Monthly Archives: March 2010

IPL-III: A few early observations…

IPL-III is 11 matches and 1 week old as I write this piece.

Right at the outset, let me state that I will not be surprised if either Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) or Mumbai Indians (MI) or Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) meet in the finals of IPL-III.

And while I am putting my neck at great risk, let me also stick my neck further out and state that I expect so see Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Kings Eleven Punjab (KEP) to bring up the bottom two.

This then leves one of Delhi Daredevils (DD), Chennai Super Kings (CSK), and Deccan Chargers (DC) to join RCB, KKR and MI in the semi-finals.

I believe there are a few too many gaps to fill in the Deccan Chargers team when compared with DD and CSK. This then means a toss up between DD and CSK for one other semi-finals spot. I back CSK purely on the basis of leadership excellence and the presence of a fewer “holes”. Moreover, in my view, the presence of two “game changers” in their midst (MS Dhoni and Matthew Hayden) will swing it for CSK.

KKR have Sourav Ganguly at the helm of affairs this year. More importantly, KKR do not have either John Buchanan or his tomes on Sun Tzu or Zen anywhere near their dressing room! I think we will see — and are alredy seeing — KKR play with much pride and slef-confidence. They will want to put their last two (poor) seasons and leadership experiments behind them for IPL-III. KKR has also started the campaign well with wins against last years’ finalists: Deccan Chargers (DC) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). KKR has made a few smart purchaces in the off-season and so has the MI team. While, DD have also commenced their campaign well, I think this year will be about the bouncing back of teams that have had their pride hurt. The teams that have suffered maximal pride-pucture in the last two seasons are KKR and MI.

I also believe that IPL-III will be less about the 4 overseas recruits playing well and more about how well the remaining 7 Indian players will play in the on-field team. One of the reasons for KKR performing poorly in previous seasons was the poor performance of local players. Ajit Agarkar got a few KKR gigs. Enough said! But with the acquisition of Manoj Tiwary in the off-season from DD and with Cheteshwar Pujara available for IPL-III, I think KKR have plugged a few holes in their armoury.

The other difference in IPL-III is the presence of players from the now defunct ICL. Players like Rohan Gavaskar (KKR), Rajagopal Satish (MI), Ambati Rayadu (MI), Sridharan Sriram (RCB), et al, will be seeing IPL action for the first time in their careers. Here again, I think MI has made some good ICL recruitments to strengthen their domestic player content.

That said, let us review each team (in no particualr order):

Royal Challengers Bangalore:

This is a solid team with some dependable competitors like Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Jacques Kallis and some young turks like Manish Pandey, Virat Kohli and Robin Uthappa. While Kevin Pietersen was a disappointment in IPL-II, I think he will be a different player in IPL-III. He is coming into form, albeit against a weak Bangladesh! Eoin Morgan has been a good recruit and Steven Smith is, in my view, a poor replacement for the injured Jesse Ryder. However, with a richness of overseas players, I am not sure if Steven Smith will get a game! Sridaran Sriram could add some ICL-lustre. I expect the team to be:

Jacques Kallis
Manish Pandey / Sridharan Sriram /Shreevats Goswami
Virat Kohli
Robin Uthappa
Rahul Dravid
Kevin Pietersen / Eoin Morgan / Ross Taylor
Roelof van der Merwe / Dillon Du Preez / Cameron White
Mark Boucher
Anil Kumble / K. P. Appanna
Praveen Kumar / A Mithun / B Kumar / B Akhil / Vinay Kumar
Dale Steyn / Steven Smith

This is a reasonably well-balanced team, and under Anil Kumble, it has resillience, steel and a stomach for a fight. The key to this teams’ balance is Jacques Kallis. He gives the team tremendous options in both batting as well as bowling. He is, in my view, the most under-rated performer of the last decade in International cricket. Given that Kallis has commenced IPL-III in style, I think RCB will go far.

In IPL-II RCB experimented with Robin Uthappa behind the sticks. This did not quite work. It appears that for IPL-III, the team has dumped that experiment and commited to place its faith in Mark Boucher and Shreevats Goswami. After performing very well in the U-19 championships a few years ago, Goswami cannot even get a game for his State team, in which Wriddhiman Saha ‘keeps wickets!

For RCB to do well though, the “locals” have to do well: Goswami, Kohli, Uthappa, Pandey, Dravid, Kumble, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Mithun, et al. This is not really a bad list of “locals” — Praveen Kumar has already taken IPL-III’s first hattrick!

If RCB’s “young turks” — Kohli, Pandey and Uthappa — do well, RCB can go places. In the past, Kohli and Uthappa have flattered to deceive in the IPL. If they fire, I think RCB should reach the semi finals.

Delhi Daredevils (DD):

This is a really strong team in my view. I expected them to win IPL-II. Barring one bad game when it really mattered, they almost made it to the top of the tree. I expect DD to do really well and perhaps even lift the cup. I expect the team to be:

Gautam Gambhir
Virender Sehwag
Tilekaratne Dilshan / David Warner
A. B. de Villiers / Brett Geeves
Dinesh Karthik
Mithun Manhas / Rajat Bhatia / Kedar Jadhav
Fervez Maharoof / Moises Henriques / Andrew McDonald / Wayne Parnell
Amit Mishra / Sarandeep Singh / Joginder Singh / Shashi Ranjan
Ashish Nehra / Sarabjit Ladda / Aavishkar Salvi
Pradeep Sangwan / Umesh Yadav / Yogesh Nagar / Yo Mahesh
Dirk Nannes

The problem with this team is that the reserve ‘local’ players are not that strong. For example, I do not expect Sarandeep Singh, Joginder Singh and Shashi Ranjan to get a game. Sarabjit Ladda has played a few games already in the first week, mainly because of Ashish Nehra’s side strain. So apart from having a few extra “net bowlers” I do not quite know what these players are doing in the final list! If the team wants to play David Warner, Dilshan and de Villiers, it would be possible if Umesh Yadav or Aavishkar Salvi play instead of Dirk Nannes. However, that would weaken the bowling considerably. So, I do believe that although the overseas recruits are quite strong in this team, the one or two “local” bit-player strength in this team is not that strong. Of course, if Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir fire, given the strong middle order and the decent bowling attack, I do expect DD to do extremely well in IPL-III. It is interesting to note that Daniel Vettori and Glen McGrath have not been named in the initial DD team list.

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR):

This is a team on the rebound. Watch out when Sourav Ganguly’s pride is hurt and watch out when he is mean and hungry. And after the antics of John Buchanan in IPL-II, Ganguly is mean and hungry. He has been given longer rope by his owners as well as his new — more grounded and less publicity hungry — coach, Dav Whatmore. KKR have quietly made some good recruitments in the off-season — particularly Manoj Tiwary from DD. In terms of overseas recruits, the purchase of Shane Bond was a good move from this team. KKR has also acquired Vignesh and Rohan Gavaskar (from the ICL) — the team looks balanced and set for glory in IPL-III. Moreover, with Cheteshwar Pujara available for the whole season, I expect a last-4 (if not a finals) finish from this new-look team. I expect the team to be:

Brad Hodge / Chris Gayle
Manoj Tiwary / G. Vignesh
Sourav Ganguly
Cheteshwar Pujara / Chirag Pathak
Owais Shah / Brendon McCullum / David Hussey / Mushrafe Murtaza
Angelo Mathews
Laxmi Ratan Shukla / Harshad Khadiwale / Rohan Gavaskar / Eklak Ahmid
Wriddhiman Saha
Murali Kartik / Iqbal Abdulla
Charl Langeveldt / Ajantha Mendis / Shane Bond
Ishant Sharma / Ashok Dinda / Ajit Agarkar / Varun Aaron

The attack looks solid IF Ishanta Sharma bowls well in tandem with Shane Bond — but even there, there is some backup for an off-day Ishant Sharma, with Ashok Dinda ready to rock up. MUrali Kartik is an underrated left-arm spinner. He is, in my view, much better than his CV suggests. The overseas recruits are also quite solid. I think this team has been largely lifted by the presence of Angelo Mathews. I expect KKR to do really well.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK):

I rate CSK as a semi-final chance mainly because of performance consistency, leadership excellence and team balance. CSK made the semi finals of the last two IPL editions and made the finals of the first edition. A real could be the non-availability of Andrew Flintoff and Jacob Oram (both out through injuries). The team has picked Hemang Badani from the ICL — not the most inspired of picks as, in my view, Vignesh (KKR) or R. Satish (MI) may have been better options to go for. Especially given the no-show of Andrew Flintoff and Jacob Oram, Justin Kemp was an inspired auction-pick by CSK. I expect the team to be:

