Sunday, April 13, 2014

Poll - arisation ....NaMo or RaGa ??? Vote & Voice plssss...

As the 16th General Elections gains momentum across the 543 constituencies of India, the largest electoral population in the world, pegged at more than 81 crores, is getting sucked into a cauldron of intense verbal exchanges between the political parties, ranging from rabid to reckless, brazen to bizarre, capricious to critical to communal, & from piteous to personal........the kind of ugly mudslinging that has been unprecedented.

Over the last few days, as the polling has begun full swing amidst hope & speculations, all the news channels & media houses are running full, hosting racous & vicious debates over controversies, as the political parties are busy grabbing attention & brownie points.....it has been a scathing war of words, with very little regard for prudence or polite humanity & humility.
Md Azam Khan has the audacity to say, "Kargil war was won by Muslims & not Hindus..." Mulayam Singh Yadav dares to say, "Boys will be boys, they make mistakes...will you hang them for rape??", referring to the Shakti Mills gang rape case,.... & to add further fuel to fire, Abu Azmi says, "women who were raped should also be punished" !!!!! Congress candidate from Saharanpur, Imran Masood gets away by saying that he will chop Narendra Modi to pieces.....Such dastardly & abusive thoughts are spelled out with utter disdain, .... all for cheap vote bank politics....as the Nation stands shell shocked.... is this real ????
Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi asks Shahi Iman Bukhari to encourage Muslims to vote for Congress & he responds by terming 'communalism a bigger threat than corruption' !!!, appealing to the Muslims in the name of minority card, to vote for Congress.
All this is fine & acceptable under the garb of Secularism for UPA & its allies. The rhetoric & the polarisation continues, giving very little thought to the new low that the country has tottered to, under their corrupt & scam blistered leadership !!!!

BJP, this time is focusing on good governance, development, & riding the anti incumbency wave that seems to be sweeping the country. The recent resounding victories in state elections has also consolidated this belief. Their Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, has good governance in Gujarat for three consecutive terms to demonstrate. Under his rule, the state of Gujarat has credible achievements to show.....whether it is agricultural or infrastructure or technology or tourism, or basic needs like electricity, employment,.....he has grown in stature, while his detractors continue to lambast him on 2002 riots, an allegation that he has been cleared from, by SIT set up by the Supreme Court of India. A new dig at him has sparked off now, after he declared his marital status in the nomination form.....Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi have torn into him, leaving no stones unturned....evoking strong counter responses from the BJP. Their one point agenda seems to somehow show NaMo as communal & autocratic & play the secular card to bring him down.

The youth of India, today in particular is looking for a viable alternative to revive the economy & enforcement of strong laws to drive change & remove corruption....clearly, they are looking at capability versus mere rhetoric & vote bank polarisation. The poor are being polarised on the minority card, while the middle class seems to be firmly rooting for the NDA.....the business class & the rich also seem to have a tilt for the NDA, though some skepticism continues.
Meanwhile, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, known for his humanitarian initiatives & projects worldwide, has been canvassing strongly for "i Vote for a Better India"  through his large volunteer base. His appeal has been to encourage & educate the electorate to come out & Vote & the bring in a strong & steady government. Baba Ramdev has gone a step further to come out openly in support of Narendra Modi......However, this has evoked sharp response, as Congress has filed objections with the Election Commission & media is lapping this up for debates. It is indeed shameful that, instead of seeking their progressive advice towards educating the electorate, they are being dragged into such mindless controversies....Is this correct ?? After all, they too are citizens of the country & deserve their democratic rights to opine...in fact having worked relentlessly over years for peace & harmony, across the globe, without any bias for religion, cast or creed, Sri Sri brings in the perfect platform of trust to provide direction to the common man in building a strong progressive country. The current political bandwagon, which badly needs a facelift can do a world of good for themselves by seeking his suggestions & advice for a sustainable & long term growth....

The winds of change is evident....the country needs someone who has strong governance capabilities.....someone who has a proven track record...someone who can deliver.....someone who can inspire the voter. We need a stable government at the Centre, & not a fractured mandate of coalition. Make no mistake, it will need a Herculean effort to bring on tracks the sagging economy & the sagging morale.....& it certainly cannot be done by dramatics or dynasty !!!.... It requires Iron will & clear focus of a strong leader, who can sustain & work hard.

