Chakravyuh – Your world stops here

Chakravyuh, the sports festival organised by IMT Ghaziabad is nothing short of being spectacular. This year was my first time there and the three days i spent there were really some of the best days of my life. I have written in a post some time back about how many days of your life you can remember (https://ankurbhatia23.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/days-you-remember-30-or-more/). Well, lets just say that i added three more to my total.

I reached  IMT after a two-hour drive from my college on the eve of 4th feb and was totally exhausted. As you drive into the campus you can see the parking right away but i did not. My eyes were fixed on bright lights coming from around the corner right opposite the parking lot. As i drove round the corner, the scene appeared in front of my eyes, A football ground all decked up and ready for the first kick and over 300 students dressed in their respective team kits waiting for the opening ceremony to  start. For a few seconds i was dumbstruck as it just looked like a dream, too good to be true. After the opening ceremony and dinner all the teams were called to the amphitheater for …well.. a welcome of sorts, like no other. So all teams filled the amphitheater and the welcome started. All team captains were asked to introduce their teams and others including the very witty hosts made fun of anything and everything that was being said. By the time the insult session was over, the fixtures were out and it was down to business.

Over the next three days all teams battled it out for the top spot in various sports. Our team had major heart breaks in Cricket and Badminton and we failed to win anything. As a sportsman I hate losing, really hate it. However, for some reason i did not mind it that much. That was the beauty of those three days as It was there that I learnt, it’s not always about winning or losing, at times its just about doing what you love.  Imagine three days when no matter what time u got up, there was always a sport happening, no matter where you went, people were talking about who won or who lost and no matter how tired you were, you still wanted to play more. I didn’t understand all this while i was there. It was only when i was leaving that these thoughts came to me.   That is why as i left after three grueling days of non stop competition, taking back nothing but my bruised and battered body with me, my heart refused to leave. I was already thinking about the next Chakravyuh even before i left this one. It was very addictive and it had me totally hooked.

Some teams that deserve a special mention for their performances are The Titans and Kshatriyas of IMT who were just spectacular in multiple games, K.J. Somaiya – underdogs who won Cricket and made it to the finals of basketball, MDI who played some special Table Tennis and Football, FORE School of Management whose Basketball and Badminton teams made a real fight of impossible matches.  On top of that there were a few  players who were a joy to watch, Rajinder from Amity, Gladson from XIMB, Pulkit Garg from MDI, Vishal Mehra from Titans, Vikram Walecha and Rahul Sood from FORE for being great sportsmen and Sumit Arora again from FORE (comeback of the tournament after being down 1-11).

For me this Chakravyuh 2010 was about the electrifying atmosphere, making friends, appreciating fine sportsmen, watching some truly remarkable matchups, sleepless nights, realization that i need to lose weight if i wanna compete and above all doing what i love the most, play till i drop. Hats off to IMT for giving us these three days every year over and over.

Sachin Tendulkar – God, in all his glory

109910
Source: Cricinfo, Getty Images

Most people today get bored of doing the same thing in about 20 weeks. Some go on to complete 20 months before the feeling of monotony grips them. Yet Sachin Tendulkar shows no signs of stopping even after 20 years. People around the world are writing, speaking out, and congratulating Sachin for this remarkable feat but that is not the purpose of this article. This write up tries to bring out the love, respect, and admiration people have for him.

On 5th Nov, India took on Australia at Hyderabad. At that time this particular boy was taking on his mba classes. After his classes finished he sat at the dhaba next to his college for a cup of tea. He called his brother and inquired about the score only to be disappointed as Australia had scored 350 runs. He finished his tea and went to meet a friend. As soon as he reached his destination ( food court in a mall) he got to know that Sachin is batting well and India are off to a good start. As he entered the food court, there were a lot of tables placed outside in the open and all the people sitting there had there heads turned towards one direction. As the boy moved inside he also turned his head to see what everyone was looking at and was pleasantly surprised. The match was being projected on a big screen and everyone was glued to it. The boy couldn’t control his smile and did a little hop skip dance not bothering about the people looking at him. He was getting a chance to see Sachin bat on a big screen while sitting under the stars, he wasn’t bothered about anything else.

It was a perfect evening, one he thought he would remember forever if India won the game. Sachin soon completed his half century and the boy stood up and bowed down to his god. Soon after, Sachin unleashed his full array of strokes and was in the nineties within no time. The boy folded his hands under the table and silently prayed for his idol’s 45th hundred. Sachin got to it without any problem and looked up to thank the almighty and probably wish that his Dad was there to see it. The boy also looked up and secretly hoped for the same, as it was his dad who introduced him to the world of Cricket. As India got closer and closer to the impossible target the boy wondered if what he was watching was actually happening and even  said to himself “Yeh kaisa match jita raha hai Sachin?”.

