The Common Man Speaks


India v/s Pakistan Semi Final: Can We Please Talk Cricket?

As soon as India came closer to Australia’s target of 261 in the second quarterfinal, the excitement levels of the whole of India went out of control as it meant that India will play Pakistan in the semi-final of the World Cup 2011. Unfortunately, this gave rise to all kinds of discussions, debates and incidents that had nothing to do with cricket.

Forward SMS’es bashing Pakistani terrorists, people and even cricketers started doing the rounds. People started predicting which Indian or Pakistani cricketer will have a verbal spat with his counterpart. Hindi news channels started sensationalizing the match in such a manner as if the two nations are actually going to have a war on the border. The Kashmir issue also started booming. Of course, the political relations between the two countries became the hot issue. All this just because of a non-violent sport between the two countries.

And if this wasn’t enough, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made use of the match by playing a huge political trump card by inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for the match. Manmohan thought the match will make his task easier of improving the relations between India and Pakistan. A sheer example of how politicians can pounce on every opportunity to make their ends meet.

By doing this, the match is now being looked upon by the world as a political battleground on the relations between India and Pakistan. Not to mention, the security headaches for the Chandigarh police and other security officials since the two Pakistani big shots will surely bring in a line of politicians with them and so will Manmohan and Sonia Gandhi (who has decided to ‘back’ Manmohan). Hence, the Mohali cricket stadium will be turned into a fortress.

And worse, there will be anti-aircraft missiles, guns and robotic bomb-disposal units in and around Mohali. So, are we preparing for a cricket match or an actual war between India and Pakistan? In the midst of all this, where the hell is cricket? Why not talk about the strengths and weaknesses of both the teams and analyze the day by just keeping the game in mind? One can just hope that on the big day, the unimportant factors take a backseat and only the game of cricket rules and the best team wins.


India hasn’t beaten a Test-Playing team (except B’desh) in WC since 8 years and 10 matches!!!

After India’s disappointing loss to South Africa in their group B match at Nagpur on March 12, questions have started rising whether India really has in it to win the World Cup 2011. Before the start of the WC 2011, the cricket fanatics in India and a section of the media undoubtedly labeled India as the biggest favorites to win the cup. In fact, there was a common assumption that only Dhoni’s men can win the cup.

But after India’s performance in the ongoing world cup and a shocking statistic which it gives rise to, one can conclude that India needs nothing short than a miracle to lift the cup. The shocking statistic is that India hasn’t beaten a single test-playing team (except Bangladesh) in a World Cup match since eight years! In other words, India hasn’t defeated a strong team in their last 10 WC matches! So can they still be called even near favorites to win the cup?

India’s last 10 performances in WC matches are as follows: -

  • India v/s Kenya (2003 WC Semi Final at Durban) – India beat Kenya by 91 runs
  • India v/s Australia (2003 WC Final at Johannesburg) – Australia beat India by 125 runs
  • India v/s Bangladesh (2007 WC Group B match at Trinidad) – Bangladesh beat India by 5 wickets
  • India v/s Bermuda (2007 WC Group B match at Trinidad) – India beat Bermuda by 257 runs
  • India v/s Sri Lanka (2007 WC Group B match at Trinidad) – Sri Lanka beat India by 69 runs
  • India v/s Bangladesh (2011 WC Group B match at Dhaka) – India beat Bangladesh by 87 runs
  • India v/s England (2011 WC Group B match at Bangalore) – Match tied
  • India v/s Ireland (2011 WC Group B match at Bangalore) – India beat Ireland by 5 wickets
  • India v/s Netherlands (2011 WC Group B match at Delhi) – India beat Netherlands by 5 wickets
  • India v/s South Africa (2011 WC Group B match at Nagpur) – South Africa beat India by 3 wickets

We can also say that in India’s last 6 games against test playing teams (including Bangladesh); India has managed to win just once and that too against Bangladesh! It was against New Zealand in the Super Six stage of 2003 WC that India last beat a strong team in a WC and that was on March 14, 2003 (exactly 8 years ago).

So, forget winning the World Cup, India first needs to beat a strong test playing team. And to win the cup, India needs to beat 4 strong teams in a row. But it looks like our captain cool Dhoni isn’t aware of this as he looks satisfied beating minnows. When it was pointed out to Dhoni that India struggled to beat a team like Netherlands, he said, “Look at the scorecard. It says India won by 5 wickets.” Such a huge achievement to beat Netherlands, Dhoni?

Will we be able to win the World Cup if we are just satisfied beating teams like Netherlands? Considering India hasn’t beaten a single strong team in their last 10 WC outings, will they be able to beat 4 in a row? It looks tougher than climbing Mount Everest especially with our bowling attack. Of course, being a strong Indian supporter, I will be highly glad if I am proved wrong by Dhoni’s men.


My First World Cup Experience: Popats Do Happen!

I have seen a number of matches in the stadium but on Sunday March 13, 2011 it was special as it was the first time I saw a one day international in the stadium and that too a World Cup match, even though it was an unimportant tie between New Zealand and Canada. Also, this was the first international match at the Wankhede Stadium after a major renovation.

There were strict instructions written on the ticket that patrons won’t be allowed to take any accessory or articles that has a battery inside the stadium. So, it was kind of difficult and unusual for me to keep my mobile phone at home as I have never kept it away from me since last 5 years ever since I started using it.

But my uneasiness because of the absence of mobile phone disappeared as soon as I entered the stadium. The newly revamped Wankhede Stadium was a treat to the eyes! New stands, jazzy interiors and the roof appeared royal and overwhelming. Just few minutes inside the stadium and I was convinced the stadium is the right choice for the World Cup Final. Another thing which amazed the cricket lovers was the price of the snacks and beverages. The rates were way below the cricket match standards.

