Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thank You Sachin Tendulkar

15 November 1989 - 16 November 2013. What. A. Journey. To quote Sachin's own words from his final retirement speech - his life has been between the 22 yards for the 24 years.  There were atleast 4-5 moments in the game where sadness threatened my heart but I controlled myself each time before the inevitable finally happened - I cried. I cannot describe the feelings that I went through when on Day 1 MS Dhoni presented the special 200th cap to Sachin and Sachin led the team out on the ground, then there was the guard of honor the West Indies team laid out for Sachin as he walked on to bat and then that long walk when he was dismissed for 74 on Day 2 and then he turned back and raised his bat for the last time for everyone. I knew instantly that was his last innings.  However that tinge of sadness grew a bit more when after the test match was won Sachin was given a mobile guard of honor right till the pavilion end and just before he reached the ropes, he wiped off the little tear beneath his cap.  That moment just killed it for me. It pierced my heart and soul and I automatically cried as well. And from there on right till the end of his speech I was numb and void of emotions. In fact I lost him somewhere after he had thanked his elder brother Ajit (it really was a long speech!!!) 

I was reflecting back on his career and some of his notable performances which truly touched my heart and my respect for him grew that much more with these innings. He was always destined to become the greatest and the bestest ever but these innings (mostly ODIs) will remain etched in my memories forever.

  • 1992 World Cup game against Pakistan - I was just about 6 yrs old and Sachin remained unbeaten on 54 that day as he ran out of partners.  I remember and I am told that I was complaining and crying that it was a conspiracy to not allow Sachin to score a 100 that day. 
  • 1998 Sharjah Cup ('Desert Storm') against Australia - I was at my mama's place in Pune when these 2 innings of Sachin's took place. And completely against run of play Sachin qualified us for the finals and then just ripped apart the Aussies in the finals too on his 25th Birthday. The scores of 143 and 134 were one of the best attacking batting seen then by me. And every stroke played on that day coupled with Tony Greig's commentary still leaves me with goose bumps. This is my best and the most favorite Sachin memory!
  • 1999 World Cup game against Kenya - This game I was sitting at my home watching and I am sure I would have taken any amount of contribution by Sachin that day. I am sure it must have been very difficult for him to have gone through's his father's funeral rites and then fly back next day and score a century no matter who the opposition is. This is the first time I saw a live example of someone who taught us the real meaning of serving the country. He gets the highest salute from me for just showing the sheer courage to come out and bat let alone scoring a century.
  • 2003 World Cup game against Pakistan - I was in class X and had board exams next day but that did not stop me from watching this game. This game will be remembered for the hammering he gave to famed Pakistan bowling line up and Shoaib Akhtar in particular. His innings of 98 was packed with retribution and it took just the initial 5 overs to turn the momentum of the game in India's favor. 
  • 2004 Test Match against Australia - This game had come after injuries and basically lots of ups and downs in his career. India themselves were only ambitious of being #1 and had announced themselves in 1st test at Adelaide. But a lot of water had flown below the bridge in next 2 tests in Melbourne and Perth with those Bucknor goof ups and Monkeygate and all the stuff like that. Sachin had made a point to not play anything on offside. He scored almost all of his 241 runs on the leg side in that game and that takes a lot of discipline and focus to do. And moreover he denied a winning farewell to Steve Waugh hence that innings rates very high among the memories. 
  • 2010 ODI game against South Africa - Just 1 year before the World Cup when once again critics had started to raise the ugly question of will he be or wont be in the world cup squad - Sachin rose to occasion and answered that emphatically with almost unforeseen double hundred against Saffers. Things that stand out of that innings are 1st - I mean whenever there was a talk on who could do it - the names that always came were the most aggressive 6 hitting batsmen during that time like Gibbs, Sehwag, Watson or Gayle. Never in wildest dreams did any one think Sachin could do it because he had altered his game so much that a question of him lasting 50 overs was laughable. But he did it and he will always be remembered as the first person to break the 200 run barrier in ODIs. 


Apart from these games the one other such memory of Sachin that will remain in my memory bank will be the one of him lifting the 2011 World Cup and that huge smile from him. That is joy to behold and be cherished. 

Though there will be continuous debates on when he should have retired? why his retirement had to be so much papparazzi as compared to Rahul Dravid's? Each one is entitled to have his opinion and there is no right or wrong answer to these questions and totally out of control of common man's interests. So let's drop off the negativity and celebrate the retirement of a man who has given the whole country such immense enjoyment, a man who is modest and humble, a man who lived by the 22 yards for 24 years.

