Sunday, September 26, 2010

Finally, a pre-tournament favorite wins World Cup...

Generally, at the pre tournament media-writings, lot of predictions go in, and lot of people play a safe-bet by chosing a pre-tournament favorite. Most of the times, money go wasting. As hardly a pre-tournament favorites win a world cup. Football pundits say, Brazil is always favorite at world cup soccer. I choose to differ with that statement. NOT ALWAYS. The tournaments that I remember, in 1986, there was no clear cut favorite, brazil had and advantage. In 1990, Italy was favorite to win the cup at home-soil. In 1994, Germany was favorite to retain the cup. In 1998, again Brazil was favorite, with powerhouse attacking options. 2002, Argentina was over-whelming favorite to win the cup. In 2006, no clear favorites again, though Brazil and Argentina had pre-tournament backing of pundits. If you remember, in none of the above-mentioned years, the nations that I have mentioned , won the cup. This time around, in 2010, everyone was behind Spain. They won the euro 2008, they were ranked 1 by Fifa going into the world cup..They had won 48 of 53 matches going into the world cup. No one was in any doubt about who the pre-tournament favorite was.

But spanish players gave every bookie a scare when they lost 0-1 to swiss in opening match. Everybody thought, here we go again..!! Spain already have the "choker" tag at world cup, as numerous times previously they came to the biggest stage of world football with a promise to steal the show, and they failed wel short of target most of the times.

Not this time around though. Spain scored only 8 goals in the world cup, conceeded 2. Lowest scoring team to win a world cup. From round of 16 onwards to final, they have won all the matches 1-0. Villa scored against Portugal and paraguay, Puyol against Germany, and Iniesta in the final against Holland. Though they lacked the final punch, they were composed in the back, and sublime midfield consisting busquets-lonso-xavi-iniesta operated like a well oiled machine. Barcelona model of short passing and quick place exchange was adopted nicely. Villa did not have much support upfront, as Torres was totally off-color in the tournament. This may be the reason of Spain not getting enough goals. But they got goals that matered.

Germany progressed strongly till they met spain. They swept aside England 4-1 and Argentina 4-0. Germany played lot of passes in the midfield, and used the flank well with Oezil and Schwainsteiger changing places. Schwainsteiger shredded the argentinian defence apart with holding the ball, and pacy runs. Muller was at his best in these two matches, he came from just behind the striker position, and attacked the goal. He scored 3 goals in these two matches, and his absence in the semifinal due to card problem, cost germany dearly. Still Germany managed to win 3rd position by defeating Uruguay in an entertaining match, and left the world cup with lots of admirer.

Uruguay has been the surprise package of the world cup. No one gave them that much chance, not ahead of their illustrious latin american opponents. They got past south korea 2-1, was lucky to get past ghana, as suarez blatantly handled the ball in goal line at last minute of extra time, and Asamoah Gyan of Ghana, blasted the penalty in the post and missed the chance to take Ghana to semifinal. It would have been fitting incidence of Ghana qualifying to the semis of world cup as 1st ever african nation, on home-continent soil, where the world cup is taking place for first time. It did not happen, Uruguay won in penalties. In semis, they played an entertaining match with Holland. Holland previously defeated Brazil in one of the great display of coming -back- from -behind.

Brazil was up by 1-0 within 10 minutes, and Kaka and Robinho was runing riots in dutch defense. Stekelenburg produced few good saves to keep it 1-0 at halftime. But after half time, brazil changed tactics and started playing a more physical game, and due to that, they lost their rhythm. Holland grabbed the opportunity, sneijder was controlling the midfield, Robben was running fast down the flanks, van bommel was giving brazillians pieces of his mind. Melo scored an own goal b deflecting a Sneijder free kick to make it 1-1, and then he stamped on robben to recieve marching orders. Sneijder scored again from a corner, and Holland managed to hold on brazillian onslaught for last few minutes to win it 2-1. They beat Uruguay 3-2 in the semis, but in the final, they were totally off color. Though robben missed a easy 1-on-1 against Casillas, otherwise dutch were playing too physical game. They had 9 players booked, and one player sent off. They knew they could not match spain's ball possession and short passing game, so they employed kick-the-guy-instead-of the ball attitude. It almost worked, until Iniesta controlled a fabregas pass in the right side of the box and scored the only goal of the match in 116th minute.

Portugal was a drab affair. To see the picture, portugal scored 7 goals against south korea, and that is the only match they scored any goal. They failed to score any goals in rest of the matches. Their defence was tough though, as they conceeded only Villa's goal against spain that took them out of the cup.

All in all, this was a nice world cup, without loads of upsets, but some good entertaining football. Forlan deservedly won the golden ball, as he was clearly the best player. His runs, passes, shots, five goals, was really something that wud have inspired other 30+ forwards. Thomas Mueller won the golden boot, as he shared the 5 goals with sneijder, villa and forlan, but scored the goals with fewest shot on target among the other top scorers. South Afria was a great host, great hospitality, though the vuvuzela created some chaos. Iker casillas deservedly lifted the cup , finaly jogo bonito remains the winner at world cup, after euro 2008. It seems, justice is done sometimes after all.

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup 2010 : the unravelled story till now...

