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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Vs Cyclone Nilam!

The biggest ever natural calamity to hit USA came on Monday in the form of Hurricane Sandy and is far from over on the third day today. The super-storm first attacked Atlanta city in New Jersey demolishing the gambling mecca there in particular, maybe as a symbolic fury of Mother Nature for sinful human excesses. Then the raging storm advanced towards New York City and caused maximum damage on the most happening place of the world. On the third day today Sandy headed for Canada.

Arguably the most advanced nation of the world has been found crying for mercy as Hurricane Sandy methodically progressed on its incredible course of devastation. More than 50 people have perished so far despite all the precautions taken and evacuation done on a war footing. More than 8 million households and businesses have lost power, and again incredibly enough it may take days to restore electricity. Swaths of NYC have been submerged under water continuously. More than 15000 flights have been cancelled with three airports of NYC area remaining closed for days. The US share markets were closed for two days—a record since 1888. With the Presidential Elections scheduled for the 6th of November poll campaigns by President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney have been cancelled for the third day today. There have been speculations about even postponing the national polls that never happened in US history.  

Meantime Cyclone Nilam has risen over the Bay of Bengal and was headed towards the Indian coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Heavy rains have lashed Tamil Nadu for the second day today along with high velocity winds. Emergency precautions are being taken with fishermen asked not to venture out into the sea and hundreds of thousands of people evacuated and shifted to safer places. Latest reports reveal that Cyclone Nilam has made a landfall at Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu and is likely to intensify as per the met office.

Mother Nature is supreme. She can wreak havoc at will and punish human follies any time She wants. Mortals must realize this irrespective of the levels of modernization or the heights of civilization they have supposedly reached.

Praise and revere thy Mother! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Colorful Day And Night Cricket Tests Coming Soon?

The traditional red ball of cricket has been facing growing threats of extinction over the years with the emergence of the white balls in day-n-night ODI and T20 matches. Now, with Test cricket under the ‘illuminated’ possibility the extinction threat is very real.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) had yesterday in Dubai approved hosting day-n-night Test cricket matches. But the ICC has left the decision on the member cricket boards for bringing it into effect on bilateral cricket series and also to decide upon the type and the color of the ball to be used. Cricket Australia who had been clamoring for the day-n-night Tests has already welcomed the decision. Their contention has been that on week days night cricket would definitely bring in more crowds. No response is recorded from so far from the Indian cricket Board. The cash-rich Board is likely to consider it positively to rake in more money, but at the same time it has to think about the cost of electricity for five nights on a trot and existing facilities. The betters and the bookies would also welcome it as they could benefit from the changing pitch conditions, the uncertainties of the ball and the dew factor.

The ball is set to be the most nagging factor. The traditional red ball does not have enough visibility at night while the white ball used in ODIs and T20 is not as durable as the red one. Therefore, the quest will be on to find a durable ball in different suitable colors like the orange or pink.

Test cricket will no longer be the same if the decision is implemented. Fresh morning starts will be sorely missed by all, particularly the seam bowlers. Flat pitches and the night dew will make the matches dull and predictable. With the floodlights a lot of artificiality can creep in robbing the classic Test genre of its natural rhythm. Anyway, nothing certain can be foretold till we see the first day-n-night Test happen.

Meanwhile, England cricket team had arrived in India on October 29 and is playing their first practice match against India A today in Mumbai. In a tour lasting for than two months there will four Tests, five ODIs and two T20 matches.  As one more good news for avid cricket lovers the Indian Home Ministry has approved today the India tour of Pakistan this December. The visiting Pakistan team will play three ODIs and two T20 matches in different venues across the country.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Movie English Vinglish: Super Sridevi Comeback In An Emotional Classic!

Rightfully called the first female superstar of Indian Cinema, Sridevi had decided to make a comeback to Bollywood or Hindi cinema after 14 years. Ad filmmaker and debutante Bollywood director Gauri Shinde took painstaking efforts in crafting a super movie to make the comeback most memorable.  And, truly it was most memorable in the form of a perfect family entertainer and an emotional classic titled English Vinglish that released all over on October 5, 2012. The movie attained the status of a superhit thanks not only to a tremendous heartwarming performance by Sridevi, but also due to the virtue of it being a subtly and delightfully crafted celluloid creation. The standing ovation after its premier in Toronto Film Festival and the widespread critical acclaim it got within India just supports why English Vinglish should indeed be called a classic.

