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Archive for the ‘sachin’ Category

For sale: Heroes

In blah, sachin, sports on May 7, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Pre-IPL school kid: Wakes up, dons whites, shrugs on his kit bag, warms up, visualizes his hero (one of top 10 list of run-scorers/wicket-takers on test matches over the last 5 – 10 years) , practises hard, dreams of donning the test cap…

Just over three decades ago, life in India was simplicity itself. Dyanora and Crown were the only widely available brands of television sets, the portly Ambassador or the angular Premier Padmini were the only two passenger cars available, Pele, Cryuff and Beckenbauer were the soccer-loving public’s icons and Sunil Gavaskar was the cricket-loving public’s homegrown ideal. For every kid who fantasized about the epitome of sporting achievement, it was simple; a match-winning performance (a hundred for 97% of the population, a ten-for for the remaining 3%) to win India a test match.

Today, electronics ‘uber’stores showcase 23 brands of plasma televisions and 27 brands of the LCD variety, there are roughly fourteen different models of sedans, each with not less than 3 variants, Raikonnen jostles for poster space alongside Rooney and Lebron, and Yuvraj, Dhoni and Harbhajan are the cricketing superstars. While the fame was based on the on-field spats, chest-thumping sound bytes interspersed with the odd performance of cricketing relevance, it was still relatively easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. Obvious deficiencies in technique leading to failure to make it to the test team (which still counts for something) or to be sorted out by well-prepared batsmen meant that kids were clear about the difference between a Rahul Dravid or a VVS Laxman versus a Yuvraj Singh or a Mahendra Dhoni. The ubiquitous ‘fan’ might already be swooning at the sight of a ‘Dhoni special’ as he bludgeons the ball with the end of the bat describing a full circle as his feet leave the ground but the kid in the nets will still dream of standing tall on the backfoot and punching through the covers like he’s seen Tendulkar do because he knows the supreme balance and coordination needed.

But what of it, three, maybe four years from now, when the IPL will hold consistent sway? When the TRP race will have elevated the bits and pieces cricketers to demi-god status, when those with the ‘swishiest’ blades (made that word up, but i think it conveys the meaning) will endorse their team owners’ products? With test cricket relegated to those times of the year when the IPL can’t be played (like monsoon season on the subcontinent), practising the long hit will make much more economic sense than getting in line and playing on length. Those knocking on the doors of the U-19 teams of their respective states will prefer adding part-time slow-medium bowler to their resume in addition to big-hitter than refine that non-essential skill of a backfoot defensive. The simple reason being the prospect of a bidding war that will pit his wares against his peers and that additional skill might tilt the balance. Sure, fielding skills will be significantly elevated in the manner of a season or two (amazing how much less grass burns hurt when they fetch you the additional $200K), but the younger generation of batsmen will look like mass-produced assembly line products, ugly ones, that move their front foot towards mid-on and rapidly bring their shoulders around to take almightly heaves at the ball, irrespective of line or length. The shortened boundaries and the ever-improving bats will ensure that any contact upwards of feathered edges will send the ball ballooning over the ropes and the crowds rapturous. Combine a continuously declining standard of bowling for no reason other than neglect and you only accelerate the decline in the standard of the game.

Post-IPL school kid: Wakes up later (coz of the IPL game last night), dons his multi-coloureds, snaps on the franchise headband of the Ahmedabad Kiteflyers, remembers the roar of the crowds as he attempts to launch each delivery out of the ground while complaining about the tinge of grass left behind by the groundsman, dreams of franchise cap/helmet/paraphernalia…

The doomsday scenario about the cricket has been overdone to highlight one thing, the (hopefully) short-term impact of the IPL will be to narrow the gap between the great and merely competent, between the sublime and the almost ridiculous. The impact on the next generation of cricketers might be enormous and far-reaching. Everyone has to have heroes, important that they be the right kind.

In search of excellence

In life, sachin, sports on January 6, 2008 at 7:21 pm

It could be considered a waste of nine days of letting my systems power down for about four hours a day. It could even be considered that it was a bad deal if I had to resort to injecting myself with copious amounts of caffeine to fight the temptation to catch some shuteye in meeting rooms and to up the volume on the car stereo to avoid testing a driverless car without the self-drive capabilities. To watch the inevitable unfold, just as it has so many times on overseas tours and to wonder if there is any point to it as a loud ad irritates your senses for the 140th time as you hear the sound of the newspaper landing at your door.

