Skandan Sampath

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Blog Posts by Skandan Sampath

  • The bat is now a baton

    Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement is an opportunity for India to look at other sports.

    Did you cry when he completed his speech?

    Remember the date.

    Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar retired on 16-11-2013.

    It was a little unfair to expect a century from the batting ace in his final Test. Even if he had taken his helmet off and raised his bat, it wouldn’t have been better than the speech he gave at the end. Between sips of water, Tendulkar spoke to the tear glands, using the language of cricket as his mother tongue. The champion was reaching out to the people responsible for his success, as fans worldwide watched with their hearts. Not their eyes.

    Like his batting, there were shots all around the ground. Except that this straight drive, came straight from the heart.

    A little man who was born to make it big, a 40-year old who was every Indian child’s dream come true. Vicarious that is. Revisiting each one of his hundred hundreds, will be an exercise in nostalgia. Yes. It is difficult to imagine a dressing room without Tendulkar. But for Indian cricket fans, he is a guest who has decided to go back home after 24 years. The uncle Read More »from The bat is now a baton
  • Shot Sachin! The Guide to Tendulkar Trademarks

    Last chance to see these arrows in Tendulkar's quiver.

    Last chance to see these arrows in Tendulkar's quiver.

  • That was a great four

    Sachin Tendulkar has decided to catch up with his retired teammates

    True. The focus is on the retirement of a 40-year old human being.

    But then think about it. It was a chain with four bright beads. One. When Sourav Ganguly left the game, the left-hander left the team behind with the aggression he had taught them to harness.  Two. Rahul Dravid showed how brickbats could be deftly fashioned into a tough wall of defence, that could drive away both bowlers and critics. Three. VVS Laxman’s wrists would be written off, but he learnt to raise his bat, and not his voice. Those who threw the projectiles were forced to turn to prose.  It is now time for the fourth champion to leave. A jewel like the rest.

    There may not be four musketeers, but there are four seasons for certain.

    Sachin Tendulkar is retiring in November. On the 18th to be precise. Looks like it is going to be winter then. The end of an era that made Indian batting a ‘fource’ to reckon with.

    Like four members in a music band. These men were born in the 70s, coming together to bat in the 90s and Read More »from That was a great four
  • Great. Where are you?

    Will the next big thing to hit cricket, be a batsman or a bowler?

    Who will break Sachin Tendulkar's records?

    Are you a bowler or a batsman?

    Let’s play a game then. Think about a great cricketer before you continue reading.

    The generation that played and followed cricket before the T.V and the internet came in, was probably luckier than the one that is watching it these days, with a mouse and a remote control. It was a time when the contest between a batsman and a bowler, was probably a lot more even than it is today. Fans then would have no choice but to watch the game at the ground, or read about it a day later.

    Some of these fans became heroes for their heroes. Was cricket’s past better than its future?

    That was a time when the game was played in whites, and when there were more kids who wanted to become bowlers. Everybody wants to become a batsman these days. The cricketer in the advertisement is always holding a bat. Right? That’s because the dudes playing the gentleman’s game today, hit sixes and fours the same way a maharaj tosses pakora batter into a frying pan with hot oil. Defense these Read More »from Great. Where are you?
  • Staying rooted to his crease

    The question for Joe Root is this. How much better can you get?

    Hoot for Root. Did you see that punch on the back foot?Joe Root.

    The colour of his eyes match the helmet. Right?

    England’s blue-eyed boy got his eye in at Lord’s, with a knock that was the best amongst the twenty two players who featured in the second Ashes Test. This lad displays a lot of poise at the crease, justifying the lovely noise that is being made about his talent with the cricket bat.Mr.Root stands tall at the crease, front foot out even as the bowler runs in.Isn’t that his secret?

    The fulcrum in his technique.Yes.

    For it allows him to transfer his weight a lot quicker, than a lot of other batsmen. If he wants to drive, all he has to do is move his hip forward, leaning into the shot and complete his follow through. Notice the straight drive, and he will remind you of a fencer at work. This son from Yorkshire plays late by preparing early. Not only does it increase the degree of anticipation; it also allows him to leave the ball if he sees that it is going away. When the right-hander wants to cut the ball, he goes back and forth in a

    Read More »from Staying rooted to his crease
  • Mahendra Singh Dhoni: The Jharkhand Jadoogar

    This champion didn't inherit a legacy, instead he has built one, not only for himself but for also the team that plays under him.

    Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Fire in the belly, cooking the kookaburra’s goose. With ice.Is the batsman in Mahendra Singh Dhoni bigger than the wicket-keeper in MS Dhoni?

    Maybe. You wouldn’t have noticed him when he did the duck walk on debut against Bangladesh in December 2004. Joginder Sharma too got his colours, for the first time, in the same game. Nobody was impressed with Dhoni. Yes. The man went ding dong in Chittagong. Cut to April 5, 2005, when he went bang bang in Vizag. How many of you ran to the salon to get your hair coloured, when he put together a hair-raising 148 against Pakistan?

