Boxing Day Test – things to ponder for India

December 31, 2007

The Boxing Day test started out with a promise and ended with a disappointing result (if you are an India supporter, that is). When we thought that there wasn’t much bowling, they delivered. I certainly did not expect India to bowl out Australia, that too for a 300-odd. Getting Ponting early was key! Go Bhajji! Whatever Ponting says, he is your bunny. Captaincy seems to be inspiring Kumble to greater heights. Hope his sublime form continues.

The much celebrated batting line-up disappointed and I say that only because the bowlers delivered. Going by the stats, (if my memory serves me right), India hasn’t done too well in the Boxing Day Test. So, what I expected was Australia scoring 600 plus, not getting bowled out, and the Indian batting attempting to survive and more of this in the second innings. It was pleasantly uplifting to see the bowlers do well, but sad to see the batting cave (albeit a few horrible decisions given against them).

The Dravid opening-experiment was excellent on paper: the kind of experiment that would pay dividends if it worked, but shake the foundations if it didn’t; but it did not go the planned way. He saw the new ball through, no doubt, but didn’t do much else. It is essential that Dravid does well for Indian batting to get some respect and for that, he must return to his usual #3. Ganguly threatened and Laxman attempted to and there ended the tale of the celebrated Indian batting.

For the next Test, I would like to see Sehwag open with Jaffer and that means confining Yuvraj to the bench which is unfortunate, but the gamble is worth a try. Do I see that happening? Not really.

Hope to see some kind of a fightback from India in the Second test.

Madras Music Festival – Sudha as mellifluous as ever!

December 25, 2007

Returning to the blogsphere after a rather long break. Sometimes you have these weeks where you remember all the things that need to be done that never got done and set out to do those things. I’ve had a couple of such boring weeks. Anyway, moving on.

My first “season” kutcheri of this year was Sudha Ragunathan at Music Academy. This past Sunday, I got a chance to listen to her live after almost 5 years and I must say she was as mellifluous as ever. This time she sang in the 4:15 pm slot which I think is a great time to listen to music on a Sunday. The best part is, it lasts for just over two hours, so you get quality time with the added benefit of being able to get out at a decent time (7-ish pm).

Sudha started with a interest-inducing Pantuvarali varam and moved on to a well-rendered Saranu Janakana in Bilhari. A lustrous yet brief alap in Lalitha preceeded the Syama Sastri composition Nannu Brovu Lalitha replete with neraval and kalpana swara. The Mukhari that followed was another well rendered song. For me, the best piece of the day was the Kalyani one featuring Navavarna kriti Kamalambam Bhajare. I found it rather striking that Sudha’s rendition of this song was marked different from the MLV style, but that didn’t take away anything from the song or the piece; just that it was different yet poignant. A fast paced song preceded the Ragam Thanam Pallavi in raga Sri Ranjani (Kadai kan partharul sri ranjani), which disappointed me both in terms of choice of raga and time allotted to it. The only thing in this piece that stood out was the neraval and the ragamalika swara passages in Poorvi Kalyani, Priyadarshini and Nalinakanthi. Sudha finished up with Purandaradas kriti Yadava raya and a thillana. The percussionists, Mannargudi Easwaran was vintage and Raman provided good support, but the violin disappointed. All in all, it was time well spent for me.

Reactions to “Paadum Office” on Star Vijay

December 8, 2007

Amid my channel surfing to catch highlights of Yuvraj Singh’s sensational Test century today, I stumbled upon “Paadum Office”, a music contest for folks from the Chennai IT sector on Star Vijay. Incidentally, I had watched the earlier round last week and was surprised to find new snottier judges on today’s program. As I watched on, I had a strong reaction to a few things about this programme:

1. What exactly is the point in having a contest for IT professionals? To me it seems like entertainment for the sake of it, without any end to the means.

2. The snottiness and arrogance of the judges, esp, the Music College Principal appalled me. I understand that some contestants aren’t exactly nightingales, but to eliminate them even before singing one full line seems more like a witch hunt aimed to embarrass the contestants. A rebuttal to this concern of mine would be to say that one can tell a talented singer from a less-endowed one within seconds. Agreed, but, we must remember that these contestants aren’t professional singers, are bound to have some initial nervousness and need a few minutes for scale/shruthi alignment. What was completely “over-the-top” for me was one of the judge’s criticism of a contestant who chose to sing the shruthi-alignment phrase “Sa-Pa-Sa”. If neither of these arguments seems convincing enough, I will accept even that, but why broadcast the embarrassing bits? There is something called editing right?

I leave this with a note to Star Vijay and perhaps more precisely to the judges: treat the reality show contestants on this program with the respect that they deserve. These are responsible people who have a life, a job, and are trying to quench their thirst for exhibiting their music (which might have been their childhood passion, or something acquired in adolescence or later) by participating in the show. Treat them like human beings, nothing more!

