Some more quetions for Shri Shri

Blocking questions? image (c) ibnlive

Shri Shri, you have very well answered my previous questions. Thank you so much. But the latest closely fought cum abjectly surrendered cum ‘could have easily won’ test match debacle has prompted me to ask you few more questions. Are you going to answer them? No? No problem… the answers are obvious anyway. (PS: Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you about your relations with Meiyyappan or Srini or about your real estate investments or the sports management firm you own or even about your wife’s latest darkest shade of lipstick… oops!)

Q1: What did you tell the team before the start of the second innings that you didn’t when the test match started?

This is quite simple. You might have hurled the choicest of abuses at the team with help from Arsene Wenger (BPL leaders Arsenal lost 1-5 to historic rivals Liverpool last Saturday) or from Sir Alex Ferguson (ManU had lost 1-6 to their horrible neighbors Man City few years ago… at home). A just thing to do, Shri Shri. But the question is, why didn’t you do it earlier? We lost 0-3 to SAFs in the ODIs, then drew a test match we should have won, then lost a test match we should have drawn, then lost the ODI series to NZ 0-4. I must appreciate your patience. For you now have the dubious distinction of being the captain of a team white washed when they were no. 1 in both tests and ODIs.

Or may be you didn’t say anything at all. And the bowlers received an sms that they will get a night out with the Hollywood actress of their choice if they bundle out NZ for a less than 100. But poor lads were denied that luxury by Wagner and Boult, who both will be summoned by ICC for breach of bulls*** conduct, come July. You know why.

Q2: What makes you think Zaheer Khan is a better batsman than you?

He is not, right? Then why on earth were you rotating strikes? When Zaheer came in, we needed another 80 runs. It was a cake walk for you. You could have conserved him and then tried to score in bulk. NZ was not threatening with the ball. But instead, you were seen taking singles on the first ball and Zaheer was trying his favorite cow corner slaps.

Wait a minute, did you think Zaheer could score a half century the way he did against Zimbabwe an era ago and blasted Henry Olonga for 4 consecutive sixes? Boy!

Q3: Is it that Kohli and Jadeja never listen to you or you do not bother how they get out?

Option 1: Kohli listens but Jadeja doesn’t. It was a bad day for Kohli and as usual day for Jadeja. Hmmm, then we must sack him?

Option 2: Both don’t listen. Then what the hell are you doing? Why don’t you try your famous helicopter shot on them?

Option 3: Both listen and both forget what I tell them. – (Smiley) (Smiley) (Smiley) (Smiley)

Option 4: I care a damn! Well then, nothing needs to be said

PS: Post is just for gags!

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Curious case of Mahendra Singh Dhoni

I was waiting for the fourth test match to begin to write this post. I have been waiting to write this post for a long time anyway. It needed the right motivation and setting to really express my concern, consulting advice, caution or a plain rant about the state in which Indian Cricket is right now.

MSD

(c) India Today

To be honest, I’m not a trade analyst or a cricket pundit. I’m little bit of a business analyst but I don’t consider Cricket as business, though it has become one now. I’m a pure cricket loving, patriotic Indian cricket fan. And I look at the game from the eyes of a desperate fan who wants to see his team win, or at least show some fighting spirit. This ‘spirit’ in the Indian cricket has been missing for the good part of 20 months after we won the world cup. To a large extent, this has to be attributed to one man called as Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

I’m an admirer of MSD’s cricketing style. He is a great player and massive hitter of the ball. I’m thankful to whoever the selector was who insisted on MSDs name and coerced Ganguly/John Wright to choose Dhoni ahead of any other wicket keeper in India (notably Dada’s favorite Parthiv Patel and Kumble/Dravid recommended Dinesh Kartik). He had taken the ODI arena by storm with some cracking centuries and then lifting the inaugural T20 world cup. Brilliant he was then, but mediocre he has become now.

There have been volumes of arguments on the ‘Talent v/s Attitude’ debate. Dhoni, to me, is a bit of both. But just like his nemesis Sehwag, he doesn’t have enough steam to either summon the talent when needed or show the attitude and grit when the chips are down. The grit shown by a captain to root his feet down and make sure everyone follows his visionary accord has been missing in Dhonis leadership. He is too cool, giving a feeling of carelessness towards the obvious problems in the team. His choice of players, tactics on the field and placements have been ranging from curious to baffling, which is why people have been questioning his decision making. Team selection for the 2011 world cup is an example.

