If Kohli chases well, India sleeps well !

“Euphoric”. “Audacious”. “Militant”. “Arrogant”. “Fearless”. “Exuberant”.  “Passionate”. “Explosive”. “Combative”. Match winner

These are certain set of traits that very few of us can proudly stake a claim to. Well that’s Virat Kohli for you- Epitome of a modern day cricketer.
Virat means mammoth in Hindi. Kohli indeed is mammoth in terms of his technique, his ability to chase skilfully and win matches for the team.

Virat Kohli

A focused head over his shoulders with a sense of maturity beyond his brash demeanour, Kohli reads the game like an Indian mom who can effortlessly manage a supper of 10 people with utter grace and delicacy. His resonant cover drives are as proficient as his majestic punches and flicks through the on side. Branded as the angry young man of a youthful Team India, he wears his emotions on his sleeve. Not only has he brought in new dimensions and stability to the Indian batting line up, his glorious energy in the field has raised the bar as well.

What separates champions from the good players is the fact that they stand out as the purple bulls. Yes! I would call him a purple bull because of two reasons. First because has been consistently delivering for team India over the years and has also got the tag of a Run Machine. Secondly, the way he soaks pressure and rages the ranks of his opponents through his astonishing dexterity while chasing in crunch situations.

Game after game, he has put victory in the Indian kitty. He is the man every Indian looks up to when he sees a target of 300+ on the screen.
In 63 innings when batting second, Kohli averages 62.77 at a strike rate of 89.23, with ten centuries, an average of 6.3 innings per hundred. So far in his career, Kohli has scored 65% of his ODI runs in chases; the corresponding percentage for Sachin Tendulkar is 47%, for MS Dhoni its 44%, for Viv Richards 45% and for Brian Lara 52%.  This has made him India’s best chaser, with a stunning average of 64.68 while batting second.

“I sort of like batting under lights, If I have a target on the board, it is always easy to analyse how many runs you need in, say, a Power play, or what sort of situation you are playing in. I always like a target on board and sort of analyse my game and sort out how I want to go about it.” – Kohli says when asked how he strategizes to go about batting second.

I think hunting targets has become a habit for him. Sometimes I feel he is playing with a cheat code, programmed to chase triumphantly ; the way kids do when playing in the simulator. He has been around for only five years in one-day internationals, but Kohli has set such an incredible pace with his landmarks that he is already joint third in terms of hundreds when batting second. Only Sachin Tendulkar, with 17, and Chris Gayle, with 11, have more centuries in chases than Kohli’s ten.

I can proudly admit the fact now that if Kohli chases well, India sleeps well. He has certainly changed the saying “If Sachin plays well, India sleeps well.”

Well comparisons with the greats are bound to happen when you are in such sublime touch but I feel it shouldn’t be the case with Kohli. He is such an uncanny character and is a divine force in itself that if you try comparing him with anyone you would eventually feel that you aren’t doing the justice to the latter. He is not the next Sachin or Viv Richards. He is the first Virat Kohli.

Martin Crowe believes “Kohli has the intensity of Rahul Dravid, the audacity of Sehwag and the extraordinary range of Tendulkar”. So does I!

Virat is class, glamour and substance packaged in a single cricketer.

He has got excellent footwork and above all, the stamina due to which it becomes very difficult for any bowler to get him out especially once he is settled. This is evident in his batting average which is 52.16 in ODIs, 46.51 in Tests and 43.63 in T20s which clearly puts him far above his contemporaries.

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell described Virat Kohli as the  ”prince” of Indian cricket and said that the youngster will go on to break Sachin Tendulkar‘s records.

Ravi Shastri says “Kohli is now a yardstick of reliance”.

Even after reading this entire write-up if you still hate this guy then No Problem! You are alright. You can HATE him and possibly because of these reasons -

Reason 1: He looks better than you or probably has got a better tattoo and a hairdo! Well whatever! Anushka Sharma (B-town hottie) is by his side, not yours mate. Period

Reason 2: If someone messes up with him, he gives it back onto his face. I believe Australian fans would fall under this segment. Ozies it’s not the same team India anymore, who would fall prey to your stupid sledging gimmicks. You hit us once, we hit you back twice. Folks get ready to get the standing ovation of Virat’s middle finger again if you try provoking him the way you did at SCG in 2012.

Reason 3: He is still a better batsman than all the batsmen of your team combined. Virat Kohli has scored (13) more hundreds than the cumulative count (11) by team Pakistan since 2011.Pakistanis would surely hate him for that.

Reason 4: Dedication towards the game!
Nothing matters more to him than cricket. He doesn’t play for money or respect. Virat only plays for his nation. The fact that he went onto play the game next day, when his father died shows his commitment towards the game. Bookies I am sorry .He is not the man you can bribe.

Reason 5: Virat makes top class bowlers look paltry.
Malinga is definitely his bunny. He belts him all around the park mercilessly over and over again. Recently when India Kohli-fied (qualified) in a do or die game against the Lankans in Australia, this is what Tony Greig had to say-

“For sheer class and audacity, this knock of Kohli will stand out in the annals of cricketing history for eternity.  He will cherish this knock – something he can tell his grandchildren (133* vs. Sri Lanka in CB Series, Hobart, February 28, 2012) “.His rampage caused India to achieve the target in only 36.4 overs.

Reason 6: Neither is he a superhero nor is he worshipped!
He is expressive. He abuses. He shouts. He has temperamental issue like a normal human has. I agree he doesn’t keep his emotions under check at times and crosses the line by swearing on the opponent’s mother and sister but that is how he is. I mean it’s always good to be hated for who you are, rather than being loved for who you are not.

Reason 7: In future he may cross all the milestones, which your favourite players have built over the years! The three most probable records which might break are -
a) Most centuries by a player in ODIs. Currently Sachin holds the record 49 centuries in 463 games whereas Virat has already hit 19 in 134 games.

b) Highest ODI batting average (100+ games)
Currently Michael Bevan is leading the chart with 53.58(6912/232) and Dhoni is on second spot. Considering the fact that Bevan doesn’t play anymore and Kohli bats at number 3; which gives him ample opportunity to get closer to the milestone with the kind of form he is in, definitely he can outplay Dhoni as well (who bats lower down the order).

c) Fastest century in ODIs
On his day, definitely he can score a ton in less than 36 balls. After that 52 ball ton against Australia, I think many of you would agree with this hypothesis.

Reason 8:  Kohli gives India the head start edge!
He has matured pretty fast and is already looked upon as the safe successor for the next generation team while majority of other teams are still playing and being lead by aged fellows who serve more as accumulators rather than accelerators. So by the time they revamp their team, India would be roaring and leading the ratings.

Reason 9: He is more popular than you or rather your favourite celebrity/cricketer!
Currently he is the Election Commission’s national icon along the likes of Aamir Khan and the face of the youth in the Indian advertising sector.

Reason 10: Not only is he the numero uno in the ICC ODI batsman rankings, he is heading the most eligible bachelor list as well!
Recently when gave Kohli gave a CHOKE slam to the proteas in the ICCWorldT20 semi final, he got a marriage proposal from the English cricketer Danielle Wyatt on Twitter. God! This guy has some insane female fan following.

Well what I am trying to say is -

“Sher hai Kohli India ka mere yaar, Abki baar Modi Sarkaar”!

On a serious note, I think if he can continue the kind of form he is in and can cope up with fitness and injuries over the next 6-7 years; Virat Kohli will be the name to remember for the next 10 generations to come at least.

 

Lance Klusener – The real badass of South African cricket

Sundays are the days when I am at peace with myself especially during the afternoons. Today is no exception. As I lie down, I just close my eyes; let myself wander into the memories of good old days.

As a 90′s kid in India with cricket flowing in the arteries, it meant everything to me and it still does. Within no time I see myself playing cricket cards and I can tell you there isn’t a better sight holding the player’s card you love. The actual superheroes and sci-fi stuffs had no room inside my heart instead Sachin was my superman, Bevan the He-man and Klusener- the Batman.

Lance Klusener -My Batman

Lance Klusener -My Batman

Before the joyous moment transcends, I think it is time to get up and capture it through my pen and share the reason why this person on the card is so legendary.

Born and raised amidst the Zulu tribes of South Africa, this naive country boy ended up becoming the classiest all rounder of my era .Without bothering much about the perks of the game he did his job on the 22 yards battlefield and merrily returned to the dressing room like a shepherd would do after the dusk. He had a powerful and an intimidating character, the kind a real fighter should possess and was rightly called as the ZULU WARRIOR.

It was primarily during his military services days (after school) that he started to like cricket and drew everyone’s attention. The combination of upbringing and three years in the army contributed to a straightforward approach in his bowling – Hit the batsman’s head if you can’t hit his stumps. That was the exactly the kind of temperament Malcolm Marshall (who at that time was in charge of revamping the South African cricket at the provincial level) was looking for.

Within no time he  flourished under Marshall’s guidance, established the reputation as a man for a crisis and made his test debut in the mid 90′s as number 11 who could bat .He was a revelation as he scalped  his career best figures of 8/64 Vs. India  in that game. Zulu never stopped attacking as a bowler, the kind of exact stuff you would expect from a Marshall prodigy. He belonged to those rare breed of cricketers who not only delivered but conquered at the same time. Sadly he couldn’t last much as a Test bowler .Due to a serious ankle injury in 1998 he was forced to drop his pace and he started to focus more on his batting abilities.

He could infuse life into a match any moment by changing the dynamics either by his hasty striking abilities or by his fierce medium fast bowling. It was the 1999 World Cup where the warrior showed his real all round talent to the world. Every game he would walk in, finish off his task, go back, and behave as if nothing great happened. He swung match after match South Africa’s way: 52 off 45 balls turned the tables on Sri Lanka at Northampton; 48 off 40 sealed England’s fate at The Oval; 46 off 41 pulled the game with Pakistan at Trent Bridge from the fire.

In nine matches, the southpaw smashed 281 runs off 230 balls, without giving off his wicket. Majority of his World Cup runs came in front of square on the leg side, the area I personally like to hit in the most as well. Those hefty pulls and rock solid punches over deep mid wicket felt same to me as a teenage girl in India would feel after meeting Shah Rukh Khan. He claimed 17 wickets (18 had not Herschelle Gibbs dropped Steve Waugh) and his fielding was equally applaudable in the tournament.

