All posts by ShamsnWags

We - Saurabh Sharma aka Shams and Paresh Waghela aka Wags are super enthusiastic and die hard cricket fans. Sharing our take on cricket matches, players comes with a lot of passion. We eat, drink and sleep cricket.

Debdeep’s Pilgrimage to Mecca

In 1996 when I was barely 11 years old, I went to Eden Gardens for the first to watch an India vs Pakistan match. In those days, bucket seats were a fantasy. So, everyone pretty much would sit on the cement slabs and Eden could hold 1 lac people at one time. So, on the first day , Javagal Srinath ran through the Pakistan batting line up and every time a wicket fell, the crowd would be on their feet and roaring. Imagine 1 lac people roaring for 3 sticks being uprooted, sounds pretty weird but that was passion. From that day, a few things stayed with me forever and that left a big imprint on me.

First, it was the way Azhar would walk around the field as if he owned Eden Gardens and hence was always the favourite of Eden, then his trademark dive at gully to save a certain boundary which would definitely attract loudest roar of the day and then the whole crowd clapping whenever there was a great shot from Salim Malik. Eden crowd always showed appreciation for great and sporting players from the opponent. Something I miss now a days. Oh, I almost forgot to mention my backside was aching by the end of the day because of jumping up and down on the cement slabs.

India was all out just after tea and then I had what I would call my first and only man crush. I saw Wasim Akram coming at Indian batsmen at full flow. Even at that age, I could feel that he was running with fire and he was spitting venom and the batsmen had no clue what was hitting them. I have seen faster bowlers, I have seen many swing bowlers but I have not seen a better bowler. If I had to pick someone to bowl for my life, it would be Wasim Akram every time. When I left the field that day, I had fallen in love with that game and I could not stop blabbering about the same to my parents. Anyone who knows Bengali’s, football is our first love but I always felt that day cricket just took over. I started following the game, learnt the names MCG, Boxing Day, Lord’s Cricket Ground and many others. Somewhere in my mind, I wanted to go to all these places, but you never know.

26th December 2006, I was in Melbourne as a student and with another 3 of my friends were thinking what to do since we really did not want to go shopping. Just to let everyone know, during Boxing Day, you get everything for dirt cheap and usually its a holiday in Australia and somehow everyone is on the streets either shopping or drinking beer and enjoying themselves at Federation Square, if you are in Melbourne. Someone in the group suggested lets go for the match since we took it for granted that tickets wont be sold out. We went in, bought the tickets from the counter and entered the stadium.

Luckily, we got the lower tier seats absolutely next to, from the where the players would walk out to field. India were already batting and I was just standing and looking at the magnanimity of the place, the lush green outfields and everything. That day I got to see Sachin and Sourav bat together and take the Aussie bowlers to the cleaners. I somehow took a flag from someone and started dancing on the seats. Left the day highly disappointed with India playing horribly after lunch.Another Test, I went to watch and India lost, just like the Kolkata test. But what remained with me is Dada walking out to bat and me shouting ‘ Dada century chai’ and Dada turns around and gives me a thumbs up, Sachin Tendulkar warming up right in front of eyes inside the rope, I could have jumped to his feet but I was too much in awe of him at such close range. I left satisfied to have watched India play.

Debdeep at Lords
Debdeep at Lords
Cut to 9th September 2018, I was entering Lord’s Cricket Ground as a tourist and not to watch a match. I had an opportunity to watch the Test match at Lord’s but I had to pass. Anyway, the moment I entered I was a little nervous and ’96 Eden memories rushed through my mind. I turned a child again. Something was going on inside me but I could not explain it to myself even. I crossed the huge gates, security check, crossed the Middlesex shop and into the reception and the first thing that caught my eye was the Prudential Cup that Kapil Dev won in 83.

I could have fainted then & there. A group of people were there and someone was explaining the whole history of Ashes, I heard it but I kept looking at the signed jersey of Sachin Tendulkar inside the glass room behind us. We walked out and it was time to walk into the cricket ground but before you get there, you have to stand in front of the statue of WG Grace. I had no option but to show my respect in my country way. I literally touched his feet because you cant know cricket without knowing him. So everyone went ahead with the guide and I kept loitering and absorbing this huge thing and suddenly I see that a door is open, unmanned and that would lead me straight to the grass of Lord’s. I was ready to risk it and had started walking towards it. That’s when a guard appeared and told ‘ you are not allowed, Sir.’ I argued for a while but he wont relent and I had to give up.

I , finally , reached the long room where I thought the view was alright but I was itching to see the dressing rooms and honors boards. So, we first went into the home dressing room and except a few things nothing interested me so much. Then it was the turn of the guest dressing room and this is where the fun began. The guide went on to tell about different stories about the place. There were hardly any Indian in the group and there were people who did not come with the understanding of the game.

I really thought, if Sourav Ganguly is not mentioned here, I would be robbing all these innocent people off the most beautiful thing that happened at Lord’s ever. So, I asked the inevitable question, ‘ is this the same balcony where Ganguly took off his shirt?’. At the very mention of Ganguly, the guard and the guide put their hands on their head and said something like ‘ oh gosh!!! He was another one!!’ This expression of the Englishmen was priceless for me. So, they showed me the exact spot where it all happened and I requested permission from the guard that I be allowed to take a picture waving my jacket. The guard simply smiled and granted me the permission.

