Cricket World Cup 2011 (Quarter-Final) – India vs Australia

What an effort by IND. Frankly, I never expected IND to beat AUS. Why did I think that? For one, AUS is the 3-time (!!!) World Cup Defending Champion. Their only loss in the past 4 World Cups have been that loss to PAK recently. AUS is one team that does not panic. So, all things considered, I was not too hopeful about this match.

Well, I must say thanks to my friends like Ram Nair, Ramakrishna Joshi etc. who seemed very confident that IND would beat AUS and enter the Semi-Final. (I was left thinking what these guys were smoking 🙂 But, boy, were they right. Thank you to all the FaceBook friends who made the match very interesting with insightful comments.

Managed to lose 5 pounds while just sitting around! What a medical break-through. If this is how my future looks like, as a cricket fan, beware of my perfect 6-pack abs in a few months. (As some of you know, I stayed away from Cricket, totally, from 2007 Spring till 2010 Dec. Why? IND’s great performance in 2007 Cricket World Cup. That is why).

My thoughts from the incredible match:

(01) Yuvraj Singh: He is my favorite player from the current India Team. Yes, he has had lots of attitude issues lately and has been appearing in the gossip columns for all the wrong reasons. To boot, the guy has put on a lot of weight and walks like a duck! But can he hit the cricket ball. I never expected him to be the “Strike Bowler” for IND. But there he is, taking wickets regularly, doing quite okay as a fielder (Keep in mind that he was THE premier fielder in IND team a while back) and then, his batting. I scoffed at his 50s against IRE and NED, thinking that he was bullying minnows and would fail against good opposition. Then he plays this innings. Imagine the pressure on him and Raina when Dhoni fell at 187. Though he had his share of nicks and swipes, all in all, a great innings under pressure. Yuvraj is the man of the hour, tummy and all.

(02) Ashwin is doing pretty well. Dhoni was talking sense when he kept mentioning Ashwin as the “surprise package”. I was pleasantly surprised that AUS found it tough to get him away with the fielding restrictions active.

(03) I was thanking the following players for putting us in the Quarter Finals: Zaheer, Kohli, Yuvraj and Sachin. Interestingly, all 4 played pretty well today. Though Kohli did not score big, atleast he prevented a huge collapse and put together a small partnership with Gambhir. Dude, better pay attention to the shots you are getting out to. This is the 2nd straight rank bad shot he has played to get out, when he was seemingly well set.

(04) A thought out to Suresh Raina. Imagine the pressure on the poor guy. Outside of the good catch he took, he played a gem of an innings, coming out when IND was 187-5, with he and Yuvraj being the last line of defense! More on Pathan later …

(05) Yusuf Pathan. Now, I must admit I have not watched his “great” innings (the ones I hear so much about, in SA). There was so much hype about the guy and there was such huge applause when he walks out to bat. Commentators were going on and on about how it was a “bad decision” to leave out “tough” Pathan. I am sure one match where Raina did good is not a fair indication of how much IND might need Pathan. And there is no saying that Pathan would have failed today. But having said that, there is no denying the fact that the guy has underperformed (to say the least) in the World Cup. His bowling and fielding are so-so. He is too one-dimensional (based on what I have seen) to be consistently good against quality bowlers. 20-20 hitting and playing a couple of innings in a series (against SA) when the entire cricketing world was already focussing on the World Cup (IND did not even play its top players in that series), is not the best indication of his “greatness”. I frankly do not see the “greatness” yet. Maybe he will prove me wrong in future. If so, I gladly look forward to it … I wish him the best.

(06) Zaheer, you have been a revelation man. Again, please get rid of that tummy. You are making crores of money, have a lot of talent, people adore you, and you cannot spend 30 minutes in the gym??? But still, what a performance in this World Cup so far. Please do not lose it in the SFs and Finals, like you did in the 2003 World Cup Final against AUS. Zaheer, Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Ashwin. Maybe the IND bowling is not as bad as I thought 🙂

(07) I was most nervous when Dhoni got out at 187-5. By the by, whatsup with Dhoni? Is the pressure getting to him? He seems to have shed his “Big Hitter” image and has morphed into “The Wall”. Bodes well for Test Cricket though. I feared that we were about to see the famed IND March-Past. Everybody line up! … Luckily, Yuvraj and Raina kept their cool.

(08) The key to this chase was the calmness with which the chase started. For that, we have none other to thank than the great Sachin Tendulkar. Imagine the weight on the guy’s shoulders (and every team member’s for that matter), with all the hoopla over his 100th Century. He got the team off to a steady start and more importantly, helped calm Gambhir who was as nervous as Rohan Bopanna playing Rafael Nadal at French Open. Gambhir, then went on to play a very good innings (What was all that crazy running at the end about?).

(09) A thought out to Ponting and Lee for a tremendous effort. One could have seen the fire and passion in their eyes and they were like a 2-man AUS team. Kudos to a great champion, Ponting! Great career! One of the best players and captains ever! (Though it was weird to see Ponting lecture Raina about “blocking” Haddin’s view during some running between the wickets. I thought the guy was all for grasping every single opportunity one can get).

(10) Finally, it was nice that he got to do something other than:

– Bringing out the drinks

– Adjusting Sachin’s thigh-guard

– Bringing out Yuvraj’s bat

Who am I talking about? The one and only, Sreeshanth! Today I saw him clapping and getting amped up about the team’s performance. Poor guy. One bad over and he is the laughing stock (and butt of all kind of jokes) of the Country. Bigger butts like Munaf and Nehra and Chawla walk around boldly …

Adios …

Desk Job Tips – What works for me …

Though there are perks associated with working in an Office, there are some disadvantages as most of you might have found out already.

