The moth and the flame

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Published on Wisden India on November 21, 2013

As I stood on my porch on the morning of 16, November, nothing seemed right with the world. The entire milieu was off kilter. The skies were a swathe of startling blue and the sun shone brightly. It was ridiculously warm. Chilly November in these parts is usually the time to look back fondly on the smells and vibrant colors of the season just passed and forcibly banish thoughts of the looming cold months. But the grass on lawns that should have long retreated into hibernation was lush green and still growing. And I spotted a neighbor mowing his lawn across the street! The sound of its motor on a mid-November morning should have added a stark discordant aural note to the surreal state I was already in.
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2 + 2 = 0

India's Sachin Tendulkar tries to avoid

Are you such a dreamer
To put the world to rights?
I’ll stay home forever
Where two and two always makes a five

So, not much of a dreamer are you? Not when it comes to matters of cricket? Well, heed my advice and start. Right about now. Now that this gong show on Indian pitches – the one originally conceived by the unholy ménage a trios betwixt the oligarchs of the BCCI, CA and CSA – has meandered to its manufactured cacophonous, yet vacuous end. This is the time to start. For there is no putting this world to right. Over the next few months, you can stay home all you want. And be cursed with ruing and mulling over the sad fact that all two and two actually amounts to is not five, but a big fat zero. Nada. Zilch.

So, dream on…
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All method, no madness (Sports Illustrated India)

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.

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Chin Music (Sports Illustrated India)

Published as “Symphony of Destruction” in Sports Illustrated India, Nov 2009 issue

That over is indelible from the memories of Indian and Pakistani cricket fans. Indelibly exhilarating to the Indians and horrifyingly so to the Pakistanis. A doppelganger of the fateful last over in Sharjah, 1986. In the breathless span of those three deliveries, aggression, intent and artistry were so emphatically communicated, that in hindsight, the eventual result had an aura of inevitability about it.
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