Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mission Accomplished

He came, he led, and he conquered. Mahendra Singh Dhoni did in 2007 what Kapil Dev did to Indian Cricket in 1983. No expectations and team performed well to reach the pinnacle of excellence. Yes, we have won the inaugural edition of twenty20 world cup. Hurray, what a nail biting final that had been. Beating arch-rivals Pakistan and lifting the world cup. Truly, this is a dream come true. That has certainly done some healing to the wounds of the Caribbean debacle earlier this year.

pictury courtesy :

Frankly speaking, I did not expect so much attention would be diverted for this shortest version of cricket at the start of this tournament. That may be largely attributed to the fact that India had played only one Twenty20 international before the start of this world cup, though the first Twenty20 international had been played in 2005.(1st twenty20 international was played between Australia and New Zealand on 17 February 2005, with Australia winning the match by 44 runs). India’s only match was with South Africa on 1st December 2006 which they won by 6 wickets. Low on experience but high on confidence India under a young captain had arrived on the big stage in South Africa after a closely fought one day series in England.

The first match with Scotland being washed out and teams sharing a point each, it was left to the young brigade to perform well in next clash with Pakistan. 142 the target they set for Pakistan though was not intimidating, but Pakistan had to sweat for their runs with Indians making target stiffer ball after ball. With the match tied the first ever bowl out in a world cup came into picture. India won the bowl-out and advanced to next stage – Super Eight! For the curious folks the first ever bowl out in a Twenty20 International was between New Zealand and West Indies on 16 February 2006 with both teams tied at the score of 126. New Zealand eventually won the match 3-0 just as India did against Pakistan.

The first match for India in Super Eight saw them loosing to New Zealand from a position of strength with fireworks from Sehwag and Gambhir, by 10 runs. But that match also saw them giving too many runs in the end overs and loosing too many wickets in a hurry. That should have taught a thing or two about the winning ways in the coming games. As a result we were about to see new Indian team with disciplined bowling and sharp fielding. Incidently this was the only match where they chasing a target.

Then, came the 2 big games, one against the England, the so called Twenty20 specialists and another against the mighty South Africans and both had to be won comfortably if India had to be in the Semi finals. If the match against England saw the batting prowess then against South Africans it was the bowling and fielding which stood out. Yuvraj Singh’s magnificent 6 sixes in an over off Stuart Broad in the match against England will be in memory for the cricket fans for a long time. Well, this is only the third instance of such feat in an international match. South Africans did everything right to restrict India without Yuvraj to a manageable 153. But to their surprise they were then facing dilemma of whether to win the match or to get those crucial 126 runs needed qualify for the semis. In the end they could not manage either of them. India found a unlikely hero in otherwise wayward RP Singh who took 4 for 13, equally supported by S Sreesanth (2 for 23) and Harbhajan Singh (2 for 31). But that match also saw some brilliant fielding. Karthik’s catch of Graeme Smith and Rohit Sharma’s accurated throw to get rid of dangerous Justin Kemp saw match swinging in India’s favour. Robin Singh, the fielding coach would have been a proud man seeing the athletics of his boys.

Stage had finally set up for the Dhoni’s boys to take on the mighty Australians. The match saw them putting a good total of 188 with many of Australian bowlers going for runs rather than wickets, which is a hall mark of Australian bowlers. Australian backlash was expected as was seen in the way Hayden and Symonds batted. When it seemed match was going away from the Indians, Dhoni made the right move by bringing in Sreesanth who had given away just 6 runs in his first 3 overs and got the prized wicket of Gilchrist. This was gamble since Dhoni had to fill in that one over which otherwise would have been bowled by Sreesanth in the end. But then the pace with which Hayden was going it seemed match would be over with 2 overs left! And the ploy worked Sreesanth who had troubled Hayden at the start of the inning had his man. And then followed the procession of Australian middle order which would have been otherwise a Indian scene in most occasions. The untested middle order helped India to some extent to win that match. But then even in the last over match could have swung Australian way. But that was not to be. Joginder Sharma who had gone for plenty of runs in his first 2 overs had done trick for India. Hurray! We are in finals. Interestingly, India had played their matches against England, South Africa and Australia at Durban and won all of them.