Who would enjoy watching the team they support being trampled over and at the same time invite the ire of family for looking like a zombie through that period? For over a decade I have had my reasons. None of them were to do with watching the Indian cricket team perform. What was it about then?

It was about watching cricket in its natural habitat. Technically, the home of the sport lies in a bunch of old, at times rickety stadiums built around tradition-steeped grounds in Western Europe where one finds geriatric ‘members’ drooling onto their ties as they sleep in the middle of enthralling sessions of cricket. But for me its soul resides in the set of grounds that have bred pitches that have always been decisive in their nature – hard and bouncy or crumbling and turning, rarely indifferent and slow. Surfaces that support batsmen with decisive footwork and bowlers who can bend their backs.

It was about sporting crowds. Capacity crowds for test matches. The facilities such that spectators come to relax and take in good cricket. Raucous support for the home team, but genuine appreciation for the opposition. Even some cheers when the visiting team shows some spirit to stage a comeback. Standing ovations for truly great performances, irrespective of team. These are the hallmarks of the crowds in a country where sports are very much a part of daily life and not just a means to a borrowed sense of achievement.

It was about the DNA of playing the sport. It is a human trait to withdraw into yourself at the appearance of a threat. While most line-ups ‘consolidated’ after the fall of quick wickets, these blokes attacked. While most fielding sides looked rudderless when faced with high-quality batsmen on song, they regrouped and set attacking fields.

And it was about the rare individual performance. The odd hour or even session maybe where the Indian team would match the Aussies, punch for punch. Be it a Tendulkar rearguard (of that there are many) or a fine spell of quick bowling from an Indian new ball bowler. The genuine applause reminding you that sport is as much about temperament as much about skill. The 03-04 series does not count as much because, and I’ve said this in a previous post, it was more an extended farewell party for Steve Waugh.

Not any more. In the last five days at the SCG, the Indians matched the Aussies in every way possible. Instead of frittering away advantages by playing circumspect and diffident cricket, they wrested initiatives and made things happen when none looked like happening. In spite of obvious shortcomings on bowling and fielding, they went toe to toe with Ponting’s team and scrapped. The men around the bat even when the batsmen were well past their fifties, the radical fields (all off-side for Hayden) that stifled the flow of runs for a significant period. India’s game-plans all but thwarted the Aussie plan to pile on the runs and declare with time to bowl India out. With some luck with umpiring, there would have been a much larger first innings lead and a much smaller 4th innings chase. Luck can not detract from a lion-hearted effort by the entire team. Now that’s a performance.

Now, it is also about watching the Indian team perform…

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to whomsoever it may concern

In sachin, sports on March 26, 2007 at 10:58 am

This post is in response to a comment on my previous post. The comment in question explains why Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar should retire as of March 26th 2007. I figured Blogger comment sections would have their word limits, so I decided to make a post out of this one…

Now, not a lot needs to be said abt the character of someone who can reel of arguments but cannot be brought to put his name to them. while i do not have the luxury of having fantasy and imagination on my side, i shall attempt to respond to your points ANONYMOUS.

Anon #1 : DIGNITY = no business acumen (anon apparently does not like the food that these establishments serve)

me : so you dont like the bhindi, quite a problem that, i hate it myself…am sure the man himself would apologise to you for having hog-tied you to take you to his restaurant and having force-fed you. dude..its ok to exercise that thing called freedom of choice.

On an unrelated note, heard of the ‘Air-Jordan’ series? or ‘Shaqnosis’ by the same company? or the George Foreman grill? or Canon S3 powershot by Sharapova? or …well you get the idea. Have brand, will endorse…while am sure a restaurant chain titled with your name would draw crowds, it might’ve made more business sense the way its been done? just maybe?

Anon #2 : perfection…chipped f****** nail…london…responsibility means playing when injured. manjrekar is god! he’s short (lol..this is priceless)

me : firstly, i shall persuade him to apologise to you for being short.

I’m no doc, but i think chipped nail and tennis elbow are not necessarily the same thing. i wonder if you’d been told that he chose to play in spite of not being 100% fit how nice you’d have been to him.

