Archive for the 'Latest' Category

Page 4 of 15

Why CA picked Chappell to demystify Sachin

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Reality TV star Greg Chappell has landed himself another job where he’ll do what he does best – do a whole lot of talking without any actual accountability for results. He has been allowed entry into the Australian dressing room with the job of demystifying Sachin Tendulkar. Like after 22 years and 184 test matches, there is anything left to demystify about his batting.

If you can ignore your negative feelings for Chappell, you can see the reason why Cricket Australia has picked him for the job. Other than having been a brilliant batsman in his time, Chappell also has to his credit the distinction of messing with Tendulkar’s mind as coach of India like no other bowler has ever done.

And if you thought that Chappell can unearth nothing except what we already know about Sachin’s vulnerability to the ball cuts back and that he can be lured into driving away from his body, you are wrong.

As per reports emerging from the Australian camp, Chappell has already given a couple of lectures on his chosen subject. Using graphs, archive footage of Sachin’s batting, and a detailed cluster analysis of his scores, Chappell has shown how Sachin is most vulnerable in his 90s. As per his strategy, the Australian bowlers should let him get to the 90s as early as possible and then plot his dismissal.

In a special session with captain Michael Clarke, Chappell drew upon his personal experience and disclosed that Tendulkar can be tamed if he is made to bat at a position he doesn’t like. Clarke is said to have approached Dhoni asking if he would be willing to play Tendulkar at No. 6 in exchange for allowing Chappell unrestricted access to the Australian players, something he knows is more advantageous to India than anyone else.

Ishant ‘Smart Alec’ Sharma
After four years of international cricket, Ishant Sharma has come of age like only an Indian fast bowler can. In this time, he has lost pace, zing, movement, wickets, and his hair. The only thing he still has from that dizzy 2007-08 season is that Adam’s Apple of his, which the World Human Anatomy Institute wants to rechristen as the Ishant’s Apple.

In these four years he has, however, learnt how to talk smart. Recently, he said that the Australians are better at playing mind games than the game itself. And to prove how grievously injuring their mind games can be, he has got himself injured before bowling even a single ball.

Mental disintegration Dravid style
When Steve Waugh came up with his mental disintegration theory, he had no idea the guy who would write the foreword in his autobiography would also turn it on its head and make it his own.

In his Sir Don Bradman Oratory, Rahul Dravid has re-invented that pop classic ‘Killing me softly’. By citing how Indians and Australians have fought shoulder to shoulder in the two world wars, how Australia was the first country the Indian team toured as an independent nation, how thousands of fans were dejected at Bradman’s snub in Calcutta, and how Bradman was our pre-independence symbol of fighting the oppressor, Dravid has made the Indian team an object of love and affection in the Australian cricketers hearts.

Reports suggest Siddle starts weeping as soon as he sees Dravid and Warner now sleeps with a teddy bear with Viru embroidered across its chest.

Statue of a statue
A statue of Shane Warne at the MCG was unveiled this week. This is the first ever statue of a statue, which is what Warne has become after Liz Hurley personally sculpted him into a “bronze statue” vaguely resembling Shane Warne.

You can listen to the Fake IPL Player’s live wacky commentary during the India-Australia series on www.pitch-invasion.in
Tune in during match hours.

Next stop for Bhajji: The Bigg Boss House

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Anyone taking bets on who’s next inside the Big Boss house? If yes, I’d like to put 10 rupees on Harbhajan Singh. (The monetary figure less reflective of my confidence and more of my finances.)

Let’s face it. If Andrew Symonds is in, can Harbhajan be far behind? Symonds without Harbhajan is like Shastri at the morning toss without a hangover. The picture is simply incomplete.

The sequence of recent events gives further credence to this possibility. The resurfacing of Harbhajan’s long-standing shin injury immediately after the Indian team for Australia was announced, which happened a little after he was belted around the park by Ranji level tailenders, which happened after he led Mumbai Indians to victory in the Champion’s League, which happened a few weeks after he abandoned the English tour with an abdominal strain that had him performing the Suryanamaskar on the field.

