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.  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.


Looking forward to the India-Pakistan ODI Series

November 4, 2007

The much hyped India-Pakistan series is almost here. I see many things different about this series compared to the ones from the recent past. Firstly, both sides are young and fairly inexperienced (at least in comparison to teams from previous clashes). Secondly, both sides have new/inexperienced captains. Thirdly, I think, this time they are more evenly matched than ever before; and this is the case chiefly due to the absence of some key players from both sides: Inzamam for Pakistan, Dravid for India (although it remains to be seen if Dravid will make a comeback later in the ODI series).

The Youth vs. the Wise
If there is anything that adds the extra spice to the already red-hot series, it is the youth. The youth are known to be fearless, yet can also be reckless. The lack the wisdom that comes with grey hair and perhaps the temperament required to poke around and see through a wildly swinging new ball. This is good reason to expect more of the extremes: massive 20-20 style hitting leading ala Uthappa or Nazir leading to huge totals or low scoring matches caused by batting collapses.

New Captains
Malik and Dhoni are fairly new to the captain’s seat and this will be a test for both. But I see them as having very different personalities. Malik is the laid-back quiet type of guy (like Dravid in some ways, although not as cautious with the communication skills) who I think may not be able to inspire his young guns. Dhoni on the other hand, comes off as a no-nonsense, outspoken (enough to poke one although good-temperedly at Ravi Shastri) type of person who seems to be able to bring out the yearning from his young lads. More importantly, Dhoni is a gambler, a trait that many successful captains. If I were asked to pick the better of the both, though I have a little bit of a soft corner for Malik – I’ve never had one for any other Pakistani captain I’ve seen – it would be Dhoni without a doubt.

More Evenly Matched than Ever
I remember this thought I had from a few years ago. I always thought that Pakistan had a lot of wild cards in their batting line up: people who, if it starts to go well, could blaze away ala Moin Khan, Imran Nazir and Shahid Afridi. Today, with Tendulkar and Ganguly becoming increasingly susceptible (thanks to replays) the absence of ‘Wall’ Dravid and the featuring of the flashy Yuvraj, Uthappa and Dhoni, the Indian middle order has the shares unpredictable wildness of its Pakistani counterpart. On the brighter side for India, its bowling has a little more sting than during the times of Srinath (with due respect). Pakistan’s bowling has always been its strength and I think it will continue to be the case this time also.

Players to watch
In an India-Pakistan series, one can expect to see something special from almost every member, but these are my picks for people to watch for:

India
Strength
: Batting – 75% Bowling – 60%
Batsmen: Robin Uthappa and Mahendra Singh Dhoni for fire power; Sachin Tendulkar for experience and class
Bowlers: Irfan Pathan – can get breakthroughs and make a difference in the middle overs
* Honorable mention: Rohit Sharma (if he gets picked) – potential to become a good #3; Sreesanth – we might see some substance behind the dramatic paceman; Murali Karthik – bamboozling spin

Pakistan
Strength
: Batting-65% Bowing- 70%
Batsmen: Imran Nazir and Shahid Afridi for pinch hitting power, Shoaib Malik and Younis Khan for stabilizing capability
Bowlers: Umar Gul – consistency, Shoaib Akthar – pace power
* Honourable mention: Afridi – his bowling might bother a few in the Indian batting line up.

Happy watching!