Monday, 10 December 2007

What has the Sethu Samudram canal project got to do with Indian culture?

As per

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has said it will not allow the Centre to go ahead with the Sethusamudram ship canal project as it posed a "challenge" to Indian culture.

"The RSS is not prepared to make any compromise on the Centre's move to implement the project as it would be a clear instance of grave injustice to the majority people of India," RSS leader K S Sudarshan said inaugurating two-day regional meeting of the outfit in Kasargod in Kerala

I wonder, what has the canal project got to do with the nation's culture?

Islam’s Silent Moderates

The WTF news item of the week. A great way to start a
Monday! Islam's Silent Moderates!

As the article rightly states,

"If moderate Muslims believe there should be no compassion shown to the girl from Qatif, then what exactly makes them so moderate?

When a "moderate" Muslim's sense of compassion and conscience collides with matters prescribed by Allah, he should choose compassion. Unless that happens much more widely, a moderate Islam will remain wishful thinking."

 Link via Where's the Moderate Muslim? 

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Scavenging, a spiritual experience for Dalits: Modi

Really, to what depths can our politicians plunge?

Narendra Modi in his yet-to-be-released book, "Karmayog", says, ""At
some point in time somebody must have got enlightenment in scavenging.
They must have thought that it is their duty to work for the happiness
of the entire society and the Gods."

I'm speechless. Words fail me.


Anand Chakrapani

Man gambles wife!

Check this link!

Man gambles wife in Bihar village

As if this was not disgusting enough, check the last para in the above story:

"In another incident, a married woman gambled herself in a game of dice during Durga Puja festivities in a village in Banka district. The victor took her home. Two days later fellow villagers intervened and took the woman back to her husband's house."

Banka district seems to have liberated women. I mean, isn't this is a classic case of "liberated" women who gamble themselves. And that too, during the Durga Puja, when we celebrate and worship goddesses.

Link via Amit Gupta

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Anti terrorism cartoons from the middle east

Check this link!

Not a bad thing at all!

Anil Kumble get recognition at last

This post has taken its own sweet time in coming. In the interim, we lost an ODI series against Australia and won an ODI series against Pakistan. We managed to drop Dravid through an entire ODI series. Unthinkable, even a couple of months back.

In quick succession, two stalwarts of the Indian cricket team, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar have refused captaincy. Surely, there is more to this than what meets the eye. Though we are all aware of numerous manipulations and machinations that go behind closed doors in the corridors of BCCI, the news that two of the greatest Indian batsmen of the past two decades have refused captaincy merits more attention. Add to the fact that Ford and Emburey both were not interested in the offer of the coach of the Indian team, and you know there is something rotten there. And its stinking. Remarkably, no one has chose to comment about the same.

Anil Kumble - one of the greatest cricketers India has ever produced and the architect of most Indian wins - gets the captaincy be default. And like he has always done, he has taken this responsibility also without a murmur. No celebrations, no interviews, no fireworks. Just "Thank you". That it has taken 17 years for him to get this recognition (he was already being described as the best captain India never had) and that it has come in the fag end of his career doesn't take anything away.

Personally, I'm more worried about his past few performances. He hasn't been the force that he was. He was largely ineffective in the series in England, he wasn't among the wickets during the WI and SA tour earlier and he failed to get wickets by the buckets in the 2 Ranji trophy matches played so far. Maybe, the captaincy has come to him at a wrong time. But it would be foolish to write him off. 6th and 7th standard text books have a chapter on him called "True Grit" Grit could well be his middle name.

While there have been many calls to include Yuvraj in the Test team in place of Saurav or Laxman, Kumble believes that Yuvraj will have to wait for his turn. So effectively, he has already announced his batsmen for the 1st Test. With Sreesanth and RP Singh getting injured, the trick now is to get some fit bowlers on the park. Kumble's innings as Test captain begins tomorrow. We already know his mettle and grit. Tomorrow, he will be readying himself for another challenge. A challenge that eminent players like Dravid and Tendulkar declined. And if the past is any indication, Kumble will give it his best shot.

All the best!

Analysis of the various logos used in the 2008 presidential elections in the US

Came across this link. Have fun!
I'm also using this as a test to post directly thtough e-mail. Will check the results later in the day.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

clash in Siliguri

Mobs in Siliguri went on rampage damaging shops and buses protesting against a remark a RJ made in New Delhi against the current Indian Idol.

Wow! A remark made by a RJ (I don't know what the remark was, but going by the way RJs speak in Mumbai, must have been some take on Gorkhas) in Delhi has potential to disrupt life and stop an ambulance carrying a patient in Siliguri.

Talk about global village.

Here's the link:

The Indian Idol, Prashant has come out with a statement urging restraint from his fans. Hope better sense prevails.

Mercifully, none of the news portals and news papers have carried the actual remark. Looks like the media does have some good sense, after all.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Twenty/20 World Cup

There have only been 16 T/20 international matches played so far and we already have a World Cup! I feel its a bit premature to have a World Cup for T/20 matches so soon. There needs to be more domestic tournaments and international matches before organising a World Cup.

