Friday, December 28, 2012

Broken Fingers and Hands - MCG 2012

Mitchell Johnson produced 2 brutal deliveries as he broke the hands of Kumar Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene in the Boxing Day Test at MCG. Its nothing new for Mitch as Greame Smith will vouch!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Straight Hair Experiments

"Tell me your craziest, whackiest, wildest experimental idea to get Perfect Straight Hair!!"

Declared Miss Shilpa turning to her students. Stunned at what they saw on the blackboard, the students exchanged surprised looks with each other. Murmurs were heard around the class.

"What is wrong with Miss Shilpa?''... "Is she out of her mind?"

Unmoved by the glares, Miss Shilpa continued, ''Each student will get one chance and the best idea will get a prize from me.''

A teacher of the higher secondary, everything about Miss Shilpa was beautiful – her way of teaching, her personna, her expressions, her speech - Everything except her hair! Her hair were an ugly cross between wavy and curly, all entangled into one another befitting a crow’s nest! Her students called it ‘The Maggi Noodles’, they even shared jokes on it.

Shilpa knew about this activity but always took it sportingly albeit with a pain in the heart. How much she pined for the day when she could stroke her fingers through her perfectly straight tresses! Though stringency was not in her nature but she was also not the one to give up so easily and hit upon an idea.

Why not ask a solution from the students themselves?

To add more weight to her plan, she added a 'Prize' for the best proposition. Yes, that would bring out the best of the students!

She was right. The next day, the moment she uttered the word ‘prize’, she saw the ears stand and the heads turn.

Miss, Miss… me, I have an idea, Miss I have one!

Thus began a fun activity with students giving ideas one by one, starting from the first bench.

Anil - Touch a live wire and the hair, no matter how curly or wavy, will all stand on it’s end. Though its risky but it will get the job done nice and quickly.

Kriti - If you stay with your mother, make her angry. When my mother is angry she often pulls my hair which, I think, helps them straighten!

The entire class burst out laughing as Shilpa, given that Kriti indeed had perfectly straight hair, was left wondering if it was indeed a viable option after all!

Kamal - Take some Plaster of Paris and apply it on to your hair from top to bottom. As the plaster sets and hardens, let it remain for some days (or weeks). Then break open the mould and your hair will be cast perfectly straight! You can also use black cement instead of PoP for better effects!

Vidhi - Tie golf balls at the ends of your hair (after tying chunks of hair together) and keep them on for some days. The pressure should result in straight hair!!

Rakesh - Watch our current Cricket team play! Their utterly dismal performances will automatically make your hair stand at its ends, thus straightening them. Or just listen to our captain Dhoni's out-of-the-box excuses even as we keep loosing matches. This will also do an excellent job!

Jeeshan - These days everyone is talking about space tours being a real possibility! Well as you told us yesterday Mam, Pluto has only 8% gravitational force as compared to earth. So if you can somehow reach there, your hair will all float thus straightening themselves because of such low gravitational pull. The effect will most probably be temporary but we can still give it a shot! Who knows, the hair might remain straight even after you return to our planet earth!

Shilpa, for a moment forgot all about her hair and felt proud that her teaching had been drilled so well into the mind of her student!

Poonam - Watch horror movies like Paranormal Activity, The Exorcist, Psycho, The Grudge, The Ring etc. Watch these movies all alone in the dead of the night when everything is quiet around you and make sure to switch off all lights while watching. You can even watch them on a loop for better results. This will make your hair raise on its ends and soak in a hair raising experience. But beware, don't watch Bollywood horror movies, they are more like comedy!

Shilpa could feel the hair at the end of her neck standing (she was really scared of horror movies) and felt that this would be good, that is, if she did not suffer from an heart attack during the movie.

Karan was quick to interrupt - It would be better to visit a cemetery in the dead of the night, all alone, instead of watching horror movies! It would definitely be a hair raising experience and whats more, it is absolutely free!

Roshan - Take a huge piece of plastic (preferably a plastic rod) and rub it furiously on a woolen cloth. Then bring it closer to you hair. It will attract your hair because of static energy and your hair will straighten if you repeat the process diligently for a few weeks!

Vinay - Try solving mathematics problems day in and day out, continuously without any break whatsoever. I am sure you will be pulling out your hair within 24 hours thus helping them to straighten!

Chandini - If you want a simple yet fool proof solution to straighten your hair I will suggest you to use the Sunsilk Solution to get the Perfect Straight Hair.

"Shilpa... Shilpa"

The fun reverie was suddenly interrupted by a loud call.

The sun is already up on the horizon, you will get late for your classes.

