Nadal- An Indomitable spirit with the heart of a champion

At 5-4, 15-love in the fourth set against del Potro yesterday, after Nadal had won the point, a man in blue sitting in his box let out a knowing smile. It tells us a lot about Nadal. It tells us a lot about the confidence of the man in Nadal. The knowing smile came about because Nadal and del Potro were trading punches like prize fighters. With this passing shot, Nadal was getting ready to trade the knock-out punches

 

Not only is Nadal a champion at the game but he is also a champion at heart. After the foot injury , it might have been humanely impossible for him to continue the match. With the first few points in the tie-breaker  going del Potro’s way, it was thought that Nadal would be a sitting duck. People were thinking that Nadal’s unbeaten streak at Wimbledon, which dates to 2008 would finally be snapped. What is a champion without actually, pushing the limits? Nadal did exactly that as he came back to wrap up the tie-breaker. Not for the first time it was, that he displayed the heart of a champion. He could have taken the easy way out by pulling out of the match. Del Potro’s victory, then would have rang hollow. Nadal, like he did in the Australian Open earlier , decided to continue with the match as he wanted the opponent to claim his part in the victory.

 

 

It’s a different matter altogether then that after 232 minutes of pulsating tennis, where the opponents would have felt like a matador opposite a raging bull, it was Nadal that emerged victorious. At the press conference later, he put his further participation in tournament hanging in doubt as he had no idea on the extent of the foot injury. Knowing Nadal, it won’t be a surprise if he strides out to Center court and gives the audience their money’s worth

 

Nadal is disarming with the media. A few weeks ago, in the run up to the French Open, he was asked if he preferred to face Djokovic or Murray in the final. His reply was “ I am not a stupid. I would want to face Murray” It was not an insult to Murray but he was acknowledging the red hot streak of Djokovic

 

Two days ago, Mcenroe and Connors- two legends of the game, felt that the players should be more outwardly aggressive. Nadal repudiated those comments by saying “Tennis is just a game “ He has never spoken a bad word or criticised a player openly

 

Del Potro complained to the referee about the 7 minute odd injury break to Nadal, but when it was Nadal’s turn in the third set, he just rested his chin on his palm and waited patiently for del Potro to emerge. We have seen an odd Federer whinge about Hawk-eye. Nadal does nothing that would actually challenge the officials

 

With this being the most keenly contested Wimbledon in years, Nadal would also love to throw his hat in the ring and once again show the indomitable spirit that sustains him

180 could well have been 6 too

Few weeks ago in an interview to Lakshmi Prasanna, Prakash Raj let out an inforgettable gem. He said that “Pain is something that is internally centralized. Nobody can feel it for you”

While watching the movie this is the statement that comes back to haunt the mind. Everything about the movie is well-planned and sequentially arranged. From the day, the trailers were released on air, it was apparent that Mr. Balasubramaniem’s work would come in for lot of kudos. And it does

All the people involved with the movie have been saying that ‘180’ has got something to do with theme of the story and they were right. It in fact is apparent from the first dialogue of the movie. The kid in the first scene runs away with a lot of honours in that scene

That the movie is personal, is beyond doubt. It is presented with even more clarity in the long drawn-out list of thanks in the titles. What moves you is the fact that he credited Lahari Audio for using a track from a popular film

Since this is a movie made by a newcomer, it might not cut any ice with the intelligentsia of the new world. Scratch the surface and peep in further. That’s where you find layers

When it comes to performances, there is one person that stands out. Nitya Menen spreads the joy, sadness, anxiety and whatever be the emotion that she is undergoing, to the audience effortlessly. She is the lifeline for this movie in what can be called as an author backed role

Siddharth does well in contrasting characterisations. The flashback episodes are a severe test for an actor’s capability. Siddharth manages to convey the emotion but the way he conveys anger, frustration, depression look pretty much the same

Priya Anand does not have much to do in the movie and she pretty much does what is expected of her

Breathtakingly shot, the movie watcher will have to rather feel than enjoy this movie

Bishoo pushing the issue

Alex Wharf, the England bowler was robotic when he attended the press meet after snaffling up Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman in his first ODI. In the World Cup match against England, Bishoo too displayed similar attitude when he replied in mono-syllables. Bishoo made headway into the middle order of the much vaunted middle-order of India. His fielding also had the forcefulness about it as Harbhajan’s wicket was more about him than Edwards’ bowling

