The Cricket Chemist: Harsha Bhogle

The man of his stature needs no introduction.But it would be too naive on my part if I don’t say a couple of sentences.

Without an iota of doubt Harsha Bhogle is the best English cricket commentator in the world right now. The way he talks, portrays an altogether different image of our nation- India. I’ve grown up listening to his commentary right from 1992 world cup when I was two and I can admit the fact that till date I haven’t seen anyone speaking with such wisdom and chivalry. He is my role model and is amongst very few people who have actually inspired me in my life.

I have this dream, the day I retire from my profession(whatever I do) I wish to depart either with the kind of respect what Rahul Dravid or Harsha Bhogle have attained from the cricketing fraternity.

Let me take some pride in sharing some of my all time favourite quotes of Mr. Harsha Bhogle -

The Alchemist :Harsha Bhogle

The Alchemist :Harsha Bhogle

  1. Well we let you rule our nation for so many years. I believe that’s the least you can do for us. “- This was quoted to Nasser Hussain when the English curator provided the Indians a turning track in the 2014 champions league final against England and when India went on to lift the cup in the post match presentation Harsha applauded the young Indian team’s effort and presented this rhetorical statement “The sun is setting down in England and now maybe the sun is rising in Indian Cricket”.
  2. This was in conversation with Ian Chappell. India’s 9th wicket fell, the No.11, Narendra Hirwani came out to bat. The commentator (Ian Chappell) asked Harsha whether Hirwani could bat. Harsha replied:”If you make a team with all the number 11s of all the teams, Hirwani would still come at No.11 in the line up“.
  3. After Anil Kumble scored his maiden ton, this is what Harsha had to say:”This is the most romantic moment in Indian Cricket!”In the same match Ricky Ponting had set a much unfurled field for Kumble allowing him to take a single with a only a couple of men in the circle. Harsha said-”Kumble would take a photograph of this and show to his grand children and say that this was the field that Brett Lee had for me when I was 37!”
  4. Once, Chris Gayle was demolishing the opposition in the Indian Premier League. Every other ball had to be brought back to the park and at that moment Harsha responded in his canny manner “6 and 4 seems to have become the new Binary Code for this man.
  5. Geoffrey Boycott during one of the lunch breaks: Sachin maybe a great batsman but he has never been on the Lords honours boards! Harsha Bhogle snapped: So whose loss is it more, Sachin’s or the honours boards?
  6. In one of the games, Dravid left an unplayable delivery while batting. To this Gavaskar, who was commenting alongside Harsha got impressed (which seemed to be Sunny’s favourite shot, considering his slow and defensive style of playing back then) and went on appreciating Rahul for a long time. Then Harsha replied, “Sunny, you nearly got an orgasm of happiness, didn’t you!” after that both went berserk laughing.
  7. Harsha Bhogle during the commentary on Rahul Dravid, in his first and last T20 international game, said this masterpiece quote “Ask him to walk on Water today!! He’ll say OK. Ask him to jump off a cliff with the form he is in  with a parachute  and he’ll say I don’t need it”   This is one of my personal favourite as he whacked 3 consecutive sixes in that  game and retired from that  format like a boss.
  8. After seeing a splendid straight drive from the Little Master Harsha said, “Suddenly the world looks like a better place “and I can remember another one on Sachin. Well, Harsha used to like him to the core. It was like, once India lost two early wickets in a crucial game and to the contrary the crowd went frenzied (as they saw the Master blaster arriving). To that, he said “Eruption of joy at the fall of an Indian wicket can only mean one thing”.
  9. Once Dhoni had bowled Suresh Raina before the lunch Geoffrey Boycott during the lunch: What kind of a bowler he is? Even my grandmother could hit him out of the park!Harsha Bhogle: Your grandmother was the greatest batsman known to mankind! She could come down on a sticky wicket and score a hundred before lunch.
  10. India versus. England 2002: When Sachin once got out on a dolly facing a part time spinner Harsha said, “Oh what a shame. It was reminiscent of a soldier who survived the war when all the bullets were flying by his nose and then got run over by a bicycle in his native town.
  11. This one is from the Ind -Aus test at Chennai when Ashwin joined Dhoni at the crease – “Dhoni is extremely quick between the wickets, and Ashwin, let us just say he has other skills”. In a match against England, he mocked Ashwin again. That time Ashwin had just come to the crease and he started playing some playing unconventional cricket shots. To that, he told “Ashwin has just played 3 shots that no father will ever teach to his child.”
  12. In a test match in England, Umpire Rudi Koertzen was spotted grinning due to some fielding fiascos. On that he whipped “Oh, Rudi Koertzen is smiling, last time he smiled, there was peace in west Asia.
  13. This is from the NatWest trophy final, July 13, 2002 Lord’s. When the callow Yuvraj got out chasing England’s 326 Harsha said “Yuvraj Singh will realize that this will be his longest walk back to the pavilion “. In the same match after Nasser’s lucky (which resulted after a lot of miss timed shots and edges here and there) ton he told “Nasser Hussain is trying desperately hard to find innovative ways of getting himself out. At last when Kaif was cruising India’s ship to victory the expert commented “if you are not watching this segment of play, don’t ever call yourself a cricket lover any more.You are watching cricket of a very high order here”.
  14. Here’s an old one. At Perth Adam Gilchrist took a blinder and he described Gilly’s dive as – “Some of the sea-gulls flying here are going to get a complex.
  15. Once Smith dropped Sachin in a Test match at a vital stage that actually costed them the game. To that he responded “Graeme Smith would be hoping that the world under his feet opens up and he would find a crevice large enough for him to slip through.”
  16. In a SL-Aus game when Harsha said this to Ian Chappell, “I am sure you’ll never become a lawyer, I understand everything you say “he was left dumbstruck.
  17. Once he was hosting the ICC Awards before the T20 World Cup and he called on Jonty Rhodes to present an award. As Rhodes began walking down the stairs, Harsha exclaimed, ”it’s pretty unusual to see Jonty walk down the stairs, I thought he might slide down them!”
  18. In one of the T20 games in Australia, wickets started to fall like a pack of cards. To that he said -” This series is sponsored by KFC and the wickets are falling faster than their deliveries.”
  19. Once Gambhir was dropped twice on consecutive deliveries, – “We should conduct a dream job in Australia & the winner will get to stand in the slip region.
  20. Dhoni was batting and Kumble was at the non striker’s end. Dhoni called for a tight single, and what Harsha told still cracks me up.” Dhoni scrambles for a single and causes Anil Kumble and all of his 37 years to rush to the other end.”
  21. After Shaun Tait did not live up to the hype Australian media had created around him, punter took him off the attack. Harsha, in his own inimitable style: ‘Shaun Tait should go up to Ricky Ponting and say ” Hello Mr Ponting, my name is Shaun Tait, and I am supposed to take 45 wickets in this test match “and I think in the same game when Michael Clarke was caught at slip off Kumble, he was still waiting for the decision, over this he taunted,” I think he is waiting for tomorrow’s newspaper to declare him out”
  22. Once Laxman was fighting for a game with the Indian tail.RP Singh was his partner. Aussies wanted Laxman to go off strike so that they could attack RP. Thus, they spread out the field completely, with only the keeper, one slip and one gully inside the 30 yards circle. But Laxman went on shielding RP for so many overs and when RP came on strike Harsha laughed and said “Now suddenly, Don Bradman is batting out there in the middle.”
  23. During the 2014 Ind-Eng series, when Matt Prior was constantly chirping from behind, to that he said,” This guy must have swallowed a dictionary
  24. When the Indian skipper Dhoni lost the toss on a trot Harsha remarked, “MS DHONI has yet again called for heads to the coin which has two tails”
  25. “Robin Uthappa will write in his CV – Played for India as batsman at No 8 when Irfan Pathan was prompted at 3 “, this was quoted in the Melbourne ODI.
  26.  I just wonder can Zaheer write a letter to BCCI, can I get fielders who can take catches” after 2 catches were dropped in one Zaheer Khan’s over (England 2007)
  27. In an IPL match when Dwayne Smith very luckily survived 3 times, Harsha said “After the match I am taking Smith to a Casino
  28. Admiring Sachin “The greatness of a batsman is not measured by the number of big innings he has played, its measured by the standard deviation of his scores from his average. That is the hallmark of a consistent batsman and that’s what makes Sachin Tendulkar the greatest batsman on Earth”.
  29. India doesn’t have a set fast bowling attack, describes about some bowlers and our Pravin Kumar has vanished. To that Sunil Gavaskar asked, “Vanished or banished”? In his legendary style Harsha replied “Well if you are from Bengal, both mean the same. He actually vanished though!”
  30. In one of the IPL games seeing a lot of slow stuff from Rajat Bhatia, “Any bowler has three pace variations- fast, medium slow but this guy has slow, slower and slowest.”
  31. After his recent sparkling performance against India in the test series, “Stuart Broad is the kind of player we all love to hate, but secretly admire.”
    Harsha -The Alchemist

