30 Oct 2011



Duncan Fletcher , the team India coach, asked for BCCI's permission to take Munaf Patel, R. Vinay Kumar and Praveen Kumar to the Buddh International Centre in Greater Noida which will host the  inaugural Formula One Indian grand Prix with a pious hope that speeds of over 325 kmph will excite Munaf & Co and inspire them to bowl fast.  The moment Munaf entered the circuit, he asked "Pitch kahan hai?" Vinay Kumar was excited to see the 5 kms track spread over 800 odd acres as he felt that with such a huge ground noone would be able to hit him for sixes. Duncan roared, " this is a F1 track  ...not a cricket ground". Indian pacers were never quick.  The spin quartet of Bedi, Chandrashekhar, Prasanna and Venkatraghvan would annhilate the helpless opposition who would be clueless about playing quality spin bowling after the pace bowlers were used to only take the shine off the ball.  Just like there is nothing called "a patient knock by Virender Sehwag", there wasn't anything called the  " Indian Fast bowling attack" . Bowlers like Karsan Ghavri, Madan Lal, Roger Binny would,today, make R. Vinaykumar look like Dennis Lillie!

In the year, 1978,  Kapil Dev, burst on to the scene, and made an accomplished Pakistan batsman replace his cap with a helmet. In those days wearing a helmet while facing the Indian pacers was like wearing thermal wear to brave the Goan winter.  Thanks to Kapil Dev, people could dare to put two disparate set of terms "Indian' and "fast bowling attack" in one sentence!   What Kapil did to the spin era was what Amitabh Bacchan did to the Rajesh khanna era with "Zanjeer".   Since Kapil would be a bad advertisement for a toothpaste, they made him endorse a shaving cream and his "palmolive da jawaab nahi" in his voice meant no music company would ask him cut a Music album a la Sanjay Manjrekar.

Kapil Dev's protege Chetan Sharma showed great promise. The English press  called him "CHEATan" Sharma as they thought,  a bowler who lacked height could only generate pace by chucking. Chetan Sharma was solely responsible for making Pakistan cricket team a super power in Sharjah. Years after Javed Miandad hit a last ball six to Chetan Sharma, "Sharjah Haar jaa" became a Indian Cricket team jingle in Sharjah!. Chetan Sharma is now seen in the TV studios analysing the matches wearing hideous combinations of shirts,ties and jackets in Psychedelic colours prompting the viewers to turn their TV sets off.  Pakistan was lucky he didn't wear those colours, that fateful evening in Sharjah  else  Miandad would have been blinded and India would've won easily.   Raju Kulkarni, the Bombay speedster, always remained the oldest newcomer and perhaps didn't get his due!

Pace academies churned out pacerss for India starting from Vivek Razdan, Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad. The only sign of speed Vivek Razdan showed was when he quickly went out of the Indian cricket team. If Dwayne Bravo has got the best disguised slower ball in the business then Venkatesh Prasad had only slow delieveries in his repertoire. Sometimes he surprised himself with a faster delivery. Ultra slow motion technology which we see today is inspired by Prasad's bowling.  The only time Prasad was really fast was when he returned back to the Pavillion after.getting dismissed cheaply!

When God was distributing cricketing brains, Javagal Sreenath and Ajit  Agarkar were sharing an Idli Sambhar behind the Chinnaswamy stadium. How do you explain two scorching yorkers and as many  fulltosses down the leg side and that too in  one over?   In between there were bowlers like Atul Wassan, Salil Ankola, B. Arun, D Ganesh, L. Balaji who went out of the team just the way the ball goes out of Kamran Akmal's gloves.  Atul Wassan was so fast that he was the first to be at the dinner table after the team meeting.

Manoj Prabhakar though lacked the express pace, he was the finest exponent of the  slower ball, swing bowling and swear words (not necessarily in that order) which were mostly in hindi.  L.Balaji was a bigger hit in Pakistan than Ghulam Ali.  If  Zaheer Khan is  the best left arm pace bowler today then  Ashish Nehra is  the best toothy left arm pacer in the world!!. Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth look ferocious only when they are not bowling. Irfan Pathan would be an ideal brand ambassador for automobile braking systems .From 140kmph to 80 kmph within no time!
 India never had tearaway fasts, like Pakistan.   Pakistan  has more fast bowlers than  CNBC TV 18 has pretty anchors.
I met Sehwag, and i asked him "isn't it sad that we don't have a single quick bowler who can do 155 kmph?"  Pat came the reply from Sehwag "Irfan Pathan does 160 kmph almost everyday".   I said where?  "In Yousuf Pathan's BMW!"   I quickly left from there!!