However, more than the runs he scored the condescending disdain that he showed towards the bowlers in the death overs in that World Cup was a lesson in slaying on a cricket field. Well that’s Lance Klusener for you – crude, honest, and an entertaining game changer to be precise.

Zulu hitting a shot in his favourite zone

Zulu hitting a shot in his favourite zone

But the most iconic game in that World Cup or rather his entire cricketing career for which he’ll be remembered for his lifetime would be the second semi-final that was played between Australia and South Africa in Edgbaston, England.

A target of 214 to chase in 50 overs was on the cards for South Africans. Klusener came into bat when South Africa was 175–6 in 45 overs. Courtesy his big-hitting South Africa entered the final over at 205/9 with 9 to win off the last 6 balls. The two men at the crease were Klusener (on strike) and Allan Donald. Klusener scored consecutive fours in the first two balls of the over hammering Fleming through the deep cover boundary, levelling the scores and leaving South Africa with only 1 run to win off 4 balls with Klusener on strike. Donald survived the third ball with a missed run out chance at the non striker’s end .The fourth ball witnessed Klusener miss-hitting his shot to mid-off fielder Mark Waugh. Klusener went for the run, although the chances of a run-out were high and two balls were still there in the kitty. However, Donald at the other end didn’t see Klusener sprinting down the pitch for a run, and Klusener was almost at the bowler’s end by the time Donald (who had also dropped his bat) began running. By then, Waugh had thrown the ball to Fleming, who rolled it back to Adam Gilchrist who took the bails off at the other end, meaning Donald was run-out by some distance, thus ending the match with the scores level.

However, a tie meant that Australia progressed to the final since they had beaten South Africa in the group stages of the tournament. As Bill Lawry put it during the final ball:

“…this will be out surely – oh it’s out, it’s gonna be run out…oh, that is South Africa out – Donald did not run, I cannot believe it. Australia go into the World Cup Final – ridiculous running with two balls to go. Donald did not go, Klusener came – what a disappointing end for South Africa.”

South Africa choking in the semi-final. Eruption of joy for the Australians

South Africa choking in the semi-final. Eruption of joy for the Australians

SA lost their nerves when it really mattered and Australia went on to win the tournament. From there on they have inherited the tradition of choking at the crucial moments but that jinx has finally been broken by their under 19 lads. Although Klusener’s heroics went in vain that day but there was a silver lining attached to it. He went on to win the Player of the Tournament and the number 1 spot in the ODI batsmen rankings. At the press conference Zulu justified his strategy-“I always try to finish games with six balls to spare, because if there is a cock-up, the people coming in get a chance to do something. If you leave it to the last couple of balls then it can go anywhere.” – Lance Klusener

Lance Klusener -the Man of the Tournament 1999 World Cup

Lance Klusener -the Man of the Tournament 1999 World Cup

Whenever I think of Lance Klusener, I think of a swashbuckling Sparta who could slit the enemy’s throats with his all-round brilliance. His stance in particular was the most fascinating trait about his bowling. It made me go bonkers in my childhood. His calm straight head just before the delivery reminded me of a Hit Man, who was focused with a single point agenda of Killing the opponent. I can ape many bowling actions but the coolest of them is still his’. It fetches me wickets every time.

His batting style was equally stylish. From the way he would walk out to bat carrying that 2 kg wooden log, the opposition knew that he wasn’t a rookie to be messed with. He looked like a hybrid of a baseball player, a ninja fighter and a professional lumberjack. The army cut hidden under the helmet, the muscular frame veiled by the green and yellow oversized baggy shirt, the nonchalant biting of the chewing gum and the monstrous back lift added to the menace of the beast that he was.

I somehow have a fascination about the term “slogger” .Viru was called one, KP also at times and Zulu wasn’t an exception. Please can someone tell these mad critics that being aggressive isn’t about slogging? Though he never gave a rat’s ass about what those experts had to say, he mockingly replied once -” You see me hitting the ball out of the ground, but I hit hundreds of those in practice. It may look like a good shot, and it is, but you have practised it a hundred times before the game…” It isn’t luck always. Of course cricket is about luck at times….Balls go in the air and fall in gaps, but hitting does not just happen. You have to learn to improvise and swipe – and be at peace with what you do.”

He was as calm as a cucumber off the field .He would often read a book before he entered the battleground to bat no matter what the situation was and rescued his team time and again from improbable positions. According to him aggression was something to be shown on field only not in life and never took anything personally.

Post World Cup his bowling hit a rock bottom with some mighty injuries. Differences with the skipper and the rise of young talent like Kemp and Kallis doomed his career. “To be honest Lance, as fantastic as he is…can sometimes ruin a team and termed him as a DISRUPTIVE FORCE. His ability as a cricketer is very good, but his ability as a team man is not very good and he kind of can infect a team and bring down the youth…” – The 22-year-old Graeme Smith explained Klusener’s exclusion after he took over.”