The world cup 2010 is at its crossroads. The 1st round of matches will end today, and the knock-out phase will start from tomorrow. We have already seen almost all the things needed to make this event a memorable one. French revolution, expulsion of Anelka, re-emergence of Uruguay as footballing power, return of Diego Maradona in world cup stage with full flare and color, explosion of Lionel Messi and his "jogo bonito", drab display of England in 1st few matches, Germany's total change of palying style, asia over europe , expulsion of an ageing Italy from 1st round, play-acting, fewer goals, defensive tactics, Spain's failure to break swiss jungle, well this list will go on and on. In a nutshell, this world cup has already too many variations in its plate. Oh I almost forgot to mention, Zabulani and Vuvuzela. The two biggest villains in this world cup. Zabulani is swinging around unpredictably, vuvuzela is making unbearable noises..even defenders cannot listen to each other.
Players coaches alike wanted to ban vuvuzela but Fifa did not want to play with local people's sentiment in south africa. So the irritating sounds are on.
This world cup has already seen the exit of the finalists of 2006 edition, Italy and France. These two sides have not adjusted to the football that has progressed a lot in last 4 years. For France, it was a total disaster. The players were totally against adamant Domenech, and it seemed no one wanted to play in the world cup. We all remember that their entry to the world cup at the expense of Ireland was full of controversy with Henry's handball pass to the winning goal on aggregate. Well, for them, it is Karma, what went around, came back around. Ribery emerged in world football seen in last world cup . He formed a great partnership with Zidane and helped France to reach the world cup final. Well there is no Zidane, ribery is total flop after a great club season, Henry was non-existent(much like his season at Barcelona), defence was full of miseries, Samir Nasri was left at home, and a footballing nation that has seen great heights over last decade is on complete decline, and reached nadir. Hope Laurent Blanc will be able to pull them up from ashes when he takes charge after the world cup.
Italy's story is different. They received two major and significant blows at the beginning of their campaign. Gianluigi Buffon, who conceded only one goal in open play in last world cup, and was pillar to their success last time, has to be taken off the field with back injury in the match against Paraguay. Andre Pirlo, their main architect and ball player in midfield, hasn't even got the chance to play the 1st two games. Without these two, Italy looked completely out-of sorts in the field. The attack lacked god finishers, there is no Baggio, no altobeli, no Paolo Rossi, not even any Luca Toni or Francesco Totti or Del Piero calibre players. Iaquinta, Zillardino, Quaglirella, Di Natale..they still have a long way to go before they can claim themselves successful International strikers. The defence , which was Italia pride over last century, is now a pale shadow of its glorious past. Cannavaro, the golden ball winner four years ago was leaking balls and forwards every minute. This inept defender now has totally lost interest i football, and it is a crime on behalf of Italian football federation and team management which carried him to south africa. Chiellini tried his best, but he is not the person to carry forward the legacy of Maldinis, Barresis, Nestas. Intermilan, which won the champions league this year, did not have a single Italian player in their starting line-up. Montolivo is the only layer who can be taken as positive emergence for the new-generation of Italian football. Serious re-thinking is needed to be done in Italian football if they wish to remain as footballing superpower in coming years.
That brings me to discuss the other groups and big teams that are on display in this world cup. One can write a lot about Argentina, as that team is looking most colorful in this world cup. Not only on-field but off-field as well. Diego Maradona is their coach, and we need not say anything more about the reason behind their colorfulness.
They had a disastrous qualifying campaign, but cometh the world cup, the plethora of attacking stars led my Messi and ably supported by Tevez, Higuain, de Maria, Aguerro, Milito have exploded wonderfuly. Though they have scored 7 goals in 3 games, with Messi yet to open his account, they have created numerous chances, and showed perfect display of hold-create-pass-shoot football. The strikers have been opportunistic, and conversion rate became good after 1st match. Yet I think Argentina will not win this world cup as their defence looks weak, really weak. With Samuels injured, it looks even weaker. But hey, things with Argentina, specially when Diego is involved in the equation, never went according to the "so called" plan.
South Korea impressed with their fast run and passing ball play. They will be a good fight against Uruguay at the round of 16. Uruguay seems to have found its lost glory to some extent. Diego Forlan is undoubtedly one of the best strikers in the world right now, and Luis Suarez is a good converter of chances as well.
In Group C, England came with lot of expectations with Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry etc donning the headlines. They claimed to be serious contender, and coach Fabio Capello has already won big accolades in club level and no stranger to success. They started of well against USA , scoring with-in 4 minutes of the start, but then the Green howler came. Then the Algerian howler came where they failed to score. And suddenly England found them on the brink of elimination if they fail to beat Slovenia, who was almost in last 16 without doing much. England defeated Slovenia 1-0, wasting 16 more chances to score, and with USA's last gasp winner against Algeria, they face Germany in last 16 clash.
England vs Germany. Yah, with all the history, politics, battles, football, culture everything associated with it, Sunday 27th June will see a classic. The quality of football that will be on display may not steal the limelight, but the magnitude of the event will. Ghana is the only african nations to have qualified for the 2nd round, and looks to be the only one as other african nations have been already eliminated and Cote d'Ivore have a huge 9 goal deficit over Portugal. Holland did not get a chance to explode, but showed enough to suggest that they can be a serious threat to Brazil if they meet in QF according to the schedule. Robben did not play the 1st two matches , but played for last 15 minutes against Cameroon and already shown glimpses of what is about to come in next round here they face Slovakia.
Ah, Slovakia..a complete fairy-tale story. When Kiwis scored an injury time goal to equalise against them, no one thought that 2 weeks later, they will be the team in last 16 from this group and they will be the team to send the defending world champions packing. Robert Vittek emerged as a strong striker, and defence looked organized against Italy. Hamsik led the team well against azzuri's and they deserve a place in last 16, which looked next to impossible before their match against Italy. Kiwis are one team going out of world cup without losing a match. They drew all three matches, and should feel proud of their achievement in this world cup.

This brings us to the group of death. Portugal started of with a 0-0 draw with Cote d'Ivore in the 1st match where Drogba came as substitute with metal cast wrapped around his broken hand. He failed to make any mark on the pitch. Brazil got past DPR Korea 2-1, with the little Koreans showing signs of real fight in future games. Brazil has changed their style of play. With lot of players playing european league, the latin american flair has given way to result oriented football, which is adapted by most coaches now=a=days world over. Jose Maurinho has shown the way that results are important in football match, so hang your "Jogo bonito".
Its a philosophers debate as beauty vs business, and though personally I prefer the former, I have to admit that business-like Brazil means business. They look the most complete team with Lucio Maicon in defence, Elano, Melo in midfield, and Kaka-Robinho-Fabiano leading the attack. It will take really something extra-ordinary from anyone to beat Brazil in this world cup. Dunga has done his homework.
People went ga ga over Portugal hammering 7 past DPR Korea, but I see that more as complete inexperienced display from Koreans rather than Portugese excellence. Indeed the Ronaldos and Simaos played well, but the real test for them awaits in next game against Brazil, and possible R16 match against Spain....
...if Spain qualifies. A big IF. Spain's loss to the swiss' is one of the biggest world cup shocks. Spain displayed barcelona model football over last few years . Barcelona model has won Spain euro 2008, barcelona model has won FC Barcelona 7 trophies in last 1and half years. So this model is successful. Model of passing the ball, keeping it in ground, change places off the ball swiftly, and clinical finishing. David Villa, Torres, Iniesta, Xavi, Ramos, Capdevilla, Silva, Jesus Navas...the names are good enough to succeed..right?
Well swiss took a leaf out of Maurinho's book, and park their team bus in-front of their goal. Spain failed to find the door-key of the bus, and Swiss score on the break to win 1-0. Shocking.!! So shocking that spanish media brought Iker Casillas' journalist girlfriend as distractor in the stands for their skipper keeper when swiss score. Though Spain came back in winning ways against Honduras, their match against Chile will again define their campaign. There is one thing developing a model in training ground, but it is completely different thing to execute that model in actual playing field, with the task more difficult if the stage is world cup.
After the 1st round, some interesting trends have been developed. Mediocre European countries are lagging behind emerging asian countries. Japan 3-1 Denmark type scoreline was largely unimaginable thing a decade ago. Time have changed. Though teams play in safety-first modes lot of times, coaches have found ways to break defences. There is a tendency of teams to not work properly for creating a chance. Teams like Slovenia, Slovakia, NewZealand, Algeria, Serbia...instead of working creatively, they hit the ball in the air, and hope for the best. This type of football is not effective anymore. Aussies realise that in last match, played well. Algeria tried to create chances on the ground against US, played well. You have to work for your chances, pass the ball, change place, go the wing and cut back.
Latin America is also doing well. Paraguay & Uruguay along with Brazil Argentina already qualified for Round of 16, Chile already has 6 points. Attacking flare has won over defensive style so far, though number of goals are not soaring high. 95 goals from 44 matches. Though 70 goals have been scored in last 28 matches , as 1st round of matches in 8 groups produced only 25 goals.
Seemingly easy groups were complicated, Group F was considered to be easiest for Italy, in which they finished last, group H was very easy for Spain which is going down to wire in the last day. Group C was supposed to be a cake walk for England, which is won by US with a last minute goal. Group of death Group G on the other hand almost is decided with one round of matches to go. So, the unpredictable nature of world cup continues.
So, the stage is set for Messi, Forlan, Park Ji Sung, Landon Donovan, Lukas Podolski,Ozeil, Mueller, Wayne Rooney, Arjen Roben, Keusike Honda, Kaka, Ronaldo and others who will join them in knock-out phase, to explode and make this memorable world cup even more exciting..
The real battle is about to fasten your seat belts..!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