The Indian team (the BCCI one) comes to this World Cup with only 1 international match so far and it would be foolish for anyone to expect a good performance from them, especially after the disastrous World Cup. There are some fresh faces out there, the seniors are not playing and I would like to see if this improves our fielding and catching.

Going by the Chris Gayle innings yesterday (and the SA response), its all about big hitting and athletic fielding. No one was keen on running between the wickets. And with all the big hits clearing the boundaries easily, I really don't know what the fitter, leaner and more athletic fielders can also do. Every batsman was going for broke and the single or a double as a means of contributing to the score was not even thought of. Looks like leaving out SRT and SG might be a big mistake, for they can clear the ropes consistently and with ease. And with bowlers being there just for slaughter and flat tracks, SRT and SG would - probably - have hit their groove which would have meant good news for the ODI series later.

However, this might just be the opportunity for Sehwag, Yuvraj, Uthappa and Dhoni to go bang-bang. I would like Sehwag-Uthappa to open, followed by Yuvraj, Dhoni, Karthik and Gambhir. I'm not sure about the big hitting capabilities of players like Rohit Sharma and Joginder, if they can hit them hard and long, I would prefer them over Gambhir and Karthik. Pollock's and Ntini's mauling yesterday (Ntini bowled only 2 overs) proved that we really do not need specialist bowlers. Batsmen who can bowl are good enough at this level.

Irfan, Joginder, Sehwag, Yuvraj (not withstanding the 5 sixes in an over), Yusuf Pathan can be our bowlers. Sreesanth is too much of a lottery; so is Agarkar. I would play RP because a decent 2 over initial spell can be worth its weight in gold. My team would probably be

Yusuf Pathan
Gautam Gambhir
Irfan Pathan
Rohit Sharma (can he bowl?)
Joginder Sharma
R P Singh

Harbhajan can get us a few quick runs, he can be drafted as a specialist slow bowler in place of Rohit Sharma. I would be tempted to play Chawla in that position, but whatever little batting opportunities he has got has not convinced me of his batting skills. If one of the Pathans is having a bad tournament with the ball, then I would look at getting Chawla/Bhajji in.

Agarkar, Chawla, Sreesanth either need to be consistently good bowlers or need to be better batsmen to fit into the T/20 scheme of things.

But knowing the BCCI's way of selecting teams, I would not surprised if Agarkar, Chawla and Harbhan play a lot of the matches. Let's see how the BCCI's team fares!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

So much happening around


Its been some time since I logged on to this blog and so many things happened around us. Hyderabad blasts, a bridge (or flyover) collapsed in Hyderabad and a IAF trainer aircraft crashed killing both its pilots (again in Hyderabad). Wonder, if Hyderabad has some planetary configuration gone astray.

India wins the Asia cup and what scores they ran up. 16 goals, 20 goals, etc. Hats off to Joaquim Carvalho and his team for pulling this off. The IHF also announced prizes of Rs. 1,000 for every goal scored and a penalty of Rs. 2,000 for every goal conceded. While I need not even go into the stupidity and silliness of this announcement, it serves a good point to talk about the remuneration provided to the players. In an interview to DNA after the Asia Cup victory (, Dhanraj Pillay talks about "paying some match fee" to the players. He also states that the coach "should also be paid". What The ****? IHF doesn't pay match fees to its players and the coach? No wonder our guys prefer to pick up cricket bats instead of hockey sticks!!!

Elsewhere, the T/20 World Cup is about to start and the Pakistan team is already in the news for the wrong reason. Shoaib has been sent back to Pakistan for hitting Asif with a bat and this time his threat of joining ICL may not work. Asif Iqbal ( feels that PCB is waiting till Shoaib commits mass murder before it starts taking action.

India lost the Natwest trophy 4-3 and though its not a bad scoreline considering that we were 1-3 down, I feel the time has now come to start replacing the seniors. With Gambhir & Uthappa showing promise and temperament, maybe we need to give both of them a longer reign at the top of the order. Gambhir has this tendency to play with Fevicol applied on his feet, while Uthappa's batting may be better suited to T/20 game, but both of them have shown enough grit. With captain and selectors showing confidence in them, maybe they'll probably come out with flying colours!!! Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj, Karthik, Dhoni can make the rest of the lineup, with someone like Kaif or Raina or Sehwag or even a Ambatti Rayudu challenging these positions. Sachin, of course, still has some cricket left in him. I would like him to concentrate in the ODIs and concede his Test position to some other youngster though many would say that it has to be the other way round. Among the bowlers, Zaheer, Sreesanth, Munaf (if and only if completely fit), Chawla, Powar, R P Singh, Harbhajan and Irfan Pathan (assuming he regains his form) complete the head count. Choose 11 from these, depending on opposition, surface, playing conditions, etc.

For the Tests, Gambhir/Uthappa/Karthik would be the openers. Laxman coming in for Sachin or Sehwag and Anil Kumble coming in for Powar or Harbhajan completes the list of probables. Of course, there may be better talent in domestic cricket, and some new names may crop up in the T/20 tournament; some names like Manoj Tiwary and Rohit Sharma are still untried. But I believe the nucleus of the team would be from the above names.

