Tuesday 21 October 2008

Ind vs Oz...Day 5

1513: 91 minutes and 18.4 overs and nothing to live update! It's all over, covers are off, they are sprinkling water on the 22-yard that was the centrestage of the drama that lasted a little over four days.

Ponting admitted Australia are not accustomed to leading 0-1 in a Test series. And that they are not accustomed to be beaten like this. And that there is no rift between him and Brett Lee.

1525: Zaheer, meanwhile, is busy attending the hearing after charged for an assortment of Level II offences -- over-appealing, over-celebrating 9after Hayden's dismissal), over-chatting and other overdeeds.

1530: Indian team disperses and will re-assemble on 26th. Ponting wants two day's introspection break.

Worst defeat of his career? "Possibly", says Punter.

1535: Dhoni has that midas touch, everything he touches turns gold. I think reason enough and time ripe to replace P Chidambaram. Anyone at 10, Janpath listening?

Monday 20 October 2008

Ind vs Oz...Day 4

1003: After Haddin and Hayden grassed and Ponting leaked, Australian are suddenly making atonements by throwing themselves around. Suddenly they realise it's the cricket board which takes care of their laundry bills!

1108: Drooping shoulder, increasing frustration. Ponting finally injects some life and brings in Mike Hussey to roll his arm over. Last time Hussey was seen bowling was when Hillary Clinton was running for the US Prez's post, Yuvraj Singh was dating Deepika Padukone and Ms Padukone was not dating Ranbir Kapoor.

1315: India leading by 510 runs and Dhoni still not declaring. Needs to give bowlers time to bowl out the Ozzies. I think he is overestimating his bowling unit and underestimating Ponting and party.

1324: In between his attemps to halve the ball into two, Dhoni the Woodcutter was experimenting with a different scoop shot. So far we have seen the scoop famously bungled by Misbah which takes the fine leg route. Here, Dhoni was trying to scoop whatever White hurled at him to the third man area! Indigenous indeed but success still Dhoni.

Sunday 19 October 2008

Ind vs Oz...Day 3

1024: Welcome to What Neo Won't Show and Cricinfo Won't Report (WNWSACWR). Wait for me to grab a syrup-spiked coffee before I get going.

1025: Having survived twice, Hussey completed his hat-trick today. But just before he exhausted lifetime of luck in this match, Dhoni finally holds on to one. It would have taken some talent although to drop that. Mowgli (Ishant, for the uninitiated) elated.

1029: Shane Watson just averted being trialled for culpable homicide, while Rudy Koertzen escaped an attack on his life. Zaheer banged it short, Watson went for a pull and Koertzen at square leg feared for his life. Well, there are more civilised ways of denouncing the very concept of umpiring.

1056: Harbhajan swallows Haddin. Last time Mohali saw Bhajji in action was when he planted a slap on the Michael-Jackson-of-Indian-Cricket's cheek. At safe distance, Sreesanth these days is busy exploring alternative career option as a leg-shaker on the telly.

1302: Koertzen does a Statue of Liberty. Only instead of the torch, he brandishes the new ball around. Ishant almost slays Lee with the first ball but Binga still manages to retain that smile. Many asking which toothpaste Lee endorses.

Saturday 18 October 2008

Ind vs Oz...Day 2

0920: Welcome to WNWSACWR (What Neo Won't Show and Cricinfo Won't Report). Munaf Patel and RP Singh in the middle -- in other words, play yet to start.

0948: Ganguly faced a couple of balls and suddenly went AWOL, leaving behind the clueless fielders and baffled umpires. I sniffed delaying tactics, a friend suggested nature's call. Before speculation took obnoxious turn, here he's back. Man, India would surely and sorely miss his nuisance value.

1047: Apparently, no one told Dhoni that he was playing a Test match, hence Mahi going run-a-ball. Also apparently, no one told him that Shane Watson is a pacer, for Mahi comes dancing down the track against the blond. Well, ignorance is bliss indeed.

1102: Cameron White has been non-existent in this comatose session. No wonder he's engaged in an engrossing chat with Asad Rauf at square leg, probably discussing kebab recipe.

1621: Blame the inordinate delay to ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat who spoke at length and made hardly any point in the press conference here. He is upset with empty stands greeting Tendulkar on his milestone. "Need to ensure Test cricket's primacy" he advocated, before going on to announce 2010 T20 World would take place in West Indies. England hosts it next year, which means we didn't know it has become an annual affair!

