Virat Kohli’s letter to Sachin Tendulkar: Honour to know you personally

Dear Sachin Paaji

You have a million fans and I am one of them. In fact, I started playing cricket because of you. Simply watching you play motivated me. I don’t know if you remember this but I first met you at Wankhede Stadium in 2007.

I was part of the Indian under-19 side and we were set to leave for New Zealand. Mr Lalchand Rajput was our coach and it was he who’d requested you to come and have a chat with us. I was barely 17 then and I must apologise that I — in fact, all my teammates — did not pay much attention to anything you said!

Well, we were simply in awe of you. The boys stood in a huddle and you were, literally and figuratively, the centre of attention.
You had told us about the conditions in New Zealand; you spoke about the bounce, the swing and how we need to tackle that. Your technical knowhow held me in good stead on that tour.

Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Piyush Chawla and Dhawal Kulkarni were also part of that team and each of them has either played for India or done well in the IPL.

People crave to shake hands with you, get your autographs, have a picture clicked and here I am so abundantly lucky to be sharing a dressing room with you. To get to know you personally has been a huge honour.

I have had a fairly good start to my international career and I want to thank you for helping me in every possible way. Paaji, I have never said this to you, but I actually connect with you very easily. I feel comfortable and reassured when I speak to you about my game and, invariably, you tell me what I am actually thinking! I consider it an honour to be on the same page with you.

It’s always a pleasure talking to you about the game. You know how frustrated I was after the first two Tests in Australia recently. I was batting on 40-odd in the third Test at Perth and you came up to me and said that I’d get a big hundred. I am sorry I disappointed you by getting out for 75, but I hope I pleased you by scoring my maiden Test hundred in the final match at the Adelaide Oval.

You have no idea how much that one statement from you motivated me. It was amazing; I started hitting the ball really well and I knew that if you thought I could get a hundred, then I was going to get it.

On Friday, you achieved something which no other cricketer can or will. Yes, I know the last one year was frustrating, but I admire you for the way you handled yourself during this tough phase.

I was at the other end when you missed out on the landmark in Mumbai. It would have been great had you got it there, but it’s fine. I know you were not desperate because that’s what you have told me: never think too much, just play your game.

We admire you for your patience. You never lost your cool throughout this period. You behaved so normally. You were, are and always be a team man first. I am honoured to be part of a historic day in cricket. You are my childhood hero and I am equally thrilled to be part of this celebration.

You had once told me during our 75-run stand during an ODI in Nagpur that I must follow my instincts. I am doing just that and the results are showing.

Yours lovingly,
Virat Kohli

The Hindu : Life & Style / Metroplus : Madras Miscellany: Madras’s first ‘Big Match’

The Hindu : Life & Style / Metroplus : Madras Miscellany: Madras's first ‘Big Match'.

Madras’s first ‘Big Match’, its first cricket ‘Test’ of sorts, if you will, was played 150 years ago this year. This match, played in 1862 in Guindy, became an annual home-and-away fixture that was played till at least 1895. There are no details of that first match except that it resulted in a win for Madras.

The earliest records of cricket being played in Madras date to 1792. Those early matches were played on The Island ground. Later, there were matches played on the Esplanade. And then there came a third ground, ‘Guindy’. This was probably the area opposite the Assembly Rooms, adjoining the Racecourse. Chepauk came into the picture only in 1865 when the ground was granted to the Madras Cricket Club that had been founded in 1846.

The first detailed report of a match that I’ve come across was the Madras-Bangalore match of 1875 that was played at Chepauk. In the two-day, two-innings match, Bangalore triumphed by eight wickets after, in the first innings, its “last wicket fell one run only ahead of Madras”. There was one noteworthy name on each side and they both played notable roles in the match — and elsewhere. George Gough Arbuthnot top-scored with 29 not out in Madras’s first innings’ total of 96. Arbuthnot, by then knighted, was responsible for the Arbuthnot Crash of 1906 and went to jail for a year, probably the only knight to spend time in an Indian prison.

An even better performance in the match was by Captain John Pennycuick of the Royal Engineers, who had moved on to Bangalore after he was instrumental in ensuring that the Madras Cricket Club had taken the Chepauk ground into its custody. Pennycuick opened both Bangalore innings, scoring 19 and 18, and was responsible for bowling out Madras for low scores in both innings, taking four wickets in the first innings and five in the second to be, by far, the most successful bowler in the match.

