Test…..Cricket

I am not writing because India has won the test match and leveled the series, I am writing to explain myself why we won and why we should win.

Perceptions are like mirror, you see what you see in front of it,  you see what you also want to see. I do not know if its a mistake to come to an opinion based on few incidents but, I can say for sure that given some circumstances, if a person acts out of selfishness and disguises himself to overcome defeat, then I would definitely say that opinions can be changed. I had great respect for Sangakkara and Jayawardhane as they are two of Cricket’s most prized bastmen. However, recent incidents have prompted me to change my opinion not on their batting abilities but their deceptive practices. There were a total of 5 incidents with Sangakkara appealing caught behind when very clearly either the ball has missed the bat or the bat the pad are in different zip codes and the ball has brushed the pads and was given out. These incidents happened during a spinners spell and keeper stands right behind the sumps. He is no ordinary wicket keeper nor an inexperienced campaigner. For his stature, he knows what is right and what is wrong and yet he chose the path of deception. Jayawardhane normally stands in slips again during spinner spells and either he held a catch off of the pad or taken it after a pitch, repeating this incidence again more than 6 times recently and yet appealed and got the wicket. Anyway, the discussion is not about these two individuals. Its about team India.

So Jayawardhane had an opinion  that India does not deserved to be #1 in Test ranking because they were able to beat them by 10 wickets in the first test match. He was partly right for the fact that Indian never went with their #1 team to Sri Lanka. Had that been the case, Jayawardhane would be putting socks in his mouth for all the three tests. He is wrong because his team is almost in second place but have never won a test match against India in India and Australia in Australia. So their credibility does not give them an advantage of speaking about ranks. There is a difference between #1 Team and #1 Side. While the Team means that a specific set of players needs to be present, a side is any player playing for that country. We did not took our #1 Test team to Sri Lanka and only represented with a #1 Test Side. However, a commendable performance from the team made sure that they draw the series and with thumping authority. Had Sri Lanka lost any toss, they would have never won a match, forget about winning in my opinion it would all have been innings defeat for them. India showed why they are #1 side, placing their first and second innings of the 3rd test match to perfection. Had not our run-rate is in excess of 5 in the 1st innings with Sehwag’s blistering batting literally putting his left leg on Sangakkara’s head, there would have not been any result for the match as Sri Lanka were always trying to save the match rather than winning it, they displayed their ability in the second test match by exactly doing it.

I do not deny that Sri Lanka is a good side, but they are immature and deceptive. Ishant Sarma’s wicket was a good example of Sri Lanka’s sportive incompetence and umpire’s inability to overcome pressure. Much hyped Mendis was nullified while “I don’t know why Malinga bowls” ended up expensive. To declare Mendis a spinner in itself is a big joke (sorry! but I do not have anything against him). He himself does not know what he is bowling. All he does is to vary his finger positions frequently and see what happens. Unlike orthodox spinner or an orthodox break bowler, his bowling is inconsistent to the best. You ask him to bowl two similar balls, forget about the spin, he would not be able to do it. His run up to the stumps and delivery far disqualifies him to be called a spinner. Sri Lanka always had these deceptive advantages, one with Muralitharan who got an exception from ICC to be able to bend his arm, as if there are no spinners in that country who can bowl without bending an arm.

Test Cricket and Cricket in general is a joke in Sri Lanka, they would like play on player’s disabilities and deceptive practices rather than playing on merit and skill. I don’t know whether Jayawardhane knows that his side does not even deserve playing Test Cricket or not, but definitely they should not be in 2nd or 3rd position. I am glad that India had won this match as more than themselves it was critics and unreasonable cricket fanatics (self declared Indian Team haters) who needed their win. It will satisfy their ego of going against their own team and give an opportunity to shut their mouths for a while until India loses another one.

All the teams have produced some of the best Cricketing ambassadors and yet India had the unique distinction of producing ‘the greatest’. Dravid’s legacy is much bigger than his failure in this test series and Harbhajan’s intelligent bowling is more than his failure (of course few people knew that he was not even physically fit to play for that matter any match due to flu). Suresh Raina has maturity in his batting and I am glad that we are again producing some great batsmen of his calibre. Irrespective of how consistently he scored, certain players show the ability to learn from mistakes that take them to great heights. Samaraweera is one such great example on Sri Lanka’s side. His resilience, attitude, ability is what makes him a great cricketer, I hope to see him and scale new heights in his career and contribute greatly to Sri Lanka’s cricket.

