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Monday, December 23, 2019

Cricket: India Win ODI Series, Beat A Resistant West Indies!

Photo: India
India have never lost a One-Day International (ODI) Series against the West Indies since 2007, and have become the best world team in terms of maximum ODI Series wins (32) during this decade surpassing Australia and England. In an absorbing match played in Cuttuk last evening India managed to overcome West Indies by 4 wickets in the penultimate over. In a high scoring match WI, put into bat, had a late charge led by skipper Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Puran setting a challenging total of 315--a score over 300 always had a winning chance, and but for the huge hits by Shardul Thakur and in spite of man-of-the-match Virat Kohli's knock of 85 with rollicking half centuries by Rohit Sharma and K Rahul the match could've gone in either direction. 

This brings us to the point I'd like to make about West Indies. For the first time WI didn't show their traditional 'unpredictability', and offered a lot of resistance and fighting spirit in almost all the matches in both the T20I and ODI series. They won two matches respectively in both the series quite convincingly. Led by the IPL-enriched Kieron Pollard, with the absence of Chris Gayle & Andrew Russel, perhaps showed the potential they failed to play to in the ICC World Cup-2019. Their batsmen Lewis, Hope, Heitmyer and others played consistently, never triggering a batting collapse that has been the order of the day till late. Such resurgence augurs well for the with ICC T20 World Cup coming up next year in Australia. Their pacers too, particularly Paul and Cottrell, bowled with fire. 

Of course, India's bowling attack without Bhubaneswar, Bumrah and Pandya lacked some bite. The basic problem for Team India continues to be the non-performing young ' talents' and the unceasing 'experimentation', as usual. It's been proved again and again that unless at least 2 of their top four, including Shikhar Dhawan, play l---o---n---g innings India can hardly force a win, barring perhaps the odd ones including low-scoring games. However, the 'pacers' trend for India goes on unabated which is very promising, both away and at home, as we mentioned last time. India is set to play cricket with Sri Lanka next. 

Monday, December 9, 2019

A Punch In The Lurch!

Shyam arrived unannounced, as usual. Ram got really annoyed that evening; he had an important task to accomplish, his son being away on a college excursion. “This fellow is incorrigible! We meet five days a week in office and yet he lands up almost every evening!’ Ram thought ruefully. “Perhaps…his bachelorhood, sealed by now, is the crux of the matter!” he added to kinda solace himself. His problem was accentuated, particularly because his wife and son loved passing time with Shyam. In fact, they expected Shyam’s company as often as possible.

Ram welcomed him, as always, and Shyam, entering with a yawn, sank lazily in the comfortable sofa. He started talking immediately; nothing of importance, as always. However, that evening Ram was determined not to entertain his visitor for long. Before his wife could emerge he went inside, and said, ‘Give him all the pastries, sweets, salted delicacies with the tea, so that he loses his appetite for supper…and leaves soon.” His wife smiled with a wink and agreed.

Snacks came, tea came; but the visitor seemed to be in no hurry to leave. Ram was fidgeting, getting impatient as the clock ticked on. He seemed to hear a pitiful moaning sound from their bedroom balcony which made him restless. In his family tradition Ram never learnt to be hostile to a guest, always entertaining them, often, in the process, missing or delaying important personal engagements. Besides, Shyam was a colleague and a good friend working in the same film production house.

As the clock struck eight Ram could withstand no more. He stood up.

“I’d rather take my doggie out for his customary evening stroll,’ he announced summarily.

Shyam looked up at him, a bit surprised, and said gravely, “If I were you, I’d rather sit down for some time.”

“What for?” Ram almost cried.

“Sit down first, dear friend. I have something important to tell you,” he waited for Ram to sit down. “Three days back you punched that guy, Ravi, you office!”

Yes, Ram knew it very well, he broke his nose, and he had been bunking office since then. Ravi was an extremely lazy yet cunning and slippery fellow; he always thrived on trying to steal credit for others’ work, and knew how to oil his bosses. That day there was a crucial programme meeting with the regional boss, and all new ideas were on the agenda to brainstorm upon. For that purpose only, earlier, Ram called for a meeting with his colleagues presenting few of his own ideas for concurrence. It was a perfect rehearsal, and Ram had no reason to suspect anybody, even Ravi.