Well, AK has been flip flop with 49 days of Delhi rule.....a chance lost in dramatics & blame game....Aam Admi Party needs to work around a state to start with, maybe Delhi & gain respect of voters through hard work & proven capabilities, before aspiring national responsibiities; RaGa has nothing to show for himself & Congress has given us 10 years of unprecedented scams, inept & directionless governance...they certainly need to soul search & do an internal clean up act ; NaMo has three progressive terms of Gujarat to demonstrate & speaks of issue based politics.......amongst leaders, on paper he seems the best bet for India & certainly deserves a stable chance to Rediscover India....

The bane of this country has been the silence of Good men, which has allowed the Bad to raise its Ugly head time & again..... its a wake up call for everyone....Let's Vote without fail & Vote judiciously..... for a Better India.....Hum honge Kaamyaab ek Din....

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

T20 World Cup for the Men in Blue.....darker, firmer shade

I was on my way back home, driving from Pune to Mumbai.......& I was driving hard to reach as early as possible.... T20 finals between India & Sri lanka....based on current form...the best two teams in view...both the teams..."Men in Blue".....brighter vs the darker shades....vibrant & undefeated in this edition vs the jinxed but determined...... absolutely mouthwatering as a contest.

By the time I was getting off the expressway, the match had started. Tuning in the radio, I heard India lose the toss & put into bat, & immediately premonitions started clouding the mind.....somehow, this team is better at chasing, I said to myself....and when Rahane got out in the 2nd over with just 4 runs o the board, I was already thinking of the worst. Switching away to music I drove frenetically......needed to be in front of the TV & cheer (as if everything depended on it !!!). By the time I reached home, India was already in doldrums....17th over & just 115 runs on board....Yuvi struggling & Virat at the other end muttering profanities in frustration. 
Eventually, India ended at 130 runs, a good 20 odd runs short of a competing total for a final.....& everyone around cursing Yuvraj..... a sad, patchy 11 runs off 21 deliveries.

The Lankans, buoyed by a rather paltry total to chase, got their acts right & despite losing four wickets, rode the big match temperament of Sangakarra to cross over the line, with Thisera Perera hitting the winning six....it was indeed a thumping victory for the Islanders.....fifth time lucky....finally breaking the jinx of being losing finalists for the last four times. Sending Perera ahead of Mathews in the 13th over was a master stroke....he is a fearless hitter in the Darren Sammy mould, & he clobbered 21 runs in 14 deliveries to romp home, with 13 balls to spare.....Sanga was the deserving Man of the Match for a classy unbeaten 52 off 35 deliveries. 
Earlier, despite a belligerent 77 off 58 balls by Virat Kohli, coming in at no 3, inability to convert a steady start into slog overs hitting for a formidable total cost the game for India.....& almost everyone making Yuvraj the culprit. It has been a forgettable tournament for someone known to be one of the best exponents in this format of cricket over the years. In the last 4 overs India could muster only 19 runs...Malinga 7 Kulasekara foxing the dreaded Indian middle order by bowling some beautiful yorkers slightly outside the off stump, cramping Kohli, Yuvraj & Dhoni  all alike. The wild swipes et all failed to clear the ropes. 
While Yuvi was completely out of sorts, even Virat & Dhoni struggled to get a move on....the Lankans had clearly bowled to a plan & the Indians had not factored a plan B !!! Sending Yuvi at no 4 is questionable, especially, when India had put on just 64 runs in the first 10 overs.....Dhoni should have come himself to up the ante.....Raina was more suited, in form & capable of cameos...even Jadeja could have come in....& even if Yuvi was sent, a message should have gone for him to slog or get out, allowing the next man in to get some big hits. 
Also, the belligerence & excess show of emotions from Virat, could be good for him, but at times detrimental for the team, as he cringes others rather than motivating them.....harsh words for the Man of the Tournament, but I reckon, he will burn out soon, if he does not control himself. In his mid twenties, he has the talent to go the distance & be the pivot of Indian batting line up ahead, but he will have to curb his expressive & furious gestures. 
Dhoni, was unflappable as usual, & defended Yuvi's one bad day....thats what a Cool Captain is !! Also heartening is to notice that ex players like Sachin & Saurav have come out in support of Yuvi...one should not forget his immense contributions over the years in winning T20 World Cup in 2007 & ICC World Cup in 2011....he was the 'player of the tournament' then....

