Hindi Commentary

I like Hindi commentary. It’s a lot more ….how should I put it…. raw.

The predictable media-trained image (Sourav – iconoclast; Rahul – meticulous and polite; Shastri – boisterous; Gavaskar – older statesman) is mercifully absent. Sidhu can anyway only play one tune – which does not jar as much in hindi (waah waah mitthu mitthu indeed), Kapil is way too knowledgeable, and sourav too is a lot less predictable.


IPL 2011 – 4 Indians / 3 Foreigners to be retained: RCB and KKR

Inspired by this post (here) from the Daredevilblogger.

As many of you know, Delhi Daredevils is my third team. And I tend to agree with Daredevilblogger’s selection, apart from Gambhir. Gambhir must stay. However, my team, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and my second team Kolkata Knight Riders, are ripe for the picking, as they say :)

Before trying this I would just like to add a caveat. The problem with retaining a long-in-the-tooth big name is not there with Delhi, as during the days of the Fab-5, Delhi did not have a major representation in the national team. Probably the oldest iconic player (as opposed to an icon player) for Delhi is Sehwag, who still has at least 5 to 6 more IPLs in him. However with both RCB and KKR, there is this problem with these iconic players, namely Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. And I will explain.
We all know and understand that Ganguly and Kumble have probably one more IPL outing in them, and Dravid probably two. However, Warne is, in all probability, not coming back. And that means there are three teams, namely Kochi, Pune and Rajasthan, who are in the need of a big name to lead them and provide credibility to their IPL effort, the way Warne did it for RR for such a long while. Even a par performance in the IPL requires a strong captain.
After all, what stops Kochi to bid for Kumble (remember, his ancestral village is in the Karnataka-Kerala border); or for Pune (whose owner is Bong, and friendly to Ganguly), to bid for Ganguly as player-coach? Or even for Dravid, who is, after all, of Maharashtrian origin. Both Ganguly and Dravid have reasonable acceptability in Pune and Maharashtra in general, neither scenario would be a potential disaster like, say, Yuvraj leading Kochi.
It’s an important caveat to remember.

Let me try RCB first:

The advantage with RCB is that the core of this team is excellent. However, as important as getting new players should be giving chances to the new breed, guys like Abhimanyu Mithun, Ganesh Sathish and Amit Verma, all of whom had performed creditably at the Ranji trophy, and can emulate Pandey.

Foreign Slots: The three foreign players retained should be

Jacques Kallis – Did you see Eoin Morgan bat? An absolute delight and a sensation! And young. Morgan can change the way the game is played, and if you have someone like him, you keep him. Yes, even over Jacques Kallis. ………. eh? Isn’t there a mistake here? No, that’s exactly how I wanted it to be. The only reason Morgan should be put on the shop window, is that there will be crazy bidding if Morgan is put on the shop window, but there will be absolute carnage if Kallis is put there. And Dr. M is a businessman, he will know how to save a few bucks.

Ross Taylor – The first honorary Bangalorean amongst the foreign recruits, you should hear the roar at the Chinnaswami when Taylor comes in to bat. And there’s also the minor detail of him being, potentially, the best T20 player in the world.

Dale Steyn – Well, if you have the world’s premier fast bowler to keep or get rid from your team, you know which of those two to choose, correct?

(As for the bidding –
Firstly, as mentioned earlier, Dr. M should show the world the strength of his pelf, and get Morgan back in the team.
RCB should re-bid for Roelof Van Der Merwe and Jesse Ryder; Also re-bid for Cameron White; and ignore KP.
A backup to Steyn, maybe Ryan Sidebottom? Darren Sammy? Ian Butler? Juan Theron?)

Indian Slots: The four Indian players retained should be

Rahul Dravid – Yes. Local boy, sensational cricketer and has two more years left in him, maybe three.

Robin Uthappa and Virat Kohli – are sensational young players, who will serve the BRC team for years and years to come. If the choice is available, you would never put either on the shop window.

