Shy of your Indian Identity? #2

September 6, 2012

Being shy of one’s identity is a forced emotion produced by another individual or group. We have all felt shy about our identities at some or the other point in our lives. It might be our name, our accent, our caste, our locality, our language, our school etc. As a result, we do not proactively introduce or associate ourselves with those identities.

The simplest and the most applicable one to all of us is our accent. Most of us try our best to be one with the locals wherever we live. We do not like to be treated different from others around us. Unless one has the cultural immaturity and the misconception that your culture is superior as compared to others, one like to be treated as good as others – neither better nor worse. Despite our best attempts, even if our language is the same, we are easily differentiated based on our accents. When a Kannadiga from Mangalore goes to Bangalore, he faces the inevitable question from the auto-rickshaw driver “Neevu Manglurnavara?” (Are you from Mangalore?). One can proudly say yes, but then it’s a giveaway that one is not a local, born and brought up there. South Indians who move to North India are asked the same question by the bus conductor even years after living there “Aap Saavuth se ho?” (Are you from the South?).

We find lot of people with their names as single initials or with too generic second names. I shall mention some real life examples here, but of course with names changed for disclaimer purposes. A relative of mine, called at home as Subbanna (an outdated name), as a small boy in first standard, introduced his name to the class as Ganesh, which was not his real name then. A classmate of mine whose real surname is Naik, which is associated with scheduled caste in certain parts of Karnataka, uses the initials MK as his second name instead of his surname. Similarly, another friend whose full name is Raghunathrao Shenoy, the Shenoy being associated with privileged Brahmins, has maintained his name as Raghunath Rao, sounding as if Rao is his surname. Similarly, we find lot of people with second names as Kumar or their native place name or their father’s name, which removes their association with a particular caste or language.

In my next post, I shall write about some of my personal experiences with identity shyness.


Shy of your Indian Identity? #1

September 6, 2012

The world has changed a lot over the last 30 years. A new brand of people has emerged in different parts of the world – in India, in Europe, in US and many others. People shy of their cultural and national identities. They have been affected by their own perceptions of their past and present to such an extent that they refuse to be associated with anything of that culture.

Of course, history has more often taught us to be ashamed of, than be proud of. Human civilization has been full of incidents based upon greed, wars, homicides, genocides, exploitations, slavery on fellow humans. Incidents which make us not want to be associated with the ideologies behind them. Good to an extent.

Unfortunately, ideologies are associated with cultures. Ask about Germany to an ignorant Indian and the first thing he will tell you is Hitler! Ask about India to an ignorant German and the first thing he will tell you is about the ‘cows on the street’ and the snake charmer. These perceptions are, of course, embarrassing. Hitler was a single who ruled Germany, but this does not mean Germans shared his opinion. Furthermore, Germany has tried everything possible to distance itself from any such ideologies. Similarly, India has cows on streets, and snake charmers, but more so only in villages. Urban India is full of discos, malls, technology parks just like in the west. However, for the ignorant, perceptions persist.

A person who is proud of his nation will try to argue against the perception. And a person who cannot or does not want to argue against the perception, ends up becoming shy of his national and cultural identity. Such a person is an apologist. He ‘apologizes’ for the ‘mistakes’ of his brethren by publicly rejecting the association with his brethren.

Through this series of blogs, I want to touch upon the topic of identity rejection in general and then move on to the Indian identity, the process and the long term effects. All opinions expressed in this blog are mine without any facts or figures! I have also used real life examples, but with names changed, to comply with legal disclaimers. My ultimate intention is to encourage the Indian reader to think about it and ask himself whether he should reject his Indian identity or take pride in it. Irrespective of the effect, I shall be quite happy if the reader enjoys reading it.

In my next post, I shall write about identity shyness situations we encounter in day to day life.

Something Somewhere went missing..

January 12, 2012

Processes and Rules – why were they formed initially?  Further to the realization that no two human beings are alike, processes and rules were introduced to bring about standards and ensure equality. To ensure people would act in a certain way to achieve a certain result. To ensure that people can expect and follow some standards in the systems, in the products and the services, that they buy and sell. To ensure equality to all forms of humans! In short, it was a desire to establish the perfect society.

