Write & Watch

Salesh Dipak Fernando

Category: SPORTS

THE ZIMBABWE LESSON

 
For those who watch cricket – for a neutral cricket fan yesterday was a historic occasion- A rare Zimbabwe win. Considering the fact that it’s last test win was against Bangladesh the win yesterday was all the more special.
I don’t know why but there’s always a feel good factor in seeing the minnows win.  Maybe it’s human nature to applaud when someone fights against the odds and emerges a winner. My mind travels back in time. Gone are the days when the FLOWER brothers used to give the opposition a fight. HEATH STREAK would often be the lone warrior with the ball.
For a long while the trio ensured that Zimbabwe always put up a fight and there would be occasional surprise wins. But all that was part of a glorious past. The present looks bleak. The whole country is in turmoil. The economy is just gloomy. Coaching staffs had to be laid off. Pay dispute between the players and the board before the series started threatened every game. It all looked ugly until yesterday.
  Before the game started Chatara was just a rookie. But the way he bamboozled Pakistan into submission shows that he has spirit for the big stage. For Pakistan it was a typical unpredictable performance. We have now seen so much of this that we are not sure which PAKISTAN would turn up on a particular day. The mediocre one or the flamboyant one.
The victory celebrations after the win told the whole story. For one fleeting moment nothing else mattered except the fact that ZIMBABWE had beaten a top test team. 
Is it a lone bright spot or is it a sign of things to come. I am not sure. But for now let’s celebrate the victory of the underdog

RAVINDRA JADEJA – DHONI'S MAN FRIDAY.

Ravindra Jadeja or should I say Sir Ravindra Jadeja.. From a nobody to a Superstar. I agree even I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly he’s raised his game so much so that he’s become Dhoni’s go to man. He gives Dhoni the cushion that he needs by juggling in as an all-rounder.
He’s not one of those big names of Indian cricket but he quietly does what is required. The way he bowls is no secret he’s neither got the doosra or the carrom ball. He does not turn the ball much. Just keep it simple bowl a straight line and wait for the batsmen to make mistakes. That’s his mantra.
While batting he provides the much needed impetus late in the innings. And more often than not it works. Along with Raina and Dhoni he can give the innings the flourish that it requires. With captain cool backing him to the hilt I can forsee bright times ahead for Ravindra Jadeja. He may not be a Kallis but Jadeja is definitely the Lance Klusner of India. Just like how the 1999 World Cup had Lance Klusner written all over it this Champion’s trophy is Jadeja’s centrestage
There are jokes floating around that for Sir Jadeja nothing is impossible. At the present moment it seems so. He can do no wrong. Everything he touches turns to gold. He just has to be in the playing eleven the rest will fall in place by itself. 
All hail SIR RAVINDRA JADEJA.

SHIKAR DHAWAN – OUR VERY ROWDY RATHORE


Shikhar Dhawan – The heir to Sehwag’s throne. I think so. In a very short period he’s shown everybody what he’s capable of. He’s inherited Sehwag’s fearlessness but unlike him Dhawan’s not throwing his wicket away when he has the bowlers at his mercy which is a good sign. 

But what has impressed me the most so far is his footwork. While Sehwag’s game was purely based on his hand -eye coordination and Dhawan seems to move his feet a lot once he settles in. He’s also prepared to grind and leave the bad balls unlike his predecessor who went hell for leather from ball one which cost him his wicket on numerous occasions much to the frustration of the viewing public and his very own team mates.
I came across an article which said that Dhawan wanted to quit cricket. Thank God he didn’t otherwise we would have lost another precious talent. He’s shown he’s got the style and the game to play at the highest level. The only question that still lingers “Will he be able to sustain himself in the longer run”? Only time will tell. 
Bowlers will eventually work him out. His ultimate success will lie on how he improvises his game after that. His start reminds me of a famous Indian captain Saurav Ganguly – the man who re-shaped India’s destiny. He started out with a flourish in England. Though his captaincy was top notch he faded as a batsman once the Aussies found out his weakness against the short ball. Let’s hope this is not the case with Dhawan.
For now let Dhawan bask in his new found glory. Time is on his side. Let’s enjoy the proud twirling of the moustache by our very own Rowdy Rathore.
PS: His 187 against the Aussies is one of the most breathtaking innings I have seen recent times.