Amul has been voted as Asia's leading brand. And if you are among those who have always looked forward to the Amul hoardings (related to the current hot topic) like myself, then do join in the celebrations.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

We are like that only

Came across this excellent blog. Enjoy.

What's new?

I have a sense of deja vu as I write this. India lost the 1st one day at Southampton comprehensively. But then, aren't we late starters? Even in the Test series, we almost lost the 1st Test before dominating the rest of the series.

Dravid had mentioned - just after the team for the World Cup 2007 was selected - that we needed to do "smart" fielding, when asked whether the presence of seniors would have a deteriorating effect on our fielding. It came back to haunt us during the 1st ODI. Fielding was lacklustre, our bowling (barring Zaheer Khan) was pedestrian, running between the wickets was awful.

No wonder, the big 3 are not going to the T/20 World Cup in SA.

I don't see a place for Sachin, Saurav and Dravid in the ODI team. Never mind if they have scored more than 30,000 runs between them. The demands of the ODI game are such that we need 11 athletes. We convert ones into twos and twos into threes in the field, when we are batting we convert threes into twos and twos into ones. Unless we understand this, we are always going to be under achievers.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007


Some random thoughts on ICL for whatever they are worth:

ICL yesterday unveiled 45 odd Indian cricketers and announced the names of some Pakistani and South African cricketers. Of all the names mentioned, Mohammed Yousuf of Pakistan seems to be the only one who has some international cricket still left. But we'll talk of that later.

Considering the various threats handed out by the BCCI and considering that every cricketer's "dream" is to play for the country one day, its surprising that as many as 45 Indian domestic cricketers have aligned with ICL putting their careers in jeopardy. Going through the names Dinesh Mongia and Ambattu Rayadu are the two names who probably had some hopes of playing for India; I reckon others realised that they had no realistic chance of playing for India.

For ICL to succeed - and I'm one of those who want ICL to succeed for reasons I'll enumerate later - we need some more big names to join. I'm assuming that the current crop of 20-25 people who are on the fringes of selection for the Indian team will not join ICL at this stage. But, someone who has an international career at stake. Maybe, someone like Kaif, or Ashish Nehra, or Irfan Pathan. Cricketers who do not know whether they will ever be asked to play for the Indian team again, and are biding their time to see what position to take.

Viewership and sponsorship is what counts. I reckon there will be no shortage of sponsors; anything remotely connected to cricket attracts huge sponsorships and Zee Television will surely know a thing or two about selling commercial spots. Viewership is where ICL will get hit. We have seen empty stands for Tests and domestic cricket; its only the ODIs which get the spectators in droves. Even the Challenger series between India Sr, India A and India B teams were largely played in front of empty stands.

Here's where the international players come in. A McGrath, Warne, Klusner, Inzy or Chris Cairns can get the crowds in small centres. With the BCCI and all affiliated organisations controlling most of the cricket grounds, ICL may have to look at grounds with private organisations; IPCL grounds at Vadodara, Andheri Sports Complex at Mumbai; etc. Railways must be having their own grounds; so would large corporates like Tata's, Godrej's etc. A nice sponsorship deal should get the corporates interested. Laloo Prasad Yadav has already thrown his weight behind ICL and so has Jagmohan Dalmia. Surely, these two gentlemen would sway some people for giving out their grounds!

The Brabourne Stadium at Mumbai has been used for wedding receptions and other gala functions. Surely, a little cricket shouldn't harm them. Problem is that with the Wankhede stadium up for renovation, Brabourne must have been hopeful of getting a few matches from the BCCI.

ICL now has to be a little more responsible than what it had planned for. With BCCI acting tough and if these Indian cricketers have put paid to ever playing for India, then ICL needs to ensure that these players are taken care of. For this to happen, ICL has to organise cricket for 8-10 months in a year, invest in infrastructure, have proper trainers/coaches/medical staff, etc. This needs money; this needs sponsors; this needs viewership; this needs some more high profile players. ICL needs to be professionally managed; players need to know where they stand. If ICL can do all this, there is no reason why it cannot succeed. And if it succeeds, I see a day when ICL will take over the functioning of the BCCI. That will be the day when the "bravery" and "courage" of these 45 cricketers - as rightly acclaimed by Kapil Dev - will be immortalised.

Finally, BCCI has revoked the pension of Kapil, Madan Lal, Sandip Patil and Balwinder Singh Sandhu for aligning with ICL. Well, I thought pension was in recognition for services already rendered. I mean, if you retired from Mahindra & Mahindra for eg., and then were approached by Bajaj Auto for help / assistance in setting or running an automotive plant, then will your pension be liable to be cancelled by M & M?. No way. Then how can BCCI get away with this? Well, Mr Sharad Pawar and other functionaries of BCCI, please have a closer look at the names whose pensions have been scrapped. They were part of the team which brought the cricket World Cup home in 1983. Scrapping their pension? Just not cricket.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

England India 2007 oval Post match Post series

There are lot of views supporting and opposing Dravid's decision not to enforce the follow on, A round-up has been nicely done here.

