Monthly Archives: April 2010

Now Modi is Twattered too…

The nursery rhyme has been re-written:

Pitter-patter, raindrops, Falling from the sky;
Here is my umbrella, To keep me safe and dry!
When the rain is over, And the sun begins to glow,
Little flowers start to bud, And grow and grow and grow!

After the recent IPL-3 saga — termed IPL-Gate or Modi-Gate here in India — I have started singing:

Twitter Twatter, big men, Falling as they cry;
There may have been a Godfather, To keep them safe and sly!
When the pain is over, And the greed begins to slow,
Little accounts start to bud, As these Twattered men grow and grow and grow!

Twatter should be made an official word in the English dictionary.

Twatter is a disease which afflicts and consumes high-adrenalin, 40-something, adult males who are high on testosterone (some with pronounced lisps) and are going through some strange and incurable form of midlife crisis, who wish to simultaneously fit in to the glitterati jet-set and govern burgeoning complex behemoths through a modern technology called Twitter, but use it so inappropriately and naively that they shoot themselves in the foot while aiming for the stars!

It is a complex disease for which there exists no cure. Moreover, there are few test cases available and hence, few pointers to the origin of this new-age disease.

The synonyms for Twatter are Lal-oor or ShaMod.

IPL-3 ended last night. But the “end of the beginning” was just starting to unravel!

Shashi Tharoor was already Twattered by the time the IPL-3 finals was upon us. A sitting Government that had been slapped around by a young Turk with a pronounced lisp had been so badly humiliated and angered that it galvanized a series of multi-Agency, multi-pronged attacks on the IPL and its parent body, the BCCI. The speed, swiftness, meticulousness, intensity and alacrity of the Governments’ response to the outing and public slapping of its junior minister was awe-inspiring. It was as if India’s pride had been hurt by the young Turk charged with running one of the richest cricket leagues in the world! One wondered what the consequences might have been had such a multi-Agency speedy, swift, meticulous, anger- and humiliation-fueled response had been delivered when 26/11 was on us. But then perhaps the Government wasn’t as embarrassed by 26/11 as it was by the open slap to its face from a Twitter-crazy cricket Czar.

The Government was hell-bent on Twattering The Lisp out of our TV screens.

In a tit for tat operation — now known in rarefied circles as a “twit for twat” operation — both twits were twattered out of our existence, at least temporarily!

As inevitable as night follows day, the twats will twit back into our lives in some altered state. However, for now, the twats will twit no more!

It was all high-octane drama that had modern-India writ all over it.

There was innuendo, suspense, speculation, plots, sub-plots, counter-plots, actors, agents, under-world Dons, money laundering, illegal betting, mysterious ladies that no one had ever heard of, fast-paced action, sleaze, slush, plush, flush and much much more. Whats’ more? All of it was carried out at frenetic pace in full public view, in the media and in Twitter-land in an environment that displayed a total lack of reason, constructive argument and logical debate.

The words, “trial by media” has been used often in the last few days. I personally think this phrase has been abused and badly misused. First, because that would legitimize the existence of “media” in India. The “media” that does exist in India is, in my view, hardly (if ever) read, seen or heard. Second, if this is the way “trials” are conducted, then, God help this land!

Lalit Modi was served with a “show cause notice” by BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla shortly after the IPL-3 Finals on 25 April. Modi was sacked as Chief Commissioner of the IPL and stripped of his role in the BCCI as vice-president. The BCCI Board Secretary, N. Srinivasan sent Modi an email to confirm the “notice”. Ironically, this was just after N. Srinivasan’s team, the Chennai Super Kings, had won the IPL-3 Finals — a game that Srinivasan did not attend.

It was a neat and swift way to stop Modi from attending a meeting of the IPL Governing Council on 26 April, which he initially challenged, saying it was “unofficial and so will not attend”. He then pleaded for “five more days”. He then called the meeting himself and sent an agenda for the meeting too!

Clearly the trusted advisors around Lalit Modi had let him down.

While Shashi Tharoor was Twattered out with some dignity and grace — leaving the door ajar for a later entry — Modi was Twattered out in a somewhat humiliating manner.