Manjrekar…hmmm…ex-wonderboy of indian cricket…the best technique they said…was india’s best batsman (until the man in question came along)…achieved 10% of his ‘potential’..now makes his living giving sound bytes…wonder why he would say anything controversial…beats me?

Bubka and Armstrong – Phenomenal athletes in individual sports..individual glory. Shaq? takes him gazillion dollars to don a uniform, let alone step on court. do you really want to go there?

A lesson on cricket rules; you can continue playing a game even if injured, and you can bat with a bandaged jaw. Its slightly harder with an injured arm. The innings against Pak (in Chennai) with an injured back might not prove anything, or it might say everything that needs to be, of course, the fact that 6 players could not rustle up 14 runs is totally his fault.

Anon #3 : forget past performances and focus on last innings especially if its a failure

me : i can see how a hundred here would be better than the 35000 international runs. doesn’t really matter that he scored 40% of the teams runs. you were actually watching this one, so how dare he fail! your most valid point after the one about him being short

Anon #4 : Anon scored well in high-school, inference, sachin should have scored a hundred against SL

me : i tried but i keep convulsing with laughter at this point. ok, try a simple test, gather all the people you can find and have them stand around you while you type your response to my response. the number of times you’ll hit backspace will prove my point about how performing under the gaze of millions is sliiiightly different than you acing your finals. and yeah, some of those games that he performed in, for example the 98 against Pak in 2003 might have been more than ‘intermediates’

Anon #5 : respect for those praying for his elbow

me : praying for his elbow indeed. that might’ve been out of the goodness of our countrymen’s hearts, or maybe..just maybe, the tendency to play the perennial victim, waiting for the saviour to come score the runs and get us a victory, because they know, on their own, they will manage exactly zilch as they go through life.

As for your assessment of his capability, i agree it might carry more weight than what the likes of Richie Benaud, Ian Chappell etc say about him, but pardon me for going with the other group.

Final (or maybe semi-final) word : Your references to the likes of ‘The King’ and Chappell aren’t inaccurate, but how many of their failures did you ever see? How would you rate Viv Richards shot in the ’83 final that cost them the cup? Do you realise that had it not been that shot, WI would’ve made it 3-in-a-row?

Grace? The guy was the first certified cheater in the history of the game (read an account of his placing the bails back after being bowled and asking the bowler to continue).

As far as passion and promise go, even your vivid imagination would have trouble seeing a listless Tendulkar on the field of play.

Oh, by the way, I don’t give a rat’s ass about how your EPL fans react to losses.

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burn baby burn…

In rant, sachin, sports, world cup on March 25, 2007 at 1:05 pm

It’s only fair. I think its fitting that the cover page of the Hindustan Times and the Times of India showed angry fans burning/blackening posters of Sachin Tendulkar. It’s perfectly understandable that similar such fans grouped together and went to the Tendulkar residence and turned off the electricity mains to his apartment after he got out for nought in the crunch game against Sri Lanka. Thanks to every news channel for showing scrolling sms’s and emails from angry fans about how a bunch of “overpaid individuals interested only in making money” have let the nation down.

Serves the whole bunch of ’em right, especially Sachin Tendulkar. He should’ve known. He should’ve known when he first appeared on the test team as a 17 year old. He certainly should’ve have had an inkling when he stroked a hundred at Perth or when he set about redefining the term ‘opening batsman’ in one-day international cricket by going after the new ball in New Zealand. Over the years, he stubbornly refused to learn from the zillions of opportunities. Each time he set about dominating attacks or playing rear-guard on foreign pitches. Each time he raised his bat for having completed triple figures. Each time that opposition captains and their bowlers huddled together to work out ways to dismiss him and celebrated like the match was won when his was the first and only wicket to have fallen. He cannot feign ignorance when that ‘hard-as-steel’ veteran Steve Waugh said in his post-match interview that “We were beaten by a better player” (and not team). Not only that, he even had the audacity to exhibit his love for the game, I mean, how dumb do you have to be to celebrate a direct-hit runout as wildly as you celebrate a ton? oh, and especially when the throw wasn’t even yours?! Ridiculous!