Understanding the game and thinking to have understood the game are different. Even a persona like Tendulkar says how he learn new things every time, we are mere mortals. The game has enough charm, brain, wit, fortitude and brilliance that it always scores above the pupil who play it.

Long live Test Cricket and Test…………Cricket.

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GOD SPEAK

I wonder myself how it would be to listening to God’s voice? And then I get the answer this morning. It sound sweet, sweet as in when Sachin hits a cover boundary, a roar like an exquisite straight drive, sublime like an backward punch to extra cover, rhythmic like an exceptionally timed flick and dominating like an fiery pull over mid-wicket.

AND GOD SPOKE TODAY!

My friends tell me (they actually taunt) that comparing Sachin to God is little overboard, he is not that great and sometimes its not right. And, personally I think they are ignorant. Did they see God anytime, do they know what he did, do they really think that God is about lifting mountains with his little finger, killing the demons with the blink of an eye, drinking an ocean full of water in one gulp and endless other mysterious and superlative deeds? Well then they got is absolutely wrong, as it proves that not only they do not know anything about God but they pretend that God exists. God is about doing right and more so with an unconditional love and nothing else.

Sachin is not great because he plays every shot in the dictionary of cricket and he scored tons of runs and milestones just feel at this feat with relative ease. He is great because he LOVE the game, he is great because he RESPECTS the game, he is great because he believes what he do is right, UNCONDITIONALLY. I am blessed to have seen him play today, not because this is one of his best knocks, not because how he approaches the game, because he made me forget for a while, what the greatest sorrow a man has, DEATH. My cousin husband’s untimely death has left me with a sorrowed heart and spending that last 4 days until they were aboard a flight to India was a lifetime experience. Her life has changed forever and there is nothing but time, that can heal the wounds and but for lending my deepest sorrows, I am humanely mortal to give her life back.

Having deep love towards the game of Cricket made me woke up today morning although my wife didn’t like the fact that I was putting myself out of rest from the last 4 days or so. I told her, I would only watch Sachin’s batting today and will go back to sleep after that. God had other plans today, he wanted me lighten up my heavy heart with his words (strokes). He wanted me to witness the truth, he wanted me to watch doing right and….I had.

Critics are ordinary humans, who paint their failures often on one’s success. But when you talk about God, you are often left with one side and one choice, YES!

Today, the God spoke and I listened.

Unconquered

This might sound irony or a blunt weapon to invite criticism that I am an ‘unconditional’ fan of Indian Cricket Team. Taking nothing away from South Africa on their wonderful performance, I still insist that they haven’t bet the World #1 team yet. With no Dravid, Lakshman I do not think that we can even call this team a team. Minus Kallis and Amala, SA wold be a bunch of jokers, with all due respect. Me and my friend who plays his usual ‘gully’ cricket in MA, often debate over Cricket matches and he takes great pride in supporting any team playing opposite to India. Of course, he doesn’t understand Cricket a bit and his ignorance towards the game matches my younger son’s visionary over his Nintendo DS.

More than anything this is selection panel’s loss. Sehwag has proved that he can wack the same Steyn around all around the park faster than he can bowl. Paul Harris stuck to his ‘negative’ line of bowling which remembers me Steve Waugh’s down-under game with India. Wherein Amit Mishra with his orthodox action might have missed a trillion edges of SA’s batting. In plain terms, other than Steyn’s success they rode completely over luck. Kallis was almost run-out when he was on 2 and he did not had a clue what length Mishra was bowling to and their edges out weigh their total score by zillions. Again, irony it may sound, look at the way our main batsmen got out, more than the bowling it was shot selection. In a given day, Sehwag can put 11 out of 10 outside the off stump balls to boundary (you can build a china-wall, it will still pierce through). The team lost the test even before the first ball was bowled, having no choice but to pick Saha (no offenses on Saha) who never in his life have dreamt of making a debut because a stand-by got injured that morning 15 minutes before the play.

Tet match is about sessions and nothing else. Gauti might have made two consecutive erroneous decisions, but he seldom does that and Kolkata will be a perfect place to set that right. Hoping that Lakshman will come back to the game, we still miss Dravid, who at #3 places his innings with perfection. India should forget what happened at Kanpur as SA did not win that game, its India who have lost its game, right from selection time. Sreesanth and Raina have been called back to the squad (hilarious than it sounds) as it makes it no better combination. My pick would be,

  1. Gambhir
  2. Sehwag
  3. Vijay
  4. Sachin
  5. Lakshman
  6. Kohli
  7. Dhoni
  8. Harbhajan
  9. Mishra
  10. Zaheer
  11. Sreesanth

If Badrinath or Raina plays in place of Kohli, I don’t think it would make too much different and Gambhir should be 1st down while promoting Vijay to open the innings.

