June 20, 2009

Fairy Tale of Justice and Resilience

June 20, 2009 Posted by Vijay No comments
A dream final. A final which one may never have imagined could happen so soon, after the terror attacks on Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan. A final which now seems like the God sent gift of divine justice to the cricketers who bore the brunt of that cowardly act. Pakistan, having ridden an indifferent form throughout the T20 World Cup in England, found the mettle and the resilience to wear down and choke the Proteas in the 1st semi final. Pakistan had been virtually isolated from playing cricket at home, after that terrible attack. Though they did play a 5 match ODI series against Australia, which they lost 3-2, there really wasn't any other serious cricket they played at the international level.

Coupled with the often blow hot - cold symptoms of a supremely talented side, Pakistan's run to the finals may not seem that surprising after all. There has never been a question raised about the passion of Pakistani cricketers. Often ridden by controversies on and off the field, Pakistan found maturity in Shahid Afridi, and confidence in Umar Gul to take them till the Finals at Lord's on Sunday. Moreover, after an early exit of the defending champions India, it was important that the crowds in England still poured in to witness the matches. Pakistanis being a significant population of Asian immigrants, poured in to encourage their team. And respond they did, and how !

For no fault of theirs, the Pakistani cricketers were deprived of playing international games in their own den. For no reason of theirs, their IPL participation was declined in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks in 26/11. For no reason of theirs, their plans to host matches of the 2011 Cricket World Cup in the Indian sub continent was withdrawn. Another opportunity lost for the unfortunate cricketers. That's why justice is delivered by someone invisible, whose magical powers let Pakistan come through struggles at home and on the field to qualify for the World T20 final.

June 7, 2009

Fourteen For Federer !

June 07, 2009 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
When Del Potro faced upto Federer in the semis of the French Open on Friday, there was only 1 man the entire Rolland Garros crowd was supporting. A man, chasing history, of 2 kinds. An elusive French Open title, and in doing so, equalling a record 14 Grand Slam which Sampras held. Del Potro was upto the task, though he had a 0-5 losing streak against the Swiss superstar coming into the match. Del Potro started strongly, using his tall 6'6'' frame, and rushing Fedex all over the park. One wondered if Federer would lose out on a big opportunity. But as the game wore on, Federer was the stronger, as he held his nerve and won a tight five setter.

The stage was set today for Fedex to chase history, and Soderling was at the receiving end. It is destiny, that Soderling had defeated Nadal en route to his dream run to the final. Though not a Nadal, this was as good as Federer v/s Nadal at a Grand Slam final yet again. But Federer had nothing to do with any such thoughts and came out guns blazing against Soderling. Soderling had no clue what hit him, as Federer wrapped up the first set 6-1 in under 30 minutes.

The second set was more tight, with neither player giving a break of serve. The tie breaker saw Federer keep his cool, and win it comfortably, 7-6(1). The crowd was more expectant and badly wanted Federer to win the 1 title, he deserved to win, for the sheer consistency of his appearances at the FInals in the last 4 years. But which had been denied to him by a relentless Rafael Nadal.

June 1, 2009

Rafa's Rolland Roll Ends ..

June 01, 2009 Posted by Vijay No comments
Watching the match between Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling yesterday was indeed a privilege for me. For here was a man, who was undefeated since his first ever attempt at Rolland Garros in 2005, pitted against a rival who has struggled to find his footprint on a ferociously competitive men's tennis circuit. Rafa, as Rafael Nadal is fondly called, was defeated by a more resolute and clinical Soderling 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 in the Fourth Round at the French Open yesterday.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind, that if ever Rafa plays a five setter against any player, there can only be one winner. Rafa. Nerves of steel and hours of concentration which are as yet arguably unknown to men's tennis. That's what Rafa owns. Or atleast till yesterday's big upset. Soderling had to make sure he wraps up the match in straight sets or four to have any chance of overcoming the relentless Rafa. Soderling did just that.

Roger Federer would be as pleased as he would be surprised at this early exit from the Spanish Armada. Rafa has been the biggest nemesis to Federer's aura of invincibility, having a stupendous 13-7 win loss record against the Swiss maestro till date. Credit to Federer to have an astounding 19 consecutive grand slam semi final appearances or better. Rafa though has been always there to spoil Federer's quest for ultimate greatness when he won the Australian Open earlier this year, denying the Swiss from equalling Sampras' all time record of 14 Grand Slam titles.