Winning it the Pablo-Ponting Way !

I’ve just finished watching Narcos and I must admit that there’s something highly intriguing & fascinating about it, that I can’t fathom the fact that it is actually over. For those who haven’t seen it, let me brief you a bit. Narcos is an American crime web television series, which tells the rags to riches story of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who became a billionaire through the production and distribution of cocaine. Escobar was a bad guy,no doubt! He was responsible for killing of human race via bombings and murders but there’s loads to gain from his management skills and the way he lead his troops is commendable.

Pablo’s character is very strong and the amount of self-belief this guy possesses is something unimaginable. He had three opponents – the Colombian police, the Americans and the other mafias but he always lived on his own terms, managed his business with only a handful of trusted sources and removed everyone that came in the way of his family or work. Pablo is one of my favorite characters on the screen and Ponting had been the same on a Cricketing field. Escobar clearly reminds me of the Punter.

I absolutely loved the show and appreciate every single moment of it. Narcos has been remarkably scripted and there hasn’t been a dull moment,just like Ponting’s career; full of undying winning spirit.

Here’s a quick look at Ponting’s amazing stats –

  • Most International runs by an Australian Batsman – 27,483
  • Most International Centuries by an Australian Batsman and second of all time – 71
  • Second to Graeme Smith for most Test victories as captain – 48
  • Most victories as ODI captain – 165
  • Undefeated as Captain in World Cups games -35 matches

Pablo had been a mass murderer and a drug lord whereas Ponting is one of the greatest players to have ever played the game. It would be unfair to draw parallels but there have been some striking similarities in terms of their leadership and behavioral traits.

Pablo Escobar - Ricky Ponting

Being Ruthless
Ponting embodied everything Australia stands for: toughness and a skilled craftsman, who cared about the baggy green. He stepped over the line many times, but was always dedicated to winning games for his country. Pablo on the similar lines,acted ruthless when his game was at the stake.He didn’t even think twice to bomb an airplane and a Court;simply because he to.Remember the Sydney test? You lie,you cheat,you steal but ultimately you got to win. It’s like a family,do whatever it takes to keep them safe and win at the same time.

Charismatic Leaders
Escobar was very bright in terms of seeking the opportunity and fixing the problems. Cocaine was practically unknown in the US when he started out and when he finished
he was one of the richest men in the world. His men could do anything for him. In terms of organization, originality, and leading with a strategic mindset he should be considered up there with Ponting. Not only did he have 3 consecutive Ashes wins in England under his belt but he made the Aussies invincible across all the formats.

He led from the front, always. In fact,Ponting’s 2003 WC final knock that outclassed India out of the game was so amazing that Indians started to believe that he had a spring in his bat back then.

Street Smart & Intimidating
Pablo could use his tons of money and his fear to get what he always wanted. It’s his ego towards becoming the President that got him killed. Ponting too was quite intimidating at the same time.He considered sledging as a tool to help his team getting a psychological advantage over the opponent. Hayden McGrath Lee Warne were his Gustavo, La Quica, Limon & Blackie. Highly faithful and dangerous resources. Winning 3 consecutive World Cups isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and Ponting did it in style.

The Bandits
Both Pablo & Ponting were rebellions in terms of their technique. You pitch him short, it’ll be pulled off for a six.Also, the way Pablo roams around in his car in Medellin, even though he had a bounty on his head;shows that he backs his instincts to succeed. Ponting always had a plan B in shape just like Pablo, who always had an escape route ready for him in adverse situations.The innings he played in 2005 Ashes, was exceptional. He displayed a magnificent display of his character especially when the greatest of his men no longer existed. Similarly, even though Pablo lost his biggest strength-his cousin Gustavo; he fought hard and won it with pride.

Think Big and Dominate
You dream big and make them come true.Pablo had told himself that he’d a billionaire by 25. He did! Ponting too on similar lines did the unfathomable.Back in January 1999 he was banned for three matches after a nightclub brawl. He slogged hard and the world eventually saw him becoming Test Captain five years later is testament to the guy’s work ethic and dedication to the post he ascended to.Every time he walked to the crease he had fire in his eyes. He had determination, aggression and a great temperament. He had an amazing ability to attack and play shots that you could not set fields to defend against.

A naive boy from Tasmania went onto become the greatest captain of all time. It takes balls of steel to achieve this feat.

Crazy at Different Levels
I mean who wages a war against his own Govt. Ponting too at the same time, wasn’t any less.Be cool, be in control and not only handle fear but induce it to the opposition. That was their mantra. Now, coming to the 2006-07 Ashes series, Ponting was under huge pressure as Australia had conceded the urn to England the previous year. It was a make or break Ashes for Ponting as another defeat could well have meant the end for his term as the captain.But he absorbed the pressure gracefully, lived up to his reputation by leading the team from the front. He instilled fear in the eyes of the opposition by playing fearless Cricket.

He played a belligerent knock of 196 which still goes down in the history books as one of his finest stints ever. Not only it set up the match for an Australian victory but eventually paved way for a 5-0 thrashing of England in that Ashes series.

Summing it up with this quote from Ricky Ponting –Always be fiercely determined and driven to succeed.

Both were proven Punters in their own way. Ultimately,it all boils down to which side are you on. Pablo achieved his fate (got killed) whereas Ponting nurtured his soul into something constructive and is still hailed as a legendary batsman & captain for all the right reasons.

Cheers to the great gamblers.

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In conversation with Brett Lee’s Ball

I think it’s been a while I have moved my arse off Bangalore. I have been acting too lazy to plan a trip.What’s wrong with you boy? Life’s too short to not travel, meet your favorite people, eat the food you like, love what you do and get lost in your wanderlust. Better do something about your life bitch ! These were the exact thoughts hovering in my mind just before I dozed off last night.

Helloes ! Anyone here? Binga ! Binga !
He is not at home. He is busy with the Irishmen, preaching the art of pace bowling in the World Cup.Either you can go to the ground now or you can drop a note and I shall pass it on to my master.Oh ! Okay. I am a huge fan of Brett Lee since my childhood. Do you mind if I sit here for a while and absorb the moment. Surely, and by the way same here. I’m so glad to have been in his hands for the last one and a half decades. Though, my shine and seam has gone for a toss but still the amount of respect this Kookaburra gets till day is impeccable.

Binga !

Ahaan. Can I please jot down this conversation, so I can go back and share it with my cricket frenzied nation? Definitely. Just make sure it’s brutally honest; the way my master is, said the leather cherry smilingly. Bowl !

Lalit : Pardon me. I didn’t get your name?
Ball : Haha. That’s fine. I am The Blonde’s Bombshell. I got the name when I sent 5 batsmen back to the pavilion with pride and pace equaling Lillee’s record of a five-for on the debut. Lee running with his blonde hair, caressing me on the way to do the trick and boom I did full justice to my master’s expectations.It was the perfect welcome anyone could get into the cricketing arena.

Lalit : How do you compare that day with today?
Ball : As mentioned earlier, when though I have become old and torn but till day we both share a mutual admiration towards each other. We are still the best of friends. He plays with me every morning and makes sure I am being valued .I am sexy and I know it.

Lalit : When did you actually realize that you were in great hands?
Ball :  It was in 2005, The Boxing Day. Kallis, one of the most difficult guys to penetrate through was on the strike. Lee kissed me and told me look friend gear up! Trust me you are gonna love this ride. He ran fiercely and held me tightly from head to toe and with that trajectory I went bouncing right into his helmet bamboozling him completely. Kallis was left dumbstruck. Minutes later, I knocked his timbers out of the groove. Then I realized, if I can get into this hole, I am not but my master is awesome.

Lalit : Is there any incident, which was too funny and still cracks you up?
Ball :  Yeah sometime back Piers Morgan challenged Lee that he would belt me all round the park.I looked at Brett and said game on. Forget about hitting me, he couldn’t even feel me till I hit him right on his shoulder, head, hand and booty respectively. You can call that stint as #TearsForPiers. Still cracks me up the way he ran for his life after that over.

Lalit : Is there any achievement you would like to share in particular?
Ball :  I don’t wish to act like a humble brag. But since you have asked me, let me share it. Not one, rather two actually.Firstly,I was the first one to take a T-20 hat trick .Secondly,I have the highest blood count of 380 scalps on my seam in ODIs as an Australian.

Lalit : What is that one day you wish to delete from your life?
Ball: Damn! You reminded me again.
Lalit : I am sorry. You can skip it.
Ball : It’s fine. Even though it was unintentional but I still feel bad. I ended Alex Tudor’s career in 2002 as I hit him right on the face.

Lalit : Which batsmen do you dislike the most?
Ball : Brian Lara and VVS Laxman. Former was a slaughter and the latter a surgeon. These two gave me sleepless nights and I hate them.

Lalit : Who is your best friend apart from Lee?
Ball : Adam Gilchrist. He takes care of me and I feel safe in his gloves. It’s a delight to watch Lee celebrate from that view as well.

Lalit: How has your journey been so far?
Ball :  Adventurous. I was always on the run. Lee never slowed down, however the conditions were. I was criticized in the early 2000s for not being a quality test material and as in and out of the side due to poor form and a couple of injuries. That was a sad time sitting back at home. Then I recovered back and answered the critics. In the 2005 I hit the 99.99 miles/hour barrier in NZ. That was insane and moreover when you have an outrageous fan following through thick and thin you feel loved and pampered (by the female ones). Overall a great stint with international career.

Lalit : Lastly tell us about the farewell day at Big Bash.
Ball : I was a no less than a romantic thriller. Initially I was seeing the proceedings with a heavy heart, was recollecting all the good memories that I had cherished on the field but then in the last over I became a thriller as I picked up 3 wickets nearly giving the title to the Sydney Sixers.

Well, it was great talking to you and before I could thank him for the wonderful insights I woke up from my slumber and was transported back to Namma Bengaluru from New South Wales where Lee lives. Hail Binga and his Bombshell !

PS: I won’t procrastinate, going to Amritsar finally and yeah Good morning.

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 !