Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sky is the limit

Another classic at wimbledon and Roger has his 15th. Well done Andy Roddick, you have come a long way. This is just the beginning for you. I'm certain you will be a Wimbledon champion in the coming years.

Roger, Congrats !!! Sky is the limit, just keep going .

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'm loving it !!!!!!

It has happened.. yes yes yes .. it has happened... i have waited 4 painful long years for this day. I always truly believed Roger would win the french . Today is the happiest day of my life.. something i visualized in 2004 has come true and we ROGER FEDERER fans are proud of our great champion.

For me personally, to watch Andre Agassi present the trophy to Roger (2 of my favorite tennis players since i started watching this beautiful game in 1991) on this great occasion was such a beautiful moment ... couldnt have asked for anything better... :-)

Three cheers to "The Greatest Tennis Player of All Time -> Sir ROGER FEDERER

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Salute the Gentle-Men

“God, it’s killing me”, the great man said and my heart broke. Roger pats Rafa as he walks past to collect his trophy. Just when my mind coaxes me to get angry at the man responsible for causing this pain, he goes around and puts his arm around Roger. Aaaah ... Damn.. shame on me. My heart melts, Sportsmanship was the clear winner. Two Gentlemen at their finest behavior.

One Spanish bull and the other a Swiss velvet sledgehammer. Contrasting tennis players on court, but off it, completely similar. Humble & Gracious both in victory & defeat. Roger set the standards and i'm proud that Rafa has followed in his footsteps. I don't think I've seen nicer guys than them in the entire planet and these 2 champs are supposed to be fierce rivals. They are definite role models for ordinary humans like us who go overboard after every one of their classic encounters.

Well, it was a roller coaster ride. I hope to see few more days of tennis like this when im alive. If the Wimbledon final was out this planet, then this one was out of this universe. Rafa nadal, with nerves & legs of steel, simply was the tougher one. There are no adjectives to describe the sheer desire of this man to beat the best, that's why sport is played. Roger's done it before and now the youngster has.

Looking back at the game, rafa converted roger's winners to his and federer's serve let him down the entire match. The quality of groundstrokes was pure magic, unhuman almost.

Rafa has grown as a tennis player, from the mud of Paris to the grass of London to Melbourne's synthetic turf, he has done it in less than a year. He is at the peak of his powers, both physically and mentally and i hope he sustains this level to achieve greatness over the next few years.

Roger may not be the supreme force he was a few years back but has a goal to achieve this year. The champion that he is, i'm sure he will. His tears today showed how much the game means to him, hell he even cries when he wins (check out the last link at the bottom). Many might not give him a chance at the French, but i genuinely believe he can. Will Nadal be there to stop him again. What are the odds i say :-)

Go Roger , Go Rafa , I love your tennis, I love your sportsmanship , I love being alive to watch it !!!

I just wish i was playing sport.

Federer cries in defeat and

in victory.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I just won a bet with my friend .. i bet on SA winning the test series in Australia.. a couple of them even called me "Mad" when i put up my reasons, but i have the last laugh :-)

Well done Graeme Smith and SA !! Sensational year of Test cricket..

Dont relax though, MSD and Apna India are right behind.... we want to see some feisty contests ahead

Bye Bye Punter, you are a useless captain

Cheers to Test Cricket !!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

TREK biking

It’s been about 3-4 months since I bought my mountain bike, an orange, super cool looking TREK 4300. I paid a lot of money for it. I was inspired by a friend of mine, Mithun fondly called NP. He had bought his TREK a year back and would use it to commute daily to office. I always wanted a bike for long, but definitely hadn’t thought of a mountain bike. One ride on NP’s bike convinced me that I needed to have one. Yes the price was a bit on the higher side, but I decided it was worth it. It was better than spending 60k on a motorbike, fuel and getting stuck in traffic. I made up my mind that I would use it for most of my commutes around the city. Half hr’s ride every morning prior to catching the infy bus would be a daily routine I thought. However, I wasn’t able to keep that up. I would ride it around during weekends, but daily morning was really tough. Sleeping late, laziness and cold weather were excuses easy to make up. Meanwhile NP, (who jogs for 6-7 kms daily morning) was making plans of going on a long bike journey. Nandi hills, Big Banyan tree were some of the places he thought off. I would always say, “Sure” to him, but I was not sure if I had the stamina to bike 70-80 kms. Plans kept happening, but something would always come up and things didn’t materialize. This weekend, both of us were free, and our gang hadn’t met up for long. So we decided to meet up in Nandi Hills. Plan - Np and me to start the bike journey early morning and for the rest to join us in their car and bikes on top of the hills. I hadn’t biked enough for nearly 2-3 weeks and had doubts if I could actually do it, but I was determined to have a go. What’s the use of an expensive mountain bike, if I don’t make it do what it’s supposed to? So, everything was set.

