7 reasons why Sachin is missing the WI tour

Having played the entire 50-day IPL, Sachin has chosen to opt out of India’s tour to West Indies citing the need to spend more time with his family. There has been a lot of criticism about this decision of his. But the following real reasons behind his decision are sure to silence his critics:

1. His family was on a vacation to his native place from 4th April to 28th May
2. Chowpatty is a lot cooler in the rains than during summers
3. An ardent fan of Paresh Rawal, he wants to watch his June release Malamaal Weekly 2.
4. India has never won two consecutive overseas test series against the same opponent. India won the last test series in WI and Sachin doesn’t want to be on the losing side this time.
5. WI is too weak a side and he believes in equality.
6. He had thought Kambli would get a go in his absence
7. The cook in the Antiguan restaurant “Abra ca dabra”, who prepares his favourite seafood dish, is on leave.


Friday Nights

Struck by a desire to have a collection of movies, I have started buying and watching some offbeat ones every Friday night. First Dor, then Mithya and the most recent one Manorama – Six Feet Under. While Dor was about enjoying those little moments of your life, Mithya was a black comedy and Manorama a thriller of noir genre. These three, in spite of being so different from each other, tell a similar story- the story of the alternate Bollywood.
Rajeev Masand, in his article “Whats wrong with our movies?”( http://www.india-seminar.com/2008/590/590_rajeev_masand.htm) , explains beautifully what exactly is ailing Bollywood. In the last para he says :
Hindi cinema needs to leave the safe zone. It needs to take more risks. More hunger, more passion and most of all, more honesty. Writers and directors have to start listening to themselves instead of looking to what made the last hit.

That is precisely what the three aforementioned movies do. They don have stars , they have endearing characters. They don have the money, but they have a gripping story. They don’t have the crowds but the connoisseurs. But then how could offbeats like “Peepli Live” do so well? Reason being obviously a rich production house. While “Taare Zameen Par” produced by Aamir Khan was a huge success, “Stanley Ka Dabba” ( incidentally written by Amol Gupte who wrote TZP) even if a great movie, might find the going tough at the box office. While Aamir has been generous enough to experiment, “Paheli” was the last time Shahrukh did something different and that too under an established director like Amol Palekar and the less said about Salman and Akshay the better. But the blame surely doesnt lie with the stars alone. They fear a “Dhobhi Ghat”like failure. The onus is on the audience, on us to appreciate good cinema, to watch these movies in theatres and to come out of the preference for “Dimaag-baju-main-rakhke-dekhne-wale” movies.

There are “good movies” and there are “hit movies”. Actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Vinay Pathak and directors like Nagesh Kukunoor, Anurag Kashyap have long been trying to bridge the often-existing gap between the two. It is for us to help this get achieved so that the former finds its rightful place in the latter category. Till then, a hit movie will continue to provide in-the-face entertainment while a good movie will evoke emotions like Manorama just did.

That elusive format

The World Cup, which has entered its 1oth edition, is back in the subcontinent albeit with a new format. The ICC has this dubious distinction of not sticking to one format for two consecutive WCs. Let us have a look at a few formats:
ICC went from 12 to 14 to 16 teams from 1999 to 2007 with the noble intention of letting the associate nations(Ireland/Netherlands et al.) share the stage with the major teams.

The 2007 WC turned out to be a big dud with India and Pakistan bowing out in the group stage. The format was blamed for an uninteresting WC. The main complaints were:
1. Length of the WC
2. Luck playing a part in India and Pakistan being knocked out
3. Boring Super 8 matches with Bang and Ireland having sneaked through

Acting on these concerns, ICC created the 2011-format with fewer teams and a quarters stage.The justification provided was that the strong teams can progress even if they lose against some of the lesser teams. So far so good.

Thus the top 8 teams are almost certain to reach the quarterfinals and unless there is an upset(Netherlands had come close to one but England survived), the entire group stage would turn out to be a futile exercise. Teams might talk about psychological advantage but we would be left to watching the matches only for a few records here and there as wins would have no bearing on the progress of the teams beyond the group stages.
There could be case of India winning all its matches in the group stages but losing against NZ ( its most likely opponent) in the quarters thanks to a McCullum blitzkrieg. An upset or two of such a kind could mean we have undeserving teams playing the finals.
The length of the tournament has also been reduced by a mere 5 days. So this issue too stays largely unaddressed.
ICC also recently announced another bizarre untimely decision of having only 10 teams in the next WC – the associate nations deprived of the rare limelight.

Then, what could be the perfect format? There seem to be only two choices:
Play more matches in the initial stage (2011 format) or
Play more matches once the weaker teams have been filtered out ( 2007 format)
My idea takes the middle path:

Divide 15 teams into three groups of 5 each ( 30 matches)
2 from each group advance to the Super 6 stage (15 matches in the Super 6)
Top 2 teams of the Super 6 battle it out in the final ( no quarters/semis)
Thus with a total of 46 matches, the WC would:

  • Let the associate teams stay
  • Be competitive ( weaker teams play not too few but not too many matches)
  • Be short ( 46 matches against 49 this time)
  • Let only the deserving ( read consistent) play the finals

The only drawback ( as it see it) is that we have only 8 strong teams and dividing them into 3 groups would mean 2 teams would face little competition in the initial stage

What say?