Debdeep imitating Ganguly in the Lords's Balcony
Imitating Sourav Ganguly in Lords’s Balcony
My wife took the photo and when I saw the photo I said to her, ‘ Now, I can die in peace.’ Interestingly, my son started showing off some of his jumping skills in this balcony and thats when I thought to myself, we own this balcony. After that, we went to the stands and that’s as close I could go to the grass of Lord’s and when I walked into the stands, it was surreal, I could visualize Kapil Dev lifting the trophy, Kaif and Zak hitting the winning runs, Yuvi running to the field and Dada taking off the shirt. I could feel all of it, right in front of me. The guide went on with the history and everything but I had just two questions, one about the Lord’s slope and why the slope has not been leveled yet.

Then , we went up to the media center which is one of the most amazing architectural work. I was amazed by the view and how sun cant disturb you ever. Then it was time to hit the Lord’s shop and then move out. Just before I was about to walk out of Lord’s I asked guard again, are you sure I cant step onto the field and feel the grass even once, I come from Kolkata which is like 1000s of miles away but again he declined. Before he closed the huge gates onto us, I looked at the ground and had a quiet conversation with it which mainly, I could not feel the grass this time, but I will be back and I will feel it, one way or the other. I think Lord’s replied ‘ will be waiting for you, mate’

I finished my trip of ‘Meccas of cricket’ and I feel happy about it. Don’t know if I can ever explain anyone the feeling of it or the madness about it. I wish someone who reads this will understand sometimes you just fall in love with some things and the child in you is spurred by those things. I had my moments and I consider myself lucky to have been to these grounds but the journey does not end here, I wish to go to the home ground of none other than Sir Vivian Richards, the man who redefined cricket.

Special thanks to Debdeep for sharing this article. Debdeep Bhattacharya is a cricket fanatic with an analytical insight of the game, a hardcore Dada fan who believes everything cant be measured in stats!

What The Duck!

A cricket humourist, a stand-up comedian, author of the famous book- ‘How Sachin Destroyed my life’, fan boy with an all-access pass to the world of Indian Cricket, presenter who interviews cricketers and ex-cricketers with ease! While we have seen him mimicking few cricketers and interviewing a lot of them, here’s an opportunity we got to interview the creator of ‘What The Duck’- Vikram Sathaye!!!

Vikram Sathaye
What The Duck Moment!

So Vikram, we all are huge fans of What the Duck and we wait for the episodes- (we even tweet in case the episode gets delayed), for the benefit of our readers to know more about you, let’s have a round of Brain Fade (not in real sense) Q & A for you.

1) Finishing MBA, taking up a job, and ending up being India’s first Stand-up comedian… How did that happen?

The answer to this question is very easy. I was bored of my corporate job. I wanted to get out of it as soon as possible. I had a skill to imitate cricketers. Unfortunately, back in 2002, I didn’t know what stand-up comedy was. I used to work in MTV as a Marketing Manager. While the VJs used to do the hosting, I used to perform a 10-min skit with Cyrus Broacha and a few others. People started liking it and I realized that if I could extend this a little bit, there’s a lot of scope. Unfortunately, YouTube was not there in 2002-2003 & I didn’t have any reference of stand-up comedians from anywhere in the world. But being from Maharashtra, I knew what Pu La Deshpande (famous Marathi author P. L. Deshpande) used to do. Broadly had an idea, that when you go up on the stage, you put up a story, even if the imitations are there, it’s part of the story line. So, I started developing this concept. And, when I realized that it has started working, that was the same time I got offer to go to the 2003 World Cup in SA, for a 2 min skit in ‘Extra Innings’. People noticed and approached me saying “Humara corporate event hai, why don’t you do a ten minutes show of what you do.” When I realized that this was working, I started to put my act together. I read up and found that stand-up comedy was a proper profession abroad with people performing one hour sets, and realized that it’s something that I can pull off. When Corporates started calling me after the World Cup, and when the CEAT Awards- which was one of my first show to be telecasted on Sony Entertainment Television, I thought I was sitting on something that had a huge potential. I quit my job at that point of time. I was finding a way, and Comedy helped me get out of it.

2) When did you realize you can imitate cricketers? When was the first successful attempt in?
I have been imitating cricketers since my childhood. And, as kids, we all used to watch Gavaskar play regularly. For my first CEAT Awards show, I imitated Gavaskar. Obviously, there’s certain amount of skill that you already possess, because imitating people, either you have it or you don’t. In college, I used to imitate Tony Greig. During MTV, I refined it and added a structure to it. I started doing that, and people in MTV said this is good stuff, ‘you can do it on stage’. Slowly, I started doing cricket events in front of the cricketers and when they said they are enjoying it, I knew that without hurting them, I was doing something that everybody was liking. I used to imitate the likes of Gavaskar, Azhar, Vengsarkar and whole lot of cricketers. I was a natural imitator of cricketers, I have been doing this for a while, but in 2002 it became refined and then I made it into a career.

3) Have you ever played alongside the God- Sachin Tendulkar? How was the experience?

I have not played alongside Sachin. But when I played for U-15 for my club in Pune (I was 13 years of age), Achrekar Sir used to send Sachin to play some of the matches with our team, also. I have played in a match he was there, but beyond that nothing. It was not like I have played regularly with him, just one odd match here and there in U-15 days.

