As Shelby Ford v Ferrari so shall be India v Australia!

The Indian cricket team recorded one of the most remarkable come-from-behind victories in sports by beating Australia in the recently concluded Test Match series. πŸ‘ Made all the more memorable by the fact Indian team was playing away, with Australian team having the advantage of home conditions and crowd support, and by the time the last match started the Indian cricket team had lost more than half their starting eleven to injuries sustained in games played during the tour or in training! With injuries mounting Team India was akin to an undersized Joe Frazier taking on much bigger and much more fancied Ali in “Thrilla in Manila” and fighting the last few rounds virtually blind due to his eyes closing from Ali punches in earlier rounds. Under the circumstances it would have been expected that the Indian management might throw in the towel to prevent more serious injuries like the Foreman team did then. Instead the Indian cricket team rose up after each knockdown and took the fight to the Australians till the end, emerging bruised and battered but not broken and eventually victorious πŸ‘Œ (Trivia: If Frazier corner had let him fight as he wanted to he would have won Thrilla in Manila as Ali was so drained out he could barely stand up and fell down in the ring after the 14th round when he was announced as the victor πŸ˜“)

The series victory would be akin to a Porsche getting lapped in NΓΌrburgring, no less, by a car barely put together with whatever spare parts were available! Or, the real life equivalent of Shelby Ford emerging victorious over much more fancied Ferrari in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. As in that race the underdog team, the Indian cricket team, started the tour disastrously and still found enough strength and resolve to defeat the Aussies confidently and convincingly. It was as if God ordained “As Shelby Ford v Ferrari in 1966 so shall be India v Australia in 2021”! πŸ™‚

The quality of cricket itself was far from perfect, yet the battles to gain supremacy were riveting and thrilling throughout. So much so that the series went full distance with the final battle still being fought till the last fifteen minutes of a four-month long tour. The ebbs and flows add to the beauty of 5-day cricket Test matches when the two sides keep trading blows and battle fair and hard to force a result. The Aussies are great front runners and play aggressive cricket. They deserve credit for playing fast cricket and taking risks in pursuit of victory. The times when 5 days of cricket were producing dull draws are pretty much gone, save for a few when weather curtails play. The cricketing world can thank the trash-talking (they call it sledging Down Under), sports-crazy Aussies for possibly saving the longer form of cricket. The way the Aussies play their cricket their Plan A-Z all involve aggression. This is also their Achilles’ heel as they find it hard to adapt and change to a more defensive play during the course of a game when things don’t go their way. This trend has become more noticeable in recent times. I have maintained, past few years, the Australian cricket team are very much beatable at home. What it requires is a mix of caution (to frustrate) and aggression (to prevent them from getting on top). The way they play their cricket and the Indian team does too plus the dry conditions which swings the cricket ball less gives India a chance to stay competitive if they combine caution and aggression and maintain discipline. Not easy but doable if maintained consistently at a very high level even though results are not guaranteed. That’s what the Indian cricket team managed to do in this tour and fortune favors the brave. πŸ‘

Ultimately it’s just a sport, albeit being a glorious sport, and sporting achievement is about teams and individuals getting sporting glory which is theirs primarily. πŸ‘ Doesn’t solve any major problems or save lives but what it does is expand our understanding of possibilities for individuals and teams in terms of what is achievable. During these turbulent times that’s priceless πŸ™

This is crazy, stunning and beautiful!

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/27462347/ben-stokes-asserts-greatness-blossoming-heat-competition-just-others-wilt

Snatching victory in 2 matches that England had technically lost is incredible. Stokes can walk on water 😊 What a summer for a guy who got tonked for 4 consecutive sixes in T20 WC final 3 years ago and whose career appeared to be derailed after a barroom brawl a year or two ago. Pontingesque resurrection of career πŸ‘ When greatness unfolds like this all one can do is stand and applaud πŸ‘ Fortune favors the brave πŸ‘

Raj Rules : Dynamic Duo

Last Sunday, July 14, cricket world cup ended. Whilst it was a great tournament with many exciting finishes, tightly contested games and even the last regular match prior to knockout having significance the way the tournament ended was a tad disappointing. The final itself was a great contest, both England and New Zealand providing great entertainment to all fans following the final. The match was so close it ended in a tie during regulation time and even after a Super Over to break the tie the game was still tied even! That’s when tiebreaker rule kicked in and England team were declared winners as they scored more boundaries in the match than New Zealand team. An anticlimactic ending to a close final that was shaping up to be quite an advert for the sport. It left many with an empty feeling 😦 Any championship decided by rule book is less than ideal. Apparently the organizers (and pretty much everyone) were not expecting a tie in regulation time leave alone a tie after Super Over.
Hindsight is 20/20 but I would have preferred to have the following rules in case of a tie:
1) In the event of a tie during regulation time tiebreaker will be played as it’s a new match. Nothing will be carried forward from regular playing time
2) Play shall continue till there is an outright winner
3) Tiebreaker will be 2 overs/side instead of one Super Over/side. This is to increase the chance of producing a result. 2 batsmen (or more if someone gets out) will get a chance to bat and 2 bowlers will get to bowl. Tiebreaker will be named Dynamic Duo as 2 players from each side could potentially change the dynamics of the game
4) If a tiebreaker results in a tie any player who has batted in previous tiebreaker/s shall not bat again and any bowler who bowled in earlier tiebreaker/s shall not bowl again. This will have 2 effects
a) Most likely the game will end with a result within 5 tiebreakers (as there are 11 players/side)
b) The prospect of bowlers batting and batsmen bowling during later tiebreakers will make the match unpredictable and exciting for the spectators
5) If one side doesn’t have 2 players who did not bat in previous tiebreaker/s the other side will be declared as winners
6) If after 5 tiebreakers both sides are tied (or both sides do not have players who had not batted in tiebreakers) entire match shall be played afresh the following day
7) After 2 days of cricket if there is no outright winner or in the event of a washout both teams shall be declared as joint winners πŸ™‚

