Tomorrow, we will win

My heart skips a beat, as I think about the match tomorrow. In anticipation, trepidation, excitement and fear.

In 1983, when India won the worldcup, I was 3 years old, my brother was 7, and we were a joint-ish family living in a small town of Uttar Pradesh. I think it was around the middle of the world cup that our family bought a TV, a black and white Uptron TV, that used to come with wooden slider doors to keep the TV safe while you weren’t watching it. It was on that TV that my mamaji, my cousin, my dad and everyone else saw India lift the cup, and it was then that my brother became a cricket fanatic. I think my love for cricket has something to do with that world cup, because I do remember watching every match of the World Championship Series in Australia after that, and Ravi Shastri winning that Audi as the man of the series.

In 1996, I was a India fanatic when it came to cricket. A fan, who believed that irrespective of the quality of opposition, India is entitled to win every match. Just to get disappointed every now and then, but holding on to the belief. Tendulkar had come of age. I had belief. And there was a small matter of faith in match winners like Ajay Jadeja and Anil Kumble.

In 1996, we played Pakistan in Bangalore, and in that era, my brother was a gully cricket mate of a certain Mahindra Singh Dhoni, and I was Mahi’s school cricket mate. I had played cricket at the school and district level. I had played alongside this someone who I thought could make it big, but never would. It was too difficult to break the shackles of corruption in Bihar, inside sports as well. Nepotism was a fact, and the opportunities were fewer. My brother had stopped representing any team, and started trying to build a career based on academic education, and I had chosen to get ready for the mass orgy known as IIT Joint Entrance Examination. I had, for what it was worth, hung my boots. But I was a fan nevertheless. The evenings in a small town like Ranchi, and in a township like Mecon are all about celebrating the victory of the match gone by, or the drowning of the loss. We played tennis ball cricket. We felt happy that India had defeated Pakistan. Few days later, we met Sri Lanka, a team we had lost to in the league stage (and we called it a fluke), and a team that we lost to yet again (bad pitch, right), despite that oh so hopeful brilliance of getting Jayasurya and Kaluwitharana out early. The memory of Vinod Kambli in tears still swells me up. Even though I know for sure that we could not have won the match from there.

15 years later, I am still a fan. I am not fanatic anymore. MSD is inside the television, and I am on the armchair. Given the company I keep, and the analysis that everyone does, and the views and opinions that are bombarded at me from all corners, I have, I believe, become pragmatic. When India plays Australia, I weigh options, and think of getting Ponting out cheaply because he is not just a sheet anchor, he is also a destroyer, and an aggressive leader. I evaluate the weaknesses of Indian bowling. Back then, watching a cricket match was about shouting childish abuses, stupid chants of abracadabra – arvinda desilva swaha, and wishing that every delivery get a wicket, or every shot from Tendulkar’s willow be a boundary. Today, it’s about appreciating that brilliant spell from Wahab Riaz or Brett Lee, even as they come close to demolishing the Indian dream of winning this world cup. If I don’t do that, people will think that I am a biased Indian who is not enjoying the game in totality, and missing out on much the game has to offer. Well – intellectualism comes at a price. It often takes your passion away. One upon a time, I too wanted to wear the blue. And those who wear it, and have walked inside a stadium full of people cheering you to win (Mahi wears it. I envy him. And I love him for that), I can only dream of the high they feel. At that one moment, its not rational. And I create that moment. I am no Navjot Singh Sidhu sitting in an air-conditioned studio analyzing the game. I am ‘The Indian Fan’. And to me, the only thing that eventually makes or breaks my days, is whether India won or not.

And so, this world cup, for the quarter final and the semi final, against two brilliantly tough opponents, I let my heart be where it belongs. I watched and predicted like an Indian fan. Before the match started, my heart and mind knew only one thing. That we will win. I chanted. And I cursed. I did not get up from seat with the fear of jinxing things. Things might have looked like going this way or the other as the match progressed, but I knew only one thing. That we will win. As Ponting accumulated a masterclass century, and people started talking about the pressure, I still said only one thing. That we will win. As Wahab Riaz ripped Indian top order, and analysts and pundits said that we are some 30 runs short, I still said only one thing. That we will win. I added, purely from my heart, that the margin will be 30 runs at least. And my heart was right. We did win. By 29 runs.

