Zen and the Art of becoming a Complete Bowler: Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Kumar may not be the most unusual name in the Indian folklore but the UP pacers know it well how to stand out, especially when it comes to swing bowling. Praveen, the impelling right arm bowler from Meerut had earlier demonstrated the world that Indians could also talk the ball, both ways. Before he left into oblivion, his prodigy; Bhuvi was all set to take the world with the storm. Lean, simple, the goodie-good chocolate boy looks had a demon inside, alas! He was more deceptive and lethal as compared to his master.

bhuvaneshwar

Bhuvneshwar entered the batsman dominated world of Indian Cricket and stung in his first over in every format, he ventured into.  He couldn’t have asked for a better debut. The lad was all across the media – print, digital, radio; you name it. The entire nation was frenzied by his bowling skills. Literally, one needs balls of steel to be the talk of the town and provide a ray of hope to 2 billion souls, who’ve been in pursuit of finding a name, they could chant; who could make the batsmen’s timbers grovel.

One simply doesn’t dismiss the God of Indian cricket on a golden duck unless his name is Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

I think all this was enough for him to stamp authority.

Within no time he was spearheading the Indian attack. He did justice to his stature on greener tracks and chipped in with valuable contributions with the bat. He was great to open, the captains also showed faith but lack of pace & stamina made him leak runs at the death. He struggled to put the balls in the block hole and ended up serving juicy half-vollies. Eventually, if you could negate him at the start, he became too predictable later on. Weak shoulders didn’t allow him either to hit the deck and shock the batsmen with an odd bouncer. Within no time, he joined the league of Mohit Sharmas and other nobodies of Indian medium pace Dept.

Fame and the dream to continue playing for India looked like a mirage as he was shuffled in and out of the squad. Then he started working on his pace, rather than improvising his strengths. He was left into no man’s land just like Irfan Pathan. His mojo was gone. The pace was a notch higher but ineffective. Gloom was the exact word written on his fate.

But God has its own way of putting things into perspective when you refuse to bow down. Luckily Sunrisers Hyderabad happened. He became the cog of the unit; regained his lost confidence. Started bowling at the death along with Mustafizur and did wonders for the team and helped the team win the title as well. This paved his way to the Indian team. Bumrah pairs him in the limited overs and Shami with the red cherry.

His innate ability to swing the bowl into the right handers outside the sub-continent makes him the mvp of this young gen team India. He has become a thinking bowler and contrary to bowling as per the batsman’s reputation, he bowls on his strengths and backs himself. With the Nagarkotis and breed steaming at 145 KMPH+, it’ll be challenging for the mainline bowlers to keep upto their best.

Bhuvi has shattered all the stereotypes of a traditional pacer. He doesn’t need a beefy physique, tattooed arms and rash voice to outfox the batters. The transformation from a lethal opening bowler to becoming a complete package (opening, shielding the team at the death with his miser economy rate) has been phenomenal. At times, Bhuvi outnumbers the death specialist, Bumrah too. His yorkers and boundary clogging deliveries at the death speak volumes of his temperament and the zeal to thrive.

I’m sure, Bhuvi will be the guiding force and play a pivotal role in India’s performance in 2018, the year where majority of India’s games are scheduled overseas. He’s expected to be back in the third test against the Proteas where Kohli and team will fight for pride. Since, he no longer depends on any turf, his ability to play and deliver in all conditions makes it a no brainer for any captain to play him in every game, every format.

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Why need feminism when you have badassery in your blood !

I just finished reading Atlas Shrugged, the iconic master-piece by Ayn Rand; and must admit that it is one of the finest book I’ve read in a long time.It includes the elements of science fiction,mystery,romance and most importantly it contains Rand’s greatest work on Objectivism. In Greek mythology, Atlas was a Titan. The Titans waged war against the Olympians(Zeus & his supporters) and lost. As punishment, Zeus made Atlas forever hold up the heavens on his shoulders. You must’ve observed Atlas holding up the globe;which brings the poetic justice to the phrase “the weight of the world on your shoulders.” And, shrug means to surrender.