    That shows that the man is bigger than the cricketer. He is head and shoulders above the rest, because his head is firmly screwed onto his shoulders.

    Some moons later, he would give the ball to the same Joginder Sharma, taking a call that would change the way India played its cricket. T20 would tee off soon. You probably ran back to the barber, asking him to bleach your hair back to black. As you watched him murder the bowler’s ego, on the T.V set next to the bottle of shampoo,

    Read More »from Mahendra Singh Dhoni: The Jharkhand Jadoogar
  • A cricketer without a name

    Sreesanth: A character who was let down by his character.He might be a bad boy, but he wasn’t a bad bowler.

    There were three bowlers from an IPL team based in the Pink City, who pink-slipped their own careers after being caught in a fix by the Delhi police. One of them had pretty much the best seam presentation, at the point of delivery. Plus long legs, a hairstyle that changed every now and then, chains around his neck, red sacred thread around a wrist. All part of an elaborate pump yourself ritual, when he turned around to run in with the cricket ball. Hands moving up and down, in an effort to calm down. Before the fist pump. Three fingers would recede, as two gripped the seam of the cricket ball.

    Elbows moving forward and backward, knees taking measured sprints, upper body slightly bent, before straightening, as he got ready for the leap at the bowling crease. Boots in the air, left and right leg criss-crossing. Blazing eyes behind a folded left elbow, like a gun sight, with the right hand wielding the ball. Big nostrils, breathing in,

    Read More »from A cricketer without a name
  • Pathan’s foot helps Pune trip Kolkata

    Yusuf Pathan: Kicking with the wrong foot

    Also See: Scorecard | Gallery

    Why did Yusuf Pathan kick the cricket ball?

    He had just taken Parnell for 14, when he hit a ball that would follow his path to the non-striker’s end, the bowler was after it, and he appealed when Pathan kicked the ball deliberately. Umpire Nigel Llong had a long look at what happened, before going upstairs to the third umpire, who told him that Pathan was out for obstructing the field.

    23 would be needed from 18. And without Pathan, Kolkata managed to get to 163/7, giving Pune victory by 7 runs. But the start to their 171-run chase, wasn’t ideal either.

    Wayne Parnell started by removing Manvinder Bisla, with a ball that swung in, to hit the KKR opener on the pads. Jacques Kallis probably had a straight drive in mind, but the yorker needed a stroke with the front foot forward, bat and pad together. He had neither, and was bowled with his elbows up, by Parnell, who celebrated by pointing at the Pune dugout, with his off-side only haircut. Once Ishwar Pandey got Read More »from Pathan’s foot helps Pune trip Kolkata
  • Miller on the loose

    David Miller: Midas with the finishing touch

    Also See: Scorecard | Gallery

    Mohali: This game was a contest between two left-handed batsmen.

    But, in the end one of them had to bowl right-handed, and ended up on the losing side, after being smashed for 22 runs in his first over. The bowler’s name was Christopher Henry Gayle.

    The batsman’s name was David Miller. For a man who is just 23, this left-handed batsman from South Africa knows a thing or two about handling pressure. Imagine walking in at 51/3, with the opponents on the field sitting pretty on a total of 190/3. Kings XI’s troubles increased as they lost David Hussey; most young batsmen would have given up hope by then. Not Miller.

    With 123 runs needed from 60 balls, Miller got to work with Rajagopal Satish for company. He ensured that anything that was full, was promptly smashed for a six. Anything short was pulled away to midwicket for four. Good deliveries were respected, but not wasted. The ones and twos were added to the total. Importantly, the strike was almost always with

    Read More »from Miller on the loose
  • Record-breaking Gayle grabs Pune by the tail

    Chris Gayle: Bringing Pune down to their knees

    Also See: Scorecard | Gallery | Shattered Records | Reactions

    If you are a bowler. Run for your life. Chris Gayle has a helmet on.

    The rain gods probably heard that, and came to the fielding team’s rescue when Royal Challengers Bangalore were at 11/0. Gayle had just struck two fours. They left soon, for another storm was coming. With the bat.

    They would miss the sixes, all seventeen of them.

    Six no.1 came off Mitchell Marsh. Gayle stood with his broad shoulders, front foot out of the way, and the bat in the air like always, muscling the ball over the long on fence. The man’s stand and deliver stance was in record-breaking mode. So much so, that by the end of over, 28 runs had been milked, courtesy four sixes and a four. Chris Gayle had brought up his fifty.

    It was only the fifth over of the match.

    Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave away only a wide, to restore some amount of sanity. But that was because Tillakaratne Dilshan was batting. Pune brought the spinners on, in the hope that they could force aRead More »from Record-breaking Gayle grabs Pune by the tail


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