Nothing guaranteed!

A 90s kid’s tribute to his hero

Posted in Uncategorized by abhijeetrawle on October 10, 2013

Its always a sad moment for a fan when his hero hangs up his cape. Right now, thousands like me will be paying tributes to Sachin through their blogs, tweets, walls and what not. Pundits and fans will keep comparing him to Bradman or will keep determining where he stood among his peers – Lara and Ponting. Friends will will argue on whether he should have retired earlier or if he did win enough matches. The media will keep analyzing what happens to brand Sachin and how his retirement will impact brand Dhoni. Honestly, does any of that really matter? How qualified are we or any of the pundits who preceded him to make any judgement on any of those debates? So, let me as a fan just recall what Sachin meant for a generation growing up in probably the wonder years of our lives – the 90s

Like millions of kids growing up in India in the 90s, for me there was only one hero. As kids playing maidan cricket, we all wanted to bat like Tendulkar – right from adjusting the crotch before taking strike to buying ridiculously heavy cricket bats. Ask any of those kids today which shot he remembers the most from gully cricket days – it will be the straight loft over the bowlers head (or a straight drive on the off side), showing the bowler the MRF logo. Ask any of those gentlemen who debate on Sachin’s retirement (including me – I wanted him to retire last year for my own selfish reasons) where they were when Sachin scored the Desert Storm century and they will tell you which spot they were sitting in and which cricketing superstition they followed to ensure a Sachin boundary. Ask those who say Sachin plays for his own records if they didn’t shed a tear when he overcame a personal tragedy to play for his country, scored a 100 and gazed at the heavens to thank his recently departed father. Ask those who debate on whether Sachin won enough games for India who came in after Sachin got out in the Australia tours in the 90s and all they will say is “pata nahi yaar, Sachin out hua aur main school gaya”. I wonder if marketing geniuses and TV channels ever figured out that the way to maximize ad revenue in an India test match overseas would be to shove in maximum Pepsi, MRF and Boost ads while Sachin was at the crease. People would invariably tune off the TV sets when he would get out. Only Sachin could evoke such extreme fan reaction. It didn’t matter who the other 10 people in the team were in the early 90s – there was only One who everyone thought could win the match for India.

People who debate whether Sachin won enough matches for India forget that he made it his personal mission to put smiles on faces of a billion people. A middle class 40 year old would get reamed by his boss at work, nagged by his wife and his kids at home but he would find peace watching Sachin battling against Ambrose and Walsh. A kid burdened with homework from school and ridiculous tuition classes would get a break from his mom to watch Sachin dominate Warne and launch ruthless counter attacks against McGrath, Akram and Shoaib who would try to rip through the rest of the Indian batting line up. A fatigued housewife would take a break at the end of the day and sit with the family cheering for Sachin. Diwali seemed even more special as Sachin bowled India to victory in the semi final of the Hero Cup. We celebrated his victories and became dejected in his losses. There isn’t a stronger emotional connection between the masses and one sportsman anywhere in the world than the one between the Indian fans and Sachin

Sachin played for the game and allowed people to smile when they wanted to move on from national tragedies. The match fixing scandal dampened the spirits of all fans – enter Sachin, Dravid and Ganguly along with a new generation of team India in Nairobi in Champions Trophy 2000. Sachin took it to McGrath, hooked him out of the stadium and even unsettled him with some un-Sachin like unparliamentary language. You can’t fix those brilliant moments. The God delivered when it was needed the most, and the faith in the religion was restored. Fast forward 8 years – 26/11 took place in middle of an India-England test series. The series resumed in Chennai and Sachin along with Yuvraj chased down 387 and fittingly dedicated his 100 to the victims of the horrific tragedy. What bigger service can a sportsman do in his capacity than make people smile when its the most difficult thing to do?

Records, endorsements, longetivity are all byproducts of his love for the game and his work ethic. Not every kid clocks in 10,000 hours practicing before the age of 15. Nor do all experienced sportsmen reinvent themselves as their skills and reflexes deteriorate. Nor does every sportsman leave with such adulation from 3 generations of a country which he inspired. An era will end in November. When India are 2 down in the first session, we will no longer have standing ovations as a legend walks on to the field. Nor will we have a rapturous applause when that batsman is out. The memories though will be cherished for a lifetime. Thank you Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, for making us cricket fans believe in the team, making us smile and inspiring a generation of Indian sportsmen to win.

Tagged with:

World Champs – a fan’s dream come true!

Posted in Uncategorized by abhijeetrawle on April 2, 2011

Still very emotional after the greatest moment in India’s cricketing history. The sight of M S Dhoni unleashing fury in that one magnificent shot, the sight of his nonchalance as he hit that out of the park and just watched it go over the ropes like a megastar, Gary Kirsten raising his arms in ecstasy and Yuvraj and Sachin having a superemotional bro-hug…this is what an Indian cricket fan lives for. This is what we dreamt growing up – Our captain holding the world cup high

(courtesy: Cricinfo)

The mind can’t help going back to all those disappointments we witnessed growing up. When India last won the world cup, I was 5 months old. I have no memories of the ’87 Reliance cup either. The oldest cricketing memory was that of a look of dejection on everyone’s face in 1986 when Javed Miandad whacked Chetan Sharma for a six off the last ball of the match. That one memory left an incredible effect on the minds of Indian fans. We never thought we could beat Pakistan, we never thought we could be world beaters again…

Enter Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar – sent from the heavens to make us believe again. A warrior that would single handedly battle the meanest of fast bowlers (a breed thats not the same anymore) on the bounciest of pitches and win the game. In Sachin we believed, and Sachin delivered. 92 world cup was a disappointment, but it gave us Sachin and it gave me  a great cricketing memory of India beating Pakistan. A game whose highlights I had videotaped (hard to explain what a VCR is to those born after 2000) and played every day before going to school. It also gave us the pain of losing by 1 run against the Aussies and watching Pakistan hold the most beautiful crystal trophy.

It has been a roller coaster ride after that with a few unforgettable moments like Prasad knocking off Amir Sohail’s timber, Sachin’s century against Kenya and the brutal assault against Pakistan in 2003. Then there were those memories – Kambli crying in the 96 semi finals and the fans burning down the Eden and Ponting smashing Zak, Srinath and the rest to all parts of Johannesburg. But things were changing in Indian cricket as all this happened. The lone ranger in 96 was now a part of what is Indian cricket’s best batting force – Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and India’s greatest match winner – Anil Kumble. Indian cricket also saw a new breed of cricketers, inspired by Sachin, who feared no one. But they too came close and fell at the last hurdle. If 2003 was a disappointment, 2007 was tragic. The sight of Dilhara Fernando finding a way past Sachin’s defense and a sobbing Rahul Dravid would haunt us fans for the next year.

But cometh the hour, and cometh the man – M S Dhoni – a long haired-axe wielding warrior who made a mockery of technique, India’s toughest son of a bitch, a remarkable leader, a man in such control of his emotions that he’s nonchalant in victory or defeat, a great observer of the game and a brilliant tactician (ask Kieron Pollard – that mid-off fielder ready waiting for a catch in the IPL 3 finals). With the T20 triumph, Dhoni announced his arrival as a leader. He went on to inherit a test squad which he took to the top of the sport (yet to lose a series as a captain) but his ODI squad, though extremely talented had its weaknesses. Its a squad with a mix of seniors who aren’t exactly agile in the field and youngsters with phenomenal talent but temperamental issues. But Dhoni made it work. He accepted the weaknesses and with Gary Kirsten worked on the strengths. Everything that they worked for and toiled for in the nets would ultimately come down to this world cup and this day in Mumbai…

31-2 chasing 275 and Sehwag-Sachin back in the pavilion, even Bejan Daruwala would have double checked his charts that predicted an Indian win. But if you want something really bad, the universe conspires to make it happen (never thought I’d quote Paulo Coelho or Shah Rukh Khan). This was Dhoni’s night, this was Dhoni’s world cup. If Tendulkar was sent from the heavens to achieve greatness and inspire a generation – Dhoni, a part of that generation, was sent to win and win with style. After the win, the entire team celebrated, Sachin couldn’t hide his emotions (I liked the message sent to Manjrekar – “we proved a point to those who doubted our abilities”), Yuvraj broke down and Bhajji was on cloud 9. But in all celebrations, the captain was missing. He let the team have their moment and soaked in the win from the sidelines. This is Dhoni’s India and I hope it remains Dhoni’s India for years to come! Tonight’s toast will be to my captain, to my idol Sachin Tendulkar and to the Men in Blue. Cheers!

The road to resurrection

Posted in Uncategorized by abhijeetrawle on January 14, 2010

OK, so something finally got me off the state of inertia and I’m back (yet again) to ramble on. Subject for the day – Liverpool’s way out of this miserable form. A few suggestions from a fan to anyone who cares about the club:

1. Time off from the training for the entire team and the support staff

Don’t train for a week, don’t see each other’s faces, don’t read the newspapers. Pack your bags and take a 1 week vacation. The first team can compete mano e mano with any team in the world, they have the ability – what they lack is the belief. No amount of training in the world can  cure a losing mentality. 6 months back Liverpool could dig out results because they had the belief in themselves that they could win. After finishing 2nd to Man Utd yet again after kicking everyone’s rear in the top four, the team including Gerard and Carragher seem to have resigned to the fate that they can’t win the league. Give the first team some time off…maybe a beach vacation can bring back the focus…

