Thursday, September 27, 2007

On the Twenty20 World Cup.

Finally!! India have won a world cup. After a long wait of 24 years.

As many have pointed out, India very reluctantly sent a team. The reluctance is accorded to the fear that if we do well in the Twenty20 format, we may kill the cash cow that ODI cricket is.

This is very evident from the fact that the BCCI sent, what they considered, a second team. The team did not consist of the so called big stars. What we all heard was the stars opted out. But, not many have noticed that the BCCI did not try to persuade them. In addition, the selection process for the event seemed almost callous. Ironically, this resulted in a team that was perfectly suited to the game - a team that was fresh, eager, enthusiastic and fielded and ran between the wickets wonderfully. More ironic is the fact that a team that was, I think, secretly selected for failure did the unthinkable - played without the fear of failure, as a team, and won the world cup.

An interesting point made by Rashid Latif was that Twenty 20 was a natural format for them. I would suggest that it is similarly, if not more of, a native format for India. Every game that I have ever played has been a short form, a Six6, a Ten10, a Twenty20 or at most a Twenty Five-25. This form is ingrained in Indians from when they begin playing. I maybe wrong, but I think the only way you ever get to play a form of unlimited overs cricket is when you reach the club level(very few matches) or first class level.

Am I happy we won the cup? Absolutely. Am I ecstatic? Maybe not. Do I think this is the best thing the Indian cricket team have achieved, ever? Absolutely not. This year? No, I rank our test series victory against England way higher. In the same vein, I wouldn't really care if we lose all ODIs from now till eternity(well, maybe not eternity), if we win the test series in Australia. We came really close the last time we went there and I hope we edge ahead this time.

The Twenty20 world cup has unarguably been a huge success with the crowds, the critics, the TV viewers, everybody else and their dogs and cats. I really like the format, both that of a Twenty20 match by itself and of the world cup too. The shortened match duration removes the boring period of ODIs where seemingly nothing happens and is sleep inducing. This was when the part time bowlers came on and tried to contain the batsmen who needed no second invitation. The brief duration of the world cup is a direct result of the short duration of each match. This has left most people wishing for more rather than the never ending wait to crown Australia as the champions.

I predict that the Fifty50 format will slowly die a slow and painless death. With Twenty20's explosive beginning people would realize what a painful process ODIs are. Sport is supposed to be about entertainment, tension and drama, but a majority of Fifty50 games do not provide any of these. Contrarily, Twenty20 provides all these and more in a much shortened time.

On the other hand test matches will (at least I hope) always exist. It is where the full skill of the players are on display. There is no better joy than watching Laxman and Dravid batting for a full day under immense pressure against an inspired Gillespie and Mcgrath, than seeing an jelly-bean-offended Zaheer Khan dismantle the English, than Dravid bat painstakingly slowly at Headingley in 2002 on a cloudy morning to thwart an English attack that was supposed to run through the Indian batting (well, I could go on and on). The longer format, due to the unlimited nature provides a slow simmering tension and drama. It is a format where the leave outside the off can often be more valuable than a slogged six. As for entertainment, I don't think anyone will disagree that a Tendulkar cover drive or straight drive, or a Laxman on drive is more pleasing to the eye that Yuvraj's six sixes.

To conclude, I think it will be Twenty20 and Test matches that will be the predominant formats leaving Fifty50 to die.

Tennis Score: 6-4, 2-2 : Clay

.. play suspended due to darkness.

Started late and hence had to play under lights, for the first time after March(?). Was quite good. There was hardly any wind, but it was quite cold. My non active hand almost froze making it hard to toss the ball for the serve. Must wear gloves on my left hand the next time we play under lights.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tennis Score: 2-6, 0-6, 1-4 : Clay

Remember this post? Well, today I know what Roddick felt like.

Not much else to write.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tennis Score: 4-6, 6-2, 6-10 (Tiebreak) : Clay

Excuses: Very Windy, Wet and slippery court, Playing after a break.

The first set was the normal one, where we traded breaks and holds until 4-4. Instead of me making the move, it was my partner who went up 5-4. At this time, it almost felt inevitable that I would lose the next game to lose the set.

The next set was also very predictable. Either my partner's level dropped or mine went up or a bit of both happened simultaneously. Either way, the set was won 6-2.

Since we finished the two sets so quickly, about an hour and ten minutes, we decided to play a "champions tiebreak", a silly thing that is supposed to replace a set. In this, instead of the tiebreak being for seven, we play until a player reaches ten. In any case, my incompetence in negotiating tiebreaks meant that even before a point was played, I had almost resigned to the fact that I was going to lose it.

The autumn has set in in Swansea. Autumn, the wettest time in the wettest city in UK, is not a good time for tennis. The last week, we could only play two times because of the rain. Here's hoping that this week would be better for tennis than last week.

