Today, I would like to tell you about these three magic words that I love to hear sometimes.
Miss Dravid Fan.
This is what someone who knew me very well used to call me when I was in need of inspiration. These words were reserved only for the direst situations and their effect was never wasted. Melodramatic and cheesy as it may sound, it would always make me stop and think and analyse. Suddenly, I would see a montage of beautifully constructed innings. All crafted to perfection in tune with the need of the hour. I would remember all those times when others raised doubts about your abilities, and how you always came back strongly. I saw how you relished struggle, the intensity in your eyes as you went up against a difficult pitch and bowlers who can do no wrong, and I tried to mould myself in the same cast. And I was always able to find the strength to pick myself up again and not go down without a fight. Thank you for that!
It has been a privilege to watch you play for the last 16 years or so. I am certainly privileged to have had you around to look up to. As you prepare yourself for a new phase of life off the field, I begin a new phase in my life as well. And I will still be looking up to you for inspiration (so don’t fade away after retiring!). While I do agree that things change, and so do people, one thing will remain as is – Megha = Miss Dravid Fan.
The heart isn’t really willing to let go yet. I am a little depressed and misty-eyed today, to be very honest. The news of your retirement was much harder to take than I thought it would be. I would have loved to have known beforehand which test would be your last one. I would have done everything in my power to watch it live. It would have been super to see you walk off the ground for the last time to a standing ovation. Heck, I wish you would un-retire like right now, tell us that this was just an early April Fools prank and play on forever! But I respect your decision to not hang around for a few months “for the wrong reasons”. After all, this is one of the reasons I love you (There, I said it!), isn’t it?
So now I am off to read this whole stack of lovely tributes to you that I have been gathering throughout the day. And also pester this cousin of mine for some stuff he promised me from when he met you last year. (Are you reading this, dear cousin?)
Things will not be the same without you. One down is no longer a happy place. But, thank you for the memories.
..is how I feel at the end of the second test. And I wasn’t even on the field for the day and a half Clarke batted.
Cheated could be another way I could describe how I feel. After a few years of watching my team not giving up without a fight even under the most dire situations, these sort of meek surrenders are hard to believe.
More than not losing the next 2 matches, what I seek is some sort of explanation of what’s going on here. Nothing airy-fairy like “Oh, the batting did not click”. Something more concrete
What is it? Is the captain stubborn, set in his ways, and not willing to think outside the box? Are the bowlers not motivated? Are the batsmen on vacation? Is the coach not getting through to the players or not attempting to? Are we not planning well? Is the composition of the team not correct? Is it the IPL? The BCCI? The Indian Government, or the ISI? Or have we been invaded by extraterrestrials?
Actually, forget it. I’m not even sure if I care that much right now.
A comment on the previous post made me log on to my much neglected blog (Thanks Pratik!). So here I go again…taking a pledge to try and write a little more often for my sake if nothing else.
Back in May earlier this year, WC victory fresh in my mind, I decided I wanted to go watch a day or two of the upcoming Ind-Eng series in July. Looked up the respective websites for tix, only to realise I was a little late in my decision, and most days for most of the matches were all sold out already. My only feasible option was Day 4 of the Oval test match. And I thought – that’s not too bad. Day 4 of the final test. Who knows, with a little bit of luck I will probably end up watching India crush England and take the series 4-0..or 2-1..or whatever. You are free to laugh at me now, but admit it. No one, not even you, would have ever imagined India to be in the position it found itself on August 21st.
Cut to Day 4, 4th Test – India trying hard to stay alive in the Test and avoid a washout. Follow on is looming, hopes of watching Dravid and Tendulkar bat together gone too. Unless of course India start following on soon. The only thing to look forward to then is some good batting by Rahul Dravid. Ravi Shastri was loitering outside the stadium talking on his phone a few feet away from where I was standing with my group. He walked past with a “Enjoy the game, guys” comment. Yeah right. I told him as he walked away that the only hope here was a big innings by Dravid. He replied back, saying that if there was one person who looked up to this task in Team India, Dravid was it. And who am I to disagree with the “feelings” of Ravi!
So after watching the commentators as they went into the stadium (Wasim Akram – HOT!!), taking a tour of the ground, watching the players warm up at nets, and hounding a few of them for autographs as they returned to the pavillion (Sachin Tendulkar..woohoo!), I settled into my seat as the play started. The joy of what unfolded on that day then is something that not even the knowledge of imminent defeat could take away from me.
