Archive

IPL

SACHIN TENDULKAR PORTRAIT

 

By Rohinee Iyer

One marvels at the cricketing legacy of Sachin Tendulkar; of 24-years spent playing – dedicating – for his country as a sportsman par excellence, even as the closeness of his impending retirement makes one wish to stop the time-clocks for eternity. The emotions are quite difficult to contain, especially as the excitement to see him perform and to do well war with the knowledge that this would be the last time the cricketing world would get to see Tendulkar don the Test whites for India. And it is this knowledge that brings in the memories of the past for the mind’s eyes to see and behold.

Right from the time Tendulkar made his debut on the international cricketing circuit, it was obvious that he was earmarked for being more than a mere presence in the Indian cricketing realm. That feeling was reinforced in the fifth Test between India and Pakistan at Sialkot, where Tendulkar stood tall in cricketing stature despite blood gushing freely from his nose. In a battle between the bowler and the batsman, the latter had emerged a clear winner, even striking the very next ball for a four, as if to signify that all was well.

The incident occurred in 1989, a year in which perhaps many of the cricketer’s fans may not have even been born; yet, the significance of the event is so enormous that no Tendulkar fan, irrespective of his date of birth, can ignore it. The subsequent years, the start of the 90s, only brought in more laurels for the baby-faced cricketer. His looks flummoxed many an experienced cricketer who thought him to be an easy prey to their blows – both verbal and physical. The baby-faced warrior, of course, absorbed all of the blows, and gave back more than he received.

His first century – against England in 1990 – rammed home the news, especially to the opponents, that the future of Indian cricket was in the best of hands. That innings also brought an understanding to the Indian selectors and the otherwise highly critical Indian cricketing fans that the high bar of maturity and flair that was first witnessed in Tendulkar at the national first class level was only going to be raised higher on the international cricketing platform. The knock of 119 at Old Trafford was truly a match-saving one even as the rest of the Indian batting order wilted under the accuracy of the English bowlers. In truth, it spoke of what Tendulkar would eventually go on to do for Indian cricket – become its lynchpin in the most literal sense.

His inherent talent shone through yet again a couple of years later in 1992, when the 19-year old notched a century on the difficult batting track at WACA against Australia; a team that boasted of the likes of Reid, McDermott and Hughes amongst its bowling order. It was a piece of sublime batting, one that laid the foundation of a lifelong endearment on the part of the Aussie crowds towards him, alongside respectful acknowledgement from his merciless opponents.

The most unique thing about Tendulkar has been his ability to read not just players, but situations as well. It was this acumen that allowed him to maintain stability throughout the years and in all forms of the game.

Unlike the longer format of the game, Tendulkar’s start in ODIs was relatively mediocre. But his achievements over the course of the years ensured that he went on to pile on runs incomparable to anyone else. Time and again, the whole nation held its hopes high about India winning matches with Tendulkar at the crease. Time and again, the nation believed that this man would get the team through – if not with his batting, then with his bowling. The 1996 World Cup was testimony – a reinforcement – of what Tendulkar could do single-handedly, and what the loss of his wicket could do to impact the momentum of the team.

In 2011, the Indian cricket team dedicated its World Cup victory to Sachin Tendulkar with Virat Kohli’s words about carrying Sachin on his shoulders ringing in everyone’s ears. It was justified ovation, just as it was a justified statement from a cricketer towards his senior. The whole of that World Cup, Tendulkar played a part as one of the team, often taking the backseat even as his other team members went on about attacking opponents; a humongous difference to the 1996 World Cup, when he had to take on multiple roles single-handedly and get the job done for India.

But no matter what role Tendulkar played in the team, he did it for the team because he was a part of the team. He never saw himself as a separate person from the rest of the team composition. Always a team player, be it at the inter-school level or at the first class level, it’s this ability of Tendulkar’s that has made him what he is today. A veritable giant among cricketers, who was always able to modulate his game as the sport evolved, Sachin Tendulkar’s absence will indeed leave a huge gap amongst the cricketing ranks.

