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Follow On!

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Fun cricket fact: 10 years ago to the day yesterday, VVS Laxman & Rahul Dravid misled us into believing that a follow-on is the best thing you can hope for. They were like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Eden Garden, if one was to nitpick), biting into the fruit of hope, raising our expectations and thereby ruining Indian cricket forever.

Here are two people getting misty-eyed and nostalgic about that day – one says he was (miraculously) at home on a school day, singled out by the gods to witness a great spectacle; the other talks of sending ‘teasing messages’ to Rahul Dravid reminding him of that day in Kolkata.

More fun fact: ‘Ten’dulkar scored ‘ten’ runs in both innings of a test match from almost the same number of balls with exactly same number of boundaries. Surely that’s a rarer event. Why don’t people remember that?

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Written by sujaybedekar

March 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Posted in cricket, Sports

Snorter!

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What A Sight!

This is what happens when Sreesanth the bowler triumphs over Sreesanth the madman. Lax, Zaks, Sree, Bhajji, MS, Dravid … What A Victory!

Kallis swerves ... in vain (via Cricinfo)

Written by sujaybedekar

December 29, 2010 at 11:39 pm

He’s the man

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An aunt of mine from Auckland is in town right now, and she had quite a few interesting anecdotes to share today. We all know that Australia started off as a colonial prison – it’s something we’ve given them enough heat about quite often. What we don’t know (at least I didn’t) is that New Zealand was the retirement home for England’s mentally challenged individuals. This apparently is the reason for there being an usually high proportion of individuals with those kind of problems there. This is not the anecdote, just a fun fact, stretching the definition of ‘fun’ to its limit.

My aunt’s a big fan of cricket as well as a big supporter of the Indian cricket team. Credit to her, she’s managed to sustain this interest in spite of staying outside the country for more than thirty years. New Zealand (and Auckland in particular) loves its cricket. The Indian diaspora there have been fairly cricket-crazy, and they’ve been closely attached to NZ cricket ever since Glenn Turner married a Punjaban and settled down there (and she went on to become a Mayor of some town as well). As a result, every visit of the Indian cricket team to New Zealand is a pretty big deal for people there. With the advent of the Indian Premier League, a lot of talk shows have had discussions about how cricket has started displacing Rugby as a lucrative career option due to the opportunities in India!

A friend of my aunt knew someone who knew someone, which allowed him to go and visit the team which went there early this year. This was around six in the evening, and the only person he managed to catch up with was V. V. S. Laxman. Laxman, tells  my aunt, leads a pretty spartan and religious lifestyle, sleeping on the ground to keep his back in shape and doing pujas on a regular basis. There was speculation that the match we lost in Auckland (although we had won the series already) was in fact thrown by the guys because they had booked slots for Scuba diving and Parasailing and such stuff, but Laxman didn’t seem too keen to comment on this. When asked whether it was possible to meet any of his teammates, he said that all of them would be out partying hard, so the chances of that were extremely remote. Sehwag would be around, he guessed, but only because he was there with his family. The only person he was certain would be in his hotel room was … well, it is quite obvious … Sachin Tendulkar.

Every person who’s grown up in Bombay/ Mumbai is by default a Sachin fan (devotee, to be precise). I am one, so is my aunt and so was her friend. So naturally his discussion with Laxman led to the topic of the Master Blaster. Laxman told him the real reason why Sachin continues to be an automatic selection to the team even after two decades of playing the game at the highest level. The mere fact that Sachin is in the team gives people hope, no matter how bad they might be playing. If he is yet to bat, the ‘boys’ have the assurance that Sachin is yet to come, which allows them to play their natural game. If he gets out, they feel obliged to play for Sachin as his desire to win games for the team continues to be infectious and unmatched. Laxman talked of how Dhoni has always maintained that he doesn’t mind being given a squad of youngsters without any seniors for ‘advice’ or ‘guidance’ with one exception – Sachin has to be a part of every squad. Sachin is not just the run-getter, he’s the rallying point, the morale-booster. The sentiments of the entire nation are mirrored in the team, clearly. He talked of how Sachin still feels bad about not being picked for the West Indies tour in 1989-90 because the selectors felt he would ‘get hurt by the fast bowling’ (Sachin apparently cried like a baby when given this excuse. He was just sixteen then, so his reaction is quite understandable). And he found it laughable (demonstrating it with a loud laugh) that people raised doubts about Sachin’s commitment and motivation. Laxman talked of things we have discussed and contemplated during extensive sessions of armchair coaching, and it feels nice to receive validation from a source so very, very special like him.