Finally I shall sum up the post with something that I relate the most to “If you really want something, you will get it and there is no scientific explanation for this.”

The fact that he is a chemical Engineer; I strongly feel he is that sort of a chemist who,with every game makes the world of cricket a healthy and fun place through his delightful insights just like an experienced chemist would contribute to the field of medical sciences.

Thank you for everything Harsha.

One people! One nation! One destiny!

“Look at the eyes,the concentration. Trying to scare the batsman! I reckon this one will be straight at the jaws as well. Oh it’s a good bouncer that just missed his nose. That was a fine aggressive nasty delivery. “

The moment I hear it, I get become hysterical and the first thing that pops up is the ferocious West Indian pace attack of the 70s. Let me take some pride in sharing how the Caribbean boys became invincible.

During the 1960s and 70s Blacks were not regarded as equals. That was the time, the heat was on for them to get up, stand up and deliver for their respect. Cricket was an instrument of colonialism for the whites and was very much seen in imparting English aristocratic values to the blacks. In West Indies cricket is something that flows in the blood. They play cricket for the value of the cricket. Their history has been a long and painful struggle against the forces that denied and depressed them. Babylon! And it was only through the same cricket, they could win their long lost respect (which meant freedom to them) back.

But there was a big catch to it. Initially, there were sparks and flashes of individual geniuses but it never resulted into West Indian victories. It was like a bunch of non serious locals playing it for fun and frolic. You could read “Calypso boys collapse again.” very frequently with every country they toured.

Their team had no backbone .They desperately needed someone who could hold the people together. Someone, who could bond them and inspire them for the common goal of being victorious, they needed a composed figure and then Clive Lloyd debuted in 1966.He made the gang into a team by giving direction. He was a great thinker and everybody respected him as a leader. He wanted to have a different team with a different thinking. His mentoring instilled the thought process that look “we are strong people, we are here to win”.

Clive Lloyd- The captain. The Leader . The Father.

Clive Lloyd- The captain. The Leader . The Father.

In 1975, the young and inexperienced WI side travelled to Australia to face the champions on their own soil. During that era in Test cricket, a set of fast bowlers(fast as in really fast people who bowled at 90-95 miles an hour and that  extra dimension decided whether you get hurt or not ) were used as a parameter to distinguish between a good side and a quality team. Wait; let me tell you Australia was the number one ranked team. All thanks to Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee – these names were ruthless enough to scare any God damn batsman. They were truly intimidating. Their ideologies were simple – “Once you have the capability to hurt someone with a bullet in your hand, the person facing you isn’t thinking of hitting the ball, he is thinking of self preservation.”

The Ugly Aussies-Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson

The Ugly Aussies-Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson

During the game all you could hear was LILLEEE-LILLEEE -KILL -KILL -KILL!! Out there it was a war. There were injuries, broken fingers and jaws EVERYWHERE. It was a humiliating sight; like a military assault on the West Indian cricket. That was a nasty series with a lot of confrontations both on and off the field. Australians played like seasoned campaigners and they literally screwed the Caribbean bolts. Test cricket wasn’t a gentleman’s game anymore; there were chants of “You black cunts! Go back to your trees” after the Score line (AUS 5 – WI 1) was displayed.

Once they came back, they realised everything was at stake. WI cricket was at the crossroads. Their own people had turned hostile and that sort of environment could either make you or break you and they didn’t have a choice. They didn’t want any crumps, they wanted the loaf. They knew that there was no going back and it was cricket, which had to pave the way for their better future.