In contrast, the Lankans planned well, & despite having Lasith Malinga as the Captain on paper, it was Mahela & Sanga who were marshaling the team. The only blip being Malinga dropping Kohli in the 7th over off Herath, with the batsman just on 11 runs at that stage....going on to belt the Lankan bowling for a majestic 77 runs, run out on the last ball of the innings.

For the Lankans, it was the perfect send off gift for Sangakarra & Mahela, who had announced their retirement before the tournament...it had been a long time coming.....it took them 5 finals to taste a World Cup victory......The Men in Blue.....the darker, firmer shade....the time of reckoning for them...






Monday, July 1, 2013

Samba back again - Joga Bonito



Millions across the globe would have watched the Confederations Cup 2013 final yesterday night, between hosts & current Champions Brazil and current World Cup & Euro Cup Champions Spain. The new look Maracana stadium went berserk with delight as it was Braaaziiiiilll all the way. The men in yellow tore apart the men in red, as the final scoreline read 3-0. The quality of football was worth every effort to keep awake & watch the match live till the wee hours of the morning. The Samba football looks back again. The Selecao are moving in the right direction....

Spain, under the able coaching of Vincente Del Bosque, had been ruling the World football over the past few years. They are the current World Cup & Euro cup Champions, being unbeaten for the last 29 matches. Their brand of Tiki Taka football has been mesmerizing all the soccer fans across the globe, & the Confederation Cup was the only trophy left to be conquered. They have looked nearly invincible & maintained their No 1 status since the world cup victory in South Africa in 2010. Xavi, Iniesta, Silva were weaving passess midfield, while Torres, Fabregas, Pedro, Villa would score upfront, & Ramos, Jordi Alba, Pique manage defence with Casillas under the bar. Truly a world class team, nurtured by Bosque shrewd coaching.

On the other hand, Brazil has been struggling. For the first time that I am aware of, their World ranking had slipped to a dismal 19 !!!!.....no where in the top 3-4 that they have enjoyed over years. The quarterfinal exit to Netherlands in the last World Cup, had led to the side suffering from able leadership & coaching & also the confidence amongst the players was waning. Its at this stage that Luiz Felipe Scolari took over the coaching. He had earlier coached the national side to their last World Cup win in 2002. Scolari has shown the mettle that he is & the Confed Cup was a perfect platform to test his team's abilities. Many called it a dress rehearsal for the upcoming World Cup, to be hosted by Brazil next year.
Scolari has been stitching a wonderful unit of young talent, who play fearless football, with their heart & lungs. Neymar, Fred, Oscar, Hulk upfront, Paulinho, Gustavo Luis in the midfield, Dani Alves, Marcelo, Thiago Silva, David Luiz in the back with Julio Cesar under the bar.......almost all the players are in their early / mid 20s....willing to give their last breath & daring to dream.

The run up to the final was in itself a fairy tale for the Brazilians. They had humbled Japan 3-0, Mexico 2-0 & Italy 4-2 in the group stages & then defeated their South American neighbors Uruguay 2-1.  In each of the games, the team looked assured & capable to winning. On the other hand Spain had mauled Tahiti 10-0, Uruguay 2-1, Nigeria 3-0 in the group stages & then overcame Italy in the semis via penalty shoot out 7-6.

It was indeed battle royale...