 

Advertisements

Blog by: Soccer Souls
Every single coach, player, manager and team has a different philosophy and different strengths to play to. Many will question the title’s integrity as they will say, ‘well if you don’t shoot you don’t score’ and ‘you don’t score from crossing’. To a certain extent this is true but it is all about the players you have around you and being aware of the strengths individually and collectively.

Barcelona's success story

Barcelona is a perfect example of whether it is better to shoot or cross. Barcelona is arguably the best team in football right now (well let’s just asume) and has assembled one of the best sides in the game. They are known for playing football the right way with their pass and move approach and their high work rate to win the ball back higher up the pitch. They are an extremely small team so why would their manager, Gerardo Martino encourage them to cross the ball from out wide when all their attacking players are less than 6’0 tall? Although Martino’s style has drastically changed to that of Pep’s Barcelona, the Catalan club’s swift pass and move style has stuck to them.

In contrast you can look at a team like Stoke City who are known for their aerial ball game because of the amount of physical and tall players they have in their side. In Peter Crouch, you have one of the tallest professional footballers at 6’8. If he is 30 yards from goal would you encourage him to have a long range go at goal or get the ball out to a wide man and dart into the box for the cross? Every team has their own philosophy and it will always be playing to their strengths.

A recent statistic taken from a few of the previous seasons from the English Premier League show that 23% of the goals were scored from crosses, either from set pieces or open play. Football can be quite a mathematical game and can always be measured down by angles. If you’ve got a free kick in a central position 30 yards from goal and you’ve got a clear line of fire then the goalkeeper will find it hard to save if you can hit a corner. However, if you’re in a wide position, the angles are narrowed down and make it a lot easier for the goalkeeper to save if you decide to shoot. This is why crossing from set pieces can be so effective.

It has been calculated that an extra 0.57 goals would be scored per game in the English Premier League game if crossing was reduced and teams took a more direct approach at goal. This is an inaccurate statistic however as it purely looks at the goals to crossing ratio. It doesn’t take into account that the cross was a good one but it was just a poor piece of finishing at the end of it.

A quick look at the 2011/2012 English Premier League season shows us that Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United both scored 18 goals from set pieces. Both have different reasons to why they were successful in scoring so many goals from crosses. Blackburn Rovers are a very big physical team; the chances are that if you put the ball in the box, they are more than likely to come out on top of a 50/50 aerial challenge. Manchester United has the ability in abundance and has world class players to put crosses in the perfect position which will give the strikers every chance of scoring.

Crossing from open play is a much harder task as there will be different factors to consider. From a set piece the defenders have to be at least 10 yards from you before the ball is kicked. In open play, there are no rules or regulations in place and you could be put under enormous pressure trying to get a cross into the box which will sufficiently alter the quality of the cross. Only 1 cross in 4.87 crosses is an accurate one and only 1 cross in 91.47 leads to a goal.

It is a very interesting statistic but you will still see many managers barking orders at their wingers to get past their defender and whip a cross in. The main reason is because if the cross is one of them 4.87 accurate ones, it will result in an opportunity being created. The cross created might not necessarily be scored from directly but unless the defenders have the ability to clear the ball to safety then the danger is never cleared. The defenders could simply clear the cross to the edge of the box for an oncoming midfielder to shoot into the net so this is why crossing from open play is encouraged by some managers.

Is shooting better than crossing? For some teams yes, for others no! Every team plays to their strengths and you can analyze all the data in football but one piece of magic will create a goal, whether it’s from a shot or a cross.

On 2nd March 2008, as Sachin Tendulkar scored a century to lead India to a victory over Australia in the first final of the CB series, news about the triumph of another Indian cricket team trickled in.

In Malaysia, a bunch of teenagers had got themselves a place in history by becoming only the second Indian team to win the Under-19 cricket World Cup.

Defending 18 runs in the final over of the rain curtailed summit clash against South Africa, a little known Punjab seamer Siddharth Kaul showcased great skills and a sense of maturity to bowl a brilliant last over in which he gave away just six runs and picked up two wickets and seal a thrilling victory.

Siddarth Kaul at 2008 U19 World Cup

The performance capped off a brilliant campaign for the right-arm medium pacer who finished with 10 wickets at a measly 15.4 runs apiece to emerge as the joint highest wicket-taker for India in the tournament.