K'NAAN - Wavin' Flag (Coca-Cola Celebration Mix)

The arrival of "Copa Mundial 2010"

I will start this by a wonderfull celebration mix by K'naan at
The celebration time of the most beautiful game on earth has arrived. Football is one round object that can unite the whole world in a time like this when the whole world seems like a boiling pot. Political tensions, fight over natural resources, fight over religious issues, fight over controlling the world. Everybody seems like always tensed, and forgot how to celebrate, how to rejoice, how to enjoy the little time they have on earth.
Well, here is your chance. We all know the global celebration of the most beautiful game on earth, that is, football , takes place in every alternate 4 years. 2010 happens to be one of those years. This year the celebration is taking place for the 1st time in African continent. South Africa is the host nation from 11th June from 11th July. Yes we are talking about the world cup football. This month we hope all the tensions will be erased, all the bad blood will be on halt-flow temporarily, all the sorrow will be put aside. We hope this month we all will celebrate the colors, the flags, the goals, the celebrations. This one month we will celebrate the "Copa Mundial"...
Since already all the pundits , players , ex players, reporters, everyone is out with their own versions of who will win the cup, I am not going there. From time to time it has been proved that how wrong it is to predict the world cup winner. Brazil is always favorite going into a world cup. They say, if you are born in brazil, you dont need to learn footballing skills. You are born with those skills. Its a part of Brazil's system. World cup, goals, yellow green flag, samba dances. Thats how they live. No matter who is the coach, which players are playing in the starting eleven, who is opponent, that country whose capital is Brasilia will always be tipped to win the world cup. So 2010 is no exception. Lot of people is taking names of Spain, England, some saying Germany and Italy with their history. Some saying Diego Maradona's Argentina will end their 24 year drought with Lio Messi, arguable the best player in the planet right now, in their ranks. But as I think of does not matter who win's it. It does not matter which country's captain holds the cup aloft on 11th July at Soccer City Stadium at Johannesburg. The world cup, a glittering small golden trophy, came to Kolkata as one of its stop-over destination during its world tour. I had the privilege to watch it closely and got a picture taken with the trophy.
After that moment, I realised that this whole month is bigger than anything else in life. A round object, bringing so many nations together , uniting so many nations with so many different colors , and personalities, just based on one object. All these nations are part of the biggest celebration that takes place once in 4 years. All these nations , atleast for a month, can dream wild, no matter even it does not come true. There can be only one "campion". But there can be so many dreamers. So this is also a month of celebration of all thoe people, who loves to dream, who loves to shed all the inhibitions and boundaries.
So, vamos Messi, Vamos Kaka, vamos Ronaldo, vamos Rooney, vamos Drogba, vamos Robben, vamos Eto'o, vamos Pirlo, vamos Kiesling, vamos everyone who will take part in this celebration. Here is to all those lion-hearts..where passion never dies..!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The re-incarnation of football God

Football is the only object in the world that truly speaks universal language. No physical, geographical, political barrier can discriminate or distinguish between two football players. Just the ball, a ground, and you are good to make friends with another person of similar possessions.

Thus, football often creates a notion of brotherliness, an atmosphere of enjoyment among players. Football extracts all the available emotion out of a fan. Football is a game that define our lives. It is simple as life. We all have goals in our life, and we are living to fullfil our dreams, or in other words, achieve our goals. This is just what players do in a football match. 11 individuals with a common goal. Everyone performing their duties to fullfill the common goal of the the match. So football is our life. In life we believe in separate religions, and we believe in God. As football fanatics, there is a football God as well.

And we all know who that person is, Diego Armando Maradona. The person is a living legend no doubt, but more over, his football epitomises the magnitude of the word "Football God". The way he played the game, the way he made everything look so simple, the way he dribbled his way past several defenders in-humanly, the way he scored goals which others cannot even think of, makes him the God of Football. Whoever accustomed or associated with this beautiful game, will appreciate this statement. You can hate or like Diego Maradona, but you admit it, Diego Maradona played football in a different level than normal human beings can play.
He was a passionate person on field in his playing days. He was a star at the age of 16, he was emotionally devastated when he was not picked by Cesar Menotti in the Argentina squad for world cup 1978 at home soil. Argentina won that world cup, and Diego issue was almost sinking into oblivion. But Diego Maradona was not born to sink into oblivion. He lead Argentina to 1979 youth worldcup victory in Tokyo. Then came the 1982 world cup, and his skills were already being studied by other coaches. Italy and Brazil knew there is only one way to stop Diego, foul and kick him. They succeeded in doing that, and Maradona was shown red card against Brazil, and Argentina bowed out of the cup. He was involved in a big fighting scramble with Athletic Bilbao players in 1984 Kings Cup final while he was in Barcelona, another outburst of an emotional person.
But he played some of his best matches for Barcelona. Everyone was mesmerised by the left foot of this curly big haired dwarf boy. Then came the famous move to Napoli. He moved to Italy, and he became a legend for that club. But the tournament that made him soccer god, was 1986 World Cup. The 56 year history of the tournament never seen such enormous incredible display of soccer by a single player. The world cup was never so dominant by a single player. 1986 World cup, many considers, to be the best world cup till date. One of the reason behind this consideration is also for the plethora of stars played in that World cup. To name a few, Michel Platini, Joel Butts(France), Kareka, Zico, Socretes, Junior, Alemao (Brazil), Altobelli, Baresi (Italy), Butragueno(Spain), Peter Shilton, Linekar(England), Rumenigge, Schumakher, Voeller(West Germany), Franciskoli (Uruguay). These players are all excellent performers, and can change the outcome of a match with their own performance. But when Sun shines brightly, we dont see other stars. Such was Diego's dominance on the field. Koreans tried to kick him like hell , and he swiftly moved past those morons to beat them 3-1. He scored one of the ebst goals in the tournament against Italy, the match ended 1-1. He easily assisted for two goals to beat Bulgaria 2-0. Argentina snubbed past Uruguay 1-0...and met England at the quarterfinal, first time after the Falkland war.
These two countries hate each other. The match was goalless in the first half, and Diego's hand fooled everyone in 51st minute. The goal, known as, done by "Hand of God". Later England coach Bobby Robson admitted that it is Diego's credit that he fooled everyone in the ground with that spot-jump over shilton's head.