Now, if you are going to wile away your time in the house, might as well make some money doing so. And there ain’t any house better to do it in than the Big Boss’s house.

And at just this opportune time, Harbhajan’s car gets burgled, his passport and credit cards are lost, and he’s back in the news and starts trending on twitter. Perfect timing.

Harbhajan’s lost passport and credit cards were recovered a day after he filed the police report. While he was at it, he might as well have filed a report for his lost turn, loop, bite, and wickets too.

Gavaskar – On Sale

Sunil Gavaskar’s demand for the payment of $1 million per every previous season of IPL has been shot down by the BCCI again. Gavaskar claims that Sharad Pawar had promised him this sum.

He now joins millions of farmers who are complaining about the ‘ICC-President-by-day and Agriculture-Minister-by-night’ Mr. Sharad Pawar not keeping his promises. Last heard, he was looking for serial-slapper Harvinder Singh’s phone number.

In his battle with the BCCI, Gavaskar has received support from a not-so-surprising quarter – Lalit K Modi. Modi confirms that Gavaskar was indeed promised this sum.

“We used Gavaskar’s credibility and name when setting up the IPL,” he said. Used his credibility and name, mind you, and not knowledge and expertise. To a layperson this may appear as if Gavaskar sold his credibility and name to the IPL, but that’s probably not what Modi meant to say.

As his fans, we hope for Gavaskar’s sake that he gets the amount due to him because, as they say, there’s not much left in the bank after you’ve encashed your credibility.

Now, what needs to be seen is how long before Gavaskar does a U-turn on his opinion on IPL’s effect on Indian cricket and the reliability of the DRS? I’d say, it’ll start gradually from the first test in Australia and should be complete by the time the Australia tour ends.

Good morning, Dravid Sir!

Rahul Dravid delivered this year’s Sir Donald Bradman’s Oration in Canberra in which he talked about how India and Australia have fought wars together in Gallipoli, El Alamein, North Africa, Syria-Lebanon, Burma and the battle for Singapore. He also connected what happened to Don Bradman and Jawahar Lal Nehru on June 28, 1930.

As a result, Sehwag has offered him the position of head of department of History and Geography in his school. The only reason he didn’t offer him the English department also is that, when Dravid said ‘incongruous’, Sehwag heard it as ‘In Congress’. And we know Sehwag doesn’t like politics.

You can listen to the Fake IPL Player’s irreverent live cricket commentary during match hours on www.pitch-invasion.in

Slapgate and another Kambli disclosure

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Given my prophetic powers, if betting were allowed in India, I could make a fortune on two predictions.

1. Another fixing scandal is around the corner
2. Nobody will ever slap the ICC president

Prediction 1: Another fixing scandal is around the corner
Vinod Kambli has shocked us again. Not by his look this time, but by what he recently disclosed. Kambli feels the 1996 world cup semi-final match between India and Sri Lanka was fixed.

Noooo! Who’d have thought that? So what if it was played in the 90’s match fixing era, or if proven match fixers like Azhar, Jadeja, and Mongia were playing in it, or if crores were riding on that match, the thought that there was something amiss about that match never crossed our minds.

But the most unsurprising part of the ‘Kambli disclosure’ has been the BCCI’s reaction to it. “He is mad. He doesn’t know what he is saying. Matter close!” is the BCCI message, loud and clear. There’s no enquiry, no talking to players who played that match, no explanation from Kambli, no quoting of previous investigation reports. Nothing.

In his recently published memoirs, Outlook editor Vinod Mehta reveals that the then BCCI President Madhavrao Scindia was aware of Indian players fixing matches back in 1993. Mumbai top cop Rakesh Maria had intercepted telephone conversations between bookies and top Indian cricketers in 1994. Anirudhha Bahal had started investigating match-fixing in early 1997, the year Pradeep Magazine unraveled the bookie-cricketer nexus. Everyone knew, except the BCCI. Or, so they would like us believe.

