitting that one of the debauch ministers held the portfolio of Women and Child Development.

India’s continuing feudalistic spell and male chauvinistic exploitation go on exposing the political hypocrisy further. No political party has the courage to break out of this. They vouch for social values only to politically counter and charge their rival parties.

If the elected representatives so brazenly violate the same people who elect them then it’s time the Indian democracy gets redefined or recast. The voters and the society must decide.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cricket: India Beat Sri Lanka in Perth One-Dayer! Rotation Continues!


Virender Sehwag came back into the team, but Gautam Gambhir was out! It was some weird kind of a rotation policy that drops one established or maybe a ‘senior’ player and takes in one youngster that is to say Rohit Sharma—to be more specific. He was kept out of the Test series consistently and now somebody is trying to make amends! The pertinent question is why rotation? For a team that almost forgot the winning habit overseas winning must be the main objective and for that you have to put in the best team possible. That India managed to win against Sri Lanka by four wickets in the second match of the triangular series in Australia was not a masterful statement of authority, the team with rotation in full swing is still suspect against Australia or maybe even Sri Lanka in matches to follow.

Zaheer Khan came back too into the team and kept the Sri Lankans at bay by capturing two wickets. With disciplined bowling and R Ashwin’s great bowling of 3 for 32 restricted Sri Lanka to 233 for 8 in the allotted fifty overs. The target of 234 for a win was not a stiff one and Sri Lanka definitely fell short of at least 20 runs for a challenging total.

Except for good batting by Virat Kohli (77) and Sachin Tendulkar (48) the Indian reply was almost the predictable one with all top batsmen back in the pavilion at the score of 181 for 6. That was the moment when Sri Lanka could have stormed back and won the match. But all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and spinner with some batting ability R Ashwin batted sensibly and had an unbeaten partnership of 53 runs seeing India through with 20 balls to spare. They in fact showed the right way to the genuine batsmen how to play for win when the asking rate was not all the concern. R Ashwin deservedly won the man of the match award.

The ill-advised rotation policy must end if India fancy chances of going into the final of the series and even winning it. Just thinking if Yuvraj was also fit and playing what the rotation policy would have been like! Anyway, it was refreshing to see World Champions overcoming their World Cup final opponents yet again after about ten months.

Nurturing youngsters for Test matches, particularly overseas, remains a huge problem that needs lot of introspection by the people who matter. The lifeless and slow Indian pitches are no answer to this problem whatever form of cricket you play thereon, T20, one-dayer, tests or Ranji matches. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cricket Australia: Contradictions Galore For Team India!

Just when Indian dashing opener Virender Sehwag was needed most he was dropped or rested or whatever! In the first one day international cricket match between India and Australia in Melbourne on February 5th Indian top order failed again and Team India had a disastrous start in the triangular one-day series too. 
  
The argument was that youngsters needed to be encouraged. Where were these youngsters when the ‘seniors’ failed and failed and failed in the Test series? During that time Sehwag and others were not considered as ‘seniors’! We have always maintained here that young Indian cricketers should be trained and prepared for test cricket—the real format of the game. If you have no faith in them for the real cricket then your encouragement is immensely ‘short’ sighted! Sehwag has proved his worth in the shorter format more effectively than in the real one and just one explosive innings from him can turn a match on its head.

Then again, on Australian bouncy wickets you go for two spinners which is a rare tactic even in ODIs played on flat Indian wickets. Pravin Kumar and Vinay Kumar gave India a terrific start in that match, but the two spinners neutralized it completely and helplessly saw Australia taking absolute command of the game. And by the way, what’s Zaheer Khan doing nowadays? Is he another ‘senior’ fit only for test cricket? 

And not the least, in place of ‘senior’ opener Sehwag only Sachin Tendulkar came in to open for India! What is his status—senior, junior, youngster or what? Or is it only because he has to accomplish the hundredth hundred feat? It is getting very ominous—the more the delay in achieving this record the more will be the sufferings and humiliations for Indian cricket.  Sachin’s ‘century of centuries’ dangler is almost creating the dilemma of the ‘millennium’ for Indian cricket! Back home, you have lost the biggest sponsor too. 

For the time being, end the contradictions so that the one-day series does not become another disaster. Tomorrow’s match against Sri Lanka is the immediate challenge. 

Meanwhile, medical experts have confirmed that Yuvraj Singh has no lung cancer, but a tumor or a rare form of seminoma in between his lungs just above the heart. Yuvraj is responding  to treatment very well and with his positive energy he will indeed be back into the cricket field in May, the doctors add confidently.

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