It’s always a treat to watch Pakistan play !

Not because my forefathers hailed from Pakistan or Momina sings for Coke Studio Pakistan, I generally love to watch Pakistani Cricket team play. Also, it has got nothing to do with the fact that I love to eat Karachi naans.

Dear reader, being a logical Cricket fan; I like to see this team play. Please do not label me an anti-nationalist.

Here is a point-wise explanation of my feelings –

1. Highly unpredictable.
They work the extreme ways. Either they can go on to win (almost) in the fourth innings by chasing the improbable 400+ in the fourth innings or they lose consecutive Tests by a margin of an innings defeat. In the shorter format of the game too, they have a knack of playing with a zillion heartbeats. In 2007, Misbah almost scooped them the T20 World Cup which left me and my billion brothers peeing in the pants. And recently, on a funny note, they failed to score 2 runs in the final over of a game against the bowling of Maxwell. Heights of craziness! Do you remember their iconic celebrations at Lords’
when almost everyone had written them off ?

pakistani-team-at-lords

2. Raw talent.
It’s all about the raw talent. Neither do they have a proper set-up for promoting the first class level Cricket nor can they play on their home turf. PSL- their indigenous premiere league does push local talents to the limelight but the quantity is very less in terms of impact when compared to a sporting event like IPL .People who eventually make it to the team are primarily raw & naive and they come from non-cricketing backgrounds only on the basis of their talent.

3. Bowlers are their real superstars.
Baring a few batsmen like Hamid Mohammad, Inzaman , Mohammad Yousuf or Younis Khan it has always been the bowlers’ show for Pakistan. Right from Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq or Shoaib Akhtar, it’s their bowlers who have primarily lead from the front and won games for them. Bowlers, I certainly feel are highly under-rated and they don’t get the credit they deserve. For me, it is a great leveler and I enjoy the competition between the bat and the ball when Pakistan is playing. Except the last few games, the pacers- Irfan, Amir, Riaz and Yasir have been phenomenal, that too in all the conditions.

4. Rib-ticking fielding.
Pakistan is one crazy fielding unit. Every time they are on field, comedy of errors is guaranteed. There is no concept of calling for a catch. Right from their former keeper, Kamran Akmal ; everyone loves chaos. Earlier, Inzy used to be the leader of the wolf-pack – right now Wahab Riaz does his part with full perfection.

5. They entertain.
Pakistan has a sublime history with their coaches. From Bob Woolmer’s mysterious demise to the great Mickey Arthur, someone who keeps on embarrassing himself by comparing Paki players with the legends, it’s always fun to have that “what’s next” moment when you see Pakistan play. Ramiz Raja’s commentary is a cherry on the top. He is the worst commentator that I know of. He is so bad that after a certain point, you actually start loving his stupid anecdotes. And don’t forget the fun in their post match presentation ceremonies. InshaAllah, boys played well are the most holiest 4 words ever.

Hope to see more of their games, more of pretty ladies in the stands and yeah watching them lose to India in World Cups is divine.

Cheers!

Kohli always pays his debts !

Virat Kohli thrives on challenges and responsibilities. Unlike a normal human, it’s the adverse situations which bring out the beast in him. Kohli’s ability to lift the bar in the time of need sets him apart from his contemporaries. He’s not one of those who would let things go that easily. If he is being mocked or taken on mentally, he’ll make sure he gives it back. So Tyrion Lannister like, he prefers to pay his debts.  And, this time Englishmen were on the receiving end.

On the last English tour, Anderson and company flirted with Kohli’s reputation as a batsman. They made sure he had a miserable tour and dented his prestige by labeling him a mediocre player who’s just been hyped by the Indian media. But, there were some scores to be settled as Kohli never forgets.

Interestingly in the current series, when Anderson, the so non-sportsman took on Kohli with his maladroit comment stating that the home tracks are hiding his flaws, Kohli didn’t stoop low on his standards, didn’t utter a single word and let the scoreboard do the talking as Anderson stood humiliated & helpless when Ashwin ripped apart the English egos today morning to clinch the series 3-0.