4) How was your experience in the 2003 World Cup sharing the mic with the great commentators?
2003 was a brain fade moment for me. From somebody imitating a Tony Greig or Ian Chappell, suddenly in a month’s time, I was on a flight to South Africa with an ICC accreditation & in the company of renowned commentators. I was wondering what happened in one month that changed my life so much. Now, I was required to do a segment on national television. The producer of channel went to Tony Greig and said, “This guy has come from India and apparently he can do a good ‘Tony Greig’. Why don’t you chat with him?” So, he said, “Mate come on, do what you have to.” I imitated Tony and he started laughing loudly. That was the moment that convinced me that, Agar Tony Greig hass raha hai, that means something is right, and it’s not that my friends are pulling my leg when saying that I am good imitator. Soon, from mimicking, I became popular amongst the commentators as well. That eased the pressure on me that I have to go on my own, and do something. Suddenly, Tiger Pataudi was calling and saying here’s a friend of mine, please imitate Geoffrey Boycott in front of him and I was imitating, Geoff. Kapil Paaji would come and say, “Tu yaar iski nakal achchhi kar leta hai, yeh kar.”So, for me, I didn’t know what was happening and everything was going so well.

5) Did you face any resistance from commentators?
That resistance was not in 2003. Later on, when I did a stint with ESPN, and they actually put me in the commentary box with Sunny & Ravi Shastri, that time I realized that the cricketing fraternity not necessarily likes an outsider. I never intended to be a broadcaster. I like to have fun around the game. I realized that it’s a difficult thing to be in the box being an outsider. Harsha has managed to do it very well. From 2006, I decided thatI will not be in and around the commentary box. I will do my own standup comedy and my own stuff, that would be better because cricketers (ex-cricketers, commentators) don’t really like people from the outside world.

6) Why is your first book is Titled – How Sachin destroyed my Life.
If you read the first chapter, you will realize the reason for that title. Because I have always said that during my generation, when we grew up in the times of Sachin Tendulkar, if you scored a 50 or a 70 in a U-15 game, Sachin scored a 300. Whenever you played, your mother would say- “Bagh, Sachin kasa khelto aahe”

The whole premise of my generation was that – Everything you did, you were still not equal to that ‘guy’. He gave you a benchmark that you would never achieve.

7) We have observed that you generally address the players as ‘Tu’ (Sachin, Virendra Sehwag), how did you generate that comfort level?
Comfort level with this generation was always there with Tendulkar, Viru and even for that matter Rahul, Zak and Yuvi. What happened was a very funny incident. Being a Maharashtrian, when you say ‘Tu’, ‘Tumhi’, it’s a matter of endearment. Some kids address their dad as ‘Tu’. In Marathi, ‘Tu’ is not disrespectful. But when you go up north, and speak in Hindi, you can’t say ‘Tu’ or ‘Tumhare’ to anybody. You have to say ‘Aap’. That’s something I had forgotten in the first season and while I was speaking to Sachin, I was saying “Tu”, he was saying “Tu aisa kiya tha…” – that is a typical Bambaiya way of addressing, which I have been exposed to all my life. When I did that, I got trolled from a lot of people saying that, “boss what do you think of yourself”, how can you talk with the ‘god of cricket’ like that? Bahut gali pada!!! Then I realized the gravity of situation that in north of India ‘Tu’ is considered as disrespectful. It was a mistake on my part to not understand that. But later, 99% times I have corrected it. Once in a while it did get slipped and I came back to ‘Tu’. If you realize, in the 3rd season, I have ensured that if I was speaking to Kuldeep Yadav, who is probably half of my age, I would still say ‘Sirji’, ‘Aap’, as I don’t want to commit the same mistake. So, it was not necessarily comradery with the players, but a mistake, more than anything else.

Vikram Sathaye
Brain Fade Moment!

8) Why such name WTD?
It just started on an evening when I decided to do a show. I thought, Centuries toh sabhi celebrate karte hain, why not celebrate ducks? Every person is scared of scoring a duck. The most significant moment of watching cricket on Channel 9 was this duck. If I am not mistaken, Daddles was the name of that animated duck, and that image kind of stayed on in my mind. WTD was just a way of representing that duck. If you see the first season, we had a WTD question in all episodes and gave away T-shirts, and celebrated the number of ducks they had scored. It was just a creative treatment and lighter way of celebrating something that cricketers hate having on their bio-data, the most.

9) Our favorite episode was ‘God- SRT’s episode and the best part was Debashis Mohanty’s bowling. A question in his action… Your favorite episode?
Obviously Sachin & Sehwag – I have natural inclination to call them the favorite, but personally, I enjoyed one of the other episode of Murli and Sanga. I don’t know Sanga that well. I thought Sanga hai, what will I talk? I know Murli is a nonstop talker, but Sanga, I was not sure. When I came out of episode, I learnt about the many Sanga stories & of course that of Murali, too. To me, episodes with Sachin & Viru are obviously no. 1, as even the stories that Sachin had narrated on that episode about John right, and few others, even I didn’t know of. And I knew of these stories only when I was interacting prior to the episode. Whereas Sanga & Murli, I didn’t know a single story. From just my point of view, forget about being the host, and just from a personal happiness point of view, Murli & Sanga stories were amazing. I am fan of Ashwin. I like the way he speaks. He was unbelievable with his stories in last season. For rest of episodes also, in phases, lots of interesting stuff came out. Last year, Parthiv Patel’s episode – I had liked a lot, as Parthiv also revealed some amazing stories.

10) You have been mimicking so many cricketers, has any of the senior player ever taken it as an offence?
Surprisingly, nobody has taken offence up till now. I am trying to remember in the past … did anybody … actually people had taken it as an offence in the beginning when I used to imitate Sachin, they used to say it’s not in the right spirit because Sachin had that connect with the fans. And I said “Sachin ko koi problem nahi, to tum ko kya problem hai ..” But , people can be sensitive. As far as I remember, I don’t think anyone has ever come to me and complained. I have been lucky that nobody has felt offended from the cricket field so far.

