Sunday, February 28, 2010

Flattering to whom?

Continuing on the theme that I first talked about here, the similarities between the storylines of Pocahontas and Avatar are too many to ignore.

Don't believe me? Take a look at this "preview" of Avatar, Pocahontas-style.



Just for comparison, here's the original preview from Avatar.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Slash and burn

Of all the tributes pouring in for Sachin Tendulkar after the 200* he scored in an ODI, the best is this one from Sambit Bal, the editor of CricInfo.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

God hath no answer for a writer's fury

In the comments section of a recent post relating to a Manoj Kumar special, I exchanged a couple of messages about the complexity (read: are-you-being-serious-ness) of stories in Hindi movies, especially from the Golden Age of Melodrama.

On IMDB.com I love trolling through plot summaries of movies and user comments. There's enough hilarity there to keep most mortals occupied. Once in a while you come across a plot summary that is so gobsmackingly outrageous, you are sure even immortals are rendered speechless when confronted with it.

Fine wine

Approximately a year ago, I saw Sachin Tendulkar retire hurt at a personal score of 163 at the end of 45 overs in an ODI in New Zealand.  The way he was batting that day a double century was easily in sight, especially with the short boundaries in Christchurch. A few months later he surpassed that with a 175 at Hyderabad that was as emphatic as any of his innings. Crossing 150 is a rare enough feat in ODI's, doing it so many times in a career is phenomenal. Today, SRT finally crossed the rubicon, getting to the 200 run landmark that he richly deserves to be the first to get to, just as Brian Lara thoroughly deserves to be remembered as the first man to a Test 400.

There will be talk about how it was a flat pitch and the runs were there for the taking. Well, this was the 2,962nd ODI played and a batsman finally reached 200. I don't care how flat the pitch was, this was special. What made it even more special was that the team goal was not sacrificed at the altar of a personal record. (He did set the record for most 4's in a single ODI inning).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Heart of the matter

Two pieces of genuine mirth and awesome-ness.

a) What do you do if you are Manoj Kumar and your dad is suffering a heart attack, the doctor refuses to come, and all you have are two batteries? Why, you cure him, of course!

Speaking engagements

While Test matches continue to be exciting and there is plenty of drama on the pitch, the action on the field is almost being undone by the mind-numbing commentary off of it. Fluctuating between banalities or hyperbole, the commentators are outdoing themselves in uttering stock phrases, content to rely on a cliché to tide them over.

"Needs to bowl in the right areas."
"It's all happening out there."
"What they need are a couple of quick wickets."
"What they need are some partnerships."
"That went like a tracer bullet."
"They wont mind giving up the single."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Get with the program

When I have to go anywhere, I always make a mental note of the route in my head before I embark on the journey. My comrade-in-arms is usually Google Maps. While I do not particularly dislike Navigation Systems (erroneously called a GPS unit by most folks), I prefer to have the route in my head and am able to make adjustments on the fly if I run across bad weather or construction-related traffic irregularities.

Photographic memory

a) Inspiring awe and wonder in equal measures is this photograph of an owl in pursuit of its prey.

Voiceless eloquence

It is no secret that my favorite movie critic is Roger Ebert. A few years ago he suffered from cancer and the consequences of multiple surgeries, and can no longer speak, eat, or drink like he used to be able to.


Randomly speaking

Quick thoughts and feelings:

Hurt no more

The last Major League baseball player I rooted for recently announced his retirement. Frank Thomas, aptly nicknamed the Big Hurt, will not suit up any more. With him dies one of the last of the big men without the shroud of steroid-abuse tainting their legacy. If anything, for years, Thomas has been very, well, frank about the need for steroid testing in baseball.

Shah Rukh's changing persona

These days Shah Rukh Khan goes around loudly (and proudly) proclaiming that his name is Khan.

It wasn't always that way, you know. Why, just a few years ago he was singing a completely different tune. How fickle-minded of him!

He didn't think I'd forget, did he?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Never. A. Doubt.

After reading my Day 4 report of the India-South Africa Test match at Kolkata, Tifosi Guy left a very prescient comment:
I'd be very surprised if India don't win tomorrow. Getting Kallis was huge. I though think it will be a nerve wracking 'few overs to go before stumps' win.
And that is exactly how it transpired. India escaped by the skin of its teeth to register an innings victory with just 9 mandatory balls left to be bowled. (They could have squeezed in a couple of extra overs, if required).

