Sreesanth da man?

One of my big arguments before today’s semifinal between SL and NZ was that tomorrow’s 11th man toss-up for India should be between Sreesanth and Chawla. No Munaf, No Nehra. If SL win, India should play Sreesanth, and if NZ wins, India should play Chawla. Now that SL has won it, Sree it is!

Let’s look at SL – they have largely been clinical so far. Except when they lost to Pak. That was also the only occasion none of their top four scored a half century. They did get exposed against NZ this time as well. Let’s face it – SL have a below average middle order (except Angelo, who I have extreme respect for). Moreover, they have four pure bowlers who can hardly bat. So, the recipe to defeat SL is easy to understand and difficult to implement. Get 3 of their top 4 back cheaply.

Pak has been a rather poor batting side getting whittled for less than 200 on more than one occasion in an otherwise high scoring tournament, and a tremendous bowling side managing to restrict the opposition nevertheless. Umar Akmal has been the only relatively consistent batsman. There are no tonners in the side, and their war veteran, Younis Khan, has looked out of sorts. Also, not surprisingly, they have looked more susceptible to pace than spin.

Indian batting has been positive, except for the Powerplay collapses, with Sachin, Sehwag, Gautam, Yuvraj, Virat (and Raina) amongst runs. Indian bowling, on the other hand, has struggled to get rid of top order batsmen. Tamim Iqbal (BAN), Strauss (ENG), Porterfield (IRE), Amla (SA), Smith (WI), Haddin (AUS) – one of the openers has scored a half century in 6 out of 7 matches they’ve played so far. So, it can be safely said that they need something different against SL. The problem with Chawla, Nehra and Munaf is that there are no surprises (barring Chawla’s googly) when it comes to them running in, throwing ball, and going back for the next one. India’s 11th player has been, generally speaking, a value destroyer for the team. Not really contributing much or bleeding sufficiently to cause enough worries in a close match.

This brings me to the conclusion that India should play Sreesanth in both the matches. Sree has some pace, and a lot of histrionics in him, which will come handy. He is not predictable. He himself doesn’t know what he will come up with next, and can produce some unplayable deliveries by design or by accident every now and then. Mohali pitch should have something for pacers. Both SL and Pak have reasonable good players of spin bowling. Lastly, looking at the 12 non-descript overs bowled by Munaf in the last two matches, I am sure MSD can hide Sree in a corner, if required. He is definitely a better fielder than Munaf, and hopefully, will talk sEo much that some opposition batsman will lose concentration.

Let’s spare a thought from Pakistan’s perspective as well. They will have to win it through their bowling. However, it’s the inadequacy of their batting that makes me wonder if they can win. Their bench is not likely throw a batsman who can take care of their woes. They can surely hope that a Younis/Misbah does an Inzamam. But then, Pakistan team hasn’t really every performed up to the predictions. They, usually, write their own destiny, a minute at a time.

However, there is a very disturbing reality to “what happens if Pakistan defeats India”. For one, India not playing the finals would mean a likely 70%+ reduction in the potential revenue from the final (for various parties), just as India playing the finals would maybe increase the currently projected revenues by 20% (these are educated guesses). The producers and directors will have to set the IPL pre and post-production work in full speed right away. Dhoni will have to request Jharkhand Govt. to increase the protection levels for his family. Sachin will be heartbroken. And a nation full of zealots will look for a new religion.

 

Eleventh Hour googly:Eleventh Man

One of my big arguments before today’s semifinal between SL and NZ was that tomorrow’s 11th man toss-up for India should be between Sreesanth and Chawla. No Munaf, No Nehra. If SL win, India should play Sreesanth, and if NZ wins, India should play Chawla. Now that SL has won it, Sree it is!

Let’s look at SL – they have largely been clinical so far. Except when they lost to Pak. That was also the only occasion none of their top four scored a half century. They did get exposed against NZ this time as well. Let’s face it – SL have a below average middle order (). Moreover, they have four pure bowlers who can hardly bat. So, the recipe to defeat SL is easy to understand and difficult to implement. Get 3 of their top 4 back cheaply.

[AD1] Pak has been a rather poor batting side getting whittled for less than 200 on more than one occasion in an otherwise high scoring tournament, and a tremendous bowling side managing to restrict the opposition nevertheless. Umar Akmal has been the only relatively consistent batsman. There are no tonners in the side, and their war veteran, Younis Khan, has looked out of sorts. Also, not surprisingly, they have looked more susceptible to pace than spin.

Indian batting has been positive, except for the Powerplay collapses, with Sachin, Sehwag, Gautam, Yuvraj, Virat (and Raina) amongst runs. Indian bowling, on the other hand, has struggled to get rid of top order batsmen. Tamim Iqbal (BAN), Strauss (ENG), Porterfield (IRE), Amla (SA), Smith (WI), Haddin (AUS) – one of the openers has scored a half century in 6 out of 7 matches they’ve played so far. So, it can be safely said that they need something different against SL. The problem with Chawla, Nehra and Munaf is that there are no surprises (barring Chawla’s googly) when it comes to them running in, throwing ball, and going back for the next one. India’s 11th player has been, generally speaking, a value destroyer for the team. Not really contributing much or bleeding sufficiently to cause enough worries in a close match.

This brings me to the conclusion that India should play Sreesanth in both the matches. Sree has some pace, and a lot of histrionics in him, which will come handy. He is not predictable. He himself doesn’t know what he will come up with next, and can produce some unplayable deliveries by design or by accident every now and then. Mohali pitch should have something for pacers. Both SL and Pak have reasonable good players of spin bowling. Lastly, looking at the 12 non-descript overs bowled by Munaf in the last two matches, I am sure MSD can hide Sree in a corner, if required. He is definitely a better fielder than Munaf, and hopefully, will talk so much that some opposition batsman will lose concentration.

Coming back to today’s match;Let’s spare a thought from Pakistan’s perspective as well. They will have to win it through their bowling. However, it’s the inadequacy of their batting that makes me wonder if they can win. Their bench is not likely throw a batsman who can take care of their woes. They can surely hope that a Younis/Misbah does an Inzamam. But then, Pakistan team hasn’t really every performed up to the predictions. They, usually, write their own destiny, a minute at a time.

However, there is a very disturbing reality to “what happens if Pakistan defeats India”. For one, India not playing the finals would mean a likely 70%+ reduction in the potential revenue from the final (for various parties), just as India playing the finals would maybe increase the currently projected revenues by 20% (these are educated guesses). The producers and directors will have to set the IPL pre and post-production work in full speed right away. Sachin will be heartbroken. And a nation full of zealots will look for a new religion.

Dhoni will have to request Jharkhand Govt. to increase the protection levels for his family. Maybe its time for another eleventh hour googly from him and get Sree in.


 

[AD1]Do u want it after 3rd and 4th para…talk of pak side first and then Srilanka as first matc h is Pakistan. Migfht go better after the intro

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India-Pak Semi: The Pinnacle of Advertising in India

Today should be noted in the books of history. It doesn’t happen too often. And it’s unlikely to happen again in the next 8 years. As India play Pakistan in the semifinal of Cricket World Cup, the world of adveritsing would have changed, and the price barriers would have set a new benchmark for how expensive an ad slot can be. It will be interesting if any weed smoking son of the gun can calculate the real ROI of an ad slot today.
Here’s the opportunity (the ‘for dummies” version) –

  • Everyone’s watching – It’s that one topic. If you are marginally aware of cricket, you’d be watching it. If you’re not, then you’d be forced to, because the others won’t let you put anything else on the tube.
  • The same thing – The match is being telecast on three channels I guess- DD, Star Cricket, Star Sports. Each of them have their reach and captive audience. English speaking audience would prefer Star Cricket, given the commentator panel. DD would be the default for the parts of the country where people don’t still have cable tv/ set top boxes.
  • And they are confident India would win – the confidence of the nation, because despite the relative strengths or weaknesses, Pakistan has never defeated India in a world cup match. Oz and SL have. And that’s why the emotions are a lot more subdued. Lots of critics would weigh the balance of the two sides. And lots of people on the street would feel that we are going to the final. Its as much a celebration as it is an encounter
  • Yet they expect it and want it to be competitive – It has usually been like that. And more so in our head than in reality. A 50 run partnership in another match can be seen as normal, but would be seen as a high pressure situation for the bowling side today. So, people are going to take it to the wire, irrespective of the end score.
  • Without any lapse of attention – Its an 8 hour+ marathon. That tension would means a higher adrenalin rush, and greater attention to the most minute details of your ad. People will be all eyes and ears. They will watch just that one channel, and will keep looking for it. Because they don’t want to miss that moment when something happens – that wicket, that boundary, that divine shot, or that cut, or that miss.
  • And will be discussing it – everyone’s a critic today. Everyone has an opinion. And today, it’s out in the open. To the extent, that they would discuss the ads that feature the cricketers to assess how weird/funny/ridiculous it might be. In some cases, those ad taglines would be used in the context of the match. Imagine Shoaib bowling a bouncer to Sachin and thousands of people quipping – aisi delivery khelne ke liye protection chahiye.
  • In their rooms – Quite like the superbowl, there is a frenzy in metros and villages alike. Inverters/ Batteries/ Generators have been arranged for and charged to ensure that a power failure does not stop them from watching the match. Watch-dos have been organized by people inviting friends/ family/ colleagues. Offices have arranged for projects and audio systems for large hall screenings. And people will be reaching early to get their prized seats early.
  • Or, on the internet – If OZ match was an indication – half the internet generation of India would be tweeting/facebooking about the match, with their emotions out in the open. There will less analysis, and more expression of the moment. Y
  • And will remember – Yes. We may not remember what the boss said this morning. But we are pretty good at remembering that six Sachin Tendulkar hit of Kasprowicz in that Desert Storm innings, or the exact shape of the Venkatesh Prasad delivery that took care of Aamir Sohail. And Sehwag ki Maa stays as one of the most epic ads (in terms of recall) ever. I won’t be surprised if Yuvraj’s Revital and bhaag daud se bhari zindagi might be the next one.
  • If they like or dislike something – the opinions and expressions are not always about things people dislike. It covers the likes, the neutrals, the sharpness or the dimwittedness of the moment, analysis of players, analysis of commentators, ads, presentation ceremony and everything else.
  • And while doing all this, they are consuming! Let’s not forget that these viewers will also be guzzling down large quantities of drinks (Alocholic and non-alocholic) with chips, popcorns, dine-in orders, kebabs, pakodas and what nots. Unless the delivery guy of the neighborhood shop refuses to go for delivery today, or the ever so accommodating mothers and wives decide to join the cricket party.

