Tag Archives: Harbhajan Singh

Muralitharan is a funny motherf**ker

Or he just confused his turbaned Indian spinners. Of course, Murali is the highest wicket taker in the history of test match cricket, and so, I generally tend to put some trust in his words when he makes comments about spinners, especially off-spinners.

Can you tell who's ordinary? Apparently, Murali cannot.

When I read the interview comments he made before the start of what was gonna be his last test match, I was mildly surprised to hear that he thought Harbhajan Singh Plaha was the only bowler that has any chance of breaking his record tally of wickets. May be, he saw something that none of us – except for the Plaha family, saw.

I was even more surprised to hear further comments from Murali during the second match at the concrete roads of SSC that he thinks Bishen Singh Bedi is just an  ordinary spinner. (So surprised was I, my eyebrows did a Colbert.) It is generally known and accepted especially from fans that saw/heard Bedi bowl and the batsmen that faced him that Bedi was a brilliant practitioner of the art of finger spin. He would constantly change the loop and the pace, vary the angles and lengths and tease the batsmen out. I read somewhere that the cricket ball was like a top in Bedi’s hands. Of course, Bedi has for a very long time, maintained that Murali is actually a Javelin thrower stuck in the wrong sport.  So, may be, Murali has some grudges against Bedi?

By making the pre-series statement about Plaha being the only one to have any chance at 800+ wickets, Murali, while trying to sound all genuine, completely messed with his mind. He put the pressure on Plaha. So much so, that Plaha has plahowed and plahadded along for brilliant returns of 2 for 304 at the end of two matches. At this rate, he will only need to play just 444 test matches more to put Murali in the rearview mirror. May be, Murali thought Plaha is the bionic man or the six million dollar man. Whatever the reason, he messes with the minds of Sardarjis and that makes him one funny motherf**ker!

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Recently I came in possession of a few books on cricket, including a biography and an autobiography. That made me think what the titles would be if some of the Indian cricketers decided to put their lives on print.

Irfan Pathan – I used to be a fast bowler

Ajit Agarkar – Get your ducks in a row

Sreesanth – Show the other cheek, said Jesus

Yuvraj Singh – Mom’s the word

Ashish Nehra – What happens in St. Lucia, stays in St. Lucia

Harbhajan SinghMaa ki See, Maa ki do

Sachin TendulkarGod promise, I didn’t hear it

Sourav Ganguly – Striptease

Rahul Dravid – The Bridesmaid’s tale

MS Dhoni – At the end of the day

Zaheer Khan – Return of the dead

Virender Sehwag – I’m a better clone than Dolly the sheep

Send in your suggestions for VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, Munaf Patel et al. Its open season, folks.

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O Bowlers, Where Art Thou?

The fact that India could not defend a reasonably good score of 285 against a weak Zimbabwe team proves one thing that the followers of Indian cricket have long been aware of – the scarcity of match winning bowlers in the Indian set up. The ease with which Zimbabwe chased down the score was very uncomfortable to watch. Agreed, India was playing a second unit team and the three pace bowlers used in this match were all making their international debut, but for crying out loud, its Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe that is shorn of all their major players due to Mugabe’s politics and are on the mend.

Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra who would’ve been the first choice seamers have been rested and so was the first choice spinner, Harbhajan Singh, for this rather meaningless tri-series, also involving Sri Lanka. The recent Twenty20 world cup debacle, rightfully, exposed the shortcomings of the Indian batsmen against the bouncing ball (yet again) but an important aspect that was missed by all and sundry amongst all the finger pointing and brawl gate, was that the Indian bowling could not restrict the opposition in any of the matches (except against newbies Afghanistan). The pace bowlers looked toothless on the same pitch where the Jerome Taylors and Shaun Taits of the world were making the Indian batsman hop around like cat on a hot tin roof. Even the medium pace of Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy was making the Indians feel extremely uncomfortable, which shows how ineffective the Indian pace attack was. [The only bowler that looked reasonable – and he was a spinner – was Harbhajan Singh but even he did not look like taking wickets, although he restricted the batsmen almost always, except in the all crucial do-or-die game against Sri Lanka.]

