Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Victory to the socially-conscious

Y'know, I was jumping up and down for joy and ready to make a deliriously delighted post about India's Totally Awesome victory at Durban, until Dhoni made a very curious comment, right toward the end of the post-match presentation. He said, (paraphrased slightly) "We will party tonight, but will not get drunk."

This team is not only awesome, but also socially conscious. Huh.

But really, I think it's just a reference to the last time they won a match in SA, 4 years ago. I heard they celebrated so hard they actually had to pay for damages done to the dressing room.


What a win! Laxman! Zaheer! Sreesanth! Bhajji! The whole frickin' lot of 'em! I was a little dubious about the amount of difference Zaheer's return was supposed to make to our limp-as-lettuce-in-a-McDonald's-burger bowling attack, but the important thing seems to be that they believed it. I don't know how much of the impact was psychological and how much of it was strategic, but it worked, and everything turned out to be - wait for it - awesome.

One of the things I adored was that right after I make a post about the SSD/NUD dynamic, Laxman and Zaheer pull together a fabulous SSD/NUD themselves in a match-winning partnership. Laxman is just becoming a second-innings go-to guy, and I adore him except for the unfortunate fact that he keeps instigating some of the worst cricketing cliches: shots that are "caressed", somehow managing to be "smooth as silk", yet "precise as a surgeon's knife" at the same time. God.

So here's a cliche I do like: never-say-die. These guys don't roll over after being kicked to the ground. They take what luck comes their way, don't whine when it doesn't (well, they do try), and give their best. I'm proud of you guys. Congratulations, and all the best for the next one.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The art of 'protecting' a tailender

You know how it goes.

The match is at a crucial stage - you're 7, maybe 8 wickets down with a few sessions still lift to play - more likely to save the match than win it, but you're willing to count a draw as a victory. So you're the Settled Specialist Dude (SSD) over there, and the guy who comes out to partner you is notoriously unreliable.

What do you do?

I've seen a lot of batsmen consistently refuse singles in the first few balls of the over, while the opposition captain spreads out the field, saying, come on dude, single ready when you want it. Around the fourth ball the batsman begins to get testy. Can the Notoriously Unreliable Dude (NUD) survive two balls? Is it okay for me to take a single here? The field begins to come in again, and the SSD is pushed into a corner. Fifth ball, SSD's all, shall I go for it now? No no, no need to take a risk now, there's still one ball left. And when the sixth ball is coming 'round, he's sweating bullets. The NUD is grinning at the other end, already dreaming of ensuing batting heroics, and the SSD sees the grin and is doubly nervous. The opposition closes in like a shark with blood in the water, and so the bowler barrels in with the last delivery of the over...

I've seen this more often than not with the Indian team. The one NUD that I remember actually lives up to his name is Zaheer Khan. For instance, in the current match against SA, Dhoni's at one end, and facing Morkel. He plays off four balls and takes a single off the fifth. Just one ball, right? Turns out he forgot one of the fundamental truths of cricket: you might spend several deliveries planning and scheming through your innings, but it takes only one to make them all useless. One ball, and Zaheer was out.

Ishant came in, and Dhoni sighed, screw this and took a single off the second ball to let Ishant face the rest of the over. And he survived.

The NUD/SSD dynamic rarely works for this team. I remember a couple of successes, namely: Dhoni and Sreesanth at Lord's working with the weather to save a match we really ought to have lost, and Laxman and Ishant at Mohali pulling off a Totally Awesome Win out of nowhere.


As I type, Dhoni gets out after a fighting 35. India 205/9, likely to be 205 all out soon enough as two NUDs conference before one of them takes strike.

Dale Steyn barrels in...

EDIT OF SUPREME AWESOMENESS: Zaheer and Harbhajan have gotten hold of some serious mojo: SA are 104/8 now, and completely on the mat. Somebody pinch me, please.

EDIT OF WTFery: So we dismissed them for 131, and promptly slump to 48/3 after being 42/0. Two wickets to Lonwabo Tsotosobe. All right, people. What the hell? At this rate, Dhoni might find himself ending the day at the crease, just as he started the day.

EDIT OF WHAT-THE-HELL-IS-GOING-ON-HERE: Wicket no. 18 of day 2 falls as Sachin is snapped up by Steyn. 56/4. I think SA and India are trying to go one-up on each other in pure batting ineptitude. Screw the swing, pace, bounce, all that bull shit - we are better than this! Lead is just one hundred and thirty runs and if we don't get some spine soon all of Bhajj's and Zak's efforts will have come to naught!

Hooooly shit.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

So here's what happened.

Dhoni out for 90. His previous innings? Out for 98.

Who was his partner both times? Sachin Tendulkar, and both times he went on to score a century.

Clearly, Dhoni has somehow, supernaturally perhaps, transferred Sachin's 90s jinx onto himself. I understand as a captain you sacrifice a lot for your team, but this might be too much, yeah?

(Either that, or Shane Watson has done some kind of trans-continental Jinx Transference).

Jokes apart, this is the beginning of the end. Even as I type, Harbhajan falls, and India are 8 down. We are going to lose, but at least we put up a fight and Dhoni and Tendulkar were twelve billion flavours of Awesome.

We could take inspiration from Australia, who came back from the edge of ignominy to soundly thrash England (there's a lot of sadistic pleasure to be derived from that piece of imagery, especially given one couldn't open something cricket-related online over the last week without an Englishman tooting his horn) at Perth, levelling the Ashes 1-1. There's hope yet!

One last wish before this match goes up in a puff of smoke: I hope Sreesanth isn't dispirited enough to not repeat his 2006 antics, viz., doing the pelvis-thrusting, bat-spinning Dance of Awesome after hitting a six.

(... where's Andre Nel when you need him? ... )

EDIT: Bad light's stopped play! \o/ We stand at 454/8, Sree and Sachin batting.

I shall now search frantically through my handbook on Rain-Summoning Rituals. There's got to be something here that has international effects, right? *flips*

Also, I have to say: I haven't had this much fun watching a day of Test cricket since the halcyon days of India's '07-'08 tour of Australia. That series was gold, and got me hooked to Test cricket for LIFE.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oh, lord.

South Africa have scored 200+ runs in the first session.

Two hundred runs... !

Surely - although I wouldn't have imagined the likes of Ishant, Sreesanth and Unadkat matching up to Steyn, Morkel and Kallis - we can't have bowled as badly as all that?

Except we did, and it hurts.

I'll put together a more coherent post later, but right now? SA 640/4 dec (WTF my brain's short-circuiting) and Sehwag and Gambhir are out there, and scoring boundaries. Get the adrenaline pumpin', boys. Save some face.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Three things

1. Who in the world is Michael Beer?

I'm reminded of my up-ended jigsaw-puzzle analogy (because I'm self-obsessed like that). What's next? Warney's Sunday drinking buddy?

2. Why, thank you, Gauti. We must all bask in Ashwin's awesomeness. *basks*

(Are you listening to/reading this, CSK? You can always replace Vijay any old day, but not Ashwin! Hold on to the man and release Vijay! Come on, now!)