My view: The decision was correct. Dravid didn't trust his batsmen to chase 100+. Barbados with 120 to win still rankles. In Mumbai, we lost 5-6 wickets chasing 100 and at Trent Bridge in the same series, we lost 3 wickets chasing 73.

Kumble on a 5th day pitch was a mouth-watering prospect. Zaheer was suffering from some strain and hopefully would have been fully fit on a 5th day. SideBottom was injured and may - just may - have come on to bowl on the 5th day.

Finally, as Dravid mentioned, this was the first time all the bowlers had played 3 tests and only someone who played back-to-back tests would understand how tired his bowlers were.

All said and done, in my humble opinion, while the decision not to enforce the follow-on was justified, the batting crawl was appalling. We needed quick runs. Sure, at 11/3 we needed to consolidate. But as Ganguly proved there were runs for the taking. Even after Dravid left, Laxman and Dhoni were guilty of not trying to score quickly enough.

Anyway, a 1-0 series win over our past colonial masters on the eve of Independence day is great. Savour it. There are some issues that we need to work on. But I'll save them for later. For now, enjoy the rare series win.

Well done guys!

Monday, 13 August 2007

Eng India Day 5 preview Oval 2007

Before I start, I would like to present Prem Panicker's views picked up from which I reproduce below verbatim:

Thinking of lions

There’s a way to convert water into gold/

You take a big pot of water into the forest late in the evening; you build a fire and put the pot on to boil; and you sit there till the water has entirely evaporated.

You will be left with a pot of gold – provided that in the interim, you never once think of a lion.

Thinking of lions, thinking they are lying in wait for them, fearing those lions you can see in your mind, is what keeps you from trying for that pot of gold.

India, on the morning of the fourth day, could have gone for the pot of gold that a combination of luck (Rahul Dravid winning the toss and getting first use of very good batting conditions) and their collective batting skill had made possible. The team could have forced the follow-on; could have gone for the kill and looked to nail the series 2-0 – but inside of their heads, they could hear the roar of that lion; they feared it, took the easier way out and opted to bat again.

England at the time was staring down a very big barrel, but once its bowlers (an under-strength bowling attack, with Ryan Sidebottom) began using the conditions India had gifted them, the team got a second wind, and it was India that found itself with an unexpected fight on its hands.

Consider, for a moment, that lion India feared: Had England followed on, behind by 319 runs and with 170-odd overs left in the match, then what? An England already under the cosh would have had to struggle against a bowling lineup that has used swing very well, in cloudy, overcast conditions. How could England have won? By scoring say 519 runs, that is to say a lead of 200, in say 120, 130 overs, then bowling out India in the time that remained with an attack reduced to three bowlers and Paul Collingwood’s part-time offerings.

That is the lion India feared; you judge for yourself whether it was a flesh and blood danger or just an imaginary monster lurking in the minds of a team that is yet to fully believe in its ability to dominate, to win big.

There is an unintended irony in that decision to bat: throughout this series, it is the bowling that has performed prodigies, repeatedly putting a strong England batting lineup under the cosh. And yet, it is invariably the batting Rahul Dravid trusts more. That trust almost came unstuck yesterday, with three top order wickets tumbling and Dravid himself doing a passable imitation of a Madam Tussaud’s waxwork; only a superlative innings by Sourav Ganguly, some quality batting by VVS Laxman, and some edgy resistance by MS Dhoni saved the team’s blushes.

Ironically, India batted till the clouds had gone away, and the sun was blazing down again – and then put the opposition in.

India will still take this series 1-0 – but here was a chance to try for a 2-0 win, to draw level with England on the ICC points table, and climb into the joint second slot. Ah well.

It might sound churlish to harp on this aspect, at the tail end of a series in which India, almost torpedoed in the first Test, has come back remarkably well to outplay England over the next two Tests, in all departments of the game. Clearly, hard nosed pragmatism went into India’s decision to bat a second time—and when you consider that the larger prize is India’s first series win in 21 years on England’s soil; consider too that in the past this team has come heartbreakingly close to similar triumphs only to be robbed by circumstance or their own inabilities, you can understand where Dravid and his men are coming from. But that is the nature of the fan—like Oliver Twist, he is always left wanting more; in this case, more belligerence, more aggression, more willingness to play on the edge of possibility.

While I agree with Prem's views about hard nosed pragmatism which went into India's decision not to enforce the follow on, I think the lions were not only in the head.

Prem mentions that scoring 519 in 130-140 overs and getting all the Indian wickets with around 200 to win in the remaining time with 3 bowlers and paul collingwood was far fetched. Well Prem, 120 to win at Barbados is still fresh in my mind with almost the same batting nucleus. Eve in Trent Bridge, we lost 3 wickets to get 73 runs. Zaheer had some strain and was probably not upto bowling. And Sidebottom may have come back to bowl after getting fit if we had given him one more day to recover.

That the move badly misfired by the cloud cover and 3 quick wickets is an entirely different matter.

