Monday, December 22, 2008

IPL trading

The trading is now open for about a month and there is no salary cap restrictions for trading - I think this really throws the notion of salary cap out of the window.

However since this is a league in its nascent stage, the trading won't be as interesting as say an NBA - I would love to see a 3 player trade between 3 teams but that is unlikely.... Already there are rumours that Gibbs, Afridi and Akhtar are up for trade. Gibbs/Afridi was bound to happen, they are too much in the same mould... So now you wonder who will pick them up and at what price? And a team that picks up Akhtar will need to take the risk of his fitness and form.

I think DD needs bowlers while McGrath has agreed to return for one year, Asif is in doubt so that leaves a small question there of opening bowlers. Similarly Pollock not returning means that MI need a strike bowler as well. So the Feb. auction should be a good place for bowlers that were unsigned as yet.

For CSK, I would like to them to pick up an Indian bowler since the dynamics of the 4 foreign players means you need atleast 2 good Indian bowlers (How did Balaji and Gony perform in the Ranji season?). Also given Hayden's form and the difficulty CSK had with the other opening slot, I think they need to sign Murali Vijay or some other opening batsman.

So who do you think will be traded? Who would you like to see in your team? Who will Mallya trade?

edited: Barely 30 mins after typing this, I see a news report that Mallya has put the entire team up for trade excluding Dravid who he is unable to remove due to the iconic status. Let the tamasha begin :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Lets forget all the world's problem and send Asif to a neutral venue-- perhaps to Burkina Faso, Timbuktu, Ulan Bator or the most neutral of all places Switzerland :) You wonder what has taken the IPL to long to handle what I believe is an open and shut case? During the same time, Harbajjan has been suspended, recovered, danced, played matches and won and has started chirping again. Shree, the slapee has been on a mysterious injury sabbattical, only to arise for dancing, and some (un)neighbourly chit-chat. Usually, by this time, someone would have been suspended, written a book, reinstated and it would be time for the next offence. So IPL, don't lag behind --- and on a serious note, I hope there is zero tolerance drug policy and hold a video conference with Asif and get this resolved. This no action for 6 months sends out a very poor precedent.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dravid - What now?

Looking back at this post written in July, things have continued to slide down further for Dravid - and I think it is time to drop him or for him to retire. As a sincere fan of Dravid, it pains me to watch him - I think luck has totally deserted him and if he does not want to quit, it is time for him to wait in the sidelines for his form, luck and confidence to return and not at the crease.

The other day my nephew tells me aunty (ok, the tamil equivalent), Dravid is a "bad player". I was shocked, and try to tell him that he is legend...

-That he is one of a handful of players with over 10,000 runs in both forms.
-That he has opened when the team asked him to when he is not an opening batsman.
-That he kept wickets just so that India could play the extra batsman.
-That he changed his game to suit ODIs more.
-That he has had many match winning patnerships.
-Why he got the nickname "the wall".

But my nephew remained unconvinced -- the bottom line is in the year or so that he has been watching cricket, he has not a seen a single memorable, authoritative performance from Dravid.

So already we are talking to the next generation about Dravid's past achievements and not his current form - the last hurrah does not appear to be in the cards. Perhaps he needs to think that his is no longer a prized wicket for opponents. And perhaps he needs to think whether he wants to be dropped and never recalled or retire now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Doctorate - why?

Continuing the why series, I was quite surprised to hear that Sania Mirza has been granted an honorary doctorate. Why? She is in her 20s and has had a career marred by injury. I do believe she is a good sports person and needs to rewarded with appropriate sports awards, sponsorships etc. But a doctorate ??!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Zaheer - why?

I have been distressed by hearing about this news item about Zaheer Khan. Why the hollow sentiment of giving match fees to mumbai victims and cops if we cannot first follow basic rules and respect security staff? This is not the time for exceptions and as cricketers they need to remember that the security is trying to protect not only them but others around them as well. There are armed escorts for the teams and apparently they manage to traverse the distance between the hotel and stadium in 10 mins which for normal folks takes nearly 45 mins!

Perhaps it is an inconvenience, perhaps it is confining, but this is needed at the present time. It is no pleasure either for the fans to leave water, snacks, mobile at home, and be frisked several times to watch a match. The only consolation is that it will safe within a crowded stadium if everyone is scrutinized in the same way (if we start having exceptions - the security is pointless).

Zaheer, put yourself in the cop's shoes - how would it feel to be scanning baggage after baggage not knowing what is in it, or screening irate visitors. Would you trade your shoes for the theirs? So how about an apology? Hope every member cuts off the "prima donna" stuff if not for their own sake atleast for others around them, simply allow the security team to do their job.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The sun is out

There is bright sunshine in Chennai today, so that perhaps bodes well for the match. You wonder how it is so sunny in Chennai for most days in a year and for the few days it rains, a match is scheduled! I am interested in seeing how many people show up, given a chance of rain, the additional security checks, diminishing interest in test matches, and the economy (I doubt very many working folks will decide to take time off - I am checking to see if any friends/family are interested and at this point there are no takers). I personally am keeping Sunday as an option though even that is unlikely (the only reason I am still even considering it is to show solidarity and applaud the teams for coming back :))

This was my experience of going to the stadium during IPL, and is just one of the reasons why you think twice about going to a match. MRTS is an option for the test matches though (not really for the late night matches unless you live right next to the station). Also once upon a time, you would look at your fellow spectators and wonder if their snack was more interesting than yours, now you watch them for odd behaviour :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saina breaks into the top 10

Quietly she has made her way to the top 10. At the start of the year, I did not know who Saina was, but have since then followed her tournaments online. The road will be tougher from here on it but she is aiming for the top 5 and then even the number one. Well done!. And in the news reports and the interviews I have seen, she seems to be dignified about her success and celebrations. Hope endorsements come her way! Perhaps also the Indian sports channels will showcase more of the badminton tournaments featuring her.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What to write about?

I have tried many posts in the past few days but nothing seems to be able to express half of what I felt (shock, anger, outrage, sadness...). Recovering from relentless rain and power cuts from cyclone Nisha (since when did cyclones start having names?) to reading and watching about Mumbai. It is seems inconsequential to talk about sports now but now that news reports are coming in of Chennai being a test venue, I wonder if I should invoke "the so called Indian spirit" and go and watch it just "because". As I have mentioned earlier, watching test matches or ODIs live is not really an option given the time-off needed from work.

So while I ruminate that option, I am also appalled at the state of television journalism in India. Besides the ball-by-ball or blow-by-blow coverage of the events, they completely lost focus of alternate news (the cyclone with a loss of life in TN did not even feature for a few minutes).

However, looking back I am glad they did not because this is perhaps how they may portray it. All the English news channels I saw were guilty of one or more of the following.

This is a parody.

Talking to people on the streets to get the human side of the story: "How will you feel if you are rendered homeless by this cyclone"? To a man wading in the water, "have you considered that you might be electrocuted by falling lines".

Non-stop reporting of same event: (the pitch has to be atleast five decibels higher than normal speech). What is happening now? the reporter, "it is still raining non-stop, the water level has risen by 0.01 mm since the last time I spoke" which was 1 minute ago. Anchor to reporter, make sure you are safe and follow it up immediately with questions contrary to safety statement.

Breaking unconfirmed news: "Another cyclone that has struck. There is extensive damage from this. Take shelter...". Then sheepishly and somewhat carelessly acknowledge that it was an error.

Sensationalize: Come up with catchy phrases, sensationalize everything. Ask leading questions and answer them yourself. If the answer is not what you would like to hear, cut off the conversation.

I am now tuned to good old newspapers for more responsible journalism. While so much of the talk is centred on the government and the politicians and rightly so, I hope the media and I&B ministry discuss Ethics in Media and improve the quality of reporting.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Many thoughts

Several thoughts in no way connected to each other run through other.

Ishant's hair: I have talked glibly about it in the past, but it is a loss to the cricketing world :) You know you are succeeding in cricket in India, when you can cut your long hair!

