Australian Open final

Djokovic signed off from the court, after his semi-final by saying that the final against Rafa was going to be physical. Though the words turned to be true, even he wouldn’t have foreseen the longest match at the Australian Open. A lot of credit is due to both the players. They played their hearts out. Not a single soul, who watched the match, would have demanded more. The quality of the service games, returns by Djokovic, trading of the forehands and the backhands. Everything about the match can be branded classic.

If we dissect the match, it was Djokovic who had the upper hand after losing the first set. After dominating the next two sets, it seemed that he was on his way to a win in four sets. Remember, these guys hadn’t played a five setter before this match. At 3-4, 0-40 up, he seemed to be just five points away from the championship. Rafa roared back into the match with an eclectic mix of serves, forehands and backhands. At that moment it seemed that if the match went into the fifth set, Nadal would run away with the match. For the first six games it appeared the same. Djokovic broke back Nadal immediately. There were a few shots of Nadal that clipped the top of the net in the fifth set. They proved to be crucial

 

Djokovic went primal after winning the match and nobody would blame him for that. He kept the mind and body synchronised at a time when both refuse to function in tandem. Nadal too did the same, but Djokovic did that little bit extra. His graciousness was seen at the presentation time. After acknowledging the cheers from the capacity crowd, he wished Rafa all the luck for the season. He seems to be in a zone, where nothing is beyond him. What will be good news for the tennis fans is the return to form of Nadal. Yes, he lost the match but showed a marked improvement from the last season. If the plethora of his fans are to be heard, he needs to advance further to receive the serve

 

It is a tough loss for Rafa however hard he will try to deny it. For a man who admits that he cries after energy-sapping losses, this will be one more addition. He always comes with renewed strength and vigour after the losses. He admitted to crying after the 2007 Wimbledon final and came back to win the 2008 Wimbledon. Nadal will certainly get better as the season progresses and might find a way around Djokovic.

 

It was easy for Djokovic, the previous year, to defeat Nadal. On the evidence of this match it is going to be slugfest through the entire season and the spectators will be richer for it.

 

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Businessman Movie Review

Yes he has attained the superstardom. Yes, the eyes of the entire Telugu film industry are on him. Yes, he seems to quite enjoy it. Yes, he is coming out of his comfort zone. Despite all this Mahesh Babu will learn a new thing from this movie. He will need to thank Puri Jagannadh for that

He gets to utter the best dialogues in the movie. He is omnipresent in the movie. And it is well justified. The camera seems to love him and so do the ladies who come to the theatre to watch him. I needn’t go any further than reproducing what a lady said after the movie “Too Cute”. This must have been the reason that prompted an observer to say “Make Mahesh Babu run for three hours on a treadmill, people will still throng to watch him”. Now don’t get naughty ideas Ram Gopal Varma!

Puri is the man, again, giving direction to Mahesh’s career. This is the first movie that exploits the superstardom of Mahesh Babu. Puri makes no bones about it. There are a lot of moments in the movie where Mahesh is serious and the audience laugh. All of them are in the first half. By the time crowd absorbs the character, the dialogues hit hard. No dialogue is better than “You ask me what I want from Delhi, I will give you Delhi”.

The most impressive part of this movie is Mahesh’s body language. He fills himself with the required arrogance for the role. These intense roles are his ‘bread and butter’ parts. The new persona in him bubbles to the fore, everytime that he has to share a frame with Kajal Aggarwal. He continues to share amazing chemistry with Nazar. The scenes between them work well

The romantic track is interesting till a point. After the movie gets into the second half, the scenes between the lead pair remind us of Pokiri.  The only thing that Kajal has to do in the movie is to be a cue for dialogues to flow from Mahesh Babu. There are a few that the mind can retain actually. One, the story of a tiger chasing the rabbit and why man roots for rabbit. Two, where he says that he might get more dangerous with Kajal’s refusal

Puri gets back his mojo of projecting his protagonists in a manner unique to him. Every movie of his, bar Nenu Naa Rakshasi has his hero portraying a lovable rogue.

