Grand Slams happen every year, champions get crowned, the vanquished gets paranoid before embracing normalcy and the next year is ready to come.
But for one that swears fascinating blend of charisma and top notch performances, a grand slam seldom braces such menace in abundance. That’s Wimbledon for you.
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I dont recollect my last outing when I watched a men’s Wimbledon final at the imperious All England Club, thanks to my prophecy of withstanding priorities. Yes, truly, and indeed, I loved Wimbledon since my younger days and could give any statistician a run for his money. Perhaps, I will come back to this a bit later.

Watching Djokovic demolishing Federer today, for me, in a way, is the beginning of a new generation and end of yet another glorious era. I spoke of the same eulogy when Federer ended Sampras’s reign as the numero uno of tennis world, way back in 2001 as a curious yet talented 19 year old chap. World moves on, so does tennis and so inevitably does Wimbledon.
I know Federer did say that he loves the game and will continue but as they say, the strings wont produce the same music and not sure if we will see him in next year’s final. Yet, fingers crossed.
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I dont think Federer played terrible tennis, though his 10+ unforced errors and blemished first servers were an indication of the man who wasn’t at his best, your body cannot respond with the same reflexes and vigour after 17 grand slams and 14 years at the top of the world. I just thought Djokovic was brilliant. His madness from the baseline, his accurate and powerful first serves, the passion to dominate the nets and his demeanour of furious collage – I saw all the makings of a future champion. And, sure to stay.
Some of his return of serves were bullet hits breezing past a giant of a player, and couple of passing shots will hit through me till next June. He was a bit ruffled when he lost the second set, I thought Federer fought back like a lion but a player of his stature cannot rest on missed opportunities. And, as anticipated, he came back roaring. In fact, he was never quite in danger of losing his serve and always looked towering enough to break Federer each time he pledged to retain his serve.

Coming back to my obsession with Wimbledon.
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I can safely say that I grew up watching players like Sampras and Rafter. Honestly, I still keep saying that there will never be another ‘Pistol’ Pete to shoot the temperatures up. In fact, a notch higher and loved watching Boris Becker (his collaboration with Djokovic is reaping dividends) play. An era of the serve and volley, players like Borg, Lendl, Mcnroe, Becker, Edberg were great exponents of the skilful game. Its a dying art today, but thought the game kind of revived charm with likes of Sampras, Agassi, Rafter, Ivanisevic (probably the wild one of this lot). Still remember Sampras finals with Ivanisevic and Agassi, even Rafter. If one was raw power, the other was precision and grit. Agassi, was a combination of craziness and gloating talent. Such was the enormity of players then, though I admit that have not been following the contemporary quite frivolously as I would have loved to. Reliving them after all these years kind of brings the ‘me’ in me.

This year, gloriously, has been rewarding for the Indian scene in Wimbledon. 3 back to back championship titles in 2 days for Leander and Sania, was thrilled to see the young lad come up trumps in the tussle of Boys. Leander has been our warhorse for years now and his accomplishment is one for those great Indian sporting stories we would like to talk about, often and more. Pleasing sight!

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Ironic to say, when I visited Wimbledon couple of months back and was basking in the place reminiscent of some great following of the sport and its history, I was kind of disappointed that we didn’t have much of Indian presence to rave about. I thought India as a nation is boggled with enormous talent and sporting abilities, and this is one place we would like to stamp an authority on. In fact, the lady we got as a guide quickly exclaimed that they would love to see an Indian Champion soon, not sure about hers but my prayers have been answered, would love to visit her again and pay the compliments with due usherness.

In Wimbledon, it only gets greener every year.

“Slogans die, hopes don’t”. @msksmiles 

After a dismal Aussie tour and an equally ignominious triangular series, India was left wanting in areas of cricketing aspect. Except for couple of individual brilliance, rest of the team just fell flat on their knees. Team was in tatters, media slaughtered them for lack of sustenance and India’s overseas woes in the original format of the game were in a brink of disaster. 