The clock had turned full circle. Many years back, Modi had hounded out Jagmohan Dalmiya from the BCCI. More recently, through the formation of the IPL, he had hounded out Subhash Chandra, the creator of rebel ICL. Modi, who helped the BCCI first fight off Jagmohan Dalmiya and next, ward off the threat that Subhash Chandra’s ICL posed — through the creation of the IPL — was now, himself, Twattered out by the very “friends” he had helped.

The BCCI is a cruel place for any person. Modi’s problem was that he started believing in the myths that had been built around him without paying too much attention to the knives that were being sharpened about him.

When Lalit Modi gave his post-finals speech last night, there was an inevitability about him. One detected a sense of despair. The defiance was replaced by justification. The arrogance was replaced by anger. Although rich in self righteousness, I was happy to grant him his last hurrah! The full text of Modi’s speech is here.

Prem Panicker argues:

And the man who built a compelling league from the ground up took the stage as “commissioner under suspension” to deliver an overwrought, self-serving speech, crassly turning the focus on himself [and cloaking himself with assorted mantles ranging from Martin Luther King to Krishna] when the spotlight should have firmly been on the cricket itself.

Modi’s speech was inappropriate, but that he made it was not particularly surprising — it is the BCCI way to put itself ahead of the cricket. Remember the felicitation ceremony at the Wankhede when India returned with the World T20 Cup? The likes of RR Patil and Sharad Pawar turned the occasion into a political rally; on the dais, the front row was occupied by Pawar, Patil, Rajiv Shukla, Niranjan Shah, Modi himself, IS Bindra, PM Runga, Dilip Vengsarkar and others, while the cricketers who had against the odds won the trophy were relegated to the third row.

I was, however, quite happy to grant Modi his place in the sun for one last time. He was a BCCI mercenary who came in, did a job, made a lot of cash and then promptly fell on his own sword. He does claim that he worked tirelessly and for no remuneration. Yes! And if that is right, I am Elvis Presley’s little toe!

Today, there is sleaze money everywhere in cricket. As Prem Panicker writes, every move in Indian cricket is viewed with suspicion and cynicism.

Even Sachin Tendulkar name gets dragged in the muck that represents India’s cricket.

An IPL game was there to be won by Mumbai Indians. Tendulkar retires with cramps for the Mumbai Indians to crumble to a narrow defeat. I got calls saying that that match “must have been fixed”. In yesterdays’ game, Sachin Tendulkar sent Kieron Pollard into bat when all hope was lost. Once again, the reason offered was that the great man “must have been on the take”.

Every move in Indian cricket is viewed with suspicion and cynicism.

The governance structure around the game stinks and a quick clean up is required. The clean up will not be affected (it is just too hard in my view), but it has to be attempted.

As a fan, I just do not trust the people entrusted with the clean up act. Because it involves the BCCI and will be reported on by the “media”. So no. I believe the game and its governance will continue to be what it is.

India deserves this mess. India will continue to retain this mess.

Meanwhile, Team India will prosper because of the quality of her players. Team India has always succeeded despite the BCCI and the “media”. The game and its fans are a complete coincidence to this body and its office bearers.

In the fullness of time some other twit will be Twattered.

Until then, let us all lie back, think of the Queen and pretend we are enjoying it.

After all,
When the pain is over, And the greed begins to slow,
Little accounts start to bud, As these Twattered men grow and grow and grow

— Mohan

Chennai Superkings are IPL-3 Champions!

Finally, after two successful years (almost!), CSK are deserving champions of IPL-3 beating the most consistent team of the tournament. CSK’s win, largely credited to Raina amazing consistency and Dhoni’s brilliant captaincy, gained impetus with the arrival of Bollinger in the side and Vijay sudden turnaround. As Albie Morkel aptly put it, CSK though inconsistent won when it mattered. Their last few games showed amazing team effort and that confidence seemed to carry them through in the finals. Well played talaivaas!!!!

On the other hand, Mumbai Indians may have just have lost steam when it required them to pull through. Their fielding let them down, the drama surrounding Tendulkar’s injury may have been an unwanted distraction, and their strange batting order may just have been the nail in the coffin. Having said that, Mumbai did have an amazing campaign, and Mr. Genius has to take all the credit for making the team believe.