The movie has two very realistic themes that still run through the Indian society. First, a housewife or more ‘respectfully’ a homemaker is always taken for granted and her work or talent is never acknowledged. She keeps on doing her domestic duties which, of course, does not pay her monetarily and to earn a few bucks to really contribute to the family she also takes on additional jobs, thanklessly though. Second, people not able to speak English properly are always looked down upon in India creating in its wake the superiority complex of the ‘knowing’ and the inferiority complex of the ‘unknowing’. The almost communal divide between the ‘convent’ educated and ‘language’ educated thrived in the past and still has not been eradicated from the society.

Sridevi  plays or rather lives the role of the hardworking homemaker who earns a few bucks too by making and selling laddoos or sweet balls. And of course, she does not know how to speak good English. Her husband refuses to give her respect even for her earnings and only while eating and relishing the food thinks it fit to appreciate her as a good cook. ‘She is born to make laddoos’ is the only kind of praise her smart English knowing husband is capable of endowing.  She is ridiculed all the time even by her teenage English knowing daughter who loathes her mother’s presence in her convent school or in midst of her friends. Sridevi, the Maharashtrian housewife in a Pune family, lives on with the taunts and shows her pain in brilliantly realistic and yet subtle expressions. Maybe a determination keeps growing inside her.

The turnaround comes when Sridevi’s elder sister settled in New York City invites them for her daughter’s wedding. It was decided that Sridevi would leave at least four weeks in advance to help her sister prepare and the family would join later. After the fears and tribulations that a typical Indian housewife undergoes while forced to travel alone Sridevi finally arrives in NYC. Mostly lonely at daytime in her sister’s house she accidentally comes across a Conversational English speaking course that promises to make one expert in English in just four weeks. Sridevi manages her time and chances to successfully join the course. The exquisitely and yet realistically shot classroom proceedings and her diehard efforts to learn English constitute the most endearing highlight of English Vinglish. The American tutor and the students comprising of Mexican, French, Pakistani, Indian, African and Chinese nationalities look the perfect picks for the roles.

Few scenes of Sridevi just remain etched in mind. Like her scene with the Father of her daughter’s convent school, her telephone talks to the English speaking course administrator, her adventure in a NYC cafe, most of her classroom scenes, scenes with the French student and her English speech in the climax scene. Director Gauri Shinde’s eye for small details is most noteworthy and refreshing. The movie is compulsive viewing without a jerk and it is almost flawless. One might only think that Sridevi’s on-flight scene with co-passenger Amitabh Bachchan could have been a little more enlivening and better crafted. All other performances mostly by newcomers are also commendable. The outdoors of NYC are very well captured and the overall photography and takings have been immaculate and suited to the plot.

English Vinglish is undoubtedly one the most remarkable Bollywood movies of 2012. The movie is also replete with the happy-feel-good factor that distinguished another recent movie called Ferrari Ki Sawaari (Riding the Ferrari). Though much belated, I hope to write about that happy film soon. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Accidents Horror: Tragic End To Comedy King Jaspal Bhatti!

He was probably the most famous Sikh comedian ever in Indian Television and movies. He gave us a taste of a comedy show in the early years of National Network telecasts in Doordarshan. That time Doordarshan was the only television media and we were used to watching foreign comedy shows. But this brilliant comedian-writer-director enthralled us with indigenous doses of humor, wit, satire and fun in his comedy shows for the first time in Indian television. Jaspal Bhatti, the innocuous looking Sardar with a disarming smile whose one dialogue is enough to make you laugh out.  And his insightful storytelling was capable of making you cry too. 

Jaspal Bhatti made his appearance in Doordarshan in the eighties with his TV Series Ulta Pulta and Flop Show. The shows were instant hits and he became a household name in India. His actor-wife Savita Bhatti appeared with him all the way and they were inseparable and one of the most loved couples. Later in the nineties when other channels started storming the Indian viewers Jaspal Bhatti produced various programs for them too. He also acted in Bollywood movies and produced-directed feature films in his mother-tongue Punjabi. But his Ulta Pulta and Flop Show are still remembered and loved even by the modern generation.

This witty satirist died tragically in a road accident in Punjab in the wee hours of today. He completed the promotion for his Punjabi movie Power Cut to be released on 27th October, 2012 and was rushing back for the last minute preparations. His actor-son was driving and the heroine of the movie was also in the car. In a horrific accident the speeding car hit a roadside tree around 3 am. Jaspal Bhatti was rushed to the hospital, but was declared brought dead. The other two were injured and are presently recuperating. A worthy Indian died unnecessarily.We pray for the eternal bliss of his jolly good soul.