Here I present a few photographs taken that day at the stadium -
ok, not really how I wanted the pics to be displayed..kindly bear while I try to fix this. For now, just click on the image to enlarge it and see my comments below the image Update -Hmm, a little better now)
At this point I realised that my camera’s battery was down to 1 bar out of 3. So I had to shut shop until it was The Moment. And hence, I only have Dravid’s pics here onwards…Also, the camera is now with a friend, as I would be busy cheering and clapping…
His 4th innings woes aside, perhaps this game would have had a different result with Viru opening.
I’ll take some consolation from the fact that we would have definitely won today had days not been lost to rain. Also, a second string India side beating WI is good enough for me.
Onto India vs England now then….
WARNING – Longer than usual post. Very frequent uses of the words “Incredible”, “awesome” and other similar ones. Clichés abound. Fangirl makes an appearance too.
Hmm.. so where should I begin this one?
I’ve spent the last few hours going over the last over of the Final and the “aftermath” if you will, on youtube. Again, and again, and again. And each time, the euphoria remains. Each time my heart swells up. Each time I see a Harbhajan or Yuvi with moist eyes and I get how much it meant to them. The incredible hug Tendulkar gave Dhoni and Yuvi. I’ve never seen him this animated. The lap of honour with Tendulkar and Kirsten on the young ones’ shoulders. What did Virat say? “Tendulkar has carried the team for 21 years. I think it’s time we carried him on our shoulders”. Yes, Virat. You can say that again. Incredible.
I gotta say though. When Tendulkar edged that Malinga delivery, I had that sinking feeling in my stomach. This cannot be happening. We aren’t going to collapse again, are we? Another 4 years’ worth of wait? No, this cannot happen. A tiny part of my brain reminded me that my team had faced such tricky situations in the last couple of years, and handled it really well. What do I say of what happened after that. Writers better than me will explain how that innings was built by Gambhir and Virat and then Gambhir and Dhoni. I will only say this. Gambhir, in my book, deserved the man of the match as much as Dhoni did for this win. Just sayin’! Not complaining! The adjudicators could have given it to Sreesanth for all I care. As long as the trophy was given to Dhoni .
Let me just briefly jot down my thoughts on a few players in this team and their WC performances (in order of their batting) –
Viru – I find it incredible that a player like Viru has such an amazing Test record. He is just a slightly better version of Afridi for me in ODIs. But even so, a quickfire 35 from him can really dismantle a good bowler (like what happened with Gul). Makes it easier for people coming in after him.
Tendulkar – I have no words for this guy. Enough has been said. Rest assured I’m glad he has a WC gold medal for himself.
Gambhir – This guy. This guy has nerves of steel. Mostly. On the rare occasion when that steel is melting away, he runs himself out in the ugliest manner. But otherwise, his presence on the batting crease gives me the sort of peace of mind that Dravid used to once upon a time (i.e. when he still played ODIs).
Virat- He is 4th on my list here, and he should never ever bat lower than this number. You hear that Dhoni? I complained when he wasn’t sent out at #4 against England. I had my head in my hands when the same happened against SA. But Dhoni realised his mistake in good time, and all was well with the world. Virat is my hope for the future of Indian cricket. As long as he keeps his attitude in check. Don’t ever let me see that arrogant smirk on your face, Virat!
Yuvi – Was ranting to a friend a few months ago about how it was so painful to watch someone so gifted like Yuvi, so disinterested in his game. For someone who used to be an incredible fielder, to watch him move about listlessly on the field..it wasn’t a good sight at all. Whatever has reignited the fire in his belly, I hope it stays for years to come.
Captain Cool – Dhoni, dear Dhoni. Oh my dear Dhoni. Saved his best batting for the end, didn’t he? Everything we associate with his brand of batting. All those characteristic shots. That mad running between the wickets. Did I say Gambhir has nerves of steel? Well, this guy right here has nerves of Titanium (I hope I have my chemistry right here…don’t correct me if I am wrong. It’s ok. I make a living out of software stuff, not chemistry ). The format allowed him a little leeway to test a few of his hypotheses and he made good use of it. Got the batting order and batsmen right (good decision to drop Yusuf, like I pointed out in my previous post). Almost good enough with the bowling line up too. And also discovered how the team was messing up with the Powerplays and worked that chink in the armour out. All in all, a job well done! And there are 2 distinct images of Dhoni I’ll take away from this tournament. One, that look of calm in his eyes as he hit that 6 to seal the match. And two, that giggling teenager at the press conference after the match! Gawd Dhoni, what was that all about??
Raina – He came in a little late but he showed his captain, and the team and us what we all were missing before he came in – electricity on the field that ends up lifting the standards of others in the team too. And an innings of a finisher that is aggressive enough, but lasts more than 5 balls. He played his part to perfection.