IPL-3, in my view, was the best of the three editions. It was truly enjoyable and two contrasting yet most deserving teams made it into the finals and gave us a wonderful game. Now all attention will be on the world cup and I say bring it on. For now, I am going to cherish the Chennai win while regaling in the memories of SRT’s amazing performances through the tournament.

– Srikanth

World cup squad

The T20 World cup is just a couple of weeks away and the IPL in its final week. I was wondering what the make up of the Indian team would have been if the team was named today rather than before the IPL had started. It also seemed like a fun thing to do 🙂

Before I get down to the actual names, let me state that I thought picking 6 batsmen, 3 all rounders and 6 bowlers, would strike the right balance.

The first person, I would put on the list is SR Tendulkar. Who said that T20 is a young man’s game.- the top three scorers in IPL this year are Tendulkar, Kallis and Ganguly. Tendulkar who tops the list has scored 561 runs @ 51 runs a game with a strike rate of 136.16. Unfortunately, SRT has retired from international T20 and we have to respect that, so instead of SRT I decided to put down the captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the first name on the list. In spite of his failures in IPL this year, his effort against Punjab in the last league alone is reason enough for selection.

The next three names I would put on the paper based on form and performance  are Vijay, Raina and Rohit Sharma. The find of this IPL, IMO has been Vijay. Who would have thought that someone labelled a “test” player could hit the ball like the way he did.

Moving on to the bowlers, the spinners did a really good job in IPL this year – Pragyan Ojha has been the top wicket taker (20 wickets), Mishra has had a good economy rate (6.84) as well as a good wicket haul (17 wickets), and Harbhajan Singh has been good too. The find for the season, though has been Ashwin. After a mediocre start and being dropped, he has come back strongly with these figures in his last five games:  Punjab : 1/20, Delhi: 1/24, Kolkata: 3/16, Deccan: 2/13 and Mumbai: 2/22. So, the three spinners I would pick are Mishra, Harbhajan Singh and R Ashwin. (BTW – if  Kumble was still playing international cricket, he would have been in contention too after a fantastic performance this year – who says the veterans can’t play T20 🙂 )

So far, I’ve  picked 3 batsmen, 3 bowlers and 1 all rounder (I’ve considered Dhoni as an all rounder).  To complete the list of batsmen I narrowed down my list to NV Ojha,  SS Tiwary, Uthappa, Sehwag, Kohli, Yusuf Pathan and Gambhir. With Sehwag injured – I went with Gambhir, Uthappa and Kohli for the 3 remaining slots mainly because of the experience they bring in to the team. Uthappa could also be the spare wicket keeper. And yes, this means I have dropped Dinesh Karthik and Yuvraj Singh from the team.

I also picked Yusuf Pathan  for the all rounder spot.

For the fast bowlers,  Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra were my first picks. For the next slot I was tossing between the two Kumars from Royal Challengers – Praveen and Vinay – I eventually ended up picking  Praveen Kumar.

The last spot (that of the all rounder) went to Ravindra Jadeja (who didn’t play IPL this season)

So my team looks something like this –

  1. Vijay
  2. Gambhir
  3. Raina
  4. Rohit Sharma
  5. MS Dhoni
  6. Y. Pathan/Jadeja
  7. Uthappa/Kohli
  8. Harbhajan Singh
  9. Zaheer Khan
  10. Nehra/P. Kumar
  11. P Ojha/Ashwin

Tell me what your squad would look like 🙂

-Mahesh-

Team India for WC T20

As I write this, the very existence of the IPL is under a huge cloud! Shashi Tharoor, a sitting Junior Minister has resigned from his post over his “links” with the IPL Kochi franchise. The Minister’s link with the Kochi franchise was Twittered open by Lalit Modi. In doing so, Modi took on the Government of the day! He had, no doubt, won several battles in his day. But perhaps he had bitten an apple best left alone? Lalit Modi has now been summoned to New Delhi by Sharad Pawar — a Cabinet Minister and President Elect of the ICC. Speculation is rife that Modi may be pressed to submit his resignation as Commissioner of the IPL Governing Council. The sitting Government, embarassed by the hoopla surrounding its Minister, has openly ordered a series of probes on the IPL, saying “all aspects of the IPL’s operations are under scrutiny”. It is obvious to most people that life will be made hard for IPL and BCCI. Despite the immaturity of the Minister involved, few sitting Governments can take an open (and free) slap to its face easily. Perhaps Lalit Modi’s days with the IPL are numbered? Who knows?