Citing another instance, the last time India was at Wankhede, Kohli promised Sachin that it’s time for the young guns to carry the legacy forward as he had already done enough. Kohli stood by his words and instilled a sense of freedom and faith in his team. It not only made everyone up their game but as a collective unit rose India to the numero uno ranking. And, when today India took the victory walk across the Mecca of Indian Cricket, a sense of pride was evident on his face; which said it all.

2016 has been phenomenal for the Indian skipper. Kohli has 5 consecutive Test series win on his name in this calendar year, which is the record for any Indian captain. Also, Virat is just win away from breaking Sunil Gavaskar’s continuous unbeaten streak of 18 games. Most likely, if Cyclone doesn’t interrupt, this feat would be achieved in the Chennai, Ashwin’s home turf. The kind of form Ashwin is in, it’d be fascinating to see how easily he penetrates the British defence.

Virat is someone who knows how to manoeuvre his instincts, depending on the format. Kohli has grown in stature big time. Previously, he had a total of zero double centuries in Tests and no IPL T20 century. By the year end, he has 3 double test tons and 4 daddy centuries in the IPL. He is not someone who is known for his big hitting. He worked on that part and you would be astonished to know that those 4 IPL tons consisted of 24 mammoth sixes whereas these 3 double centuries had just 1 six. This is the level of adaptability he brings into the game.

Kohli is someone who plays from the heart. Just like a well-cooked Hyderabadi Dum Biryani, Kohli takes some time to settle, lives beneath the sheath of aggression and temperament, takes the heat from the charcoal, absorbs the conditions and then shows his aromatic classKohli is well aware of his strengths and limitations and plays accordingly His flicks and cover drives are his rice and tender meat pieces and the elaichis – reverse sweeps are kept out of the vessel.

As an ardent Virat fan, I can eat this Biryani every day!

The best part – he keeps his integrity on his sleeves and gives ample importance to his fitness. He’s been the path bearer for everyone. He is an infection to the squad and is solely responsible for bringing out the aggression in everyone. Looking at the current fielding standards you cannot even say that it’s the same team, who were once the sloppiest of all.

Coming back to paying the debts part; needless to say the way Ben Stokes was sent off in the third Test of the series, I bet anyone would think twice before messing with Kohli and his team. The mum face was a slap on the English autocracy.

Initially, Virat lacked consistency in the longer format and was considered as the weakest among the Fab-4. Kohli, the gladiator took the daunting ask on his head. Slogged hard and at the moment, Kohli averages 50+ in all formats and is being lauded as one of the all-time greats to have ever graced the game.

I’d say, Kohli is beyond records. He is a pinnacle of assurance and self-belief. We need to find new critics for him as the ones who used to find flaws in the loud mouth have started to idolize the champ, including the likes of Chappell brothers and the entire Aussie cricketing fraternity.

Kohli’s unparalleled swag is bringing back the crowd to the stadiums, He is the perfect ambassador of the game one could ever ask for. I just pray he keeps playing with this level of consistency and achieves everything an Indian Cricket fan could ask for.

Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo !

Success is catastrophic, it boosts your ego. Failure is the one that keeps you going.
In fact, the greatest people to have ever lived; have attained their success just one step beyond their greatest failure. Failures are not to be buried, in fact one must seek inspiration from them. And that’s exactly what Virat Kohli has done post his worst ever tour to England.

Brash, arrogant, upfront, cocky, bewildered – these were some of the attributes linked to Virat Kohli before his 2014 English tour. His aggression on the field and readiness to confront made him the man to watch out in particular in that series.To the contrary, there wasn’t anything worth remembering which he did on that tour.Actually, you could say it was dismal and was the leanest patch in his career.

He wasn’t reading the ball at all and had severe technical glitches in his game. Someone who could whip the ball outside the off-stump towards mid-wicket, was struggling with his off- stump. He was perishing to the swing and had no clue where his off-stump lay. He was completely taken off- guard with the English tactics and the fourth stump line stumped him mentally.

This was an excruciating phase he was keen on performing in the English conditions, a place which offers bowlers and batters a competitive platform to test their skills mentally and physically. Virat had failed miserably and not only did it hurt him immensely but his fans too.

