Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Victory

The Victory

It was a victory that  changed Indian cricket permanently. And it was certainly unexpected. No one in their right senses gave any chance to India. India was expected to be a team to be rolled over. An easy picking for the champion teams like West Indies and Australia. But one man thought differently. Kapil Dev !!

 Kapil Dev had come into the Indian team as a breath of fresh air. He was a fast bowler. Till he came into the picture, the role of an Indian fast bowler was always to take the shine off the ball so that the main protagonists, the spinners could take centre stage. And the Indian spinners always hunted in quartets. The quartet of Bedi, Chandra, Venkat and Prasanna were spinning wizards who weaved a magical web around the most accomplished of batsmen. But their wizardry was majorly confined to the test matches. And they were certainly a misfit in the fast world of one day cricket which required much better athleticism from the players. And another requirement was that one day cricket required better batting abilities which non of them possessed. And one day, in strode a tall, lanky and somewhat gawky lad from the interiors of India. People went mad over his out swingers and cutters. A unique action, which was a feast for the eyes, enabled him to fool the best batsmen of the era. Suddenly India had a cricket star who was also an athlete of the highest order. In an Indian fielding team which just ran behind the ball till it crossed the boundary, here was a fielder who did not think twice before throwing himself at the ball to stop it in its tracks. And in one fluid motion the ball was back into the gloves of the wicket keeper, due to his powerful throwing arms. But what endeared him to the masses of India, was his six hitting abilities. When the other Indian batsmen were the epitome of defence, here was a batsman who regularly plonked the ball out of the ground. A star was born! And ladies loved his toothy grin.

Shortly Kapil Dev was the captain of the Indian team which was put together for the World Cup 1983. It consisted of consistent proven performers like Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Yashpal Sharma, but the backbone of the squad was a man called Mohinder Amarnath. The quintessential comeback man, he had turned into most consistent batsmen scoring in almost every match he played. Sandeep Patil, another of the Mumbai boys, he came into the team on the back of ferocious knocks in domestic cricket. He was known to deal in only fours and sixes, making his batting style a best fit for one day cricket. And Kris Srikkanth! He wanted to hit every ball out of the park. He complemented the cool and calm Sunny Gavaskar, his fire and brimstone approach to batting, an antithesis to the purity and correctness of Gavaskar. Though Ravi Shastri too was a part of the team, he did not play a big role in the World Cup. His moment of glory was meant to come two years later, in Australia. Syed Kirmani was the wicket keeper, he had been serving Indian cricket for quite a while, and he was a handful with the bat. In the bowling department, other than Kapil Dev, the others were not at all in intimidating. Not much was expected from the likes of Madanlal, Roger Binny, Kirti Azad and Balwinder Singh Sandhu. But under the overcast skies of England, which helped swing bowling, they were going to prove everyone wrong.

India reached the final but no one gave them a chance against the Clive Lloyd led mighty West Indies. Mind you, India had defeated them in the initial rounds but this was treated by everyone, including some diehard Indian fans, as a flash in the pan. But the turning point was the match against Zimbabwe. It was a crucial match for India to reach the semifinals. But India started disastrously and soon were 17/5 . With the entire top order back in pavilion, the Captain Kapil had only the wicket keeper, and the bowlers like Binny for company. First they steadied the innings and then the captain just blew away the Zimbabwe attack to score world record  highest score of 175 not out. It was an innings which made everyone sit up and take notice. Indian cricket was catapulted into a different league then onwards and now the Indian fans actually started dreaming of the cup.

The finals started and within no time the ferocious fast bowling quartet of Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts had blown away the top half of the Indian batting lineup, with the only resistance coming from Srikkanth and Amarnath to some extent. That India managed to reach 183 was due to contributions from the lower order. But with the likes of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards and Lloyd himself followed by Gus Logie and Jeff Dujon, this total was way below mark. Or so it seemed…

The first blow was given by the innocuous bowling of Sandhu. Greenidge shaped to leave the ball but it curved in to peg back the off stump. One down! Then King Richards walked in and went about destroying the Indian bowling and it seemed as if the match would get over shortly. Madanlal came on to bowl and Richards saw some easy pickings. Going for the maximum, the ball ballooned into space. Kapil Dev ran back for eternity, and in one fluid motion he had his man. Every Indian in every corner of the world was jumping with joy and the moment arrived when Holding was out leg before to the great Amarnath. Within seconds, the great Indian diaspora had run on the field to congratulate the team which ran with stumps in hand towards the pavilion. The toothy grin on the captains face was wider and in a few moments he was holding the World Cup in his hands.