All I know is that this was all caused as a result of a lady from the Middle East who may have been seen as a Karbonn Kamaal Catch by a junior Minister. However, the “sweat equity” that she received was siezed upon by a young Turk who exposed it thinking is was a Citi Moment of Success only to learn that when the shoe is on the other foot, the resulting DLF Max can be quite painful. Well perhaps everyone needs a Maxx Mobile Strategic Time Out?

Who says that IPL is not a soap opera?

But then, onto matters more serious!

On the day that IPL-III finished two weeks of existence, Team India’s selectors announced India’s side for the ICC World Championship T20 tournament to be held at West Indies later this year.

There were a few surprise announcements. I held off commenting on these surprises till IPL-3 had drawn to a close — or until the end was nigh. Now, with the league stage of IPL-3 concluded, I thought the time was appropriate to comment on Team India that will participate in ICC’s WCT20 in West Indies.

This article should be read with Srikanth Mangalam’s piece, which was written earlier today.

For me, the surprises were Piyush Chawla, Vinay Kumar, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Kartik and Rohit Sharma.

I just do not believe there was a need to announce the team 2 weeks before the team needed to be announced. Moreover, the best way to guage a players’ form is through matches. So, given that IPL-3 was still ongoing and had a few more weeks to run, was there a compelling need to rush into team selection? Perhaps not. But then, that is exactly what the selectors did. In their haste, I feel they may have made a few mistakes.

Mind you, I do think that this team is good. With Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh bowling as well as they are and with Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni batting as well as they are, anything is possible if the Gambhir-Sehwag opening combination clicks — which it invariably does when they put on India colours! Throw in Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan and Ashish Nehra and what you have is a really decent outfit.

The team in possible batting order is:

Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Suresh Raina
Yuvraj Singh
MS Dhoni
Rohit Sharma
Yusuf Pathan / Ravindra Jadeja
Harbhajan Singh / Piyush Chawla
Zaheer Khan
Vinay Kumar / Praveen Kumar
Ashish Nehra

DRINKS: Dinesh Karthik

There are a few problems with this team, in my view:

  • Virender Sehwag has not been in the best of form for Delhi Daredevils. That said, he has to be a part of the team unless he has just one leg, one hand and one strand of hair left on his head! He is a must in any Team India.
  • Yuvraj Singh may well prove me wrong, but I just do not feel he should have been a part of this team. He has had a spate of injuries which he has perhaps not fully recovered from. Moreover, in my view, his performance in IPL-3 was totally sulk-induced as a result of his demotion as captian of KXIP. And for a serious and senior cricketer, this is perhaps not quite professional enough. His non-selection may have sent a much stronger message than his demotion as KXIP captain. I am not suggesting that Yuvraj Singh may have deliberately under-performed. No. I am suggesting, as I did at the very start of IPL-3, that I could see a BYSS (Big Yuvraj Sized Sulk) sulk around the corner. He did!
  • While I have no doubt that Rohit Sharma is an immensely talented cricketer, there have been a few other batsmen in IPL-3 that have perhaps put in much stronger performances in IPL-3. In particular, I think Robin Uthappa and M. Vijay will feel that they had done enough to be on that plane to West Indies.
  • Piyush Chawla is the biggest surprise, in my view. As Srikanth Mangalam said in his piece, spinners like Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra and even Shadab Jakati have bowled better that Piyush Chawla! I am not sure where Piyush Chawla picks up his lottery tickets, but if everyone in India picks up their lotto tickets from where Chawla does, the Indian lottery system would be broke before it opened for business! He is not a bad bowler. There are just better guys going around right now!
  • Vinay Kumar was another surprise pick for me. He has looked good, no doubt and has put in a strong IPL-3 performance after a solid domestic season. I have no real qualms with his pick. He is perhaps there as cover for when Praveen Kumar goes “pear shaped”.
  • And finally, I get to my favourite topic of Dinesh Kartik! Apart from ensuring that this article gets at least one response/comment from a certain person from Bangalore in support of Kartik’s inclusion, I really do not know what this man does to get included in every Team India! Is he there as cover for MS Dhoni? Is he there as a batsman cover for Rohit Sharma? If it is the former, then that is quite fine by me. If he is there as a batsman cover for Rohit Sharma, then, surely Robin Uthappa is a better bet? Especially since Uthappa can ‘keep wickets too in case Dhoni gets injured? I just give up where Kartik’s repeated inclusion is concerned. I want to believe that it has more to do than the fact that he is from Tamil Nadu. But then all roads point to that for me!

