Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sargam - An experiance to remember

When I saw that my company is conducting its annual day I wanted to participate as a singer in the same. When I enquired about the same I was forwarded to the right contacts and thats how I got associated with Sargam (The name given to our Orchestra). When I decided to sing for Sargam my agenda was two fold, first to obviously sing and the second one was to make some new friends. Being in a very small team comprising of just myself and my colleague I do not get to meet too many people. So making some new friends was also a part of this exercise.

So everything was set and I was called over for the first day of practice by the event organizer. The meeting was to pick and download the karoake for the songs to be sung by each person. Before even going there I was pretty much set with mine as I kind of played safe by opting to sing a song which I had performed during my college's International night. From that day onwards the entire excercise was a joy ride for all of us. For the first time since I came to Bloomington in Nov of 2007, I had something to look forward to when I left from work.

Every meeting was total fun with all of us taking pot shots at each other and at the same time the atmosphere was totally professional. There were totally 7 singers in the team including myself and the practice sessions were a total blast. The entire team was really great and we really cared for each others performance. There was few hiccups here and there but overall the experiance was totally worthwhile.

The actual event itself with the grand stage and Sizable audience was kind of overwhelming for me atleast but I think we all did a great job. Well all of us put up a great effort and the outcome was fantastic. As far as I am concerned I made some new friends along the way and also got to perform in front of a decent audience.

Being part of Sargam was really a great experiance and hopefully the same team can get together again next year.

Strike when its hot

IPL is the hottest and most happening event in all of India for the past couple of weeks and as usual politicians have taken this opportunity to grab the headlines. Its always been the case in India where the politicians comment on things which is currently hot in the media to gain fame. This is actually pathetic but for them this is a boon to make a name for themselves.

The recent addition to such attention grabbing comments from the politicians was regarding the Cheerleading squads hired by the IPL franchices to perform in the breaks. Well the accusations from the media and the politicians have been that its offensive and abusive to the Indian culture. The media as we all know has blown it out of proportions since they are frustrated with BCCI shutting them out of IPL. Whoever says that the cheerleaders are affecting Indian culture should just speak for themselves. Being a politician doesnt mean that they are speaking on behalf of the entire nation.

As a person who loves the sport and watch the game just for the action in the middle I dont care who is dancing beyond the boundry line. I dont think that the cheerleaders are affecting or abusing anything in India. Well yeah one thing I agree is that this concept is new for Indian sport and will take time getting adjusted too. India in the past few years has experianced a phenomenal change in its outlook. Take the example of the bollywood movies which we watch with our kids most of times, isnt that affecting Indian culture? One of the comments in the media by a political leader was that Indians respect women as gods, dont we go and see movies in which heroines roam around with skimpy outfits?

So why all of a sudden raise concerns about the cheerleaders in Twenty20? If we are talking about the TV viewing public then wasnt this a part of the Twenty20 worldcup also? Well the reason for all this unnesessary concern about the Indian culture is to make hay when the sun shines. All these politicians know that if we say something while one of most important event in the history of Indian sports is going on they can grab the headlines. They have also used the media’s frustration on the BCCI very cleverly to their advantage.

As a follower of cricket I seriously dont want to be a part of this hypocrisy from the politicians. I dont care if the cheerleaders are dancing or not dancing, covered up or skimpily clothed as long as there is a hard faught cricket match going on. I guess most of the cricket lovers around the world will share my sentiments on this but again this is my opinion I am not speaking for anybody here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Go kings Go!

The Chennai Superkings(CSK) under the captaincy of Dhoni has now won 4 out of 4 to remain the only team to be unbeaten in IPL. Today the CSK defeated the sorry Bangalore Royal challengers by 13 runs to hand Vijay Mallya's team their 3rd defeat in 4 games. The team captain Rahul Dravid made his second duck in consecutive games to make things worse for his team. The main problem for the BRC is that they dont have any player in the team apart from Ross Taylor who looks like a Twenty20 specialist. Even though the Royal challengers beat Mumbai Indians (The other struggling team in the tournament) they still look out of sorts and the captain seems to be running out of ideas.

