An advertisement a few years back had tried gamely to sell the idea of a perfect cricket fan by associating him with the line "Eat Cricket, Sleep Cricket, Drink XYZ". If I look at that line as a mirror, I would think I have outgrown that line since last two decades of my living being. I don't eat Cricket, I live it. I don't sleep Cricket, I dream it. Taking off from another recent commercial, for me, Cricket isn't just a game. It's who I am. It is this sense of pure devotion that keeps me going through the thick and thin of life. In a manner that can be called Cricket- Sporting, Fighting and yet Gentlemansque. If I take so much from the game each day, I am obliged to give a bit back. Not so much to enlighten others, but to remind myself of pure joy that the game brings to me, and to share a bit of that with the ones I love. Yes, my fellow friends and family, who read from me whenever I upload something on my personal blog. There are stories and then there are inspirations. Inspirations from closely fought battles, inspirations from improbable victories snatched from the jaws of defeat, and some from acts of gamesmanship that move you as much as they amuse you in this world of winning at any cost. Allow me a few honourable mentions without whom Indian Cricket won't be what it is- a Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid & Kapil Dev. The men who transcend the boundaries of being a role model not just by the way they played, but by whom they are.
I am the most fanatic RCB fan because...
When I think of it, there are a number of reasons why I love the RCBs: 1. Bangalore: A city that mirrors my town- Garden, Weather & IT, but off course! 2. Royal Challenge: A brand that stands for Good Times. That's what Cricket means to me- Good Times 3. Royal Challenger Bangalore: A team that personifies the combination of Brawn, Bravado and Style like none other. 4. Strategist par excellence: Kallis, Dravid, Kumble- between them they can work up plans to cut any opposition down to its side. Having spent three years into my Corporate strategy job, I take so much from this team to my day job. 5. The pin point precision- In the way Kallis executes his cover drive, Dravid defies his critics with a savage attack, Kumble sucks the batsmen in his trap. Only Rolex comes anywhere closer to that. 6. The spirit: Right when everybody has written you down, you rise. And how? Like a Phoenix, not just from the ashes, but to blow away the opposition like one does to the ashes. 7. Good times: When one's following, or shall I say flowing with the RCBs, good times are assured. Cheers!
Strategy Map for RCB - Airtel Champions League
My preferred line up :
1. Jacques Kallis, 2. Jesse Ryder, 3. Manish Pande, 4. Rahul Dravid 5. Virat Kohli 6. Robin thappa 7. Mark Boucher 8. Balachandra Akhil 9. Anil Kumble 10. Dale Styen 11. Praveen Kumar 12. Vinay Kumar (12th man)
why do I prefer this line up :
A truely balanced side - mixes energy of youth with the years of experience, mixes the attacking prowess with solidness of technique, and fire of pace with guile of spin. A combination sure to come up trumps on any type of track. 1. The Opening Combo: Jesse Ryder & Jacques Kallis- Left Hand- Right Hand Combo, mix of aggression (Jesse) with solid technique of Jacques. This will ensure an opening stand that is aggressive, yet solid. Jacques ability to reverse the ball will come in handy towards the end. Jesse's ability to stifle the opposition with his stump-to-stump seam bowling is an asset too. 2. Middle Order: Manish gets a look in at number 3 to give himself a decent time before he starts playing his naturally aggressive game. Rahul is the fulcrum of team's batting at no. 4 with his role evolving according to situation- a calming influence in case of a few early wickets, accumulator in the middle overs and attack towards the later half. At no. 5 & 6, young Virat and Robin have the mandate to go all out, cushioned reasonably well by a no. 7 in experienced Mark Boucher. Also, the young legs are sure to add some vital runs owing to some spirited running between the wickets. 3. Wicketkeeper Batsman: Mark Boucher- A doggedly determined batsman who can blow any attack apart. His experience of handling reverse swinging toe crushers will come in handy too. 4. Bowling Department: Three fast bowlers and a spinner i. An allrounder in Balachandra Akhil who can be an explosive late order batsman down the order. Also an ideal candidate to be the third seamer in the side. ii. Spinner: Anil Kumble. Just the kind of fighter every side needs. Composed on the outset, burning with passion within. He is the kind of spinner who can tighten the nooze around the opposition's neck or just let them get lured into it. iii. Dale Steyn: A bowler made in a manner that true great fast bowlers are. With pace that can make the best in the business hop around, a canny head on the shoulder and the ability to curve them in makes him the wicket taker that any captain will vouch for. He is my spearhead. iv. Praveen Kumar: With his ability to swing the ball both ways, he will be an ideal folly to Dale's pace. His role will be to nail the opening pair with swing and seam in the air. His experience with the Indian side will be useful too. 5. With some young legs (Manish, Virat, Robin), tremendous athletes (Dale, Jacques), and safe pair of hands (Mark, Rahul & Anil) the team has a fielding unit that is agile and efficient. Sure to be a booster for any bowler. 6. Captain can think of unorthodox options like Manish Pande, Virat Kohli, Jesse Ryder for adding variation to the bowling attacke.
My opening match strategy:
The Way: With conditions being ideal to bat, if you win the toss, bat first, post a big total, and defend it with passion (fielding) and imagination (bowling). In case of a chase, keeping the opposition within grasp and then chasing it down with élan. The Mantra- The strategy for the first game would be to be SURE of a win. S- Surprise/ Shock: Keep the opposition guessing all the time. Be a step ahead in terms of how the opposition reads your strategies. If you get a decent start, throw in a wild card at number three to upset their plans to make amends. When a opposing batsman is expecting a third seamer to come to bowl, throw the bowl to a street smart bowler. Key is to keep the opposition guessing while being absolutely sure of what RCB wants to achieve out of it. United- The three departments feed each other, helped suitably by the support staff and the bench. Let the confidence and positive vibe rub into each other. A great diving save here and there will lift the bowler's morale immensely. Similarly, bowler’s have a task to protect the total put up by batsmen. Responsible- According to the game plan, everybody is aware of their role in the side and endeavors to give more than their 100%. Responsibility is crucial given the fact that T20 games can change dramatically over a short period of time. In such a scenario, players will have to outgrow their roles and fill in for any gaps. Energy- The short format of the game demands sustaining high levels of energy throughout the allotted quota of overs. Even a small lapse can be punished severely. To train hard and to play harder is the mantra to be successful. This surge of energy will create the first dent in the opposition’s plans.
My best T20 match:
A game that no Indian would forget in a hurry. A game that gave us a new identity- more contemporary, dynamic and positive. On the tunes of Chak De, when Dhoni and men, took the field, they had only one thought. To rise beyond their critics as well to rise beyond thri own standards. A battle that swung one way and another with each passing delivery, finally was lapped up by the team that kept its cool until the very end- India. They did all that and how? The very thought fills you with pride and brings a smile on your face. The game that was like no other. A team that is like no other either :)