Upping the ante

As the match started on the fifth day, every Indian eye was on the clock to check the time. Not surprising, because they willed the great man to score a century on the most hallowed turf of them all- Lord’s. What they didn’t take into account was the fact that the great man had a history of coming up short when the pressure mounted against him. Personal pressure, he can certainly take but pressure on the team is a different matter altogether

 

From April 1st on, the talk started gathering that he would achieve a century of centuries on the grandest stage of them all, the World Cup final. It did not happen as it was Gambhir and Dhoni who saw to it that India coasted home comfortably. When he skipped the Caribbean tour, it was widely anticipated that he would get to century of centuries in the 2000th Test- as grand as they come. In fact he spoke openly about his desire to score a century at Lord’s. So did Dravid and Laxman. Only Dravid went on to fulfil it

 

The question to be asked here is, will it ring hollow if he achieves it in Nottingham? No. Would it have been unsatisfactory if he finished on 70 odd and saved the Test for India? No. Not having a century at Lord’s won’t diminish his greatness. Yeah for posterity sake it would have been amazing if he had scored that elusive century. Consider this scenario now. If he had carried on in the same vein, would India have lost the Test? Tendulkar failed where Pietersen, Prior, Broad and Anderson had succeeded- upping the ante

 

Each of the four players was under considerable risk coming into/ during the match. How they turned it in their favour made a fascinating watch

 

Pietersen was under a spot of bother as he came into the Test as he had not played a big innings after the double century against Australia. In fact he was under a lean run as he had no runs to show from the time he was sacked from captaincy. Gone were the days where Pietersen strode in and imposed himself upon the game. He was bought down to a level, where the opposition dictated the way he played. Left arm spinners anyone? In the absence of Zaheer Khan, Pietersen came back to his old ways. Harbhajan bore the brunt of the attack. It was a clear case of attacking the weakest link of the opposition team

 

Prior has been branded a Test specialist with the arrival of Kieswetter in the ODI squad. There were doubts on the man’s glove skills coming into the Test. He not only silenced the doubters with good glove work but also proceeded to play two innings of high importance. In the second innings especially, his batting was brilliant. He came in with the scorecard reading 62/5 and India were forcing their way into the match. He shut the door on the opposition bowlers with a counterattacking innings and in tandem with Broad took England to an unassailable position

 

Broad made this team by the skin of his teeth. He staved off competition from Bresnan to retain his place after a lacklustre series against Sri Lanka. Under immense pressure after a first innings duck, he removed the top-order of Indian batting. That confidence rubbed off on his batting too as he provided Prior with superb support in the second innings. It was in fact him that started the counter attack

 

Till the fifth day Anderson did nothing of note and as the leader of the pack he had to do a lot for England to get to the winning post. He responded by removing Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar and Raina. If this is not rising to the occasion, then it would be tough to know what is

 

What is baffling is the fact that no one bar Raina summoned the courage from the best team in the world. It is only left to thought now as to what would have happened if Tendulkar had lingered on?

 

Now folks let’s get back to our favourite pastime. 100 to go for the 100th ton at Nottingham

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The importance of being Dravid

From the time India toured West Indies, the country has been waiting for bated breath for this tour. There were a lot of reasons for that. One among them was the fact that it would be the 2000th Test to be played. Another number of importance was that it would be the 100th Test to be played between England and India

 

There was a lot of expectation leading into the Test that it would be the venue that would be witness to Tendulkar’s 100th International century. With Tendulkar stationed in United Kingdom, it was expected that he would put in the yards during practice and come back rejuvenated for the Test series. With so much pressure weighing, it was but natural to expect that it will wear him down at some point

 

After being accorded a standing ovation on his way to the crease, he proceeded to put on a champagne show for the crowd at Lord’s. It was a vintage show by a batsman as he punched drives of the backfoot and was looking to come forward at every given opportunity- a sure sign that the man was walking into his best form

