Tag Archives: Australia

The Taste Of A Test!

Gosht Nihari is one of the best Dishes I have ever eaten. It is cooked over a painfully long time. The aromas keep tempting you, You nearly get frustrated many times and are about to eat it prematurely and find it under-cooked, or at times you are so pissed off with the idea of waiting, that you give up the idea of having the dish at all. But the cook doesn’t give in to your demands and cribbing until the dish is perfectly cooked. And when it is finally cooked, and served, only then does one realise, that the wait was worth it!

Close-in Fielders!
Close-in Fielders!
The Ongoing Adelaide test match reminds me of eating Nihari.
It is a complete, delicious package. Unfolded like a saga. For an Indian 48-year-old fan, it is not very uncommon to get up early in the morning to watch a game played in Australia with great hope, and just by the time you get ready to go to work, the hopes evaporating like a drop of water on a hot dosa plate. The start to this match was no different. Indian Openers, and captain were back in the hut in no time, the so-called dependability of Ajinkya had failed him once again as it has done frequently in this season, and India looked to be staring into the defeat in the very first session of the test match. But Cheteshwar Pujara cooked a good Nihari.

He threw in the first ingredient of patience early on in the innings, added an impenetrable concentration to it, and wore down the Aussies at one end.He did not succumb to the pressure of the consumers’ expectations, and cooked his dish delectably well. Ashwin, resolutely stood for his twenty-five runs, and Rohit and Pant played two cameos which were irresponsible to say the least, yet contributed a valuable 62 runs between them which, while looking at the equation of the match appear more precious than they did on the first day. Yet Pujara stood out. He is head and shoulders above many poster-boys of Indian cricket when it comes to playing test cricket. When all the other front-line batsmen were lured into the same trap of undulating deliveries of fast bowlers outside the off-stump like a bear to honeycomb, Pujara left them alone like a celibate sage. He had unwavering concentration, and yet he was very much in the game to pounce on the very few scoring opportunities offered by the disciplined Australian attack.

Though it may have looked audacious bordering on the frenzy of madness, his up and over square cuts played when he was in his 90s were a perfectly calculated risk, The Square boundaries on the Adelaide Oval are short, and once connected, the ball is sure to have carried over the ropes. Pujara was the rock of Gibraltar. Immovable. Very patiently, he had moved in to his nineties, and he had changed gears once Ashwin fell. He was aware of the Indian lower order’s incapability of resist and hang in there, and so had to accumulate runs quickly. He did it but didn’t look as if he’d lose his wicket playing these strokes. He had analysed and memorised the bowling attack and the behavior of the wicket like his wife’s birthday and was not going to take any wrong step. No bowler could get him out, and ultimately, he got run out. India scored 250 with just under half the runs coming in from Pujara.

The Bowlers responded to Pujara’s effort splendidly, sawed off the first four Australian wickets when they had not even scored 100. Then, rookie Travis Head started playing an innings beyond his years, and in a sedate matured manner batted with Handscomb to add 33, and the tail supported him too limit the Indian lead just to 15. But slender or whatever, India had taken lead over Australia in the first test match of the series, and it was a huge confidence booster. K L Rahul’s slam-bang approach to batting, for this instance worked, and the needed impetus was given to the innings at the very start. Scoring 18 off 53 balls, Murali Vijay played a good hand in blunting the new ball. Then Pujara was joined by his captain and both of them between them added 105 runs in 308 balls, biding precious time and ensuring that Indian wickets didn’t fall in a avalanche like they often do. Kohli’s departure for 34 brought in Ajinkya, who carried on in the same vein and India were at a healthy position at 243 for 3. But Pujara’s fall for 71 then brought the Indian lower order back in their elements, and 7 wickets fell adding a mere 63 runs between them.

