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Fire In Babylon

Yesterday I was watching a breathtaking documentary of Cricketing Legends - Fire in Babylon.

A Fire that triggered an era of fast bowling in Cricket, West Indies Cricket Team - The most successful sporting team in the world in any form of a team sport. The team that won two ICC world cups in 1975 and than again in 1979. Not only they produce some of the great fast bowlers but they even had batting legends like Sir Vivian Richards.

I as a kid started following cricket in 1992 watching Imran Khan leading his team to world cup final and showing world what one can do if they fight united. But what i saw in this documentary the other night is simply mind blowing and extra ordinary. They brought the world to their knees, and a nation to its feet. This is story of legend of Cricket in their own words.

Do watch it whenever possible. Its awesome !!

Dhonifying Cricket

India beat Australia with largest margin ever in terms of runs. And Australia too saw such a defeat for first time in decades. I remember it was in 1991 when likes of Curtley Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Malcolm Marshall sent Allan Border XI home with a 343 runs defeat. Australians have been defeated before but the manner in which they were slaughtered in the recent test match against Dhoni XI was simply outstanding. They were completely OUTbatted, OUTBowled, OUTmatched, Outclassed and OUTcaptained.

Yes, OUTcaptained as Dhoni took everything in his stride at Mohali. There is something about him that keeps him going. People say its his sheer luck but no lucks doesnt favour everytime like that only. Remember that fortune always favours the brave. And he is not someone like Sachin Tendulkar who winks once on the field, nor is he Rahul Dravid who shys away at times. Instead he ferociously looks into the eyes of the opponents with a definate game plan that works everytime. First it was Twenty20, than it was ODI\'s and now these two test matches that he has captained. You can\'t say that luck works for him everytime.

Dhoni, however, has the Midas touch and it was summed up best when he asked the debutant Amit Mishra to go round the stumps in the last over of the second day. Mishra bowled an accurate wrong\'un to trap Michael Clarke in front and one was reminded of the ploy to give Joginder Sharma the final over of the World Twenty20 final. But Dhoni, to the amusement of all present, only said, "Fluke tha yaar [It was a fluke]." 

He has many more years still in his pocket to lead India. If he goes at the rate with which he is going he would easily surpass Kapils, Azhars and Gangulys who are regarded as the most successful captains ever.  He is soon going to put his own rules of leadership quality, temperament and game plans in cricket. He is 'Dhonifying Cricket' for good.

Generation Next gets its 1983 moment

24 yrs after that magical summer evening at Lord’s, India beat Pak to stand tallest in game’s newest, fastest version.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni was just two years old when Kapil Dev held up the glittering World Cup on that magic summer evening at Lord’s in 1983. Today, he, and his young team, lived that moment for India — all over again.

 Like 24 years ago, no one expected India to win this trophy; and when it came to the crunch, the bowlers did the trick — our Mohinder Amarnath was the comeback man Irfan Pathan, our Kris Srikkanth was Gautam Gambhir, our Sandeep Patil was Rohit Sharma, and our Sunil Valson, who stayed on the bench, was Piyush Chawla.

And, after India beat Pakistan by five runs to become the World Twenty20 champions today, Dhoni, our Kapil, said, “I will cherish this till the end of my life.”

This team had done virtually the impossible. They had walked in with the experience of one Twenty20 international before this, they had no coach, in the real sense, and they did not have much of a preparation either. “But we had a 100% success rate,” said Dhoni, pointing to their lone Twenty20 win last year against South Africa.

“This is a young side, and no one expected us to win. And that’s the reason why we won,” he said.

At the Wanderers today, on a pitch where they had already made history last year by winning their first Test in South Africa, against a team that has never beaten them in a World Cup before, it finally boiled down to that one reverse scoop from Pakistan’s hero Misbah-ul-Haq — a shot that failed, a great effort that fell short by five runs.

The Indians ran towards their new skipper, Pakistan’s Aussie coach Geoff Lawson slumped down, two weeks of high-octane action had ended in the last over of the tournament, the world had woken up to a new force — Team India, GenNext, without the battle-scarred veterans Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

“It does not matter who got there in the end, the game of cricket has won,” declared Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar, minutes after Pakistan were bowled out for 152, after India won the toss and set up a target 157 for five in their 20 overs.

Probably, what really captured the secret of India’s success in this tournament, just six months after their humiliating exit from the Caribbean World Cup, is that fact that there were no superstars to hail and idolize at the end of it all.

There was Yuvraj Singh, rediscovering himself with the two sensational half-centuries against England and Australia. There was R P Singh, relentlessly sharp, persistently accurate with his left-arm seamers. There was Sreesanth, knocking back Australia in the semi-finals with laser-like yorkers. There was Irfan Pathan, out of the team due to a dip in form and confidence, returning to the world stage in the final with a brilliant spell of 4-0-16-3 and the man-of-the-match award.

“Mashallah, it was a great feeling to come back like the way I did, to win the cup,” said Irfan, as he stepped up to receive his prize, savouring the special day when he got to play with his “bhai”, Yusuf Pathan. Minutes later, the Indians were celebrating wildly. Dhoni clung on to the trophy, chest-butting those who came in the way, Pathan strutted around with the gold medallion around his neck, Harbhajan and Joginder managed to get into the tri-colour, together.

Today, the difference between the two teams was simple: pressure. And Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik couldn’t help but ask his man, Misbah, why he went for that reverse scoop that landed in Sreesanth’s hands — the final moment of the match.

“He wanted to hit the ball straight over again, but something at the last moment made him do that. What more can I ask him because he too is heart-broken,” said Malik. Finally, irritated at the repeated questions on why his team folded up, he asked: “Aap koi film bana rahe hain, khushi aur gam par?” For the Indians, meanwhile, it was time to count the money too: $2 million from the BCCI, $450,000 from the tournament, Rs 1 crore for Yuvraj, Rs 5 lakh from Karnataka for Robin Uthappa.

And at the end of it all, as the groundstaff here started sweeping aside the confetti, the message from Johannesburg was clear: if 1983 brought one-day cricket home, be prepared for the T20 revolution.

It’s begun.