Zak – The unofficial bowling coach. The “Anil Kumble” of this team. Dhoni’s go-to guy. The guy to toss the ball to when things are happening. The guy to toss the ball to when things are not happening. The joint highest wicket taker of the tournament with an average under 18. ‘Nuff said.
The Team – They only lost to SA. And that wasn’t a loss handed over the plate either. They were part of the toughest group. They had an incredibly hard path to the finals. Beating Australia and Pakistan is no joke. They stuck together. Someone was always at hand to do what was needed. Whether it was an innings of calm that was required, or a cameo. Whether India needed some wickets ASAP or they needed to stem the flow of runs. The fielding lifted towards the end too. I mean if you see Nehra flying about, you know there is something special going on on the field. This was the culmination of years of hard work. By the team, and their support staff too. Which brings me to…
Gary Kirsten – To you sir, I can only say Thank you. Thank you for giving my team 3 years of your life, away from your country and family. Thank you for building my team and doing everything you can to make them believe. You’ve given us the number 1 ranked team in tests. You’ve given us the number 1 ranked team in ODIs. You’ve given us the World Cup. I shouldn’t ask for more. I am incredibly sorry to see you go. Best wishes for your future endeavours. If I could, I would give you the Bharat Ratna. Uh, would you mind coming back to give a “handover” of Project Team India once we have a new coach?? Please? Pretty please??
Nope, I’m not done yet.
I had to walk halfway to get to Southall yesterday coz the roads were all cordoned off. With an injured foot to boot. But it was so worth it. The fireworks, the naarebaazi, the flags, the vuvuzelas, the march on the Broadway. Southall screeched to a halt on Saturday, as did other parts of London (I’ve heard it was not possible to get out of East Ham train station after a while). The cheers went on even on public transport, no consideration for fellow non-Indians on board. The Met Police might have anticipated something like this, but I’m sure even they would have been surprised by the extent of it. Who knew there were so many noisy Desis around, eh?
I should mention the Sri Lankans too. They were worthy opponents. Mahela played a sublime knock. I was really surprised to note his final strike rate was over a 100. Never realised when the gears shifted to such an exent. And more than the Akhtars and the Aussies, I feared Malinga. And he did give us a glimpse of why he is feared. Those 2 wickets would have given millions of Indians a queasy feeling, including yours truly. Those yorkers, man, how does he do that will such regularity?? I guess the pressure got to him at the end, but nothing should take away from his achievements. And what about Murali the Magician. You either call him a master craftsman, or a chucker. There is no middle ground. I chose the former. And I will always remember the sheer joy on his face everytime he got a wicket. Jumping about like a little child. His last match ever did not do justice to the calibre of the man. He wil surely be missed, and not just by the Lankans.
Final thoughts – My dad has his ’83 story. I finally have one of my own too. And be sure of one thing. I’ll watch re-runs of this match till every detail is etched in my brain. And I’m going to bore my kids and their kids, the other people’s kids with stories of how we won this World Cup.
It was a 28 year wait this time around. One gets the feeling that the wait will be much shorter for the next one.
To all you Team India fans who’ve been with the team through thick and thin, enjoy and savour this victory. They’ve done it!!
Mumbai Ka King Kaun?? INDIAAAAAA……..
This is what it boils down to. After close to 50 matches, India vs Sri Lanka it will be in Mumbai tomorrow.
To me the World Cup showcased everything an ODI can be, given the right situation. The powers-that-be would do well to pay heed to the signs too. There is no need to tamper with the format. No pink balls, or innings splits or anything. For starters, good pitches, meaningful matches, and adequate support for Associates will help muchly.
Tomorrow is a day of importance for an Indian cricket fan. Besides the fact that this is a chance for us to regain the trophy after 28 long years, it is also going to be Tendulkar’s last appearance for Team India at the WC. Tendulkar has always done well for India in all WCs (except 2007, I guess). Let’s hope the team is able to rise up to the challenge of tomorrow and give him a WC send off in style!
It will also mark the end of Gary Kirsten’s innings with India. After John Wright retired I was very sceptical of ever finding a coach who would be able to match his contribution to the team. But Gary has been great. It is very heartwarming to see how the players acknowledge his work with them and are sorry to see him leave. Scepticism raises its ugly head again every now and then, now that Gary is retiring. But I hope we are able to find someone as suitable to replace him. Needless to say though, the new coach has big huge shoes to fill.
