AR Hemant

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Somewhat of a contrarian.

Blog Posts by AR Hemant

  • India win, but Pakistan go through

    SA lose by one run, yet Pakistan qualify for semifinals with a better run rate.

    Scores | Action In Images | Results So Far | Fixtures | Full Coverage

    Four wins out of five, yet India will go home.

    Funny are the vagaries of cricket. It’s the second round of a World Cup and a team that lost today — Australia — is going to the semifinals. And the team that won later in the evening — India — is going home. It’s hard to think of another sport where such an oddity would occur at a World Cup.

    But that’s the Super Eights format for you – an ICC invention that allows one team to get away with a bad day, and another team to pay for it through its nose; one that makes calculators more important than bats and balls. India won four games out of five in the tournament, the same as Australia, but one bad spell of 10-odd overs against Australia did them in.

    Compare that to the West Indies: they are in the semifinals despite one win less than India, and only one outright win if you discount winning by a Super Over. This run-rate gobbledygook could have been avoided with the simple yet effective knockouts format which would Read More »from India win, but Pakistan go through
  • The real heroes of Indian cricket

    On Teacher's Day, a thank you to the gurus who can’t be thanked enough.

    It all started on the cramped back seat of a scooter. To Sushil Kapoor, a bank employee of modest means who would blow his monthly salary on a rag-tag bunch of cricketers in Chandigarh.

    At a time when sports as a career option was frowned upon, Kapoor would arrange matches for these kids, ferry them long distances and spend much money on feeding their ever-hungry mouths.

    Travelling long distances for cricket games was a problem. Kapoor had a two-seater scooter and four adolescent boys to carry. He would squeeze two on the back seat, ride a mile and then drop them. He would then go back to fetch the other two boys who would have jogged some of the distance. He would ride with them till the first two boys were in sight. This tedious process would go on till they had reached their destination.

    The riches of cricket — IPL, the multi-million salaries, the endorsements — were many decades away. Kapoor simply did it for the love of the game.

    ***

    To  A.N. Sharma, an aspiring footballer who was ill-treated by football coaches in Delhi and couldn’t

    Read More »from The real heroes of Indian cricket
  • Don’t start the party yet

    India’s 2-0 win masks their Test inadequacies. Here are 4 issues they must fix


    Indian cricket had a happy fortnight. The youth team won the World Cup. The senior team crushed New Zealand, thanks to a long-awaited revival of its spin department. Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha combined to take 31 out of the 40 Kiwi wickets in the series. It was a nod to the last decade when Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh would decimate visiting sides.

    Runs for Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara also brought relief. It was also heartening to see them trying to be their own persons, expressing themselves in their own style instead of being pigeon-holed into the roles played by the recently-retired greats. 

    But don’t let the 2-0 score-line fool you into believing that all’s well with the Indian squad. Beating a depleted team on the dry wickets at home is one thing; being ready for tougher challengers like South Africa and Australia quite another.

    The new selection committee will be named in a few days. We have a list of issues we hope they can take head-on instead of the Read More »from Don’t start the party yet
  • Spiritual hogwash

    The spirit of cricket should stop interfering with its laws.

    Kartik's mankading this week raises questions about the relevance of aged notions. Exhibit A

    Pepsi knows a thing or two about the zeitgeist. Their latest television commercial shows youth icon Ranbir Kapoor harassing MS Dhoni. Ranbir instructs the India captain to lose his good manners at the World Twenty20. “Yeh T20 hai, boss*,” he says. “Yeh na tameez se khela jata hai, na tameez se dekha jaata hai.”

    It’s unclear if Pepsi formed this cringeworthy opinion by watching only those games that Munaf Patel has played. But they are probably right in suggesting that the game has changed since the time the old fogies at Marylebone Cricket Club defined the Spirit of Cricket. Which brings us to...

    Exhibit B

    At the U-19 World Cup recently, Bangladesh’s Soumya Sarkar mankaded Australia’s Jimmy Pierson. Australia asked Bangladesh to reconsider their appeal. Bangladesh didn’t budge. They had a quarterfinal to win. Australia's coach Stuart Law showed his progressive outlook by not whinging about cricket’s spirit being violated by the run-out. “It is in the laws of cricket... it is

    Read More »from Spiritual hogwash
  • Surprise, surprise - it's raining in Hyderabad

    Highlights of Day 3 in the Hyderabad Test


    Dark clouds over Uppal.

    SURPRISE, SURPRISE!

    There’s a reason why there had never been a Test match in India in August. It rains in August! Sadly, this didn’t occur to the wise men running cricket in India and New Zealand. After a rain-free first day in Hyderabad, the monsoonal downpours have interrupted proceedings thrice. Day 2 got off to a delayed start and so did Day 3. The day ended prematurely with heavy downpours in the evening session. Showers are expected in Hyderabad the next two days. In Bangalore, the venue of the second Test, has had heavy showers this week too. One hopes the cricket board doesn’t repeat this organisational buffoonery.