Many of his teammates from the World Cup winning team have made it big at the next level. His skipper in the World Cup, Virat Kohli is now one of the leading batsmen in world cricket and first in line to take the mantle of captaincy from Mahendra Singh Dhoni. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, after a roller-coaster ride in the international circuit, is now the leading bowler in ODI cricket.

Even the likes of Saurabh Tiwary and Manish Pandey have proved their mettle and are sought after entities in the IPL. But Kaul has been left to play catch up as a spate of injuries and poor form conspired to derail his career.

Coached by his father Tej Kaul, a former Team India physiotherapist, from a very young age, Kaul started his first class career in the 2007-08 season and made an immediate impact. Making his debut alongside his brother, Punjab wicketkeeper Uday Kaul, he started off with a five-wicket haul against Orissa and caught the attention of selectors despite the presence of other domestic stalwarts like Gagandeep Singh and VRV Singh.

Following his success in the Under-19 grade, he was lapped up by Kolkata Knight Rider in the IPL. Though he was on the bench throughout the tournament, he was marked as one to watch out for in the future. But that is when things took an ugly turn.

During a league match in Delhi, he suffered a serious injury on his knee while fielding. Kaul was diagnosed with a grade I ligament rupture which forced him out of the action for several months.

The knee got further damaged when he tried to make an ill advised early comeback even though he hadn’t completely recuperated from the injury. Kaul had to take a lengthy break from competitive cricket and work towards his recovery and fitness under the watchful eyes of his physiotherapist father.

After missing out for a complete season, Kaul slowly got into the grove with some decent performances in Under-22 All India C K Nayadu Trophy and was all set to make a return to the Punjab Ranji team but the worse was yet to come.

In another cruel twist of destiny, he strained his side during a practice session and was, once again, sidelined from action. One more season in wilderness followed. Bowling and injuries, they say, go hand in hand and Kaul was having a first hand experience of the maxim.

Back to back setbacks would have been tough to handle for any budding youngster but Kaul brought his mental strength to the fore. It was during this period that the compelling story of Yuvraj Singh’s fight with cancer surfaced and Kaul drew every bit of inspiration from his senior state-mate’s struggle against the deadly disease.

The prayers and the perseverance eventually paid off as Kaul finally made his much awaited comeback into first class cricket in the 2012-13 season. It also proved to be a breakthrough season for the right arm medium pacer who announced his return with a rich haul of 44 wickets in 9 matches to finish as the second highest wicket-taker in the Ranji competition.

According to him, the glut of wickets were not due to any new weapon in his armoury or any major technical change in his bowling but due to a greater emphasis on hitting the right line and length. He was more keen on getting the basics right and be patient for the results – an often underrated requisite in four-day cricket which Kaul probably learnt during the torturous two years he spend on the sidelines.

Siddarth Kaul picked up 4 wickets in 6 matches for Delhi Daredevils in IPL 6

Recently declared as the Best Emerging Cricketer by the Punjab Cricket Association, he has been given a spot in the South Africa bound India A team.

Ever since one can remember, the seam department has been a perennial issue for the men in blue and a good show in the tour will fast track Kaul to the seniors’ team.

The wickets in South Africa will have more bounce and will be conducive for the pacers but he, on his first tour to South Africa, must ensure that he doesn’t get carried away and keeps his basics right.

Rahul Dravid has sounded out an alarm to Indian cricket

Rahul Dravid carries a distinct image of a very sensible man. Perhaps, after Sachin Tendulkar, he falls under the category of the most liked cricketers of recent times. He is a truly a gentleman, but he has also got the guts to raise his voice.

He was one of the first players who had shown anger and grief publicly, when a few players playing under his captaincy at Rajasthan Royals were found indulged in spot fixing. It is his honesty and brave attitude that leads to immense media coverage for whatever he says.

He has clearly stated that respect and regards for cricket might decline, owing to the spot fixing and betting scandals, and that if this happens, it will be a big blow for cricket in this country. Well said, sir. This is what a common man in this cricket mad country feels.