Rather than give you a detailed breakdown of how it transpired, I will pen some thoughts that occurred to me in the aftermath of the game.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Three chips and some mild salsa

Overnight rain and some inept groundskeeping ensured that two possible results were rendered highly unlikely in the India-South Africa Test match at Kolkata. With a South African win and a tie knocked out of the loop, only an Indian win or a draw remain.

About 90 odd overs remain to be bowled, and the SAffers trail by 232 runs, with seven wickets in hand. In reality, a combination of bad light, slow over-rate, and rain will ensure that they actually need to survive between 50-80 overs. They have the batsmen - Amla, De Villiers, Prince, and Duminy to do it, but they have also lost two very important cogs - Smith and Kallis.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The underappreciated fulcrum

When the third day's play began in the India-South Africa Test match at Kolkata,the SAffers had an outside shot at pulling something off. Only one frontline batsman remained between the SAffers and the tail - VVS Laxman. For the entire day the visitors tried all kinds of lines, lengths, and bowlers at him. Barring an inside-edge for four and a half-chance to JP Duminy at gully, the fellow held firm.

Joining him in this endeavor was his skipper, MS Dhoni. When he first came on the scene, long hair with streaks, a sledgehammer for a bat, and hard hands behind the wickets, Dhoni seemed destined for a decent career in the Shahid Afridi mode - enough performances to keep people talking, but not really amounting to historical significance. While Samson lost his mojo when his hair was cut off, Dhoni has gone from strength to strength. His greatest gift is his mental strength to not worry about other people's perceptions. He is his own man. He possesses a gawky, awkward-looking, bottom-handed heavy approach to batting but it is a method that works. Behind the stumps he has improved leaps and bounds and is a safe catcher, improving with each year.

Is all well? It is, it is!

After missing the Nagpur Test match, VVS Laxman came back to shore up the middle order in Kolkata.  Sometime yesterday, while he was putting together yet another masterclass in middle-order calmness, it suddenly hit millions of fans of Indian cricket - the Indian team missed Laxman at Nagpur more than  he missed the team.

Spontaneously, everyone broke into a song and dance.  Or at least that's my impression of how events transpired all across the world.  It's my world and let me revel in it!  Like so:

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Force is strong in him

In my review of Day 1 of the India-South Africa Test at Eden Gardens, I had written:
Taking that last wicket quickly on the 2nd morning will be necessary. Though, as long as they don't allow too many more runs, it may not be a bad thing from India's point of view if South Africa bats long enough for the early morning dew and moisture to evaporate from the pitch! I'm not hoping it happens, though.
It was a little bit of both - the last wicket pair scored another 30 runs to take the score to 296 while playing out some of the juice in the track.

Juice in the track or ice in the veins, nothing seems to matter when Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag are together at the wicket. The first over by Dale Steyn was a disappointment. Six balls were pitched outside the off-stump, going further away, and left well alone by Gambhir. It was as unsatisfying a start as was possible for South Africa. Here you had Gambhir, fresh off his first failure in 12 Tests, nervous about the situation, and you let him just ease those nerves by watching 6 balls go by?! Ugh! In spite of that maiden, after 9 overs the score was 68 for no loss.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Charge of the slighted brigade

South Africa had a fabulous chance to wipe India completely out of the series by batting for time. For most of the afternoon they did just that and then, in one manic session, they threw it all away, opening the door for an Indian comeback.

Hello, world

Someday, somewhere, Tiger Woods will emerge from his self-imposed vanvaas. Numerous folks have voiced their opinion about how and when he should come back and which platform to announce it on.

I think it is time for Eldrick Tont Woods to change his nickname. He should take some inspiration from an iconic Hindi movie and announce his return thusly:

L-a-a-a-m-bert

It seems just appropriate that I came across this video on Valentine's Day. Hugs don't come much better or much odder than this:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blast from the past

Sometimes, when you least expect it, the past comes tumbling back into your life, ensuring that old memories swirl into the foreground, fighting to explain what you remembered in light of who you have become today. Moreover, when these are memories that have spent more than two decades in the recesses of your brain, thinking about them is a surreal experience.