3. I thought I could go to the match yesterday, I really did. I had an exam in the afternoon, but once I finished that, I thought, hey, I could go home and take up my friend's offer (an open invitation to the match, because he's awesome like that).

I checked the score once the exam finished: NZ 103 all out. I rechecked after I got home: India 52/2.

Not much point in going after that.

(but it didn't rain, which I'm willing to count as a miracle, because just a week ago this city was almost drowning in a torrential downpour that lasted for more than 2 days).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Still on the Ashes

I thought there was nothing funnier than Kevin Pietersen hitting a double-century in Australia against Australia, before I rediscovered this little gem:

A little out-dated, but still priceless!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The absolute pinnacle atop the pinnacle of... something.

So. Let's talk Ashes, shall we?

Today was the first day of the first Test, in Brisbane. Peter Siddle got three wickets in three balls - Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad, causing me much delight, because, dude, fabulously hand-picked victims - and England ended up folding for 260. The Australian openers sauntered to a cool 25/0 before stumps, and look nicely poised for a team that got whitewashed by a team that struggled to win against a team that got whitewashed by the lowest ranked Test team in the world.


I'm not going to talk about what actually happened at the 'Gabba today because I didn't see it and there are more well-informed observers who can tell you all about it. Today, I decided, I was going to get to the bottom of this whole Ashes shindig. Someone asked me the other day what the Ashes was really all about - I'm suddenly considered an authority on cricket in my university, it's crazy, especially when I stand there blinking when their questions get too technical, because my expertise in the technicalities extend only to extricating myself out of the tangled mess of another Ravi Shastri metaphor - and I had to admit that all I knew was that it had something to do with England, Australia, Test cricket, a teeny-tiny urn containing the burnt remains of an old stump, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and a LOT of empty bravado.

But not much else, really.

For the shame!

So it was that I decided to do a bit of research.

As is the (very unprofessional) norm, I looked it up on Wikipedia. This is what it had to say:

The Ashes is a Test cricket series played between England and Australia. It is international cricket's most celebrated rivalry and dates back to 1882. It is currently played biennially, alternately in the United Kingdom and Australia. Cricket being a summer sport, and the venues being in opposite hemispheres, the break between series alternates between 18 and 30 months. A series of "The Ashes" comprises five Test matches, two innings per match, under the regular rules for Test match cricket. If a series is drawn then the country already holding the Ashes retains them.

The series is named after a satirical obituary published in a British newspaper, The Sporting Times, in 1882 after a match at The Oval in which Australia beat England on an English ground for the first time. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The English media dubbed the next English tour to Australia (1882–83) as the quest to regain The Ashes.


The urn is erroneously believed by some to be the trophy of the Ashes series, but it has never been formally adopted as such and Bligh always considered it to be a personal gift. Replicas of the urn are often held aloft by victorious teams as a symbol of their victory in an Ashes series, but the actual urn has never been presented or displayed as a trophy in this way. Whichever side holds the Ashes, the urn normally remains in the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum at Lord's since being presented to the MCC by Bligh's widow upon his death.

Since the 1998–99 Ashes series, a Waterford Crystal representation of the Ashes urn has been presented to the winners of an Ashes series as the official trophy of that series.

Ah ha! So Douglas Adams got it wrong, did he? That sorry little urn does not contain the Ashes of the Wooden Pillar of the Wicket Gate! I feel like my teenage years have been violated.

So much fuss for this? It reminds me of a once-renowned clique trying to maintain illusions of their ~exclusivity~ and relevance in a world that's moved on and doesn't really give two shits anymore. Damn Indian money and eyeballs, we are still the most important things in this sport! So let's milk this tradition for all it's worth, even if we are playing for a tiny fake urn every two years!

Y'know, this can be a good thing, too. It's amusing to see/hear people compare any decent rivalry in international cricket to the Ashes (Ashes marketing dudes need to take classes), and occasionally these two teams produce sensational contests. I watched highlights of the Ashes '05 a couple of years back, and it isn't possible for me to love cricket any more than I did while watching them. It was the cricketing equivalent of rainbows and bunnies and unicorns. Of course, after that, I watched the Ashes '09, and that was the cricket-equivalent of a three-week long Pharmacology lecture. Like watching Rahul Dravid on freakin valium. God.

Probably the most amusing thing is the testosterone-sloshing, uh, I mean, the 'verbal duels' before the series. Because, lord, it is funny. Everybody builds it up so much that when somebody farts during an Ashes Test, it's a special fart, because, you know, it's THE Ashes.

The contest for the tiny fake urn has started off well this year. I eagerly await more amusement, and hopefully, some great cricket.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Cricket, Dhoni is smarter than you.

I'm still alive, still watching cricket, still keeping up with it online. After watching the third day's play against NZ I came across this article that reminded me just why I hate reading about cricket online these days:

He doesn't normally flick; he drags. He doesn't drive fluently; he shoves. He doesn't cut; he chops. He doesn't sweep; he hammers. He doesn't lean forward; he lunges. He doesn't defend; he stabs. He doesn't swing to the on side; he muscles and heaves. He doesn't upper cut; he carves. His most famous shot is the helicopter-whirl - a bottom-handed twirl that sends full deliveries from outside off to screaming fans beyond long-on. Even genial farmers might take offense if you call him agricultural, so we shall stick to natural. Is he effective? You bet he is, as he showed today.


A moment arrived, soon, which captured his style of batting perfectly: he opened the bat-face and steered a Tim Southee delivery that straightened after being angled in between the keeper and wide slip. It wasn't an edge. What wasn't clear was whether it was just a late adjustment to the straightening of the delivery or if he had the gap in mind? Dhoni often leaves you similarly confused about his intentions behind a shot. Often, there were cries of "catch it" from the New Zealanders when Dhoni hit them in the air, but it invariably climbed over a fielder or flew through a gap.

"Lunge". "Bunt". "Whip". Aeeeesthetically pleasing. Dear Sir. I want to watch you carressss that through the off-side as I sit here and primly drink my afternoon tea - with my little finger sticking out - ah! Just so!

RANDOM WRITER: Your batting is ugly!
DHONI: Oh yeah? Well... your face is ugly!

And then, Dhoni comes and rescues my mood with this:

MS Dhoni, the India captain, has said that Suresh Raina needs a break from cricket, and if he doesn't get it after the first two ODIs against New Zealand, he might have to be replaced for the first Test in South Africa, which begins on December 16.

Dhoni was specifically asked whether Raina would be replaced at Centurion by Cheteshwar Pujara or M Vijay if he didn't have a break for the last three one-day matches against New Zealand. "If he doesn't get a break in the ODI series [after the first 2 games] then you have to [replace him]," Dhoni said. "He is at a point where he needs a break from cricket."


Thursday, October 21, 2010

You know what's funny?

I missed the anniversary of this blog... again. Not that anyone aside from me cares, but yeah. For more than two years now, this little blog has been festering in its corner of cyberspace.