India have set the Aussies a target of scoring 323 to win in 140 odd overs. With 4 Australian wickets down, a further 219 required to win, and the wickets crumbling, the odds are heavily stacked in India’s favour. Some Indian fans must’ve already put champagne on ice. All looks good for them in Indian test cricket. Being an Indian fan, I am delighted too. But what has excited me more than a probable Indian victory is the way in which India has played this test match. There was irresponsible batting, not playing in the team’s interest in the name of “natural game”, overambitious stroke play, complacency and as usual the big-mouthed coach bragging, but there were players who put their hand up, rose to the occasion and hung in there on both sides. Patience, perseverance, and grit was amply on the display.

The opening notes of this symphony called the Border -Gavaskar Trophy 2018-19 series have been savory to the ears and the unfolding melody promises to be pleasing too. Lets hope this performance is repeated repeatedly. Yes, one likes to see his side winning all the time, but the battle should be closely fought. The tantalizing uncertainties which have punctuated this match are ones which make the plot intriguing and puts bums on seats. A 300 scored against a hapless bowling attack can never substitute a century scored against a potent bowling line up, where the fast bowlers are always at you, breathing fire and their tails up, and a quality spinner is spitting venom. Yes. I found watching Pujara’s 123 more gripping than watching Matty Hayden flaying the Zimbabwe attack for 380 runs. And as the number of overs in a game reduce, the possibility of such tales with numerous twists and turns is further reduced. All that people get to watch is a mindless, frenzied slam, bang wallop game, where the bowlers appear just like whipping boys, meant only to get pummeled by the batsmen. Test cricket has it’s own flavour. It is to be had like wine, sip, swirl, and let it glide down the throat. It is not to be swallowed like beer or gulped like a vodka shot. The intoxication is slow, serene and supreme, and it takes watching cricket to a next level, where we start appreciating the fact that the game is played 10% on the field and 90% between the ears. I feel we’re going to end 2018 and start 2019 by a feast of good, hard and intense test cricket. Amen. 😊

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.

4 Times World Champions!

Victorious U-19 Team India
World Champions

A successful person Is the one who has got determination, aspiration, who believes in hard work and discipline. An individual success can well be translated into a team success. The future of Team India, presently the World Champions, is secured with the strong wall- Rahul Sharad Dravid.
Not taking anything away from the U-19 boys, it’s the guidance of Dravid that has seen Team India win the Under -19 World Cup. He was always the captain’s Go-to man. Donned Wicket keeper’s gloves when the captain required, opened the innings, played a sheet anchors role in the middle order, rolled his arms- were some of role that he has often played.
Commitment towards cricket during his playing days was so addictive and irresistible that he carried on the mantle into coaching the Junior team. No reward could have been better than a World Cup Victory by his Under- 19 boys!
4 times World Champion-Under 19 Team India. This was an unbeaten performance as India didn’t lose a single match. Ironically, India played its first match and last match Australia. This tournament has seen India produce some wonderful players. To name a few- Captain Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Manjot Kalra, Nagarkoti, Ishan Porel & Shivam Mavi . This victory will remain in the memories for a long time to come. Some of them can walk into the senior team anytime.
Prithvi Shaw marshaled his troops very well. He missed on his century by 6 runs in the first match against Australia. Had he stayed on to the wicket, he could have scored a century in the Finals. Shubman Gill scored a brilliant unbeaten century against Pakistan in the semi Finals. A brilliant bowling spell by Ishan Porel made sure that India Won by a whopping margin of 203 runs. Manjot Kalra made the most of it when it mattered. He sealed the victory with an unbeaten 101 runs. Kamlesh Nagarkoti has been sensational in the U-19 Circuit. He crossed almost 150 Kmph in the speed gun in one of the match.
A big congratulation to the Under-19 Team India and Big Salute to Rahul Dravid.

Team India Tamed in Their Backyard!