Np calls me up at 5-30 in the morning (I was in deep deep sleep). I don’t know how I picked up the phone. He said he’s setting off from his place and would meet me beyond Hebbal Flyover in half an hour. I said “OK”. I almost went to sleep again, but somehow managed to drag myself out of bed. I was ready by 6 and set off to our meeting point, which was 3-4 kms from my place. It was precisely 6-20 when NP came and we set off. I was enjoying the cool breeze. “We are not stopping until we near the airport maga” announced NP. “ok maga”, I replied meekly, not very convinced. I had given my cash to him and had nothing but the phone in my pocket. We alternated between steady and short bursts of speed. The taxis, buses and cars would zoom past us, all heading to the airport. We would slip into the side roads at every opportunity to be on the safer side. It was smooth going till Devanahalli, which means we had covered about 28 kms. I had kept up with NP for most part of the ride, but he had surged ahead later on and I couldn’t see him at the end of the long highway. I was tiring by now. Non-stop for 28kms, without any warm up, what do you expect?? I desperately wanted to have a few sips of water, but I had no cash. I stopped for a while, and NP called up saying, he’s waiting for me at the deviation towards Nandi. I inched my way for next 2 kms and there was NP, looking fresh as if nothing had happened. He set off once he saw me; I shouted out with whatever energy left and asked him to stop. I needed some liquid else I would have collapsed. There was a small shop in the corner. I bought 2 bananas, gave one to NP. He reluctantly took it, saying he wasn’t too hungry. He could sense my struggle, but encouraged me - “Just 23 kms more maga” Eating another banana wasn’t such a bad idea, I figured. We set off again and NP disappeared from my sight soon. I just couldn’t feel the bike moving, though I was putting in every bit of my energy. I would eagerly wait for the next downward slope to relax. My hands and especially my backside were beginning to hurt. My neck muscles weren’t in happy state either. I reached another deviation point which read, 12kms to Nandi. I expected NP to be waiting there. He had told me earlier, we would have breakfast at the second deviation. He wasn’t around and I cursed myself for not taking some cash from him at the first deviation. I couldn’t even buy a bottle of water and there was no network coverage to call him. I struggled another 4-5 kms, and encountered a steep upward road. I decided there was no way I was going to make this one, and parked the bike on the side and made myself comfortable under a tree. People in every vehicle that passed by would look at me curiously. They were probably saying, “Who is this specimen?” I almost dozed off, until a couple of stray dogs, started barking ferociously at me. I’m guessing they were startled to see something with a bright red, strange looking helmet and an orange bike. They probably thought I was an alien. They would alternate between barking and howling. They didn’t stop for 5 mins and it was getting embarrassing for me. Finally I said. “Tommy… Tooommy… tommy tommy tommy”. It worked!! They were convinced I was human and disappointedly went away. I kept an eye on them to make sure they didn’t attack from behind. I rested another 10 mins and decided to walk up the steep road pushing the bike. I reached a downward slope soon and happily hopped on. Soon, I reached the foothills of Nandi. Np wasn’t there ..again and I still had no cash. Luckily the network was back and I got a call from him. He was just 2 kms from the top. He had actually biked 8 kms of steep hill road at one go. Phew! Meanwhile 2 of our gang, Anish (Shetty) and Abhilash (lambu) were on their way by car. The rest of the gang had ditched the plan, obviously too lazy to get up. I was happy to hear that a car was on its way. I quickly decided that I would use the car to reach the top. No way would I attempt biking up the hill in that state. The car arrived and thankfully lambu paid for the biscuits i had gobbled up waiting for them. I got into the back of the car and we slowly made our way up. Finally, we reached and the weather was awesome. Chill and foggy, it was a beautiful sight. Finally we found NP, and everyone was amazed to see him looking pretty fresh. What the … I thought.

