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Sitting at 15th floor of the Hyatt regency in Dallas, with a night view of the city scrapers in the background, the only thing that flashes is nostalgia. The feeling of growing up, adoring and tirelessly following a true champion in Tendulkar. Suddenly, he is taking one last walk to the 22 yard strip, a test match at his home turf in Mumbai. It must be emotional for many and I for sure cannot hold my tears. It is only a retirement, but wait no. It has been our life in some ways.

Today may well be his last innings with cricket bat in a test match. Stamp of vintage Tendulkar was seen yesterday. Let us hope that he adds a few more of his straight drives and cover drives today.  Never have a farewell touched this close. He was not just a hero, but a pride and a part of my growing up. As he walks to the sunset of a glittering career, a part of me fades from the horizon as well.  The timeless thing of our life, prepares to turn the page! Oh dear life, we have crossed two decades!

At some point the great Federer run had to end. A 2nd round exit from Wimbledon is not what we are used to from the great champion. The last time, he had to bow this early, was more than 10 years ago and that tells the greatness of his journey. Even the great king, pistol Pete Sampras had to taste the sourness at this piece of grass. That way, it was not completely out of ordinary that this happened today, but I always loved to see master march on for this title; one more time, every time!  The great man didn’t play all too badly today, but the Ukranian was full of confidence. Seeing the way Serhiy Stakhovsky served and stayed confident to go to the nets at Wimbledon, facing the 7 time champion was a sight that was reminiscent of foregone days . It was a pleasant sign to see some serve and volley show staged at Wimbledon. In that respect, as much pain I am with Federer’s exit, happy to take home, memory of a good match and feel for the star of the day.

Finally, I was there, but the 2 hour stunning drive from San Diego in the evening, through the picturesque terrain wast quite satisfying in the end. With the back injury backdrop, Federer was no where the fit champion he has been. The occasional graceful shots were in display last night, but by and large he was playing more from the shade than from the limelight. Nadal on the other hand was on the drive, even from the practice hit moments. The weather (as always) at Indian wells in the evening was superb and the atmosphere was blistering. The match unfortunately got over in less than 100 minutes. Always sad to see Federer losing this way, but then his legacy is not stemmed from a single match though. I wonder whether he will make it next year at 33. Hope he does!

Happened to see the highlights of the last test match of 1999  Wi-Aus test series at Sabina park! That great Brian Lara’s knock in 1999 at Sabina Park. Remember watching it late night live on TV. The final tense moments with Ambrose and then Walsh! And of course the Lara’s finishing drive.

This week has been filled with a lot of terrible news. First, the Tendulkar ODI retirement, the unfortunate and sudden demise of a young girl in New Delhi due to atrocity by a few reckless men and now Tony Greig’s untimely death making the day all the more sober.

Tony Greig was a pure excitement at cricket commentary. The energy he generates is simply stunning. He has been a top bracket cricket commentator since the 80s and the void that he leaves aside is going to be huge.

I first heard about Tony Greig (much before seeing him on TV) was while reading about a book on the English Australia test match rivalry where some match in the 1970s in which the former Aussie (again sadly demised) David Hookes’s hitting Tony, the then English captain, for five consecutive fours. It may not be a big thing in the modern era, but hitting something of that kind in the olden era is something I had fancied (even though I was not really born in that era, but growing up in the 80s and 90s, I had such fancies:-)). Both Hookes and Tony Greig somehow etched in my memory, so did Greg Chappell (the Aussie captain for that series). When David Hookes (also a future commentator, died during a freak bar incident) died, the mood was pensive too. Besides that reading, I didn’t have much know hows on Tony Greig’s days as a cricket player, except may be the fact that I was aware of he being part of the infamous Kerry Packer spin-off league and world series cricket.

What he did as a commentator  however is in clear memory. Some one remarked this on the other day, his now famous remark “What a player” on Tendulkar when he played that famous sandstorm knock in the late 1990s. I also remember many of his exciting comments in the India-Australia series in both 1998 as well as 2001, the finishing stages of the famous Calcutta test match comes to my mind where Glen McGrath walks in as the last man, until given out LBW. I don’t think any other commentator could have captured the finishing moments of the greatest test match of all time, as captivating as Tony Greig had done. Beside reading the game very well, the great thing about Tony Greig was that he was also a commentator who had understood the dynamics of cricket fans all over the world. Fans to an extend got what what they wanted and they could in some sense associate to him.

A few weeks back, I had read the sad news about his lung cancer diagnosis, but never realized that was this serious. He will be missed by fans all over the world, big time. Many a times I got the feeling that he has a special liking for Sri Lanka and its cricket! But I could be wrong. Whatever it is, he was loved all over the world. RIP Tony Greig! Thanks for the memories.

I was following the world chess championship pretty closely, in spite of the weak media coverage on this. What a treat to wake up in the morning to learn that Anand stays on as the champion. It is an extra ordinary achievement! Gelfand played very well and it was neck and neck until the games progressed to the fast track mode.  Even there, it wasn’t that sunlight  separated the two great players, but in the end Anand had that little extra and that can make the difference at the highest stage. As always, staying at the top is a harder task than reaching there. Stupendous champion!  Anand successfully did that not just once, but now three in a row. Salute the champion!

It is a mind blowing journey that Anand, who almost without any serious chess legacy in Indian schools (unlike USSR where chess was built into the Soviet system among kids) walked up and then conquered the world stage. Now he has successfully defended three strong stalwarts themselves Kramnik, Topalov and now Gelfand, all arguments must cease. Way to go Anand. You made my day and likely that for many others too. Feel proud!

Memories roll back to 1995 when Anand was challenging Kasparov at the World trade center event. It was much hyped and spiced up then. I remember Anand winning the 9th game and then Kasparov hitting back, much in expected lines from the great Kasparov,  albeit to the disappointment of many Anand fans.  Almost 20 years on and we are in different stage and Anand remain calm, so does the champion in him.

Quite shocked to hear the news of Peter Roebuck‘s sudden demise. An incredible cricket columnist Peter was and it was always a wonder to me, on how well he analyzes the games. The earliest recollection of his name to me was when I heard the story about he firing the greats Viv Richards and Joel Garner, the aftermath of which resulted inIan Botham changing the playing county from Somerset etc. Irrespective of his famous acrimony with the stars of that era, his cricketing analysis skill is unparallell. A huge loss to cricket, especially test cricket writing. Hard to think of a natural death for a Wisden award winning cricketer and a man known to be of such strong will, but never know. I hope it is not one of those David Hooke’s kind of story. A tremendous loss to cricket writing.

Come to think of it, I remember his recent article on Australia’s 21/9 collapse in the first test against the South Africans. If that was a tragedy, his death is an even bigger one. After all, cricket was just  a game, but death, boy!