Few newspapers reported today about another horrifying accident in a Mumbai suburb which showed depravity of the worst kind. For the 10th night last night a few youngsters around 19-20 years of age danced and reveled in the ongoing Navaratri festival. But that was not considered enough. Unfortunately in India every festival including those of religious nature too, every party or picnic and every outing ultimately means extreme boozing, because without that no celebration is considered complete. So the youngsters drank and drank to their hearts’ content. Even then they did not consider it enough enjoyment. They wanted a mad drive too. Around 2 o’clock in the morning six of them took a car and started driving up and down the highway in extreme speed. All of them died when their car crashed against a trawler. 

The common factor between the two accidents was the traveling time—deadly wee hours when everyone including drivers tends to doze off. Yes, people have no time nowadays, but what would be wrong if you get at least three hours’ sleep and start your travel around 5 am when there is daylight in most parts. You will lose 3 hours, but will surely arrive safe and sound. And if you have to travel during the night why don’t you take the precautions like allowing the driver to refresh with tea once in every hour, drive at steady speed and not sleeping around him.

Indian road conditions and car makes are definitely not under your control, but speed, time of travel and drinking definitely are. Drunk driving was the uncommon factor between the two accidents mentioned here, but it is the most common cause of accidents nowadays. If enjoyment is not complete without drinking then do drink, but go to sleep afterwards as the most natural way of ending celebrations.

Or is it possible that dying too has become fashionable and enjoyable? For road safety peoples’ mindset must change first, road or car conditions later.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Yash Chopra: Iconic Filmmaker Passes Away In Mumbai!

A career spanning over five decades from the good old days to the complex modern times. Directed 22 films and produced over 50 films. Won over 10 Filmfare awards including 4 for Best Direction, highest National honors in films-Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2001 and Padma Bhushan in 2005. Melodious music and exotically beautiful locations being the richest of the highlights of his films. All have been mainstream Bollywood movies, but refreshingly different from the formula entertainers with loads of sensitivity, characterization and insight of life. Almost all of his movies being hits and super duper hits. An enlivening chapter of Hindi cinema since 1959 ended today. Yash Chopra, the legendary filmmaker passed away today evening at a Mumbai hospital after a brief illness at the age of 80. 

Yash Chopra started his movie career with his elder brother legendary BR Chopra and then moved on successfully to form his own film production house, the famous Yashraj Films in 1971. Yashraj Films began with a momentous hit and award winning Daag in 1973. He made his mark in all the genres—melodrama, family drama, light hearted comedy, suspense, thriller and of course romance. Thanks to the energetic and vibrant Shahrukh Khan Yash Chopra’s romantic hits with son Aditya Chopra taking an active part won over the modern generations of today. He was also the pioneer of Hindi multi-starrer movies or blockbusters with the critically acclaimed Waqt in 1965. He made his debut with the suspense genre with an experimental Ittefaq (1969) which was described as a semi-hit and continued it in Darr 1993). His intense conflict thriller Deewar (1975) and subtle Lamhe (1991) remain as the most astounding and critically acclaimed work. He worked with all superstars from Dilip Kumar, Balraj Sahani, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan to Shahrukh and Saif Ali Khan. In the female leads from Rekha, Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla to many modern day divas. And, he gave them all their most memorable movies.

His has been good clean cinema meant for the entire family. He commands immense respect in the film industry, among the leading film stars and the movie goers. His family blockbusters have made him a household name. Yash Chopra is an institution in filmdom. His death has caused a vacuum in realm of meaningful filmmaking.

The whole of Bollywood is in a state of terrible shock. He was admitted to hospital with a dengue infection on 13th October and the doctors were hopeful of his immediate discharge only two days back. The sudden news today overwhelmed all the stars, film personalities and millions of his admirers. In fact, he was expected to shoot a song sequence very soon for his last movie to be released this Diwali. The devastating new has also dampened the Durga Puja celebrations across the city.

Volumes can be written about this cinema icon. We make a humble effort to pay tributes to Yash Chopra with this. We pray for the eternal bliss of his soul as the last rites are to be completed tomorrow in Mumbai. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Durga Puja-2012!

The destroyer of evil this year has arrived today—the sixth day of the illuminated lunar fortnight or Sashthi—with the idols of Goddess Durga being installed in public pandals across India and offerings of prayers for the first day rituals. Navratri celebrations (nine nights of worship, prayers and ritualistic dancing for various forms of Goddess Durga) is already in full swing from the 16th of October, 2012.

Elaborate rituals, offerings of various nature, daily Prasad of fruits and Kichdi Bhog as a full midday meal and evening cultural programs will continue for the Saptami (7th day of the lunar fortnight and 2nd day of Durga Puja), the Ashtami (8th day), Navami (9th day) and Vijaya Dashami or Dasera (10th and immersion day of Devi Durga, in most Pujas Bhog is not distributed on this day). On the Dasera day Goddess Durga idols will be immersed in the rivers or lakes across the country along with public symbolic burning of evil in various forms.