We went to a hotel and hogged 1 onion dosa + 1 tomato omellete + 1 plate Maggi + Boost. Finally I felt alive. We walked to Tipu point, enjoyed the chill breeze, clicked some pics, saw a dog and a monkey fight, a kid telling a monkey “That is the last piece of biscuit i'm giving you” and a cute little girl asking if she could ride my bike. We spent about an hour and a half there and decided to leave. Np and me got a head start and zoomed down the hill. That experience was probably one the best of my life. I'm guessing we were coming down at a speed of 40-50 kmph and the curves, late breaking, overtaking motorbikes made it a wonderful experience. That gave me the JOSH I desperately needed and decided I should complete the entire return journey by bike ( I was contemplating getting into the car till then)

Shetty and lambu caught us soon and asked if I was fine enough to ride another 55 kms. I said yes and they left. Once again, keeping up with NP was going to be impossible. I was slipping behind with every passing mile. We got caught up in 2 heavy downpours and were drenched and had to halt. I was happy coz unlike the onward trip, this time I got some rest every 20 kms. Finally after 3.5 gruelling hours, I reached home at 3 pm. A cold water bath was what I needed and it felt great. My body was aching all over, and my backside the most severe. Had a good lunch and crashed. 3 hrs on, I found it difficult to get myself off the bed, an “Aaah” here and an “Ouch” there. The usual power cut at 8, and it struck me that a blog would be good time pass.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. 100 plus km (up and down), wasn't a bad start i guess. Hopefully it’s the first of many more memorable bike rides.

“Aaaaouch, my back is hurting real bad”

I think a good masseuse is what I need right now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Caaamaaaan !!!!!!

Dadagiri ki Jai !!!

In 1996, ESPN had just about entered the Indian television space. They had the exclusive telecast rights of India's tour of England that year. Most cable operators refused to relay ESPN and I didn’t get to see the entire tour. For some strange reason, I didn’t know much about that tour. I had no clue what the team composition was and all the hype surrounding it. The tour happened a few months after India’s tearful exit from the World Cup at the Eden gardens. Probably that’s why I wasn’t even following the tour in the news or papers. Even after the tour had concluded, the name “Saurav Ganguly” didn’t strike a lot of excitement. I had read in the papers that he scored back to back hundreds, however I hadn’t seen or followed those knocks live on television; it didn’t generate the same enthusiasm.

Nevertheless, it was much later that I understood the uniqueness of what Saurav had accomplished in that tour. It probably was the most bizarre sequence of events which led to his arrival. Having being dumped after one tour game in the 92 aussie tour, he was making a comeback to the Indian side. His selection for the tour had sparked off wide spread accusations of it being political and zonal. It may or may not be true, but no one in their wildest dreams would have expected what was to follow. Navjot Sidhu returned home from the tour claiming he was humiliated and Manjrekar was injured. This opened the gates into the first team for Saurav and Rahul. The innings Saurav played in Lords, was a shocker. I call it a shocker coz he probably hadn’t played so well ever before. His brother and Bengal teammates later confessed that they didn’t know he could bat in that fashion. Everyone was stunned. But not Saurav. After being picked in the first team, he was supposedly told by many that if he failed in the test match, he would probably never play for India again. This was how a debutant was encouraged in the 90’s. Ironically it was he who changed all that a few years on. He confessed later that never once did he think of failure, when he was batting. Maybe it was easier for him to think that way, since he was a Prince, born with a silver spoon. If he failed he could still go back and lead a privileged life. But he wasn’t a loser. He batted like he was possessed with the desire to prove all wrong and produced the most stunning debut performance ever seen. Saurav Ganguly had arrived and many had to stitch their lips.

The next 4 years in his career was something of a phenomenon. He formed a lethal opening partnership with Tendulkar in ODI’s and averaged in the mid 50’s in Tests. Heck, he even got 5 wicket hauls. He seemed to play with a kind of passion and aggression, never visible in an Indian cricketer before. No wonder then, he was given the captaincy after match fixing had infected Indian cricket. The public had lost faith in its team. India needed to start fresh. Saurav was the perfect choice.