11) Is there any player you feel you can never mimic because you respect him immensely?
No, not really.

13) Why don’t you mimic women’s team players?
Apart from the World Cup, I have not followed much of Women’s cricket. Typically, observation comes only when you see something for a long time. Jhulan Goswami’s action was different. I think I will be able to imitate. For earlier generation, it was easy to pick up as there were lots of ‘characters’. Either, I have become old, or I feel that the characteristics have gone down a little bit, or maybe they are not there in the playing 11. I’m sure Mithali has some characteristics, Smriti has something, but I am not being able to pick that up till now. But, as I said, Jhulan has a unique action so I think I can manage her bowling action.

14) Season 3 was doing so well? Why did you end the season so early?
Dus ho gaya yaar. 10 episodes karte karte meri jaan nikal gayi. 20 cricketers ko ikkaththe lana, back to back during IPL, was a nightmare. Two cricketers coming together was the pain, so 10 episodes, for me was a lot of hard work. I am happy that it got over.

15) When is season 4 launching? Where can the audience see it?
Looking forward for conceptualizing something new for season 4, let’s see how it goes. This will be mostly during IPL as I will start prepping during that time, else, I won’t get time from cricketers. If I am shooting with the same lot or even others, I will not be getting any players unless, I go out and shoot in in Australia or England. Shooting with full budget, crew and doing all episodes outside, becomes a little expensive, so IPL time is the only time we can. That’s also when the budgets are pretty robust. Am conceptualizing, but if something happens, great if I get a window somewhere, some new format emerges, I might think of doing something before also, but broadly, I think, the season would happen only during IPL. The audience can watch it on Viu and YouTube together, hopefully.

16) Tell us more about ‘Bawraas’ and ‘Think Cricket’
The other passion that I always had was music as I come from a musical family. My mother teaches classical music and light music so I used to always be a ‘wannabe’ singer, you can say. Luckily, being in MTV and being in show business, in terms of doing live gigs, I was exposed to lots of musicians- Sonu, Shaan, Shankar and Shreya – they are personal friends. At one point of time, I always thought that we got lucky in our profession. People in unconventional careers, why not support them when they do something interesting and that’s when I met Krishna Patil who was India’s youngest mountaineer who had climbed Everest and didn’t have money to go to the next mountain. So, once when Swanand Kirkire, Shantanu Moitra & I got chatting, we agreed to do a concert to raise money for her expeditions. It happened on a whim and we got together, and then Shaan said he will support, Shreya said she will support. We did a concert , we raised the money for her, and that became pretty successful. Post that, we raised a little bit money for the Gopichand foundation, much before the Olympics. We raised money for an athlete called Ankita Gosavi from Pune, who had to go for the Asian Games. So, it became like, let’s do a concert for people who are doing good stuff. Unfortunately, last one year we didn’t have the bandwidth to do much, but we are reviving it by identifying two or three interesting people for whom we will do something, this year.

Think cricket was something Harsha Bhogle and me have been talking about for some time with Anita, Harsha’s wife. Between me and Harsha, we must have done 1000’s of corporate events. And over a period of time, both of us meet and chat about management and cricket, so thought why not have a platform where we chat with the clients that we have always interacted with – CEOs, VPs who come on an evening and chat cricket with them and when we chat cricket it’s a free-flowing conversation. We had Rahul Dravid speaking on the art of batting. Sundar Raman spoke on his BCCI experience, Ashwin spoke on Spin Bowling, so we keep calling interesting people to talk about cricket in a free-flowing conversation with the heads of companies. So, think cricket was something we thought we would do very regularly.

All’s well that ends well. A big thank to Vikram Sathaye to take out his precious time and answering our questions. All the best for your future assignments.

Hope you liked the special interview. Stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com for more on cricket.

Right from the Mecca of Cricket- Lord’s Prelude

In an era of muscling the balls into the stands, waiting for the first day of Lord’s Test still gives goosebumps to cricket lovers. Yes, T20 has made it possible for us to watch a cricket match in 4 hours. But nothing can replace the excitement of walking into MCG on a Boxing Day test, or walking into Eden Gardens and see Wasim Akram running into ball, mind you , that time Eden could hold up to 1,00,000 spectators. Hence, my idea of real contest is still a game played over 5 days where pendulum would be shifting from time to time and the team with never-say-die attitude will come up winners. While some say 5 Test series is too long, the old fashioned like me would say, that’s clear opportunity of 25 days of real hard cricket.

The Mecca of Cricket-Lords
The Mecca of Cricket-Lords

The occasion in Lord’s and I hate to say this that I traveled from India to London, just to catch the first day at Lord’s, see the captains walk to toss, see umpires throw the new ball to the bowler, the bell ringing, everything. But, God had other plans and an extremely painful personal loss has deprived me of this honor but only for this time. Nevertheless, I am in London and I hope to catch up one of the days in between.

In the meantime, as stated before the heat wave has been extremely killing. But suddenly, yesterday (7th August), the weather Gods changed their minds. It did not rain but cloud covers had covered London. It was pleasant for a change, not to mention, I love rain. But if you are cricket lover and specially an Indian fan, you would know English weather is flirting with Virat Kohli. Till now, grass has been left on the 22 yards, weather is swinging between hot and cold, Andy Flower goes on to record and say Kohli has to play more years to reach Sachin and become one of the all-time greats, Bumrah is not fit, India has lost the first test within the first 4 days, and adversary are still hitting Indian Team. I am sure in my mind that Kohli is already quite baffled about what to do with the batting order and now with the weather playing its part, he sure will be confused with his bowling combinations.