The time bomb finally exploded in our faces in 2000.

In a world changing at supersonic speed, it’s heartening to see that the BCCI has remained unchanged. They continue to deal with situations exactly like in the 90’s.

Recently, Goa captain Swapnil Asnodkar offered a draw in a match they could have won. He was initially banned for two matches by the Goa Cricket Association, which was lifted soon after his apologized. The BCCI isn’t investigating the matter any further.

Earlier in the week, speaking with me on Internet radio station Pitch Invasion, Pradeep Magazine said that match-fixing murmurs have resurfaced with the advent of the IPL. He feels that young players getting sucked into the IPL glamour world are especially vulnerable to completely unregulated agents whose credentials and sources of money are unknown and suspect. Even Ajay Sharma, he recounted, first came in contact with bookie MK Gupta when he was 15, when Gupta shoved a 100 rupee note in Sharma’s pocket after the latter had scored a century in a DDCA club game.

Given that the decibel level of these murmurs is fast reaching the levels of the mid 1990s, and that the BCCI is being BCCI, I predict another major fixing scandal to hit us in the near future. And this time, the sport may not survive the jolt.

Prediction 2: Nobody will ever slap the ICC president
Oops!

Late News:
Harvinder Singh, whose palm came in contact with Mr. Pawar’s cheek, has caught the attention of the Indian selectors. “From what we have seen, he has a natural ability to find the sweet spot of the bat. He can solve our No. 6 problem in Australia,” one selector said. “Did you notice how he was pointing his knife at Mr. Pawar? This boy is definitely used to lifting his bat after scoring centuries,” another selector added while stroking his chin.

However, the incident has caused some grief to Virender Sehwag. He is ruing that he couldn’t paste a Sehwag International School sticker on the knife beforehand.

You can hear the Fake IPL Player’s live match commentary during match hours on www.pitch-invasion.in

Viru – the new marketing guru

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Step aside Mr. Lalit Modi. The next marketing whiz in Indian cricket has arrived. And it’s none other than the Sultan of Multan, the Nawab of Najafgarh, the man of ‘See Ball – Hit Ball’ fame, the superhero known in some circles as the Jatman. Yes, it’s our own Virender Sehwag.

During the second day of the Kolkata test, Duncan Fletcher was sitting in the player’s gallery. Sitting next to him was Sachin Tendulkar. It was the perfect photo-op guaranteed to attract eyeballs and, not surprisingly, the camera turned towards the duo. Perched on a table in front of them was Fletcher’s laptop with the manufacturer’s famous logo glowing proudly on it. Nothing out of place in that picture, except for the one awkward sticker on the top right corner of the laptop that read, in very bad font, sisj.in.

The sticker could just not go unnoticed. “Wow, the Indian team has someone sponsoring even its laptop?” someone asked excitedly. “No, must be the website of the analytics company whose software the Indian team is using,” another replied. Within seconds, cricket viewers all over the country were punching in the website address on their browsers. And not one of them could have guessed what was to show up. It was the website of Sehwag International School Jhajjar.

Forget any sportsman, never in history has even a sports marketer conjured up such a brilliant guerilla-marketing tactic.

That wasn’t all. Later, VVS Laxman reached his 150 and raised his bat to acknowledge his mates. Only, instead of showing the face of the bat, as is the custom, this time Laxman decided to show the back of his bat. And guess what was stuck on the bottom of his bat. Yes, the same sisj.in sticker.

One can only guess how Viru would have prodded Sachin Paaji to sit with Duncan uncle for the photo-op or what he threatened VVS with. For now, going by how the stickers were actually upside-down when displayed to the world, one can safely say that Viru personally stuck them on the glossy surfaces.