Processes and rules are not acceptable to all. As time went by, more and more people started ignoring processes. Some started to question. The former had to be disciplined and the latter had to be shut up. Laws were formed, thus adding the dimension of punishment to rules. Those on the bad side of the law would receive punishment with irreversible effects. This generated fear in the minds of the people. And suddenly people decided to follow the rules.

Talking of laws, if there is an ultimate law in the universe, it is the law of  entropy. Laws started becoming more biased towards individuals or groups in power, which would automatically brand the others criminal, sometimes from birth. History has witnessed several consequent genocides. Suddenly, the world decided to have democracy and laws acceptable to one and all. Back to the start, but evolution would never give up. Today all democracies uphold law: but with major differences in principle – to the extent that one style serves as humor to the other.

On one hand, we have India and some Asian countries which you could name in the same breath. Laws are formed, but the human mind is bent on finding loopholes and exploiting them. The ones who form the laws themselves leave the loopholes in such a way that the loopholes are invisible to the average public eye, but can be exploited by themselves to the extent that no law can hold them guilty as long as they are in power. Their successors also follow suit to benefit from the loopholes. In the long run, the predecessors and the successors reach upon an unwritten mutual agreement of silence, paving the path for a long era of corruption.

On the other hand, we have the west. Rules are followed to the word – at the expense of common sense. Uncle Sam leads the crazy list: A  car owner successfully sued the car company after an accident, claiming that it was not mentioned in the manual that the steering wheel should be used for direction control. A woman successfully sued a hotel after she slipped over coffee which she had herself spilt on the floor minutes ago. Europe is not far behind: In one of the countries, the fines for traffic violation are proportionate to the individual’s income for the previous year. An unlucky entrepreneur, who had just sold off his company the previous year and registered a high profit, had to pay more than a hundred thousand euros for a traffic violation. In another country, even the Pope was (unsuccessfully) sued for not wearing seat belt during a public rally. And the best for the last – A beggar was fined 125€ for “stealing” disposed food from a bakery dustbin, which is considered as private property.

Today, the basis for creation of rules and laws itself have been forgotten. In man’s strive for social perfection, something somewhere went missing!

Pissing Rats and Missing Maths

May 14, 2010

Yet again, there are many doctors for the postmortem. Some are paid by newspapers, some by websites and some by TV channels. I went through their reports and most doctors were more or less citing the same causes. Figures of speech apart, I am talking about the critics who opined on the reasons for Indian cricket team’s T20 WC failure. I find something fundamental missing in the analyses or commentators and ex-cricketers. They always take a dig at the bigger picture, but miss out certain finer aspects.

The critics went on blaming various bodies for the failure. Some blamed the IPL, some just the parties, some the BCCI; and most of them who wanted to shoo the blame away from the bodies, blamed the players. But let me point out one finer aspect which led to India’s failure. This fine aspect has let down India time and gain, be it in one-dayers or T20s, the reason being the same set of players represent India in both formats. Thankfully, the test team is far wiser, and that has reflected in their ranking!

The fine aspect I am talking about is shot making. India’s biggest strength has always been batting. Bowling has been our genetic weakness and ours is a team which has learnt to win with average bowling. So when we lose, let’s leave alone the bowling. I would blame the bowling only if they concede 200 plus in each T20 match. Let’s focus on batting for the time being.

Shot making or shot selection is the art of dealing with a ball bowled. It’s your answer to a ball. How quickly you sight the ball, what calculation your brain does on seeing the ball, and how you get into position to play the best shot for the ball. Again, best shot doesn’t mean the most powerful shot, it means the shot which fetches you the most runs with the minimum risk. It is a combination of factors such as timing, placement and trajectory. For most, this comes by natural instinct; yet there are many who work hard on them to get there.

Take the example of the now famous short-rising-ball. If the ball is medium fast, then you can as well play a pull shot off your front foot. If it is slightly faster, then you need to rock back on to your back foot to pull it ?or hook it. However, if it is real fast, like those the Australians, Dale Steyns and Fiedel Edwards bowl, then the pull or hook will hurry you up and if you are not in position fast, like a Ricky Ponting, then invariably the ball will sky high or provide some chin music or top edge behind the keeper. The worst part is, which way the ball heads is not at all in your control and this is when batting becomes betting (or gambling).

