Author Archives: smangalam

India does not deserve Tendulkar!

As I watch this series, as I watched this team over the last 18 months or so, watch their insipid performance I get angrier and angrier. I don’t give a damn about the talent, artistry and all that crap. I am simply astounded, amazed and humbled to see the great man deal with all this. This team does not deserve him or for that matter the retired greats, VVS, Dravid, Ganguly and Kumble. India, with the presence of the fab five, have had to go through similar phases in their career more often than not. But they come out these troubled times as better cricketers, players with greater respect and dignity, and simply better human beings. There was humility in their acceptance of defeat, while at the same time, a visible resolve and determination to fight back and earn back the respect on the field through their performances. They were the greatest group of cricketers ever to have taken the field for India and none will compare ever. The greatest of them all continues to fight even as the world turns against him, runs on the field like every run stopped matters, no shortage of inspirational words to his pathetic and undeserving team mates. I wonder how he puts up with this group which seems to think that it can talk, moan, and whine its way out this phase. Oh and the BCCI joins the chorus too!

This Indian team is a cocky, arrogant, spoiled lot that seems to be complete in self denial. What a depressing contrast to the fab five. The color, texture, chemical properties, physical properties, moisture content, contaminant levels of the pitches, the ambient air, noise levels in the stadia, water quality in the pavilions seem to be winning formulae for this team. Humility in defeat, dignity in victories, application in play, focus in action all seem to be irrelevant and simply unnecessary to playing the game. I am getting tired of this “natural flair” in play and speech of Sehwag. He is irresponsible, childish and borderline asinine everytime he opens his mouth, his blade occasionally gives hope but that is diminishing too. Gautam Gambhir is better off in Indian army. Virat Kohli’s world cup speech may have brought a tear or two in the eye but that, on hindsight, seems more like a well rehearsed drama. His commitment to the longer version is still largely uncertain. Yuvraj Singh thinks he is constantly in a reality TV show. I don’t know what to make of MS Dhoni anymore. Zaheer Khan seems to give the impression that he is turning out for Shivaji Gymkhana or some charity event. Do we have spinners playing for India? I haven’t spotted any. Harbhajan Singh is better off forming a bhangra band with Sreesanth. That leaves us with Pujara, probably the only fellow on the team who is worthy of standing next to Tendulkar on an Indian test side for me. During their down time, some cricket players are known for their interest in making music in a dubstep studio.

I have never hated this game and this team as much in my 38 years of following Indian cricket and the members on the team barring the great man and maybe one or two more who are to blame. Thank god for Ranji Trophy. At least, there seems to be life in that form of the game after all. I believe that format was given a rebirth thanks to ideas emanating from guess who, members of the Fab Five!!!At least one of them remains on the field and two provide some sanity in the commentators box. I miss them already.

– Srikanth

Indian cricket Paes for its dilemma!

It has been brought to our notice that in the last few days, several new developments have occurred behind the scenes that will rock Indian cricket in the immediate future. In particular, news has emerged that India players have placed new and unusual demands to the board in response to the lack of publicity they have received in the last few weeks. Sources within 100km proximity of these players indicate that the players are frustrated that other sports of little value to India (meaning tennis, badminton, chess (is that even a sport?)) have hogged the limelight. We at i3j3 can with nearly 1% certainty say that there is a probability that some India may more than likely come out with the following individual demands:

1. Sachin Tendulkar will only one day internationals for India if he is allowed to practice with a bowler who is unlikely to play on the opposing side but knows the opposition’s bowling strengths.
2. Gautam Gambhir will only play if he is given the vice captaincy and Virat Kohli is only considered after Virender Sehwag is given a chance.
3. Virat Kohli will only play if he is referred to as a youngster and Rohit Sharma remains his idol without ver getting a chance to play test cricket.
4. Manoj Tiwary will only play if Laxmi Ratan Shukla is not given captaincy of Bengsl in his absence.
5. Harbhajan’s Singh will only play if R. Ashwin is dropped from the side.
6. Zaheer Khan will only play if his hairstyle is not commented on by Ravi Shastri but is okay if commented on by Harsha Bhogle.
7. Rohit Sharma will only play if Virat Kohli does not consider him his idol and he is allowed to throw his wicket away at least once every two games.
8. V.V.S. Laxman will only if Rahul Dravid will play so that he can discuss quality of modern constructions at first slip.
9. Rahul Dravid will only play until he retires.
10. Dhoni will only play if players place no demands and he can ride his motorcycle at night.