Pasting stickers isn’t the only thing Viru is doing for his school. Viru’s stamp is there on every element of the website, including his picture from 10 years ago taken from the formal clothing brand he used to endorse. In fact, Viru seems to have also written the copy for the website going by how the school believes “tones of hardwork produce desired results”.

However, tones of hardwork isn’t the only Sehwagology on the website.

Sample this:
• A morning prayer that spreads peace and a special prayer in their own way (Only Viru knows what this means)
• The classrooms that say “be smart” (As opposed to the ones that make one smart, I presume)
• For ideas that float in the air (Ideas full of gas?)
• Where mathematics is easy like never before (Viru can personally vouch for this because this is where he finally learnt how to calculate required run rate)
• In the toddlers class, toddlers are just toddlers (Parthiv Patel would feel safe there)
• Where dance and music is in the hearts, and sports is in the souls (Viru, The poet)
• An evening prayer that purifies the environment (Wouldn’t it be simpler to just use a room freshener?)
• Candlelight dinner with teachers (Aww…how romantic)

Now, we finally have a good reason to have children. Just so we can send them to Sehwag International School in Jhajjar.

You can hear the Fake IPL Player’s irreverent and wacky live audio commentary during match hours on www.pitch-invasion.in

Empty stands? Blame yourself!

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Shocked to see empty stands in the Delhi test match? Don’t be. A gentleman who went to Ferozeshah Kotla has decoded the puzzle on a blog.

The gentleman and his wife drove 90 minutes to the ground only to be told that the parking was 5 kms away. After having parked, they walked back to the stadium to be told that the ticket counters were closed on the auspicious occasion of a Sunday. They were directed to a bank 3 kms away, stood in queue for an hour, and were compelled to buy a 5-day ticket for a stand where they won’t get tanned. Finally, just as they were entering the stadium, they were refused entry because the gentleman was carrying a lethal modern-day weapon of mass destruction. An iPad.

If you think the DDCA is responsible for this mess, you’re wrong. The real reason is that today’s cricket fan has become too soft, too pampered by modern luxuries and too influenced by what he sees on TV.

Let’s dissect the blog for finer details.

He writes in the second paragraph, “The plan was to get comfortable seats in a stand that serves good food and drink, so we could read the newspaper and chat, with occasional cricket interruptions”. Huh? He thinks he’s in Australia or what?

On being asked if he had “parking accreditation”, the gentleman accepted unfamiliarity with the term. He shouldn’t have transferred the blame of his ignorance on to the authorities.

The gentleman and his wife were also making jokes on the healthily built Delhi Police personnel calling them “Gatting-esque proportions”. Such objectification of the protectors of our law should be universally condemned.

Further, by complaining about being made to walk 16 kms he was being unappreciative of the DDCA who were just doing their bit to ensure our cricket fans remain as trim and fit as our cricketers.

Circa 1990s

To fully understand how soft we have become, we must compare this Kotla experience to the one I was used to back in the 1990s.

The adventure would begin 3 days before the match where 35,000 people would already be jostling for the 10,000 tickets available for the Students’ Stand, a situation that would kick in the Delhi survival instinct in us.

We’d help another group start a parallel queue. At an opportune moment, we would instigate an altercation between the main queue and the parallel queue. With tempers running high, chants of ‘Maaro…Maaro’ can quickly provoke one punch converting the altercation into a scuffle. A police lathi-charge and crowds running helter skelter would provide an ideal opportunity to find yourself close enough to the counter at a place that the police deems to be a legitimate queue.

On the day of the match, three hours before the toss, the queue would have almost reached Asaf Ali Road. A similar sequence of queue breaking, altercations, lathi-charge (this time by policemen on horsebacks), about 500 people falling over the pavement barriers, and a mini-stampede would follow.

If you’re smart enough, you would use this opportunity to get to the gate. You run in pushing and shoving those ahead of you, find yourself a place to sit and don’t leave it for the next six hours.