 

Bishoo created an impact on the match when he claimed a wicket of the very first ball that he bowled in the match. He got Laxman to misjudge a tossed up ball and forced him into driving early. When he got Dravid dismissed in a similar manner, it showed that he is man who holds a lot of promise

 

With the pitch aiding some bounce, he also  got Dhoni to edge one to first slip. With the combination of Raina and Harbhajan coming together, his methods became a little unsettled as he started to bowl flat

 

Harbhajan played him well and his method to unsettle him was to shuffle to the off and middle. He covered the turn and played him with the straight bat. Raina, on the other hand played him through covers expertly

 

Just when the heads were drooping down because of the partnership between Raina and Harbhajan, Bishoo pulled off a moment of brilliance. He came running in from long leg and realised that the ball was moving away from him. He dived across to his left and grabbed the ball. Enough to set the chest’s puffing

 

With the rapid strides that he made in the international cricket, he would soon learn the guiles associated in deceiving the batsmen. As his art grows better, he might even become articulate

West Indies V India: Test 1, Day 1

 

There was a time when the crowd at Sabina Park, Kingston used to bay for blood and they were pretty open in their hostility to the opposition batsmen and love for the bowlers. Now the pitch has cracks that would support the spinners as the match wears on. Though the pitch had cracks from the ODI’s, the groundsmen did a good job in covering them up and making it a pitch that can help the seamers upfront. The support received though would be minimal and India had no hesitation in batting first after winning the toss

 

The team selection of West Indies was a little weird considering they went into the match with four bowlers. An off-day for any one of the bowlers would prove fatal

 

India handed debuts to Abhinav Mukund, Virat Kohli and Praveen Kumar in the match- first time since 2001 that three players were handed out the Test caps in the same match. It was perhaps a mighty co-incidence that all three of them got off the mark with a boundary, though in contrasting styles

 

Abhinav Mukund faced the first ball of the innings and a few balls in, his weakness for having a swish at balls pitched on or around off stump was becoming apparent.The pace bowlers were giving him a tough life on the pitch. Murali Vijay on the other hand started off fluently and looked to be good touch, dispelling all the fears of injury. The first mistake that he committed turned out to be the last one as he leaned forward into a drive and tried to compensate that by removing the bottom hand off the bat. The damage had been done though, as the ball flew to backward point where Bishoo held an easy catch

 

Rahul Dravid, celebrating his fifteenth year in Test cricket came to the crease with some repair work needed. He was lucky initially that an edge was wide of the slip cordon and ran away to the boundary. He was troubled by the ball jagging back in and was caught on more than a couple of occasions playing for the wrong line. At the other end Mukund seemed to have weathered the initial storm but then the temptation to push at one delivery cost him fatally as it carried back to the keeper

 

Laxman who is not a stranger to repair works in the middle was taken aback by the bounce off the very first ball he faced as he could not draw the bat back in time and got an outside edge that fell short of the first slip. Then he caressed a short ball of Sammy to the backward point fence. Lady luck smiled on him once again as he flicked a ball that Rampaul couldn’t hold onto, diving to his left

 

Though they seemed a touch nervous about the bounce on the pitch, the pair then proceeded to make minor adjustments to their batting methods. They played the ball late and with soft hands so that the odd edge wouldn’t carry to the fielders. In the meanwhile, Dravis seemed to have got his eye in and was concentrating on playing the ball straight and picked up runs whenever the bowlers erred with their lengths. Typical Dravid

 

The pair knew that the spin had to come at some time. Bishoo came in and was elated with his first ball as he drew Laxman into driving the ball early. The resultant edge flew to first slip. Kohli got a gift that dispelled the butterflies as he got one on the leg stump, which was flicked to fine-leg with authority. However the ODI instincts showed up as he too stretched his bat far away from his body and got an outside edge. With the wickets falling regularly, the teams went into lunch with West Indies calling the shots

 

Raina was attacked by short balls by Edwards upon his arrival and he dealt with them by ducking under them or weaving away from the line. With one weakness being taken care of, all that he needed to do was to settle down in for the long haul. Though it seemed for his personal interest at the beginning of the innings, it became a cause for the team as the innings progressed

 