Before I talk about what triggered these memories, let me take you back in time. This story begins in the early 1980's when I was just starting to figure out the nuances of cricket. I was still a young kid, pre-teen and all that, but had a grandfather, who loved cricket, for company. From him I learnt a lot about the past of the game and the bliss of a properly contested Test match. India had just won the World Cup and cricket was popular like never before.

Sight and sound

A 100 years of magic in one clip. Oh, how the times have changed, but movie magic hasn't.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Color coded

If you are color-blind this video is not for you. I have never seen a movie of the actor (Prabhas) but adored the actress (Shriya) when I first saw her in Santhosham. It appears she has become a big star in the interim but I have missed most of her subsequent movies so I do not know if she has added to her range of expressions.

She can dance, though.

Apropos of nothing

Just like that only: How do you like them apples?



In case you were wondering, I was searching on YouTube Education for a video that talked about Mutualism and plant-animal interactions, for possible use in a lecture to my Environmental Science class tomorrow.  I found a lecture recorded at MIT in 2005 that was archaic and, sadly, stuffy and boring.  That got me thinking about the value of a good teacher and how a degree from an institution is not always representative of the greatness of the instruction.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow ... fall

This is Mt. Kilimanjaro from outer space, taken just a few days ago. The ice cap is almost gone, the once-grand glaciers are barely clinging on and, oh yes, summer is still a few months away.

(Click here for source and other pictures from outer space)

Selling celluloid

(Note: This is a re-post of an earlier entry, updated with another video of a TV interview (in two parts) at the end of the post).

When you get two people to sit down in front of a camera, ask them questions, and let the camera roll, after a while their personalities come through. With their movie My Name is Khan on the horizon, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol are doing the rounds.

This is the first time I am seeing a long, unedited, full-fledged interview of either of them and I like the way the interview plays out. After a while, especially in the second part, their real personalities (and mutual comfort level) comes through quite well. SRK and Kajol talk about their camaraderie, their choice or roles, and lots of other things. Fun stuff.

Like a planet scorned

A few years ago, Pluto was kicked out of the big boys club and downgraded to the status of a dwarf planet.

Astronomers around the world beware - Pluto is starting to get a little angry!
Pluto is turning brighter and redder as its 248-year-long rotation around the sun changes its seasons, NASA reported on Thursday.
(Credit: NASAESA, and M. Buie (Southwest Research Institute))

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Dark clouds ahead?

A few weeks ago, at the start of Day 4 of the 3rd India-Sri Lanka Test match, the visitors were in trouble, trailing by 322 runs with two days to go. At the start of that day I predicted that India would win the Test match because all they needed was 10 bursts of inspiration/factors to go their way to prise out the batsmen. The pitch was not too helpful and patience was the key. Sri Lanka managed to stretch it to the 5th day but still lost by an innings and 24 runs.

At the start of the 4th day's play of the first Test between India and South Africa, India were trailing by 259 runs but with just 8 wickets in hand. The wickets the SAffers had bagged were the big guns - Virender Sehwag and, more crucially, considering his recent form, Gautam Gambhir. Therefore, to win the match the SAffers needed just 8 bits of inspiration/luck/factors to go their way. The word of the day was patience. The SAffers would need lots of it as batsmen would be difficult to prise out once they settled in. And patience is a virtue that the SAffers have in dollops.

Monday, February 08, 2010

It's an ad, ad, ad world

One of the joys of a Super Bowl telecast is watching the commercials. When the team you are rooting for does not win, then it is the commercials that you draw solace from. This year neither the team I was supporting nor the commercials were memorable.

However, if I did have to pick an ad among the ones that were shown, I'd pick this one of Google's search engine:



But a parody of that ad featuring the world's most famous philanderer is even more amusing and would have brought many a house down if it had been the one to air instead.

Timber!!

(CricInfo 2006)

The third day of the South Africa-India Test belonged to two people - Dale Steyn and Virender Sehwag. Not since I saw Malcolm Marshall in 1984 have I seen such a sustained spell of aggressive pace bowling on Indian soil. But Steyn reminds me more of Kapil Dev because his stock ball is the one that goes away, the harder to bowl outswinger. Steyn has a long-ish run-up that builds up in pace, an easy action but some of the fastest hands in the business. After his jump his arms swing faster than his run-up suggests and the length of the ball is one that invites batsmen to lean forward and drive. A brilliant ball like that got Sachin Tendulkar to lean forward, slightly off-balance, and the movement did the rest. But Murali Vijay and Wriddhiman Saha, in particular, and other Indian batsmen barring Viru, in general, were tentative about stepping forward because of the 90mph pace and instead shouldered arms or prodded awkwardly and paid the price for their diffidence.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Speechless

I don't think I could even imagine something like this, let alone be able to pull it off.

