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I have a new platform now

After years of writing on platforms that have not been my own, I have decided to get one for myself. You can now read me on www.rajreflects.com where I hope to post my thoughts on Indian sport every day. It is still at a nascent stage but I am sure that with some help and guidance, I will be able to make it engaging and interesting for the sports buff in you. Do check www.rajreflects.com out

The hardcore cricket buffs will spend much time analysing the strategies adopted by the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket franchisees at the auction in Goa on Friday; others will wonder why such monies are not spent on other sports in India. For the moment, though, I will sit back and smile at how the IPL auction stretched beyond merely the spectacle that the product is.

The fact that eight franchisees signed up 17 overseas cricketers and spent more to $11.5 million – and remember there was a cap of $ 2 million that each franchisee could spend – at the auction is a clear pointer to not just IPL's health but also that of the cricket economy in the country and, for good measure, the state that India is in.

 

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I never became a Murali fan

He got to scale another peak, joining the quintessential left-arm fast bowler Wasim Akram as the world’s most successful wicket-taker in one-day international cricket history with 502 wickets when he claimed Indian ace Yuvraj Singh’s scalp in the third game at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Tuesday.

Yet, I must confess that it's been tough to be a fan of his bowling just as it was quite easy to admire the Pakistani genius Wasim Akram’s guile, Australian legends Glenn McGrath’s nagging precision and Shane Warne’s magical craft and the uncanny understanding of angles that India master Anil Kumble brought to the bowling crease.

 

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So long, Javedbhai

I have never ever sent a text message that would not be read by the person it is addressed to but Wednesday was different and an exception had to be made because there was no option. I had to send a message to my friend Javed Akhtar Siddiqui’s cell number to condole his death.

Javedbhai was a basketball player par excellence, sports journalist who rose to be Senior Editor in Arab News, a PR person with a calm, reassuring presence and, above all else, a wonderful, humble human being. A towering personality with a warm presence, he could easily be befriended. There was no rancour or bitterness in his persona.

 

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There is such a clinical, chilling precision to India’s approach – laced with immense self-belief – to the task of chasing a target in a limited-over international these days that its opposition will begin to wonder what can be actually beyond Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team. There was more evidence of such methodical pursuit on a sluggish track in Dambulla on Tuesday.

There may not be many fans for the no-frills attitude, especially with a whole generation of cricket watchers growing up to admiring big strokeplay. Yet, it was just as well that Team India chose a steady pace rather than risk losing its way in quest of the dazzling strokes. I believe that the efficient chase of an asking rate of five runs an over is a sign of the team maturing as a unit.

 

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So then, Mohammed Azharuddin is back in the news. Not on Page 3 where he has been spotted in the past few years or on the news pages where occasionally we would read about his long drawn legal battle with Board of Control for Cricket in India. But because it has finally been said the former India captain will begin a new innings as a politician.

Even as recently as last week-end, he was unsure whether he wanted to get into what another Indian legend Amitabh Bachchan once famously branded the cesspool. But now it does appear that his mind is made up and the stage is set for his launch as a member of the Congress party and as a candidate for the Parliamentary elections later this year.

 

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IPL II set to escape economic slowdown

There have been suggestions that global recession will leave its impact on the second edition of IPL. I am prepared to stick my neck out and suggest that it will be bigger – and hopefully, better – than the inaugural edition. There were many skeptics even the last time around but I said months before the first ball was bowled that IPL would be a runaway hit.

 

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The National selectors have done well to resist the temptation of roping all youngsters who have had an outstanding time in the Ranji Trophy competition. The most consistent of the lot, left-handed allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, has been picked for the five-match ODI series in Sri Lanka while swing bowler Dhaval Kulkarni has been sensibly made to wait.

 

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Cricket is a team game, isn't it?

One of the greatest things about cricket is the fact that it is a team sport. Simply stated, no run is complete unless a batsman’s partner reaches the safety of the crease at the other end; no wicket can ever be credited to a bowler if a catch is not taken by a fielder or the wicket-keeper.

Perhaps, in the wake of the controversy that it sparked with a release on player rankings, the International Cricket Council (ICC) will remind itself that the sport it runs is a team sport and that it must leave the habit of focussing on individual achievements to others who thrive in that business of praising individual glory.

 

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