We are not done yet!
Back in 2001, Australia visited India being undefeated for 16 matches. They were already dominating the world and entered India with the quest to conquer fortress.
However, their winning juggernaut were brought to a halt by Ganguly & team.
Under the captain ship of Kohli, the number 1 test team in the world – team India were undefeated for 19 test matches until Smith & co; Company spoiled the party for India by defeating them hands down in all departments in the first match of the test series in Pune.
It was shameful for India to see how the Aussies dominated with the ball on the conditions tailor made for Indians. Though there were few eyebrows raised on pitch conditions before start of play, but the way Indian team performed, specially with bat shows lack of character and maybe sign of over confidence where they were basking on past glory.
The score for 105 in the first innings and 107 in the second innings are not even the scores that can be considered for T20 matches, forget even worth considering for Test match. Drop catches, waste of reviews added salt to the injury.
In first innings, India could negotiate only 40 overs before succumbing to the spin twin of Australia. In second innings, the Australian bowlers wiped out India in 28 overs. This clearly indicates that India batted effectively for only 2 sessions, helping to wrap up test match within 3 days. Though chasing 440 was a mounting task, but team India didn’t show any sign of fighting back or even holding on the fort for a draw.
The star of the match was O’Keefee with 12 wickets in a match, 6 wickets per innings. In the post-match press conference, Kohli was prompt enough to mention that bowlers who were turning ball went wicket less, while the one without turning the ball bagged maximum wickets.
The only positive thing that came out was that the team will bounce back from the first delivery.
The fans expect team India to play positive in the second match starting from 4th March 2017, and we hope that team India will not cut a sorry picture for the fans.

Cricket’s 10 Greatest Rivalry

The game of cricket is full of rivalries spanning across generations of players and teams. Let’s take a look at Top 10 greatest rivalries in cricket:

1 Australia vs England: It’s the battle between Australia and England for the Ashes Urn. The Ashes urn is made of terracotta and about 15 cm (six inches tall). It is reputed to contain a burnt cricket bail. Ashes history – Test Matches.

2 India vs Pakistan: Across all formats of cricket, the rivalry is always intense. Pakistan has never won against India in any of the ICC Tournaments.

3 Australia vs New Zealand: Their rivalry is more of Fist against Face being neighbouring countries. Its called ‘Chappel- Hadlee’ series.

4 West Indies vs Australia: Goes back to time when WI dominated cricket world 70’s 80’s.

5 India vs Australia: After breaking Oz’s winning juggernaut in 2000-2001 series, the rivalry has become fierce with time. Not to forget the famous ‘Monkeygate’ scandle. Series is currently called ‘Border-Gavaskar’ Trophy.

6 Pakistan vs Bangladesh: The excitement and emotions are always high when these two nation play against each other. Bangladesh was once part of Pakistan (called East Pakistan) till 1971. The high point for Bangladesh was when they defeated Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup and all Wasim Akram could say is “We lost to our brothers”.

7 India vs South Africa: The first series was played between these nations after RSA made a comeback to International arena in 1991. Since then the rivalry has been pretty healthy between these teams.The series is currently called “Freedom Series”

8 Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: Their rivalry has grown more in past two decades. It has increased post 2009 incident where Lankan team was attacked on their series tour to Pakistan.

9 South Africa vs Australia: The contest between these two nations is for the battle of supremacy and top the ranking table. Being two of the most consistent team’ in world cricket as far as record book goes there rivalry runs really high on emotion. Who could forget 1999 World cup Semi Final Tie between these two teams.

10 CSK vs MI : Yes, you read it right. It’s not the odd one in list. As we all know IPL is most popular T20 league in the world and what better when you see 2 giant franchises contesting each other. Both these teams are consistent in IPL in every term and their rivalry on field is worth watching. Not to forget it’s that time of the year when Shams n Wags become Shams Vs Wags. (Shams support CSK, while Wags is ardent MI follower)

Don Of Cricket!