Matthew Hayden / George Bailey
M. Vijay / Arun Karthik / Parthiv Patel
Suresh Raina
S. Badrinath / C. Ganapathy / Hemang Badani
Justin Kemp / Michael Hussey / Jacob Oram / George Bailey
M. S. Dhoni
Albie Morkel / Thisara Perera / Thilan Tushara
R. Ashwin / Shadab Jakati
Muthiah Muralitharan / Makhaya Ntini
L. Balaji
Sudeep Tyagi / Manpreet Gony / Joginder Sharma

For me, the real concern for this team is the seam options. While Sudeep Tyagi has been good in spurts, I do not see him as a natural first-up bowler. His consistency — especially under pressure — will remain a big question mark over this team. Ditto L. Balaji. This team needs a “local” fast bowling option to cover for when Balaji and Tyagi (or Gony) go pear-shaped — and they repeatedly do!. Unless CSK plug this gap, I believe the team will consistently under-deliver after reaching the last-4. Other than that, this is a well balanced batting-dominated team, especially if the openers and Suresh Raina fire. To add to the batting depth is M. Vijay’s recent strong and consistent showing. So, while I expect CSK to do well, I still feel they are one player short of a great team and for them to go the extra mile, a lot will depend on M. S. Dhoni…

Mumbai Indians (MI):

After a few seasons of tinkering, this team — the most expensive IPL team thus far — has started to hit the right notes in my view. Some astute off-season purchases of ICL players including Rajagopal Satish, Ambati Rayudu, IShan Malhotra and Ali Murtaza as well as a smart auction-pick like Kieron Pollard have also helped. After finishing 7th in IPL-II, expect this badly hurt team to do much better in IPL-III. As I indicated at the start, I will not be surprised if MI meets KKR in the finals. I expect the team to be:

Sachin Tendulkar
Sanath Jayasuriya / JP Duminy
Aditya Tare / Chandan Madan
Ambati Rayudu / Shikar Dhawan
Saurabh Tiwary
R. Satish / Abhishek Nayar
Harbhajan Singh
Dwayne Bravo / Graham Napier / Dilhara Fernando / Ryan McLaren
Zaheer Khan / Dhawal Kulkarni / Syed Sahabuddin
Lasith Malinga / Kieron Pollard
Murtaza Ali / Rahul Shukla / Ishan Malhotra

The real problem are with this team is, in my view, the untested middle order and the ‘keeping. Most of the other teams have good, if not excellent wicket-keeping batsmen — Adam Gilchrist, M. S. Dhoni, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Karthik, Wriddhiman Saha and Mark Boucher / Sreevats Goswami spring to mind. Aditya Tare has shown in the first few games that he has got what it takes at this level. But it is fair to say that the batting qualities of Aditya Tare perhaps have not been tested severely at this level. But time will tell whether he is as good a ‘keeping-allrounder as some of the other ‘keepers in the IPL. The middle order depends on two out of the troika of Rayudu, Tiwary and Shikar Dhawan firing. If these gaps are plugged, MI could well be a finals team.

Kings XI Punjab (KEP):

In the off-season KEP quietly changed their captain. We do not know whether Yuvraj Singh was nudged or pushed or whether he stepped down. The fact is, however, that Kumar Sangakkara is at the helm for IPL-III. And that is a good thing for this under-rated team. Yuvraj Singh now has a free license to thrill. Perhaps captaincy wasn’t quite right for him. With that burden lifted, we might see a very different Yuvraj Singh in IPL-III provided he has taken it well and provided he has not launched into a sulk. I think Mohammed Kaif was a smart off-season grab from Rajasthan Royals while Manvinder Bisla’s move will make him a better fit in his (more comfortable) hometown team. Reetinder Singh Sodhi and Salabh Srivastava are good grabs from the ICL list. I expect the team to be:

Karan Goel / Manvinder Bisla / Tanmay Srivastava
Ravi Bopara / Shaun Marsh
Kumar Sangakkara
Yuvraj Singh
M Jayawardene / Adrian Barath
Mohammed Kaif / Reetinder Sodhi / Salabh Srivastava
Irfan Pathan / Amanpreet Singh / Vikramjeet Malik
Piyush Chawla
Bipul Sharma / Ramesh Powar
Brett Lee / James Hopes / Yusuf Abdulla / Juan Theron
S. Sreesanth / Love Ablish