A Facebook feed (through a friend) led me to this nice article on Sachin Tendulkar. The title is “Point to Cover” and the author is Senantix. I liked the Bayesian view of Tendulkar’s performance. Quite simply true. Often, the short memory and incorrect assumptions lead to most of the controversies and criticisms against Tendulkar. As they say, Bayesian can never go wrong!

P(Sachin fails| crisis) = [P(crisis|Sachin fails) x P(Sachin fails)]/[P(crisis|Sachin fails)xP(Sachin fails)+P(crisis|Sachin does not fail)xP(Sachin does not fail)]

It is kind of sad to see Federer loosing from a rather reaching to a comfortable position of winning the match. But it did happen in Wimbledon 1 months ago and now the very same thing happened in US open on Saturday. You may call it unlucky and some may say it is just aging. Hopefully he wins another grand-slam.

I woke up touch early (4am) to watch the final day of the fourth India-England test match at Oval. First, I checked cricinfo and wow, Tendulkar was still batting. After a series of troubles and time outs, I managed to find one video streaming link. He wasn’t at the imperial best, but all looked set for that 100th 100. Other than that momentary hope, there was not even a glimpse of hope in the test match result. Anyway, much like the millions (or billions) all across the globe, I waited to see that 100. But alas! On 91, yet again a 90s misfortune for Tendulkar. Out LBW, somewhat contentious, but not overly outrageous a decision by an umpire anyway. He wasn’t at his imperial best in this series, but he was looking good for one to make that 100th number. Now, we will have to wait again for more from the great man.

Now the England white wash over India in a 4 test match series. The BCCI and the much hopeless cricket administration is putting the nails on the test cricket coffin. What a pity! For them IPL is the cash cow. Everything else is just for time pass. When a lot of money is poured in, even the most respected commentators and ex test cricket players have swallowed tongues. No one will put a blame on preparation. An IPL soon after world cup have paid more than damage to Indian cricket. Half fit players for an all important test series? In the end, made a mockery of test cricket!

The cricket world cup 2011 was at best boring, until yesterday. The Chinnaswami stadium in Bangalore, when all lights were alight, Ireland looking down the barrel at 111/5 with 26 overs to go, in search of the English target of 328, in came Kevin O’Brien. What stuck then onwards was sheer magic. Scintillating innings of power and conviction, which in the end sink the English hope. I cant imagine how berserk the Irish pubs in Dublin would have been last evening, post the most thrilling upsets in the world cup cricket history.

Come to think of it that Ireland has beaten a reasonably in form England by 3 wickets with 5 balls to spare. That too chasing a mammoth target of 328 for a win! If only they had beaten a relatively easy Bangladesh in the earlier match, this pool would have been very interesting. Honestly, the Ireland-Bangladesh match was played on a hopeless pitch, but that is no excuse.

Until yesterday, not many people would have given a chance to Ireland, in spite of the upset victory over Pakistan in the 2007 edition. No one had feared Kevin O’brien this much. But from now on, the teams will be aware of this massive threat, especially on flat tracks where one can hit through the line at will. Ireland is due to play India next in the very same ground. Not to forget that, the last match prior to this at the same venue produced a classic tie at 238, between England and India. So, game on?

What an epic clash this at the first round of Australian open, between the local boy Hewitt and Argentine Nalbandian. Who can forget the 2005 epic clash between Nalbandian and Hewitt? That day, Hewitt just had the luck to edge out Nalbandian. Come 2010, the excitement and clash was as good as 2005, just that the winning number changed sides. And this time, first round itself. What a great start for this Australian open!

A Nalbandian Nadal clash somewhere down the lane is likely. How will the two best friends in circuit clash there. I cant wait.

I was off from computer and internet for a few days, during the year end holidays. The thrill of going through some of the scenic mountains and farm lands was simply freshening.  This morning, while scanning through some articles, I caught the attention of Ian Chappell’s piece on Ricky Ponting. Good read, but touch sad to see a sad end to Ponting this way. A master on his on merit truly deserve a better end to his amazing test career. But then, sport is cruel and unpredictable at times. I don’t know whether Ponting has the same resolve as Tendulkar, who by the way is still going strong as ever.

Official call on the world cup soccer hosts for 2018 and 2022 came out couple of days ago. It is going to be the beautiful Russia in 2018 and the Arab land gets the lot for 2022. One in eastern Europe and the other truly middle east Asia. Both these announcements created ripples and expected controversies, but I personally liked both the choices. My liking is bound from the fact that, these are two new hosts and the world deserve it see a global event occurring in 4 year gap to be held at different countries. So much to see and so much to learn. Why restrict only to a selected few countries. Afterall, there are 8 and 12 years to prepare. Unless the country is seriously deprived of money, then go ahead. Qatar with oil reserve have no shortage of bucks. Russia will never have a dearth, looking at the sheer volume of natural resources they have.

One of the major criticism against Qatar was that, it is hot. So what?It is really glad to hear that Qatar is planning eco friendly stadiums for the super event to be held in 2022.

And the Worldcup 2018 bid by Russia in Zurich was a fabulous one.

A superb goal from Messi in the friendly match between the South American football giants, Argentina and Brazil. Many have the same question:Can he do this magic again in Brazil in 2014?

D-day in another sport, that has a speed of its on. Sebastian Vettel is on pole, but all eyes are on Fernando Alonso, who will start third in Abu Dhabi. Can Mark Webber pull off a miracle from No. 5?

Thankfully, Michel Schumaker escaped unhurt from that freaking crash. Seeing it live, it appeared to be like a crazy head on. The last race of the season, the crash of this kind would have been a  massive sobermaker, but thankfully no major damages. The Imola crash is still looming large in memory and with Ayrton Senna’s nephew still racing, it just came back instantly, upon seeing the crash scene.

Was following the latest test match between India Australia test being held at Bangalore. Today is the 5th day and it is heading for an exciting finish. I was glued to  cricinfo for online updates. Cricinfo ball by ball commentary is always interesting with occasional wits and funny side remarks. With lot of online readers and followers, there is no shortage of hilarious comments. Here is an interesting passage on the final innings when India was chasing 201 on a crumbling, and alarmingly reverse swinging pitch at Bangalore. Tendulkar is batting!

Just to give a prelude, if we turn back the clock to 1999, when India was touring Australia. Remember that infamous LBW decision against Tendulkar? The Umpire Harper and bowler Mcgrath? Here is the video snap for your take on the controversy.

