Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Farewell Virender Sehwag

Image result for sehwagBy now, many things would have been written about the man who revolutionized the art of batting by keeping things simple. The ball was meant to be hit. And gaps in the field were not only along the ground but also over the fielders' heads. These were some of the Sehwag basics which made him the endearing success that he was.

And he liked to keep things honest. Whether calling Bangladesh an ordinary side or saying, everyone except Sreesanth had a good game (World Cup 2011), he would always call a spade a spade.

The greatest tribute to Sehwag, the batsman. Everyone used to say that a pitch should be judged only after Sehwag gets out. The true nature of the pitch would come up only after the next batsmen who came to the crease. And given that  it was the maestro duo of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar who came in next, makes this even more special. After all Sehwag would play his own way regardless of the surface and the bowling attack.  And his sheer presence in the line-up often prevented opposition captains from setting aggressive 4th innings targets for India.

My favorite Sehwag memory: Well, there are lots to choose from but my favorite one is his refusing to take a single while batting on 199 in order to protect the number eleven and extend the score further (Match score). What a refreshing change in a milestones obsessed sport.

After all as he said in farewell note"I also want to thank everyone for all the cricketing advice given to me over the years and apologise for not accepting most of it! I had a reason for not following it; I did it my way!"

Farewell Virender Sehwag! You certainly did it your way.

Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Farewell Zaheer Khan

"The toughest call in a cricketing career is when one has to walk away from the game itself. You almost 'will' yourself and want to push that few, extra miles but then the body, after nearly two decades, decides not to respond."

These were the opening words of the farewell statement by Zaheer Khan, without doubt one of India's greatest fast bowlers and cetainly the best left-hand pacer the country has produced.

The numbers first - 610 wickets in 92 Tests, 200 ODIs, 17 T20Is in a career spanning 14 years. These are numbers to be proud of. And to this add being a member of a World Cup winning XI. But sheer numbers cannot define his contribution. He was the leader of India's pace attack and its de facto bowling captain over a large part of his career. And he left quite a few memories to cherish for the Indian fan. Here are my favorite ones.
  1. The yorker to knock out Steve Waugh's stumps in the ICC Knockout event in Kenya in 2000. What a wonderful sight it was to see a yorker delivered by an Indian fast bowler.
  2. 4 consecutive sixes off Henry Olonga to end the innings against Zimbabwe. Yet India contrived to lose that game.
  3. The jellybean incident against England which riled him up so much that he proceeded to destroy the English batting and take India to a rare away series victory.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Law of Appreciations

Cricket is a funny game. Famous quote that ‘the game is a great leveller’ isn’t an understatement. Statistics play a vital role in the game, probably more than they do in any other sport. Sooner or later, the perennial ‘law of averages’ catches up with the best of the best in the sport. No one is spared, ironically, not even the greatest of them all, Sir Don Bradman. And along with these averages, the age of a player also catches up with him. The skills don’t leave a sportsperson, but his reflexes, agility and physical and mental strength definitely become weaker with time. It is unrealistic and foolhardy not to expect that. The case of Mahendra Singh Dhoni is also not any different.

After the T20I series loss to South Africa, all the pressure was on Team India, even more on its already burdened captain. His bat has not fired in recent times the way we are used to it. The team’s performance has also been not too good in the limited overs format under him since the World Cup. On top of that, the historic series win in Sri Lanka under young gun Kohli has put Dhoni under more scrutiny, which is kind of implausible rather than sardonic, given the simple fact that we are talking about arguably one of India’s greatest captain, at least statistically (given that I am also a die hard dada fan). The point is not to compare Sourav’s and MSD’s captaincy records or any other captain’s for that matter, it is about the incredible and often improbable set of expectations that we have from our players.