Manish Pandey – Here’s my talentwatch. And he is a Bangalore boy. However, choosing between him and Vinay Kumar was difficult. And Dr. M and his bid managers would need to take a call here. Both RVK and Pandey need to be retained… now for whom would the bidding war be more rabid? Take a call, and put the other person on the shop window.

(Bidding –
Retaining Kumble is a priority. He is the captain, he has one season left in him, and the team works best with him at the helm. And the only reason that Kumble, and not Dravid should be put on the shop window, is that it is obvious that Kumble has only one year left in him, and other teams might hesitate in getting a player for only one year. Dravid should last longer, and might be the icon for, say, Rajasthan or Pune.
Get another spinner who can be a long term prospect… is KP Appanna good enough? I believe Bangalore should bet the house on Ravindra Jadeja.
Ensure Vinay Kumar is retained. Get a middle order jack-of-all-trades sort like Rajat Bhatia or Laxmi Rattan Shukla.
Either of Amit Mishra and Gautam Gambhir, and either of Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary will be made available. That’s up for grabs)

What would happen:
Kallis. Steyn. Taylor. Uthappa. Kohli. Dravid. RVK/Pandey. the KF man is no fool.

Now to KKR

foreign Players: The three foreign players retained should be

Angelo Mathews – The team can be built around this guy. It would be a straight pick between him and David Hussey, and from the long term perspective, Angelo is a better pick.

Chris Gayle – the bedrock of the team. No questions. It was a straight pick between him and McCullum.

Shane Bond – You have to retain your quick bowler. Although I would understand the rationale if KKR decide to let go of Bond, retain Angelo and McCullum and then try to outbid everyone for someone like Ryan Harris or Kemar Roach or Morne Morkel, for example. However, that is a rare shot. You do not flush out so much money for a player just to see him go after one year. And Bond is a fine, fine player.

Edit: This post was written before Shane Bond’s retirement. Will be sorely missed by all cricket fans. For the context of the piece, however, I’d suggest
Brendan McCullum – Because McCullum can win matches on his own. And is on his day the best T20 player in the world.

(Bidding – The following two player types, should be at the top of the agenda for KKR. I also include the first and second preferences:
A quality spinner – Daniel Vettori / Graeme Swann; because KKR’s biggest problem is the lack of quality spinners. Also, and this might be a little controversial, Vettori would be the best guy to take over from Ganguly in 2012.
A lower order hitter/ finisher – Luke Wright / Roelof Van Der Merwe / Mark Boucher.
Also, try to retain David Hussey and McCullum via bidding. Will be extremely difficult of course…..
A backup quick as foil to Bond might be useful, someone like Ryan Sidebottom (of course only because Stuart Broad seems disinterested in T20) or Juan Theron)

Indian Players: The four Indian players retained

Sourav Ganguly – Because KKR without Ganguly would just not work. Very few outside Bengal understand the concept of Dada and the Bengali psyche. After years of being force-fed by the political powers-that-be of a historical neglect by the center and by the rest of India (I have a lot to say on this, but no further discussion here. I will keep the politics at bay in this blog, email me if you will), Ganguly was the first ray of hope, the first pan-Indian Bengali…. You would not want that guy to go to Pune. And Sahara will bid for him if he is available, mind. And moreover, Shahrukh and his celebrity parade is not really very popular in Kolkata, especially for the undermining of Dada by Buchanan at IPL2. And yes, Kolkata can never not support Dada… what will happen to the Pune vs KKR match at Eden then? Also, KKR is a middling team by IPL standards, and with all teams playing to potential, should be around 6th, giving the semis a shot, but fail eventually. And that’s about the level they reached with Ganguly at the helm in IPL1 and IPL3. IPL2, however…

Manoj Tiwary – A fine player from Bengal. You need a core which understands the pulse of the place, and Tiwary is a fine talent.

Murali Kartik – Kartik is very fine, but KKR always needed more quality spinners. Retaining him is essential, providing him with support even more so.