23 Oct 2011


Mohinder Amarnath the "Comeback King" of Indian cricket is a national selector now!! Remember, the same Mohinder, two decades back, called the selectors "bunch of jokers"? Now Ajit Agarkar, Vinod Kambli fancy their chances of making a comebak into the Indian team. Its an occassion for the Indian cricket fans to celebrate as Mohinder won't torment them as a commentator and as an analyst in those post match studio discussions. But we will miss his pronunciations. For him Rahul Dravid was Rahul "Dray vid". Its like a David with a "R".  Mohinder"s gems like "India has 5 bowler" will be sorely missed!

The Indian commentary box has had a quite a few characters. Who can forget Dr. Narottam Puri, the Harsha Bhogle of yesteryears with his inimitable style, "i don't think he'll stop it, he doesn't" when the ball raced past the boundary and the mild and cheerful Fredun de Vitre was a treat to the ears!

Ravi Chaturvedi and Sushil Doshi were the Kasparov and Karapov of the hindi commentary. The nasal tone of Ravi Chaturvedi when he said "kitne acche fielder hai Azharrrrrr.." would today, make Himesh Reshammiya' turn green with envy. Thank god music lovers had some taste, those days, else Ravi Chaturvedi would have cut his own music album.

Sushil Doshi was the only hindi commentator who often forgot he was on Television and not on Radio.
His radio commentary on television was amazing. His "cover or long off ke beech se nikaala...seedhe boundary ke baahar, chaar runnnnn" in one breath, was the original inspiration for Shankar Mahadevan's "Breathless".

Those days, there were only two lines which had an impact on Indians.  One was "main tumhare bacche ki maa banewali hoo"with  screen villains Ranjit and Shakti Kapoor at the receiving end of that line and the other was  "bhaagyashaali rahe balle ka baahri  kinara nahi liya" by Sushil Doshi to a ball which was 2 kilometeres from the outer edge of the bat!!

 The live telecast of 1984 Benson and Hedges cup in Australia, had greats like Ian chappell, Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry as the commentators and with Stump microphones, replays in  different angles, made the normal Doordarshan viewer drool like a Walt Disney character!

When Richie Benaud said "hep shu lit lee shoe pub"  it took an Indian viewer quite some time to understand that he actually meant "Absolutely superb"!

Harsha Bhogle, the best thing to    happen to Indian cricket apart from  the Prudential World cup 1983, took the cricket commentary in India to another level. Who else could come up with gems like this;    " the only time Sachin does not get a standing ovation is when he gets out of bed".   Said he  about Malinga's yorkers "If you want to design a missile , design it on malinga...bang on target".

Ravi Shastri's comments "that went like a tracer bullet" and "that's what the doctor ordered" are as frquent as Kamran Akmal's dropped catches! Will someone tell Sunil Gavaskar that his oft repeated comment "VVS Laxman stands for very very special" has nothing special in it? In the last season of IPL, said Gavaskar  about Jaidev Unadkat, the wiry pace   bowler    from    KKR   "put some moustache on him and he'll look like Vekatpathy Raju".   It seems poor Unadkat lost his confidence after that.

For Sunny bhai, Sachin can do no wrong!  If you have seen  Brett lee bowling to Sachin, the ball hitting the ouside edge of Sachin's bat, and the bat turning in his hands, the ball taking  the outside edge of the bat and going for a four and Sachin  beaten all ends up, then its the fault of your "nazar".  You have to witness it through Gavaskar's "nazariya". "Look at sachin, very intelligent batting, that was deliberate. watch how Sachin loosens his right hand so as to keep the ball down. Very intelligent." Actually its very intelligent on your part Sunnybhai!!

Navjyot Singh Siddhu, can single handedly beat Harsha Bhogle, Cyrus Broacha and Shekhar Suman together when it comes to non stop talking (not necessarily sense)! His lines like "the pitch is senile and as dead as a dodo"  and Siddhuisms like "as poor as the church's mouse"are as predictable as Agarkar's full tosses in the slog overs! Siddhu's matching turbans and ties have more variety than his comments!!