This story is running all over the media, but I intend to quote the headings given by two very popular newspapers published from the capital. “Enough is enough” is the caption printed by one. The other newspaper’s heading says, “Board must maintain the reliability of cricket”.

Talking to ESPNCricinfo, Dravid said that such incidents – when players are seen in the headlines of first page of the newspapers instead of the sports page – will not prove helpful. He further added that there are a lot of fans and other people who give total regard to the game and it is only due to this appreciation that players exist. The administrators are also there on account of these fans and cricketers. Therefore, it is vital to maintain the reliability and credibility of not only the game or board, but the government as well.

Fully supporting the stand taken by Dravid, veteran leg spinner Prasanna has said BCCI should take the observations of Rahul Dravid seriously, and should improve its operations. Prasanna also said nothing has changed in the board from the very beginning. It is high time that the board, while improving themselves, should work for the improvement of cricket.

Another ex-cricketer, Sanjay Manjrekar, has also supported the firm views expressed by Dravid, and opined that the administrators never react to such a situation. This is because they know jolly well that the fans will never go away from the game, come what may. They are aware of the obsession of the people for cricket.

I personally feel that these are not simply statements given by cricketers but an awakening call for the entire nation. It should be converted into a mission. A mission for the good of the game!

There’s a little bit of the redneck in all of us.” – Kaleb McIntire, country music singer.

Jesse Daniel Ryder would agree with McIntire’s lyrics. Life, in recent times, has tested his limits of endurance.

Jesse Ryder has had a troubled cricketing career

He has seen it all – the boozy nights, the triumphs on the cricket field, disciplinary breaches, and a recent life-threatening experience.

Born on 6 August, 1984, Jesse suffered his first emotional blow when his parents separated. He moved around with his father Peter before finally settling in Napier. As he would recount in 2009, the youngster basically did what he wanted – without any rules or boundaries in place. He and a close friend would stay at home twice or thrice a week, fiddling with their PlayStation or playing cricket in the backyard, while Jesse’s dad would return in the early hours of the morning.

Peter Ryder was just too busy to care for his son. Or maybe, he just didn’t want to be burdened with the responsibilities of being a single parent. So one day in 1998, when Jesse was 14, his father bolted to Australia after dropping him off at a friend’s place.

It was then that Jesse suffered his second emotional blow – barely into his teens, he was suddenly without a parent and a stable home. That’s when he started partying; no rules, no set boundaries, nothing.

Bouncing around friends’ homes and indulging in what he now terms as “binge-drinking”, Jesse also discovered a new talent: cricket. The rough, slightly rotund youngster eventually went on to represent New Zealand in the 2002 U-19 World Cup.

In that tournament, Ryder made a mark during the Super League match against Australia, blasting a hurricane 70 off 62 balls – catching the Kangaroos by surprise. However, Australia won thanks to a match-winning innings from captain and all-rounder Cameron White. Nevertheless, Ryder had caught the public’s eye with his power hitting.

His cricketing exploits saw him make the Wellington side in the 2002-03 season, and five years later, he made his ODI debut in the series against England. In the second game of that tourney, Jesse won his first Man-of-the-Match award for a blistering innings of 79 runs in 62 balls.

New Zealand Cricket’s Selection Manager, the legendary Sir Richard Hadlee, had stated that the left-hander had the potential to provide an explosive start along with Brendon McCullum at the top of the order; Jesse seemed well on the way to justify his belief.

But all that changed on February 24, 2008. The rebel streak, primed by yet another drinking bout, resulted in the young man cutting his hand badly while trying to break into a toilet at a Christchurch bar. NZ had just won the ODI series against England, and it was revealed that Jesse had been drinking until 1.30 am prior to the final game. His demand for preferential treatment at the hospital led to altercations with the staff – just another example of his long struggle with alcohol and anger management.

Former NZ wicket-keeper Adam Parore’s comments – that Ryder was too fat and in no fit state to play for the country – had also rankled the young all-rounder. At the time, he had laughed it off before unleashing his signature flicks and short-arm pulls against England. The 24-year-old’s talent was never in question; it was his off-field indiscretions that were fast becoming his bugbears.