Dhoni is an excellent captain and he accepts his mistakes more boldly than any other captain around. He was playing with 8 instead of 11 players and I do not blame him for that. If Bhajji resorts to ‘negative’ line, I guess SA will take decades to search for the ball. Game is ON.

20

God chooses individuals to reach him not by worship but by work. Rajaji explains the similarities between ‘bhakti’ and ‘wisdom’, ‘devotion’ and ‘knowledge’ before the ‘Bhajagovindam’ rendering by the divine voice of MS. When knowledge matures and issues out in action, it transforms into ‘bhakti’. This however is human being’s finding of ultimate truth and there are few individuals who reached that peak ever. Whatever one does, if he or she can transform that into ‘bhakti’, there is not tunnel nor light after that, as they would’ve already reached that place. Personally there are only three individuals who reached that peak in their lives and proudly they are all Indian. Adi Sankara, Mahatma Gandhi and Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. While Gandhi took long to reach that place, both Sankara and Sachin had done it relatively quickly.

I am mere mortal to write about them nor qualified enough to win an argument, but one thing is certain that my understanding of those individuals gives me utmost happiness, without prejudice or price. Today marks Sachin’s entry into the official cricket world of 20 long years. There is no other individual ever born in the history of sports to have culminated to the point of what Sachin has, and achieved what he did, and I can bet my cents that I will not see such an individual in my lifetime. There were other peers and pasts who have adored this great game of Cricket but, no one had the ‘burden’ of Sachin.

It is that ‘burden’ that makes him THE INDIVIDUAL. If an entire nation can pause when he bats, it does not show what he is capable of, but shows his dignity and respect towards the work he does. He is worshiped not because he is an outstanding cricketer but for his honesty in what he does and the intent that carries on. Superlatives merely explain a man’s personality with lots of jujitsu, however a man’s passion is what drives him closer to the goal. He is a Godly figure across the world, but he seeks God in cricket than anywhere else. It is this divine relationship with the game that made him an unique personality hardly witnessed in our world. If individuals are credited with ‘man-of-the-match’ awards for performing better than the rest in a match, there would be no other person better than Sachin, who deserves ‘man-of-the-cricket’ award to have placed the game into billions of hearts.

Many argue and will continue to argue about this great man and will find weaknesses and dis-qualifications to satisfy and subdue their personal egos, but will fail and fall to their own persona. His humility is an example of being a MAN in a herd of people and his dedication will forever hold its high in its threshold. History had always been cruel to mankind, but rare gems like Sachin glorifies the time we pass and become part of it.

If Gandhi was a symbol of ‘simple’ truth, Sachin shall forever remembered as a ‘simple’ genius of cricket. Many follow the path of God but only few step along and our generation is gifted of having such a great man in its stride.

The curry and the kangaroo – Conclusion

Wondering why there is no Part 6 and 7 as we have one more one dayer to go? The reason is simple, India have lost the mantle in Hyderabad, let alone the Guwahauti match.

In any sport there are two ways to win, one by out-playing the opponent and the other being rewarded by a bad play from the opponent. For materialistic geeks and number buffs, this might sound crazy, leaving aside that they always draw the same conclusion in their personal lives.

India lost the Hyderabad game not because we gave too much runs to Australia or they have batted better than us, it is because of the fact that with 6 wickets in hand and a power-play left and to get to 40 odd runs was a small task for a team like India. Sachin was hardly supported from the other end as getting to the target was always at hands reach when he was in the crease. The wicket had played beautifully during the course of the innings and you don’t have excuses for committing mistakes. Few of my friends think that we lost because Sachin palyed a wrong shot and got out, reiterating their ignorance towards the sport as well as understanding the game. I tried to explain the sport in vain but their brains were pre-occupied. There is a saying that you can take an horse to water, but drinking is always in its hands.