picture courtesy :

Final as expected by everyone was closely fought match. 157 though seemed to be a low total considering the runs scored by India against Australians in the match before. But then Pakistan bowling was exceptional. Most of the balls were yorkers and unplayable. Law of averages did Yuvraj Singh in and he could not repeat the heroics against England and Australia. It was a wise move by Pakistani Captain, Shoaib Malik to bowl spin at both ends when Yuvraj was at crease and that was a deciding factor in India not piling up a huge total. Having said that Gautam Gambhir got his timing correct to score a brisk 75 off 54 balls and Rohit Sharma’s hard hitting in the end helped India to cross that psychological barrier of 150. And then the hunt began. Undeterred by the 2 wickets fallen initially, Imran Nazir was going great guns only to be stopped by Robin Uthappa. This was clearly the turning point in the match. Add to that the first ball dismissal of Shahid Afridi made things easier for India. Indians had done their home work well. But in twenty20 cricket you never know one over could change the course of the game. That was exactly what happened when Harbhajan was hit thrice over the fence by the in-form Misbah-ul-Haq. If few runs had to be scored for Pakistan victory then few had wickets had to be taken for Indian victory. Those last three overs, man; you could hear your heart beating loud and clear. Not to explain those last 15 deliveries, which made our emotions happy and sad, change every moment? That fateful scoop by Misbah-ul-Haq off Joginder Sharma landing in the safe hands of Sreesanth saw India lifting the world cup after 24 years.

This has been my dream to see India win the world cup in our time. That did not materialize in 1996 or in 2003 when we came so close to winning one. This is very special seeing the people marching along the streets holding the Indian flag hailing the Indian win after the end of the match. Indian team holding the world cup, Irfan and Harbhajan’s dance, hugs all around make some of the unforgettable moments for a many years to come.

As Dhoni mentioned in his post-match presentation this win will herald new dawn in Indian cricket. And we will see a Twenty20 revolution in our country. This win has been collective effort with each match seeing a new hero. Young India has finally arrived. Now it is up to the managers of this game in India to make the best use of this young bunch and form a consistently performing Indian Cricket Team.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Get Set for the BIG Final

Biggest final of cricket tournaments in recent times is finally here. It can’t be better than this. We have reached the final phase of the inaugural edition of ICC Twenty Twenty cricket world cup. India v/s Pakistan tie on Monday, 24th of September 2007 is being eagerly awaited by the cricket fans all over the world.

India came into this tournament as the youngest team with not much experience in the ODIs or in the twenty twenty international (TTI). And there were not many expectations from them. But they have performed amazingly well beating the likes of South Africa and Australia. Pakistan with its share of controversies till the beginning of the tournament too was in a similar position as India. But they have also managed to beat top teams like Australia and Sri Lanka.

Manner in which the two teams have progressed in the tournament is worth noting. India v/s Pakistan clash in the league stage was the first real test of nerves for these two teams. It resulted in a tie and then India won the bowl out 3-0. First super 8 match for India was against New Zealand and when every thing seemed correct to setup an Indian win, kiwis put on the breaks on the Indian juggernaut to win the match by 10 runs. But then those 2 spectacular performances set the tone for the Indian juggernaut to role on. India won against England mostly on the batting prowess riding on the 12 ball fifty by Yuvraj Singh. And against South Africa it was bowling and fielding which made their mark. South Africans who did not loose a game till then in the tournament choked to pressure and bowed out of the tournament. Semi final against Australia saw best of all three – batting, bowling and fielding which was on display in the previous two matches. If in batting Yuvraj Singh repeated his heroics against England then in bowling RP Singh against South Africa was replaced by Sreesanth. Pakistan on the other hand won two crucial matches, one against Sri Lanka, who were riding high on the batting exploits of Jayasurya on most occasions and another against the biggies Australia. Beating Bangladesh in the last super 8 tie was just a formality. New Zealand and Pakistan have been semifinal buddies on couple occasions now. I remember the same fate New Zealand suffered in the 1999 cricket world cup semi final in England against the same team.

