Thursday, 27 June 2019

VIRAT KOHLI- The MAD Genius !.




(Image Courtesy: Twitter/ICC)

 Imagine Oshane Thomas running in and bowling at 143kmph. He is bowling a short length ball outside off stump. It's just wide enough to free the arms. And that ball is steeping through to Shai Hope. Imagine any player you like and think what shot he would play.

Had it been Rohit Sharma, it might be a square cut over point or might be an uppercut over gully or in between gully and third man by Hardik Pandya. For MS Dhoni, it might have been a Forehand slap over point standing on his left leg.

BUT!. But, it's VIRAT KOHLI.

Virat Kohli comes in after an early wicket as Rohit Sharma was adjudged LBW by the third umpire. He has scored three consecutive fifties so far in this tournament at an average tad above 60. He gets off the mark on the third ball he faces which was short, wide and outside off and was cut fiercely through point and gully for four. That's the kind of form he has been in this tournament and a century was overdue.

Cut short to the second ball of the eleventh over of the Indian innings. Oshane bowls that ball that's 143kmph as in described earlier. Virat Kohli does his formal forward press, realises the length is not full enough and pulls back the right leg ever slightly so keeping the left leg firm on ground in order to maintain the balance and on doing so transferring the weight on to the back foot, drives a short ball that's just about his chest high over cover region with his hands in the exact motion of a cover drive.

That shot had an orgasmic effect on me. The more I watched it again and again, the more the high I was. I mean, who drives a chest high ball with that perfect arc and elbow position over covers!. That's MADNESS!. He's gotta be freaking nuts to do that. But, there's a reason why that label on his MRF bat sticker reads "Genius"!

That's what Virat Kohli is!. He's a freaking Genius with the bat!.

It makes me go down dumbstruck and get depressed again and again on how easy he made that shot look. He had played similar shots over deep cover. But those are slaps over cover point. And that's a fair shot to play. But NOT THIS. Not in the way his elbow went and that arc he maintained through the shot like he does while playing a cover drive blindfolded.

I watched all those four half-centuries on loop before starting to write this. He has played quite a few excellent shots so far. He lofted Mitchell Starc over extra cover for a six when he was too full. There were a couple of extra cover drives of Mohammed Amir. One along the ground and one over the infield. Those three shots were the closest to what he played today. But all those shots came after crossing his half-century. 

Today what he played was only the seventh ball he was facing and it was off the back foot. And that is why for me, this shot of Oshane, driving a short ball over covers is  "The Virat Kohli Shot of the Tournament" of all the shots he has played so far in this world cup.
It might look as if I am exaggerating. But go back and watch that shot a few times and think whether any other Batsman in the world would have played that shot to that ball with that perfection. You might just agree with me.

Also, the way he has got out so far tells a story. Against Australia, he got out to a similar ball while slapping it over deep cover but couldn't maintain shape and his weight was falling over on his front foot. Against Pakistan, he declared himself out, while the entire world felt otherwise. Against Afghanistan, he got a long hop outside off stump which bounced a tad more than he anticipated and edged a cut short to short third man. Even today it was a long hop from Jason Holder which didn't bounce much and he ended up pulling it to short mid-wicket.

Maybe, the best is yet to come.

Because it's VIRAT KOHLI. And with him, we never know what more he is going to offer us.

TAKE A BOW!. GENIUS!.

Disclaimer: Please don't try playing this shot, while you playing in a match and get out only to blame Virat Kohli.

#India #WestIndies #Cwc2019 #TeamIndia  #ViratKohli #Genius #KingKohli

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Time for the "Chinna Thala" to live up to the name !

      The Chennai Super Kings are through to the playoffs and their fans are happy as all is going well despite the flaws in the squad. They are good enough to win this season. But I am worried. I am worried because I feel that this well might be the swansong for "Thala" MS Dhoni with the franchise as a captain/player. Even if I am wrong we might have one more season utmost. We shouldn't expect MS to be playing at 39/40, don't we?

