Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Ode to the Refrigerator

[So I lost my refrigerator after some 20 years. Here’s a heartwarming, emotional ode to that mighty machine, from the bottom of my cold heart.]


I remember when you came home for the first time. I followed you all the way from being unloaded from the truck to inside the home a floor up. I gave up my prized striker’s position which came but rarely, tossed the bat in air and accompanied you all the way to my home. I remember protecting you from the leering eyes of the spectators, some of them my own friends trying to convince to come back and finish the match. But they soon realized, nothing was more important than welcoming you home. I remember you being carried up the stairs while I marveled at your beauty and shine. I still remember that day like it was yesterday, even after some 20 years have gone by in reality. I remember when you were switched on for the very first time, amazed by the golden, sparkly light that lit up when the door was opened. 

You were a constant presence in my home, before I started school and when I finished school. I remember you were there when I woke up in the middle of the night, hungry and thirsty. You were the sight that calmed and soothed the senses in times like those. You kept the water cold when it needed to be. You kept the food fresh when it needed to be. You selflessly served the family and guests for 2 decades. Never asked for anything out of the ordinary, never complained, never gave us a reason to worry. You were there when we needed to put stuff on top of something. You were the constant companion when we moved from one house to another. 

And after all these years, 20 years, I heard about your sad demise when we needed you most (summer season is upon us). And look at us mortals, unable to think past our own interests, we are off to find a new refrigerator.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Two Giants of Sri Lankan Cricket Bid Adieu to World Cricket


Along with Pakistan, another subcontinent cricket giant lost its two most trusted soldiers. Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene announced his retirement from all forms of cricket after they bowed out of tournament in the quarterfinals. Another gem, Kumar Sangakkara retired from ODIs and will retire from the longer format this August. This is a huge loss for the lovers of cricket worldwide. Their style and elegance will be missed and they are leaving behind a legacy extremely difficult to forget and their places will be difficult fill.

A season after Sri Lanka’s most glorious moment in their cricketing history, Mahela made his test debut against neighbors India. Little did anyone know that he would go on to become a highly respected figure not only in Sri Lankan cricket but global cricket. And as it turned out, he went on to serve his nation for 18 more years.

He holds the record for the highest score ever by a Sri Lankan player in Test cricket – 374 at home against South Africa. He is one of the few masters of the game to have more than 10,000 runs under his belt in both forms of the game. His trusted presence in the slips and anywhere on the field is well acknowledged. When Muralitharan deceived batsmen time and again, the ball went into the safest hands on the field and Jayawardene was not the one to drop any. This made the Jayawardene-Muralitharan duo a feared one. In fact, Mahela has most catches in ODIs and in Test cricket is succeeded only by Rahul Dravid.

Kumar Sangakkara debut for Sri Lanka in 2000 and since then has transformed into one of the finest batsman this world has ever seen. He has been a dominant presence in the top 10 of batsmen rankings over the past decade or so. Consistency over such a period of time is remarkable. He holds the record for most test double centuries (11) after Sir Don’s 12 centuries. And very recently, in his last few ODIs achieved a unique distinction of scoring 4 consecutive one day centuries.

As a captain, he instilled a sense of belief in the young Sri Lankan side and turned them into a formidable force. He led his team into the finals of the ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup after which he quit captaincy.

For a significant duration of his career, he kept wickets and was widely regarded as one of the most flamboyant and elegant wicketkeeper and an efficient one at that. As a wicketkeeper, he was the perfect, the complete asset to the team. He contributed the highest number of dismissals in ODIs including a record 96 stumpings.