So how do the better equipped handle these balls? It is not that the Dravids and Laxmans were born heroic against the short ball – they have failed too – but they learnt from it and then re-accessed themselves and come across a solution based on their strengths and weaknesses. Tendulkar being short and having that extra time, opts for the upper cut – the safest shot yielding the best fruit, sometimes even the maximum; Dravid opts to duck, yet keeps his eyes on the ball till the last moment ensuring the bat and the body is away from the ball. His safe approaches perhaps lost him his place in the shorter format of the game, but today when you look back his methods seem better! Laxman, rolls his wrists to keep the ball down and plays a grounded pull shot – a shot that often leaves Brett Lee gaping. Pieterson, being tall, uses his height to the best effect. He climbs on his toes and lofts the ball above the infield – but into the gap.

Clearly, the best in the game have developed their own have developed their own ways to tackle their weaknesses and convert them into strengths. In the IPL, even Dravid was consistently scoring 50s off 30s in his own sweet way. But the current Indian team for the shorter versions are far away from it. They just get clueless when they see the rising ball. Their feet get stuck, neither forward nor backward, they swing their bat like a mace, connect with their edges and perish like number 11 batsmen of school teams. Their shot making is poor. If the ball is pitched up near the bat, whack they go out of the park. But if the pitch offers swing or bounce or spin – the ball goes higher, but no farther than 22 yards. It’s almost like the batsmen’s brains retard when the ball is not in their zone.

Let’s now look at the culprits’ list. Roll no 1 – Suresh Raina – once upon a time recognized by Wisden as the talent for the next decade – no matter what the format or the situation, a couple of dot balls and the adrenaline rushes. Plays a slog sweep across the wicket – doesn’t matter if the bowler is a pacer or a spinner – shot will be the same and he perishes. When India was cruising along chasing Australia’s 350 few months back, Raina threw his wicket and let Sachin alone to work out the rest. Similarly, in this T20 WC, he threw his wicket against West Indies, just when he himself scored 17 in the previous over! He gets out the same way time and again – there is no determination what so ever to improve. We made him the hero of the IPL final, but let’s not forget those dropped catches!

Roll no 2- Yusuf Pathan – He seems unable to deal with anything other than a pull pitched delivery and his story has not changed from past 2 yrs.

Roll no 3- Rohit Sharma – he’s the “married lion” of the Indian team. This analogy comes from a recently read joke which said that at a lion’s wedding a rat was found to be dancing happily and when asked the reason for his happiness, said that before his marriage he too was a lion. Rohit’s case is similar – a lion in the local circuit and a rat in the international circus! OK – now don’t point towards the 79 he made against Australia – that innings was after India had virtually lost, when no one was watching – there was no pressure on him at all. He played a similar innings against Pakistan in the warm up match before the ’09 T20 WC. But what after that? When it was needed most?

Roll no 4- Gautam Gambhir – He is the only batsman who seems to intentionally edge the ball to the keeper. A batsman with one of the finest techniques and temperaments finds the same way to get out time and again. A fine trickle to the third man which at most earns an extra run has cost him his wicket and perhaps India the game, umpteen times. Yet, the horror continues

One of the biggest problem with the Indian T20 generation is lack of application and understanding. The Indian pitches and grounds have made them believe that 6s (and not even 4s) are the only way to score in modern cricket. For all of them the release shot – the shot played to release the pressure of a couple of dot balls – is always the six. It was OK, if they could judge the ball well or make adjustments to play the ball to their strength. While hitting a six, Inzy always dances down the track, reaches close to the pitch of the ball and then bangs it hard- much safer. But the current Indian lot stay where they are – like trees with roots beneath and thoughtlessly heave the bat. They do not believe in the ability of a well placed four or a safely lofted shot or a deft late cut which can get them 2 or 3 but can still keep their wickets intact. Remember that 2 consecutive 2s equal a boundary and a dot ball, glamour apart. But generation T20 doesn’t believe in math; and neither do their selectors!