Happy Durga Puja-2012! Feel the strength of truth and honesty, and be blessed by Her! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Kejriwal Show: Media Hype Incredible And Unprecedented!

Ex Team Anna member, India Against Corruption (IAC) activist and politician Arvind Kejriwal unfolded his second biggest expose drama dot at 5 pm today in New Delhi as promised. He made a departure from the usual ‘Congress for Corruption’ theme as promised and attacked Nitin Gadkari, President of the main national opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as promised, and as speculated for the last two days by the media.

The media craze for the eagerly awaited show and the accompanying hype had to be seen to be believed. Not only that the show was taken live across the news channels, but the live telecast started hours before the show with fleets of reporters in different places and plethora of experts sitting inside the studios. One prime national news  channel had a literal countdown to the show—1 hour to go before Kejriwal exposes Gadkari or whoever…30 minutes to go…15 minutes to go…2 minutes to go…Bang! Bang! Bang! Even the Anna Hazare movement at its peak could not match this hype.

And why not? Something unique is happening to Indian politics. Obvious and well known or suspected irregularities, murky but expected goings-on in the democratic underbelly and much speculated and reported corruption statistics of the largest democracy of the world are being burst in the open like firecrackers by the unique avatar  of an ‘aam admi’ (common man) politician. The craze is only natural considering in particular the hugely enjoyable aftereffects from the established politicians.

More documents…more charges…more articulation! And in reply more denials…more counter-charges more vehemence. The aam admi avatar declares the facts or allegations before his aam countrymen. The accused calls it ‘laughable charges’ or ‘stunts for garnering publicity for the new political party’! Other political parties join in by ‘Gadkari must resign’ or ‘I told you so much before’! One party calls IAC as the B wing of the Opposition and some other calls it as the conspiracy wing of the government.  And Kejriwal raises the question ‘Is the national opposition party the actual opposition or a business partner of the governments’! Has anyone heard such mind-boggling utterances made in the open before or ever?

The real climax to this high voltage reality show would be the coming into power of the aam admi political party. A climax that nobody at the moment would be humanly able to perceive or visualize. The lure of this ultimate mystery is bound to captivate anyone, why only the media! Brickbats set to accelerate! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Politics Of Corruption: Suspense, Twists, Drama, Surprises…More!

Corruption is not new to India. Our country has been a front runner in this field of socio-political malady in the global perspective. It was, it still is and will remain so in the near future. Our country has been the biggest Exchange for favors, nepotism and quid pro quo deals. The more the clout and influences one amasses the more capable is one  in granting big favors and extracting bigger favors. This has been the way of life rather than being a crucial part of corruption. No, this is not being negative or cynic, this is being realistic.

But the commonest forms of corruption like having to give bribes for every possible existential act on this earth and looting of public money did torment a major chunk of the population. Therefore when Anna Hazare started a campaign against corruption and demanded a stringent anti-corruption Lokpal or Ombudsman Bill they welcomed it heartily. Then, as we have seen in the pages of this site, politics started taking over the movement and Anna’s main lieutenants left the crusader in the lurch for the greener pastures of politics.

Anna Hazare's chief lieutenant, once publicly secure in politics, began his shows of suspense and drama on a daily basis. In prime media focus of the national capital he began to expose people in power and high connectivity submitting ‘proofs’ lavishly. But in India no proof is enough proof as the most rabid criminals committing crimes in full public view can still go on fighting legal battles for years and years. The ensuing process of countering ‘proofs’ with ‘proofs’ and 'charges' with 'charges' adds the drama and unravels twists and surprises making his shows and the sequels entertaining for all and all time favorites for the media. But like the affected political parties by his exposes the chief lieutenant’s interest is also politics. If finally he is able to provide a political alternative it’s okay for the moment, but if he fails in that the voters of this country are bound to be caught in the dilemma of the century throwing the gates open for anarchy.

The chief lieutenant would need relative honesty and loyalty desperately if he wants to succeed in his mission of capturing power and changing the system. But honesty is fast becoming a thing long forgotten and loyalty is the hardest one to be found in India. You must have seen in umpteen movies how even in crimes people are not loyal. When the partners in crime finally succeed making the heist they indulge in killing-each-other spree so that only one could enjoy the booty. In real life too you must have found how some people are not honest even in corruption, meaning they will not do your job even after devouring your bribes.

