Friday, October 27, 2006

Give them their due

Like every year, the festival of lights was celebrated with much fervor in all parts of the country. After a long time, I’d a long holiday during Diwali to enjoy the festival in the true sense. All five days that I was home, I was hosting somebody or the other – so from one perspective quite busy that ways, but it was very much satisfying break nevertheless.

As soon as Diwali holidays started for them, I’d my niece and nephew chasing me to take them to the Queen’s Necklace to see crackers and also to burst bagful of them. I think, I myself have not been to the Marine Drive to burst crackers for quite a few years now. So this was a perfect opportunity for me to happily oblige them.

So, just before sunset we had hit the shores with a couple of bags in our hand – all set to celebrate Diwali. I’ve always loved watching sunset. Every sunset presents you with a new variant of nature’s landscape. As I was busy clicking snaps, the kids were feasting on bhel, paani-puri and all sorts of ‘Indian junk food’.

In no time after sunset, it was dark and the people were coming in hordes to see the spectacular skyline. The variety of crackers one witnesses at Queen’s Necklace on Diwali evening is only to be seen to believe. As the crackers started going up in the air, the kids just couldn’t wait anymore. And then it was our turn to empty the bags on the floor and be a part of the hoi polloi.

The celebrations went on till late in the night and we had one of the most memorable evenings of our lives. As we were leaving the Marine Drive – a glance around, and it kind of made me nervous. There were empty boxes scattered all over. Add to it the rubbish created by the burst crackers. What was a beautiful place just few hours ago, was turned into a horrible waste-land.

I left the place with a heavy heart.

Next morning took me to Churchgate at early hours. And as I turned left from Wilson College, something hit me hard. The place that was in mess only last evening was sporting absolutely spic n span look. I was mighty impressed. And certainly it wasn’t a miracle that the magic wand had done.

For once, I really appreciated the efforts put in by the municipal corporation staff, who am sure would have worked overnight – at the cost of celebrating Diwali with their family members – to clean the 3 KM-long stretch.

I think the municipal corporation staff deserves appreciation – from the state administration and from caring Mumbaikars as well. While we take potshots at them at every possible opportunity, we must give them their due, when it is due.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Batting (Dis)order

There is a Hindi saying that goes as “jo garajate hain, woh barasate nahin”.

For last year or so, we Indian cricket fans have heard a lot of ‘garajanaa’ from our not-so-new coach, but when it comes to ‘barasanaa’, it’s been only the case of untimely rains during cricket matches.

Greg Chappell is like any other Australian cricketer – loquacious. And like any other loquacious person, he has talked a lot & at length, but has done hardly anything that can be called as spectacular. If there is anything worth calling spectacular then it’s collapse of once great Indian batting order.

Just a cursory look at Indian cricket history will tell you that most of the success that India has achieved, is on the back of its strong battling line-up. While the country has had its share of great bowlers in the form of spin quartet, Kapil Dev, Srinath & Kumble, there are only a handful in the 70-year long history. Indian middle order has always been an envious lot of people for opponents, with the best of domestic talent finding it impossible to crack into. In last 10 years, we have done well in test cricket because of the strong backbone (middle order) in the form of Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly & Sehwag.

All this, however, has now become a history in ODI cricket. With all the jumbling of batting positions, the only set of people that comes to one’s mind for middle order are Dravid, Yuvraj, Kaif, Mongia & Raina. And there are no back-ups if any of these is woefully out of form (which unfortunately is the case, of late). By the way, except Raina, didn’t the same set of people played World Cup 2003 as well? So what’s this ‘Chappell’s Theory of Youth Experimentation’ has given us apart from instability. I remember, prior to WC’03, each and every place in the team was so fiercely contested, that as a Indian fan, I felt proud of it. No wonder, the team made it to the WC finals.

Yeah, our last coach didn’t do too much of ‘garajanaa’ but he ensured that there is enough ‘barasanaa’ in the form of WC final, series win in Pak, strong performance in England & Australia – overall, a very satisfying four years. And the same period also gave us gems like Dhoni & Pathan.

Next World Cup is not too far away. We need to settle now.

  1. Pathan is a bowler. Please let him concentrate on that. We would like to have him as an all-rounder, but not at the cost his bowling prowess.
  2. And please stop that 5 + 1 + 5 nonsense. While 7 + 4 demanded too much out of Dravid, making 5 bowlers play is equally stupid. 6 + 1 + 4 is the best bet.
  3. Last year has seen 10 to 15 opening pairs. That’s just horrible. Sachin – Sehwag remains to be our best opening pair. May be we can have Uthappa / Gambhir as a back-up, for they have played some fantastic cricket in the Challenger. Kaif performs very well at #3. May be Dravid should drop back to #4 for he can strengthen the batting low down.

We are badly waiting for a dramatic turnaround and sincerely hope that that the Hindi saying doesn’t hold true in case of Chappell and Indian cricket team.