But everything went wrong in the regional meet for Ram. Immediately after the boss’s motivational speech Ravi started speaking presenting a series of innovative ideas as his own creative thoughts which, to Ram’s horror, were the ones discussed by him in the internal meeting, and, to heighten Ram’s horror-turning-to-fury, got tremendous appreciation from the boss. To control himself or rather to save himself Ram tried to put in, helplessly, “Yes sir, we discussed these ideas already. Actually...” he broke off knowing very well that anything he uttered in favor of himself would only project him as petty and envious. Therefore, after the meeting he simply went up to Ravi’s desk, punched him furiously on his nose and stomped out.

“...he threatened you that he would lodge a police complaint, no?” Shyam continued, “but instead, with a bleeding nose, he went to the hospital, and then home to consult his wife before taking any legal action. At the sight of his bandaged nose his wife went into hysterics. She was uncontrollably happy that someone had done what she could never ever have accomplished herself. And how she wanted him to have it…somehow! She felt like an avenging angel, as it were. But then, surprise of surprises! She started taking very good care of him, so much so that their eternally strained married life became healthy and joyous… And my friend, I’m carrying Ravi’s compliments for you this evening. He is so grateful for your resounding punch; a game changer, I say!”

Ram couldn’t react at all for some time, sitting as if transfixed. Then he started laughing, in short bursts of breathless guffaws.

“Enjoy your moment with your wife, pal!” Shyam put in happily. “Let me take out your doggie tonight, it’s my pleasure, entirely!” he went inside and fetched the chained pet, its pitiful moaning now giving way to joyful crooning. At the door he turned around again and said to Ram, “In the meantime boss came to know fully what’s what! So, you can join office tomorrow without fear!”

Still laughing, Ram cried out, “No problem, buddy. Thanks. Come back and have supper with us!”

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Duel!

“Oh, you’ve come at last! I phoned you several times, you didn’t bother to answer...okay, what did the doctor say? Has your thumb healed?”

“Actually, I had to sit there for nearly one hour; but the doctor hardly took any time. I walked out just after 7 PM, I wanted to call you then; but thought you must be on the way back home, and so decided to call later....actually, one of my friends lives nearby, she called me when I was waiting at the clinic; she invited me home. She came up to take me from the clinic. Their flat is nice and cosy...”

“That’s fine...but what did the doctor say?”

“...not like ours—congested lanes and non-airy—homely locality. I was also feeling tired after a hectic day...she offered to make tea...”

“But what did the doctor say?”

“You’re always impatient and rude! Just want to know what you want to know, quick and fast! All males are like that! Wait, I’ll come to your point shortly...she made a very nice and tasty roll; I really enjoyed with the tea, and relaxed. Meantime her sister called from our native town. Actually, her sister lives just behind our ancestral house...I never knew that, and never met her there. My friend handed me the mobile to say hello to her. We talked a lot. You know, we met in school days only...she married much before me, and went from place to place with her husband’s transfers. Now they’ve settled in our place...”

“Your friend lives so near to the many times we went there, and she never invited us to their place...”

“Again you’re diverting the issue, I’m not talking about that, I’m telling you of my acquaintance with a lady after so many years. Next time we visit our native place I’ll definitely meet her...”

“What you say and do is always right. You see, I too need to speak my mind sometimes...but you hardly give me the opportunity, and get angry whenever I intervene. Okay, forget it, just tell me what the doctor said and advised.”

“Now, you’re starting it all over again! We can hardly discuss anything nowadays...we just land up with a bitter quarrel...”

“Nobody is quarreling now. I’ve not started anything; I only wanted to know what I needed to know...”

“I’ll never admit. You’re always right! Fine, I’ll not tell you anything now...”

“Damn it all! Tell me, why the heck I should listen to you talking about some lady I’ve never known or never met even after enjoying more than fifty beautiful springs of my life!”

“Then why at all you’ve come to talk to me?”

Thoroughly fed up, the husband stomped out of the room, resuming his television news watching in the living room. The wife, sprawling comfortably in the double-bed, coldly opened the social media app in her mobile, and got busy.

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