I wish Sachin Tendulkar many congratulations on having a fullsome career and  a very happy retired life. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mesut Ozil to Redefine Arsenal's Success Formula

Hello All.

What a frantic 2 days if you were an Arsenal fan! The first hurdle was to beat a resurgent Spurs team on Sunday and then try and somehow restore the faith of supporters by going big on the Transfer Deadline Day before the market closed at 11PM BST. And I think the manager did meet expectations of most fans if not all of them. As our manager says “You cannot always please everyone in this profession and he has been long enough in the job to know what needs to be done in the best interests of the Club”. I’ll buy that argument for now and the signing of Mesut Ozil certainly justifies his belief and his statement.



But then I am not writing this blog to sing praises of “One Arsene Wenger” nor is this about Mesut Ozil and his exceptional stats as one of the best playmakers in European football right now. Today I have read host of articles and blogs and spoken with friends who support different clubs mainly on the Ozil transfer – like always there have been articles that have been painted with a negative brush. Some people just cannot accept Arsenal doing something good for their own sake. These people don’t want to see the Arsenal perspective or the bright side ever; they just have their personal agenda and biased opinion to boost their own ego and they will always spurt nonsense vile about Arsenal. Hence this blog is to counter them and also accept some of the valid points and to find a way around that. Every problem has a solution!

So what are they saying?
  1.       Arsenal did not need an Ozil more than they needed a Fellaini or a Benzema or a David Luiz or a Dani Alves.
  2.       Mesut Ozil needs to be complemented with other star players to get better out of him.
  3.       Arsene Wenger left it too late with large portion of warchest still unspent. Spurs spent 100m compared to only 50m by Le Prof.
  4.       One signing will NOT win a trophy. Arsenal fans celebrating too early.


I think it’s always easy to say ‘Spend some fuckin’ money’, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ , ‘X is better than Y but Z is cheap’ or ‘Team T bought PQRS so they have more chance to reach lofty heights this campaign because Team A only bought a Z’.  It is more difficult to do so in the actual market. An investor knows the value of blue chip stocks in a stock market – they are meant to be bought for long term stability and they always give good returns in a bullish market. A trader will always want to go for derivatives option in order to make more money in the bullish market. I think that is the difference between Arsene Wenger and say AVB or Brendan Rodgers. Arsene is an investor as compared to your intra-day trader AVB who seems to have taken punt on average buys who will perform well in short term.

When we started the summer I think Plan A was always to sign 1 marquee striker first and then 2 or 3 good supporting players. We tried and we failed miserably. We all know that. When Arsene mentioned after the victory over Fener in 2nd leg that transfer window starts now and lot of activity will happen between now and the end of transfer window – I think that was the moment he drafted his Plan B. So Plan B was quiet simple sign the first available marquee player irrespective of the position he plays and the demands of the seller club. Arsene was prepared to pay more than premium for his marquee signing but also kept pursuing the search within talent pool that will fit his valuations. Well we got out marquee signing but not the supporting cast that will complete the squad. Yet I would say it is better than what we envisaged after Aston Villa game.

Imagine a scenario where Wenger landed only support players like Cabaye or Ba or Draxler without a marquee signing on last day, it would have been a total disaster. And I don’t even want to think about public outrage it would have caused by our own set of fans.

Mesut Ozil signing provides the Club with an opportunity, ray of hope for improved performances, improved team spirit (check the tweets from Ramsey, Jack, Cazorla and Poldi) and thus better results. If we can go on a decent run till January with cup competition and Top 3 in sights we can again go big in the market and complete where we left on Sept 2nd – buy those extra bodies that will help overcome the fatigue and  games that come thick and fast in Jan and Feb. With Ozil we have hope for acquisitions in long term and scope for much better results. Think about the commercial side – shirt sales. How many of you have preserved an Arshavin shirt or RvP (Judas) shirt today?? But we all still have our Bergkamp, Henry, Pires, Cesc shirts framed and hanging on the walls…Right??  Right.  I am not even thinking about a trophy yet but the fact that we have taken a foundation step to reach that level of success is what is the most highlighting and the satisfying part of the Ozil deal. So kudos to the team that worked on bringing him to the Ashburton Grove.