Lesson of Sorts

November 6, 2009

The 5th ODI between India and Australia in the Hero Honda Cup 2009 was a lesson for me in many sorts. For one, it again proved that class speaks for itself. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tendulkar were to appear for a charity match 20 years down the line and score a century there too! The best thing about the man is that he is humbleness personified, despite reaching the various zeniths of success. Mind you, many people achieve success in life, but to retain one’s name as the best for a span of 20 years, is not everyone’s cup of tea. There have been Michael Jacksons and Mike Tysons who have tasted extreme success at some point in time, but they never had in their personality what it takes to handle the fame. The disappointment of the loss was so genuine on Tendulkar’s face, only a man of his passion could feel it. ( I wonder how could Dhoni come to the post match presentation with a smiling face 😕 )

Secondly, the re-iteration of the fact that there is no short-cut to success. Whatever I spoke of Tendulkar in the paragraph above applies to the whole Australian team. Over 2 decades they have dominated world cricket. They no longer have the big names or the talent that they once had such as Shane Warne and Gilchrist, but they have re-built their reputation based on pure hard work. Let’s not forget that this is actually a back-up Australian squad; they have more debutants than India. Their fitness levels, builds, stamina, flexibility etc are all fruits of their efforts. They bat hard, bowl hard and one need nothing to say about their fielding. You can make it out from the sweat of Shane Watson who spends almost 80 overs on the field either bowling, batting or fielding – yet doesn’t show even a second of lapse in concentration. Talent can take you to a level, it can take the horse to the pool, but then the drinking has to be done by the horse itself. As for example, Tendulkar’s talent almost took India to victory, but the end had to be written by India itself, and it scripted failure. And is this the first time? Take a look at this chart: . It gives the highest scores for a losing cause and you can see how many times the little master’s name has appeared in the list.

Next, success is all about application and commitment at the moment, on the field. These are 2 qualities that are inseparable – they come together: you either have both or lack both. If you see the Indian team fielding, they lacked both, because they were not committed, they were less alert, misfielded, dropped catches – put simply – didn’t get the things right when they mattered. In the final overs, the bowlers just went through the motions – as if they were paid only to make sure they don’t bowl wides and no balls and they were not responsible for anything beyond that. Barring Tendulkar and Gambhir, all Indian batsmen remain routed in crease with no footwork whatsoever, any good length ball results in a dot ball instead of a single, thus piling up the pressure to get runs off risky boundaries. Australia on the other hand, were like hawks on the field. They bat with amazing technique anywhere in the world, and their bowlers get pace and bite off the wicket on even dead flat tracks. Even when the match seemed desperately beyond them, the men from down under were pouncing on the slightest of opportunities – bent bodies ready to dive, flat throws to the keeper, cutting off quick singles, bowlers firing dot balls at the right moments, keeper saving what would have been 4 byes – all to make sure the pressure re-mounted on the batsmen. Their commitment resulted in better application – one instance, when they realized it was not their day in hitting stumps directly, they preferred to loop the ball across to the bowler who calmly got Jadeja run out. On the other occasion – the fall of the last wicket, the fielder from long on took his time, only to deliver the perfect long throw to the keeper which beat Praveen Kumar by the minute fraction of a second and resulted in another run out. 2 different applications, yet executed to perfection at the maximum of pressure.

Lastly, about luck and destiny – factors which we believe are out of our control. One can keep arguing – what if India had not conceded 22 runs in the last 7 balls of Australian innings, what if Nehra had not given a boundary at long on which seemed like no more than a single, what if Raina had not tried a sixer to a rising ball when India was cruising to victory, what if Jadeja had shown better common sense than that exhibited on street cricket, what if Praveen Kumar had dived into the crease etc etc, the list can go on and on. But it was clear that lucky and destiny favor only those who work hard and show commitment and application. Dhoni said in the post match interview that even if India had restricted Australia to 320 or 330, the result would have been different. I am sorry Dhoni, but in the previous match the target was only 250 on a good batting track, the team messed it up and allowed Australia to get the momentum which they will never lose for the rest of the series. Another day, had luck favored, Australia would have missed few shots in the end, Raina’s shot would have found the middle, the throw that ran out Praveen Kumar would have been wide, Tendulkar himself would have remained unbeaten and ultimately with even the slightest luck India would have won!