I've blogged even less this year than the previous one, and I wish I could blame my academic obligations for this, but the truth is that I'm kind of lazy, and I'm sick of ferreting opinion on cricket on the Internet - most of it is acerbic, hypocritical and completely infuriating, anyway. I just want to watch and enjoy the game - I don't give two shits if it's a Test or the IPL that I'm watching. It's all still the same damn circus, just that one form is more pretentious than the other.

So. When you visit the blog, you pretty much know what you're going to get, don't you? I make no pretensions about myself or my writing. This is pure armchair snark and fangirling - the lowest strata of cricket blogging out there, I know, and I'm perfectly happy with that. No heavily-worded tl;dr analysis over here, thank you very much.

But recently I've found that fangirling? A pretty tough thing to do, especially when it comes to cricket, because, quite clearly, it frequently hates its fans.

For one, much of cricket itself is tl;dw - it practically begs tl;dr in response. I think it's one of the things that attracted me to this sport in the first place. There is nothing I love more than rambling and ruminating and debating minutiae - and cricket lends itself rather beautifully to that purpose. There is such a wealth of time - you can dock away a whole day to watch a match and give yourself to the ebbs and flows of the game; much like well-crafted drama, a game that might have been quiescent, coasting smoothly to a seemingly pre-destined result, a single moment of brilliance and/or mediocrity - a flash of genius, a lapse in concentration - is enough to change the scenario drastically. The script's changed, folks, and there're no stage-whispers to help you. Can you improvise? Can you start a brand new story? It appeals to the romantic in me; makes me scream and curse and laugh, because, that? That is drama; that is joy.

And as long as I continue to find that joy, this blog will continue to grow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What needs to be done

... is to have these people who work out the scheduling and rotation of international venues in India attend a few intensive classes of ninth standard geography. Particularly: climactic changes across the peninsula, and the movement of the south-west and retreating monsoons, because, clearly, they have no idea that such things exist.

How else can you explain the three venues for the current ODI series against the Aussies? Kochi, Vishakapatnam, Goa. Three coastal cities where if the rain doesn't get you, the humidity will. I should know. Chennai is in the throes of giving its ever-suffering denizens its habitual Slow Death by Heat and Humidity. And then you complain about ceaseless rains in Kochi, and the threat of more in Vishakapatnam!

About the rest of the series? Bah. Two Test matches that got much closer than they had any right to, because both teams are staggeringly incompetent at pressing whatever advantage they get. A triumph of mediocrity. And, uh, Test cricket. Because one has to be politically correct about these things, you know.

Although, I have to say, watching Sreesanth in his latest get-up was entertaining. Like a demented version of an 80's movie hero, sans the glittery pants. Like Kamal Hassan dancing on top of Sridevi's table in a room that can't quite make up its mind if it's a discotheque, cabaret, or a mad scientist's laboratory.

But you know what's the best damn thing about the whole series? This quote from Dhoni:

After all, if taken in the right sense, we are the performers in the circus, but you need the circus to be full. It [this comment] should be taken in the right sense.
... And I'm instantly reminded just why I adore Dhoni so. Cut all the crap and get to the heart of the matter.

But I gotta say, I laughed and laughed at the "don't take this in the wrong sense" disclaimers. The poor man has gone through many a bitter experience, indeed. "At least then you a-holes won't keep twisting what I say to create controversies out of thin air. And... uh. I didn't mean that! I PROMISE!"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why India v Sri Lanka = Star Wars

Truth be told, I wanted to post something about the whole spot-fixing business, but I found it was giving me a headache. And making me overtly cynical, which is the kind of stuff I want to avoid in this blog, so maybe I'll put in my two cents when I'm able to gather my thoughts better. Or, you know, not at all.

A friend and I were having a conversation the other day (yes, it's going to be one of those posts). She was bemoaning the sorry state of the Indian ODI team ("you know, with all this experimentation, I bet they'll have Rohit Sharma and Ramesh Powar open the bowling in the World Cup"), citing the recently played final of the Micromax Cup as an example.

I pointed out that with the number of times India and Sri Lanka played each other every year, the results were going to swing both ways equally. Including the 2008 Asia Cup, India and Sri Lanka have played in five tournament finals in the last two-or-so years - the '08 Asia Cup, which Sri Lanka won, then the Compaq Cup in 2009 (I bet you'd forgotten about that, huh), which India won, then the tri-series in Bangladesh in early '10 which Sri Lanka won, then the '10 Asia Cup final, which India won, and now, the Micromax tri-series final going to Sri Lanka, as per the well-established pattern.

After a few choice words delivered at my OCD (which, you know, it totally isn't), she said, "You know, you can say all you want about patterns - and don't you dare start some pop-sociology lecture, freak - but Sri Lanka had to lose."


"Because - because they're evil."

I merely raised my eyebrows.

"Have you seen Kumara Sangakkara recently? Those little eyes - that evil smirk?"

I wanted to protest - it wasn't that long ago that I was endorsing a "brown Mr. Darcy" description of the same man - but I could see her point. "You're right. Kind of like a James Bond villain."

"Come off it." She rolled her eyes. "He isn't that stupid."


"He was a nice guy once. Kind of like-" her eyes gleamed, "-Darth Vader."

"Clearly, then," I said, "someone has got to be Palpatine. You know, the eeevil pointless villain who turns Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader."

"That's easy," she scoffed. "Mahela Jayawardene."

At this point I was practically out of my seat. "That's perfect! And Dilshan is totally General Tarkin."

"Yes! Now you're getting into it."

I was. Looking back, it was probably sinfully cathartic, but also. We were uncovering a Great Truth, so. "What about the good guys? The Jedi?"

"Pick your random Indian players," she said.

Considering the Jedi don't really exist for any purpose other than "battling" the Sith and vice versa, that made sense. "First off? Let's get Han Solo out of the way. M S Dhoni."

After a lot more choicey words about my "mile-wide bias" (which it totally isn't), it was decided that the Han Solo casting would be decided upon later. "Sachin Tendulkar," she said, "is obviously Master Yoda. Right from the size, to the English, to the nine-hundred-years-old part."

"That makes Dhoni Obi-Wan Kenobi!" I crowed.

"You do realise that makes Suresh Raina Luke Skywalker, right?"

That stopped me short, I had to admit. But hey. I could live with that, you know? "Then Han Solo is Yuvraj Singh. You know, irresponsible friend of the hero who's really, really good if he puts his head into it?"

However, when I started speculating about Chewbacca, she pretty much warned me not to broach the subject with a ten-foot pole. Huh. (Look, Harbhajan Singh would make an awesome Wookiee).

Then there was only one thing left to be determined.

"Who's Princess Leia?" she asked.

It turned out I didn't really have to think too much about that. "Ishant Sharma," I said.

India v Sri Lanka: because the Force Wills it to Be.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I can forgive one pseudo-apocalyptic collective failure in a series - even laugh it off - but two? That's just... not on.

I'm firmly under the belief I suffer from some sort of masochism.

Seriously, though, what is up with our batting? If Sehwag failed, at least there used to be Dhoni to pick up the slack. And now Dhoni - after three years at the top - is finally out of form. Who cleans up after Dhoni? Nobody, it'd seem.

Our batting line-up: now full of defunct janitors.