That was before the World Cup began. 

Then the Indian Renaissance began. We stormed through the initial stages, beat top teams like Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies to reach the semis. It was a turnaround that surprised us but India is known for such comebacks in the shorter format of the game. Our bats made runs, bowlers took wickets in plenty and suddenly, the ambushed team had risen like a Pheonix. I think we must take a lot of heart from these performances so far. Honestly, I didn’t think they were going past the quarters and they did outperform my chances of them in this World Cup. Yes, we do expect us to win once we reach the semis but then, I don’t think we really had the bite today to counter the Aussies. Nevertheless, I would still say that my expectations were met in this edition of the CWC for India. 

As for the match, what we didn’t want was what exactly unfolded. I don’t think we can do much when Australians are batting first in a WC semi-final, wickets are the key as containing wont really yield dividends. Once you have a score of 300 plus to chase, its always going to be tough. Worst, our batsman chose the wrong day to fail in tandem. I expected Kohli to fire but he went cheaply. So did Raina and Rahane, Dhawan’s resilience wasn’t enough. As always, MSD held the fort to deny the inevitable but we probably realise that he was waging a lost battle. He was left alone to scamper through with zero support, and that were gruesome signs of India going down without a fight. The earlier semi-final was a great advertisement for the game, this wasn’t to be. 

If you go by the degree of disappointment, I have largely maintained that our 2003 WC loss to Aussies will always hurt, forever. In terms of performance, leadership and class, that was one of best Indian outfit to play the shorter format of the game. Sourav’s immaculate captaincy, our bowler’s evolution as match winners and Sachin’s single handed brilliance to take us to the final was an achievement of epic proportions. As much as I hail Dhoni & Co. for bringing the cup home in 2011, the 2003 outing would have been right there with Kapil Paaji’s Lords triumph. It was not be. Today’s loss shouldn’t be such a dampener though. 

Our rivalry will continue with the Aussies for the next few years, to avenge our 2003 loss in a CWC will have to wait for sometime now. I am not talking about test matches here, don’t want to. 

I still think India is a great one day side, and few changes need to happen. Flak will come in its way, and they have to take it in as a backlash is normal back at home. We really need to introspect if players like Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja are to be retained. Bowlers did well in this tournament (we never expected them to perform), I would laud their efforts for coming out of a CWC with 70+ wickets in as many matches. MSD is the best we have got to lead our one day format and this defeat shouldn’t let him to take some harsh decisions – his post match conference statements gave me something to relish about. I think he was fantastic throughout the tournament, we must not forget that he led a relatively young Indian side with maturity and perseverance. 

Till next time, that is.

Inquisitive. My take on the entire episode of the ubiquitous betting and fixing scandal notwithstanding, the buzz around makes it all so frivolous.

Way back, when the game of Cricket remained embellished in the hands of pure and fine gentleman called cricket players, a storm surfaced that threatened to uproot the face of dignity. Yet, we weathered it despite ignominy and loss of human pedigree.

What hits back is our system that belts a culture within itself. We are bondage to our own walls, and every time we confront such ugly delegations, our menace disputes us. Hapless administrators, the heads who roll than they rule and individuals who become an inevitable part of any calamity – I have only seen shame and money that takes over values in a country ruled by judicial captivity.

Can we curb human desires? If yes, how? The per capita earning doesn’t matter as greed knows no barriers and is beyond BPL concept. Cricket suffered and when we found ample justifications to invite such buoyancy, IPL disseminated our monetary inhibitions. I am afraid, it was lull before the next.

Today, investigations galore but not sure if revelations will change the system and its adequacy of perpetuating greed. Yes, greed. Insatiable human facets don’t have dimensions, they are parasites – treat them before they become immune.

I hear that we are disgusted. Well, I see it continuing lest we nab a solution to stop this impending mess. Big names and powerful people become willing victims, not sure if common man escapes mediocrity.

More to come and we will have reasons to get stunned. Impoverished intentions can’t demean a century old game but it certainly takes the sheen off it.