ODIs much too complicated.: I yearn for the days when you could look at the scoreboard and could predict what was needed in terms of runs/overs even in a rain restricted game. Now you score 166, but you mysteriously end up 198 and no one knows the powerplay rules in these cases -- perhaps not even the players, umpires or the ICC.

Rain: Won't the same rain system follow them to Cuttack?
I hear a lot about the ground cannot be covered completely -- but why can it not be? It is afterall a finite space, with clearly defined dimensions, and you don't have to cover it with a precious metal. How about some creative solutions like a low-level retractable roof to be used when it rains to cover the ground (not suggesting indoor cricket), just a mechanism similar to that...? That may be expensive, so how about creating semi-tent like covers or slopping roof facades so that the water drains in areas you want it to drain to? When you have hammers and moppers on the field, I am sure there are viable alternatives for covering grounds.

TV Coverage: To the folks producing this, please note that it is common courtesy to wait till the bails fall out when a wicket is taken, both feet land on the ground and the fielder is given a chance to throw the ball into the air after a catch, or allowing the commentators to finish a sentence before cutting to a advertisement break. You are now competing with DD on the level of coverage!.

Speaking of breaks, the RBS ad puzzles me. I doubt the target audience in India currently has much faith in a foreign bank - so perhaps a wrong time to launch a big ad campaign. And everytime I see it, I think what a nice ad Sachin has done for Raymond and don't think of anything related to RBS :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

KP's quote

Pietersen has this to say:

"We need the bowlers to take wickets and the batsmen to score runs"


Champions League

BCCI asks ECB to delay the start of the test series by a day so that Dhoni and perhaps Badrinath if he selected in the test team will have a chance to play in case CSK qualify. At the time of scheduling, they did not make this request - I wonder why now?

Assuming that remains unchanged and CSK qualify, I have been wondering who will be the captain. Fleming is expected to be the coach instead of Wessels? My guess therefore, is that it would make Hussey the most logical choice, thought whether he would want it especially if it is against his "other" team.

Here is the draw.

Does the four foreign player restriction apply for the champions league?

I don't remember seeing Murali Vijay in the CSK line-up for IPL -- was he in the squad?

This is going to be one odd tournament - Aussies and New Zealanders will fly down after their test series which ends on Dec 2nd and the champions league starts on the 3rd - won't they be jet-lagged?

Two of them (Morkel and Hussey) will play against teams they are currently representing, though they got their home teams $200,000 each for this release.

I for one can never imagine in soccer Real Madrid and ManU qualifying and say Beckham having to choose one!

Do you think the Champions League concept will generate as much interest as the IPL?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jeev Milkha Singh

Jeev Milkha Singh edges out Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington to win the Singapore Open. The son of "the flying Sikh", he scored 7-under-par to win about $790,000 in prize money in a field that included Phil Mickelson. Congrats Jeev! Other Indians who finished in the top 50 are Gaurav Ghei who finished 22 and Shiv Kapur 31.

Along with the cricket team which is doing well, there has been much more to cheer about in the Indian sporting world this year -- Bindra, Vijender, Sushil Kumar, Saina, Joshna, Jeev, Anand, Narang and others. Hopefully in the years to come, this will expand to a much larger number.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Joshna Chinappa wins a tournament

This 22 year old from Chennai, became the first Indian woman to win a Squash tournament in the Women's League ((WISPA).

She is currently ranked 39th in the world. Well done Joshna.

I hope she, Saina and others like them get some support from the corporates.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Exclusive interviews

What constitutes exclusive interviews in the Indian media?
Does it mean it is not a press conference?
Does it mean the room is exclusive?
Does it mean that the person conducting the interview is exclusive to the channel?
Does it mean that it is exclusive for 4-5 hours?

Just checking... because in the last 5-7 days I have come across atleast 5 if not more "exclusive" interviews with Ganguly in both Hindi and English news channels. The questions are mostly similar, the answers also. Why stamp it as an exclusive interview, when folks may watch it anyway?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dhoni's schedule

Wow! after wicket keeping in 4 test matches and captaining in 2, he now has to play 7 ODIs, captain, bat and keep as well - then participate in some Champions League matches (captain, bat and keep wickets there as well) and then go and play 2 test matches - captain, bat and keep again... And all of this is within the next 40 days. Except for 10 day break between a couple of tours, this continues until next July/August atleast.

Just thinking about it makes me exhausted. And he was limping, sniffing yesterday. I hope they give him a wicket keeping break in the middle and possibly rest him as well. But there does not appear to be an alternate wicketkeeper in the ODI squad?

Slow over rate

Ponting gets a gentle slap in the wrist - a 20% fine (of course the lost match is probably what is going to hurt him more)

Dhoni himself was guilty of slow over rate in some sessions, though the end of the day tally was generally okay.

The extra half hour has been used everyday- something is wrong - that should be for contingencies.

The fines and threat of suspension are not working. If this continues, the day is not far off when during the end of the day you see only 70 overs bowled and captain gets suspended for the next match (and given the hectic schedule, they will be glad to take that break!) ...

A different approach would be to penalize per session. If you are supposed to bowl 28 overs pre lunch, and if you are 4 overs short, then take the worst runs per over for a bowler (with a minimum of 4 runs per over) and add it to the team - and add it immediately - at the end of each session.

So if Ponting was 10 overs short, and one bowler gave away 6 runs per over, the opponent team would get 60 runs immediately.

We will see over rates come into control immediately, like how free hits has reduced the number of no-balls.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Only eleven?

It does not appear that to anyone outside the Aussie team the strategy after tea was remotely sane. Why was something that was so obvious to one and all, missed by Ponting and his team? I wonder if they were busy planning the next book. I would have loved to listen in on Dhoni's and Bhajji's conversation in the middle when they saw White, Hussey and Clarke bowl instead of Johnson/Watson/Lee.

And what was White doing with the ball - peeling off something from it? If Bhajji had been doing the same... what would the reaction be?

PS: the number of books promoted by aussies this series almost exceeds the number of felicitations. Knowing how "felicitation friendly" India is, that is a not an easy task.

Monday, November 3, 2008

random thoughts

It will be odd to see a test match without Ganguly or Kumble. Kumble had one of the better voices in the cricketing world :) As there are already proposals of him being a spin coach, I think he should give match refereeing a shot as well.

But as I watched the lap of honour around the stadium - I was well and truly stunned when Dhoni lifted him on his shoulders. Prior to that when Dravid and Zaheer lifted him, I was impressed but atleast there were two people. Now Kumble is no Sivaramakrishan and they were not stationary either... Could anyone else have carried him singlehandedly from the team?

What is the secret of Dhoni's strength (not energy -- mind it!)

Saina Nehwal wins junior title

Seriously, she is young enough to compete in the junior scene! After her excellent performance in the Olympics and other recent tournaments, it is indeed not a surprise to see her excel at this level. Congrats, Saina!.

By a solitary point

Lewis Hamilton is the new and youngest F1 champion edging out Massa by finishing fifth in the Brazilian grand just ahead of Glock in the very last lap of a rainy race. How disappointing for Massa. But it is always exciting to see the championship go to the wire - the last lap of the last race.

Force India did not score any point this season but finished ahead of Super Aguri. It has been a tough year for Mallya on all fronts.

I wonder what the future holds for Raikkonen at the Ferrari as he finished nearly 20 points behind Massa and Hamilton.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Daily Court

Just like we have a pre-game and post-game show, it is time to have a daily court session to handle disciplinary incidents between the two teams.

I am sorry Gambhir and Zaheer - I cannot condone your behaviour. Much of the time, I watch the matches with my young nephew and his friends, and what Watson said could not be heard or copied by them, but they very much see your actions. Being provoked does not make this right - it is upto you to have handled this better. If it was accidental, an immediate apology would have been better.

Just because the Aussies use abusive and offensive language, there is no need for you to do the same. Atleast use your mother tongue - that is bound to annoy more than an English swear word. Imagine, Watson says something to you, you turn to the batsmen at the other end, and simply but loudly say something generic, not targeted at anyone, something meaningless -"tamatar phenkege to kitni dor jayegi", or "Gadha acha jaanwar hai", "dimag ke andar kuch nahi hai" and laugh. (I am sure more pertinent lines can this be used that can allow you some relief) This is bound to be more infuriating and definitely smarter and nothing to offend even if it is translated.