Wow.

By the numbers

The South Africans had a chance to take a stranglehold on the first Test match but seemed reluctant to push the pedal to the metal when they had the Indians on the floor. I apologize for the mixed metaphors but the SAffers are just that - a relic, a cliché that belongs to a bygone era of Test cricket.

Before Mark Taylor began the modern trend of batting first and batting fast to bat an opposition out of the game, the practice used to be to pile up runs at a "safe" pace before setting the bowlers loose to exploit the pressure induced by the sheer weight of the run chase. A combination of flatter pitches and more aggressive batsmen has caused teams to revisit what constitutes a safe total. Apparently, South Africa did not get that memo.

Flair is not a word one associates with the SAffers. A better word would be efficient. Like the Little Engine That Could they bat along a preconceived plan, seemingly marking off checkpoints as they put up the runs, head down, fully focused to the task and little else, hardly ever deviating from said plan.

Hashim Amla gives glimpses of subcontinental wristiness but for the most part his game is defined by straight lines. And, boy, did he give a fabulous demonstration of that?! For over 11 hours he defied everything that the Indians threw at him, shrugging off more than ten occasions where Amit Mishra produced a leg-spinner's dream ball and batting along in a manner that the word serene was coined for. His 250-plus was the perfect base to launch a humungous score. With Amla in the zone and the score reading 400 for very few, the stage was set for the other batsmen to expand their horizons and take the game by the scruff of its neck. Instead, what we got was batsman after batsman playing like Amla. For a brief while, the boy-man named Abraham Benjamin threatened to do something about it, routinely jumping down the wicket to tackle the spinners. Initially, I was heartened by it, until it started reminding me of another player of similar style - Michael Clarke. Both de Villiers and Clarke like to play the spinner at the point where the ball pitches yet both approach it as a defend-first, attack-second option. AB got a few fours (5 by my count) off Mishra, but only two of them came from the shimmies down the wicket. The rest of the shimmies were followed by a defensive stroke, not even by a punch to long-on or long-off for a single. So even the one batsman who seemed to be trying to do something was using a safety-first approach. From 476 for 5 in 151 overs (when Duminy got out) to finishing up with 558 for 6 in 176 overs, a total of 82 runs in 25 overs, is not the stuff from which declarations should be made.

Naturally, when AB finally decided to push the scoring along, he perished and the SAffers went back into a single-taking shell. MS Dhoni kept changing the field and rotating his bowlers but it was negated by another no-show by his premier horse - Harbhajan Singh. Economy Singh is a classic case of Georgie Porgie. If things are not going his way, a sulky, irritable Economy creeps out, content to try to hide his tail and plonk away on middle-and-leg hoping for mistakes. When Anil Kumble was bowling, no matter what the state of the game, you could never tell it from either his bowling or his demeanor. All the great ones have it. The "it" being that desire to do so well that the opposition knows that one mis-step results in their downfall. The book on Economy is simple. Negate him for a few overs, avoid rash shots that give him an early wicket, and then sit back and milk the square-leg area as he bowls faster and flatter onto the pads.

It is a telling commentary on Economy that the only time in the entire innings he looked even remotely like the Harbhajan he can be is when the SAffers were approaching the time-to-declare phase and a few quick wickets were in the offing. But when the big boys were out there, he was overwhelmingly outbowled by Mishra and that is not saying much considering Mishra's propensity to give up a short, faster one every once in a while. At least Mishra looked threatening right through the innings and definitely would have had more success on another day.

The day ended with the SAffers asking India to score 359 runs to save the game. If India does that, then I am pretty confident that the SAffers will bat the rest of the Test and move on to Kolkata. At least that is the impression I have been getting from the safety-first approach taken by the Proteas. Economy Singh would fit right into their team. And that is an indictment of both of them.