If you’re thirsty, spot someone with a cola bottle, offer him a place to sit in exchange for the drink, make sure you and your friends finish the bottle before laughing at the guy’s face when he asks for the return favour.

We have come a long way since then. The gentleman is complaining that he couldn’t take his iPad inside. We were thankful that we got out with our limbs intact.

More fitting fixing punishments than time in a prison cell

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Contrary to popular perception, this has actually been a good week for Salman Butt. He finally has his Internet banking password that’ll never let him get caught with a stash of cash under his bed again.

As for Mohammed Asif, whatever the punishment, it can hardly test a man whose past includes failing a dope test, being in a relationship with Veena Malik, getting whacked on the thigh by Shoaib Akhtar, and getting caught in Dubai airport with hashish in his wallet. Expecting him to lose sleep over the latest episode is like expecting someone to fear playing Vinay Kumar after having faced Brett Lee, Dale Steyn and Dolly Bindra.

The third, Mohammed Amir, is probably young enough to take this as a lesson in life.

But the guilty verdict in the London court has dealt an almost irreparable blow to Pakistan cricket. Mohammed Amir – a precocious talent with pace, control and swing; Mohammed Asif – a lethal swinger who could send it both ways; Salman Butt – a captain who could speak English.

Pakistan may never see this combination play together again.

Isn’t Jail too harsh?

While the guilty should definitely be punished, there are doubts over whether going to jail for a sports crime is completely justified.

Most people believe their punishment, apart from the ban, should be related to the cricket.

Some suggestions being thrown by legal luminaries include
• Physical torture by reflecting bright lights off Kamran Akmal’s teeth straight into their eyes
• Giving a bath to Munaf Patel
• Watching a match between Mumbai Indians and King’s XI Punjab with Nita Ambani on one side and Preity Zinta on the other
• Counting every currency note Sharad Pawar has in his possession
• Watching in ultra slow motion Jonathon Trott and Alistair Cook bat together (Human rights activists have opposed this suggestion)
• Rubbing the lipstick and blush off Stuard Broad’s face (Women’s rights activists have opposed this suggestion)

A Bollywood movie

Did you know that Salman Butt’s son was born about an hour before the jury announced their verdict?

Imagine a movie that starts with the court pronouncing the national cricket team captain guilty of match fixing and his son being born in a hospital right at that time. The boy grows up to be a cricketer, becomes captain of the national side, infiltrates the bookie nexus, unearths the plot that wrongly brought his father down, and clears his name on the same night that he wins the world cup. Now, wouldn’t that be a great premise for a mediocre Bollywood film?

The plot has caught the attention of some of Bollywood’s biggest producers.

Karan Johar is amongst those interested in the story albeit with minor changes like changing the no-balls to wides. Contrary to expectations, Karan doesn’t want Shahrukh Khan to play Salman Butt. Instead, he wants him to play the umpire.

Given that the chances of success of a Shahrukh Khan movie is directly proportional to the number of times he stretches his arms wide, the 23 wides that Shahrukh will be required to signal will assure box office numbers, Johar thinks. Genius!

The other Khan – Salman – is also interested in the script. He’s especially interested in playing the character of the infant son, which gives him ample opportunities to appear shirtless in the film.

But the man who’s likely to pip all of them and release the movie first is Ram Gopal Verma who has already decided the number of angles from which Nisha Kothari’s item number will be shot.

He has kept the date of release under wraps, although film pundits already know the date on which it’ll be go off theatres – exactly three days after its release.

Silence of the Lambs

Bangalore's Siddharth Srivatsa sending a message to Michael Vaughan

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

The beauty of life is that it teaches you lessons from even the most meaningless of events, like the recently concluded India-England ODI series. As someone who followed every ball of it, here’s what I learnt from the series.

Lesson #1: Be careful of what you say…
Because it has a habit of coming back to boomerang you on your backside. One can hope that this is a lesson that Michael Vaughan would have learnt too.