He was dropped from the ODI side in January 2009 following another drinking session, which caused him to miss a team meeting the following day. He admits that it was a “real” wake-up call after being unable to train in the afternoon – something his fellow teammates would not stand for. It shocked him to the core – he had never wanted to let his boys down.

NZC’s then-CEO Justin Vaughan and Jesse’s manager Aaron Klee were on-hand to help the young cricketer as he battled his drinking problem and re-focused his attention towards his game. He agreed to go “cold-turkey”, refraining from alcoholic binges.

During India’s tour of New Zealand, Ryder shone with the bat – scoring 225 runs during the ODI series, including his maiden century (105 off 72 balls). He also posted his first Test double-century at Napier during the second match of the series, scoring 201 in a partnership of 271 with good friend Ross Taylor. It was a glorious period for Ryder – he became the first New Zealander, since Nathan Astle, to score two centuries in two consecutive Test matches.

Jesse Ryder could not remain sober, or out of trouble, for long

Then he was signed by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for the 2009 edition – and fell off the wagon after 100 days of sobriety. He got to play only 5 games, scoring a total of 56 runs as his team made it to the finals. Later, he played in the 2009 ICC World T20 tournament, playing against Scotland before a groin infection ruled him out for the rest of the event.

He was hitting the headlines – for both the right and wrong reasons. It was then that his father attempted to re-establish contact with his son, asking him for a hundred dollars. Jesse declined, and when told that Peter would return from Australia, simply said that he would believe it when he saw it. He has addressed this fragile relationship with his father through numerous counselling sessions, and has achieved some sense of closure.

Other quills will speak of his various stellar knocks – beset by a torn leg abductor muscle, he unleashed his frustration by knocking the Sri Lankan bowling all over the park in a brutal innings of 74. His misdemeanours were also starting to become frequent – he abused team manager Dave Currie in response to a “dressing down”, and was slapped with yet another misconduct charge for intoxication in August 2010.

He did sparkle briefly on NZ’s tour of India in late 2010 – adding 194 runs with debutant Kane Williamson while posting his third Test century. It was his first ton outside New Zealand, and came at a stage when they were in pursuit of India’s first innings total of 487. Ryder would make two more half-centuries in that Test series, which New Zealand eventually lost 0-1. He also turned out for the Pune Warriors in the 2011 IPL season, turning in some decent performances.

In March 2012, Jesse decided to take an indefinite break from international cricket. It had all become just too much – his drinking had spiralled out of control, he had put on a lot of weight, and his injuries kept piling up. Despite belting a superb 162 off 174 balls against Central Districts in December that year, the troubled young lad was still not ready to return to the international arena.

Life has a habit of testing us when we least expect it. Jesse was no different.

In the early hours of March 28, 2013, he was viciously assaulted outside the Aikman’s Bar at Merivale, Christchurch while out celebrating with his Wellington teammates. He was due to fly out to India to join the Delhi Daredevils. The attack left him with a fractured skull and a collapsed lung, and he was put under a medically-induced coma.

It was the last straw. The rebellious streak had to end. All his frustrations, his abandonment as a teen by his father, his indiscretions off the field and the drinking binges – everything had boiled over. He came out of the coma after a few days, and returned to recuperate at his Wellington home.

With the support of manager Aaron Klee, who has long stood by his client and friend, Jesse is slowly returning to normalcy. He has recovered from the aftermath of that murderous assault, and announced his decision to play for the Otago Volts. He will be reunited with his former coach Vaughn Johnson – a man he considers to be his mentor and perhaps a father figure. As of now, Jesse is still in rehabilitation, and preparing to make yet another comeback into the national side.

Whenever he returns, Jesse Daniel Ryder will once again be cheered vociferously by the NZ crowd. He is their cult-hero, the resident “bad boy”, the power-hitting opener who is a treat to watch when he’s in full flow.

As he turns 29 today, the hopes of many Kiwi cricket fans will re-ignite as they await his return to the national fold.

Happy Birthday, mate!

The beauty of a legspinner’s craft is one of the most clichéd yet true things about the game of cricket. Like left-handers in a world of 95% right handers, leggies are somewhat of an anomaly.