Pennycuick’s is a name very much in the news these days for his engineering accomplishments, but he seems to have made as much of a name for himself in South India away from work. Exploring the Kodaikanal Club recently, as it gets ready to celebrate its 125th birthday, I found that Pennycuick, a Lt. Colonel by then, was one of the seven founder Members of the Club. He was in charge of the P.W.D. office in Madura at the time.

Going through that first score sheet a curious fact stuck out. All the players had a military rank or a Mr. preceding their names. Except an E. Spencer who did not bat in the Madras first innings and an E.J. Firth who batted for him in the second innings, a common enough practice in more gentlemanly times. Once upon a time, there was a practice, following The Times, London’s lead, for amateurs (the Gentlemen) to have their names prefixed with Mr. with the Players (the professionals) not enjoying the same privilege. But this 1875 match was long before the age of the professional in India. So under the British caste system of the times, what were Spencer and Firth? Chepauk ground staff? I make life interesting for myself with such speculation.

Best Ever Sachin Tendulkar Video!

This video is a must watch! I found this on Youtube today and it is simply smashing! I got goosebumps while watching this video. Thanks to Atish Hemade, the person who made this. I love his choice of background music and the editing is absolutely fantastic.

Sir Sachin Tendulkar

And the Knight realised that he had a new quest in his hands before he could comprehend what was happening.

Many many moons back, he started his arduous journey.

This new task; it wasn’t really a real quest, but a normal standard that the knight was used to. It was almost like his usual way of life – accomplishing these little tasks now and then. It looked so easy when he did it that some fools thought that it was not  a big task after all. But the greatness of the great knight made it look simple. The people now wanted the knight to satisfy their whims and fancies. They wanted him to grant their wish so that they can happily fill up their statistic books with a new entry. Left alone to his devices, this new task was nothing serious to accomplish. But the people, like hounds, surrounded him day and night and started a madness. A madness that the masterful knight didn’t mind at the beginning, but as time went on it started to follow him everywhere. Eventually he started to slow down. His rapid pace coming down to a trot; the task hanging heavily and tantalisingly ahead of him. By now some of the hounds that hounded him stopped wagging their tails and started wagging their tongues. It was pure madness. Madness at its peak. But the knight didn’t give up. He travelled and he travelled afar. What he could have easily accomplished in his backyard took him to far off countries. He travelled half the world from the shores of India to England and from England to Australia, but to no avail. Finally, he started his journey back home and on his way stopped in a neighbouring country to try his luck one last time before reaching home. And there he did it. He stood there looking at the heavens, a man relieved off a great pressure. He then turned to the crowd, raised his device and tapped it thrice with the pommel of his sword.  So this is what you wanted? He seemed to ask. And again started a frenzy, but this time the hounds were wagging their tails.

What the knight now has accomplished was not a simple thing. It takes a good deal of patience,  perseverance  and greatness to do what he did and yet there are those blood-sucking vermin that still criticise the knight. But the knight always has the last laugh.

100th century

Legend

The masterly knight you-know-who
The task or the quest you-know-what
The hounds/people India’s pathetic media

Another name for disloyalty: Pepsi

 I Hate Pepsi and I have taken a vow never to drink that thing again. Clearly this is a company that jumps ships when the going is not good enough. I’ve seen this pathetic company doing this abandon-the-sinking-ship act twice, thinking that it was going to sink, but no, the ship never sank. I am actually talking about two ships here – one is Sachin Tendulkar, one of the world’s greatest cricketer and the second ship being the game of cricket itself. Let me further explain myself.

Abandon Act 1:

Sachin Tendulkar was Pepsi’s brand ambassador in India from the early 1990s. Apparently, they stuck with Sachin as he had a demi-god status in India. In 2007 the Indian cricket team went through a crisis and the team lost the world cup after cheaply losing to some teams in the league matches. This angered the general public and there was a lot of hullabaloo. The Indian cricket fans had every right to be angry as India had lost a match  even against Bangladesh, a lowly ranked team. Some people thought that it was time for Sachin to leave and so did Pepsi. They thought Sachin was a spent force, already past his prime. It was also the time when MS Dhoni was a rising star. What did Pepsi do? They jumped ships. From HMS Sachin it was MSD now for Pepsi. OK, it wasn’t such a wrong thing to do, or was it? But what angered me most was their new ‘Youngistan’ advertisements with Dhoni, that was specifically targeted against Sachin Tendulkar.  It was like they wanted old Sachin to leave as it was time for youngsters. What utter ingratitude! You wanted Sachin all these years and when you don’t need him you kick him out, do you?

