By: Keyur Seta
There is a huge amount of buzz around the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL), but for the wrong reasons. When the state of Maharashtra is reeling under extreme drought, the chaps running the IPL are eager to spend lakhs of liters of water in the three venues in the state – Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur – for the celebrated cricket tournament.
There have been debates and arguments regarding the same on TV news shows and among the general public. However, I feel the fact that we have debates around this is in itself an unfortunate situation. As far as I am concerned, the matter is simple – you don’t even need to be semi-intelligent or semi-literate to understand that spending such unthinkable amount of water when lakhs in the state have no water for utterly basic use is madness, to say the least.
I have a simple question for those who are taking a shocking stand of supporting IPL matches in Maharashtra – Can you live without water even for a day without using it even for your very basic needs? Well, people from Marathwada, Vidharbha and other regions have been doing that since months.
To support spending lakhs of liters of water for enjoyment in such a scenario, you either need to be utterly dumb or inhuman; maybe both.
The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, too has disappointed as far as this issue is concerned. Being the most powerful person in the state, one would at least expect him to take a tough stand and stop the madness. However, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Last year, Maharashtra Government released (read wasted) thousands of liters of water during Nashik’s Maha Kumbh for shahi snaan when people just some distance away were reeling under drought.
The entire situation also brings to light the double standards and fearlessness of the legendary ex-cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar. Few years back, he used to appear in BMC’s Save Water campaign urging people to save water. The ad also showed him stopping a waiter from filling his glass of water to the brim because he needed just half. Sachin has also been supporting rain water harvesting since, as he had said, he is concerned about the issue.
Well, so where is your concern and support when the state needs it the most? You are literally worshipped by the people of India (including Maharashtra). So, when they are facing such enormous crisis, the least you could do is offer some verbal support. But leave alone that, Sachin has not even tweeted about the issue.
On the other hand, he has all the time in the world to wish Geeta Basra (Harbhajan Singh’s then girlfriend and now wife) on Twitter for her B-grade film, Second Hand Husband.
If you are in favour of IPL being played in the three venues across Maharashtra, it automatically means you are against humanity.
By: Keyur Seta
The most interesting feature about the ongoing World T20 2016 or the T20 World Cup is that it is extremely difficult to predict a winner. Especially after New Zealand’s victory over India and Australia and England’s near-miracle chase of 230 against South Africa, it looks like anybody’s tournament.
However, I would still like to go ahead and offer a prediction. I strongly feel that South Africa is the strong favorite to win this World Cup. I know some of you might give daily soap reactions to this after their defeat against England, not-so-convincing win against Afghanistan and their history of being ‘chokers’. Some ultra-nationalists might even label me ‘anti-national’.
But do have a look at the reasons below:-
Batting line-up: South Africa might have lost yesterday’s match but we can’t ignore the fact that they scored as many as 229 runs in 20 overs. This was possible due to their long and dangerous batting line-up that fired in a key match. When you have Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB De Villiers, Faf du Plessis and David Miller as your top five and that too in good form, the opposition is set to experience a nightmare. Although ABD didn’t score well yesterday, his greatness needs no proof.
Bowling line-up: Things can go terribly wrong in a high-scoring T20 match on a flat wicket and I feel that is exactly what happened with South Africa against England and, to some extent, Afghanistan. I don’t expect an impressive bowling line-up of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abott to falter regularly. But the trump card for the Proteas, especially on Indian pitches, is Imran Tahir. The leg-spinner’s outstanding bowling figures of 4-0-28-1 went unnoticed with the focus being on England’s victory. Plus, they have the likes of Duminy as well who can be more than useful in Indian conditions.
Experience in India: This is a big reason for me considering SA as the favorite. Players with experience in Indian conditions and on Indian pitches always have an upper hand in such world tournaments. In the case of the Proteas, almost every player from their team has played regularly in India, either during tours or the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Venue Factor: We shouldn’t forget that SA has played both its matches on a super flat Wankhede wicket, which is not going to be the case with the rest of their matches. If there is some assistance for either pacers or spinners, this team will look dangerous. This might well be case of them striking when it matters the most.
New Zealand: The Kiwis have proved in their first two matches that they are strong contenders to win the World T20. Beating teams like India and Australia is a mammoth achievement indeed. But when it comes to winning big crunch matches, they have mostly faltered in the past; not to forget their abysmal performance in the 2015 World Cup Final.