4 minutes letter, in 55th minute, Héctor Enrique passed the ball to Maradona some ten metres inside his own half. Maradona then began his 60-metre, 10-second dash towards the English goal, leaving behind five English outfield players – Hodge, Beardsley, Reid, Butcher and Fenwick. Maradona finished the move by dribbling round Shilton to make the score 2–0 to Argentina. About the goal, Maradona said, "I made the play to give it to Valdano, but when I got to the area they surrounded me and I had no space. Therefore, I had to continue the play and finish it myself."

This goal is considered goal of the century, and truly "greatest goal of all time scored by a single individual."
He mesmerized poor Belgium with his left foot in the semifinal, scored two goals. It was almost a mis-match for an world cup semifinal. In the final, WestGermans appointed Lothar Matheus as the man marker behind Diego. Poor Germans didn't know that Gods cannot be man-marked..!! Maradona created free space for Buruchaga and Valdano who ran riot for first 50 minutes of the match. Argentina were 2-0 up in the 50th minute, and everyone thought this one is in the bag for Albicelestes. But Germans are a different race than others not for nothing. The fighting spirit is in their blood. Rumenigge pulled one back from close range around 68th minute, and Rudi Voeller equalised from a deflected header around 80th minute. Score tied at 2-2 and momentum is shifting towards the germans. But when God is on the field, he make changes on his will. Diego delivered a slick pass from midfield to unmarked Buruchaga at the right side of the midfield, and Buruchaga ran with the ball like hell, and placed it past the advancing Schumacher to the back of the net.Argentina 3, Westgermany 2. Final whistle was blown after 2 minutes and Argentina became world champion for the 2nd time, and Diego Maradona put a permanent mark on the world cup trophy. This one is mine..!!

4 years later, He took Argentina to the final again. This time the team was completely different, inexperienced, but Maradona still showed his brilliance and determination. Argentina defeated Brazil 1-0 in the 2nd round, and Diego was architect behind the Caniggia goal. The Argentina won both quarter final against the the Yugoslavia and Semifinal against Italy via penalty-shoot out,and Goicochea the goal-keeper was hero in both of them. Diego missed the penalty against Yugoslavia and converted against Italy. In final they again met WestGermany. Germans were no doubt the superior side in the final, but they couldn't score. Goicochea was standing farm, and Diego with his team was fighting. But the referee made sure that Argentina will not win the world cup this time. Klinsman's theatrical dives caused Monzon to elave the game with a red card, and then finally another dramatical dive by Rudi Voeller inside the penalty area in 85th minute earned them a penalty. That was how the German's won that world cup, and Beckenbauer admitted after the final that they did not want to win the world cup this way. The penalty was disputed, he admitted.

Anyways, Diego was targeted by Italy. Just because Argentina defeated Italy in the semifinal, and italy was out of the world cup on home soil. So all the anger was hurled upon Maradona.They plotted the drug scandal against him, and in 1991, Diego was suspended from football for 15 months. He came back in 1992, but never the same player he was before. He played in some small clubs, played in Newell Old Boys in Argentina, played few matches in Sevilla. Surprisingly he was in 1994 Argentina world cup squad though he was without any club at that time. He scored in the 1st match against Greece and assisted in both the goals in Argentina's 2-1 win over Nigeria. But the world cup was taking place in US. Diego is a good friend of Fidel Castro. US cannot stand Fidel Castro. So you can guess what will happen. Another conspiracy plot, another drug charge, and Maradona was banned from playing football. Argentina went out against Romania in the 2nd round, and so poor was refereeing in that match that FIFA suspended the referee , after that match. The same referee was later banned due to involvement in the Serie A bribery scandal involving Juventus, AC Milan in 2006.

Then slowly Diego's life was taking difficult turns. He was under drug, and hard drugs. He had problems in nervous system, he put on some serious weight. He retired from football in 1997, playing his last games at his old club Boca Juniors. But then he had serious drinking and drug problem, and his health deteriorated. He was admitted to hospital in 2004 after serious heart attack, and was in ICU for several days. He almost came back from jaws of death. He started his rehab program then, stopped drinking, started to host a talk-show at the Argentina Television, where he had guests like Pele, Zidane. Slowly he was coming back to normal life.

Diego as a person is always emotional. He was always involved in graphic conversations with referees, he always had the warmth to greet team-mates as well as opponents on and off the pitch, he was also involved in on-field brawls. He is an expressive mind.

Recently AFA has appointed Diego Maradona as the Coach of the Argentina national team. That is something he always dreamed of. Under his coaching, Argentina played two matches, both friendlies, beating Scotland 1-0 , and beating France 2-0. In both matches, we have seen the same old emotional Diego. He hugged every players at the half time, at the end of the match, when they came out of the pitch. He hugged every player when they are substituted. He hugged the opponent managers and players as well. To him, football is life, and he is the ultimate creator of the art of football. To him, football is the passionate object through which he expresses his mind. That is why he does not get bogged down by political diplomacies, and hug every one, team-mates, players, coaches, opponents. Cause , everyone is part of the world , that he created, and he is the authority of. Football. The world is a better place, when the game of football is played, and when Diego Armando Maradona is drenching the globe with his emotions.
We are all delighted because we have witnessed the re-incarnation of the football god.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Maharaja...tomare selaam

I met Sourav Ganguly in St Xaviers college , Calcutta for the 1st time in person, 1993. We actually played a college match together. He was already an Indian player by that time, toured Australia in 1992.

Then we watched the painful 4 years when he was outside the team, and I remember he was frustrated in college campus, after he was not picked against England home series in 1993. He was in good form then. Then came 1996 Lords, and the rest was history. I remember the procession and the crowd that flooded the street of behala (my house is only minutes away from his), on the day he returned from England after that tour.
Then, the graph is always upward, sahara cup, indian captaincy, eradicating the match fixers, winning the natwest, and champions trophy in 2002, world cup final, winning against australia in 2001, winning against pakistan in 2003-04, comeback in 2006, a great run of 2 years in test and ODIs.Its been a marvellous career, and we are so proud and fortunate that Sourav Ganguly was our captain, is our captain, and we are fortunate to be eye-witnesses of the era when cricket in India has been changed by Ganguly. Its always sad when a player goes, cause so much memories of daily life is linked with cricket .

I skiped a tution to watch dada scored 124 against pakistan in dhaka at 1998, ..I was having my 1st exam in US when dada scored that enormous century against south africa in 2001 tri-series, I was in my friends home when the famous natwest shirt waving came..these little things are coming to the memory today. The famous step out sixes, the silky cover drive, the jab on the leg side, the pull shot that he mastered over the years, will be no more to be seen. The memories, the images, the aggressiveness, the mental strentgh, will be always in our hearts. We are proud that we share the same oxygen and earth space with sourav ganguly.

As Satyajit Roy's movie gupee-gayne-bagha-baine said in a song.."Maharajaaaaa..tomare selaam".

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Euro 2008: and the winner is.."Joga Bonito"

Austria and Switzerland succesfully hosted the european nations championship of 2008. This quadrennial tournament is considered to be the biggest football tournament on earth after the world cup. The pundits consider it the toughest tournament to win.
This year tournament was organised by two weak teams, austria and switzerland. Austria is currently ranked 92 in the world, and easily went out scoring only 1 goal in the tournament through a disputed penalty. Swiss fought hard, was unlucky to lose their 1st two matches, and salvaged some pride in the end by defeating portugal in the last group game. Portugal was one of the pre-tournament favorites, and many considered they will win it. Certainly they had the talent to do so.
But Christiano Rnaldo played one good match against Czech, nothing more. Scolari was named as Chelsea coach in the middle of the tournament, and I guess the whole Portugal squad lost their focus. Still they should have defeated Germany in the quarter-final.