The absence of a renowned big hitter in the team is costing the BRC's a lot. The role played by Dhoni for the chennai team today is what that is lacking for the Royal Challengers. Martin Crowe and Rahul Dravid have to sit together and come up with a better strategy to make optimum use of the available resources. The Chennai Superkings though have done exceedingly well in this tournament and at the end of the first week they are at the top of the table. Great performances by the inexperianced bowling line up and consistancy at the top of the order has helped them to succeed.

Dhoni's captaincy has again been very precise and his cool head under pressure situations has helped the team from Chennai. Dhoni has got great response from his inexperianced bowling line up and the inclusion of Albie Morkel and Makaya Ntini will sure bolster the same. Elsewhere the Mumbai Indians crashed to their 4 consecutive defeat of the tournament and remain the only team to have not won a game yet. Their team looks in total shambles in the absence of their icon player Sachin Tendulkar and Harbajan recently due to his row with Sreesanth. Rajasthan Royals continue to impress with their 3rd consecutive win and are in second spot behind the CSKs.

Punjab Kings X1 also overcame a dissapointing start to the tournament to win two games in a row to put them back in contention. Adam Gilchrist's fastest IPL century gave the strong Deccan Chargers their first victroy of the tournament against the hapless Mumbai attack.

The first week of cricket was really interesting and entertaining. When IPL began I was little skeptical regarding the same due to the involvement of the bollywood and the kollywood stars but after the first few games the focus has shifted to cricket. Cricket has been really fantastic only the Harbajan and Sreesant row has taken some sheen of a good week's cricket. Harbajan has plead guilty and has been handed 10 games ban from IPL whereas Sreesanth has been let off with a warning. I guess Sreesanth needs to be handed a more serious punishment than just a warning. His behaviour on the field is still questionable. The fact that Sreesant cried and made a scene in front of millions of viewers accross the world should not excuse him from the ridiculous behaviour in that match when he was bowling. Behaviour like that in the name of aggression should not be tolerated in any sport.

Monday, April 21, 2008

IPL - First Look

IPL began on friday with a match between the Kolkata Knight riders and Bangalore Royal challengers. we all know the hype behind this tournament and everyone was waiting for the big opening to see how the teams square up. The match in itself was not that interesting as it was completely one sided affair. The RC (Royal Challengers) were beaten by one of the greatest innings seen on cricket field by any player on any format from Brendon Mcullum of Kolkata Knight Riders. Mcullum smashed every bowler from the Bangalore team to finish with the highest induvidual score in this format when he made 158 n.o of just 73 deliveries.

The match was one sided as the team lead by Rahul Dravid collapsed to make just 82 and losing the game by 140 runs. I was lucky enough to watch all the games this weekend and also all the teams in action. My first impression was that Kolkata team owned by Sharukh Khan seems to be the team to beat. They have the right balance with the right mix of youth and experiance. The Knight Riders have played two and won two.

The other team which was very impressive was the Chennai Super kings lead by Dhoni. The Super Kings scored 240 in 20 overs riding on another great century in two days this time by an Australian Micheal Hussey. Hussey made 116 n.o of just 54 deliveries ably assisted by Hayden, Raina and Badrinath. The Super Kings have an excellent batting lineup but barring Murali they have a very week and inexprerianced bowling lineup.

The next team which impressed me was the Delhi Daredevils lead by Virender Sehwag. The team has a very good bowling attack lead by the great Glenn Mcgrath who looked like he had been bowling all the while. The batting lead by the captain himself looks impressive too.

The Bangalore RC who had a forgettable first outing came back strongly to defeat the Mumbai Champs lead by Bajji in the absence of Sachin. The RC team which I thought as the weak link in this tournament actually look strong in the presence of experianced Chandrapaul, Kallis, Boucher along with the captain Dravid which came into play against the Mumbai team in a tense chase. The team also contains promising youngters like Virat Kohli who impressed one and all with his batting in the U-19 world cup.

The Kings X1 lead by Yuvraj, looks a strong outfit too inspite of their loss to the chennai team. They have a good balance in team and their bowling lead by Brett Lee looks fine. As I am writing this article they are battling with the Rajathan Royals lead by Shane Warne. The Rajasthan Royals seem like the weakest in the championship with a weak bowling attack apart from the genius Shane Warne himself. Their batting too looked very weak against the Delhi Daredevils attack.

