Monday, March 19, 2007

Rah rah Rafa, and weeping willows

Quote of the day
“When my mother was giving me the milk, I was watching Boris win Wimbledon, and now he’s giving me this trophy!”
(Novak Djokovic, after accepting the runner-up prize from Boris Becker at the Pacific Life Open)

Staying up till 2.30 AM paid off. The Great and Glorious Nadal won his first title in eight months, and a big one at that (this is among the highest-profile events outside the four Slams). Very one-sided match to begin with (Nadal took 14 of the first 16 points), got more competitive in the second set, but experience counted in the end – this was Djokovic’s first Masters Series final, while Rafa has been in seven.

Nadal has been seriously good throughout the tournament. I won’t go out on a limb and say he would have beaten Federer if they’d met in the final, but he’s near his best again. I watched the delayed coverage of his semi-final against Andy Roddick too, and on current evidence the gap between world numbers 2 and 3 is as wide as that between numbers 1 and 2. Nadal has been number 2 for something like 85 consecutive weeks now (by far a record) and if he had been playing in any other era he would certainly have got at least a taste of the top position by now. At one point last year his ATP points tally was nearly as high as Sampras’s when he was world number one in the late 1990s.

(Earlier post on Nadal here)

What of cricket, you ask? The reason I enjoy matches like this one so much is that watching the news channels afterwards (and being a fly on the wall when I go to office later in the week) becomes very entertaining. Anguished-looking anchors asking anguished-looking People on the Street “aapko kaisa lag raha hai?” (yes, that most incisive of questions, patented by Indian Journalism). One idiotic message after another displaying on the news tickers. (Imagine how much the telecom companies are making, what with morons around the country messaging their inane thoughts to “123” and “2424” and what-have-you.) People saying “keep the faith countrymen, we will surely bring back the Cup, it is in our destiny”. People saying “the players should be lined up against a wall and shot”.

On SET Max Mandira Bedi's lips tremble but she puts on a brave smile and her eyes shine with quiet defiance, much like Nargis in that poster with the plough across her shoulder. Charu Sharma gulps and makes statements like, "Uh, well, what can one say? Um, er, ulp, um...and now let's look at some Super Sixes." And on NDTV I think it was, someone came up with this heart-stopping insight after the news of Bob Woolmer’s death: “We were thinking this tournament is going to be all about playing games and having fun but then something like this happens and you realise that Life is more important and it’s so much bigger than the game blah blah.”

(One question: How does India losing to Bangladesh count as a bigger upset than Pakistan losing to Ireland, as many “TV experts” were claiming? Is it because India being a much larger country than Pakistan, there are so many more people to upset? My angst is bigger than yours...)


  1. Finally someone who's not having verbal diarrhoea AFA cricket is concerned!! phew.. much thanks. I am pretty much in ur camp - am not bothered abt the game and completely oblivious to the goings on.. (though it keeps getting pummelled into my ears)..

    LOL at the comparison of Mandira bedi's expression with Mother India!

    and BTW though am no cricket afficionado, the reason why India's loss is bigger is because we are Indians! aint it? :p .. or statistically it could also be to do with a comparison of Bangladesh vs Ireland teams.

  2. or statistically it could also be to do with a comparison of Bangladesh vs Ireland teams

    Nope. Bangladesh is a Test team, much more established than Ireland, and also one of the most improved sides of recent times. They even beat Australia a couple of years ago, and there's a case for suggesting that they aren't "minnows" in the real sense of that word - at least not compared to Ireland, Canada, Scotland, Holland etc. Yet, going by the way commentators in India were talking about the India-Bangladesh match (both before and after), you'd think that Bangladesh had made no strides since 2000. That was plain stupid.

    Btw, I AM bothered about cricket (though not as much as I used to be) - but the reactions we're seeing here have very little to do with love for the game. Did you see the photographs of people destroying Dhoni's house in Ranchi?

  3. "Burp". Sound of satisfaction at not having to read yet another dissection of India's loss. Apropos people breaking Dhoni's house, I think it suits these crazy supporters just right that India lost. Now they get a chance to show the world how much they love cricket--they are mad enough to destroy somebody else's property. Damn!

  4. I would hate to be in Dhoni's shoes right now. I wouldn't want anybody trashing my house.

  5. *helpful tone* The superior Western civilzation has a solution to everything. The Australian government has invented sports rage kits.

  6. No conspiracy theories as yet @ Woolmer's death?

  7. Bangladesh vs Ireland : as I said, am blissfully oblivious to the details of this routine. More so am thankful right now, when I see the rest of the country breaking their heads!

    did see the pic of dhoni's house being attacked (TOI). Emotional Indian fans were always like that werent they? Quick to hero worship and quick to flog as well.

  8. The way Bangladesh batted and fielded, I doubt its fair to call them minnows. Why don't we see the silver lining here? If we do somehow make it to the super 8's, we will play like tigers. This was the wake up call the Men in Blue needed. I know its only Bermuda but scoring 400 against any international team is a feat. Watching Yuvi hit those humongous sixes was therapeutic. As a friend told his Bangladeshi boss today, quoting the great Steve Waugh, "Watch out for the cornered lion" or something to that effect.

    PS: My dream is for the Bangladeshi team to reach the final, and then for India to score 500 and get them all out for less than 50, as a result revoking their test status...hehe