Now, 11 years later, the same two counties are playing each other. The batsman is the very same Tendulkar, but everything else is different, including the playing country (Bangalore and not Adelaide), the  umpire is not Harper either. Anyway, here is cricnfo running commentary:

21.1 Watson to Pujara, no run, 129.3 kph, played off the front foot towards mid-off
“When you play for 21 years, nothing is new to you and everything that can happen has happened before. Even the ‘hit-on-shoulder-LBW’,” says Insachwetrust. Imagine the fun if Harper was here to give this one too.
End of over 20 (5 runs) India 104/2 

SR Tendulkar 8* (15b 2×4) SR Watson 4-0-10-1
CA Pujara 43* (54b 4×4) PR George 4-0-21-0
19.6 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 131.0 kph, he lets another one pass down leg side
19.5 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 129.6 kph, left alone down the leg side
19.4 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 136.2 kph, shades of Adelaide! Tendulkar ducks into a short ball and gets hit on the shoulder by one that does not rise at all. Watson appeals, just like McGrath did in Adelaide, but Bowden says not out, unlike Harper did in 1999. Replays suggest the ball grazing the bails.
19.3 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 130.2 kph, he wasn’t in control of this one, reaching for the ball outside off and thick-edging towards gully
19.2 Watson to Tendulkar, FOUR, 129.1 kph, perfect. Tendulkar moves forward to a full and straight ball and meets it with a straight bat, driving the ball with care past the stumps at the bowler’s end
19.1 Watson to Pujara, 1 run, 127.0 kph, Pujara stays on the back foot to Hussey at gully, Hussey lobs the ball towards Paine who wasn’t expecting it, the Indians steal an overthrow
No slips in place, just a gully.

The Human Resource Department of India, aka HRD ministry made a mockery of itself by doing a foot in mouth call on the nationality of the world chess champion Viswanathan Anand. The Indian citizen who lives in Madrid for logistic reasons is denied a honorory doctorate for insane mess created by the HRD ministry. The reason: He is not Indian! Anand’s wife Aruna, understandably upset by the wrong call from the HRD, duly sent a fax of the Indian passport that Anand holds, but the HRD ministry was still not convinced. What  a piece of joke!  This is not the way to salute a world champion and our own citizen. All this happened in the eve of the ongoing International Congress of Mathematicians held in Hyderabad. Only a blog post earlier I wrote about the thrill of India getting a chance to hold ICM. Now, the hopeless HRD ministry found a way to make a mess of it. What  a shame! They also managed to rebuke the famous Algebraic geometry guru David Mumford. Neither Anand nor professor Mumford needs these extra certificates to proclaim what they are. They are already stellar figures in their respective fields of expertise. The manner in which they are toyed is what annoys people like me and it is simply unacceptable. These are not the signs of a country claiming to become the next super power. Neither this is the way we as children were learned and taught to respect the elders and guests.  Athithi devo bhava, but not to be!

Indeed this Vishy Anand has given me way too Anand (happiness) today. I was looking forward to this news. Was following the game online too. Playing with black, in what was dubbed as  final game is never easy. All results were possible today. Such was the build up which we witnessed in this fabulous championship this year. Several things were pinned against Anand, starting from the 40 hour road trip to reach Sofia just a day before the final. To make matters worse, then Anand suffered a fist game loss. Playing against a fantastic task master in his own courtyard. But then Vishy Anand is known to beat obstacles with courage, stength and determination. Topalov is a tough task master and has a great tactical mind when the chess board is in front. The old USSR blood is in him all around. Vishy could oustclass him too. Well done Anand. You made my day. You are the champion and hero. yet again! As New york times aptly reported, the chess world now has a new king; It is the same old king from Chennai, India .

Barcelona, rather Lionel Messi is having a roll there on the green floor.  FC Barcelona floored Real madrid yesterday by a thumping 2-0 win against the Spanish rival in the champions league at El Clasico.  Here is the video highlights clip. It was poised to be a final before the final. After the match, not surprisingly, the Real madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini remarked “ I feel frustrated and impotent” . With foruth straight wins, Barca has the momentum enroute to the title lifting.

Considering the form Lionel Messi has been, we can hope for more from Barca. Can Argentina too pin hope on Messi at the forthcoming world cup title ? Let us hope so!

Whee! The highest number of runs scored in an over is not 36. Not even double that figure. It is only a mere 77 runs. Wow! How silly a bowler that could have been? It is all true apparently. One over in the history of first class cricket has recorded a whopping 77 runs. Check this out for a detailed run through story.

This is the scoring pattern (Much like a UK telephone number including the ISD code!): 0444664614106666600401. Even more striking thing is that, some dot balls figured out in between. Those were the times when batsmen got bored by hitting anything not too cosy for them!

It was only an exhibition match, but for a great cause to alleviate a little bit of the pain of an awestruck nation due  to the earthquake. The damages and the loss of people can never be compensated. It is beyond what we can comprehend and fathom. Hopefully the money collected out of the exhibition help to rebuild the hopes of the unfortunate Haiti people.

The game itself was set with an awesome theatrical presence. Arguably the best two of the men ever played tennis positioned one side. Sampras and Federer need no introduction of any kind, do they. They announced their aura straighaway by a series of volleys and top serves. Afterall, they just have 30 grandslams between them, Just? Who patrolled the other side of the net? Agassi-Nadal combo. Boy, can you ask for more, if you are a tennis fan?

I really enjoyed watching these games. Agassi was at his imperial best, cracking jokes. Equally good were the Sampras-Fedex pair who at best are stoic when it comes to mood display in public. But even these  usually laconic persona gave away to some fun talking throughout the match through the microphone. In all, it was different, but filled with fun. And what is more, it was all done for a good cause.

“One man, two hundred!” was the caption, BBC world news displayed, while broadcasting the (breaking out) news of the world record hit by India’s super star player Sachin Tendulkar.  It was against a formidable South African bowling attack in a one day international cricket match at Gwalior, the little master decided to showcase his fabulous reportoire of pure shot making on a cricket pitch. He has done it so many times in the past, but yesterday was a day when history book needed a fresh page. The first man to score 200 runs in a single innings of a 50 over match is stamped with the name Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. What a feat from a great crciketer and amazing human being!

Times has published a truly nice article commemorating this new record. Cricket is not wideley popular in all parts of the globe. The United States is not among the cricket frenzy nation either. England and her former colonies are the main countries where the game took the center stage over many years. As for records, cricket is the second most popular game in the planet, after soccer. The article hence put the new feat in perspective for the non-cricketing community. Come to think of this record, we must realize that 200 runs need to be scrored from a maximum of 300 deliveries (excepting illegal deliveries such as no balls). On the average one batsman can hope to get about 150 deliveries. In baseball analogy, this is equivalent to getting 150 pitches. It seldom happens that one get more than this. That means, one will have to consistently hit the balls at a rate exceeding 100% strike rate. Tendulkar achieved the score in 147 balls, at a strike rate of 136.5%. It calls for multiple virtues including patience, stamina, focus and talent. All have to be combined and score runs at a faster rate.  It is not easy, by any means. It was something fabulous if not more. There have been scores close to 200 in the past by great cricketers including that from Tendulkar’s previous outings, but this one will go down as the best, literally because this came against a top quality bowling attack and a formidable fielding unit of the protease.