The Deccan Chargers though were undone by a bad pitch in Eden gardens where both teams struggled to score runs freely. We can probably assess their strength and weeknesses in the coming games.

All in all the tournament was an interesting watch with all teams to trying to find their feet in this format. We will probably know about the teams more as the tournament progresses in the coming week. Lets hope that the standards improve and we have more close games in the coming week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lunch time talk

During lunch time my friends and I normally discuss about something or the other to kill time. The topics of discussion range from Sports to Politics. We discuss about Tendulkar as well as Sharukh Khan. Sometimes even controversial topics from the happenings in the current Indian politics. Couple of days back we were just sitting at the table talking about the comics we used to read when we were kids and suddenly the topic changed to the cartoons we used to watch. Everyone remembered the spiderman, He-Man and the other cartoons which used to come on DD at that time.

When we were growing up we just had one channel on television and had no options but come to think of it that was not a bad thing. We were wondering as to how the quality of programs in television has changed in the last 15 years or so. Even though the options for us as kids was very less the quality of entertainment was actually much better then what we have right now. The content and the variety of programs on DD was actually much better than the “Mega” serials we see on all TV channels these days. Those days not having too many options made sure that kids went outside to play more often than what we see from kids in this generation.

These days the programs on television is mostly based on movies. Every channel will have same type of programs which will be like Movie Reviews, Song Countdowns, Movie Countdowns, Star interviews and inbetween those lots of ads. While these programs are entertaining it doesnt stop us from flipping channels at regular intervals. There are not too many programs these days which are different and unique and which does not touch upon cinema. Things were different 15-20 years back, we had lots of quality entertainment of DD those days. Even though all of us cursed DD for their constant interruptions and their sometimes annoying coverage of sports and stuff, they did have some great content.

Nobody can forget the classics such as “Vikram Aur Betaal”, “Fauji”, “Byomkesh Bakshi”, “Malgudi Days”, “Nukkad” etc. DD was great for kids too with cartoons such as Spiderman, He-Man, Shazzam, Junglebook and also some serials such as Indradanush which as a kid I used to love to watch. The variety was great I have missed out so many other great DD seriels and programs which we used to enjoy watching those days with less ad breaks. Television used to be true family entertainment. Parents never had to worry too much regarding inappropriate content if watching with kids. These days parents are always at high alert making sure that they change the channels at the right moment mostly to some sports or discovery or to some news channel.

Well even though I used to hate Door Darshan at that time, when we look back the best TV viewing experiance was only when we just had one channel. Anyways thats my opinion as I cannot stand the nonsense dished out these days on television in form of entertainment. Well DD might have taken a backseat these days with the advent of cable networks in India but in terms of quality of content they were way ahead

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

IPL isnt promoting anything

The dismal performance by the Indians against the visiting South Africans clearly proves that the players were not ready for this battle. Unfortunately over the past few weeks IPL has been given more media coverage than the current test series. The Indian players talking about their plans about a tournament which has not yet started and which isnt an International fixture either shows their lack of interest in this ongoing test series. The South Africans on the other hand are taking this more seriously and are deservedly ahead in this series dominating both the games played till now.

BCCI's excuse for IPL is that it will promote cricket, but where? I dont think Twenty20 tournament atleast in India needs any promotion. How many players from Kenya and Bangladesh are part of IPL?So what and where are we promoting cricket?BCCI are just trying make the most of the popularity gained by the latest version of the game in India after the WC win. BCCI has no interest to promote anything by having this tournament. BCCI as a board will become richer and the players who signed up will make money. Other than the two parties mentioned no one is gaining because of this tournament. Players have already started suggesting that this should be part of ICC's annual schedule which is hilarious as this is not an International tournament.

This is an Indian domestic league which has international players signed up for, similar to county cricket in England. ECB isnt asking ICC to include their Twenty20 league in the International calender. If BCCI is going to have this tournament in the middle nowhere without taking the International calender into consideration then they better be prepared to miss some key players on International duties. This is getting completely out of control. When BCCI started this concept I was totally for it as the concept was completely different for cricket but now I am not able to stand it anymore.