The real problem for KEP is Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth. Like Andrew Symonds, Herschelle Gibbs and Harbhajan Singh how well Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth play on any given day depends on which side of the bed they got up from. Their inconsistency could hurt the team badly. My suggestion to KEP would be to get Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth to share a bed and get up on different sides of it. That way, the chances of at least one of them playing well on a given day becomes considerably higher! Another concern for me for KEP is the mental attitude of Yuvraj Singh, whose MTBEPOS (mean time between extended periods of sulk) is quite short when the chips are down. He is nursing an injured wrist, a dodgy knee, excess weight and hurt pride/ego — all of which might be a bit too much excess baggage for this talented T20 and ODI cricketer. We can expect the dressing room atmosphere to be quite glum, thick and divided. While Priety Zinta will, no doubt, try and uplift damaged spirits, I think IPL-III success may be a bridge too far for KEP. I will be quite shocked if this team does well.

Deccan Chargers (DC):

There are high expectations of Deccan Chargers (DC), after a wonderful IPL-II. However, despite that favourable result and impressive showing, I do think that there are a few gaps that this team has that are unplugged. In Adam Gilchrist, the team has an excellent and inspirational leader. In Andrew Symonds and Herschelle Gibbs, the team has two explosive players in the middle order. And like Jacques Kallis, Andrew Symonds brings much more to the team than his chewing gum and zinc cream! Moreover, in Rohit Sharma, Pragyan Ojha and RP Singh, the team has reliable, if not excellent Indian talent. The real problem for this team lies with VVS Laxman — who in my view is just not suited for this form of the game — and the bits-and-pieces local players (Jaskaran Singh, Anirudh Singh, Tirumalasetti Suman, et al). None of these are likely to set the world alight. Therefore, the pressure to perform consistently might be a bit too much on players like Gilchrist, Symonds, Rohit Sharma, RP Singh, Gibbs and Ojha. In the off-season, Kemar Roach and Mitchell Marsh were a good buys. However, I believe the team erred significantly by letting ICL-escapee Ambati Rayudu go to the Mumbai Indians. They, instead, got players like Monish Mishra. I expect the team to be:

Adam Gilchrist
VVS Laxman / Ravi Teja / Azhar Bilakhia
Herschelle Gibbs / Mitchell Marsh
Andrew Symonds
Rohit Sharma
Anirudh Singh / Bodapati Sumanth / Monish Mishra
Tirumalasetti Suman / Venugopal Rao / Arjun Yadav
Chamindaa Vaas / Ryan Harris / Dwayne Smith
Jaskaran Singh / Harmeet Singh / Ashish Reddy
RP Singh
Pragyan Ojha / Rahul Sharma

There are way too many gaps in this team for me to believe that they will make the last four. Laxman, Suman and Anirudh Singh are, for me, the major gaps. Their “replacements” (Ravi Teja, Sumanth, Monish Mishra, Venugopal Rao and Arjun Yadav) do not inspire me with too much confidence either! And to think that Greg Chappell thought of Venugopal Rao as India captain material — the man could have brought on untold damage to Indian cricket! Anyway, there are way too many gaps in this team for me to readily accept that this team will travel further than a 5th or 6th place finish in IPL-III.

Rajasthan Royals (RR):

The RR IPL-III season was in disarray before it commenced and it got worse within a few games! The suspension of Ravindra Jadeja was a major blow to the teams’ chances. However, what was to follow in the first week of the tournament — the injuries to Graeme Smith and Dimitri Mascarenhas — made the Jadeja suspension look like an ant-bite in comparison! The RR team has started IPL-III badly and despite the pyrotechnics of Yusuf Pathan and the leadership of Shane Warne, I expect the rest of the RR season make the team yearn for the “glory days” of the first week of IPL-III! This team needs a good hard look at itself and this might happen at the end of IPL-III. The off-season purchases of Michael Lumb and Damien Martyn were not the most inspired picks while the pickup of Amit Unyal and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala from the ICL were good, in my view. I expect the team to be:

Swapnil Asnodkar / Faiz Fazal
Graeme Smith / Michael Lumb / Damien Martyn
Naman Ojha
Yusuf Pathan
Abhishek Jhunjhunwala
Paras Dogra / Amit Paunikar
Dimitri Mascaranhas / Johan Botha
Amit Unyal / Sumit Narwal / Srikanth Wagh / Abhishek Raut / Syed Qadri
Shane Warne
Shaun Tait / Morne Morkel
Munaf Patel / Siddharth Trivedi / Kamran Khan / Amit Singh

So there, you have it. As I said at the start, I expect the semi-final lineup to be MI, KKR, CSK and RCB. While, in my view, MI has the best team, the others are there despite a few gaps which can be, I believe, be plugged through a combination of inspirational leadership and the presence of a few game-changers.

