India vs Australia – Ruminating over the build-up

Need any words be wasted on highlighting just how anticipated, important, promising yada yada yada this game is. I reckon not.

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  • Wouldn’t want to join the massive ongoing guessing game about what the match-day nature of the SCG pitch is going to be like. However, reports do suggest significant wear and tear from a long season which is being viewed as a  turn of events that will favour India more (the huge impact of spin on the SA vs SL match played here is also being taken into account). Conversely, as of last night, the pitch was still sweating under covers which for non-aficionados, essentially means that it’s not likely to be as much of a spin-haven as expected. Either way, I don’t think the impact of the pitch will go THAT long a way in deciding favourites. Fingers crossed for a nice sunny day in Sydney and an un-interrupted semi-final
  • Michael Clarke’s dismal record against Ashwin and Jadeja is well documented and widely known. If nothing else, this will, in the least, give India a psychological edge over the Aussie skipper. Not to mention, MSD has used Suresh Raina to reasonably potent effect.
  • In my view, Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith pose the greatest threat from the Aussie batting to India’s plans. I’m sure backroom plans are ongoing to try and outfox the dangerous duo. Nevertheless, it is quite naive to undermine the potential impact the rest of the Australian batting can have. Finch, Warner and Faulkner can , one their day, take the game away from any opposition single handedly.
  • I get the jitters, as an Indian fan, upon the very mention of Mitchell Starc’s name. Boy oh boy what consistency and at that pace too! He surely ought to be negotiated with utmost diligence by the Indian batsmen. Last thing any of us want is him wreaking havoc and making it a one-sided game.
  • I don’t think concerns over Kohli’s form are founded in fact. I would say he’s had a solid tournament. Not too many big scores but that’s more a function of India chasing small totals in 2-3 matches. Not to mention, he did get a confident century against Pakistan, in what was very much a “big game” for the Indians. He didn’t ever look to me like he was struggling or searching for form.
  • Inevitably, one has to talk about the proposed “sledge-fest” that the game has been duly promised to be. It’s one of those things: Whether you like it or not, it’s gonna happen. I did enjoy the tension that was palpable in the Aus vs Pak game, which was, in no small part, due to the frequent, untamed displays of aggression. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to watch a sledge-free game of cricket between Sa and NZ. It was none the less exciting, nail-biting and unforgettable than the former (possibly more). It does feel slightly odd that world-class professionals are on nattering about word-wars before the big game.
  • To me, it seems to be a very evenly matched contest. I really hope it’s going to be as riveting and evenly matched as the first semi final, if not more. the rivalry will definitely be a factor that’ll up the ante a bit.

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Mid Tournament Musings-1

A random selection of my thoughts, observations and expectations on the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup.

  • Could the timings be any more frustrating for the vast majority of us who don’t live down under? Bah. #cricketinausornzproblems #suddenlybigonhashtagsfornoapparentreason
  • McCullum and his side both are spouting menace and intent, left, right and centre. Case in point- their absolute mauling of England.Has there ever been a NZ side this thorough and dangerous? I definitely don’t think so. Could this be New Zealand’s best shot at making the title theirs? YES YES YES. Home advantage-check. Competent captaincy-check. team balance- double check. Add to this generic list of pre-requisites, the searing form the kiwis have been in in the lead up to and in the first games of this tournament and the great touch McCullum is in, and you’ve got a threatening side that is definitely one of the favourites. Their hotly anticipated tie with the aussies is sure to be a match to watch out for. It’s definitely going to be a game of high passions, considering it marks the long awaited return of Clarke and Lehmann’s comments on radio (http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-cricket-world-cup-2015/content/story/835999.html) are sure to cause a ripple-effect one way or the other. Probably the definitive game in this rather lacklustre group. Australia Nets Session???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
  • India vs South Africa is set to start in a couple of hours, as I write this. As an Indian fan, this is the contest I, and indeed fans all over, have been waiting for. While it’s well understood that this isn’t a “make or break” contest, by any means, for either of the hosts, it’s importance need not be stressed. These are quality teams that will try to one up each other at any cost, to establish their status quo within a more or less sorted (in terms of who’s going ahead) group. (seriously, don’t even get me started on the sheer inefficiency of this tournament format; long live the bloody sponsors). Twitter is awash with the hashtag #IndvsSA. I must say I really enjoy this sort of uber-hype leading up to an important and competitive (i hope) game of cricket. It really confers a degree of legitimacy and real “feels” to the supposedly meaningless and end-less pursuit that watching sports is widely held to be. I would love to talk about whom to watch out for and conditions and all that but I don’t think I can add anything to what’s already been discussed at length on many other forums before. I’m just wildly excited at the prospect of a humdinger and am licking my lips even as I try to stay awake all night (damn you australia!) Personally, I am really keen on seeing how India deal with Amla, de Villiers and the pace battery. Some sort of a premonition tells me it’s going to be a special innings from Rohit (Wouldn’t read too much into that kind of nonsense though). MS Dhoni’s return to prime batting form is something Indian fans the world over are waiting for with severely bated breath. Would it be greedy/wishful to want to see something like the CLT20 2013 mauling of Steyn? Sigh.