So, in today's match, Dhoni has created a seismic ripple in the fabric of space-time and rubbished all predictive science by winning the toss. In the team sheet, he presents exactly the same team that gave their names to be listed next to Virender Sehwag as he won the last match he played against Sri Lanka, except Yuvraj comes in for Kohli.

A wise person once told me: questions are hell of a lot more meaningful than their answers, so don't stop asking them.

a.k.a: put up a bunch of meaningless rhetoric to make yourself look clever.

Therefore, I will ask:

Why is Ravichandran Ashwin still left out of the team? Why is Ravindra Jadeja being considered a specialist bowler when he's clearly a. not a specialist bowler and b. not a good all-rounder? Why are they dragging around Ashwin without giving a single match to him? Why, is Ashwin Just That Good a twelfth man? Is there a secret art to drinks and glove/pad carrying that he's mastered? Why didn't he suck up to Dhoni enough in the IPL this year? (never fear, Ashwin, the CL is coming up next month; plenty of opportunities)

Why is Rohit Sharma playing? (this question will one day drive to spend the rest of my life in a padded room, I know it)

Has Yuvraj Singh recovered from dengue that quickly? (guess he got the mild version. good for him.)

Why is it that people now compare Randiv to Trevor Chappell?

a. Quite clearly, Randiv's delivery was illegal. Chappell's 'delivery' at the time, was perfectly legal.
b. The New Zealand batsman did the Full Histrionic Flounce, complete with throwing his bat at the ground in disgust. Sehwag just responded with a, "yeeeaah, whatever, it happens," before somebody in the dressing room showed him a video replay and hissed something in his ear.
c. Chappell did it (quite pathetically) to safeguard what was already a very-likely win (he was bowling to the tail, and they needed six off the last ball just to tie! Talk about having no faith in your own bowler). Randiv did it in a completely hopeless cause, and what appears to be a bit of petty playground spite ("waah, if I shall not have my win, he shall not have his century! So there!")

Why is everybody playing this up to be a Big Issue? Why is the Spirit of Cricket being brought in here? There is no Spirit of Cricket. The cake is a lie. Cricket isn't dead, and it isn't a spirit. It's a sport (or so we'd like to believe). A mean, competitive sport. Not one where you have to sit around and talk about life-long psychological scarring just because a dude got a couple of reprimands.

But okay. Let's say it is a big issue. Why wasn't the Almighty Match Referee not involved immediately? Isn't it his job to Safeguard the Spirit of Cricket? (*cue thunder and trumpet music*) Oh, right, because the umpires didn't report to him. What a joke.

Also, along the same lines, why was Dilshan, the player, the senior player with several years of experience in international cricket, given a lesser punishment than poor put-upon psychologically-scarred Randiv for inciting him to bowl the no-ball?

Clearly, the SLC PR dept was intercepted by desperate appeals from the team management. ("but we neeed him! Take Randiv away, it doesn't matter, but we neeeed Dilshan for the next game.")

Also, finally:

Why does Danny Morrison bear a scary resemblance to the dude who's running against Julia Gillard in the Aussie elections right now?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ha ha, what??

You have got to be kidding me.

"Stumpy"? "Stumpy"??????

What kind of name is that for a World Cup mascot???????????

What kind of cutesy, shitty name is that? You might as well have named it Krikkit's Pillar of Wood, or some such shit.

We are better than this! We really are!

*rends hair*

Thursday, July 29, 2010

IPL Aftershocks

So. A lot of people like to blame the IPL for a lot of things: you know, cricketers worrying more about where the moolah is coming from than representing their country, a footballer-esque tendency to be seen with arm-candy, the utter suckiness of the Indian team and their inability to do anything right in the last two editions of the T20 WC, corruption, the belittling of the international game, eroding the values of Test cricket, headache-inducing commentary, piss-poor broadcasting, advertising to the point of utter nausea.

Did I miss something? Oh yeah, pollution, global warming, terrorism, American Idol and pretty much every evil in the world.

BUT! There are things (if things is the word I want) that are much, much worse that tend to slip under the scanner; things that piss me off to no end.

a. Its influence on Indian selection. I don't even have to explain, just name names. Manpreet Gony. Rohit Sharma. Vinay Kumar. Sudeep Tyagi. YUSUF PATHAN.

b. The fraying of mute buttons on TV remotes all over India. Even now my finger still twitches toward that button every time I sit down to watch cricket. Damn thing hardly works anymore.

c. A deluge (and I mean tidal wave, frickin' tsunami) of IPL critics. Suddenly the IPL is responsible for everything! The tournament isn't without its many faults, but the utter acid (most of it completely gratituous and horribly pretentious) that dripped from so many "informed observers" corroded not just my laptop screen but also my ability to enjoy the game at all. ("Test cricket is the only cricket worth playing! Oh these young 'uns with their terrible tastes in music and sport and heroes and movies are ruining our culture!" Stuff it, guys.)

d. THIS:

(and a zandu balm ad featuring the delhi daredevils which i unfortunately couldn't find online)


I died. Several times.

You're talking about the IPL being a terrible influence. Hahahahaha.

You have no idea.

EDIT: About the current (travesty of a) Test series?

Dhoni: "A bowling attack with experience, variety and skill? Durrrr.... what's that?"

Sangakkara: "You know, I'd be happier if the double hundred came against a regular Test-playing nation. Y'know, like the team that's number one in the rankings right now. Like -- wait, what do you mean, we're playing India?"

Raina: "OhyayIscoredaCENTURYonDEBUT! IscoredabuttloadofrunswithTENDULKAR! I'msohappyIcanpogostickallthewaytoChina!"

Tendulkar: "Uh, so. Another Test, some more runs scored. Same old, same old. *yawn* Which country are we playing now, by the way?"

Zaheer Khan: "I'm kind of reeeeally glad I'm halfway across the world from Sri Lanka right now. Actually, scratch that. I'm just glad there's this many miles between me and the Indian cricket team, period."

Ishant Sharma, et al: "Pleeeease can we join you, Zaheer bhaiya?"

Harbhajan Singh: "Look at me, I'm down in the dumps. LOOK AT ME, dammit."

Random Sri Lankan spinner: "So! Somebody was telling me that playing Test cricket against the best lineup in the world would be tough! Dammit, wish I'd taken a bet against that."

Atul Wassan: "It's kind of worrying that even now India has to depend on Tendulkar to get them out of trouble. If after so many years we're not able to fend for ourselves -- "

Everybody else: "The dude's doing his friggin job as a middle order senior batsman. And whose shortcomings is he trying to make up for? Dravid and Laxman, who've been playing pretty much forever too!"

Muttiah Muralitharan: *points and laughs*


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Is ANYBODY really looking forward to this series?

What it says on the tin.

Aside from it being Muthu Muralitharan's last shindig in a long and illustrious career, is anybody really looking forward to the India v SL series starting tomorrow? This is the first Test series I'm going to be able to see after a long time - and reading stuff like this and this hasn't been really encouraging.