Now those who still think signing of Ozil is a redundant signing they need to find a better pastime than Arsenal. Those who want more signings remember it has never been our style to smash 200m on one night let alone the entire summer. Those who want to measure success only in terms of trophy again find a better pastime than football.

As said above every problem has a solution. The problem at this stage is NOT that AW still has portion of warchest left. The focus should be how to build from here with or without Arsene Wenger. Any manager out there will be dying to coach likes of Cazorla, Wilshere, Ozil, Ramsey etc. Any manager out there will be dying to manage a team with resources like ours – CL, sponsors, stadium and a global fan base. We’ve everything going in our favor except the trophy bit. If we are to continue with Wenger there has to be strict timelines as to this season or next or at max the one after in 2015-16 we need to win PL title and team that boasts of 6-7 Ozil category (top top super exceptional) players and 9-10 Flamini category (hardworking and point to prove) players. The warchest is still there – it is not Wenger’s to take away so if he leaves at end of this season we can bring in new manager with new ideas and he will spend this cash to achieve the same objectives within same timelines that were set for Wenger.

As I see it there are no problems but there is an opportunity to go to the next level. And all this is because of the arrival of Mesut Ozil. Up The Arsenal. :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fourth Place Race Explained !

Hello All.
What an agonising weekend it was for Arsenal fans! Southampton held Tottenham until last minute winner from Gareth Bale whose curled finish from left foot left many Gooners biting their nails. And then the Champions hosted Benitez's Blues side and looked so disinterested in the game till few mins off added time in first half. RvP deliberately kept going at the far post when Valencia crossed everything near post. Chelsea managed to score a winner; again very late in the game as Mata's shot deflected off Jones and off the frame and trickled into the goal past Lindergaard. While Spurs and Chelsea scored late goals; Arsenal's Theo Walcott scored the fastest goal of the season (21 secs) and then basically switched off the for the rest of 92 mins and 39 secs of the game. 3 points are all that matters but such close is the race that 3 points matter only if other results go our way.

The league table stands as is:
Chelsea 68
Arsenal 67
Spurs 65

Here I present you all permutations that may go into the fight for securing Top 4.



What is pretty much obvious from above permutations is Arsenal's fate is not in their own hands. But also most of the fate will be decided based on the outcome of Chelsea v Spurs game on Tuesday. And the best possible result for us will be that Chelsea beat Spurs. If chelsea beat spurs they are in driver's seat for 3rd place But those who have a strong heart and are willing to risk their lives for 2 more weeks would like to hope that both teams drop points and expect it to be a draw. If the game is a draw then the race goes down to the wire... (I am one of those! see below) :-)



My gut feeling is we will still finish Top 4. We might finish level on points with Chelsea. All that players and manager needs to do is perform...get out there, sweat it out, bleed if required and ensure maximum points in all the games.  And same message goes out for Gooners... make noise, make more noise get behind the team such that every cheer from the stands, terraces, in front of  television sets, at the screening or if you're listening on the radio leads to opposition making mistake and we scoring a goal. COYG!!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Winter Sonnet

Give me some sunshine, 
Oh Lord to thee I pray,
Give homeless some shelter,
To spend night and day.

Give me some sunshine,
Oh Lord to thee I pray,
Give protests some peace,
Coz Rome wasn't built in a day.

Give me some sunshine,
Oh Lord to thee I pray,
Give ODI Champions a challenge,
Else we remain champions of yesterday.

Alarm clock rings frozen as I lay,
Hey but Thank God It's Friday!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Best Of Last 20 Years In The PL

Hello All.

A quick post about the awards season now that PL drawing to close.

There is a contest going on the Premier League site. Make sure you vote for the best. Although some of the nominations I don't agree that they merit to be short listed.

So the categories for Public Votes and Panel Votes are

PUBLIC VOTES

  • Best Goal
  • Best Match
  • Best Save
  • Best Celebration

PANEL VOTES

  • Best Team
  • Best Players
  • Best Quote
  • Best Season
  • Best Manager

PANEL & PUBLIC VOTES

Fantasy Team

Here's my pick in each of the categories:

Best Goal
Dennis Bergkamp, Newcastle United v Arsenal 2001/02 (sheer artistry in that goal Only he knows how he did it!)

David Beckham, Wimbledon v Man U 1996/97 (This goal is my introduction to football. In India the sport has got popular because of David Beckham and this goal from half line)

But my all time 20 seasons favorite favorite PL goal has to be Henry's goal against Liverpool on Boxing Day when he side stepped 2 defenders to score... even Robert Pires was left stranded and mesmerised on the pitch Arsenal won 4-2 on that day.