Clive stood strong and said never again! If we also can find some good fast bowlers who are just as quick as they are or even quicker that’s it. He went into the Caribbean, looking for genuine spearheads that could fit into his plan – “One people! One nation! One destiny!”.

Geographically speaking Caribbean islands are the countries/ islands which are surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Some of the well known islands are Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica and Trinidad. All have diff Governments, diff attitudes towards diff things but everyone is united by a common banner that is the West Indian cricket. Their cricket speaks for all the different accents and forces out there.

Caribbean Kings sharing  a jolly moment after the hunt.

Caribbean Kings sharing a jolly moment.Michael Holding,Andy Roberts,Joel Garner,Colin Croft and Viv Richards(from Left to Right)

Initially his two major findings were Michael Holding and Andy Roberts.

“When you look at Michael Holding carrying a ball in his hand; what you are looking at is an African individual with African rhythm born to just bowl .Michael with that stride would put that fear into any batsman.” These were his exact words on Michael Holding .He was a young man, who just knew how to bowl quick and knock the timber out. He was popularly called as whispering death, because of the way he used to run while bowling. It resembled the way how a cobra takes it stride calmly, hypnotises it’s a prey and them hunts him down.

Andy Roberts: One of the hard noses! A warrior, who took his fast bowling more seriously than anything and bowled fearlessly without a smile”.Never show any emotions, so that nobody knows what to expect “was his mantra. He had two different bouncers. The first one was the one that could be hooked for a boundary effortlessly while the second one was with the same action but thrown with a greater force. It aimed straight at the batsman’s face with the sole motive of inducing a great deal of pain to him. He was the original lead of the pace attack. The Hitman!

Not long after that the Indians toured the Caribbean islands. Lloyd was eager to banish their humiliation and wanted to show that they had a character to win. West Indians made India buckle and wounded. Gavaskar surrendered that match as a sign of protest. Killer instincts floored the Indians and battered Indies hit back mercilessly.

Now, aggression meant passion for them and they bowled belligerently to kill! They were on a mission. A mission in which they believed in the fact that they were as good as anyone (referring to Aus and England).They instilled fear in every batsman’s heart. They wanted to prove the world what these bunch of black guys were capable of. They were playing to make their people proud.

In 1976 they toured to England to beat their former masters.

“You brought the game to us and we are better than you “every guy in the team wanted to demonstrate it to the Englishmen. Losing a battle or a territory was acceptable to the whites but not a test match from the blacks. Tony Greig made a statement -“make them grovel “just before the commencement of the series, that acted as a catalyst in igniting the Caribbean spirits exponentially. Clive responded with a vengeance “Guys need not say much. Our man on the television has just said it all. We know what to do now” and everyone took that seriously. VERY VERY SERIOUSLY! That comment alone was enough to set the tone for the series.” FOCUS TO DEMOLISH “became the Caribbean motto. The bowlers turned the heat on and made the whites beg for mercy. That by far, was the hottest English summer ever. Nobody wanted Tony to get caught or leg before, they just wanted to knock his timbers out of the grooves and they did it with absolute perfection. That’s one thing I’ve learnt personally as well from them “Forgive but never forget!

Score line read Eng 0 – WI 3.

Through cricket it was a message to the white world to abort this racism by defeating it on the field of play.

During 1977-1978, Kerry Packers’ World Series cricket sharpened their skills. They were a much more lethal and professional team by then. The other two finds for Clive were- Joel Garner and Colin Croft.

Joel Garner-The big bird (debuted 1977): 6′ 8”, someone who either aimed at your toes or neck. Garner relied more on accuracy than on lightning pace and was termed brutal when it came to the bounce.

Colin Croft (The smiling assassin).”Croft goes for the throat. “Chants were viral when he used to bowl. His action was the most complicated part about his life .The prancing run was straight but the batsman saw only his head bobbing behind the umpire until he veered out wide of the crease just prior to delivery, leaning back and slanting the ball awkwardly in to the right-hander. He was a menace to the batsman fraternity. He would knock you down and would simply laugh at you for hours. You do not get to see such raw characters these days.

Quartet broke the mph limit. All 4 could bowl at stupendous pace and were rightly called as terrorists, dangerous or even murderers. They were on top of their game. All of them! After defeating England, they had traversed a long journey- from being called as the third world citizens to the pioneers of the game.

Let’s talk about the most significant part in their cricket history. They decided to tour Australia in 1979.With every day passed; they were made to relive 1975. Everywhere they were made to watch the highlights of the massacre that took West Indian cricket for a toss 4 years back.  *“We must beat Aus at all costs. I didn’t matter how we did it but we had to, UGLY NICE PSYCHOLOGICALLY PHYSICALLY any adverb that comes to your mind put it ” – Colin Croft

The Ozies were the masters of sledging back then as well. Once Lillee signalled Viv that he was going to blow off his fucking head on the next bowl and he literally meant that. To the contrary the West Indians were ready to take them on this time. Viv in particular was very clear.” I don’t want any helmets or any sort of protection. The only way I smell defeat is if I’m knocked down and that won’t happen. Bring it on!! “- were his exact words in one of the games in that series.

The same Australians who were so damn aggressive while bowling were crying when the Caribbean quartet came onto bowl. The harder they bowled, the harder they fell! Game after game, they kept on building the pressure and slowly hammered them into the ground.

Australia 0 – WI 2

Wow that indeed was special for West Indies. They had become the best team in the world and their joy was beyond any words. The world saw the emergence of a whole new breed of people and culture. Even the term whitewash was renamed to “blackwash” after that. Black was the new brave.

Bob Marley- The legendary Jamaican singer

Bob Marley- The legendary Jamaican singer

Cheers to their spirit. Now plug-in to Bob Marley’s “Get up, stand up!” and feel their glory!

PS: Listening to the same song in loop on India’s 68th Independence Day
* References from the movie Fire in Babylon.

Bytes to Biryanis: Fateh Hyderabad

The mid of the week is usually the most ambiguous time in the life cycle of a software engineer. Monday blues are over, tasks are stacked up and Friday looks like a mirage. On a Wednesday afternoon, tired of the same old canteen food and life we decided for a getaway during the weekend .A much awaited change- way back to our sanity! A unanimous call on Hyderabad was taken and a joy wave traversed across the lunch table.