The friend sitting on the other side of the table was new to this world and was amazed at the reactions and expressions the boy  had while following the match. At times the friend became non existent for the boy, all he saw was Sachin and his strokes. But never before had the friend seen such love, devotion and fellowship for  an outsider and so was not complaining. As the match got closer and closer, Sachin batted better and better. Every cover drive for four and every six over the bowler’s head was poetry in motion. It was as if nothing would stop Sachin(or so the boy hoped). The boy let out a gasp when Raina got out, only to follow it up by saying that India still had a chance till Sachin was there. Sachin got to 174 and the boy like many others started hoping that this would be the day when Sachin scores a double hundred in ODI. Sadly it was not to be as Sachin got out on 175. As the ball went up in the air, the boy’s heart went into his mouth and he hoped that the ball would not go to a fielder, but it did. Sachin walked back towards the pavilion filling the stadium with silence and the boy’s eyes with tears.

109907
Source: Cricinfo, Getty Images

What followed was one of the biggest heartbreaks in the boy’s life. India lost needing only 19 more to win after Sachin’s dismissal. The boy couldn’t help but think back about the Chennai test against Pakistan where Sachin got out and the rest were not able to make 17. He was numb and couldn’t hear anything. He couldn’t believe that he saw Sachin’s best innings in one days, for a losing cause. He said good bye to his friend with a heavy heart and continued his journey back home on his bike. But throughout the journey he kept thinking of Sachin and how he would be feeling. He was sure that people will again not see the manner in which Sachin batted but instead see that he didn’t take India to victory. Tears rolled down his eyes as he drove against the cool breeze. A strange feeling hit him as he made his way back, the feeling was like being lost without a map because he thought of cricket without Sachin.

It was an extremely sad end to the day for the boy who only hours before couldn’t control his smile and thought this day would be one the best days of his life.

Today when Sachin completes 20 years, it is incidences like these that truly describe what he means to the people. This was the story of one boy watching one innings of Sachin, but there are millions more like him who would have shed tears for Sachin and who today stand and salute this genius. He has given millions of us so many reasons to smile, to cry, and most importantly, to Believe.

(This post was written some years back. For the latest on Sachin: http://opinioncircuit.com/2014/04/18/sach-is-god/)

Wear Red Underwear To Win?

 

The Stylish New Look From Nike
The Stylish New Look From Nike

Sky Blue or Deep Blue? Does it really matter? After a long time the Indian Team ‘looks’ good on the field and its all thanks to Nike who have managed to create a kick ass jersey which is striking and stylish. The new deep blue jersey was in the making for about 18 months and it was made keeping in mind the requests of the players to keep it light and well ventilated. But apart from it these advantages (and of course it being less prone to dirt like Dhoni said) does it really make any other difference. 

                                   Team India lost the first two matches that it played with the new jersey but it is just absurd to blame the new jersey for it. And the media is primarily to blame for it. They are the ones who brought this rubbish thought out in the open. I mean India lost the first match and suddenly the media were looking for someone to blame. Why? because our team is just about to become no. 1 in the world and that’s why they can’t play badly. So it has to be the new Jersey. And its even more absurd to have colour therapists sitting in the studios of  news channels discussing the ill effects of the deep blue colour. ” It is a dark colour which brings down your pulse rate and you stop becoming aggressive, they should wear a colour which increases the pulse rate and makes them aggressive” Hello? We lost the match because we were over aggressive. And the icing on the cake was the therapist asking the Indian Team to wear Red Underwear as it will make them aggressive. Yes, Its true and I saw this myself.

                                                        Just going by pure facts, the sky blue Indian Team didn’t even make it to the second round of the 2007 world cup, the dark blue Sri Lankan team won the 1996 World Cup and the New Zealand team for years had the All Black Jersey. South Africa for years has been wearing a darker shade of green, and even Pakistan shifted from their light green of 1992 world cup to a darker Green. And to think, the media would have all these stats memorized.

Another thought that can be taken is, If India had won the two Twenty-20 matches, would the media have credited the New Jersey for it? I mean if the colour of a Jersey was gonna dictate how the team performed then why bother playing? Who ever has the better Jersey, Wins.

Now, More Than Ever

One can’t even imagine what it must be like to be Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. To carry the hopes of millions day in and day out, match after match for 19 years is no easy task, but still he has maintained that humble smile( Can’t describe how inspiring it is) and gone out there to give his best each and every single time. Be it the world cup match after the loss of his father, or the latest test match between India and England.