Eventually I have voted for Beckham's goal.

Best Match
Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal 2008/09 (obvious reason being Arsenal fan and for Arshavin 4 goals)

Portsmouth 7-4 Reading 2007/08 (great spectacle for a neutral just in terms of # of goals scored)

I have voted for Liverpool v Arsenal :)

Best Celebration
Temuri Ketsbaia, Newcastle v Bolton 1997/98
(What madness shown by the player. Loved it. Laughed it. Wow!!!)

Best Save
Jussi Jaskelainen, Man U v Bolton 2001/02
(Any save against United has to be good and he did twice and denied from close range)

If I were on Panel then my votes would be

Best Team - Arsenal, The Invincibles

Best Player - Thierry Henry

Best Quote - "I did not see the incident." OR "Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home."

Best Season - 2002-03, Although Arsenal lost to Leeds handing United the title. I think this season onwards PL became more marketable product and started getting more exposure on the Asian markets, particularly India.

Best Manager - Sir Alex Fergusson beats Arsene Wenger by 0.000000000000001. Fine margins there.

Fantasy Team:

VDS - Dixon - Adams - Vidic - Cole - C Ronaldo - Paul Scholes - Vieira - Pires - Nistelrooy - Henry

Going by Fantasy Rules of not having more than 3 players of same team and say try and fit into 100m purchase kitty.

VDS - Petrescu - Adams - Vidic - Le Saux - Beckham - Vieira - Matt Le Tissier - David Ginola - Shearer - Henry

And about some real nominations for this season - hope Robin van Persie gets PFA Player of the Season award. Who Needs Batman, We Have Robin!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Whoever wins the mini league wins the title!

Hello All.

I am writing after a long time due to sudden availability of time at work place. In my long absence I have missed paying tributes to Rahul Dravid on his retirement, Sachin Tendulkar on his 100th hundred and Arsenal's new 7 game winning streak. So for all those great guys and great moments I say just two words - Thank You!

Now moving on to something which I can post about which is about to happen in next 2 months. Premier League title race, race for Top 4, race for relegation, IPL season 5 and F1 "Kimi" Returns. This blog will focus only on the Premier League title race and race for Top 4. 

So here we go.

EPL Mini League Table – 2010/11 season
Team
P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Points
Man U
10
5
2
3
14
10
4
17
Liverpool
10
4
2
4
14
13
1
14
Arsenal
10
3
4
3
14
12
2
13
Tottenham
10
3
4
3
11
11
0
13
Chelsea
10
4
1
5
11
12
-1
13
Man C
10
3
3
4
6
12
-6
12

A few pointers from last season
  • Man C is bottom of the mini league. Last season they had bought horde of holding midfielders for 150m and as a result they scored very few goals and still have a negative goal difference of -6.
  • Liverpool played well against top teams but not so well against lower teams.
  • Arsenal is above Tottenham with a positive goal difference of 2. 
  • Chelsea have the highest loss % - 50% games lost
  • Man U keep plugging away silently with sometimes help of referees and manage to win the league every time.
  • The mini league was closer and games against each other were competitive. There were 16 draws last season and deviation in goal difference is 3.4.
EPL Mini League Table – 2011/12 season so far
Team
P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Points
Man U
9
6
2
1
26
16
10
20
Man C
8
6
1
1
22
8
14
19
Arsenal
8
3
0
5
16
21
-5
9
Liverpool
9
2
3
4
8
14
-6
9
Tottenham
10
2
3
5
13
21
-8
9
Chelsea
8
1
3
4
12
17
-5
6

A few pointers from this season
  • The mini league has been one sided this year. Only one of the team has dominated the fixture against each other. There have been 12 draws so far and deviation in goal difference is 9.4.
  • 80% of Man U’s positive goal difference can be attributed to their two Arsenal matches.
  • 80% of Man C’s positive goal difference can be attributed to their back to back heavy wins earlier in the season against Man U (6-1) and Spurs (5-0)
  • Arsenal is the only team with no draws and yet they are in third place on the mini-League table. Proving, once again, that playing for a draw is almost always the worst tactic possible.
  • Liverpool have not performed as well as they did last season against Top 6
  • Man C corrected their short coming from last season by scoring 22 goals and also conceding only 8 goals after spending 200m on strikers and defenders.
  • No matter how the season starts, Spurs are and will always be below Arsenal :)
  • Chelsea has the lowest win % - 12% of games won so far.
  • As it stands, both Man U and Man City have taken 27% of their total points haul from their top six competitors.
CONCLUSION:
Based on the above stats, it is safe to predict that Manchester derby on 30th April will be the title decider. But it would be so much better if Arsenal wins their game on 8th April at Emirates against City’s mercenaries and which could also firmly put United in cruise control mode of the league.