Particularly stuff like:

Who can stop Tillakaratne Dilshan from smashing a ton against this Indian attack? If he can play with controlled aggression, a hundred is there for the taking. And he can set the tempo by denting Ishant Sharma's already fragile confidence with a few boundary hits. It should be much fun watching Dilshan bat in this Test. Will he be over eager to attack? Can he show judicious shot selection?

Right. Riiiight. That's just gone beyond analysis and straiiight into 'eh-what-the-hell' snark.

So we've got a sucky bowling attack. So what?

I'm holding out for a Ishant five-for in the SL first innings. Why? Because I can. And I want some reason to look forward to the Test cricket, dammit.

(And because if I read "India's problem is its bowling", I'm going to implode. Hi, bandwagon people! Quieten a bit, whydontcha?)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Clicking of the cosmic tumblers

It's been a nice few months without cricket - exams, a month-long trip to the USA (where if you mention "cricket" you will be handed a bottle of insect repellent), and a healthy dose of disgusted disinterest pretty much wiped cricket off my agenda. Things have been fairly crazy, India and Sri Lanka are playing each other to the point of hair-rending boredom, the usual cricket is corrupt! (seriously, cricinfo? The IPL Mess? That's very educated and so enlightening. I'm going to imagine you're talking about some communal meals programme that Lalit Modi very kindly started for all the players) cricket is racist! (you nominate a guy even you don't like. Then imagine just how much you loathe the organisation you're nominating him to) nouveau-riche India is holding the cricket world in its filthy, corrupt hands (Hi, rabid anti-BCCI agenda! Also, BCCI =\= India. Seriously.) and all that jazz. However! I'm back, and looking forward to watching some cricket after the self-imposed exile. Before that, of course, a few things need to be pushed off the table:

Oh yeah.

Despite everything, did I ever stop watching the IPL? Nosiree. Anything that has "Chennai" tagged on to it should be the best, and wow, were we ever awesome. Halfway through the tournament, only thick-skinned optimists (such as yours truly) hoped they would reach the semifinals. I ventured a belligerent "they could even win, you know", only to take it back almost immediately with an apologetic grimace.

But CSK, man.

Perhaps one of the most gratifying things about watching the IPL was that, despite the fracas going on in the background, and all the jabbering about Twenty20 as a flashy chip of paint off the strong and proud edifice of cricket (listen to me gag... or not), the players (the ones who mattered anyway) took it seriously. There is some payoff to all the nights I spent up, all the emotion, and all the time I invested, when I see someone like Dhoni literally punch his face in intense emotion after winning that game, after practically pummelling his team into the semifinals from an impossible situation. From seeing someone like Sachin Tendulkar (been there, done that, bought half-a-million T shirts- Sachin Tendulkar) risk worsening his injured hand just so he could play the final for the MI. To hear from both captains what the game meant to them in the post-match ceremony. As long as we can get commitment like that from the dudes that matter, the twenty-two dudes on the field, then I am willing to ignore pretty much everything else. I will remember the IPL for that emotion, and will continue watching it for the same.

Not to mention opening my eyes to the potential of quite a few players - Ashwin (who I was delighted to find lives in the same area of the city that I do, and is a super-smart school-topper-college-graduate), and, of course, Dougie Bollinger, who may be the Awesomest Person that ever Awesomed.

After that, the Twenty20 World Cup. I watched India's league matches, and assured by Raina's Century of Awesomeness against South Africa, I left for the US the night before we officially started our Super Eight campaign. For weeks I had no clue about what was going on in the tournament, as all the US papers were interested in talking about was baseball, some dude called LeBron James who was making some other dudes in Cleveland very angry, with little by-notes informing the presumably disinterested audience about the happenings in the world of tennis. I was finally able to find a paper that was published exclusively for NRIs, and even in that, buried somewhere in the back-pages was an article titled "England win World Twenty20" followed by a grinning Paul Collingwood holding up the trophy.

If you were anywhere in Southwestern Texas at that time in Mid-May, you might have heard my resounding cry of "England won a world title??!!"

(Seriously, people. I'm sorry. I'm still thinking the whole thing is some kind of cheese-induced dream. And USA eats a lot of cheese.)

((... England?... ))

Not that I expected India to win the title, or anything - although I'd hoped they would - but I'd placed even Zimbabwe with a higher chance of getting the trophy than England. Cha, now there's a perfect record permanently marred (Jokes apart, congratulations to the English team, who now suddenly seem to be in the form of their life - although even that is not enough to provide immunity to the Loss to Bangladesh Out Of The Blue Syndrome).

However! I did not see 90% of the tournament, so I have no further opinion on it. But what's a blog without shameless pandering of opinion, right? So let me tell you of what I did see that May.

The U S of A. It was an interesting trip, and I have a few observations:

1. It is huge. And I mean, HUGE. It crosses three different time-zones, which is kind of a bother when you're trying to cover as much as you can in as little time as possible. It is not fun to keep adjusting clock every other day, and oh, the jet lag? Unforgiving. (there is a trememdous amount of flying to be done. I, for instance, took thirteen flights within the US. My spine hasn't forgiven me since.)

2. As huge as it is, there is very, very little in between. Most people live in suburbs that are several kilometres away from the hub of the city, which means taking out the car and going for a long drive just to shop for groceries. Or clothes. Or go to school. This is completely weird, at least to me, because Indian cities like to fold on top of themselves, rather than really spread. I can't walk more than a few metres from my home without hitting several dozen shops catering to your every possible need squeezed together and spilling onto the pavement; a bus terminus and an MRTS terminus a few roads over; a hospital, and no less than three different schools.

3. Speaking of: the cars. There are just so many of them. Even high school kids. Except in a few select areas, public transport seems to be a near non-entity. Which, again, weirded me out, because, hey. For all our faults, we at least have an extensive public transport system.

4. There is a strange kind of beauty to the vastness, too: the climates and the surroundings change from place to place -- you might be in the scorching (well, compared to Chennai, rather pleasant, I thought, and cackled in mad glee that I was conveniently missing the worst of the Chennai summer) heat of the Nevada desert; another day in chill, windy New York; another day driving through Idaho and Wyoming where the land seems to hug the sky in a spectacular union of clouds, mountains, sleet and rain.

5. You really have to admire the American tradition of preserving and promoting their natural heritage. A visit to a National Park there is an exhilarating experience. I visited the Niagara Falls, Yellowstone Park - and it snowed! - and the Grand Canyon, some of the most breath-taking things I've ever seen, or ever will see.

6. They eat. A lot. Practically everything available there is super-sized. I ate the largest slice of pizza I'd ever had in my life (took pictures and everything before I took my first bite, too) and had the pizza guy tell me it was medium-sized. Medium-sized! Coffee, cheese, sugar, chocolate abound. McDonald's. Arby's. Wendy's. Subway. All just a few metres apart, literally, and so cheap; it occurred to me just how easy it would be to lose yourself in the food, how easy it would be to put a welcome sign on yourself to conditions ranging from atherosclerosis to stroke.

