Lewis Hamilton Tears Through Mumbai!!!

I had always imagined my dream of watching a Formula 1 car race past me will come true someplace abroad. A couple of years back, i thought it would happen in the Noida at the Buddh International Circuit. But today it happened and it did not happen at either of the possibilities mentioned above. It happened on the streets of the city of dreams, Mumbai.

Vodafone as part of its promotions for the Vodafone McLaren Formula 1 racing team of which it is one of the prime sponsors, bought down former Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton to burn some serious rubber on the streets of Mumbai at the Bandra Kurla Complex.

It was sad in the beginning when the general public was sent a text message saying that the text message would give them a free entry at the venue but the event management staff did not allow them to enter without a physical invite. It was later learnt that there were special VIP invites that were sent out too and those were the entry points for the VIP enclosure. However, later after about a 2 KM walk, we did manage to find the entry point for the general public. But by the team I reached, the place was overcrowded. The 1.2 KM stretch was so jam packed that leave alone the car, it was almost impossible to even get a glimpse of the street. However, after a little bit of pushing around, I did find myself a sweet spot. And then the wait began.

It was a carnival kind of an atmosphere with acrobats, Zooz0os and the MCs keeping the audience exited. Then came down the rain, after which, we were kind of scared that the event might get scraped. But luckily, it was just a drizzle and the moment it stopped, we heard the monster come to life. It required no introduction. Everyone knew what that deafening noise was and before we knew a shiny 3 feet high McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car zipped past me. I could still hear the noise and was just trying to soak in the amazing sound when it went past again in the opposite lane.

I was jus hoping that this not be the only lap, when i heard the gears change again and the sound become louder. The mean machine was approaching again, only this time, it slowed down just a little ahead of us and we saw a spectacle which was beyond our expectations. A Formula 1 car 360 Degree Spin done voluntarily live only 20 feet away from us. I was enamored. Suddenly Lewis Hamilton came across to me as this ultimate Rockstar. I mean look at it this way: The guy is famous for driving fast. That is his entire career ‘Drive Fast’. We get a high after riding a bike at 120KM/HR, this guy is known for doing just that…

However, while I was contemplating all this, the car zipped past a couple of times more and each time I fell in love with it even more. After about 6-7 laps and half a dozed 360 degree spins, Hamilton got into a Passenger Mercedes and took a few Vodafone contest winners for a ride. Yet another high. One of the fastest human beings on the planet is driving you around while thousands of people stare in disbelief and as if that was not enough, he spun 36o degrees again, this time in a Passenger car where he had company.

After all this, he once again got into his racing avatar and got into the McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car for one last spin. And once again, the entire crowd was awestruck….

The rain held up, and Hamilton showed us driving on the streets of Mumbai that you don’t get to see even on the race tracks. Thanks to Vodafone to make it happen. I am still so in awe…What a night…oh yeah…the entire even was under flood lights!

Lets Play The Blame Game

In this article I have tried to bring to the front the issues being faced by Indian Cricket from Sachin Tendulkar’s Retirement, to Dhoni’s rotation policy.

Post the ICC Cricket World Cup Final 2011 which India won by 6 wickets beating Sri Lanka by 6 wickets at Wankhade, Mumbai on 2nd April, 2011, India have managed to deliver the following performances in all forms of the game!

It is no rocket science to see the difference between India’s performances at home and away. India has performed far worse when it is playing away. I know it has always been a known fact but I just wanted to prove it with statistics!

ICC Cricket World Cup

The world champions, just after winning the World Cup 2011, came up with the most dismal performance. It can therefore be safely said that India would have not won the World Cup if it were played say in Australia or England or South Africa. I will not say that India did not win the world cup on merit, they did. In fact the reason India won the world cup was because all the players played their roles perfectly unlike say in 1996 (Using this example because it was the last world cup played in India), when the team reached the Semis only on a certain Sachin Tendulkar’s shoulders. When India was reeling under the pressure of Australian attack, Yuvraj Singh, stood up and made himself count as the person who delivers when all is lost. In the Semis Sachin Tendulkar was the propeller once again but then that is expected of him. And in the finals, Gautam Gambhir stabilized India after the quick loss of Sachin and Sehwag and Dhoni player his role as a finsher to perfection playing a captain’s innings. Everyone did what was expected of them and it was therefore that India won the world cup. However, since this whole Dhoni Vs Ganguly debate is brewing, I feel India did better in South Africa in 2003. I will however come to this later.

From Awesome to good to bad to ugly

So what went wrong? Why this slump?
Well, India has had the best team on paper for a while now. You have the two most feared batsmen in world cricket opening the batting for you both with lots if experience. The you have a young and partially experienced middle order in the form of Gambhir, Kholi and Raina, you have excellent finishers in Dhoni & Yuvraj. A decent bowling attack with Zaheer and Harbhajan. In tests, it is further strengthen with the help of Dravid & Laxman. Considering the kind of mix of experience and youth and the kind of succession planning that the selectors have managed to do, there is no doubt that this is easily one of the best Indian Cricket Teams ever.

I feel the reason why this team has, however, suffered is because of excessive negativity created by the media.  Gambir was on the top of his game during the IPL, just after the World Cup Final where he missed a century by a whisker. In the closing stages of IPL, Kolkata Knight Riders, the team that Ghambir captains in the IPL was on the edge of getting through to the final 4 for the first time in 4 years and it badly needed Ghambir. Ghambir played the match with a slight injury and had to miss the tour of West Indies due to that. The media made such a circus out of that issue that Ghambir had become more concerned to defend against the Indian Media than to defend against the incoming bowlers. He lost his form until he found it again recently in the last few matches in Australia. What does the media expect, that just because a player is scheduled to play a match in the near future, he leaves his current team in such dire stages. He is a cricketer and his team needed him, he played, that’s it!