Just because he was born with a rare combination of talent and temperament that will most likely never be seen again for several generations, he can’t just ignore the fact that his performances are the closest that, millions of people come, to a sense of achievement. He might claim in his defence that he is only a sportsman and only went out to give his best and that the rest  was never under his control, but that would be indeed weak. That it was unfair for spectators (and of that category, we have hordes) to shirk the responsibility of their own ambitions and need for fulfillment, and to tack it to the blade with MRF printed on it. He might plead that rarely have sportsmen maintained superlatives levels of performance for the duration of time that he has. What of his debt to the millions of this nation who, bereft of ability or temperament, will never amount to anything in the duration of their existence? He owes those teeming masses who will live their lives in utter mediocrity never having the opportunity to taste success for themselves. He owes them big.

As for the other 14, several of whom might’ve first picked up a bat because of the person discussed above, who are currently wondering about the physical safety of themselves and their families. For Rahul, Zaheer, Ajit, Sehwag and co. The teeming blue billion have extracted the ultimate pound of flesh. Never again will they enjoy a game of cricket like they must’ve when they first picked up a bat or a ball. For they will now, more than ever, realise that this country does not understand the concept of competition or sportsmanship.

Sachin Tendulkar and the rest should be ashamed to be Indian. I know I am.

 

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World Cup flashbacks

In sachin, sports, world cup on March 13, 2007 at 9:57 am

World cup 2007 starts off today and its hard to miss with every instrument of the media targetting the event in its spotlight. Got me thinking of the world cups that I’ve experienced.

1992 – Australia/New Zealand
My first world cup and what a start! The bold coloured clothing, the catchy theme song that played before every game that ended with “…who’ll rule the world…just see…who’ll rule the world” followed by a graphic of a ball smashing into a set of stumps followed by the match of the day. The round-robin format meant each team every other team and I thought India was the unluckiest team of the tournament. We lost to Australia by 1 run (after the rain rule had deducted 3 overs and 1 run from our run-chase), to England by a slim margin, our game against Sri Lanka (minnows then) was washed out. Couldn’t have been worse than what South Africa faced though, needing 21 from 13 balls in their semi-final against England, the rain intervened, the equation was revised to 21 off 1 ball…just like that! I remember thinking only cricket, working out result combinations on the back of my notebooks in school while the teacher droned on. My booster dose of cricket.

Unforgettable moment : Jadeja’s diving one-handed catch in the outfield to dismiss Allan Border. Was later judged as the catch of the tournament.

1996 – India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka
The lamest world-cup of the lot that was timed just right so that it was at the same time as my ‘career-determining exams’, the HSC (the ones that determine whether you go become a doctor, an engineer or a nothing)…don’t look so surprised, thats how ‘conventional wisdom’ worked in those days. I do know I would have spent a lot more time studying had it not been for the cricket circus. Missed a few of the other games for obvious reasons, but saw all of India’s games. It all ended with the farce at Eden Gardens against Sri Lanka. The disappointment wasn’t helped by my results a couple of months later and the dismay of not getting into the city’s best engineering college. Forgettable times indeed.

Unforgettable moment : Aamir Sohail spanks two consecutive fours off Venkatesh Prasad and for good measure gestures to the bowler where he’ll hit the next one through. Next ball, Prasad knocks back Sohail’s off-stump. Crowd goes mad…literally. First (and only) time I used the f-word in the presence of my parents. India wins!

1999 – England/Ireland/Holland
They preponed the world cup so it wouldn’t clash with the Olympics! Somehow cricket in the land of its origin has always been a mouth-watering prospect for me, but the event was a bit of a let down in the quality of games. Mostly ordinary performances by India, an exception being the assault on Sri Lanka at Taunton. Felt like sweet ol’ revenge for having knocked us out of the previous edition. There were 2 games that stay in memory. The 2 Australia-South Africa clashes with the famed drop by Herschelle gibbs resulting in Australia qualifying for the semi-final. There they played the best game ever in a world cup.. The final was academic with the champions steamrolling Pakistan

Unforgettable moment : Defending a huge total, Australia seemed home and dry when they had taken key South African tickets when ‘the’ Lance Klusener launched one of the most savage counter-attacks in world-cup history. With 9 needed off the last over (a tie would see Austalia through), it was still in Australia’s favour. But Damien Fleming had his first 2 deliveries smashed to the cover fence. With 1 needed off 4 balls, Klusener played out 2 dots followed by the worst communication mishap on a cricket field resulting in Donald getting runout with no bat in hand. Match tied. Austalia qualify for the final.

2003 – South Africa/Zimbabwe/Kenya
India’s best world cup with near perfect performances against the likes of New Zealand and England. Its not often mentioned that this was thanks in part to Dr Ali Bacher for preparing flat concrete tracks for our batsmen to flourish. A Tendulkar master-class against Pakistan set up the perfect final. But then they ran into that automaton of brilliance and professionalism. You had to feel bad for our boys as each of their over-eager efforts were dissected with surgical precision by Ponting and co.The game was over by lunch and the deserving team won it without breaking into a sweat thus showing there was daylight between them and the rest.

Unforgettable moment : ‘That’ over, when Sachin reminded the world what he was all about. I’ve written about it too many times to repeat here…so refer here

India’s talisman

In sachin, sports on December 12, 2006 at 10:09 am


Brilliance…with heart

Pity I coudn’t find a clip from the Perth innings…but its on this first appearance in Australia that had Richie Benaud, in his signature measured tone, “we’re watching the start of something special here…years from now, this man will come to Australia…and people will flock to the grounds to see him bat…” How did he know then?!

Pavlovian theories and India’s top 7

In blah, sachin, sports on December 9, 2006 at 7:13 pm

Pavlov’s conditioning theory propounded that repeating the same kind of stimulus time and again can lead to a conditioned response. That didn’t quite take into account the Indian cricket journalist. After repeatedly elevating every performance that was marginally above average to stratospheric extents only to see their messiahs crash the day they left indian shores you’d expect they’d be conditioned to look for an actual sign of brilliance before waxing eloquent. “Grits, Guts and Ganguly” says the HT article. The Hindu said it with a little less hyperbole but the ‘indepth’ analysis of his flawless technique against pace shouldn’t be read while eating lest you choke yourself to death. A reality bite; The team in question was called ‘Rest of South Africa’, as in players who aren’t good enough to play for the test team. Not quite in the league of Ntini, Pollock, Kallis and co. So why’d the others fail against even these bowlers?
  1. Virender Sehwag: Has traditionally relied on hand-eye coordination to plant himself on legstump line and swish through the line. Bowlers have worked that out about him and bowl a lot more at his body before giving him one that hits the pitch short of length and rises over off-stump. He’s not been good enough to adjust to the line that’s much closer to the body. Not everyone’s got the work ethic of a Ricky Ponting to overcome technical flaws.
  2. Wasim Jaffer: Mumbai’s most prolific opener, has bucket-loads of runs in Ranji. His is a more understandable problem of never having seen the kind of movement and bounce before. The bounce prevents him from getting into line and playing the ball under his eyes. Remains to be seen if he can adjust to by being more decisive letting them go outside off.
  3. Rahul Dravid: One of the best techniques in the world they say. The missing qualifier is best “frontfoot” technique in the world. Doesn’t like it when a huge frontfoot movement doesn’t allow him to play the ball at knee height. On the backfoot, Rahul’s backlift comes down from wide thirdman and across the line. Leads to those repeated instances of the ball sneaking through and hitting off-stump. But his more tenacious mindset enables him to concentrate that bit harder to hang on.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar: Been there done that, got the t-shirt. A legstump stance with decisive footwork and laser hand-eye coordination have been his hallmarks. Now, he’s only shuffling across and trying to almost fend the ball to the on-side. The bowlers goad him outside off and after letting a few go, he ends up trying to force one, either edging to slip or chopping onto his stumps. Needs to back himself to be able to see the ball and let the hands flow through uninhibited. Forget that there the field has an on-side for a session and play like only he bloody can. Play for the next ball, not for the day or even the session.
  5. VVS Laxman: Not a coincidence that he’s been most successful against the quick bowlers. Has a more erect stance than the other Indian batsman. Does not lunge onto the front-foot and therefore earns more time by letting the ball come to him after it has done its bit. The opposite of Dravid in terms of gutsing it out and therefore relies on gaining confidence early or not-at-all.
  6. Saurav Ganguly: His stance is almost like someone on the frontfoot before the ball is bowled. Closed stance (the right shoulder’s pointing almost at mid-off) and lack of any backfoot movement means he is incapable of facing short and quick bowling. Relies on giving the bowlers aggro to put them off their length. But has a definite weakness against the sucker combination; 2-3 short sharp followed by a floating wide half-volley.
  7. Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Quick bowlers who let him score should hang themselves. Has only one movement, a lunge onto the front-foot followed by an axe-like swing of the hands. People who compare him to Gilchrist are as much cricket experts as Mata Hari was a virgin. A definite bodyline attack, maybe even around the wicket would neutralise the biffer with an affinity to dairy.