7. American Born Desis have the weirdest conceptions about India. First off, an almost Pavlovian reaction of supreme disdain to anything Indian (a muted version of which you can detect in their immigrant parents). Secondly, a habit of ending sentences with, "...oh, do they have that in India yet? Do they allow that in India yet?" (Because we're obviously Timbuktu circa 1845.) Thirdly, some of the weirdest theories. Writing papers about our infamous fairness creams ads, wherein our "obsession with fairness was obviously a consequence of the inferiority complex we still suffer from due to the centuries of subjugation by the British". Pop!Sociology, I have found your messiahs.

8. Faux-politeness. "Good Morning, how are we today?" "Fine, thank you" seems to be the traditional greeting there. Shop attendants. Airport security officials. Random people on the street. Everywhere. They go, "oh, I like your shirt; just where did you get that design?" and I'm sort of dumbstruck, because that's a complete stranger I'm just passing by, and we're just so unused to such manners from all quarters that it's doubly frustrating to come back to India and face people who obviously fell asleep when road rules were being taught; who spit at your feet and give you hostile glares if you so much as make a request for them to move so you can walk past. The politeness is all a facade - on a level, you're aware of that and it's disturbing, but still.

9. ... and that's all she wrote. About the USA, anyway.

Because, cricket? Right, cricket.

I saw some of the Fateful Zimbabwe Tour. Mr. Srikkanth, were you really kidding us? You think you could just slap on India colours to a bunch of IPL successes (Manpreet Gony and Yusuf Pathan ought to have provided sufficient deterrent to that method of selection by now) and they'll be all "look at our youth power! we're totally ready to fill in full time roles in the national team!"? Personally, they played like India A's second reserve team in an off-season. Cha.

I did see the Asia Cup. The India-Pakistan game did restore some of my faith in the game, and 'sides, I had a good time speculating about Obviously-Alternate-Universe-Century-Hitting Shahid Afridi. Our ODI team is just not looking settled: batsmen seem to be okay, apart from Sehwag busting his shoulder every other day, Yuvraj's happily feeding and twittering away, Rohit Sharma is the absolute worst excuse for an international cricketer I have ever seen. Our all-rounders are Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja, an unenviable choice. I have no idea what's our bowling attack any more, except that it's Zaheer Khan, et. al.

But what's ZK now? A pretty, pretty princess that keeps falling on some pea practically every other week, missing important series just when she's working herself upto some real bowling form. And of course, he had to go to Jo'burg for rehab. And he even mentioned something about catching the football wc final there! I swear I saw red.

Also, just a word here: Mr. Haigh's rant raised quite a few hackles, but I just laughed and laughed, because as soon as I read it I was reminded of this:

And now? The Test series v Sri Lanka to look forward to, followed by ODI series no. 87678 between India and Lanka (with NZ making a guest appearance. Gawd.)

Will we win? Will Mahendra Singh Dhoni's marriage affect his performance? Will it affect his team's performance? Will it create more fissures in an already cracked team? Will India be able to exorcise the ghosts of 2008? Will Sreesanth ever get to bowl again for India? Will Ishant Sharma ever get a proper haircut?

As Arnab Goswami's dulcet tones discuss these burning issues, I will turn off the TV till July 18, and I will hum, "When I get older, I will be stronger..."

Because I can.

(Also, I dedicate this post to my best friend, A, for nagging, encouraging, and prodding me back to blogging. Love you and hope you like. :D)

Friday, March 26, 2010

From Eye-Stabbing to Jaundiced

One of the few pleasures of being a Chennai Super Kings fan is the sitting around during breaks, trying to come up with new names for the colour of their costume ("uniform" doesn't sit well with the whole shindig, and "gear"? Gaaah, I'll pass).

From digusting poetry ("like the buttery sunshine that breaks through dense foliage on a pleasant summer afternoon") to disgustingly medical ("purulent exudate from an abscess"), it's been rather fun. I used to settle for the all-occasions "Men In Startlingly Bright Yellow", but it these days it often vacillates between "Eye-stabbing" to just plain "jaundiced".

Was there any other point to supporting the team?

... Oh, oh right. The cricket.

I honestly believe if these jaundiced men had gotten their asses into gear at the right moments, our w/l tally would be 5-1.

See, the game against-

... okay, let me try that again. The GAME AGAINST P-

Oh, lord. Fine. THAT game. The game I'm trying my hardest to forget, the game that actually haunted my dreams the night I saw it played. We were - we -

Geez. But really: that exposed something vital in the inner circuitry of the team. And it has been malfunctioning ever since. Contrary to popular opinion, I believe Raina did the best he could. It's just that something vital's just
missing. Against Punjab (yes, I said it - I think I may be moving on. No padded rooms for me, nossir), where our middle order was cracked open like a rotten egg, we found a man unable to handle the pressure that he is meant to handle: Albie Morkel. If Ashwin was determined to be monumentally idiotic in the last over, I would endeavour to say Morkel was even more so, in giving Ashwin the chance to be monumentally idiotic!

That's where, friends, we need Dhoni.

Dhoni isn't revered because he's got prodigious talent with the bat/gloves (
he doesn't), or that he's the greatest tactician out there (he isn't), or because he's got some supernatural Jedi-like ability to calmly smile in the face of an approaching tsunami (he'd be sensible and run like hell). It lies primarily in his ability to go out there, see the situation for what it is, and stop it from going sideways (most of the time). He's built most of his success as captain/batsman in making sure his team doesn't fall into the hole it resolutely persists in digging, and that's exactly what we needed there, exactly what Raina provided in our win against Delhi (seems so long ago). Except he got run-out for a needless run (all run-outs are for "needless runs", if you'll notice) against Punjab, and neither Parthiv nor Albie had it in them to take up the responsibility.

This, needless to say, is worrying.

It was like watching your favourite cousin fail in the finals after topping the class the whole year. :(

So, anyway: major dent to the psyche? Check.

Next game: Bangalore.

Look, nobody was really expecting CSK to win this one, and being the gracious team that they are, they obliged.

But how!

CSK, here's a clue: if you're gonna lose, do it humiliatingly. 100 runs, ten wickets, I don't care. That's it. Make me not care.

Don't lose... like this! (because "going down fighting" is a load of bull-crap that doesn't change anything except make you depressed and anxious; "going down with a thump" is something you can laugh off and forget)

Raina was awesome on the field as captain. Like I said, responsibility does him good! I really liked his body-language, and liked even better that that language expressed in great stops and stunning catches.

Unfortunately, the Tamilians in the squad had been hit by an Evil Supernatural Jinx greasopalmus. It's a terrible blight. I present my case:

First, Balaji dropping Kallis off Morkel. "Lost the ball in the background"? Hm.

Second, Ashwin dropping Uthappa while nearly colliding into Tyagi. What are you playing, people? An under-15 friendly?????

Third, Vijay dropping Uthappa at long-on, with no excuse. It's the kind of catch he would catch blindfolded, one arm amputated and the other with just three fingers on. And he dropped it, with all his faculties in full function. Dropped it!

And 35 runs were scored in the next two overs! (And Raina, I thought, made a serious tactical error in saving up Balaji and Ashwin for the death. Either one of them in the end is risky enough. But both? Nuh-uh.)