Demeanor of a leader has to be staunch and authoritarian. Sadly, Dhoni exudes a passive vibe that mostly leaves the batsmen or bowlers to take their own decisions and push the game in all directions. This is what happened with a talented bowler like Ashwin in the just concluded Mumbai and Kolkata test. Dhoni should have walked up to him and told, “Listen friend, experimenting is good. But make sure you don’t give them a practice of playing all kinds of deliveries. Hold a line and attack. We need wickets.” I’m sure Dhoni didn’t say that and we know what happened. Lets take an example of a captain of a small batch of soldiers and a team of surgeons lead by an able senior hand. The captain soldier is more likely to give loud, aggressive motivational speeches to his soldiers. He is likely to shout “Company… March!” every now and then. This loudness is required to instill the confidence and passion in the soldiers. A surgeon on the other hand is unlikely to shout to slogan. For his kind of work, composure and patience is the key. Indian team under Dhoni is a legion of soldiers led by a surgeon.

Sachin Tendulkar is another example of a brilliant player with an abysmal leadership track record. Everyone knows Sachin is a classic example of perfect combination of talent and attitude. Sadly he was never able to infuse the same attitude, if not talent, in any of the youngsters he played with. His stint as a captain was limited. So it is difficult to say if he really groomed any youngsters. But Dhoni has been at the helm for a long period of 5 years. Baring Virat Kohli, Dhoni hasn’t been able to fixate anyone else in the team. Even Virat is fast becoming an ODI specialist. This is one reason I admired Ganguly. He went to an extent of dipping form in his own game to groom youngsters and build a team that laid foundation to the young Indian squad. Sehwag, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Zaheer who went on to become important players in the team when he was at the helm. It lead to the transition of the team from the Azaruddin era to the Dravid-Laxman era dominated equally by batsmen and bowlers. Dhoni on the other hand had a legion of talented youngsters such as Kohli, Raina, Munaf Patel, Pujara, Ashwin, Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Rohit Sharma, Rahane… but none has been able to really sparkle on the international test arena, let alone cement the place in the team.

Change is needed now. Even Ganguly, honestly or disgustingly, was asked stepped down (read sacked) when things were not going good. Dhoni got a readymade team of senior players who were all in form. Now that three of them have retired (Dravid, Kumble, Laxman) and two have been asked to leave (Zaheer, Harbhajan), it is important that we get a man who can rebuild the new team. But who? Virat Kohli? He is sporadic and new on the test scene. May be Gambhir or even Ravi Ashwin.  Lets see if the sun sets on MSD. I have been long waiting for a new sunrise.

Aussie ki Taisi

Here is an update on recent India Australia cricketing rivalry. Let me start from where I remember.

sachin-caught-by-kasprowiczSeason 1997-98 (home); we won the Border Gavaskar trophy at home for the first time, defeating Australians 2-1. We won the first two tests (The second one at Kolkata by an innings and 99 runs) but lost the third at Bangalore thanks to an inspirational bowling spell by Michael Kasprowicz.

Season 1999-2000(away); we lost miserably, 3-0 to be specific. The only highlight of the series was VVS’s maiden century (167, his first) at Sydney where he batted as a make shift opener. The trophy was lost again.

vvs-and-rahulSeason 2001(home); We lost the first test and almost lost the second when Australia scored 445 and dismissed us for 171. A follow on was imposed and we were reduced to 115 for 3 when Sachin Tendulkar departed. But some minor regrouping from Ganguly took us beyond 200, still in deficit when Ganguly departed. It took the monumental efforst from the stalwarts of Indian cricket, VVS Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180) and a hat trick by Harbhajan to win the test despite following on. Indian won the third test at Chennai to claim the trophy back.

Season 2003-2004(away); A century from Ganguly at Brisbane, a double from Rahul Dravid at Adelaide, A 193 from Sehwag at Melborne and a double again from Sachin at Sydney ensured we tied the series 1-1 and retained the trophy. It marked the end of Steve Waugh’s playing career, who left with an unfulfilled dream of capturing a series victory in India.