— Mohan

IPL and Indian Domestic T20 Championships on simultaneously…

The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) is the domestic T20 Trophy in India.

For the 2009-2010 season, the SMAT commenced on 25 September 2009 with league games in the South Zone. Meanwhile, the league games in the Central, East, West and North Zones were played from Oct 20 2009 onwards for a 6-day period.

A few observations:

  • Although we have a Super League and Plate League for the Ranji Trophy, why do we still have a Zonal system in place for the domestic T20 championship in India?
  • Why were the SMAT league games in the South Zone and the rest of India played on different dates?

And by the way, while the North, West, East and Central Zones were playing their SMAT league games, the Champions League T20 Cup was on at the same time! Why were the SMAT league games in the Central, North, East and West Zones not played at the same time as the South Zone SMAT league games? I suggest we do not pose that question to the BCCI, for I am not sure we will get a cogent answer! If the North, East, West and Central SMAT League games had been held at the same time that South Zone SMAT League games were held, the SMAT knock-out phase could have, quite conceivably, been conducted in the period Oct 20 to Oct 25.

Now, right after the North, East, West and Central SMAT League games were concluded, the SMAT games took a five-month break. Yes, after 25 October, the Indian cricket calendar got quite crowded, what with the Australian ODI series, Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Deodhar Trophy, etc.

So, after a 5-month break until March 12 2010, The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy quarterfinals stage commenced. In other words, the domestic T20 championship in India commenced on the same day that IPL-III commenced in India.

So, right at this moment, we have two T20 championships on in India: A domestic inter-state championship and a domestic inter-franchise league!

Somethings just make you go “Hmmmm” in India!

— Mohan

IPL 3 – Day 2 Random thoughts….

It is early days yet but I am happy to see the three metros off to winning starts. Wouldn’t it be nice for a change if the 4 metros end up in the semis? I had some observations to make based on the bits and pieces that I watched of yesterday’s game (repeat) and of the double header today. One thing that struck me right away was the raw confidence and talent that the ICL boys seem to bring to this year’s edition. Whether it was Hyderabadi grace of Ambati Rayadu, or the brief strokeplay of Abhishek Jhoonjhoonwala on the one side, or the allround ability of R. Satish on the other, these guys do promise to bring an extra dimension to the game.

While the KKR v DC game seemed to have gone to the team making the fewer of several mistakes including dropped catches, poor shot selection, or wides today’s game was determined by sheer class and experience. Yusuf Pathan seem to run away with the game by brute till an unlucky yet brilliant run out by Satish and ultimately some classy bowling by Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga. Gambhir on the other hand seems to already relish the captaincy role and he played like one as he saw his team through. A couple of new talents to look for as well in Aditya Tare, the Mumbai Indians wicketkeeper batsman and Paras Dogra from Himachal Pradesh and playing for Kings X1 Punjab. Certainly, interesting and exciting 6 weeks ahead. Meanwhile, tomorrow’s game between Chennai Superkings and Deccan Chargers should be an exciting one.

Srikanth

IPL Season-3 Preview: A few heartbeats away

Season-3 of the IPL is on us.

We know it the moment we see Lalit Modi’s face and hear his lisp everywhere. The papers, TV Channels and Twitterdom are full of sound bytes from the man who seems to be perpetually in a hurry. He represents the New Age India: an angry, brash, self-confident person, eager to take on the world. The fact that he has managed to take some of Old India along with him on this mysterious journey is a credit to his passion as well as self-belief. If Jagmohan Dalmiya commenced the process of establishment-nose-thumbing, Lalit Modi, more than anyone else, has transformed the face of Indian cricket and the manner in which it is viewed — not only by the cricket world, but also by the world of business and entertainment.

No wonder Sports Illustrated India recently placed Lalit Modi at #2 on the list of “50 Most Powerful People in Indian Sport”, just behind Sachin Tendulkar.

In a short period of time, he has risen to the top of the tree and has left even hitherto powerful sports stars (Sania Mirza is at #50), franchise owners (Shah Rukh Khan is at #28) and cricket administrators in his wake.