I3j3 is committed to only posting updates to this list as when it’s readers predict future unrealistic scenarios.

The BCCI is extremely concerned that no cricketer has yet written an earnest open letter criticizing it on its administrative capabilities. It has hired Institute of Mathematicsl Sciences in Chennai to solve this complex problem and provide a Mathematicsl solution that it can take to ICC to oppose Duckworth Lewis. Maybe they need a super beta prostate. Math Sciences has demanded that India Cement sponsor this study and that the results be only interpreted by N. Srinivasan. Mr. Srinivasan has requested K. Srikkanth to be his spokesperson.

Updates to follow at infrequent intervals as determined by the mathematical model developed by Duckworth Lewis.

– Srikanth (inspired by twitter posting by Sanjay Subrahmanyan)
9.

IPL – A Corporate Governance Success

Contrary to the beliefs and outcries from critics of the IPL, I have concrete evidence that the IPL is a successful corporation that demonstrates values and practices that meet and exceed global standards in corporate governance. I have tested the practices of the IPL against ISO 31000 (an objective science based international risk management standard developed through global consensus amongst 4 right wing ideologues from Australia and Japan and three Canadian Sycophants) and found them to compliant on all fronts. In the rich tradition of corporate governance consulting, I give you the top 10 reasons for why I believe IPL is an inspirational story for corporations worldwide. These reasons have been determined based on a scientific analysis of data collected from highly subjective, opinionated, and prejudiced minds of experts. Here goes:

1. Environmentally Conscious – Large open spaces were seen in stadiums left by partially constructed stands. These provided for fresh air and enhanced the architectural beauty of the grounds.
2. Diversity in the Workplace – The DD vs CSK playoff game was a case in point. Sunny Gupta moonwalked into the side as a like for like replacement (brown replacing brown) and was a shining light in IPL’s diversity practices. Additionally, a black guy was brought in place of a white guy who was dropped because a brown guy was injured. Balance of color was restored.
3. Work Life Balance – Players were provided flexible working hours and vacations for getting married, getting divorced, standing in political elections, becoming MPs, shooting ads etc. etc.
4. Social Responsibility – What’s his name who kept wickets and opened the innings for KKR in the finals and score 80 odd runs, was picked up from the streets and given a job when no one else would even care for him.
5. Strong Mentoring Program – Cheteswar Pujara was provided all the necessary tools and forums to talk to players very familiar (read folks from South Africa and India even if Chris Gayle was seated a couple of chairs away) with West Indian pitches even if he did not get to play an IPL game. Look at the outcome, Pujara has just won a game for India A against West Indies A.
6. Eliminating Age Discrimination – If Brad Hogg’s success story as a cricketer turned commentator turned IPL hero is not inspirational enough, I am not sure what is. Dermot Reeve, who last played for Warwickshire in the 16th century and was a successful commentator this year is gearing up for a season with Pune Warriors next year. I am 43 and happened to played with Harsha Bhogle in my childhood. Do I have a shot?
7. Fostering Innovation – Players were encouraged to employ innovative methods to supplement their earnings and were rewarded handsomely for advancements in Fix Laws of Probability and game theory.
8. Zero Tolerance of Sexual Harassment – CSK’s zero tolerance policy was in full effect as players were able to successfully avoided any untoward advances made by Suresh Raina on and off the field. His string of failures was an added advantage as he did not have much to cheer about anyway. Luke Pomersbach’s faith in India’s justice system and his subsequent settlement was removed from the evidence as it was deemed as an outlier.
9. Commitment to Regional Cooperation – The bailout of CSK by Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore was clearly an evidence of a bond and cooperation between regional partners that is unparalleled.
10. Producing Strong Leaders – The fact that the finals was played between two teams with the two best leaders in the game is a testimony. Their faith in high value employees in Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan certainly paid off! Or did it?

– Srikanth

An eye for an eye?

