Friday, 27 November 2009

Kanpur Test Day 4

# Life imitates cricket:

There are things that vary from city to city. And then there are that do not.

Like men of dubious upbringing trying to bring down every wall by sheer urea power. Amazing How the spirit that fell the Berlin Wall is still smouldering in far away India!

Like autowallahs who were uncompromising shearers in previous life.

Or like traffic police warnings.

As you enter Green Park, one such warning screams "Helmet Ki Adat, Pariwar Ki Chahat".

Loosely translated, it basically means every time you kickstart your bike, family members want you to use the helmet. Possibly because your life insurance had lapsed long ago.

An advice of indubitable sagacity indeed.

Had Raman Lamba heeded to that, he would not have popped up in my memory the moment I saw the writing.

# Liar! Liar!
Sreesanth says Harbhajan is like his elder brother. Well, Dipu Santh's is a rather chubby face and barring a thick moustache, is clean shaven. Now that is called stretch of imagination.

# Yours Faithfully:

Outside the stadium, couple of fans tell a local channel that they always knew Sreesanth will stage a comeback.
Once through, one of them hail a riskshaw. The rickshaw-puller wants to know his destination. It still rings in my ear. "Faithfulgunj".

# Marriages, here and there:

News filters in that Gautam Gambhir would skip next Test due to sister's wedding. Press box is abuzz, would Australia allow such a thing? Someone explains "There you can always make it to any of the weddings of your sister." Now that is mean.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Kanpur Test Day 3 : Hatchets buried

Edged. Panaravitana is back. So is Sreesanth. Back with a bang.

19 months of wilderness finally behind him. Teammates mob Sree.

Can't read Harbhajan's face. Let alone his mind. Does he feel awkward? Will the bad blood persist?

I expect perfunctory claps. Well, it's actually a clasp! And doesn't look perfunctory either!

Harbhajan hugs Sree. Last time it was engineered. By Farokh Engineer.

I don't know what lies in their bosoms. In fact they may never become bosom friend. But I love this coming together.

Life is way too precious to do something as silly as nursing grudges. I'm happy Bhajji and Sree have moved on.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Kanpur Test Day 2: God's prodigal son

It was a huge joint venture, if you care to know.

Sources reveal 33 crore Hindu Gods collaborated with Allah Almighty and Jesus Christ to make it happen.

And it required such an unprecedented joining of hands because, along with others, the God of Cricket -- 20 years in circulation -- did not want him in the Team India dressing room.

Sreesanth is a madcap.

He hears strange noise inside his head. He perceives Nel, Hayden and Symonds on the window pane. Harbhajan with an outstretched hand haunts him in his nightmares. And he hallucinates a gorilla making him hug a monkey while the fox claps.

Gods consult and issue him a new lease of life and Sreesanth runs in from media centre end, all verve and vim.

He thinks Paranavitana has nicked it. He appeals. No, he pleads. He then urges. Finally he begs.

But there is no trace of life in the umpire's standing corpse.

Sreesanth stays rooted to the crease.

Sehwag collects his hat and pats him. Sreesanth drags himself to fine leg. He looks upward. Seeking divine intervention again.

The guys upstairs squirm in their abode.

"Now what?"

Sreesanth feels he is drowning. And he seeks a divine straw to clutch at.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Kanpur Test Day 1: My 7 suspects

1. The cake Amit Mishra -- he turned 27 today even though his look suggests 72 -- received from team management had 'Happy-Birthday-Omit' written across it;

2. "Sorry Bhai" is the Bollywood movie that pretty much sums up Pragyan Ojha's feeling towards Amit Mishra;

3. The only explanation of Sri Lanka's frequent dropping of anything flying off Sehwag's bat is -- they consider it below their dignity. They steadfastly refused in Ahmedabad till one accidentally got stuck to Angelo Mathews' reluctant palm. Here too Mahela dropped Sehwag on duck before Dilshan caught him. And that because Sehwag happens to be Dilshan's Delhi Daredevils comrade;

4. After their union in Ahmedabad, the Jayawardenes clicked in Kanpur as well. Well, this time for India, by collaborating to spill Sehwag on zero;

5. The secret behind Sehwag's uncharacteristic patience is Dhoni's threat to make him write Welegedara's full name -- Uda Walawwe Mahim Bandaralage Chanaka Asanga Welegedara -- 10 times if he got out early;

6. Harbhajan Singh's mild throat infection had the team management worried because they know his real craft lies in his larynx;

7. When Sehwag said Gambhir is the best Indian opener since Gavaskar, he meant Srikkanth was a motormouth madcap, Ganguly an ill-tempered mule and Tendulkar a petulant holy cow.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Of Kanpur, Woolmer and a rickshaw straying down memory lane

Kanpur can be cruel in April. And it did not make an exception in 2005.