Guwahauti match is more of retrofitting cricket than actual one-dayer, a most unfortunate event that India had to face. Dhoni concluded that the pitch did not behave badly and he is more than right in giving that statement. However, if he thought that the first 30 minutes were such crucial he should have opted for bowling rather than batting. If Johnson can induce swing on that pitch, Praveen Kumar would have been virtually unplayable. I do not blame him for choosing batting as he had to assert his confidence in that formidable batting lineup. But for Sachin all other batsmen got out for choosing wrong play. The ball that Sehwag and Gambhir got out was hit for a boundary by Sachin crying out loud that there is a way to negate the swing. Unfortunately for Sachin, the ball that he got out had stopped on him and there is little or no-credit given to bowler (sorry Bollinger!).

Giving no disrespect to Australia for putting up such a brave display of Cricket, the biggest reason for loosing the series is not because they played better Cricket but we played bad one. Agree or not, this is the fact and more than often you will agree with me when YOU face that in your lives.

I thought of writing a special article for Sachin on completing 17k runs and producing one of the finest knocks in the history of one-day Cricket, but refrained from doing so. The reason is simple, neither he would celebrate nor do I. His passion is to play for India and not for himself and the team let him down, more so than any player in the history of the game. For Cricket lovers (who know the game of course), his batting was more than a privilege and when the ball strikes the bat, you will know why?

I conclude this series of articles with this one by wishing my team India best of luck for all the future matches and tours and hope that they always loose a match FIGHTING HARD and always win a match by FIGHTING HARD.

The curry and the kangaroo – Part 5

“Commit all the crimes you can, God is busy watching Sachin Tendulkar bat”. It is not unusual to see comments like that when a great man is at crease. Brilliant knocks from Watson, Marsh and White has seen Australia post a mammoth 350 on the board and chasing that score is a near impossible task. One man on the brink of making 17000 runs in his ODI career stood alone in what has world witnessed a spectacular display of sublime cricket and a splendid display of how its played. If passion can take human form, nothing better than Sachin would justify it. His disappointment was more than visible in his tear filled eyes not being able to take his team home, ALONE.

A depleted Australian team has pulled more than a win today, they will take confidence and momentum further into the series and coming back is India’s gargantuan task. The scoreboard was reduced to mere numbers today, but the cricket that was played today was in volume and spectrum. Australia won the match well before India started their innings, as too much was given away and too much was at stake.

The loss of Indian team doesn’t speak of what the spectators go to witness today and being an avid Sachin follower, I cannot fall short of writing for him. Its an innings that was ‘privileged’.

My take

Australia – 5 stars
India – 3 stars

Kangaroo stars: Watson, Marsh, White and McKay
Indian stars: Sachin, Bhajji and Raina

The curry and the kangaroo – Part 4

I guess I won’t be able to present a clear picture as I am unfortunate to have missed the proceedings having buried myself deep into work-meetings. However, based on the commentary and have watched India’s batting till Tendulkar was departed rather hastily, I would bet that Australia had bowled wonderfully and suffocated Indian batting line up.

Some events are rather strange and hard to believe and they do work as domino affect. I guess Tendulkar’s dismissal is one such thing. With Sehwag looking as dangerous as he is, Australia would have guessed that the match would be finished before the second drinks break. Sachin was cool, calm, respecting good balls, punishing bad balls, driving confidence over the partners and his presence would be immensely needed at the time of the hour.

I was totally surprised by the fact of how he was given lbw by the same umpire who almost denied closed to 8 lbw decisions when India was bowling. Anyway, there is no point in hanging around one single point, things happen.

Full marks to Australia as they have pulled up a game that had India written all over it. The wicket was playing nicely and opportunities were in plenty. Not every day we should expect Yuvi and Dhoni to pull the plugs and fill the gaps, its simply not fair. Having said that,  Australia on the other hand were simply more disciplined although at times plans may not work the way they are laid out; they did today for Australia (much for the explanation of why Siddle was not given a second spell).

My take (again, is totally unfortunate to have missed the main part of the game)

Australia – 3.5 stars
India – 2.5 stars

Kangaroo stars: Watson, Ponting, Siddle, Bollinger, White and Hauritz
Indian stars: PK, Nehra, Bhajji and Sachin

5th ODI Preview: With the series pretty much in re-start mode, anything can happen moving forward. Australia will have lot of momentum taken from this game but they will be cautious as they knew that the more than their game plan it was the way things have fallen into place by themselves, not denying any credit to the team however. India on the other hand I would think will not be too worried as they know what exactly went wrong. Dhoni had the courage to take on the field winning the toss keeping due condition in mind, but the matter of fact has suggested otherwise.

This will turn out more fiercer as it proceeds but I would still bet on India as they are simply the better team at this time. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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