Here is the list of the top ODI scores.

SR Tendulkar 200* 147 25 3 136.05 India v South Africa Gwalior 24 Feb 2010 ODI # 2962
CK Coventry 194* 156 16 7 124.35 Zimbabwe v Bangladesh Bulawayo 16 Aug 2009 ODI # 2873
Saeed Anwar 194 146 22 5 132.87 Pakistan v India Chennai 21 May 1997 ODI # 1209
IVA Richards 189* 170 21 5 111.17 West Indies v England Manchester 31 May 1984 ODI # 264
ST Jayasuriya 189 161 21 4 117.39 Sri Lanka v India Sharjah 29 Oct 2000 ODI # 1652
G Kirsten 188* 159 13 4 118.23 South Africa v U.A.E. Rawalpindi 16 Feb 1996 ODI # 1049
SR Tendulkar 186* 150 20 3 124.00 India v New Zealand Hyderabad (Deccan) 8 Nov 1999 ODI # 1523
MS Dhoni 183* 145 15 10 126.20 India v Sri Lanka Jaipur 31 Oct 2005 ODI # 2290
SC Ganguly 183 158 17 7 115.82 India v Sri Lanka Taunton 26 May 1999 ODI # 1463
ML Hayden 181* 166 11 10 109.03 Australia v New Zealand Hamilton 20 Feb 2007 ODI # 2527
IVA Richards 181 125 16 7 144.80 West Indies v Sri Lanka Karachi 13 Oct 1987 ODI # 457

Among them, Richards 189 against the then England may be the one comes closest in terms of quality of opposition bowling. Syed Anwar’s 194 against India is also a glorious innings played by the elegant left hander against India at Chennai. But neither Engalnd nor India will claim to have a strong fielding mastery when compared to the South African unit. So Tendulkar’s new innings clearly own special merit.

It is difficult to comprehend the stardom associated with a five foot tall man. To know this all, one need to be in India. Tendulkar earns the respect of close to a billion souls in India alone. Expectations are at levels beyond one can associate to any moving object. No parallels, really. Every time he goes to bat,  millions glue to the television sets (and now internet).  Social hierarchy still exist at large in Indian lsociety. Religion and politics still separates people. People fight for reasons less than logical, but in the name of religion and castes. It sometimes goes beyond what civilized society can comprehend. The difference between rich and poor is startling. But nothing of that

Numerically there is only a digital swap between 2001 and 2010. Similarities are more instead. Plenty of things were in common between the test match between India-Australia in 2001 and the one between India-South Africa which concluded yesterday. First, they both were great matches. Sheer classics in cricketing parlance, especially test cricket! Nothing can quite scale up to that  2001 epic event, which ended the great Australian juggernaut of consecutive test victories  (and that too at a phenomenal level of domination) but 2010 indeed lived up to the Eden garden’s charm and reputation. With high level of tension and hanging fortunes, Eden gardens was much  like a  grand theater set up for the climax . The balance was between a win for India and survival for South Africa. In the end, quite fittingly India managed to win and gave the home fans something remarkable to cheer about for years.

The final stage had two actors at their imperial best. Harbhajan singh and Hashim Amla. Amla was the epitome of concentration, all personified in human form. Things surrounding him was chaotic and noisy. None of the furies around him however bothered one cool mind of his. Googly, leg breaks, off spin all were dealt with the impeccable calmness. Yet, Harbhajan was the hero emerged in the grand finale. His reaction when Morkel was adjusted LBW has literally pumped the Eden gardens.  That heralded the match, curtains were down on the cricket field, but the celebrations had only began.  Test  match cricket came alive yet again. What treat!

If Harbhajan was the pivotal figure in the finishing stages, one cannot forget Zaheer Khan‘s contribution in the first innings. That one session post tea in day one triggered a possible result in India’s favour.   The stage was well set for the Indian batsmen to drive home the advantage. Boy, did the famous Indian batsmen cash in? The master and student combo were at their best show on day two. The way Tendulkar handled the day and his attacking student Sewhag was amazing. Their innings paved the way for the man who own part of the Eden pitch to come and do a stroll. VVS Lakshman in the company of Dhoni did the routine. When India declared their innings on day three, it was ample clear that India is well within a big win.

The nature had her own ideas to add to the drama. Bad light and rain shared the stage time on day four. But action on the curtailed day favoured India with three top order wickets, including that of the important number of Jacques Kallis. Day five was yet again bright and sunny. Amla stood the ground like a rock, even when things around him followed a different formula. Indian bowlers tried their best, but nothing seriously worked against Amla. The leg before shout by Harbhajan when Amla was in the 70s had serious merit, but that was the lone chance the cool mind offered to the 11 folks. Otherwise he was knocking everything came in his way to still.

In the final stages Tendulkar came to bowl a couple of overs or so. Considering that, it was he who took three pivotal wickets in the 2001 stage, it was a great ploy by the captain. The dangerous opener Hayden, the ever so dangerous Gilchrist and the flashy Shane Warne all were tapped by the magic of Tendulkar in the 2001 classic. But things changed a lot since. Lot of water has flown away under the bridge over nine years. Tendulkar hardly bowl these days,even at nets. Yet, the very second ball almost curtailed the match. One pitched a few inches outside the offstump took a near 90 degree turn and missed the Morkel stumps by a whisker. It was a fabulous delivery.  Not as great as the famous one to Moin Khan, but it still had some magic.  He had done this many a times in the past. So, I hastened to believe that, he was going to have a different script for the final moment. But how can Harbhajan leave his favourite ground without a five wicket haul? It was only fair to have him take that final wicket and seal the match.  As they say, so be it.

For South Africa, there will be disappointment,but no one needs to remind them where they lost the plot. The first day evening proved too costly for them. They were outstanding at Nagpur, but Calcutta favoured India. In all, it was a fabulous test series. It was hastily arranged.If only the cricketing authorities gave it a thought to have a longer test series (by ignoring the flashy one day series)! Not to be! Anyway why complain, when we had two great matches. Long live test cricket!

As someone who has seen a good part of the great Australian dominance in world cricket, I found it a little anti-climatic when England drubbed Aussies in the fifth test at Oval to regain the Ashes trophy. England bowling has been good and occasionally brilliant, but I would rather put my weights on the lack of batsmanship from Australia for this defeat. Australia has been a touch unlucky in the first test as well, but will be a mean thing to hold as an excuse for not not giving credits to the English victory. For Australia, the absence of Langer, Hayden and Gilchrist made a mountainous difference. Ponting is not the old score machine anymore. Hussey is not the reincarnation of Bradman as he used to be in the initial few tests in terms of scoring, Clark has been brilliant, but his failure in few crucial innings didn’t help. And, England got the luxury of facing an Aussie attack without Warne and Mcgrath. If only Shane Warne had played this series (even at this age, post retirement) the Ashes owner would have been different. Looking at the way, the Oval pitch turned, I hasten to think that Warne would have ran over the 11 chaps in the England team. It is not realistic, I agree, but such is the nostalgia associated with the domianant Australia in the 1990s with Warne,Mcgrath,Waughs, Hayden, Ponting,Gilchirst, Langer etc.