The dust, dirt, soot and dung flies. Frentic autowallahs with a hand on the horn and a foot on the brake.

Desperate bikers, tilting their vehicle and bobbing their head to make a mockery of the railway crossing.

Pedestrians crossing the remnants of a road with outsize bags in their hand and a prayer on their lip.

Chimneys dotting the skyline belching poison. Air is thick and the heat saps you.

For a man of his shape and size, Bob was panting, trying to squeeze his bulky frame into the choc-o-bloc ward of the Georgina McRobert Memorial Hospital. He was returning after 57 years to collect his birth certificate.

I could not resist pushing the doctor in front to peep into the certificate. The exact time read 2.15 a.m. on May 14, 1948.

Bob shook hands with everyone. He sweated profusely but the heat and discomfort could not sap him of that illuminating smile.

Amused patients got fruits and flower. Kids even a pat on their head. Bob then fished out a jersey, signed by the Pakistani players, and asked the authorities to auction it.

Bob promised he would come again. He did not.

Instead, his corpse was found in a far away Kingston hotel in 2007.

India plays Sri Lanka tomorrow. I suspected my rickshawallah wasn't sure he knows the way to my hotel and he doesn't let me down. The moron on pedal has dutifullly bungled it and I've strayed into an alien area.

To be honest, not exactly alien since I first visited Georgina McRobert Memorial Hospital in 2005.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

How 7 cricketers are preparing for Kanpur Test

1. Rahul Dravid: Plans an interaction with the IIT Kanpur faculty there. Nothing stimulates him on the eve of a Test like a free-wheeling chat on aerodynamics;

2. Amit Mishra: An interaction with ITI Kanpur faculty to explore the prospects of its mobile repairing diploma course;

3. Virender Sehwag: Toying with the idea of visiting any of the tanneries. You can't have a better place to hone your butchering and skinning skill.

4. S Sreesanth: Well, no temple/mosque/church/gurdwara is safe in the town where he lands. Humanity is yet to see a man more convinced that only a divine intervention can win him a place.

5. Harbhajan Singh: Allen Forest Zoo. His sinister motive being to first find a monkey and then call it names, including Symonds.

6. VVS Laxman: A trip to the Luv Kush barrage, purely out of avancular affection;

7. MS Dhoni: Nostalgic 15 minutes at the Kanpur Railway Station, to relive his days as ticket checker in Kharagpur;

(P.S. Doosra is in Kanpur for 2nd Ind-SL Test. Expect lot of actions over the next five days.)

Friday, 20 November 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Bhajji explains white patka!

Dear All,

So here we go again. Talk of the town and it again has nothing to do with my bowling!

Well, I'm told my white patka has been quite a sensation.

So much so that some people have lost their own. Others reported sporadic cases of choking at the breakfast table in front of the television.

Now that surely warrants some explanation. What necessitated this change in colour and the encrypted messages I meant for a few individuals.

For starters, I believe I have been able to prove to my BCCI bosses that I'm doing my utmost to curb my temper and keep my cool.

White reflects sunlight, elementary metaphysics sirs! No? You insist it's physics? Sure it's not physiology either? Well, will take that.

Returning to the rail, I believe with this subtle move, I've silenced my critics, who spread the canard that I lack variety. And if still those offsprings of *&^%$#@! still nitpick about it being just a wardrobe variety, well, my Hummer can take care of them next time they stray onto the road.

Time to spell out other ramification of the white patka that may have eluded your radar.

To Matthew Hayden, my patka virtually screams out 'Mate, about time you issued a rejoinder that I’m not an obnoxious weed but a white tulip'.

It has a message for Sreesanth as well. Well Sree, you can come closer without inviting a palm-shaped tattoo on your cheeky cheeks.

For Symonds, oh dear, all hatchets buried. Let's start life afresh, mate. By the way, how's your mom?

Finally a word for Mr Amitabh Bachchan too.

Now that I've changed colour, don't you think a Big Boss invitation should be on my way?


Harbhajan Singh.

