September 16, 2007

Can the selectors think out of the box ?

Rahul Dravid's painful run as the Captain of Indian Cricket Team has come to an end. Painful... because if he was in form the team wasnt, and if the team did well, his contribution wasnt enough. Plus the hungama over Chappel, the Ganguly episode that initiated it all, the disastrous world cup saga and the rise of ICL during his reign.

The Five Wise Men meet for Tea and Snacks and probably even lunch or dinner on Tuesday the Sept 18 and in between the gastronomic embellishments, they might also find time - hopefuly - to discuss the rather trifle matter of who the next man standing would be.

All TV Channels worth their salt in gold seem to suggest that Sachin Tendulkar with all his 18 years and three generations (of cricketing experience) of experience would be given the reins of the country's passion. The current T20 skipper MS Dhoni seems to be having an outside chance, while the Old Fox Saurav Ganguly is being mentioned but not being giving too much importance.

Personal Opinion: If you are looking at the old guard, then it HAS to be Saurav Ganguly and not Tendulkar. Not for anything but I feel Sachin plays better when he has no headaches, and he is a little bit too soft for my liking. You have to be a street fighter which Ganguly is. Experience also counts. But the downside with either is their longevity, or rather the lack of it !

But do the Indian Cricket Selectors have the ability to think out of the box? They had taken a step on the correct tarmac when they made MS Dhoni the skipper for the slam-bang version. Can they do the same with the longer and the not-so-long versions?

Dhoni is today an automatic selection in any Indian team. Batting apart, his wicket keeping skills have been good and more than adequate without being spectacular. His batting has enthralled one and all. He has not only shown the agression needed for the shorter forms, but also the maturity that is needed of the longer. Ian Chappel wants Dhoni for the ODIs and Laxman for the tests, a decent suggestion, but since Laxman is in no particular certainty in BCCI's scheme of things, I would prefer Dhoni as the leader of the pack in all versions.

I would also want Sachin Tendulkar to be made the 'Playing Coach' or 'Mentor' of the side. He can actually thus help Dhoni in getting the team to gel together. We would not need the Wrights or the Fords or the Greg Chappels anymore then. None of those can better the 18 years of experience that Sachin brings in. And that experience is well, up-to-date and not two decade old.

I think thus, but do the Five Wise men?

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September 06, 2007

Idli, Vada, Dosa... Uthappa !

Idli, Vada, Dosa, Poori, Chapathi, Bonda, Uthappa !

Not quite in your top five when it comes to the menu card of any South Indian or Udipi style restaurant. So is the case with the namesake of this delicious onion-filled-laced-with-sesame-ground-pulse-batter-pancake when it comes to talking Indian Sports. And in India, sport is generally associated with Cricket.

Robin Uthappa showed on Wednesday night why he should not be relegated way below Ganguly, Tendulkar, Gambhir, Dravid, Yuvraj, Karthik, Dhoni et al. Had it not been for his flair with the bat and coolness of head associated with Karnataka's pride Jog Falls, India would have handed over the Natwest to the Brits. As it now stands, Lords beckons the Colonel and the Colonial for a battle royale at the Holy Lords.

Its not about what he did with the willow on Wednesday as it is with what coolant he uses in his attic. Never have I seen this Zaheer Khan look-alike sporting a disturbed mane. Always cool, whether packing a punch or walking back with a quack.. one quaility he has displayed in ample measure is serenity. You will never get that 'Oh shit, it was the pad and not the willow' look that symbolises Dada, or the “Oh.. once more in the 90s” look that seems to have become synonymous with Tendliya.

Energetic in the field, enthusiastic off it and serene in the middle, this opening bat from Bengaluru reminds me more of Justine Henin more than Rafael Nadal. I do not know why this explosive batman is not considered above Gambhir and Karthik. He is more like Sehwag and can destroy any attack on his day. No doubt Gambhir is a good bat, but I would rate him higher in the longer version of the game. Karthik is at best an honest trier, committed player and a grinder, but take out the wicket-keeper from his persona and he becomes rather dispensable.

Robin Uthappa is like his name. The Robin flies high easily, and the Uthappa flattens all others.
Robin would be an ideal number 3 in my ranks to follow SG and ST. Yuvi and Dhoni can continue where he leaves along with Dravid and Gambhir. If only Agarkar and Zaheer contribute a bit with the willow, we have a wining combo around.

Over to Lords !