 

Amidst all the hype, there was a man who scored a century at Sabina Park to steer his team to a victory. And here he was happy to bask in the shadow of a man whose luminescence blinds all. After lunch though, he came into his and proceeded to play drives of his own through the off side and the trademark whips to square-leg and midwicket. What struck the eye though were his drives down the ground. None better than the one’s that he played to get to his half-century and in the nineties. One more shot that stood out was the drive that he played through the off side with both his feet in the air

 

The knock was not without drama as he was dropped by Swann off Broad when he was on 42. What started as a Tendulkar day was actually a throwback to Dravid era. He concentrated on the job at hand, when no other batsman in the team was willing to stick it out with him

 

All the talk before the series centred on the fact that none of the holy trinity had a century at Lord’s. Each of them went public with their wish to feature on the honours board. Dravid, in particular would be more desirous as he missed one on his debut Test by five runs

 

Even as Dravid was going about his job in the middle, talk on the social networking sites revolved around Tendulkar. People grew unaccustomed to Dravid playing a lone hand in salvaging hope or snatching victories. Yes there were odd performances like that against Sri Lanka in 2009 but they were getting scarcer

The Jamaica innings then was a very important one for him as it not only removed people’s doubts and helped him keep the competition at bay. What was more important was the fact that it helped him deal with a few doubting voices in his mind

 

The fickle nature of Indian cricketing fan revealed itself, when Dravid reached his century. The talk revolved on how they watched the game to see a legend score century but another legend made sure that they were not disappointed. His century was a landmark one for the holy trinity as it marked a century of centuries for all of them together. One of the more revealing stats is the fact that India has lost only one match when Dravid has scored a century. That in itself shows his value to the team

 

He has the ability to goad a batsman to bring his A game into the middle. A perfect example in point would be the aforementioned century against Sri Lanka. With the score reading 32/4, he literally guided Yuvraj and Dhoni through the crests and troughs

 

When a fielder as distinguished as him dropped a sitter of Trott at slips, your’s truly felt that maybe the focus was waning. It did not take him long to prove me wrong. He has more often than not turned the matches with his bat. His fielding is an equal contributor, if not more. We tend to forget that he holds the record for most catches in Test cricket

 

His celebration at reaching his century was understandable as it was relief at finally getting a century at the home of cricket. His conversation later with Gavaskar and Ganguly revealed a lot about the person that Dravid is

 

He said it was but obvious that a person would have as many runs and centuries, if he had played in more than 150 Tests. This from a man who overtook Ponting to be the batsman next to Tendulkar on the list for most runs

 

He reaffirmed that what mattered to him was contributing to the team’s cause rather than notching up numbers. He felt that he was lucky to get as many opportunities that he had got

 

Explaining that averting the follow-on was on the mind, which in turn helped him to divert the attention from the century in sight. He added that once the follow-on was averted, he felt he was closer to a century and felt he had to get it as it passed his mind that he missed one fifteen years ago by five runs

When Gavaskar jocularly remarked that he was putting a lot of pressure on himself, as he could have come back in 2014 and scored a century, Dravid said there was no way he saw himself coming back in 2014. Gavaskar said if that was the case then it was good that he got a century. Dravid later remarked that he felt happy to join him and Ganguly on the honours board

 

He said as a boy who was green under his ears he did not quite realise the  history associated with scoring a century at Lord’s. As he put on the numbers in his life, he did come around the fact that he did not score a century at Lord’s

 

It was Ganguly, his fellow debutant who put it the best when he said “Champions don’t have an expiry date

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Ten years ago a young man gave the Hindi film industry a breath of fresh air with his ‘cult’ film Dil Chahta Hai. It was, in all senses a coming of the age movie. That young man now acts in a movie directed by his sister. The movie bears uncanny resemblance to the movie made by the man himself

 