(P.S. What will be the punch line of a family planning commercial featuring Dhoni and Bhajji? Hum Do Hummer Do, preferably mouthed by Dhoni.)


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Asking for the moon, Ban Ki-moon

The first Boer War was fought over Transvaal.

The second Boer War was fought over the gold deposits of Orange Free State.

And after a 108-year lemon break, the Poms and the Proteas are at it again.

The Third Boer War is being thrust on us and it is being fought over Craig Kieswetter!

And once again, that arthritis-stricken, dozing UN is blissfully unaware of the impending gore and death.

Craig who?

Well, painstaking research revealed that this Kieswetter chap is a Jo'burg-born blighter, who represented South Africa in U-19 World Cup before deciding to infest Somerset.

If you have followed England, you know any crap with a 'Made in South Africa' tag finds easy currency in Pomland.

Already the Poms have stuffed their XI with four Protea imports. And they believe they can inch closer to their dream of turning this fledgling South Africa B team into a full-fledged South Africa B team by drafting in this Kieswetter blister.

Graeme Smith, however, can't help being the fly in the ointment.

More so in this case because Craig happens to be his middle name and you of course don't want your middle name to settle abroad.

So there you hear the rumble. But I guess a war may still be averted. If the edentate UN forgets its dodgy knee and spring into action that is.

Call it naiveté. Or call it asking for the moon. Ban Ki-moon.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A profane post

It's potentially a fatwa-inviting post. A heresy, a sacrilege beyond redemption. But then someone had to say it I guess.

Just too much of saccharine, this Tendulkar20 business.

Deep inside, the Little Master himself must be embarrassed by the mindless hysteria he finds himself in and around him.

His fawning fans in the media have made such a vulgar song and dance of his 20 years in international cricket that I won't be surprised if he comes up with his own version of Karl Marx’s Thank-God-I'm-Not-A-Marxist renouncement.

When someone like Ravi Shastri advocates blanket imprisonment for every Tendulkar critic, you suspect fascism trying to stage a comeback with cricket as its vehicle.

Raj Thackeray can sleep peacefully. Indian cricket is in safe hands.

Elsewhere, the abysmal chumps in the media are foaming at the mouth, trying to convince us how longevity is the lone hallmark of greatness.

You wonder if they have heard about Wilfred Rhodes who had a 31-year-old international career and there are around 14 others as well who lingered for more than 20 years.

A humbug columnist questioned if any other player had hauled a nation from the depth of its sorrow like Tendulkar did by dedicating a century to the Mumbai terror victims.

While a heart-warming gesture it definitely was, the columnist apparently forgot Don Bradman had lifted the entire Australian spirit from the aftermath of the 'Great Depression'.

To be fair to Tendulkar, it's difficult to imagine him appreciating this sick media rush to usurp the milestone and milk some mileage. For, in this avalanche of feel-good interviews and familiar ego-massaging gibberish, objectivity has been sacrificed at the altar of sycophancy.

No sincere effort to gauge why two decades were not enough to silence claims that he did not win enough matches while the likes of Brian Lara won series on their own.

Reams spent on his 175 in Hyderabad against Australia, and rightly so, but not a single honest question on why he played that ugly, irresponsible shot completely unbecoming of a player of his stature.

Or for that matter, what about that steadfast political correctness, the opaqueness of which never allowed us to know actually what goes inside that great mind?

Lest you get me wrong, only fools would doubt Tendulkar's greatness. But the same fools would roam around with a superiority complex when they come across people who refuse to recognize a single grey shade in that pronounced greatness.

If anything, this eulogy deluge has cemented the notion that we are essentially, and probably incorrigibly, a nation of hyperbole and hysteria, which is ready to dump its sense of proportion at the slightest provocation.

Tendulkar once swapped a dear bat for a Mark Knoffler guitar. He has an ear for music. But I'm not sure all that is written and aired about him would come as music to those blushed ears.

(P.S. Read 7 Tendulkar Q & A here.)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Thank you all

Chest-thumping is best left to the gorillas. But an equal truth is a blogger, in the heart of hearts, craves for recognition.

Have no illusion. A blogger doesn't mint money. At least I have not seen one. A comment here, a link there makes his/her day.

Doosra did not go from town to town telling people when Patrick Kidd -- god bless him -- included the blog in the Best of the Web he compiled for The Times.

Nor did it made a song and dance about its inclusion in the ICC blogroll.

Based on Telegraph Sports readers' recommendation -- may their tribe increase – Rod Gilmour now lists Doosra as No. 1 of the top 20 cricket websites.

Time to release the words which have been fluttering like a butterfly inside the bosom.

Whoever sees these words. Thank you all.

(Click on the pix to enlarge)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Ind-Aus series in light of Evolution Theories!

Survival of the Fittest: Not sure if Darwin wanted us to barge into the nearest gym with vengeance. But when you realize that only 8 of Australia’s original 15-member squad survived the 7–ODI rigour, you know Darwin was not driveling;

Natural Selection: Darwin propounded some individuals survive more than their jealous peers for no particular reason. Cricket anthropologists classify Virat Kohli as the prime example.

Inheritance of Acquired Characters: Basically what Lamarck meant is that no amount of blood transfusion can help it. At the end of the day, a Casanova begets Casanova and a Gandhi, pre-abstinence that is, begets Gandhi.

So it was hardly a wonder that Shaun Marsh would follow in his father's footsteps and choose India for his maiden ODI ton.

Theory of Needs: At the outset, I would like to clarify that I take no responsibility for the following even though Lamarck does. Apparently, giraffes grew long necks because their forefathers were sick and tired of the staple grass-and-bush diet and craved for the leafy delicacies of the tall trees.

A bare batting cupboard and the same theory of needs forced Ricky Ponting to open the innings in Delhi.

Theory of Use and Disuse: Apparently, early snakes, unlike their present day descendants, were LBW candidates in a Mammals XI vs Reptiles XI tie because they had legs! That is what Lamarck said and once again I take him at face value. He knew them enough to claim that snakes lost legs because they didn't use them enough. Basically he wanted to mean that snakes put their feet up all the time till it eventually came off.

Harbhajan Singh may resent the simile but Chris Broad's presence has forced him to shelve his Doosra and we may not see him bowling that again.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

World Jason Krejza Day!

Tasmania is up in arms.

Writers have put down their pen. Painters have brushed aside their brush and minstrels are rehearsing mutinous songs.

Flags across Tassie have slid to half mast and black armband sales have reported all-time high.

Agitated senators are clearing their throat and testing the robustness of their pipes.

Even Spirit of Tasmania refuses to budge and stays put at Devonport.

The cry has gone out that Jason Krejza may not be Abel Tasman but Able Tasman he surely is.

And the Island of Inspiration would brook no such nonsense!

Since his sensational debut, Krejza has been treated as a pariah.

But then every dog has its day and today is 'World Jason Krejza Day'.

Will Australia survive Tasmania's wrath?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Promote PK, for the Doc's sake!

40 not out, 1, DNB, 16, 9, 54 not out.

May not look Bradmanesque but then Bradman did not have to bat at No. 9 like Praveen Kumar.

And on two occasions, he was run out, indubitably the dastardliest way to nix a No. 9 batsman.

No corporate entity with an ounce of soul and an iota of sense would waste time in recognising and rewarding such a worker.

Let's face it. PK is way too good to be wasted at no. 9. He deserves promotion.

Don't dare you curl your lips and say "What if..."

If denied, I'm afraid he will be more of pique than PK and hit the bottle. After all, there is a little bit of Devdas in all of us.

And once spirited, he would go about the town, bashing doctors.

At least for the neighbourhood doc's sake, please promote PK.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Dinesh Karthik at peace with himself

Assume you are a keeper and you swing a decent bat.

But you pass through the corridor and realize not a single door is ajar, let alone open.

For starters, Gang Lord keeps wicket himself!

You want an opening. In fact, you are open to opening.

But you also know that you'd be lynched if heard of even dreaming about replacing either The God or his Protégé.

You push the door of Protégé’s Protégé and realize it's bolted from inside.

You hurry past the Preening Prince's door, for he can be in foul mood.

You bow before Gang Lord's door and cross those of his Lead Lackey, Punk Pal and the Rockstar and realize it's a dead end.

What do you do?

You take your gloves off, ask somebody else to keep wicket and roll your arms over.

Apparently, Dinesh Karthik bowled against Railways in the Ranji Trophy.

No one saw him bowl – except this scorecard. Not even the batsmen he allegedly bowled to!

Is he a dibbly-dobbler? Or a pie-chucker? Maybe a purveyor of right-arm filth?

Whatever. Karthik at least knows he can't be blamed for not trying enough.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

REVEALED: Ponting was King Pyrrhus in previous birth!