To be fair, England under the low profile Andy Flower simply capitalized the Aussie weakness in bowling and to some extend on their batting. The over hyped Peterson didn’t make any significant contribution and considering that, it is an incredible achievement to the team coached by Flower. The English press must be over the moon with encomium showered on the cricketers and system around it.

The other big event came down with the Ashes 2009 curtain was the retirement of Andrew Flintoff from test cricket. A fascinating cricketer, an enthralling breed at times will be missed in tests. His gesture as a gentleman when his team is in the loosing side has been something worth recalling. I would like to think that he under achieved, but his commitment as a cricketer (in the playing arena) is largely unquestionable. He is not the best all rounder, as many calls, especially in the English press, but in my book he was a fine cricketing all rounder that England had over the last 10 years or so.

Usain Bolt got it bettered. The man who had a difficult preparation after a minor car accident in Jamaica a few months ago, now came up with another thriller. He is unstoppable now. A mere 9.58 seconds to cross 100 meters! Phew! Tyson Gay did his best to better his own best, but Bolt had pinned other ideas for Berlin. Amazing Bolt. Taking a bow Mr fastest! The cricket lover and a fan of Tendulkar, this lighning champion is a darling. I love his typical West Indian style celebration! I am sure Tendulkar will be cherishing his fast paced fan having a dream run!

After a long gap (over six months or so),  I finally played some tennis again. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t all that rusty in spite of the long layoff from any major sporting (barring some recent treks and once in a while cricket) activities during this period. After a few hits, my serves started holding and I slowly felt the rhythm. I started enjoying this beautiful game once again! In the Swiss heat, it was almost unbearable at times to absorb the hot air from the synthetic surface. On Friday and Saturday’s I played for two hours each until late evening. Yesterday, after the game we took dip in the Lake Geneva near the UNIL sports center arena at St.Sulpice. I never felt a better swim than this before. Such was the feeling of taking a clean water swimming after a good game of sports. It was getting darker and a swim between 2100 to 2200 on the fading summer light in the foothills of the Alps was simply amazing. I just cant compare a place to this amazing Lake Geneva region. Quite a place this is. After the swimming I seemed to have regained all vigour to play a few more games. Had there been floodlights, we were on for a few more perhaps! They say winning is an elixir for eternal youthfulness, but did I feel that swimming in lake Geneva comes close to that?

While, standing in the lake  with chest level water and overlooking the Alps mountains,  it reminded me of the photos of saints in olden days taking a morning yama’s in the Ganges overlooking the Himalayas. I’ve never been to Ganges, but for once I could perhaps feel a sense of their state of mind. I felt like singing one of those Yesudas classical songs, standing with half immersed body. I don’t quite remember whether I did one. I was in a state of fulfilment sort to say!

Lake geneva

Have you ever imagined, a helicopter lifting a big catamaran? I for sure didn’t harness such hopes.  Hence, it came as a jerk when I received some Emails from EPFL colleagues showing photos of the Alinghi-5 being lifted from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean cost Genoa (Italy). The photographs are stunning and it undermines the power of these modern warfare choppers. The helicopter used is apparently a Russian Super Puma breed.

As the race enters the seventh stage, Armstrong is only fraction of a second behind the leader Swiss Fabian Cancellara. It is already incredible for Armstrong who is on a comeback trial after retiring from the event a few years ago. Mind you this is the game which he ruled unconquered in his hay days. Considering the physical strain this sport imposes, it is commendable that he is keeping up with that sweet sweat. And today is the key day for the racers since they are entering the mountainous terrain stretch. This is where Armstrong once used to thrive at the challenge offered. Can he do it again? It will be amazing if he does it again. Let us wait and watch. My office mate Reda is full time watching this game and I can see the excitement in many such enthusiastic tour de france fans. Apparently,  they will touch Switzerland on 19th and 20th. It is not too far from here. Maya will be coming by then. It will be fun to take atrip to Verbier.  I will be tuned to check the Armstrong progress in anycase!

Oh boy, what did we see this evening at Wimbledon? A grandslam final, filled with nothing short of a breathtaking drama. A near neck to neck battle between king Federer and a fabulously charged up Roddick. Guess who was watching that epic cliffhanger? The emperor of that piece of grass strip in central London! No point in guessing the name: Pistol Pete Sampras. Sampras was visiting Wimbledon after 2002, perhaps just to witness another great champion Federer get past him in the number of grandslam titles. What an occasion! Unbelievable tennis on display when blue sky topped the roof in clean light. I feel for Rodick here. This was ‘the chance’, he had at hand: and truly well he deserved, one must say. I for one had written him off yesterday, even though he had played great tennis in the semi final to beat British hope Andy Murray. From one Andy to another Andy, the other finalist name changed, breaking the great British hope, since Henman (Well, Henman was not really a realistic hope, when Sampras was taking a stroll down the Wimbledon park).  I was expecting Fedex to just roll over him in the title clash. But alas! Didn’t he give Fedex  a run for his crown?

In the end, Federer had that extra epsilon, call it luck or experience.  He was there on that center court final stage on every single year for the last seven summers. Last year he lost it only by a whisker to the Spaniard Nadal. Federer truly deserved to be the grand-slam record holdert. He is the best player on the circuit and he is so very effortless, athletic and passionate.  The great man is a beauty and indeed is a treasure to this great game.   I cant have enough praise on the way he played tennis over the years.  He is so very smooth and graceful. A touch of Lara, Tendulkar or Dravid in cricket. I really was feeling a lot low when Sampras retired in 2002, but the Swiss has indeed made up that void since then.  A humble soul Federer typify the Swiss people I guess. So gentle and an amazing role model to the new generation. I really hope that he gets a few more grand slams titles.

Turning back to the losing finalist, I can imagine how hard it would be to be an Andy Roddick who narrowly missed the crown by perhaps one or two moments of marginal shots.  Sometimes sport can be so cruel! In the end winner takes it all and it is agonizing. It must be hard to be a second at that level. But then, that is what it takes it to be the best in the world. Only thin air make the separation. It is courage and wisdom at times to grab that silver line.  Grabbing is secondary, seeing it in the first place is what separates the best from the next best. After all, it is not easy to get there. Isn’t life beautiful?

Vous l’avez fait Federer! Federer is the French open 2009 champion. Something in me was telling, even before the start of this grandslam tournament, that this is the year for Fedex to win at Roland Garos. Ever since Nadal lost to Soderling earlier, his case was strengthened even further. He has done it finally.  What an year to win this. He is expecting his son to be born in few months and now, he can be at peace with the agony of not winning the French open, in spite of reaching the finals so many times. What a player he has been over the years. Todays match was much like the Federer-Murray US open final last year. Federer was superb. Soderling didn’t do too wrong, but that is the elegance and class of the great man Federer.

