Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hungry Kya?

This Christmas, it is very likely that I’ll be going off to sleep early. I would not like to stay up late and party for a very simple reason.

~big grin~

India takes on Australia at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test Match. Just the idea of listening to Richie Benaud and Bill Lawry commentate on what promises to be an exciting series is enough to make me get up early on the 26th of this month.

And I’m seriously hoping (and praying) that the 16 man Indian team is hungry enough. If they show enough intent, I’m sure that India can put up a very good fight and come close to winning their first series on Australian soil.

Let us have a look at who in the Indian team should have the hunger to succeed and why.

The Openers:

Wasim Jaffer has had a good run of late and the second double hundred of his career against Pakistan at Eden Gardens (his first double century was against West Indies in their back-yard) should give him all the confidence required to dig in his heels at the outset of the innings.

Sehwag is the guy who should look at this opportunity as a God-send. Not many were expecting him to be selected for the tour. Now that his name has come up, he should make the most of it and prove a point to his critics. Who could ever forget that Sehwag sixer at Multan to become the first Indian to score a triple century? If Sehwag shows even a glimpse of that triple hundred or even the 195 that he scored at the MCG, it will be worth all the effort to wake up early.

Personally, I will be disappointed if Dinesh Karthik isn’t given a look-in in this series. Except for his poor form in the home series against Pakistan, he has done very little wrong this year at the openers’ slot. I really liked the way he batted in England. Even if he gets a single Test to showcase his talent, he should grab it with both hands.

The Middle-Order:

How many times does Rahul Dravid need to prove to the Indian public and cricket-gurus that he is worth his place in the side? He was not nicknamed ‘The Wall’ for no reason. Dumped from the one-day series against Pakistan, he scored a brilliant double century in the Ranji Trophy. That prompted the selectors to give him a berth in the Test side and I don’t care what others say, he looked majestic when he played the cover drives at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla stadium. Australia is just the kind of place where he could prove to the world and, more importantly, to the detractors in his own country that he is still a couple of years away from retiring.

To talk of why Sachin Tendulkar should have the hunger to do well is to ask why the sun should continue shining. Only extremely well disciplined cricketers would have the same passion and commitment towards the game after spending almost two decades at the highest level.

Saurav Ganguly, apart from being known as ‘Dada’ and ‘The Prince of Calcutta’ (a lot of credit due to a certain Mr. Boycott for the latter nick-name) is also known as ‘Maharaja’. He certainly has been batting as one recently. To march back into a team from which he was so unceremoniously kicked out shows the mettle that he’s made of. Now, he needs to continue the brilliance, starting with his 100th test match which will be the first of the Australian series.

It was Tony Greig (I think) who said that the VVS in Laxman’s name stood for Very Very Special and not Vangipurappu Vekata Sai (I doubt whether Tony Greig could pronounce that properly even once). I was reading Mukul Kesavan’s blog during the Delhi Test against Pakistan and he mentioned how the fans at the stadium thought that Laxman had unjustly been kept in the side and India should have played Yuvraj instead. Fact remains that there is much more to VVS Laxman’s career than the fantastic 281 against Australia at Eden Gardens. He brings even more solidity to the middle and is as stylish as they make them. A pure treat to watch.

Yuvraj Singh very, very desperately wanted to play in Tests for India. This was apparent when he was being interviewed by Rameez Raja. This was when Yuvi had just been awarded the Man of the Series award for the ODIs against Pakistan. Even in the midst of all the celebration, he mentioned that there was nothing he would like more than to represent India in the Tests. And boy, did he prove his point by the way he batted in the final Test !! If he maintains the same hunger and performs against what seems to be one of his favourite oppositions in the world, there’s no reason why the Brett Lees and Shaun Taits should have a couple of sleepless nights.

During India’s tour of England, Harsha Bhogle had pointed out something unique about Dhoni. He would walk in to the middle with a swagger and irrespective of how many runs he scored, on being dismissed he would still walk back to the dressing room with the same swagger. That was important, because that shows he has a calculated cricketing brain which doesn’t get rankled too easily. He just enjoys his cricket and focuses on making lots of runs…quickly. Also, he can stay put at the crease. This was of course apparent in the manner in which he dropped anchor on the last day of the first Test in England at Lord’s.

The Spin Masters:

Anil Kumble is by far one of the most respected cricketers in Test cricket right now. Like Ian Chappell once remarked, one rarely sees ‘Jumbo’ having a verbal go at the batsmen (I can remember only two such instances – one where he got into a dialogue with Inzamam-ul-Haq and the other one during the last Test at England…I think that one was with Kevin Pieterson). Yet, he remains one of the most aggressive spin bowlers in today’s day and age. Whoever doubt that he can be aggressive should be reminded of the Kumble who marched out to bowl against the West Indies with his head covered in plaster.