  But within a few months of the world cup setback, Sachin showed the world why he has that demi-god status and why he’s called a Master of the game. He was ruthless post the world cup debacle. I still remember the three-match ODI series against South Africa that was held in a neutral venue – Belfast, Northern Ireland. He tore apart the South African bowlers and India won the series 2-1 with Sachin getting the ‘Man of the Series’ award. Later he had a glorious time in 2008, 2009 and 2010 during which India became the number one team in Test cricket and to top it all won the ODI world cup in early 2011.

Abandon Act 2:

Post world cup 2011, India is again in a crisis situation. India’s tours of England and Australia under MS Dhoni’s  leadership ended in complete disasters. Disasters of huge magnitude that has never happened at least  in the last 30 years. The team now is in total tatters, and yesterday veteran and  senior player Rahul Dravid announced his retirement after 16 glorious years of serving Indian cricket. The team has hit an all time low and people are again calling for Sachin’s head unfairly. Youngsters like Ashwin, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja, who travelled along with Sachin to Australia were totally ineffective. MS Dhoni was an utter flop as a Captain and as a batsman in Tests. But no one is blaming the youngsters. Now, Indian cricket  has taken a very bad beating and what did Pepsi decide? It decided to jump ships again. They decided that it was time to leave cricket and focus on foot ball. Their latest advert tagline is ‘Change the game’ and it clearly asks the viewers to ditch cricket and follow foot ball. It seems there are no words such as ‘gratitude’ or ‘loyalty’ in Pepsi’s dictionary. They wanted cricket when it served their purpose and now they are trying to brain-wash the general public into following foot ball? How pathetic is that! Mean minded business scum!

At the same time I take heart in Congratulating Boost, a company that decided to stay with Sachin all these years right from his teenage years and until now. Their latest advert is actually an advert for Sachin himself rather than for their company. I loved the last part where they show a mini compilation of all their ads from the 1990s with Sachin. Now this is what I call Loyalty! They bravely decided to stay with Sachin when he’s in a middle of a storm. Adding to this ad, they have also worked on bringing out a song called ‘Sachin anthem!’ Hats off to you Boost!

The Great Wall of India retires

Today, Rahul Dravid,  one of cricket’s finest batsman and India’s third best batsman after Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar,  announced his retirement after 16 glorious years of serving Indian cricket. He is 39 years old. It is a sad day for Indian cricket fans. I expected Rahul to continue for at least one year and personally I would have loved to see him play for another two years. Indian cricket is in a crisis and this is the time when we need great men to bail us out. So now we have another great pillar down after Sourav Ganguly. Only Laxman and Tendulkar remain.

His game is not swashbuckling like that of Virendar Sehwag, nor is it majestic or awe-inspiring like that of Sachin Tendulkar. He play’s his game at his own pace  that is technically pure, and that pace has helped us save many games.

rahul dravid retires

He is called ‘The Wall’ of Indian cricket for a very good reason.

The Australian pace battery has a simple plan as they go out to bowl against India; bowl at a good line and length, bowl in fast, keep the Indian batsmen guessing and hopping around. They think that picking early wickets and having things on a tight leash will put them on the driver’s  seat.  The match begins and they perfectly carry out the plan. The opening batsmen hop and skip around. They are unable to spot the ball and time it correctly as the fiery Australian bowlers send in ball after ball at about 150 KMPH. A wicket falls down and in walks Rahul ‘Wall’ Dravid. Bret Lee charges in and sends down a well-directed scorching yorker towards the middle stick, only to see Dravid bringing down his bat and blocking it. Next ball, Lee bowls a vicious bouncer directed towards the batsman’s head, but the wall just goes on to his back foot and swings his bat with his wrists rotating in a slow but steady fashion and taps the ball gently to keep it down. The ball plonks down near the wall’s feet. That ball travelled at 90 miles per hour only to fall under that great man’s feet? Now this kind of calmness really dents a bowler’s confidence. It sucks out his patience. The great thing about Dravid is that he could go on and on doing this throughout a whole day.  He is such a great hard worker and only god knows which middle-finger touting, drunkard, party-animal youngster is going to replace him. You know, it is really hard to find such hard-working, old-fashioned gentlemen these days.

Is there anyone to replace Dravid? The simple answer is a big NO! After all, we are yet to find a proper replacement for Sourav Ganguly (in Test matches) who retired three years ago.

rahul dravid retires

Thank you for everything Dravid. We’ll miss you.

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