Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Understanding GOD by Abdul Qadir

Once upon a time in a country not so far away, there was a legendary bowler by the name of Abdul Qadir. He was a very wily customer and an aggressive leg spinner. He was famous for carrying the torch of leg spin bowling at a time when it was considered an obsolete art. He was also responsible for the upbringing of fine talents like Saqlain Mushtaq and more importantly Mushtaq Ahmed. This present story goes back to the India tour of Pakistan in 1989. It was the debut tour for our GOD and the incident happened on a tour match before the actual matches started.
Sachin Tendulkar had gathered much hype in the days before the tour mainly because of his young age and the importance of the tour to Pakistan. When SRT came into bat he started smacking Mushtaq for boundaries. At this Mr. Qadir who was one of the senior most bowlers said to Sachin "Bachon ko kya marte ho, dum hai to humari ball pe run banao" and lo and behold the next over by Qadir read 604666. As Sachin made 53 off 18 balls Qadir was left with nothing but an interesting story to tell as an example to all future leg spinners who wished to bowl to the GOD of Cricket.
For the statisticians the scorecard read as follows (it was a 20 over game):
Pak 157 in 20 overs, India 88 in 15 overs, then comes Sachin and finally India lose by 4 runs only

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Our GOD and the World Cups

Every great player has one dream, to be the greatest of all and to be a part of the greatest teams of his era. For some time at least. Sachin Tendulkar is no different. The reason he was so overwhelmed and amazingly happy at India becoming the top test side in the world is because he has been waiting to be part of a numero uno side for 2 decades. That in spite of the fact that his performances has been nothing short of legendary. World Cups are a fairly reliable source of ranking sides. And He has done everything in his power to make India no1. Let me take you to a nostalgic journey and relive God's WC moments.

He was a 14 years and 6 months old at the time of 1987 world cup, still playing ranji and irani trophy matches and making domestic bowlers look first timers. He was still waiting for a chance to play for the country and he would be getting it in some months time on the trip to Pakistan. In the next 5-6 years he became a sort of regular member in the side, batting lower down the order maybe at no. 5-6-7 and scoring an odd 50 whenever the opportunity presented itself. So at the 1992 world cup, while he was an important part of the test arena, he was still finding his feet in the ODI format. Bear in mind he was only 18 at that time and there were people like Kapil, Azhar, Manjrekar, Srikkanth, Prabhakar who took the responsibility. To be frank nothing much was expected from the Indian team in tough conditions of Australia and we won just two games against Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

By the time 1996 Wills WC came in to the scene, Sachin Tendulkar had changed completely. He had started opening the innings, was making international attacks look like formidable net bowlers and was totally dominating the world of cricket. The only problem was that he was always found short of partners, or people who could complete his job and win it for India. At the end of the tournament he was the highest run getter by some distance and neither his team nor the crowd at Eden could support India's cause. Similar stuff happened for the next 3-4 years. On one side there was God almighty playing cricket in the shape of SRT, on the other side there were 10 others who were merely happy to be a part of the side and watch God play. In WC 1999 Mr. Anshuman Gaekwad's brilliance saw Sachin bat at no.4 for no good reason after 5 years of total domination at the top of the order. That stupid idea coupled with the fact that he was battling personal demons, saw him fail and nothing much was said about the performance of our team in England '99.

Enter John Wright. Sachin opened again and all those who thought Sachin did not have it in him to take India to WC glory (in 1996 many hated Sachin for being selfish) were put to rest with as much ease as with which Sachin dispatched Akhtar for 18 in an over. What a tournament that was. Only if Zaheer and company could have kept the Aussies quiet, I would have been writing a different blog story altogether. He was the leading run scorer once again and the man of the tournament by a long way. Just when everything was going perfectly well, in came the saddest Aussie ever (mind you he has got competition in Ponting) read Greg Chappel. He demoted Sachin to no. 4 again and India were reduced to their worst performance in WCs ever. It was so bad that I feel insulted to even think about it.

Since that tournament many people have raised the question of retirement and body not able to take the load and what not. But Sachin has waved all such rumors aside. His followers are waiting for him to lift that trophy and fulfill not only his own dream but one which we have been waiting to come true since 1996.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Understanding GOD, by Sanjay Manjrekar

Let me tell you about the time around the 1996 world cup when India boasted of a batting line up having Navjot Sidhu, Mohammad Azharudin, Ajay Jadeja, Sanjay Manjrekar, Manoj Prabhakar and Vinod Kambli. However, this was a period in Sachin's career when the hopes of the entire nation rose and fell with his innings. Opposition teams could afford to forget about other batsmen and just divert their efforts on getting Sachin's wicket. India was called the one man army for a period of about 3-4 years. It was undoubtedly the peak of his batting and his rise to godliness started somewhere around that time.

In an interview with Ten Sports Manjrekar gives first hand experience of the class of Sachin Tendulkar.
"It was the Sri Lanka match and I was really having trouble against the away going delivery of Vaas. Sachin came up to me and told me to just stick around and be patient. I was really not able to accelerate and we had to make use of the fielding restrictions because Lankans had an explosive batting order. So I just asked him what should I do. He said just go on the back foot and punch the ball over the short extra cover fielder. The next over I tried and hit the ball for a four and a six over cover. I was amazed not at my own skill but at his ability to tell me what to do and how to do. I could not even imagine that you could play that shot against such bowling."

The sheer ability and audacity to tell a senior batsmen to play some extravagant shot which he hasnt even thought of explains the difference between GOD and mere mortals. This was a time when scorecards looked something like this: