Cricket needs you, Pakistan

I might get lynched if this write up reaches the reading table of self proclaimed torch bearers of patriotism, chest thumping right wing media warriors and of course, cow terrorists. Because, I am going to conclude this blog by saying that the current Pakistan cricket team has been a joy to watch.

Over the years, Pakistan’s attitude on the field has transformed into a greater level. I am not sure if you can think beyond Misbah in having nurtured the team’s attitude and there by bringing in, a sense of dignity. Gone are the days when Pakistan used to annoy and bully teams with super natural fast bowlers and chants from behind the wicket. They still have an abundant supply of raw fast bowling talents but when you look at the players on the field, you realize that things have changed. The only thing that hasn’t changed, is their unpredictability. There is a sense of innocence in the way their captain addresses the post match press conferences. Much has been said and mocked, unfairly and equally irritatingly, about Sarfaraz’s English speaking skills but agree or not, he has brought a lot of purpose to this team. His child-like enthusiasm on the field is adorable. His pep talks are the work of a leader in progress. His chants from behind the stumps, remind you of Moin Khan. But he isn’t Pakistan’s complete story.

Pakistan’s resurgence is the story of a bighearted Hassan Ali, the new generation opener Fakhar Zaman, of the supremely talented Babar Azam and of their decision to not send Shehzad and Hafeez to open the innings. Hassan Ali’s run up gives you an indication of the hard work that has gone into his making. He isn’t an Akthar, nor does he come anyway closer to the masterful Akram. His uniqueness lies in the absence of special tricks that the Pakistani fast bowlers are known to possess. He is just a normal bowler and looks forward to his every run up with a lot of discipline. Fakhar Zaman is different though. He does unPakistan things. He is Pakistan’s Sehwag with the bat. He sets them off to a flier. He is the new generation smasher. He must have never seen Hafeez bat. He flat bats the ball over the pacer’s head with nonchalance. So, in a 230-240 run chase, he takes them to a 100 inside the 15 overs and minimizes the chances of a choke. He has transformed the way Pakistan looked at ODIs. You simply wish he doesn’t get embroiled in any funny incident that might snowball into a massive scandal or a controversy. Then there is Mohammad Amir, the child prodigy, the teenage prodigy who lost his way, when the cricket writers worldwide were writing celebratory posts after spotting the next Wasim Akram. We don’t know how his rehabilitation phase was but every wicket that he takes, makes the cricket lover happier. No other cricket team has tales like these. And that’s what make Pakistan, Pakistan.

Pakistan are known to do Pakistan things. They could botch up a run chase with ease. They could also churn up surprise wins, which might surprise the hell out of the bookies in Sharjah. With every passing tournament, Pakistan keeps letting the ICC know that Cricket needs them more than they need cricket. So, what am I going to expect in the final on Sunday? Expect the unexpected. No one expected Pakistan to be in the finals. But no one wrote them off either. Ah, Pakistan. May you never change. Because, watching you play in this tournament has given us unbridled joy. Your brand of cricket is a thing of beauty. For a change, let us leave aside the emotions of India Pakistan politics and look forward to the final as a neutral cricket lover. Be an English or an Australian for a day. Because we love cricket more.


The Indian Farmer

These are tough times for the Indian farmer. Yes, the same Indian farmer who is responsible for feeding you and keeping you alive. He is endangered and on the verge of extinction, if the tough times continue. The situation is worse if he belongs to the state that performs well. No one cares about him. None of the officials go and meet them. None from the government indulge in talks with them. In Madya Pradesh, he has to face bullets if he tries to raise his voice in protest. In Maharashtra, he has no other option than committing suicides. In Tamilnadu, he knows he doesn’t have a government to reach out to. So he goes to Delhi, sports a half shaved mustache and a half shaved head, eats rats and rolls on the road completely naked. Nothing happens. No one is bothered. He is tired. He returns home and ponders over his own existence. He sits in exasperation. He thinks of moving over to other sources of income. But he can’t. This is all that he knows. Farming is his life. A world outside of this, doesn’t exist for him. He thinks he is living a cursed life.

The Uttar Pradesh Government in April, announced that it plans to waive off the loans of 3 crore farmers in the state. It’s a good idea and there is no question about it, except for the fact that the funds commissioned for this, comes from the bulk contributions of states where the farmers are dying everyday. For every 100 bucks given to the centre by Tamilnadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka, they get back 30-40 bucks. Meanwhile, the non performing states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madya Pradesh get back 300-400 for the same amount. This is where the resource allocation fails miserably. Why would you penalize a state for performing well? The funds that are used to waive off farmer loans in UP comes from the funds generated by states like Maharashtra and Tamilnadu. And these states have prospered economically owing to good governance, good literacy rates, impeccable Human Development Indices and importantly, comparatively lesser population growths. Isn’t it the time for refurbishing the existing model of resource allocation? Or even sending out a stern message to the non performers that the continuous non performance will result in lesser funds?