Jaydev Unadkat – Because Ishant has, after 4 years of International cricket, developed no variations at all, and is a useless T20 bowler at the current state. Unadkat is already better at the T20 format. And maybe moving to Delhi (and playing with Veeru) will give Ishant another shot at improving himself, and that might still be a positive for Indian cricket.

(Bidding –
Kolkata’s problem is that it will not be a heavy bidder like Mumbai, Pune, RCB or Chennai. So the Gambhir / Amit Mishra slot will never be snapped up by them. So it’s about creating a good enough team, picking players from the next level.
Dhawal Kulkarni is a priority. Getting Abhishek Jhunjhunwala back home to Kolkata should be a priority as well. Manpreet Gony if available. Maybe a cheeky bid for Vinay Kumar? I would hate to see that happen, RVK is the quintessential son of the soil. That slot, with one of Saurabh Tiwary / Ambati Rayudu being made available, is attractive. Cheteshwar Pujara is good to keep. He is a real talent, and can do the Ganguly/Kallis job of keeping the innings together very well.)

What will happen:
McCullum. Gayle. Bond. Angelo. Dada. Ishant. Kartik. Agarkar. Alas.

The Rushmore 2 – Bengal Ranji cricketers

The Rushmore of Bengal Ranji cricketers.

Nirmal Chatterjee ; Pankaj Roy ; Arun Lal ; Sourav Ganguly.

Nirmal Chatterjee – The first great Bengal cricketer.

Pankaj Roy – He was not the alu-bhatey bengal cricketer. A warrior and a bhadralok.

Arun Lal – Brought up in Delhi, Arun Lal brought the cussed determination of his land of origin into Bengal cricket, and ushered the best days for Bengal in Ranji trophy cricket. He was no favourite of Sunny’s, and was too entrenched in Bengal to be a part of the Delhi brigade. Thus he did not play much test cricket in the lobbying, lobbyist late-80’s Indian cricket. He certainly could have, and should have. Bengali? Arun Lal is more bengali than I am.

Sourav Ganguly – Sourav arrived. And football at last became Bengal’s second sport.

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.

IPL should be here soon…

Sachin is such a perfect creation, that it is easy to miss how ad-friendly he has grown, something he was bad at earlier. This is the perfect ad. And Sachin inspires.

Gilly hangs loose. And is just himself in this ad.

Sanga! The most stylish man in cricket currently?

The impish smile and the raised eyebrows ‘Kahan khel rahein hai hum?’ … Gautam Gambhir should be used much more in commercials.

The dignified Mr. Kumble. Doesn’t it fill you with pride that you are from the same country as this great gentleman? I am an unabashed fan.

Wasn’t EVERYONE waiting for the Dada IPL ad? The ‘Dada-ne bhi aap ko miss kiya’ lives up to the image, the man. There’ll never be another.

Oh Warney you rockstar!

Where’s Dhoni? Can we have a word or two in Tamil, please?

Edit: Here’s Dhoni. One word in Tamil. Idli Sambhar, what’s more!

The curious incident of the ‘Fake IPL Player’

And of course you have seen the blog, haven’t you**? If the cave you stay in is so far removed from human contact that you have failed to have visited this site yet, well, here it is (click here).

And let me look into my crystal ball, what would be the next wave of goss on that front?

There will be a million bloggers, in their need to be famous, that will proclaim themselves to be the one. They will be the ‘fake fake IPL players’. And there will be many of them, who will be proclaimed by the media as the ‘fake fake fake IPL player’, namely, the ‘real fake IPL player’…

But eventually, the ‘real fake IPL player’ (RFIP) will never be found. Like the abominable snowman, like the chupacabra, like the sasquatch, like Keysar Soze, the RFIP will disappear soon after the IPL v2 ends. Just like that, he will be gone….

And the biggest trick that he will have played, will be to make the world believe that he did exist…

 Now wait a minute. What does my crystal ball tell me, then? Is it that the RFIP never existed?

That indeed is what it seems like, to my limited mind.

Why? Now here’s the reason….

It cannot be a player, for the simple reason that if it were, he would have been found out by now. It is not tough to track down the IP, located the cyber café/ laptop/desktop from where the posts go out, and many must have tried this already….