They turn the ball away from the right-handed batsmen with an action which translates to poetry in motion as compared to the jerky workmanlike actions of most of the rest of their brethren. And more often than not, they are pretty effective too – case in point being one Mister Shane Keith Warne.

You would have to search really hard in the annals of Wisden to find a classical legspinner from India who was successful to a significant extent.

I emphasize the words “successful” and “classical” for the two most successful legspinners from India – B.S. Chandrasekhar and Anil Kumble – would have been called freaks in a less politically correct age while, for all their talent, the more classical Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and Narendra Hirwani burned out even before Kurt Cobain could put a shotgun to his forehead.

Amit Mishra

Which brings us to the curious case of Amit Mishra. After the 2003 World Cup, a young team, on the lines of the one currently in Zimbabwe, was sent to yet another inconsequential tri-series in Bangladesh. The series was to give India the first glimpse of the future in the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Glenn McGrath clone Aavishkar Salvi. Along with them was a 21-year-old legspinner with more than a shock of hair.

He did not overtly impress with two wickets in three matches. Consequently, he was consigned to the dustbins of cricketing history and would have stayed there but for an injury to Anil Kumble after the first home Test against Australia in 2008. In the interim, India had tried Piyush Chawla without much success. Mishra was called up for the second Test in Mohali on a fast bowler’s pitch.

He responded with figures of 7 for 106 including a fiver on debut as India sauntered to an easy win. Kumble came back for the 3rd Test in Delhi but clearly looked past his prime as Mishra clearly out-bowled him in a rare instance of India playing two “wrong uns” in the same team.

Kumble retired promptly after that game, leaving Mishra with the opportunity to pick another five wickets in the next game at Nagpur and take India to a well-deserved series victory. The doors had finally opened for Amit Mishra.

Or so it seemed.

A stop-start career for Amit Mishra

His last full series as a Test bowler would be the very next series – the stop-start two Test home series against England. He picked up 6 wickets in the two matches, but they came at over 40 runs apiece. Over the next two and a half years, Mishra walked in and out of the Indian team as India trialled their now almost bare cupboard of backup spinners to Harbhajan Singh.

From September 2009 to August 2010, Mishra played 7 ODIs against 5 countries and 5 Tests against 4 countries as he wandered luckless and wicketless from continent to continent. He was in the team the last time India came to Zimbabwe only to receive a royal thrashing at the hands of the opposition each time he took the field. It seemed as if the Amit Mishra fairy-tale was over.

Yet another comeback was due and this happened in the Caribbean after the triumph of the 2011 World Cup when India again sent a weakened side for the hastily squeezed-in series. This time though, Mishra was on top of his game as he picked up 11 wickets in the 5 ODIs as well as a 4-wicket haul in the Kingston Test.

He was there yet again when India’s frontline spinner (this time in Harbhajan Singh) crashed to his knees in England in a series which was going from bad to worse. Mishra, slotted in for the last two Tests, picked up 3 wickets at over 100 runs apiece. An 84 with the bat was the sole effort to redeem some glory.

Soon after that, Pragyan Ojha rediscovered his mojo and Ashwin emerged with the cloak of Anil Kumble and mantle of Harbhajan Singh. In ODIs, Ravindra Jadeja took over the reins from Ojha.

Somewhere down the line, Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh re-emerged with varying levels of success – the latter, for a brief moment, displaying his tricks of old in a spell of pure magic against England in the World T20. A new name was added to the list in the form of Rahul Sharma – a tall leggie whose stock ball was the top spinner. Déjà vu, anyone?

Mishra was far away even from being in contention at this point of time, even when the English spinners were out-bowling their Indian counterparts on the dustbowls prepared in high anticipation of an Indian victory. Then came Australia and Ravindra Jadeja turned into a giant-killing legend, overtaking Ojha to claim the No. 2 spinner’s slot in the Test team as the Aussies were ground to dust.

What worked in Mishra’s favour was the IPL that followed. He had always been prolific in the IPL with two hat-tricks and a load of wickets to his name. He added another “threesome” – this time against the Pune Warriors and ended up with more wickets than any other Indian spinner barring Harbhajan.

