Saturday, May 23, 2009
I thought: wow. Is this possible? Is Murali really actually made of that much awesome?
Then. Raina. Two sixes.
Then. Murali. A six.
Vijay Mallya. Jumping up and about with his cronies.
Blood pressure. Fuming. I don't like this. Do you hear? I DON'T LIKE THIS.
Jacob Oram for the penultimate over, 12 runs to get. Have you gone terminally crazy Dhoni?
First ball. Full toss above the waist, hell, below the chin - no ball. Four. Possibly a six.
That was a yorker in which alternate universe, Jacob?
7 runs to get in 2 overs.
Through to the finals to slug it out with Deccan.
There were people going about how great it was that the entire Southern Brigade was in the semis, but I would much rather have us losing to Mumbai, Delhi, Punjab, whatever, rather than Bangalore.
Bangalore vs Hyderabad in the final. Just how wrong is that?
I predicted this all along but I'm so pissed off I don't even know anymore.
Damn you, Dhoni.
Bull shit. 'Nuff said.
Also, am at home to watch the second semifinal. Chennai vs Bangalore, live. Bring it on!
Chennai have never looked like champions this tournament and I'm frankly surprised that they've made it this far. Absolutely pathetic.
Bangalore on the other hand have also never looked like champions (quite frankly, only Delhi ever did, and we all know now what happened to them), but at least they haven't served up pathetic like Chennai has. And Anil Kumble is on a wild high. And their fielders can actually catch . That's something.
Let's see if the Men in Startlingly Bright Yellow can get their act together at least this time and put all their hands up in a convincing win that belies their run so far in the tournament.
... What? I totally support Chennai. I just believe in tough love.
Also came across an interesting interview of Albie Morkel and he talks about the dressing room team song.... written by Stephen Fleming and George Bailey. I mean, WTF? (I would love to hear it)
I was talking about this to a friend of mine. She was confused. "Don't they already have a team song? I mean, Chennai, Chennai Super -- "
"Nope this is different. Dressing room stuff. Top secret."
A small pause, before, "Oh. Makes total sense. An excellent idea."
"Yeah, I mean, what if one of them gets lost or something? It's like one of those old movies where long lost brothers find each other by humming the same song. Nifty stuff."
"Yeah, seriously!" She began to get excited. "Picture this: Dhoni all alone, lost in South Africa, humming the song, and somebody like Albie Morkel happens to hear it, he'll know, right? And then he'll come rushing and go --"
"Emmmm Esssss!" we crowed together, and found coherence through laughter only thirteen minutes and 56 seconds later.
Yes, I'm totally mature and I keep totally mature company, I know. As if you hadn't figured that out already from how mature this blog is.
Friday, May 22, 2009
This IPL, it's a fascinating thing. Even miles from the nearest TV (a sad, sad fact that I never have and never will stop harping about) this year's tournament has had me just as captivated, annoyed, tired and wishing greatly for a shiny scythe and magical teleportation abilities to South Africa (or maybe just a couple of free plane tickets. And NO WITNESSES.) The Internet is there, sure, there's the online commentary, there're the wonderful blogs to read, and even when that's not available, there's my mobile phone and the meagre updates that it can provide, like little crumbs I can pop into my mouth and savour. Somehow, following the IPL from a distance has made it even more enjoyable, where I'm not wearied by the cricket, by the hype, or by the incessant prattling of the billion news channels and the zillion match 'preview and analysis' shows. No greater joy than eagerly seeking out match news with like-minded friends in between classes, after finishing this test, while preparing for that exam.
And 'sides, it makes the actual few times that I get to see live cricket all that much sweeter.
I've seen/read/heard a lot of complaints, taunts and general bullshitting about the commentary, but honestly? I think I'm enjoying it. Seriously. Aside from the annoying sponsor-name-whoring, I don't think it's any different at all from what I usually hear. But then again, I've been brought up as cricket fan on a diet of supreme mediocrity from Neo Sports and related channels. I have never once been able to escape the horrors of Rameez Raja, Arun Lal, Ranjit Fernando, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Aamir Sohail et al.... so yeah. I'ma gonna take what I ca' get.
Like Danny Morrison. Lord, do I love his accent. Half the time I don't even listen to what he's saying. Even when he's horribly mauling Sri Lankan names. :-D
Anyhow, the IPL has finally finished with its league phase, and the semifinals are here.
Time for a brief set of reflections and recriminations.
First off, MUMBAI. Mumbai, Mumbai, Mumbai. HOW. How could you do this to me. Several times before and during the tournament I had pegged MI to be the champions this year because they just seemed so right to me on so many counts. In terms of team balance, in terms of form and performance, reserves and support staff, they looked - and still do - like a stable and strong squad, well and truly capable of taking the IPL by storm. The cool, well-planned and efficient way they defeated Chennai in the first match of the tournament only seemed to reaffirm that for me.
Then what did they do?
Why, they proceeded to choke, choke, choke, and then choke one more time, lose a series of matches they really ought not to have lost, and then ended up not qualifying for the semifinals, finishing only ahead of the pathetic Kolkata Knightriders.
So yeah, thanks for nothing, Sachin.
Secondly, I will never cease marvelling at Deccan's and Bangalore's amazing turnaround of fortunes this year. After ending up at the very bottom of last year's table, these two teams have ended up in this year's semifinal lineup, and it didn't take any radical changes to their team to do it this time, either. Deccan started off strongly before channelling their inner Chennai to waver a bit, lose and win an odd game here and there, and finally end up doing just enough to qualify for the semis.
As for Bangalore, Mr. Kumble, who are you and what have you done with the real Bangalore Royal Challengers, huh?