Starring Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol and Farhan Akhtar (in the same order as they appear in screen credits), the movie has a lot going for it. The star cast is a major plus and the biggest positive for the movie is the location that it has been shot in- Spain

 

What starts off as a fun trip changes into one where the protagonists confront their fears and in the process we peel the layers of their personalities. Though at some places the movie seems dragged, it does the job of taking you along with the proceedings. The only complaint, if there has to be one, is the fact that the comic track that involves the boys scaring others seems a little forced. All the three actors appear in most of the scenes together which means that all three of them share equal screen time

 

The sport that each chooses and how each one of them let’s go of their fears and insecurities after the sport is the pattern of the movie. Interspersed with the comic scenes are those of introspection, mostly with Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akthar

 

It must have been a pleasure ride for Hrithik Roshan and Abhay Deol considering the intense roles that they have portrayed in the past. So it is Farhan Akthar that steals a march over the co-stars because of his humorous role in the movie. Female protagonists have a lot less to do in the movie. Kalki has to just act(?) possessive all the time and Katrina facades with that ‘in love with life’ expression all the time

 

Excel Entertainment has always showcased their protagonists to be rich and this film is no different. The boys take off on a bachelor trip to Spain. It serves a lot of purposes. They showcase Spain to India and it’s various rituals. We get to know of places like Bunol, Seville and Pamplona which are not famous in India

 

Farhan Akthar mouths some of the best lines in the movie ( written by himself) and a few couplets( written by his father, Javed Akthar). So he ends up making the best impression of all the protagonists

 

If we have to find faults with Zoya Akthar, then it has to be the length of roles given to Deepti Naval and Naseeruddin Shah

 

All in all, a movie that can be best enjoyed with a tub of popcorn and an unlimited supply of Cola

Bbudah hoga tera baap

The last time Puri Jagannadh said ‘Thank You’ as a director, we were treated to one of worst movies ever  . This time when he said those two words, he meant them for the purpose- thanking Amitabh Bachchan for what he is

When the movie was announced, Sonu Sood said he would be playing a Police officer and he added that the director felt he resembles Amitabh Bachchan. Enough clues

At the beginning a majority felt that the movie would be macabre underworld story. The way the movie pans out takes the breath away (in a positive sense)

Puri Jagannath is known for making Telugu movies with superb characterisation of the protagonist. A lot of his movies were money churners at the box office only because of the characterisation

In this movie, right from the moment titles roll, Puri had his brief – to project Amitabh like he has never been in the recent past. He starts off by borrowing from the man himself. Right from remixes of his old hits, rolled into one to his signature mannerisms, it’s all there

Sonu Sood stands his own before the doyen and makes a good impression of himself. Who cares, we are watching A BACHCHAN movie

Charmee and Sonal Chauahan play parts that are insignificant to the way story moves. Their disappearance is abrupt. Who cares, we are watching A BACHCHAN movie

Hema Malini like Sonu Sood manages to hold her own against the man but with time the force manages to blind us to her presence. Who cares, we are watching A BACHCHAN movie

Yeah there are scenes and dialogues that have been ripped from the director’s telugu movies. Who cares, we are watching A BACHCHAN movie

Subba Raju, Prakash Raj and Makrand Deshpande deliver rip-roaring scenes, but are not noticed. Who cares, we are watching A BACHCHAN movie

Post- Mrityudaata, the Bachchan aura was clearly missing. It promised to resurface in Bunty aur Babli but maybe he had to give it up for his son’s cause. There was an odd Paa, Waqt, and Khakee. Not enough for close to two decades. A Bachchan fan could not have loudly proclaimed that he was watching A BACHCHAN movie

This movie has it all- the swagger, the baritone and laugh (No death though). The confidence to act in this character might have been provided by Rajinikanth and Salman Khan. They have delivered hits with movies that fell in the the area of operation

Maybe just, maybe this movie will turn back the clock and get us the Bachchan that we loved, back. And we can say, we are watching A BACHCHAN movie