In the book, Atlas serves as a metaphor for all the smart, creative “doers” in the world:
the industrialists, the artists, the engineers, the professors, etc. According to her,just
like Atlas, these are the people responsible for supporting the entire world. In Rand’s
opinion, they are all mistreated and are opposed by bad government policies. So they all go on strike and basically “shrug” off the weight of the world.

Dagny Taggart, the protagonist of the novel; who also happens to run the largest network of trans-continental trains is an epitome of unapologetic bravery and independence. She is a kick-ass role model for women in business. She knows what she wants, how she wants it, and most importantly, what she’s willing to get the improbable.Her fearless approach in life makes me wonder do we really need the so called “Feminism”to succeed in life. When you have the capability to do things, rather than screaming your lungs out in lieu of pseudo attention, why not have great accomplishments ?

Another factor which attributed me to write this Blog was this new hoopla of females being granted offs for periods. Do you really thing it empowers women ? You don’t achieve equality by demanding special privileges.On one hand, we talk about women power and debate about women getting an active place in combats, and now we are advocating leave for periods. It’s like going back in time and making things worse. I know the biological clock offers a great deal of pain but don’t you think it’s unfair for the men at work. Another man in the same office puts extra 20 hours for the same money. People will tend to hire more men then.Also,any woman can fake it and take an off. It puts their integrity into jeopardy. I think it’s a bad move.

In a parallel world, we have Harmanpreet Kaur and Dagny Taggart slaying it with their
game. Dagny and Harman, both represent the new age modern women, leading from the front. They don’t believe in making excuses or playing the pity-card. They believe in getting the shit done. Harmanpreet Kaur, the Arjuna award winner and the dashing batter from Moga is a path breaker for her contemporaries and Indian women’s Cricket.

She is the first Indian cricketer (male or female) to have signed a Big Bash League contract. She recently came to limelight when she scripted India’s finest victory by slamming 171* (off just 115 balls) against Australia in WC semi final by becoming the 5th Highest run-Scorer in ODIs. Not just this,she also became the highest run scorer (male/female) in knockouts of an ICC event, surpassing Ganguly.

The way she raced to 150 from 101 in mere 17 balls, is something quite astonishing. Currently, she is the second-highest run-getter for India,after Deepti Sharma. It was out of the world power-hitting by the girl from Moga district in Punjab,something that has made her a stand-out player for India.These girls might have lost the final but the way they fought and exhibited magnificent display of character, I am sure it must’ve inspired a whole new breed of females to have picked up a bat and dream something new.

In a male dominated frenzied sport, where people used to be unaware of any match being played by the girls, people in India watched the game, supported them with their hearts and souls and even expressed their fury when they lost. I think Harmanpreet and co have done their job. The spark has been ignited.

Here is a list of striking similarities between Dagny Taggart & Harmanpreet Kaur and a tight slap on the face of all these feminazis –

1.Powerhouse of style and substance.
Just like Dagny’s speeches and unparalleled gala room looks, Kaur too thrives on her
straight-bat drives; empowered with authority and class written all over them.

“The straight line is the badge of man, the straight line of a geometrical abstraction that makes roads, rails and bridges, the straight line that cuts the curving aimlessness of nature by a purposeful motion from a start to an end”

2. Talk less, work more.
Harman was questioned by the media and even tested for dope when she hit a 88 m six in her early days. She preferred to ignore the haters/critics and let her bat do the talking. I think where she stands now, speaks volumes about her mental toughness & character. It’s useless to argue, with people who would neither refute an argument nor accept it.As Dagny professes it right from her childhood days, this is their mantra –

“I’ve always been unpopular in school and it didn’t bother me, but now I’ve discovered the reason. It’s an impossible kind of reason. They dislike me, not because I do things badly, but because I do them well. They dislike me because I’ve always had the best grades in class. I don’t even have to study. i always get A’s.Do you suppose I should try to get D’s for a change and become the most popular girl in school?”