(A) Computers & Eyes:

Even with proper anti-glare protection, working on a Computer is quite taxing for the eyes. At a bare minimum, one needs to relax the eyes every 15 minutes. How to do it? Walk over to the nearby window and look at distant objects, for atleast a minute. Or close your eyes and take deep breaths. These two activities help my eyes prepare for the next burst of Computer usage.

(B) Stretching The Body:

I notice that a lot of my colleagues, as well as myself, get body aches from sitting in one position too much. Every hour or so, I take a leisurely walk to the Break Room, for a cup of Coffee (I am not much of a “Tea Guy”) or sometimes just for the break. Even if the chairs are very ergonomically designed, the way one sits matter. It is like having the safest Child Restraint/Seat, but not installing it properly in the car. While doing intense work, it is not easy to monitor your posture. My personal remedy is to do these short walkabouts.

Nowadays you get very expensive and complicated Ergonomic Chairs. I am not sure how helpful these are. Maybe the idea here is to price it so highly that the person sitting on the Chair has “bigger pains” (I.e. Cost, $$$) to worry about than the body ache the Chair is meant to solve.

(C) Lunch Break:

I am not a big fan of bringing lunch and eating it at Office, though I do occasionally get sandwiches etc. and have quick lunch (especially when some crisis is unfolding). I love to take a break after 4-5 hours of non-stop pressure. The lunch break allows me to spend some time with colleagues/friends, away from the work activities, and refresh my mind before the afternoon stint.

(D) Steady Work Routine:

In my opinion, it is good to have a steady routine and work timing, except for cases where all-nighters, late-nights, weekend-work etc. are in play (a.k.a Crisis Situations). Typically, with meetings and other similar activities, it is tough to get “alone time” to work on items only you can do. My personal solution is to use AMs for such work. Since most of the people amble in around 10.30/11AM, it gives me a clear 4-5 hour headstart and “alone time”. As I have mentioned in my Blogs earlier, I am a Morning Person who finds his mind most fresh in the mornings.

 

People and their needs differ. But I think that each one of us needs to find that sweet spot of mental and physical peace, for us to be able to give our best at work.

Adios …

Indian Cricket Team’s Attitude …

Like most of the Indian Cricket fans, I have also been appalled by the lackadaisical attitude of some of the players to fielding and running between the wickets. Everyone wants to be a Super-Star, but not everyone is willing to do the little things that will get them there. Let me illustrate with a few examples:

– Through my 10+ years as an NBA fan, I have never seen Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett not give their 100% during every single minute they are in the game. Love them or hate them, you cannot ignore the fact that these guys bring their A+ effort for every single game, whether their team is leading or losing by 30+ points.

– Andy Roddick. I have never seen him throw in the towel in any match. Even during those painful losses to Roger Federer, we see him spill his guts on the court. Whatever be his shortcomings, lack of effort is not one of them.

– Sachin Tendulkar. When have you seen him stroll around on the field with no real aim or direction? In the recent painful loss to South Africa in World Cup 2011, he was on the field during 40 overs of India batting, scoring 111 at a pretty fast clip. After that, during the entire South African batting, he put in a great fielding performance at the boundary (!). We are talking of the oldest player in the team, giving his 100%.

(A) Running between wickets:

I fail to understand why Indian batsmen never put pressure on the fielders when they attempt singles or twos. For example, an Indian batsman plays a drive to Long On. There is a fielder at that position and a single is all there will be 99% of the time. Indian batsmen will amble along, having “resigned” themselves to the single. If you watch top teams like Australia and South Africa, those guys take the 1st (or 2nd) run so fast, that even for straight-forward fielding, the fielder feels some pressure. What that does is to put an element of extra pressure on the fielder that if he does not pick up the ball cleanly, there is going to be an extra run. Whereas in India’s case, even if the fielder does not pick it up cleanly, there is no way Indian batsmen can take an extra run.

(B) Fielding:

The same reasoning as that of (A) applies here. By not running towards the ball and aggressively fielding it, Indian fielders are giving a lot of confidence to the opposing batsmen, of turning 1s to 2s and 2s to 3s, every time they do not cleanly pick up the ball. I was going nuts watching Amla and Smith (and later on, Kallis) milk the Indian fielding.

It is a pity that a good captain like Dhoni resigns himself to this attitude from the players and does not insist on hard work and discipline. (Almost) everyone wants to hit only 4s and 6s and get all the accolades that way. Not every one is willing to do the small grunt work that is necessary, along with the more glamorous stuff. It is like a Designer claiming that while he likes to do Architecture work or Design work, he does not want to do Documentation. Why? Because it is boring and not glamorous!

Sad state indeed …

Adios …

Cuisines from Hyderabad, Afghanistan and Pakistan

Having spent 2-3 years in Hyderabad (India) earlier in my Career, I am hooked to food like Biriyani, Kababs, Naan, Chicken Tikka etc. While in Hyderabad, I had a steady diet of Biriyani (Actually, that is the reason behind my health!). Once in US, I had to find other avenues for my taste for such Cuisine. Unfortunately, very rarely do we get good Hyderabad Biriyani in San Francisco Bay Area. The first 1-2 months of a restaurant called Annapoorna in Sunnyvale, CA, is the closest I have tasted to true Hyderabad Biriyani. Nowadays, the better among the lot, are: Atidhi, Sunnyvale and Peacock, Fremont, in my opinion.

Fremont has quite a few good Afghan eateries. De Afghan and Salang Pass on Fremont Boulevard are my favorites. I love the Kababs (especially the Combination Kababs) and their Firni.

Sunnyvale and Fremont are also home to two of the best Pakistani eateries in this area: Shalimar and Pakwan. I like both and we do get a lot of take out from these restaurants. Hot-off-the-oven Chicken Boti, Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan. Hah! Pure bliss …