It is pretty easy for all us fans and the commentators say a few things while the game is on or after the match is done and dusted. But, Kohli is leading the team right there. He is feeling the heat and he is taking some bold decisions. I think he will still back KL Rahul since one test is not good enough to judge someone. Now, Dhawan should not be dropped since that might press the panic button in the dressing room and bring in more insecurity amongst the players, so would guess Dhawan sticks again. Rahane will stick on for past performances. There is really no need to change the batters at this point of time. We also need to bear in mind Pujara has done nothing extra-ordinary in these conditions. But if Kohli wants to get in the extra batsman, it has to be Pujara and where do you fit him.

If Pujara comes in, then automatically Umesh goes out. Now, permutations and combinations looks very interesting given this is a must win game of India. It will be a real test of character and mentality of these players. But above all, it will be an opportunity to see if these players are ready to amend their mistakes. Since, this looks like the last chance for many in the team. Kohli himself needs to think before finalizing the final 11. He has never played the same 11 in consecutive Tests and that could and might have created doubts in the mind of the players like Vijay and Rahane. If you look at Vijay’s batting, it has not been the same from the time he had been dropped from the time. He is poking and prodding outside the offstump and God knows why. Similarly,Rahane has not found his magic touch yet after being dropped in the SA series after being the vice-captain of the team. However, Pandya keeps getting the captain’s backing even after some really ordinary performance, but definitely some lighting of brilliance from time to time.

Kohli will be the big difference between the defeat and win once again and I hope to make my presence felt in one of the days in between.

Hope you liked Lord’s Prelude. Until then, stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com

Special thanks to Debdeep for sharing this article. Debdeep Bhattacharya is a cricket fanatic with an analytical insight of the game, a hardcore Dada fan who believes everything cant be measured in stats!

India v/s England Test Series : Round 1 of 5

So, India travels to England after a span of 4 years and this time they come with a lot of expectation and one of the main reasons of that expectation is Virat Kohli. Kohli happens to be the man who has scored heavily across the world and across formats. If you are a kid and wanting to play cricket, you want to like Virat Kohli. He is setting the trend with fitness and his batting.

Virat Kohli & Joe Root with Pataudi Trophy, 2018
Virat Kohli & Joe Root with Pataudi Trophy, 2018

The only place where he has to stamp his authority is England. A dominating century in England is still missing from his long list of achievements and CV. Having won the T20 series and lost the ODI series, it was time to get ready to face English fast bowlers. With the heat wave being nothing less than torturous in England, it was expected to help Indians since much swing was not expected but the Duke ball had a different story to tell.

England wins the toss and elects to bat. Kohli brings in a major change and drops Pujara for KL Rahul. I have always maintained KL Rahul has a problem against the moving ball but captain trusts his former IPL team mate. Again, with only Ashwin in the team, it looked a little heavy in the pace department. While we talk about the different players, it is an absolute must to mention that just like Kohli, Ashwin as well did not have a great performance in England last time. So, another one to set that record right.

As the Test match started, England looked pretty comfortable against Indian attack and looked to set a big score. There were no demons on the pitch and I still maintain that it was 400+ pitch. However, keeping Kohli out of the game is just impossible. You can call it half a chance, but it did come in the form of Bairstow mis-judging a run and taking a chance against Kohli. I simply call it stupidity. A direct hit at the bowlers end and the priced wicket of Joe Root, probably the best batsman of England. This turned the game and England collapsed for 287. Not to forget, Ashwin showed his guile and experience by bagging 4 wickets and some superb bowling from the senior pro Shami.

I was almost certain that India would bat only once and score something around 450 since this wicket has got nothing. Vijay and Dhawan was alright at the crease. But more importantly, Broad and Anderson did not look threatening at all and I was quite confident that this series is going our way from hereon. As the old saying goes ‘ Little knowledge can be dangerous’ and thats what exactly happened with me. A 20 year old left arm fast bowler was marking his run up and I was of the idea that he would not be much of a threat given the experience our batters have.

But, suddenly we had lost 3 wickets of our Top 3 within 8 runs. I looked at the replays 10 times and I could not understand whether we threw the wickets away or our batsmen are that stupid. As Geoff Boycott would say “ Even my mum would have left those balls”. Highly disgusted and disappointed with our batters, I continued my optimism since Kohli and Rahane was at the crease. Now, the whole match had narrowed down to Anderson vs Kohli.

Kohli eager to stay put and stamp his authority, as the couple of reckless shots would indicate and similarly, Anderson, being old wily bowler that he is, kept tempting and probing Kohli and at times challenging Kohli to satisfy his ego and play that expansive drive. But for the next 4 hours what I saw is a normal guy changing himself and maturing to a man.

The innings had 3 dropped catches and 2 catches fell short of the slips, thats 5 balls and in the rest 220 balls, this man re-wrote history, wiped the past away and created his own legacy which would be part of cricketing folklore for ages to come. The innings was not filled with beautiful shots but tremendous willpower, the innings did not have the power of Kohli but the mind of Kohli and finally it got the result for which millions had tuned into cricket for that day. Scored a superlative 149, took India to 274. Conceded the lead but not by much.

England comes into bat, again Ashwin weaving his magic around the English batsmen and snatching 3 wickets. Ishant joins the party takes 5 superb wickets. At one stage 87/7, looks like game over England. But again, walks in that under-rated player named Sam Curran and smashes 63. What was disgusting to see is Dhawan kept dropping catches and kept smiling. What on earth was he thinking???? Did he think Kohli would say “Sardar khus hua???” If that stupidity was not enough , he would thigh slap every time he took a catch. What does that even indicate??? Anyways, finally England was bundled out for 180. With the famed batting line up of India, it was almost given that we would win this game. Target 194, should be done by lunch Day 4.