Several things have happened during the last few days that have kept me thinking that the BCCI with all its wealth to bloody well starting dictating terms in a more direct way. Enough of this nonsense. Here are some examples of what has got me going:

1. The Indians led by Tendulkar have constantly expressed reservations about the DRS. Instead of establishing and demonstrating the credibility of the system, the rest of world has only been critical of India’s antics. The englishmen do not agree with a review based decision on VVS Laxman and all hell breaks loose. Now the hot spot has to undergo testing. So, it takes an anglo-saxon team to complain to establish proof of performance?
2. Hotspot fails to detect an edge of VVS Laxman’s bat (which never happened). The english fielders behind the stumps mistook Matt Prior’s release from his rear as the edge and they all question the hotspot. Michael Vaughan contributes further to Prior’s rear emissions by claiming VVS to be a cheat. Stuart Broad licks VVS’s bat hoping to get high and finds nothing…And we are supposed to take all this and stay silent?
3. Ian Bell gets run out because he is high on Prior’s release, Strauss goes demands extra gaaji for Bell and we are supposed to give in?
4. Swann kicks the stumps thinking he is playing for Nottingham Forest, apologizes and gets an award for sportsmanship and we are supposed to sponsor the prize?
5. Nasser Hussain is unable to explain to his two sons why Harbhajan Singh was given out lbw even though there was a big inside edge and blames India for being a disgrace not accepting the DRS. (I suggest he is better off spending his time trying to explain why the Brits went to war in Iraq or why he continues to work for a company owned by Rupert Murdoch to his sons, that will be a true lesson in life!!!). And we are supposed to pay his salary?

All of this gets me going and am out of control till I read Dravid’s interview at the end of the day. I read about how the team discussed the Bell event and related it to what happened to Laxman in West Indies. Who can also forget the ugly incident involving Sachin Tendulkar and Shoaib Akhtar in Kolkata. Where was Wasim Akram then? And I say to myself, I would rather hold my head high and say that I support a team that has Dravid, Tendulkar, and Laxman three of the greatest ambassadors of the game there has ever been than fall for the bait. And I hope that India will pull out of this challenge much like what happened in Australia a few years back. This is a team that is unparalleled in its ability to bounce back from the most difficult of situations and this series could very well be another one of those.

Hoping for the best.

– Srikanth

If only…..

The daggers are out, the rifles are loaded, they are going for the kill. Most Indian media, a largely irrational fan base, highly insecure former cricketers of the successful and unsuccessful kind and many more have more or less dismissed this Indian team. The Lords mishap has become a catastrophic failure. Irrelevant statistics are being produced and reproduced to prove how the defeat was as predictable as anything could possibly be. All recent successes going back to as far as 2007 are forgotten memories, mere outliers.

Given a choice this could have all been avoided. India could have won Lords and subsequently the series (it is irrelevant what happens in the next 3 tests)if only:

1. India refused to play the first test. Hereafter India should only begin a series with a 2nd test.
2. Extended the IPL till such time that Sehwag was fit and arrive late in England.
3. Ensure that Zaheer Khan played at least two tests even if it was for some other country so that he was match fit.
4. Avoid getting Tendulkar to field on a cold day before he bats so that he doesn’t pick up a viral infection. Dhoni should have consulted the team doctor before fielding first.
5. Make sure Ishant Sharma doesn’t get to eat lunch when bowling. Starvation is better for a bowler than indigestion. Again, Dhoni should have consulted the team doctor at lunch before offering food to Ishant Sharma on the fourth day.
6. Ensure that Harbhajan Singh gets the first wicket of the innings even if it means manipulating the scoreboard. He needs to be in the mood to bowl well.
7. Dhoni should have kept a mobile device with him to continually monitor Sanjay Manjrekar’s tweets, Sunil Gavaskar’s tips on positioning slip cordons, Kapil Dev’s tips on bowling changes, Ravi Shastri’s cliches, Harsha Bhogle’s tongue in Geoffrey’s Boycott’s cheeks, David Lloyd’s wicket keeping tips, and Peter Roebuck’s axioms. The result would have been different.
8. Tendulkar should have asked James Anderson to bowl to him at the nets instead of his unknown marathi friend or Monty Panesar, that way, he would been better prepared to play swing bowling.
9. Tendulkar should have bought his property far away from Lords. That way, he wouldnt have takenthe pitch for granted. He should cut out strokes outside the off stump, towards mid wicket, square of the wicket, pull stroke, down the ground and attempt to play naturally. Anyways, statistics tell us that Tendulkar doesn’t score well in the second innings, doesn’t save games for india, doesnt win games for India, doesn’t bat till the end…
10. BCCI should have used its powers to ensure that Strauss did not get to play for Somerset. He found india out before the series began.