But it was not to be. Let’s accept that fact Indian team didn’t deserve victory on Tendulkar’s heroics alone. Yesterday only 12 men deserved victory – the 11 Australians and the one Sachin Tendulkar. It’s only sad that the Indian legend ended up on the losing side :-).

Don’t du count mich out!

September 1, 2009

While, the frequency of my blogs has been decreasing, this one is to announce that I am not completely out of it yet. A 3rd round exit in singles and doubles in the table tennis tournament, a trip to Kolkata and Mumbai, marred by viral fever, and a trip to my native Kasaragod for the Ganesh Chaturthi fest has been ‘all’ that has happened since my last blog. The highlight of the trip to Kolkata was another trip to the Gantok, the chinese border at Nathula pass and a walk into Nepal. I found a lot of things to write about, and some time too. The latter one is more important. There are no shortages of topic in this world for homo sapiens, especially for the ones dwelling in the sacred land for India. Even a person nearing 75 does a Rajanikanth by writing about Jinnah and his heroics. If some foreigner were to suddenly arrive in India and pick up newspapers, he is bound to believe that Jinnah is some kind of virus; for nothing other than H1N1 was being discussed with so much prominence in the past days! So despite the infinite number of topics I have short listed a select few on which I can apply the masala of humor.

Talking of H1N1, looks like the hype of it is slowly dying, although the virus is still alive. You got to give it to the media though. Top headlines on the front page of every newspaper would ensure that the fear of the virus replicates faster than the virus itself. They would suppress the fact that those who succumbed had other chronic illnesses which aggravated on the invasion of the virus and ultimately resulted in death. People started hunting for masks everywhere, in such large numbers that those masks with fancy names called N-95 were getting sold in black. I envy the personnel working in those mask companies; they would receive morale boosting increments and bonuses even in this age of a slowly recovering economic recession.

Next, let’s talk about the people wearing them. When one sees them, subconsciously the mind seeks to avoid them, thinking these are the victims rather than ‘precautionaries’. The day after the first victim died in Pune, the Mumbai airport was full of women wearing masks. Hats off to them too. They wanted to show that they were well prepared before we half asleep men. When you look at them, you can make out only eyes staring back at you, non-vocally wanting you to ask them the question “Aaj, mere paas, bungla hai, gaadi hai, tumhaare paas kya hai?”. And as if after millennia, their quest to prove themselves better than their masculine counterparts was finally a success, they would gleefully reply “Mere pass MASK hai” 😛

Topic Change – I was finally a happy customer at a saloon in Mumbai last month. I got a smart haircut done for Rs 30; this meant that after a long period justice was done. Well, if you are confused lemme explain this one. I don’t think I have more than 30 hair on my head. And in Bangalore saloons, I have been paying 40 per haircut. To me this translates into more than a rupee per hair strand! And the frustration is, the cost is same for a person having two hundred thousand hair on his head. Not fair! The ‘slightly better’ saloons in Bangalore charge 50 bucks: they have an air conditioner which is never switched on, but the customer has to pay for that additional facility. The saloon closest to my house was charging 30 bucks when he set up his camp a few months back, but he was quick to make it 40. When asked the reason, he politely replied that he is paying a rent of 9000 for the saloon and that he has to find means of paying it back. I wonder if the rent was less than 9000 when initially his charge was 30 bucks. I call these guys ‘the initial setup cheats’. :-X

Meanwhile, at office our style of work has changed dramatically. We are following the increasingly popular ‘lean management’ or ‘scrum methodology’. Each project has a celebrity called The Scrum Master. Everyday the scrum master takes the status of the project: a micro management one- we have to state what we have accomplished the previous day and whether it is in line with the target set for that day. If we failed the target, then we have to ‘analyze’ and ‘explain’ why we failed, and ‘plan’ to make sure we do not fail again. And we then finish with what we plan to do till the next meeting. This crap methodology has ensured that we lose whatever flexibility we had earlier: earlier there were days when we used to work up to 18 hours a day and on other occasions days when we put in only 4; it was all up to us.. Now the per day divided work means we have to compulsorily put in 10 hours 42 minutes 36.538 seconds every day to ensure that we have some result to show for the next meeting!