In comes the opening pair of the world no. 1 team, Vijay and Dhawan, oh sorry, I should be saying in comes the fashion stars of the World No. 1 team. Since what followed for the next 3 hours is called Fashion Parade by the Indian batting stalwarts. You name them and they are ready to go to Lakme Fashion show or something in Paris as well. They can give the best model in the world a run for their money. What was unfolding in front of me, is called callousness, unprofessionalism and I felt like cheated and I would like to know if Kohli and the Indian bowlers felt any different.

If there is a term which is worse than throwing away wickets, I would like to know since, looked like Vijay, Dhawan, Rahane, KL Rahul did not care what was going in the middle. They did not even have the heart to fight it out. And at the other end, there was this man who has so much pride of playing for India that he kept trying and trying. He even tried to shield them but at the same time tried not to insult the so-called batsmen. The Indian captain was stranded, dejected and all this was apparent when he walked back to the pavilion after another superb 51. As a fan and cricket lover, I felt sorry for him.

I have not seen an Indian batsman in a long time to play like this, not seen someone to carry a team like this. I am sorry to say but the rest of the batters do not deserve our love or our criticism. They are not worth it.

Its time to bring the Shaw and Gill into the team because it cant get any worse than this. It pains us , as a fan , to see Kohli going through after that kind of efforts. Its a sad state of affairs.

Hope you liked the review of the first test match. Until then, stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com

Special thanks to Debdeep for sharing this article. Debdeep Bhattacharya is a cricket fanatic with an analytical insight of the game, a hardcore Dada fan who believes everything cant be measured in stats!

Virat : An emotion not just a cricketer| Arpit Awasthi|

One fine afternoon while Randomly surfing a TV channel in a summer afternoon at Melbourne, in 2008, I came across a live match and saw a chubby youngster full of energy, emotions and adrenaline rush batting like a man possessed.

They say love at first sight exists in romance but here I was falling in love with an U19 kid, who was 2 years younger to me. I predicted to my house mates that he will be the next great of Indian cricket, to which, my mates ridiculed me!
In matter of 10 days, he was the captain of the U19 World Cup winning team. Some people labelled the celebration over the top and arrogant maybe it was, I don’t know!

Arpit Awasthi with his Idol- Virat Kohli
Arpit Awasthi with his Idol- Virat Kohli

He made his debut few months later, thanks to his potential identified by then selector colonel Vengsarkar!

It was a Luke warm beginning. In fact, till a year up until Dec 2009 he just another fringe player and then he scored his maiden century against Lanka at Eden garden. The greatness nipped under the bus was about to emerge!
He made his way to be a permanent member of the team. By the time 2011 World Cup started, he made a century in his debut World Cup match, however, he is remembered more for his quote on SRT after the World Cup Final in that tourney.

He was picked for tests in WI and was found out against shirt bowling, dropped for tests against England, and was on verge of being dropped after 2 tests in Australia. Then Perth and Adelaide happened.

The knock against SL at Hobart in ODI elevated his career to the next level. The now ill famous tour of 2014 happened ,134 runs in 10 innings, but Incidentally this was when he became more than a cricketer for me! He didn’t give up went to Australia 6 months later and scored 4 centuries and rest they say is history!

While Virat Kohli, the cricketer is well known, the qualities that I love about him are :

1. Fitness freak: The journey from chubby cheeks to six pack abs.
2. Passion: I learnt from him that we must be extremely passionate about the profession we are in.
3. Style: The way he carries himself in public his commendable just so classy.
4. Hard work and Grit: he may not be naturally gifted like Rohit but with his sheer determination and dedication he became a world class athlete.

Hope you like Aprits emotions for Virat Kohli. Stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com for more on cricket.

Special thanks to Arpit Awasthi for contributing this article. Arpit is an avid cricket fan who carries passion on his sleeves,firebrand of Viratian. This article stands testimony to his undivided devotion. May his god smile on him.

UK Diaries- By Debdeep Bhattacharya

India plays their first Test match at Edgbaston from 1st August, which about 2 hours drive from my place but I do not have any intention to watch the match there. However, the weather is pretty English at this point of time. Unpredictable rains has already forced all clubs across London to cancel all their matches which also means my own induction to my local cricket club got halted for another week.

Edgebaston- All set to host  1st Test Match
Edgebaston- All set to host 1st Test Match
So, what is Edgbaston?? It is one of the most affluent suburbs of Birmingham, rather central Birmingham and it is also home to Warwick County Cricket Club which again happens to be the home club of Ian Bell and Jonathon Trott, 2 of the most dependable players of England.

First Test is expected have majority of Indian crowds due a number of reasons but the most important reason is, everyone wants to see Virat Kohli score that elusive hundred. Don’t be surprised if you hear “Jeetega bhai jeetega, India jeetega” loud and clear on your television sets!!! They will chant “Kholiiiiii Kohli” and that too repeatedly.

The atmosphere is there, Indians need to turn up on 1st August and play to win, that’s what few of us Indians think. Any defensive approach will put back Indians but with Kohli at the helm of the things, we don’t expect anything else other than positive cricket. So, I am expecting out of the 25,000 seats available 15,000-17,000 would be filled with Indians by the third day itself. We are not only fanatic about cricket but we worship our cricketers and our recent Demi-God is Kohli.