What’s more? He has taken a few others along with him in his joy ride. Ravi Krishnan, the President of IMG India kicks in at #27 on this list, just ahead of Shah Rukh Khan! While Ravi Krishnan has been in the India sports scene since IMG’s Chennai Tennis Open days, his appearance on this Power List at #27 (one ahead of Shah Rukh Khan and about 5 ahead of Harsha Bhogle) is in no small measure due to his savvy skills in bringing IMG back to the table as the event management company in charge of the IPL.

No one seems to know — or indeed seems to care — where the IPL will end up 3-4 years from now. For now, everyone seems happy: the franchise owners, players, administrators, broadcasters, advertisers and (most importantly) the fans. The IPL is a happy marriage of cricket, TV, Bollywood, entertainment and advertising.

The IPL fits well with the New India: A in-your-face and in-a-hurry, short, sweet sexy package that is peppy, racy and based on reality drama. Everyone wants it and clamours for it. Oh! And by the way, while talent is a pre-requisite, if you can compensate lack of talent with bling and biff, then bring it on!

The IPL has its cyincs and doubters. Gideon Haigh recently said, “Twenty20 is a TV property masquerading as cricket property,” in a CricInfo conversation with Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjrekar. It is true that Haigh has been a T20-IPL-Modi doubter for a long time. It is true that Haigh does not like the T20 format. He may have also developed a distaste for the IPL. He probably breaks into an allergic rash everytime he hears the name Modi. But in my view, his is not the voice of a doomsday-scenario painter, although it is easy for one to think of him in those terms. In my view, in these times of extreme hype and huge profits, his voice brings balance to the marketing cacophony that surrounds this form of the game.

The point is that T20 has been hugely popular in every market that it has been played in. The IPL has packaged it in an excellent manner as a made-for-TV and a made-for-corporate-India drama. The BCCI has unleashed, through Lalit Modi, a product that has delivered the game some excitement and more respect than it probably deserves. And everyone is happy.

But there are significant challenges with the IPL.

It seems to me to be a journey whose destination is yet unknown.

There is far too much “policy on the fly” and “process refinement through band-aids” at the moment. The 7.5-minute “strategy break” after over #10 — which itself was announced/pronounced/decreed a few days prior to the start of IPL-2 — has been replaced in IPL-3 with two 2.5-minute strategy breaks; one which the bowling team can take between overs 6 and 8 and the other, which the batting team can take between overs 11 and 16.

Is this a “policy on the fly” or is it a “let us suck it and see” approach? Take your pick. Personally, I am not really that fussed with tinkering of this sort that makes the game more interesting and engaging.

What is a bit more worrying is the bullish manner (not to mention “band-aid” and “seat of pants” manner) in which matters like security, safety and the efficacy of the tendering process are handled.

Witness the arbitrary and unexplained delays in the tendering process for IPL franchises 9 and 10 that are set to commence from IPL-Season-4. The arbitrary nature of the process postponement (and the subsequent relaxation of some of the bidding rules) left the bidders that had already submitted valid bids extremely angry and bitter. Fair enough. I would be extremely upset too if I had submitted a valid bid!

The reason for the tender postponement, according to BCCI Secretary, Niranjan Shan, that supreme exemplar and embodiment of professional and ethical communications was, “The [BCCI] president felt a few clauses were too stiff and he wanted some modifications. Since the president’s approval is necessary for going ahead with the process and naming the winning bids, the entire process was cancelled and we asked for fresh tenders, which will now be opened on March 21.”

Surely, the BCCI president knew of the bidding rules and ought to have signed-off on the bidding rules and the process before the tender documents were released and not post-facto?

In my view, “policy on the fly” and “flying by the seat of ones pants” is ok for an organisation in its inception — especially one that is in a tearing hurry to make its mark in the world. Moreover, I think that this “policy on the fly” fits in quite comfortably with India, Inc, where adaptability and nimbleness is the modern matra for success. However, I would like to think that the organisation would need to acquire stability — much more solidity — if it aspires for a global footprint and global respect. A “we are like this only” attitude just will not cut it. That will do when operating in a market that is dominated by scarcity. But global respect requires much more by way of solidity, professionalism, accountability and transparency.

And therein lies a major challenge for the IPL.

Another challenge, in my view is the boredom that is likely to emanate from the “sameness” that this format can bring with it.