What is the point in going on exposing the species that is in absolutely no danger of extinction? And even if someone gets really nailed by the ‘proofs’ it will only increase the ever expanding burden on the Indian courts with no ‘nailing’ verdicts expected in years to come. For a change why not try highlight examples of honesty, of course if you manage to find one. But politics has its own logic and tactics. If an eminent elected representative says that the amount of money involved is too small to justify a certain alleged corrupt act other politicians do listen and try going for acts involving larger amounts so as to avoid possible inferiority complex, if we can say so!

Come tomorrow, the chief lieutenant is set to expose a much bigger one! The suspense drama is set to continue. Where do we go from here? Well, why bother, better enjoy the show!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pray For Malala Yusafzai!

A fourteen year old girl, and she had the courage and the determination to take the dreaded Taliban head on. She started her crusade when she was just eleven and has been taking it forward unceasingly for the last three years. In one of its most cowardly and heinous crimes the Taliban attacked the school girl on October 9, 2012 shooting her in the head and in the neck in a definite bid to kill her. She is Malala Yusafzai from Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan.

Malala has been righteously fighting for the right to education and women’s rights. Feeling suffocated under the oppressive diktats of the Tehrik-i-Taliban in 2008 when the Taliban established its regime in Swat Malala wanted to express her anguish to the world. In was in early 2009 that she started writing in a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym and became an international voice. Later that year the Pakistan Army moved into Swat Valley and pushed the Taliban out. Malala and her family got displaced and separated, but afterwards they were reunited and Malala got back her school too. Malala decided then to disclose her real name in her blog writings thereby becoming a target for the Taliban who always justifies all its acts as necessary by its radical interpretations of the Islam. Intolerance for women along with hatred for India and the US has been the common sentiments of all the militant groups under the Taliban.

At the moment Malala is critical and struggling for life. One bullet has been extricated and the doctors say that next one or two days are going to be crucial.  On the auspicious Friday yesterday the whole of Pakistan held prayers in the mosques for her recovery. Over fifty clerics of Pakistan have issued a Fatwa against the attackers and condemned the Taliban as misusing and misinterpreting the teachings of Islam. President Obama and the world have also condemned the crime as most cowardly and barbaric offering every possible help to Pakistan. Humanity’s enemy and the terror called Taliban said that they will attack Malala again if she survives.

Now is the time for all in Pakistan to come together condemning terror, intolerance and hatred and taking the country to a peaceful and harmonious future. People of India too must learn a few lessons from this as intolerance and divisive sentiments have been on the rise in India too. Taliban like forces of intolerance and oppression have been growing ominously in various pockets of India. Now is the time to say no to intolerance.

The crusading angel must survive and must carry on the movement against terror all across the globe creating in its wake millions of supporters for peace and harmony. Let us pray for the speedy recovery of Malala Yusafzai. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

West Indies Win T20 World Cup: Dramatic Win In A Suffocated Final!

Thanks to the hidden powers of West Indies exhibited amply in the semi final against Australia we hopefully predicted an unpredictable ICC World Cup T20 2012 Final in Colombo tonight. But the past masters of raw power and skill of the game of cricket decided to stick to their one decade and a half long subdued or rather suffocated cricket. Like in the Super Eight stage they nearly handed over the match and the Cup to Sri Lanka. But in the end skipper Mahela Jaywardene could not take it even in his fourth World Cup Final entry and this time at home. West Indies have won a first World Cup title, though in T20 format, after India snatched the World Cup from them in 1983.

Winning the toss and electing to bat first West Indies scored just one run off the bat in the first three overs. Their score of 14 for 2 was the fourth worst after Powerplay (6 overs) and their 32 for 2 was also the fourth worst after 10 overs in T20 World Cup history. Of course, the Sri Lankan seamers, particularly Mathews, bowled beautiful length and swing, and when the magic of spinner Ajantha Mendis (4 for 12 runs in 4 overs) unfolded it was too much for the West Indies batsmen.   Thanks to a brilliant 78 off 56 balls by the Player of the Match Marlon Samuels and a finishing 26 off 15 balls by skipper Sammy the total managed to reach a little bit of respectability at 137/6 in allotted 20 overs. Chris Gayle, the demolition man, had a most ungainly innings of 3 runs from 16 balls. For Sri Lanka in home conditions the total was far from an intimidating one. 