He has already moved to the pantheon of greats. Now it is a matter of adding more flavour to his already colourful charisma. All grand-slam championship as well now comes with this win. Incredible. Thank you Fedex for keeping us enthralled by your genius. Seeing it from Switzerland is even more exciting.

Footnote:  Whenever I cross the Ecublens area near Crochy, the tennis courts, I remember  Federer. I was told that he used to train there in early days of his wonderful tennis life. I am yet to figure out where exactly he did that school tennis training. Just out of curiosity! It may be just a few maters of walk from where I stay!

Nadal losing at French open: This wasn’t forthcoming! Until yesterday this piece of statement would have created sighs and huh-s. Raefal Nadal losing at Roland Garos was un heard off, even in the tennis folklore. Such was the authority Nadal had on this strip of clay in Paris during summer.  Roger Federer, the invincible champion of this decade, even in his hay days found Nadal a bitter nut to crack. The four time champion Nadal of this very famous clay grand slam was all expected to beat the record held by the famous Swedish player Bjorn Borg who had won the same from 1978-81. Today, incidentally another Swedish player put a stop, a break so to speak, to that charge. Now the question and equations are relatively easier for a Fedex charge, but never know. Given that, a few upsets in the last couple of days, we can still hope for some more uncertainty, but I would expect Federer to sail through from here on. Andy Murray and with a less probability Roddick are the bigger stumbling blocks for Federer now.

Robin Soderling seeded 25 will now be known as the man who entered the record book for being the first and only player to beat Nadal at French open. He was a clay court no big boy so far, but given the form he is in, we can expect some sort of excitement in the coming days.

I get the feeling that Nadal was coming to this match, with almost no rest season. He was playing non stop and it was a bit of overkill, considering that he was in for a big season ahead. I remember Vijay Amritraj mentioned a few years ago on Nadal playing a bit too many matches and thereby risking serious games along with injury scares. I am sure he will get time to ponder over it and arrive at the right decision for him. He is a lively player to watch and I hope to find him rejuvenated before the next grand slam.

Sport is exciting for this reason. Just when we thought the tables are in order, we get to see a surprise from an unexpected corner. Now the room look different. Are we in for more shuffle? Let us wait for the action to continue…

In the end, Barcelona, quite fittingly became the champions league champions by drubbing Manchester United 2-0.  It is only fair to say that, they outsmarted Man United in the final.The semifinal between Barcelona and Chelsea had its fair share of drama, but the final was pretty much a Barca show, throughout. Andres Iniesta was awesome today.  It was he who stole the show, amidst all the talk of this match as a Ronaldo versus Messi showdown. For ManUnited part, they had their best share of the game in the first few minutes. Barring that, it was nearly one sided to my eyes.

I was watching the game on line sopcast through some Chinese TV. It was awful for two reasons. One, I couldn’t understand the language (my fault that in entirety), but the more funny and annoying thing was their pure dumpness when Barcelona advances or scored. I guess the commentators were hard core ManU fans. Earlier, I was watching the EPFL multicast, which had the french commentary. It was quite exciting and neutral. Once I reached home, the only thing worked for me was this Chinese TV. Anyway, glad that I could watch the final. That is satisfying!

Man United fans will surely find themselves let down by their team. Ronaldo did his best, but that apart, the team had nothing in display. When the Chelsea-Barcelona semifinal was lined up, I had two things to balance. One to support one of my favourite team, Chelsea and the other to seek a possibility to beat Man U in the final. Clearly Barcelona had a better chance to beat the united and they showed us with minimal contest. Well done Barca. You are the champions, truly and squarely.

Soccer matches, champions leagues in particular are never short of emotions. It reached the very pinnacle during this years champions league semifinal between Chelsea and Barcelona. Players went a little too far in the climax stage. Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo was the perceived villain in the whole drama, while Chelsea players went a little wild to protest against the faulted referee.  Considering the significance of a decision separating a finalist from a tournament exit; that too one of this magnitude, it is partly understandable, the outburst in the heat.

Have your ever wondered the value of three minutes of time? Try to seek an answer from Chelsea players and fans! That three minutes of extra time brought the team from heaven to earth. The simmering semifinal at this year Champions league saw high drama throughout the match and especially towards the end, where an equalizer from Barcelona shutting all hopes for the home team’s chances to get through to the final. I have been quite unhappy with the away goal rule as an equivalent to win mandate, but that is a rule which is well into the league and nothing can be done about it. But the sad thing in this event is that Chelsea was badly overlooked by the referee in many penalty claims. At least one for sure for the handling the ball by Gerard Pique in the Barcelona penalty box. Hard core Chelsea fans would consider that they were clearly denied of as many as five penalty claims.   The emotion displayed by the players in the heat of those high sensitive moments is partly justified in that sense.

I can understand the heart breaking letdown for Chelsea fans. It is not that big a club in terms of history or fan following, but Chelsea managed to gather a reasonable fan base since Abramovich poured money in the last few years. Considering that they were in the final of the championships last year, this loss would bite the fans so dearly, shutting that elusive wish list of a repeat final and a possible return of fortune against Manchester United. Alas! That was not to be! In any case, the match was an incredible one. Both goals were stupendous. But Sanford bridge fans would have never ever imagined that three minutes of extra time would break their heart so very dearly. But that is the way sport and sporting emotions go at times. That is the beauty of sport too. It can bring in surprises from the most unsurprising corners. This match will be remembered for a very long time.

Barcelona on the other hand is playing well and can seriously challenge ManU in the final. So, we are in for a thrilling contest in the finals.

On an impact side, the danger coming with this loss for Chelsea is the money investment by its boss Abramovich. The billionaire owner is hit recently  by the world wide economic downtime where in a single year he found himself poor by 40%. That being said he still has over 10 Billion USD or so, but the question is whether he will still have the enthusiasm to pour (his precious) money to feed the Ballacks and the Lampards. After all you need a lot of money to keep these boys.

Now, looking forward to the final, I hope Barcelona beat ManU! Barca is in great form and the chances are high for them to clinch that trophy. I wouldnt care less if ManU wins another one, but Barca and ManU, please give us another thriller.

Oh boy! Didn’t this five foot five inches little big fella make us feel a little better today? Didn’t those back foot cover drives served our eyes as little soothing gels? Didnt the rolling of the leather ball deflected from middle of that MRF stickered famous bat, on to a lush green turfs to the boundary boards of the beautiful Hamilton cricket ground, fetched moisture to our eyes, even while gluing to the live stream on the LCD screen, all  in the darkness of the midnight hours?  I had stayed awake into the wee hours of a cold Lausanne night, to see his masterful show in the first innings of first test at Hamilton. As  Mark Richardson commentating remarked,  the innings of Tendulkar had been an absolute batting clinic. There were quite a few stamp shots of class, which included a few front foot cover drives, couple of back foot cover drives, the cut shots and the impeccable straight drive which separated the trace of the ball  epsilon inches away from the stumps at the non striker’s position.

