Published on ESPN-Cricinfo, March 7, 2012
That would be around the time the opposition shook themselves out of their discombobulated stupor and contemplated the reality of their situation. Or the hopelessness. You blazed up to and past that number nonchalantly oh so often. You were never one for the numbers, were you?
Sixty today. In the theatre of life. Sixty candles to blow out. Hope you remember to lose the gum you’ve been chewing before you do. The gum that accompanied the swagger. The swagger that spooked out teams; that prefaced the gaze you trained on the bowler at the top of his run-up. Looking into his eyes as you patted down random spots on the pitch, having just taken guard. Sending chills down the spines of all who were watching. Starting with that day in Bangalore.
Publised in Cricinfo, April 2, 2011
It was like someone had pulled the plug on our sanity. The television screen suddenly blacked out and everything went nuts. It was instant pandemonium.
Parents yelling at kids, they in turn screaming back. The father bellowing incoherent instructions and curses:
“Try turning the bloody fridge off.”
“One of you stand there, touching the antenna connector”
“Goddamned government-controlled television! How can they be trusted with this?”
It was all very Coppola-esque and Puzo-id in its operatic intrigue and imagery. Like when the hatchet men were dispatched to take care of business during the baptism of Connie Corleone’s baby daughter, the family decided to settle matters as the nation was reveling in the grand ceremony unfolding at Mumbai’s own gleaming new cathedral, the DY Patil Stadium, on April 25, 2010. He may have been a made man, but he had put the business in jeopardy. Allowing him to continue would not be prudent. Don Modi’s execution was executed flawlessly.
Original draft of article published in Sports Illustrated India, January 2010 issue
A disarming, open, friendly and you could even say innocent expression has accompanied some of the most incredulous and succinct responses from the man. “I just tried to hit the bad balls” he said to the interviewer, in that polite and charming manner he has always had, when queried about his exploits on the day. And the smiles burst out on the tired faces of millions who had watched in slack-jawed awe as Virender Sehwag pulverized the Sri Lankan bowling on December 3, 2009, smashing an incredible 284 runs in a single day at the intimate confines of the Brabourne (CCI) Stadium, Mumbai. Friendly and innocent were certainly not the words on the minds of the Sri Lankan bowlers that day: offensive and devious would have been apt from their viewpoint, as they trudged off to the ice-baths, pondering the very meaning of their existence as cricketers on that fateful day.
Original draft of article published in Sports Illustrated India, December 2009 issue
One of the earliest stories about cricket that I remember lapping up wide-eyed is one who’s telling I can recall vividly to this day. New Year’s Day, Calcutta, 1967 and the second Test of the series against the West Indies was underway. Eden Gardens had been bursting at the seams, but in an ominous way. Fuelled by the greed of authorities who had oversold tickets to the tune of 20,000, it was a cauldron of spectator discomfort, distress and danger. And on the second day of the Test, it gave. A full scale riot ensued, with ill-tempered crowds rampaging onto the playing field, battling it out with the police. The terrified West Indian players fled amidst the tear gas in all directions, with some of them making it out of the stadium and running for their lives down the side-streets of Calcutta. But what one player did amidst all this mayhem was remarkable. Conrad Hunte, the classy West Indian opening batsman did not straight line it to the safety of the dressing room or the streets. Risking potential physical harm from the rampaging mob, he had the gumption to run over to the flag poles, shinny up and retrieve the two national flags flapping in the breeze.
Published in Cricinfo, March 2009
These are strange times. In the world we live in. There is hope in Washington, a mess in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the horror of terror in India, unease in the Middle East and above all, a sinking feeling in the homes and wallets of people across the globe. A day doesn’t go by without a gleeful, depressing or sanctimonious news report about another fraudster’s multi-billion dollar scheme to embezzle, subvert, misappropriate, grease away, palm off, blackmail and in much simpler terms, to liquidate the future of millions of people across the globe. People like you and me. The institution you have banked with for years has gone belly up and even in its state of rigor mortis, is leering at you, presenting its engorged gut in profile to you. Even as you are submerged in your own sea of apprehension and worry, there is anger swirling around you.
You feel violated.