It has been so long since we won a series overseas, and since we do not trust our batting to score even 100 batting last, I think it was a good decision.

Prem of course mentioned everything that could be said in his inimitable style that writing my review would be a travesty. So, I leave this post with that.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Chak de India - review

Saw the movie last night and just enjoyed it. Its a must-see for every sports lover.

The story is about a disgraced hockey player coaching the women's team and leading them to the World Cup. Of course, its a Yash Chopra movie so you know the end very well. But the way the film has been told makes it very engrossing.

The first half takes some time to build - very understandably. There are too many characters and all of them manage to get just enough screen time. There are stories within stories - a family that doesn't want their daughter-in-law to behave like a Indian bahu and not go to the World cup; there is a line muttered which says these are Indian women and are not expected to be roaming in their knickers; there are - of course - references to cricket (there is a scene where a guy wants to join an ongoing fight with a cricket bat and Shah Rukh Khan stops him with a "If you are a guy, fight from the front. There are no Chhakkas in hockey." Wonder what that was all about) - but mercifully these substories do not distract you from the main story.

The second half is where the film really scores. Here's where the team plays. Superb photography, slick editing and great moves keeps your interest in. SRK is wonderfully understated.

There is no over-the-top acting and no melodrama. No heroines. No running-around-the-trees. No rain dance. And yes, its a sports film.

If you are a sports buff, then you got to watch it. There are some jarring moments (A coach doesn't select the captain; here SRK appoints the goal keeper as the captain. Also why is the coach always in blue jeans and white shirt? Isn't he supposed to be wearing the team colours?), but that would be nitpicking.

Is it based on a real life character? Read the interview of Mir Ranjan Negi in DNA Sport.Sunday dated 12th August 2007. I couldn't get the URL here.

Go ahead and enjoy the movie.

P.S. I loved the moment when SRK (as coach) tells the wannabe players, "I want players to play for the country first, then for the team. Aur uske baad, agar thodi bahut jaan bachi ho to apne liye." And a few reels later, he repeats the same lines.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Re: India's greatest Mathwinner

Got this from the Telegraph, London.

"Kumble is a scrapper by nature, and the way he brought up his maiden Test hundred epitomised his commitment. Down the wicket to Kevin Pietersen, he was stranded as the ball was fired quicker and wider, but somehow managed to get a bottom edge through the keeper's legs for four. He scrambled up from his despairing dive back into crease to celebrate his achievement covered in dust.

He will not be shy either of getting his hands dirty over the weekend to force a famous Indian victory."

Apt. Very apt.

Eng India Test 3 Oval 2007 Day 3 Preview

2 days of near perfect batting from India capped by an incredulous, scarcely believable maiden ton from Indian cricket's greatest matchwinner - Anil Kumble. This has merited a separate post by itself and hence I will restrict this to only the Test.

All the batsmen played for a greater team cause, and this was encouraging to see. Dhoni's pyrotechnics, Sachin deciding to wake out of his slumber in the quest for quick runs, Laxman dealing exclusively in boundaries at the start of the day, and of course capped by Anil Kumble's magnificient ton which was the icing on the cake.

India won a good toss and all the batsmen expressed their gratitude. Its difficult to gripe when the team is in such a good position, but I just couldn't understand Rahul Dravid's and Kumble's game plan. When Dhoni got out with the team score at 508, I thought Dravid will declare after 3-4 overs of throwing the bat around. But even after Kumble got his maiden ton, there was no declaration in sight. In fact, the sight of Sreesanth and Kumble blocking was baffling. Was Dravid looking to play till tomorrow morning, if possible?

Did the adverse media reaction when Dravid declared with Sachin at 194 playing on his mind? Or did he just go to sleep or was so jubilant after Kumble's ton that he forgot he had a decision to take regarding the declaration?

In the end, India got 8 overs to bowl at England. I would have liked at least another 7-8 more. For Dravid's sake and Kumble's sake and India's sake, I hope the Test doesn't end in a draw with the last English pair on the ground.

India's greatest matchwinner

I was busy for the past two days and hence couldn't post anything for this test so far. Even today, I wasn't really inclined to spend some time on this blog as there has been other pressing work. But one my regular readers IM'ed me stating that he was looking forward to post his own comments and was disappointed that I hadn't posted anything. Thanks Agnel for the encouragement

Agnel always goes over the moon whenever someone from Karnataka does well. I'll never agree with the sentiment. An Indian is an Indian is an Indian. Nothing more. Nothing Less. But this post is about Indian cricket team's greatest matchwinner has been an decent gentlemanly unassuming bloke from the state that Agnel loves.

The media and the fans have all been crazy about our batsmen. Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, et al. But, there is no doubt in my mind that Anil Kumble has won more matches for India than all the above put together. Whenever India needed a wicket, whatever the conditions, whatever the state of the game, all Indian captains invariably turned towards Kumble. And he has rarely disappointed. Most times he has bowled long spells. Really long spells. And has not complained. Never. Not even once.