Mahela Jayawardene had been the primary mainstay of the Sri Lankan middle order even in the toughest of times along with Kumar Sangakkara. Both of them have over 10,000 runs in both formats of the game. Together, they have amassed more runs than any other pair. Both of them will be missed by Sri Lankan cricket and fans all over the world.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Pakistan Loses Two Stalwarts - Afridi and Misbah

 
Australia deserves to be the world champion. They defeated this world cup’s only two unbeaten teams, on the trot, in the semifinal and final to lift the crown for the fifth time. This edition of the world cup gave us exciting new faces of the new era of cricket - Trent Boult, Mitchell Starc, and many more. But sadly enough, it also marked the end of an era that produced stalwarts who carried their country's hopes on their shoulders, mesmerising cricket lovers notwithstanding geographical boundaries - Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardane, Misbah UL haq, Shahid Afridi, Daniel Vettori, Michael Clarke. And quite some players have already played their last world cup.

Cricket is and has been more than just a sport in the Indian subcontinent. Cricketers are worshipped and adored and enjoy a celebrity status, some even more so than others. And it comes as a huge blow to the nations, the teams when a player decides to hang up his boots after a long, captivating career. India had its share of the uncomfortable transition when Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and Kumble retired and left gaping holes in the team that took mammoth efforts to compensate. This time around, a subcontinent nation, India’s very own bitter-sweet rival Pakistan loses it’s class players – Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq.

Cricket does not come easy in Pakistan owing to the political turmoil and the ever changing and disruptive landscape of terror. People look up to their cricket stars to bring laurels and peace to the suffering country. Every spell of every bowler is compared with those of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Every batsmen is expected to be a Inzamam. Every captain is required to be Imran Khan. In times like these, two batsmen held their own carrying the responsibilities of the entire teams on their shoulders and to some extent, have been successful in doing so.

For a career that started as a replacement spinner, Afridi has done pretty well as an aggressive batsmen. He scored his first century at the ripe age of 16. That innings entered the cricket folklore as it was struck in mere 37 balls, a record that wasn’t broken until quite recently. As a result, Afridi was always expected to belt away bowlers right from the get go and to produce more such brilliant knocks. The expectations took their toll and he never managed to score consistently as a batsmen. But whenever he did, it had devastating effect on the opposition’s bowling figures. Afridi has the highest strike rate in the game and add to that he has the record for highest number of sixes in ODIs. The fact that he has never played more than 100 balls in one day cricket is something cricket pundits and critics would discuss over dinner. But with Afridi, a potential under-50 ball century was always on the cards.

As a batsman, Afridi lacked consistency. But he was always among wickets and is well respected in cricket as a dangerous bowler. He admitted to being a better bowler than batsman. His 395 ODI wickets are testament to his abilities as world class bowler, but is hardly given the credit he deserves for such a feat.

Afridi leaves behind a legacy, tales of aggression and unparalleled fearlessness, as a batsman, a bowler and an inspiring presence on the field.
This brings us to another Pakistani hanging up his boots, gloves, pads and the mighty responsible bat he played with – Misbah-ul-Haq. Always the last man standing, always the most responsible and temperamental cricketer, always taking the fight to the opposition while he runs out of partners at the other end. As a captain of a skillful but self-destructive Pakistan side, his composure and temperament were paramount.

Misbah is still blamed for that ill-timed scoop that lost Pakistan the inaugural T20 World Cup. But hardly anyone remembers that Pakistan were tottering at 77-6 with ‘responsible’ match winners like Younis Khan, Shoaib Malika and Shahid Afridi were back in the hut, Pakistan had already lost the cup. Misbah simply kept them alive till the very end, re-ignited lost hopes that Pakistan might just snatch it back.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be a very apt foreshadowing of Pakistan’s misfortunes over the next few years. Misbah-ul-Haq always stood tall among the ruins, refusing to give up, refusing to bow out without a fight. And for that, he deserves the utmost respect a cricketer of his stature commands.

Cricket in Pakistan is brimming with talent with and as a team they are showing grit and determination despite their management’s below par concern for their team. Losing a calm and composed captain at the helm will hamper their spirits and performance, undoubtedly. But like they have shown in the past, hopefully, there will be another Misbah, another Inzamam and possibly, the next Imran Khan.
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