Well, not unless you care and our strength to commercialise every vertical continues to spell doom.

The CPL Cricket Tournament kicked off in style on 30th May 2009 in the outset of Taramani Railway Station, amidst lot of glitz and glamour. 3 teams compete in the round robin matches, before the 2 best teams clash in the finals to bag the coveted trophy. This tournament was initiated by a bunch of sports enthusiasts, who strictly feel that ‘All Work & No Play’ makes all of us very dull indeed..!! The Outcome – Players compete in the battlefield, for the sake of entertainment and to showcase their cricketing skills. Check out the snaps in the Gallery. Watch out for more in the coming weeks…!!!

Teams:
  • Ruby: Kaleel, Sivakumar, Shunmugavel, Venkatesh Prabhu, Sarath, Sunil Kumar V, Karthik, Rathnam, Mansoor, Raaj Sree Ram, Ramganesh, Santosh.
  • Diamond: Guru, Subramaniam, Prabu, KapilDev, Sanjev, Ramananda, Murali, KumaraSarma, Sriram, Thulasi, Dilip, Sivasankar, Radhakrishan.
  • Platinum: Mohamed, Abuthahir, Ajith, Arun, Dhanaram, Harish, Himath, Jaishankar, Kowshik, Krithik, Rex, Vidhyasagar.

Yes. I agree that Cricket is more than a mere sport in India, and players are more than human for most of us. Why go far, I myself have been a very passionate and critical viewer of Sachin Tendulkar’s career over the past 18 years or so and I proudly admit that I simply adore him, on and off the field.

But it’s different. This time, I am not here to talk about Cricket or Indian Cricket or any other superstar celebrity we adore, neither am I indicating at any singular sporting nation who worship their players and believe that the show must go on. This time, the spotlight is, unfortunately, on the raging battle between two mercurial nations, fighting for their pride and dignity. Yes, I am most definitely talking about India & Pakistan. The Indian Government, still trying to recover from the Mumbai disaster, has just officially announced that our ‘Indian Cricket Team’ would not be travelling to Pakistan in Jan 2009, for the scheduled series between the two nations. And, understandably, The PCB and Pakistan government are not pleased with this announcement. In fact, for the past couple of weeks, everybody starting from Imran Khan to Pervez Musharraf to the PCB President, have been quoting that India should keep up their commitments and tour Pakistan for the Goodwill of both the countries. Irrespective of whatever happened or happens in future, they are convinced that Cricket will ease the political pressure and friction between the 2 countries.

Easier said than done.

I think it is indeed very difficult and impossible at times to think about playing cricket and be commercially viable, especially when our country has been bombarded with terrorists and more so, when we have the slightest of hint that the seeds of terror were sown in a place, which used to be ours, some 60 years back. And, as an Indian, I feel that Indian government’s decision is justified. We can’t survive on double standards and be diplomatically weak, to neglect such incidents that have literally blown our nation apart.

I have been reading few articles on this of late, one of them stated that “If England can tour India, there is no reason why India can’t tour Pakistan.” I was simply stunned. What is the yardstick for placing India and Pakistan in the same league? And what are the pre-requisites for qualifying? Both are sub-continental nations, I believe the similarity ends there.

Just a day before the tour was officially cancelled, Zaheer Abbas commented that ‘PCB should not be pleading India to send their team to our country, if they are not keen in continuing their relationship with us. If they are not interested, neither are we. I have many friends in India too and they are also very fond of us. But we are not desperate’.

‘Sport’ establishes a universal bonding between a game and its people. At times, we tend to be emotional and subsequently, ignore the other side of the coin. But this time, I think, it has been much more than all that. This is the time, when we need to stand tall and take difficult decisions. And difficult decisions are always tricky, they don’t make everybody happy. It’s intended to be that way.

To sum up, I feel that all said and done, no sport or individual is bigger than it’s nation. And during times such as these, we need to stay together and act sensibly.