Well whatever Smith, I still love him as I did in the 90′s He is definitely one of the most calculating hitters the game will ever see and you know it Biff! His excellent  strike rate while bowling and batting  and an ODI batting average of 41.10 definitely ranks him among the finest all rounder to have ever graced the game.

Lance may you live long and prosper. You are still an adorable bad ass.
Hail Zulu !! #MyRealBatman

When life gives you lemonade, add Vodka!

Everyone is posing in Arjun's signature style

Everyone is posing in Arjun’s signature style

The city of Bangalore has a peculiar and charming way of surprising you every day. Today was nothing different; a holiday was given a day prior to the actual event. Mainu ki, I am going to enjoy my Pongal today. I kick start my day with some nice scrambled eggs and a toast on my plate, a cup of milk by its side and a refreshing episode of #FRIENDS on the television. I think it’s going to be calm and a decent day alone with Siddie not around. Deep inside I guess, everyone wants a life like theirs’. But that is way too perfect and too much to ask for. As I contemplate my life, think about the nut cases who have occupied a place in my eternal space-The Litlu World, I feel contented and quite overwhelmed.

These are the people who actually matter the most to me and who justify the saying “When life gives you lemonade, add Vodka!” in a true sense in my life. They are my true friends- with whom I enjoy the most. The fact that each one of them is more wonderfully weird than the other makes it even more interesting.

Let me share my list. I’ll start with a very special friend. He belongs to my Alma mater- Campus School, Vishal Kaushik aka Pandat Jee – The man of logics. He proudly holds the distinction of reaching a movie theater three hours prior to the show. Too much of punctuality makes you look like a fool, still he feels proud of this achievement. Digging a level lower, ancient forts and palaces are his favourite hangout places. I think the guards at the Humayun’s Tomb and Bangalore Palace know him by his name by now. Mr. Vishal comes to Bangalore and visits Bugle Rock first because going to Brigade Road is too main stream. Bugle Rock by the way is a massive 3000 million years old rock in the Basavanagudi area of South Bangalore. Ma Kasam and BKL are his favourite phrases. I even tried hooking him up with a good friend of mine but what he did no one would ever believe. He goes to her place and solves logical questions and discusses about the Indian economy with his potential date. Recently he has started going to pubs. I must warn you pretty ladies. Dhyaan se dekhiye, yahi hai woh launda jo aapko piya hua dekhkar aapse calculus ke sawaal pooch sakta hai aur jawaab naa dene par aapke IQ ka mazaak uda sakta hai. That is exactly what he is doing from the past couple of times. FYI the stud recently got a 98 %ile in the Common Aptitude Test. Brainy ladies catch hold of him in case you are reading this.

Adding another chuddy Campusite to the list, there you go Mr Himanshu Rajput- the Sardar Khan all way from UP. Known for his funny way of narrating things, he believes in throwing himself into new Snafus every now and then and there you go! You have a new story to tell. One simply doesn’t love his buffaloes more than his friends unless his name is Himanshu Rajput. There are not even slightest of traits of warrior ship in his genes. One thing he is damn good at it is he can survive for days without food, provided you give him a cell phone with good network connectivity and a sim card with unlimited talk time. He is extremely funny on all the days of the week excluding Fridays, when even I am scared to pick up his call. Also, I salute him for his supernatural ability to debate against Vishal.

Coming to the college buddies. When I saw him for the first time in my life he resembled John from Dhoom with a nice leather jacket, shabby long hair holding a bright yellow head gear in his hands surrounded with girls, waiting in style like a hero outside the class. This was when we just entered college. Being a Bollywood freak the way I had seen in movies, I thought boss lets have friendship with this guy. “Apne 4 saal to tashan mein chale jaenge. Pehle hi din gunday se dosti”. Eventually when we became friends,I realized he was a big time phattu like I was. We still share a hearty laugh over this whenever we talk about those wonderful days. I am talking about Arjun Karnwal-aka Mr. Click Me Please- The poser, he can give complex to even school girls in terms of giving poses and being clicked. He is that guy with whom everyone shares his secrets and says don’t tell this to anyone, it’s just between you and me. Ultimately everyone ends up knowing everything. Deep inside Mr. Karnwal thinks he is the next Rahman but I pity Thakur bhai for listening to his bathroom Riyaz that too every day. Also his Granny (naniji) is a well known figure in the group. For everything Naniji comes to his rescue. If you ask him bro lets go for a movie this weekend. His reply would be cannot make it Bro! Have to go and meet Naniji. OK how about cricket early morning? That too not possible have some pooja at Naniji’s place. I haven’t met her .But now I definitely would like to meet her sometime soon and I’ll make sure I have her contact number. But one thing is for sure he is the go to man. We both share a common trait of falling in love at first sight that too “sacha wala pyaar”. He is that friend with whom I cannot be serious at all unless I am fighting. I call him kakke di jaan. Yo Yo Honey Singh bhai!

Akash aka Chhotu is a happy go lucky person. Ideal Ram son the way Ram was. He is that mole in the group who’d be happy with his frooti but wants everyone to be high so that he can take their case properly. Do not get bowled over his innocence and chocolate boy looks, there is a naughty beast behind that mask. Just like the Bermuda triangle mystery there is one more mystery yet to be resolved. Why the hell nobody fights or get annoyed with this guy? Poor guy Arjun always gets framed.