Within two minutes of the start to the final, Brazil pressed home the advantage. A dangerous ball floated in by Hulk, had Fred & Neymar juggle in goalmouth melee amongst Spaniard defence, & Fred managed to toe in the ball past Casillas...it was 1-0. It was not a pretty Samba goal, but was enough to stun the World Champions. The Maracana stadium erupted in rapturous celebrations as the Spanish team looked dazed to retort. The Brazilians were all over the ground & the famed Spanish Tiki Taka   was severely tested. For the first time in many matches the Spanish Armada was left to come up from behind....they were trailing....something they had not experienced in a long time.
Xavi & Iniesta tried their best to stitch passes & get the game under control....there were flashes of brilliance, but a resolute Brazilian midfield would pounce & snatch at will & get back the possession at the right time. Spain was unable to make a break through. Meanwhile, Brazilians missed a sitter, as Oscar fired into Casillas's body & then Paulinho lobbed a beauty which Casillas managed to tap over....Spain was seriously getting tested, as Brazilians mounted attack after attack. With just a few minutes to half time, Spain had a wonderful opportunity to level scores, as Pedro beat the Brazilian goalkeeper Cesar with a left footer.....the ball was almost gliding into the net, when David Luiz from nowhere slid in & blew the ball over the bar for a corner....every soul gaped at a miraculous save.....& even before Spain could come to terms with the save, Oscar & Neymar were wall passing into the Spanish circle. Oscar took a Neymar pass & held the ball along with a couple of defenders, as Neymar positioned himself to receive the ball again & hit a thunderous left footer into the corner of the net....what a shot....this time truly Samba football. Instead of pegging at 1-1, Brazil had gone up 2-0. Looked like even the Gods wanted Brazil to win.
As the match resumed in the 2nd half, as if in action replay, Fred scored again, within two minutes....Hulk this time held the ball & sent in a curling centre & Neymar foxed a defender & let the ball go to Fred who placed the ball neatly at the far end of the net....it was 3-0 & Brazil were certainly looking like the Champions. The mighty World Champions were left clueless. Bosque tried his last trick by bringing in Naves. the move paved immediate dividend as Marcelo fouled Naves on the edge of the box...referee pointing to a penalty. Sergio Ramos, normally calm player, looked nervous & hit out. Neymar was unstoppable & in another rush, was brought down by Gerard Pique, prompting a red card....Spanish team reduced to ten men now.....Pedro & Villa tried a couple of well placed shots, but Julio Cesar, under the bar was his confident best, fisting out the ball from any danger. Towards the end, Brazilians were just toying with the ball, without even pressing for another goal.....as if giving the World Champions some respite.
Neymar was adjusted Player of the tournament with the Golden Ball. In him & Fred, Brazil have found goal scoring abilities, with Oscar, Hulk, Paulinho & others quite capable of adding to the scoreline.

It was certainly a team effort for the host nation....it was certainly the fancied Samba brand...it was Selecao at its best. The team looks hungry & eager & spirited....they may not have the brilliance of Pele & his rampaging team of 60s & 70s, they may not have the flair of Zico, Junior, Socrates of 80s, they may also not have the imagination of Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Romario, Kaka of 90s & early 2000, but this team has small capable stars in Neymar, Fred, Oscar, Hulk, Paulinho, David Luiz, Cesar & others, who believe that they can....
This win gives hope for the host nation to dream an unprecedented 6th World Cup win at home next year, although no Confed Cup Champion has ever won a World Cup in the following year. Let us truly wish...it happens this time....Samba football rules again.
Brazil under the able coaching of Scolari has it in them to recover their lost status....of being the undisputed Kings of football..... as the commentator said yesterday....its good for Brazilian football....it is good for the world football...

Joga Bonito.....the beautiful game called football.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Calypso Cricket....finally !!!

Calypso music did take over.....the world witnessed Gangnam.....Gayle  combining push ups with dance steps, birthday boy Bravo doing sensational hip movements, Samuels, Sammy, Pollard, Ramdin et all, screaming & dancing in childlike fervor as they emerged the new World T20 Champions......there has been something refreshingly boisterous about this Windies outfit.....it was worth the wait.....& watch.

All of this looked an improbable dream an hour into the play, as the West Indies looked dead & dusted, struggling for life at 32 for 2 after 10 overs, with Gayle already back in the dugout....the Lankans had planned well for him & had choked him out for almost nothing. Mahela was leading with inspiration & his bowlers were spot on as per plan......it looked as if the West Indies had crumbled......but for one warrior, Marlon Samuels....the stony faced 'never give up' Jamaican. He counter attacked the Lankan bowling & singled out Malinga (arguably one of the best T20 bowler) taking 50 runs off  his 3 overs, stunning the rapturous home crowd into silence, & pulled off one of the most amazing turnarounds the game has witnessed, as he amassed 78 invaluable runs in just 56 deliveries....one of the sixes he hit cleared 108 meters, the longest in this tournament.........with Sammy lustily hitting at the end, the Windies has added 105 from their final 10 overs....it was simply incredible.....137 runs on board at the end of the innings meant......it was at least fight on.....
The Lankans needed a good start & they faltered...Dilshan bowled for nought by Rampaul, & the Windies had tasted blood, as the crowd went into a stunned silence !!! Mahela & Sanga started to consolidate, as Bravo dropped Mahela at deep backward square leg off Samuels.....at the end of 9 overs, the Lankans looked well under control, with score reading 47 for 1, though runs were hard to come by. Sammy brought back Badree & he removed Sanga, caught by Pollard in the deep....the Windies had breached the Lankan defence!! What followed was mayhem, as runs choked & the Lankan batsmen succumbed to the ever building pressure.......two needless run outs were clear testimony to this & at the end of 15th over, the score read a shocking 72 for 7.....still 66 runs required off 30 deliveries.....all top order batting back in the dug out. Kulasekara bludgeoned 22 runs of the next over off Rampaul, as the crowd came back to life, but it was far too steep for his capabilities.....Narine had him caught in the deep in the very next over & the Lankans innings finally folded for 101 runs.....the Windies had slayed the mighty Lankans by 36 runs.....it was indeed incredible.....probably once in a lifetime....certainly so for this team !!!
The Lankans had done well in the first phase of the match.....Mahela had managed his resources well 7 the team looked hungry for success......Ajantha Mendis was on a dream spell, getting 4 wickets for 12 runs....but the Windies managed to wrest the initiative & momentum back as Samuels & Sammy launched a counter attack.....it turned out to be a knockout punch....the Lankans in reply choked under pressure....
This Windies team, has looked a unit....a compelling unit of match winners..........
Calypso music came alive & how.....looking forward to the resurgence of a Super Power.....for the sake of the game...for the sake of the flair.....for the sake of raw talent.....its been a long long wait.....