During India’s disastrous English tour, Michael Vaughan had led the former England player pack in ridiculing the Indian team, including a bizarre suggestion that Laxman had used Vaseline on his bat to hide faint edges from hotspot. Throughout the tour, caustic, vitriolic and sardonic comments aimed at the Indian team kept coming from the former England captain through his commentary, tweets and newspaper columns.

While fans can be excused for resorting to jingoism, one doesn’t expect those who’ve played the sport at the highest level to stoop so low.

With each England defeat in this series, Vaughan found his twitter page flooded with diatribes from Indian cricket fans, most of them personal and abusive. The most hard hitting message, though, was delivered to Vaughan by a 14-year old Bangalorean through a picture inspired by Shoaib Akhtar’s autobiography’s cover page.

If even this doesn’t silence Vaughan, probably nothing will.

Lesson #2: It’s true that some wines improve with age…
But only if the grapes were good in the first place. In Tony Greig’s case, not only are the grapes bad, they are also sour.

For the last six months, every second sentence from Greig has had India in it. Starting with BCCI bashing on the use of technology issue, to Indian team bashing during the England series, to doom’s day prediction for cricket in the BCCI-led era. India is on his mind so much that one wouldn’t be surprised if he mutters the word in his sleep.

It’s common knowledge that Greig was deeply involved with the ICL and the BCCI-ban on ICL has affected him financially. From the looks of it, it has also affected him mentally.

Just yesterday, he tweeted urging the BCCI to think that ‘when making money is the ultimate ambition, you do things you shouldn’t’. Wise words from a man who not only quit England captaincy to join Kerry Packer, but was actively recruiting English players while he was still captain.

For Greig, one can safely say that one shouldn’t attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Lesson #3: ‘z’ is keeping your mouth shut
Albert Einstein had said that if ‘A’ is success in life, then A = x+y+z where ‘x’ is work, ‘y’ is play, and ‘z’ is keeping your mouth shut.

Throughout the English tour, MS Dhoni maintained a dignified silence, refusing to be provoked by what was being said about him and his team. He played hard, played fair, and called a spade a spade in his trademark casual style.

In the return tour, he refrained from the ‘payback’ or ‘revenge’ bellicosity, saying that sportsmen don’t exact revenge. And even after the convincing series win, he didn’t resort to chest thumping, preferring to talk about areas that the team needs to improve upon to win overseas.

In the colossal mass of off-field trash over the last few months, MS Dhoni stands tall and clean.

As an Indian, that’s what I am proud of, even more than the 5-0 win.

You can hear the Fake IPL Player’s live wacky cricket commentary during match hours on www.pitch-invasion.in

Here’s why cricket fans from across the world should be embarrassed

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Last week a Pakistan cricket fan tweeted that she is embarrassed by how the world looks at her team. Who can blame her? After all, there’s so much about the Pakistani cricket team to be embarrassed about.

If you look past Salman Butt, you’re confronted with Ijaz Butt, who has made way for a man already accused of corruption. There’s Shahid Afridi – before he retired and after. Both of which were less embarrassing than his return from retirement. There’s Shoaib Akhtar who calls himself the greatest fast bowler ever and a ball tamperer in the same breath, and finds nothing wrong with it. Then, there are the Royal Akmals, so omnipresent that even if you reach the end of the world you’ll find an Akmal standing right behind you screaming ‘Shabaash Shahid Bhai’ before promptly dropping the ball.

While Pakistan cricket fans seem to have justifiable reasons for how they feel, the reality is that every cricket team fan in the world should be embarrassed. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick list.

Indian cricket fan
Oh, so we have nothing to be embarrassed about Indian cricket because we won the world cup, were world No. 1 in tests till recently, and have Sachin Tendulkar? I disagree. I cringe every time during a match the TV camera pans across pot bellied, middle-aged BCCI bigwigs in safari suits enjoying their paid vacation.