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  • As I write this, Afghanistan have posted a total of 232 against Sri Lanka. I hate myself for repeating what has become a cliche by now in cricketing circles, but is anything being done by the ICC to promote/encourage the talent/interest in these regions?. Surely, their potential/performances merit investment- both monetary and otherwise. Ireland too, in the same breath.
  • For those of you who don’t know yet, ICC has launched a pretty cool fantasy league at fantasy.icc-cricket.com. Super fun and pretty cool prizes too (although, if you haven’t started by now, it’s gotta be mostly for the fun).
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Reflections from the big game

Much has been said about the importance, psychological and “political” (well, apparently) of today’s game. Pontifications galore, today’s match was one that was hyped up beyond proportion and assumed a sort of “centrepiece” status in this world cup. Here are my 6 penny’s worth:

  • Reassuringly, India have clicked. It would be generous hyperbole to claim they have arrived in ominous fashion, all guns blazing. However, they have overcome the massive shadow of doubt that has been perpetually lingering over them for the last few weeks and announced themselves as able contenders and as the rightful defending champions, if not as tournament favourites.
  • Keeping in mind Rohit Sharma’s twin centuries (tri series and warm up), India’s top order finally looks the well oiled machine that manages to be more than the sum of it’s parts.
  • How good was that Dhoni six over mid on? Nevertheless, the skipper will be conscious, no doubt, of his rather indifferent batting form recently and will have loved the knocking-in he got today.  Not quite the MS of lore, but he’s getting there (hopefully)
  • The Indian batting line up is the stuff of mythicised common knowledge. So, no gaping jaws on it coming good finally (more, like relieved sighs). However, the much and often derided bowling attack really put up a strong and disciplined, if not menacingly incisive performance. Shami looked every bit like a man who really dug into his all for the big game, on the biggest stage of them all. MS got away with his two spinner ploy today. Knowing how comfortable he is fielding that combination and considering the pace-friendly conditions down under, a few eye brows are bound to be raised, issuing words of caution. Stuart Binny is probably going to be given a look in for games in New Zealand, one would presume, but otherwise, I feel MSD is making his intentions clear by choosing to operate with an attack he is incredibly adept at manoeuvring and milking.
  • Pakistan looked out of ideas and out of sorts, almost throughout the game. Their bowlers maintained commendable lengths and lines through the opening half of the indian innings but hardly looked to trouble the Indian top order, which as has been pointed out from far and wide, was not nearly at it’s best recently.
  • Mohammad Irfan’s inclusion, though his obvious lack of fitness, reeks of the typically pakistani brand of “strategising”, or lack of quality, therein. The giant huffed and puffed his way through his 10 and did not look like he belonged one bit. Pakistan’s apparent “trump card” fizzled away to be nothing more than a foiled parlour trick.
  • Pakistan’s sloppiness in the field cost them dear. Absolutely awful. India needs to be cautious enough to up their game against foes who surely won’t give them as much leeway, with either their fielding or their execution.
  • Kohli is back and and it’s all there- intent, aggression, control and timing. This could well be his tournament.

Why picking a nationalist to head your state isn’t half bad

At the very outset, I’d like to dispel any doubts as to whether this ensuing article claims to be expertly opined and painstakingly researched. It’s not. It’s just what came of a dubious thought that wandered through me: Why are nationalists (more often than not, clearly right wing and annoyingly religious) so successful at generating trust and in turn, votes? Especially, in the light of Narendra Modi’s landslide victory in the recently concluded Indian General Elections and Nigel Farage’s (UKIP Head Honcho) growing popularity in Britain, I thought there ought to be a reason, be it subliminal. In my head, there are enough in common between these men and indeed most others of their ilk to warrant looking for an underlying phenomenon/cognitive process behind their electoral success of (In a world that is interestingly and widely described to be progressively liberal).

