IPL murmurs: Mumbai smartest thus far?

January 28, 2009

News of IPL swaps have been doing the rounds for a few weeks now. With the Pakistani players doubtful for IPL’s season 2, the franchises seem to be in tizzy to replace them.

Bangalore’s Royal Challengers has Misbah on the roster but seems to have found a replacement in Robin Uthappa, who it was tactlessly swapped for Zaheer Khan. Apparently, sport is something Mallya has trouble understanding, for Zaheer was among the better performers for BRC last year and is in the form of his life at the moment. If that isn’t tactless enough, Mallya apparently is looking to make a captain out of Karnataka boy Uthappa. While that might be a moderately successful marketing ploy to get the local crowds crooning “Uthappa, six bekappa“, it would be a bit strange to have the likes of Kallis and Boucher reporting to the kid who doesn’t feature in India’s ODI line up. Granted, it is not out of the ordinary to expect that Mallya wants current skipper Dravid  replaced, Uthappa might not be the right choice either.

Mumbai have gained Zaheer at the cost of Nehra. They have also “gotten rid of” (if I may use the term) Uthappa, for whom they have a better replacement in the traded Delhi Daredevil batsmen Shikar Dhawan. There is still more to see before one toss the “smart” crown around, but Mumbai seem to be singing the smartest song thus far.


Hindustan Times interviews Dravid

June 22, 2008

Given his style of handling the media makes you think he would have succeeded in Hollywood, where elusiveness is a key ingredient to success. Yes, this is our very own Rahul Dravid.

Somehow I’ve always had a sense of awe about this man. Perhaps it’s his enigmatic nature, maybe it’s his penchant for orthodoxy, I can’t tell. What is so endearing about Dravid, at least for me, is that he is testament to the fact that introverted-ness and success are not mutually exclusive. Understandably, that is only when accompanied with grinding hard work, determination and talent.

There are things he does that seem to momentarily defy logic – his relinquishment of captaincy being a prime example – but make a lot of sense with time. Consider that after the disastrous World Cup 2007 campaign, he had not stepped down from captaincy. India go on a win an inconsequential, mostly relief-inducing series in Bangladesh and follow that up with a history-making Test series victory in England. Then the ODI-series loss in England and then Dhoni & Co. go and win the T20 World Cup. With the loss at the hands of the Aussies in the ODI series at home, shortly after the T20 World Cup, he would have gotten sacked as captain. In retrospect, a wise decision!

In this interview, he is characteristically Dravid, or Dravid as we know him. He speaks of the rather tumultuous year he has had: relinquishment of captaincy; having made his peace with losing a place in ODI side; reaching 10,000 runs in Test cricket,which he downplays while shedding light on his unbroken attendance record in Tests; and his criticism laden stint in the IPL. There is nothing new on the stepping-down-from-captaincy front. “I just felt the time had come to move on, and I just knew it”, synonymous with his earlier “ captaincy has a sell-by-date” reasoning. On the IPL, says Dravid, “..playing T20 cricket was new to me and I wanted to see how I’d go in that form of the game.” When asked about his run in the IPL and mud and slush that Mallya turned out to be, he stays with the safe “..there were other things that could have gone a bit better as well both on and off the field”. He doesn’t say much despite the bitterness that he would have felt. The slightest indication comes only when he talks of his young son and says that he “nothing to live up to” when spending time with him. There are hints of retirement too, but not anything we wouldn’t expect. “I won’t be playing after five years”, is something that is almost obvious. The only unexpected part of the interview is his denial of adhering to “copybook style” cricket, for which he is a poster-boy.

Mostly a very predictable interview, yet worth a read. Check it out here.


More IPL Drama: of support, captaincy, thrashings and ban-reductions

May 17, 2008

The IPL has become the new source of endless drama, probably the best reality TV ever. There has been more off-the-field action than even a tour of Australia. 

 

Where shall I begin. Yes, the Shoaib story. Media sources now reveal that BCCI’s knee-jerk cousin PCB might soften down Shoaib’s five-year ban. Considering that it might be based solely on his show for the Kolkata Knight Riders, is that justified? Not really. Neither was the five-year ban that was slapped on him only weeks ago.

 

On the Bangalore front, some buffoonery is now being offered for free. Apparently, BRC’s Praveen Kumar ended up in a police station for involvement in a drunken brawl with a doctor in his hometown of Meerut. While fellow blogger Ottayan asks two questions on this. I have only one question, which is Ottayan’s second: Praveen, was it Kingfisher or Royal Challenge?  J

 

Furthermore, after VVS Laxman’s show of support for Dravid, his Royal Challengers’ team mate, Kumble minces nothing while adding to the support in his Hindustan times column, saying that those who matter must understand what sport is about. Mallya in response, has half-heartedly declared faith in his team, after reiterating concerns on team performance and selection. Dr. Mallya, it is about the people, the faces who wear the team T-shirt. If you aren’t supporting the people in the team, what is the Royal Challengers team? Just a red-and-yellow T-shirt.

 

Meanwhile, Kolkata Knight Riders owner Shah Rukh on being asked of the corporate culture and sacking creeping into cricket, gushes over having Ganguly as captain till he turns 106. Ganguly, on the other hand, had only diplomatic answers when asked of Dravid’s position.

 

“..Rahul Dravid is a great friend of yours. What if Vijay Mallya were to tell Rahul, ‘I don’t want you as a captain.’ Would you like that as a cricketer?

Sourav Ganguly: I’ve been in the situation of not being wanted as a captain (laughs). I haven’t liked it so I am sure Rahul won’t like it either.”

Perhaps, Ganguly is just thinking “nalla vennum, da unakku” (Tamil for now it’s your turn). I only hope that we don’t loose Dravid through this crisis.

 Back to cricket, Mumbai routed Kolkata today for an embarassing 67 from 15-odd overs. I almost wrote a post before the match with some hype for Ganguly, Shoaib, and Kolkatta’s odds, but my pre-match-hype-jinxed stopped me. But not posting didn’t help Kolkata, though Sachin flopped royally with a duck. Something told me that today, Tendulkar will get his first IPL duck, and for the first time, I wasn’t too upset about it.


Bangalore Royal Challengers face the heat – sacking begins

May 7, 2008

With the sacking of Charu Sharma as CEO of the enterprise, Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers seems to be facing an off-the-field crisis in addition to losing woes. Apparently, bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad is on his way out too. I suspect Dravid will be next. I don’t know what the sacking of the CEO can do, when the problems are on the field. The BRCs don’t seem to have any team spirit going for them. Seven games into the tournament, they don’t have an opening combination. The international players in the team seem indifferent to say the least.

As fellow blogger Apurv notes, there seems to be very little sympathy for Dravid, and that after a desperate yet scintillating, classical-cricket knock against Kings XI Punjab (which is btw, the most uninspired name). After seeing all the nothing-shots and slogs going for four and getting applause, it was a goose-bump moment to see Dravid almost effortlessly cut and drive so beautifully. That 66 off 50-odd balls was a treat to watch and would have been worth its weight in gold if only the other batsmen chipped in. So dismal was the showing of the Bangalore team against Mohali, that apart from Dravid’s 66 and Kohli’s 30-odd, the 10 extras conceded was the next highest and the third double-digit score. They were in soup – duck soup (pun intended).

Most bloggers and media folk seem to be baying for Dravid’s blood with every loss. Granted, he got some of team selection wrong and is not the most inspired captains; but he would have expected a bit more support from the Test greats. Kallis has been a flop with the bat and ball and Boucher as unpredictable as the weather. Of the entire lot, Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan have given most bang for the buck.

In hindsight, it is fairly easy to speculate on the droopy-shouldered Bangalore team. Perhaps the knife had hanging at their throats for sometime now. One could almost sense that from Dravid and Zaheer’s desperate efforts. When the chips are down, nothing inspires more that trust and nothing deflates more that threats: a simple management principle that most people learn only when it’s too late.

Maybe this just goes to prove that people should stick to what they know best. Like I had mentioned before Cricket run by business men is like Tech companies run by those who don’t know more than a few buzzwords (and look for returns just as team is formed).

With such being the state of affairs, one can only feel sorry for the never-say-die man Rahul Dravid. 😦