World Cup 2011: My India-Pak World Cup Story

March 31, 2011

For the story to make sense, I need to rewind to 1999. The wonderful politicos had announced that the match would be screened at the beach on a large screen. I had no plans to watch there. It was 2:30-ish PM. Folks at home settled around the TV. But alas, we lost power within 10 overs, thanks largely to the beach screening. So we had no choice but to listen to radio commentary on a battery powered walkman with speakers. (Yes, in ’99, they were still cool). In what was an unusually long power cut on our area, the power returned only after 10:30 PM.

Interestingly enough, something similar happened yesturday. There was no power cut, but there was a TV issue at home. Got to see parts of India batting. After the 5th wicket fell, the TV issue got very bad and had to switch off.

So yet again, for an Ind-Pak World Cup match, I had nothing but radio commentary; got a chance to refresh some of my “book” Hindi. But thank god for “Akaash Vaani”, I could still follow the game. Also found out that there was a 15-20 second delay between radio commentary and Star Cricket feed, for there was a short delay between my celebrating a Pak wicket and my neighbors loud cheering. So much for that! The annoying little part about the Akaash Vaani commentary was the premature declaration of India’s victory – at the fall of Afridi’s wicket – and interview with Rathnakar Shetty on the successfully “completed” World Cup.

This gave me a chance to appreciate the power of visual information. You see so much visually, and no amount of high pitched, emotionally charged audio can replace one snap shot. A picture is truly worth a thousand words!

After all the firecrackers, it started to settle that after 2003, India have made it to another World Cup final. Heart also went to Afridi and Pakistan’s heart broken fans. But somebody had to lose this. Only wish the match was a closer one!


Why India lost to Pakistan? – ICC Champions Trophy 2009

September 28, 2009

The freakish record we held against Pakistan is gone now and I can’t say it doesn’t hurt. Granted, Pakistan weren’t the strongest team of the 8 that play the Champions Trophy. But there have been other times lately when they weren’t as strong, but we weren’t this disrespectful either.

India went about this pompously. We didn’t respect Pakistan as a worthy opponent on the cricket field. We expected to throw some stuff at them and for them to fall prey to it. They don’t have batting solidity; their bowlers don’t have the experience; Afridi is a freak; Yousuf is selfish; Asif may not play. All this we said; maybe for a second, even if we forgive such arrogance, we cannot pardon the disrespect for the history that has been India-Pakistan cricket. India didn’t see this a match they must win, didn’t see it as stepping stone to the semi final, didn’t even see it as a clash worth its popcorn money. They saw it as just some cricket match. If we lose this, we need to win the other two.Β  That’s all it was.

If India lose to Australia and the West Indies and don’t make it to the semis, I won’t feel as let down as I felt after this loss. India-Pakistan was special, and it doesn’t seem to be anymore. That is a loss that’s hard to explain but will leave most Indian cricket fans with a dull headache that ceases to throb.


South Africa choke again – Champions Trophy 2009 Roundup

September 28, 2009

What a roller coaster it’s been thus far? Sri Lanka beat South Africa and then loses to New Zealand and a Aussie-battered England. South Africa beat New Zealand but lose to England.

In the other group, tournament favorites (despite their issues) Australia suffer a scare against what they called a “second string” West Indies. Pakistan almost lose to West Indies and then embarrass the #1 ODI team India (more on this in my next post).

All these developments make the tournament more interesting upto the semi finals, but it remains to be seen if the interest levels prevail if the top 3 ODI teams don’t make it to the semi finals. Forget the ICC ratings, don’t we want to watch the best battle it out? Does wining two games in a row make a team better than one which has won several games in trott in the past which has bought them the interest and respect of cricket lovers world wide? Many questions that need answering. I will hold my opinions till the end of the trophy.

Who shall we blame now? Chokers South Africa or free spirited England? Shall we blame Andrew Strauss for denying Smith the runner? I do actually, because runners have been provided before for cramping batsmen, esp from the sub continent, and by denying the runner Strauss showed how insecure he was about Smith being there. Isn’t it easier to effect a run out when you’ve got three people trying to communicate with one another about taking a run? Returning to the blame game, shall we blame the injuries for India’s loss?

The organizers need to wake up about the pitch making malpractices. I have seen at least two games so far where the pitch played a Man-of-Match worthy role in a team’s victory. Not to take away from Shah-Collingwood or Malik-Yousuf in the games England and Pakistan played against South Africa and India respectively, but there was nothing in this for the seamers. If ODI cricket dies, let us not blame the format, for there is more to this than meets the eye.


Can South Africa do it again? SA vs. Aus Test1, Jo’burg 09

March 1, 2009

For those who are crying about the death of Test Cricket, where are you? What are you watching? Sorry, SL and Pak, but I couldn’t survive even 5 overs of that Test match. While Paul Collingwood and Ravi Bopara added some excitement to a mostly boring match, with the result of the result still undecided, there is still some life in that one. But this one is a cracker of a Test match, with today’s play worth every minute of the Sunday afternoon/evening.

Jacques Kallis turned the tables for South Africa today with an inspired spell of bowling, one which he hasn’t produced for some time. This is what South Africa have been missing for some time – an in form Kallis. If he can pitch in 80-100 odd with the bat, this match may be South Africa’s. Four Australian wickets fell in matter of 5 overs and the Aussies were slowly but surely lost grip on this Test. The only disappointment for me was Dale Steyn. I was expecting a fiery over to Peter Siddle after what Steyn received from the latter yesturday.