THE DESERT STORM THROUGH MY EYES – SACHIN SACHIN !

 
I still vividly remember – The setting my Uncle’s place in Vizag. The 1998 Coca- Cola Cup.. India vs. Australia. The Aussies hit 284. Oh boy we aren’t gonna to chase that down neither are we gonna to qualify. India were a one man team back then though we had Azhar,Jadeja and Ganguly. If India were to qualify it had to be because of one man SACHIN RAMESH TENDULKAR.
I sit down to watch the chase with my cousin FISHER.There’s very little hope. And then the prophecy from my uncle. “It’s gonna to be SACHIN’S night today we will qualify” And it did come true. TENDULKAR batted like a man possessed. Neither of the AUSSIE bowlers had an answer to Sachin’s stroke play that night. It was a one man demolition job. India was through to the finals and we were so overjoyed. Take that Aussies it’s going a replay in the finals.
The Finals- 24th April 1998. It’s the Little Master’s birthday. This time we are supremely confident. So was the whole of India. The centre stage was his. The Aussies, mere puppets in his hands. The Aussies hit 272. 273 to win… Who cares what the target is the cup is ours. The run machine won’t disappoint us. It was actually hilarious to see bowler after bowler trying to gain the upper hand over Sachin. But that magical night he had all the answers.
 It was surreal. The straight drive.. The lofted shot straight over the bowler’s head for six. Shane Warne scratching his head not knowing what had hit him. And having Ravi Shastri, Tony Greig and Gavaskar in the commentary box was an added attraction.
I relive those two knocks every time SACHIN plays.. You don’t get knocks like these very often. Maybe once in a blue moon. And whole team went around the SHARJAH STADIUM in Sachin’s car. It was like the perfect finale. Endings are always the best part. Those who criticize Sachin now please remember there was a time when he was the one man army standing between India and defeat.
By the way we did have our own little treat of chocolate cakes to celebrate the win!

FAREWELL MR CRICKET – THE MIKE HUSSEY WAY

After Michael Bevan who…? That was the question in most people’s mind after his retirement.. Will there be anyone who can take his place. There is a saying COMETH THE HOUR…COMETH THE MAN…In came someone in his early 30’s the man who is now affectionately known as Mr Cricket…MIKE HUSSEY.
He not only replaced Bevan but surpassed him. His debut was not all that flashy. But slowly he made his presence felt eventually becoming a vital part of the Aussie setup. He was a busy player and Australia’s go to man in times of Crisis…He kept the score board ticking… He lacked the pure genius or artistic ability of players like Sachin but he more than made up for it with his ability to plan a chase and finish the game. His planned assault on Pakistan during the World T20 semi – final stands testimony to this.. He won a game which was lost as the Pakistan players were stunned.
Another remarkable characteristic which marked his cricketing career was his ability to forge partnerships with the tail. It didn’t matter whether it was No 9, 10 or 11 batting at one end. As long as u have Mike Hussey at one end the Aussie’s had a chance. Who can forget his unbeaten 107 run partnership with No 11 Glenn Mcgrath which helped them win a test match…This was one of many… He also had this uncanny ability to negotiate the toughest periods of the game much like RAHUL DRAVID….
When people look back at his statistics a while from now they may not seem significant in terms of numbers. Not much in terms of hundred’s fifties or the number of runs scored. But the sheer value of those runs to the team is what makes them priceless…. He will always remain my favorite modern day cricketer… GOOD BYE MR CRICKET…. WE MISS U ALREADY.

 