1626: Hussey edged Ishant and Harbhajan but Dhoni, on first occasion, didn't go for it at all and on the second, didn't stoop. Some are cursing him but to me, MSD looks a man of high self-esteem who refuses to bow for anything he perceives below his dignity.

1635: Clarke broke free and came dancing down the track to hit Bhajji for four. I suspect it was the bad breath/body odour of the close-in fielders hanging around his blade like a school of piranhas.

Friday 17 October 2008

Ind vs Oz...Day 1

0930: Welcome to WNWSACWR, in other words, What Neo Won't Show And Cricinfo Won't Report.

0940: Peter Siddle just sent down his first delivery in Test cricket, which reared off like an ill-tempered mule and whacked Gambhir on the helmet. Gambhir apparently has not lost his memory and recognises Sehwag. Sigh of relief across the stadium.

1021: The nearest cricket stadium was some 700km away. So my entire childhood was intrigued by the curiosity to know what players did during the over breaks. Finally, I arrived at my own conclusion that everyone stood still and were allowed to move only when broadcast resumed. It was a shock of my life when I saw them actually moving in front of my eyes during those breaks.

1027: Siddle is bowling from media end and the sightscreen behind Haddin displays a general insurance advertisement with the punchline 'Muskurate Raho'. Well, it's asking for too much, especially when you are hit around the park. At best, Siddle can only grin and bear it.

1039: Brett Lee, India's ambassador to Australia and son of the Mohali soil in IPL, greeted media with a chaste 'Sat Sri Akaal' on Wednesday. Siddle believes otherwise and welcomed Gambhir with a whack on the helmet this morning. Sehwag greets Watson with a boundary. Diwali greetings all around.

1054: The presence of Peter Roebuck in the press box puts me in August company this October 17. Tall man, taller nose (pardon my journalistic exaggeration. A journalist sans exaggeration is SRK minus stammering or spreading of his arms, whatever you like). His trademark sun hat lying on his desk, besides the laptop which he assaulted to pen this nice piece on Tendulkar. Wanted to talk to him but do I really fancy meeting someone who drove Richards and Garner out of Somerset and was jailed for caning three wards? Maybe some other day.

1104: With the Oz attack looking as toothless as the lady who played Indira Thakrun in Satyajit Ray's masterpiece "Pather Panchali", this is the only way they can hope to get Indian wickets. Gambhir and Dravid in an almighty mix-up but fortunately there's no damage. It turned out Gambhir was calling in Punjabi and Dravid was responding in Kannada. I always felt Indian cricket is in badly need of a lingua franca.

1222: The brand new car (I'm not paid, why should I mention the brand?) is perched on the edge of the boundary ropes under a harsh sun. I guess by the end of the fifth day, it would simply evaporate. Friends here are not amused by my thoughts and attribute the perceived banality to the vile lunch we had here. Thanks to the largesse of an Oz company (same reason for not naming them), my peers have turned beer barrels.

1248: After Siddle aimed at his head, Gambhir this time had a full-blooded Ponting throw hit his calf muscle. He clearly has reasons to fear for his life and limb. Hope Gambhir has got his insurance papers right.

1303: So far, Brett Lee has been as effective as Gandhism on gangsters. Imps insist Ponting needs to get Preity Zinta here to hug Lee. Well, I have nothing to say on this issue. I mean, why gild the Lillee...err...lily?

1326: Well, well. They just showed a Preity Zinta poster and Lee removed Dravid! That should be enough to establish the infallibility of my theory and silence the Doubting Thomas.

1444: Peter Siddle just made history by sending down the first ball in the post-tea session. Tendulkar glided it to third man, ran three and the bar was set higher for posterity. Brian Lara, just pushed off the pedestal, must be texting his congratulatory message in his palatial mansion at Trinidad's capital. Take a bow sir.

2009: Talk about controlled aggression.
"I have been around for 19 years and all these 19 years I did not play to prove anything to anyone, not in my first year not in the 10th, 15th or 19th year...I'm not here to react to what X,Y,Z is writing about me or saying about me. People will say lot of things, not necessarily they are always correct. I don't take their opinions seriously. ...so many things are being said and written and not necessarily those are right. Those are only opinions. What I feel within is more important. People tend to give opinion about what's going in my mind, so I don't know how they can figure out what's going in my mind, which is something even I can't figure out at times...As long as I enjoy I'll play. I don't need X,Y,Z to tell me when I should stop or when I should continue. When I stared, no one told me you should start or you should continue, so nobody needs to tell me now either."
I have never seen anyone masking his aggression better. In the press conference, it was Tendulkar all the way.