Now, we are back to an opponent who’s given us one of the worst scars of cricket, with the exception of Miandad’s Six in Sharjah. Incidentally, after India lost the sharjah, I tore off all the Chetan Sharma posters at home, that used to come with Cricket Samrat. When India lost that 1987 match against Australia, I did feel betrayed by Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri and co. In 1996, I felt sorry for Sachin, and I hated the entire team for what they brought the match to (apparently). Was there any logic in those emotions? I doubt.

I don’t want to be pragmatic and think about the strengths and weaknesses of my team. No. I am back to where my heart belongs. I know that we are going to win. And damn it, I will raise the stakes this time. If India bats first, we will win by at least 35 runs, and if India chases, we are winning by at least 5 wickets. And till these predictions are violated, you can try and use any mathematics, logic, divine analysis to suggest that something otherwise would happen. I would just stick my tongue out at you.. make a :P, and then go “brrrrrrrrrr”. I will be there. Watching every ball of the match. And believing in only one thing. That we will win.

You still want to say something? Brrrrrrr…. We Will Win

Advertisements

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?”

BCCI jokes..ON NEW RULES….good ones!

Hilarious.. Received on mail from Rushank Vora 🙂

Drat… These people show this all the time and keep insulting us..

Sir, they are fans, they want their ticket amount refunded if the team doesn’t perform well..

Brother, anyways you gonna get out after making 10-15 runs and get only a % of your salary. Why don’t you get out now at 0. I will make sure you get your full amount…

Hey buddy, try and take this catch or else your salary 15k is gone…

Friends, I am gonna resign from this captaincy post. Even if I lose the toss they are frightening me that they won’t give me my salary…

Sir, I think I am gonna take VRS and become an umpire like you. Even without making runs or taking wickets I will get my salary right…

__._

Au Revoir.. Hope, Optimism and Indian Cricket


Before writing this post, I wrote a 3 page long post about Indian cricket team. And then realized that I was seething with anger. Like a true Indian fan.

And like a true Indian, I am opinionated. Here are 10 things that I think should be done –

  1. We, as a nation, need to go back to celebrating one off victories and stop looking for grandiose performances. We should act like minnows of international cricket and save ourselves some heart wrenching moments.
  2. We should stop calling our batting lineup the best. We have dogs that don’t bite or bark.
  3. Our batsmen should be paid on the basis of the amount of time they spend on the crease and the number of runs they score. Dada will win the race given the amount of time he takes the score the runs that he scores. Hmmm, let me revise the metric – A function of absolute number of runs scored, and runs per minute. Strike rate is meaningless. Its like counting the number of girls you hit on without having any affairs.
  4. There should be a pay per win policy. Tournament wins would get you more money. If you beat an Australia or SA, you get 3x, if you beat SL and Pak, you get 2.5x, if you beat England, NZ etc, you get 2x, for beating minnows, you get 1x. Bangladesh has just been promoted to 1.5x.
  5. Sehwag should be given a Titan watch (TCS and Tata Group company style) for long service and be given a subtle hint to retire.
  6. Utthapa should be given a frying pan. Flash in the pan brilliance, which comes and goes like a flash. He can also be given lifetime supple of the Rs.2 Nepali batteries also. That will help him keep flashing cheaply (pun unintended) all his life.
  7. Agarkar should be asked to take motivational sessions for MNCs. How to make money by being just 66.66% accurate. His knack of being back in the team despite bowling only 4 decent bowls every over is not a skill that can be replicated easily. He can think about Patenting his Agarkarizma (If Miracle?)
  8. Tendulkar can start a TV show – Who wants to be a Tendulkar? The reason I am saying that is that it’s a fading business opportunity. He needs to cash out. Soon, there wont be anyone wanting to wear the shoes of one of the greatest batsman ever, who never led India to any important series win (well, except that one innings in Sharjah!)
  9. The entire team should be made to watch Gunda at least a couple of times. There should be a quiz on what they learnt from the movie. Things like “Nothing is impossible” (Mithun is a coolie at the Airport), set yourself real and achievable targets (Do Char Che Aath Das- Bas!), you don’t need to confirm to the conventional standards if you want to win (Gunda is a commercially viable venture), etc. are only some of the lessons!
  10. And yeah.. one big request to the media – Lets start focusing on other games. PHL is nice. Sania Mirza looks good even when she is losing. Narain Karthikeyan can do with some support. Our chess players are great. And we have soccer fan clubs in every city. Its time we grew beyond a lost cause!