Guess how many true Indian cricket fans got to see the world cup final at Wankhede live. None. Because every square inch of the reduced capacity Wankhede was occupied by ministers, members of parliament, film stars, business tycoons and those connected to them. And the TV cameras made it a point to show it at the start, middle, and end of every over. That itself may have been reason enough to abandon Indian cricket.

Sri Lankan cricket fan
The embarrassment for the Sri Lankan cricket fan starts with the captain himself. It’s still within the realms of possibility that one can get used to that permanent scowl, but the same can’t be said about that beard. On top of that, he plays like Shahid Afridi, forces a solid middle order batsman to make way for himself, and thinks centuries are better than test wins.

Further, a former great uses his political muscle to get himself a much undeserved farewell. And even their most erudite can’t pronounce ‘wicket’. The team is sure a one-way tickut on the facepalm train.

English cricket fan
They might be the new world No. 1, but how can you not be embarrassed about a bowling spearhead who puts on make up? And, to make it worse, sometimes the blush and the lipstick don’t match.

Australian cricket fan
Of the past greats, only Ricky ponting remains. And he too is batting more like Ricky Martin these days. Australian cricket fans must feel a bit like how harbhajan feels about himself. Nostalgic.

West Indian cricket fan
Do they even have anyone to support anymore? If I was a west Indian, I’d rather support the lovely ladies who were supporting Trinidad and Tobago at the CLT20.

South African cricket fan
The last few South African cricket fans were choked to extinction at the last world cup.

New Zealand cricket fan
When you have a rugby team as menacing as the All Blacks, advertising yourself as a kiwi cricket supporter wouldn’t impress the ladies, I presume.

Kerala cricket fans
This is one group that’s not embarrassed by its cricket team. Sreesanth alone does it for them.

I fixed a match for Shoiab Malik: Mazhar Majeed

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

The court hearing in the Pakistani cricketers’ spot fixing case got underway in London recently. While the case exposes the seedy and greedy world of match fixers, several questions related to agent Mazhar Majeed’s claims captured by the NOTW sting operation remain unanswered.

In an uninhibited chat, Majeed shared his experiences as a match fixer. As it turns out, match fixing is a world where almost anything that can go wrong, does go wrong. And how!

Here are the highlights.

It seemed Majeed regretted working with the Pakistani boys. “If you ask for a no-ball, they give you a four-feet no-ball. You ask for a maiden over, they dead bat the entire over. There’s no subtlety in their technique. Everything’s so obvious,” he said.

He was most upset with Kamran Akmal who, he said, once forgot which catch to drop and ended up dropping every catch in the match.

But he has fond memories of working with one Pakistani captain. “Working with Shoiab Malik was great. He followed my instructions meticulously. And, in the end, I was able to fix a match for him successfully.” After a pause, he added, “And that match is called Sania Mirza.”

Shahid Afridi, Majeed said, is someone he never worked with. “How can you trust a man who ogles at other men’s legs?” he asked.

On the Indian players he had named, Majeed said that he had asked Yuvraj to play out a maiden. Yuvraj, on his part, played out not one but many maidens. However, not one of them was played on the field.

As for the other Indian he had named, Majeed is hurt by what Harbhajan said about him. “I was only trying to help him by giving him an alibi for his shit bowling these days,” he said.

Majeed claimed complete honesty when asked how he could be believed given the ludicrousness of his other claims like knowing Roger Federer and Brad Pitt. “I know both of them very well,” he said emphatically. “But…they don’t know me,” he added softly.

Sahara Enforces India

In a dramatic move, Dr. Vijay Mallya has offloaded 42.5% stake in Force India to the Sahara Group making it Sahara Force India.

Reports suggest that the deal was arrived at after hectic negotiations between the two business honchos.

It’s believed that Dr. Mallya even offered Saurabh Tiwary for free, which Subroto Roy refused. Mallya’s offer of white mischief was also rejected by Roy who said that he was quite happy with his brown mischief.

In the end $100 million as a price was agreed upon.