      So what is CSK without MSD?  Hard to imagine, isn't it. Do they have an immediate torchbearer? Someone Chepauk would go crazy for and support wholeheartedly like their own? Isn't that the culture and trademark of the city and the franchise? Actually, they do have one. Their own "Chinna Thala" Suresh Raina.  


   Suresh Raina has been an excellent deputy for MS Dhoni and they both have been the pillars of the franchise since 2008. ( Image Courtesy: Gettyimages.com)

      Suresh Raina has been an IPL legend over the past decade. Time and again he has won so many matches for Chennai Super Kings since the insertion of the tournament. He comes in and scores 400 runs or more every year for Chennai and more importantly he wins them matches. Whenever the going got tough, he was there soaking it up for them. Nobody can forget his epic innings against Punjab at Bangalore where he scored 83 of 27 balls and almost bailed them out in the 2014 eliminator.

      Yet, he is struggling with the bat now. In fact, the past couple of years hasn't been great for him. He might have scored 400 plus runs last season too. But, he isn't dominating like he used to, neither is he winning matches with his knocks. He is playing second fiddle to Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu or MS Dhoni whoever plays the dominant role on the day. And in this season, it is even worse. 



    Over the past decade, Raina has been the most consistent batsman of the tournament. 
(Stat courtesy: Iplt20.com)

      I am unable to figure out what it is. Whether it's the fitness(he isn't as agile as he used to be), or just the self-belief/confidence that Raina is lacking. He has scored 245 runs at an average of 24.5 with just one 50 in 11 innings so far. He is also coming after an off domestic season, averaging 16 in 6 matches in the Syed Ali Mushtaq trophy that concluded recently.

      And CSK needs Raina now more than ever. Watson is struggling though he had a played a great knock last game, Rayudu is still searching for his 3D glasses and it is only Dhoni who has scored the bulk of the runs. The one match that Dhoni didn't play, both Raina and CSK looked all at sea. Believe me, they are far better than that. Both him as a captain and CSK as a team. 

      For a franchise much known for the calmness surrounded around their captain, it was their deputy who kept it alive on the field. Raina was a bundle of energy and he was always the first to lift the bowler up when a wicket falls. He takes improbable catches quite often out of thin air to dismiss a destructive batsman who is going after bowlers. He was everywhere on the field. 

       We don't see that Raina anymore. He might have become the senior statesman and a calmer vice-captain himself. But he isn't doing his job with the bat and that it is affecting him in all aspects. He even dropped a simple catch the other day. We don't see Suresh Raina drop catches, do we? More than just the runs, its the way he is getting out, which is worrisome. 


   It looked almost as if he was expecting the short ball up front from Dale Steyn.
(Image courtesy: iplt20.com)

      Come July 7, MSD will be 38 and as I mentioned already this might be his last if not the penultimate season as a player. And they will go into an auction only in 2020. One cannot see CSK go into auction looking for a star/captain/face to represent them. It has to be Suresh Raina himself for the next three to four years at least until they find a new young star and make him their own. 

   
 Raina has to be one to take over from MS sooner or later and
hope he gets his confidence back before that. (Image courtesy: gettyimages.com)

        It's high time their "Chinna Thala" lives up to the tag that has been given and starts leading the scoreboard and wins matches like he used to. Hope he turns it around soon for the good of himself and the franchise.



Thursday, 11 April 2019

Just because it's MS Dhoni, it ain't right !



    It was the return leg of  Rajasthan Royals Vs Chennai Super Kings at Jaipur yesterday. Chennai was chasing 152 and was rocked by four quick wickets. Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni steadied the ship before cruising towards the target.

    In the last over, Chennai needed 18 with Jadeja and Dhoni at the crease. Three balls later it came down to 8 off 3 balls. On the fourth ball, Ben Stokes bowled a waist-high full toss which was initially called a no-ball by the straight umpire Ulhas Gandhe only to be denied by square leg umpire Bruce Oxenford.

    The alarm went off at the ground and everyone saw Ulhas signaling No ball. This caused mayhem as Jadeja was disappointed and was having a conversation with the umpires. Seeing all this happening on the field, Dhoni who got out the previous ball was walked in furiously and had a heated conversation with both the umpires pointing out to his hand to Ulhas Gandhe. It went on for a couple of minutes as Rajasthan players gathered in as well. The no-ball wasn't called in the end and the match went on. Mitch Santner hit a six off the last ball and won it for CSK.