I can say that i was lucky enough to have witnessed it live(even though on T.V) but then i have been lucky several times. I saw him pulverize New Zealand in 1994 when he first started to open, I saw him score over 400 runs in the 1996 world cup, I saw him demolish the Australians single handed at Sharjah, I saw him take India and the hopes of one billion Indians to the final of the World Cup in 2003 and I also saw him play not one but two match winning Innings in the finals against Australia earlier this year. But i have to say its very hard not to rate this 103 not out on the final day of a test match as the best and consider this moment to be my luckiest in the last 19 years.

It is the best because of those non believers who always questioned his effort when India lost a test match or the finals of a one day series. When he came on to the circuit with hundreds in all three domestic tournaments(Duleep, Ranji and Irani Trophy) many said he is just a kid and will not be able to survive infront of the W’s of Pakistan, but he did and how. Then they said that he makes runs but doesn’t make hundreds because he did not have a century to his name for the first 78 one day matches. I don’t even want to begin saying how wrong those people were, 83 and still counting.

Over the years people kept pointing fingers on how he doesn’t perform in big matches, what he gave them in reply is now known as the Sharjha Sand Storm which blew away the Australians. He kept proving his detractors wrong at every step and turn but there was still one thing that he had not achieved, take India to victory with a fighting fourth Innings score. He got the opportunity in Chennai 8 years ago but he fell short by just 17 runs and India lost the match. Needless to say the pain of losing the test to Pakistan was in the hearts and minds of Sachin and his fans alike.

When Sachin came out to bat on the final day with India Chasing 387, the setting was perfect and he did not repeat the mistakes he made the last time. No doubt there was much better support from the other batsmen then there was in 2000 but he was the one who held the innings together on a wearing and spinning pitch. How he played the likes of Swann and Flitoff was just exemplary. How i wished that i was there when India won so that i could hug him and thank him for dedicating all his life to the sport and giving millions around the world a reason to smile and jump in joy (just like he did). And i hope now he has proven to everyone that ‘He plays for India, Now more than ever’.

The end of an Era

Anil Kumble
DadaIts a great start to the series by India against England who just didn’t know what hit them. Yuvraj played one of the best innings i have seen in a long long time. Oh it was breathtaking stuff. But having said that it just didn’t feel the same. One reason for that was the absence of ‘The God’, Sachin Tendulkar. But he will be back after a couple of one dayers. The ones i am more worried about are Sourav and Anil.

I can’t begin to express what i felt when Jumbo and Dada said good bye to the game. It was a very emotional moment for me( i know non cricket enthusiasts would be rolling their eyes but it really was). The poeple i had grown up watching, the ones who i had given so many standing ovations to, the ones whose success i had celebrated treating my friends and family, the ones who i gave mouthfuls to when they disappointed once too often, were going to say good bye one after the other. And its not like i didn’t see it coming. I knew the time was near but even then i just never thought it would feel like this.

My most favourite memory of Dada is undoubtedly the Natwest top less celebration. It was something i wouldn’t have believed if i had not seen it with my own eyes. And i feel lucky that i was able to witness that match. Ganguly was the one who taught everyone to be aggressive and not take shit from any one, not even the Australians. He was one of the most inspirational captains of all time. A true magician on his day as he could find gaps on the off side even if you put all the fielders on that side. He is the reason we have Yuvraj and Shewag in the team. They would have been dropped long back had he not insisted on giving them a longer leash as he saw the talent that others could not.

Jumbo on the other hand grew on me. Honestly i was not a fan when i first saw him. But over the years i saw this man toil hard and give his all no matter what and I started appreciating his determination and grit. Everyone remembers him for the 10 wickets that he took or his spell against the windies with a broken jaw but for me the imprint that he leaves(apart from the former two) is of his Test 100 in England and his last wicket in test cricket where he ran back and caught a skier with a broken finger and then threw the ball back at the stumps in all his fury. This was Anil Kumble, who would come out fighting no matter what.

All the seniors were Juniors when i started watching Cricket and i have been a part of their faboulous journey over the years. They have given me some of the happiest moments of my life. Yes its true. Kumble’s hundred or 10 wickets, Dada’s topless celebration, Rahul’s coming of age as a one day player, Laxman’s 281. Each one of these moments has given me immense happiness. There have been times in my life when i have been really down and in those times some one out of these extraordinary players has inspired me, so that i could get up and hope for a better tomorrow.  No doubt they have also been reponsible for some of my poor marks throughout School and College( there would always be a match during exams which was so not fair) but that is a story for another time.

Its not that i don’t believe in the new players. I think there is some exceptional talent there and i am hopeful that we will win the worldcup this time. Its just that these so called seniors are my childhood heores, my family members, my inspiration and my idols and to see them go is just really tough.  There is a reason why i havn’t listed any of Sachin’s achievements or written much about him. Its coz i can’t even imagine Cricket without him. He is the reason why i started watching the game and to imagine the day when he retires just gives me the creeps.

Continue reading “The end of an Era”