Other than Force India, Sahara owns the IPL franchise Pune Warriors India whom they purchased for close to $350 million, has a sponsorship deal with the Indian cricket team of more than $100 million, sponsors the Indian women’s cricket team, junior and senior hockey teams, and the Calcutta Football League. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests their investment into sports this year at about $200 million or Rs 1,000 crore.

Assuming that Sahara invests half of their marketing budget (5% according to industry standards) into sports, their revenues should stand at Rs. 40,000 crores, twice the size of Hindustan Unilever Ltd.

Now, all that remains to be known about the Sahara Group is what it is that they actually produce and where we can buy it from.

You can listen to the Fake IPL Player’s live, wicked and wacky cricket commentary during match hours on www.pitch-invasion.in

Playing in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

If you have a life then it’s quite possible that you’ve totally missed out on a heart-stopping cricket drama being bandied about as the Champion’s League. But despair no more because here’s a rundown on how the IPL teams have fared in the tournament.

Chennai Super Kings
Also known as the Manchester United of Indian cricket, their single-biggest contribution to this tournament is proving that it’s not fixed. The two-time IPL champions, defending CLT20 champions, and the team that BCCI boss N Srinivasan doesn’t own, crashed out of the tournament before Dougie Bollinger could say Nungambakkam.

Standout performer
R. Ashwin, who, in England, looked and played like he was hungover, was somewhere near his best under the watchful careful eyes of his parents, something that’ll make Karan Johar very happy.

What cost them
One, M. Vijay, who now has the distinction of being the most inappropriately named player in the tournament. And two, escalating petrol prices that forced Dhoni to keep his helicopter in the hangar and arrive at the crease every day on his moped.

Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR have been exactly like RaOne.

If RaOne has Shahrukh Khan, a top actress, skimpily clad girls in item numbers, foreign locations, and even Rajnikanth in a cameo, KKR have India’s next captain, two of world’s top all-rounders, fearsome hitters and the fastest bowler in the world. KKR, like RaOne, left no box unchecked to get the formula right. And yet, they crashed out.

Let’s hope RaOne fares differently.

Standout performer
Jaques Kallis who almost got Kallis Puja to coincide with Durga Puja this year.

Stand out performer
Shahrukh Khan – as the leading actor of CLT20 and the brand ambassador of RaOne…or…is it the other way round?

Mumbai Indians
One of the two IPL teams to make it to the semis despite getting a taste of poetic justice.

After having used their privileges to play 5 foreign players in their XI, they have seen one of their foreign players depart due to injury while clinging on to another whom they should be very happy to see depart.

The suspense
More than three years after BandarGate, Symonds arrived in India to play under Harbhajan. Will they be able to put the past behind them? As it turns out, no!

In four outings, Symonds returns are scores of 3, 14, 9, 0. And Harbhajan got back at him by putting him on the most dangerous job in the game – making Symonds field at silly point off his bowling.

Paras Mhambrey, whose job it is to sit with Mrs. Nita Ambani through every match, vehemently disagreed that Symonds’ was the more dangerous job.

Standout performer
Lasith Malinga who won them a game with the bat earning himself a room at the Antilia. When he won another one, again with the bat, he was upgraded to a room with an attached bath. Now, finally, he can take that bath he’s been avoiding the last few years.

Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB made it to the semi finals riding on three supernatural forces coming together.

Force 1: RCB have never lost a match in which Gayle has scored more than 25.
Force 2: RCB have never lost a match in which Arun Karthik has hit a six off the last ball.
Force 3: RCB have never lost a match when team owner Sidhartha Mallya holds on to his cup of coffee and doesn’t change his seat for the entire duration of the game.

Standout performer
Saurabh Tiwary for continuing to repay Vijay Mallya’s $1.9 million in several installments of sub-20 scores. It’s a bit like filling up your car tank and paying in One Rupee coins.

You can hear the Fake IPL Player’s live alternate commentary during match hours on www.pitch-invasion.in