Indian cricket was never going to be the same again!! Our tenth standard exams were over and this was an icing on the cake.

Yatindra Tawde

Friday, 17 June 2016



A real masterpiece of a movie by Director, Ram Madhvani. Even though I watched it on TV , it was a cathartic experience. Few movies touch me to the core and this was one of them. The subject and the personality on which it was based was a big plus, but it required sensitive handling, and in this, full marks to Ram Madhvani.

The real Neerja displayed exemplary courage and self belief in the face of a dangerous life threatening situation, first in handling the hijackers, to caring for the passengers in the plane, keeping them calm in adversity to finally ensuring that most of the hostages escaped from the plane , putting her own life on the line. Hats off to such a courageous lady and hats off to her parents too.

Coming back to the movie, nowhere does the Director make it a typical melodramatic movie, and sticks to the human portrayal making you a part of the saga. And you see some of the best acting in many years with Sonam and Shabana Azmi living the challenging roles. Especially Sonam, who captures the nuances of a girl next door, going about the job which she loves, at the start of the movie, to a heroic girl concerned only with protecting as many passengers as possible and at the same time, standing up to the dangerous tormentors with courage. Quite a few scenes really stood out. One, when a passenger is shot in front of her eyes, her reaction of first breaking down and then collecting herself to face the hijackers again. Two, taking out a letter from her pocket with trembling hands and the entire gamut of emotions engulfing her as she reads it . I haven't seen such restrained but effective acting from any other actors in recent times, with all due respects to them. There are many more scenes where Sonam excels in this very challenging role, which she made it her own so much that I cannot imagine any other actress in it. I would really  be surprised if she doesn't sweep the awards this year.

And what can one say about the legend, Shabana. When she was thought to be a has been, she has shown how much the Hindi film industry was missing her. She too has lived the role of a mother. Her reactions to the news about the hijack of the plane where her daughter is working, her struggle to keep up a strong exterior to her family and finally the climax speech, where her respect for her daughter is as apparent as her feeling of loss, she was fantastic.
Not for nothing did Neerja get the highest bravery awards from the Indian as well as Pakistani government. Very proud of her.
Yatindra Tawde

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Morning Walk

Morning walk
My morning walk starts at about 8.00 am. after completing the morning ablutions. Mind you, it is not that I go daily, in fact days go by without a walk. But when I go, its an awesome experience.
The first ones to greet me are the friendly neighbourhood dogs. They are so friendly that if I go in shorts they start barking. To avoid that, I have to walk in jeans so they ensure that I am dressed modestly. As I take a few more steps I feel the first drops of sweat trickling down my back. I start feeling the discomfort of sweat and heat. But soon I forget everything as I spy upon the lake. The tranquil waters beckon me to walk faster. The man with the work list walks by, his phone to his ears. He always looks very busy, his work list jotted down on assorted pieces of paper, fluttering in his hands. He is an old man of about 60 , but having a full mop of hair on his pate, making me envious. Shortly he is followed by a man in his fifties, who always jogs with his dog trying to keep pace with him. Usually it is the other way round, since dogs are very active but this particular dog looks like he needs a little exercise, since he is quite on the heavier side. He is a golden retriever and is a favourite of the small children who sometimes accompany their parents on the walk. I reach the other side of the lake, which is covered by a canopy of trees. It is here that the fun starts as nature is in full bloom. The walking path is covered by the fallen leaves and the birds are sitting with their wings half open to dry out after a quick dip in the lake waters. Before you think of some exotic birds, let me bring you down to earth since most birds are the common crows and pesky pigeons. And the little monkeys, the kind who sit patiently near Karnala national park, are very active here, swinging from branch to branch or wrestling between themselves. And sometimes they show their naughty side, by pulling the tails of sundry dogs who make the walking track, their sleeping arena. They pull their tails and immediately they bound off into the branches above. As I go ahead witnessing all their crazy antics, I reach the serene surroundings of the quaint little Ganpati temple located at the far corner of the lake. I enter the temple, seek the Lords blessings first, then sit for sometime in the premises, meditating. Soon office beckons, I get up and re trace my steps along the same walking track looking at the shimmering lake waters, flush with the first rays of the morning sun. I see the small ducks having a good swim in the waters, sometimes diving into the waters when they spot a fish nearby. With a final glance at the Shiv Murti installed on a pedestal in the lake, I leave the lake surroundings and find that many people are already on their way to their respective work places. Thus ends my first and last sojourn with nature every day, whenever I go on the walk.
Yatindra Tawde