He doesn't have the turn of a Warne or a Murali. Some snigger and comment that he doesn't even spin the ball. There are a host of people who will tell you that he is a medium pacer. Sure, he is all of that. And some more.

But you can't argue with the numbers in the wickets column. 561 wickets in Tests and still counting. 337 wickets in ODIs. That's almost 900 International wickets in a career spanning 17 years. And the wickets have come against all teams. Top order, middle order, tail ender. All of them have succumbed.

He doesn't spin the ball? Sure. He is medium pace. Sure. You mean 900 times batsmen couldn't figure out a bowler who bowls medium pace and doesn't spin the ball? I'll have this bowler in my team any day rather than those who spin miles or those who bowl express pace. For make no mistake, Anil Kumble is a fighter. And a matchwinner. And keeps on coming and coming and coming at you.

Almost two decades of playing. And no controversies. No lewd SMSes. No accusations of "chucking". No ambitions of becoming a captain. Never indulged in groupism. He has always played fair, but played hard. There has been no better ambassador of cricket and India than this gentleman.

And in the twilight of his career, when he has announced his retirement from ODIs and is about to pass on the baton to a Piyush Chawla, Anil Kumble has achieved something that most top bowlers dream of. Warne and Murali couldn't do it. And that's a Test ton.

This Test Ton (at the Oval during India's tour of England in 2007 in the 3rd Test) is special. This is the only Indian century in the entire series. And it has probably come in the last Indian innings of the series (I don't think India will bat again). And it has come from someone at No. 8. And the Test Team for all the matches in this series had some heavy weights like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Saurav Ganguly. Yet, the lone centurion in this series has been Anil Kumble.

Let's all stand up and applaud this man. For he will not have the fans screaming. He will not have the media eating out his hands. But he has been Indian cricket's greatest servant. At the end of the day's play he said the celebrations will come only after India wins this Test. And there's still 3 more days to play. He has always put the team before himself.

I salute this guy. And may we have some more cricketers like him.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Eng v/s India, Trent Bridge 2007, Day 5 preview

What a glorious day of cricket we had yesterday? Michael Vaughan's fine century was a treat to watch. Always in position, never troubled and in control.

He took the attack to Kumble early on, knowing that Kumble was the danger man. Kumble also didn't help his own cause by forgetting his radar in the dressing room, but Vaughan never allowed Kumble to settle into the rhythm that could have become deadly.

Sreesanth forgot he was playing international cricket today. Or maybe, he just borrowed a leaf from the Aussies. He saw he was not doing well, and thought he might just go ahead and rattle the English. I may be guessing, but it that's what Sreesanth thought, then he did well. A beamer (he did apologise instantaneously), but I wasn't convinced that it was completely unintentional. And that front foot no ball by more than a metre. Just one ball prior, he had bowled from behind the stumps. What a character? Indian cricket does need characters like him. It will also help if he can occasionally bowl like the way he did in SA.

I was also glad to see the younger ones celebrating. Dinesh Karthik and Dhoni were happy for each other and were celebrating together. Matt Prior to please watch the replays and keep quiet for the rest of the Indian innings tomorrow.

One thing I noticed since the Lords Test is that India have come back from a bad session. And they have come back in style. They did it again yesterday. A break, the second new ball and ZK was breathing fire. Saurav may have got some fire into the Indian team, and Rahul Dravid seems to have built some steel. Typical of his own batting stlye. Though his own captaincy skills leaves much to be desired, at least this team is fighting back. No dropping shoulders; no going through the motions. They are willing to stick it out and fight for each other. That's a good sign.

Another 60+ runs to win today with 10 wickets in hand. Hope the Indians don't come out thinking that the match is over. For the English are going to have one last shot and they will come at the Indians with everything that they've got. After all, had it not been for weather, they too would have won the previous Test.

England may be No 2 and India at no. 6 in the ICC Test rankings, but this series proved that these teams are evenly balanced. Which means, there is really nothing to differentiate between the teams ranked no 2 through no 6. Which is good for Test cricket. For, one of these teams need to take on Australia. Someone needs the firepower and the steel and the fire and the aggro to topple Australia. India has all of them; so does SA, Pak and England in different percentages. Its only a matter of time before one of these teams get it right.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Trent Bridge 2007 Eng V/s India Day 4 preview

The Indian batsmen grunted and puffed and huffed their way to a decent lead of 280+ runs. In the end, the two decisions against Ganguly and Sachin will be talked about for ages.

For a team loaded with aging batting superstars, they really did well to reach that score. Sure, luck also played a major part, but you needed luck to make the most of the circumstances yesterday. To the batsmen's credit, they hung in there even when the going was tough.

Got to feel for Sidebottom. He bowled exceedingly well without due reward. He did get Dhoni out later in the day, but it was too less and too late.

We need someone to bowl like Sidebottom today. Keep pegging away from one end. Anil Kumble has done this for so many years now and he will be expected to bowl long spells. There are 3 left arm fast bowlers in this match and Anil Kumble should choose the end from where he can use the footmarks to his advantage.