Some people consider this to be a bad thing – the fact that even after twenty years, a country of a billion individuals has been unable to come up with even one worthy replacement. But given that it’s taken us ages to get an Olympic gold medal, I think we need to put our sporting achievements in perspective and stop being so harsh on ourselves. Also, we need to realize that Sachin is a once-in-a-lifetime / once-in-a-generation player. So maybe we should do ourselves a favour by simply marveling at our good fortune at having been a part of ‘the generation when Sachin played.’

Note: All those people reading this post right now who are already brushing it off by calling it ‘just another crazy fan’s mad ravings’, all I have to say is – well, nothing much other, really. ‘Guilty as charged’, for one. ‘I know who you are, and it’s never too late to join the club,’ for another.

Written by sujaybedekar

October 13, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Social Networking?

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I’m yet to decide whether I am glad or dejected because I haven’t been tagged in any of the viral things doing the rounds on Facebook these days – Wall photos, 25 things you didn’t know about me, songs which come to my mind first when I read this and other Notes. What I am fairly certain about, though, is how highly irritating these things have turned out to be. I find myself torn between 2 extreme emotions: despair at having my notifications page being bombarded with random alerts, and an intense urge to find out who is the sluttiest person in each of my acquaintances’ friend circles.

What is most irritating, especially about all the random lists people generate, is that most of the things people include are solely meant to be cute/funny and hence end up being quite unreal. I would be very interested in knowing if, for example, someone colour-coded his underpants to work, or things which turned people on (and off). But telling me that you like taking long walks or that you do/don’t cry that often is just a criminal waste of cyberspace. As a mark of protest, here’s my list of things (in no particular order) which I find quite irritating –

1. People who talk about themselves all the time, only to pause and let you talk about them. This can be especially irritating when you want to talk about yourself.

2. People who don’t follow loo etiquette. As if it isn’t scary enough that foot tapping while getting epiphanies can have risqué implications, it can be quite pathetic when people make small talk out of plain relief (no pun intended) or just to dispel uncomfortable silences. This includes saying stuff like ‘I’m so awesome’ on making surprising discoveries. (People also have a tendency to say the most ridiculous/scandalous things in office restrooms – it’s almost like they forget that they still are in office and can very easily be overheard).

3. (Picking up from the previous point) – People who find it absolutely essential to dispel uncomfortable silences. Uncomfortable silences have a very specific purpose in life – to make people uncomfortable and shut them up at the same time. Breaking them, then, is just plain unnecessary.

4. People who ask redundant questions – ‘Ooh did that hurt?‘ after stepping on your foot. ‘I’m sorry am I blocking your view?‘ after coming late to a cinema hall and ambling along to their seats with their eyes glued to the screen. ‘What do you think?‘ after having already decided to buy something and asking for a second opinion just to give you the illusion of relevance.

5. People screwing up their grammar. I know, this might sound a bit finicky, but when someone says ‘I forgotted …‘, what is said thereafter gets, well, forgotted. Or ‘No I didn’t gone.‘ Or ‘I does not do this.’ Or ‘He catched it so well.‘ Mildly irritating.

6. People who screw up my name. I’ve had a wide range of people from Credit card call centre representatives to Rating Agency helpdesk individuals giving me advice on how to pronounce and/or spell my name. How tough is it to accept that someone can be named Sujay and not Sanjay, Sujoy, Suja or (this I swear I am NOT making up) Suagy? How in god’s name do you even pronounce the last one?

7. Pseudo-secularists, because they are full of BS. And armchair critics, because their purpose of existence is as mysterious, if not more, than slugs and bedbugs.