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Saina Nehwal

I started typing Saina’s name but I had a typo and typed Sania’s name by mistake. These two sportswomen of India have grabbed the attention of the sports loving citizens of India in the last few years and how. But this write up is about Saina Nehwal who won the Badminton Australian Open today defeating two Chinese players in the semi finals and finals. Last year was quite a nightmare for her and I had the feeling that she is finished. Though  she reached the semifinals and finals of quite a few tournaments, she was faltering. But I am happy to be proved wrong. She has made a comeback and how. What she has achieved is incredible and is all due to her hard work  but more due to her will power. This grit and determination was always in evidence throughout her distinguished career, when she has made umpteen comebacks. A few years back, this was not possible for the Indian sportsmen and women who were happy to just represent the country in sporting events and take the various incentives on offer like steady jobs and were not really interested in excelling at their sports, especially at world events like the Olympics. A representation on behalf of India was enough for them. But out of the cricket field, it was these two ladies who changed this perception. Especially Saina, since she excelled at singles in badminton, which has always been dominated first by the Chinese, then the Indonesians followed by the Japanese and Koreans. Indian challenge started and ended with that great and humble sportsman, Prakash Padukone, who won the All England Championship. Though there were later Champions like Gopichand there was no prominent sportswoman in Indian Badminton. But Saina changed all that. Let us celebrate this woman power of India and cherish this win for a long time to come. She represents the girl child who continues to make us Indians proud.
Yatindra Tawde

Sunday, 5 June 2016

World Environment Day

World Environment Day
Today was World Environment Day but what have we done. Celebrated it by sending posts on Facebook and Twitter. Of course many people have planted trees too but it all depends upon nature to now sustain them for the future generations. But I am confused by what the authorities are doing, or not doing about the environment, giving permissions left, right and centre to cut trees everywhere. Outside the cities, jungles are being cut for railways and roadways in the name of development. No one is against development but there are ways to reduce cutting of trees. It can be done by building overhead expressways or overhead railroads. This has already been demonstrated during the building of the Konkan Railway. But while expanding the Mumbai Goa Highway, so many trees have faced the axe. Could it have been avoided? Maybe…
I am staying in Thane. The roads  in Thane are being widened and you guessed it right…trees have been cut to enable this. These trees…or the stumps that remain have been re-planted along the newly widened roads and they are being watered daily by employing water tankers and luckily for us we see new leaves on these stumps which bodes well for the future. Some of these stumps have also been re-planted in parks with the same positive results. But for every such lucky tree, there are 2-3 stumps which are not bearing new leaves. Perhaps another idea would have worked where the trees would have been left in their original positions and roads were constructed around them. Even in cities like Almaty in Kazakistan, I have seen wide roads, but trees in full bloom stand on islands of virgin ground left in the middle which divide two to three lanes in the same direction. This is my strong suggestion to the roadworks authorities to think on these lines in the future, when planning further road widening works.
The World Environment Day will be most successful when man starts thinking of the environment from the point of view of the entire spectrum of species on earth and not the narrow blinkers of the human race alone. And to make a real difference, a day in a year is not enough, but few consecutive environmental years are needed. Or we will not be leaving a very habitable planet for our children.
Yatindra Tawde

Mumbai - 2025

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