P.S. Ignore the title and read this article. It tells you all you need to know before Day 3 of the Ind-SAffer Test.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Quietly dominant

The first Test match between South Africa threw up a few surprises by the time the lunch interval was ushered in. Before the match, Rohit Sharma, riding the wave of popular opinion and one huge triple century against Gujrat, was a shoe-in for the middle-order spot that opened up when VVS Laxman injured himself in Bangladesh. (In spite of the 309*, Sharma had the 20th highest run aggregate in the Ranji Super League this year).

About an hour before play was to start, Sharma stepped on another player's foot in a routine pre-game play-around and was done for the day. Suddenly, Wriddhiman Saha, a wicket-keeper batsman from West Bengal, drafted into the team because the selectors (very wisely, really) deemed that Dinesh Karthik was better spent leading South Zone in the Duleep Trophy, found himself with the coveted debut match. Fortuitously, Saha leapfrogged more worthy aspirants (Pujara, Kohli, Pandey, Rahane come readily to mind) into the Test team as a specialist batsman. Since I will not mention his name again today, let me say that Saha is a very good and active fielder, especially in the deep, based on what I saw.

Zaheer Khan began as only he does - bowling to a plan in his mind, wide of the off-stump, asking the batsmen to reach out for the ball or at least pantomime letting it go. Everyone, including the scorer and his chaiwalla know that this is a set up for the ball that comes in or the bouncer, yet ZAK's current aura is such that when the ball inevitably comes, it causes discomfort. Ashwell Prince got injured in a series against Australia and JP Duminy stole the thunder. On Prince's return, he was drafted in as an opener, the selectors indicating they felt Duminy was the better long-term option. Prince is in a scoring rut and, not surprisingly, was dismissed by an iffy decision, the ball bouncing off his arm-guard to the keeper. Prince did not help matters by fending so awkwardly at the bouncer that, on first impression, it clearly looked out. Only slow motion capture from the square angle showed that he may have been not out. I cannot fault the umpire for that decision at all.

Graeme Smith and ZAK go way back and he was content to watchfully play out the medium-pacer's spell. The sucker ball to Smith is the one the comes in after pitching and the South African skipper still managed to play an angled shot to an incoming ball and heard his middle-stump rattle. Just like that South Africa was 6 for 2 and the door was open for India to come thundering in.

Instead, Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla sedately set about surviving ZAK's probes and negating Ishant Sharma's run-denying line. The introduction of Harbhajan Singh, playing purely on reputation of late, opened the floodgates (relatively speaking). In the recent past, in my opinion, two things have conspired to make Economy Singh a ghost of the bowler of the past - both of which have to do with the doosra. The ICC is more vigilant than ever before about chucking and Economy no longer uses it as frequently as he used to, but his off-middle stump line has remained the same. Secondly, as Saqlain Mushtaq found out and Trever Jenner recently pointed out, a bowler who bowls a lot of doosras loses the action that produces the heavy overspin and loop that is the trademark of a good off-spinner. In pursuing that doosra Economy has lost his loop and bounce. Sad, really. A few weeks in purgatory may be the jolt he needs to get his rhythm back. If Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, and Sourav Ganguly could be dropped, why not Economy?

Anyway, Economy helped Kallis and Amla settle down. Amit Mishra found some turn and bounce but a propensity to not be able to bowl a full length on his faster balls meant that he repeatedly got pulled away to the midwicket region everytime he pitched short. Soon the SAffers were glued into the crease and, once that happens on flat pitches like this, it takes a special ball or a stupid shot to prise good batsmen out. Neither Amla nor Kallis were prepared to give it away and, barring ZAK, no Indian bowler looked capable to pulling out that zinger.

Runs, which came at a trickle in the first hour, began to gush forth in a more steady flow as the day progressed and at close South Africa had reached close to 300 runs for the loss of those early wickets. Slight advantage, South Africa, but this is a position that this Indian team has been in before and still managed to pull it out. (I will give you some examples of this later today).

For now, though, it is time for the Indian team to sit back, rest those tired feet, and plan some rebuttals. If Day 2 belongs to the South Africans, then 3 days of saving a Test match beckon.

Friday, February 05, 2010

White out

If you haven't already guessed it, there are very few things I like more than a good SNOWFALL! While the eastern part of the US is being buffeted by an "epic", record-breaking storm, in the Midwest it is just as serious, but still it is business-as-usual for us residents.