To the Australian team, you are the inventors of this entire sledging business - and playing hard but fair is the most hypocritical statement. You say that you don't cross the line - but whose line it is - because you crossed my line of acceptable behaviour a long long time ago.

The ICC, please note that Watson getting a 10% fine and Gautam penalized for a match, simply indicates that you believe folks need to be clever at sledging and that verbal abuse is acceptable. This does nothing for the spirit of the game as they both offend in equal measure. Have a more balanced system for penalizing all offenders, as otherwise this will eventually blow into another Sydney test at some point.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anand a draw away from the world title

Anand is a draw away from winning the world title in chess. The next match is today.

Looking back, I wonder when I lost interest in chess and I think it has to do something with explaining chess like this report on Monday's match below.

"1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 c5 5. g3 cxd4 6. Nxd4 O-O 7. Bg2 d5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Qb3 Qa5 10. Bd2 Nc6 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. O-O Bxc3 13. bxc3 Ba6 14. Rfd1 Qc5 15. e4 Bc4 16. Qa4 Nb6 17. Qb4 Qh5 18. Re1 c5 19. Qa5 Rfc8 20. Be3 Be2 21. Bf4 e5 22. Be3 Bg4 23. Qa6 f6 24. a4 Qf7 25. Bf1 Be6 26. Rab1 c4 27. a5 Na4 28. Rb7 Qe8 29. Qd6 1-0"

"Kramnik adopted an aggressive posture in the Nimzo Indian defence from the Indian. The game went into the three knights defence"

Just the fact that you can have a three knight defence when you have only 2 knights stuns me.
And the fact that you have an upper case and lower case B to explain moves is alarming.
That you have N,Q,R etc. when you have a-h 1-8 on the board only

It is a brutal blow to the ego that I am unable to fathom this. I console myself with the fact that I am unwilling to take the time to understand what on earth they mean. A humble request to the chess fraternity to communicate moves and technique in a more understandable form.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Champions League in Chennai

The champions league is going to be held from Dec 3 - Dec 10 with several matches in Chennai including the final.

Now has anyone from the organzing comittee visited Chennai in the past week - are they hoping that the monsoon ends before December first week?

Why now?

Dear Gilly,
At the outset, let me say that Harbajjan, Zaheer, Sreesanth, Hayden, Symmonds etc. are not angels. Nor I am about to defend Sachin's character. But I have a few questions to ask of you in response to this.

Why now?

Gilly, if you so strongly believed that your teammate was wronged in a manner that could not be justified:
  • how easy would it have been to speak then?
  • how easy would it have been to step down 2 matches early in a show of solidarity for your mate.
  • how easy would it be to stand for the IPL auction, but then make a statement by turning down the offer, saying you wanted no part in an event that is primarily organized by a board and largely involving players that you believe hold the game to ransom.
  • how easy would it be not to allow anyone to hold the game to ransom (since you are in a free country, not being held at gun-point, not in slavery).

If you decided not to speak then, you should not have spoken out now - a sale of a book more important? Otherwise what are we to make of the timing? People in glass houses should not throw stones.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some IPL chitchat

While we were all busy watching the Aussie series, the Bangkok meet with franchisees has happened and here is the reported outcome.

Looks like there will be about $2 million additional salary cap to get the Pietersons and Flintoffs of the world. The trading rules have been setup as well (though I am confused by "This means that trading can be done for existing players with absolutely no budgetary limits." - can you buy an existing player from another team for over $7 million.) It is unclear on whether the icon players can be traded.

Another auction is setup for the new players on Feb 6th (more tamasha). And finally a performance clause has been added in - interestingly I wonder if the players will agree. You can have only 4 foreign players in the team while the squad contains 10. So at any point 6 of them will get penalized the 20%.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Interesting commentary

from behind the stumps (dhoni)... You get to hear what he is thinking at the moment... It is a lot of fun.

Wonder why I never heard him so much earlier or don't hear Haddin at all. Is Dhoni talking more now?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Where have all the crowds gone?

Where are the crowds in India for test matches? Mohali stadium despite the SRT record, is very empty. In Bangalore, the weekend crowd was good, but the rest of the time, it appeared to be empty as well. I think this does not bode well for test cricket. When I was in school, (I sound like my grandparents used to :) ) I remember the stadiums being crowded even during weekdays.

Even with my interest in sports, it is unlikely now that I will have 5 days off to watch an entire test match. If I did, I would have tons of other things to do. So most likely, if I could, I would go for only one day and most probably on a weekend. Also the ticket prices are not conducive to watching the entire match. Many times now, matches finish on the 4th day - so if you bought a ticket for the 5th day, and you don't get any cricket at all - don't you feel gypped? (btw, do you get your money refunded for rain or no play?)

It is not very easy to even watch the match on TV on all the days (though I have flexibility in work schedule). Mostly I catch glimpses and highlights during the week. Personally, I confess, I am now more likely to buy a ticket for an IPL match rather than a test match (for the simple reason that I don't have to take time off to watch it and because friends and relatives are likely to join in for an IPL match rather than a test match).

So are you able to watch a cricket test match on all 5 days?
Besides students old enough to go to the stadium by themselves and non-working folks (if they are able to afford the prices), who is the target market for test cricket? Is too much cricket to blame or the format? Can test cricket survive?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Double Standards

Just a few days earlier Vengsarkar had this to say about Ganguly's comments.

"I won't answer him now as this is not the right time because India are in the middle of a Test series and it might affect the focus of the team"

However, it does not stop him from criticizing Kumble, the captain, right in the middle of the same series. [PS: I think there should be ban in Indian media against the words lashes and lambasts - people are constantly lashing at one another - so much so that the word has lost its zing :)] Rightly or wrongly, Kumble has been selected as the captain of this series. If his shoulder injury is impacting his performance, the team management, physio, coach and senior players (we have plenty of them) should assess it and take a call purely on fitness at this point. Accusing him of not disclosing the injury or something to the effect is uncalled for. Would Vengsarkar ever say the same about Sachin? And what are the board guidelines to assess fitness of players?

On another note, has Sachin bowled much recently (SL series included) - even as a relief of a couple of overs to break a partnership? Why not?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Where to watch?

With the recent Tata sky switch and package changes, I currently don't have most of the sports channels (which makes it hard to blog about sports). I have not yet decided the package I want -- so that I don't get saddled with tons of other channels I don't wish to watch. And so I turned to trusted DD to watch the cricket match - alas it was not to be trusted. At least, as a reward for bearing the Olympic coverage , I should be able to see it there? What happened this time?

So which channel is it on? Who is in the commentary team?

But all is not lost - I am able to watch Colors though have caught this dance drama only once :) Does controversy follow Bhajji? Wouldn't discretion have been the better part of valour - given that he has had such a poor PR run this past year?

Oh well, I may just turn online for the match reports.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Coaches and Contracts

By now it is known that that Chappell and Frazer are assisting the Aussies in the upcoming series, first by helping secure variety of facilities at the RCA for which he is the head coach, and then by providing tips about the Indian players. Frankly, I don't think the second issue will matter. Most players if astute, should know enough about each other (including the strengths and weaknesses) from the IPL days and having played each other so often. And maybe he will bring the same luck and success to the Aussie team that he had when he was the coach of India :)

However, I find a couple of issues baffling. Can you imagine a consultant at a subsidiary of Pepsi, taking up an assignment at Coca Cola to help develop a counter-strategy against Pepsi? His prior stint as the India's coach notwithstanding, as currently the head coach at RCA there does seem to be some direct conflict of interest. He is also the head coach of the Brisbane Cricket Academy and now the assistant coach for Australia. Shouldn't the BCCI ensure that contract of coaches, anticipates and deals with such issues before they become a problem?

