CWC 2011

The event that was an Indian obsession for the past couple of months, called the Cricket World Cup 2011, has come to an end. It will forever be etched in desi memories, just as any Indian Cricket fan that watched the game can replay the shots of that remarkable 83 final from their memory banks. As an Indian fan, I enjoyed this tournament thoroughly, and yes, Indian team lifting the cup at the end has a good deal to do with it. Nonetheless, there are also a number of reasons why I am glad it is over, not the least of which is to stop embarrassing myself in the company of my friends.

If you watch Cricket matches with friends and family, you must be familiar with that character who is an amrchair analyst, you know the one I am talking about, the one who knows what is better for your team at all times. He knows best what the team composition should be for each game based on the pitch and the opposition, he knows what the right batting order is, he knows the type of shot each batsman should and shouldn’t play based on the situation and bowler, he knows who should bowl when and how may overs they should bowl, he knows the right line and length on every ball of every over for every batsman, and he knows the right field placement for them all. He not only knows all this, he never fails to let you know that he knows all there is to know about Cricket. He doesn’t second guess, he first guesses and lets everyone else know that he predicted the results with the greatest Cricketing knowledge any one person can possess, outside of Ian Chappell. Essentially, he is the most annoying company that you can have the misfortune to watch any sporting event with, not just a Cricket match. I hate to admit it, but I am that character. Cricket and only Cricket has that evil power to transform me into that a-hole. Looking back now, I admire my parents for their patience in resisting the temptation to kick me out of the house during Cricket matches. I would have never put up with it myself – son or no son. While my family clearly enjoyed this world cup better because of my absence, as I gathered from the phone calls during and after Indian matches, I ended up subjecting my friends here to this annoynace, the ones who had the misfortunate to watch this World Cup with me. In order to dilute their pain, I thought I will share my genius with the rest of the world with a mere sampling of my reactions during the finals.

Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy – WTF?

I like Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, I really do. I liked their music from the first time I heard them in Rockford, and their work in Mission Kashmir and Dil Chahta Hai. For the most part, they’ve managed to maitain a high quality and a different sound, but the tripe they dished out for this world cup theme song was just plain abominal. Now that it is over, I am thankful it cannot be forced down my throat again. I expected better from a really talented band for such a huge occassion.
Listen to it and tell me if you disagree.

Finals Toss Gate

CWC 2011 Finals Toss Gate

What really happened during the toss? Did Sangakkara call Heads or Tails? Dhoni thought he called Tails and told Shastri they were going to bat. Sangakkara claims he called Heads. Jeff Crowe, whose only purpose there was to listen to the call, said he couldn’t hear anything due to the noise. Michael Vaughan from BBC TMS tweeted that Sangakkara was up to some skulduggery as he, just like Dhoni, heard Sangakkara call Tails. Well, I always thought it was a good toss to lose. While the pressure of chasing a potential 250+ score in the world cup finals can be huge, with dew about to accumulate under the lights, combined with the strength of Indian batting, I was hoping they would chase, even while Dhoni would have preferred to bat if he won the toss. After this intentional Randiv no-ball to deny a Sehwag century in an inevitable Lanka loss, I wouldn’t put it past Sangakkara to commit such hera pheri, but he is the only one who knows what truly happened. You know what they say about Karma though.

Sreesanth? Seriously, Sreesanth?

Sreesanth? Seriously?

Ok, Dhoni is off the hook for finding his form in the nick of time to take India past the finish line, but seriously.. Sreesanth? What was he thinking? Sreesanth? He could have picked any decently athletic spectator from the crowd and would have done better than that selection. How can you take an off-hand gamble that somehow he is going to take 5 wickets and win the match for you in the FINALS when the only game he played was the opener in Mirpur against that powerhouse Bangladesh team that was knocked out for a grand total of 58 by West Indies, but managed to plaster his out-of-control, listless crap to a tune of 5-0-53-0! Wasn’t there one sane person in that Indian think tank who stood up against this insanity? What did poor Ashwin do to deserve this snub. He seems like an intelligent, level-headed young man with an added variety to his bowling who gives an honest effort on the field. His omission through out the tournament has been quite inexplicable and to discard him for Sreesanth, might warrant a suicide watch on him.

Zaheer.. yes, you’re the man!

Zaheer Khan, yes, you're the man!

I can’t get enough of Zaheer Khan’s reactions when he takes a wicket! For a batsman, he has the look of a man who knows he has your number and better yet, he knows that the you know he has your number. Arms out, a cocky smirk on his face, as if to ask, did you enjoy that performance? All this, while the other guy who opened the attack was being smacked around like a red-headed stepchild, no offense to any stepchildren. Yes sir Zaheer, you are the man!

Man hugs gone out of control!

Man hugs gone crazy

I understand it is a big occassion and you ought to be thrilled when you take a key wicket, but whats with Yuvraj and Raina and their excessive man hugs.. it is beginning to get just a bit ackward. What happened to a simple hand shake, a high five, or a pat on the back.. though if Yuvraj promises to take wickets like this for the rest of his career, he could plant full blooded chummas on Raina’s face for all I care.

Take a bow Jayawardane!

Jayawardane - A classy knock from a classy guy

Class shots, class innings, class game, and an all around class guy! Unlike an almost abnormal suspicion that festers within me against Sangakkara, I’ve always liked Jayawardane and his batting. A touch artist, who rarely bashes the ball, he reminds me of a John McEnroe or a Miloslav Mecir in Tennis, who sliced and diced their opponents to death with timing and placement. Alas, with the power game taking over, those days are no more, but here’s a tennis fan’s delight – Mac vs Mecir.

Not sure if Mrs. Jayawardane got enough air time.

Mrs. Jayawardane, quite a coach.

I don’t think people saw enough of Mrs. Jayawardane during her husband’s innings. Once is cute, twice is tolerable, thrice is stretching it, but you show her more than you show the players on the field, it gets to be bloody irritating. Yes, I know.. behind every successful batsman, there is a woman who coaches her husband how to be a better batsman, or like my hero Siddhu said in the post-game chat quoting Maryon Pearson – “Behind every successful man, there is a suprised woman”

What’s with Sangakkara and that Donald Duck helmet?

Sangakkara and his helmet

Alright, what is the story behind that Donald Duck helmet Sangakkara wears? Is it his fashion statement? His unique look? What is the deal? As a Cricket know-it-all, I need to know. If it is part of his smug, slick persona.. thats fine, but I’ve been watching it for a few years now, and still no one ever mentions anything about it even when it stands out like an eye sore.

Fan reaction to Sehwag wicket

Fan distress at Sehwag's wicket

No suprise that the crowd reacted to every Indian wicket like a death in the family. People covering their faces, women stuffing their mouths with sarees, Aamir Khan glaring with bloodshot eyes like he is chasing bad guys in Sarfarosh, I guess it is befitting a home crowd in a World cup final with their home team playing for all the marbles. The atmosphere was electric and you could feel the tension from the crowd seep through the TV set. Perhaps a little overboard, but this unscripted drama is what makes sports great and I’ll take this over some apathetic hand clapping in between some pretentious book reading that is a norm in some other countries.

Run Malinga run!

Malinga - jubilation after Tendulkar wicket

You are the guy your team is looking to make an impact with. You already took out the most dangerous hitter on the planet. 35,000 crazy people are screaming like there is no tomorrow because a living legend that they automatically expect to score his 100th 100 tonight is looking in sublime touch. You just shut them all up into a pin-drop silence by sending that guy back to the dressing room. You are entitled to run around the ground with your arms stretched out to see if you can fly. Lanka lost because they didn’t have enough Malingas. He was awesome as advertised. Indian strategy was simple. Survive Malinga, target the others. Kulasekara and Perera were crap. Sri Lanka evened out the dumb decision making from their counter parts, perhaps with some over-analysis of their own when they made four changes for the final, and brought in two pacemen to replace their two effective and successful spinners in Ajanta Mendis and Rangana Herath. Go figure.

Catch of the night

Dilshan - super catch.

Dilshan’s catch of Kohli was stupendous. Here’s a guy in Dilshan who was a bit unfortunate in the way he got out, but came back just to produce a breakthrough and managed to pull off a stunner to keep his team in the game. He is still young enough, has loads of talent, has a golden arm, is a great fielder and a devastating batsman. When it is all said and done, I think he will manage to surpass the great Jayasurya.

Shot of the night

Gambhir - shot of the night.

This shot from Gamhir, as he heaved a Perera pie over midwicket was the best shot of the day in my book. He charged the ball, like he does often to seamers, got into position and swung across the line and caught it flush. With the sweet sound of that perfect contact combined with the left hander’s elegance, it was a treat to watch the ball blast over the inner circle into the ropes.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Gambhir - gone

This time, he wanted to get to his 100 with an inside out swipe over cover, off Perera again and got an inside edge onto the middle stump. As much as the experts have admonished him for that shot at that time, it is a major part of Gambhir’s arsenal. In many ways, his innings was perhaps more valuable than Dhoni’s.

Aamir Khan and that ludicrous moustache

Aamir Khan and his ridiculous moustache

All I can say is, even with that ridiculous, fake-ish moustache he is sporting, I’d rather it be Aamir Khan and not that media whore, Salman Khan. It would have ruined my night to see Salman and his overacting histrionics in the middle of world cup finals.

A shot heard around India

Dhoni - blasting the winning six!

..ball from the winning hit soaring into Mumbai night

After all his curtailed flair as he dibbed and dabbed through out his winning knock, once it was all over but the shouting, Dhoni unleashed his power to send a Kulasekara ball soaring into the Mumbai night to end the game and win the cup, sendinng the lathered up crowd into utter delirium.. a perfect ending to a dream tournament for the hosts.

That somewhat creepy looking Tendulkar fan with the cup

Tendulkar sharing the cup with his "#1 fan"

I read the story where this guy, a self proclaimed #1 Tendulkar fan, goes to every India match with a free ticket from Tendulkar. I guess, it is generous of Tendulkar to recognize a fan and pay him that type of attention, but something about the guy makes me uneasy. Is he ever not in this costume? How long does it take for him to paint himself like that? What does he do for a living? Does he not have a job to go to? Does he plan to retire from this gig when Tendulkar retires? Has anyone ever dared to ask him that question or are they going to give hime free tickets for all games and let him retire at his own free will like his idol?

Coolest shot with the cup

Cool shot! Kumble sharing the cup with Sachin (cricinfo)

This is my favorite shot of the cup. Kumble holding it and Sachin whooping it up. With two of the top 3 Indian Cricketers of all time (Sachin, Kapil, Kumble, Sunny, Dravid.. in that order for me) sharing the moment, thats a rare shot of unbridled joy among two individuals whose achievements span across two decades of excellence.

This Indian team and these group of cricketers will be kings for the rest of their lives. They’ve been able to win this tournament without their esteemed batting lineup clicking on all cylinders, and their bowling that was mauled early did just enough to keep them in games, and they got timely contributions from everyone on the team. As for Dhoni, if you go by the airtime he gets being on every other ad on Indian TV, he might still be a bit overrated as a batsman, but his accomplishments as a captain speak for themselves. The T20 world championship, #1 Test ranking, IPL championship, T20 Champions league, and now the World Cup at home, he has done it all.. and chalking off everything to luck is getting to be more and more difficult. Beyond just having great players on his teams, at some point, the entire package of natural leadership, an instinct for tactical nous, a determination to succeed and a cool head at all times has to be acknowledged over mere luck behind the heights his teams have scaled. He is already the best Indian captain by miles and whether he can keep this up or not, he will forever remain up there among the top Indian sporting greats with majority of his career still ahead of him.