Prateek – The Dude .The Macho Man. Born in water, raised on mountains. The glutton! Prateek one thing is for sure Arjun & Akash won’t spare you for the rest of your life for that “Shy and Robin Ronaldo story”. That has been recorded in the golden books of our friendship. Also I would agree that there is no rock bottom that these two can’t hit in terms of their PJ level.

Harsh is another eerie in the list. His ideology is simple – “Keep your friends close but your medicines even closer”. Looking at his physique and build you cannot make out that he would be a delicate dolly. You name a medicine, he has it. Heights were when he came to stay with me for the first time in Bangalore. Mr Harsh went for an evening stroll and ended up returning with medicines worth Rs. 500. Sometimes I feel it’s his hobby and he is obsessed with them. Because collecting stamps and coins is way too common for people. One simply doesn’t come up with lame excuses for not dating every time unless his name is Harsh Sheokand. This guy has every damn excuse not to date. You ask him anything the reply would be on these lines -” Bhai college mein mere batch mein achi ladkiyan nahi thi ab dekh Trivandrum mein machate hain”. Goes to Trivandrum & Mumbai ,still the same reply ” Yaar mera project hi ch$%iya hai”.Also you can find this alien laughing for hours late in the night over the phone .One day I was happy OK ! Finally he found his love other than physics and basketball. But to my sheer disappointment it was a guy over the call.

Rohith aka Daddy – is so particular about timelines that he even plans his date on an excel sheet. Here’s a glimpse of what this guy had in store for us for the last Goa trip. Yes that’s Rohith for you. Who the heck draws deadlines for chilling at a beach especially when you are in Goa? I think India’s next time zone should pass from Warangal, the place where Daddy stays. I pity his to be wife. Hope he doesn’t keep a time constraint on his honeymoon.

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Rohith’s Trip Sheet

Chikara Sahab the ace shuttler aka Dhruv doesn’t belong to the list as he is too normal .But courtesy Shahrukh Khan ,our Dhruv makes it to the list for following him so passionately.  Hail Chikara!

Siddharth aka Director Sahab is the one who heads everyone considering the amount of uncanny stuff that he does. I can write a book on him. I think this space is too less to describe his stature. A whole new post needs to be dedicated to Sid. Who on this planet locks himself up in someone else’s wardrobe and jumps out 3 O’ clock in the night to scare the shit out of him. Who returns from an all day long journey and starts cleaning the house and who goes to trips with friends and ends up joining “firangi gangs” .Well that’s Sid for you!

And the latest entry in the league of bizarre is someone who actually says “I am Switzerland” when she has to take a diplomatic stand. I call her Miss Toodles. Toodles is exactly the word she says when she means to say bye or see you.I think her trick is not to let people know how really surreal she is until it’s too late for them to back out.

Well, I feel so good being a part of their lives and equally embarrassed for being so normal.

PS: Sardana,Pinky,Jumbo,Jhandi you guys are equally important and treasured,it’s just that the above mentioned luminaries had a lot to offer to the mankind.
Nandini please don’t say ” Saala main ek saal videsh kya chali gayi,bhai behen ke pavitra rishte ko bhool gaya tu..Bloody dog you are..What the puff ! “

Cheers !

The girl with my dream bucket

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After a filling meal as I sit back in the balcony of my apartment on a lazy Sunday evening, I’ve got nothing to do except for admiring the beauty of the City. The city that has made me the person I am today is definitely special to me in so many ways. As the cold breeze touches my soul, whose happy flag has already been set up with the spicy Dum aaloo and sambhar, I just get comfortable on the cane wood chair. With a positive aura around I sit back, smile for no reason and start thinking about the good old times that I’ve cherished with my loved ones. The next moment mom calls up and adds a new dimension to the joyful thought process. Within no time I realised that the topic has shifted from Khaana-peena, how are Dhriti and Suvansh (my niece and nephew), The Chief Minister of Delhi to my future Home Minister .After the call as I look into the hazy sky with thoughts of the last conversation in my brain’s cache I feel lost in my la-la land.

I am standing in the backyard of my house watering the plants and simultaneously adoring the pretty lady and her bright green scarf, tied on her semi black hair through which a cute little pony pops out (like those in the shampoo advertisements) .She slyly walks towards the sunny end of the kitchen garden with a bucket in one hand and a piece of meat in the other, where Dexter is taking his dose of Vitamin D and is ready for his lunch. She keeps the bucket down, gives me a witty glance and starts patting Dex. Those twinkling eyes were definitely hiding something mischievous. Oh BTW Dex (my dog), she and I live in a wood house in the suburbs of Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh.

Minutes later she deceptively sends me back inside the house to fetch some more bones for Dex. As I walk back adjusting my Bandar topi(which covers my mid 50′s grey hair and also protects me from the extreme cold) I see coloured crew necks hanging on the clothesline and the empty bucket  with some suds left ,in her hand. Now that was something unusual. I hadn’t worn these colours in years. With her intensifying sensual smile, I suspected something good in store for me. But didn’t know it was this big a surprise that’ll take me to cloud 999. I was on my toes, as she revealed the mystery.  No doubt the love of my life was holding the bucket of my dreams. The dreams that I had lived were in front of my eyes. Every tee had a name written at its back. The names of places, which I had added in my bucket-list in my 20s once and were, now ticked off my list.