Germany basically escaped through to the final. They lost to Croatia, then barely managed to beat a weak Austria, then their 3-2 wins over both Portugal and Turkey was lucky. They were playing against almost the second team of the Turkey , and still had to win by last minute goal showing unsportsman like conduct. Anyway, this article is not about Germans, this article is about Joga Bonito.
Yes, 3 teams in this tournament played good beautiful football, Spain, Russia and Holland. But Spain played complete joga bonito. But lets talk about Holland and Russia first. Holland started the tournament with blast, defeating Italy by 3-0 and Franc by 4-1. People were really going berserk about dutch footbal by that time. I felt dutch peaked too early, and they won against two aging side who couldnt match their speed o counter attacks. 5 of the 7 goals in the 1st two matches came in counter attacks. Against Romania they rested 9 of their first XI, and that definitely disturbed their momentum going into the quarterfinal against Russia. Russia lost to spain 1-4 in the 1st match, and never looked back till they faced the same opponents in
semifinal. They beat Greece 1-0 and Sweden 2-0 to meet Holland in the quarterfinal. The speed and artistry of Arshavin, and the finishing of Pavulychenko stunned the overconfident dutch. Russia won 3-1 and Holland again failed in the big stage.
Spain is another team which has a reputation of failing in the big stage. Their last and only victory in a major tournament came in 1964 euro, 44 years ago. This Spain team has too much talent, every position is overflowing with talented players. The marvelous ball player xavi, the little David Silva, the silken touch Iniesta, the guttsy Puyol, the opportunism personified Villa and Torres. And there is Casillas, Iker Cassilas, captain of spain, last line of defense
and victor of many intense battle. It is very seldom that a team which plays good beautiful footbal finally wins the tournament.
Examples are aplenty, but just go back to 2006 world cup. Argentina was playing heaven like football, there touches, passes and stunning finishing won every one's heart. Only cruel Germany and Slovakian referee didnt allow them to win.
This time Spain made sure that the beautiful game is still alive and winning. Xavi and Iniesta worked like painting on canvas. Their perfect passing football combined with david silva provided ample opportunities for Villa and Torres upfront. Spain was undefeated in the whole tournament, and did not concede a single goal in the knockout stages of the tournament.
They defeated Russia twice 3-0 and 4-1, and brought Germany to school level in the final. They should have scored at least 3-4 more goals in the final.
Spain needed this trophy badly, as they ended their drought of 44 years. This is a new golden generation of Spanish football which promises much more silverware in the near future.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

nai ba tahar ortho hok, nai ba bujhuk bebak lok

amra khabo dabo kolkolabo
pushbo internet
amra ratri jege chhobi dekhbo
gurgur tolpet.

amra na hoy chhotto pola
chengis dari chai..
tomra je hao dhere khoka,
poro joy gosai.

boma felche piyong-iyong
anonde nachi tai..
are saddam khuro gelo naki
dekhto uthe bhai!

amader nei ichhe-dana
kemne uri bol,
taito mora che(n)chai jore..
diego dile gol.

amader ache anek sentu,
jhuli bhora byang..
thanda ghore bose chiboi
jholsa murgi-thyang.

amra beer kheye bhuri bagai
sange diet coke,
tulche potol gorib-gurbo..
kiser rashtro-shok?

sada dekhle sursur kore
jibher doga lyaj,
buke amra ghuri pore
swadhinotar badge.

oi je boli mon-ta moder
boroi hahakar,
zidan kore paglami ar
amra hoi jerbaar.

naachte neme oma dekhi
uthon geche be(n)ke,
chappal hate gonga foring
tabuo jay deke.

amra halla rajay selam thuki
shundi kori joy..
aamra jiban niye kheli jua
sudhu bhagobanei bhoy!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Indian Premier League : "old order changeth yielding place to new"

The hype was enormous, the distraction caused by it allowed players to forget their national pride. Finally when it arrived, it swept a nation and many more around the world by its charisma and impetus.

Yes, I am talking about recently concluded Indian Premier League , aka popular IPL. Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural eition of the 20-20 cricket extravaganza by 3 wickets defeating Chennai Super Kings in the final. But the mere results became unimportant in front of the magnitude of the whole event. People came to watch the match in thousands, all the grounds were jam-packed, even in 35-38C heat of april-may in India. The entertainment that cricket brought provided the necessary cool-breeze. The cheer-leaders danced with every wicket or boundary scored, the loud-speakers played hindi music, and bollywood celebrities were mixed in the fray to prepare a toxic-sweet supersaturated chemical solution. ShahRukh Khan was omni present at calcutta, spreading his life energy and enthusiasm among crowd. Preity Zinta, not knowing cricket that much, still made foolish gestures and tried to appear super cool. Other big business magnets like Vijay Malya, Mukesh Ambani invested and bought franchises like Mumbai Indians and Bangalore Royal Chalengers. Big names galored, money flowed, overseas players jumped into the fray, and the face of cricket in India will never be the same again.

Junior indian players, who have played so far under 19 matches and ranji cricket at most, suddenly found players like adam gilchrist, glen mcgrath, mark boucher, shane warne, muralidharan, grame smith, ricky ponting, shoaib akhtar sharing the same dressing room with them, bowling them at the nets, giving them batting tips during practice sesions. That is the huge benefit that came out of IPL. The cricketing knowledge has flown in each direction. People from different countries and culture came together, spent time together, learned each others culture and life-style, and had accustomed acordingly. Few days ago Symonds and Rohit Sharma was giving eye for eye and tooth-or-tooth in CB series in australia. 3 months later, they are team mates in IPL, chalking out strategy together how to get rid of ponting or dravid, or how to face shane warne.
That is the beauty..cultures mixed together. The dressing room atmosphere got lighter, stories are shared. This will probably make cricket gentleman's gme again.Now lets talk about some take home memories of the IPL. Jayasuriya got the license and despatched bowlers all over the park. he hit 31 sixes in 14 matches and became a dangerous force once again. Sourav ganguly and Rahul dravid both aggregated over 350 runs with healthy average and showed that IPL is not only for young players. Harbhajan slapped sreesanth and was banned for 11 matches , and as mumbai didnt qualify for semis, he couldnt take part in IPL after the 3rd match. Rajasthan Royals became the greatest surprise of the tournament. They spend their money efectively, and at the end of player-buying auction they were the cheapest team. Incidentally, they were the best team, because they bought effective twenty twenty players, who will bowl-bat and field. They had three solid all-round capability players. Shane Watson, Yousuf Pathan, Sohail Tanvir. Tanvir was the highest wicket-taker with only economy rate around 6, watson was run-away winner for man of the series with 444 runs and 16 wickets, and yousuf pathan was brilliant when the team needed him most. Besides these thee, they had warne, who still have lot of fire left in him, and captained a young side very wel. Graeme smith provided the experience up-top. and Asnodkar was the find of the tournament where his unorthodox play always assured that royals got a good start always.
Shaun Marsh is the son of aussie opener Geoff Marsh, and Shaun show in Ipl confirmed that the son is like his father. He scored 639 runs in the whole tournament despite missing first 3 matches, and he played elegant cricket strokes, not baseball slogs, to score those runs. He adapted to the indian conditions very well, used his wrist to great extent to play his shots.
Lot of new bowlers emerged from the IPL. Ashoke Dinda, and Manpreet Gony are the two front runners. Balaji came back to cricket after two years of exile and claimed the 1st hattrick of the IPL. Spin played an important part in the tournament also as amit mishra won a few matches for delhi, and muralidharan, warne provided required breaks and impetus for their teams.

