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Ayodhya is simmering again, and the PM wants the UP government to trust the VHP. Vajpayee certainly does have a lot of gall to make that statement, coming as it does after Pravin Togadia threatened communal riots if the Sangh Parivar's attempts to enter Ayodhya were thwarted. Anyone who makes a brazen threat of that nature deserves to be in jail. People've been jailed under POTA for talking allegiance to terrorist groups. On paper, the likes of the VHP, RSS & Bajrang Dal aren't terrorists, but for the amount of destruction they can cause when angry, they do qualify as terrorists. Then again, the centre is left in a Catch-22 situation. If they (and thats a BIG if) arrest Togadia, they do risk the nation going up in flames, particularly the cow-belt. If they let the likes of Togadia, Giriraj Kishore, Ashok Singhal, Vinay Katiyar etc. get away scot-free with their venom, then they risk communal riots anyway. As it is, there're a few idiotic Muslim leaders who're saying they'd approach the UN to carve out a "safe haven" for Muslims in India on the lines of the Kurdish area in Iraq. There're idiots and rabid fanatics on both sides. At a time when the government talks of India being a developed nation by 2020 (AD, that is), these morons are threatening to wage revenge battles for 16th century happenings.
Jayalalitha and Mani Shankar Aiyer have got into an absolutely adorable spat, which culminated in Aiyar being thrashed up by AIADMK goondas. Mani had gone to a place near Karaikal to participate in a state government function at which the CM was the chief guest. The real story will perhaps never be told, but word is that Jayalalitha asked Mani to repeat his famous quote which he'd offered to scribes after Jayalalitha donated an elephant calf to the Guruvayoor temple. Mani is reported to have said that if he became CM, he'd donate Jayalalitha to the temple! Jaya questioned Mani's guts and asked him to repeat himself at the venue (an AIADMK stronghold, evidently). Mani retorted asking Jayalalitha to repeat her comments on Sonia Gandhi not being Indian (and by extension, not qualifying to be PM) in Delhi (a Congress stronghold). He then left the meeting in a huff after some sarcastic words were exchanged. On the way back, his car was attacked by people who he claims were AIADMK cadre. Tamil Nadu is never short of entertainment. Aside from Kahleefohrnia, TN ranks among the great examples of movie stars becoming successful politicians. That brings me to this - created in cahoots with Nitin, based on our experiences there and some deep thinking.
Top 20 reasons why the US and India are alike
So its been two days for India on the field and New Zealand dont seem like declaring. I cant see this match having a result. I suppose the great attacking, innovative captained named Fleming either isnt sure 550 is enough for his bowlers to bowl India out before 350 (or to win a Test for that matter!) or he prefers to let his "last frontier" pass for now so he can come back 3-4 years later for another shot. The Mohali pitch has been better than Ahmedabad, there's more bounce for the bowlers. But I tend to think the curator thought it was a ODI pitch. There doesnt seem to be any deterioration in the wicket. The bounce and pace are quite even. Poor Dravid, he must be cursing Ganguly for opting out, much as Vaughan would have had choice abuse for Nasser a couple of months ago.
I think the Indian media should start portraying the Kiwis as a bunch of boring cricketers, not interested in winning at all. They should snap out of any column syndication deals with them. The Kiwis have been totally unable to get past the Indian top-order, taking 5 and 6 wickets in each innings at Ahmedabad. They've bored the pants off the spectators, for sure. They came here, claiming to try to make history, but evidently making history implies not losing the series rather than winning. That is about as negative an approach as you can get. Coming as it does from a team whose captain is acknowledged to be among the finest and most innovative in the modern era, it sums them up. For all the talents they have - Richardson's grit, Fleming-Astle-McMillan's flair & Vettori's guile, they've proved themselves to be undeserving of any plaudits. They're absolutely unwatchable.
So it turned out to be yet another boring draw after all. There was a brief hint of a chance of India wresting the game when New Zealand were 170/6 and still an entire session to play for. Unfortunately, a combination of bizarre captaincy, placid pitch and good batting resulted in a draw.
First, the captaincy. India had a session (turns out it was a minimum of 27 overs) to bowl New Zealand out and win the game, since New Zealand never seemed to be interested in the target. Since it was a minimum 27 overs to be bowled in 2 hours, India could have chosen to bowl even say 32. How does a bowling side do that? By making the seamers bowl 4-5 overs at each end? Of course not. You get the spinners on from the first over or at least the third. Ganguly erred bigtime in this regard. Perhaps his groin injury was affecting his thinking process? Why was he on the field then? Surely with Yuvraj being 12th man, the fielding would have at least improved by leaps and bounds. We also batted quite slowly on day 1. In an era when the benchmark set by Australia is to score at least 300 runs in a day (they frequently make 350!), scoring 250/3 is quite unpardonable. Yes, the pitch was on the slower side. But arent the Indian batsmen supposed to be comfortable playing on these pitches? After all these were the types on which they learnt all their cricket! On the 2nd day, we ended up scoring at ~ 3.5 per over. If only we'd scored at 3/over on day 1 and a little faster on day 2 (say 3.7/ov), we could have made those 500 runs in 150 overs. Assuming the rest of the Test went identically, that means an extra 10 overs to bowl NZ out on day 5. Its baffling to see a lineup of Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly score at just over 3/over in the 1st innings on a flat wicket. Hayden scored 380 at 5.2/over, all by himself!