With every revelation, she used different body gestures and expressions. There she flips the first one that says #Melbourne. She had that naughty smile that evidently stated “I wasn’t there…”Yes! That was the time before she even entered my life during my early 20s. Boxing day test on the Melbourne Cricket Ground it was. It is the same ground where Trevor Chappell had once bowled underarm. Australia V/s England and the Englishmen fighting like the warriors in 300 to take the urn back. It was an all boys tour with my bros from college and school all the way to Australia. MCG with a close to 1 Lakh attendance on the final day had something epic in store for us .Mitchell Johnson blew everyone away with his fiery fifer spell that humiliated the English. Being food freaks, after the game we tried our luck at the Master Chef’s kitchen and had the food of our lives.

Wasn’t that a fun trip? She asks. Yes Madame is the reply that she gets .The slideshow proceeds. The moment she flips the second one, she starts blushing and I automatically figure out that she would be saying #London. And that is exactly what happened. How can we both forget that place? What Aamir Khan did in Dil Chahta Hai, I gave an exact replica of that .On my knees and YESS! In front of The Lords, the Mecca of cricket I had proposed her. This is my personal favourite cricket stadium .The place has been the venue for some of the greatest matches including the finals of world cups of 75, 79, 83 and 99 with 83 one being ultra special. A charming smile appears on my jaw lines with an instant feeling to kiss her, but I prefer to save it for the finale and I end up giving her a flying one.

This series of surprises was the best of the lot that I had got till now .I wasn’t the only one pumped up; Dex was also in the league. His wagging tail justified the emotions equally every time a shirt was flipped. As she moved towards the next twist, I could make out with her gestures that #Kolkata was coming. And there she says Kolkata in a complaining voice. I still remember that day when I showed her my bucket list featuring Kolkata and all she wanted me was to convince her why would we go to this place of all the places…I’ll make fish for you at home was all she said. I answered the three words-The Eden Gardens. Established in 1864 with close to 90,000 capacities and is regarded as one of the most hostile grounds in the world. Rewind your brain cells a way back to 1996 India Sri Lanka WC semi final. You’ll get the context of the word hostile. The ground till date holds an integral part of my heart. My favourite cricketer Rahul Dravid along the likes of VVS had played an exceptional knock during my childhood, that match is still my favourite match till date. Obviously that had to be there in the list. Upar se in early 30′s jab EMIs ke saath biwi ki daant ho more, Aur Biwi  maange videshi New Zealand ka tour Toh Queenstown hi ho jaaye Eden town. Oh Queenstown by the way is a beautiful picturesque set amidst the Remarkables Mountains in New Zealand. The stadium is a deadly combination of scenic beauty and the sport. The deal proved to be fruitful when she got to meet Shahrukh Khan at the stadium. We indeed had a remarkable trip.

That moment when you don’t want your favourite series to end and you end up watching it at a slow pace, with the similar ideology I decided to suppress the butterflies in my stomach and a tea break was taken. I made her a strong ginger flavoured one and we both sipped tea in saucer with that sudak sudak-sound while Dex was busy circling around the rope.

It was time for the final showdown, the last name to be revealed. The moment that red tee was turned, we both winked at each other. It said #Johannesburg We both had crossed our 40′s.A much awaiting break in the second half of our lives it was! A getaway from the responsibilities or in a sweeter context it was our second honeymoon .Known for its high chasing games and the bull architecture The Wanderers still continues to be in my top 5 list. I remember I was dressed up like a cool Hawaiian guy (like Sgt. Batista from Dexter), chilling throughout with a mug of Castle beer in one side and my love by the other. She also loved the non cricket part of the tour to a great extent – the diamonds. I bought her diamonds on the drive to Cape Town for another game at Newlands.

I don’t know how she manages to bear me. Hats off to her! Without any iota of interest in cricket she has travelled with me to these places without complaining except for the Kolkata one. I love her even more for that. I guess this is called as true love.

I get a little closer to her. I can feel her warmth. She then hugs me and whispers “You freak! Tell me honesty were you expecting a fifth one saying #Dharamshala for you.” It is there though .Look what Dex is wearing. That truly was the happiest moment of my life. Dharamshala undoubtedly is the most exotic cricket venue in the world. Located at a close to 4000 feet above sea level in the vicinity of Tibetan monasteries, amidst the great Himalayas the place draws its attention for its snowy peaks, deodar and pine forests, tea gardens and beautiful hills. And this is the heavenly place where we both decided to grow old together. Being avid readers we both spend majority of times reading and writing. She calls me Ruskin Bond at times when I write something good. I grab her by her waist and kiss her gently to say I love you .As the sun sets Dex jumps onto me. The three of us go inside and cut our 25th marriage anniversary cake.

With a knock on the door, I get back from my Shangri La. I sit quietly and ponder what if it was a realisation, not a dream.