I definitely abhor or at least hold quite some contempt towards the idea of nationalism defined literally and traditionally: Undying, unfounded and blind loyalty towards and faith in, your country, and worryingly, in most cases, race, language, culture (!!) and religion as an extension. I especially hold qualm with the claim that a given race or believer of a certain religion is inherently superior/ ought to be treated different. In addition, the idea of blindly (To the point of irrationality) loving your “country”, (which is a largely symbolic construct save for how it’s endowed and governed) is to me just plain stupid.

Nevertheless, I mantain that I would gladly pick a nationalist to head my state. First and foremost, because, I think the only people who become/seek to become politicians are those who (at worst, just at face value), believe in the concept/idea of a “nation”. they are people who usual profess blind love for their countries. This, more often than not, means that they take problems plaguing the country seriously and personally. They, more often than not, swoop down on areas of the nation that are in disarray, and sort them out, much like a stern yet loving parent would. They take infrastructure seriously. They take the global economic prestige of the nation seriously. It  veritably helps that most of them believe, to large yet varying extents, in the market). Thus, in the most tangible and “concrete” parameters, they are usually brutally effective; They also usually cause large amounts of money to flow into a nation , through Foreign investments, of one sort or the other and rev up internal production. Therefore, to the citizens of a given country, the markers of success and development witness exponential elevation under the aforementioned types of government. Hitler was a staunch nationalist; Much as he is and ought to be hated for his stances, he forged a strong and happy (well, if you were “Aryan”) Germany that did unprecedentedly well in terms of economy, infrastructure and organisation. The Autobahns, Porsche, VW Beetle and Hugo Boss are just some of the big german names that the world has come to strongly associate with ingenuity and top-notch quality. I could list a handful of other examples (both historical and contemporary) but that ,in my opinion, is aside from (and possibly dissuasive) to the point.

However,  I do concede that sometimes, when these guys get awfully and quite contradictorily fussed up about their religious, racist and generally discriminatory beliefs, it could get quite intrusive and painful to deal with. Nevertheless, in cases such as in India now, I would always choose the nationalist for the lack of a side with an immaculate stance on both governance and philosophy.

Ruminations at 35000 feet above sea level

This happens to be the first ever time that I’m writing whilst aboard an aircraft. It’s been a while since I updated my blog – not that my life is seeing a dearth of noteworthy happenings- just that the afflatus never seized me in the recent past. A strange phenomenon-  being unable to write. I’m thinking about doing a piece on that sometime but not for now.

Flying: An interstice. One of life’s many interstices – like riding on the elevator, or pretty much passively riding anything (passive being the operative word).  I have no idea what this piece is about. Well maybe this could be considered a meta-piece that studies the very nature of it’s creation. I just need to get myself back on the proverbial saddle after about a month of not writing anything (noteworthy, at least). So I’ve decided to kill time on this boring flight (my phone doesn’t work! no music 😦 ) So, on that passing thought on interstices: Interstices have always been somewhat of an interest to me. I hail from a decade wherein one didn’t have easy access to either mobile computers or phones. i.e when you travelled, all you did was travel. You could read; you could talk, you could play cards but mostly, you just sat and waited to arrive at your destination. At least, most of the time, that’s what I did. I didn’t have a “walkman”, didn’t like reading whilst in motion and had an inexplicable disdain for card games. So, when I try to recollect travelling in that age, I remember just sitting with my thoughts (i mean, in a particularly active way) and ruminating on countless subjects, tirelessly. I grew up like that and Im fairly certain that these experiences have scarred me for life. Till date, the image of myself whilst on a trip, is best characterised by that of a junkie in need of his next fix. I have this incessant nag in my head and I just can’t seem to find peace until my destination arrives. nevertheless, as many know (but, for reasons I don’t exactly know), the act of travelling offers more scope than average to conduct thoughts of a particularly reflective nature in one’s head. I, for one, found the answer to some of life’s most pertinent (or so they seemed then) questions whilst on the move. That can be quite fun, especially when one can find means to channel/streamline one’s thoughts as I’m doing right now.  This feeling of impatience that I mentioned is, a lot of times, juxtaposed by this feeling of excitement (one which I definitely do not have now) which is mostly caused by an anticipatory feeling of freshness/new-ness that being in a new place promises