Now that Sanjay Manjrekar has decided to go England after all, Dhoni has apologized to Kapil Dev for making a mockery of test cricket, Sunil Gavaskar has confirmed that Ishant Sharma is a quick learner because he said “sorry” on TV and UB has withdrawn it’s ad ridiculing Harbhajan, India may very well take the series.

– Srikanth

Men in Blue – Champions in the Making

They are almost there. The glorious men in blue, this special Indian team is one game away from repeating history. And that they will do, mark my words! Dhoni and his men are special; they are talented, ambitious, inspiring, strong mentally and physically, and above all driven to succeed. They showed it all at Mohali. Yes, Tendulkar had survived 7 times, but survive he did and scored the most precious runs of the game. Even the real God (if there is one) wasn’t willing to let him out of sight. Sehwag blunted Umar Gul’s pre-match rhetoric in no time. Gambhir, Kohli and Dhoni contributed valuable runs while occupying the crease. Suresh Raina topped it off with a special innings.

I had tweeted early on in the game that 275 was going to be a winning total. While I felt India were about 20 runs short, I also knew that Pakistan had a fairly ordinary batting lineup and 260 was absolutely defendable. And defend they did. Dhoni made a controversial call at the start of the game, leaving Ashwin out for the out-of-form Nehra. That turned out to be brilliant move. Nehra bowled outstandingly well, fielding sincerely, and helped Raina add a few at the end of the innings. The Indians have fielded out of their skins in the last couple of games and what a refreshing sight that has been!

The Pakistanis bowled superbly as expected. Their fielding was a mockery and going back to the basics would be an understatement. Their batting, I have always felt, was mediocre. While I am a big fan of Younus Khan, his days in one dayers have long been over. Misbah Ul Haq is as mysterious as previous namesake captain. The Akmals are never known to carry their innings long enough to finish off. Afridi is a pale shadow of his past. Any total above 230 was going to be tough ask. Here is a team that was bowled out in the 180s by an associate nation consisting of part time cricketers (sorry Canadians!).

This world cup could not have been scripted better than what it is. It has been a dream journey. Sachin Tendulkar will grace Wankhade in the finals and win it for India. I also predict that, if this happens, God will announce his retirement from one day internationals. Strong statement that, but as Ravi Shastri would say, I have a feeling!

Game on!

– Srikanth

The World Cup Blahs!

I watch this world cup unfold and cannot but ignore the strange things happening on and off the field. Mohan’s tweets (Mohan, I am not sure I have become savvy enough to link your tweets on this blog, so I will let you figure it out!) have wonderfully captured the humor around the various situations that have occurred during the tournament. It will be worth getting a compilation of his tweets and possibly auctioning them off for a good cause. An introductory training course on wicketkeeping for Kamran Akmal, perhaps!! Anyway, I have attempted in my mediocre way of compiling some of my thoughtless observations. Here goes..

The one on top of the list is the Indian team composition. I suggest hiring a highly qualified investigator/analyst to try and figure out the strategy of selecting the final x1. It may be worthwhile hiring a linguistic expert to try and figure out what comes out of Dhoni’s mouth when he is asked to explain the strategy. It seems that the best position to be in for a good player is not in the playing X1. If you have had disturbed childhood, suicidal tendencies, parental abuse, girlfriend problems, weight issues, or any such factors that have made you visit a psychiatrist weekly, you are guaranteed to play in the final X1.