Dravid came out with positive intent after lunch as he drove and cut Bishoo off successive balls past covers for boundaries. He then flicked one past midwicket for a couple. At that stage it looked as if Dravid would be the Atlas on whom India relied

 

Bishoo had the final laugh as he got Dravid also in the same manner as Laxman. He forced Dravid to drive early and pulled the outside edge off his bat. When he deceived Dhoni with bounce and got the edge flying off the glove, the end seemed imminent. Harbhajan had other plans in mind though

 

The strategy of unsettling the best bowler to allow cutting a scythe through the other bowlers was his modus operandi. He proceeded to brutalise the pace bowlers too as they over compensated by pitching it on the middle and leg. Harbhajan initially had to just guide the ball into the gaps and proceeded to hit the ball across the line to stunning impact

 

After those three wickets, Bishoo failed to make an impression on the pair as he was attacked whenever he came back into the attack. Whenever the pacers tightened the line outside the off stump, Harbhajan was in visible trouble as he was rushed into his strokes. The pace of Edwards troubled him a touch but then because of the attacking shots at his disposal, he could wave away the threat

 

Raina was patience personified at the other end. He contributed to the counter-attack by feeding the strike to Harbhajan and also attacking when the bowlers provided him the width. He also showed a lot of majority when he noticed that Harbhajan was being troubled a touch by the seamers. He kept the intent going as he unfurled attacking shots of his own. None better than couple of straight drives that he played to get to his half-century

 

The only blemish in the partnership, if it can be called that was the faulty calling. Luckily for India, it did not lead to disastrous consequences

 

India completed the second session by firmly being in control of the match. This was when Edwards started to get his line in order. He was getting Harbhajan to play his strokes early. Finally he had his man when he made Harbhajan to play the hook shot and Bishoo grabbed a superb catch at deep square-leg. Praveen Kumar, making his debut started off in Gower-esque manner as he got a half-volley on the leg stump which was driven straight

 

West Indies seamers did not give back the initiative gained and snaffled up the three wickets in quick succession. Raina seemed a little apprehensive of facing Edwards as he did not attempt to hoard the strike. He himself fell to an injudicious pull shot

 

When it was West Indies turn to bat the bowlers did get the swing but not the line. Ishant, in particular gave a workout to Dhoni’s back. He had Simmons edging a ball to short-leg. Barath and Sarwan then shut shop to prevent any more damage

Cricket, Lovely Cricket- Lawrence Booth

If Lawrence Booth did not grow up loving cricket and writing about it, he would in all certainty been an expert tight-rope walker or a sharp-shooter. The deduction has been drawn from the sense of balance that he lends to the book ‘Cricket, Lovely cricket”

 

He shifts seamlessly from being a romantic in the introduction to straight talking in the chapters that follow. He cleverly demarcates the things that run in an average fans mind into chapters

 

Being as far away from the fan as he is from players, he is at a perfect position to explain the intricacies to both the parties. It’s as much a players handbook as it is of help to the fans

 

Perhaps the best part of the book comes when he describes the discussion with Jeremy Snape and concludes that “ Instincts can be honed with regularised practice”

 

Another chapter that holds your attention is the part where he is talking about the teams and how the reputation precedes them. For example, England is always pessimistic and self-deprecatory. Australia is the team that  makes things happen on a cricket field. India, while being mercurial on the field can be poor travellers

 

He does not hold himself in high esteem as a batsman and hates when publications go overboard with the cricket jargon

 

He minces no words in stating that India is the powerhouse of cricket, financially and followers-wise too. Perhaps a large part of his understanding the fan’s psyche comes from doing the OBO

 

Coming as it did close to the first season of IPL, he was right in predicting that IPL will test the players loyalties with Morgan actually doing what he predicted back then, this season

 

The book is certainly a treasure-trove of nuggets and would keep you entertained. A sampler of one of the nuggets

A journalist was looking to interview Curtly Ambrose and sought Viv Richards to help. Ambrose comes out and says “ If you want to talk to Viv, talk to Viv. If you want to talk to Curtly, talk to Curtly”. “In that case”, the journalist asks “Can I talk to Curtly?” No, comes the reply

 

Sometimes it makes an average reader run for the dictionary with usage of terms like obfuscate, anorak etc

 

A book that can be completed in one read without actually us putting a lot of thought into it. A sure recipe for a success then