Back to the final – I don’t know who holds the edge, who is the better team on paper and all that jazz. I cannot predict who will win it tomorrow. It is a difficult choice. Both teams have their own strengths and weaknesses. Hard to tell who will be able to soak up the pressure better. What I do hope for is a contest worthy of a final (unless of course India wins, then I don’t mind a crushing defeat for the Lankans!). Is 2011 going to be it for India? We shall soon know. Good luck to Dhoni and his men!
…and so do I. It got pretty nerve racking with the little wobble of the middle order. Sitting in the office, cold clammy hands, rising heartbeat etc. I considered not following the score anymore. I kept asking around my colleagues if there was anything I could do (it was a relatively quiet afternoon at work for me). But it all ended well .
Actually, a lot of good things happened today. Starting with Raina being bought in at Yusuf’s expense. I was very pleased with that change. Never had any trust in Pathan anyway. I would like this team to be retained for the next 2(?) matches.
It was good to see a decent bowling performance too. Not letting Aus get away with it, despite a great 100 by Ponting. 260 was going to be manageable.
As for the batting, there was some atrocious running, a horrible brain-fade…but the good part was that Yuvi and Raina were able to hold it together. Lee and company were handled well. It was good to see the team pull through in this high pressure situation. This experience should hold them good in the next 2(?) matches.
Lastly, it was good to note that Yuvi was Man of the Match, even though he was my fantasy team captain. I think my curse has been lifted now. I can pick players without jinxing them.
4 years I waited for my team to heap misery on Bangladesh on a big stage. They did it. 8 years I had to wait for my team to avenge the horrid 2003 final. They did it. So now just Pak and SL* to go then, guys? Don’t make me wait another 4 years for the WC
* My call is that SA and SL will play the other S/F with SL prevailing. Which will be good. Kolkata ’96 is still fresh in my mind.
Coming a little late to the party but…
I streamed yesterday’s live play between India and South Africa. It was a Ten Sports stream, so I wasn’t too surprised when ads cut off play for the first and last balls of each over. I wasn’t surprised when Ravi Shastri plugged Castle Lager “It all comes together blah-de-blah” a few times. Or when the screen shrank to fit in an ad during play.
But what did shock me was the sudden appearance an ad banner on the field near the slips. It was during live telecast, not a replay, so for a second I thought it was actually there on the ground and was a little confused because that was an odd place for a logo. I hadn’t seen this one before. Or where the broadcaster superimposes its own ads on those boards around the boundary line (is that even legal?). It was quite incredulous. I felt my brain start to melt a little bit. The first, and only time, I have had that happen before is when I sat through Rajni Saar’s Sivaji.
I remember a few posts from previous IPLs where some bloggers had actually made jokes about this. About how ads can be put up on empty screen spaces like the grounds and the sky. Sad to note that it is a reality now. WC2011 and IPL4 coverage will break new grounds in India when it come to advertising I guess.
There is a silver lining to me not being able to make it to India for the World Cup after all.
….the more they remain the same.
India have started poorly again on a tour and how! To be defeated inside 4 days by an innings and some is very disappointing show by the #1 team. Not using this as the excuse and the only reason for India’s loss, but for a pitch to be very conducive to bowling on Day 1 only to flatten out like a runway from the next day, isn’t exactly fair. I haven’t heard too many calling the pitch this time and I am not surprised with that either.
Nonetheless, India has some hard thinking to do before the next test. The bowling department looks pretty useless without Zak at the helm of affairs and this does not bode well for the team in general, never mind this tour. To give away 200 runs in a session (30-35 overs?) would be bad enough in an ODI. It is unacceptable in a Test. Sure, hindsight is 20-20, but was it really wise to pick 2 very inexperienced bowlers in Unadkat and Yadav, knowing that having 3 seamers in the team is a given for SA?
The first innings collapse for India had as much to do with the batsmen themselves as it had to with the bowlers. In some cases, they were set up perfectly. In some cases (yup…I’m looking at you Viru) they threw it away. Let me just repeat my request from the last post. “Please bat like it is a Test match”. Nobody is saying that the SR should be sub-20 (you know who I am talking to, don’t you)…but trying to blast your way out of trouble isn’t going to help either. Let’s get over the “Indians can’t play the short ball” bogey-man and get back to basics. The batting line-up is a very capable one and I expect things to turn around from the next test onwards.
Nice one @cricinfo about Gary’s work with the batsmen.
Nothing works like India vs SA to bring updates to this blog.
My check-list looks good -
- Amicable times – check
- Availability of holidays for Tests- check
- Availability of Rahul Dravid for Tests- check
One request of the batsmen – Please bat like it is a Test match. Thank you.
Just one item on the wish list to save on time – INDIA WINS.
That’s it then! Looking forward to Thursday.