A close second is the team composition of the Pakistani team. Even betting as a strategy may not succeed. I mean, imagine, somebody trying to bet on Kamran Akmal dropping a catch! Abdul Razzaq reminds me of Ravindra Jadeja in the recent times or Ajay Jadeja of the past. More than likely, he is going to score when Pakistan is destined to lose. I have lost track of their batting lineup. Is Saeed Anwar still in the side? If not, maybe he should!!! I thought Younis Khan was a safe catcher. Or was it Mohammed Yusuf?  Irregardless, Pakistan is able to creep into the next stage of every world cup with any lineup that they gather!!! So much for strategy…

If any Pakistani fails to make it to the lineup, he has two choices. He should talk to the News of the World, or better, immigrate to South Africa. That way, they can atleast attempt to spin a web around others’ throats and avoid choking themselves. The one thing that I am certain about, South Africa will not win this world cup, possibly not the next or the one after…. The most effectiveness sledge word on the field would be “choke” when they play. South Africa  in a world cup remind me of Ivan Lendl at Wimbledon. They will successfully retain the “choke” title and Lance Klusener will be there to comment on it!

Ravi Bopara scores and is rewarded by being dumped for Collingwood. Collingwood has more or less “limited” his options to T20 will his limited perfomances. Pietersen gets hernia and Bopara’s hopes are raised only to be dashed by the arrival of Eoin Morgan. If Bopara does not play any more games, he might as well consider using the race card!!! Or consider immigrating to South Africa. They are open for business!!

Doug Bollinger decides to train to handle harsh Chennai weathers in April and gets replaced by Michael Hussey. Hussey has apparently developed an unplayable inswinging yorker in the last month or so!!! For someone who was dropped, insulted, and abandoned, the Aussies seem to be placing all their World Cup hopes on Hussey. I guess he bats, fields, and apparently bowls better than anyone else on the team. And he is also mentally stronger!!! R. Ashwin, you might want to consider immigrating to Australia!!

If I have advocated India to playing only three frontline bowlers (if Piyush Chawla is good enough, they might as well replace him with Suresh Raina and it wouldn’t make a difference!!), the Sri Lankans may simply leave the bowling responsibilities with Malinga and Muralitharan. That way they can bat all the way till no:10, and they might need that…. If Malinga gets injured, there is a probabilistic chance that the game may get rained out. That way, they at least gain a point!

On a serious note, I am actually intrigued by the West Indies team. I haven’t seen this lineup much but am looking forward to watching the likes of Darren Bravo, Kemar Roach, and Suleiman Benn against the Indians even if it comes at the cost of tolerating the old guard, Chanderpaul and Sarwan…

If there are other teams playing in the World Cup, nobody told me about it!!!

– Srikanth

An Indian X1 – Rich and Spoilt!

Sanjay Manjrekar’s tweet on Rohit Sharma, “For a man in “poor” form, he plays like a “rich” man”, prompted to come up with a possible X1 players that India has tried and persisted with in the recent past and who can give Rohit Sharma good company. Here goes in batting order..

1. Dinesh Karthik

Apart from a few die-hard Mylaporites who might oppose, he is a unanimous choice for wicketkeeper, opener

2. Robin Uthappa

For someone who has had the opportunity to open with Tendulkar, he has blown the chances that have come his way.

3. Yuvraj Singh (captain)

No one has been pampered more than this “maharaja” of spoilt brats who has played 265 one day games and continues to provide hope to a few.

4. Rohit Sharma

I have been a fan of his till this series, but have crossed the floor to join those who want him to focus on other things than cricket.

5. Suresh Raina

This was a hard decision but his best and only place is with the CSK. He doesn’t have what it takes like Virat Kohli.

6. Y. Venugopala Rao

I had to complete the middle order and looked through the stats of recent cricketers and he has played sufficient games to join the list. Any favorite of Greg Chappell will find a place on this side.

7. Irfan Pathan

While the rest of the country is hoping that he turns up in India colors, he is busy “nowhere”. What a talent gone wasted…

8. Ravindra Jadeja

Unless the entire BCCI, selection committee, Dhoni and all owe him or his family a lot of money, I am not sure why his name even comes up for the Saurashtra team.

9. Piyush Chawla

A leg spinner wannabe somehow finds his way ahead of bowlers like Ashwin or Ojha who actually take wickets. I guess a stint in the counties would help anyone get into the side.

10. R. P Singh

He thought he could get away with a smile, and he actually did!

11. Ishant Sharma

This is probably the most controversial selection from my standpoint. Barring a few spells in test cricket, he looked very ordinary even on favorable South African pitches.