8. Arabic football commentators. I went through the entire 1998 Football World Cup telecast on the (then) newly-launched Ten Sports channel genuinely believing that the ‘experts’ on TV had all been infected by the same strain of strep which made them cough/clear their throats while talking. And they had a very irritating habit of yelling Goaaal GOaaal GOAaaal GOAAAAL! in an infinite loop when … obvious. Same goes for Latin American commentators who shout ‘GOLAASO’ ‘GOOLAAASO’ with a similar passion and sense of urgency.

9. Indian cricket commentators. And Pakistani ones too. ‘Nuff said.

10. The new FB interface. It is not just irritating – it is quite crappy.

11. Over-exuberance.

12. Tomato skin. I’ve talked about this before in great detail.

13. Babies who cry in cinema halls. And parents who act like their kids will shut up if they are ignored. Kids cry because they need attention. Makes you revisit the principles of Idiocracy every single time.

14. Having to explain jokes, especially those which aren’t meant to be classics and have a very, very short shelf life (i.e. bad ones). I go through this particular agony almost every day.

15. People who oppose something (a team, an idea, anything) you support just to have a stand (or to piss you off). I refuse to argue with someone who argues for the sake of arguing.

16. Honking at red lights. There might very well be some deep-rooted pyschological/Freudian explanations for this phenomenon, but there is no doubt that this can get mighty irritating.

17. Atheists who are atheists because it is cool to be one. For that matter, anyone who is something just because it makes her cooler. Although for atheists, I think most of the times they are (as a thumb rule) a little bit irritating anyway. Same goes for PETAmaniacs.

18. French footballers and Australian cricketers. I have no rational justification for this, though.

19. People who post ‘Sorry for not blogging in a long time …’ or ‘Blogging has been slow because …’. Seriously, the world has existed and will continue to exist without your contributions to cyber-literature.

20. People who add unnecessary points to lists just to have a ‘nice’ number of entries.

(This list is not exhaustive and is likely to swell with the passage of time. The round number of entries right now is purely coincidental, and doesn’t contradict point # 20. )

Written by sujaybedekar

March 26, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Jai Ho!

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The Oscars last year were, apparently, the worst Oscars ever (Here are John Oliver and Stephen Colbert making fun of the host Jon Stewart for hosting the biggest show that nobody watched). Look at who the nominees were for the best picture last year – Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton and There Will Be Blood. All are movies which would neither set your pulse (hearts?) racing,  nor would they make you sigh in fond nostalgia. The winner ended up being No Country For Old Men which, as I have confessed before, I didn’t quite understand. Yawn!

The nominations this year had all the makings of a proper snorefest. There is the Benjamin Button movie whose concept is as interesting as a new toy is to a toddler; then there’s Frost/Nixon, which is a fairly irrelevant movie about old crooked American politicians who no one really cares about; Milk, which is your customary gay Oscar nomination; and The Reader, which is your customary art movie which no one but the nominators have seen.

Just to tie up loose ends, the Academy left out The Dark Knight from the Best Picture and Best Director noms. But then, probably because there is a God up there who has a soft corner for the Academy, they had the brilliant idea of picking Slumdog Millionaire.

Now let me be clear – I do not wish to imply that SDM is a bad movie; au contraire, it is a fairly well-made, well-edited and well-directed movie with enough stereotypes to appeal to a foreign audience while also containing enough controversy to engage the Indian public (Previous thoughts here). I am very tempted to give the Academy the benefit of doubt on this one – maybe they actually did like the movie. But the fact remains that SDM is not really an obvious Oscar choice. It involves the triumph of hope and destiny over all circumstances, a theme one gets to see in every third Hollywood movie. (Ed: maybe SDM is the ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ of  this year – another movie which I’ve never been sufficiently motivated to watch). I also doubt how much of a clout the film’s Brit-producers had while lobbying for the movie. Also, I do not believe that SDM is a better movie than The Dark Knight, leave aside Kung Fu Panda or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Anyhoo, by giving SDM nominations by the dozen (ten, to be precise), the Oscar-folks have ensured that viewership is not going to be a moot point whatsoever. People will wake up at 6 in the morning if they have to to watch ‘their movie’ win. They will cheer wholeheartedly when Rehman and Gulzar get the nude statues (never quite understood why they are nude, btw) and will be elated because of the belated redemption we will have finally received – it will be ‘the recognition we always deserved but never got’. Lagaan was nominated for Best Foreign Film, and look at the hype it generated. This will happen because –