I have always wanted to travel with someone I really cared for/ loved the company of. The very idea always seemed far-fetched to me, mostly because it has never happened. Offset that is, also, by the fact that there aren’t many people whom i love to the extent that i would love to be sealed shut in a metal container with them. I once took two really-long train journeys with my present-day best friend. The sad thing was that back then, we were different people and hated each other’s guts. He used to be snobbish and snarky and in hindsight, i can very well see why I elicited such behaviour from him. That’s the closest I have ever come. Even recently, There was a plan with somebody. I don’t think it’s happening anymore and it’s strangely left me quite stoic. Pardon the cliche, but it really just serves to prove that life can be really unsteady, transient, unpredictable and all that. Life as you know it today could stay the same or change. The changes can sometimes be so drastic that you are left reeling; Not quite as much by the specific impact of the change as that of this feeling of unfamiliarity with your own life. These feel like ends of chapters in the great book that is your life i.e the punctuation marks.

Personally, when I’m going through a major transition period in life- one characterised by a sudden, far-reaching change of huge consequence- I either am in a blurred state of mechanical semi-consciousness or in one of super-conscious perception where I’m overly aware/perceptive of pretty much everything. Sometimes, I oscillate between these states. I don’t, personally, subscribe to either ideas of being torn, internally, by changes or having to make efforts to “bring back a semblance of balance”, so to speak. In my case, extrinsic factors stopped having that much of an impact a long time ago. They do affect me but it’s never too long before I gain perspective. A sudden shift of positions. A small click and poof I’m looking at the thing with callous indifference. For instance, I couldn’t have imagined, say 2 months ago, the idea of living without a smartphone. I had become so used to enjoying the myriad ways in which it made my life easier/better and when I killed it, I was plunged into an existential limbo of sorts of the better part of 30 minutes. 2 months on, I’m surprised at how quickly I adapted. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t appreciate getting my phone up and running again or that I didn’t love it in the first place. It’s just that I, and IMO, pretty much everyone, can live without a particular commodity/person and not have my consciousness boil with internal strife.

I love it when my ears get blocked due to high cabin-pressure and I have to breathe through them to restore normalcy. It’s a weirdly pleasurable sensation. On that absolutely random thought, I feel I ought to conclude this meandering post. Nevertheless, I’m making a promise to myself to post more specific and relevant pieces up on the blog regularly henceforth.

P.S: This was fun. This aimless stroll of an article. The romantic in me would say it’s a photograph of my mind, flash frozen in time. 😀 😉 :O 😕

The Spectacular Now

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Usually, I watch a film before I’m fed with even the slightest vestige of a pre-conception through media or people around me; However, James Ponsoldt’s “The Spectacular Now” was sold to me by quite a few, of whom some were vociferous in their raving of it’s apparently “genre-defying” qualities. I was initially skeptical. Very skeptical. I’ve had more than my fair share of coming-of-age dramas, comedies, dramedies, tragedies and so on in the past few years. They’ve ranged from trite, to half hearted, decent sometimes even verging on brilliant: There was the one with the girls who were very particular about their trousers, one with hot-headed curmudgeons of teens living in the middle of nowhere and indeed many more that i struggle to recollect the names of. Then , there is the all too familiar and over-crowded setting of the American high school; I catch myself silently sighing every time one of these comes out. The clawing cliches, the hypertrophic late 20s male lead (supposed to be 17), the spray tanned and ditzy female lead…well you get the idea; the whole thing is so done, dusted and rusted that one wonders why they even bother milking any more from these genres.

Considering all this, I wasn’t really jumping to watch the film in question when it came out. I didn’t even bother watching it online. I had become sort of a high school comedy/coming-of-age drama cynic. Nevertheless, constant haranguing on the part of my lady love and overwhelmingly good reviews by several established critics/websites, claiming that the film was pathbreaking and so unlike any other movie of it’s class, made me watch it.