Sunday 5 October 2008

OZ vs BP XI...Day Four

1040: Yuvraj just completed his 100. I'm itching to pat him on the back and kick further six inches down as well. He's outrageously, almost obscenely talented and blasphemously endowed. The space was crammed with so much of flair that discipline had to be left out, I guess. Here he's posing security threats to low-flying aircrafts, launching Krejza and Clarke on orbits. Twice the ball got out of shape!

1208: I had Biryani at lunch, Yuvraj had Krejza. Poor chap Krejza, must be feeling exactly like what he felt when his drink was spiked two years back. Cricket Australia told team management to take good care of him, now I know why. After the trauma in the middle, he may need a trauma centre. I guess he would be of as much help to Oz as Mamata Banerjee has been to West Bengal.

1217: At mid on, Mitchell Johnson is twiddling thumb. No, actually he is tapping it. Suddenly it hit me, he looks like Jim Carrey's estranged brother, isn't it?

1227: Vigorous sweeping at both ends though there are no batters or bowlers in the middle. Actually it's innings break and two HCA ladies, in bright sea blue saree and brandishing brooms, are in action.

1231: Rolling is on as well. Alas, dieting had the desired effect on Adnan Sami. Else, he could be of any use to humanity.

1259: Hussey kept wicket after Haddin injured his finger. Last Ozzie to have a finger problem in India is sitting in the dressing room. This Durga Puja, artisans in Kolkata's Kumartuli need not model 'asuras' on Greg Chappell.

1314. Parthiv Patel has a chat with Hayden. Asking if Gujarati thali would tickle Aussie tastebuds and opening a restaurant at Kingaroy is a good idea. Whatever, it was a brief neck-aching experience for both I guess, considering their respective stature. Parthiv is down to earth but does that mean Hayden should look down upon him? Not done Haydos.

1434: Curse of the finger draws blood on the floor. Now Pragyan Ojha is bleeding. In his case, it's index finger. Wish Jeff Thomson was here. Man, he wanted to see blood on the pitch.

1439: For the umpteenth time, Virat Kohli into this hair-raising exercise. He looks a cocky cock, rufling tuft every now and then. Has a certain swagger but then he has hit a ton too.

Saturday 4 October 2008

Oz vs BP XI...Day Three

1000: Chawla and Ojha tweaking Oz tail. The damage is more than just their bowling figures. I think Punter & Party would go into the Test series with mauled minds and battered confidence. Kumble surely owes a drink to the spin twin. For the Ozzies, they are trembling in their boot, looking as comfortable as someone whose hands are tied with a colony of cockroaches marching over him.

1136: I think speculation should be put to rest about who should open with Hayden in Bangalore. Neither Jaques, nor Katich but Stuart Clark. Come on, he looked better than most. And opening means he would have longer rest before he comes out to bowl. Hope Nielsen reads Doosra.

1516: Badri just got out in a manner that would haunt him for a while. Lee banged it short and wide and Badri had no business chasing it. He was on his toes, I mean literally, and looked like was searching for something to hang his bat on. Walking is fine but after you are picked in the Test squads, scores of 2 and 14 only jeopardises your chances of getting into playing XI.

Friday 3 October 2008

Oz vs BP XI...Day Two

1026: Protege Pathan must be giving Guru Greg a reason to feel vindicated. Oz attack banging head against brickwall to polish the BP tail. I can see Kumble grinning. Pathan almost exhausted all his luck today before Clark saw his back.

1051: Just witnessed the Sidhu-made-famous Rajendra Talkies cycle stand of Patiala here in Uppal. The same batsmen who were swatting whatever the Aussies hurled at them suddenly looked in a hurry to return to the hut's comfort. The 500-mark looked well within reach before the collapse in heap.

1148: A number of times, Sunny Gavaskar spoke of how umpires made it Australian XIII Down Under. On the other extreme is Shavir Tarapore. BP XI got a couple of bad LBW decisions y'day and now Tarapore turned down Gony's appeal against Hayden. The ball pitched on stumps, rapped him right in front and no movement whatsoever. Can we please cut down on this kind of hospitality for visitors, please?