    ‘LIKE SHOOTING FISH IN A BARREL’

    It means doing something ridiculously easy. Discovery Channel recently decided to put this idiom to test. They put some fish in a barrel and shot them. They discovered they didn’t even need to hit the fish. The bullets entering the water created shockwaves that made the fish belly-upRead More »from Surprise, surprise - it's raining in Hyderabad
  • Hyderabad Test: An Indian first and opening woes

    Highlights of the first day's play between India and New Zealand

    It's that shot again. Scores | Images | Day 1 Report

    AN 'AUGUST' OCCASION  


    When was the last time a Test match was played in August in India? You’d have to go back to 1933 searching for this elusive fixture and you still won’t find it because the short answer to that question is ‘never’. When it was announced, this series tweening India’s two trips to Sri Lanka seemed odd. After all this is the rainy season.

    The Indian cricket season typically begins with the monsoon waning towards September. The earliest a Test match has been played in India was in 1979 when Australia played in Chennai on September 11. To find the last instance of a September Test series in India, you’d have to go to the tied Test of 1986. But at the moment there’s a drought-like situation in India, and the southern parts of India (which are hosting these fixtures) tend not to receive heavy rains at this time of the year. The clouds may give these games a miss after all.

    THE LOST TOSS

    The toss was a blow to Ross Taylor. He’s playing four

    Read More »from Hyderabad Test: An Indian first and opening woes
  • The Case Against Personal Records

    The clamour to let Tendulkar get his hundred has drowned out saner opinions on Indian cricket.

    A young fan is dejected after Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed six runs short of his 100th hundred in international cricket in the Mumbai Test. A young fan is dejected after Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed six runs short of his 100th hundred in international cricket in the Mumbai Test.

    A young fan is dejected after Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed six runs short of his 100th hundred in international cricket in the Mumbai Test.

    Confusion of goals and perfection of means seems to characterize our age, Albert Einstein once said. Such was the story at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.

    Just after Sachin Tendulkar narrowly missed the milestone everyone has been waiting for, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan quipped that India ought to follow on to give Tendulkar another shot at that hundredth hundred.

    The quip was demeaning to the sport. It also belittled two fine young cricketers — Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin — attempting to minimise India’s damages while trying to secure their careers. Should they have thrown their wickets so Tendulkar could bat again?

    It overlooked the fact that India were miles away from saving the follow-on, and further away from securing the match. Aren’t

    Read More »from The Case Against Personal Records
  • Day 3 at the Wankhede

    (During the course of the third Test between India and the West Indies at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai we’ll post live updates, analysis, reader comments and reactions. Please hit F5 periodically for new posts.)


    Tendulkar was unbeaten on 67. Tomorrow may be the day.

    Stumps, Day 3 - India 281-3 - Before individual milestones take over, the bigger picture stands as thus: India are still 110 runs from avoiding the follow-on mark. But given the docile nature of this pitch, a stalemate is the most likely outcome in Mumbai.

    Tendulkar had raced to 26 off 31. The highlight shot of his innings was the uppercut for six off Fidel Edwards, immediately after Edwards beat him with a short ball first thing after lunch. But since then, Tendulkar has dragged on painfully slowly, finishing the day with 41 more runs off 102 balls.

    As Sanjay Manjrekar said, "He's made too much of an issue about Bishoo."

    This would hardly rate as one of Tendulkar's better knocks. But hardcore fans may disagree. They

    Read More »from Day 3 at the Wankhede
  • Why Vinod? And Why Now?

    Questions flood the mind after Kambli’s latest comments. How seriously should we take him?Questions flood the mind after Kambli’s latest comments. How seriously should we take him?

    Questions flood the mind after Kambli’s latest comments. How seriously should we take him?

    There are two visuals on my screen. Both of them have Vinod Kambli in tears.

    In the first, he’s walking off the park. Fifteen years ago, that image helped us register that our World Cup dream had come to a painful end. In the other, he’s telling us why the dream may have ended. But that's the problem: it was 15 years ago.

    "I would never betray my country, betray my team. Today my heart feels lighter because ... that 1996 match... I would never forget it in my life... because after that match, my career was finished off... shit...," Kambli told a news channel in broken sentences before hiding his teary face from the camera. What incentive did he have to air his case, however weak, on national television?

    Kambli suggests that Mohammad Azharuddin's infamous decision to field in the World Cup semifinal was not what the team (according to Kambli) had agreed on, and therefore something was amiss.

    The

    Read More »from Why Vinod? And Why Now?
  • Record-breaking Day in Cape Town

    The scoreboard at the Newlands on Thursday when Australia folded for 47, right after South Africa had made 96.

    In an epic day of cricket at Newlands, Cape Town, several records were shattered - but not in a manner the two teams would appreciate.

    Australia folded for 47 in their second innings, a collapse so dramatic, it took only a few minutes for South Africa's supporters to get over the fact that their team had made just 96.

    It was a day that belonged more in the 19th century, when such collapses were more commonplace due to uncovered wickets and lack of protective gear for batsmen.

    Not Since 1896...

    In this extraordinary day, 23 wickets fell, with both teams batting twice. Australia completed their first innings by losing two wickets today. South Africa went to lunch at 49-1.

    By the end of the noon session, 12 more wickets had fallen on both sides, for 60 runs.

    Eight more wickets fell in the evening session, but only one on the South African side, displaying that it wasn't the

    Read More »from Record-breaking Day in Cape Town

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