India Insight

In Dada, Yuvraj finds a way to use his unutilised hair gel

Yuvraj Singh has finally found a way to make sure the hair gel lying unused in his cupboard is not completely wasted.

The Punjab cricketer, known for experimenting with hairdos, has gone completely bald following chemotherapy sessions in his battle against cancer.

In his absence, Yuvraj’s former India captain Sourav Ganguly is leading Pune in this year’s Indian Premier League and the 39-year-old provided what could be the lasting memory of IPL5 after castling Delhi’s Kevin Pietersen at Ferozeshah Kotla on April 21.

Ganguly darted across the field at a speed unexpected of a cricketer never known for his athleticism even in his prime, pumping air and jumping in joy, his thinning hair dishevelled by the evening wind.

“Dada’s celebration took us back to the good old days,” Yuvraj wrote in a column that appeared in Tuesday’s Times of India.

Sari-clad cheerleaders add Indian touch to IPL franchise

The upcoming session of the Indian Premier League (IPL), India’s glamour-packed cricket tournament, will see a sartorial anomaly come to life — cheerleaders wrapped in saris.

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s IPL team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, has decided to cover their cheerleaders in one of the most traditional Indian outfits — a marked departure from their 2008 wardrobe when a lot of skin, from midriff to thighs, was on display.

All these sari-clad cheerleaders would be “local hires” and will dance to classical Bengali music in between boundaries and fall of wickets. The team management is of the opinion this will help connect with Bengali cricket fans and improve ticket sales.

Congratulate Virender Sehwag

Virender Sehwag has registered the highest individual score (219 runs) in 50-over cricket, blasting seven sixes and 25 fours during his 149-ball stay to light up Indore’s Holkar Cricket Stadium.

Playing his 240th one-day international, the 33-year-old right-handed batsman overtook compatriot Sachin Tendulkar, a player he was often compared to early in his career.

Here’s your chance to congratulate Sehwag. Post your messages in the comments below.

“Controversially Yours”: More marketing than malice

Never far from controversy in his playing days, Shoaib Akhtar has kicked up quite a storm in India with his autobiography “Controversially Yours”, questioning the integrity of most players he came across.

And one of them happens to be India’s favourite son Sachin Tendulkar, owner of virtually all batting records worth owning but still not a match-winner in Shoaib’s book.

Also, the “Rawalpindi Express” claims Tendulkar, at one stage, was mortally scared of his raw pace.

Shastri, Gavaskar paid to preach BCCI gospel?

Going by this Mumbai Mirror report, the world’s richest cricket board has two of the most silver-tongued player-turned-commentators on its payroll to spread its agenda.

The report claims the Indian cricket board (BCCI) pays former captains Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri 3.6 crore rupees each year to defend its stance, often debatable, on controversial issues like the Decision Review System (DRS).

According to the report, no channel can broadcast an international match on Indian soil if the commentary team does not include the Mumbai duo, who have served BCCI in various capacities.

Of Tendulkar, Bharat Ratna and populism

It’s rare for politicians to be of one mind in the world’s biggest and arguably the noisiest democracy.

The government is about to tweak guidelines to make sportspersons (read Sachin Tendulkar) eligible for India’s highest civilian award — the Bharat Ratna.

That too without a murmur of protest from main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which otherwise has made life difficult for the Manmohan Singh-led government on various corruption scandals.

from Left field:

ICC name best test team of all time. Right or wrong?

The ICC has unveiled the best test team of all time as voted for by fans on the governing body's website. The ICC offered a shortlist to choose from.

Here it is:

Virender Sehwag

Sunil Gavaskar

Donald Bradman

Sachin Tendulkar

Brian Lara

Kapil Dev

Adam Gilchrist (wk)

Shane Warne

Wasim Akram

Curtly Ambrose

Glenn McGrath

Is it a bit 1980s focused? No Englishmen either but maybe that is not a big shock. Sehwag probably the biggest surprise.

These sort of polls are done almost weekly and discussed in bars around the world.  The debate certainly won't end with this list but ahead of the 2,000th test later this week between England and India, it's a nice reminder of what a wonderful sport cricket is.

India to embrace DRS after Sabina Park experience?

Australian umpire Daryl Harper might have done what months of persuasion could not — to make the Indian cricket board see logic in the Decision Review System (DRS).

The elite cricket committee of the International Cricket Council (ICC), which includes the team’s former World Cup winning coach Gary Kirsten and former captain Ravi Shastri, recommended mandatory use of the technology in all three formats, a suggestion that seems to have the backing of most boards.

Even Sachin Tendulkar, though still apprehensive of the ball-tracking technology, came out with the clarification that he was not altogether against DRS.

An Indian cricket coach for team India?

India's players celebrate with their trophy after India won the ICC Cricket World Cup final match against Sri Lanka in Mumbai April 2, 2011. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

The Indian cricket team has not had a full-time local coach in over a decade since John Wright took over possibly the second most challenging job in world cricket in 2000. Barring the Greg Chappell debacle, the two other foreign coaches the team has employed have delivered.

India made the finals of the 2003 World Cup under Wright, and Gary Kirsten signed off after the team were crowned world champions in 2011. Interestingly, both Kirsten and Wright had inherited a team full of superstars low on confidence.

Wright took over the reins in the aftermath of the match- fixing crisis of 1999, and Kirsten after the 2007 World Cup disaster (though a victory in the inaugural T20 World Cup under an interim coach, Indian Lalchand Rajput, somewhat satiated fans).

Doesn’t anyone love the underdog anymore?

It is said that everyone loves the underdog. You can’t fault Ireland if they disagree.

Days after cricket’s showpiece event ended, the game’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced its decision to trim the next two World Cups to just 10 teams and throw out the associate nations from the 2015 edition, featuring only its 10 full members. The 10 spots for the 2019 edition will be determined through qualification.

“This is not a World Cup, it’s a glorified Champions Trophy,” said Ireland’s captain William Porterfield, after the ICC’s decision to trim the 2015 World Cup that will see associate teams like Ireland and Netherlands miss out on the chance to rub shoulders with the best of the cricketing world.