Australia: Despite losing their very first match in the World T20, the Aussies, in my opinion, are still the top three favorites to lift the trophy. Their team is full of T20 specialists, who can turn the match on their day. It’s just that their recent lack of form (losing 3-0 against India in their backyard) that can keep them away from final glory. Just today, they had a tough time even against Bangladesh. But if they do manage to reach the semi-finals, it would be difficult to stop them from laying their hands on the coveted trophy.
What about India?
The top three favorites (as mentioned above) can prove to be too much for Team India. Although they have made amends for their humiliating defeat against New Zealand by beating Pakistan handsomely, I still don’t feel they are good enough to be the world champions. Their chances depend a lot on how they perform against Australia on March 27 at Mohali.
P.S:– Needless to say, I would love to be proved wrong.
(This is the 1st episode of the section ‘Forgotten Cricket Moments’. As per the name, FCM will feature interesting cricket moments that are forgotten over the years.)
By: Keyur Seta
Sharjah hosted the most number of One-Day Cricket series in the 80s and 90s. The venue has seen some exciting moments. Two most memorable ones include Javed Miandad’s 6 off the last ball of Chetan Sharma in the 1986 Austral-Asia Cup Final and Sachin Tendulkar’s birthday special innings in 1998 against Australia in the Coca-Cola Cup final.
Like many other triangular series at this venue, there was one between Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Zimbabwe in 1997 called Singer-Akai Cup. This post features a round robin league match from the series between Pakistan and Zimbabwe. It was a match where Zimbabwe scared the daylights out of Pakistan in a manner no one could have imagined; not even Zimbabwean players.
With the likes of Wasim Akram, Inzamam-Ul-Haq, Saleem Malik, Ijaz Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shahid Afridi, Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed in their team, the match pretty much looked like a ‘no contest’. But it wasn’t to be. That’s the beauty of the game and this venue. By the way, there were no floodlights in Sharjah then and all day matches were played in white clothes.
Pakistan won the toss, chose to bat and immediately started losing wickets. After losing 2 wickets at the score of 34, the veteran Saleem Malik was sent packing for a duck! Then Inzi succumbed to a run-out, one of his favorite methods of returning back to the pavilion. But even at this stage, it didn’t look so bad for Pakistan. A lot of times teams had managed to fight back against Zimbabwe after a poor start. Plus, Pakistan had a long batting line-up.
Unfortunately for them, this didn’t turn out to be a routine bad start against Zimbabwe. Wickets kept tumbling and the scoreboard soon read 51 for 7!!! Nobody was able to believe their eyes. I remember even the commentators, who weren’t expecting much from the match, were at a loss of words. Since it was an unimportant match, very few people, including my cricket-crazy friends, had tuned in. They missed a lot.
So, what was in store for Pakistan after being 51 for 7 and that too inside 20 overs? Batting out the 50 overs looked impossible from now on. But they managed to do something that looked like more than impossible at this stage. What if I told you they not only batted the full 50 overs but also managed to win the match in such a situation? Yes, that’s what eventually happened.
It all happened due to the wicket-keeper batsman Moin Khan. As they say, Cometh the hour, cometh the man. As per his fond habit, he bailed out his team from the deepest hole possible. He batted sensibly and fortunately found some great support from Saqlain at the other hand. Moin scored a heroic 61 off 97 balls with just one four and one six. It was sheer hard work. Saqlain, on the other hand, faced 81 balls for his 20. This is very slow even by the test cricket standards today!
Pakistan went on to score 151 for 9; a score that looked like almost a miracle after being 51 for 7. But one still expected the Zimbabwean team of that era to chase down the score. Sadly, they never looked like doing so. Pakistan’s deadly bowling attack was too much for them. They kept losing wickets in such a way that only four batsmen managed to reach double score. They were eventually bowled out for just 119 in 40.1 overs.
In this way, an inconsequential match turned out to be super interesting. Pakistan was expected to win but I am sure nobody would have predicted such turn out events.
See the full scorecard of the match HERE.
By: Keyur Seta
There is high excitement for tomorrow’s World Cup 2015 Final between Australia and New Zealand at Melbourne. From reading various social media posts, we can ascertain that the scenes are similar all over the world; in India too despite their team being knocked out of the competition in the Semi-Final. The reason for such eager anticipation is not limited to the fact that it is the final match of World Cup.
