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RIP Phil Hughes


Sport is meant to bring a lot of joy, not grief. It is meant to unite regions and provide a ray of hope. It never is a battle between life and death. It never is about mere survival. I was a toddler when Ayrton Senna was killed during the San Marino F1 Grand Prix. I was all of 8, when Raman Lamba succumbed after being hit on the forehead while fielding at silly mid on. Barring these tragic incidents, sport was an abundance of joy and thrill. And now, Phil Hughes has left us.

It wasn’t a snorter. It wasn’t as venomous as he’d have faced in his career. It wasn’t as brutal like those barrage of bouncers he was up to in the bouncy Durban wicket during his 2nd Test, where he hit those twin centuries. It wasn’t as lethal as he’d have seen from Mitchell Johnson in the nets. It was a 130 kph Sean Abott bouncer which took off from a rather batsman friendly SCG track. It was all over. He had been fighting for a place in the Australian side before that. Who’d have thought that a moment later, he would fight for his life. Life is cruel, at times. No it is, most of the times. A 25-year young man dies while playing the sport he loved and a 22 year young fast bowler, having to live with the burden for the rest of his life. How cruel can it get?

I’ve always felt that a child’s demise before his parents is against the laws of nature. Phil Hughes is left by his farmer father, in whose farm he had mastered the art of square cuts. He is left by his loving mother, in whose arms he had learnt the life lessons- humility and simplicity, the characters which would eventually define his character. He was a simple man, who loved being in the farm along with his family. He was humble by the way, he got along with his teammates. He was equally loved by all.

Phil Hughes leaves us with rich memories, of the spell bounding square cuts and cover drives. The Durban show, the historic last wicket partnership with Ashton Agar at Trent Bridge, debut century in ODIs and a lot more. He had his flaws and limitations but he also had age on his side. He was after all just 25. And how abruptly, it all ends. We’ll miss you Phil Hughes. We’ll pray that you’ll be born as a cricketer in your next birth too. Until then, be safe in the company of Don Bradman in the heavens. RIP.

 

Phil Hughes: 63 Not Out

Phil Hughes: 63 Not Out

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Chennai


In less than a month, I had made a couple of visits to Chennai. The last visit over the weekend pushed me to write a blog post on this wonderful city. First things first, Chennai is a very likeable city. Pretty much like Bangalore. But someone should ensure that its people behave while supporting the Chennai Super Kings and its weather behaves, then Chennai easily is my second most favorite city in India after Bangalore (of course). And wait, stop envying Bangalore also. Okay?

Chennai has got its beaches, the Marina , the VGP Golden, Besant Nagar (there may be a few more). And the Marina is one huge beach. I remember learning from my Quizzing days that it is the second longest beach in the world. Chennai owes so much to Marina, for it is Marina which saved Chennai from the gigantic Tsunami waves. Marina nullified the effect of Tsunami to less than 40%.

Marina Beach- a panoramic view

Marina Beach- a panoramic view

Aside an abandaned boat

Aside an abandoned boat

Marina is Chennai’s pride. I’ve always cherished my evening strolls here. The small snack stalls here are just not be missed. I’ve heard about the giant screens that they install here for screening India’s crunch cricket matches. I can’t even think of how electrifying the atmosphere would be then.

My favourite place in Chennai is Mylapore because that’s where I spend most my time during the course of stay here. The Maami- Ambi culture of Mylapore impresses me. Be it the Maami Kada Dosa near the Kapaleshwar temple or the Mada Veedhi shops surrounding the area. The Maami Kada Dosa is the second most delicious dish in the world (after of course Mom’s recipes). There are ample number of vegetarian eateries around. So, get ready for a tryst with the taste buds here. Quite understandably, you’ll barely find a non-veg restaurant in the vicinity.

Mylapore is home to a lot of sacred-thread fellows. Curd rice is the secret of their energy. They are the real all rounders. Their mannerisms might puzzle us. Take out The Hindu Newspaper, Carnatic Music classes, Quizzing, Cricket chatters and Rajnikanth from their life, they’ll ponder over the purpose of their very own existence. Here’s the career path of 90% of them:  CBSE–>IIT–>MS–>America Maplai (Bridegroom)–>Attains Moksha.

