Nov 072013
 
Promises of a packed Eden remain unfulfilled

Only 33,000 people were present on Day 2 of the 1st Test at the Eden Gardens – a number, far away from the 66,000 full capacity of the stadium

Promises of a packed Eden remain unfulfilled (© IANS Photo)

IANS Photo

achin Tendulkar’s swansong appearance at the hallowed Eden Gardens against the visiting West Indies failed to live up to its billing the second consecutive day Thursday when vast rows of empty seats belied the organisers’ tall claims of a full house.

If the presence of 33,000 spectators – half of the stadium’s capacity – on the first day can be excused on the fact that the visitors opted to bat first, the prospect of seeing the maestro create magic with his willow on the 22 yards, failed to attract the otherwise cricket mad Kolkata crowd.

The atmosphere turned sour further when Tendulkar’s stint at the wicket was cut short by a contentious umpiring decision.

The crowd which was lustily cheering every move of the maestro since he came out to bat at the fall of India’s second wicket, was stunned into silence when Llong raised the dreaded index finger after left-armer Shane Shillingford trapped the man in front. Incidentally, Tendulkar had taken the West Indian’s wicket Wednesday.

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) which had promised a series of celebrations including the spectators greeting Tendulkar wearing his mask on the first two days of the match, yet again failed to deliver on its promise.

“Had Sachin batted for an hour more, the turnout would have been higher during the latter part of the day,” was what a CAB official could give as explanation about the missing crowd.

About the non-existent masks, he said they would be distributed on the third day as they were still under print.

However, much to the delight of the crowd present debutant Rohit Sharma hit a scintillating century to propel India towards a commanding position in the match. While Sharma sparkled with the bat, homeboy Mohammad Shami who too made his debut in the match, rocked the Windies batting line-up to return with figures of 4/71 on the first day.

May 232013
 
The importance of being Rahul Dravid
These are the worst of times and the best of times for Rahul Dravid. An old-world cricket man, who has forever had to reinvent himself to fit in with constantly-changing demands, Dravid could have finally found his calling in this highly-manufactured, mostly-irrelevant world of the T20 league.

This must be the greatest of ironies. Among the sport’s last edifices, Dravid finds himself confronted with a scenario where he can bury the twin ghosts of leadership and acquired acumen at an abrupt, truncated sport in one go — two games actually — and that should once again endear him to us for good. But it is the emergence of Dravid, one of the top three Test batsmen of all time, as Indian cricket’s unlikely statesman in these trying times that is proving the biggest revelation. And at one level, it is a lamentable one, coming at a time when the specks of grey under his temple are too obvious to miss.

For all their everyday presence in our lives, Indian cricketers have hardly ever been our go-to men. They may have been match-winners, but seldom men we would seek to hear anything meaningful from. They will not say anything of note to the media, but will happily reveal their true selves in potato chips ad. For all his Lata-esque longevity, Tendulkar can hardly be accorded with an elder-like presence. Kumble briefly seemed to fit into the role during the ill-tempered Sydney Test in 2007-08, but soon the league came, business interests took over and the image swiftly faded.

Dravid, too, inexplicably dithered over this responsibility, strangely reluctant to assume the role of anything more than leading run-getter. As India captain, he cut an isolated figure and as his team, fractured during the Chappell era looked to him, Dravid perhaps foolishly believed that his own performances would help carry them. It did for a while and then, it drained him.

This time, the fixing scandal has forced his hand. Dravid was enjoying his stint as the leader of an underdog side in this league. It showed in the way he leaned into the melee of hot heads and smiled indulgently at Gautam Gambhir — all fire and brimstone for nothing — and his burly sarge Manvender Bisla at the Eden Gardens. But then the scandal put it all at his doorstep, in a manner of saying. How would he take on this one now? As a child of the so-called post-fixing era, did his coaching manuals or the management tomes that he devours, have a chapter on correcting this?

It instantly posed great questions of the man respected in his world for his integrity, quiet dignity and in an aspect our parents would perhaps identify with, a long-forgotten middle class belief in ethics. Suddenly, in this shrill and malevolent world of the T20 league — where no one, it is emerging, is above board — a new Dravid has emerged, a little bit too late, but welcome all the same.

This was not the same man we had known before from a distance — that of the furrowed brow, worried frown model. It’s a face of a man who seems comfortable in his new skin today, unafraid to throw in a few chuckles at the whole thing. The spring in his step comes with knowledge and importantly, control — something that had seemed elusive to this personality when he skippered an Indian side of prima donnas.

On Wednesday, after likening the Sreesanth stab to bereavement, Dravid was smiling again. In fact, he even poked fun at the absurdity of events, without for a moment belittling the seriousness of the fixing scandal. “Look,” he said with a short laugh, “we’re short of spinners for various reasons. I would like to make a joke on it, but given the seriousness of the situation, it won’t be right.” The remark came after his side came to be within two games of a title, which you may or may not care who wins, but it could be the destination in what’s proving a strange journey of learning and self-discovery for the ever-receptive Banglorean.

Apr 142013
 
Kolkata thrash Hyderabad by 48 runs

KOLKATA: Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders, home again after back-to-back defeats on the road, made a strong statement at a packed Eden Gardens on Sunday by taming form team Sunrisers Hyderabad by 48 runs. With their fumbling top-order coming g…

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