Delhi probably had one of the best sides on paper but their inconsistency finally scripted their downfall. Mcgrath and Maharoof strangled the batsmen most of the time in the tournament but failed to do so in the semifinal. Th race to the semifinal was a tight one, and other than Bangalore and Hydrebad, other teams like mumbai, kolkata, chennai, delhi was in tight midtable finish at the end.

Mumbai and Kolkata were the best examples of "could-have-happened or should-have-happened". They won some matches with such ease, and then lost some matches poorly. Mumbai suffered 3-4 last over finishes, two last ball losses that cost them semifinal place. Kolkata never found their right combination, and a weak batting line-up and injured chris gayle never helped. Deccan chargers of hyderabad would like to forget this tournament as soon as possible. Gilchrist, afridi, gibbs, symonds, rohit sharma, scott styris probably constructed a line up any captain would dream of. But too many cooks spoiled the dinner there, and a weak inexperienced bowling line-up did not help.
The talks and runours for the next season has already started. Teams are looking to buy english players who were not a part of the inaugural version. The removal of salary cap rumour has already been surfaced, and people are having mixed reaction about it. South africa, Australia, WestIndies are also trying to start their own t20 tournament, and a concept of champions league is shaping up. One british invented game is following the footsteps of another.
Though IPL lasted only 44 days, the impact will last year round, and as soon as sohail tanvir hit the wining runs in the last ball of the final, the countdown for 2009 IPL has already began.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Movie Snippet 1

Here I will discuss briefly about some of the movies I have seen in recent past. 1st in the line is Amadeus. The film has been made based on the life of legendary Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart music is appalling and revolution in the late middle age of europe. Austria, Germany and most of the central europe was at the brink of a turmoil and excitement-ridden journey at that time, and Mozart's music has strengthened the understanding of human about human feelings at that time. The operas were a medium of sending strong social message, and mozart used that medium perfectly. But the movie disappointed me as a whole. The vast magnitude, the loudness , the drama was there. Yet the classic was missing. The true Mozart was missing from the movie. The director failed to create an environment of purpose for his music. Indeed the movie got oscar, but it failed to portray the joy of music, the beauty of concertos, the troubled musicians life, in the movie. I would give it a 3 out of 5.

Next in the line is Mrigaya by Mrinal sen. It is the debut film of Mithun Chakrabarty and Mamata Shankar. The story may be a simple age-old one, but it has been executed beautifully by the director and actors. The saontal tribes and their crops are always troubled by the animals from the forest close to a village. But animals dont have shrewd brains to do the judgement. They cannot understand that due to their act, someone else in this world is getting hurt or getting deprived of their belongings. Human can understand that. Sometimes some human being gets too greedy and understanding this fact fully well they attack poor saontals, or poor villagers, to satisfy their greed. The saontal villagers attack the animals from the forest to keep them away from the crops, they hunt those wild animals. But sometime hunting of these human-faced animals are also needed. This story is all about hunting the real animals in the society. Mithun showed in his 1st movie how big an actor he is. It is sometimes really difficult to execute simple roles , low profile roles. Because there one actor eally has
 to improvise him or her, cause every day he/she does not live that life. Portraying the life of a poor villager is always a challenge, and the actors/actresses acting on these roles in "Mrigaya" came out flying colors.
I give 4.5 out of 5 for this movie. Mithun Chakrabarty got best actor award for this film, and this film was accepted in Moscow film festival.

A sad and bad ending to a drab season

The champions league final wrapped up a drab and bad season of football in europe . Yes the italian cup final between inter and roma is still there, but the champions league final is considered to be the pinnacle of european football glory. The slippery and bad pitch, incessant rain, and the drama in penalties summed up a drench nite in moscow. Manchester United won in penalties, but honestly, manchester united won by luck. Chelsea should have won the trophy, and they are the deserved winner of champions league this season.

Generally artistic football win over long ball sky high soccer. Thats why this is the 1st time in 53 years history of champions league that two english teams are playing in the final. Overall it was a bad match, and a horrible pitch did not help either.
Hope from next year onwards Uefa do not make such mess of such a big event.

Several time during the match both the teams were involved in minor brawl. Alex ferguson tried to intemedate the referee when coming out of the tunnel before the 2nd half. Drogba was shown red cad in a scape-goat manner at the end of a lot of pushing started by tevez. The whole united team was unsporting enough not to console their opponents after penalty shoot-out. Only Scholes did that, not joining the celebration by their team mates.
Chelsea was so near the trophy. Terry slipped and the shot hit the bar, and went out. I truely dont think finals should be decided this way. They should start thinking of announcing joint winners, or make the final double leg. 
I hope Chelsea will come back and win this trophy many more time in the future. More importantly, i hope the long ball soccer teams should lose, and artistic soccer should prevail. A busy sumer ahead as lot of teams are in rebuilding process. AC Milan, InterMilan, Barcelona, Arsenal, Chelsea will be really busy during next two months. After the euro2008, clubs will sort out their starting line ups and bench strengths, and as they say, there is always a next season. I hope the next season will be a season to remember.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dada'r kirti

The heading is one of an emotional dramatic well-made bengali movie, which has been used here as a catch phrase to recognise our cricketing dada Sourav Ganguly's contribution in recently concluded India vs SouthAfrica series. India have drawn the series 1-1, coming back strongly in Kanpur to win the 3rd and final test by 8 wickets after losing the 2nd test by innings and 90 runs. The 1st test was a run fest where shewag scored a triple century, and the test match yielded almost 1500 runs with loss of 25 wkts over 5 days. The pitch at ahmedabad was lively and india lost the match by getting bowled out within 20 overs for 76 in the 1st day morning. South Africa scored 494/7 in the same pitch, and though dada and dhoni tried their best to avoid innings defeat, south africa won easily by innings and 90 runs. Dada played good solid strokes through offside, punished Paul Harris , the lone south african spinner, handsomely, used his feet to great extent. And in the 3rd test at Kanpur, when the pitch was unpredictable at its best, dada produced one gem of an innings, an innings to remember for long time. The upper part of the pitch was disintegrated, the dusts were coming out, the bounce was unpredictable. South Africa were bowled out for 265 in the 1st day, from 152-1. India were 110/3 and dravid was out in a jumping delivery when dada walked out. And what followed was termed as the "asset innings for playing on spinning track" by south african coach micky arthur. Dada played with lot of positiveness and agression, did not try to just defend. He cut and drove whenever he got opportunities on the off side, and his pulls and jabs down the on side was also there. When he finally got out in the fag end of 2nd day for 87 trying to force the pace, India was safely placed at 279, taking lead over south african total.
He not only earned the man of the match for the innings, but earned heap of praise for such skillfulll batting on a detoriating pitch. Still, there are so many critics and non-crickety jealous people who cannot stand Sourav Ganguly..!! But he enjoys that, more people will hurl abuses, his steel strong determination will be more stronger..and the bat will do the talking..

