October 24, 2006

Inzi in trouble

October 24, 2006 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
The turmoil in Pakistan cricket is not going to end any time soon. And this can be vouched for, from what has happened over the past 2 months and what is in store for the coming days ahead. This includes phases during and after the Champions’ Trophy. The spate of controversies started off with the Oval Mess, and the PCB issues which came up, leading to Shahryar Khan’s quitting the chief’s post. Couple with it the refusal and then the final acceptance to lead Pakistan by Younis Khan and then of course the doping scandal and we have a great climax building up.

The climax will certainly include the main protagonists in Inzamam, Younis Khan and the new chief of PCB. What has been noticed of late is how the PCB has all of a sudden swung into action with the induction of Nasim Ashraf as the new PCB chief. Not only has his team went ahead with the doping well ahead of the random tests that ICC had planned to do, it has also made it possible for Younis Khan to be reinstated as Pakistan team’s captain. Couple of days’ back, PCB also blamed Inzamam for the entire forfeited test match at the Oval.

October 23, 2006

Marital Bliss Is Amiss

October 23, 2006 Posted by Vijay No comments
Strange that such a topic has to be selected for a sport related issue, that too when it’s not about marriage per se’. When Sony’s SET MAX took up the challenge of “marrying” entertainment with cricket, the general consensus was that both should be treated separately. But such a union would blur the already thinning line of commercialism and cricket. Sony though, with their popular Extraa Innings show had brought a lot of curiosity to the game, especially among the female audience, mainly due to smart hosting by Mandira Bedi. The marriage took place, and now it was the turn of Extraa Innings to take centre stage for each of the Champions’ Trophy matches being telecast on MAX. Mandira Bedi was to epitomize the entertainment value, with help from another failed actor, and Charu Sharma the co-host of the show would give the cricketing perspective.

It all seemed a very good idea, for Extraa Innings had a good reputation and was supposed to do remarkably well this time too. But that is not how things have turned out to be. If anyone has been watching the pre-match and post match shows of Extraa Innings, it is quite evident that all is not well with the 2 hosts, Mandira and Charu. Charu, whose torso refuses to move even as his hands and head move about like a robot, tries to be over enthusiastic, a trait which Mandira exudes no end. As a result Charu Sharma looks more artificial than he always has been. Trying to show a penchant for passion and enthusiasm is just not his cup of tea. This is precisely what happens when a former commentator is put in a predicament where it is more entertainment than pure analysis, as is the case here with Charu.

October 18, 2006

Surprising Win? Not Really

October 18, 2006 Posted by Vijay 5 comments
What may have been a surprise for many wasn’t so for me. Pakistan won the match against Sri Lanka in the Champions’ Trophy at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Pakistan, embroiled in a spate of controversies which began with the Oval Test fiasco and has reached a new nadir in the form of the doping scandal on Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, struck back in the best possible way, by winning an all important game against the Lankan Tigers, whose 11 match winning streak was brought to an end yesterday.

For me, watching the Pakistan team has always been an enigma. As is the case for any cricket lover. You never know what they will be upto. They can get beaten hopelessly one day, but when they win, they do so, so convincingly, that they leave the opposition shocked and even hurt. They are capable of anything, and I always love watching them. My dad and my cousin always criticize me and say, that I always support the Pakistan team. Not really. It’s more about fascination than support. The amount of talent they have is unbelievable. They have bowlers for all conditions, spin, pace, medium pace, and have batsmen for all conditions too. Inzamam (when in the team), Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf as the pillars for the other strikers of the ball to come in and shake the opposition. Quality all rounders in Razzaq and Kamran Akmal. And to think that Salman Butt and Taufeeq Umar are not part of the team speaks for their talent pool. Whenever the Pakistanis struggle, it almost seems a problem of plenty, than dearth of talent.

October 16, 2006

Not Upto Scratch

October 16, 2006 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
India were billed the overwhelming favourites for their opening encounter in the Champions Trophy against England on Sunday. And not without reason, for India had thrashed the poms 5-1 when they toured India earlier in the year. But everyone was aware that India was coming into the competition after not having fared well in the Carribean series and a disappointing show in the DLF cup in Malaysia. But, with the dismal run of the English team in one dayers team India still were touted the favourites.