Second is the issue of head coaches switching to other countries after their tenure. Again, while I cannot imagine Bill Gates working at Apple, I don't see how coaches can be prevented from taking up other assignments once a tenure is complete. But maybe a clause in their contract would atleast stop them from publishing a book after their tenure.

And lastly, Chappell's comment on Yuvi "I made him the player he is now". Considering Yuvraj's current test status and form against spin bowling, what is he taking credit for? If Yuvraj had learnt something from him, would it simply be "un-learnt" when a coach quits?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hello There

It has been a month since my last post. What a busy, crazy month it has been from a work standpoint. If I was Dhoni, I would have taken a break from work (yes, it still rankles that he decided to skip a test series...)!

So what has happened in the past month in the sporting world.

Saina Nehwal won a second grand prix - congrats to her again.

Vijender was on the ramp somewhere.

Bindra has not been seen much in the ad world, I wonder why?

Federer won the US open through the only way it seemed possible this year - someone else beating Nadal.

Dhoni is supposed to have joined college: Not sure if he has attended any classes. Will all the guards also sit in the class from him to protect him from overzealous female classmates - has he given a new problem to his security staff :) Since he is already seems street savvy, does he need this? And how is he going to attend any classes at all (even a few) or study or give exams in his hectic schedule? However it may inspire some people to continue their education, so may be worthwhile nevertheless.

Saurav: Has been dropped from the rest of India team, but he refuses to retire. If there was a prize for determination/never-say-die attitude, I am sure he will win.

SRT: Is he fit or is he not fit? Does he know the answer, do the selectors know? What are they going to do to find out if he is match fit before re-inducting him...? Nothing?

Saw a short ad somewhere that Harbhajan, Sreesanth, Kambli, Pathan, Dinesh Karthik, and Nikhil Chopra are supposed to be a reality dance show starting soon. Now I am thinking of subscribing to that channel just to watch this. I think though this will provide some fodder for sledging by opponents :)

Hopefully, I will be able to start catching up on blogs again and posting more regularly now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Congrats to Saina

As the sports minister met Saina Nehwal to congratulate her, he asked who Gopichand was? Correct me if I am wrong, but if you watched Saina's matches, you would have seen Gopichand as the coach. And as a sports minister, you may try to recollect that he has won a prestigious Badminton tournament less than 10 years ago, and is also the recipient of the nation's highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Given that we produce only one badminton great every decade, it should be easy to remember them?

PS: do you think Gill congratulated her for Bindra's gold or for her performance? just checking...


If you were a mostly ignorant sports fan like me, you would have searched for the meaning of this fancy sounding French word, right after Sushil Kumar's bronze medal. How can someone who lost in the first round get a medal --- Repechage provides a way. It means (re-fishing) or to be rescued. So a bronze medal was rescued for India :) However, this does not take away anything from Sushil Kumar who absolutely deserves this for coming through from nowhere with very poor training facilities. I wish we could have invoked repechage for tennis (mahesh-paes) for a bronze for them?

Then of course you have boxing where two bronze medals are allotted to the losing semifinalists (I am not complaining). Just checking to see if we can extend this to other sports. The reasoning behind this is that the losing semi-finalist could be sufficiently injured by a better opponent to prevent him from sparring again soon afterwards.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I congratulate...

Ever since hearing the sports minister's "congratulating all including himself" comment, I have been trying to find a reason to congratulate myself for playing any direct part in the success of our athletes. But can I be congratulated for

  • Finding out about our Olympic athletes once every 4 years and forgetting about them immediately afterwards?
  • Not having seen any national championships even on television
  • Having only seen tennis and cricket in the stadium
  • No idea about the academies available for the sportspeople
  • Being more aware of the NBA players, the Bolts of the world, Victoria Beckham, and Jolie's children than our athletes?
  • Not being aware of the actual issues faced by them and even if aware, not doing anything about fixing the problems.

But wait, I can be congratulated for Vijender Kumar's victory. Since the other 2 boxers lost, I made sure I went back to the same lucky location to watch his bout and it worked :) My family has already poked holes in this theory, so all I will tell Mr. Gill, is I am not worthy of congrats for doing nothing.

That brings me to You (the fellow Indian readers of this blog): If you have played a part, do post it in the comments and accept my congrats :)

Lastly it brings me to the sports minister and other officials. I am sure they must have played some part, though it is not clear what policy they have modified to make this turn around or their plan ahead. And if they are so willing to share the glory of the athletes, I am sure they must be equally willing to share the blame and take the main responsibility for say, the less than stellar performance of the track and field athletes or for sending a small contingent? Ah, but the blue moon will be more likely.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vijender Kumar reaches medal round

Indian athletes on a roll! Vijender is assured of a bronze atleast.

With Saina and a couple of other boxers doing quite well as well, do you think we have turned the corner in Olympics?

Bronze medal for Indian Wrestler

We have a multiple medal olympics!

Sushil Kumar is the medalist.

Watch out for the boxers later on today.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympics: Tidbits

I was impressed with the Olypmics opening ceremony, but as various facts emerge, it does bring down the wow factor.

Did you know the little girl who sang the song, was not the voice behind it? It looks like the girl who sang it was not "the image" they wanted to project. I think both the kids were cute, but why should a child be made to lip sync for someone else?

Some of the fireworks in the sky (like footprints) were computer graphics. They were set up earlier and then captured to avoid risk from filming from an helicopter , which is fine I think, as the mere explanation of what they did seems so complicated.

I also read an article about soldiers who were manning the scroll having to wear diapers as there were underground below the scroll for several hours. For all this innovation, I am disappointed that they couldn't they have organized something else :)

And you might have heard that they are bringing in volunteers for the empty stands in many stadiums, though the claim is that the events are sold out.

Also the gymnasts may be under the age of 16 which is a requirement for Olympic gymnasts. The age is different for different sports.

I also find the bug catcher in some arenas and lifeguards in the pool really amusing. If I had an issue in the pool with all these swimmers and divers around, wouldn't the lifeguard be redundant :)

On another note, don't forget to watch Natalie du Toit on the 20th in 10Km Swimming. It would be great if she gets a medal, but regardless is an inspiration.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Boxing questions

Contrary to my own expectations, I have been watching boxing. Whether it was Dinesh Kumar and Lakra bowing out or Akhil Kumar beating the world champion yesterday, I have been watching the bouts. However it still very much a passing curiosity, more to support the Indian squad (how about 2 medals?) rather than actually liking the event.

But as I watch the bout, I am left wondering at what time in your life do you decide that you like being punched and take up boxing? Wouldn't your natural instincts make you run, kick, shout, throw chilli powder instead of sparring?

Again, I was surprised when someone actually threw in the towel. I just thought it was an phrase that was relevant in an archaic context. Since someone else from the boxer's corner is throwing in the towel, can the boxer "un-throw" the towel if he wants to continue. Or if he wants to end the fight and his team is not letting him, does he have to find a towel to throw it in? Isn't throwing in the towel, an un-spirited option in any event?

Why do they wear only blue or red?
How many judges are there? And how are points scored? I know which jabs count, but is there a majority scoring system?
Is running around the ring a valid strategy?

Oh well, there are two bouts today. Good luck to Jitender and Vijender Kumar and for Akhil Kumar on the 18th.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The "official" squad

Thanks to a comment in an earlier post, I came across this link. When you get past the shock of an Indian being fielded in diving, you start wondering who this mystery athlete is. So on further investigation, I find this information (select India in the country drop down). This appears to list the nearly 100 squad of India, of which only 56 are athletes.

What are these folks doing in Beijing? Please enlighten me if there is a valid reason they should be there...

Why are we sending a diving official?
Why are we sending someone for soccer?
Why are we sending someone for hockey when we have not qualified?
Is Prya Ranjan DAS MUNSI the same person as the politician?
Why is the tennis squad so large as compared to other sports?

Can I apply for any of the posts? I too would have loved a trip to Beijing, and if I can get all of the tax-payers to help foot my bill, I am ready to go as an official for gymnastics, fencing (anything at all).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two medal prospects out

Mangal Singh Champia and Saina Nehwal are both out of the Beijing Olympics. Saina had the match under her control in the third game/set and let it slip away. Champia also lost by one point in the round of 16!