Wonder of wonders! The masters of suffocating cricket in the slowish pitches this time themselves suffocated to a bowling attack that did not have a superior tag at any point of time during the tournament. Though progressing slowly Sri Lanka were at a healthy 51/2 in the 11th over, but very soon they slid to 69/7 in the fifteenth over. It was all over but for a late charge from seamer Kulasekara. Spinner Narine’s 3 for 9 in 3.4 overs matched Mendis for Sri Lanka. Sammy too captured 2 wickets in his slow pace bowling and to add woes to the struggling Sri Lankans there were two run outs due to direct hits. The mighty hosts got all out for just 101 runs in the 19th over disappointing the screaming home crowds terribly. West Indies captain Darren Sammy whose abilities as a bowler or a batsman were always in question has now attained some popularity in the world of cricket.  The Scorecard: 

Apart from the spirited and sprightly cricket on the field the celebrating West Indies players have also amply displayed their dancing ability and the joyous dancing went on almost endlessly. The first bout of dancing was witnessed after the match against Australia. 

A World Cup T20 Final and a result that many of the cricket lovers all over might not have expected to have ever happened. But in this short format of cricket any team is as dangerous as the other as we have said in the beginning. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sri Lanka Vs West Indies: ICC World Cup T20 Final Tomorrow!

In the first semi final of the ICC World Cup T20 2012 Pakistan surrendered meekly to allow Mahela Jaywardene to lead his team into the fourth Final of ICC limited overs tournaments including that of against India in World Cup-2011 and in T20 World Cup in 2009 without a title. Now, in this final Mahela has another chance at home to make Sri Lanka victorious. In the second semi final Australia were swept away by Gaylestorm last night in Colombo. An incredible performance steered West Indies to meet Sri Lanka tomorrow in the Final in Colombo.

After the intense race between India and Pakistan to reach the knockout stage it was an absolute anticlimax with Pakistan lacking both intensity and purpose. Their bowlers, as usual, did a good job again to restrict Sri Lanka to just 140 in allotted 20 overs. A little application in batting could have seen Pakistan edge past Sri Lanka into the final despite the slow and sluggish pitch. But their chase was a disaster from the word go. In fact most of the Pak batsmen fell to casual and careless shots. They have now disappointed their fans on two major counts—not reaching the final and winning the title, and, losing to India. The Scorecard: 

West Indies was revelation of the hidden power inherent within the team. Of course, with Chris Gayle around they are capable of having a blast anytime anywhere, but what they did to Australia last night was beyond any kind of prediction. Starting a little carefully after winning the toss and electing to bat West Indies launched a brutally professional attack on Australian bowling hitting more sixes (14) than boundaries (13) and piling up the highest total of the tournament at 205/4 in allotted 20 overs. Gayle hit 75 off just 41 balls and for the most significant part was supported equally belligerently by Samuels (26 off 20), Dwayne Bravo (37 off 31) and Kieron Pollard (38 off 15 balls including 3 huge sixes in the last over). The Australian reply was pathetic with West Indies opening with spin and getting success immediately. Wickets fell in heaps except for a frustrated 63 off 29 balls by skipper Bailey. Except against Pakistan the Australian top three batsmen made the victories too easy for them and maybe the dependence on them misfired in the end against a bulldozing West Indies. Shane Watson—the most natural choice for the player of the tournament got finally got demolished. The Scorecard:

Interestingly the buzz among the Indian cricket fans has been that Australia played to lose against Pakistan to keep India out of contention, and therefore they cheered West Indies yesterday shot by shot and jeered Australia wicket by wicket. Maybe Australia’s cruel demolition of India in the Super Eight group encounter was also responsible for such kind of behavior! Apart from this India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni continues to be under the hammer for all his tactical blunders and wrong decisions. 

Sri Lanka defeating West Indies soundly in the Super Eight group encounter notwithstanding the Final tomorrow would be the farthest from a predictable match even on slow Sri Lankan pitches. If Gayle gets going again the ‘slowness’ of the pitch would transform into a ‘race track’ and with sound support by other explosive batsmen as witnessed last night West Indies stand a terrific chance to win a title after long years—this final being their first major success after six years. Sri Lanka better be wary of the Caribbean. West Indies on their part must control the unpredictability factor and continue from where they left last night.

In all, cricket fans across the globe can expect to enjoy a competitive and exciting encounter this Sunday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

India Vs Pakistan! One Enter Semis, One Crash Out Of Cricket World Cup T20!

 The India-Pakistan match on September 30 became historic not because India defeated Pakistan convincingly, but because the intense duel continued till the latter threw the former out of the ICC World Cup T20 2012. India crashed out despite defeating South Africa in a thriller by 1 run and thus allowing its arch-rival Pakistan enter the semi finals.