Harbhajan Singh needs to once again prove his worth and Sydney could well be the place where he could do it.

The Speed Department:

Zaheer Khan has been fantastic this season, and all that the Indian team needs to do in order to get him hungry is perhaps throw a couple of jellybeans on the pitch when Zaheer Khan goes out to bat.

RP Singh has perhaps been the find of the year in the bowling department for India. If he maintains his fitness, he’ll prove to be quite a handful to attack the Australians with Zaheer at the other end.

Irfan Pathan, in my opinion, has been doing well since his comeback. Of course he hasn’t had the pace with which he rocked the Test-playing nation when he first burst on to the scene, but good ol’ line & length bowling and he should do well.

Ishant Sharma impressed one and all with his second spell of the last Test match against Pakistan. That’s what got him his place in the touring party. Let’s hope the lanky youngster continues to improve and do justice to his raw talent.

On debut, Pankaj Singh should have all the motivation and hunger required to make a point to the cricketing bosses in India and the cricket loving public across the world. All the best, dude. ~thumbs up~


I logged on to the Net after I’d written this post to realise that Australia too have announced their 12 man Test team. Here it is: Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait.

P.S. Arpz, I know that you can’t even think of supporting India when Australia is playing. Good for you. As far as I’m concerned….

Everybody in the house shout… “JEETEGA BHAI JEETEGA…INDIA JEETEGA !!” :D

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Monday, December 17, 2007

The case against watch-collection

I recently came across two watch-crazy individuals. While one was extremely proud of his collection of watches, the other claimed that the first thing she observed about any person was the brand that he/she was sporting on their wrist. “An Omega is like so up there and a Swatch is like so down-market,” she observed.

Now, I don’t have anything against any watch collector. Hell, a couple of years ago, I too liked watches which were more showpieces than mere indicators of time.

But now, I’ve changed.

I feel buying watches of different priceless brands is a waste of money. A Swatch here, an Omega there or a Rolex thrown in is fine…but actually going out of your way to get a collection… nah, not my cup of tea.

Here’s my reasoning.

Essentially, you buy a watch to tell the time. Two solid hands with a third needle-like hand to tell the seconds and you pretty much have the whole house going for you. Watches from different companies are still going to tell you what o’ clock it is according to the local meridian.

It is fine by me if you’re buying an extremely expensive watch and know in detail the technical detail of the fancy styling; for example, the exactness of the time that the watch shows you (but in any case, how wrong could you go with 1/500th of a second…you’re still going to be late for that early morning meeting with your boss if you left your house late) or the intricate design on a piece of metal. However, more often than not, people pay too much for the brand that they are sporting rather than for the effectiveness of the features of the watch.

Do not get me wrong; I might be writing this post in Left-dominated Kolkata, but I certainly don’t have anything against brands (hell, even as I write this, I’m wearing a Louis Philippe jacket over a Lacoste t-shirt and a pair of Lee jeans), but there is an extent to which I’ll pay for the brand and the features.

For me, the essence of the watch remains the time that it is showing, and of course, the emotion which it carries with it. For example, I’ve been wearing a Timex for two and a half years now, and I don’t think I’ll be deserting it soon because it means a whole lot more than any Rolex could…it is the watch that Dad bought me as a gift a couple of days before I left for Ahmedabad to do my MBA. Call me a romantic at heart, but whenever I look at the watch when I have a minute to spare, I remember Dad’s arm around my shoulder when I selected the watch. In fact, he didn’t approve of the watch and wanted me to go in for a more classic looking model. But when I said that I wanted a slightly sporty looking watch and this was it, he just gave in with the resigned sigh and the smile of a knowing father who realises that his son has grown up and has his own set of likes and dislikes.

That to me, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of the watch.

Mr. Mukesh Ambani might as well walk up to me tomorrow morning and promise me half his business empire, but I ain’t trading this watch for anything.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Joy 'Bloody' Joy

I haven't exactly been the early bird in the last few months. Week-nights and you'll most probably find me watching episodes of 'F.R.I.E.N.D.S'/Coupling/Chanakya/Yes Minister. This usually goes on till late at night, leading to late mornings of around 8:30.

Today morning was an exception.

I had to take Mom for a blood test to Park Street. The test had to be taken empty-stomach, so had to leave at 7:30 in the morning. The sacrifice of sleep, though, paid rich dividends.

It is a different kind of joy to be there to help your parents. In a couple of days, I'll be moving out of Calcutta, and with it will go away the opportunity to be there for Mom n Dad at times of such need. Not that this was an earth-shattering moment when I just had to be there, but the smile of satisfaction that Mom gave me when I drove her back home was worth every minute of eye-blinking waking up today morning.

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