The inheritance of goodwill

I feel so good looking at a vintage photograph that just popped out of nowhere. I am 6, holding a Kashmir willow bat with a gentle shimmer and a sense of pride in my eyes. The bat by the way is not an ordinary piece of wood. It is the finest present someone ever gave it to me, considering the fact that it was the time I got involved with the game. You see how the word MRF inscribed in red over the willow can exponentially increase its significance for a kid and assure him that he possesses a run producing machine in his hands. Today, as I pen it down I can see another bat kept in one of the corners of my room that says GM English willow on the cover. Like the one in the photograph this also is a gift, presented last summer though and looks brand new, but the grim reality is it is not. It is rarely used and that too over occasional weekends.FYI this word “weekend” exists significantly now.

On a broader prospect, the transition from the first bat to the second defines my life journey from a carefree kid to an IT professional. The priorities, friends, relationships and the contexts might have changed with the course of time but one thing that has stayed throughout is my love for this game. I have inherited many values at different fronts, be it academically, personally or professionally from this friend of mine. I feel even my parents or my teachers wouldn’t have taught me this directly. Just like goodwill of an asset cannot be measured on a sheet of paper, my bond with the game is priceless and poise.

Going back to my school days where academically everything revolved around cricket. For that matter Geography wasn’t about learning the topographies or attending map filling classes, it was simply about remembering the locations where Sachin scored his tons and visualising the co-ordinates through the pre-match postcards shown. By the way I still cannot correctly mark the European nations on a world map if you ask me to do so. Alas! They never played the game man .You automatically become a champ in mental mathematics when all the factors of 4 and 6 are on your finger tips and you are effortlessly practising multiplication and division while you calculate the projected score, the current run rate, the economy or the strike rate on a regular basis. Life is good when a Tony Greig or a Harsha Bhogle is your language professor. I sucked at economics though. I won’t lie. Well, BCCI wasn’t that rich and IPL was nowhere in the frame. Anatomy was a child’s play esp. if you were a Tendulkar fan as you already had a technical expertise on the fundamentals of hamstrings, tennis elbow, groin or a webbing even way before the curriculum started. The Ashes also cultivated a great virtue in me. I can get up at 3, 4 or even 5 in the morning. Thank you so much Channel 9.So, in case if I had to get up early morning for a revision before the exam, I would sleep thinking that it’s an Ashes encounter the next day.

Cricket had become a habit by then and it continued to prove its effectiveness even in college. The fact that I developed a Cricket Wagon Wheel for my computer graphics project and even wanted to simulate a hawk-eye as a final year project would support my statement. Unfortunately I couldn’t, as some smart ass had scared my team mates that the prototype required an expensive system to be imported, which made enough sense to scare them, though it was a baseless argument and finally the idea had to be dropped.

Meanwhile my dear friend had kept a parallel loop of grooming and embedding different attributes, running for me.I have always admired different aspects of different personalities and wanted to cultivate them in mine. I’ll share my accumulated set of experiences over the years that led to those mappings.

Honesty- If you want to see what honesty means rewind your memories to 2003.One simply doesn’t walk off in World Cup Semi-final even after being signalled not out unless his name is Adam Gilchrist.

Hard work-There cannot be a better example of hard work, humility and selflessness other than Rahul Sharad Dravid. Victory at the Eden Gardens in 2001, Adelaide in 2003, the wall performance in England in 2011 or the Speech at Bradman’s oration justifies everything. Dravid proved to the world that even your defence could be the deadliest weapon. I still remember once Akhtar ran a mile to bowl to him, an all he did was an elegant leave outside the off stump, which left Shoaib baffled and did a major damage to his ego. He is too much of simplicity and dignity packaged in one soul.

Being oneself- Time and again Virat Kohli has shown to the world what fearlessness and being Virat (not the next Viv or Sachin) is. Yes! He abuses! He is bold, aggressive and fearless but first and foremost he is an exceptional batsman. That pretty much gives him the authority to not to justify himself to anyone till he doesn’t breach the code of the game.

Consistency- It can be Glenn McGrath’s second name. He could even give complex to a bowling machine by consistently bowling in the same zone for days .His consistent mid 130 kmph deliveries were deadlier than a rookie bowling at 150 kmph. What can be learnt from him is the fact that you don’t have to be extra-talented, being focused can do magic for you as well.

Creativity- Mr 360 degree, Ab Devilliers is an epitome of creativity and awesomeness. He can not only play copy book cricket perfectly but is equally good at innovating himself by pulling a rabbit out of magician’s hat every now and then .At times, when you are left awestruck ,you’ll have to pinch yourself to check the reality quotient.

Leadership-Ricky Ponting and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are the finest leaders that I’ve seen in my era. I would definitely like to adapt their ways of working when it comes to managing people. Ponting’s  mantra of success- “If you set a goal to win, you have to win it no matter what it takes” fetched him 3 world cup titles and Dhoni’s funda of taking a little less of his share of credit and a little more of his share of blame also has done wonders for him .