The film was one that I liked. It is a very likeable film; very easy on the eyes, charming leads (who thankfully do look like they are in their late teens), a screenplay that doesn’t meaninglessly meander,some amazingly memorable moments and a strong emotional quotient. The film manages to do everything it sets out to,although to me,it was a minor disappointment. I am inclined to attribute this to the very thing I mentioned in the beginning: the expectations that I was ready-fed to have before watching it. In my opinion, there wasn’t much about the film that could be characterised as either pathbreaking or un-stereotypical of it’s genre. In fact it’s remarkable how diligently the film sticks to it’s genre’s template. The film could, in fact, be described as a thorough effort to check the boxes that constitute it’s kind, though what is remarkable is that the boxes have been checked with great aplomb and impeccable attention to detail: When Sutter feels embarrassed to make public his liaison with Aimee, it doesn’t feel forced or due to some inexplicable pecking-order-standing bullshit: you get it. You get why one would have to grow to like this girl. And she isn’t a feisty mean bitch who compensates for looks with a “killer-atti” either. She is shy, gluttonous for attention and lacking in self respect (just like you would expect a real-life socially awkward/romantically inexperienced teenager to be) .The mandatory “meeting-the-estranged-father” scene is so realistically scripted and so brilliantly acted out that the awkwardness almost permeates through .The scene best exemplifies the film’s triumphs.

The trajectory of the plot’s progression is and well structured and almost  every scene is the subsequent logical aftermath of the former. The background score is perfectly adequate albeit largely forgettable.

It’s a film that gets most things right, though the fact that countless films have tried and tried again to do the same,seems to negate it’s achievement just a bit, in my eyes.

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Her

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After watching both “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation”, I was left with a feeling of awe for Spike Jonze’s flair for the meta. He dabbles in such ingenious ideas and  that too with remarkable compactness and adherence to internal logic. The films rank high in my lists of brilliant original screenplays and cerebrally engaging cinema. “Her”, the director’s latest feature, perches itself comfortably alongside his previous works and in many departments, manages to outshine them. I have to mention, before delving any deeper, that “Her” , to me, is one of the best films of 2013.

The film is set in the future (year unmentioned). The treatment of this particular premise is the film’s first selling point. It paints a very understated and un-HG Wells-esque picture of life in the future. No flying cars, audaciously unnecessary props ,frippery CGI and all such gimmicks that have come to become Sci-fi staples. The film paints a wonderfully detailed picture of life in it’s time and setting  whilst also being healthily nondescript. This is no mere feat and warrants commending in plenty. It makes you very aware of the fact that it’s a different time with very subtle and understated touches: like the lead character (along with many others) preferring (futuristic) sweatpants with plaids rather than jeans or khakis even for work, Video games featuring more interactivity and taxis that give out all but silent purrs. Never do these become anything more than mere props/tools. It successfully manages to wedge itself between the territories of drama and (black,understated) comedy. You don’t feel like you are watching the work of an overgrown  kid playing around with CGI that his producers got him; It’s the work of an auteur through and through. It is a film that takes itself seriously, expects you to as well and has the credentials to warrant that and more.

Hollywood abounds in films that find their roots in extremely original and clever ideas but make a mess of the execution; Many a film has left me lingering with a feeling of “what-could-have-been”. This is not one of those. Indeed the crux of the film’s plot, which is that of a man falling in love with an AI was sold as such and upfront. What it does with this idea and how it probes into the many tangents that the subject matter offers is remarkable and , for me, what makes it a great film. This is a film that manages to strikes the right balance on a multitude of factors. It’s paced languidly and it invests ample time in developing it’s characters to warrant emotions on the viewer’s part but it seldom ceases to engage (both superficially and viscerally); It offers chuckles and smiles on tap and also a few laugh out loud moments.  It is also never quite completely dystopian or utopian (notwithstanding the fact that this film is likely to leave one incredibly melancholic). It just presents a society, much like any modern one, without imposing on the viewer a prism to view things through .

The visual finesse of the movie is par excellence. With it’s constantly ambling  movements, the camera makes it’s presence felt but never quite for it’s own sake. The mood that the film creates, owing in no small part to the background score and colour palette, is addictive and stays with you long after the credits roll.

The casting is spot-on. Joaquin Phoenix delivers a career best performance and Scarlett Johansson delivers an uncharacteristically well emoted performance (though only in voice). Rooney Mara stands out although she only appears in one scene and a few montage clips

Her is a bittersweet tale of love and urban angst which is easy on the eye and unabashedly piercing. A must watch.

