'Part-copywriter, part-pub owner and full-time cricket fan' probably sums up my existence! A Bangalore boy through and through, I've spent most of my 32 years in this city, save for a couple of years studying Mass Communication in Manipal and 4 years in Dubai plying my (day)trade as an advertising and PR writer. I've been in love with cricket for as long as I can remember, and probably the only thing that veered me away from making a career out of writing about sports was that the money wasn't too hot (a decision that I regret to this day)! As of now, I work advertising, in Lintas, Bangalore as a Copy Supervisor, using my word skills to make people buy things they don't really need. I'm also a small-time partner in a pretty popular new pub called Cirrus in Indiranagar, which is owned by my brother and a few buddies. Cricket on the large screen and beer on the house...heaven! I love everything about the game, and every version of it. T20, according to me, is the toughest of the lot, even though it has yet to win over the hearts of the purists. There's simply no margin for error in this format, in any department, and that's what makes it an incredible thrill-a-minute ride! I blog about cricket while I can, but honestly, I should have done a lot more blogging than I have so far. Here's hoping that I get to make a lot more 'silly points' and 'bowl' people over with my words, before I 'run out' of time! Cheers!
I am the most fanatic RCB fan because...
...it's given me a bigger, more personal reason to cheer for the game. We are all Indian cricket fans, no denying that. But there's also no denying the fact that we always had a soft corner for the guys from our state in the Indian team. Karnataka, and more specifically Bangalore, inevitably comes before India just like the heart knows before the head. It's like the starting point from which your love and feeling expands to reach bigger things. It's like cheering for Indiranagar over Jayanagar, because you live in and love Indiranagar more. There is simply no place like home! What RCB has done is give a cricketing metaphor to our love for Bangalore. The clubs in the English Premier League, although they have a tremendous global reach, are built on the love of their home fans. They provide the foundation, the heart, soul and voice that is the driving force. It was also a stroke of genius by Mr. Modi to have icon players for each home team. Rahul Dravid, and Kumble for that matter, are loved across the cricket playing globe for their skill, the manner they conduct themselves and for the champions that they are. And with the RCB, they are coming back home! Namma hudugaru! And, the cherry on the top (literally), is the king of good times! Team Bangalore is not owned by a construction conglomerate, nor by a media baron or a film star. It's owned by the man who is the epitome of pub city! Pubs and Bangalore are as thick as thieves, and to have this mix generously seep into cricket provides a heady mix that no spirit on earth can match! And, by the way, we also have one hell of a cricket team!
Strategy Map for RCB - Airtel Champions League
My preferred line up :
Jesse Ryder Manish Pandey Rahul Dravid Ross Taylor Virat Kholi Mark Boucher Roelf Van Der Merwe Praveen Kumar B. Akhil Anil Kumble (c) K M Appanna 12th Man: Robin Uthappa
why do I prefer this line up :
The Champions League features the best of the best. But if there's one thing that works to RCB's advantage, it's the fact that the tournament is being held on home turf and foreign teams, however good they may be, are still 'foreign” teams. Beating teams like the Cobras and Otago, to start with, has to ideally involve giving them something that they are not comfortable with – spin and pace off the ball. With Anil Kumble leading the charge, Van Der Merve and Appanna providing the spin support and the tight unorthodoxy of Praveen Kumar thrown in, the batsmen will need a bit of time to figure out the pace of things, and time is at a premium in this format. Jesse Ryder will have a huge role to play as a bowler as well, and he gets my nod ahead of Kallis because of his fielding and sheer match-winning ability, which Kallis has lost a bit of with age. B. Akhil can swing the bat a bit to go with his bowling, adding a bit of weight to both departments. The batting speaks for itself. Flair and sheer talent at the top to handle the first six overs, and the Wall in the middle of it all. Ross Taylor can play the role of a finisher or a momentum gatherer, depending on the situation, while having the talented Virat Kohli at five is reassuring in case things go wrong at the top. You cannot buy Mark Boucher's experience and fight at any shop, and he in invaluable both behind the stumps as well as in front of them at six. Both Van Der Merve and Praveen Kumar have the ability to wield the long handle, and can play the pinch hitter role as well.
My opening match strategy:
First up for RCB in the Champions League are the Cape Cobras, who happen to be the defending Standard Bank Pro20 series champions back in South Africa. There's no dearth of class and experience in the Cobras squad, starting right at the top with Greame Smith leading the troops into battle. Adding to the Cobras venom are Herschelle Gibbs and Jean-Paul Duminy, both of whom had outstanding IPL outings this year. Internationals Vernon Philander, Claude Henderson, Charl Langeveldt, Monde Zondeki add more bite, making the Cobras a team to be wary of. My strategy for this game would be to first and foremost starve the Cobras by not giving them anything to sink their fangs into. That means no Dale Steyn and no Kallis. Not only is their powerful top order of Gibbs and Smith familiar with their fellow South Africans, they are both aggressive batsmen who love pace on the ball. Opening with Praveen Kumar, Jesse Ryder or even Anil Kumble will give them something to think about. Apart from JP Duminy, the rest of the batting is not overtly familiar with Indian conditions, so getting through to the middle order soon will be key. The batting should be fine on home soil, with the experience of Dravid and Taylor in the middle. A pinch hitter like Van Der Merve could be thrown in ahead of Dravid, but again that is completely situational. It's worth remembering here that one of the secrets of RCB's success in the South African IPL safari was the immense Protean presence in their camp, starting from the coach Ray Jennings, the vastly experienced duo of Boucher and Kallis and the strike force of Dale Steyn, to name just a few. This time round, their opponents are a team full of South Africans, and any inside dope will be more than welcome! Man to man, RCB seems the stronger team. If each one plays to their potential, we should be all right!
My best T20 match:
The tournament's winding down, and it's a must-win situation for our boys. It might have been against the whipping boys of the tournament, the Knightriders, but we were not going great guns either. Halfway though, and it got worse. McCullum has struck form at the worst possible time for us. 173 is a daunting target. whatever the conditions and the opposition. At 74 for 3 in eleven overs, it's not looking good at all. Dravid does his bit, but when he goes, it's still more than 2 runs a ball to get with scarcely two dozen overs to go. Ross Taylor, take a bow!. Not only did his explosion win us the game with 4 balls to spare, but it ignited a spark that took us all the way to the final. Enough said!