Dedication-It would be unfair if anyone writing about this subject in cricket doesn’t mention their names. Graeme Smith and Anil Kumble are the epitome of commitment and dedication. Go back a little to Antigua in the year 2002. Kumble came back on field to bowl with a broken jaw for his team and got the prized wicket of Lara. Graeme’s incident in particular is very special. It was battle against his body and heart. There was no way a batsman would have returned on field back to face the might Aussie pace attack with a broken hand and a fractured elbow. For a brief nanosecond, just put yourself in Smith’s shoes and imagine you are standing on those 22 yards with one hand tied and someone is bowling to you at a mighty 150 kmph and the ball just kisses your faces and leaves. It is scary and you need a hell lot of courage to do that. That is exactly what Smith did to save the crumbling tail. He couldn’t win it for the team, but won a million hearts and the most importantly RESPECT from everyone.

Self belief- MSD is a divine force in itself. He is a bold character who always goes with his gut. He may not have the best of technique or the elegance of copybook style of playing, but the amount of self- belief that he has shown and the wonders it has done for his team is remarkable. Tune your mind a little back to the final of Ind-WI-SL triangular series in West Indies, 2013.Shielding the tail throughout and dragging it to the wire with 15 required to win off the last 6 balls, Dhoni pulled off a thriller with 3 balls to spare. He is unbelievable in so many ways. Panic is not even a word in the skipper’s dictionary. It takes a hell lot of temperament to finish games like these and Mahi has done it over and over again.

And the greatest virtue is to inspire someone! If you can be someone’s inspiration to success in life, then it’s your biggest victory. That is exactly what this little man from Mumbai has done. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has turned every stone thrown at him by life into a milestone.  He has carried the burden of billions hopes and expectations without complaining for over 25 graceful years. From a middle class ball boy @ Wankhede to The GOD of cricket, his simple mantra of never finding short cuts and chasing his dreams has worked out exceptionally well for him. Every mother wants his son be like Sachin. This is the kind of stature this man has earned for himself and sets an example for others to excel in their respective fields.

On a modest note, if I can extract even 1% of the traits these gentlemen possessed can be the next Batman.

Personally also this friend of mine has gone an extra mile to simply things for me, resulting into more sorted relationships esp. with my dad. I think my dad and I have shared the heartiest and special moments while watching India-Pakistan games only. Cricket takes out the strict Dean Daddy part out of the equation totally and turns us into school kids applauding, shouting, abusing and even crying on certain moments. That’s the beauty of the game. For me happiness is this :) If I am happy I watch cricket .If I’m sad also I watch cricket and be awesome again. It pretty much makes it an integral part of my life. Well this has side effects too. I have been blocked by my very good friends on Facebook for bugging and spamming their feeds with cricket updates on a regular basis. It has become my pseudo girlfriend. If I start giving this much time and value to the girls I like, at least I’ll be having one in REAL!

Coming back from my utopia as I keep the photograph back in the closet and rush towards reality, I look forward to play the test of my life. I know the road ahead is bumpy, but the only way to get out is by facing it with a smile and moving on for the next smoother patch.

Work Eat Play Love Pray!

Murali Vijay spotted playing squash, gets a call from Big Boss!

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With the competitive South African tour lined up BCCI decided to give more match practise to the players and made the practise sessions mandatory to attend. When enquired about the unavailability of Murali Vijay and Ishant Sharma by the coach in the very first session, it was told that they couldn’t make it as they were still under hangover from the last night’s party which apparently they both had thrown to each other after their unexpected inclusion in side for the African tour.

As if they mattered much, Duncan decided to proceed with the session. The very same evening when he saw Vijay working on his technique in the free time instead of watching John Terry’s (who seem to be his role model) game, raised some concerns in his mind. Something was seriously wrong.

The next morning when Vijay was found absent for the practise session making it two in a row, Duncan decided to turn himself into a detective and finally got hold of him. Vijay was spotted in the club area practising squash with the song “Bhaag DK “being played in the loop. Now this was a major development in the Murali Vijay case considering the fact that Duncan could understand Hindi after spending so much time in here and “Bhaag” was something provoking.

The unreal times of India added fuel to the fire with an eye catchy headline-” Dinesh Karthik engaged to India’s sensational woman squash player Dipika Pallikal.” Duncan finally figured out the gist of the scenario and tweeted “It’s like watching #The Game of Thrones in the Indian dressing room. By the way everything is fair in love, war and cricket. Beware #Dinesh- for the second time! Some one is trying to squash you again man”

To that, once bitten DK posted “Tension illa guru”.

Soon with the tweets going viral, the Indian media got involved. Now this was some serious masala stuff .Tarun was no more in the radar. Vijay had become everyone’s eye candy and an overnight star for whatsoever the reasons were. He was declared as the brand ambassador of Sun TV and was offered to be a part of Tamil version of Big Boss, which apparently he declined. According to rumours he wants to make it large and is waiting for a call from Colors for the Big Boss season-8.Looking at his current form in cricket, his availability for the show won’t be an issue l guess.

Tejpal thanked him personally on twitter and promised to put the trio -Dinesh, Dipika and Vijay on Tehelka’s next cover.Meanwhile,a ray of hope emerges for the in-form Ranji’s Bradman -Wasim Jaffer but selectors are most likely to give him Babaji ka thullu considering  the fact that age is not just a state of mind for them.

Disclaimer – It’s a fake write up. No offence to anyone.