Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A Decade of Perseverance

Last evening while Team India was at the brink of victory against SL at Cuttack, another set of veteran players were receiving an honour from the CNN-IBN team & the Prime Minister, at Delhi. Indian cricket team, which scaled the peak of Test cricket to break on through to the No. 1 spot for the first time ever, was given a special prize which was collected by former India captains Sourav Ganguly, Anil KumbleRahul Dravid along with VVS Laxman and Murli Karthik.
Surprisingly some of them are not even a part of the team today but have been highly instrumental in scripting the No.1 Test status, over the last decade.A culmination of the combined efforts of former players, captains, coaches, the support staff and the administrators. It all started with Dada spearheading the team in 2000, Dravid taking over the baton from him, Kumble stepping in when India was at crossroads and eventually Dhoni leading the pack very ably now.


All this made me delve into my archives and contradict a blog I had written in 2007. A blog where I had glorified Dravid's captaincy to epic proportions...a cumulative effect of the fact that I am his ardent fan and was overwhelmed by his stand then. Something that evoked awe and admiration than conviviality. Come to think of it, I feel he hasn't been an extraordinary skipper. Its just that he's used his available resources well. Here's the post -

It is not easy to be a cricketer in India.To be the captain of the Indian Cricket Team is to be the punching bag of the nation. The problem perhaps lies not in the actions of our cricketers but in the aspirations that we choose to place on them. Our cricketers carry the burden of an entire nation's fragile self image.
For the teams' sake Rahul Dravid decided to withdraw from the ICC 20-20 WORLD CUP. For his own sake he's now sacrificed the 'extra-special' privilege of captaining India.both according to me are praiseworthy decisions. After all in world run by power hungry and over ambitious indiviuals who would give up the country's most high -profile and sought after job?
Who would opt out just after winng THE HOLY GRAIL in cricket -A TEST SERIES IN ENGLAND? But even this series win was over shadowed by the much hyped 'follow-on controversy'. Could we read Dravid's actions differently?? Could it not be that, far from wanting to shy away from winning, this was a move sought to cold-bloodedly guarantee the victory??? It requires a particular kind of strength to seal a petty victory rather than leave even a small chance of valorous defeat...!!! There is pattern to Dravid's behaviour, even when he was deputising Ganguly he took the ruthless decision to declare when Sachin was on the verge of a double century. His action could be read as the triumph of business like tough-mindedness over the nobler idealism of sport..!! Likewise India's captaincy contrary to the rosy picture is actually one of the most complicated and unrewarding tasks. Dravid is going away from captaincy on a high! Most of the guys hang on the job coz it gives them extensive media coverage, power over the team-mates and the license to stay on in the team even while not performing. Dravid clearly does not belong to that school. He knows his job well, that he's here to score runs for the team and stay on a winning roll. He'd rather be the best batsman than not-so-good captain and a laidback performer. Now how many can think so far and moreover so SELFLESSLY??

Monday, 23 November 2009

Anil Kumble-Captaincy material never tapped

If you ever wondered whether cricket was still a gentleman's game,then one look at Anil Kumble and all your doubts will be allayed. The leader makes his presence felt on and off the field-the team can't help but take their skipper's lead. He managed to script a turnaround for RCB in the second edition of the Indian Premier League.
In his own way Anil Kumble (Read: Jumbo's 5-5 against Rajasthan Royals in IPL-2) has made a statement for elder statesmen in the shortest format of the game. He embodies the fact that playing aggressively does not necessarily mean shouting or creating a ruckus. Instead, his single-minded focus has helped him instill fear in the minds of the rivals.
Kumble first captured the public's imagination by sweeping up wickets with his leg spin. And then by coming out to bowl with a bandaged jaw in a Test match in St John's, Antigua. Apart from that, Kumble has many firsts to his credit if you leave out his wicket tally. He was the first Indian cricketer to quit one form of the game and the first-ever specialist Test captain.

He was appointed as the Test captain at the end of his career, when India was at a crossroads and Dhoni needed a mentor, for a home series against Pakistan. He went on to win the series, the first home triumph against Pakistan in 27 years, before playing a big role in holding the side together during the controversial series in Australia.But Kumble, always the fighter, tried to build the side into a fighting unit. When Kumble left the international stage, the decision was met with a collective `Why now?' rather than a `Why not?'' from cricket-lovers across the world.


Jumbo knew his time was up when his hand took time to recover, for him to play for long. He was given a grand send-off but returned to the world stage yet again, on the IPL platform, where his leadership was instrumental in getting RCB to the final in 2009 after a disappointing first season. And more recently, in CLT20, he proved once more that age has no correlation to success in the slam bang version of the game.