Now, the twist is, as Indians, we don’t want this hot and humid and so-called Indian weather. We, and we believe, Indian team also wants the English conditions to turn up when the day comes. Not only do we need to just beat them, but also but beat them in their home conditions and home weather so that Cook and Root wouldn’t have much to complain and next time Ricky Ponting gives an interview about the best batsman of the world, he is forced to take Virat’s name. We want to win it in style this time and bring it back home!!!

Hope you liked first hand experience right from Edgebaston .Until then, stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com

Special thanks to Debdeep for sharing this article. Debdeep Bhattacharya is a cricket fanatic with an analytical insight of the game, a hardcore Dada fan who believes everything cant be measured in stats!

Kapil Dev da jawab nahi!

Born on 6th of January 1959 in a humble timber merchants family on the outskirts of Chandigarh, coached by an (then) unknown Desh Prem Azad, a career spanning 17 years from 1978 to 1994 amassing in 131 tests 5248 runs with 8 centuries, highest of 163 and 434 wickets in tests; becoming the highest wicket taker in the world at that time, still the only cricketer in the world to complete the double of 5000+ runs and 400+ wickets- we are talking about none other than our very own Living Legend- Kapil Dev Nikhanj.

Kapil Dev
Kapil Dev lifting the most coveted Prudential World Cup- 1983

In the career spanning across 225 ODI’s, Kapil scored 3783 runs, and 253 wickets. But his most important innings – the one that really mattered was played on the 18th of June 1983 -the 175 run innings. It was and still is the most striking and outstanding innings in our memories. It was a hot sultry Saturday afternoon in Bombay. I was at work trying to wrap up all my work early, so that I could leisurely listen to India play Zimbabwe, at a small unheard-of country ground in England: The Nevill ground in the village of Tunbridge Wells.It was the 3rd edition of the cricket world cup. The Prudential World Cup 1983.

India’s record at the 1st and 2nd World Cups in 1975 and 1979 had been so dismal and pathetic, that we- the fans, BCCI and even the only possible broadcaster then, Doordharshan- had zero expectations from our team. Only the finals on the 25th June were scheduled to be shown live. But we were getting live, ball by ball, radio commentary. However, this Indian team surprised us. Lead by a newly appointed captain in Kapil Dev, they beat the might West Indies In their 1st round match, lost to Australia, beat Zimbabwe, lost to the West Indies In the 2nd round. And then won against Australia. And suddenly we were with a real chance to qualify if we won this 20th match of this World Cup against a lowly Zimbabwe.

A friend of mine, Giresh joined me, as full of pleasant anticipation, we tuned the radio on to BBC , expecting an easy victory.
India batted 1st. And started disastrously. In no time Gavaskar was out 0-1, Shrikant followed 6-2, as did Mohinder Amarnath 6-3. It only got worse as Sandeep Patil was out 9-4 and then Yashpal too left 17-5. By now the alarm bells were ringing. Disheartened, frustrated and angry, I chased Giresh out of my office, switched off the radio and resumed work.

And so, I missed out hearing live, the epic and iconic, 175 runs, Kapil Dev century. By the time Giresh called me to tell me India was past 200, and I switched the radio back on, Kapil Dev had gone on to hit a ton and catapulted himself into the annals of history. The legend of Kapil Dev was born on this day.That he marshaled his troops so well and India won the World Cup is now a part of historic lore. His words to his team mates- ” only 11 can play” have now gone down in history, as have his instructions to Balwinder Singh Sandhu to bowl only out swingers;luckily the Sardarji disregarded this and bowled Greenidge with an in swinger. The most abiding memory is his catching Richards off Madanlal in the finals.

Kapil’s 1st tour was to Pakistan in 1978 as a raw teenage pace bowler. He showed a lot of promise and went from strength to strength, cementing a permanent place in the team as an all-rounder. He has many matches for India, both with the ball and the bat. In 1991 he took a ‘fiver’ to beat Australia, in their den. His 9 for 81 in Ahmadabad, albeit in a losing cause against the West Indies was a lion-hearted effort. As was his hitting Embury for 4 consecutive 6er’s in England to save a follow on.
He also led India to a test series victory in 1986 in England.

The trip to Australia in 1993 was to be his swan song but he bowled his heart out there finishing as the leading wicket taker form both sides with 26 victims, going past 400 career wickets. It took him to within sight of Sir Richard Hadley’s world record of 431 test wickets. He retired immediately on making this record his own- 432 test wickets, having served his country for 16 long years and having played 132 tests and numerous ODI’s.

My admiration for this humble but great legend doubled when I witnessed his gesture of consoling Dilip Vengsarkar after he led Haryana to a narrow 2 run win against Mumbai in a Ranji final. A living Legend!

Hope you liked revisiting the memory lane of the Prudential World Cup 1983. Until then, stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com

A special thanks to Hemant Sood for contributing his wonderful piece of article. In his own words, as he likes to be introduced- वेला बंदा is a retired businessman.But surely he is surely a busy man. An avid cricket fan, and an encyclopedia of Cricketing Knowledge, Hemant is a very welcome addition to Shamsnwags writing panel. Hemant has been following and living cricket since his childhood and has carried the passion to his second childhood uninterrupted.

Binge Read-From CK to VK- Indian skippers in England

We are glad to inform that we have received tremendous response from various platforms and forums on our series- ‘From CK to VK- Indian skippers in England’. In today’s era where people love to ‘Binge’ watch the video series, we are glad that we have been getting queries on where do we find all the articles at one place so that we can read it on the trot. To make it very simple for the readers, we thought of providing a quick access to all the articles of the series.