Kapaleshwar Temple Festival, Mylapore

Kapaleshwar Temple Festival, Mylapore

Don’t show your face to any of the fifty year olds here, without having acquired a Master of Sciences degree from some frigging University in USA. You might be the CEO of a million dollar company or an author dishing out a hand full of best sellers but without the MS, you’re nothing. Do you still harbour any doubt on MS Dhoni’s huge fan following in this part of the country? This is the reason. A frigging MS. As in the case of MS Swaminathan. MS Subbulakshmi. MS Vishwanathan. MS. MS. MS.

What else in Chennai? The textile kingdoms in T Nagar. In terms of style and fashion, though the Chennai-ites are a tad behind the other metros, the likes of Pothys and Chennai Silks have a pretty impressive selection of garments, especially the Sarees. I have heard that Chennai isn’t a party-hopping lot, though I’ve heard that a few pubs and discos have come up owing to the IT companies which have sprung up in different parts of the city.

When you throw a stone in Bangalore, the probability of hitting a software engineer is more. But try throwing it in Chennai, it’s a fair chance that it might hit an engineering student. There are umpteen number of engineering colleges and arts colleges here. Mind you those are damn good ones. No city in the country gives as much importance to education as Chennai does. Still wondering why Chennai is considered to be one of the most knowledgeable cricket crowds? Chennai-ites are an educated lot. Don’t judge them merely by their fascination for Vijayakanth movies, okay?

So, don’t expect to go to Chennai to party or to hang out in the Malls. Chennai is a different city. It’s orthodox (except for Krishnamachari Srikanth). It knows a lot of stuffs (ask its quizzers). It has got its Masala Dosas to bowl you over. It is crazy about its film stars. It takes a lot of pride in talking about the power of N.Srinivasan. And it doesn’t shy away from taking a dig at Bangalore, more than often.

 

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Indian Cricket – stooping to an all time low!


Everyday starts with me, lying in the bed, under the quilt and holding my smartphone; conveniently tapping my ways through the timelines of Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and my new found love, Instagram. It’s a daily routine that roughly extends to half an hour in the morning.Timeline in all these social networking sites didn’t look that impressive this morning. None of the hot chicks in my friends list had changed their profile pictures. Everyone in Twitter were still jobless busy in discussing the screwing of Rahul Gandhi by Arnab Goswami. Mails regarding my freelance work too were not be seen. That was when I arrived at youtube. The best thing about it is that it exactly knows what you like and itself recommends a list of videos. As I strolled through the options, the one which caught my eye was the ongoing India’s seemingly disastrous tour of New Zealand.
Let us face it. Indian cricket is facing a crisis. The masters of the flat tracks bat like school boys when the ball zips, swings, seams and bounces in alien conditions. Be it Australia. England. South Africa. or New Zealand. The same set of boys who make a mockery of targets in excess of 350 in ODIs in India, have now been found wanting. It will be grossly unfair if I do not exclude Virat Kohli from all the bashing. The brashly Delhi batsman has already become an ODI legend. Hang on. He has already done enough, for me to compose a separate blog post on him. So, that’s about Virat for now.
Why do we call the current situation, a crisis? We’ve always been poor travelers and were bound to struggle overseas. Our stats men will agree to that. Wouldn’t they? But my generation will not. For us, Indian team always meant ‘Business’ overseas. The team we saw while growing up, consisted of a bunch of honorable cricketers. They were the fighters, which none dared to take for granted. They had this mix of experience and youth, which gelled beautifully to give us the results. They had the leader who could put his hand around his bowler’s shoulder and telling him that he is going to win us the Test match.
I am trying hard to not make the IPL as the punching bag. We resemble the team of the early 90s. Kohli scores, we win and if he doesn’t, rarely barely do we win. Though MSD’s batting in ODIs has been as consistent as anyone’s, his Midas touches as captain seem to have vanished. His team selections make the Indian Hockey selection committee look angelic. The bowlers try hard to get into the all time list of worst bowlers. Suddenly Indian fans have awakened to the reality that Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra were the McGraths and Akrams during their times.
It’s easier to make scapegoats, but tougher to provide solutions. First things first, England have sacked their coach. So why not send this Duncan Fletcher back to where he belongs and bring in one of our own retired guys to coach. Second, pick players in the squad purely for cricketing reasons. There must be something beyond the cricketing reasons that Cheteshwar Pujara doesn’t figure in the ODI squad. Thirdly, my 11 year old cousin knows how Suresh Raina gets out in International cricket but it looks like our selectors and captain doesn’t.  And fourthly, dear BCCI, asking for a large chunk of ICC’s share is fine, but how are you going to use it to produce a Dale Steyn?
An Indian Cricket Fan, moves on!!