Shilpa strained her droopy eyelids; her mind had played the entire sequence of yesterday’s classroom events yet again. She gazed at the brand new bottle of Sunsilk Solution for perfect straight hair visible in the far distance. She smiled and thanked Chandini from her heart… very soon she would be living her dreams.

PS - This Contest is sponsored by Sunsilk and is held at Indiblogger. Check out the contest page here. You can vote for my entry here - The Straight Hair Experiments

PPS - Please do not try any of these experiments at home except the last one suggested by Chandini!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

And There Ends The Vengeance

A Special Guest Post from my friend Leo (Vinay) who writes wonderful poems, stories and haikus at his space - I Rhyme Without Reason and is an ardent cricket fan...


Hype. That was what I felt when the ads of the soon-to-start England tour of India began to air on multiple channels. The ads were an insult to the talent the English team possessed, and one which, having home advantage, India underestimated. It was touted as the revenge series, four test matches which would show why India's blip, the whitewash of 4-0 against the same opposition, was nothing but a bump in the road of the world champions. Come to think of it, I personally am not going to refer to them as that any more. It seems to be, and probably is, an excuse and a reason to brush off any loss, or series of losses that the Men in Blue come by. 

I think ego comes a lot into play when I see India play nowadays. The fact that they have a brilliant home record always seems to affect their play, and affect their selection for that matter. Be it the BCCI or our charismatic (?) captain MS Dhoni, ego seems to be a problem. You'd think one test match was proof enough to show this wasn't going to be a walk in the park. England's second innings resistance at Motera was the signal to the Men in Blue that be wary of the English Lions. Though the match went in India's favor, it was in no way one sided, and whatever the pitch did or didn't do, it got 5 days of enthralling cricket. From the four pitches, it perhaps ranked the best, and the performance of Pujara and Ojha in particular impressed. Apart from Pujara, the batting held no plus points, and once again, the future of the out-of-form players like Sachin, Sehwag, Gautam, Yuvi, Zaheer and MS Dhoni was called into question. Yet it was, as usual, met with resistance from BCCI who retained the squad for the next match as well.

Fitness is called into question during every series, I agree, but I think calling for a super-spinning pitch so the match couldn't go into 5 days was showing off, underestimating England's ability to play spin right from the get go. To top that, India went with 3 spinners to complement Zaheer as the lone pacer. Would all that help notch another win and the series? No. That was an emphatic no. Panesar and Swann together notched 9 wickets between them on a spinning track to restrict India to 327. Had it not been for Pujara and Ashwin (yes, a spin bowler), India wouldn't have had even half that score. Even at the end of India's first innings, the onus lay with England. Surely, Indian spinners could thrive on a spinning track in home conditions? No. Another emphatic no. England's batting prowess played with patience, and accumulated a high score, taking their lead to just over 80. India had to battle for a day atleast to get a solid lead. If England, unfamiliar and mostly uncomfortable with subcontinental pitches could bat with patience, India definitely could. They had the batting strength to do it. But Panesar had other ideas, as by the end of day 3, India had been reduced to a paltry 117 for 7. a lead of just over thirty, with two days to hold England off, and their batsmen all returning to the pavilion for single digit scores. Ashwin (yes, a spin bowler) managed 11, and Gambhir for the most part, battled with a patient fifty. Panesar who had 5 in the first innings, went one better with 6 in the second. India folded for a meager 142, leaving England with well over a day and a half to notch 58 runs. Easy work. They did so with ease, by ten wickets, and calls once again resounded for a change in the line-up, dropping of out of form players, and yes, the retirement of the little master. 

India's battling batting lineup had misfired with much gusto, yet no change was seen in the attitude of the captain, or the BCCI, who selected the same lineup. The only change was including Ishant for Harbhajan Singh. India continued to underestimate the Englishmen, and much controversy resulted in the days prior to the game, with MSD's demand for a spinning pitch similar to Mumbai being pushed through, even against the will of the curator. Batting first, India made a lowly 316. The headlines on the second day morning read, "Tendulkar answers his critics". Really? Scores of 13, 8, 8 prior to this innings, a patient 76 wasn't indicative of form, of any kind. One score in the fifties was enough to satisfy the media and the nation atleast. Gambhir continued atleast his run of some form with another fifty. But if anyone was in form, it was Panesar. Another 4 wicket haul for the in-form spinner. If India was hoping for an English collapse, they had another thing coming. Top 4 English batsmen made past the fifty mark, and Cook took it to their spinners, going till 190 before a quite unfortunate leave saw him run out. England played on, and went to 523. A lead of 206. India behind the 8 ball. If it was spin that made the difference in the first innings, pace did in the second. India folded cheaply again. The out of form batsmen continued their form, Tendulkar gone for 5, Pujara unfortunately getting run out for no fault of his (Gambhir getting a second partner run out in as many innings). At one stage, India were 159 for 7, and an innings loss looming. It was Ashwin (yes, a spin bowler) who put up his hand, and struck 91 to get England a target of 41. It wasn't going to challenge England. After a couple of early hiccups, England strolled home, and were now leading 2-1 in the series. Cue those calls agin for the out of form players.