And "Robbie" Uthappa won the MoM! And he has the NERVE to say that he "wanted to stay till the very end"! What he should've said is, "I'd like to dedicate this award to my South Zone teammates from TN, who were kind enough to recognise that my career as an international player is close to non-existent, and help me out in that regard, as they are generally wont to do, given their modest, reserved and helpful natures. Guys, I can't thank you enough. Three jigarthandas on me next time we play in Chennai."

"GAH" is sometimes all you can say.

So: 172? No big deal, right? Easy.

Except Parthiv gets out early and Raina makes Serious Tactical Error No. 2: George Bailey.

No. 3, yo. Raina, it's YOUR position, and nobody else's. Particularly if that nobody's name starts with "George" and ends with "Bailey."

Mr. Bailey ate up a lot of balls and regurgitated nothing, until I was practically begging at the TV, "George, just get out." He obliged, but only after getting Hayden run-out. And I had practically blown my last remaining fuse by then.

It was too much, too late for the rest, and we folded predictably. And guess how many runs we lost by?


I bet Vijay's hands were burning at that point.

Speaking of bets, next match: Mumbai. Again, not one a lot of people were expecting us to win, but hey, Dhoni's back! And that raises the awesomeness by a few hundred degrees.

Buoyed by all the awesomeness and annoyed beyond measure that a lot of my classmates seemed to supporting Mumbai ("Sachin's there" is NOT an excuse. Arre, does nobody get territorial about sporting teams anymore??), I proclaimed, rather bravely, that CSK was bound to win.

And we started off well, we did.

A) No George Bailey. All rounder replacing all-rounder, i.e., Perera (who I was frightened to find out is only a year older than me) replacing Kemp. Great.

B) Dhoni's playing.

C) That point deserves repeating. DHONI. IN THE TEAM.

D) Ashwin out, Jakati in.

E) Raina walking in at No. 3.

We batted well, Raina and Badri were so awesome, but they were never really able to... just. push. the. gear. up. one. more. notch. It was a bloody shame that we were able to scrounge up only 7 overs off the last over with two batsmen who'd been out there for 15 overs at the crease, but Malinga bowled genuinely well.

So. Bowling and fielding. The single most undisciplined effort I've seen from CSK all tournament. It was painful to watch: the sheer no of wides, no-balls, sloppy stops that gave the batsmen opportunities to sneak in extra runs - was this the same team that was so delightfully sharp on the field just a couple of games ago? We really need to pull ourselves together, and fast.

Still, a few timely wickets, and the match was sweetly balanced at the end of 16 overs.

Then Perera came on to bowl, and Dhoni said ten agonising minutes later, "Hm. That might have been a mistake."

Five full-tosses. "Juicy" as they say. All of them hit for four. Twenty-one runs off the over. It was like some sort of mini Groundhog Day: Perera would run in, bowl a full toss, Sachin/Pollard would flick it off, and poof! boundary, Perera would grimace and groan, and Dhoni would get this look that says, "well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...." and then Perera would run in to bowl again, and -

You get the general idea.

Game, set and match after that.

CSK need to do some collective soul-searching. I firmly believe that this is a team with vastly underestimated players - so underestimated, in fact, the players do it themselves. They've got to figure out their roles, and need to forget 21/3/2010. It never existed.

Also, we've got the absolute worst reserve bench in the whole of the IPL. Thishara Perera? Look, I know the guy was good in India last year for Sri Lanka, but he's young, inexperienced. I thought we had Thilan Thushara in the ranks? And you know who would've been perfect? Nuwan Kulasekara. I cannot believe that he wasn't snapped up by any IPL franchise (I think).

Local players? Hi, where are the bowlers? Playing for other teams! It's actually kind of pathetic. We've got a weak pool to choose from, it's sad.

Still, we're an awesome outfit. I love this team way too much to be cussing it for prolonged periods, and I think we're in for a turnaround. Lessee.

(And it's in these kind of moments that I really, really miss Amy. :( )

Saturday, March 20, 2010

You know what Chennai's problem is? I'll tell you what it is.

Okay, I've been watching the IPL rather faithfully, but my laptop decided to up and die on me.

However! I believe it's been fixed (mostly), so, blog? Right, the blog.

Part of Chennai's problem is that they're too awesome for their own good. Who comes in where? Who gets to captain when Dhoni's injured? I was dubious about Raina being chosen (Badri, I thought, was a natural choice seeing as he's got actual captaincy experience, and has led India A and India Emerging Players on several occasions), but the responsibility seemed to do him some good against Delhi. I wasn't able to catch but the last 5 overs of Delhi's innings, where the fielding and the catching was really impressive. But more than anything else, I loved his batting. He took a leaf out of Mahi's book, and paced his innings well, staying there and finishing the job, even finishing the chase off with a six, as MS is wont to do. An emphatic 'screw you, we're all over this' to the opposition.

The only thing to avoid now is complacency.

The major part of Chennai's problem is their bowling. Look, I appreciate teams being objective about their supposed weak spots, but I think Chennai underestimates their bowling way too much. Give your bowlers a chance, yo - they're actually rather awesome, and the more you put them down, the more they're going to return the favour. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy, or something. Just one more cliche (just to annoy you): you're only as good as your weak spot. And our weak spot ain't actually that weak.

Also, this got me thinking: are there no other pacers playing for Tamil Nadu? I'm aware of Yomahesh, who's playing for the Daredevils, and of course, there's Balaji, but who else? C Ganapathy? Dakshinamoorthy Kumaran? There's Rajagopal Satish, who's intrinsically awesome (yes, I watched the first ICL tournament which the Chennai Superstars won, and the ICL tri-series where Satish led ICL India to victories against ICL Pakistan and ICL world and I know, I'm jobless), but he's playing for the MI. I'm pathetically unaware of what TN is doing with its bowling stocks, it's sad.

(And what about Thiru Kumaran of the awesomely shiny pate? He did a good job for the Superstars, too - has he been picked up by any franchise?)

Third: the Mongoose. Seriously, my sanity is at risk. If I hear one more mention about that bat in conjunction with Hayden's innings, I'm going to snap. ("Mr. Mongoose"? Seriously?) I mean, what kind of attribute is that to a cricket bat? "I've got a longer handle and a shorter blade, but don't worry: I've got a bigger sweet spot!"? And the way the papers are hyping this, you just know it's not going to end well.

Speaking of the papers:

I get the Hindu, the Deccan Chronicle, the New Indian Express and the Times of India at my home (the whole newspaper + coffee in the morning is ingrained into our genetic makeup, so more papers means less fighting/tearing each others eyeballs out between family members in the morning), and the preview to the CSK v DD match in each of them was entertaining to read and compare.

The Hindu was diplomatic (and the only paper to not have a special IPL page: go, Hindu!) while reporting Dhoni's injury: said he'd be missing only two games, that his absence would be felt, but more than compensated by Hayden and Raina, who were bound to find form.