To no avail.

So it cannot be a regular rant by a disgruntled Ranadeb Bose (As Gulu Ezekiel claims here.. did he have a fallout with Ganguly after the biography?) or a needing-the-fame Anureet Singh. This is planned, and must have been brewing for a while, Whoever is writing the blog must have been planning this for a long while. And while I, willy-nilly, might still be convinced that there is some cricketer somewhere who can pull it off in terms of the writing skills yada yada (no, fat chance that Ranadeb or Anureet or Akash Chopra has that level of writing skill, this blog is genuine mirth… and yes I know that Akash Chopra has written a book, which I have not read yet… but I have indeed read his blog on Cricinfo, and it is honest, prosaic, solid and unexciting, pretty much like the player himself), the technical skills involved to ensure that the person is not caught, must involve some experts.

It cannot be a player in cahoots with a few other buddies of his with the necessary technical skills, because the secret will have definitely been breached… The more the people involved (if this would have just been for fun), the more the chance of the leak…

It cannot be a journo. No journo will commit that kind of professional suicide … the guy/ gal will definitely be ostracized by the media once the news comes out (and trust me it would have by now)… and the fear of libel is a big fear. It’s big, powerful, important people they are trying to take on (in whatever humorous way).

So who is left over?

One of the teams? In a bid for self publicity?

Well, that’s my hunch. One of my hunches, rather.

The IPL v2 has been a success, willy-nilly, I suppose; but has definitely not been the kind of success that the IPL had been the last time…. And what better that to spin some controversy (and fun, might I add) into the whole thing?

KKR itself would have been a possibility, Shahrukh Khan is one of the rare celebrities that has learnt the art of laughing at himself (kudos to him for that)… but would he allow his team to get into this mire of controversy? It’s his money at stake after all….

But then, the money KKR makes is not through winning or losing the tourney (and the team is pretty weak, there are few chances anyway that they will make it to the top), but through ad revenues etc etc….

So it may very well be KKR. Of course Ganguly and Gayle and Agarkar and McCullum and Buchanan and even the rest of the team would have been kept in the loop.

The doubt is that the other teams are not left out of the fun… and they might sue for damages. C’mon, at least Sresanth would definitely sue. And the secret would have to be out sometime for sure, if that many people are in the know.


And the other candidate might be the IPL committee itself…. They do need the publicity, this is a story! A real story! A scoop! Truth or otherwise!

And why would they care about whether a team does well or badly, when all they need is to just ensure the tournament is a success and they make their money, right? And this issue is giving the tournament a lot of publicity.

So is it the IPL committee itself? Will they do something incredulous like this?


And both the parties I have mentioned have the money to gather the technical wherewithal and writing prowess to create this monster…

And well, you and I have all started blogs at some point of time. Isn’t it tough to be popular? How strong, really, is word of mouth? Is it strong enough for a blog to get this incredible level of publicity in just a few days? Without someone in the background playing God? I doubt it very much.

So there, just my two pence into the whole debate.

And don’t come back to this blog and laugh at me tomorrow when some unknown XYZ cricketer (or even Ranadeb or Anureet or even Akash Chopra) owns up to being the RFIP… Or rather, please do. I do not claim to be the lord and master of all analysts, and it is nice to eat humble pie once in a while.


** If you are remotely interested in the IPL.

Sourav Ganguly…

Unfair? Yes. Not the sacking, but the way the matter was dealt with. I wonder why they fuck it up every single time!

Will he make it back to the Indian team, if he tries a comeback? Yes he will.

Or no he won’t, if the selectors have their way, but that will be the death-knoll for Rohit Sharma, Badrinath or Tiwary or whoever replaces Ganguly. Ganguly will perform a few heroics in the domestic scene…. and for every time the newbie underperforms, the vultures in the media will be let loose on them. Remember Mohammed Kaif?

What would one give to have the Australian system, where a Mark Waugh is told well in advance that he has one year left to his international career… and that’s all. And what would one give to ensure that Dravid is given that flexibility…