The way they were...
Much more than entertainment
It was about the glimpses of Shah Rukh Khan and the players’ narration on how moved they were by the great man whose “greatness was his simplicity”. My most memorable moment however isn't cricket. It's about the cheerleaders of the Bangalore team. We thought they were here for a few dollars more and to add value to the entertainment package. But I was taken aback by the amount of hard work they put in. The girls, who cheer the Washington Redskins, spent hours under the blazing sun rehearsing their steps. I thought it was all about shaking legs to what the DJ churned out, but had no idea how important the element of coordination was. It’s not easy and becomes possible only after a lot of practice. It takes years of struggle to succeed as a cricketer, but I had no clue that a T20 sideshow demanded almost an equal amount of commitment.
Bound by a common thread
Everyone talked about the coming together of big players and I was among the lucky ones who got to witness greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Shaun Pollock and Sanath Jayasuriya compete and practice together.
It was a pleasure to see Pollock bowl to Jayasuriya in the nets and then analyse the outcome of the session with the latter. But the most memorable moment came during one of the practice sessions in Mumbai during the team’s six-day break.
Coach Lalchand Rajput was giving catching practice to the players from about 30 yards and the experienced trio was egging each other on. All three are in the twilight of their careers and one (Pollock) has even retired from international cricket. But the passion remains intact as they threw themselves at the ball like enthusiastic 10-year-olds. This will to succeed was probably the thread that bound them while playing for Mumbai.
Looking for a pin in the haystack
You don’t have to be a genius to realise that there were very few memorable moments in Hyderabad’s IPL campaign. After all, it can become difficult to find anything even remotely memorable when you're following the fortunes, or, misfortunes, of a team that couldn't win a game at home in seven attempts.
Still, you've got to do what you've got to do. And when the bosses want a piece on the most memorable moment, I had to give them one.
So, after racking my brain for a while, I decided that Adam Gilchrist's 109 off 47 balls against Mumbai was the one, and maybe only, truly memorable moment for me this season.
It was a privilege to watch that knock.
A savage attack, Gilchrist took the match away within a matter of a few overs.
Crowe, the other one
Martin Crowe has been one of my favourite batsmen. So I was thrilled when I was asked to follow Bangalore because of my links with the city and Crowe's association as the team's chief cricket officer.
I cannot forget the interview he gave in Kolkata on May 7, a day after Charu Sharma was sacked as the CEO.
The interaction came out well because of Crowe’s straight from the heart answers.
While willing to speak on any issue, Crowe, not one to pass the buck, took responsibility for the team’s failures.
Being on the road with the team for 40 days, I was lucky to have a few more lengthy discussions with him. Sadly, they centered on the team’s miserable show. There was no scope to discuss the art of batting, his views on contemporary batsmen and questioning him on his famous cousin — Russell Crowe.
Whatta man, whatta man!
Picking a single moment from the tournament that has been made memorable by the idiosyncrasies and quirks of a certain Shane Warne and his merry bunch is a difficult task. Yet, one thing that will perhaps remain etched in my memory will be Warne’s three deliveries to Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Jaipur.
Those three deliveries typified his genius. After beating Dhoni with a leg-spinner that turned a mile after pitching outside leg, he followed it up with a slider that didn’t turn at all, naturally, forcing Dhoni to prod tentatively. However, it was the third delivery that took the breath away. Bowling from wide of crease, Warne lulled Dhoni with a lovely flight and as Dhoni set himself up for a drive, the ball dipped and took his outside edge. Dhoni didn’t even wait for the catch to be taken! It was like watching an artist at work and finish with a masterpiece.
Of loyalties & one magic moment
There have been several memorable moments over the last month-and-a-half I have spent tracking Mohali in the Indian Premier League, but if I have to pick the best out of them, it surely has to be that magical run out by Yuvraj Singh against Mumbai.
Mumbai had come back into the game from nowhere and looked certain to win the game when Yuvraj Singh effected that stunning run out on the last ball of the match to clinch a thriller. The image of full-stretched, air-borne Yuvraj whipping off the bails, running to the boundary in wild celebration, and the boisterous crowd drowning into a stunned silence will stick in my memory for a long time. That win gave me some strange satisfaction, for I was the only journalist supporting Mohali, and everyone around knew it.
Baby, baby, baby!
THE infant would have been about 10-months-old. Seated in his mother’s lap during a flight to Delhi, the baby found it amusing to tap the head of the gentleman seated in front.
The man in question, Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, turned back only to be disarmed by the child’s bald pate and chubby cheeks.
He took the infant in his arms and played with him for some time. And when the mother requested the skipper to pose with her son for a picture, Dhoni was more than obliging.
As she clicked away, Dhoni kept the baby amused and even suggested a place where he thought the light was better.
Here was a player, whose $1.6 million deal was being talked about more than his cricket, giving in to the demands of a child. It is difficult to find any other moment to rival this incident.