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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New face of Indian Cricket - 3

I pinned a lot of hope on Indian test cricket team in an old article. India played 13 test matches (2 in SA, 2 in NZ, 5 in ENG & 4 in AUS) in previous years.  India lost 0-1 in SA, 0-1 in NZ, 1-3 in ENG and 0-2 in AUS. The records paint bleak picture of future Indian test cricket and wrong selection policy became one of the reason in losses. However, the last thing we need now is finger-pointing. What we need is instead careful analysis and a new strategy. I will take solace in the words of Barack Obama when he faced the difficulties he faces as a second-term president struggling to make progress on his priorities and to work constructively with Congress- "Cynicism is a choice — hope is a better choice." 

Frank A. Clark once said that Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots. Indian team performed better in utter alien condition of New Zealand and South Africa. But, they lost nerve to capture moments and series was gone.  India have done to England at Lord's what England did to them in Mumbai: beat them on a pitch designed for the home team. England won the toss on the greenest pitch in Lords but  India bullied and bounced them out. And then suddenly there was downhill path with three consecutive test loss. Rarely does nemesis follow hubris so quickly & brilliance followed by devastation. Indians forced their way to Australian bowling attack in Adelaide even if they couldn't take 20 wickets.  Australia backed off in further test matches, wary of India's batting from the Adelaide chase. The attitude of new captain was refreshing for a change. Johann Wolfgang once said that daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten but may start a winning game. Even when India lost to Australia the fighting spirit was lauded by Indian fans.


Steve Waugh wrote in his masterpiece, Out of My Comfort Zone, "Captaincy is about empowerment, about making the players responsible for their actions and, in turn, accountable. It is about treating every one equally but differently by recognising that there are varied characters who need to express their flair and inside the ultimate team vision."  Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble showed Indians the way forward with attacking mindset in foreign conditions. This was also phase of rise of fabulous four with an attacking opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virendra Sehwag.  M S Dhoni carried a team in transition where the old order were on the last legs. Next order of senior players failed to raise their level and were found to be sitting out of test team in their prime of early 30's.  MSD was found waiting either with old order or new inexperienced lineup.  MSD had remain glued with the same failures in regards to the team composition & not enough opportunities were given to other squad players.  A big bias or defensive tactics of containing runs  like ODI naturally passed into Test team. However, MSD stayed real through a detachment, taking neither success nor failure too seriously. Baton of captaincy was transferred from M S Dhoni to Virat Kohli in between and our young players are hardened by foreign tours in difficult conditions. Indian team is still caught in time wrap of learning phase that must be abolished by Virat Kohli to make a leap for the next level.

From 1993 till 2000, India did not win a single Test away from home.  It was inability of  Indian team  to win test matches abroad due to lack of application of batsman and poor bowling firepower unable to take 20 wickets. The traumatic 90's when Indian team's fortune used to rise and fall with Sachin Tendulkar is over. Kohli, Rahane and Vijay showed judicious stroke-play and mental courage that they belong at the top of world in last 2 years.

Fast bolwers are a rare breed in Indian cricket and need to be handled properly so that they transform into wicket taking bowlers which India lacks at the moment. Each cricket playing nation possess a lethal ast bowling pair for a winning streak. Boult-Southee, Johnson-Harris, Steyn-Philander & Anderson-Broad are prime example of the theory. There is a failure in developing our next tier of bowlers to stake a claim in Indian team. It is shame that we have self proclaimed bowling spearhead of the country in Ishant Sharma. Pace bowling pair of Shami - Yadav with the support of Bhuvaneshwar is our new hope. Both spin and fast bowlers must clear their mind of some cobwebs and have to perform if India are to stay competitive.

The big question in the minds of fans - Who will be our fast bowling all-rounder ? We need fast bowling all-rounder for overseas . India is looking for fast bowling all-rounder but we must be more focused to search for batsman with caliber of spinner. One finds it difficult to understand the policy of the selectors in going for such vain search by looking at the pool of all-rounders in India. India should aim to discover someone like a Shakib/Moin Ali/Hafeez. The search of allrounder has been abandoned with the failure of Ashwin, Jadeja and Bhuvi in a dual role. After all, an admission of mistakes is only the start of the repair process.

Test cricket is played mostly between the ears. That is the truth in Test cricket: it can be a lonely place when things are not going your way.  It is easy to blame a team when it is down. It's not so easy to identify the causes and engineer a remedy. There is certainly a strong correlation between a settled side and a winning team, but as mathematicians learn in their first statistics class, correlation does not prove causation.  But, as the old cricket cliché says, you don't judge a pitch until both teams have batted. Turns out you shouldn't judge a team until they have played at home and away, either. India will not be playing in Asia next one year. Sub continent pitches will be valid assessment of India's performance as a departure of  safety-first cricket to a team that doesn't play the averages for respectability. There is a dogged determination in team and Virat has leadership skills to pull the team on winning path again.   The bigger question we must ask - Are other nations looking forward to facing a Indian side in ascendancy ?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Building Uttam Pradesh !

The importance of Uttar Pradesh in India's socio-political firmament is never overstated. The long perception of UP as badlands as well as cow belt region hasn't done any justice towards building its image. Even the movies located in the geography of UP shows a culture of revenge rather than the rule of law.