What has caught cricket lovers’ frenzy is that it will be played between two completely evenly matched sides. Of course, if you look at the overall record of both the teams, Australia has had the upper hand over New Zealand. But it is the current form that matters the most in such big matches and going by that, there is really not much to choose between both the sides.
One can argue that New Zealand has the upper hand as they haven’t lost a single match in the WC and Australia having lost one and that too against them. New Zealand did win the match but it lost 9 wickets in the process of scoring just 153 runs. On the other hand, although Australia lost the match, it managed to almost win. Hence, both sides are terribly evenly matched!
With these two teams entering the finals, it has also become one of the rare cases where two most deserving sides are playing for the title. There have been quite a few cases in the previous World Cups where teams not doing too well managed to reach the final while the ones deserving failed to do so by faltering in the knockout match.
For example, Australia and Pakistan in 1999 and Pakistan in 1992 didn’t have close to a flawless run but still managed to reach the final. Similarly, South Africa in 1996 won all their league stage matches and looked to be the strongest team but it lost against the West Indies in the Quarter Final.
But having said all this, I personally feel Australia has the edge over New Zealand due to a number of reasons. Firstly, this is Australia’s seventh final. Although none of their players have played a WC final before, they have been through the feeling of their country playing for the highest honor. On the other hand, this is New Zealand’s first one.
But more than this, what can affect NZ is that they have played all their 2015 WC matches at home. So, they are playing for the first time away from home and that too in the all-important WC final.
These are, however, not major issues for NZ. If they make sure they are not affected by the huge occasion mentally, we might have a cracker of a game that goes right down to the wire (excuse me for the Shastrism). If that happens, it might be the closest World Cup Final ever.
But as far as India is concerned, the country is BLEEDING BLACK this time!
By: Keyur Seta
India is all set to clash against Australia in the Semi-Final of the 2015 World Cup at Sydney on March 26. This will be India’s toughest match not just in this World Cup but also one of the toughest matches it has ever played. This has more to do with the kind of opposition they are pitted against instead of the fact that it is a Knock Out match.
One might argue that India is unbeaten in this World Cup while Australia has been beaten once in the league stage by New Zealand. But it is the current situation that determines the chances of any team. No doubt India has played tremendously well in the series but one mustn’t forget how the Aussies have peaked to some super form right when it matters the most.
Going by the way they have played in the latter half of the tournament, they are going all guns blazing and look unstoppable. Off late, their long batting line up is proving to be lethal and the same can be said about their bowling. Meanwhile, India hasn’t faced such a side in the series so far. Hence, my prediction is that Australia will beat India and reach the World Cup 2015 Final.
But not many people are aware that apart from a place in the Final, Australia will achieve something historic if it beats India in this match. This is how it is – Under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India has never ever lost a single knockout match in any of the 50-over ICC tournaments.
Here is a list of those matches:-
- India beat Australia in the Quarter Final of the 2011 World Cup
- India beat Pakistan in the Semi Final of the 2011 World Cup
- India beat Sri Lanka in the Final of the 2011 World Cup
- India beat Sri Lanka in the Semi Final of the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy
- India beat England in the Final of the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy
- India beat Bangladesh in the Quarter Final of the 2015 World Cup
In this way, Dhoni’s leadership has made India victorious in all six out of six 50-over knockout matches. But this is not all. Dhoni also has an unbeatable record against Australia in knock out matches of all ICC tournaments. Apart from the above match, India, under Dhoni, also won the Semi Final of the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup against Australia.
A win by either team will be remembered for a long, long time. Either Dhoni’s unbeatable run in 50-over knockout games will get a huge shot in the arm or Australia will achieve something historical!
The stage is set!
By: Keyur Seta
Mumbai’s weather can be completely unpredictable at times. In the midst of a sunny day, sudden emergence of dark clouds from nowhere can fox anybody. The same analogy can be used for Indian cricket team fans. Till February 14, they had no hopes from the team in the ongoing 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup due to their terrible recent form. Some even felt that India would struggle to reach the quarter finals and would face challenges to beat associate teams.