As expected the 11th game drawn and Anand one must say easily defended the world title. Congratulations Anandhttp://live.chessdom.com/kramnik-anand-2008-g11.html

He, more or less singlehandeldly changed the face of chess in India. Incredible. Not many can stand up and claim that he could trigger a sport enthusiasm in a country as big as India. A champion of a generation.

An incredible article came from Rohit Brijnath today on cricinfo.  Truly brilliant! I must say, it is heartening to see that a gem came in the middle of all these scuffle by the crazy Indian media, barking senselessly, discussing and debating for the Fabulous cricketers to retire.  I am glad that, these fantastic cricketers (Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Kumble and Ganguly) played in an era when I enjoyed the game so much. Without them, the game can never be so exciting. 

http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/magazine/content/current/story/372146.html

With 8 Gold discs from this single Olympics (besides the 6 at Athens in 2004 and 1 Medley on debu four years prior to that on debut), he rightly comes with the right to assume a definite spot in all the news paper sport pages. I didnt watch much of the Beijing 2008 Olympics on TV (nor youtube), but the coverage in most of the news papers are pretty allround. It is incredible to have this swimming demon scoring and breaking every possible records, when it comes to sprint on water. Comparisons are drawn to Spitz which is truly fair. Reckless as it sounds, few columns already appeared with vigorous claim that he is the best athlete of all time.  This is unfair and unwanted. The number of medals cannot just be the parameter to decide the greatness of the “all time great athtlete”. Well, one could call him the best swimmer or something like that. To me,  a Carl Lewis who excelled in different variety of atletic events, and that too consistently over a period of time marks among the pantheons of the all time greats. In anycase, it is impossible and at times irrelevant to call someone “all time great”.

By the way, I am glad to have many records being broken. It is imperative to scale higher as much as possible….with time!

Of late I have been so hard pressed for time that, my blogging has gone for a severe miss. Several things I wanted to write. The last 9 months or so, have been extremely tight to do anything to change it. But 2008 Wimbledon final:-I cant stop evading. It was one of the finest match I have ever seen, let alone in Wimbledon. Borg and McEnroe says this is the best final in Wimbledon and I couldn’t disagree. How can I. When Nadal lost the last year edition, it was pretty close too. It was a case of no-one lost scenario. This year, however I have to say Nadal deserved it better. Federer, the champion we all know (and my favourite since Sampras) did what he is capable of: Making an amazing comeback to the verge of a turnaround. But the champion Nadal showed strength to beat Fedex in his comfort zone. One thing I am glad. Now there is some serious challenge for the championship. It never looked nice to have an easy game over for the number one seed. I thought Fedex was not challenged enough over the years. This by no means is to diminish the class of my favourite player, but it appeals better when a champion comes out after stiff challenges. Sampras’e era to me that way was truly amazing. He fought against a series of champions, notably Agassi and Rafter (in grass mainly) and many others. He could never afford to relax against any of the seeded (even unseeded) players. Yet Sampras won 7 Wimbledon. Fedex was all set to achieve that number or may be even surpass, until recently. In the latest scenario, we have to wait and see how precious is to say that someone has won seven Wimbledon titles. This place an altitudes of sort to place Sampras among the pantheon of sports greats.

Coming back, to the Fedewx-Nadal final, I thought Fedex was not out of form at all. He served awesome and his backhand was as good as ever. Nadal served to Fedex body most of the time and he was aggressive from start as well. Because of the superior serve, Fedex always have this advantage on break points. If you look otherwise, Nadal owed more points and thus deservingly the champion. In the end, I am so glad to see the sort of respect they have for each other. Fedex humbly admitted and gave credits to Nadal, while Nadal was quick to praise Federer as the champion and as number one. Man, sporting spirit taken to a level. I am glad and happy that I follow this sport.

Aside, it has been a while I played tennis. The swiss summer is pretty nice, but my partner Adrian is away in Romania. May be I will get to play a bit in India during August-September. Exercise has been missing for a while. May be an hour of running around the lake side until Maladiere is a good idea. I need to plan my sleep and schedule to get that going. I hope I can do something about it soon starting next week.

“Like Lara, he has scored runs all over the world. I have seen him run down the pitch and hit Glenn McGrath over the top for six, and I have seen him hit me for six against the spin going around the wicket”

When the best spinner of all time, ever to have played the game of cricket say this, it means there is more than substance to it. Surely, Shane Warne knows what he is talking about. Anyone who has seen the Tendulkar era would rate him as one of the best batsman of his time, if not more. So, in my reading, Shane Warne got his assessment very neatly right. As the legendary spinner remarked, Tendulkar and Lara are two of the finest batsmen played during his playing era and there is only fine line separate these two. I personally, don’t prefer to separate them. To me, both of them complimented very well, and at times very similar too. One a right hand bat, the other left handed. One more flamboyant, the other text book perfect. Both attacking and times impossible to dismiss. One had the expectation of a billion people, while the other was more rebellious and often busy composing a symphony of his own class and date with destiny.

In some way, this assessment of Shane warne must be kept along with the very similar remark Don Bradman made about Tendulkar ten years back. He was equally candid to state that Tendulkar was one current batsman, who nearly resembled the Don himself in technique and stroke play. Now, we have the two best best players of all time, one batsman and the other bowler agreeing when it comes to the finest batsman since Bradman. Not many would disagree. If they do, then it lacks substance and proper reasoning. If you really look at the critics of Tendulkar, they are all guys who pass remarks based on 2 or 3 failures in a series. For example, when India exited the 2007 world cup in the very first round, there were furies and sounds for his head. Mind you, only he was targeted. What is the rational for such huge clamour? He played 3 innings and scored only one 50. True, he failed in two innings and one of the loss was enough to pack the bags. That is not quite the reason to singularly blame a batsman of his class for the exit. Common fans reactions at times are expected because the expectations from Tendulkar when he go to bat for India is beyond what words could describe. They want him to score at least a 100 in fewer balls with a minimum of few sixes and some down the lane whack. They want him to this every single time he go out to bat. In the hey days, Tendulkar could hit Mcgrath for sixes with consistency, but that is not going be a practical norm for every match. To add more masala there will be occasional senseless remarks by people like Kapil Dev, who out of the blue try to belittle him with remarks like ‘He never lived up to expectation’. Firstly, he gets it wrong when he uses the word ‘never’. Perhaps he didn’t drop in intentionally. Hindi to English translation perhaps change the meaning of the content considerably. Perhaps, but I don’t know! Secondly, he must understand that, it is easy to throw wild criticism without facts. Someone become hero not because he/she does something once in a blue moon. They build on to prove their mettle time and again, over a considerable test of time. In Tendulkar case as well, he earned the respect of millions of cricket lovers because of the sheer performance on cricket field. Let us admit and enjoy his game, as much as you can.