India’s top 7; collective game-plans to tackle the pitch will only bomb. Each will have to work it out for themselves. “Spending time in the middle” is bullshit, bat like you dont like the bowlers, bat to hit them off their lengths, bat to get under their skins, bat to single out each bowler and f****in’ destroy their confidence……not my secret recipe…its been practised for decades by the guys in the baggy green…bat like the Aussies do!

unshackle

In sachin, sports on December 1, 2006 at 6:21 pm

The backfoot goes deep into the crease, not so much across as back. The left leg makes a pretense of coming forward and then stops abruptly, as if stopped by an unseen wall in mid-stride. The bat face comes down from second to third slip rather than fine thirdman. It makes a feeble attempt at a complete arc, the bat face turning towards midwicket. The ball trickles towards square leg. This is not how the best batsman in the world bats. Will the real Sachin Tendulkar please stand up…

bulwark: support, buttress, mainstay

In sachin, sports on September 22, 2006 at 5:29 am

Earlier this week India were in a position that the ‘experts’ announced to be ‘back-to-the-wall’ with two must-win games in order to qualify for the finals of the DLF cup. Lot of hoopla about the tremendous pressure of the knock-out games. But doesnt it automatically follow from losing league games that you aren’t good enough to actually win the tournament?

I was blissfully unaware of all of this (shocks you to know i don’t follow every ball bowled, live and in repeat telecast?, i’m weird that way. will wake up at 4am to catch an ashes test match but can’t be bothered by the formulaic one-days we’re usually involved in) when a member of our office staff came to the client’s office i was at to drop off some documents and mentioned nonchalantly that we were sixty odd for five. Piqued my curiosity enough to have a look at the score-card. #10 was out there with one of the young turks. Treating it as a ‘set-piece’ as they call it in soccer, I just wondered how he’d deal with it. Said to myself that here was a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t thinking that his aura depended on his scoring a big hundred in this situation. I’ve spent too much time playing this game to know that there are too many factors not in your control that determine your performance. But I was certainly willing him on to take charge and to control the innings to get the most out of the lower order. Later saw that we’d ended at 160 odd and he’d scored 40% of the runs (he has on average scored that amount of the teams runs over the duration of his career) and been runout at the non-striker’s end in the most unfortunate circumstance (ball deflecting off the bowler’s hand after a straight-drive from the batsman)

The point? All runs aren’t created equal. Its all very well to go out there belt the bowling around when the track’s hard and flat and the outfield’s grease. Its when there’s something in it for the second-class citizens of the game; the bowlers, the men separate themselves from the boys. Statistically speaking, the 65 won’t have much of an impact on a record with more international centuries than that. He knows it. Just like the noughts won’t make a dent in the averages of the likes of Sehwag, Dhoni and Yuvraj in all fifty other games they’ll play this year on tracks like strips of concrete. Its that willingness to dig in and play what might not be your natural game just so the team score can advance to something resembling respectability. Compare that to a Dhoni who came, swatted three fours and left with a swish of his brylcreemed locks…no harm done to his ‘swashbuckling-attacking-batsman’ image but utility to the team…zero. Sachin would get many more rave reviews by playing with complete abandon, scoring crisp and aesthetic 30s and 40s and taking what the track gives him than taking upon himself the task of keeping India in the game.

Its probably why the likes of Ponting, Mcgrath and co still rate him far above the rest donning blue…probably because they realise more than most that while there are people on the India teamsheet who can hurt them on their day, aberrations much like the vagaries of the weather that you plan for by carrying an umbrella, there is only one true opponent that they need to fear, the guy who’s willing to look ungainly in defense on two-paced pitches (and therefore leave himself open to being ‘expertly’ dissected by the ‘experts’ on how age is having a say about his reflexes) only to make sure that his team bats that much longer to score those additional dozen runs that might make all the difference. They know they’re not up against a batsman, but a cricketer. They know India’s (only true) Batting Mainstay is a worthy opponent, whether in form or out of it.
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