The run out specialist, Sanjay Manjrekar's commentary is as good as his technique of running between the wickets. Sometimes when you get tired of laughing at Munaf Patel's bowling you should listen to  Sanjay Manjrekar's commentary. Many years back, the West indian fast bowler Winston Benjamin bowled a bouncer at him and cut his upper lip.  Indian cricket lovers would have loved it if Benjamin had aimed an inch lower. At least the cricket lovers would be spared of his commentary!

16 Oct 2011



"Controversially Yours" the autobiography of Shoaib Akhtar the  world's fastest "chucker",  was released a few days back.    The autobiography,  is in English!!  And that by itself is a biggest controversy!  Shoaib writing in english is like Curtly Ambrose singing a Ghazal.   Sometimes, retired, forgotten ex cricketers need to show others and reassure themselves that they are still around.  Income tax sleuths do not raid them, beautiful and famous women do not accuse them and even bookies do not name them in match fixing scandals!! It is in these circumstances that the name of Sachin Tendulkar comes into play!    The easiest way Shoaib could get some publicity for his book  was by using  time tested method of taking potshots at Sachin Tendulkar   It has advantages which are two-fold. (a) People know you exist and (b) Sachin Tendulkar is not exactly a god when it comes to giving it back! And perhaps that's the reason Shoaib chose Sachin and not Saurav Ganguly!!

Instead of taking  Sachin on ,  "chucker"  should have written the book himself in his trademark  english, co- authored by Shahid Afridi and with a foreword by Inzamam ul haq!!  Hot cakes would have disappeared like Shoaib's book!   Now that Inzamam ul haq has retired from international cricket, the entertainment has gone out of the post- match presentation ceremonies!   During the World cup in West Indies, Inzy was asked in a TV interview about the death of  the then Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer;  Inzy  said   "Everybody's shocking", which even left  the Jamaican police shocked !!   We will always miss you..... Inzamam ul Haq!!   Whenever Michael Holding called upon Inzy for the post match interview by addressing him as "Inzomaan ool hawk" , it was a moment to die for!!

Cricket lovers had a ray of hope, when Shahid Afridi was the captain of the pakistani cricket team!!    Golden era returned with the post match presentation ceremonies and people put their beer cans down to listen to Afridi's english!      Sadly, after Afridi  faded into oblivion we were robbed of that pleasure too!     Ask Afridi the first question, and his answer would be "first of all i thanks the mighty allah."!!.  Memories of Shoaib's special lines like "when i runs fast, i bowls fast" loaded with a Salman Khan accent  or the BBC interview in which he said we pitch the "shorts" balls  would make Kapil Dev sound like Harsha Bhogle!! With lines like these who needs Sachin for publicity?

Few years back, Sanjay Manjrekar (remember him?),  said timings of Sachin's injuries were dubious suggesting that Sachin faked his injuries!! After Sanjay Manjrekar's career ended he did many things to torment us like cutting his own music album , tried his hand at comedy which he called commentary and make such statements about Sachin's injuries else who would remember him?

Taking up cudgels for his ex teammate, Shahid Afridi said that  once, when he was fielding at square leg, he had seen Sachin "trembling" ,while facing ShoaibAkhtar!   More than the batsmen, the square leg umpires were the ones who  feared for their lives considering how Shoaib strayed down the leg side!! Shoaib saying that Sachin was trembling while facing him is like Manoj Bajpai saying that Amitabh Bacchan was trembilng while acting with him!!   In fact, Rameez Raja, Harsha Bhogle, Ravi Shastri & co. trembled while controlling their laughter on TV cameras when Shahid Afridi came up for the post match presentation ceremony!!  Even thed IPL franchisees trembled at the thought of bidding for Afridi & co.in their teams!! Even Joginder Sharma is prefered over Afridi by the teams at the IPL!

We asked Sehwag about Shoaib's comments on Sachin, and he replied in his charecteristic style, "Jab khelta tha to phekne ki aadat thi. khelna band kiya phir bhi phekta hai'.!!

6 Oct 2011


The last couple of weeks have been very eventful in the cricketing circles.  The news of BCCI terminating the contract of IPL franchisee Kochi Tuskers Kerala (KTK) made the fans of T20 jump with joy a la Principal Weatherbee from Archie comics when Archie fails to turn up at the Riverdale High.   Like Principal Weatherbee, the T20 fans celebrated, also by doing a cartwheel.   The reason was that the fans would have a  Jadu-free IPL, season 5.  (Ravinder  Jadeja is called "Jadu" in Jamnagar,the place he hails from) . Unlike how Sehwag used to be called "Najafgarh ka Tendulkar" , no one calls Ravinder Jadeja, "Jadu from Jamnagar" even in Jamnagar!!   But so what? we'll call him that!

 Before the fans could complete the celebrations and land on their feet after the cartwheel, the BCCI dropped a bomb that all the players of KTK would be rehabilitated, which meant the ghost of Jadu would still haunt us!!

Ask any member of the team what is more painful? Watching Chanderpaul bat for hours or Ravinder Jadeja's presence,and ten out of eleven players  would say it was Jadeja's presence and the only player who would differ would be Jadu himself!

Jadeja has made more comebacks to the Indian team than Mohinder Amarnath and Ajit Agarkar put together.  The speciality of Jadu contributing to his team's defeat is unparalleled and one which could be seen in 2010 T20 world cup where his bowling cost us the cup. In fact, when Jadeja comes in to bowl the lives of the spectators at the stadia are in  grave danger with ball travelling in the stands as frequently as Madhuri travels from US to India !!

When the new BCCI chief   N. Sreenivasan said that all   KTK  players would be rehabilitated, he had a glint of mischief in his eyes and a  smile which he was trying to conceal between his third and the fourth chin ( his double chin has a double chin you see)!! Sreenivasan was trying to control his laughter  at the prospect of making Jadu play in any other team except his  CSK which meant Dhoni, Raina,  & co. could have some batting practice in the matches itself  which would free them from net practie time and spend the valuable time  endorsing various products.

Other teams may avoid Jadu, but there is a team, Jadu would not like to be a part of and that is Pune Warriors. Our mole in the team informs us that whatever reasons Jadu may cite but he doesn't like the Pune team as their cheergirls wear the indian attire and Jadu prefers the phirang babes and the western outfits.

There is a conspiracy brewing amongst the teams and the teams are undivided in opinion over keeping our Jadu out. But knowing Jadu, he has already set his 'nazar' on the remaining teams and going by the previous experience of making  comebacks into the Indian team again and again, we are sure Jadu, is going to return with a vengeance.

For Jadu to qualify in the RCB team he is supposed to beat Chris Gayle at Arm wrestling which would be as uncommon as Kangana Ranaut receiving a national award for acting. With kings XI punjab, Jadu will be given an ardeous task of running 100 meters before hugging  Preity zinta.  With the experienced Piyush Chawla around you think anyone stands a chance to hug Preity?   This is all Piyush has been doing in IPL, isn't it?
Close sources inform us that Jadu stands a little or no chance of making it into the Delhi Daredevils (DD)team. It so happened that, in the last season of IPL, a scribe asked Sehwag whether he was  in the race for an Orange cap  (For the uninitiated, orange cap is awarded to the batsman who scores the highest runs in the IPL tournament);  to which Sehwag replied "Orange cap? What's the big deal? All players from KTK wear an orange cap, including idiots like  Jadeja".   Jadu who had come near  the DD "dug out" to have a closer look at the DD cheergirls heard what Sehwag said. Later, Sreesanth translated it for him and Jadu was so furious that he vowed never to play for DD even if he was  bought by them at the auction or play under the captaincy of Sehwag. Now there is a public demand to make Sehwag the team India captain so that the people will be ensured of  Jadeja free Team India!
The other teams are coming up with novel ways to keep Jadu away from entering their teams.

Kolkatta Knight Riders (KKR) are having a 3 question  entrance test for Jadu. Question no. 1: Name the passenger liner which rammed into an iceberg on its maiden voyage?. If Jadu answers it correctly as "Titanic" then comes the 2nd question: How many people were on board the Titanic?. If Jadu gets even this right and says 2223 then comes the 3rd question:  Name all  2223 people on board the Titanic. This is cruel on your part Shahrukh!! Even RA-one would not be able to answer that but we are not complaining!!

The other teams are brainstorming on how to keep Jadu out and  the moment we get to know their plans we will publish it here! Watch this space!!