Censors have taken care to blur excessive show of skin and beep out the profanities. This is where I will go back to the lady sitting next to me. She was uttering all the profanities that were beeped out. So much for the work of the Censor board. We all got to hear a lot of them in the trailers itself. Din’t we? It’s a good step, to actually beep them on the screen but what about those same dialogues blaring from our TV screens in the living room? Mind you, the lady was pretty upset when Mahesh smooched Kajal Aggarwal. The only moment when she really stopped talking

The thing that Mahesh Babu will realise as his career graph zooms is that he will continue to overshadow the good and the bad things in a movie. For this, he needs to take care that he is not inveigled by faulty scripts. Till then lets enjoy the actor that Mahesh Babu is

Journey movie review

What do you make of a movie that shows its climax in the very first frame of the movie? That it has a story to tell. Isn’t it? What if the movie is a dubbed one? Would you think that it would be full of clichés that dubbed films are peppered with? Journey is a movie that turns the rulebook upside down and treads its own path

It has nothing novel in the story department, nothing special in its treatment and neither does it have the protagonists getting into the skin of the character. They played characters you see in everyday life. In short, it is like the meal in a famous restaurant, where you know what you are going to get, but you will still savour it

The movie revolves around four characters and no, the characters don’t have equal importance. Jai- Anjali story gets more importance than the Sharwanand-Ananya track. The performances, though, are top notch from each of them. Anjali shines through in all frames. She holds her own in comic sequences and emotional sequences. My personal opinion is, she had an author backed role and did not let down the writer. Every scene with Jai is a superb one. That is because, as exceptionally as Anjali performs, Jai subtly underplays his own part

Ananya has more scenes to perform than Sharwanand and breathes life into the village bumpkin that she plays. Sharwanand has the least run-time amongst all the four characters but he has the best scene of the movie. He performs amazingly well in the scene and does manage to elicit a few tears from the viewers

How many times have you heard that the story won’t have nativity problems when it comes to the audiences in a different state? Well this movie lives up to that talk. The story could have been set anywhere in the world and it would have attracted people equally

The producers in Telugu have taken care to induce the required dash of reality but the effort cannot be fully complimented as you can see a few boards in Tamil and the Tamil Nadu number plates. That they made a start to keep these to a bare minimum is a commendable effort

Studios from Hollywood are arriving in India with regularity. While Warner Brothers ventured in with Chandni Chowk to China, Disney did the same with Roadside Romeo and Anaganaga O Dheerudu. Fox Media did the same with this movie in Tamil. What is delightful to watch is that the director did not splurge money in the name of experimentation. Where it helps others is that a successful movie will encourage the studios to pump in more money. Whether it was intentional or deliberate is only known to the makers but they certainly have set a trend

There is no unnecessary track inserted into the movie. Every scene contributes to the progress of the movie and the comic sequences in the movie are situational rather than forced. In a scene where Jai’s house owner demands to know where he is, he cooly lies by saying he is in a hospital. When the owner asks for the hospital name, he takes the name of the garment store from where he just bought clothes for himself. Also the continuity is an important aspect when Jai asks Anjali to exactly do the same things that she demanded from him, albeit in a polite manner

A few years ago in a movie by the hero’s name, the protagonist reveals his name in farcical manner at the end. Here Sharwanand does the same but it seems a lot more believable. It nails a simple fact. To make a good movie, you need actors. To make a hit movie, you need stars. Enjoy a movie that is both good and commercially viable

Ponting’s century

He arrived at the crease in Cape Town and got off the mark with his favourite pull shot for a six and at that time, it seemed like he was going to get it. He fell across to fuller deliveries from the pacemen and was dismissed in the same fashion for three innings

It was thought that the oxygen for his career would arrive when he guiding the tough chase in the company of Usman Khawaja. When he got out chasing a wide one, it was thought that he had played the final innings of his career at Johannesburg

After he had worked his way to being twenty two runs away from the century, the old failing of falling over to fuller deliveries surfaced again. That the target was paltry in the second innings meant that he would not have got to that elusive three figure knock in Brisbane too

Arriving at his homeground, Hobart, he did something that wasn’t expected of him. He walked for an appeal. That the appeal was for LBW added the element of mystery to that decision of his. When he got out tamely, by mistiming a backfoot defense, it was thought that the end was nigh

He was functioning on borrowed time for reaching the vaunted landmark. On the Boxing day too, he appeared set to reach the landmark until a ball from Umesh Yadav reared up uncomfortably and caught the outside edge of his bat. In the second innings he was out chasing a fuller ball and edging to gully. Though he did not reach the landmark, the combined tally of 122 runs from the Test marked his best return in 11 Tests

Though he seemed to have earned the breathing time, the voices from outside the team were growing stronger by the day. The voices, both, from within and outside said that the time was running out for scoring the elusive century. When he came to the middle with the score reading 8/2, it was expected that a familiar collapse from Australia would ensue at any moment

In the company of Clarke he saw out the dangerous period of play on the first day. On the second day, he was positive from the outset. Though he spent 40 minutes of lunch on 97, he took only 8 balls to reach that magical figure for the first time in 11 days short of two years