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Book Review: The Kite Runner

"For you, a thousand times over".

Thats the phrase that caught my mind after I read the book "Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. Unfortunately thats probably the only thing that I m going to remember from the book. The book starts with the childhood stories of a rich but lonely , devoid of parental attention,child, and his camaraderie with the son of their servant. Initial part of the bok speaks well about the mid-60 early 70s Kabul, Afghanistan, the traditions, the winters, the small little smells and details that will help you to fall in love with a place you havenot seen. It speaks about the loyalty of the servant's son, Hassan to his malik's son, Amir. But slowly as the story progresses, it more or less turns out to be a series of melodramatic events.

Author tries to provide a picture depicting the rise and fall of Afghanistan, but in the end it turned out to be a story of Amir's own life, how he escaped from Afghanistan and settled in America. One important aspect that was never highlighted enough in the book is the civil war in 90s in Afghanistan, where pashthuns and hazara's fought each other. That was the backdrop of the story, starting from the early days, it was pashthuns vs hazara's.Emotions are good, but you need to put emotions in rihht place. Just sketching dreams, past moments, creating a hollow surrealistic feeling does not create a great literary piece. Thats what I felt happened with this book. There are lot of places in the book where the author tried to create sympathy by showing the ugly face of life. He has drawn lot of blood shedding, and in the process marred the main objective of the story he started with. Hassan's character is a strong character, but thats the only character that stands out in the book, thats the only character that you ponder upon after finishing the book. The book do inflict a blurred image of Afganistan, the good and bad one, in your mind, but I think it fails to blend that image in your mind alongside with the characters. I believe it fails to do justice to the title of the book as well. The initial part of the book was sound, but as soon as the part with soviet attack on Afghanistan starts, the plot is lost somewhere in between reality description and story telling. I would give this book 6/10.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Soccer Snippets 2

League of the Champions or emergence of also rans?

For the 2nd time in consecutive years, at least 3 EPL teams are in UEFA champions league quarter finals. This time even better, all 4 big guns of EPL are at the QF of UCL. Arsenal face Liverpool, which means at least one english team will be in semifinal. Chelsea face Fenerbache, and without any disrespect to the turkish side, it can be said atleast 2 english teams will be in the semifinal. Is indeed EPL is the league of champions?or champions league is the place where also rans can excel? fenerbache is no big name in european football, but the way they fought and came this far this season is amazing. They have some good players in the rank, and they fought with heart in the battles, and passion has guarded their lack of skill, and brought them this far. They ousted Sevilla in the 2nd round, who looked very composed in UCL this season. But chelsea will indeed be a tough test. Schalke is another team no one thought would end up in last 8. They emerged from a pretty tough group with chelsea, valencia and rosenborg, and they beat porto in the 2nd round. They are another team who are used to be considered as also-rans by football pundits. Though barcelona will be a stern test, they can already feel proud about their achievements in Europe this season.
Manchester Utd and Roma already faced of this year in group stage and set to replay last years memorable action and goal packed quarter final. Roma is different team this season, as not a lot of team go to santiago bernebeau and knock off real madrid. Not a lot of team go to san siro and beat AC Milan.
So, indeed the teams which were considered mediocre have emerged this season, we are getting very good mix of big names and fighters. Lets have an enthralling last 3 rounds of champions league football.

Soccer Snippets 1

English race is not over
Its a three team race, and after long time, chelsea edged ahead of arsenal to second spot after last weekend's victory over gunners. Gunners are slipping behind after a fabulous start to the season. They have failed to win in last 5 matches in epl. This was somewhat predicted from a young team which regrouped themselves pretty well after last season's disaster and departure of Henry. But I consider the EPL race far from over. Mainly because , there are still big matches left, Arsenal face Liverpool, ManUtd face Chelsea, Man Utd face Arsenal, Chelsea face Liverpool in the remaining weeks, which are all 6 point games. Though Reds(Liverpool) are out of title contention, they can ruin the party for other three in the process of solidifying their champions league berth.
The mid-table juggling is also continuing as Everton, Man City, and PortsMouth battling it out for Uefa cup while everton has an eye to the champions league. Newcastle finally won under king kev and looks like they are not in relegation survival. Hope they hire some good striker and medios next season. If Viduka gets healthy, and owen can play in full force..they still have the team to compete with top four. Juande Ramos has given Spurs their 1st piece of silverware after long time, but the club is doing poorly in EPL. Next season, he may want to change that.
Season is over for Derby, and Fulham is fighting fo their life in ICU. Fasten your seatbelts folks, the EPL is all set for a fast exciting landing.

Monday, March 24, 2008

"aye aye captain...."

Most of you probably are aware of the dialogue mentioned in the heading. It is from dead poet society, where the students used to call their teacher by this, "aye aye captain...".

Captains in every form of life have roles to play, have responsibilities to fulfill, because the word captain itself is very precious and powerful, and as uncle of spider man said.."with great power, comes great responsibilities."

And the magnitude of the responsibility is even greater if you are captain of Indian cricket team. There are more than 1 billion people in the country, and counting NRIs, there are almost 1 billion cricket pundits. you got to be responsible when you are captain of a team which represents people of that huge number. Unfortunately our captain , ODI captain, current captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni isn't.

Now let me explain why I say that. We all followed what happened down under this summer, and this blog is not reporting news or scores that has already been reported in news papers. This is a place to speak your mind, so I am doing that.

India defeated Australia in the CB series final 2-0, and doing so, has achieved something no Indian team has done before, and in doing so has registered their name in history as this was the last annual triangular series played in Australia, which has been part of their cricketing culture for last 30 years.

India omitted senior players from the team, and barring sachin tendulkar, most of the other players can be tagged as "non-aged players". Everyone doubted the credibility of the young team in front of Lee, Johnson, Clark and predicted a washout.But thats the beauty of being an Indian. When people question you, hurt your emotion, then you bring out your best, and proves everyone wrong. Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar all played big role in defeating Aussies in their own backyard, and in a version of the game where they are world champions for almost a decade. Cool calm captaincy from Dhoni showed us we got a leader for the future who go by instincts, and who backs his players in difficult times.So far so good, we got a brilliant future.

Right, now lets talk about responsibilities and touch a little on the start of the story. Captains need to be responsible.As soon as Dhoni comes back to India with the team, he gave an flamboyant interview to the media, saying it was necessary to send the message across to some players. And there the whole debate started , the issue of responsibility came into play.