All in all, I think this is a good team. However, I would have been happier if Robin Uthappa, Murali Vijay and Pragyan Ojha (or Amit Mishra) were included instead of Dinesh Kartik, Yuvraj Singh and Piyush Chawla.

— Mohan

Where Srikkanth and Co. made a mistake!

Leaving all the hoopla and drama surrounding the Modi/Tharoor Gate aside, I have actually enjoyed IPL3 way more than the previous editions. For one, the games have had far closer finishes, the teams barring Mumbai Indians have been fairly even and the semi-finals qualifying suspense has lasted longer than the previous versions. Secondly, there has been the unearthing/rediscovering of more Indian talent that seems to have performed more consistently as well. This is what I would like to focus on in this article. Specifically, I attempt to identify players who seem to have emerged as candidates who should have either made it into the India T20 side or are certainly in the reckoning. I do have to preface this discussion by stating that Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina have lived upto and exceeded expectations in my opinion. They are, I believe, torch bearers for India into the future. Here goes…

1. M. Vijay

Vijay has already demonstrated his sheer talent and determination in the longer version of the game. Srikkanth has stated that he clicked much after the team was selected. I somehow don’t buy that argument. Also, why did the selectors have to rush into establishing the team atleast three days before the list was actually due to the ICC. Admittedly, Vijay’s chances may have been impacted by the poor decision of playing Parthiv Patel in the early games even when Dhoni was available. Additionally, batting lower down the order may not have helped him either. In any case, Vijay is most certain to make it to the side sooner or later. For all you know, Yuvraj or Sehwag may have incurred “injuries” that could allow Vijay to be drafted into the side.

2. Pragyan Ojha

It remains a mystery to me as to why this talented spinner continues to find it difficult to get into the side. He is the highest wicket taker in this edition and has performed consistently well in all the three editions. Ojha is the best left arm spinner in the country right now and should be playing for India.

3. Umesh Yadav

This fast bowler playing for Delhi Daredevils could have been worth testing out for the sheer pace that he brings in. He is real quick and can send in some lethal yorkers too. He may been worth examining in place of either Praveen Kumar (who has hardly played a game in the later half of the tournament) or Ashish Nehra (who is recovering from his injury).

4. A. T. Rayadu/Saurab Tiwary

Tendulkar’s presence has certainly helped these two talented cricketers who seem to have the brain, the heart, and the talent to play this version of the game really well. I have to say that, while I have thoroughly devoured “God’s” game, I have enjoyed Mumbai Indians this time around primarly due to youngsters like these two cricketers.

5. Others

I would certainly keep batsman/wicketkeeper Naman Ojha and T. Suman in the fray. I also think that Amit Mishra, R. Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, and Robin Uthappa may consider themselves unlucky. While Manish Pandey may be run into a rut, he stills has the talent to make it through to the top level. Shadab Jakati is another worth taking a lot while Dinda and Unadkat from Kolkata are outsiders.

6. Big Disappointments

The selectors need to be concerned with the poor form of Yuvraj and Y. K Pathan. Yusuf Pathan is a unidimensional cricketer and the opposition have figured him out. Unless he accquires/borrows intelligence from somewhere, he is better off playing his cameos for Baroda. Piyush Chawla should consider himself extremely lucky to be in the side.

– Srikanth