This is the view from my office today:

(C.S. Manish 2010)

Elsewhere, on campus, this is a common sight. B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.

(C.S. Manish 2010)

Making a mighty ocean

I talked about the amazing properties of water to both of my classes today.

However, I wish I had seen this amazing video before I lectured to them. Fret not, I shall show it to them come Monday. I bet they'll like it.

I have a feeling they will.

Minimum fuss, maximum efficiency

MS Dhoni has captained India in 11 Tests so far, winning 8 of them. The 8 wins have been distributed over 6 different nations.

Of the Test-playing nations, the only countries missing from his captaincy resume are Pakistan and West Indies. Pretty impressive, isn't it?

Aye, aye, captain.

(Rediff 2009)

King of cameos

Alfred Hitchcock had a peculiar trait of appearing, albeit fleetingly, in all of his movies. In most cases, they are of the blink-and-you-miss-it variety. But not always. I particularly like the way he cameo-ed his way into Lifeboat.

Rumble in the dustbowl

The next India-South Africa Test match is a few hours away and there are plenty of storylines to ponder.
  • Will VVS Laxman be fit enough to play? A few years ago, while playing in a local league I split the webbing in my left hand between the index and middle finger, requiring 7 stitches. It took about 10 days for the split to heal and the stitches to come off but more than a month or so before my hand stopped feeling tender. Laxman injured himself on 20th January (10 stitches), approximately 15 days ago. My gut feeling is that he has not had enough time to recover from it. I fully expect Rohit Sharma and Badrinath to shore up the middle order between Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni. Murali Vijay will slot in very easily in Rahul Dravid's #3 spot. Ladies and gentlemen, here's a (premature) glimpse of India's future.
  • How will the debutants respond to their one chance? Rohit Sharma has the knack of looking uninterested which goes a long way towards masking any outwardly sign of nerves (a la Virender Sehwag) while Badrinath gives off the Mohammad Kaif-like vibes - constant movement betraying an inner excitement and nervousness
  • Irrespective of what transpires, India loses out on its slip catching heroes but gains three outstanding ground fielders. The fielding stocks of the Indian team look good when you think of an off-side that has Vijay, Sharma, and Badri patrolling gully to cover. Too bad Yuvraj is a ghost of the man that he used to be. Anyone remember those days when the dude patrolled point like no Indian before or since?
  • Will I be doing a running diary? I am going to leave it till the last moment possible and gauge my mood. I will be attending a play (Fiddler on the roof) tonight and that may have a role to play. Let's see.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Talking points

As part of his contract with CricInfo, Harsha Bhogle is recording interviews with cricketers and folks related to cricket. The first installment of Opening up features VVS Laxman.

You can hear the fellow speak here (or read the transcript if you wish to). Fairly predictable answers to softly lobbed questions. Occasionally, Laxman wanders off the beaten track but not too far. Also, when it happens, Harsha does not delve deeper. The following exchange is an example of that. Laxman identifies a problem and rather than probe further, Harsha continues with his line of (presumably) prepared questions.
Harsha Bhogle: So when you are not playing international cricket and there is this big gap, the only form of cricket you really can play is domestic cricket. I know you've played in England, but I will come to that as we go along. Domestic cricket in India, how much is the gap, how much do you have to raise your game to play Test match cricket?

VVS: There is a huge gap, and there is no doubt about that. Especially in the last three years, because the players left their domestic state teams and joined Indian Cricket League (ICL); so definitely there was a huge void in the quality of players playing. (...) That said, there is definitely a huge gap between international cricket and domestic cricket, for the single reason that you are not getting good quality bowlers. The Indian team itself is struggling to find some quality spinners, apart from the guys who are playing for the team. You will find that there is no bench strength as far as spinners are concerned. So definitely the quality of domestic cricket has come down as far as bowling department is concerned.

Harsha Bhogle: Is concentration a problem, because you know when you are playing first-class cricket there is a bad ball coming every couple of overs that you can actually put away. Do you still have to get used to the idea of waiting for the bad ball when you come back
?

Gauging interest

Should I do a running diary of the India-South Africa Test series? Let me know.

Here are some of the running diaries I have done in the past.

Test 3: India-Sri Lanka 2009

Test 1: India-Sri Lanka 2009