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dance to Calypso music.....well lets hope so !!!

For this T20 World Cup, the best two teams are in the finals......so we all can look forward to a epic battle. Its the consistent Sri Lanka on home soil against the mavericks West Indies.
The Lankans have been in four finals including this one in the last five years, still looking for the elusive title of a Champion since 1996. Under Mahela, the team is peaking at the right time. The temperamental  Captain along with Dilshan form a fearsome opening pair, with one killing the opponents softly, while the other attacking fiercely......with Sanga, the old warhorse to follow along with Angelo Mathews, Thirimanne, Jeevan Mendis & Thisara Perera....its a formidable line up. Any three players fire & you are looking at a tall score first up or a serious chase on cards. In bowling, Lasith is gradually finding form with toe piercing yorkers & accurate slowers.....supporting him is Kulasekara up the order followed by Ajantha Mendis & Herath, both capable of deadly carrom ball & awkward spin. The fielding has been disciplined & aggressive.....in all a well oiled machine, capable of beating the best, especially before a roaring home crowd & familiar conditions. 

The Windies on the other hand are most unpredictable, whose Calypso cricket is has kept everyone mesmerized throughout the tournament. They have the batting order, which can decimate any attack under the sun today, especially in this format.....Gayle upfront with Johnson Charles has been in a different zone altogether.....unlike earlier times, he does not go hammer & tong from the word go....instead, he settles down into a fine rhythm & then goes for the tall hits....even if he manages 25-30 hits, we are looking at a near impossible target for the opponents....Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Pollard, Russell & Sammy, next to follow, each capable of putting up a wining total single handedly.....if Gayle fires upfront & stays even till 10-12th over, along with Samuels & Bravo lending able support.....& with Pollard & Sammy giving finishing touches......we are looking at a sure Calypso win.....this team enjoys batting first....free in mind & that brings out the best in them. In bowling, they have mystery spinner Narine, who has been weaving magic amongst the best of the batsmen, along with Badree as an able support, & then Rampaul, Russel, Sammy, Samuel, all contributing to tight bowling.....they could choke any opponent.
The team needs to play freely & enjoy their cricket....& they need to believe that even if Gayle misses a big score(the Lankans would obviously be targeting to get him out cheaply), they have the fire power & capability to put up a defending total....there is Samuels, Bravo, Pollard & even Sammy, who can put any bowling to sword......the world will witness entertainment of a different quality.....it will be money's worth for every spectator....

In the Super Eights, the Lankans had beaten the Windies quite easily, as Gayle failed to prosper, & this will propel & bolster the hosts. However, the Windies, call simply look at how they decimated the Aussies & they should be on a roll. The wicket will assist spin for sure, & both the team have excellent spinners in their ranks....both the team play spin very well.....the capacity crowd, assured of a high octane match. History is against the Windies, as they have lost all four matches in T20 to the Lankans till date, but then its a World Cup final & if Gayle & Co hold their nerves & put up a big total.....the records may change....finally..... 

For the sake of cricket & entertainment, I would like to see another Gayle storm......a Calypso music & dance...