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Anatomy of a chase

Sri Lanka just wrote the coaching manual on how to chase down a target on a tricky pitch. SL needed to get 144 runs (of the 164 they needed to win the match outright) to boot India out of the T20 World cup. The SL bowlers fought, clawed and yorked their way back into the game after India had scored a swift 90 odd runs in the first 10 overs of their inning and restricted them to just 163 off 20 overs, when a score in the neighborhood of 185+ loomed quite large.

After the initial reverses in the first two overs, the SL batsmen went about rebuilding the innings up. While the captain Sangakkara was digging in for the long haul, Dilshan found the perfect opportunity to get out of his rut to quickly score 30-odd runs which ensured the run rate did not fall too far behind. The scene of the one down batsman causing damage to India after the two dangerous openers have been gotten rid of, rather quickly and cheaply,  gave me the feeling of Deja Vu! Then came, the most crucial partnership of the match, which eventually gave a firm shove to India’s aspirations of sneaking in to the semis through the back door. Continue reading

The IPL Finals – Running diary Part 2

GOD walks in!!

Read the Part 1 of the running diary on Chennai Innings

Part 2: Mumbai Innings

We all settle back in. Some of the CSK fans, including me, bemoan the fact that they have to root against Sachin Tendulkar. Such are the times!

1.0 overs: Fabulous first over from Ashwin. Not much turn to speak off but he has kept a tight line and has changed the lengths. Keeps Shikar Dhawan quiet. Perhaps, MI plan is to weather the storm early and go after the bowling later? Why? Shouldn’t the idea be that everybody bats around SRT. CSK will always be on the defensive as long as SRT is still in. Shikhar Dhawan needed to be a lot more aggressive. Way too much respect for Ashwin in the first over.

1.2 overs SRT gets off the mark with a single. His bread and butter shot. Flick to the onside. Towards the fine leg area.The stadium erupts. You would’ve thought MI has already won the game.

The viewing junta

1.4 overs Dhawan gets caught behind off Bolly. Too close to cut off a short-of-length ball slightly swinging away from him. Abhishek Nayar (who played 3-4 games the entire IPL, coming back from injury) walks in. One of several missteps by MI in the batting line up.

Usually, I am more tense than I was while watching this run defense by the team I was rooting for. I have confidence in Dhoni to come through in the big match. Plus, Chennai has an above par total, I think. Dhoni did a fabulous job of defending 150+ score against Pakistan in the 2007 T20 world cup final. The CSK fans are delirious. Its still early days, but they don’t seem to care. Especially, Madhu. He is cursing everybody out. He is blaspheming. He is praying for Sachin to fail. He is throwing out his analysis of the situation, some of it is not even relevant but he doesn’t care. As always.

4.3 overs SRT writes the coaching manual on how to dispatch a full toss from a spinner bowled slightly wide of off-stump. Gently, as if not to hurt the ball, he caresses it, while coming on the front foot, with, of course, the head dead still, past extra cover for a glorious boundary. My response to it on twitter.

5.5 overs Please see 4.3 above, only this time, it wasn’t a spinner but a medium pace delivery from Albie Morkel. Hail the Lord please! Reminds everyone why he still holds the court when he is out there. On the inside, wanting SRT to stay out for as long as possible, while also wanting CSK to win. Oh the dilemma!!

The running between the wickets is atrocious but Chennai is yet to hit the stumps. SRT is very alert but Nayar is all over the place. Tries suicidal singles but gets away with it. Prompts Prem Panicker to comment on twitter this. MI innings almost mirrors the CSK innings so far except CSK lost 2 wickets. Pretty even stevens. Can’t pick a winner yet, as MI has lot more batting to come.

