Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thank You Sachin !

I have heard many people talking about their favourite food. And I have heard a lot of people say that the food cooked by their mother is their favourite - Maa ke haath ka khana as they say. I guess it is an Indian thing. Perhaps it is a question of taste which has got developed from childhood, perhaps it is in its simplicity, perhaps it is in the love involved all around. And when you don't have it - you miss it a lot. 

Sachin playing cricket is the cricketing equivalent of Maa ke haath ka khana for me. It has been a constant companion since my early childhood just like Maa ke haath ka khana. Just like a mother's cuisine also evolves over the years with new dishes, while still retaining its inherent simplicity, so has Sachin's batting.  I have been captivated by his many avatars and styles - from the pristine simplicity of his early years, to its evolved functionality of the latter years - complete with its constant improvisations and adjustments - it has always been a joy to watch. Talk about love - there has never been any shortage of that - for Maa ke haath ka khana and Sachin. And By God - I will miss Sachin's batting - when it is over. Like I miss Maa ke haath ka khana when I am not at home.

I have been lucky to have been an involved, devoted fan of this 24 year journey of Sachin Tendulkar the cricketer. It runs parallel to my entire conscious life. Like Maa ke haath ka khana, I have known nothing better than it as a cricket fan. Not because it was factually or actually the best, but because over time - it had become a part of my life, my identity. It was simply a matter of faith, of belief, of taste. Some people will not GET this feeling that I have, but I think some will. Either way, it's fine. I agree with what Sidvee wrote when Sachin retired from the ODI format

To understand us is to take into account the moral, physical and aesthetic effect of Tendulkar. To feel your pain, when he retires (edit)... is to know what it means to grow up with him.

I think Mathew Hayden said it most eloquently:
When Tendulkar goes out to bat, it is beyond chaos - it is a frantic appeal by a nation to one man. 
Sachin has been trying to answer this frantic appeal by a nation for a long time. And by doing that - he enriched my life enormously.

Thank You Sachin.
Sachin batting: The closest to a spiritual experience for me.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Arsenal were rather predictably (at least for me) knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Chelsea - a club whose squad is vastly superior to that of the Gunners. Having said that, as an Arsenal fan - it is one of the lesser disappointments and compared to the exit at the hands of Bradford last year - it is an easier one to take for me.
Arsenal have lost two out of their last three matches - both at home - against two very strong teams - Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea. And while Arsenal after 9 rounds are sitting at the top of the table at the end of October, thanks to both good play by the team, as well as a kind fixture list so far, the tough run of matches has started with the Dortmund game and it is going to get really tough for the Gunners starting tomorrow.
Between November to February, Arsenal play 19 (if they win the FA Cup 3rd Round) matches : 14 of them in the Premier League, 3 in the Champions League and 1, potentially 2  in the FA Cup.
By the time January is over - 23 rounds of the Premier League will be over and we will have a much better idea of whether this year's squad are genuine title contenders or just 4th place hopefuls. And even before that, by 11th December - we will know if Arsenal have qualified for the knock-out phase of the Champions League. The qualification - which now hinges on getting results at two very difficult stadiums - Westfalenstadion (Borussia Dortmund) and Stadio San Paolo (Napoli), is extremely important for two things. Firstly and obviously - the club and the fans want to go as far as possible in this glamour competition which is financially lucrative as well and also helps in attracting talented players. But more importanly perhaps for this season - should Arsenal not qualify and end up 3rd - they will be dragged into the cesspool - a long drawn out competition which will be a massive strain on the limited squad resources of the Gunners and could ultimately hinder the title challenge of the Gunners if it remains on track through the winter.
Also in this period is the January transfer window and reinforcements - especially up front and also defensive midfield are needed.
The fixtures that I have marked in red are really tough matches, while the brown ones are tricky as well. This is going to be a long and tough three months for Arsene Wenger's men.
Brace yourselves: WINTER IS COMING !

PS: Apart from GoT - I must credit Matt Becker for the title idea

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