The Deccan Chronicle who spent a long time lovingly lingering over the DC v KXIP preview (and I swear, it's the only paper that calls them the "Bulls"), and declared that CSK was nothing (nothing, I say! Nothing!) without Dhoni. Hayden and Raina have failed to put bat to ball! Kemp and Morkel are stop-gap chokers! Flimsy bowling attack can't face up to the likes of Sehwag and Dilshan and deVilliers! The Apocalypse approaches! It also said that Dhoni was definitely to miss not less than three matches, so CSK was doomed (doomed, I say!).

The Times of India bypassed all the nonsense, solemnly declared that Dhoni was to have his arm checked on the 21st, and left it at that.

I didn't read the TNIE, because I hate it.

Bring on the paper wars, yo!

(Either that, or I'm reading waaaay too much into all of this).

EDIT: You know what the Deccan Chargers' problem is? I'll tell you what it is: Gilchrist. He talks way too much.

So, you know, on one hand, it's "yap yap yap" and the other hand his bat also goes "thwack thwack thwack", so: worst of both worlds if you're the opponent.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


All you need to sum up yesterday's match between the Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab. After the fireworks earlier in the day? Boring.

Toward the end, the camera kept snapping to the Delhi bench, showing players apparently squirming with tension as Delhi chased 143. I'm not sure why. Maybe Mishra really wanted to go to the bathroom and was hoping they wouldn't need him out there in the middle at the last minute. Or something.

Because really? There was nothing to be tense about.

The most entertaining moment of the match came when Dirk Nannes muffed a straightforward stop and had the ball go straight between his legs for four. Or DK's overthrows that went straight down the ground for four.

Least entertaining? The constant Preity Zinta footage. KXIP hit a four? Here's Preity's reaction. KXIP lost a wicket? Here's Preity's reaction. Michael Jackson died? Here's Preity's reaction.

Then the commentators have to react to her reaction. "Look at her go" and the ilk.


Ooh, JUST when you think those smug smiles are gone...

... Pathan gets out.

Wow, Yusuf Pathan, why don't you do this more often for, say, I don't know, the national team, maybe?

Nice match, some great batting all around - most of which I've forgotten because Pathan was so awesome. I was just thinking about how this whole thing was a done-deal at RR being 69/4 after 10 chasing 213, and how much I hated poor Ali Murtaza because he has a very close resemblance to a particular Tamil VJ I loathe on sight (seriously, it's Pavlovian), when Yusuf Pathan said, "Screw this", and hit three sixes in a row.

Then everything his bat touched scurried to the boundary. Can wood get scabies?

And yeah, I was hoping for those smug smiles to be blasted to smithereens - the Mumbai Indians, that is.

Did you see them grinning everywhere after the match? Dudes, next time you defend like this, you ain't gonna be as lucky. What if next time you score 120, huh? Huh?

Hi, IPL, it's not good for my digestion when you have me so actively against Sachin Tendulkar so close on the heels of loving him for his double-century super-awesomeness.

Just saying.

Friday, March 12, 2010

We are not entertained.

... except by one teensy little insignificant thing called cricket, but we'll get to that later, shall we?

Look. I haven't watched cricket in a long while, OK? And I've been looking forward to this IPL. So while sitting down to watch the opening ceremony yesterday, I did not expect an absolutely unpalatable hodge-podge of poorly executed amateur gimmicks. Hi, people! 2010! Billions of rupees! Internet! International access to the best around the globe! Creative heads!

You can do better!

So it starts off with.... silence. The ceremony took the longest time to kick off, and meanwhile the camera kept panning over the crowd in the weirdest headgear. Weird headgear only = awesome when they're funny, people. These... were not funny.

I was reduced to watching reruns of Psych I'd already watched twice before when I heard that the ceremony had started. Eagerly I flicked channels. And seriously, Psych was helluva lot more entertaining.

There is this huge... cloth cuboid tent thingamajig that's slowly lifted off the stage in the centre of the ground, revealing... okay, the performers, I guess. The guy in front starts singing, and dude. It's the most boring song ever. Look, I'm as big an Abba fan as anybody, but, really? For this ceremony? For this tournament?

Indian Premier League! I.n.d.i.a.n.

Get a few local artistes, belt out some pop B'wood tracks, get the crowd on their feet, and everybody wins. What is this goshdarned obsession with foreigners? Look, if you're going to get foreigners, you might as well get Lady Gaga or somebody. Not some washed-out band that's decades old (no offence meant). The singers were the ones jumping about on the stage, shaking their made-up manes, trying to infuse some non-existent energy. The crowd? Maybe just slightly bewildered.

Then these people with the white dresses standing around the boundary came filing in.

Whoever came up with that idea, please fire him.

They were... look, I don't know. My brother suggested, "chefs" while my grandmother was pretty insistent they were "hospice nurses" or maybe "nuns". Personally, when some built in lights in their dresses started glowing, I was going for extras from a hybrid of Star Wars and The Omen (don't ask me why).

These lights were of different colours, and a lot of them didn't even work. They were scrambling about, ostensibly trying to get into some kind of formation, but I don't know. They were just going about with confused, embarrassed smiles on their faces. It was like slow torture, having to watch this (until I realised that, you know, I didn't have to watch it).

Then came Deepika Padukone and her ultra-short dance routine, with support dancers who were dressed in costumes so grotesque I can't even snark about them. The song selection started off great (I gotta feeling, by Black Eyed Peas) and quickly devolved into lameassery. And the dance moves? Were not even fit for exhibition on a Filmfare awards show.

When I came back again, they were showing a laser show on the big white tent, a sort of 'nostalgic' recap of the first two IPLs. And people, I was ready to lose it. Hello, you are only two years old! We haven't got short term memory loss, you know! We remember (like you ever let us forget)! Look ahead! Do something new and flamboyant and stop wasting our time!

And then came Lionel Ritchie and some song and some fireworks, but by that time I was tired and pissed off and wishing really hard for some cricket.

The cricket turned out to be actually kind of awesome (KKR def DC! That makes me happy) but it turns out there was one more annoyance lurking in the bushes:

In between balls of an over, the camera would shift to the digital board, which would blare out an ad in full volume.

And, listening to Akshay Kumar's inane, loony laughter while 'advertising' Micromax mobile for the umpteeth time, I really lost it.


Either that, or I'm getting cynical in my old age.

EDIT: Oh, it would be amiss of me to not mention the match preview show. Navjot Singh Sidhu is back, with all of his metaphors and gesticulations, a hilarious counterpoint to the anchor's style.

So he's waxing poetic about "music as a language" and Mr. Kocchar decides to take a brave step beyond saying "Indeed" and adds "Music is really bubbly, it gets all the batsmen bubbled up" and somewhere I was dying out of laughter.

Now that's entertainment.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The height of audacity

... is Sangakkara electing to bat first after winning the toss.

I'm sure a lot of us have already taken an India v Sri Lanka final for granted, but you didn't have to show it like that! This was not a dead-rubber! Don't you want to make things just that a little harder for India? You even went in with a full-strength team - against one that decided to rest its best opening batsman, its frontline spinner, and a senior pacer!

And after being trampled over by India, the man admits, "I don't think we learnt much by batting first."

All I can say to that?