Kumble will have to do the bulk of the bowling today. And the rest will have to support him by not giving away easy runs. An intriguing match and hopefully the rain should stay away.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

England v/s India Trent Bridge 2007 1st days play

After a very delayed start due to a poor outfield, play finally started 4 hours late. Indian bowlers were on the button. They bowled fast, got movement and hit the right lines and right lengths. Except for Sreesanth who was trying too hard, everybody did a decent job. In the 55 overs possible, England has already lost 7 wickets. But before we rejoice in this, my mind goes back to a test in Durban against the SA, which the current bowling coaches of both teams will remember well.

Venkatesh Prasad got 10 wickets in the match, 5 wickets in each innings. SA, batting first, were bowled out for 235 runs (Vekatesh Prasad got figures of 5/60) , India replied with 100 all out. In the 2nd essay, SA scored 259 all out (Venkatesh Prasad's figures read 5/93). India's chase of the target of 395 runs ended a score of 66 all out.

And that Indian batting lineup had Saurav, Sachin, Azhar and Dravid. The complete score card is available at

BTW, Alan Donald had figures of 5/40 and 4/14 in the above match.

So, let's keep the champagne for a little later.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Tribute to Dr Kalam

This is from one of my dear friends and I reproduce his mail in full...

From: Asif Saifuddin Golwala


Mobile: +97150 4508731 (Dubai)

Tribute to Sir A.P.J. Kalam. President of India 2002-2007.

Sir, you have re-written the glory of being the president of the largest democracy in the world; you have restored its lost significance which was considered merely a 'ceremonial post' by lending it credence and meaning through your humble character. In spite of your monumental achievements in the science's you have retained the humility expected exclusively to be residing in a man of god. Never have the children of our country looked upon any member of Indian politic as they have upon your majesty. Though I ask forgiveness to mention the word politic in your benign repertoire. Your name shall never be inscribed in gold nor shall you be stunted in a wax museum; for such banalities were never part of your persona and than; gold could perish and wax shall melt; but your name nonetheless, shall be etched in the minds of every child you bestowed your eyes upon and in every heart you touched with your benevolent actions. It is a great honour bestowed upon the future citizens of this country by you for you have decided to impart your understanding and education in the great universities of this land by being a teacher to those starving for knowledge. The institutions where you will teach shall have to be rechristened as temples of knowledge where you shall be the high priest and where you shall be the messiah of every god who has sought every mortal to be what you are! Amen!

We thank you for dedicating precious years of your life being our president and we thank you for reminding us that humility can be exercised at every level of society and we thank you for reminding us how inconsequential is material wealth without the wealth of knowledge, love and humanity.



From an England Fan's point of view

I had been wondering for the last couple of days about the English fan's reaction to the Lords Test 2007. Here's what I would have been thinking if I had brought the same emotions towards the English side as I have towards the Indian team

Day 1: 2 fifties and none could convert them into a century. Despite Andrew Strauss' let-off, we finished well behind thanks to the inability of our top batsmen to convert good starts into a really big one. BTW, Tremlett's inclusion ahead of Broad is baffling. Didn't Broad trouble the Indians in the tour game? With his confidence on a high, this was the right time to blood Broad.

Day 2: Pieterson and Collingwood are obviously overrated. Here, you had a nice cushion from where at least 500 was the minimum expected; our batting line-up just crumbled. Mercifully, our bowlers did a decent job and have got England back into the reckoning.

Day 3: A lead of almost 100; well it was time for our batsmen to rub it in. If the weather holds, and if our batsmen perform to their potential, we should have a good game in our hands.

Day 4: A target of 380 is a good 45-50 runs less than what was expected. But with time running out and the possibility of weather disrupting proceedings tomorrow, the English batsmen should have stepped on the accelerated in the first session itself; maybe after the first half-an-hour or 40 minutes. If weather has a say in the proceedings, our batsmen have just not given our bowlers sufficient time.

Day 5: Our team just didn't factor in the weather. The sight of Vaughan and Monty bowling in the end with the ball just 4-5 overs old was sickening. There was no need to take the new ball with Monty bowling so well. With the clouds looming, it was obvious that the new ball bowlers wouldn't get to bowl more than a couple of overs each. Despite this, Monty almost got the last mail, but the Indian batsman got the benefit of doubt.

Overall, its time KP buckled down and seriously considered his value to the team. KP's century yet again failed to win England this match. If KP has to be considered amongst the greatest batsmen along with other players of this era, he has to shoulder some more responsibility and take this England team to another plan. He has to start winning matches for his country.

:-) :-). Aren't the England team lucky they do not have fans / supporters like the Indians. In fact, one of the newspapers the next day proclaimed that the "England team were robbed of a deserving win.." by the weather and the umpires.


Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Some uncomfortable questions

The Lords test ended in a draw. Well, to be frank, India escaped with a draw. Indians from across the globe were doing the rain-dance and praying for rain. Lord Varun obliged.

Looking back at the test, it would be easy to say that Karthik's costly drop proved the difference. But that would put un-necessary blame on the young lad's door.