Virat’s body language on that tour lacked lustre. He looked uncertain and his scores in ten innings read dismaying 1,8,25,0,39,28,0,7,6 and 20. He, alongside his fanatics were brought down to earth firmly and the King’s reputation was dented badly. The much anticipated and talked about The Virat Kohli had failed where it had really mattered for him to excel. He had fluttered on the English soils, which are supposed to be the litmus test for any player to be acclaimed amongst the greats and Virat had lost that chance.

He struggled to decide which ball to play and which one to leave. The positivity, confidence and assertiveness was lacking in his demeanour. It was a timid posture that he presented, unsure of his technique and quitting against the building hype and pressure.

Even I, as fan; could not fathom the sudden slump in his form and luck. It was a shocker. Whatever he did on that tour, was a bigger blunder than the former. All I can say is that it was a phase that needed to be forgotten by him and his fans and yes,the boss did overcome that feat in his own style.

Post the tour, he worked on his shortcomings – fitness,regime, focus and most importantly the sheer inability to not put a price on his wicket. 

He fought his way back to bury the dead and created new milestones game after game. He made four gritty tons in Australia post that tour and did bring significant accolades after taking over the captaincy from Mahendra Singh Dhoni. With maturity and hardwork in his first ever Test series as a skipper, he became the fourth Indian to score a hundred on captaincy debut after Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Vijay Hazare as he hammered the Kangaroos at Adelaide.

By making another century in the second innings of the same match, he also became the only second player in Test chronicles to score hundreds in both innings of a Test on captaincy debut after Greg Chappell.

After that, there was no looking back.

In his next assignment in Sri Lanka, King Kohli showed his magical touch and flamboyance not only in his batting but leadership too. He became the first Indian captain to win an away series, after losing the first Test. With the achievement, he also became the youngest Indian captain to have won a Test series outside India.

Virat maintained the same consistency in his game from that tour to beating South Africa 3-0 and white-washing the kiwis at home. There’s nothing stopping this beast now.

Well, I am so glad that the failure occurred early in his career and it did prove a blessing in disguise.

Virat now looks to be on a different note all together. He is in the form of his life, creating symphonies in every match. He is much more focused and has dealt with temperamental issues in a way, you cannot even imagine. He is a wolf-pack who believes in marshalling his troops from the front. He kills aggression with his bat,not with words and is the perfect role model team India needs.

He has evolved from being a brat to becoming the ambassador of the game. He is an inspiration for billions. The best part – he has become a lot more patient, respectful of the opposition and has learnt it the hard way as how to wait for the ball. He is not committing to play the early ball anymore and that has happened due to better coordination in his footwork, balance and head positioning.

Also, he has minimised playing any sweeps and cuts, the shots which he wasn’t even trained on purpose from his childhood days. In an age defined by flashy stroke plays, he is sticking to his grit and core values. He fancies playing the flicks, cover drives and loves being conventional without playing the ball in the air.

Honestly, I have never seen a player as dedicated as Virat. After his failure, not only did he work on his mental fitness but physical agility too. He was won so many games for India just by his running abilities. Can you believe that ? He runs with the same intensity in Whites as he does in Blues.

Virat is too good a player to repeat the mistakes. He doesn’t go after the bowler’s reputation now and believes in living every ball. He understands the context of the game really well and realises how crucial his wicket is to the opposition. The very fact that he knows the bounty on his wicket, yet never allows the pressure to surmount on his head, makes him as the world’s best modern day batsman.

If Virat can overcome his failures, so could you! Let’s treat him as an example to help us outgrow ourselves. Stay Kohlified !

References – Driven.

Sorry Bollywood! Please don’t make a biopic on Rahul Dravid.

Off late, there is this resurgence in Bollywood towards making biopics on sports stars. But the problem is they do not know how to make one !

Bollywood lacks good editors. They surely don’t know what not to show. I mean look at Azhar. Firstly, it wasn’t even needed. The entire plot was morphed. As a Cricfan , it was bullshit. Qualities like erratic behavior, affairs etc give orgasmic sensations to the script writers and without even thinking, a movie is made in India. From the bottom of my heart, I condemn biopic makers.