       MS Dhoni furiously having a conversation with the umpires.
                                                                       (Image source: iplt20.com)

   MS Dhoni who got out in the third ball had no business and needn't had to walk-in for an umpiring error or confusion. There were two batsmen at the crease and umpires had to take a call irrespective of what it is. Dhoni needn't had to walk-in animatedly and talk furiously to the umpires. He could have waited and said or reacted the way he wanted after the match got over or in the post-match presentations.


MS Dhoni walks on to the field when no-ball was denied. (Image source: iplt20.com)


   But what happened at the presentation is even more amusing. The presenter didn't ask a word about the conversation or the no-ball controversy to Dhoni. Even when MS asked whether he is asking about what happened with the umpires the presenter politely denies saying he didn't mean so.

  Imagine how people, fans or even the presenter would have reacted had it been Virat Kohli in place of Dhoni. Now because it's Dhoni who is a calm person, we cannot afford to celebrate what he did and applaud the same like most fans are already doing. It is just the superstardom getting bigger than what's right at times.

  The irony is that it's the same day(11th April 2016) a few years ago Harsha Bhogle expressed his thoughts after being removed from IPL commentary panel in 2016. Earlier in that year, Amitabh Bachchan tweeted about him not supporting India while commentating and Dhoni also retweeted that. Post that, he was removed from the commentary team in the 2016 IPL. Link to that post is below.


Now here's what he had to say about the yesterday event and I also stand by that. 



  

    I admire MS Dhoni as much as anybody else and love him for a lot of things he does on a cricket field. Yet what he did today isn't something I am proud of or happy about. It's heartening to see that he has been reprimanded 50 percent of his match fee for breaching the code of conduct. Dhoni himself admitted a level 2 offense 2.20 according to IPL code of conduct and accepted the sanction.





Wednesday, 11 April 2018

My first IPL match and the Fan boy moment that was just meant to be !

My first IPL match was a roller coaster ride. It started almost disastrously and ended up being the moment of my life. CSK was back after two years for the first time in Chennai, yesterday. Just to live the occasion, I wanted to be there badly. I did get the tickets to watch with my friends. But I ended up being late to the match due to some unavoidable circumstances.

  I settled along with them during the 7th over of KKR innings, as they had been in early. After a few minutes, my friend told me that the room next to us is the commentary box. I was like "Yea ok. that's great". An over later, I heard a voice on TV commentary. The one I would listen on any given day or time and the one I dearly hold, believe and love to the core. Then I was like, "Is this man next door?". 

 When you realize that the person whom you look up to in your life is in the next door, that feeling goes unexplained. I got no words to describe that. From that minute, I just couldn't be seated. I kept pestering my friend."Is the commentary box next door? Will he be there? Can I get a glimpse?? Seriously is it the next room?". Then to check myself I went and saw the board “English commentary box" and the glass door was blurred.

 I searched for notebooks and papers in all my pockets which I knew I never had. Still, I searched. Then out comes an IPL official and I asked if he can get an autograph on the ticket for me. He said no. It disappointed me. I came back and sat for a while without involving much in the match. As the first inning came to close, we went out for food. And all the while I was just staring at that door, just to see if I can get through the gap to get a sight of him.

  As we finished our dinner, my friends called me back to the seats. I couldn't give up, wanted to try once more. So I waited out and saw another officer who came out of the room and I asked him the same. He said "No", I replied "I won’t come or ask anything, can you just get it signed by him?" with a babyface. Him- "He is actually having his dinner", me-"okay I can wait". Then there was a wait for 4 overs after which he was on the air. So I had to wait another 4 overs now.

   All this while, I was preparing myself in various aspects, hoping that I might be called inside the commentary box. During this time I had seen glimpses of KP inside and Pommie Mbangwa as well. KP even once walked out with all urgency murmuring some good words. I prepared myself concerning body language, what should I say to whom, and how to start talking to him and what is the stuff I have to tell him. I knew this was the least possible thing that would happen. I knew I was panicking and my heartbeat was well high over the range. I could feel that. Yet I was preparing.