Nothing more to pen down for the moment. Wifey is still waiting for her result, which speaks in itself for the quality of the paper evalutation process at the Bangalore University. I shall end this blog on a slightly serious note. A car is not an investment, it is in fact a significant expenditure. I came to know that one time servicing for my Ford Ikon costs Rs 3000/-. I have to give the car for servicing every 6 months; else I lose the warranty on it. In the first 6 months of my car, I drove 1800 km, which accounts to 170 liters of petrol (= Rs 8500/-) . So all in all, I have spent Rs 11500/- for traveling 1800 km in 6 months. After applying math, it boils down to Rs 64/- for 10km everyday. Food for thought!

Wednesday, the 1st of July

July 1, 2009

Half of 2009 is over and we enter into the second half. Geez! Time just flies doesn’t it? I am aware I haven’t posted for a while now, part of the reason being that I was busy at work and lazy at home. The other part is that I didn’t find any suitable topic to write on, barring Indian cricket, its disastrous world cup, Dhoni’s slow but sure downfall and so on and so forth. But then, I realized I shall be just like those millions of cricket experts in our nation, who have their own management theories on every ball played on the cricket field. I am sure someone may have even written a book on how to make best use of the drinks break ;). And given the fact that most of my blog readers are not exactly cricket fans, I decided to wait till I get something solid to write about.

Back to my personal life. Wifey has finished her exams and that means my half-yearly ‘Van-vaas’ is over. And hopefully for the last time! I am getting better food to hog and hopefully will have to spend lesser eating outside. 3 weeks from now we’ll be off to Kolkata and Mumbai for a 2 week vacation. So buying time in anticipation of the fun that lies ahead. That’s what life is all about, ain’t it? Setting milestones and then buying time till we reach them..

Talking of milestones, the next big one for wifey is the CSIR-UGC-NET exam. Sounds like the key for a video games CD, doesn’t it? I haven’t got much of a hang about it, but I guess it is an exam through which all nerds can get their spectacles power doubled! Yes, if you clear this exam, you get to do a PhD and then hopefully become a scientist in the future 😀

Meanwhile, at office, I have enrolled for a table tennis competition. I am hardly in touch with the game, but then I am not gonna repeat the mistake of not participating: a mistake that has cost me dearly during my teen ages. I still remember the singing competition we had for our annual college day in 1st year PUC. I did not participate. The competition had ultimately only 7 singers and was won by someone, who, I thought, was pretty average. Missed chance! Next year, I participated. But as Murphy’s laws had to have their say, there were more than 60 participants next time around!

So last couple of days, I have been visiting the TT room whenever I get time. Like students studying for the exam last minute, the TT room is filled with up to 10 people competing for a game on the table! ‘Vinaasha Kaale Vipreeta Buddhihi’ I thought to myself (applies to me as well). 9 out of 10 days, there isn’t a soul to be seen near that room and when a competition is announced there are 9X10 souls haunting round the clock. And I got to see some ‘specimen’ table tennis players. Like this lean guy with long hair, and spectacles. Before every point, he gets ready for his poise, feet angled towards the table, and body pivoting on his toes. In some way, similar to ladies tennis players who swing their asses to and fro like a pendulum, while they are on the receiving end of a serve. Except that, when this guy does it, it ain’t equally sexy :-|. His hair keeps coming across his eyes, and this is followed by a sharp movement of the cranium to shoo the hair back to its place. While playing the game, he makes all sorts of body movements: one moment you feel he doesn’t have an arm, the next moment you find a limb popping out of his armpit. Added to the special effects are the sounds he makes, those which would make the opponent’s heart skip a beat. Only at the end of a point, you would realize that all this drama was in the attempt of adding some extra spin to the ball 😛

Sports tournaments come with their own set of ironies. I registered for the men’s doubles event with Vincent Keane (name changed 😉 ), a fellow friend in my company, as my partner. Though we are quite different personalities, our fortunes tangle quite often. I first met him at an inter-school Interaction Club meet during our 10th. Later, we ended up on the same bench, the second-last one in the class, for the two years of pre-university. We did our engineering at different places, and didn’t see each other during that span. Destiny made us meet again 5 years down the line: during our recruitment interview at SAP. Both of us made it, joined the company on the same day, got subsequent ID numbers (his ends with 31 and mine with 32), had our training together and to round if off, joined the same team! A re-organization in our company. 6 months later, meant he had to move to a different team and I too changed my team 2 years later. And right now, both of us reside by the Bannerghatta road. But it simply doesn’t end here.