Charminar -The first thing that comes to mind when you listen the word Hyderabad.

Charminar -The moment you hear Hyderabad.

Before I imbibe the readers with my story, let me put some light on my allies- Avinash Hegdal and Mayank Dua.

Avinash: The not so foodie, happy go lucky, damn enough of Karnataka now let’s go out of it guy! Avi is also known as the loud speaker of the team. Office turns out to be a deserted island the day he isn’t there. You can pull his leg all day long, you’ll get tired but he’ll stay at peace like a monk.

Mayank: The not so golibaaz guy anymore. He is someone who values the relationships more than anything in this world be it family ,friends or his girl( extra affection included here ).Khulla saand ,ready to take on the world right now (Just imagine Sunny Deol from the movie Gadar).

More than colleagues or friends I see them as brothers for lifetime.

Coming back! So, Avinash decided to book the tickets from Bangalore to Hyderabad, Dua sahab did it for the return and I decided to take on the planning department. There we were – Looking for a transition from bytes of code to kilos of biryanis.

On Friday July 25(which was our scheduled date to travel), the first thing I listen to in the morning is “Bro we guys are saved! By mistake I had booked the 9 am bus instead of the 9 pm one. Hahaha! What a way to sally. I had an evil laugh in my mind and I started to ponder about the bloopers to come.

We boarded our KSRTC airavat bus from the Shanti Nagar bus stop. As soon as we occupied our seats, clouds of sadness started hovering over Mayank’s head as there wasn’t any charging facility in the bus. Just imagine a guy obsessed with whatsapp (24×7) had to go through when he saw that. To add fuel to the fire was the battery symbol in his cell phone that was proudly displaying 40% charge. Woahhh! Now this was something to cheer me and Avinash, considering the fact that it could’ve helped him follow the brocode. Well, the brocode said “No whatsapp, no reading, no girls and follow the divided by N principle.” which implies that we’ll live together, sleep together, drink together, eat together and divide the expenses by N (3 in our case).

The journey to Hyderabad was a bumpy one. We reached a couple of hour’s late courtesy the flat tyre but it was a memorable one. Avinash also was the victim of brocode. His exacts words were “Yaar jab bhi main travel karta hu tab hi sab ladkiyaan kyun ping karti hain, baaki din kyun yaad nahi aata unhe yeh Avinash and Dua gave him that look – Bitch please. Put the mouse back in the house and don’t give us all that! Hahaha.

The fun part begins now -

Saturday 6:00 a.m. MG Bus Stop Hyderabad- Day 1
The so called “Planner” just woke up from his slumber with absolutely no clue what to say when bade Nawab and chhote Nawab asked him “Planner Bro! Where do we have to get down?” The thing that made them doubt my planning abilities was the reply “Saalo mujhe kya pata.Jo last stop hai utar jao. Yahi hoga! Dekho  sablog to utar rahe hain.

Waah as if it wasn’t enough .Another event triggered at the wrong time and gave me the official tag of “A Useless Planner”. As soon as we got down the bus, we were bombarded with hotel brokers from all possible directions. Panic button was pressed and it was I ,The Planner who took the charge and told one of the broker/auto  guy to take us to Taj Mahal Hotel(as per my itinerary).The move backfired as he enlightened us about the existence of 6 different Taj Mahal hotels situated at different corners of the city. I recollected from my little memory that it was Secunderabad and ordered him to take us there. He replied “Bhaiya 15 km hai! Chaloge kya?” Nawabs were left dumbstruck.

Considering the fact that we had to board the bus from the exact same point the next day and logically the hotel should be in some proximity. Then the so called “Wise Men” took control of the situation and we settled at Hotel Sandarshini Inn. When you can’t decide between your heart and brain, go for the dick. Well the same logic was applied in the hotel selection process. Not that the hotel was great or the tariff was low, the fact that we got a magnificent view near the reception counter did the trick.

the three musketeers

the three musketeers

After some spicy roadside dosas, we decided to get into an auto rickshaw for our first destination- Golconda Fort. The auto guy told us about the various places on the way ,their history and seemed to be a genuine guy till he stopped his auto in the middle of nowhere and told us “Bhaiya aapke 7 Tombs aa gaye” and we were like WTF we didn’t even ask you to get us here !We were still OK with it .The moment he asked for 300 INR for a 200 INR meter reading, saying “Bhaiya yeh to purana meter hai new rates ke mutabik 300 hoga ” and when he replied that the updated price sheet is at his home when questioned Dua sahab lost it completely. He was belted left and right with all possible mother sister words. I was the peacemaker and Avinash bhai a mere spectator (standing 3 feet away).

Once the brawl was over and the auto guy was about to leave the Saint (Avinash) popped out and told him some words of wisdom – “Bhaiya aapne galat kiya yeh!”God knows why he took it to his heart so much that he started emphasizing on the fact that he would drop us to Golconda Fort now, no matter what happens !Our Punjabi brother (Mr Dua) advised him to leave ASAP unless he wanted bruises all over his face. After a mild tussle with the security guard over the camera, we were lost in the picturesque view of the 7 tombs of Qutb Shah Dynasty. There were three kinds of people over there. First – The photographers, Second- The coochy coo types love birds and Third- US. The sight was reasonably unpleasant for our Dua sahab considering the fact that he was on a sabbatical from his love life .We have termed it as “Off season“- the time when bros before hoes saying holds good in a true spirit.

Nawabs -Standing tall at Qutb Shahi Tombs

Nawabs -Standing tall at Qutb Shahi Tombs

Finally,after admiring the beauty of the tombs and decided to save some precious calories took an auto for the Golconda Fort .We BTW, refers to the two Nawabs who did not show  any spirit in walking at any point of the trip. For the first time the auto fare was actually fair. Then arrived the biggest dilemma whether to take the guide or not. The planner acted like a small kid and after a series of yes-no-yes-no finally it was decided to include Afroz (the guide) with us .Trust me the decision was worth every penny we gave him. Afroz is a pioneer when it comes to history, facts and engaging people. He made us climb 360 steps within no time, told us about the tharkiness of the king (how he had created a secret tunnel for one of his mistress that connects Golconda to Charminar, later married her and named the city Hyderabad on her name “Hyder Begum“).He demonstrated the architecture like a true craftsman.