Season 2004-2005(home); Aussies arrived without Waugh and Without Ponting (the captain who took over the reigns from Steve). The surprisingly enterprising make shift captain Adam Gilchrist lead them to victories at Bangalore and Nagpur. Ganguly received lot of flak for chickening out of the Nagpur test and eventually we lost the series 2-1, also the trophy at an unlikely captain in Adam.

Season 2007(away); India had a new captain in Anil Kumble. We lost the series but amidst huge contraversies surrounding the Sydney test for poor umpiring by Steve Bucknor. It was by far one of the toughest fought test match series on Australian Soil. For the first time ever some one had challenged the Australian domination in world cricket.

Season 2008(home); Indians were fresh from memories of the Australian Tour. We had one the one day series under Mahendra Singh Dhoni. It all started out evenly at Bangalore with centuries from Hussey and Ponting and a fifer from Zaheer. The match ended up as a draw. In mohali, Anil Kumble sat out thanks to an injury and the reigns of the captaincy fell of MSD’s shoulders. And boy, what a performance he delivered. A century from Ganguly, an 88 from Sachin and a 92 from Dhoni meant we posted a decent score on a good wicket. Then came Amit Mishra, the lucky leggie from Delhi who spun the air out of the Australians. A century by Gambhir in second innings and a lethal combination of pace and spin meant we comfortably won the test by 320 runs (Biggest defeat for Australia in many years). Anil Kumble was back for the third test in Kotla, only to announce his retirement on the fourth day. Gambhir and VVS amassed double hundreds. Australian batsmen too improved their batting records. It was a placid wicket on which, forcing a result wasn’t worthwhile. The stage was now set for Dhoni to deliver the killing blow in the fourth and final test in Nagpur. It was a wicket that had some thing for every one. Sachin scored a century, so did Katich. The test was evenly poised until the last day. FInally with some luck and perseverance from spinners, India posted a 172 runs victory, handing the australians their worst series loss in last 20 years. Indians were jubilant.india_wins_against_australia1

The series was historic in many ways. Sachin overtook Brian Lara to become the leading run scorer in test cricket. Anil Kumble retired in the middle of the test at Kotla, a ground that has scripted his name in the history books for claiming all 10 wickets against Pakistan. And Sourav Ganguly, the prince of Kolkata, the most elegant southpaw, the most successful captain for India retired too. With Dada and Anil gone, the pressure on other seniors (VVS, Rahul and Sachin) is mounting too. May be it is time we welcome the new generation of cricketers. A Rohit Sharma, an Ishant, a Robin, a Mishra and their leader the invincible MSD.

Frankly speaking, I’m not too ecstatic thinking about the retirements of these guys. I grew up looking at Sachin making a debut at 16. I was 8 than and dreamt even I will be famous cricketer at 16. Sadly I was busy sweating it out for board exams at 16. I remember I had a paper cutting of Dada reading ‘CEO no. 1’ feature in a supplement of Economic times adoring my wall. They were my demi gods. With Sourav gone and Rahul already on decline, I think I will stop watching cricket matches when they drop Sachin from the squad. After so many long years, suddenly a sinking feeling is coming to my mind. Suddenly my childhood has ended.

Dhoni rested for Srilanka Series

Alright, I’m an avid sports follower. Yes note that I’m not mentioning any one game. I like all of them. For example, I know Table Tennis (yes I can play well now) as much as I know Badminton. Dare you say I know nothing. Idiot!

Anyway, coming to the point. Since I start reading the news paper from the sports page first, the headline in today’s Times of India was “Dhoni rested for Sri Lanka Series.” Although I’m not surprised at all. Believe me, looking at the grueling schedules the top cricketers have had, no wonder why Dhoni shouldn’t be rested. And its not just about Dhoni, there are many other players who need rest and time for their families and why not? My question is, just for the sake of earning extra money, is the BCCI (Board of control for cricket in India) or they players them selves asking too much out of their lives? I mean, of course money is THE important thing. But how far can you go to earn money?Its human body guys, it needs rest and peace of mind. Moreover they are pressurized and chided from all sides for performance.

We Indians expect our bodies to work like German machines working on a Japanese process. Error free!

Ha!