Inzing Away Into The Sunset

The tall monolith, moving with a poetic gait, cause of many a silly runouts and executioner of many a great innings in the world of cricket, Inzy Bhai called it quits last night. In the face of great shame (Pakistan ousted out of world cup, beaten by Ireland), and lots of despair (death of Bob Woolmer), he waves goodbye, but the Pakistani team will miss his services and his on-field composure for years to come.

1992 World Cup, where a great captain Imran Khan brought Inzamam’s heroics to the fore, and the world saw him mark his stamp of arrival into the cricketing world (the great innings against New Zealand in Semifinal), 22 year old Inzamam was all about grace, style and ease when it came to batting. I have never been able to figure out how he managed to have so much time to play his shots (especially, with his bulk).
His 378 matches, 11000+ runs, 39.72 average and 10 centuries don’t tell you the real magnitude of his impact on the game. Usually the smiling Buddha of Pakistan team, Toronto is the only place where someone saw him loose his temper.

Faras Ghani talks about his 5 best innings, while Osman Samiuddin bids him an emotional farewell. But nobody talks about one of the biggest banes of subcontinental cricket – the enormous pressure it puts on all cricketers. Houses are vandalized, effigies burnt, and slogans shouted everytime they lose a match. Why? Because they bring shame to the nation? Those slogan shouters forget that these are the players who put a lot of heart and soul behind those matches. That it hurts them as well when they lose. That when you lose, you want your supporters to rally behind you, urging you to keep the chin up. Inzy has lived through his own set of pressures and boiling moments. And has come out calmer all the way.

And if he seems soft, lets remind the cricket world about the walk-off Pakistan team did under his captaincy at the Oval. It takes a lot of courage to take such decisions.

So Long Inzy Bhai The generation of cricketers to come would not forget that batting might be science, but it’s the artful craft of players like Inzamam-Ul-Haq that makes cricket such a delight to watch. We will not forget those effortless sixes, delicate late cuts, fearsome pulls and elegant drives.

(c)RICKETY Affair

It takes a lot from refraining from commenting on the World Cup and the Indian Cricket Team. and I have done that a bit here with my previous post on cricket being about the fight between Gavs and Ponting. That fight took multiple dimensions with the entire Aussie team trying to defend their on-field behavior by not referring to it even once, but talking about how Gavs should not have brought Hooksie in this discussion! Well, hmm.. hmph!

But thats not what this post is all about. This post is about India, the WC and the Indian team..

1. We lost to Bangladesh. Greatbong rips our performance apart here.

My biggest grievance. If you have a wound, you treat it. If you don’t, it becomes gangrene. After a while, you need to remove that rotten part of your body because the infection starts spreading to other parts of the body. At one point in time, the Indian team (even though it was administered a little brutally) did this to good effect by letting Ganguly go. The left and the deft hand of Indian cricket for a good time, Ganguly, did come back with a vengeance.

Sehwag’s situation is worse. Its affecting the whole team. The recklessness that is considered the bane of all sports became style. Sehwag was joined by Dhoni. And now it seems to be the flavor of the season! Even the perspiring Dada [who is not ready to get off the wicket in this stint of his career, even if it means scoring once in 6 balls (the last deliver, to be precise)] played a reckless shot at 67 (and later on, against Bermuda).

Bowling was petty at best, and streetside on an average.

2. We thrashed Bermuda. I should be happy, right? Am I? not quite! After reducing them to 50-odd runs for 5, we still let them score 150 odd runs. That tells me that the body language is still not one for the kill. The batsmen were having fun making records, and that explained the 400+ score. Bowlers, too comfortable after getting the top 5, started reveling in that glory!

Dada was still perspiring. Two back to back half centuries against (presumably) below average bowling attacks would air a picture of a dada dancing down the crease to clear the stands far too many times. I would have wanted to imagine a dada slashing through the gully region and driving through the covers. Not this time. It was a hard toiled effort. But still, hats off to him for perspiring.

Some of the media folks have started reading too much into the comeback of Viru! But Mumbai Mirror has got it spot on– back all swell, against Popatwadi XI. Those who saw the match yesterday would recall the umpteen hit n miss shots played by Viru. The number of times he did not get out was more than the times he would get a chance from any other team.

Yuvraj still seems to be the best bet. Zaheer remains the pick of the bowlers, ready to bend his back, slog it out.

%d bloggers like this: