Monday, February 2, 2015

Remember the 90s

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30 is a very odd age to be.
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For those younger, it is an age too old to matter and for those older, too young an age to be taken seriously.
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Not that it doesn't have a few advantages.
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Being 30 means that the 90s are part of your mental make-up. The age of Kumar Sanu singing for very oddly dressed film stars with even odder hairdos, seeing the first 'real' cars show up on Indian roads and the thrill of having more than one TV channel on air - you know what I am talking about.
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Most importantly, you remember that Indian cricket team, the REAL Indian cricket team. A time when Rajesh Chauhan and Hrishikesh Kanitkar were the toast of the nation, if only for a week or two. When "Venkatesh Prasad's slower one" seemed like a bad joke... until of course he got Aamir Sohail in that match. When Robin Singh and Ajay Jadeja scrambled together many a thrilling match winning partnership... against the likes of Zimbabwe & Kenya. 
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Yet we cheered. For that team. Knowing full well that our boys had not a chance in hell against the likes of Allan Donald and Wasim Akram. The boys did surprise us though with little patches of sunshine. The Hero Cup win of 1992, the intermittent flashes of brilliance from the bats of Azhar and Tendulkar, the "judgement given but off stump knocked back" moments of Javagal Srinath v/s Ejaz Ahmed - all remembered in HD in a time of great desolation & deprivation.
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The anger and the frustration, the non-stop assault on our self confidence, the desperate clinging onto every obscure superstition known to man - all in the hope of futile victory. We remember.
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At a time like this, a couple of weeks before our big title defence, those memories are oddly... a source of strength. Yes, our bowling attack is bat fodder and yes, our star batsmen are little puppies reacting to vacuum cleaners when the ball starts to swing. For all of the complaints against the present team, they are really not that bad.
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The primary reason for my faith is that this team is led by a man who is a personal hero, even though clearly "after my time". Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been a divisive figure of late but I tend to stand my ground on my original opinion of him. Clear headed, calm, aggressive, explosive - Dhoni is simultaneously all of this, without any apparent contradiction. India has never had a captain/player like him and in MSD I trust.
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Virat Kohli, whose irritating sledging based aggression I like only when Australia is the opponent ('coz they've earned it :P), is nevertheless a reliably spectacular batsman. His drive to win is maniacal and some maniacs are always welcome. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, casual as sometimes they may be, are when in their groove, unstoppable. 
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To keep the sanity, there is always the eye pleasing Ajinkya Rahane, whose stable-aggressive-technical combination is a rarity in flamboyant batting sides like India. Suresh Raina is by now an old hand. He knows what to do. I am willing to overlook his poor performance in this most recent series. He almost always steps up for the big games.
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The fast bowlers I won't even discuss but Mohammad Shami & Bhuvaneshwar Kumar need to get their act together as they are the only ones on whom any hopes can rest. Sir Jadeja and RAshwin? Well, it's Australia and New Zealand so expect from them at best the containment of runs. In short, the bowling attack must concede only such an amount of runs that our batsmen can chase. Or the stick wielders must score enough that even their pie-chuckers can defend.
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The contenders are many - South Africa, Australia and New Zealand bringing strong squads to the melee. Of late, the Indian cricket team has been horrific. The stars as they say are clearly not aligned. 
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What then should we do for World Cup 2014? Nothing special I would say. Nothing you haven't done before.
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Put your faith in things more than likely to disappoint. Be prepared for the inevitable but in your heart, nurture little sparks of hope. Because there is no other way. Because we don't know any other way. Because we don't want to know any other way.
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This is who we are. This is our team. This is our dream.
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#WeWontGiveItBack


2 comments:

Ankur Yadav said...

Do not forget the nepotism tarred dark horse Binny..he just might be our joginder sharma of this WC

Roy said...

@Ankur: Yes. So we hope. Will make up for his plane fare to and fro... :)