How many years Dhoni has played international cricket? 3. How many years Dravid has played? 12. How many years Sourav Ganguly has played? 12+4. I am not here to repeat Gangulys credentials as captain or Dravids contributions to many Indian victories in the past. We all know that. But we never heard of this kind of statement before. Dhoni has won a triangular series, not a world cup. To remind people, take out sachin tendulkar's 117* and 91 from the 2 finals, the score line might as well be reversed.

so why there is so much fuss about juniors? it should be kept in mind that the best eleven is required to win a tournament, not a youngest eleven.Throughout the tour we have observed the failure of opening stand in Indian innings. We have observed over the last year, whenever sachin and sourav gave india a good start, India went on to either win the match or at least put up a big score.So why Uthappa or Shewag is considered a better option than sourav ganguly as opening partner for tendulkar?

just because he is 36? just because he doesnt run as fast as Uthappa? well then we should consider the amount of runs he scores, which is way more than those players.

Even after India defeated Australia, I am not convinced that India has the right batting lineup in ODIs at the moment. More of all, the players need to show respect to seniors and elders who have served the country so passionately for so long. Words generally create enemies, again the words can create friends. Words can help the flow of emotions. Dhoni made the mistake of first not speaking to the seniors abut their exclusion, second made a huge mistake for making such public statement in the open.

I am a strong believer of what goes around, comes around.It will come back to haunt MS Dhoni, he will realise it one day, but it will be too late then.

From cricketing stand point, both Ganguly and Dravid has about 20 matches still left in ODI career and at least 2 years left in test career. Though energy and youth is replacing the experience in shorter version of the game, I am horrified to think abou Indian cricket's test future. Once sachin-sourav-dravid-laxman, the fab four, hang up their boots, I am shivering as I think about the state of Indian cricket will be then. So Dhoni, please remember, respecting elders is part of our culture.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Ugly Ducklings

Thats th name of a book I used to read in my childhood. Really childhood. My mom used to bring me one book everyday (almost) when she returned from work, I used to read the book, and kept it if I liked, and torn it apart if I did not. My love for book grew that way. Ugly duckling was a story o an ugly duck who was not wanted in duck society, hated by other ducks, hated by society, almost died in winter from freezing, only finally being rescued and accepted by a few beautiful swans which makes his heart filled with joy.
Society is always hard, we do not want to recognize anything off the track, we do not want to accept which does not fall into 2+2=4 category. But good hearts always win the race ultimately, however tough the journey be.
Well, the ugly ducklings story probably has nothing to do with what is to follow. When a batsman scores a 0 in a cricket match in Australia, the australian broadcasting channel accompanies the batsman to the pavilion with a animated duck on the TV screen. That ducklings is not ugly.
The term duckling gets associated with Australian cricket team just as only channel nine started this duck-walk with the batsman out for a "duck".
The ugliness of the duckling is eminent here, where it is pointing to. We all know cricket is no more a gentleman's game. No game are gentlemen's game anymore. There is too much at stake, there is not enough time to be gentleman. But still, sometimes you let your good heart win the battle with heated neuron signals in your head. All the fiasco that happened over last week between India and Australian cricket team, needs no more discussions. In an age of media dominance, every movement of every individual is thoroughly scrutinized. It is heartening to see that good sense prevailed at the end of scrutiny, mud-throwing, finger-pointing, bad-intentions, rough columns, life-threats. Yes thats what I mean by ugly duckling. The rough face of the duck, who is good by heart ,has been exposed over the last week.
We all descended from our ancestors through evolution which happened due to errors made by DNA during copying. Our ancestors were not homo sepiens. There is nothing to get agitated about it. Lets play some cricket folks..!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Eye of an Optimist

The 7 match ODI series between India and Australia has recently been concluded. The series, played with high intensity and temper has been won by Australia, 4-2.

But there is a lot beyond that scoreline. Australia's dominance is the most boring and monotonous thing that had happened to cricket. So every slice cut out of australian glory will be well enjoyed by the rest of the cricketing world. Competing with Australia is not an easy job, as they are thorough professionals and master-sledgers in the field. When they sledge, they dont consider you as human being, or have no respect for you. India , especially sreesanth, wanted to give them back some of their own medicine. They did not like that.

Aussies started crying about racism, monkey chants, all that. How funny!! how funny that the most racist nation in the world is complaining about racism. Every touring party, that toured down under, has faced racist comment on and off the field. Makhaya Ntini, Muralidharan, Chaminda Vaas, Gavaskar, you name it. I just dont think they are not nice human beings, most of them. Of course there is Allan Border, there is david boon, geoff marsh, geoff lawson, richie benaud, who played the game as gentleman's game. But in general, they always sledge, use bad words, drag your families.
The way India approached australia's sledging was wrong. They shud have approached with smile, not with artificial jumping in the ground. But this is not an article on sledging, this is just a small report on the optimistic side of Indian cricket.
India bowled well with the new ball in the whole series, they had Australia 3-4 wickets down inside 100 runs in first 3 matches. They bowled aussies out for 193 in the last match, and dragged aussies to 283 from a runrate of 7 after 15 overs. The

Spinners bowled well, both M.Karthik and Harbhajan generated turn, and sometimes bounce. Brad Hodge has a horrible series, and if all the catches were held properly, Symonds average wouldnt have look so healthy.

Fielding definitely needed to be improved. The general level is okay, but Indian fielders have to hold on to catches more frequently, have to have direct-hit run-outs more often. But again, when the opposition is Australia, it is not so easy.
Indian batting was mixed. Whenever sachin and sourav gave good starts, the middle order looked solid, the runs came big. In the 4th and 6th ODI, the opening stands were 91 and 140 respectively. India ended up scoring 291 and 299. We need that level of consistency more often. Sachin and Sourav together have opened for India I think close to 180 times, and they have crossed 100 runs together as openers for 21 times. Their average as a pair is 45+ . Undoubtedly this is the best opening pair EVER to play one-day cricket. Indian selectors should remember that before they get influenced by a 70 by Gautam Gambhir in challenger trophy, or a meaningless 75 by Virender Shewag in domestic tournaments. Yuvraj's century at Hyderabad was treat to watch, so was the fight by Zaheer and Karthik in the last ODI to win from 64/6. In Uthappa, India has found a batsman who can take the attack to opposition in true sense. His stepping up to the crease, his walking silently to the ball before hoising it for six, his calm head and silence aggression is definitely a wonderful sight for the future. He needs to do this more consistently.

India smashed Aussies out of the park in 20-20 match in Brabourne stadium. I am not going to the discussion of that match, because India is world champion in that format, and the way aussies played that 20-20 match, they have A LOT to learn in that version, a lot to adapt. May be they can take that lesson from India.
All in all, a series ended 4-2, could well have been 3-3. A series, where , Indian team, after such long season, still withstood to aussie challenge. Indian team has played 14 ODIs, 5 test matches and one T20 world cup after their early exit from carribean world cup. Australia, played only few 20-20 matches in T20 world, no international longer matches whatsoever. Easily understood which team was fatigued and which team was more rested. Still Indian players have shown that they can fight, and impossible will be nothing.
I see a bright light at the end of tunnel, or I can say, I see a bright future for Indian cricket.