There was a technical possibility of both India and Pakistan entering the semis. For that Pakistan needed to beat Australia by minimum 40-run margin and India too needed to beat South Africa by a large margin. Unfortunately this did not happen. What happened was this: Pakistan indeed defeated the mighty Australia by a big margin of 32 runs, but not the required 40 allowing Australia qualify. This gave India the challenge to win against South Africa with a good enough margin to better the Pakistan net run rate to throw their arch-rival out of the tournament. The duel raged on.

India would have loved to chase yesterday knowing exactly how much they needed to edge past Pakistan’s net run rate. But South Africa won the toss and sent them in. India struggled to make 152/6 in allotted 20 overs. Now, India needed to restrict South Africa to 121 or less and win the match and reach the semi finals edging out their arch-rival. The duel finally ended when South Africa reached 122 in the sixteenth over with the loss of five wickets and Pakistan thundered into the semis. Making tactical blunders all the way South Africa skipper yesterday brought in Faf du Plessis in place of out-of-form Richard Levi, and Plessis ironically threw India out of the tournament single handedly by making an explosive 65 off 38 balls—the highest individual score of the match. South Africa, their dreams being mercilessly broken so many times by other teams, this time demolished India’s though languishing with 3 consecutive super eight losses.

Pakistan deserved to be in the semis, because they stopped the juggernaut called Australia in this tournament. With four consecutive wins while chasing Australia chose to chase again yesterday and again restricted its opponent to less than 150. But this time their match winning machine Shane Watson failed and Pakistan spinners mesmerized them into absolute submission at 117/7 in 20 overs. Pakistan meet the hosts and another tough Asian rival Sri Lanka in the first semi final on 4th October. With India out of the way Pakistan has a tremendous opportunity to emerge the ultimate champions.

Maybe India never deserved to reach the knockout stage. The reasons are all clear: Skipper Dhoni could never find his best team making experiments unnecessarily and resting key players in key match earlier on. He succeeded with three spinners against a weaker opponent and failed miserably against the toughest. He made the changes with desperation and won against Pakistan. When he should have taken two spinners against South Africa who struggled with spin so far he decided to stick to the same winning team against Pakistan. Overdependence on Virat Kohli continued throughout. Gambhir continued with his inexplicable failures. And yesterday, when they needed to post a huge total their all match winners failed after promising to build on the good starts initially—Virat, Yuvraj and Sehwag. Yuvraj later made up with his bowling efforts capturing the man of the match award, but Sehwag fell to a downright rash shot. Even the modest total of 152 was possible thanks to some lusty hitting by Raina and Dhoni who came in late, again inexplicably. Only the most balanced team can hope to win the final honors.

On 1st October defending champions England got eliminated losing to Sri Lanka and New Zealand could not win against West Indies from a position of command at least three times.

The rest of the matches now: October 4: First Semi Final—Pakistan Vs Sri Lanka; October 5: Second Semi Final—Australia Vs West Indies; October 7: Final. Al day and night matches in Colombo.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Apolitical Anna Hazare Vs Political Arvind Kejriwal, And The Fight Against Corruption!

Anna Hazare, the crusader against corruption, first became a phenomenon, then got into frequent spells of silence and confusion, had a few flop shows over the period of more than a year and finally called it a day dissolving his famous Team Anna. His story has been more of a dilemma than success or failure.

In August, 2012 Anna Hazare declared the decision to go political. The declaration was made from the stage shared by his team members who were the ones on fasting that time. The most prominent among them was Arvind Kejriwal who later said that the decision was taken after a lot of brainstorming and with the full permission of Anna Hazare. Anna also announced that there was nothing wrong in going in for a political alternative with a totally unresponsive government to deal with.

A few days later the anti-corruption guru back in his native place in the state of Maharashtra officially dissolved Team Anna. He became more active now writing in his blog and after a gap of few days more stated that the split in Team Anna was brought about by the ‘political’ agenda of his own members. He clarified that it was not the Government of India who broke his team up though they tried very hard for that purpose, but it was the political ambitions of his own members that ended the team. He was silent though about any possible role played by Baba Ramdev.

Finally, Anna Hazare landed up in New Delhi, the national capital, without any of his erstwhile members inviting or organizing any function. Anna too had no plans of meeting his members, not even his earlier right-hand man Arvind Kejriwal. He went there on his own and had media meetings on his own. What he uttered there made the dilemma even more hopeless.

Anna Hazare expressed his hatred for politics calling it ‘dirty’ and declared that he would never extend support for any political party or candidates and even his name cannot be used by any such party. At the same time he made another significant declaration that he would never go on fast again to push forward his ‘movement’. Later in Delhi Arvind Kejriwal reportedly met Anna and an immediate softening of Anna’s stand was reported too. This time he said he might consider supporting good candidates like Kejriwal who could make a difference in politics.