However, a day later (February 15), a new lease of hope emerged after India defeated Pakistan in their first match of the World Cup. Now, India’s cricket enthusiasts (I am not referring to Gurunath Meiyappan) were hopeful of at least a semi-final berth. But come February 22 when India humbled South Africa and the fans started dreaming of the team retaining the trophy by winning the 2015 World Cup.
This is how the expectation graph of Indian cricket fans changes so drastically. Absolutely 0 expectations transformed into World Cup winning dreams, all in a span of just eight days! There is no doubt that the team needs all the accolades for their wins against Pakistan and South Africa. It is also normal to have expectations from the team after such convincing victories against two strong opponents in pressure games.
However, it is extremely early and amateurish to start dreaming about winning the World Cup 2015. As well all know, it takes one bad loss (God forbid) for the expectation graph to come down severely.
But more than this, there are other sensible and realistic points to take into account before fantasizing the ultimate glory. They are as follows:-
1 Pressure of Chasing: There is no denying that India’s batting order has fired in both the matches. But we shouldn’t forget that India batted first on both occasions. So the team has still not experienced the pressure of chasing a score of 250 or 300 against a strong opposition. Plus, batting under lights can also be a bit of a challenge.
2 Pitch: The pitch for both the matches was batsman-friendly. Apart from the odd ball bouncing, there wasn’t any problem for our batsmen. Hence, batting on a not-so-friendly batting wicket or a pitch favoring fast bowlers will be a different challenge altogether.
3 Bowling Pressure: Nobody can take away the credit from Indian bowlers, who bowled well with a plan in pressure situations in both games. But in both crunch games our batsmen had put together a formidable score to defend. So the real test of our bowling will be defending a total under 250 and that too in a pressure game against a strong team.
4 Opening Woes: India’s opening partnership hasn’t amounted to much in both the games. This is purely because of Rohit Sharma’s failure. Thankfully, on both occasions, the team was saved by the middle order. But to become favorites to win the cup, your opening stand needs to be rock solid.
5 Facing Other Teams: Beating South Africa isn’t the ultimate achievement. The biggest challenge is to beat Australia. Apart from the fact that it is the home team, what makes them all the more lethal is their current form. Plus, it is also time to consider New Zealand as one of the strongest teams in the world.
By: Keyur Seta
Moviegoers going wild with excitement inside a cinema hall (especially a single screen) is a regular feature in India. Over the years, Rajnikanth and Salman Khan movies have become known for this. However, the excitement during a show of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge during its 1000th week inside Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir was something never experienced in any movie ever before.
In fact, I have seen this kind of response from the crowd (consisting people of all age groups) only in a cricket stadium and that too only when Sachin Tendulkar enters and, later, scores a century. In short, one has to experience it to believe it.
Here is a tour of the experience:
Ticket Queue: As seen in the second picture, there was literally chaos to get a ticket for this film; a film that is 19-year-old. I can’t remember when was the last time I witnessed such desperation for a newly-released film. Black marketers were selling Rs 20 ticket for Rs 100 but the fans had no problems with it.
Unthinkable Response: I was naturally expecting regular cheers and whistles during the film. But what actually happened during the screening gave a pleasant shock to me and my brother. The cheering commenced even before the Censor Certificate was shown and continued till the rest of the film. In fact, there was a loud reception not only during Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol’s entry scene but also during each and every important dialogue by all actors and also during their important acts. And mind you, majority of the crowd wasn’t tapori.
Watch it for yourself in this video if it is difficult to believe. Shot and edited by Fenil Seta.
Non-Stop Clicks: We all must have seen pictures being clicked inside a cinema hall during a movie, but not as much as it happened during this screening. There was continuous clicking from all sides throughout the duration, as if it was a press conference.
The Finale: The ending moments made us feel as if Team India won the World Cup. It is difficult to put it any other way. Just watch the last part of the video and you will realize. As soon as Thakur Baldev Singh (Amrish Puri) left Simran’s (Kajol) hand, the audience erupted in the same manner when Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit the winning six during the final of 2011 World Cup.
Given the scenes and the kind of box office response DDLJ is still getting, it is needless to say that the film will continue running for few more years for sure. Also needless to say, this is definitely not my last viewing of it at Maratha Mandir.
By: Keyur Seta
Only true cricket lovers can understand the meaning of winning a Test Match at the famous Lord’s Cricket Ground, the home of Cricket. This reason is enough for India’s 95 run victory in the second test against England in the ongoing 2014 test series to be labeled as historic. The last time when India won there was way back in 1986 when Kapil Dev led the team.