3. Drape a cape, the situation needs
In case you seen Kaur’s game, she adjusts herself to the needs of the team. She started slowly in the semis,when India were 2 down at the start. Later,once the foundations were laid with Mithali, she pressed the accelerator button and went full berserk.And bowls too as in when required.Similar is the case with Dagny.

For Francisco, she’s the symbol of his quest to reshape the world. For Hank, she’s the wife he always wanted, as well as an inspirational teacher. For Eddie, she’s a heroic, larger-than-life figure. For John Galt, she’s the symbol of his ideals and his soulmate. Wear the cape, the situation needs. Moreover, right from sharing legendary strategies in the board roam to laying down the rails of the John Galt line to recruiting the man with the golden motor, she has performed every role her company demanded her to.

4. Defying stereotypes of the man’s world.
In terms of stats, Harman is rated above Ganguly in the knockout games and can dispatch the ball out of the park greater than maybe Kohli’s strength. It’s a brave new world, where anyone capable of doing anything significant technically and rationally,can do wonders;irrespective of the gender. Dagny too, showed immense maturity in handling topics like civil engineering, tensile strengths of materials, aerodynamics; did a better job than her brother James or any other man alive. And yeah these fields are considered to be the man’s domain.

5. Epitome of self assuredness.
Quoting Dagny Taggart once again, “You don’t have to see through the eyes of others, hold onto yours, stand on your own judgment, you know that what is, is–say it aloud, like the holiest of prayers, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” She didn’t leave Hank Rearden’s side, rather stood by her no matter what the circumstances were -be it for Rearden steel or being labelled as her mistress. she didn’t let go of her dream to build the Galt’s line, even though it was opposed by zillion bureaucrats. She did what she thought was right, without seeking any validation from any other person. Also, had Harman thought of her neighbors and relatives while choosing this as her career, I don’t think she would’ve reached these heights of glory.

Never saw these two women whining about anything.I think they are a perfect eye-opener for everyone in the society. You don’t have to forcefully hog the limelight to be famous. Love what you do with pride,dignity, dominance and fun; the world is yours. Play with your boldness, not the victim card. Be a bad-ass, not a feminist.

Sources – ESPNCricinfo, GoodReads, Aynrand.org

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.

The phenomenon called KL Rahul!

He’s not as consistent as Virat! Neither as powerful as MSD! Nor as flamboyant as Rohit! He’s different! Whatever the young lad from Mangalore has achieved in such short span of time, speaks volumes on his temperament and position him far above his contemporaries.

Well, the ‘Rahul’ factor does drive me crazy. Coincidently, both KL Rahul and Rahul Dravid (my role model and his’ too) are from Karnataka, both are part time keepers, both didn’t do well initially in their limited overs games but then they adapted. He’s the same Rahul who struggled big time in the T20s, was responsible for a lot of middle over collapses for the Sunrisers and now went onto score a 46 ball maiden T20 ton, which almost fetched us the victory.

Little did the world know of him! And then the USA happened.
After Narendra Modi, if there’s anyone who has cashed big time from this country, is this man, KL Rahul!

India was playing the first of the two-match series against West Indies at Lauderhill, Florida. A merciless track was offered and the Caribbean men went on to score a mammoth 244 on the board. Honestly, it appeared to be a baseball match where every second ball went out of the park and the crowd enjoyed the frenzy to the very core.

I mean, the Indian bowlers did bowl equally hopelessly and the fact that till the 20th over they didn’t realize that those butchers can’t play the ball on the off side, paved the way for Rahul’s astonishing innings in the later half.

Let me throw some light on his innings and what made it so special.

