Chahal & Kuldeep: The Wolves of Tossing-it-Up Street

In terms of energy burned, meat gained and overall effectiveness of the kill, wolves do best hunting in pairs. We’ve seen quite a lot of lethal examples earlier but the way young Chahal and Kuldeep are keeping the oppositions unchallenged, this is no mercy. Just  a little background. Chahal is the only person to represent India in Chess and Cricket. Chahal is one of only two players in T20 Cricket history to have taken a 6-wicket haul. His wizcraft is totally evident when he holds the white leather in his hands. Kuldeep on the other hand is India’s only Chinaman bowler and is the third bowler for India to take a hat-trick in an ODI after Chetan Sharma and Kapil Dev.

The Indian wrist-spinning duo has humbled and humiliated the Proteas in their own backyard. I agree, ABD and Faf could have shown some resilience but these new-gen spinning duo would have owned them as well.

There’s a great deal of difference between Chahal-Kuldeep and Ashwin-Jaddu or Kumble-Harbhajan. These two youngsters never look to contain, rather their only focus is to toss it up, play it brave, back their instincts and go for wickets; right from ball one.

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You’d be astonished to know that these two have just played 9 ODIs together and have already established a reputation of being the best in the business. Not to be politically incorrect, they have literally shown the door to the stalwarts like Ashwin and Jadeja in the blues. People and experts say that it’s the new age rotation policy to keep the squad fit but I don’t seem to agree.

One thing which backs them to be fearless is the faith of Virat Kohli, the skipper. When the captain tells you that you will play every game, irrespective of the runs you leak, a bowler’s confidence reaches the pinnacle of self-belief. Kohli, who himself is all about intensity, aggression and delivering things; has imbibed the same grit in the team. Not to forget Dhoni’s mentoring from behind the stumps. Ball by ball you could see him guiding these wristies. With very little time they have spent with Mahi, they’ve listened to his insights, adapted and executed with great precision. They’ve been quick learners.

Another factor, which has helped them thrive, is the support from the quicks. Bumrah and Bhuvi have always given early break-throughs to the team. So, when these spinners come to bowl, the opposition is always one or two down minimum. They don’t have to start from the scratch; which wasn’t the case earlier.

Numbers don’t lie either. Chahal-Kuldeep duo has grabbed 35 wickets together in 9 games at an applauding strike rate of 24.55 with a meager economy rate of 4.75. Working in tandem and complementing each other is an art, which only a few can cherish. If you look at the strike rates of Ashwin-Jadeja and Kumble- Harbhajan, 40.64 and 46.17 tell a different tale. Yuzdeep duo strikes a wicket after every fourth over whereas the others used to do it around the seventh. It is a huge difference, in terms of the denting the morale.

Chahal is a very street-smart cricketer. He doesn’t change his pace that much — varies it from 85 kmph to 95 kmph. He’s skiddish. Kuldeep on the other hand, relies much on his variations of dip and aerial movement. Flighting the ball and putting right on money i.e. the areas where the batters are uncomfortable playing; is his forte. While most wrist-spinners are quicker through the air, the ability to slow it up and generate more turn even on unresponsive tracks has worked in the favour of India’s new-age heroes.

The wrist spinners have changed the dynamics the way modern day battles are fought. Post 2015, the wrist spinners have killed 81 preys at a strike rate of 27 while finger spinners had to work a lot harder.(58 kills at a strike rate of 52).

Chahal and Kuldeep are the batting equivalents of Sehwag & Sir Viv; where the default mode is set to attack. From Richie Benaud, a pioneer wrist spin, to the magical Shane Warne, the flame of wrist spin has found a wick in every generation and the duo is doing their bit with pride and valour.

They might not have the built and physical power but they have fitness, brains and a true grit by their side; which has even the rattled the South African spine and have left them bamboozled. Which one turns, which goes is a googly, which is the top-spinner, which is the flipper; they absolutely have no fucking clue about it.

These two have assassinated the sense of judgment of the South African Team.  As DiCaprio states, successful people are 100% convinced that they are masters of their own destiny, they’re not creatures of circumstance, they create circumstance, if the circumstances around them suck they change them; these two are calculated and fierce gamblers, who are destined to win; on any pitch and any condition.

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LiteratureSthan: Books, Beers and Beyond | JLF 2018

When a Methodist actor gets a standing ovation and the entire literary fraternity goes berserk by registering record attendance, shows that people have evolved and so is their taste in reading. This goes without a saying, Nawazzudin Siddiqui’s entry into JLF, the world’s greatest literary fest as Saadat Hassan Manto was a sight to witness.

People embraced the (to be) on-screen Manto with love and pride. I don’t think even a Shahrukh or Salman would’ve garnered the kind of response as he got. For those who don’t know, Manto was a rebel-writer and his short stories were brutal and would hit society right into the face. Toba Tek Singh, Kaali Shalwar and Thanda Gosht are some of his most proclaimed works. Do read them and let more people know of Manto’s world.