What you are assured of is an assured and a HUGE number of viewers who’d not flip the channel even as you beam them with the most inane and absurd ads, and there are quite a few of them. What you gonna do that’s gonna leave a name for you? In advertising, there cannot be bad recall, as long as there is recall.
And yes, its also a day where the nation’s collective productivity loss would have most likely offset any commercial return possible. Even the Prime Minister is not working. Yet, wouldn’t the ultimate master of ceremonies say – “People of India, and People of the World, ARE YOU HAVING FUN?”

Is Winning Everything?

It’s a fairly serious question. For someone like me who would like to tell his team every day that its not. Because winning anyway happens while you are trying to become better than yourself. Someone quoted on Twitter the other day – I get worried when people are more passionate about success than being passionate about the things that they love to do.

The debate cropped up yesterday during the India-Australia QF match (where else, but on twitter) with a friend. I have a fundamental disconnect with abusive cricket, people walking down to the batsmen and trying to sledge them out, or generally creating a muck of what’s otherwise such a beautiful feeling of competing to win. And in that sense, a leader which encourages that is more so at guilt than the player who does it. To me, that leader can be a great competitor in the game, but never a legend.

You probably know by now that I am referring to Ricky Ponting. The man is a batsman almost as good as any that most of us have seen in our lifetime. Not surprisingly, Twitter Intellgensia (Twigensia?) was quite unnerved by the boos received by Ricky Ponting, given he is a “legend” with prodigious talent. However, Ricky Ponting needs to ask himself if he deserved that. The answer is a resounding Yes. And its not true just of him. Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth from our own team deserve some of that whenever they face fans of other countries, because they represent not the game, but this sick notion of winning is everything, and I shall win at any cost. I am sure there are as many quotes supporting Lombardi’s “winning is everything”, as there are opposing with a “how you played the game”. To set the contxt, unlike many, I am not one of those who looks at India’s sledging fest against Aussies in the series down under as – “Damn right, time to give them back” with great admiration. I still believe in a hostile spell of fast bowling shaking the batsman, or some Sehwagian aggression in batting destroying the line and length of a bowler being far more telling than the choicest abuses about who’s mother is sleeping with whom.

And hence, my conclusion is that Ricky Ponting, one of the grittiest batsman today, does not come close to being a true sportsman, for what he lacks is the spirit to play fair and square. If he is so good a player in such an excellent team (which I believe that he is, but probably he himself does not), why hide behind the cover of cheating, abuses, panic and blame-gaming whenever something is not going your way. The question has never been about his batting skills or his prodigious talent or the indisputable champion that Australian team has been. The question is – whether he needs to do what he does to win the game. Most likely, the answer is no. Victory is insecure. Greatness/Legend is not.

And for me, the logic extends to day to day life, office culture, music and theatre and movies, sports, writing, anything and everything. Being a cheat, standing up for cheating, being insecure in your victory are not signs of a great person. And while I can, I will keep reminding myself and everyone that winning is definitely not everything. It’s about becoming better than everyone else, including yourself. And if that does not ensure winning, nothing can.

BTW – The legendary ones are usually not known to be jerks. The keyword is “known”. They still might be jerks.

And remembering Ritesh’s quote – “Paisa khuda nahi hota Mr. Das.. par khuda kasam, khuda se kam bhi nahi hota!” 😉

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