Then the pitch. For all the talk of how the wickets in India are changing for the better, I really do differ. The wickets have actually become worse. In an attempt to break the stereotype of Indian wickets being absolute dustbowls, we're ending up placating visiting teams. This pitch saw an avg of 49 runs/wicket and 2.9 runs/over. While the runs/over seems ok, the runs/wicket seems quite high. In fact even the average runrate is highly affected by India's hurried performance while batting second. Stephen Fleming is right now absolutely delighted that NZ got away with a draw. According to him, the draw is a victory. When India went to New Zealand 10 months ago, the pitches were horrible. There may have been weather related reasons, but the fact is that the pitches were underprepared. Why did the GCA authorities and the pitches committee roll out the "red" carpet to the visitors? I wonder what sort of pitch is in store at Mohali. The last time we played New Zealand there, we were rolled over by Nash for 83 in the first innings. The batsmen then woke up and NZ managed to get away with a draw.
My dear friend Nitin writes in his 'Foodi' blog that there could be more to the history of the humble dosa than what we think. Could the continental drift have something to do with it? Could the similarities between the tortilla and the chapaati also be due to it?
History created today. Matthew Hayden becomes the latest member of the elite club to make the highest individual Test score. Over the last three years he's pretty much been the leading batsman in world cricket. In 2001 he scored nearly 1400 runs and in 2002, it was 1200 and while this year had been quiet so far (450 runs), the record and the next few tests will possibly push him upto 2002 levels, if not 2001. All this from a man who played 12 Tests between 1994 and 2000. While it is totally great watching him bat, sometimes you really do feel kind of unreal. The power he imparts to his shots is amazing, as is his timing etc. I'ven't seen too much Gordon Greenidge in his prime on live television (except in the nostalgia stuff you see sometimes) but from whatever I've read, he was a bloody murderous hitter of the ball. Hayden seems to be in that league. He scored 380 in 437 deliveries with 38 fours and 11 sixes (I think that's joint 2nd with Astle). I sincerely hope these 380 runs (and whatever he scores in the next test against Zimbabwe) are all that he'll score till the end of the season.
What is it about southpaws and triple centuries? In fact the last two holders of the batting record were also lefties (Lara & Sobers). Out of the 16 triple centurions (17 triples in all, Bradman scored 2!), 7 were lefthanders. The numbers get skewed when you consider only post 1990. Out of the 6 triple centurions, only Gooch and Inzamam were righthanders. Taylor and Jayasuriya make up the other two triples (aside from Lara & Hayden). Surely over 40% of triple centurions being lefthanders is an odd thing. 66% since 1990 is plain bizarre. There must be something fishy happening.
Another achievement today, completely overshadowed by Hayden. Kumble took his 350th test wicket. He's now 14th on the list of wicket-takers and is 4th among those currently playing tests behind Warne, Murali and McGrath. Waqar, despite his claims to the contrary, is pretty much finished. I think 400 isnt an impossible goal for him, although getting past Kapil could be tough. Perhaps one way to do that would be to stop playing one-day cricket? While Kumble's record is quite stunning overall, it is difficult to oversee his poor record overseas. Then again, nobody's perfect, eh?
Ignoring off-field antics, Warne's record against India (and in India in particular) will always be held against him. Even if Murali takes 1000 Test wickets, there'll always be divided opinion on whether his balls are clean or not. Its difficult to find something imperfect with McGrath, so I'll just say something stupid like he's such a boring bowler to watch (unlike the 3 spinners) and his batting really does suck. His on-field antics are something which go against him for sure.
The Ahmedabad Test is nicely poised for an India win. New Zealand need 18 runs to avoid the followon and India need two wickets to think about making the Kiwis bat again. I do expect New Zealand to fall short of 200. But even if they do get past, I think India'd still have the upper hand in attempting to win. They'd have nearly 2 days to get New Zealand out. The pitch is bound to get worse [relatively speaking, for I've not seen anything misbehave!]. A followon would be a nice way to start off the revenge process. I wonder why captains are nowadays so politically correct. I'm not saying the captain should do a Richie Richardson and claim that the visiting Aussies have been the worst side to play West Indies in the last 20 years after losing the series. Tony Greig's attempt to make WI "grovel" backfired spectacularly. But why does Steve Waugh not say Australia is going to crush Bangladesh or Zimbabwe? Why dont Ganguly and Fleming accept the fact that in the eyes of the public, this series is all about badla? Speaking of which, I wonder why none of the rhetorical captions like badla, qayamat etc. have been used for this series?
Once again, a long delay in updating the blog. This one is about some movies we've seen over the last few weeks.
Righto. Back to one of my favourite topics: Sangh Parivar bashing. Two news items in consecutive days have made me feel ecstatic about the saffron brigade.
Doctors asking the Medical Council of India to deregister Pravin Togadia
In case you folks didnt know, Pravin Togadia (of the VHP) is an oncologist, i.e. someone who treats, diagnoses tumours, most of the time cancerous ones. I find it totally ironical that someone who treats tumours and cancers actually goes around spreading them through his blatant hatred for Muslims. The BJP shot itself in its foot by inviting him to a meeting of the party's minorities cell. Togadia lashed out at his favourite targets, saying "No one can protect minorities in the country. This can be possible only if they are able to get the love of the majority. But, love is not a one way traffic."
If nothing, it is blatant blackmail. Agree to our demands, else .... The same blackmail which the Prime Minister refused to allow become a negotiating tool. I wonder why on earth he was invited to the meeting. Was it a deliberate ploy from the BJP high command to make the Muslims in the party feel squeamish and agree to the demands?
Advani claiming that the Gujarat riots were an aberration
The deputy PM said that Gujarat's image had been affected abroad due to a "sustained propaganda''. He also criticised those who "knowingly or unknowingly'' brought a bad name to the State (and to India) with propaganda about the riots. The shocking admission that the riots were an aberration flies in the face of Narendra Modi's repeated claims (before the investigating agencies too, if I remember correctly) that communal riots in Gujarat had been a regular feature since the 1960s or so. Advani's argument takes the cake. Gujarat (and by extension, India) have a bad image not because of the riots, but because of the people (media, NGOs etc.) who exposed the politicians for what they are. This sums up the BJP's motto. You're a criminal only when you commit a crime and get caught, if you dont get caught, then you're not.
I came across this interesting link while hunting around for quotes.
Labels: gujarat violence 2002
Politics of Cricket
Ho hum. YAPTC happened this week. YAPTC stands for Yet Another Pakistan Tour Cancellation. Pakistan has been crying itself hoarse over the last year or so about how it is a very safe place to play cricket, barring bombings in cities where matches are scheduled. Over the last year or so, New Zealand took the first flight out after a bomb blast near their hotel, Australia and West Indies opted to play Pakistan in the sweltering heat of Sharjah rather than be targetted by possible Al-Qaeda bombers in Pakistan while Sri Lanka cancelled the series. That leaves us with England and India amongst the major Test playing nations. England aren't due to play in Pakistan until 2005. Assuming Pakistan still plays cricket then [you never know, what if Pervez is overthrown and the Taliban has a resurgence and takes over Pakistan?], it'd be interesting to see if England do make the trip. I'm sure as a willing ally in the war against terrorism, it'll be difficult to categorize Pakistan as a place Beefy preferred to send his mother-in-law to. And then there was one.
India's refusal to tour Pakistan because of political considerations and terrorism in J & K absolutely baffles me. It allows Pakistan to accuse India of mixing sports with politics. The ICC adopts a holier than thou attitude and says the same thing, completely missing the fact that England's boycott of its World Cup game in Zimbabwe was more political than security related. India's official stance against playing in Pakistan should be that it cannot risk sending its players and citizens to a place where there is a VERY big threat perception. As far as I can remember, none of Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka or West Indies have ever gone to war against Pakistan. India has. Four times. That doesn't include a 14 year proxy conflict in J & K and a 10 year proxy conflict in Punjab, which has thankfully ended.
In theory, sports and politics shouldn't mix. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, they do end up in one garbage heap. Look at the officials in the cricket boards/associations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. You invariably find ministers or MPs being heads of cricket associations, if not holding positions in the cricket board per se. You also have sportsmen becoming politicians. These are the same people who talk of how sports and politics are not to be mixed up. History is replete with instances of sports and politics mixing up, putting just about everyone involved in a quagmire. Here's a chronology I could come up with.
I'm fairly sure there're more instances, particularly when it involves the USA, USSR, UK, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. Readers are welcome to contribute more instances.
Players have also been targetted in the past. The hockey team which went to Pakistan in 1990 for the World Cup was heckled all the way through their tour. During their game against Holland, slippers were thrown along with generous doses of abuse. Even though the Dutch and the referee offered to abandon the game, the Indian team opted to play on and lost. It ended up with the fairplay trophy. As an aside, isnt this trophy given nowadays? At least in the 1990s we used to bring home this particular trophy regularly, in various sports, especially hockey. Even though the current team is good, we're just far too inconsistent and have a tendency to doze off in the last 10 minutes. The other thing we're consistently doing is beat Pakistan in the league game and lose to them in the medal playoffs, in the final few minutes. Anyway, onto the players. Srikkanth was nearly attacked by a chap who managed to escape the security during the 1989 tour.
With Ganguly and Tendulkar being targetted by the Lashkar-e-toiba for kidnap, who is to say they wouldn't strike in "home" territory? I know there're sceptics among you who say. 'Ganguly le le, Kashmir de de' or even rejoice at the fact that the allegedly non-playing captain's absence finally offers scope for Yuvraj/Kaif to play or India playing an extra bowler. Thats rather frivolous.
The point is that we should not tour Pakistan. Purely for security reasons. Nothing else.
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