Sir Donald Bradman
Sir Donald Bradman
It was in February 1951 Ashes test, Day1 Australia were 254 for 3. Arthur Morris was batting on a spectacular 140 not out at the end of the day, and Keith Miller was unbeaten on 24. It was an exciting day of cricket, and the spectators had got their money’s worth, with the home team dominating. A gentleman in his early 40s was walking out towards his car in the parking lot of the Adelaide Oval. A kid stopped him.
“Morris is the greatest Australian batsman”, the kid said. The gentleman stopped in his stride, and said to the kid, “Yes.”
“Do you like cricket too?” asked the kid.“Yes” said the man, “have played a bit myself too”.
The kid was suddenly awestruck. “Can I know your name Sir?” He asked politely. “Donald Bradman” said the man, and quietly walked away to his car. Such is the public memory. People forget the greats very easily, once they find new heroes.

And going gaga over the World Cup 2015, we all, the ardent cricket fans, have done the same.
Not much of us seemed aware today, that 14 years ago on this day, the world of cricket was robbed of Don, whose batting was actually was the dawn of the fast scoring style of batting, which is prevalent and admired the world cricket now, for more than 2 decades, and is entertaining us cricket lovers.
On this day in 2001, the Don passed away. He was to the cricket world, what Sachin was in the Last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the millennium. Few of his records have been so steep, that in seven decades after his retirement, no one has been able to get near to his batting average of 99.94, or his 309 test runs scored in one single day.

Volumes have been written about the Don, and there is not much I can add to it. But there are a few anecdotes, which I would love to share here in his remembrance.

It was 1930, the Ashes. Percy Fender had warned Don, that his technique of employing horizontal bat shots won’t work in England and he will have to use a straight bat. Don had made Sir Percy eat his words in the first test, scoring 131 in the chase. However, Australia had lost the test by 93 runs, and that had stung the Don’s Aussie Pride. The Aussies won the second test at Lords by 7 wickets, largely due to the Don’s 254 in the first knock. That instilled a great deal of confidence in Don. With the series poised delicately at 1-1, the third test was crucial for both the teams. The team who would dominate in the third test would have wrested the advantage. On the eve of the Leeds test, Bradman had a dinner appointment with Neville Cardus, the great cricket author. Don called him earlier in the day, and said, “Can we have this meeting on another day Mr. Cardus? Tomorrow’s test is important, and I will have to score at least 200 in it. So need to retire early to bed.”
Cardus was a bit offended by this, and he thought that the Aussie was being too cocky and overconfident, and was underestimating the English attack of Larwood, Tate, Dick Tyldsley, Hammond and Maurice Leyland. But the Don lived up to what he had said. He reached his century before lunch the next day, plundered another 115 runs in the post lunch session, and walked proudly unbeaten to the pavilion at the end of the day’s play having scored 309 in a single day. Australia had made 458 for 3 in the day, and Don had scored two thirds of the runs singlehandedly. Australia went on to make a mammoth 721 in that innings, and played England out of the match, and the mother country did their best, still could only save the match. Don didn’t do much in the next rain curtailed Manchester test, but came back to his elements in the final test at the Oval, scoring 232. Series tally of 974 runs in a five test series. Take that folks!
Another one is from the India tour of Australia in 1947-48.
While batting in a tour match against Ghulam Mohammed , Don pulled a bit uppishly, and the ball only just eluded Square leg. “That was risky!” exclaimed the wicketkeeper Khokhan Sen. Ghulam Mohammed promptly pushed square leg a bit deeper. “Just wait and watch.” Don told Sen. The next ball was also a short one, and Don pulled it again in the air, again only just eluding Square leg. Ghulam Mohammed pushed the square leg further back, and again bowled a short one. Don again pulled it in a way that it just eluded the square leg. Then he turned to Sen again, and said: “I am not playing Ghulam Mohammed’s bowling to the field, I am “playing with” him to his field.” Such Mastery! He also went on to warn Sen not to pay so much attention to this, or Sen might lose his concentration.

That was the way the Don backed himself, and more often than not, delivered. 29 centuries and 13 fifties in 80 innings is a testimony to that!

Special thanks to Sanjeev Sathe , who is an avid cricket fan and a dear friend of ours for contributing this wonderful article.