Dhoni : The Untold Story was even worse. Being a Cricket fanatic, I could predict everything. And who cares about Mahi’s love affairs. And why would I be interested in Dhoni’s flings and mushy romantic songs. I mean why ? Why can’t they keep it crisp and show something real which a fan would love to know. For instance – board room politics, his equation with Sehwag & Gambhir or the Meiyappan saga. Something which hasn’t come out in open ever.

Bollywood thrives on masala. The sole criteria of making a is biopic is that the sportsperson must have some controversial/ glamorous background or should possess some cliched middle class struggling life plot. Rahul Dravid, if we talk about, doesn’t fit in the pattern !

Rahul Dravid is a legend, an inspiration to many. We are talking about a man, who is the epitome of simplicity, very humble and down to earth. He’s a man, who resigned from international cricket as if it were no big deal. A true gentleman. I don’t think any movie would ab able to depict what he has given to team India.

Every time I see a biopic made by Bollywood, deep inside I secretly play, Oh dear Lord ! Please stop them from making a movie on Rahul Dravid.  Bollywood biopics have the capability to ruin anything and justifying Dravid’s stature would be a daunting task.

Moreover, I feel glitz and Dravid are never in sync with each other. It’s a highly odd alliance.  Dravid had been an ideal student, an ideal player, the goodie good guy which gets overshadowed by either the topper of the class or the villain. There was no room for the second best. He wasn’t aggressive like Ponting, he wasn’t loved like Tendulkar, he wasn’t cherished like Lara, he was just Dravid who did is job meticulously and left to live his personal life with grace.

Citing an example from Bangalore. Dravid is like CTR. Everyone knows it serves good dosas in Bangalore. They’ve never advertised it ? Do they need to ? NO ! People acknowledge and love it. Similarly, no film can ever display Dravid’s grit, his passion and his will power because it could just be felt from his game and no reel can ever replicate those moments. It will ruin everything.

As a sincere fan, I hope no biopic is ever made on Rahul Sharad Dravid  because of the fact that it won’t do justice to him.

Why is Virat Kohli the Jesse Pinkman of Cricket?

Watching Breaking Bad is so much fun on various levels, especially if you are a cricket fan. The way Jesse Pinkman has become an epitome of awesomeness over a period of time, Virat on the similar lines is a household name in the Indian cricket. His batting is equally delightful as Aaron’s acting.

Here are 7 reasons why Virat Kohli is the Jesse Pinkman of Cricket –

1.Style-Quotient
He has a style which completely resonates with his ‘I-don’t-care-if-you-like-me-or-not’ personality, completely resembling Jesse’s persona. Not to forget, his batting is equally classy as Jesse’s one-liners. BITCH!

2.Evolution
Jesse’s product was not up to the mark initially. The meth-crystals were only 95% pure but gradually he mastered his skillset. In a similar fashion, Virat eventually worked on his game to become the most consistent batsman of his era.

3.Highly Emotional
Virat is a man of principles and loses his calm if someone fiddles with them. He is brutally honest and keeps the emotions on his sleeve. He tends to get over emotional and attached to people he cares about exactly how Jesse was for Walter, Jane and Andrea’s son.

4.Takes Pride
His game overwrites any damn thing in this world in terms of priority. He takes pride in playing the sport and always gives his best no matter what it takes. Remember when India failed to qualify for the playoffs in the in 2012 World T20,he was into tears. On the other hand, he celebrates in a grand manner as well whenever India achieves something significant. Rewind your brain cells to the Champions Trophy 2013 final. Jesse too loves what he does.

Virat -Jesse

Yeah Science !

5.Has seen life
Virat, in a very young age has seen all the phases of his life. Lost his father when he was in his teens, toiled hard, backed his strengths, got a celebrity girlfriend, defended her thoroughly when she was blamed for India’s loss in the 2015 World Cup semifinal and now is the proud captain of the Indian National Team.