These guys must make decent players like Wasim Jaffer, S. Badrinath, Cheteswar Pujara wonder if the world can ever be fair.

It is a relief that the top three in the batting lineup would be quite different for the World Cup.

– Srikanth

India’s Test Future

When the current series in South Africa winds down, all the attention will be focused on the upcoming World Cup and subsequently on the IPL. It is, however, interesting to note that, as per Future Tours Program posted on Cricinfo, India will be playing 4 tests in the West Indies in June/July, 4 tests in England in July/September, host the Windies for three tests in November/December and end the year in Australia in a 4 test series. That is 15 tests in a span of approximately 6 months. Three of these series are away and the games in England and Australia are certainly worth looking forward to. Does India have a strategy to tackle these series? Let’s examine some of the concerns.

The uncertainty around Gary Kirsten’s continuation as the coach seems to be a major concern. The Indians have felt that Kirsten’s presence has been the best thing that has happened to Indian cricket in a long time. Kirsten has indicated that, due to family reasons, he would like to relinquish his job. Senior Indian players have requested that he atleast stay on as a coach for tests. Kirsten has given any indications of changing his plans. The Indians would have to go back to the drawing board in determining suitable candidates for what is turning out to be a crucial position for Indian cricket.

The most important question on everyone’s mind is the future of the Fabulous three. Though M.S. Dhoni and co. have attributed a major portion of the success in tests to the bowling department and rightly so, it is the fab three along with Sehwag who have provided the comfort base for the bowlers to perform well. The three masters will do great service to the nation if they can assist in grooming their replacements sooner than later. India should not end in a situation that Australia currently is in. I would expect Rahul Dravid to possibly till the end of the England series and finish his career where he started. VVS Laxman and Tendulkar could go on to Australia and consider their futures subsequently. For them to do so, they have to remain fit and choose their games intelligently. It would probably be a good idea for them to alternatively skip the West Indies series (home and away). Their roles should become clearer in the next few months.

India has a lot to think about regarding replacements for the fab three. Pujara seems to be more or less certain to stay the course. A good home series should help his cause immensely. Pujara should possibly consider taking on the No:3 position. India will have to give S. Badrinath another chance to prove his mettle. He has had a stunning domestic season and has atleast another 4-5 years of cricket left. He looks fit and is hungry for runs. Yuvraj Singh may just sense an opening with Suresh Raina’s terrible outings in South Africa. I am not convinced that it would be a good move. However, India would do well with a left hander in the middle order much like the role that Saurav Ganguly played. The opening slot seems reasonably stable for atleast another couple of years with Sehwag and Gambhir. Vijay and Abhinav Mukund might well be the back up choices. Interesting to note that the two Delhi openers may be followed by the two openers from Tamilnadu.

India’s bowling department continues to be a revolving door. Barring a fit Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, all slots are available for grabs. Not much to write home about on that front as yet.

It will be interesting to see how India handles its busiest year in a while especially when it comes to test cricket. It will be a repeat of the 2007/2008 and 2008 series in Australia and England respectively.

– Srikanth

 

God extends the realms of imagination!

Sachin Tendulkar was 30 odd not out at the first drinks break on the 4th day of the 1st test against Australia at Chennai in 1998. My Director, Mr. T.T. Srinivasaraghavan suggested that I use his pavilion pass to witness something special that day. It was a working day but he knew my passion for cricket and my almost God like worship of “God” was quite obvious. He had a hunch and there I was witnessing sheer magic. Mozart’s melody,  Beethoven’s drama, Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s majesty, everything and more was at display.

A year or so later, I was present again at Chepauk to witness an innings of a entirely different kind. Saqlain Mushtaq was turning the ball square. There were rumors that, then famous captain of India was busy arranging to have the game settled differently. Tendulkar had developed back spasms. He played like a superhuman and almost pulled the impossible.

Eleven years later, as I sat down to watch his innings today, I realized nothing had really changed. The hunger was still there, the belief to do the impossible still strong, and the shots all simply showing up at will. The near trivialization of the bowling at times, surprising but deserved respect to Paul Harris’s floaters, and taking on body blows, he played like a champion. Just around the same time, the King of Carnatic Music was delivering his majestic thodi I was told, God was busy turning fantasy into reality.

We bow to thee!!!!

– Srikanth