2. Bring back Nemeth/sign van Nistelrooy

Of all the decisions taken by Benitez in the summer, the most baffling for me was loaning out Krisztian Nemeth to AEK Athens. The youngster looks like a star in the making and I thought this would be the season in which he would challenge Torres for a spot or fill in for Torres when he was injured. We need to get the lad back. He’s the kind of player that will play the Fox in the Box that Liverpool need when Torres is injured. Another player who I feel is still hungry is a forgotten Galactico – Ruud Van Nistelrooy. He needs to be in the world cup and what better time for Liverpool to get him till the end of the season. Torres seems to be crocked at the moment with a groin injury. So do the right thing, send him into surgery and get Van Nistelrooy to cover for him till the end of the season.

3.  Clear out the fringe players, bring in fresh players in the first team:

Take the decision on Babel NOW! Either play him as a striker or ship him out. He’s not a winger, he can’t play as a winger. So if he’s destined to play in that position which he hates, then let him try his trade at a club where he can show his best. What’s the point of having a squad of 48 players if the second string is not good enough to progress beyond a round in the League Cup? Degen, Itandje, Babel, Aurelio need to go. Give more chances to youngsters like Ayala, Pacheco, El Zhar.

4. Don’t sack Benitez

So Liverpool are having a bad season. So he made a few gambles in the transfer market which didn’t pay off. So, he hasn’t won a trophy in 4 years. Sack him? Who will you get to replace him?

Well, for every Babel and Keane he signed, Benitez has also brought in Mascherano (biggest transfer coup in the Premier League in the last 5 years) and Torres. For a bad 2009-10 he had an excellent 2008-09. He’s brought in youngsters and has done a massive overhaul of the Academy. He’s taken the club back to its roots and got back people like Sammy Lee and Dalglish who live and breathe Liverpool. Give him 1 more season. I think we’ll see the fruits of his efforts of building the club next season. Shield him from the press, from those moments of lunacy in front of the press. Who will you get to replace him?Guus Hiddink – who can win but changes clubs like babies needs their diapers changed?or Mourinho – who starts on a project only to leave it half finished? Rafa is the best man for the job at the moment. He’s given too much to this club, the least we can do is give him 1 more season.

Save Times of India from its bloggers

Posted in Uncategorized by abhijeetrawle on August 20, 2009

Its been on my mind for quite some time and I’m having a hard time letting it go. I ignored, I vent out my anger on their blogs, I tried switching to a better newspaper. But I can’t see a newspaper, I read every morning growing up, being turned into the “India TV” of the Internet as one of my friends aptly put it. In the last 12 months, Times of India has just gone from being a respected newspaper to a trash bin of lousy opinionated writers and tabloid gossip and its getting worse everyday. I am totally appalled that a newspaper that started wonderful campaigns such as “Teach India” and “Lead India” has turned into a bastardized child of the 24 hour media which craves only for advertiser’s revenue and increasing readership through trashy articles.

Here’s my problem. I feel the newspaper has become too opionated. How? By giving the writers complete creative control over their content by unleashing them on the blogosphere. I think the writers now have an additional pressure of dishing out articles as soon as any major news breaks out, be it the death of MJ or a egoistic movie star getting detained at a foreign airport or the much talked about “rift” within Team India. With new pressures, decent writers are subjecting  readers with hastily created opinions on subjects on which they have absolutely no idea. So we have Bobilli Vijay Kumar, a decent sports writer, giving his opinion on Michael Jackson’s death; or Vikas Singh writing on every major news headline in the country; or Rajesh Kalra being a couch potato critic of the state of sports in the country.

Newspapers for me are supposed to be unbaised and objective as far as their content is concerned, blogs ARE NOT. By unleashing writers in the blogosphere, TOI is forcing the opinions of its writers on the readers. For example, an average web surfer, looking for information on the Financial Budget is most likely to read about what the “experts” (e.g. Shobhaa De) say about Pranab Mukherjee’s “lackluster” speech rather than read through the entire text of the speech itself. So imagine him reading through a hastily compiled article by a “blogger” who just gathered tit bits from the experts on 24×7 news channels. He’s very likely to be influenced by the writer’s comments and form an opinion about the way the government is running this country. I don’t think thats responsible journalism at all.

Ok so you’ll say that everyone is entitled to freedom of speech and all leading newspapers have blogs. Sure, I agree but good newspapers dont flaunt them on their main site and do not compromise on the quality of content on their websites. A fine example of that is the New York Times. And I’m a supporter of free speech as long as you are talking about topics on which you have atleast some knowledge and aren’t trying to influence my opinion. Show some journalistic integrity for Christ’s sakes.