So an additional medal chance rests with boxing, tennis and a couple of shooting events. However in our flawed reward policy, I hope India can find a way to honour all these athletes, they all did well and I have a feeling that India may have just turned the corner.

DD Bloopers for today:

Commentary from Saina's match: (loosely translated).

Excellent shot, but out. -
Saina/Sania confusion -
With this excellent shot, India has won.... a point. :)

Yours truly checked out Champia's schedule and decided to watch it. In fact, DD themselves mentioned that he was on at 9.45am. So what do you expect when you turn on the TV at 9.45am, highlights from yesterday. You check the web and find he has cleared the round of 32 and the round of 16 is on. At 10.00am you check again, and they talk non-stop about Phelps and give updates after updates (more on that). Check the web and find Champia has lost by a solitary point and no live coverage.

Maruti Suzuki Updates:
A summary, with the results just been given to us but it is followed by 4 consecutive updates one follwoed by another. Each update is preceded and followed by "Maruti Suzuki" with no clips - only talking :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lost in Sri Lanka

- 2 test matches
- a series
- RSVS batting reputations (the legends)
- reputation as best players of spin
- reputation as good spin attack
- the confidence boost from the Aussie series
- SRTs record quest (temporarily misplaced)
- any slim chance of reentry into the ODI team for RD & SG
- any chance for Dinesh and Parthiv to challenge for Dhoni's spot
- Ishant to injury

- Gautam and Sehwag's opening combination which looked excellent compared to rest of the batting (though in reality it was probably not as good as it could have been).
- Dhoni (by all the above)

Mittal helps create history

Interestingly Abhinav Bindra, Saina Naiwal, Mangal Singh Champia are all supported in part by Lakshmi Mittal's trust. So while India goes into an overdrive over the gold medalist, it is important to note that many of those doing well for India have had some much needed additional support. Tata does many things as well (like the academies for archery, the tata-padukone academy etc.)

But where are you, the Ambanis?
where are you Mallya?
where are you DLF?
where are you Sahara?

All of you who played an active role in cricket and IPL, which is very lucrative for you. But why do you not consider supporting other sports? It might just make a difference.

Preeti asks the same question in a comment on a earlier post.

2008 Olympics: Gold For Indian Shooter - Abhinav Bindra

Just saw it on DD! It was fantastic final round of shooting, with it being tied after 9 rounds! Wonderful shooting by Abhinav Bindra today. Who knew shooting could be so exciting to watch :)

Abhinav shot the best in the final rounds today, but his qualification rounds from yesterday had placed him in 4th (I think?), so he had to climb up in the rankings. Here is my earlier shooting profile if you want to read more about him, though now the web will be full of information about him! It is the first ever gold medal for India in an individual event.

BTW, all other shooters and archers who did not get a medal so far in this Olympics, also did very well, missing it by a couple of points here and there. So lets give them all credit.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympics Indian Contingent Miscellany

Here is a detailed recap of Indian athletes on day 1. Archer Champia did well (got seeded/ranked 2). The women archers did not get ranked well, however, it is now an elimination round - so anything is possible. A boxer (Vijender Kumar), the rower(Bajrang Thaker), and the badminton player (Saina Nehwal) qualified for the next rounds. A couple of shooting prospects (Manavjit and Mansher) remain in contention but it will be an uphill task.

Here is the official website, to see the upcoming events and the results thus far. It is actually quite good, and even during the event you can see intermediate results etc. IOA please take note.

And a note on the coverage on DD sports - the art of segue is lost on them. DD seemed clueless on how to transition between events. For example, during the last 3 Kms of a cycling event (which would have taken 5 mins or so to decide the gold), they decided to switch events - first to an interview with Kalmadi! They came back and announced the gold medalist, thereby depriving us of the suspense, but not letting us know who won the silver & bronze, so results were incomplete. Then DD took us to some qualifying event after another. Maybe they showed it again, I don't know - but by then I lost interest, I actually checked the results on the web.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The opening ceremony

Accolades are being lavished on the opening ceremony - I too found it creative, culturally interesting, spectacular and befitting of the event. It reminded me of one difference I found between IPL closing ceremony and this one. The former had an overdose of bollywood and the remaining were imported performances while the latter kept it essentially Chinese. The lighting of the torch (a la Akshay Kumar) was brilliant. I however kept worrying that the flame would be put out by the wind when the athlete was 'flying' (will they have a re-ignite switch in case it went out (just checking...)? I have also always wondered what happens if it rains during the next twenty odd days - how is the flame kept going?

However I have one major grouse - at nearly 4 hours, it was too long. I wanted to see team India, Federer, Nadal, Phelps, Bolt, Powell, Messi, Ronaldinho, etc. and did not catch many them. First it was not alphabetically presented - so you had no idea who was coming next (how was the order determined?). Second, I had dinner and came back, athletes were walking. I went out and came back, athletes were still strolling... So for the 2012 London games, please expend some of your creative energy in introducing the athletes/teams and reduce the time taken . Maybe have them be seated and introduce them by asking only that country to rise with the flag bearers strolling around the stadium?

Let the games begin!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Of crows, bears and kites

Here is a great video of a bear interrupting play at a golf tournament. Maybe it wanted a beardie. The spectators look mighty calm, don't they?

So seeing this video, I was reminded of Arun Lal's commentary during the last test match. I am fascinated by places, wonder about the impact of the tsunami on galle, put away information about whale watching and turtle farming for future reference. But when he spoke about a slow moving kite and followed it up with usefulness of the crow, it was a bit too much - don't you think?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

India Olympics: Boxing

I never thought I would do this post! My interest in boxing is zilch. Besides being aware of "The Greatest" and figuring out if Mike Tyson has bitten any more ears, I don't follow it at all. Come to think of it, maybe a Tyson - Harbajjan contest will be good.. - (bite or slap)?

But here the the pugilists for India at the 2008 Olympics, who could come up with a medal or two (they came very close in the last Olympics). Interestingly 4 out of the five some from Bhiwani, a backwater district of Haryana.

  • Jitender Kumar: Flyweight :This 20 year old is a bronze medalist at the Commonwealth games. And there is another Jitender Kumar, so I have no idea if I am reading the article about the right person.
  • Akhil Kumar: Bantamweight: Supported by the Mittal trust, Akhil hails from Bhiwani and was named the best boxer in Asian Olympic Qualifiers in 2008. Considered one of India's good chances of a medal, this gold medalist in the commonwealth games, is a 27 year old boxer who lost in the first round at 2004 Oympics. Expecting a better showing from this athlete.
  • Anthresh Lalit Lakra: Featherweight: He qualified for the Olympics when he reached the quaterfinals of the world championships last year. Have not been able to find his personal profile as yet.
  • Vijender: Middleweight:Vijender is a 23 year old boxer from Bhiwani again. A former Olympian (2004) who lost early, he has a bronze in the Asian games and is a silver medalist in the Commonwealth games
For the other Indian Olympians, I am sorry, but I don't have more time to write your profiles.

Here is a wikipedia link, if anyone out there wants to know more about the contingent.

Also here is the official IOC YouTube link.

India Olympics: the racket sports

Did you see Deepika and Prakash Padukone play in a recent match? They seemed to glide across the court. Well I have recently resumed badminton for fun. And I don't seem to glide at all - far from it... ( the court seems so small, but when you play it is exhausting!) But anyway it is good to watch Badminton when the players are good :-) Here are the duo of badminton olympians from India.

Anup Sridhar: Anup is a 25 year old player from Bangalore with a career best rank of 24. Anup has his website, and trains at Tata Padukone academy. And he blogs as well. He has beaten the world number one and gold medalist at previous Olympics, so don't rule out a surprise showing.

Saina Nehwal: At 18, she is one of the bright starts of the future, and comes from a family where both parents are state champions. A Mittal trust athlete, she has recently broken into the top 20 in world rankings. She is also the brand ambassador for the Save the Girl Child campaign, - thats the way it should be!