Tendulkar and Lara are once in a while phenomena. Unfortunately Lara is not there in the big scene anymore. Thankfully we still have Tendulkar, at least for a few more years. While he is there we can cherish for some class on a cricket field. By no means, we can expect him to be a machine to do a routine bash job like a quad core processor. When he does it, it is one of those ‘making it feel better’ proud moments to enjoy a sport. Let us appreciate those moments. As they say, once he is gone from the scene, there wouldn’t be too many such things in the pipe to hope for!

By the way, the list of Shane warne’s top 50 positions are largely his observation. We must accept his rational. It is very hard to put a number to a player, because the measure is not quite always black and white. I for instance would consider Steve Waugh in top ten, when Warne consider him at 26th position behind Lehman. Steve Waugh was not merely a match saver to me. He was much broader in scope than Shane Warne’s remarks. He might not have been as gifted and flamboyant as his brother younger by a minute, but he often fixed a high valued stamp for his wicket. That made it extra hard to get his wicket. One another aspect of Steve Waugh, I liked is his urge to push for a win, irrespective of the risk involved, at least at a majority of times.

The top 50 from Shane Warne’s list of cricketers, from his playing era are [1]

50 Jamie Siddons
49 Darren Berry
48 Brian McMillan
47 Chris Cairns
46 Dilip Vengsarkar
45 Waqar Younis
44 Alec Stewart
43 Michael Atherton
42 Ravi Shastri
41 Justin Langer
40 Kapil Dev
39 Stuart MacGill
38 Sanath Jayasuriya
37 Stephen Harmison
36 Andy Flower
35 Michael Vaughan
34 Bruce Reid
33 Allan Donald
32 Robin Smith
31 Tim May
30 Kevin Pietersen
29 Shoaib Akhtar / Craig McDermott
28 Saeed Anwar / Mohammad Yousuf
27 Jacques Kallis / Shaun Pollock
26 Steve Waugh
25 Darren Lehmann
24 Brett Lee
23 Stephen Fleming
22 Martin Crowe
21 David Boon
20 Adam Gilchrist
19 Aravinda de Silva
18 Merv Hughes
17 Matthew Hayden
16 Andrew Flintoff
15 Graham Gooch
14 Rahul Dravid
13 Anil Kumble
12 Mark Waugh
11 Courtney Walsh
10 Ian Healy
9 Mark Taylor
8 Ricky Ponting
7 Muttiah Muralitharan
6 Wasim Akram
5 Glenn McGrath
4 Allan Border
3 Curtly Ambrose
2 Brian Lara
1 Sachin Tendulkar

[1]http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/columnists/shane_warne/article2364258.ece


This picture is taken on 2004, May 03. The day has no big significance, but for the first time, I was there watching an English premier league soccer game live. Thanks to Jeff Torrance who managed to get an extra executive ticket, I could avail a feel of this fabulous experience of live soccer game in Europe and that too in England. Jeff, a huge Chelsea fan was so thrilled to get into the Chelsea gate, through the team restaurant. The entry to the stadium gave me an experience, that I never had before. Throughout the journey from Cambridge to London and then to Sanford bridge we had quite a lot of laugh pulling Cyrian for his Irish jokes and what not!


Today, at Multan (in Pakistan) Brian Lara slaughtered the depleted Pakistani bowling attack on the way to Sunil Gavaskar’s record of 34 centuries in the five day version of cricket. Only Sachin Tendulkar ahead! With Tendulkar having age in his side (I expect him to play at least few more years, so should Lara! The former is 4 years younger than the latter). What a nice thing to have, these two star cricketers play, one right handed and one left handed!. I always loved to watch these two fine cricketers excel. To me Sachin Tendulkar is more of a complete player equipped enough to play well in all sort of conditions, while Lara is an absolute treat to watch, once he settle in on a decent (not so moving) batting track. He makes batting ridiculously easy and mind blowing to watch. The left handers elegance is something you can enjoy to the fullest extend when Lara on song. He is merciless at occasions. Look at this (poor Danish Kaneria) today!

End of over 83 (5 runs) – West Indies 255/2 

BC Lara   66* (57b 10×4 2×6)   Umar Gul   23-11-40-0
RS Morton   5* (9b 1×4)   Danish Kaneria   29-2-104-2
Long-on and a long-off in place
83.1 Danish Kaneria to Lara, FOUR, flat on the stumps, Lara steps out and lofts it straight down the ground, one bounce into the fence
83.2 Danish Kaneria to Lara, no run
83.3 Danish Kaneria to Lara, SIX, short ball outside leg stump, Lara rocks back and pulls it away high and over mid-wicket fence
83.4 Danish Kaneria to Lara, SIX, One more and this is high- Lara charges down the track and lofts it away high over the long-on fence, this is a massive hit and Lara is on a high
83.5 Danish Kaneria to Lara, SIX, Hat-trick of sixes! length ball and Lara steps out yet again and this time straight over the sight-screen, this is even bigger than the previous one, Lara is on a roll and this is really a treat to watch
83.6 Danish Kaneria to Lara, FOUR, Boundary to end the over! full toss, Lara steps out and puts it away over the mid-wicket fielder
26 runs off the over and Lara has moved into the 90’s off just 63 balls

This is not the first time he did something similar to a spinner. A certain South African spinner must be not so unhappy today, after seeing Danish Kanerias fate. Let us don’t, go into the irrelevant part of it. Man, Brian Lara has this uncanny ability to score high! …..when it rains it really pour from his bat…. He is surely a trend setter in this high scoring business. he is 197 not out at the end of play and surely on a game to score a double or perhaps a triple hundred. I am just hoping that he sails high tomorrow as well.

A lot of debate will once again sprout, on the argument “Who is better? Lara or Tendulkar?” Ricky Ponting is not very far, but I like to consider Lara and Tendulkar in a different league. Critics of these players would say that one is a match winner, the other is less attacking etc. The fact is that, the two legends are part of average cricketing teams (not so match winning bowlers and fielders to be precise). As a fan, I wouldn’t mind the team losing, but for these guys play a great innings, like the one today and Tendulakrs Chennai test against Pakistan. Isn’t it just so nice that we get to see a right hander and a left hander playing in the same era. Lara is 37 years and tendulakr 33 years. I hope Tendulkar take this as an appetite to score much more. If only he doesn’t care about winning or losing:-) I hope he play a little more care free in the coming days, as Lara often does. I often felt that Lara care little about the result and in the process produce some monumental innings.

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