Tonight's dinner

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tennis Score: 6-4, 6-0, 6-2: Clay

The video shows Roger Federer beating Andy Roddick in the Australian Open semis. After todays tennis game, I know how he must have felt like. Strangely the score of that match is exactly the same as ours.

We had perfect conditions for tennis today. It had rained on and off for the last two days and this made the courts much better. A lot of the dusty clay had settled down and courts were not that slippery. In addition there was hardly any wind and to top it off we used a new can of tennis balls.

The first set started off in familiar fashion. A break for me in the first game. Surprisingly, I held in the next game to go up 2-0, but lost the next to be at 2-1. I played very well and a lot of shots that were going out the past few times we've played landed in today. In no time, I was up 5-2 and had three chances to seal the set. However my partner broke for the first time and held to be at 5-4. I had to hold to win the set and on normal days, I would have lost the game. But, today was not a normal day. I held and won the set 6-4. This was the first of seven continuous games that I managed to win.

The second set was over in a breeze with me hitting remarkable winners off the forehand side. After one of these winners, a forehand hit after running around the backhand, some school girls complimented that it was a "great shot". I think the next shot I hit, a forehand down the line as hard as I could, was the best shot of the evening.

Because the two sets were over so quickly, in around an hour, we decided to play another set. I thought today was my lucky day and swung hard at everything. Incredibly this worked and almost all my shots landed in. The set was won 6-2.

It was probably the best tennis I have played and it feels great. Maybe Roger Federer felt like this after the Roddick match.

Tonight's dinner

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Photo: The Sleeping Man

Tennis Score: 3-6, 6-7(2) : Clay

Quite frankly a horrible "performance" by me. It was a frustrating two hours. It was one of those days when nothing seems to be going your way.

The first set started off with jets flying in various patterns, the highlight being a heart shape, as part of the air show in Swansea. The jets made an awful racket and it was really difficult to concentrate on the tennis, especially when the partner kept gazing at it. The racket stopped but my poor play continued. The main tactic used today, as everyday, was going hard to my backhand. My backhand had given up for the past few days and today was no exception. I could not hit a backhand in, making innumerable unforced errors through that wing. The set was duly lost 3-6.

In the second set, he continued attacking my backhand, but I thought I was a bit better with it at that point in time. This did not reflect in the scoreline that read 2-5. This was probably the result of my weak forehand. I hardly recall having a forehand winner during the entire two sets. At 2-5 down, I resorted to the famous "will power/ I will not make errors" combine and somehow clawed back to 5-5 and even went up 6-5. All this only to lose the next game and the tiebreak. In the tiebreak, my backhand was constantly under pressure and ultimately gave up. The tiebreak was lost 2-7 to complete a horrible day of tennis.

If there is as much frustration due to a game of tennis, it is worth asking if I should be playing it. However, tennis provides immense satisfaction and joy. In order to make it more so, I need to resolve that I will not be frustrated on the tennis court ever again irrespective of my level of play.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tennis Score: 4-6, 6-2: Clay

The conditions for play were dusty. Swansea has been really good lately - it hasn't rained for more than three weeks now and if you know Swansea, you know that's unheard of here. Due to the unusual non rainy weather, the clay courts have a lot of loose fine clay that makes the court slippery. Though not an excuse, it did affect my play.

The first set was played in regular fashion. My partner was the only person to hold till we got to 3-4. Then I held to make it 4-4. This was supposed to be when I made my move and win the next two games to win the set. It was my partner who executed the plan to win the set 4-6.

The second set was quite easily won 6-2.

I have strange feeling that if my partner wins the first set, he throws the second set. Just a wild hypothesis seeing how many times I have won the second set easily after losing the first.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tennis Score: 7-5, 6-1 : Clay

It was good to have a day's break to recuperate tired muscles. First set was the same old story, a lead of 5-2 squandered to be 5-5. Somehow willed myself to win the next two games to take the set. The set was weird because we used new tennis balls. For the past few games, we had been using tennis balls made by IKEA, that bounced more than normal tennis balls. A return to Dunlops made the court and our shots seem so much slower and less bouncy and took some time to get adjusted to.

In the second set, to counter the slow feeling of the tennis balls, I decided to hit out and lots of my shots landed in. I hit a lot of winners in the set to win it quite easily 6-1.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fav picture of the day.

Worms head - Rhossili.

Tennis Score: 3-6, 4-3 : Clay

Lost the first set as is usual for me and I would like to believe that I would have won the second set if we had not stopped as my partner had to go to church.

Yesterday's tennis Score: 3-6, 6-4 : Clay

Not much to be said about this game other than that it included the rally that is, as far as I can remember, the longest one of my life. It lasted for about a 100 shots, or at least it felt like it. Can't go about counting shots when I am trying to win the point, can I?

Tonight's dinner

Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens
Settings - Aperture:2.8, Shutter:1/60, ISO:200, Exp Comp:0, With flash.