Was he Al Capone, a gangster beneath his Canary Yellow who frequented speakeasies and patronized moonshining?

Or was he Idi Amin, the self-anointed CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire) even though he lost Ashes?

High possibilities though these maybe, allow me to let the cat out of the bag and tell you that Ricky Ponting was King Pyrrhus in his previous life!

A little explanation would render it less outrageous.

Well, when you are a second cousin of Alexander the Great, you can’t help winning wars. It just happens.

But then Pyrrhus was not Alexander but his cousin, and second one at that. He won the Battle of Asculum alright but it was such a cliffhanger that cost him irreparable damage.

The poor guy was left to mutter that one more such victory would completely undo him. And unscrupulous phrase-coiners minted money out of his predicament, terming it ‘Pyrrhic victory’.

Now sample this.

Ponting won Vadodara but lost Brett Lee.

He won Mohali too and Peter Siddle and Moises Henriques fell by the wayside.

Had you been a particular insect of the Diptera order on the wall of the Oz dressing room, you could have eavesdropped Punter grumbling to someone “One more such victory and mate, I’d be undone.”

(P.S. Staying with the reincarnation theme, read why Tendulkar is actually Einstein re-born).

Pix: Getty Images

Monday, 2 November 2009

Live from Mohali

Welcome to What Neo Won't Show And Cricinfo Won't Report.

1410: Dhoni wins toss. Ponting inquires if Amitabh Bachchan had used the same coin in 'Sholay'. Umpire Ashoka de Silva grumbled 'Sholay' was never screened in Sri Lanka and hence he could not shed any light on it.

1430: Harbhajan shakes hand with Ashoka de Silva like long lost mate. Staying with Bhajji, I suspect he is subdued in this series because Chris Broad is the Match Referee. The same guy -- no doubt he hides a pair of horns under that trendy cap -- who had reported Bhajji twice in the past. Come on Chris, live upto your name -- surname to be precise -- and take a broad view of things. My heart bleeds for Bhajji since we are the last few remaining Doosra exponents.

1440: Statying with Chris, I think Stuart Little got the surname alright but goofed up the name when he complained to Pa that a neighbourhood Singh boy had hit him for six sixes. That was Yuvi, not Harbhajan, Chris. Stop scaring the kid.

1545: Sorry for the delay. The wi-fi in the press box is like Australian opening pair. Just not working.

1610: Raina in pain, trying to stop a ball that gets sandwiched between him and the turf. Looked like he was trying to sow the ball and maybe water it as well till it bore fruit. Balls I meant.

1645: Hear it here FIRST. BCCI Prez Shashank Manohar tells PCB chief Ejaj Butt -- both are here -- that no Ind-Pak series possible in the next 8 months. Promises to renew talk next year, provided the Government gives them the go-ahead.

1820: Australia settle for 250 when 300 looked a possibility. Something fairly akin to dating Katrina Kaif and then settling for/with Rakhi Sawant. Destiny, I guess.

2010: Ashoka de Silva just topped every Indian hate-list and his family would pray hard for his safe return after that howler of a decision against Tendulkar.

2025: Son of the soil Yuvraj clearly knows part of the crowd moving behind the sightscreen. You don't need lip-readers to tell you that he was referring to some of their mothers and sisters.

2030: India reach 111 for 3 in 22.4 overs. I'm missing David Shepherd (read my tribute here).

2121: Suddenly it springs to my mind - I have seen grandpa and grandson bat together in an ODI when Tendulkar and Yuvraj forged a brief partnership. And Yuvraj isn't alone to call Tendulkar grandpa.

2137: Today must be International Party-Pooper's Day. First Sehwag spoiled birthday boy Mitchell Johnson's party and then de Silva marred Tendulkar's.

2230: No more updates today, time for other serious stuff. Thanks for staying with Doosra, if anyone that is :)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Introducing Tendulkar, the grandpa!

First he was boy wonder who looked skywards in search of his deceased father whenever he hit a ton. Then he fathered Arjun and Sara and announced on telly "Mai bhi ek pitaa hun" (I'm also a father).

Doosra knows he is a godfather as well, to some of his younger teammates. But what we did not know, till last night, is that he is a grandfather too, at the tender age of 36!

Yuvraj Singh let the cat out of the bag.

"We have started calling him grandfather," Yuvraj said.

"He is an amazing man and I don't think any other player can go on to play for 20 years or more likle he has," Yuvraj gushed.