Two exciting finals featuring India and Pakistan are,

  • 1986 Astralasia Cup final at Sharjah - This match was won by Pakistan courtesy Javed Miandad hitting last ball of the innings off Chetan Sharma for a six. This is still fresh in the minds of cricket buffs.
  • 1998 Bangladesh Independence Cup at Dhaka - Here in the best of the three finals India won the first one, Pakistan the second and India won the third final chasing record total 314 thus winning the cup 2-1, thanks to Hrishikesh Kanitkar for hitting that crucial boundary.

Thus the Monday match going to be an exciting contest typical of India Pakistan contests. This final match has an unusual trend of Australia not playing. In recent times virtually every final of the tournament Australia played had their name in final game but not here. Welcome change!

Coming to Twenty twenty cricket, purists may rub it off as base ball version of cricket, but honestly this has renewed interest among cricket enthusiasts who are otherwise tired of the laborious tests and one-sided ODI encounters. And this has even found new fan base. Main factor here is the time constraint. Match getting over within 3 hours. Well, that is duration you would watch a Hindi or any regional language movie in India. If the match goes well it is similar to watching good movie otherwise it is not a movie worth watching! With world being so competitive and in fast lane, cricket can not be left behind. Twenty twenty cricket can be seen as logical extension of ODI format. And in the long run this is definitely going to replace ODIs. Forget tests, who would want to waste his whole day just to decide who the winner is. Some say the climax of one day matches are rare to see here but we have seen some of the best moments in India v/s Pakistan, India v/s New Zealand, England v/s New Zealand, India v/s Australia to name a few in this tournament already.

India v/s Australia saw the best of both teams but in the end India won the battle of nerves. This is rare to see, Australia buckling under pressure. This might well set the tone for the upcoming ODI series against them in India, first one being held on 29th September, 2007 in Bangalore. Australia saw their first upset against Zimbabwe in league and then against Pakistan. But then Aussies have come out from dearth of situations but this time Indians took the better of them.

Predicting the winner in a final has always been difficult. For me Indians start as favorites simply for the intensity with which they played the last three games against England, South Africa and Australia. Pakistan’s win against Bangladesh was unconvincing and the semi final against New Zealand was a cake walk. But still final matches bring out the best in teams (since Australia is not playing!!) so you never know who the ultimate winner is.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Tulu Academy now in Kerala too

It was indeed a proud moment for Kasaragod Tuluvas when Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan inaugurated Tulu Academy on September, 2007 at Hosangadi, Kasaragod. Tulu Sahitya Academy in Mangalore, Karnataka has been functioning for the last 10 years encouraging literary works in Tulu language. Hope to see the Tulu Academy in Kerala to contribute to the revival of Tulu literature.

Tulu Sahitya Academy is working towards introducing Tulu language as one of the third languages in schools in Karnataka from class 6th onwards. It has organized Tulu Utsavas outside Karnataka – in Surat, Vadodara in Gujarat this year. Kudos to its efforts.

First Tulu work as per available records is ‘Tulu Mahabharata’ written in 13th century. Other Tulu works include ‘Tulu Devimahatme’ (15th century), ‘Tulu Bhagavata’, ‘Kaveri’( both 17th century). First Tulu-English dictionary was compiled by Reverend Manner in 1886. In 1979, Govinda Pai Research Centre in MGM College, Udupi started its ambitions project : ‘Tulu Lexicon’. It was an 18-year project with research on speech forms of different dialects, special vocabularies used for different occupational activities, rituals, socio-religious occasions and folk literature in the forms of paaddanas, kabites, folk songs, proverbs and riddles.Third volume of the trilingual lexicon – Tulu-Kannada-English was released in 1995. The Tulu lexicon has been awarded the Gundert award for the best dictionary in India in 1996.

On the film front, last year saw the release of Tulu film Kadala Mage which received well by the Tuluvas. This year Richard Castalino’s Badi received the award for the best film in regional language by the Karnataka State Govt. Expecting to see some more films in the near future.


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