   As time passed by, that fellow saw me being so persistent, he brought the official whom I had asked earlier. He asked what is it about and I told him again. He said " They are busy now. Sorry". Gutted me, went back to my friends and started watching the match as Sam Billings was setting it up for CSK. Though I had it in my back head, I almost came to the conclusion that it's not gonna happen.

  During the second time out, my mates called for restroom and I went in for company. As we were mocking around and I turned back to wash my hands off, I saw a guy cross over. I and my friend had this look at each other, "Isn't that him?" I turn back again to look over and Yess! That was him. I caught up with tachycardia all of a sudden. I ran around searching for paper, then took a pen from the registration desk and waited outside the restroom. Mathew Hayden passed by politely denying a selfie for a couple of fans.

  I ran to my friend and took his mobile, as mine was already dead. He comes out and poses for the two who waited first. The lighting was poor and as one of them calls him outside the corridor "Let’s take it here, please. If people see one camera out then everybody will want one and it will be difficult then" he replied. 

  As it is I was embarrassed to block him out of the restroom. Hearing him say so, made me go worse. I have no idea what happened. Having a pen and ticket in one hand and a phone in other, Hands shivering and me panicking like any, I blabbered hesitantly, "Sir, one autograph please!". He saw me in such state, called me near and put a hand on my back and said "It's okay. Come closer. Take one no problem". 

  With all those poor lighting and hands shivering, knowing that I don't have much time as he is in a hurry, I made the dumbest face possible unknowingly and clicked one. I had so much to say him. Yet nothing came out but air. I blabbered again "Sir, one autograph please!". He patted on my back twice and said "Am sorry. It's getting late already. I have to go." I knew I couldn't hold him for long and said "Thank you sir" which only heard to me as I stood there. 

  What I have done here. All I wanted to say, all that preparation I did vanish away for those two minutes. All I had to say him was "Sir, This is and will always remain the fanboy moment of my life". I couldn't utter a word, yet I knew it was the one. That was surreal. I came back to my friends all smiles and was just staring the ground for a while. I just kept smiling and my friends knew what it meant to me. Thanks to them for this. 

  All I felt was that moment was just meant to be. After the way I got to the match, that was the last thing I can expect to happen, yet it did. Then with some fan rivalry around we got along with the match and eventually, Chennai won it like they always do - Dramatically.

  We can never really express how it feels when we love someone for what we think they are and then to realize, that they are actually the way we love them for in reality. I will continue to love him and try to replicate it in my own way. My love for this man Harsha Bhogle just scaled new peaks. Off all that happened the other night, that moment which hasn't sunk in yet with all the hyper effects on me still on high was The Fanboy moment of my lifetime.



Friday, 12 January 2018

The Rohit, Rahane conundrum and the perspective of a Rohit Sharma fan !.



For starters, I am a huge Rohit Sharma fan.
I always have been.

The thought of Rohit playing test cricket at No.6 after this long break was really exciting for me. I was hoping him to own this place after all these years. Yet, on the afternoon of 5th January, I was blown away by the decision to drop Rahane for Rohit and playing 5 bowlers including Hardik pandya.

That was huge! 

To drop our best batsman outside subcontinent for the form of Rohit was something I couldn't think of.  I was just hoping that Rohit would make this decision worthwhile by producing some fine performance. Twice he had the stage for him to own, to take the No.5 position for himself, yet he didn't.

And that's what frustrates a fan. To be fair to him he played himself in really well in the first innings. But the second innings dismissal sums up his outing. Especially when the hopes were so high as something historical was within reach.

So what does Virat Kohli do now?
Somehow you have to go back to Rahane. He is the best overseas batsman for us. But if Rahane comes in, who goes out? Dropping Rohit after just one match is unfair as well.

Who else to drop then?
 Hardik Pandya has done everything that has been asked of him. His 93 brought us back in the game and the way he bowled, he looks like the long desired good prospect for the future.