BCCI somewhat took a stand, or so the media said. "Axed" from the squad were Harbhajan (he didn't play in Kolkata though), Yuvraj (why was he there in the first place?) and Zaheer (one sane axing). Incoming players were Parwinder Awana (he was just named), Piyush Chawla (another spinner? what for?) and Ravindra Jadeja (two triple hundreds in the domestic season). People were somewhat satisfied. But I ask... Dhoni wasn't in form, one fifty in much innings, and captaincy that was no longer cool. Tendulkar had one fifty plus score, and 4 scores below twenty. That's no form either. Why weren't they dropped? If anyone was in batting form, it was Pujara, Ashwin (see the irony) and Gambhir (atleast he got consistently past forty). India needed a win, a must win game in Nagpur. Would these changes make a difference? 

On a slow track, England felt uncomfortable against 4 spinners. (Yes, India went one better with playing Chawla, Jadeja, Ojha and Ashwin). But patience from Pietersen, Root and Prior saw England end Day 1 at 199/5 and then Swann's blitz on the morning of day 2 got England past 300 with a final total of 330. On the slow track, where runs were hard to come by, it was a chance for the Indians to be patient and take a big lead, but Anderson got 3 and Swann 1 to leave India at 87/4 at the end of day 2. Sehwag and Tendulkar had their mid stump uprooted and for scores of 0 and 1. India's chances were slim, but Kohli and Dhoni finally showed a resistance to the collapse, and stitched together a partnership. India managed to go the entire 3rd day without losing all their wickets, and ended day 3 at 298/7, just 33 behind. All logic called for an immediate declaration, giving their rested bowlers a shot at the English batsmen, and Dhoni opted not to. India ate a little more into the lead, declaring at 326/9, one hour into day 4. For any chance at a win, India needed quick inroads into the English top order. They got it courtesy two howler of decisions from umpires Dharmasena and Tucker, the former giving Cook out caught behind when the ball was nowhere near the bat, and the latter giving Compton leg before when there was an inside edge. The latter one was agreeable, coz it was caught anyways. but India couldn't capitalize, and England got through the day to 161/3 and then batted out the rest of the match, with Trott and Bell completing hundreds. Dhoni's decisions are again under scrutiny. Jadeja (in the team for his batting) got more overs than Ashwin in the first innings, and nearly the same in the second innings. Though he was miserly, it didn't help in taking wickets.

This was touted as a revenge series, yet after 4 matches, this series can only be called the continuation of the nPower 4-0 whitewash. England winning 2-1 in the subcontinent is as good as winning 4-0 in England, if not better. This series calls for change in the lineup, and wholesale ones at that. It is about time either Tendulkar thought of retirement, or the selectors spoke to him and put country ahead of player. I understand his not wanting to go out when he was on top form, but he isn't in form and that's affecting the team. I am the first to agree, respect and honor the record he has in world cricket, it is one that will be unmatched for a long long time, but the more time he stays out of form, the more time we are losing to blood youth like Robin Bist, Badrinath and Rahane. One score of 99 in the series isn't enough to put past what Dhoni didn't do in the other innings. That, plus his decisions like playing 3 and 4 spinners, demanding spinning tracks and openly questioning Gambhir's form and calling him selfish one day before the decisive test (when he himself was in no excellent form) affected the team's morale too. Gambhir and Sehwag are openers who are lacking in form. "Sehwag will play like Sehwag" is no longer an excuse to keep him at the top, and Gambhir has had blotches too. No longer can Zaheer be called India's spearhead, that baton must now be passed to the likes of Ishant and Yadav. If you ask me "Have we found the replacements for Tendulkar or Dhoni that you tell they must go?" I ask you, "How long will we keep hunting? How will we know Bist or Badri or Rahane aren't the replacements if we don't give them the chance at the highest level?" No. This isn't the time to keep them on so we can "look for replacements". We have been looking long enough, now it is time to act. 

This final test at Nagpur has now ended the vengeance. If instead of touting it as a vengeance series, we focused on playing excellent cricket and on balanced, challenging tracks, this furore might not have happened. It is our pride, and a false one at that, that we are unbeatable on Indian pitches which led to our downfall. Next time, when we play the Aussies, it should be cricket that takes the centre stage, not a revenge for the 4-0 whitewash down under. Else Australia can, and yes they have the strength for it, beat us as well. It's time for change, and it's high time BCCI realized that and stopped hiding from the issues that need to be sorted out.