But all wasn’t hunky dory: there were huge layers of dust on the seats. Such a scene for the first match after the new seats were placed was just unexpected. But the biggest negative point was that the screen just didn’t show anyone from the crowd! If crowds are shown in each and every venues then why not in Wankhede??? I hope this is not repeated in the next match and most importantly in the finals.

New Zealand, who were put in to bat by Canada, piled off a mountainous 358 for 6 in 50 overs courtesy a century by opener Brandon McCullum (101) and a quickfire 74 by Ross Taylor. Canada in reply looked as if they would be bowled out cheaply after losing quick wickets. However, skipper Ashish Bagai (84) and Jimmy Hansra (70*) led a tremendous fight back to help their team reach 261 for 9 in 50 overs. It’s a big thing for a team like Canada to reach that score after being 4 for 2 in 4 overs.

Not a close or interesting contest by any means but at least I can tell my grandchildren that I saw a World Cup match in a stadium (lol). But I certainly won’t tell them that I was without a mobile phone for 10 hours 15 minutes when mobiles were actually ALLOWED in the stadium. Yes, just before entering I got to know that the instructions behind the tickets meant for gadgets like cameras. Well, popats do happen!


Ireland At ICC’s Mercy

By: Keyur Seta

The whole cricketing world is going gaga over the heroics achieved by Ireland in the ongoing 2011 Cricket World Cup despite being just an associate nation. And why not? The men in light green have rubbished off the title of ‘minnows’ associated with them by their infamous world record victory against England and by showing fight and determination against other teams as well.

But Ireland’s success story reminds us of the heroic feat achieved by Kenya in the 2003 World Cup where they shocked everyone and managed to reach the semi-finals. (Even their victory against the West Indies in the 1996 World Cup is still fresh in cricket lovers’ minds). This was considered as the rise of the Kenyan cricket by many and a possible chance of gaining a status of a test-playing nation. Sadly, that was not to be. Kenya never really managed anything after their World Cup fairytale.

The obvious reason for this appears Kenya’s poor performance. But I strongly feel that the International Cricket Council (ICC) is mostly responsible for this. For a well performing associate team, it is necessary that they continuously get international exposure and that too against strong opponents.  Right after the 2003 WC, Kenya played just a four nation series in Sharjah and that too because the Indian team wasn’t available. But after that series, Kenya played just two one-day internationals in the next three years (Wikipedia)!

By ignoring such a well performing associate team, one is forced to question whether the ICC wants the game to spread in more and more countries. On and off, these associate teams do play against other associate teams but if they really need to grow as a full-fledged cricket team, they need to play regularly against stronger test-playing nations.

In the summer of 1998, there was a triangular series in India featuring India, Kenya and Bangladesh. Such series are the need of the hour for associate teams. Surely, it shouldn’t be difficult for the ICC to hold such tournaments regularly. Audience attendance won’t be a problem as one can see large number of supporters of Ireland, Netherlands, Canada, etc thronging the stadiums during their matches. So, revenue won’t be a problem for the ICC, if that is what is bothering them.

And all that talk of scrapping the associate teams from playing in World Cups is annoying! Only those who are against the growth of the game can think this way. Agreed, the matches can be boring when a strong team thrashes an associate one. But then, you have every option of not watching such matches; no one is forcing you.

One just hopes Ireland doesn’t follow Kenya’s fate because of ICC’s cold-shouldering. After all, organizing exciting and interesting cricket matches is not just all. Spreading this great game far and wide is equally important.


Director Ashutosh Gowariker Enthralls Symbiosis Students

(I was overwhelmed when my dear friend Padmanabh Subramanian aka Pady requested me to post this article of his on my blog. It's a matter of pride for me that someone considers my blog as a platform to share his or her experience.)


The ‘Lagaan’ director was at Symbiosis Institute Of International Business, Hinjewadi, Pune for a discussion on management & film-making.

By: Padmanabh Subramanian

Leadership skills, ethical practices, effective planning and execution, human relations, emotional quotient, etc. are key managerial skills, MBA students aspire for. Cinema and process of film-making have always been closely associated with these managerial aspects. Such qualities are best-depicted through films and therefore, today movie-scripts are often used as case studies in educational institutes and the corporate world. Director- Mr. Ashutosh Gowariker is one such film-maker whose protagonists Bhuvan (Lagaan) & Mohan Bharghav (Swades) changed our perception of the conventional ‘hero’, by bringing about a revolution through lateral thinking, with patriotism as the backdrop.

On 18th February 2011, Symbiosis Institute of International Business, Hinjewadi Pune (SIIB) invited Mr. Ashutosh Gowariker for a guest lecture on “Management & managerial aspects of films and film-making”. Dr. Rajani Gupte, Director, SIIB and Dr. Vidya Yervadekar, Principal Director, Symbiosis Society, were also a part of the programme.

Mr. Gowariker began the session, with his early experiences as an actor, gradually moving towards film-making, which involved financing, operational issues, film-promotions & marketing, etc. He then spoke about how he zeroed down ‘leading actors’ for his films, based on the character’s temperament. He also threw light on how a film’s success and failure both are equally important for a film-maker.

Highlights of the session:

The simplicity, humility & straightforwardness with which Mr. Ashutosh put forth his points, thoughts, ideas and experiences, wrapped in humour, had the audience in splits.He came down to the level of youngsters which set the comfort level of the audience. The journey of his gradual evolution from an actor to director, director to a producer and finally from a producer to writer, with confusion and chaos at every stage, is something every youngster faces at this point of time, and could therefore connect to the transition process instantly. The interaction was the USP of the show, since people actually came out with frank, open queries, and having most of the questions answered much to their satisfaction.

Overall, it was a highly interactive, humorous and interesting session, and the audience enjoyed every bit of it.