Uttar Pradesh is laggard in implementation to social scheme like MNRGES, NRLM, PDS and food security. Even the states like Tamilnadu had introduced mid day meal scheme in 1985 while the Government of Uttar Pradesh started the mid-day-meal scheme in 16 districts, including Allahabad district, from September 2003. Mulayam Singh and Mayawati are out of the depth with the good governance, and in the UP the depth reality of law situation does really go murky and deep. Also, there is definite culture of servitude in the bureaucracy, education, politics. The impact of casteism, class hierarchy, poverty and sexual exploitation on women is present in our society. Looking through negative talks defy the spirit within.

'Bad things happen when good people do nothing.' That made me think on the perception of the state. Yes, its so damn right. And, I am active on social network and in a position to gather a public voice on Uttar Pradesh. Hence, I had started Facebook Page : Uttar Pradesh (aka BuildingUttamPrades on Twitter) with my friend Rishab Deo. There is a huge social, religious and financial turmoil going in the state with the new era of citizen empowerment and old feudal mentality. In a democratic society, we put a high value on the right of citizens to have access to a wide range of opinions and beliefs. Only socially well-connected citizens with diverse opinions can even start the debate or affect the discourse of the ongoing conditions. Let us netizens go ahead and make ourselves better informed !

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Books Read in 2014

“Why is America so rich and we are so poor?” I posed the question to my father in the summers of 1998. My father answered me as best he could: “India is a young democratic country of 50 years with huge population while America is almost 200 years old." I nodded in agreement, satisfied with the explanation. One answer unearthed a dangerous way to more questions.  I was a nationalist, theist and a more enthusiastic supporter of RSS version of India at that phase of life. I had complete trust in their claim of ancient knowledge and glory of Hindu India. So, why we failed to defend our country from foreign culture and invaders ? Why Hindus were treated like slave for thousand of years in their own country ? How to solve Islamic and Christian problem?

That started an active engagement with history books. Yet, I haven't touched NCERT books. I studied history books to have an idea of India. My grip on history was weak because, half-truths and myths are intermingled as historical fact. I wanted to know an accepted version of history - validated by both losers and winners. It was the reading habit that gave me the chance to think more deeply. Nothing was considered as averse and accepted with open heart in heated debates with friends. It's often hard to separate myth from reality. Reading diverse set of books helped me to find rational view in the haze of morality and deliberate ignorance. I was able to see that every perceived external interference doesn't involve a sinister plot. I was able to challenge infallibility of books and beliefs. There was not always misinterpretation by the reader. The travesty of the modern world history is to find a 'factual' narrative in the versions of religious 'right' and Red 'Left'. I concluded with a solid reality of our lives - Social Reality in past or present does not come, like topaz crystals, already made. It is well hidden in camouflage of culture, taboo and class in the maze of daily life. I had started not to view at history as a place of debate and multiple opinions, rather than reductive nature of evidences. Our history is a hybrid of facts and fiction, it is a tale nonetheless, which represents a sore reality, and I have tried my utmost to learn it in a sympathetic and sensitive manner.

If one doesn't contradict oneself on a regular basis, then one is not thinking. We all start popular readings for a start, then make own way. Everyone’s reading list is unique, but each is remarkable in its own way.I don't read today in order to master the craft of writing; I read because I like to read but surely it helps in putting words together. Imitation, it turns out, is a great engine for personal growth to some extent. I always travel through books, but never get lost in them. A lot of books are in the pending list for reading. Life is short for reading all I wish. There’s a more likelihood of me doing what is necessary but mot sufficient.

Books Read in 2014:

Our Moon has Blood Clots - The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits :- Rahul Pandita - English - 9/10 - Compelling Memoir of person giving us a brief account of ethnic cleansing.

In the Land of Invisible Women :- Qanta A. Ahmed - English - 7.5/10 - It gives a vivid description of religion, racism, culture and society of Saudi regime from the perspective of a Western trained Muslim doctor woman.

Hello Bastar: The Untold Story Of India's Maoist Movement :- Rahul Pandita - English - 7/10 -  A poignant book that explains story of Maoist movement  through the eyes of reporter.

Acts of Faith :- Erich Segal - English - 7/10 - A boring romantic story caught in the web of Jewish Christian relationship.

I am Malala :- Malala Yousafzai & Christina Lamb - English - 6/10 - A brave account of girl but written for people having not having clue on Afghan situation

And the Mountains Echoed :- Khaled Hosseini - English - 7/10 -

A Game of Thrones :- George R. R. Martin - English - 8.5/10 - A must read thriller in realm of epic fantasy novels.

A Clash of Kings :- George R. R. Martin - English - 8.5/10 - A must read thriller in realm of epic fantasy novels.

A Storm of Swords :- George R. R. Martin - English - 8.5/10 - A must read thriller in realm of epic fantasy novels.

A Feast for Crows :- George R. R. Martin - English - 8/10 - A must read thriller in realm of epic fantasy novels.

A Dance with Dragons :- George R. R. Martin - English - 8/10 - A must read thriller in realm of epic fantasy novels.

The Devotion of Suspect X :- Keigo Higashino - English - 7/10 - A detective novel that starts beautifully but was disappointed with sudden and swift end.

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