P.S. For the Top 9 bloggers of RCB FFC this topic might ring a bell. We were given this very topic to blog on, from the Press stand of M Chinnaswamy Stadium. grin

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Season by season, brick by brick!

India has always produced several great batting legends and Rahul Dravid is definitely in the top notches of that list. Despite
making his Test Debut nearly six years after Tendulkar, he did not take time to catch up with the 'Little Master'. By the time Dravid
was in his early thirties, he was regarded at par with the big league with the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Vijay Merchant, Sachin
Tendulkar and others.

The Bangalore batsman made a patchy International ODI debut in the Singer Cup match in 1995-96. But he displayed
an early promise in his first few Test matches. His entry into Test cricket was in remarkable contrast to his ODI debut.
Nothing short of spectacular, I must say. He missed the opportunity to score a century on debut by a whisker, when he
cracked an elegant 95 in the Second Test at Lord's in April '96. The 1996 Debut for the awesome twosome who played
equally well though one (Saurav Ganguly) stole the show because of his magic 3 figures, while Rahul was denied the same,
falling mere 5 runs short.In the next Test at Notthingham, again coming in at number 7, Dravid scored 84, only to be overshadowed
by yet another Ganguly century.

If you can make runs on the English and Australian wickets you are universally regarded as a fine batsman; and Dravid was
already showing signs that he had the technique to adapt against seam and swing, as well as pace and bounce. Ever since
his Test Debut he was quickly stereotyped as a technically sound player capable of stonewalling against world's best bowling attacks.
His ramarkable fitness levels, strength of mind, fierce focus and the ability to adapt to the different conditions enabled him to be the
dependable and resilient batsman that he is today. There was this notion about Dravid being 'soft' . Nothing can be farther from the truth.
Beneath the pleasant exterior lurked a ruthless professional.

The year 1997 started off on a high for Dravid courtesy his maiden century in both the forms of the game. After comming off a slump ,
batting at No. 3 in the third Test in Johannesburg, scored his maiden century with 148 and 81, the top score in each innings to claim his
first Man of the Match award. His first century coming in a Test away from home, was a sign of things to come. Then taking a cue from Saeed
Anwar's feat of 194, Dravid notched up his first century in ODI's, at the Chidambaram stadium in Chennai. Three consecutive fifties against Sri Lanka
and Australia further cemented his stand as a reliable middle-order batsman. His Test average thus spiralled to 61.
Dravid was dropped from the ODI squad in the beginning of 1998. The selectors cited a reson that he wasn't adapting too well
to the shorter version of the game. He scored his second century in late 1998 against Zimbabwe in a one-off Test match, top-scoring
in both the innings with 148 and 44, but was unable to prevent an Indian defeat Two fifties against Australia at home and a century
against Zimbabwe helped Dravid build up an average of 45 by the end of 1998.

Dravid began the year 1999 commendably well with centuries in both the innings in the third Test against New Zealand at
Hamilton. He became the third Indian batsman after Vijay Hazare and Sunil Gavaskar to score centuries in both innings of a match.
He then continued his superb form in the ODI's too which later followed. The New Zealand tour was a mere pre-cursor as Rahul
went on to score two centuries and fifties in the 1999 WC in England thereby shattering a few myths.
Brilliant knocks at Columbo and Mohali ensured him a moderate session in the subcontinent
Four Test centuries that year ensured his Test average for that year was over 48.
This without doubt was his career defining season.

A classical stroke player who effortlessly blended substance with style. It was a treat to watch him play those pulls and cover
drives. Glad that he still creates magic when he steps out to bat. His prowess with the bat was not his sole area of specialization though.
The selfless player that he is, opted to keep wickets to restore the team's balance in ODI's, like a team man to the core.
He transformed himself into an astute finisher in the middle-order,strung together a series of awe-inspiring performances in
Test matches as India crept closer ro their quest of an overseas victory. Saving Tests and winning them became second nature to Dravid.
Greg Chappell has rightly said "History will show that he (Dravid) is one of the best players for anyone, forget India, anywhere, anytime.
He makes runs anywhere and does it consistently"

Dravid has taken every inning seriously. It matters little, whether he's batting on a seaming English wicket or a dead track in the
sub-continent. He just carries on with his job, that is, to score and score heavily at that. The sobriquet 'THE WALL' is accurate as it aptly
conveys the image of a man who does not let off his wicket easliy. Left to him, he would not like to let off his wicket at all. When it comes to
India's number three mainstay, what's in a name you argue. He's not 'God', that three letter word has been associated with Sachin Tendulkar.
So perhaps the reasoning goes , if you must call him something, you might as well call him 'The Wall'. But I personally feel that Dravid is stuck
with that inglorious epithet. 'The Wall' be damned. Rahul Sharad Dravid truly is a hell lot more than that!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Cricket Mania(cs) :)