Golconda Fort (shepherd's hill)

Golconda Fort (shepherd’s hill).View from the entrance

Golconda Fort (View from the top)

Golconda Fort (View from the top)

After the tour we were dead tired. I, on the other hand was equally scared at the same time. Considering my lack of geographic knowledge about the city what if they ask me “What next Mr Planner”. Playing safe I told them I don’t know which location would be geographically feasible from here, it’s better if we ask some locals. Based on majority of the recommendations, we decided to head towards the legendary Paradise Biryani at Secunderabad. The auto guy had an amazing Hyderabadi accent and was really a gem of a person.

On the way he helped us in restructuring our itinerary and emphasized on going to Salar Jung museum the next day especially because of the dwarf that rings the European clock. The Biryani was good (though I expected it to be fiery spicy).After the sumptuous meal,Birla temple was right there on the cards.

Paradise Biryani,Secunderabad

Paradise Biryani,Secunderabad

The planner was at his best once again, when he suggested walking down those 3 miles. How long it’ll take, just check your GPS?, asked Mr. Avinash. 20 minutes bro! Those two got furious at the reply. Seriously Bhai it’s by car not if we walk! Considering the criticality of the situation I didn’t retaliate and calmly slid my bums in the nearest parked auto because I knew even if I don’t take the rickshaw those Nawabs would’ve charged me anyway (remember the mighty By N rule).

Afterwards we saw the display of some quality marketing skills. The auto guy agreed to take us to the hill (where Birla temple is situated) in just 10 bucks, provided we visit a Pearls shop and spend at least 5 minutes over there. Even after the extensive peer pressure Dua sahab (the only eligible contender to buy something from there) didn’t buy anything and flabbergasted us with this filmy reply “Bhai baat 250 ki nahi hai, khareed to main 25,000 ka bhi lu, saali koi value to kare iski “. We both laughed till our stomachs ached. That by far was our cheapest auto ride in Hyderabad.

Later, my darshan got jeopardized and I was barred from entering the temple because I wasn’t wearing full length pants. All thanks to my brilliant convincing skills I was allowed to go inside. We offered our prayers and headed for Niloufer Bakery to have the best Irani chai and Osmania biscuits in the town. The bakery was named after Niloufer, one of the Nizam’s daughter  who was also considered the most beautiful lady of her era. The tea was simply breathtaking. No water, loaded with milk and sugar with a slight aroma of chaipatty.After a soothing stroll at the nearby Necklace Street we decided it call it off for the day and went straight back to our Hotel. The day ended with some peaceful pegs and “Yeh Veeraniyaan”(Dua’s favourite) in the hotel room.

Birla Mandir

Birla Mandir

Day 2 kicked off with another major goof up. Finding Govind was the sole aim of our souls. We reached Ghansi bazaar early in the morning looking for the best street food Bandi (lorry) in the town. Our confusion level reached the peak when we couldn’t figure out which was Govind as we saw two lorries parked back to back at the Ghansi Rd junction with equal number of people circumcising them in terms of popularity. Then the wise men suggested the usage of GPS, which clearly indicated that it’s 500m from there.

So I switched off my data packets and we proceeded. Merely after walking some 200 m God knows what struck us; we saw a fancy lorry and assumed it to be Govind’s. We stopped there, ordered 3 plates of Idli vada and even clicked a couple of pictures. Later the planner’s photographic memory came to the rescue and the planner suggested that it can’t be Govind as I can’t see any cheese and tomatoes here, which according to the internet is his speciality. After Dua sahab’s intervention we decided to move on and the moment we saw the GOVIND DOSA board, we were ecstatic. After eating at that Lorry, I could proudly admit that it was the best street food I’ve had in ages. Govind, the guy who runs on a Red Bull, should be treated with uttermost respect for his offerings to the food lovers.

Govind ,Ghansi Bazar

Govind ,Ghansi Bazar

After a brisk affair with Charminar and the Persian tea at Nimrah we decided to check major tourist destinations off our list. I don’t know whether the autowallahs in Hyderabad don’t interpret what we say or they are over smart to take us wherever they feel like taking. Again we got fooled and were transported to Chowmahalla Palace instead of Salar Jung. Due to that over hyped dwarf story, we wanted to be at Salar to witness the bell ringing ceremony.(12 times for 12:00 hours) and asked him to take a U turn and drop us at Salar on account of some extra money. Our sheer curiosity went in vain as no dwarf turned up (kat gaya bhai bade wala feeling aa gayi), still we had a great time exploring the museum.

The sword collection was imperial. It made me get lost in my wander land of Game of Thrones. We even checked our BMI and horoscopes. Mayank’s slip read “You exaggerate too much at times. Behave yourself” and mine said ” You are bound to get ditched by a colleague of yours .Sadness is expected (which did happen in terms of travelling plans)”.After a tiresome time we revisited Chowmahalla. Vintage cars and the royal photo shoot finally reflected the planner’s hard work and resilience.

Salar Jung Museum

Salar Jung Museum

Then came the major twist in the plot.Samridhi (one of my friend from Hyderabad) called me and said she wanted to meet and keeping in account the fact that you cannot expect her to come that far because of the iron nail incident, we had to go to Madhapur (that’s where she stays).Also Shadab Hotel’s haleem was still on the list to be checked, which was in the opposite direction to way we were planning to go then. I went into a numb state for a fraction of seconds due to the fact that I had to choose any one keeping the time constraints in mind. Then the Sr. Nawab’s decisive skills, Junior Nawab’s bargaining skills and their leniency in modifying the brocode came to my rescue. We decided to meet her at Basheer Bagh (half way at Madhapur).The Nawabs could see a big smile on the planner’s face. We escaped the narrow lanes of Charminar and Mecca Masjid and with every lane crossed Avi bro was chanting “aaj to bhai ko Samridhi se milwa ke hi rahenge in an over filmy way”. Finally we met her at Cafe Bahar and had Haleem as well. My joy had crossed all boundaries.

The famous Hyderabadi Haleem

The famous Hyderabadi Haleem

At last we bought some souvenirs from the Karachi Bakery and boarded our multi axle Volvo(the one  booked by Dua sahab). We had a hearty laugh looking at the charging sockets.