6.0-6.6 overs Murali is employed earlier than usual by Dhoni. Murali comes over the wicket. Lately, he has relied too much on the doosra and has been coming around the wicket. Me saying aloud: I hope Murali comes over as SRT has trouble with sharp turning off-breaks and Murali does. Imagine giving myself a pat on the back. Quiet over. Hayden drops a tough catch off Nayar at slip. Sharp turning off-break pitched outside the legstump of the left hander. Dhoni was moving to his right. Hayden was probably blinded for a moment. Still got low and down to get his hands to ball. Hits him on the wrist, can’t pull it in on the rebound. Toughie!

9.4, 9.5 overs Nayar breaks free by hitting Jakati for two sixes. Madhu unleashes a stream of curses at Jakati.

9.6 overs Brilliant effort from Jakati. Nayar takes off for a sharp leg bye. Jakati moves in on the follow-through, picks up and throws underarm at the stumps while airborne. Just missed. Sachin makes it in. Barely! The running between the wickets is getting to hilarious proportions. When are CSK gonna strike?

11.2 NOW!!!!! SRT is absolutely disgusted. Slams his bat on the ground. Nayar is out. Raina bowls a fast one from around the wicket. Nayar plays it to square leg. SRT’s call. Says NO. Nayar too far down the track. Dhoni runs, picks up with the un-gloved right hand, takes a bit of time to line it up and hits the wickets on one bounce. Shows the rest of the team how its done!

Surprise, Surprise!!!! Bhajji walks in ahead of all the renowned big hitters still waiting in the wings. Hmmm.. What is MI’s strategy here. You only have 8 overs and change. You have 4 proper batsmen who can easily clear the park but you went with Bhajji?? CSK fans don’t complain at all.

11.6 After a delicate cut for four by SRT on the 4th delivery, Raina gets Bhajji LBW off the last ball of the over. First look, looked out for me. Sridhar thinks – may be sliding down. I contend that he has shuffled too far. Hawkeye shows its barely missing the top of the stump. Chaitanya, the MI fan, is disgusted with Koertzen’s umpiring. He thinks MI got jobbed there. Of course, profusely interspersing it with curse words.

Hmm… what do they say about things evening out over the course of a game?

13.1 CSK get Rudi Koertzen-ed!!!!!!!!!!!!! Called wide by Koertzen after a brief consultation (nod of head) with the square leg ump. Dhoni and the bowler Raina went up for the appeal (for caught behind) immediately. The batsman is SRT. Given not out. Replays show a definite deviation ofd SRT’s glove. I am sure Chaitanya is not taking any of his Koertzen’s abuse back.

Leads to an immediate discussion about the need for players to “walk” by CSK fans. The pros and cons are weighed. Someone mentions that Sachin always walks and he didn’t here because its the final and his team is in trouble. Immediately, everyone jumps on him that Sachin never ever walks. He lets the umpire do his job. I have no problems with SRT not walking at all. But CSK was robbed. Oh well, we move on!

13.4 Rayadu putting some oomph in the MI innings. After hitting six of the previous delivery, hits an inside out cover drive for a four. The MI fans in the house make their presence felt. Rayadu being the aggressor here and playing around SRT. This should have happened when Dhawan’s wicket fell. 11 overs late. The run rate climbing ever so rapidly.

During this stretch in CSK innings (overs 12-16), Dhoni and Raina got 71 runs off the 5 overs. Can MI duplicate it?

14.2 THE BIG FISH FALLS. Perhaps the stitches on his bottom hand led to the dismissal. Not enough power in to the off-drive as he would have liked. Vijay pulls off the catch very, very calmly and strikes the pose. He did that in the semis too. Way too nonchalant. CSK fans off their seats and going crazy. Pandemonium!!! Personally, I am a little sad to see SRT go. What a player!

No sign of Pollard. Tiwary walks in. Another interesting move. Explanation later given is that MI wanted to get Pollard in after the spinners are done. Oh come on man! Its the god damned finals. You don’t get a second chance.

14.5 Two in the over. Tiwary slogs across the line and Raina pulls off an absolute screamer, running in from the boundary and taking the catch a mere inch off the ground. CSK team mobs him. So far, the fielding and catching is proving to be the difference between the teams!!