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Not only Urdu or English, the fest was a magnum opus for other vernacular writers. The new-generation readers who’ve forgotten the charm of anupraas- alankars were taken for a ride by Hindi stalwarts like Gaurav Solanki and Vyasji in their sessions.

Looking at a global scale, it was a multilingual & a multicultural fiesta. Never in one’s life could one imagine a 1-1 session with an undercover writer. Sounds fascinating right! It indeed is. Suki Kim is the only person to have ever lived in North Korea as an undercover agent for immersive journalism. She is a proud author of bestsellers like – The Interpreter and Without You There’s No Us. I mean, the kind of exposure this festival gives to readers and writers, you can’t even gauge the altitude of it.

People from all corners of the world had flocked in plenty for the Jaipur Literature Festival, which happened at the Diggi Palace/ Clark’s Amer from Jan 25-29. Young, adults, oldies; everyone had a special author to look forward to.

Rupi Kaur, the New York best seller and the prodigy of slam poetry mesmerized the adolescent teens (females primarily) with her book launch – The Sun and Her Flowers. Rupi, who attended JLF two years back from the audience, surely has moved a long way in to her life. Her anecdotes from Milk and Honey left a lot teary-eyed. On the other hand, adults who are into political awareness or kids frenzied with Tharoorian swag were left awestruck by Shashi’s book launch and session for Why I’m a Hindu. Tharoor, known for his immaculate oratorship, kept the claps flowing throughout as he spoke in Hindi for an hour. It was a treat to have witnessed him live.

Foodies from the sub-continent had some equally good moments from the sessions on their literary platter. Chand Sur, the author of #LucknowCookBook, a speaker who’s 92, took the crowd with a storm with her thoughts on food; transcending time and borders. According to Sur, food brings people together, irrespective of the borders and landscapes. Irish stew in Lucknow still feels the same to her as it was in Lahore. Balochi Machli and Bhuna Gosht are a few more entrants to her memoirs of partition.

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Taking the partition saga ahead, Aanchal Malhotra took the center-stage. Aanchal, the proud heiress of Delhi’s best Bookstore (Bahrisons) and the author of Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory spoke of her tales of interviewing people in Punjab, Kolkata, and Lahore and explained how food still connects so many people. Food constitutes a significant part of one’s memory as you tend to grow older, it becomes even more prominent. She also emphasized a lot on the fact that, no matter how many Kindles may come and go, physical books and Bookstores are here to stay and they’ll continue to thrive. I wish kindle had a way to preserve second hand notes and the fragrance of the gifted roses tucked in them for years.

In between the sessions you could grab a beer, chill a bit, go to the bookstore or see the fashionista brigade who were just there to grab the eye balls and had no connection with literature. Literature ka “L” bhi nahi aata hoga unhe. But, that I guess is the law of nature.

For every 5 dorks, 1 pretty instagrammer maintains the equilibrium of the universe.

The part which fascinated me the most was talking to the man behind JLF; Sanjoy K Roy, MD of Team Thought works. Roy tells how madly this fest has institutionalized the literary allure in the State. How, delegates, authors, journalists, PR guys and literature enthusiasts fly down from all across the globe and do their bit to increase the touristy quotient of the state. It has commercialized a bit, but that’s the need of hour in the emerging economy.

We – Bagga,Divij and I worked like crazy to take the best of the bytes, candid shots and kept the engagement quotient of Rajasthan Tourism’s handles up and kicking. Imagine working with a team, who had no interest in literature and eventually one fell for Rupi and the other on glamour, it captured outside the Penguin stall. One person I missed the most is Tarini. Had she been there, it’d be legendary. The bubbly, ever smiling, Arundhati fan is the most slaying (literally bole to katal) copywriter I’ve ever come across.

Not to forget, the Lal Maas on all the days for dinner and the charming buffet spread added up to divine luncheon scenes.

Keeping aside all the glittering aspects, there were moments, outside of the JLF arena; which I’m going to cherish for a lifetime – Staying in a dorm. Met Ram, a pediatrician from Chennai; Shantanu, a runaway kid; Bhaumik, Saanya,Vishakha – the Gujju gang. The best part about Gujjus attending JLF is that they idolize it a lot. After Navratri, this is their official/annual getaway ritual from home and is no less than a Tomorrowland. I got to know about other authors whom I had never heard about. Chitra Banerjee, Alice Walker, Mahasweta Devi, Alice Munro, Mohsin Hamid, Amy Tan, Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman; who has already set the internet on fire post his confirmation for 2019.

Dil Khush Ho Gaya. Never had work sounded this interesting, thanks to AGL.
I’m not sure when do I get to attend this festival as a special delegate. So, I enjoyed like there wasn’t any coming back. I shall try to imitate Rupi though. Need to start working aggressively on my book – prose on Cricket.

To sum it up, the Lit fest was lit af. Long live literature !