I hope Times of India starts taking its readers seriously. If you keep dishing out crappy news and trashy blogs, you’ll lose your readers who helped turn the newspaper into India’s leading selling English daily. I make a plea to the Times Group to save the newspaper from its bloggers

Tagged with: , ,

BPL season preview

Posted in Uncategorized by abhijeetrawle on August 14, 2009

Another season of the Barclays Premier League is upon us. More Saturday and Sunday afternoons in front of the TV trying to catch atleast 1 game, more of tracking scores on good ol’ Beeb, more ManYou guys sucked tonite calls (last year was a good one with home and away wins for the Reds). Anyway, the new season will have some cliches as ever. Here’s a look at a few of ’em:

Sir Alex and the refs

Aah, those precious post-match interviews when Sir Alex turns purple like a beet root and launches scathing attacks on the refs. He is already warming up for the season with this rant after the Community Shield match


Rafa’s ideas and quality

Rafa Benitez demonstrating a command over the English vocabulary with his pre-match and post-match interviews…”We showed quality”, “I spoke to the owners, they know my idea”, “<insert player name here> is a player with quality, he knows my idea”.

Wenger’s “I didn’t see it” routine

Aah yes, Arsenal teenagers waving their hands in front of their faces and the crowd shouting “You can’t see me” before they seemingly attempt to rough up opponents inside the box and dive once in a while.

Rafa vs Sir Alex vs Wenger

Chelsea managers feel left out of the great war of words between these three Alpha managers. Expect more gibes on not winning enough titles, fixtures favouring United, Benitez wasting money on transfers but not winning much and Sir Alex writing off everyone else other than Chelsea as their title contenders. I miss Mourinho!

Tottenham’s big 4 chase

Tottenham should rename their team as the Tottenham Wild Coyotes. Yet another pre-season build up about this being Tottenham’s season. A weak start to the season followed by firing of 3 managers followed by resurgence in the latter half only to give hope for the next season. Meanwhile, Redknapp will build a team of ex-proteges and ex-Arsenal players. (You can replace Tottenham with Manchester City, Redknapp with Mark Hughes and Arsenal with Manchester United)

Joey Barton in jail, Drogba’s love-hate relationship with Chelsea

Barton might be playing in the Championship this season but that won’t stop him from roughing up the manager and having a good old fashioned pub brawl. Drogba will whine and complain but wont leave Chelsea.

Mourinho restating Manchester United ambition

He might have won all the cups in the world but one title eludes him – “Manager, Manchester United Football Club”. Mourinho being Mourinho will talk to the press about his ambitions and keep showering Sir Alex with praises and wine bottles. Sir Alex will get his year long supply of wine with a note that says “Retire hone ka time hua kya baba?”

Takeovers, more money, more restructurings

Last season it was Manchester City, now its Portsmouth’s turn to realise its mega million dollar takeover dream. Premiership walking on thin ice. Look at Newcastle, Liverpool.

Real Madrid courting Man U players

Sometime in January, expect press buzz on Real Madrid approaching Man U for Antonio Valencia and Berbatov.

Blessed Saturdays and Sundays

Saturday afternoon = beer + TV + hard tackling, great runs, spectacular goals. Life doesn’t get better than this!

Tagged with:

Hello world….again

Posted in Uncategorized by abhijeetrawle on August 13, 2009

A new blog, a new start. I kept procastinating the second coming though I kept getting the urge to move out of the 140 characters confines of Twitter. A tweet from an old friend was the push I needed. So, here’s me raising a toast to a fresh start. May Ganesha show the way!

A few FAQs:

Q. Who the hell am I?

A. An average Indian, with mind cluttered with hundreds of thoughts about thousands of topics, attempting to gather a few thoughts and put them on blog

Q. Whats with the second coming?

A. Attempted to blog years back, gave it up with reasons ranging from writer’s block, got a 5 pm ‘Delta-Northwest deal analysis report’ deadline, to plain old lethargy. Blogging is my meditation and I missed it.

Q. Nothing but anything?

A. Put some thought into what the new blog would be about. Sports, philosophy (which i dont know anything about), politics, women, movies?Couldn’t put a finger to one subject on which I have expertise. So, random musings on everything it shall be.

Q. What’s up with the “Om” image?

A. I can’t think of a better image. Too lazy to make something in photoshop. “Om” would be consistent with my “blogging is my meditation” tag huh?

Q. What will you give us to subscribe to this blog?
A. If you know me, you have been already spammed on twitter as I attempt some viral marketing. If you subscribe, you shall get free tickets to a private screening of “Chandni chowk to China”  or “Kambakkt Ishq” or absolutely nothing. Take your pick.