England struggled to come to terms with the pitch which was inconsistent in its bounce. Pathan for once, in a long while seemed to have regained the swing which he has been known for, and bowled really well. The English batting was given a boost(or so thought Flintoff by opting to come in one down) with Flintoff coming at number threee, but it totally backfired with a resurgent Pathan trapping him in front of the wicket. The slump hit a low at 55 for 5, when Dalyrimple and Collingwood came in to restore some credibility to the England total. But with a dry pitch and India opting for two spinners, the English slide was complete and they got bowled out for a paltry 125 in under 40 overs.

The Indian batting though has a star studded line up, is only star studded, and nothing more. It was good to see India coming out with Sachin and Sehwag to open the innings, and just when everyone thought that experimentation and Greg Chappell had bid farewell, out came Pathan once again at number three, which has been a move severely criticized by many former cricketers. Sachin was in imperious form and Steve Harmison totally the opposite, as he was all over the place, the only saving grace being a wild shot to an even wide delivery by Harmison which got him Sehwag’s wicket.

October 5, 2006

Hairy Oval Mess Continues ....

October 05, 2006 Posted by Vijay No comments
When the hearing of Inzamam's ball tampering charges and bringing the game of cricket into disrepute was finally over, ICC had managed to somehow wash it's hands off the entire controversy. Who remained utterly confused were the cricket fans . The ball tampering charges levelled against Inzi were cleared off him, but he was given the bare minimum penalty of a 4 ODI ban, in lieu of the fact that the ODI's would be the most recent cricket form to take effect through the course of the Champions' Trophy. So essentially, the action which Darrel Hair had taken, or what he thought was ball tampering ,was cleared. It didn't help Darrell, that the evidence he had, to prove the tampering charges were as few as the hair left on his head.

It's funny, that Hair whose head is precisely the same shape as the ground in which this controversy took place (i.e.The Oval,exaggeration intended), wasn't awarded any penalty at all ! Quite surprising ,since it was his immature action which led to the controversial forfeiture. Of course, the England team were never involved in this whole incident. But what did come to light a couple of days after this incident, was that some of the English players including the coach Duncan Fletcher had suspicions, that Pakistan team was indulging in ball tampering. This they cited to the umpires themselves, and Hair, who always loves the big stage, was always on the lookout for any kind of misbehaviour of the cricket ball.

When Umar Gul bowled an absolute peach of a yorker to trap Alastair Cook plumb in front of the stumps, with a ball which reverse swung quite a lot, Darrel Hair's hair must have stood up. And very soon, he discovered the sixth sense in him which would tell him that the condition of the ball has indeed been changed through unnatural means. And Inzi, for whatever reason, did not protest then and there, when the penalty 5 runs were awarded to England and the ball too was changed. Inzi's mistake was that he took up a protest regarding this action, post tea, which would prove to be the deciding factor in the cricket match.

October 3, 2006

Weekend Surprises ..

October 03, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
A weekend full of killings, not if the human kind, but of moments, of minutes and seconds. While the whole of India was engrossed in celebrating Durga Pooja, my friends and I were busy plotting what next, to kill time ? Saturday and Sunday went by at a Bengali Community event at Koramangala, at what is a Kalyana Mantapa. Well, evenings went by at this place, as we looked around for Bongs and I was eying the Bong Babes ;-). But the pooja celebration which essentially was an excuse to invite Bangaloreans to come do some bird watching and go back home, having feasted the eyes and the stomach alike.

The Kalyana Mantapa, was chock-a-block with food stalls, lavishing bengali pleasantries, which varied from the vegetarian food, which includes fish, primarily. Stalls weren't limited to just fish slices, but also chicken biriyanis and, guess what else ? Pizzas too !! Pizzas, at a Bengali function to celebrate Durga Pooja ? And I thought the fruit stall selling Sondesh and Rosagulla, would be the epitome of Bengali food, and just that. Upon closer observation, it was heartening to see that the moorthis of Goddess Durga were atleast spared from being sponsored. It seemed almost everything was sponsored, with the banners reaching the close proximity of the moorthis.

So, the age of globalisation also has also infused the advent of commercialisation and vast opportunities for young folks looking for that elusive soulmate. Well, I must confess, though my intentions were always to find out how Bengalis celebrate the Durga Pooja, the second priority which would later become primary was to eye some of the prettier Bong Babes. Nothing wrong, for the gathering(which is what I call it as) had attracted a huge audience, with cultural programmes also happening in the Mantapa hall.