THE GIANTS ARE BACK

7th October 2012…. The morning started with loads of anticipation and excitement… All in wait for the evening… A T-20 final clash beckoned… Everybody’s second favorite cricket team after their own home country vs the Sri Lankans – the eternal finalists. 
WEST INDIES – A team with a glorious past, a team which gave us the fearsome foursome… A team which gave us heavenly players like Richards and Lara…A team which strode like a giant in the days gone by But over the past decade and a half disintegrated into oblivion showing only occasional flashes of brilliance.
SRI LANKA – The steadier of the two. The eternal finalists. A team which slowly built on its 1996 World Cup win to become a force to reckon with..A team built on its own foundation of twin towers – SANGAKARA and JAYAWARDENE, two senior players still searching for that elusive final win.
West Indies won the toss and chose to bat…Waiting for the Gayle force to explode but sadly it didn’t happen, The Lankan Lions bowled their hearts out and Gayle went into his own shell only to be dismissed for 3. The first ten overs produced next to nothing…Only a paltry 32 after 10 overs.. The Lankans thought they had the match in their grasp and for a while it seemed so and then MARLON SAMUEL’S – Gayle’s understudy chose his stage to shine.. And shine he did by carting one of the best T-20 bowlers Slinger Malinga into submission… He batted as if he came from another planet to score a majestic 78 ably supported by a captain who knew his role- DARREN SAMMY who scored a priceless 26… The last ten overs produced a hundred runs but still was it enough to beat Lankans on there own turf.. A mere 138 to win….
The ball in hand.. Magic had to happen for Windies to win the cup. And it did through RAVI RAMPAUL who produced the ball of the tournament to rock Dilshan’s stumps. And that was all the Windies needed to ruffle the Lankans… A web was being spun around through the spin trio of Naraine, Badree, Samuels and Gayle… A Web which slowly peeled off the Lankan Innings… And then there was the selfless SAMMY who bowled like the night belonged to him. Eventually the cup went to the CALYPSO BOYS much to delight of every cricketing fan. The Pre Tournament Favorites won the cup while the Lankans were left yearning… Another so near yet so far story…Another Falter at the final hurdle…
In a way it was a fitting end to SAMMY’s fairytale. A Captain whose sole purpose was to unite the team. He was everybody’s favorite punching bag. But it was his night.. A Carribean style finish… Hope this sparks off the a revival and brings back the glory days of the past… IF U BUILD THE TEAM…VICTORY WILL COME…
 
 

MY FIRST CRICKET MATCH – HOW IT HAPPENED

9th March 1996…Another ordinary Saturday…. Or was it? I was eagerly awaiting the telecast of Vijay’s evergreen hit POOVE UNAKAGA… While the world around me was eagerly anticipating another big event, India Vs Pakistan World Cup Cricket Quarter Finals…
I was sitting blissfully unaware of what the hype was all about. I neither understood sports nor did I understand Cricket. What happened that particular evening changed my whole outlook on sports…It was around 1 PM that afternoon that my cousin brothers Marinstine Fernando and Sasitharan Alphonse came in for a visit. I sit studying in my room as they watch the initial stages of the match.
Slowly time passes it’s around 4 in the evening and time for my movie. The fight for the remote begins as I start sulking. My brothers and Dad try explaining to me the significance of the match but I do not listen. Me being the youngest in the house they eventually win me over. I have no other option but to sit along with them. As I watched the game along with them it amazed me to see how quickly I understood the nuances of Cricket. Jadeja’s hammering of Waquar Yunis…Aamir Shoail teasing Prasad and Prasad picking up his wicket the next ball…. Everything still fresh and vivid in my memory.
Since that evening cricket has been my favorite pastime and opened to me a whole new world- SPORTS! What followed was the India vs England test series in England… The arrival of Ganguly and Dravid… Sachin hitting a hundred in a losing cause… From then till now.. 16 years down the line it has been a wonderful journey.. A journey filled with nail-biting finishes and cherished memories….

ROGER FEDERER – THE MYSTICAL GENIUS

Tennis consists of two kinds of players -Mere Mortals and ROGER FEDERER.  Very rarely does a sportsman dominate his rivals with such ease and grace as Federer does. Watching him on court is like watching an artist perform on stage. A maestro composing his own symphony.
A rare gem with an all round game. His magical forehand as the opponent watches in awe and his backhand smash are shots that will stand the test of time. Even during his period of slam drought over the past two years he was as graceful as ever. Just when you thought the fire was fading, he comes back in his own inimitable style to win a grand slam in tennis’s hallowed turf.
17 and counting… That he is known as Fedex is an irony. For when he plays time seems to freeze as we watch amazed.
I would like to finish off with a quote by Jimmy Connors which aptly sums up the great man ““In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist…or you’re Roger Federer.” Though there may be many pretenders. There is, was and will always be one king of tennis– ROGER FEDERER. 


LONG LIVE THE KING!  Let the reign continue.

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