The Indian Media has worshipped and slammed Indian Cricket with every game, which is not how players deserve to be treated. It is a game, just because a team wins a blinder does not mean it is great and just because one looses the easiest of games, it is not horrible. India is an emotional country but I wish one day our media gets the better of it instead of being a prey to that very emotion.

With so much adulation and so much hatred and pressure towards the players, it is only obvious that they will have to work twice as hard as their counterparts in Australia and England to keep their heads in the game. The media has gone so crazy now that even a seasoned player like Sachin is feeling the pressure. Indian Media should stop this circus and so should BCCI which is trying to sell everything it can.

BCCI

BCCI behaves like the big daddy of the cricketing world and our team is often on the receiving end of that attitude. It is surprising as to the number of decisions that have gone against the Indian Cricket Team during the matches which more often than not has cost India the match. I blame this on the hostility that World Cricket and its stakeholders have towards the BCCI. Where the Indian Cricket Team is respected the world over, for it sportsman spirit and performance, BCCI manages to undo all of that with the help of their arm twisting attitude.

Dhoni Vs Ganguly

Saurav Gangluly was the best captain that India has had so far, Period. Ganguly has been the hard working, thinking, smart, passionate, fighting, and on the face captain that India always needed. He was nice when it was needed and he fought when it was needed. Ganguly is responsible for half the team that is helping Dhoni win all the matches that he has won. Ganguly stood by Sehwag, even though he was so unorthodox and look where he is today. He stood by Harbhajan & Yuvraj when they needed support. A Zaheeer Khan was born only under Ganguly’s supervision. Dhoni on the contrary has managed to lose all these gems, he has not been able to derive the kind of performances that Ganguly managed to.

I would like to put it like this. Ganguly was the leader; He bought Indian Cricket respect and dignity. I feel that moment, when he took off his shirt at Lords in the Natwest Trophy final was one of the defining moments of Indian Cricket. It was the sign that Indian Cricket will not lay low, no more and he proved it with what came next. (I don’t think the act was wrong at all, so what if it was Lords. If a British can come to my country and do it, I have every right to do it in his). Ganguly took India to the finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 when no one was REALLY expecting it, especially because the World Cup was being played in South Africa that year. India had an ordinary start with a win against the Netherlands and a loss to Australia. It was after that that the Indian Media sprung to action again and so did the Indians citizens by throwing stones at the houses of players. Respect to the man who managed to motivate a team in the middle of a tournament where the family of the players were going through such undesired treatment. He performed the best under pressure. It is sad that India could not win that World Cup.

Dhoni on the contrary, I would say has been the lucky captain. Dhoni has always gone by his gut feeling rather than going by what the mind says. No doubt, things worked for him. Nothing else can explain playing Sreesanth in the WC finals 2011 instead of Ashwin. But as they say, at some point or the other, you run out of Luck and run out he did.

Ganguly did all the hard work, Dhoni bettered it a little and reaped the benefits. Only if Ganguly had not lost his form, Indian Cricket would have been where Australia has been for so long now!

Rotation Policy

To me this is the stupidest thing that Dhoni could have come up with. In fact, to me it feels that he came up with this because he wanted to put across the point to Sachin & Sehwag that they better perform but someone please go and tell him that if you want them to perform this is exactly what you don’t say. And if Dhoni is shrewd enough, I would not think twice before blaming him for strategically unsettling Sachin & Sehwag so that he gets all the attention and adulation. Let’s face it, people were booing Dhoni’s six, when Sachin was at the other end at 199 n.o against South Africa.

You want a stupid rotation policy? Why don’t you have one for your middle order. You have a player who goes by the name of Manoj Tiwari. For heaven’s sake, he struck a century in his last outing against West Indies when the rest of the team crumbled but you never cared to give him even a single match in the entire series when the rest of your middle order was scoring less than your tail???

Dhoni, you deserved to be sacked. Not for your stupidity but apparently for your conspiracy of bringing down players who are larger than you and out of your reach. You want a team like Ganguly had, where everyone respected him but hey, that’s the point, they respected him. People here don’t. You can’t bring down a Sachin because his opinion matters more than yours does.

Sachin’s Retirement

No one in the current scheme of Indian Cricket or World Cricket has played more cricket or has undergone more pressure than this man has. No one has been as successful as he has been. No one knows the sport as well as he does. Then how can any of us lesser mortals be in a better position than Sachin is, to decide when he should retire?
Yes, he is under pressure, but that is about it, his game is still top class. Look at his batting throughout the series. Unlike most players who are past his prime Sachin is still tearing into the bowling of the opposition just like he always does but the problem is that he is trying too hard and ends up committing a mistake for that reason alone. He is not struggling at the crease but he is trying too many different things. He is a batsman of class who plays best when he plays his traditional game. These days he tries to improvise a lot which is where he gets into that momentary loss of concentration and losses his wicket.
One of the reason why Sachin performed so well until and in the World Cup according to me was the Indian coach then, Gary Kirsten. Gary was a batsman who was somewhere closer to Sachin being the great batsman that he was. He would understand Sachin and be able to help him fight his daemons better than any other coach can and this exactly was the reason why Ganguly could not turn around his game because the coach then, was Greg Chappell and we all know what he is worth!

Sachin needs peace of mind and sound advice, once he has that, expect another couple of centuries and another couple of bowlers having nightmares and I have a feeling it will be worse than ever for the bowlers this time. I also believe that if Sachin can get his game back in place, the entire Indian Cricket Team will start performing well.

After all, He is not called God for nothing!

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