“The Princes” Yuvraj and Ganguly Rock Bangalore – 3rd Test Day 1

December 8, 2007

What a day of cricket! After having won the toss and electing to bat first, India were off to a disastrous start. If Rahul “Wall” Dravid’s fall very early in the day to a very un-Dravid-ian shot seemed like a bad omen, the unthinkable happened when Laxman was shockingly bowled for a meager 5. Within the first hour and a half, India had lost 4 wickets and were tottering on 61-4. It was then that that Ganguly and Yuvraj brought forth a mind-blowing, record breaking 300-run partnership to electrify the crowds at the Chinnaswamy Stadium (and TV viewers alike) and take the momentum away from Pakistan. Both played their natural games: Ganguly with his experience-laden vintage knock and Yuvraj with his aggressive attacking style that is bound to give the shivers to many opponent bowlers.

The experienced southpaw offered good support to his younger teammate; and I say support not because Ganguly merely supported: his consecutive ton in this series deserves all the praise and more for the endurance, adamant patience, and positively attitude. I say Ganguly supported only because Yuvraj bedazzled everyone with strokes of absolute brilliance. Sambit Bal writes it was a touch of Brian Lara, but to me Yuvraj replaced Tendulkar in a very different way: he made batting look ridiculously easy; that, a statement often said of Tendulkar.

The Ganguly-Yuvraj partnership had many things in common. Apart from the fact that both were left-handers, they played several strokes with the arrogance fitting of their princely nicknames. The positive attitude shown in a trying time sets an example for many young and upcoming cricketers. All cricketing apart, to me the most wonderful moment of the day was Ganguly’s celebration on Yuvraj’s century.

Dada celebrates teamates's landmark
Sourav celebrates Yuvraj’s landmark
Pic courtesy: Hindustan Times

It was honest and from the heart – almost like an older brother, ebbing with pride of his younger sibling’s success – so much that Ganguly celebrated his own century with much less ado. Sambit Bhal puts this beautifully; he writes of Ganguly “..Not that he would have grudged it [Yuvraj’s belligerence] a whit: his eyes shone brighter when he celebrated his team-mate’s century than when he reached his own” (emphasis mine).

Ganguly and Yuvraj celebrate Yuvraj's ton
Ganguly congratulates Yuvraj on ton.
Pic courtesy: Cricinfo

But sadly, like all good things must end, so did the Yuvraj-Ganguly partnership after reaching a landmark 300 runs with only 5 overs to spare till the end of day’s play. I had expected Ganguly to fall earlier and Yuvraj to reach 200, but it was Ganguly’s partner who perished to a shot that he didn’t seem to have commited to. With the spectacular innings from Yuvraj coming at a time when everything from his technique to temperment in the longer version of the game have been questioned, he leaves the selector’s with a happy headache.One couldn’t help but notice the difference when a rattled and tentative-looking Dinesh Karthik took Yuvraj’s place at the crease. Karthik seemed to be looking to survive the day, and he did having scored 3 from 10 balls with Ganguly on 125. Personally, I would like to see Ganguly get to 150, though a double ton to him would be a great morale booster before the tour of Australia. As long as Dada stays, India will see some runs, after that, only Pathan (if he doesn’t run out of partners very quickly) might add some quick runs. Until then. Go Yuvi! Go Dada! Way to show ’em how its done!

Kirsten signs on as India cricket coach

December 4, 2007

Cricinfo confirms the end of India bizarre search for a coach. Personally, I think this is an insult to the 20 odd folks who applied and more so to Lalchand Rajput. Considering his record which includes a World Cup victory (come on, lets not brush the T20 tournament which set the tone for an aggressively fought ODI series against Australia), a fairly good run against the mighty Aussies and an impressive series against Pakistan, any sane board would have at least given him some sort of a contract. Perhaps Rajput would have been considered for coach was if he wasn’t Indian. Meanwhile, the question hangs as to what will become of Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad, the fielding and bowling coaches respectively, who till now don’t have any contract from BCCI. In my opinion, the Rajput-Singh-Prasad trio have done better than some of the previous coaches India has had.

The rationale for hiring Kirsten for the job seems to me to be something along these lines.
– We are going to Australia. It would be embarrassing to go there without a coach.
– We are going to Australia, so get a South African
– We need a big name (Shah Rukh Khan, Micheal Jackson, Bill Gates and many others fit the bill here)
– We need a puppet, so get a mild-mannered guy without too much experience
To the BCCI, Kirsten fit this bill.

Maybe if he had refused, they would have gone with Bill Gates; if Gates turned it down, Shah Rukh Khan would have been a front-runner (the minor BCCI-Shah Rukh issue notwithstanding). 🙂

Good luck Team India!