It helped that the ground was SCG, the venue where he has scored 1346runs and 5 centuries before this innings. Familiar surroundings and happy memories do tend to extract the best out of any man and Ponting is no different

It was almost that the destiny didn’t want to grant him the century. He would surely have been run-out had the throw from Zaheer Khan been accurate. The only thing that he did right was choosing the fielder in running the single to. The way he ended up after the run was reminiscent to that of Steve Waugh at Oval in 2001

The celebration in itself was full of `joie de vivre. The cricketing world never saw Ponting beaming like he did today. Going by the negative press that he has been getting for the past couple of years, one would have expected him to react aggressively or wag his bat at the press box. Nobody would have faulted him doing that. Credit to the man that he chose to do neither and instead stood with his arms aloft and a huge smile adorning the face

After the game he said that the pride didn’t allow him to go on a low and he knew that the century was around the corner once he started to get the runs. Now that he has weight of runs behind him, he can continue doing what he has been doing for the past couple of years- guiding the youngsters in side- with a lot more authority. Langer, Clarke and all his team mates have been in awe of the work that he has been putting up to get back into form

In the past, Ponting has been known to milk his good form and get centuries on a trot, once he got around to scoring one. Will this century mark the beginning of another rich vein of form? Only time will tell

Pacing the innings

At 67/2 in 10.2 overs, with the required run-rate climbing to nearly 10 an over, Melbourne Renegades finished the match off in the next 44 balls. At that exact moment, the captain McDonald was on 11 runs of 19 balls. Of the next 18 balls he faced, he creamed an astounding 49 runs. The partnership with Hodge was the game breaker

 

In the years to come, this innings might be shown as a model for ‘Pacing the innings’. McDonald did what five batsmen before him, couldn’t. He converted the start he got into a big innings. Henriques was close to doing it. He was stopped in his tracks by the accurate bowling. McDonald, on the other hand took time in settling in and once in, he didn’t allow the momentum to shift

 

He might not be able to repeat the feat on a regular basis but the innings today showed what a finisher means to the team. On April 2nd this year, India lifted the World cup and Yuvraj Singh was awarded the Most Valuable Player award. Nobody grudged the honour on him. It is the finishers that need to get themselves set before launching a final assault in the slog overs

 

Gone are the days when openers used to set base and try to carry on till the end (Adelaide Strikers might not agree with this argument) and the number 5 and 6 batsmen would be out, going for the quick runs. The word finisher or ‘pacing the innings’ came about because of the exploits of Michael Bevan. There were innumerable instances of him styling the play based on the situation of the game

 

After the retirement of Bevan, Hussey took over the mantle. Like Bevan, Hussey specialises in the playing according to the situation. It is not just in limited overs that pacing the innings is important. It is as important in Test cricket too. In the recently concluded Test at Melbourne, Ponting and Hussey paced their innings very well

In Tests pacing an innings is all about seeing out phases. Weathering a rough spell, counter-attacking, protecting the partner from a troublesome bowler are all attributes of pacing the innings. In the second innings, coming in at 27/4, Hussey got a gift on the leg stump to get off the pair. He got off the King pair and punished Indians for the mistake. In the company of Ponting, he counter attacked the bowlers and got the runs at a fair clip. When Ponting and Haddin were dismissed, Hussey changed the game-plan and started concentrating on conserving his wicket. With Hussey at one end, the confidence of Pattinson bloomed and he was the man attacking the bowlers, even after Hussey’s dismissal

In the same Test in the second innings, Sachin Tendulkar got off to an imperious start and was certain in everything he did. There were a couple of inside edges, when he was trying to let the ball go. He did not let these blemishes affect the positive frame of mind he was in. What affected him, though, were the dismissals of Dravid and Laxman. That is where the confidence in your partner comes in. Chapelli who was commenting at the time put Tendulkar’s dismissal down to anxiousness. He said that Tendulkar felt the strain of both run-scoring and holding up one end. This, in turn bottled the run rate and led to Tendulkar’s dismissal

 

One innings cannot demystify the thought process of the batsman. Tendulkar played a gem of an innings in the company of Azhar at Cape Town in 1996-97 tour to South Africa. That was an instance where he trusted his partners instincts. He would do well to do the same in this series. Who knows trusting his partners instincts might even lead him to the vaunted hundred

Coming back to today’s match, McDonald trusted his own instincts as much as he had the trust in Hodge’s. The confidence seemed to rub off on Hodge as he also went for his strokes and helped Renegades climb to the fourth spot

The next time you notice a player trying to get in, regardless of the format, accept that he might take off at a later time. Till then lets keep raising a toast for the finishers in limited overs format and the pace setters in longer version of the game