Since India didn’t win a single test at Lord’s in 28 years, it brings to light a startling fact that none of India’s most celebrated players – Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, V V S Laxman and Anil Kumble – ever experienced a test victory at Lord’s ever in their career! This statistic alone proves the magnanimity of the victory. Before this win, very few of us would have realized that this feather is missing from the caps of these legends.
There is one reason, however, why this victory should be described as something more than historic. This has to do with the way India batted on such testing and unfriendly or, rather, alien conditions. For anyone who has been following Indian cricket since very long would know how our team surrenders whenever faced with green-tops or bouncy wickets. On most of the occasions while playing on such pitches, only two results were possible: defeat or draw; winning was something too much to ask for.
But circa 2014 and we see a big turnaround in our batsmen’s response to such dangerous conditions. To see the manner in which people like Ajinkya Rahane, Murli Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar adapted to such conditions was heartening to say the least. Not taking anything away from Ishant Sharma’s fiery spell of 7 for 74, the batters showed patience by leaving a lot of balls and didn’t appear vulnerable against some deadly fast bowling. And to see such patience from a generation of cricketers that are involved in the T20 overdose and that too on flat wickets speaks volumes about their achievement.
Needless to say, this effort will give our batsmen a confidence booster like never before. This can be explained in a simple way – if they can adapt so well in such bowler-friendly wickets, one can imagine the ease they would feel on pitches and conditions much better for batsmen. Add to this, the solid batting performance by Bhuvaneshwar that has increased the strength of our lower order.
But despite such heroics, it is too early to predict India’s series victory as there is still a lot of cricket to be played in the remaining three test matches. Hence, there is no reason for India to be complacent.
For the complete scoreboard of the second test between India and England played at Lord's, click HERE.
By: Keyur Seta
Memorable matches are the ones that witness an extraordinary feat by a player, a team or both teams. So naturally, a match becomes memorable after it’s over; in the past tense. Even a World Cup Final becomes unforgettable only if something great happens in it. But a match to be played on July 5 has already achieved a title of ‘memorable’ or ‘unforgettable’, although it is very much in the future tense right now.
The said match is between MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) and Rest of the World on July 5 at Lords, the home of Cricket. It is the presence of some legends in both teams that is responsible for the match to be terribly awaited.
Just imagine, Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Brian Lara, Rahul Dravid, Adam Gilchrist, Mutiah Muralitharan, Yuvraj Singh, Kevin Petersen, Virender Sehwag, Brett Lee and Shivnarine Chanderpaul together on the field! It doesn’t get bigger than this, can it? Plus, this might even be the last time we would be able to see the likes Tendulkar, Warne, Lara, Dravid, Muralitharan and Gilchrist on a Cricket field. And if we are lucky enough to see a battle between Tendulkar and Warne or Lara and Warne, what more can a Cricket fan ask for?
So the occasion will not only be memorable but also highly emotional for anyone who has grown up watching these great ambassadors of the game. Needless to say, one player that would be looked forward to the most is Tendulkar, not only by Indians but fans from around the globe. After the legendary farewell he received last November, watching him bat again will be a heavenly feeling.
But even if some of these great names fail to live up to the expectations, their mere presence is enough to generate tons of excitement, like it happened in 1998 when a similar match was played at the same venue in memory of Lady Diana. If you grew up in the 90s, I am sure you would remember that contest. Tendulkar and Chanderpaul are the only two out of the 22 players that had played the 1998 match. Interestingly, they both scored centuries in it.
So July 5 is our date with history!
MCC: Sachin Tendulkar (Captain), Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Rahul Dravid, Aaron Finch, Brian Lara, Brett Lee, Chris Read, Saeed Ajmal, Shaun Tait, Umar Gul and Daniel Vettori
ROI: Shane Warne (Captain), Tino Best, Paul Collingwood, Adam Gilchrist, Muttiah Muralitharan, Kevin Petersen, Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi, Peter Siddle, Tamim Iqbal and Yuvraj Singh
Venue: Lords Cricket Ground, London
Date: Saturday July 5, 2014
Time: 10:45 am local time; 3: 15 pm India time
Highlights of Tendulkar’s innings from the 1998 Diana Memorial Match: