Lightening indeed struck thrice after Beijing, London and now Rio. Usain Bolt, undoubtedly the most celebrated athlete of all time, roared past his opponents at the biggest event of them all, the finals of the Olympics 100 m sprint.
His start might have led to many a hearts skip a beat as it wasnt the best. His main compatriot, the american Gatlin, booed incessantly, lead the pack for almost 3/4 ths of the track (yeh thats right). But the on the back of the sheer length of his strides the acceleration he achieved just blew away his opponents setting the track on fire.
Bolt, who would be turning 30 soon, possibly ran his last games at the Olympics but has strode into the Olympic hall of fame as the greatest runner of all time dwarfing the past greats. The event gave me goosebumps and the feeling of him breaking away from the pack at the very end was just unbelievable.
The decision to appoint Anil Kumble as the Indian Cricket team coach has taken many fans and experts by surprise given he has no experience of coaching apart from the mentor role he played for Mumbai Indians in the IPL where is was a part of a Galactico Coaching Staff.
But people are sceptical to ask any questions as he has been chosen by a panel consisting Sachin, Laxman and Ganguly and who can question their cricketing accumen.
Kumble is a legend of Indian cricket with 403 international matches and 956 wickets under his belt. He is also known to be a fighter who has a never give up attitude which was shown when he had a broken jaw in WI in a test match but came on to bowl with his face covered with bandages.
He is calm but authoritative and has leadership qualities which thrive under adversities which was shown in the way he had lead the Indian team to a win in a test in Perth after the Sydney fiasco.
He also knows the way Indian cricket is run and has administrative experience also.
All these qualities and attributes make him a good fit but his lack of coaching experience is a big question especially when things were getting back on track with Ravi Shastri in charge and the team being a relatively young one with a young captain at helm in tests and with India scheduled to play 13 tests in the coming year.
Only time will tell whether this googly thrown by BCCI will be as good and effective as Kumble’s googlies over the years. One thing that board has done good is that they have given Kumble only a one year contract to access things after that.
Let’s also hope the Karnataka connection of Kumble (Karnataka player) and Kohli (RCB) player takes India to a new pinnacle and makes this decision a right one.
Till then we sign off in Mongia’s style while keeping for Kumble by saying “Aai Ga”
Last Friday, Shivnarine Chanderpaul bid adieu to international cricket. Not surprisingly, this piece of news didnt receive much media coverage. The local newspapers here were busy analysing Indian cricket teams humiliation down under.
Debuting in 1994, the now 40 year old Chanderpaul nicknamed ‘Tiger’ had a cricketing career spanning more than 2 decades. Famous for having that awkward frontal stance, many Indian cricket fans would remember him as a thorn in the flesh for India while playing the Windies in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Chanderpaul was probably the most underrated cricketer in that 10000 + test runs club. He was just 40 odd runs short of Lara’s test run aggregate when the selectors led by Clive Lloyd decided to pull the rug from under his feet. Tony Cozier has this insightful piece on it.
Known for his unshakeable patience, Chanderpaul would be remembered for sticking to batting basics and grinding the opposition down. Very much in the mould of Kallis, who too retired recently, in terms of temperament, but slightly more unconventional in terms of batting technique and eon’s away from the sheer flamboyance of Lara.
In an era of hero worship there are also stories of grit, determination and extreme hardwork that dont necessarily result in fame and success but due to sheer fate things just dont fall in place and in some cases even fall apart. My earliest memories of Amol Muzumdar were from the newspaper stories of the kind of runs that he scored. I came across this via my friend Amol’s (Agarwal) blog which in turn is courtesy here
If you grew up in the nineties and watched cricket, chances are that you must have heard the name of Amol Muzumdar, the stylish middle order batsman from Mumbai. Yes, he too featured in that historic match, yes you guessed it right, Shardashram vs St. Xaviers or better known as the match where Tendulkar and Kambli broke all kinds of records, Amol was slated to come in next. He never got his chance then.
Despite scoring ~ 10000 runs (second only to Wasim Jaffer) in first class cricket and having a batting average of ~ 50, Amol wasnt able to break into the India team and sadly his name wont even ring any bells in the minds of this generations of Mumbaikar’s. Such is the fickle nature of fan adulation.
It was the era and the position that he played, the nineties and nno.3 & 4. There were the awesome 3some of Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly who were knocking on the doors of the selectors pretty much at the same time as Amol was.
At the fag end of his career, he even switched teams and played for Assam and Andhra Pradhesh, continuing to display his class. The following captures his commitment and dedication to the game,“I simply could not have anything in my mind but batting. No outings with friends or family functions. I don’t even remember celebrating my birthdays”. More on him here
After coming on as a substitute for Klose in the dying minutes of the game (~ 87th minute), Mario Goetze controlled a swirling cross from Schurrle on his chest and tapped it with beautiful precision past Sergio Romero in the 113th minute to shut the door on Argentina, who till then, unlike Brazil, fought valiantly against the marauding Germans.
Goetze’s shot reminded one of Iniesta’s goal that sealed victory for the Spaniards against the Dutch 4 years ago at Johannesburg. It won Germany their 4th world cup. This one came after a gap of 24 years. Although they came close last 3 times, closest being in 2002 when a rampaging Brazilian side (which had all the famous R’s) won the title in Korea-Japan.
The bench strength of Germany is a tribute to the system put in place by the DFB in Germany. The players, most of them, enrol as young kids in the footballing academies and come through the competitive and gruelling system. The team spirit as described by their coach Loew was exceptional.
James Rodriguez and Manuel Nuer’s Golden Boot and Golden gloves awards were deserving as both were simply outstanding. What was odd though was the Golden Ball given to Lionel Messi. He himself seemed surprised at the announcement and was reluctant to accept it. Thomas Mueller, Arjen Robben certainly seemed more deserving. SMH has this . Maradona and Blatter openly expressed surprise at the decision.
BBC has this on the German victory. In the end it seemed logical and almost inevitable that Germany win the cup.
Here are some pictures from the WC. With the round robin games over its the the South Americans that have on expected lines held the upper hand. As many as 7 of them have qualified for the round of 16.
European teams except the Dutch and Germans have struggled. France hasnt really been tested.
Even though RVP’s “flying” goal was a spectacular one and it actually opened the account for Netherlands against Spain, it is their fifth goal, scored by winger Arjen Robben that remains with us even after 3 days after the game.
Metro has this here Apparently, the dutch winger’s sprint was clocked at 37 kmph whereas defender Ramos run was clocked only at 30 kmph. It has even managed to beat Theo Walcott’s record of ~ 35 kmph.
Robben’s blistering pace and then supreme control of the ball proved too much for the Spanish defence. He toyed around for some time with the goal keeper Casillas and then scored.
What a match. What a goal!!