Rewind and Revive

Just finished listening to the song ‘Jab Kisiki Taraf Dil‘ and revisiting those days of singing songs aloud again and again at home. Neither do I have a pic nor a video of those enjoyable moments of my life. The only way I can revisit them is how I did it now. Listening to the music that made those moments special, that defined those moments for me, that played innocuously in the background only for me to realize now how much it meant to me..

Listening to music is such a wonderful exercise in time travelling. “O Re Piya” from Aaja Nachle transfers me straight to those lonely ,3 AM ,Infosys Mysore lanes – I am walking down the stairs of GEC, towards my room in search of a bicycle to take me there.The quiet and cool weather and the soulful music give a soothing feeling. I can see a few guys chatting near the fountain. Food Court-3, which is being cleaned by a lone housekeeping guy, would be buzz with breakfast-hungry people in a few hours. I finally find the bicycle but metres away from my room and I decide to continue walking. I reach my room, post which I stop the song. The song doesn’t end here but the experience does. That routine which looked so mundane has sweet memories attached to it. I realize and experience them now, thanks to music.

Bakhuda Tumhi Ho” reminds me of those days of line-by-line recital of the duet.’Dil Chahta Hai‘ songs seem as if they are being played from my old music system with me and my dad singing along. “Kabhi Kabhi Aditi” takes me to my workplace and I can see Preeti introducing me to this lovely song. With “Khuda Jaane“, I experience those 18 hours of Volvo travelling, me gazing through the large windows at the deserted roads passing by.

Time flies. But music stalls time, rewinds my life and lets me pay tribute to all those wonderful moments that define my life and me.

ODI Cricket – Alive and Well

Had it not been for Sachin speaking in favour of split one-dayers ( two innnings of 25 overs each per team), I would have rubbished the idea as yet another onslaught on one-dayers by the T20 lovers.Though I very much love ODI cricket, Sachin’s views sowed seeds of doubt in my mind about the relevance and significance of ODIs in today’s cricket. In what seems to be a befitting response to all critics, the good old ODI cricket produced two dramatic miracles in as many days through two potent actors – Abdur razzaq of Pakistan and Angelo Matthews of Sri Lanka.

In a Sidney Sheldonesque script at Abu Dhabi, the stage was set for a late entry of the lead character Razzaq, who played, arguably, the most outrageous blinder scoring 63 of the last 65 runs and making 109 in just 72 deliveries with 10 sixes,single-handedly leading Pakistan to a highly unprobable victory against SA. Two days later, in the greatest comeback in one-dayers, Malinga and Mathews beat a 27-year old record for the highest 9th wicket partnership with a 132-run stand beating Australia in their own backyard and leaving them bewildered.

On both occasions, the winning team was the underdog. On both occasions,the winning team always looked like losing.On both occasions it was one act that changed the entire complexion of the game. And on both occasions, it was ODI cricket that triumphed – the doubts,at least for the time being, laid to rest.

Pick of the Pics – I

Sun’s view from my house on a pleasant evening

A common scene at the study table at night during engineering exams..
My 1.3 MP mobile camera at its best..

A Cascade in Ooty.Crystal-clear.

Film Shoot spot on the way to Ooty

Infosys Mysore- Food Court 3 from My Hostel No. 65.
Notice the moon in the pic..

In Banerghatta National Park, Bangalore, a Lioness, not her usual majestic self!

Sania, the sportswoman.

Sania Mirza never exuded much confidence with her tennis. Her best singles outing was a 4th Round loss in US Open 2005, which was incidentally her 1st year as singles pro. But she was and is special for the various firsts that she has to her name as an Indian woman tennis player – first Indian woman to win a singles tour title, first Indian woman to enter the 2nd,3rd,4th round of a Grand Slam, first Indian woman to be seeded in a GS tournament etc. Blame it on the apathy towards sports like tennis in India or anything else but Sania Mirza was unique in that no Indian lady before her entry, since her entry has been able to get anywhere near her and I see no one doing that in the next decade too.

I have been a big fan of hers for this reason. But she let her fans down every now and then , not with her performance, but because of her attitude. Not in a single post-match conference has she said anything like “I didn’t play well here. I would try harder. I need to work on x, I will come back stronger”. I have watched every grand slam match of hers and have never seen her disappointed after a loss. Ok, she doesn’t show her emotions? Neither does she show an intent to improve, nor does she improve. Her movement on the court remains as sluggish as ever and her backhand hasn’t got any stronger. The recent tweet after yet another 2nd round loss said – “Hadn’t imagined I’d be playing after marriage-in the first place and here I am at yet another tourny!hope this answers everyone’s concerns“. Yes, it does.

But the latest piece of news was a jolt. “I want to concentrate on my married life and it is not an easy job to stay away from husband soon after marriage. I will quit in two years,” The News quoted Sania, as saying. This was the final nail in the coffin. A classic example of a talented player, under-achieving and squandering opportunities that come once in a lifetime, once in an era. Sports persons, i believe, owe, if not performance, then at least commitment to the nation. That is exactly what Sania lacked all these years. As a mad sporting nation, desperate for new sporting heroes, it is time for India to look beyond Sania.