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2 lazy days in Aleppey

I spent the last 2 days in Aleppey, Kerala. This was my first trip to this popular tourist-magnet in Southern India. I had a rudimentary idea of the place, prior to the trip, from movies and pictures. I imagined ample coconut trees, vast expanses of water and and all that picturesque stuff. Before anything else, I need to mention that this trip was intended as a means to unwind/relax for a bit before what seems to be a strenuous and demanding few weeks ahead; Therefore, extensive coverage of sightseeing spots or basically lot of activity wasn’t on the agenda.

I spent the first half of my first day watching cricket in my room. It’s nice to do that. I realised then that there was something about making a 7 hour train journey, paying for a hotel room and then watching TV there (as opposed to doing the same at home) that really agreed with me. It’s quite something, being in an alien environment and then introducing a semblance of normalcy/mundaneness in it: quite the heady holiday recipe for me. I did make short excursions for lunch and drinks.

After India lost, I lamented over a lost few hours and took a nap: Again, most people wouldn’t do that when they are somewhere for just two days but I guess that’s how I roll on holidays. Sleep feels better; Food feels better; Just everything that I always do has a nice and refreshing dimension and possesses a gratifying potential of a higher order, when Im travelling.

I spent the evening at Aleppey Beach. It’s rather clean and not very crowded (by Indian standards). The find of the night was “Mandala’s”. A cosy hotel/pub on the beach almost exclusively patronised by western backpackers. Nice music, a cosy treehouse and fun staff make this a nice place to spend a social (albeit relaxed) evening. the expensive beer is a drag though.

This morning, I explored the backwaters on a canoe. The backwaters are by and far the biggest draw in Aleppey. They are well known for their scenic nature and are frequented by tourists aplenty. It was good fun though I kept wishing I had some weed with me. Situations like these seldom spare you the craving for inebriation. On afterthought, I should have settled and bought a beer beforehand but foresight has never been my strong suit. .

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Musings – India vs New Zealand , 1st ODI, Napier

  • Corey Anderson is the find of the year. The boy bats and fields like he’s on coke and can bowl decently in addition. Brilliant performance.
  • I know many will disagree, But, Rohit Sharma is a flat track Bully. Plain and Simple. He needs to up his game massively (in the off season) if he wishes to contend for a place on overseas tours. With the World Cup right round the corner, India still struggles to find an established opening pair. Gambhir and Vijay seem like possible options to try out. I’m still divided on Dhawan (especially his weakness against the short ball ) Let’s see how things go in the rest of the series. I would also permit myself to think that Raina has been given too long a rope.
  • Virat Kohli is making even the staunchest of cynics have a second thought. Definitely India’s best batsman and indeed one of the very best on the planet. Consistency and flair sans parallel. Centuries in the sub-continent, South Africa, Australia, West Indies, England and now, New Zealand, (he’s 25 for fuck’s sake) say something about his approach to the game in addition to his precocious talent. And boy oh boy what finesse!! Such pomp in his strokes. Brilliant innings today!!
  • Dhoni’s innings was appreciable too. He wasn’t seeing the ball very well in the beginning and there was some awkward stuff outside off-stump.Nevertheless, he displayed grit. He took his time, constructed a solid base and let Kohli do the merry making. Later, he chimed in with his own fireworks to get his strike rate to 95+,but in the end, fell prey to the same caught-behind dismissal that has taken his wicket on so many away games. India were cruising when he and Kohli were at the crease.
  • I especially wanted to make note of India’s performance on the field today but couldn’t do so because the first innings was at like 6.30, my time, and I was fucking half-asleep. But, considering the kiwi’s spirited efforts (notwithstanding the dropped catches) on the field (especially, ground fielding) makes me think that India wouldn’t hurt by upping their fielding a little bit.
  • Ravindra Jadeja can’t bat. Yes he’s hit a couple of  ODI half-centuries on dead tracks. Since when is that all that it takes for somebody to be labelled an “All-rounder”. Oh the gall!! He’s a decent bowler but that’s it. I beg all those responsible to stop perpetrating the illusion that this guy is the answer to India’s need for batting depth.
  • I have watched Ashwin for about 3-4 years now and I have always been a fan. Nevertheless, him being under the radar ATM is completely justified and he really needs to pull up his socks and be more patient, testing and accurate (especially on tracks like these).
  • I really think Cheteshwar Pujara should be in the ODI squad. Haters can fuck off. The man can bat! In my opinion, there is no such thing as a test-exclusive batsman who can’t play LOC. Well maybe that’s true for T20s but for the 50 over game, you would do well to have, at least, one solid, consistent batsman like Pujara. Especially looking at the recent ODI debacle in SA and now, the clusters of wickets today, I really feel the team lacks any anchors spare Dhoni and Kohli. If Pujara is given a look in and asked to play his natural game in crisis scenarios, it could well mean the difference between a  win/loss . On days when the top order gets rollicking, he could play a little lower down. Didn’t they learn anything from the last 15 years or so? At first, Dravid was touted a test specialist unsuitable for the LOI format, but he is India’s 3rd highest run getter in the format and has spared us the blushes on INNUMERABLE occasions. The Indian ODI side, though on a great peak, really needs that sort of a rock-solid batsman who can steady a sinking ship.
  • Mohamed Shami is a revelation! I see a brilliant 2015 WC prospect here.I’ve been observing him since the home series against Australia and he’s impressed me with every turn. Especially in the SRT farewell tests, he was brilliant. Likewise, was spot-on in his line and length today (well for most part. I mean he’s 22!) and was relentlessly posing threats to the kiwi batsmen. Though he turned out a tad expensive, he did a sterling job of picking up 4 wickets. I am incredibly curious to see what a bit more game-experience and conditioning is going to do for this guy. In the same vein, Mitch McClenaghan is also a promising starlet to watch out for. Searing pace and decent accuracy make him a real threat in these conditions.
  • Brendan McCullum’s aggressive captaincy (albeit with a few gambles and blunders) deserves a mention. Also, the NZ side need to be commended for not giving up hope when the show really seemed to be going the Indian way.
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Havelock Island (published editorial)