Despite these blips, the fact is that the IPL is a force to reckon with.

Fast Company — a company that has its eye on innovation trends and digital media — put the IPL as the 22nd most innovative company in the world — ahead of established blue-chips and brands like Frito-Lay, Samsung, Twitter and Microsoft! The IPL was also labelled the 2nd most innovative sports company in the world! It made 4th place on the Forbes List of the world’s hottest sporting properties.

More power to the IPL and more power to Lalit Modi.

In the meanwhile though, sit back and enjoy the ride for the next 50 days or so and get used to terms like “DLF Max” (and for the uninitiated, that’s the new term for “a six”).

— Mohan

Sachin Tendulkar Quotes…

I got this sent to me by a friend.

————————————————————————

“I have seen god, he bats at no. 4 for India.”– Mathew Hayden

“Nothing bad can happen to us if we’re on a plane in India with Sachin Tendulkar on it.” – Hashim Amla, the South African batsman, reassures himself as he boards a flight.

“Sometimes you get so engrossed in watching batsmen like Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar that you lose focus on your job.”– Yaseer Hameed in pakistani ne wspaper.

“To Sachin, the man we all want to be.”– Andrew Symonds wrote on an Aussie T-shirt he autographed specially for Sachin.

“Beneath the helmet, under that unruly curly hair, inside the cranium, there is something we don’t know, something beyond scientific measure. Something that allows him to soar, to roam a territory of sport that, forget us, even those who are gifted enough to play alongside him cannot even fathom. When he goes out to bat, people switch on their TV sets and switch off their lives.”– BBC on Sachin

“Tujhe pata hai tune kiska catch chhoda hai?”– Wasim Akram to Abdul Razzaq when the latter dropped Sachin’s catch in 2003 WC.

“Sachin is a genius. I’m a mere mortal.”– Brian Charles Lara

“We did not lose to a team called India …we lost to a man called Sachin.”– Mark Taylor, during the test match in Chennai (1997)

“The more I see of him the more confused I’m getting to which is his best knock.”– M. L. Jaisimha

“The joy he brings to the millions of his countrymen, the grace with which he handles all the adulation and the expectations and his innate humility – all make for a one-in-a-billion individual,”– Glen McGrath

“I can be hundred per cent sure that Sachin will not play for a minute longer when he is not enjoying himself. He is still so eager to go out there and play. He will play as long as he feels he can play,”– Anjali Tendulkar

Interviewer Question: “Who do you think is the most important celebrity in India?”
Shah Rukh Khan: “There was a big party where stars from bollywood and cricket wer e invited. Suddenly, there was a big noise, all wanted to see approaching Amitabh Bachhan. Then Sachin entered the hall and Amitabh was leading the queue to get a grab of the GENIUS!”
– Shah Rukh Khan in an interview.

“India me aap PrimeMinister ko ek Baar Katghare me khada kar sakte hain..Par Sachin Tendulkar par Ungli nahi utha Sakte.. “– Navjot Singh Sidhu on TV

“He can play that leg glance with a walking stick also.”– Waqar Younis

“Sachin Tendulkar has often reminded me of a veteran army colonel who has many medals on his chest to show how he has conquered bowlers all over the world. I was bowling to Sachin and he hit me for two fours in a row. One from point and the other in between point and gully. That was the last two balls of the over and the over after that we (SA) took a wicket and during the group meeting I told Jonty (Rhodes) to be alert and I know a way to pin Sachin. I delivered the first ball of my next over and it was a fuller length delevery outside offstump. I shouted ‘catch’. To my astonishment the ball was hit to the cover boundary. Such was the brilliance of Sachin. His reflex time is the best I have ever seen. Its like 1/20th of a sec. To get his wicket better not prepare. Atleast you wont regret if he hits you for boundaries.– Allan Donald

“On a train from Shimla to Delhi , there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped by for few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century. This Genius can stop time in India!”– Peter Roebuck – Aussie journalist

“Sachin cannot cheat. He is to cricket what (Mahatma) Gandhiji was to politics. It’s clear discrimination.”– NKP Salve, former Union Minister when Sachin was accused of ball tempering

“There are 2 kind of batsmen in the world. One Sachin Tendulkar. Two all the others.”– Andy Flower

“Commit all your sins when Sachin is batting. They will go unnoticed because even GOD is watching.”– A hoarding in England

“Don’t go into competition without training your mind and your body, relaxation for the mind and insanity workout for the body.” – Unknown

“Even my father’s name is Sachin Tendulkar.”– Tendulkar’s daughter, Sara, tells her class her father’s name after the teacher informs them of a restaurant of the same name in Mumbai.