Even though the expected run-rate was above 13 right from the start, yet he didn’t even play a single slog on a slug turf! He held his head high throughout the game, kept on hitting proper cricketing shots and those sixes over covers off the bowling of Narine, did give me a divine sense of satisfaction. Later he pounded Russell, one of the best death bowler for the opposition, gave nightmares to nervous nineties and reached his maiden ton with a six in an emphatic manner.

With that feat, he become the second player to reach his 100 with a six across Tests, ODIs and T20s.
He can bat exceptionally well across all the three formats. In Tests and ODIs, he had already proved himself in Australia and Zimbabwe with the little opportunities that he had got. And now, with this exceptional knock he became the youngest player to have hit centuries across all international formats. It just took him 20 innings to go into the history books.

Rahul doesn’t try to hit the ball too hard yet averages 90+ in the shorter versions of the game.

Without an iota of doubt, he is the successor of Dhawan and must be replace him in all formats with immediate effect. I re-iterate, he is one of the very few people who accepted their flaws, worked on the technique, adapted and thrived for excellence. His ability to adjust in all the conditions, to play with a simplistic approach and to take the attack back to the oppositions makes him one of the modern day greats.

Hail Rahul! Keep roaring.

Sasural Shikhar Ka

Last evening when Shikhar Dhawan was grooming his mustache while the team was practicing for the big game against the Proteas, Dhawan got a call. To his sheer surprise his mother-in-law had called, with whom he hadn’t spoken in ages. Who would’ve thought a phone call from a saasu maa, would’ve changed the course of the game and history would be re-written.

Look son, it’s an ultimatum call for you. We cannot even go out in the colony.
Considering your current form and the rate at which our neighbors are teasing us, I think we will have to relocate unless you start performing.

Hail Dhawan !

Dhawan giving Choke-slam to the Proteas!

It made Shikhar re-think on his game plan and he skipped the mustache grooming session and Dhawan was seen practicing in the nets today morning. Rest is history.
Courtesy his fearless choke slams, India defeated South Africa in the World Cups in the fourth head-to-head encounter finally.

On a funny note, here is the match summary (In case you wish to give a damn!)
Feb 22, 2015                                                                                 Melbourne, Australia
India – 307/7 (50 Overs) defeated SA 177/10 (40.2 overs)
MoM- Shikhar Dhawan for his fearless knock of 137 off 146 balls.

Sewaiyaan triggers Pakistani batting collapse, reveals Pakistan Bureau of Investigation.

Christchurch: Pakistani team seemed confident after the Caribbean boys put just 310 runs on the board, which was in sync with the Whatsapp message that predicted easy win for the men in green. Investigations revealed that during the innings break, while walking back to the pavilion Pakistani fielders saw a few fans eating Sewaiyaan and carrying a poster inviting them to have them outside.

#WontGiveItBack

#WontGiveItBack

Tempted with the invitation, Misbah discussed it with the team. Finally a unanimous call was taken that a plate full of Sewaiyaan is any day better than the empty cup and let’s finish the innings ASAP.Now the tussle started over the opening slot as to the surprise Misbah started padding up. Shehzad and Jamshed opposed the captain and claimed

that as openers they should get the chance to get out first to taste the sewaiyaans. Shehzad, Jamshed,Haris and Younis were already outside the stadium by the time Pakistan made just 1 run hunting for the sewaiyaan guy. They saw a food-truck parked nearby with a lot of WEST-Indian fans.The Paki fab-4 inquired about the sewaiyaan, to which everyone replied #WontGiveItBack and offered them a complimentary dhokla.

The fab-4 rushed back to the dressing room to inform that it was a hoax call. By the time they were back Pakistan was already 25-5 and a padded Misbah was rushing out to get his share.After knowing the grim reality he passed the message to the on-pitch pair to bat sensibly as they were fooled. Maqsood and Akmal gave it a shot but it was too late.

Meanwhile, the matter got escalated and we may see a sewaiyaan ban in Pakistan.

