I am trying to get myself interested in the World Cup T20.

But naah, not working out. I flip from T20 to Travel and Living or some news channel all the while, and if the football is on, I don’t even care.

Am I not a huge fan of T20? Absolutely, I’m not. Why? Because if the standards are not, say, Australia / Bangladesh, 20 overs are not enough to distinguish between a good team and a slightly worse one, and after that it is all about freak individual incidents determining the fate of a match, even a tournament.

An equivalent? A football match where the 45 minute halves are not played, and all that you have are the two extra times and then the shootout. One mistake could determine the match, with no chances of a comeback. One great move can. One bad decision by the manager can. One bad decision by the referee can. An incident like ‘That night in Istanbul‘ will never happen in this version of football, neither Anfield 1989.

But I was not this indifferent about IPL. I wasn’t. Why?

Because there were real personal stories. The Warne story. The Kumble story. The Dada story. The Sachin story. The Vijay and Ashwin stories. The Kallis story. The Rayudu story. The Dhoni story. The Manoj Tiwary story. You could see the stories unfold and unravel as the IPL progressed. And of course, the Tharoor story and the Modi story.

Even the World team trophy had stories. The T&T story was fascinating to say the least.

And in the World Cup T20, there is little story. Thus, it’s only about the game. And the game isn’t …. isn’t as story-worthy, standalone. Just in my opinion.


IPL and reading Prem Panicker

Seriously, thanks to (and only because of) Bangalore reaching the semis, I will watch the IPL semis. But the ones in the know would know that the IPL verifies a theory about organized sports that my old team captain at the University Challenge used to subscribe to.

And do read Prem Panicker’s blog posts on the IPL. Very, very interesting.

Talentwatch 1 – Manish Pandey

Another of my promised but undelivered (and promising but underperforming) irregular columns, alongwith the rushmore and petered-out talents, would be talentwatch. It should be a lot more low-maintenance: just see a good young player, and suggest him / her to the world. Let me see if I can maintain this.

And now to this week’s talent.
Player – Manish Pandey.
Country – India.
Short Summary – A compact, extremely aggressive player who can nonetheless build innings, he plays for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy and for Bangalore Royal Challengers in the IPL. While most of you would remember him as the first Indian to score an IPL century, he has now developed into quite a player. Pandey was one of the stars of Karnataka’s march to the Ranji finals for the 2009-10 season, and sometimes even put the illustrious Rahul Dravid in the shadows with his performances. The 194 against Uttar Pradesh, one of the best Ranji teams in recent times, was a highlight. Has continued his performances into the IPL 2010, and has developed a fine opening partnership for the BRC with Jacques Kallis.
Strengths – All shots in the book. Very little fear. Agile, athletic fielding.
Prediction – Will play for India within the next two years.

Slumdog Millionaire

This was on sms, and not a word-to-word, more like a thought-to-thought :

Friend: WTF ! Fab gone for the season. Billy G gone for the season. Arshavin gone…. what pathetic luck we are having.
Me: I just know Arsenal will win something this season.
Friend: Yes sure, all that we can do is hope.
Me: No dude, believe me, it is destiny. Arsenal win win something this time. It is destiny. It is Slumdog.
Friend: You have gone mad. Next, you will tell me that Dada and KKR win win the IPL.
Me: They will ! Or at least reach the final. Last time, it was Laxman vs Kumble-Dravid. This time it will be Sachin vs Dada.
Friend: What the hell have you been smoking? Are you alright?

The Pride

“Sourav Ganguly, his life and times”. A movie should be made of this mysterious, enigmatic and special man in ten years’ time.

His reflexes gone, the bat-speed reduced, the magical off-side strokes now a rarity than the norm, the old warlord struggles on. He does not need to do this any more, he knows I’m sure. In his time, he had proved his detractors wrong time and again. He has modeled an India team in the image of himself – brash, outspoken, proud and plucky. He has carved a niche for himself, a large chapter (much larger in scale and scope than his merits as a player demanded) in the annals of Indian sport.

Why does he have to do it? why does he have to risk tarnishing his reputation by putting himself through a game built for people 10 years younger and 50% more fit and agile?

Yet he soldiers on.

….. he carries the reminders
Of every glove that layed him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains

The fighter still remains.

The cliche was never truer. If there wasn’t a Sourav Ganguly, we would have had to invent him. And there would never be another.