Juxtaposing itself in magnificent contrast to the tawdry and worn-out (lack of) charm of popular tourist destinations that heap themselves with a progressively increasing set of cliche’s that don’t help, is the truly exotic paradise that is Havelock island. Situated in the Andamans, off the shore of India, the island is one of the most visited in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

 Still untouched by the manic craze that is known to engulf popular island destinations, Havelock’s low-profile and it’s lazy quaintness prove it’s trump cards. The sheer slowness of pace that is on display here is a delivering change from the rigours of panic-stricken urban hullabaloo. This, probably serving to ward off the luxury lovers, manifests as lodges that meet no requisite standard of maintenance and prove to be quite far from the “resorts” that they claim themselves to be. In all honesty though, this is still far from a hindrance as it’s quite integrated to the rest of the island’s laidback attributes.

 Getting to havelock might be quite a pricey affair. Owing to it’s seclusion and the the general high price of commodities, Havelock is not the lightest on one’s pocket. A ferry from Port Blair (capital of the Andamans and preferred means of getting to Havelock) can set one back from anywhere between Rs.300 for a government operated one, which incidentally, happens to be really difficult to obtain a last minute reservation for and upto Rs.1300 for a private boat. The exorbitant prices don’t quite end there. Most foods, save the locally obtained seafood, is imported from the mainland. And so are other commodities such as petroleum and textiles. Therefore, as a thumb rule, one is to know that anything in Havelock costs at least 75% more than the mainland.

 Radhanagar Beach is by and far the most popular draw of the island. Voted by TIME, in 2004, as the best beach in Asia, the white sand of the beach adjacent to the lushness of the towering greenery and the corals which are found in plenty, make this a visit of a lifetime. It is quite a common habit among tourists to watch the gorgeous sunset from here. Numbered 7 on the Beach Numbering System, this lovely strip of white sand and clear turquoise waters redeems Havelock, by itself.

,  Other popular beaches include the Elephant Beach ,known as a major snorkelling venue) and the kalapathar beach, known for it’s tranquility and undisturbed peace.

While avenues to amuse/occupy oneself are plenty such as Trekking, Scuba Diving and Snorkelling, one may also choose the more lethargic pursuit of cozily settling down on the shore and get some sun while reading that 500-page block that one could never dedicate enough time for.

 While the local cuisine does boast of a few specialties (mostly seafood), it must be known that the cuisine of the area is largely based on filling voids of inadequacies (of ingredients and skill) and may prove to be quite a nightmare for those with less flexible dietary preferences/tastes.

A trip to Havelock, in my opinion, energizes, engages and recharges

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