Team INDIA – At the Cusp of Metamorphosis…

On 23rd August 2012, team India will kick-start its first domestic series of the year after a long gap, as they take on New Zealand in the first test in Hyderabad.

On the same day, Indian Colts (Under 19 Team) will also take on New Zealand Colts in the semi-final match of the under 19 world cup in Townsville.

An interesting co-incidence! Add to it the recent changes in the Indian squad, and 23rd August 2012 promises to be an important day for Indian cricket.

For the first time in many years, the senior team will play without Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Actually, it is hard to imagine a team without the “Wall” and VVS; they have carried the Indian batting middle order together for so many years. Such was their brilliance that we will have to fill numerous pages if we were to write about their achievements as individual or as partners.

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Their departure, however, also provides the likes of Pujara, Kohli and Badrinath that rare opportunity to make their mark in real cricket – test cricket.  In a way, this marks the beginning of a new era with new bunch of young guns in charge of the Indian middle order. For someone who has grown up seeing the holy trinity in the test team, this indeed is a big change to cope up with. But the show must go on and the die-hard Indian cricket fan in me is looking ahead….

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In the other corner of the world, Indian Colts have somehow managed to move to the semi-finals of the Under 19 World Cup despite being ‘strictly okay’ in the last two weeks. A win against the arch rivals, Pakistan, in a thriller of a quarter final would have surely lifted their spirits. In a way it was also a fitting revenge of their quarter final loss in the previous edition.

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Unmukt Chand, Sandeep Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Harmeet Singh and Vijay Zol aren’t really household names today but all of them would know how important this game, and hopefully the subsequent game is. Without looking too far back, they would be thinking of Yuvraj, Raina, Kaif, Kohli and Jadeja. A World Cup win is a World Cup win and history suggests that it has done wonders to the careers of the U19 stars. The die-hard Indian cricket fan in me, again, is looking ahead…

Only time will tell how far Chand or Aparajith or Harmeet would go as they aspire to become the  Yuvraj or Kohli or Raina of tomorrow….

Only time will tell how far would Kohli or Pujara or Badrinath would go as they aspire to become the Rahul or VVS or Sourav of tomorrow…..

So here we are, at the cusp of metamorphosis of Indian cricket, marked across two different tournaments, played across two different continents, and the Indian cricket fan in all of us is looking ahead with optimism…

All the best the Team India !!!

– Aashutosh Chaudhary

Week 1 at the Olympics

The Games…

The Games of the XXX Olympiad, popularly known as the London Olympics, kick started last week and has already captured the imagination of everyone across the globe. Olympic Games have always enjoyed the status of being the most spectacular sporting event and without any iota of doubt dwarf any other sporting event.

Fittingly, the games in London started with an opening ceremony of the scale and creative genius never seen and experienced before.  Orchestrated by the acclaimed Hollywood director, Danny Boyle, or should we say Sir Danny Boyle (yes, he is most likely to be knighted for pulling this event off), the audience all across the world were very simply dazzled by concept and the execution of the ceremony.

Indian contingent of 83 athletes, the largest ever in the Olympics, went with a tremendous promise of bettering the medal count. Sadly, for a nation of 1.2 Bn, the medal count has never gone beyond 3 in any edition, the best performance being in the previous edition at Beijing.

Not so good start for India…

Unfortunately for India, the first week can at best be termed as an average week, the only silver lining being Gagan Narang’s broze medal in 10m Air Rifle category. It was a watershed week for our Archers as they bowed out in both team and individual events. The hockey campaign is more or less over at the group stage itself.

Rising stars and failing heroes already…

Reflecting on the week gone by, I cannot help but notice emergence of new medal winners beating the medal favourites and stamping new world records. The likes of Phelps, Lochte, Magnussen, Ruban, Ellison were stunned by the lesser known athletes like Adrian, Gyurta, Soni, Don-Hyun to name a few. At the end of the day, you have to give your best to touch that gold, silver and bronze metal and it does not really matter who you were before the Games!!!

As we progress through the Games, I want to see more of such instances across all sporting disciplines. There is a wonderful story behind each such instance and it is nothing short of a good lesson on inspiration, dedication and above everything else – hard work.

Looking ahead…

I cannot wait to see the track and field events and thankfully the wait would be over soon.

As regards to the Indian campaign, I am eagerly waiting for the business end of Badminton, and hoping that Saina will bring in the medal. Also, I have very high hopes on our Boxers and Wrestlers as they battle it out for medals.

And some trivia to sign off…

I always felt bad when the sporting events hosted by India were interrupted by canine invasion (thankfully we do not see too many streakers) and more so when commentators would say, ‘This is unbelievable !”. But, it seems London is also going through some canine issues. There were reports of shooting venue (Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich) being damaged by the foxes during the test event. It was reported that foxes chewed cables, wrecked microphones and soiled the podium area :-D.

– Aashutosh Chaudhari