A conversation with Gideon Haigh

The venue for my club, East Malvern CC’s, annual President’s dinner was a Greek restaurant on a balmy Sunday evening in the eponymous suburb of East Malvern in Victoria, Australia.

The decades old club, which boasts Sir Garfield Sobers, yes, THE Sobers, among its many feted alumni, drew most of its stalwarts for this dinner which featured the Cricket Writer, Gideon Haigh as its keynote speaker.

I shy away from using the term keynote, as that connotes lissome lecterns, frowning faces and knotted knits about the neck. This event was none of that, especially considering that Haigh himself turned up in a faded old boat-neck T-shirt.

As he and I were the only vegetarians in the room, we were sat at the same table. Given that he is also a fellow offie, and doesn’t, by his own admission, turn the ball much, he is practically my blood kinsman.

Much in the manner of a harp of housewives gravitating to the subject of mothers-in-law, we shortly fell to picking over the disdain we suffer at the hands of batsmen both good and indifferent. Particularly rankling was how the eyes of those wood choppers light up, mouths split into toothy grins and chests puff up when the skipper hands us the ball with a look of worry on his face as he simultaneously sends everyone out to man the fences. 

But, Contempt breeds unfamiliarity-thus spake…well, I.

Therein lies the offie’s utility to XIs, that ability to tempt the woodsmen into indiscretions they would not contemplate against our evil twins, the leggies.

Overcome with delight at not being fed lamb by the provedore, another Zorba lookalike, I inquired if Gideon was making the pilgrimage to India for the IPL. No, said he with a rueful laugh, I’ve taken such a position against it that I doubt if I’ll ever be welcome there.

Interestingly for such a prolific cricket writer, he has never set foot in India at all. Therefore, if, among the vast readership of this blog are the string pullers, I’m sure the hint will be taken.

Soon enough, after the warm up act provided by a succession of club worthies, Gideon Haigh took the floor.

 He began with a quick varnam* on himself-Journalist for 26 years, cricketing writer for longer. He’s also played 181 games for South Yarra CC.  Raising the bar for cricketing tragics everywhere, he ensured that marriage and the birth of his child didn’t interfere with the cricket season. His catch-cry, resonant with those who continue pursuits well beyond the age decreed by decorum is-‘Young once, immature forever’.

Tailored to the audience, he next sang the club administrator’s ninda-sthuthi (song of lament)-the never bridged chasm between expense and income, segued into those quirks entirely unique to club cricket in Melbourne and launched into the main R-T-P** for the night-Australia’s prospects for the 2010-11 Ashes, resuscitation of the ODI format and the spectre of the BCCI overtaking the ICC.

Ragam.

Ponting’s perceived inadequacies notwithstanding, the overall mood was that Australia would prevail, never mind the emergence of a newly competitive England.

Tanam.

The news of the death of the ODI format is greatly exaggerated. It can certainly be saved by some immediate surgery such as removal of over-limits on bowlers and the preparation of result wickets which would even the scales between bat and ball.

Pallavi.

At the time, there was a deadlock between Australia’s Howard and NZ’s Anderson for the ICC chair (since resolved in favour of John Howard). The discussion largely revolved around the relative merits of each candidate pertinent to their ability to handle the behemoth that was the BCCI. The view was that Howard, the wily politician that he was, was probably the best equipped. Time will tell.

Some tuqda-s*** of note included the four year residence of Gary Sobers in Victoria, and how, despite a popular groundswell of support for his appointment as Victoria’s coach, the fact that he did not have the appropriate piece of paper stymied it.

All in all, a wonderful evening, replete with nostalgia and the heady smell of that bond that unites cricket lovers, wannabes and tragics everywhere. I’m looking forward to next year.

Soundar.

*****************

An explanation of some of the musical terms for the elucidation of those not as familiar with the Carnatic musical form.

*Varnam

The opening piece of a Carnatic Music Concert-usually familiar, fast paced and mood setting.

**R-T-P

Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi, the central, three-piece bulwark of a full-length Carnatic Music Concert.

***tuqda

Short, popular pieces-sometimes based on audience requests, which round off a concert.