My tennis stints, once every 5 years or so, are worse than badminton - It seems a futile attempt with me spending more time picking up the balls rather than playing. Anyways, our tennis stars need no introduction, so will just link to their wiki pages. While you are watching the "must see" Nadal - Federer match, don't forget to root for your bronze medalist, and grand slam doubles champions. Surprises are possible!

Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes: Doubles
Sania Mirza and Sunita Rao: Doubles
Sania Mirza: Singles

Table Tennis:
Love this fast paced game - and you guessed right - below average in this as well. India is going to be represented by these two stars.

Achanta Sharath Kamal: Singles - 26 year old from Tamil Nadu is an Arjuna award winner and a commonwealth gold medalist. He resides in Chennai and for the info of fellow chennaites, he is an alumni of PSBB and Loyola. And an A.R. Rehman fan who plays the guitar, his target is 2012 Olympics. Currently ranked 79, it may be tough to expect a medal, but you never know.

Neha Agarwal: Neha is a Delhi girl, is a newcomer, who’s surprised one and all with her unexpected qualification according to this report. Barely 18, from DPS, she probably hopes to win a match or two. Another bright star for the future perhaps?

BTW, if you find any press article in the next day or so with the player profiles, let me know - as I am running out of patience, and would just love to read and link it:-)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Knowing your Indian Olympians

Continuing the names and faces posts: (without the faces - it is taking too long - so skipping them for now)

The Shooting Stars:

  • Abhinav Bindra (10 m Air Rifle Men): At 25, already a 2 time Olympian, an arjuna award winner, a Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award winner. He broke the Olympic record in 2004 but failed to win a medal but has won several medals in other meets. He is an MBA, has won tons of medals - and is going to blog during the olympics. He is supported by the Mittal trust.
  • Gagan Narang (10 m Air Rifle Men): Supported by the Olympic Gold Quest foundation of Geet Seethi and Prakash Padukone, Gagan is a 25 year old based in Hyderabad who has won several medals in the past. He has been the world number one as well and is a computer science graduate and an arjuna award winner.
  • Samaresh Jung (10 m Air Pistol Men): A son of an army colonel, Jung is a 38 year old Arjuna award winner, winner of 5 golds at the commonwealth games. His wife is a shooter as well. He missed on a record tying 6 medals in one event...
  • Manavjit Singh Sandhu (Trap Men): Last year's Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award winner, the nation's highest sports award, Sandhu is also a shooter supported by the Mittal trust. Hailing from Punjab, the 32 year old shooter is someone whose exceptional performance was the reason that Dravid did not get the Khel Ratna award. While his current form has not been the best, hopefully he can recover the form just in time for Beijing.
  • Mansher Singh (Trap Men): Heading to his 4th Olympics, he competes in the same category as Sandhu. He is an arjuna award winner, and despite this being his 4th trip, he does not have a profile on wiki and I cannot find more about him :-)
  • Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Double Trap Men): Yes we know, our only Olympic medal from 2004 athens, awarded the Khel Ratna award for 2004-2005, this Lt. Colonel in the army has other awards as well (he was a major when he won the silver wasn't he?). He is also a recipient of the Padma Shri and the Ati Vishisht seva medal. He will be the flag bearer for India at the Olympics.
  • Anjali Bhagwat (50 m Rifle 3 Positions Women): Anjali, one of the 2 women representing Indian in shooting, is another Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award winner (2002). Shooting seems to be dominating the Khel Ratna awards! This mumbai shooter who went to the Sydney Olympics as well has her own official website. She is supported by the Mittal trust as well.
  • Avneet Kaur Sidhu (10 m Air Rifle Women): A medalist at the commonwealth games and asian games, she hails from Bathinda in Punjab. An article about this athlete is here. She seems to have taken shooting as a hobby initially.

With some of the shooting squad being supported by trusts, with Rathore paving the way in Athens, with the shooters out numbering the cricketers in the national sporting honour, shooting looks like a promising chance of a medal or two. Just aim and shoot - (Kodak/Konica sponsors?)

Names and Faces of Indian Olympic contingent

It turns out there aren't too many sites with profiles of Indian athletes - so much so that my blog is in the first page of google results today for the phrase "indian olympic contingent" - yikes - we are in deeper trouble than I realized if I am the source of information :-)

FYI, thanks to a comment (courtesy preeti) in my previous post, check out Mittal Champions trust for some more details on their athletes.

So I am going to try to make time to put some names, pictures for some categories- essentially doing the work of the IOA, Sports Authority of India, the Khel Ratna nominations committee, etc.


Dola Banerjee: Women's Team Recurve

Photo courtesy:

Born Jun 2nd, 1980, hails from West Bengal, and is an Arjuna award winner. She is the gold medalist in the women's individual recurve competition at the archery world cup held at Dubai, in November 2007. More info in the wiki. According to this indian express story, an international standard bow with 12 arrows costs Rs. 8 lakhs atleast! She thanks the Tatas as well.

Pranitha Vardhineni: Women's Team Recurve

Photo courtesy:

An 18 year old from Andra Pradesh, from a remote area called Parvathagiri mandal Her parents are agriculturists. A silver medalist in the Mexico World Cup. More info on her.

Bombayala Devi: Women's Individual and Team Recurve

She hails from Manipur and has several bronze medals and gold medals to her name and has been most consistent. A Mittal Champions Trust Athlete

Mangal Singh Champia:
Men's Individual Recurve

Photo courtesy:
Born: 9 nov 1983

Bronze medalist in the team competition at the 2006 Asian Games, Champia hails from Ichacuti village in Singhbhum district of Jharkhand (Dhoni - highlight him?). A Mittal Champions Trust Athlete. and a gold medalist at the 2008 world cup

Looking for some Brahmastras from you (the archery team from small town & rural India) leading to some medals!

Info courtesy: Wikipedia.
If you interested in the windy conditions in Beijing and how it may impact the archers.
What is Recurve?

If I have got anything wrong about the athletes - let me know.

By the time I finished this post, I realized that I am not going to be able to find time to do this for all the categories, unless I take a break like Dhoni!

Tired - check.
Working without a significant break (small vacations and national holidays don't count) - check.
Important project coming up (alias test series) - check

What do you think? I don't really dare though since it would most likely be a permanent break in that case..

Saturday, August 2, 2008


As I watched the third's day play, a couple of thoughts crossed my mind on the referral. One is the neutrality of the third umpire (nothing against this specific umpire). In test cricket, the on-field umpires are from neutral countries. But with the new referral system, the third umpire plays a more important role, as the most crucial and close decisions are likely to be referred. So it calls for one of two solutions, all the umpires be neutral or remove the restriction all together? Otherwise the neutrality serves no purpose.

Second is the amount of time taken to request a referral. In tennis for example, they ask for a call to be checked almost immediately. However Jayawardene today took a lot of time asking for referrals, even talking to the umpire (the one against Dravid comes to mind).

I think the umpire should not be consulted (the captain can judge his odds of getting a verdict in his favor based on the umpire's response). Also, shouldn't the captain make the request within 10-15 seconds? After all he just needs a aye or nay from the close-in fielders, not a group discussion.

What are your thoughts on referrals so far?

Friday, August 1, 2008


Some days you exasperate us, some days you exhilarate us and this knock belonged to latter category. What a special innings and you were the one that saved the team from another 130 all out score. However, I do notice one problem that only four of you have played in the series so far (yourself, Gautam, VVS and Ishant). And 4 versus 11 will lose more often than not, despite this knock. So can you talk to your buddies and see if you can muster any additional support, one more bowler and batsman atleast?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Indian Olympic Contingent Leaves For Beijing

The Olympics are ten days away and the 57 member Indian contingent is setting off. I am not sure of Kalmadi's take on this. On one hand he says don't expect a miracle, and on the other he says boxers, archers, shooters and tennis stars are possibilities for medals. Seems like he rectified a PR blunder :-)

So to get familiar with the contingent, I decided to search for the Indian Olympic Association site to read about the athletes, their profiles, personal bests, expectations etc. In an era, where without searching, I manage to come across news items like this (do I hear a collective groan?), I could not find the official web site - I found one link which gives an error.... Of course my mistake was that I assumed that the Indian Olympic Committee will be professional.