When the fixtures for men’s singles event were announced, guess who my opponent turned out to be? ‘Doubles partner bana singles opponent’. One thing is sure: At least one of us is gonna make it to the next round; be it in singles or in the doubles :D. It is going to be a keen contest!

Leagues and Knock-outs !

June 3, 2009

So, the IPL season 2 is bygone and we are fast approaching the T20 world cup ’09. As we all know, these tournaments have a blend of league and knock-out stages. This blend brings with it a strange irony. However well you perform in the league stages, one bad day will knock you out of the tournament. On the contrary, however badly you perform in the league, if you just manage to sneak into the knockout stage by a whisker, you can change it all around with one brilliant performance or with a slice of good luck. This brings a question to my mind: Are these tournaments really seeking the best team around? Or are these tournaments purely for entertainment?

Let’s consider some examples: In the recently concluded IPL season 2, Delhi topped the league table with a huge margin: a margin of 3 points against 2nd placed Chennai, 4 points against 3rd placed Bangalore and 6 points against 4th placed Hyderabad. What’s more, Hyderabad managed to end up 4th in the table purely on the basis of a better net run rate than Punjab, with the same number of points. Truly speaking, Delhi was by far the team of the tournament: they were superior to others in all aspects of the game. Even when they were knocked out, it was not due to their poor performance or due to Hyderabad’s brilliant team display, but they were undone by an extraordinary innings by Adam Gilchrist. Just one knock ended their tournament; that too it was not that their bowling effort was below-average, it was just that God Himself had presided Gilchrist’s soul during the first six overs of their run chase. In the end, the team which barely qualified for the knockout, ended up winning the tournament!

Yet another example was South Africa in the T20 world cup 2007. Believe it or not, apart from being the hosts and the favorites, they were the best in the tournament having won all the 4 matches they played. But one loss against India closed the shutters for them. Reason: yet again, a team fell behind the net run rate of another team, the other team being New Zealand. In sharp contrast, in the other group, Australia, who had a very average tournament, having lost to Zimbabwe and Pakistan, and having won only 3 out of their 5 matches, one being against Bangladesh, made it to the semis! Fair? I bet, not many would agree.

However, this analysis does not always hold good. Some teams which begin poorly get a second chance to perform to their true potential. In the ’99 World Cup, the Australian team, which ended up 3rd in the points table in the group stages, unleashed extra-ordinary vigor and went on to win all of their super-six and knock out matches (barring the famous tie against South Africa in the semis). Without doubt, they were the best in the tournament.

So, what then is the best format? If you ask me, as far as deciding the best team goes, leagues and knock-outs should not be blended together. Like, in English football, they have a separate league competition, the Premier League, in which the team with the most number of points over the span of 9 months and 38 games wins the trophy; and then they also have the FA Cup, which is a complete knock-out event, in which a team moves to the next round only on winning the previous one. However, from the point of view of entertainment and revenues, the knock-out phase of cricket tournaments soar much higher over the league phase, so they will stay. Also, according to the organizers, the knock-out phase is the ultimate test of character: Which team can raise its game and perform when it matters most! What’s your take on this?

Wednesday, the 27th of May

May 27, 2009

Depressing defeat for Namma Hudugas. I can go on about 100s of Ifs and Buts, and think that even if one of those had gone our way, they would have written history. Don’t even wanna talk about it! However, my gut feeling says Monkey is gonna pay up for his ‘Manga-cheste’ big time. Wait for the Champions League..

Time please.. Change of Topic: Uncle Sam is spreading aids to Padosan. Oops! I need to re-phrase this sentence: Uncle Sam is providing a huge amount in aid to Padosan. Anyways, either of the sentences indicate the same. 20 years ago, Uncle Sam created a virus called ‘Balitan’; I wonder which Shaitan will they come up with this time!