Qatar’s Isolation


What will be its impact on the 2022 Fifa world cup, which Qatar is supposed to host?

Will this shake up the aviation industry as there are a plenty of flights that use Doha as a transit point in their journey from South East Asia to Europe and also to the Eastern regions of America?



The Border

Some thoughts on the US- Mexico border!

There is a scene in the film, where they reach a village and notice a road direction board. Honduras was on the left. Guatemala, on the right and they are free to drive into any of the territories. While clarifying Dulquer’s doubts on the absence of border check posts, John Vijay says “Why should there be a checking point? What will they check when there is enough poverty on either side”. 

The entire area is plagued by drug trafficking, giving rise to extreme violence and corruption, that impedes the progress in these parts of the world. May be if Trump takes more responsibility in fighting the drug cartels, he wouldn’t have to spend sleepless nights in his ambitious plan to construct walls all through the 2000- miles long US- Mexico border. But will he do it? Anyone who knows a bit of world history knows that the US certainly won’t. They are too scared about a Vietnam-like situation in Latin America and the prosperity of these nations would shake the US’s powers a bit.

Viva Revolution! 

The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.“- Che Guevara





2017 Bangalore Test

BEML end, Chinnaswamy

BEML end, Chinnaswamy

I am tempted to say that Bangalore 2017 is the best test match of our lives. But the heroes of Calcutta 2001 won’t let me do that.

I am glad that the test match got over, though I would’ve secretly wanted it to carry on for ever. Let me rephrase it, when was the last time, we followed every ball of every session of every day of a test match, from the edge of our seats? I don’t remember. Or simply, there hasn’t been a test match, as good as this one at the Chinnaswamy, in the last 15 years. When I came out after having watched the Day 1 action from the N stand at the BEML end, I was tired and worn out, much like the players, and was cross because 8 of our batters had gifted their wickets to Nathan Lyon. I sought answers for so many questions. “How could you let a visiting spinner dominate you? How could you bring back the horrors of Panesar and Swann? We have attacked even Warne and Muralitharan in their prime and aren’t O’keefe and Lyon lesser mortals?” I thought the test was over and the Border Gavaskar trophy would simply stay in Australia. But, everyone including the Umpire’s call had other ideas.

I followed the Day 2 action on TV, Day 3 on Hotstar, Day 4, again on TV and not going to the stadium in these 3 days, will remain one of the massive regrets in my life. I should’ve been the 12th man from the stands. India’s resurgence and discipline in the first session of Day 2 took us back to Calcutta. But the turning point of the game has to be Ishant’s spell to Steve Smith and the funny faces that followed it. It was fodder for the meme makers, fans and Virat Kohli. Oh, and before this, Ashwin produced the mirror image of his ball to Amla in the T20 semifinal, to send back David Warner and made millions, like me, join the send off party.

None of the defensive strokes bored anyone. There was action in every ball, literally. Every leave drew comments from close-in fielders. Funny faces followed every time the ball beat the willow. Kohli loved the scenes. He would have paid millions, even his IPL contract, to be in this moment. The moment even got to Pujara, of all people. Yes, even to Cheteshwar Rahul Dravid Pujara. The cameras captured him involved in the chatter. Day 2 saw only 197 runs scored off the 90 overs. But that was already the best day of the Home Test season. Chinnaswamy showed the world that it loved its test matches like Lords and MCG, as the crowd swelled even on a weekday.

When the going gets tough, classical test batsmen know how to survive. They will negate the naughty bounce by shuffling. They will negotiate the flight, loop and classical off spinner’s wicket taking trajectory. They will not poke outside the off stump. They know exactly when to drive and when, not to. They play with the opposition’s patience. They prod. They defend. They leave. They grind it out. They survive. And slowly, they notch up the runs. That’s what Dravid and VVS did in Calcutta. That’s what Dravid did in Jamaica and Leeds. And that inspired two shy young men in Rajkot and Mumbai, who saw these knocks on TV. Fifteen years later, they pull off the unthinkable. They produce the partnership of the decade, which the knowledgeable fans rate, as the best since Calcutta. No wonder that Kohli rated Pujara and Rahane as the team’s best test batsmen. But it all started with KL Rahul, the prodigious dude from Bangalore, who can switch with ease, from batting like Dravid to batting like Sehwag. 90 and 51 when the bowlers were all over the batters, should inspire him to emulate the gentleman with whom he shares his name and city.

I couldn’t miss the Day 4 action. It would’ve been criminal. So, I decided to work from home. But I could barely work. I knew where my thoughts were. And just like that, the Aussie pacers orchestrated our batting collapse. It was breathtaking fast bowling. I had the best seat in the house on Day 1 in the N stand to see Starc ‘air’ swinging the red cherry. It was quite a sight. I could see how it curved, sitting 80m away. But it didn’t find the timber then. And when it did, on Day 4, it looked beautiful, like it had found its rightful hang out place. We were down from 4-down to all back in the hut.