The blame has to be squarely laid on the seniors. The big 4 managed a high score of 40 in 2 innings. Juniors like Karthik, Jaffer and Dhoni put their hands up.

There was much talk about bowlers winning matches and that our bowlers need to take 20 wickets. Rookie bowlers Sreesanth and RP Singh bowled brilliantly in their first trip. Our bowlers got those 20 wickets for less than 575 runs.

Its high time we looked at the big 4 and started asking some questions. And its outrageous that some senior ex-cricketers recommend that at least some of these players should be around till the 2011 world cup. When the young guns are delivering and the big guns are silent, its better to go ahead with some more young guns. At least you are assured that these people have a stomach for a fight and will not go down tamely.

Hope the selectors are listening. I know its not easy to drop the seniors, there's lot of sponsorship money riding on them. Companies who have spent crores on these superstars wouls want to ensure that these players stay on the team and put in their token presence, so that they can squeeze maximum returns out of every advertising rupee that has been spent. But unless, we can take such touch decisions, I'm afraid Indian cricket will continue to be in the doldrums.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Interesting day ahead - Lords Test Eng v/s India 2007

India needs less than 250 runs to get. England needs 7 wickets. A full day's play may be possible if weather doesn't play spoilsport.

India doesn't need to bother about the target. 25o runs / day is an at-par score for most teams in
Test Cricket, today. The main worry for India is that Rahul Dravid is already back in the hut. Sachin's wicket may not that much of a worry for Indian fans, as most people do not expect him to perform in crunch situations.

Sachin and Karthik were positive yesterday, and if they continue batting the same vein, we are in for a glorious day of cricket.

This Indian team has shown character in coming back from behind. Till now, it has been our bowlers who have been at the forefront of the fightback. Its time our much vaunted batting lineup, especially the big stars, show some character. Sachin and Rahul are already back in the pavilion. Its upto Saurav, Laxman (ironically, both need to prove a point or two to the selectors and the fans) and the two wicket keeper batsmen to join the party.

P.S. When critics were pointing to India's dismal win record as proof that Sachin needed to win some Tests for India, the "experts" were saying that its the bowlers who need to take 20 wickets; its the bowlers who win matches.

In South Africa, in West Indies and in Australia, our bowlers have consistently been taking the 20 wickets. Someone needs to urgently "wake up" at least now.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Game evenly poised at the end of Day 2 of Lords Test England v/s India

Intriguing Test Match so far. After the butterflies were all laid to rest, after the storm passed over, after the ground was dried, the bowlers came with purpose and discipline. Once the new ball was taken, (one go0d decision by Rahul Dravid), R P Singh got the night watchman. Immediately, R P Singh was taken out of the attack (another good decision) and what fun Zaheer and Sreesanth had. Zaheer bowled the right line, while Sreesanth got the length & line right. The results were there for all to see. The difference between the lines & the lengths bowled on the 1st and 2nd days was so evident. Who is responsible for this? Did Rahul have a tough talk with all the bowlers? Or, was it Venkatesh Prasad (the bowling coach) who impressed upon the young bowlers the need to maintain a specific line and length in these conditions.

When the Indians came to bat, the English bowlers took a leaf from the Indian bowlers. They, being familiar with the home conditions, hit the right lengths straight away. Except for Tremlett, who was playing his 1st Test. Tremlett bowled well, and if he gets his length right, he will start asking a lot of questions. There is still a lot of bowling to do in this Test.

It looks like the teams are evenly balanced. Let's see who blinks first. Hopefully, Ganguly's injury yesterday is only minor and would not effect his batting.

India will bat last and the English have a bowler by the name of Monty Panesar. On a last day pitch, Monty will get turn off the bowler's foot marks. And except for Ganguly, none of the Indian batsmen, especially Tendulkar, have faced Left arm slow bowlers with any conviction. Remember Ashley Giles, Nicky Boje and many others.

3 more days to go, and we have a cracking test on our hands. Ganguly, Laxman and Dhoni can take the match away from the English; while Anderson, Sidebottom, Tremlett and Monty can do it for the British. The key for Indians will be to manage a lead of at least 50 runs and then bowl out the English for 250 or less. England on the other hand will look at getting the rest of the Indians cheap, maybe within 300, and then bat out the rest of today and a major portion of tomorrow and set India a target of 350 in 4 sessions.

Either way, its going to be fun. We may have a great finish on our hands.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Indian Cricket


This is my first blog and the first thing that comes to mind to write about is cricket. Indian cricket.

Over 4 days, India failed to force a win against Sussex. Wonder how they will fare against a full strength English Team. on the last day, they had 15 odd overs to get 3 wickets. And India had Sreesanth, R P Singh, Ranadeep Bose, Anil Kumble besides other part time bowlers. Couldn't prise out the 3 wickets. In fact Anil Kumble had 2 full overs at their no 11. No Luck.

I have a feeling we are going to be hugely disappointed by the end of this series. England are on a high after beating WI. Rahul has to bat as well as he batted the last time he was here. And others have to play as per their career averages. And that is going to be tough against the moving & seaming ball.

More on this later as the tour progresses.