Cheers and I’ll come back soon Hyderabad.

Bangalored !

I love you Bangalore !
Not just for an awesome college life, the craziest of the friends or the MNC job that you’ve offered me; there is something more to it. I wonder I would ever be able to express it.
6 years man! I know you in and out. Trust me you are the best, leave even the weather part aside.

The fact that I owe you one big time, let me pen down where all you’ve made me felt ecstatic. The places where I love to go again and again..In case, someone’s new to town and inquisitiveness in him happens to drag him down to these  places  after reading this piece of blog, I’ll be extremely glad .Here’s my list-

Now, Swalpa Cheers Maadi Saaar!

1. MTR 1924:
Considering the rich cultural heritage of Lalbagh MTR, if you think it is somewhat less, No is the answer. This place deserves the cult following. The very fact I love it because of the simplicity in the food, the menu and everything is enriched with the aroma of desi ghee.
Majority of my Sunday mornings are dedicated to relishing the best bissi belle bath, rava/masala dosa, idli vadas and filter coffee in town.

Well, you don’t judge a south Indian restaurant with its sambhar in Bengaluru!!Chutney is the one that matters the most and let me tell you it is just perfect here. Staying closely offers me the luxury to barge in any moment here. Even the 220 rupee one special meal during the lunch is equally delightful. Once you see the variety it offers to your plate you tend to forget the long queues and all the waiting.

If a Punjabi like me feels this way just imagine the joy on the faces of hardcore Kannadigas eating over there.

MTR's special bissi belle bath

MTR’s special bissi belle bath

2. PLAN B:
Dimly lit, glass bottles hanging over the bar adorned by cool posters and enormously loud music to go on with it! Well that’s plan B for you. Do not go on its name. Trust me! Once you have the chicken wings spiced with their iconic ABS sauce (ass burning shit) you’ll say realise that it is the only plan if you are visiting Ashok Nagar.

ABS for that matter is no ordinary piece of sauce. It has the potential to put your face on their legendary walls.  If someone can finish the wings (a dozen of that kind) in 120 seconds he is right there adoring the prestigious wall of fame. Plan B is like a small roadside American pub next door run by an over friendly Coorgi uncle. I can bet he will remember your name for his entire life once you share a talk/smoke with him for 5 minutes. Sometimes I wonder is it those pink lil Coorgi swines or the cigar he keeps smoking responsible for his sharp memory.

Even though it’s overcrowded, you can’t listen to what the person smelling your burps is talking or the fact that you always have to shred 45 minutes of your life to get into this place, you’ll still love it; the way I do. Just to clarify the above written statements have nothing to do with the fact that I have special liking for Coorgis. Their burgers, wings and pork have made me do the talking.

Ultra Spicy chicken wings at Plan B

Ultra Spicy chicken wings at Plan B

3. CHIN LUNG:
There are some good bars. There are some better bars and then there is CHIN LUNG.
Located right at the junction of residency road and THE Brigade road; stands tall this epic place. It is the one of the classiest and the shadiest places I’ve ever been to. You can find from rags to riches drinking pauwass (quarter)over there, where in rags being referred are the college kids, people just starting their careers like me and riches are the ones who are richer not only by their hearts, their  car brand as well.

Spread across three floors, the top floor gives the best view .The terrace is a space for heated conversations, loud exchanges, raucous laughter and the occasional brawl. If it is drizzling that day, the peanut masala and the chilli chicken can give you goosebumps.The best part about the place is that the waiters are the real bosses. I’ve never seen such rude yet caring staff at the same time.

It might resemble to some kind of hazy bars you could’ve seen in Bollywood movies but trust me just go there skip the dingy entrance, overlook the weird people occupying the dark alleys with chillums, grab a table on top, pour some whiskey and take a deep breath, feel the neon rays across the street and think about life; you won’t regret it.

Chin Lung-The hazy kingdom

Chin Lung-The hazy kingdom

4. OPUS:
Better known for its activities, situated near the great Bangalore palace; this place is a complete action hub. Ranging from a wide range of social events like Karaoke, Live Bands, Stand up comedies what stands apart and attracts me to book (I prefer to skip the curious case of drink and drive) a cab almost every alternate Thursday is the fact that 10,000 rupees, a trophy, a table on the house and an infinite amount of knowledge is up for grabs at Booze and Brains.

It is an ideal place for catching up with friends or a casual dine out with intellectual colleagues over drinks and some quiz stuff. The main courtyard is open and airy. Amazing music, Goan food, great vibes and the voguish chicks of The United States of Bengaluru are my secondary reasons to love this place.

Booze and Brains hosted every Thursday by Mark Rego

Booze and Brains hosted by Mark Rego.

5. TRUFFLES- ICE AND SPICE:
Life is too short to not eat the All American Cheese Burger at Truffles (Ice and Spice).I mean the cheese literally melts in your mouth. I’ve never had a better burger than this in my entire life. It’s proximity to the all girls Jyoti Niwas College converts the inevitable boring waiting durations to bird watching sessions .The USP  of the place is the enigma that makes you feel younger.Their chicken steaks are yummy and definitely add a great value making it as the perfect “American Brunch Place” in the town. Planning of giving a Budget treat- Don’t think too much. Start heading towards Kormangala Truffles.

The legendary All American Cheese Burger

The legendary All American Cheese Burger

6. TOIT:
This is THE PLACE. It never gets older. Toit is an iconic landmark in terms of being the oldest and coolest micro breweries in the town. The first thing you see as you enter is a Dravid’s portrait (just behind the fumy reception desk) that says “To TOIT from Rahul Dravid”; I mean what else you want then! If someone in my circle comes to visit Bangalore I make sure that he/she has to have their Tintin and Baked Nachos.

I’ve had the most epic conversations here at Toit, ranging from “How does it feel to work for Anurag Kashyap” to “Bhai kuch to karna hai life mein. BC dekh lio”. Friday night is the best time to go there, stand at the bar, get sloshed, watch a game and dream. Their motto is “Fuck Reservation”. Hardly twice or thrice in my life I’ve sat there and eaten. The crowd just hits you and the best part is you barge into a lot of known faces and if you are high you are bound to have a gala time.

A brave new happy world

A brave new happy world

7. BISTRO CLAYTOPIA:
Located right at the epicentre of the city’s most posh area, Indirangar is this small house turned into cafe. It unleashes my creativity and I call it as my “Quantum of Solace”. Usually if I’m alone, I just sit back, get lost in my wanderlust, pen down my thoughts, plan my itineraries and take all my life’s imp decisions at this place. Ironically, it turns out to be a gossip ADDA in case I happen to visit it with the boys. That time we use the footpath space, share a smoke, sit outside and talk and the best part -you can peacefully sit there for hours without getting bugged for placing the order.

Another thing that I like here is its diversification of the crowd. At times you can see kids modelling clay pots, people holding hands on a date, someone playing with their pet or a group of friends relishing smoothies in a single frame. I like their Grilled Lamb Burger and Omelette the most.

Claypot your thoughts !

Claypot your thoughts !

8. MAHESH LUNCH HOME:
Some wise man once said “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I think he was at Mahesh Lunch Home while phrasing it. Forget about the ambience and the warm welcomes! It’s their food that does the talking. Undoubtedly the best sea food (I call it as the real happiness) I’ve ever had.

Their chefs, managers and Stewarts treat you like their babies. They know what they are serving(with minute details) and make sure that you know what exactly do you want to eat because the menu is huge.Still,if you are confused you have the exact raw thing on your table ! You see, you like, they cook -That’s their mantra!

You can customize the spice quotient with the chef as well. When I went there for the first time, I was awestruck to see such an amazing hospitality that I ended up paying 200 /- tip on top of the tax vats n blah blah.Try their lobsters, crabs and Bombay ducks ,I can assure that you will look forward to come back for the heavenly experience.

Lobster on the rocks !

Lobster on the rocks !

9. MATTEO:
Situated right across the most happening lane (Church Street) of Bangalore, this place demonstrates the true cosmopolitan nature of the city. My sole reason to love this cafe is that it gives me the perfect ambience to read.

I can’t imagine a better place than Matteo to be on a Saturday afternoon. You can spot me at the leftmost corner just next to the glass separation wall in case you happen to pass by the road. My regular is a grilled chicken sandwich clubbed with a hot coffee.

Also, this place offers me the pleasure to travel in NammaMetro at least once a weak. You can take a power break from reading and visit the Magazines (right opposite to Matteo) where in the Cats can give you the best relaxation therapy.The Entertainment Store also falls in the catchment area. So, once I am done, I usually check out that and retreat. Overall, it’s a complete package.

Matteo-Gift of God for the readers.

Matteo-Gift of God for the readers.

10. SAVOURY:
Located on the hustling Mosque Road in Frazer Town, Savoury Restaurant offers you the best Arabian dishes in the town. Though it is much known for their Shawarmas and pulpy juice, but I love their Al Faham Dajaj and barbecue chicken with humus equally. The meat is fresh, tender and perfectly cooked that it just hits your p spot. It always gives me the vibes to travel to Istanbul, don’t know why! Anyway let me assure you this place is an absolute delight for die hard non veg lovers esp. during Ramzan time. Go there and be their Nawab!

My little Istanbul.

My little Istanbul.

PS: All the images have been taken from the internet. Sorry, I was too busy cherishing those moments (every single time) that I couldn’t capture the photographs.

Rahul Dravid: Protector of the Realm

THE WALL! True Gentleman! Permanent Class! Genius Stroke play! The man who never said never!

Yes these are the exact words written below the image of this iconic man that has been put up on the wall exactly facing my bed. Implying, the first good omen that I witness every morning is Rahul Sharad Dravid’s face which in turn drives the values of modesty and simplicity in me,throughout the day.

Well, in a game of thrones you either win or die but if cricket is that game (minus politics and only war).Rahul must sit at the Iron Throne. He is fierce and focused.When it boils down to business ,he is one of the all time best classical test batsman to have graced the game.

He batted as a river runs, at an immemorial pace. You could tune into an innings of his at any time and be unsure whether he had batted six hours or six minutes.

His mantra was crystal clear. Just keep your defence compact ! Then you can attack fearlessly. Well, it wasn’t just compact; rather extravagant. He was a great batsman who could do everything: he hooked, pulled, cut, swept, flicked, drove, kept wickets, captained, and even opened just for the team

He is the protector of the realm. The wall!!

Determination right from the start

A still from Reebok’s campaign during 90’s. This attitude did wonders for Rahul Dravid and team India.

He epitomised an old-school “guts-before-glory” approach in an age increasingly defined by flashy Stroke play and low attention spans and that I feel is the reason behind his immense success. When a tough job needed to be done, it was Dravid India turned to. He didn’t like opening but he did. First slip was his natural habitat, but he yielded the position because a team mate with a bad back found it difficult to stand at second. He did the tough press conferences. And at the far end of his career, he made his international T20 debut, long after he had opted out of format, because India was struggling to put together an XI.

He is the silent guardian who has done so much to the team without demanding an iota of eminence. Fortunately or unfortunately he never got distracted by fame, which he never got it as he was busy being doing his role. He was India’s Dark Knight.

These are some of the instances which clearly state that he should have got his due and I feel sad for him.


  • He scored 95 at Lord’s on his debut in 1996 which got eclipsed by Ganguly’s innings of 131.
  • He made 145 in 1999 WC in England. In the same match Ganguly scored 183…Ah! It was again the same story.
  • He hit 153 against New Zealand (a world record partnership with Tendulkar).But hardly a few acknowledge it as Tendulkar’s 186 fetched all the limelight.
  • He crafted 180 in second innings at Eden Gardens. But he got unnoticed because of Laxman’s 281 and Bhajji’s hatrick.
  • He blasted 50 of 22 balls. It was the second fastest fifty by an Indian in ODI against New Zealand in 2003.A very unlikely Dravid innings. But in the same match Sachin and Sehwag scored hundreds. He again went behind the scenes man
  • Even his retirement from the ODI and T20 format sadly got overshadowed by Tendulkar, who was also playing his’ last.

But it doesn’t matter to me. He will always remain my personal favourite. I believe in this kind of ideology -

“Sachin is God; Sourav is next to God on the off side
Laxman is the God of fourth innings.
But when the doors of a temple are closed,
Even the God is behind the “THE WALL “.

 

One of the greatest virtues that hardly any of us posses is taking a negative feedback sportingly. That is exactly what distinguishes the goods from the greats. Dravid evolved and adapted with majesty after he was dropped for his slow scoring and orthodox strokeplay before 1999 World Cup. Not only he began the next venture with a 129 ball 145 and finished it as the highest run getter and is still in top 10 run getters in the history of the ODI format of the game.

He played to his own wondrous sheet music and is rightly termed as the ambassador of copybook staying of playing the game. Dravid averaged 51 at home and 53 away.

For me his top 5 knocks would follow this order-


1. Twin peaks at Adelaide
Some are born to greatness. Rahul Dravid acquired it. In Adelaide during 2003, he batted India to their first win in Australia in over 20 years by scoring 305 runs in the two innings, occupying the crease for 835 minutes.”Rahul batted like GOD” these were the exact words of the Indian skipper Ganguly after the match.

Back foot punch at it's best -Adelaide

Rahul’s solid punches knocked Australia out of the game at Adelaide in 2003

2. Splendour of Eden Gardens
In the March of 2001, Rahul Dravid along the likes of VVS Laxman scripted a fairy tale that changed the course of Indian cricket. The pair added 335 runs without offering the mighty Australians a single sniff, and pulled out a victory from following on. It was the third incident in the history of the game.

True grit at Eden Gardens

True grit shown Eden Gardens resulted in India’s historic win against the Aussies. Warne’s expressions says it all !

3. The massacre at Rawalpindi
Rahul Dravid’s Rawalpindi marathon was a landmark for being the longest Test innings in Indian history, and more for securing India’s first ever Test series victory on the Pakistani soil. It was the ultimate background innings, uncharacteristic in its lack of fluency but typical for its awesome commitment. (12 and half hours)

4. The great wall of India
India’s 2011 tour of England provided more occasion than others to drag out the familiar clichés about lone bulwarks and defiant solos: Rahul Dravid scored 461 runs in the tests, nearly 200 more than any of his team mates, at twice the average. The finest of the three hundreds came at Trent Bridge (117). At Oval he opened and stood unbeaten as the rock around which the rest moved.

The Wall

The great wall of India standing tall at The Oval,2011

5. The monk of headingly
When Kolkata 2001 was the first glimpse of a new, aggressive India, it was at headingly a year later that the team showed the real steel. Rahul Dravid was the chief architect, absorbing all the heat to create one of India’s most memorable win abroad. (148 not out, 2002)

 

He is someone who not is technically profound in his game but is equally graceful and dignified as a person. At times he travels in a local BMTC (Bangalore Metro Transport Corporation) bus, eats at restaurants with common people, and drops his child to his school with absolutely no fuss, like a normal civilian. Not only is he a gentleman on field, but in real life as well. Remember when he was called for interrogation by Delhi Police, being the captain of Rajasthan Royals (with regard to the match fixing controversy) even the commissioner of police knew that a person of his stature could never do anything like this and mocked the media at a press conference that he wanted Dravid’s autograph that’s why he went and met him. Nothing else!

 

For me off the field I think his proudest achievement was in 2011. He was invited to deliver the Bradman Oration in Canberra .He is the first Indian and first non Australian to have been honoured of this. His speech was wide ranging, meticulous and memorable not only in terms of the achievements of Sir Don, but the way he threw light on the Indian cricket, he completely changed India’s image .I regard it as  one of the finest talks to have been given by any cricketer.

 

Here are a few statistics just to give a quick glimpse of his legendary track record -

  •  When Dravid was at crease, the team scored 32,039 runs; which amounted to 35.6% of the total runs that India made in tests in which Dravid played.
  • Dravid is the only batsman in the history of the game to be involved in more than 700 partnerships. In fact no other batsman has touched 650 so far.
  •  He holds the record of playing the most number of deliveries (31,258) in test cricket.
  •  Highest run getter at No. 3 in tests with 10,524 runs in 219 innings at an average of 53.
  •  In ODIs which wasn’t even his forte (as speculated by the critics) he holds the record of having the second best average in World Cups (61.5) marginally behind Sir Viv’s 63.3
  • Rahul has scored 6 test hundreds in England, Only Sunil Gavaskar has more overseas hundreds to his name (7 in WI).
  •  Dravid has never been dismissed for a first ball duck in Tests. He was run out for 0 without facing a ball in 2004 at Lahore.
  • Of the 11 triple century stands by Indians in tests, Dravid has been involved in 4 which are the highest. Tendulkar and Laxman have been involved in three each.
  • Two Indians have affected 200 plus ODI dismissals as a fielder or a wicket keeper. Dravid is one with 210, only MSD has more.
Respect

Respect is the word

Let’s have a sneak peek at what the greats feel about Rahul.

  • “If you can’t get along with Dravid, you’re struggling in life” -Brett Lee
  • “The wolf who lived for the pack” – Harsha Bhogle
  • “If I have to put anyone to bat for my life, it’ll be Kallis or Dravid”.-Brian Lara
  • “All this going around is not aggression. If you want to see aggression on cricket field, look into Rahul Dravid’s eyes”- Matthew Hayden
  • “Rahul Dravid is a player who would walk on broken glass if his team asks him to” -Navjot Singh Sidhu
  • “Dravid Could play attacking cricket like me but i could never play like him”-Chris Gayle
  • “Try to take his wicket in the first 15 minutes, if you can’t then only try to take the remaining wickets.”- Steve Waugh
  • “I cannot recall beating him more than one ball in a row” – Jason Gillespie
  • “He’s probably the nicest guy. No, he is the nicest guy that I have met in cricket. He’s a phenomenal man” – Shane Watson
  • “Ask him to walk on water today and he will say, Okay! How many kilometres? Ask him to jump from a cliff in the form he’s in and he’ll say, here’s your parachute I don’t need it.”- Harsha Bhogle when Rahul Dravid hit 3 sixes in a row in his only T20 International against England

He is an epitome of selflessness, humility, empathy, grit and perseverance.

When a personality like Harsha Bhogle tells this” when I am done with my profession, I wish I could go with the reputation that Rahul Dravid earned “.it pretty much sums it up what a class act this man is. RESPECT !

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