Guts and Glory, Grace and Misery!

July 14, 2019: Absolutely fantastic day for sports fans!
Fitting finale for two major sports events: Wimbledon Men’s Tennis Final and Cricket World Cup Final! Both matches totally riveting, nerve-wracking, filled with twists and turns, culminating in a pulsating finish πŸ™‚
It’s beyond me to do justice with words both finals which were throbbing with excitement and suspense right till the very end. I hope writers, photographers and movie makers work together to create a work of art to capture the essence of both games, juxtaposing exquisite prose with beautiful images and stunning video clips that bring to fore the ebbs and flows, never-say-die spirit and soul-stirring emotions that were on abundant display throughout. Congratulations England for winning one championship and thanks for giving us fans two memorable matches that will stay etched in memory for a long time.

First the contrast: One an individual sport the other a team sport. One played and followed in most
countries the other played and followed in much fewer countries but enjoying rabid following among the fans

Next the commonality: Riveting from the start both matches featured sensational shot-making, jaw-dropping action in plenty and some sensational play by protagonist/s on both sides

Watched the tennis match on TV and followed the cricket score online. Boy, I never knew following the score could be this exiting and filled with tension πŸ˜€ I had my Sunday morning routine that meant I couldn’t catch the start of tennis match. But I made sure to have the DVR on just before the start of the match so that I could catch up on the action with my son as soon as possible. We started watching the match from the beginning. Son couldn’t resist checking the score and said the match was tied at one set apiece. So, we fast forwarded to the most notable moments of the first two sets and within a few minutes started watching live action. Federer turned back the clock and as usual his play featured sublime strokes and incredible skills that had to be seen to believe. Djokovic was not his usual efficient self, mixing breathtaking returns with unforced errors, grit with with some ordinary serving at times. After 4 sets of action it was locked at 2 sets apiece. I looked outside and in contrast to the well manicured lawns at Wimbledon my lawn needed some work. So, I stepped out at the start of 5th set and instructed my son to give me a holler when it was at a decisive point. After few minutes of trimming the lawn edges I heard my son shout “Dad, it’s 4-2 with Djokovic leading!”. Lawn beckoned but lawn tennis beckoned even more. No prizes for guessing what won πŸ˜€ Expecting the action to not last more than 20-30 minutes I dumped the weed whacker and headed back in. What followed was absolutely sensational. Both the players were trading shots of brilliance that had the spectators at the venue and viewers elsewhere rising to their feet to applaud the warriors laying it all out and refuse to be beaten. Federer was magnificent and making the sublime look very normal but Djokovic showed why he is the #1 now. Despite being outplayed almost the entire match he hung in there and managed to stay on. Federer had his hands firmly on the winner’s trophy and it took an almighty effort from Djokovic to metaphorically snatch the trophy from Federer’s grasp. The great thing about champions is that even when they appear to be outplayed and on the losing side they find inner reserves of strength and determination to do just enough to win. Djokovic managed to just about do that and emerge the winner finally.

Even as I was watching live tennis action I was following the score of cricket world cup final during
changeover and between points. England were struggling to chase a respectable but modest target set by New Zealand. The Englishmen was hanging in desperately trying to not lose wickets and at the same time trying to ensure the required run rate did not get out of hand. The hardy antipodeans as usual were amazing in their resilience and efficiency, using their talent and resourcefulness to the max. As the tennis match ended the cricket final was nearing conclusion too. The ending overs had everything: frenetic action, heroic play (from both sides), oodles of courage, some mistakes induced by tension of the moment and scarcely believable role of Lady Luck. The end of regular play resulted in both sides tied even (a first in Cricket World Cup final). An extra over for each side in the form of overtime ended again in a tie. Ultimately the winner by the team with the most # of boundaries in the game (rough equivalent of team that scores more 3-pointers in NBA being declared winners). England finished as winners on that basis. Hindsight is 20-20, it now appears a fairer rule might have been to continue playing overtime till there was an outright winner.

I am not into cliches but not only did worn out phrases like “The game is the ultimate winner” and
“It’s a pity there could only be one winner, both were winners” not only rang true but sounded profound πŸ™‚ on this day that showcased the very best that sports has to offer!