The English players who said that they dont want to be a part of the league want their own domestic tournament adjusted to accomodate IPL. This is just getting ridiculous. Why would ECB reshedule their domestic tournament to accomodate another country's domestic tournament? Its the players who should decide where they want to play. Which league they want to represent, no board is going to reschedule anything to accomodate a 44 day tournament. The problem is that these ameturish comments have come from players like Kevin Pieterson and Ricky Ponting.

BCCI has made sure that the players themselves are looking forward to IPL more than their International fixtures. Before the Pakistan tour was called off, there were few Australian who were dissapointed that they wouldnt be able to make it to the first edition of this league. The Indians already seem to be more interested in promoting their franchise rather than putting extra hours in practice for an International series. The series against the South Africans was very important for India as this was a follow up to a successful tour down under. A good performance by the home team would have made sure that they would be the undisputed number 2 in test cricket.

The performance in Ahmedabad Shows that we dont deserve that tag. The youngsters should realise that they can score plenty of runs or claim plenty of wickets in IPL but as Kallis rightly put it, only your performance in test cricket will be remembered. There have been lots of players who have great record in domestic cricket but the viewers will only remember the Laras, the Tendulkars or the Kumbles of cricket. Playing for the country gives a player the ultimate satisfaction and that should be the first priority for any cricketer. BCCI might make lots of money and probably the team owners will do too but they have to be careful that they dont bring a divide among the cricket fraternity. Again I stand by my statement that BCCI isnt promoting anything through IPL but just are reiterating the fact that they are the big boss of cricket.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Indians lose the plot

An inept batting performance by the Indians handed South Africa a 1-0 lead in the 3 match series in Ahmedabad. The Indians were shot out for 76 in the first innings which virtually ended their challenge in the second test match. The Indian batting was clueless against the South African pace bowlers with Dale Steyn living up to his pre series hype.

Steyn and Co bundled out the Indians in couple of sessions on the first day with none of the home team batsmen able to apply themselves on a good batting pitch. Agreed that there was some movement on the first morning but that doesnt justify a score of 76. This is exactly what I was worried about when we started getting those unnecessary statements from the young Indian stars after the Australian tour. The Indian team had no planning either in their batting or when they were on the field.

I guess the hype surrounding IPL is also for sure a reason for this debacle. The team members were seen dancing and enjoying themselves on their franchise launches before this series started and also inbetween the games. This shows that the seriousness required for a series which would have made this team undisputed number 2 in tests was not present. SA on the other hand have worked hard and they deserve this success. Their batting was great and their bowling was very effective on a good batting track.

I guess the youngsters in the Indian team have already been spoilt enough with so much of money through IPL that they are not that interested in tests anymore. This was my exact point when the IPL auctions were going on. The kind of rubbish statements made by the youngsters after the Australian series looks very immature now after this game. You can bet on your bottom dollar that Australia will never put up such a horrible performance anywhere, leave alone at home. Thats what makes them a champion team and they will continue to be there. India does not deserve the number 2 spot and that honour should rightly go to the proteas regardless of the outcome of the series.

I am not saying that based on this one performance but we lack the consistancy associated with the top two spots. Indians need to sort themselves out and get their priorities right. Teams are no more uncomfortable touring the subcontinent and India have to be at the top of their game to win a series at home. Having the IPL starting in 10 days time should not take away the focus from this test series in hand. Test cricket is still the medium through which a player's greatness will be determined no matter how many IPL games they play. The players need to understand the reason why they got picked up the IPL franchise was due to their performances for their country.

If India wins the last test and squares the series 1-1, it still does not mean that the underlying problems are taken care of. I am sure that the players will come back swinging at the media saying that how they blasted them for losing one game and how they have been unfair to them and all but as far as I am concerned all the critisism towards the team was perfectly valid. I guess the only way the team can command respect from the true cricket lovers in India like myself is by performing well in the International stage. We dont care about the IPL's and the ICL's as its not the same as representing your country.