After wrapping up Australia for 207, the hosts put up a solid start. If Smith didn’t throw his wicket away with that mistimed shot, the outlook would be almost euphoric. The task is yet a good ask – 276 runs from 90 overs with 8 wickets – that’s a health 3 odd runs an over and some strokes of luck. I’ll be rooting for South Africa! Go Kallis! Go South Africa!

Side note: The umpiring has been pathetic to say the least. Fellow blogger Soulberry and Som have done a better job – one with concern and the other with humor – in describing just how hopeless the umpiring situation is. Blind as bat Bucknor is with Billy Bowden, who is slowly but surely loosing my respect. Given the way things have gone, one would think the series is being played in Australia for they have had the benefit of some of the most ridiculous referrals. The umpire referral system is a joke – we have three huge egos clashing instead of two. Interestingly, they seem to have a ploy of sticking to togather in their “crisis”. Can we stop the referral system and move on, please?


Cricket Quickies: from Vengsarkar to Yuvraj and Younis

November 16, 2008

Yes, I promise to keep this short, for I’ve been rambling too much and I’m short of time but not of enthusiasm.

While channel surfing today, I caught a special on India’s tour of Australia in 1986 – an ODI at the MCG. Sunil Gavaskar was batting with a somber looking South India, whom I correctly guessed to be our very own Chika. While Chika’s simple style (at least of what I’ve seen in this innings) was catching indeed, what surprised me more was Dilip Vengsarkar. I’ve only known this man for the unkind words he’s had to say of Dravid. Today I got to the see the batting talent (among other things) that got him to the place from which he barbed. What struck me most in his expansive use of the crease, the sort of which reminds me of some 20-20 batsmen of late. The disregard for the stump guard that Vengsarkar displayed in this innings seemed very contemporary and is certainly not something I would have attributed to the batsmen from that age. Another thing that surprised me is that the next generation – Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and Co – did not seem to have this disregard for the stump guard, but in fact meticulously guarded it and in effect seem perhaps rather orthodox given such precedents. If you’re thinking I’ve watched only one innings from the 80s and that my observations are off-base, do enlighten me.

Meanwhile, “flat-pitch-bully” Yuvraj slammed an impressive century at Rajkot and the cricket site are abuzz with polls of whether Yuvi should make it to the Test middle order. Strangely 72% of cricketnext visitors seemed to think so, while 52% of cricinfo visitors seem to think not! Strange isn’t it? I’d be interested in knowing the age groups of the folks to who’ve voted and their vote. In case you’re wondering, I voted against, on both the sites. πŸ™‚

Another thought struck me today while watching parts of Pak vs. WI clash today. While I’ve labeled most of India’s recent ODI matches as boring, I found this one to be the contrary. I was not yawning, or absently glaring, waving my hands unconsciously when a four was hit, but was actually watching. There was class in Younis’s batting today (Ten Sports interrupted this with the ICL). There were elements from the ’90s batting, wristy flicks and “towards the ground” shots reserved in Indian cricket only to Tests nowadays. Call me old fashioned, but this was good ‘old cricket, without the fracas. May it live long!


The Asia Cup 2008 – another inconsequential tournament?

June 24, 2008

The Asia Cup 2008 involving the India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and UAE has just begun. Anybody cares? Perhaps the UAE and Hong Kong folk do and rightfully so.

To me this is just another inconsequential tournament with contest involving what has now become the usual bores – India-Pakistan-Bangladesh. Sri Lanka somehow seems a little less boring – or maybe that’s just me. Fellow bloggers on my blogroll and I have said much about the India-Pakistan overkill, so I won’t go there. The tournament schedule is organized such that two teams get knocked-off (which will most likely be Hong Kong and the UAE). Then the bores will slug it out in round-robin fashion.

What I will be interested in is the UAE team – lot of expatriate folks from the sub-continent in this team. Call me crazy, but cable-operator willing, I would like to watch these matches. For all you know, some of these folk may have their basics right! πŸ™‚


Pakistan lift Kitply cup

June 17, 2008

After storming bad weather amid a barrage of criticism, Pakistan managed to beat India and lift the Kitply Cup. As an India supporter, I’m not too upset, in fact, I’m OK with it. Some sloppiness aside, it was an evenly matched contest that we got to see in the final. Although I didn’t watch the entire match and cannot comment on most of Pakistan’s batting and Indian new-found middle order, I must say that Pakistan did well to win. Maybe it had to do with the PCB Board members’ presence. πŸ™‚ Having said that, they seemed to lack self-belief. Until the fall of the 8th Indian wicket, they didn’t really believe that they had the match.

As for India, I got to see what I wanted to – the consequence of an Indian top order failure. As Pak broke thru the Delhi-Daredevils’ opening pair of Gambhir and Sehwag, the Indian batting seemed only a bit better than that of Delhi Daredevils. I mean, you don’t expect Yuvraj to hang around and play a long innings – he seems to have become more of a T20 batsman in ODI clothes with the temperment not helping one bit. Dhoni coming down low in the order didn’t help, neither did Irfan Pathan’s struggling angled-bat shots. Being beaten several times, Irfan seems to have lost it. I remember the days when he used to open the batting with Tendulkar, and then open the bowling. What has happened to that batsmen?

Meanwhile, too much cricket has indeed been played over the past couple of months. That is perhaps to blame for some of the loss of intensity. But then again, it’s only just another one of the zillions of cups. Do you also feel this way? Is this just another cup? Does this loss of India mean anything to you? If it doesn’t is that because there have been too many ODI tournaments or that India’s recent success has made us more tolerant as fans?

As for me, I’m looking forward to the upcoming India-Sri Lanka Test series.