Amit Mishra has had stupendous success in IPL

If that wasn’t enough, he scored runs at crucial junctures to bolster the middling efforts of the brittle Sunrisers’ middle orders. Not to forget that he had scored his maiden century – which turned out to be a double – in the Ranji Trophy some time back.

India’s success in the Champions Trophy and the tri-series that followed meant that Mishra had to bide his time to get back into the team. The wait has been worth it as he has befuddled the hapless Zimbabwean batsmen more often than not with a vicious googly that he has so often befuddled batsmen with.

The romantics may silently mutter against the non-inclusion of Parvez Rasool in the team, but they will not grudge Mishra his place in the sun.

In his first 11 ODIs, Mishra had 8 wickets; in his last 7, he has picked up 20.

In his last 7 ODIs, Amit Mishra has picked up 20 wickets

Critics may point to the quality of opposition, but any bowler worth his salt will tell you that a wicket taken is a wicket earned. The day when Ashwin and company return to the Indian team is not far; the question, therefore, is whether Mishra would have done enough for the selectors to have a major rethink.

Only Bulawayo can tell.

On the back of Indian cricket’s recent success, it’s the perfect timing for Srinivasan’s return

First came the embarrassment, then came the farce of investigations to cover up the embarrassment and then, as expected, have come the ‘clean chits.’

Placed on a unique pedestal of irony, Indian cricket has simply been reduced to a mockery with none to take the proper course of action against the many condemning pollutants affecting its otherwise towering stature.

The all-clear given to the big-guns in the IPL spot-fixing activities by the two-man investigative committee has understandably silenced all the hue-and-cry being raised about the various underhanded activities swirling through the Indian cricketing fold.

The timing couldn’t have more predictable. The success of the Indian cricket team in three of its immediate overseas tourneys following the IPL has already put the IPL controversies on the backburner of the fans’ minds.

A massive win at the Champions Trophy followed by a phoenix-esque series win at the Caribbean topped by a colossal one-sided victory over Zimbabwe; what more does a fan need to think about? Not much, in the here and now.

Not many still wonder about Dhoni’s alleged business associations with a sports management company. His heroics at the Caribbean, leading India to victory after being hit by injury are more lingering. He’s back to being the captain of choice, the man who leads his team to success, no matter how drastic the situation. Bygones have indeed been bygones.

The Indian police are still trying to sort out the loose ends even as the probing committee gives its univocal verdict, allowing a certain influential BCCI leader to get back to his erstwhile position. A position that he had conveniently vacated, to placate the numerous voices of opposition that rose during the months of turbulence.

The incumbent person currently manning the position promised a clean-up act as never seen before in the history of the sport. At that time, those words promised a new dawn for the sport, a brightened speck in the horizon amidst the deep cover of darkness.

Now, with the probing committee coming with this blatant decree that literally falsifies the numerous exposes, those promises somehow seem redundant. Exasperation vies with annoyance even as bleak thoughts flow rapidly like pictures cascading and melding into one another.

Cricket – the crowd puller, the unquestionable favourite; a veritable sport of choice among the people, spread across diverse age-groups and communities unifying the nation like no other. The sport’s acceptance has been so profound that it’s an Indian who has made his way into almost all of the cricketing record books.

When a new tournament realm was pioneered within the sport’s varied and versatile ranks, none applauded as loudly as the Indians did. Shameful it was then to see this new realm’s greatness being reduced to tatters, thanks to greed and avarice.

It was only hoped that the wrongdoers be punished as a befitting consequence. But thanks to the farcical proceedings and façade of rightness positioned to cover the still-prevailing rot within, even that hope’s been blown to smithereens.

The future of the sport now lies in uncertainty. The same people to takeover as before unanimously elected with nothing to cast them aside. Could it have been prevented, one asks? Could there have been a better well-thought course of action without clout and influence to alter decisions and names and associations by names didn’t interfere with the proceedings during its run?

But none of that have occurred presently and the truth is said to have been upheld finally.

Yet, the naive mind asks one last question, not wanting to give up: if this indeed were the truth, what then were the lies and who exactly, were the liars?