Predictions for mini league table at the end of the season

Team
P
Points
Man U
38
93
Man C
38
88
Arsenal
38
80
Tottenham
38
72
Chelsea
38
69
Newcastle
38
63
Liverpool
38
57

Once again thanks everyone for reading. Enjoy the summers. :) :) :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Is F1 Indian Grand Prix A Boon Or Curse?


This is my first ever blog on a F1 race. I am delighted to present this case in a most simplest of manners like I have done on many of my previous posts. The wait for one of the greatest sporting spectacles in India will soon get over. The 17th Grand Prix of the season and with Championship winner already known, this race could provide us with an entertaining climax to the season. The event has already drawn its own critics and admirers and as always it is a case of “Every coin has 2 sides” and I am willing to call “Heads” and I hope I am not proved wrong by the event organizers. But before that an overview of Indian Grand Prix – 

Overview: The Indian Grand Prix will be held at Buddha International Circuit, Greater Noida just at the outskirts of New Delhi, the capital of India. The circuit has been designed under the supervision of Jaypee Group and is approx. 3.31 miles and the cars will run as many as 61 times across the circuit covering 16 corners.

Tails: There are a few handful people who have said that F1 in India is a complete waste of money. Primarily the reason being it is a sport which very less people in India can actually afford to think of taking up as profession. The sport itself is prone to accidents and the F1 drivers have to go through a lot during the simulators tests and on the race days. Then we have had environment related concerns before getting approval nods for building the huge Jaypee Sports Complex not only for F1 race but for other sports in near future. The problem with space as for F1 races not only the cars but huge machinery setup that comes in separate flights require space as much as a size of a football field. The F1 races usually have all the paparazzi along with them which lead to another top issue of security forces which the country regularly faces with. Looking closer at only the racing aspect how many Indians have actually made it in this sport – just 2 out of 2 billion people. That itself says a lot about awareness of F1 in India. I can basically understand from where these insecurities are being expressed. It is the failure of Commonwealth games and corruption. People fear if such malpractices have again been adopted in hyping up the F1 Indian GP.

Heads: I am sure the lessons have been learnt and this is India’s best opportunity to put itself on global map once again after the CWG debacle. Indian GP epitomizes changing trends in Formula 1. It is an acknowledgement of India's economic clout and its status as one of the world's most happening automobile markets. It is therefore natural that a sport, whose heart and soul is in automobile engineering excellence achieved by some of the best known car manufacturers that they should come here. It also gives a chance to corporate India to put its marketing skills on display as various brands constantly flash on TV ads reminding us about the F1 race, the drivers and the skills and everything else a PR could creatively come up with. Events like these lead to awareness and might perhaps give rise to a budding F1 racer in India. A program called as X Factor started by Dr. Vijay Mallya, co-owner of Sahara Force India F1 car to search for India’s next driver. And as and when more people start understanding the finer aspects of the making of F1 car, we would not only have drivers but technicians also manning the pit lanes. There has been sudden increase in count of visitors to Go-Kart circuits across the country. And of course the tourism industry gets a boost with foreign delegates travelling into the country. Still F1 is not all about money. Think about it from a racing perspective – no matter how many laps a driver does on simulator test – it is quite a different prospect to actually be there on the newest track on a Friday practice session or a Saturday qualifying lap than a Sunday race day. I am hoping to see some over taking maneuvers attempted rather than the tyres and pit stop strategy to win the race.

I have not watched F1 race with a keen interest as I have watched may be football or cricket. But always been a huge fan of Ferrari and Kimi Raikonnen. So I will be cheering for the Scuderia on Sunday hoping either Fernando Alonso or Felipe Massa finish first and the Red Bulls occupy the remaining spots on the podium.

It is time…
To smell the rubber burning…
To hear the engine clattering…
To feel the heart stopping at hairpins…
To see the jubilation as the cars cross the finish line…
As the Chequered Flag is waved.