1247: Just saw Katich saying something to Pragyan Ojha. I have a sneaking suspicion, he was trying to convince Ojha to migrate to Australia. Does the ICC rule book empowers umpires to curb spin trafficking?

1256: To my horror, Piyush Chawla was talking to Ricky Ponting. Hope he didn't say 'I'm readymade..I mean..ready mate.' Anyway from BCCI watching?

1500: Oz bowling looked mediocre and now their batters seem vulnerable. Chawla tormented Ponting before Punter decided offence is the best defence. Except Hussey to some extent, none could really read Chawla. And this is not the free-scoring Aussie side you know. Kumble's grin widening.

Thursday 2 October 2008

Live Oz vs BP XI match...day one

(What Neo won't show and Cricinfo won't tell)

1214: Feel like talking more about the lunch than the match. As it happens every time, Aussies grabbed three quick wickets to take upper hand. Yuvraj y'day said he has a point to prove, something he has not done yet. I mean he hit through mid-off, third man and mid-on. One past/through point too, please.

1231: Exactly 17 minutes after I submitted my requisition, Yuvraj hits through point. Thank You Sir. Point noted.

1235: Mitchell Johnson took a catch and grabbed a wicket as well before lunch. You probably can have a better bowler but certainly not a better lover. 'Notch' left Queensland for Western Australia to be with his lady love Jesssica Bratich. Considering Jessica is a former karate champion, just hope it was not under duress.

1259: You don't get to see an uglier dismissal. Yuvraj was all prose so far till Johnson banged this one short. Yuvi plans a pull and then abandons the plan altogether at the last moment. The ball hits his retreating bat and lobs up for Hussey to take a dolly at gully. It was almost an obscene end to a sublime knock. Tsk..tsk..tsk.

1406: Some people derive pleasure in making fun of others. Rohit Sharma is currently thumbing nose at the lack of vision of Krish Srikkanth & Co.

1429: A man in Khaki with a sniffer dog is making round of the ground right after 'Pup' completed the last over before tea. Cricket has gone to the dogs, no doubt about that.

2043: Back in hotel. Rohit was little sad in the press conference. The ton came a day late probably. Srikkanth was here, as was Hirwani and they patted Rohit, saying keep it up. Srikkanth being Srikkanth (that man speaks before he thinks, MAK Pataudi once said), he was itching to speak to the media but Hirwani played spoilsport and dragged him away. They are not supposed to talk about VRS plans for senior players. Hirwani's eargerness to toe BCCI line is understandable. BCCI resurrected him from obliviion and is paying to boot!

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Chasing Ozzies in Hyderabad

1135: Covered all major players in y'day's media interaction. Shane Watson's candour and Michael Clarke's clarity of thought impressed most. Clarke showed me all but one of his tattoos. Hayden surprisingly came across soft-spoken. Brett Lee confirmed he is working on an album. 'Right now, I'm busy writing the songs mate.'
1235: Reached Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Uppal. The exterior is not impressive but interior is. Ponting bowls in the net with Greg Chappell as the umpire. Ponting is garrulous, Chappell stoic, a manufcaturing defect in the god's workshop I guess.

1315: You just love the Aussies for their tidy planning of everything. Wish BCCI learnt a few things from CA. Nielsen addresses press conference. I think, no, I'm sure he's cock-eyed. Can't really follow whom he is eyeing.

1415: Saw a stunning young lady journalist, some i TV mike in hand. Straight out of Telugu movie. On the wrong side of a press conference I guess. My hotel is in the Lakdi-ka-pul area. I thought it was Ladki-ka-pool. Friends scolded me for what they perceived as daydreaming.

1430: Collectively buttonholed Badrinath for his reaction. Got a gem of a line. "I think...I don't think we can take this match easily." Make up your mind, dude.

1440: Fortunately Pragyan Ojha remembers we met in Vadodara. Was keen to know who got into the Test squad. You could sense everyone had that in their mind. Viraat Kohli was clowning around, trying to convince about something spooky in the team hotel. Pragyan seemed disappointed to learn that Amit Mishra got the nod.

1445: Yuvraj's eyeballs almost popped out of socket. Irfan Pathan and Parthiv Patel could not help screaming "Kya? Amit Mishra?". They reacted as if they were in the race for the spinner's slot.