188 to win. Plenty at stake. Kohli’s pride. Ashwin’s pride. Chinnaswamy’s pride. India’s pride. And yeah, the frigging Border Gavaskar trophy. Recent stats showed it was unconquerable. But Warner could conquer it in a session and a half. Smith could play on for ever and make runs. Renshaw could carry on despite, having to answer the nature’s call. Defending the score wasn’t going to be easy. And then it all began to happen. Renshaw fell. Warner looked to end Ashwin’s career. He tried to sweep, slog-sweep, paddle-sweep and even the reverse sweep, but couldn’t connect. And when he did, it sailed over long on. Ashwin, for the first time in the test, felt the pressure. Kohli would’ve been tempted to take him out of the attack. But he somehow, gave him another over. Warner’s eyes lit up. He could’ve sent the ball to Brigade Road or even the metro. But he loses his balance, almost falls over and importantly, fails to connect. Trapped. Leg Before Wicket. Umpire’s call seemed like a thing of beauty to billions. Two down. The bounce was uneven. Even Ishant Sharma was unplayable to Steve Smith. Everyone wanted the ball be given to Umesh Waqar Younis Yadav. Kohli acknowledged. Umesh came charging in, from his short run up. The ball skidded. It kissed the worm in the pitch, after pitching. It bounced that high. All this happened at pace, at 90 miles an hour. The shooters continued. One of them traps Shaun Marsh well outside the off stump. Trapped. Leg before wicket. Cacophony followed. A miscommunication during the DRS discussion saw him walking back. Umesh’s next shooter, rolls of the pitch and fetches him the wicket of his career. Steve Smith’s third brain fade moment in the match happens. He was not good at abbreviations, from school days. Dressing Room Review System is going to haunt him for the rest of his life. Pujara rushes in. Kohli is animated. He gives a mouthful to Smith. Umpire shows Smith the way. Kohli has a lot of things to say. Chinnaswamy is on its feet. The boos begin. Four down. It’s India’s game to lose now. I compose a couple of tweets to express my displeasure at Smith’s behaviour. Another wicket falls. And in a matter of another 15 minutes, Ashwin runs through the Aussie line up. Another game. Another fifer. Kohli starts sprinting. He gestures his celebratory pose towards Kumble and the entire Chinnaswamy. The series is squared. Michael Vaughan is elated. So, are the poms. Border Gavaskar trophy is alive. Ah, Bangalore 2017 is the best test match of our lives, along with Calcutta 2001. I am going to preserve the match ticket. It is Gold.


Our Jallikattu. Your PETA. Our Culture. Your Nonsense.

Who is PETA? Like, who the hell are they? Who let them all in? Don’t blame Manmohan Singh just because he opened up the gates for foreign parties through the economic reforms of 1991.

The past few days have turned even the otherwise uninterested North Indian media restless. The reason I accuse them of being uninterested is the obvious truth that they don’t give a damn about the events happening in the south of Vindyas. While some struggle to pronounce Jallikattu correctly, the other half, I am sure would have merely passed off the topic thinking Jallikattu were some South Indian dish made of coconut.

Is Jallikattu really cruel on the bulls, as it is made of in the media? There have been incidents of brutal violence like biting the tails and feeding alcohol but that is not true for all places. I genuinely believe that there has to be a regulatory body, that ensures the fair treatment of bulls. But an outright ban? No. These are part of a rich tradition and the various inscriptions and cave paintings suggest that it was perceived as an act of bravery. Spain still has its love affair with bull fighting and haven’t let PETA or any of the jokers to have a say in that.

It’s not about Supreme court because there are eminent lawyers and the matter will be dealt with legally. The discussions and suggestions will go through a legal channel. But my problem is with organizations like PETA, their supporters and motives. People cheering for a ban on Jallikattu are the same ones who are going to have a chicken lollypop and beef fry the next minute. Yes, Kamal Hasan hit the nails hard when he asked for a ban on Biryani too, if you are banning Jallikattu. The animal welfare army do not have any problem with non-vegetarianism. Not that I am for vegetarianism, but going by their logic, they should have gone to the supreme court for a ban on non-vegetarianism too. They use products made from the skins of animals. This ‘selective’ campaigning is abhorrent. Pamela Anderson once voiced for curbing the practice of parading the elephants during the temple festivals in Kerala. Luckily the matter was trashed by the Govt. of Kerala. And she was trashed in facebook by the “Pongala” warriors. I wonder what the elected Govt. of Tamilnadu was doing since 2013 when Jallikattu was banned. Why didn’t it find suitable lawyers to defend the cause? The matter gained mileage only when Kamal Hasan said those strong words.

Meanwhile, it’s heartening to see all the peaceful protests that are going on in Tamilnadu. They have done their bit in letting everyone know about the power of masses, in the most civilized manner that this country has seen in sometime. It’s up to the nominated lawyers to present the case responsibly. Justice for Jallikattu.