The phenomenon got reduced to a lonely  idealistic old man locked up in his village. India Against Corruption—the team that created a national uproar of late has allegedly got muted and filled to the brim with publicity hungering and politically ambitious people. Anna Hazare still wants to carry on with his movement and Kejriwal too reiterated his support for his mentor. But how and on whose strength was not specified. The political alternative was rejected by Anna, but no other alternative has been offered either. He wants the masses with him to fight corruption, but is unable to give the right direction to them. The fight against the greatest evil of India ever seems to be over.

Meanwhile, on the patriotic occasion of the 143rd Birth Anniversary of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi today Arivind Kejriwal has formally entered politics and released the vision document in Delhi for his new political party to be unveiled on November 26. The document says that if his party is elected to power the Lokpal (Ombudsmen) Bill would be brought in within 10 days which will give right to anybody to complain against anybody, that his party’s elected representatives would not use VIP facilities like cars, bungalows and all, and that full transparency would be maintained on the party’s website. Kejriwal also said that this would not be political party as such, but a people’s revolution.

All of these are rather nice simple and kind of make believe efforts. But Kejriwal should understand that if politics was this simple the whole problem of his ‘movement’ would have been unnecessary in the first place! And, the real problem is his  party will be without Anna Hazare’s blessings and even his mentor’s name cannot be used for any campaigns or promotions. A political movement now without the inspiration or the leader?  Or would Kejriwal’s party be able to answer now the five or six questions posed by his mentor? Or is this just a follow-up step by Kejriwal to keep on his political ambitions and stay on as a nationally relevant India Against Corruption leader? Which anti-corruption leader would the Indian masses choose now?

Where do we go from here? 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Team India Comes Good, Routs Pakistan In Super Eight T20!

The whole of India is celebrating is celebrating as if India have won the ICC T20 World Cup 2012! No wonder, if India go on losing the semi final berth and the Cup from here millions of fans all over would still be happy that India had indeed defeated Pakistan on the way! No wonder, if Pakistan proceed from here to win the T20 World Cup it would still rankle millions of fans all over that Pakistan got defeated by India on the way! Such is the passion for matches between these arch-rivals. And, no harm done really as finally it proves the love for cricket one more time.
In the much awaited crunch match in Colombo on 30th September India crushed Pakistan by 8 wickets with 3 overs to spare. Thus India have kept the record of never losing a World Cup, be it one-day or T20 internationals, against Pakistan unbroken. Pakistan won the toss choosing to bat first and the decision was instantly criticized by Pakistan experts, because the chasing team has been winning the matches recently. Indian experts also opined that it was a good toss to lose.
The weak link in the Indian team, its bowling, finally found the length and rhythm. Maybe it was so as finally the best team was fielded with opener Virender Sehwag coming back into the team. Two of the three spinners, Harbhajan and Chawla, were dropped and bringing in pacer Balaji was a masterstroke, because Balaji was very effective against Pakistan and was immensely popular in Pakistan years back. Seven batsmen option was taken with the part timers expected to deliver. And indeed, they delivered. Yuvraj Singh whose place in the team was questioned by many experts did everything possible as an excellent and competitive cricketer—he bowled exceptionally taking two wickets at a crucial juncture, fielded brilliantly causing a run-out too and batted most sensibly giving support to the man of the match Viral Kohli to take India home remaining not out on 19. Skipper Dhoni took the right decisions this time and his team got inspired.
The Pakistan batting could never launch anchors with wickets falling at regular intervals. The inept Indian bowling this time got the full team out for just 128 runs in 19.4 overs. Everyone bowled tight—Balaji taking 3 scalps, Ashwin and Yuvraj capturing two each and Pathan and even Kohli getting one each. The two heroic Umars--Umar Akmal and Umar Gul could not rescue the team this time. 
In the Indian chase Sehwag justified his selection by scoring quick 29 runs in difficult conditions never allowing the momentum slow down after losing Gambhir in the very first over to spinner Raza Hasan who opened the Pak bowling attack. After that it was the classic Virat Kohli (78 not out off 61 balls) again who guided India to a great victory with Yuvraj’s company. The Scorecard:
In the first match unstoppable Australia defeated a lackluster South Africa by  8 wickets with Shane Watson  having an incredible all-round run and winning the fourth man of the match award of the tournament in as many matches. The Scorecard:
Now India is in the third position in Group-2 and meet South Africa on 2nd October while Pakistan face up to Australia on the same day in Colombo. Both teams would be trying hard to win their matches and in that eventuality a three-way tie would emerge with  the net run rate deciding which two would go through. Other permutations would work if different situations emerge. 
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