Friday, December 7, 2012

India go from Bad to Worse...

England tour of India, 3rd Test: India v England at Kolkata, Dec 5-9' 2012


Day 2 ends with England still 100 adrift India's total of 316. England have 9 wickets in hand but if India can snaffle a couple of wickets early then anything can happen. A collapse is always lurking around on these Indian pitches. With these thoughts I sleep yesterday, possibly even dreaming of a come-from-behind Indian victory.

What a fool I was!! The morning session came and went, India remained wicketless. The misery piled on for the fans. Cook reached yet another 150, Trott got to his 50, the 100 stand was raised which soon reached 150!!! The fielding was ragged, bowling mediocre and the captain looked like he would better be on a vacation then on the field. Trott got out sweeping. Cook fell as he tried to evade a throw from Kohli, a lucky break for the Indian team. It was a splendid innings from Captain Cook as he entered the record books as the English batsman with most centuries. Its astounding that he already has 23 tons at an age of just 27!!!

Yuvraj came on as KP strode out to the crease but all he did was chuck a few pie's at the batsman which were gobbled with much delight and relished with joy!! Meanwhile Ashwin who had proclaimed before the series that he had a magic delivery to unleash on the English completed his very own 150!! The delivery has magically stayed away and he has only a couple of wickets in his last 250 odd overs!!! Zaheer might have lost the pace and venom in his bowling but he effectively retains the irritating habit of opening his mouth to have a chat with the batsman whenever he bowls a good ball once in every 20 overs. I still remember him sledging Gilchrist and Hayden in the opening over of the 2003 WC and being taken to the cleaners. He is yet to learn his lesson. My all time favorite fast bowler, Curtly Ambrose, never sledged. When the team came back after tea and was in a huddle, MSD probably cracked a joke because I saw everyone having a nice little chuckle. When your team is struggling to effect even one breakthrough, this sort of a thing looks extremely bad.

The day ended with England almost 200 ahead and still have the last 4 wickets in hand. I yesterday talked of a miracle saving India. The miracle men, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, sadly no longer play for the Indian team. The inspirational captain, Sourav Dada Ganguly, has also retired and is now seen in the commentary box. Perhaps the seasons for miracles is long over.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

English Skipper Cooks up his 3rd Comp(ertable)ton on a Trott!!

England tour of India, 3rd Test: India v England at Kolkata, Dec 5-9' 2012


Dhoni won yet another important toss on day 1 of the third test at the Eden Gardens and as expected had no hesitation in deciding to bat first. The ball was moving a bit but the first wicket was gifted to England on a platter when Virender Sehwag was left stranded as he steamed down for a comfortable 3rd run. Gambhir was the culprit as it was an easy three. This, while he himself has not scored a century for India in tests for almost 3 years now!! Yes, 3 long years!! How and why the Indian selectors are still persisting with him is beyond me. And when they replace either Sehwag/ Gambhir (due to injury) they pick the useless M Vijay. When will guys like Rahane and Mukund get a chance??

Pujara had a rare failure as Sachin strode out amidst huge pressure. He was keen on defense and looked resolute to turn the corner. Gambhir fell after a scratchy fifty (hope it does not guarantee him a place as the opening batsmen for another 10 tests!!) and Kohli failed yet again in the series. Sachin opened up a bit after tea and eventually fell for 76, his first fifty in the last 10 months!!!

Yuvraj, after surviving a lbw shout that would have uprooted the middle stump while he was still on duck and another when he had a solitary run made 32. Dhoni, playing as ungainly as he does against the spinners, barely survived until stumps were called for with India at 273/7.


India were all out for 316 even as MSD eked out a painful fifty.

England openers Cook and Compton began extremely cautiously as England made just 20 odd runs off the first 11 overs. That was only the calm before the storm that was to follow. After lunch both Compton and Cook began to look out for runs, and runs they got!!

The Indian spinners looked as far away from picking up a wicket as a tourist is far away from water in the arid Sahara!! The fielding looked school boyish and the captaincy bereft of any new ideas. Cook reached yet another fifty, the hundred stand was raised, Compton got his fifty too, the one fifty stand soon ensued before Cook completed the annihilation his customary hundred!!! Compton finally departed with the English score reading 165.

Cook and Trott then rubbed it in further and were involved in an unbeaten 50 run stand of their own when stumps were finally called, much to India's relief!! England ended the day on 216/1, just 100 behind India.

India needs a miracle at the Eden in the next couple of days or else the scoreline will be 2-1 to England after 3 tests.