Would you drop him and play Rohit at 6 with four bowlers. That leaves a lot of workload for the bowlers. We have to find a way to keep Bhuvi fresh and use him smartly.

Can we drop Ashwin? No we can't. No matter where we play, a quality spinner is always handy to plug one end. And an Indian team without a spinner would be unimaginable.

So will we go with the same eleven dropping Rahane again and backing Rohit to fire? That would be really absurd. 
Please no. Not again!

To be fair to Rohit Sharma, ever since he started opening he has been the best in the world. With the numbers, he is the top of the list. But there's something about him isn't it.

Given on a big match day, will we be able to say "Right here's is Rohit Sharma and he's going to win it for us today". 
Sadly No. Not yet. 

He is growing in stature. And producing staggering numbers and becoming far more consistent. But, he is yet to reach there. There's always some uncertainty associated with him. I wish he breaks that jinx and reach there soon. The sooner he does, greater the fun we will be having.

So cometh the second test at Pretoria, I believe Rohit Sharma should play at no. 6 if India is going in with 4 bowlers theory. But I believe the captain wants the luxury of 5 bowlers and hence it should be Rahane who should be coming back at No. 5 in place of Rohit.

It makes me feel bad to see Rohit dropped yet again, but if the team does well with the balance they get by paying this eleven and they do well, then that joy matters more.
That's what a cricket fan would want. I am one. So sadly that's the way to go for me as a Rohit fan. 

Yet to watch the team do well and attain glory rather than just competing, on any given day I could trade that feeling !..

Thursday, 2 November 2017

" Mehnat kabhi kharaab nahi jaati " Cometh the time, and it will be rewarded !..


             "Mehnat kabhi kharaab nahi jaati" you hear this from a man who has just finished playing 18 years of international cricket. According to me, playing for that long itself is a Himalayan task. But then, to be in and out of the team most of the time due to injuries and still to have an international career that lasted for 19 years is a humongous achievement. And that is exactly why Ashish Nehra is a legend. Not for his numbers and statistics but for his hard work and love for the sport. Thank you "Nehra JI"(that's how its been trending for a while now) now that you are gone, our child hood era is complete.

             What he has shown us is that, when we keep doing  our stuff, things will fall in place with time. Who would have thought Nehra will be playing T20 world cup of 2016 by the end of  2011 world cup final where he was celebrating with a fractured right hand. Certainly not me. It shows us the amount of hard work he has put in on his fitness and cricket. And that is what he is emphasizes on. When you put in all you can, you will get the reward in some way or the other.

          The current selection panel led by Mr. MSK Prasad is proving it as well. When we look at the openers for a test match Murali Vijay, Shikar Dhawan were obvious choices with KL Rahul being the third. They were shuffled based on injury issues. But when a couple were injured in came Abhinav Mukund 6 years after his debut based on his domestic performances.

           Kedar Jadhav for example was the most consistent player for Maharashtra over the past decade.  But he had to wait until 30 to debut for India. Now becoming a mainstay in the middle order with his bat and on occasions with the ball is the reward for all the hard work he has been putting in over the years without losing hope.

           When Yuvraj wasn't  missed out due to fitness issues(so was told), India tried a few options in KL Rahul, Rahane, Manish at No.4. Though I feel Manish deserves a long rope as he has done whatever that has been asked of him, selectors went back to pick Dinesh Karthik as a reward for his performances in Duleep Trophy. He scored 292 runs at an astonishing average of 72.75. And he has managed to get a match winning half century against New Zealand. Shreyas Iyer too was rewarded with a T20 cap after his century again TN in the Ranji trophy game in Mumbai.

           Similarly Parthiv Patel, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ashih Nehra were picked then and there after their consistent performances in domestic cricket and IPL. Parthiv never got a chance since MS Dhoni came in. But he kept performing for Baroda all these years and as Saha was injured, his calling was due and he performed well in whatever chances he got to play for. Same was the case with Bhuvi and Ashish. They were consistently delivering for their teams in IPL and as a reward of it, they were called for when the need arrived.