On a funny note, here is the match summary (In case you wish to give a damn!)
Feb21, 2015                                                                             Christchurch, New Zealand
Pak– 160/10 (39 Overs) Lost to WI 310/6 (50 overs)
MoM- Andre Russell for his all-round performance of 33-3 and 42 off 13 balls with the bat.

Ajinkya Madhukar Rahane : The Pursuit Of Versatility

As the name suggests,”Ajinkya” which means invincible;this Marathi boy is an insightful talent when it boils down to discipline and professionalism.

Calm,focused,introvert,gentleman and steady like an impregnable fortress,Rahane is an ideal Dravid prodigy. Ajinkya,with his technical eminence and stalwart demeanour has cemented his spot in the Indian line (both Tests and ODIs) with extreme delicacy.

The perfect straight drive.

The perfect straight drive.

Rohit is injured. Can you open ? YES!

Yuvraj is out of form.Can you reinforce the middle order ? YES!

The team is crumbling overseas.Can you bat at number 3 and anchor the innings? YES!

Slip cordon looks vulnerable.Can you stand at slips and pull off blinders? YES!

Team needs some buoyancy.Can you carry drinks? YES!

Within no time,the nifty right hander has evolved as the most faithful name in the Indian cricketing household and indeed Rahane is the epitome of a modern day versatile cricketer.

Epitome of versatility- Rahane

India’s current batting brigade with Rahane as the most versatile batsman

He has a subtle blend of timing ,artistry and aggression which not only has helped him flourish in the sub-continent but overseas as well,where others did struggle in the recent times.Till date I have not seen Rahane slog,exactly the way his mentor used to play.

With the mighty Australian tour lined up,his skills would come handy especially facing Mitchell Johnson. If he can shield the team from his wrath and try inspiring the team by sticking on the wicket,our young guns might turn out to be formidable.Also,Virat is sort of back in the form. Hence, I strongly believe that the duo of Rahane and Kohli have the balls to turn the tide this time. Hoping to witness a good show and #InRahaneKohliWeTrust trending in the Kangaroo land.

Rewinding a bit,Rahane incepted his vintage form from being called as The Night’s Watch for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL season 6. The boy had become a man back then.He scored 560 runs at a scintillating average of 40 from 16 games at a strike rate of
130,which included two classy knocks of 98 and 103* as well.

Tendulkar’s retirement proved a blessing in disguise for Ajinkya.He was offered a permanent berth in the Indian side at number 4.Finally,his patience paved off and that meant NO MORE BENCH for him.

Without seeking much of stardom,Rahane silently started putting some runs under his belt ,that too on the foreign soils.Right from 51* and 96 in Durban to 118 against the black caps,Rahane always kept his head high and did his job meticulously.Subsequently,his rock solid technique fetched him a ton at the Mecca of Cricket as well.That knock of 103 at Lords marked the dawn of a new phenomena – a phenomena of trust,hard work and consistency.He carried that momentum and scored a vintage ton at Birmingham in the third ODI in the same 2014 England tour.

A moment to cherish. Ton @ Lords.

A moment to cherish.Ton @ Lords.

Effortless straight drives,mighty pulls and a chip over cover are the prime ammunitions in his armoury.It’s a treat to watch him bat when he is on a song.But it is equally disheartening to see him throw his wicket after being well settled ,the way he did at
Dharamsala recently.The effort that he had putting scoring those 68 crucial runs went in vain.He certainly needs to work on that bit.

But let me tell you one thing very clearly.Whether it is Rahane ,Kohli or Pujara these lads should never be rated against the veterans.It is unfair for both the camps.Those legends belonged to a different ball game altogether.They played under different circumstances,under a different leader with a different mindset.Give them some time to explore,to struggle,to loose and to fight back.Trust me,you will eventually start looking up to them as well.

On a positive note,with the kind of form he is in both personally(just got married) & professionally,if he continues this sort of maturity for another year or so; I definitely see him steering team India to the paths of glory.