STILL NO POLLARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JP Duminy walks in. Struggles to get the ball off square and the batsmen get singles for the next six balls. Some 2’s too. Finally, JP feels frustrated and tries to dump Murali outside the mid-wicket boundary, does not have enough distance. Jakati takes a great catch, stops his momentum taking him outside the rope by breaking in to an impromptu game of hop-skotch. FANTASTIC. Now, in comes, Mr. Kieron Pollard.

55 required of three overs. 3 runs every ball. Even for Pollard, it seems beyond possible. But that’s why they play the game.

Over #17: Bloody Massacre. As expected, Dhoni throws the ball to Bollinger, CSK’s best fast bowler. First ball goes over the keeper for a 4, off the top edge. Kieron bludgeons Bolly for another 18 runs off the next 5 balls. GAME ON! The boundary off first ball, is followed by a 6 over midwicket, a couple, a sliced four in the third man and tops it off with a ginormous SIX over long on. The ball seemed to be traveling for a very long time, before it settled in the 3rd level of the stadium. This boy is country strong and doesn’t get cheated when he goes for it. Carnage. The 3 Mumbai fans are going bonkers. Chennai fans are truly worried. I am sure all of them are having flashbacks to all the times their favorite teams (Be it CSK or India) have lost from an impregnable position. I am telling Sridhar that this game is still Chennai’s to lose. Even after all the mayhem, the required rate has come down to only 16.5 from 18.

33 required off 2 overs. Albie Morkel is on to bowl.Dhoni adjusts the field. By the looks of it, the instructions are for Morkel to bowl full, and slightly wide of off-stump. Chennai fans relieved that Pollard is off strike.

18.1 overs: precious, precious dot ball. A full length delivery, dug back to Albie by Rayadu.

18.2 overs: Only a single as Pollard refuses the second. Rayadu seems a little miffed but Pollard is not paying any attention.

18.3: DING! You are free to move about the country. Pollard blasts one over the head of the bowler. CSK fans worried, yet again.

18.4: DOT BALL. Full delivery that gets under the bat off Kieron and goes to Dhoni. Excellent keeping by the captain.

18.5: Mad confusion and Rayadu sacrifices his wicket. Actually, he needed to. Not sure why he didn’t push for the second, from the get go. May be, he wanted to be the hero? Pollard was always keyed in for the 2nd run to get back on strike.

A distraught MI dugout

18.6: GAME, SET and MATCH: CSK. Dhoni adopts a totally unconventional field on the off-side. A wide-ish short mid-off AND a straight deep mid-off. This man is as cool as they come. Kieron tries to blast this ball too, a little too full and too wide, ends up scooping to mid-off. Hayden – in a solitary act of doing something to earn his pay for the day – comes around to his right, dives and take the catch with both hands, just off the ground. Bedlam in the desi graduate students apartment. Once again, Madhu loses his cool, breaks out a stream of swears, tells Pollard to suck on his….. popsicle (let’s keep this PG, alright?) and all that. Lots of high-fiving all around. MI fans are distraught. They see the writing on the wall. There isn’t gonna be a miracle tonight.

20.0 Another run out in the 20th over and now the only curiosity is whether CSK will bowl MI out. Thanks a missed catch by Raina, they don’t. Confetti rain, take cover people!

After a long delay for setting up the stage, during which time, MI fans in the stadium pretty much have all left. Not waiting for the awards ceremony. Sore losers? Perhaps! May be it was too late in the night and they have to get to work Monday morning. May be! But I think they knew about Modi’s speech. What a bunch of self-congratulating, Zen+Gita quoting crap that was. Whatever little sympathy he may had with the public, he lost it by that speech. The moment belonged to the Chennai Super Kings and Modi tried one last roll of political dice. That cheap bastard. By this time, we saw online that he has suspended by the BCCI from the post of Vice-President. Whatever.A very long presentation ceremony. All sorts of awards. Medals. Bleh. Finally, they hand the trophy to the Captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2010 IPL Champions: CHENNAI SUPER KINGS!

The victorious CSK huddle