On the same lines, Jesse moved out of his parents’ house due to drug related issues ,stayed alone, went into deep shit, found a good mentor ,started working hard, went into a real relationship, lost her, moved on , earned a wealthy sum and survived liked a boss !

6. Street Smart
Raised in the middle-class household in Delhi, Kohli has been a street smart person right from the start. He knows how to tackle situations on the fly and shows creative exuberance in dealing with various on-field scenarios just like Jesse. I still remember Jesse’s brilliant plan to use magnets to destroy the incriminating evidence on the defunct meth distributor Gustavo’s laptop that had been locked away at police headquarters. Virat too did destroy Australia with his running, many a times.

7.Breaks Bad
Kohli is not afraid to take risks, challenge the stereotype mindset. He is honest, bold, brash and confident about his game. He is a rebel and the future of Indian Cricket. Gone are those days when Indians used to get sledged. He is not a monk and believes in fighting aggression with aggression, exactly the way Jesse does. He is harmless till someone does not invade his territory.

Yeah, that’s totally Kafkaesque !

Cricket, larger than life !

As a kid,never did I realise that Cricket will be an integral part of my life.
Not just does it bring back those nostalgic gully Cricket childhood memories but paves way to a meaningful life ahead.

It empowers my eyes to glitter, to fantasise and to be happy !

I think even though I’m a big time dumbass, I suck at keeping up with the technology, I find grace in being old-schooled, I have a family pack abs, I am not earning in dollars like majority, but I am blessed.
I am blessed to be passionate about something.

I have something to look forward to apart from work, alcohol and the Friday nights.

Cricket makes me a poet. It makes me worth existing. I know it sounds too exaggerated but it makes me feel alive.

If I closely respect my journey in this world,  it’s like a Test match – there have been numerous ups and downs. I failed at relationships, at my startup and many other places as friend, as a son, as a brother but Cricket never judged me. It keeps me going.

I may not have arrived to making it big with respect to Cricket but it does make me feel like the King especially when I am writing. And you know what, I will make it count eventually.

Cricket makes me realise how self belief and hard-work will actually sort everything you actually dream of.

Dreams do come true and it’s you sheer ability to dream that makes a dream, no longer a dream !

I am lucky to have witnessed Dravid, Sehwag, Klusener and Virat play.
Each one has played a significant role in being who I am. And guess what, each one has instilled me to be the weird me.

I bond over Cricket with people. In fact, most of my references at work or at social gatherings are from Cricket.

As I write prose on the sport, I feel valued deep inside. No one in this world makes me feel this special like Cricket does except my begum !

You’d be amazed to know the purpose of my life. It has got nothing to do with money or fame.
It’s all about watching the sport at the world’s best venues and the game at Lord’s would be the defining moment.

Now, why so much gyaan was offered. Let me explain –

1. I am not a motivational speaker or anything of that sort. It’s never too late to figure out what you are good at. In fact, a friend of mine who’s left everything and is pursuing her career as a voice-over artist.

2. Whenever I am extremely sad or happy, I leverage it to bring back my sanity to maintain the equilibrium. You could try too.

3. It’s one subject, I am extremely confident of. Even when it comes to addressing a gathering of thousands. I have an answer to query – what are you good at ? People spend their entire lives figuring out that.

4. It keeps my priorities straight – Cricket, Family, Pizza (in that order). It helps me declutter the best from the rest.

5. It gives me the role models to admire and to learn from.

Thank you Cricket for sorting my life ! I hope every gets theirs’ in shape through their passion.

Truth triumphs evil ! Passion triumphs boorish!
Happy Dussehra.

ESPNCricinfo, The Voice of Cricket is Trembling!

Being an ardent Cricfan, ESPNCricinfo is like the Bible to me. Like the pug from those Vodafone advertisements, I have been religiously following ESPNCricinfo ever since I had an internet connection. ESPNCricinfo happened to be my drug which did justice to my life’s ideology, “Cricket is life, rest is mere noise”.