A well managed website ahead of the Olympics, would surely help in the future in terms of sponsors, viewership etc. since the Olympics is the only time to gather support for non-cricket sports in India? If you located a website, please post in the comments.

Anyway I digress - here is the contingent courtesy of the good old newspaper.

Archery: Dola Banerjee, Pranitha Vardhineni, Bombayala Devi, Mangal Singh Champia.
Athletics: Anju Bobby George, Krishna Poonia, Harwant Kaur, Preeja Sreedharan, Manjeet Kaur, Chitra K. Soman, Sini Jose. M.R. Poovamma, Mandeep Kaur, J.J. Shoba, Susmita Singha Roy, G.G. Pramila, Vikas Gowda, Renjith Maheswary, Surendra Singh, K. Mridula, S. Geetha.
: Anup Sridhar, Saina Nehwal.
: Jitender, Akhil Kumar, A.L. Lakra, Vijender, Dinesh Kumar.
Judo: Khumujam Tombi Devi, Divya.
: Bajrang Lal Thakar, Devender Kumar Khandwal, Manjeet Singh.
: Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Mansher Singh, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Gagan Narang, Abhinav Bindra, Samaresh Jung, Sanjeev Rajput, Anjali Bhagwat, Avneet Kaur Sidhu.
Swimming: Virdhawal Khade, Ankur Poseria, Sandeep Sejwal, Rehan Poncha.
Table tennis:
Sharath Kamal, Neha Agarwal.
Tennis: Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza, Sunitha Rao.
Wrestling: Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Rajeev Tomar.
Weightlifting: L. Monika Devi. Yachting: N.S. Johal.

To the athletes above, well done to make it this far (against many odds), and know that atleast one cricket loving fan will be following you.

Now if archery, shooting and boxing are our best chances of a medal, I best come out of my comfort zone and get familiar with skeet, rifle category, trap and double trap, recurve etc. I am so impressed that I know these terms, will figure out what they actually mean in competition when I watch them.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


What an "un-spirited" response by team India in the first test! Demolished by Murali and Mendis. I for one, thought the four legends would put up a better fight against Sri Lanka in the second innings. They did not even last 50 overs :-(

The reckless shots of many players can be questioned, and when it is compounded by poor bowling, fielding and clueless batting, it is hard to find any bright spots from this match. I watched the match live on TV only on Sat, and saw more than twelve wickets in a span of few hours.

I am most concerned about Dravid. I don't hold him responsible for this loss, but I hate to see "The Wall" become a straw wall - you huff and puff and it is blown away. Ever since he stepped down from captaincy he has struggled with his form and his confidence. Both seems to be pulling down each other further (without form he cannot get back his confidence and vice versa ---chicken and egg ?). He looks ill-at-ease on the crease and for someone who has held down the fort at one end consistently for so many years, it is sad to see him struggle. Even when he made runs, he did not have the old confidence.

So what can he do to get himself out of the slump? In the past, has he struggled over a long stretch? Is it "in the mind"? He needs to rectify this fast or he may be first one of the four to be sidelined from tests as well. And as a fan of Dravid, I want him to get back to days of glory (possible?), and then retire from tests in style (when he decides), and not by being dropped.

(PS: I am not calling for him to retire or be dropped - only for him to find a remedy for his form asap).

Tendulkar played with an ICL player

I guessed that we could find a connection for Tendulkar at Lashings with someone at ICL, but I was thinking of less obvious links. I wonder what the BCCI is going to do? This is recent. Can you have one set of rules for Laxman and Chawla and another for Tendulkar? Can ICL, ECB use this for some negotiation at all - or will this be ignored?

Friday, July 25, 2008

F1 Miscellany

Last weekend's F1 race saw Hamilton pull ahead of Raikkonen and Massa in the Championship race. Since I want Raikkonen to win again, I hope that Ferrari ensures that in team strategy Raikkonen gets preference over Massa. The way Hamilton overtook Massa, I think the championship will be decided between Hamilton and Raikkonen. Besides the 2 of them, I believe only Alonso is in the same calibre and unfortunately his car is not upto the mark.

Force India has decided to focus on next year. I found it hard to root for the Indian team - not sure if it is nature of F1 or my negativity with regard to Mallya's handling of RCB issues. I only briefly checked on how they were doing in each race. Their best chance was at Monaco with Sutil in 4th place when we was hit by Kimi. It did draw some sympathy/support from me. What do you think of their prospects in the coming years and will they be able to garner Indian support and loyalty?

Mallya says India on track for Indian GP in 2010. What do you think? Isn't there a lot to be done? They are only getting a sanction for the track right now. Not sure how many years earlier Singapore started its preparation, but it will be exciting if India is able to host a GP. Is there a sufficient market in India for F1?

Speaking of Singapore, how do they manage to come up with such novelites? An anti-clockwise circuit (only the 2nd one?) , the first night race in F1 and a street circuit like Monaco. I cannot wait to see the nuances of the circuit or what interesting issues drivers may face...

On another Indian front, Karun Chandhok won the GP2 in Germany last week. I have not watched him. How good is he? Do you fancy his chances in F1?

BTW, did you know that Hamilton karted in Mumbai. Let me know if someone comes to Chennai...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Glory - Misfortune - Luck

On yesterday's Tour de France, a rider experienced all these three in a matter of minutes.

Glory: The youngest rider in this year's tour named Augustyn, climbed one of the highest category mountains in first place. The commentators were extolling his skill.

Misfortune: On the descent of this very steep mountain while in the leading group, he fell off the road. Unlucky you say, commentator's jinx...?
Here's a video link.
(another link of the same one)

Luck: Why? Because while the bike fell down even further, he managed to stop after 10-15 meters? And was not seriously injured... and then finished the race.

Brave: The spectator who ventured down to help him up!

I thought Oscar Periro's crash last week was frightening, but this was more stunning. (Oscar, though had several fractures, but was lucky as well)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Am I allowed to watch cricket?

I saw Kapil Dev in Chepauk, now he is in the ICL - please, can I continue to watch Indian cricket?


On second thoughts are all the current Indian team members allowed to play? They played for counties which now has ICL players? Sachin played for Lashings recently - can we find an ICL connection...?

Isn't this ridiculous?

Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj's mother Shabnam on the right girl for her son:
"I don't want someone who throws tantrums or is very high-flying for him... She should know the basics of cooking, especially Indian vegetarian food. Considering he travels so often, she should also be able to pack well and take care of his clothes. Whoever Yuvi ends up marrying would have to be his choice. But, of course, I would need to approve of her."

If someone is still interested, my only advice is to consider a stint in a company like Agarwal Packers and Movers (or an apprenticeship at the local dhobiwala who handles clothes beautifully) and get some expert tips from Nita Mehta or Tarla Dalal :-)

Wouldn't a cliched "a good human being and a wishing them to be happy sentiment" sufficed as an answer?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Doping in sports

I cannot figure out the psyche behind the athletes who dope. The two most recent positive testers are Riccado Ricco in Tour de France and Mohammed Asif in cricket. Ricco was unknown to me before the tour started, but since then, as I saw him win a couple of spectacular stages, I was impressed. If I am not mistaken, the Tour tests the stage winners, the jersey holders besides random tests and anyone whose performance gives rise to suspicion.

That leads to the following questions.

Do the riders believe they won't be caught despite the fact that the tour is one of the better tested events now?
Do the riders want the 2 minutes of fame though it is actually notoriety they ulimately get?
Are they trying to outsmart the system, but ocassionally get caught?
How did Ricco not get caught in prior 2 wins in Giro d'Italia?

I do think that the tour is trying to do their best now, but it seems to be falling short. What else can the tour do to clean up the sport?