1. We watch anything on TV as long as there is a possibility of bringing in national pride and honour into the picture. (Actually, we watch anything on TV. If you add ‘India’ and ‘winning against all odds’ to the mix, then we will watch it in droves. Also,

2. We are unapologetically (is that a word?) partial to anything or anyone Indian.

When a billion people think alike, the impact can be quite staggering. It can ensure that the 2003 Cricket World Cup becomes the largest money-spinner for the ICC when the Indian team reached the final against all odds. It is also why a first-round exit for India made the 2007 Cricket World Cup a complete flop – I personally know people who had planned a Caribbean cruise which was to coincide with some of the matches but which they canceled once India crashed out. It ensures why the Miss World/ Miss Universe/ Mrs. World pageants are so successful in India – it almost excuses giving away the crown to someone who doesn’t know that ‘people who live on in my heart’ do not count as people alive, or to someone who goes and marries an arbit prince just to satisfy a childhood fantasy (ok that is probably a wee bit mean). It is the reason why we nostalgically remember Bhanu Athaiya winning the Oscar ages ago for ‘Gandhi’, although less than a handful of us really know what he (she?) has done otherwise in life.

Anyway, remind me to wake up at 6.30 am (IST) on 23-Feb. That’s all I wanted to say, really.

Written by sujaybedekar

February 5, 2009 at 1:28 pm

I proud to be Indian

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There’s this thing people keep talking about called momentum. School kids are quick to define it as “m x v bar” and get done with it. Sports commentators, however, go on and on about how important a factor it is, apart from luck, form and ability (in that order). And after watching yesterday’s IPL T20 Mumbai Indians v/s Chennai Super Kings match, I think I can safely say –

Master and the Mauler

The performance by Mumbai was almost faultless. It was, to quote Ravi Shastri (and I apologize rightaway and in advance too) a good toss to win. As expected, Mumbai decided to field first. Shaun Pollock gave a masterclass (4-1-9-1) in how to bowl in the right areas with the pitch having something in it for those willing to bend their backs. He showed why bowlers like him and McGrath are like wine – they age with time and only get better as the years go by’. He also debunked the theory that people should retire once they are past their prime, because clearly, form is temporary, class is permanent. The ‘special one’ from Delhi – Ashish Nehra – was not too bad either. The Dhawal Kulkarni kid bowled well too, except for the last over where the occasion got to him and he showed that he needed some more experience. But in hindsight, it was a good thing that Chennai got to 150.

What followed next was pure magic. Entertainment of the highest order. I remember reading somewhere about Sanath Jayasuriya’s admiration for Sachin Tendulkar, and he mentioned after the match how reassuring it was to have someone like Sachin at the other end. The sixes he hit (eleven in all) so easily with those treetrunk-like arms went longer than just into the crowd – they justified why Mukesbhai was willing to rely so much on his ability that he shelled out $900,000 for him. They also validated why he was considered to be the best opening batsmen in the subcontinent (and possibly the world) for a very long time.

At the risk of sounding cheesy and so very Tendlya-obsessed, I must say that it was Sachin who made all the difference. There was a certain confidence in the team, the way they stuck to the plan, how they fielded well and batted brilliantly. This could not have come from anywhere else but their el Kapitan. His mere presence was like a tonic for all the Men in Blue.

I hark back to the 1998 series in Sharjah v/s Australia when Sachin played what was probably his best ODI innings ever. I remember Tony Greig going bonkers in the commentator’s box and gushing over and over – “Oh what a player. What a fantastic player.” It’s more that ten years (!) since that happened, but the admiration for Sachin has not dimmed one bit. ‘Soorya’ is 38 right now, and it seems like he could easily play for a decade more. Maybe Sachin’s (he’s only 34 :P) resolve to play in the next World Cup (in 2011 IN INDIA!) is not as unrealistic as some people are so eager to say. Here’s hoping that he plays on and on, and that the Indians keep on winning! 🙂

Written by sujaybedekar

May 15, 2008 at 11:54 am

Posted in cricket

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