Thirdly, Delhi. 10 wins out of 14 matches, super-strong batting, a bowling attack so good they can afford to bench somebody like Glenn McGrath, razor-sharp fielding, and most importantly, that extra bit of luck, that innate champions' mojo that's seen them through most tight situations. Favourites for the trophy, right?
Maybe. I can't really bring myself to care. Maybe it's because I've been to Delhi once, and my memories of the city aren't great. Maybe it's my inherent dislike of AB deVilliers, Dinesh Kaarthick and Dirk Nannes (don't ask me why, I have no idea), I dunno.
But I am glad VirunGauti are back in action - at last. Bodes well for the national team in the upcoming World T20.
Fourthly, CHENNAI! Lord, for all that I love and support the Super Kings, they've managed to infuriate me like nothing else has for the last month. First off, the muddled thinking when it came to the bowling. The fact that Dhoni very conveniently managed to forget certain bowlers in his XI (hello, Shadab Jakati!), the fact that Gony was being almost mindlessly persisted with, the fact that Morkel seemed to wilt under pressure almost each and every time, the fact that Balaji's death bowling would come apart in the most inopportune moments, the fact that Muralitharan wasn't performing upto expectations nearly as much as one would want him to, considering he's the one quality international specialist bowler in the eleven... all that added up to the weakest bowling attack in the IPL.
A weak bowling attack that never ceased to slap you upside the head with its performance from match to match.
From bowling out Bangalore for 87 and keeping Punjab to just 92 for 8 in 20, to utterly failing to defend 188 runs against the most pathetic team in the tournament (that match had my blood pressure off the charts, it did) and nearly making a meal of defending 185 against Punjab before the Preternaturally Awesome Raina bailed us out... it was quite a ride. And this was without somebody like Makhaya Ntini getting a lookin.
That's not to mention the fielding, which, hello. Not. even. worth. talking. about. I'll say this though: after Bangalore's finished whupping our asses this Saturday, it'll be those dropped catches and stuttering ground fielding that'll come to haunt the Men in Startlingly Bright Yellow, and no amount of "it was pathetic" and "we're repeating our mistakes" from Dhoni will do anything to change the final results.
The batting's not too tough to figure out: it had Hayden as the centre of its little personal universe, with Raina being the other shining beacon. Dhoni took some time to kick off, but did hit form somewhere in the middle. However, even his most successful outings in the centre came in partnership with either Raina or Hayden, which meant that our famed lower middle order turned out to be a Big Flop, with neither Morkel or Oram living up to expectations. I had Albie pegged as Chennai's go-to man before the tournament - things have unfortunately panned out otherwise. Obviously I should cross out "oracle" and "bookie" from my list of future career options (what, you can totally become an oracle after completing your medical degree!)
Badri had his moments, and I am just so impressed with and excited for Suresh Raina. His consistency with the bat this tournament has been wonderful, and he totally should've become the first Indian centurion in the IPL if it had not been for that stupid scoreboard in Centurion (hello, irony!). And his bowling? Wow! The part-timers have been burning it up this tournament. I mean to say, hat-trick to Rohit Sharma? Two hat-tricks to Yuvraj Singh?? Unbelievable.
Despite all the things that nagged me about CSK, they did manage to qualify for the semis in second place. We always had somebody or the other stand up for the team - in ways big or small - when it really mattered, and once they get their selection matters sorted out in a clearer way (read: select Ravichandran Ashwin some more!) we might actually have a very realistic chance to turn the ass-whupping tables on Bangalore in the semifinal this Saturday.
But hey, Dhoni obviously hasn't lost his captaincy mojo, and in the end, that may be all that matters.
Oh, Rajasthan... how the mighty do fall! From last year's champions to not qualifying for the semis this time round... I always did know the entry of The Shetty was going to do no good. That said, however good a captain Warne is, there're some gaps that can't be filled, and Tanvir and Watson did leave some pretty large gaps in the Rajasthan scheme of things.
As for Kolkata Knightriders and Kings XI Punjab, I really couldn't give a damn about either
team. Except to say that I do like most of KKR's players, and therefore, strangely, took a great amount of pleasure in witnessing their self-destructive spiralling through the tournament, before staging a mini-renaissance toward the end that turned out to be too little, too late.
Fifthly, the under-19 players in the tournament. Hearing that Mangal, oops, sorry, Manish Pandey had hit the first Indian century of the IPL (who'd've thunk, huh?) made me rack my brains about where I had heard that name before, until it came to me: from the victorious Indian outfit that had won the Under-19 world cup last year! For all that I dislike the team, I gotta appreciate Bangalore's insistence on playing its younger dudes. Virat Kohli, Sreevats Goswami, Manish Pandey... and then there's people like Jaskaran Singh and Ravi Teja for Hyderabad, Ravindra Jadeja, Kamran Khan and others for Rajasthan, and Pradeep Sangwan for Delhi... these are the youngsters who've been backed by their respective teams and been performing more often than not. That's why it distresses me that Chennai don't follow a similar policy - leaving aside whether they can afford to or not - that they sent away their two U-19 players - Abhinav Mukund and Napoleon Einstein - before the tournament had even started. Which is why I'm desperate for the further inclusion of someone like Ashwin and/or Vijay. I'd like more Tamil Nadu players to cheer for, alright, Dhoni?
... Oookay. This ramble has gone on long enough. I'll be going home this weekend - just in time to catch the second semifinal and the final, ha ha - so I expect to be blogging a bit about those two games. Looking forward to an exciting end to a memorable tournament.
Head says Delhi, heart – as always – says Chennai. Lessee.
And somebody please shoot Mandira Bedi. With a tranquiliser gun at least, if not the real thing.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
At first I thought it was the picture of a grotesquely malformed infant with some serious hormone imbalance issues.
It was only a couple of seconds later that I realised it was Andrew Symonds sans dreadlocks.
I might be mentally scarred for life here, people.