Here’s where you find all the articles so far from the series- From CK to VK- Indian Skippers in England.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15

Lots more to be covered under the series and we are midway through. Until then, stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com

The little master-a fan’s ola and adeiu

The start:
For a sport mad enthusiast, the late 1960’s and early 1970’s was a disaster. Indian sports were nowhere. 1968 Olympics had been dismal. The one bright spot was that our cricket team had finally won an away test – albeit against lowly New Zealand in 1969. Most of us were unaware that India was going on a tour of West Indies. And those of us who did know of the intended series were expecting another 5-0 result. The 1st surprise came when Vijay Merchant used his casting vote to appoint Ajit Wadekar captain causing Pataudi Jr. to pull out of the tour.

The Little Master- Sunil Gavaskar
The Little Master- Sunil Gavaskar
The team was on expected lines. Durani, Sardesai, Jaishima, Jayantilal, Venkataraghavan, Abid Ali forming the nucleus and there were also a few youngsters, Vishwanath who had debuted against the Australians the year before and a kid named Sunil Gavaskar. He had excelled for the University team.

At that time, there was only a sporadic radio commentary available to follow the series. And what with the matches ending well beyond 3 am, the failure of the radio signal and the papers reporting action a day late, we were unaware of history being made at Port of Spain.

A young hero – soon to become a cult, was born. He joined hands with Dilip Sardesai to give India a victory. Scoring 774 runs in 4 tests, winning against the likes of Sobers and Kanhai. Suddenly we had a new sports icon. One who could look a fast bowler in the eye and score against them. Hence began a phenomenon named Sunny Gavaskar, a little man who mastered fast bowling.

And the End…

The 5th and final test at Bangalore, of an intriguing India verses Pakistan in 1986 showcased the genius of Sunil Gavaskar.
It was a wicket turning square. After a very even two innings, Pakistan went into bat in the 3rd inning with their best player of spin opening. Javed Miandad used his pads and feet to negate the Indian spinners. By the time the Pakistan innings ended, India need some 200 runs to win. However, by this time the wicket was a mine field with puffs of dust raising each time the ball hit the turf.

In Tausif Ahmed and Iqbal Quaim Pakistan had probably the best spinners to exploit these co editions. But Gavaskar had other ideas. He was fluent in his batting, stepping out and playing the spinners on merit. Without any support from the other end with wickets tumbling to the experienced spinners, Sunny almost got India to victory. An umpiring error cost India the game. Gavaskar was given out, caught at slip off his forearm guard for 96. An epic inning had ended so had the official test match career of a colossus.

Sadly, this was his last game in Indian colors; he did play the ROW against England 1st class match at Lord’s making 188, caught off Ravi Shastri, and added the one missing piece to his otherwise excellent curriculum vitae. A Century at Lord’s. Adieu legend.

Hope you liked the small tribute to the little master- Sunil gavaskar. Until then, stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com

A special thanks to Hemant Sood for contributing his wonderful piece of article. In his own words, as he likes to be introduced- वेला बंदा is a retired businessman.But surely he is surely a busy man. An avid cricket fan, and an encyclopedia of Cricketing Knowledge, Hemant is a very welcome addition to Shamsnwags writing panel. Hemant has been following and living cricket since his childhood and has carried the passion to his second childhood uninterrupted.

8th Consecutive T20 series victory for Team India

With Rohit Sharma scoring an undefeated century of 56 deliveries, punctuating with 11 boundaries and 5 sixes, India registered their eight consecutive T20 series victory. England were well 20-30 odd runs short of what could have been a winning score. England was pretty much on the money with the opening batsman giving them a fiery start. They were going strong till the 14th over where they lost Alex Hales. They managed to score 198 of 20 overs.

Hardik Pandya was the pick of the bowler who broke the back of England innings by picking 4 wickets, despite for having got clobbered for 22 runs in his first over, came back strongly to give only 16 runs of the rest 3 overs. As ‘Shri Alan Wilkins’ was referring, the grass was puffy citing the example of how the hair would look if they are done in the opposite direction of the regular partition. The expert commentators thought that there would be extra swing, but there was hardly any movement. The straight boundary was short. The England team lost the trick in the quest to over attacking.

Team India- Winning T20 Series  against England 2-1
Team India- Winning T20 Series against England 2-1
On the other hand, India was going strong steadily. After the first 3-4 overs, there was not a single over when the asking run was crossing over 11. Hard luck for Dhawan and KL as they were brilliantly caught in the field. There was clean stroke play from both the English and Indian batsmen.

Even in the first match, England comfortably scored 50 runs of first 5 overs. Kuldeep Sharma cleaned them up in the first match with the ‘Fiver’. The second match would well have gone India’s way had it not been for Alex Hales’s brilliant onslaught throughout and especially in the last over of Bhuvi where he hit 6 of the first ball and 4 of the second ball where in 12 runs were required of the last over. In fact, the English batsman handled the spin very well, not allowing Kuldeep to settle in by hitting him across the park, resulting of him being dropped from the 3rd and the Final T20.

It was an extremely positive and confident move to send our Hardik Pandya at No. 4 position ahead of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni. Rohit Sharma was hitting cleanly and was nearing the century. India needed someone who could attack from the other end to be at par of the asking rate and allow Rohit to get to his century. Hardik played to his potential and displayed why the captain and team management has high regards for him. Rohit Sharma was awarded as Man of the Match and Series.

With the series win, India will go on a positive note and will have an upper hand against England. All the Indian batsmen are looking in prime form. Just matter of time as they head towards the ODI series starting from 12th July.

Until then, stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com