         Now what it does is that it sends out a loud and clear message to all those players in the country. If you keep performing consistently in whatever opportunity you get , you will be rewarded in time. This will encourage players like Suresh Raina who is just 30 yet have vast international experience is out of the team for a while now. If he finds a way to get back to the national side, it will
be a great boon for the team. Like wise Karun Nair, and the young Prithwi Shah who has been lighting up the Mumbai maidans off late can also take inspiration from them and keep performing. U never know when your time comes.

       Hard work never goes unrewarded. It will be in due time. You never know who's watching on you. It is a small world. All we have to do is work hard on what we love and keep doing it. When the need arrives, we will have our say. Like the Nehra Ji's saying goes off, "Mehnat Kabhi Kharaab Nahi Jaati" !...       

       

            

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Return of CSK - A fan who admires from outside !!

        Back in 2015 a team which made to the final of the most celebrated T20 league in the world and another team which was always known for its fair play and grooming young talents ever since a guy nick named 'Gentleman' took over were banned from the league for two years because, few individuals of the team and the franchise management were proven guilty of spot fixing.

        It was two individuals who wore the stature of those teams to the world. Though Rahul Dravid had retired in 2013 he was much the face of Rajastan Royals even while mentoring the team in 2015. Like in their playing days, even when on their return there is no fuss about them. It is not sure whether Rahul will be coming back to franchise yet. There are that kind of a franchise doing the job without any fuss, they always have.

       Then there is "CSK". The Chennai Super Kings was an emotion more than just a franchise. They are the exact opposite to the kind of franchise RR has been. They have been the buzz of the IPL for seasons. And there was a man holding the team for 8 years. MS DHONI- inevitably he has been the face of the franchise. And the people of Tamil Nadu celebrated him as their own like they have celebrated their heroes and like nobody in the world could do.

       We celebrated him and the franchise as if almost everything in the cricketing world happens because of him and the team. There were a few friends of mine who will be literally shouting "CCCSSSKK DAA" even during India matches when players of the franchise appears on screen. This almost created a hatred and jealousy among those fan who are from Tamil Nadu and support to different franchises for different reasons.

       Being a supporter of Mumbai Indians (basically we are Sachin fans from child hood u Know :P )
it was almost irritating the ways fans of CSK celebrated it. But not once I have failed to admire the team and the franchise for the kind of culture it possesses. As much as anybody would try to disagree, it is a fact that CSK was holding the largest fan base in the country.



               Unlike many other franchises the core players of the team weren't bought and formed. Most players started at CSK and were developed into the core of the team and the captain holded it together. There were unsung heroes for the franchise from time to time. S Badrinath was the saviour of the team in most critical times. The team culture and the consistency they exhibited is almost unbelievable that it will make any genuine cricket fan admire them.




              The love of CSK doesn't end with fans. The players were openly exhibiting it even after they had to depart their ways for couple of years due to inevitable reasons. Its very rare to see such sight in a corporate professional world. And that is what sets CSK apart.




             Almost every other team and their fans wanted to beat CSK. That is the standard and emotional connect the franchise had set even with the opposition and their fans. We have seen some extraordinary cricket in the past two years, make no mistake. But it was the emotional connect that was being missed by the fans of the rivalries as much as those of CSK.





       MS  Dhoni was the heart of CSK. The love for the franchise is unbelievable that in the past two years fans have been just counting down for the day the ban will be lifted. #thereturnofCSK has been trending all the while even when they weren't playing. With MS no longer the captain at Pune and the franchise being ready to grab him at any cost the fans were just waiting for the return of CSK.  And as July 14 passed by, its been two years since the ban was imposed. The ban is lifted now and celebration has already stared in social media.




                            https://twitter.com/MirchiMemes/status/885594197591445504

           Having grown up in the early 2000 I have been used to love a team that wore blue jersey and admire a team with yellow jersey for all their good on the field. It was the same case at the IPL as well. Being from Tamil Nadu and as a fan of Mumbai Indians I have never failed to admire the charm,  joy and the emotion the Chennai Super Kings have provided. And I just can't wait for the celebrations to begin and to see "THALA" MS DHONI back in yellow again. Well, at least he has already provided that for time being.