But, it longer seems to bring in that positivity and adrenaline rush. With a heavy heart, I am admitting the fact that it has lost its mojo. There are vultures flying around to grab the piece of meat and the threats are serious. If not taken care now, people will drift away to other players like Cricbuzz & Sportskeeda and within no time relevant website traffic is surely going for a toss leaving to substandard viewership, thereby killing the voice of Cricket eventually.

I’ll be very honest and unbiased. Here are the things which are completely lagging in ESPNCricinfo currently

Not at all youth centric.
Cricinfo needs to break the barrier of monotonous technical reporting.  Even if they have to write technical blogs, they should make it interesting by relating it to something a youngster likes. For example the latest TV shows like Game of Thrones, True Detective, Breaking Bad and Suits. Hire young blood. Don’t be the Nokia of smartphone. Please evolve!

No focus on girls.
Females constitute 48% of India’s population. In an era of feminism, Cricinfo offers nothing to that segment. They must create some content keeping their interests like Travel etc. in mind.

Bad mobile app.
Considering the fact a lot of population travels in cabs and mobile is the way, this is a must. They are missing out on user engagement. I do not use Cricinfo’s app. It has TOO MUCH of content. They need to declutter it and make the app swift.

Very British.
Your average word length per blog is above 1000. They need to reduce it to maximum 700. And a slightly casual approach should be taken. It is high time Cricinfo invests in a bit of trolls and memes on social media with a bit of bantering on Twitter. Also, the Blogs are plain vanilla. No doodles/ caricatures are used to generate curiosity.

Presence on social media is less.
Cricinfo’s presence on Twitter, Instagram and Quora (the most user loving site after Facebook) is very minimal. Quora consists of variety of users with experts on History, NASA, Dating, Football, Books, and Photography etc. Moreover, there is no thought process to encourage user-generated content. Till day, I have not come across any promotion where guest writers are being encouraged.

The write-ups have become too insipid and the editor needs to revamp his strategy before it’s too late.

Bad Promotional Ads.
Also, their sponsored ads on Facebook aren’t well targeted. People do not have time to read so much. In case of Canvas ads, keep the best four with the catchiest titles for promotions. Half the people do not click because of the dull title. Ad copies need to break the shackle of mediocrity.

If I were to manage the editorial team for a day, here’s what I would put things to their table.  

Play the man, not the oddsThe fact that I have seen a lot of movies and sitcoms, I can easily play with the psychology of the reader as I understand what he/she wants. For example I wrote a blog why is Virat Kohli the Jesse Pinkman of Cricket, involving two of the most talked about personalities in Cricket and TV industry. It was not only admired but shared like anything.
I’d encourage more such write-ups.

Explain things to a layman – For instance if you would ask me to describe the difference between Lara, Tendulkar and Dravid. I would not even go into their records. I’d say –
Let’s say Cricket is a pizza.
Sachin is the cheese – Delicious. Loved by masses. Essence of it.
Lara is the topping – Veggies/Bacon/Jalapenos etc. Flamboyant to see.
Dravid is the crust – The foundation. Gets overshadowed with other lucrative layers but if not baked well, the rest won’t taste good.

I would suggest not to go by the copybook style of writing and try out such things.
This is surely going to be a big plus.

Woo women – Again, people who love to read are mostly females. They need to design content which the women would like by read by drawing parallels with the books they love or anyhow.  And don’t forget women gossip and they have a huge following. Once a female likes a Blog, she will tell 5 of her friends in person and just imagine a girl with thousands of followers sharing a Cricket Blog on her social media profile and the kind of men it would bring on the link. Pure organic bliss!

Quirky Merchandising – Cricket is no less than a Superhero. I designed this quirky piece of clothing sometime back. When Batman can sell, why cannot Cricket. Moreover with these new-gen kids going gaga over Football and their merchandise, it’s time to act cool and get push such products.

cricket-beer-gf


“In short, Cricinfo currently publishes what they think is right, ideally it should be the other way round.”

Their numbers have dipped from 150m to 100m in the past six months and more damage is expected to occur.

That’s it for the time being. I’ll update more loopholes. I care and cannot let the Voice of Cricket tremble!  I hope it reaches to some sensible person in the management and some adequate action takes place.

-Lalit Vijay