In practicality, Uncle Sam is a scientist and Padosan is a laboratory. Padosan government is the lab attendant. Uncle Sam claims to be working on a ‘vaccine’ against a contagious virus (which he himself introduced), but the vaccine mutates and new viruses (the likes of Tusker-e-Boiler) are created. The lab attendant trains these new viruses to spread flu in the adjacent department. He gets a devilish pleasure when the people in the adjacent department sneeze and cough.

Unfortunately for Uncle Sam and the lab attendant, all viruses go out of control, they even spread to the cabin of the Head of the Department and other scientists are also affected. Uncle Sam feels he has made a fool of himself and blames the lab attendant for negligence. Lab attendant demands a salary hike as motivation to clean up the mess. Uncle Sam obliges. Lab attendant uses a vacuum cleaner to cleanse the lab of the contagious disease. The cleaning is still in process. But, both Uncle Sam and lab attendant are intentionally ignoring the new mutant viruses that they have created. They are hoping that by the time the HoD is satisfied with the cleaning effort, the mutant viruses would have created an epidemic in the adjacent department!

By the way, Uncle Sam and his friends are so unjust. On one hand, when Padosan has to get rid of Balitan, it is given huge amount in aid; whereas, on the other hand, when Emerald Island needs aid to rebuild civilization post war, it has to seek loan from Earth Bank! Grr..

Lemme end this blog on a lighter note. Back to some cricket. Yesterday, Calypso Kings were chasing a target of 328 against the United Jack-Asses. The best part was, their star batsman Bunderballl reached his 50 in 96 balls. Wonderful strike rate, isn’t it? Now guess which team has picked up Bunderball for the IPL? Yes, Namma Hudugas indeed – need I say anymore about the ‘Test Team’ of IPL? 😉

Thursday, the 21st of May

May 21, 2009

Hello again! I had scripted a paragraph on Monday but unfortunately couldn’t finish the thing due to work load. I wanted to continue on the same, but things had changed a lot in 3 days.

For example, I was about to mention that KKR should change their name to Kite Riders as they may have better luck at the kite festival in Gujarat next year. Just then they gave a tight slap to the Yellow Jerseys and sent the Registan Loyals back to the deserts. I have failed to understand what KR actually means. Knights are warriors who ride horses, but then who ride the Knights themselves? Their wives? :O

Talking of wife, my one has warned me that should I write anything smart about her, she’ll start a counter-blog to return the favour. She also hinted I should think of my left leg while blogging. Was that really a hint?!!!! 😛

By the way, this Sunday was a fun filled day. As I am barred from outdoor sports I have decided to spend time ( or should I rather say ‘waste’ time) on the indoor versions of the same. Bought a MS pc video games pack yesterday. 500 bucks, 16 CDs, 1741 games :O. Of these 41 games were covered in 15 CDs and one CD alone contained 1700 games! I still wonder how 1700 games can be covered in 700 MB, meaning lil more than 400 KB per game. Anyways I haven’t opened that CD yet, so let me publish the post-mortem results later.

I played a few games like car racing and football. Believe me you, these games are so marvelous, I feel hospitals need to have a new ward for “sick” games. The controls are so smooth, that the moment you turn left, the car goes out of race contention, and the moment you turn right the opposition gains possession of the football. And Did you know? The football game is a family contest. It is five-a-side, and all players have plain faces: no eyes, no nose, totally distorted-yet-similar features. All look alike like family members, if not like pentuplets! What more can I expect at the rate of 3 games per rupee?

Wifey was more engrossed in some brain game covering Egyptian symbols which were moving across the screen faster than our own Bangalore’s UP Express Bhaiyya’s bowling. Her gaming experience was more satisfying than mine. I finally took liking to a bike race which I won at the first attempt itself B-). I returned to the drawing room with a broad grin, only to find Wifey sorting out some Greek symbols this time :O I wondered if she had mistaken these ‘symbol’ video games for some of Dan Browns symbol thrillers. (Hope I seemed dumb enough in this paragraph, else you know what!)

More to pen down, but I got to leave now. Got to catch the match between the Maadis and the Guldies. Looks like both are gonna make it to the semis this time 🙂