The second part is Asif - besides his own responsiblity and PCB's mis-handling, I find that I hold the IPL and the Daredevils team responsible as well. When prior offenders like Akthar, Asif and even Warne are picked up at a premium, the franchises and the IPL are doing it out of one of two motives.

-They believe they have reformed or were innocent in the first place.
-They are willing to turn a blind eye and take the risk of their getting caught.

If we assume they take the first case, have they done anything to verify that the first scenario is true - have they asked them to take dope tests prior to joining the team? Have they sent them a message saying it won't be acceptable? Have they said they they will conduct independent tests and their contract is dependent on that? I doubt that, and therefore I believe they are willing to look the other way.

In case of the second option, I think that the IPL and other franchises, should insist that a team with a repeat offender (whether they are caught in the IPL or not), should not be allowed to replace the player for the duration of the players contract if a player is banned. As of now they can take the risk of hiring a doper with no consequences. Perhaps if the team was banned for the participation in the next year's IPL, it would be enough of a detterent for the teams to more actively discourage doping.

This leads to the issue of the boards, ICC etc. Do they give any guidance to the young players? (who have learnt a lot from Asif, Aktar etc - as per the IPL interviews). You wonder what they may learn directly or indirectly. Have they been told what to do if exposed to drugs or to bookies? If not there is no point is blaming them down the road.

Lastly, sports should be all about "the spirit". I still remember reading about Luz Long's wonderful gesture towards Jesse Owens with Hitler watching and I doubt that if I had been in the same position I would have made the same choice . In cricket with the Wicketkeepers Walkers Club (co-founders Gilly and Sanga), the spirit still flourishes. Dopers and match-fixers be removed from the game as early as possible - or eventually sports will lose to the Ekta Kapoor bandwagon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Waiting in the wings?

Badri, Mishra and Dhawan shine for India in the emerging players tournament (not sure if Badrinath, Raina and Tiwari qualify as emerging...) Anyway, I think team India in Sri Lanka will be on alert as there are more people waiting for opportunities.

Guarding Dhoni

My tax rupees is going towards training policewomen to fend off Dhoni's overzealous admirers! Now, I have nothing against comprehensive security for Dhoni as he probably faces a variety of security issues not of his making (and hopefully more important ones than these). If not I suggest that he foot the bill. The upside for the media is that they are having a field day with headlines.

Thatcher is well

I received a free Deccan Chronicle newspaper today. Not one to pass on freebies, I read through the newspaper. On the front page was a headline on a state funeral for Thatcher. Now my father, who reads every line of the newspaper and keeps abreast of the latest news on all news channels was a little bit surprised and asked me in a quiet voice - "did Thatcher die"? I also felt ashamed on missing the news, but I cautiously said, I have read online about a state funeral, but did not catch the news of her death. So as he read through the fine print he points out to me that she is hale and hearty now and the plans are for when she dies... Seriously is this a British thing? What other funerals are they planning for? What was Lady Thatcher's reaction - does she feel honored or concerned?

More links
Already debating it...

sorry the post is not sports related but how can I bypass this...

Also in the same paper (in a section called "Chennai Chronicle") there was an report on Rooneys canceling a bash. Why oh why, should Rooney's non-soccer plans feature in an Indian newspaper?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Natalie du Toit - Inspirational

Natalie will compete in Olympics and the Paralympics in the 10Km swimming event. Wow!

Courageous, determined and inspirational.

Official site
Natalie du Toit: ability of mind

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cycling stint?

As I watch the tour de france with the average speed around 40 Kms/hr and as I traveled through Chennai stuck in traffic, averaging less than that, I briefly (very, very briefly) considered using a cycle as transport. Here are some major benefits if I did decide to cycle more often.

1. Traffic won't be an issue.
2. It will spare the environment.
3. It is friendlier to the pocket with the ever rising oil prices.

But now I can rationalize my non-cycling decision.

1. I am most likely to destroy the basis of the theory "it's like riding a bike". I haven't ridden a bicycle since childhood and I tried it for a short while on a holiday and did not get far. So I don't want to deprive the next generations the usability of this phrase :-)
2. I currently don't own a cycle - but can be remedied and so not a good enough reason.
3. If I manage to get past the first two issues, I doubt I can ride at 40+Kms/hour (or half that speed) -so I am not likely to travel significant distances.
4. The classic excuse - it is either too hot or rainy to cycle by choice.
5. Eating can be hazardous on a bike (this year's tour already has had feeding station accidents). Why I should think of eating while riding a few kms I don't know - but definitely a consideration?
6. Since the tour is my motivation, I need similar scenic roads to ride in. The beach is an option - but not its approach roads.
7. The big bazaar crew may spring the "bhesh badalo" stuff on me (going by the "appearance is more important" concept behind the ads). I am just throwing that in - as I don't like those ads :-)

Whew! Now I no longer feel guilty of my choice. I can go back to wondering about how tour cyclists are able to ride at such speeds for such long spells and climb the mountains (and they are no small mountains). Yes, doping comes to mind immediately, but as I said before it somehow still fascinates me. I don't follow a team/cyclist as I learnt it is dicey to support anyone as almost all of them are implicated in scandals (and you never know when they will be banned). I rather follow the event and imagine what it would have been like in the pre-doping days.

Interestingly, in each team there is only only one yellow jersey candidate and one sprinter and rest are largely called "domestiques". There are specialized roles within that for each of them (lead out man for the sprinter, lead out in the mountains for the team leader, etc.). What is the motivation behind the "domestiques" - is it just money as they rarely get the glory? Is it the fact they may one day be a Yellow Jersey candidate?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Optimistic or Pessimistic?

The last three Games produced a medal each with tennis star Leander Paes winning a bronze at Atlanta, women’s weightlifter Karnam Malleswari a bronze in Sydney and shooter Rajyavardhan Rathore a silver at Athens.

“No one gave them a chance, but they proved everyone wrong,” said Singh, who also serves as the secretary-general of the Olympic Council of Asia.

“There is no reason to be pessimistic.”

I recently saw this article and cannot undestand how we should not be pessimistic unless one accepts that a solitary medal every Olympics is every reason to be optimistic. With the current trend, we may hope for a 2-medal Olympics in another 20 years or definitely before the population reaches two billion. That recent medalists exceeded expectations is a credit to them and not to the sporting body. So many countries, much smaller and financially weaker than India will rank higher in the medal tally, but lets be optimistic. I am generally a half-glass full kind of a person, but I don't even see the glass here for it to be full or empty :-)

It is noteworthy to mention that some people (Mittal, Geet Sethi, Prakash Padukone, etc.) have taken it on themselves to do something about this. It would be wonderful if folks like Sachin, Dhoni, Dravid participate in similar efforts to help other sports persons in India achieve their dreams and improve India's standing in the Olympics. Maybe major brands like Pepsi could sponsor stars from different sports and come up with some clever ways to share the screen with the cricketers.

So where are you vis-a-vis the optimism scale regarding India's efforts in the Olympics?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Midas - where art thou?

I nearly posted something similar couple of days ago, and decided to wait to see if the luck would return for the final. But ever since the IPL final, Kitply final and the Asia cup final, we can now say that luck has averaged out for MSD. (good news is if he wins more, it will not be attributed to luck).

Here are some thoughts on the team:

Indian bowling is lacking in the sub-continent conditions. Ishanth seems tired and I hope he is able to handle this better as he is a great prospect. He came back strongly in the last couple of matches, but I feel he needs to be nurtured more. Pathan, Praveen and R.P did not look very good.

Yusuf Pathan has not been as impressive as he was in the IPL (What words of magic did Warne whisper?).

Piyush struggled. Dhoni wants a senior spinner. So he is ready to welcome back Bhajji.

The 7-batsmen approach seems defensive and unlikely to work. By the time the seventh man comes in, the match is already won or lost.

Yuvi wants to be included in tests, but how can he get a slot when his play of spin has barely improved over the years.

I still like the attitude and make up of the team, and they are more consistent in general. However unless they finish things as well as Australia and win more often than lose, they will be just like the previous Indian teams - where the results and potential are parallel lines.

Now the Sri Lanka series promises to be interesting.