I suffer from a curious condition that affects possibly one in a million Indians. I call it cricket phobia and it is characterized by a marked aversion to watching cricket matches. In an IPL crazy country like India, this is something that borders on sacrilege. I have perhaps the unique distinction in my motherland of being the only 22-year-old who has never watched a complete cricket match on television. I remember the tiffin breaks in school when all of us would be eating peacefully. Suddenly, some dolt would exclaim breathlessly, “Did you see X’s catch yesterday? Wasn’t that something?” Before you could say ‘boring’, the entire group would have launched into a frenzied discussion on the highlights of that match. That was my cue to silently steal away like an outcast or else risk slipping into a coma in the next 10 seconds.

A few of my close friends worried about me. “It’s not normal to not like watching matches,” one said in a hushed voice, “What will people think?” “Come, we’ll watch the next one together and you’ll discover you love it!” suggested another enthusiastically. I agreed, and the next day a few of us gathered at his place. We switched on the TV set and after what seemed like an hour, I blurted out, “The match is going nowhere! I can’t take this boredom anymore, somebody change channels!” Four surprised pairs of eyes turned towards me. “We’ve been sitting for two minutes and all that has happened is the coin toss. The match hasn’t started yet.” I sank back into the sofa, defeated. I tried so hard. I kept telling myself that watching 15 people stand aimlessly on a patch of green grass was breathtaking fun. I repressed the urge to hurl the popcorn bowl at the TV screen when they showed the slow-motion action replay of Sachin hitting a sixer for the twenty-seventh time. I nodded my head sagely when the commentator talked about ‘technique’ and ‘tactics’. “I really am enjoying myself,” I lied to the friend sitting closest to me. “That part when those two boys sped away on a motorcycle was really a make-or-break moment for our team, wasn’t it?” “That was a bike commercial,” he replied without smiling. The match must have gone on for a couple of hours. I wouldn’t know. I fell asleep after the first over.

(Piece of Fiction)

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


I finished reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I enjoyed reading the book, Ayn Rand is a brilliant writer>and very thoughtful. Her narration might not be as flowery as it can get, how ever it is decent enough to
make a very good read. I simply am amazed by her skill when it comes to describing persons state of
mind or internal thought. The book in a way is less about characters and more about the under lying ideas
of Individualism and Objectivism, while popular impression about the book is that it is about characters.
Ayn Rand no doubt is a great mind and a profound thinker, how ever i find her brand of philosophy
stipulated by severe short comings. The problem with The Fountainhead is that it tries to champion the
cause of her philosophy with the help of a story. As we all know stories can always be twisted and turned
to tailor our needs. I would have been in perfect harmony with the author, if the plot took its shape because
obviousness of the philosophy and not vice versa. A story should never be made to suit the philosophy to
justify itself.
Most of her her characters are simply not humans, they are all predictable programmed robots with an
agenda. Humans never are never consistent with their thoughts, principles or philosophy. The Protagonist
Howard Roark, was glorified to epic proportions, a man whom Ayn Rand promotes as a perfect human
soul on Earth. He is arrogant, bold, stubborn, egotist to its extreme, whose soul purpose is life is
Architecture. Little does Ayn Rand realize that human life simply is more than achieving excellence in
profession, there is simply more to life.
Objectivism lays so much emphasis on the individual that if practiced in extreme forms would lead to
doom. Look what Hitler did, I think he was supreme form of individualism. The book usually over states or
exaggerates the reason behind human logic, thus giving an impression that humans are dirty creatures
and people who simply are not creative or talented are worth not living. Eventually its Howard Roark’s
talent which bailed him out, not his set of beliefs or his principles as Ayn rand would like us to believe. The
court room argument in the climax is as ridiculous as it can get, show me a court of justice where anyone
can get away with it, i would hang myself. Howard Roark could afford to be what all he was because he
was supremely talented and gifted beyond mediocrity, what should the lesser mortals on the earth do?
Howard Roark’s grit and determination are inspiring and is bound to give some solace for those who don’t
believe so much in themselves. One more funny aspect with Ayn Rand is that she tries to establish
strangest possible relationship between a man and a women. What’s more queer in the book is that the
heroine submitting herself to rape and her deriving pleasure from it, and yet maintaining it to be a sexual
assault. The book to me was helpful, but it did raise more questions than it answers. Objectivism has its
limitations, it simply is not as practical as it is touted to be.
Can you miss this book because it is flawed? No, Its definitely worth giving a thought. My final say is A
Flawed book by a Brilliant, but flawed writer.