Somehow the team under him seemed to show more interest. It all started in Nairobi, against Australia in the Champions trophy. India played with the “Im not afraid, I’m here to Win” attitude. Even Sachin Tendulkar (who had taken enough verbals from the aussies in 99) gave it back to Mcgrath after smashing him for 2 sixes. The look on McGrath’s face is legendary. Never before had an Indian player given it back. In fact a year back in Australia, Srinath apologized to Ricky Ponting after hitting him on the helmet, only to see punter bark back the 4 letter words. Srinath looked stunned, but did not utter a word. Some may say Srinath was dignified, but it affected the team. It gave the impression the team was intimidated and not courageous enough to stand up against nonsense, mainly coz they didn’t have the confidence to back the talk with performance. Ganguly changed all that. Every youngster making the team was not told he would go back home if he failed. He was encouraged to play the way that got him there and he will be given a fair run. This is a simple art of sport which is well known theoretically, but very rarely done practically. In any sport, confidence brings out the performance. Ganguly changed the way India played its cricket. Pride for the India cap, passion, aggression and fearlessness - these were the basics on which the team was built. The results came soon. 2001 series against Aus, 2002 in West Indies & England, Natwest Series, 2003 WC, 04 in Australia & Pakistan. Results which were never expected a few years earlier were beginning to happen. Slowly but surely India had started to win Tests abroad and were creating a reputation of being a strong team. No wonder then, Ganguly’s biggest achievement was as captain rather than a player. Ganguly had become the “Dada” of the team. This took its toll though. Dada had grown into such a powerful leader and in his quest to improve the team, lost focus on his own game and fitness. His status carried him through for a year, but not for long. The team was now established and they had learnt the mantra to succeed. It was just a matter of going out there and doing it consistently. Dada’s batting had suffered and he was rightfully dropped, though the manner of ousting was deplorable.

It is never easy for a leader to demand performance from his players, when his own performance is below par for an extended period. But a good leader deserves to be treated with respect. Greg Chappell’s scathing email reached the media (shows the high degree of professionalism BCCI maintains) and Dada was publicly humiliated. Most of Greg’s criticisms’ of Dada may have been right, but it needed to be handled professionally. Both Greg and in particular BCCI lacked it. All of Dada’s work in the last 8 yrs was forgotten. Dada was down in the dumps. Courageous Leader to forgotten man, quite a steep fall. No one gave him an iota of chance to comeback. The Dada chapter was closed. Yeah right!

It would have been easy to give up and announce retirement. After all everything was against him. But a fighter never lies down. Determination and will to succeed were his strengths. He went back to Ranji with the sole aim to regain his place. Not surprisingly barring a few initial hiccups, Dada was back among the runs. His determination was evident from the Pepsi ad in which he says, “Main Saurav Ganguly, boole toh nahin” What amazed me was the fact that he had the guts to do an ad of that nature, practically announcing he’s gonna comeback. Some may call it cheap, some brave. Well, evoking extreme reactions was Dada’s pastime.

When you have the will, there will always be a way. The once closed doors to the Indian team were beginning to re-open. The youngsters inducted were too raw and it didn’t help that captain Dravid was not as pro-active as he probably should have been to guide them. Colonel Vengsarkar decided it was time to get back the man he dropped as captain. SA 2006, Dada walks into to bat in the warm up game on a lively pitch with the scoreboard reading 40 for 4/5 wickets. He rescues the team from folding up and plays a classy innings. Grabbing the opportunity presented is an art well mastered by him. He ended up being India’s highest run scorer of the tour. He had changed too, happy keeping to himself. The steely resolve within still existed, but the aggression was not visible. It was like he had attained peace. There was nothing more left to prove.

He continued his brilliant batting for another 2 years. One bad series in Sri Lanka saw him dropped from the Irani trophy squad. It seemed like the curtains were drawn on Dada’s career. Many thought so. I didn’t, I knew for sure he would play against Australia. (A certain Mr Sachin is proof that I said this) This was surely not the way a glittering career was going to end. He was destiny’s favorite child. Something was bound to happen. He deserved a better farewell. It did indeed happen. The selection committee was changed, and the lovable Chika was appointed the chairman. Talk of writing the perfect script. No surprises then, Dada was in the team. One could call this another mini-comeback. Dada decided to announce retirement, timing the moment as sweetly as his cover drive.

The burden was off his shoulders. He could enjoy his last 4 tests. What’s more, it was against his favorite opponents. He got a 100 and 85 in the tests that India went on to win. Never mind the golden duck in his last innings. You could have expected the anti-climax. Dhoni’s wonderful gesture to let Dada captain for the last few moments of his career showed the respect he commanded. After all Dhoni is a student of the ‘Dada school of Cricket’. It brought an end to the career of India’s finest left hand batsmen and more importantly the most influential captain in Indian cricket. Dada’s short speech during his felicitation along with Kumble was one I’ll never forget. He spoke with assurance and dignity. His parting line "During the journey, I made both friends and enemies but it was all for the good of Indian cricket” probably sums him up.

He will forever be remembered as the cricketer who truly changed the face of Indian cricket and for good.