Friday, October 24, 2008

First Interview?

Here is one gem you'd like to remember. Thanks to Anil and thanks to YouTube.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sublime 69 at Colombo ...

Sachin's "Quest for another First" begins in Sri Lanka and I hope he does it in style. I am sure he is looking to get many more than the required 172, to become the highest run getter in the Test Cricket.

Good luck, Sachin.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hmmm ... Injury

After the brilliant Sehwag Saga in the first test against South Africa in Chennai, Sachin had to be rested with a groin injury. This is sad, but true. He has to keep from overdoing his passion, I reiterate.

This was the point of my post on IPL and him being the part of Mumbai team for IPL. It is not called for.

The Steyn-Ntini duo ripped through the Indian batting line-up in the second test at Ahmedabad. It's probably impossible to save that match, with Kumble having difficulties (injury scare) and other main bowlers except Harbhajan struggling.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Taming of the Kangaroos ...

Congratulations to Indian team for this picture:

picture of Indian team

Of course, this is way too late. But the visitors did a marvelous job of pushing the mighty Australians, as they seem to slip from a lofty perch. Believe it or not, this is an amazing feat. It might be one of the best tours that Indian Cricket team has ever had! Doing it to them in their country is a really tough task, mentally and physically. It must have taken a toll on everyone's body and mind, but in the end, Indians emerged victorious. That was unforgettable.

Sachin, without a doubt, was the hero of the series. Gautam played brilliantly, although I felt he was in a hurry to end it, Dhoni led tactfully, Ishant and Praveen bowled penetratingly well, everyone fielded superbly. I don't think this alone wins a match or a series against Australia because playing them is a different thing. Winning against them is something several thought was unheard of, at least in recent times.

Arguably, if you play better cricket than Australia, you can win. I always believed in that. But playing against Australia takes so many different shades and covers such a vast set of skills both on- and off-the-field that it is rarely a possibility. No doubt, they play hard, they give more than 100%. But they play a war, not a sport, where for one to win, other has to lose.

Years and years ago, I had a debate with a friend of mine who believed that you should compete to enjoy. I insisted that you should compete to win. It's hard to say who was right, because the terms of competition were not disclosed. Well, I always thought that you use all your sport-skills to win. Winning has to be the oxygen that keeps the sport lively.

But with lot at stake, this can easily be misused. The tactics of Australians were all hidden till now. They were the masters of doing the things they do on-the-field. Sledging was their 12th man on-field, when going got tough. A little mischief, a slur here and there, a nasty non-cricketing, beamer-like-delivery when a is getting to a 100 -- it all looks like a Script-To-Win-At-Any-Cost, from a distance.

Sachin is a gentleman and maybe that's why he accepted Brett's apology for the beamer

that hit him on the helmet. Repercussions of this act would have changed the outcome of the game. Now, yes, I do agree it was a slip. But was it not intentional? Can't say. Can you discount Brett Lee and say he would have never meant it? Can't say. Really, can't say. If I were naive enough, I'd have dismissed any possibility of a foul play here. But if I am aware that one of the teams is a win-hungry team, it changes my perception of the team, and sadly, of their game!

Against such a team, India pulled off an amazing series win. I never saw Australians getting out in such a programmatic fashion. I hope there is no match-fixing involved here, because both teams fought bitterly and reputation was at stake.

As an Indian, I feel bad when Harbhajan and Sreesanth mistake some pompous comments. But I now think that it is pardonable and perhaps, part of the overall game, if all you want to do is win.

What distinguishes Sachin is the fact that all he wants to do is play, play for the team he's part of. He's accepted the simple Numero Uno Rule that to win, you have to know what a defeat is like, and of course, you can't be winning forever.

I don't think Australians are in the trenches. They are going to bounce back from their disheartening loss, probably with a vengeance. But this series has done wonders and I think this India's tour of Australia proved it to world that Aussies are beatable with or without the help of the tricks that they are leaders of.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

His 42nd was his first ...

I guess I don't have to write anything about the Sydney Cricket Ground century that Sachin scored so flawlessly. It's an innings full of training to everyone. The guy has left no doubt in the minds of the best of the skeptics.

But the way the Australians make use of all available avenues through body language is remarkable. It's so evident that they want to win at any cost.

Isn't the Australia tour turning out to be a highlight of his career?

Night will soon transform into a beautiful dawn in California. During his innings, I have cried, wept, sobbed, been thrilled and awed. Most importantly, I enjoyed this innings quite thoroughly.

Thank you, Sachin!

Friday, February 29, 2008

A Fair Comparison ...

I think S Rajesh has done a fair comparison of several batsmen (not a wise thing to do, but it seems we need this kind of articles ;)) to come up with something that Sachin can set as his next goal ...

Read the complete article here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Late Reaction to Australian Season and the IPL Drama ...

All right, all right. I should have written before and lot has happened too. I had certain things to take care of and couldn't log on to the blogosphere.

Well, well, well. I think this article describes what the genius has gone through, very well. The one thing that must not be forgotten while comparing cricketers (actually, you should not even compare) is the amount of cricket that they have been made to play. I think Sachin has played rather too much of cricket. It is not just the number of years, but the number of times each year. A human body is not going to sustain that kind of abuse should I say. I understand that he knows it, but I guess that there is a sentiment of doing-it-all, taking-the-burden that I see underlie his approach to the game he's mastered and wants to do it more.

This is speaking for Sachin. But I really think that that is the case (not that it matters). I see the guy willing to undertake everything to win. That's hardly professional in a team game. He needs the much coveted luck. He gets it sometimes but most of the time, he's not lucky.

The wear and tear is proportional to longevity. It's time that he considers the amount of cricket he plays.

Let's look at the statistics of the India's tour of Australia. Unlike he speculated, I don't think this is the highlight of his career, but it is up there.

  1. Innings played: 08. Runs scored: 493. Average: 70.42 (Only second to Matthew Hayden who was rested at the Perth Test).
  2. This is superior to both Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid who were both better than him in 2003-4. In 2003-4, Rahul had scored phenomenal 619 against Ponting's 706.
  1. Did not play the only T-20 and everyone wondered why he didn't play.
  2. Till now, has scored a paltry 128 in 7 matches. But then there is a game against SL and if he is not dropped from the squad, he can (and will) uplift the average.
  3. Only other players who also played the Tests and are doing better than Sachin are Hayden and Ponting (thanks to the Sydney Hundred) with 161 and 188 runs respectively.
So, what's the fuss? Agreed, both Dhoni and Gambhir have played remarkably well under pressure and that has put India where it is today, but don't blame Sachin alone for the apparent debacle and must-win situation against Sri Lanka at Hobart.

It's just too much of cricket that distinguishes him from others. One can always argue that Ponting also plays that much or more cricket. But there is an undeniable difference and that is the difference between teams. Australia are a more disciplined team. They had Bevan and then Hussey who just won't get out. They will steady the ship no matter what. I agree, Dhoni has started coming of age and he is doing a marvelous job of leading a young team. But that's only a recent story. Australians can play care-free cricket because they have professional approach. Everyone wants Sachin to play his vintage game (Oh for Goodness' sake, I am tired of the phrase "Vintage Sachin") but not take chances.

And there is another difference and that's of bowling attack. Look at the way Sreesanth and Pathan bowled to Australians in 10th CB-Series Match. Too much of width and too short for too long! I hate to say this, but if Sachin were to get that kind of bowling ...

I agree, Malinga's delivery that squared him up was a gem and I am sure Sachin won't forget that delivery ever.

I am sure he can play a cautious knock of 50-odd runs and then all the people would say that they are not used to seeing him that way. Oh Come on! Every batsman however great he may be, has to get through lean patch and has to laboriously get himself out of that. He wants more luck in such cases. Fortunately for India, Sachin did not have to undergo long patches (with reasonable amount of cricket) of inactivity. But these careful knocks are a must to get back into the rhythm.

So, the point is curtail the amount of cricket and there comes the paradox in this article. I almost am spellbound by the Indian Premier League. The story of IPL is so mind-blowing that I wonder if this is for the better of cricket or ways for the wealthier to get even more so. Several tycoons and celebrities on Indian media and business are involved in this storm. More ironically, Sachin has accepted to take the iconic status for the Mumbai IPL Squad!

This is unbelievable. Am I seeing the other face of celebrities (who are remarkable at their trade) who would do anything to remain in the lime-light? I hope not. I hope Sachin does not want to do it for the sake of lime-light and money.

Who's going to read my blog? I am not a popular columnist for any big-budget news-paper or web-site. I am not even sure if my blog post will appear in any search-engine query on relevant subject. I am just a Sachin Tendular fan, but a fan of a different kind.

On 24th Feb 2008, I write that I am surprised by Sachin's decision to play for the IPL. I know he knows all about it, but still, I want to cry out loud saying "Your health is much more important than this money-coated, mind-blowing league called IPL". Please try to keep away from it!

If I want Sachin to read any one of my posts, it is this one.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Brilliant 71 in III Test at Perth ...

It was a windy and hot afternoon and Sachin paced his innings well, playing some great strokes. He should have gone on to make yet another 100. He looked in great touch. Lee bowled beautifully and I don't remember any occasion other than being beaten once and then surviving a really close call against Symonds (when he was on 49). The actual call that adjudged him LBW was a poor one, but that's part of the game. As Sachin walked though, he did look shocked by that call.

Yet again, he rejuvenated Rahul's confidence. Both played some brilliant strokes. 

62+15+154*+12+71 = 314 at an average of 63.5. This still does not look like a highlight of his career, but there are 3 more innings to come! 

Sydney test is probably the one of the most written about tests and I am not going to waste my words on it. I just want India to level the series and I don't think it is impossible. We must not think we have to just halt Aussies at 16 wins in a row. Draw is a draw, not India's win.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Century to Remember!

I am fortunate to have witnessed that back-foot stroke off Clark by Sachin that took him to 100 in a really challenging situation. The brilliance of the Little Master prevailed again when it was needed the most and this time he did it in such a style that I just can't describe what I saw on the third day of the Sydney test. A few things should be pondered though.

First, here are the missed opportunities to score a hundred because of getting out in the nineties (in both Tests/ODIs), in the past year or so (thanks to Statsguru):
  1. ODI: June 2007 -- 99 Vs. SA [2592]
  2. ODI: June 2007 -- 93 Vs. SA [2593]
  3. Test Match: July 2007 -- 91 Vs. England [1841]
  4. ODI: August 2007 -- 99 Vs. England [2613]
  5. ODI: September 2007 -- 94 Vs. England [2619]
  6. ODI: November 2007 -- 99 Vs. Pakistan [2644]
  7. ODI: November 2007 -- 97 Vs. Pakistan [2646]
This is important to note because these stats don't make a lot of sense to Sachin like he said after the Gwalior ODI. To quote him (while receiving the Player of the Match award): "If I pay attention to this (not getting to a 100), it will become harder for me!"

This is exactly what he's been doing and that's why this hundred is so important for him and for all of us. After the interview, this is what he had to say (again, thanks to cricinfo):

"It was a relief," says Tendulkar [on reaching his 100]. "I had missed several in the last year. 2007 was good but it would have been better had I completed those 100s. The only time I looked at the scoreboard [today] was when I was on 98.

"In Melbourne when I came into bat the field was attacking and I could play shots. Here I felt if I could pace my innings well, it would help my team. VVS [Laxman] batted fantastically and was nicely supported by Rahul and that set it up for us."

"I always believed that Harbhajan could get some runs," Tendulkar said. "I told him that this was the time to prove himself and his ability. He put his head down and did a fantastic job. I also told him not to stop playing his shots because the field was in for him and spread for me. He batted fabulously.

"The fielders were either half-way or at the fence for me, so there was no point playing a rash shot, when the field came up for the lower order batsmen there were gaps for them to score runs."

His interview tells it all. I almost sobbed as he waived his stretched arms toward the skies. So many subtleties and facets of a genius of a cricketer were shown by the master! The rules as he described, are simple: Stick to basics. Use your head. Cricket is a mind game. That's what's required to take your team from 6/330 to 10/532 against arguably the best bowling attack. It's not the usual. It is not the stereotyped. Every time you go out there, you have to adapt to the situation of the game. I can hardly do anything else while watching the game of cricket. Every move, look, action of the players is so delicate and subtle. Brilliant swing and reverse swing bowling with well-disguised change-of-pace, the gentle roll of the wrists, the spontaneous whisper-cum-shout of a "two" to the non-striker immediately after playing a shot in the no-man's-land, the mid-wicket fielder being moved slightly laterally, the number of overs bowled with the old ball, switching of the bowling ends, approaching lunch/tea/drinks break, use of unorthodox and improvised (but not unintentional) shots -- Oh! I am already on my way of being emotional about how effortless masters are, about their art!

Of course, there will be an all round applause of this brilliant century. II day belonged to VVS and his brilliant stokeplay and III day to the Little Master and his forceful knock. Two masterful innings!

The match is at an interesting juncture. It's tricky for both Australia and India. But given the track record and failure of Dhoni and Yuvraj to stick to basics, I am a bit nervous. It does look like India should be able to draw this one (if not win), but a lot depends on RP Singh, Kumble and Harbhajan.

Oh boy, life is so wonderful!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ponting Should (Just) Respect Umpire Decisions ...

Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.

Of course, Australia won the series 4-2. But the point is about Ponting's poignant attitude. He mentioned during the interview that Murali Karthik was out (caught behind) and yet was not adjudged so. He also went on to say that the result of the match would have been different had he been given out. This kind of interview is simply ridiculous, Mr. Ponting. Here is why:

Venue: The SCG, Australia.

Ganguly bowled a slower one outside the leg and Ponting definitely caressed it. It carried and Dhoni held it well. Snick-o showed that there was a faint edge and he was out. Well, he should have walked, because only he knew that he was out. It is not the umpire's fault. Umpires have a really tough job. It is up to the batsmen (with attitude) to do their job. Umpires, their relevance in the game of cricket, use of video equipment to aid umpires make a decision are all things to ponder about, but what Ponting did on this occasion is not walking the talk. On Star Sports, Gavaskar kept on coming back to it while commentating, and I fully support him in doing so. 

The point is not about whether or not a batsman should walk when he knows he's out. It's about what a supposedly sensible batsman should do on such occasions. It's about having respect toward certain things even when things are going your way and you are an exciting player to watch.