An Open Letter to Virat Kohli

Dear Virat

I try not to be critical of you but it is high time to leave the captaincy and hand it over to someone else, gracefully.

Too many 2nd finishes and semifinals is not good enough for Indian cricket team. If a captain is not winning trophies, his tactics should be questioned.

Please play purely as a batsman, the time when we saw the best of you. You still have 4-5 years of cricket left. Many more hundreds and unbelievably planned chases please from you, Kohli. But the leadership isn’t working anymore.

World cup 2023 is in India and a couple of years away. Maybe Rohit, maybe Pant can be captain but if Indian cricket needs trophies, it doesn’t look like happening under you.

And I know I sound like just another armchair expert from the millions of cricket experts in this country but what to do, I just can’t see Indian cricket going south.

Sometimes you are so close to things that you can’t see them properly. People guessed that watching cricket from outside while half a dozen infant type cricketers defeated Aus in Aus will give you a better perspective.

Nothing has changed. Passion is good but it isn’t bringing results. And many fans like me are tired of seeing this amazing team win bilateral series. It is high time the team brings some ICC trophy home.

Lets hope the better sense will prevail from your side.


Just another fan.

Hanuma Vihari- Hero in the Waiting

Hanuma Vihari and Ashwin (Pic Credit- FPJ)

Hanuma Vihari, now a household name in India, had two choices when he reached the crease on the 5th day of the now epic Test match in Sydney between India and Australia.

To carry on the good work done by Rishabh Pant (who shouldn’t have lost his wicket to such a shot) and give India a realistic chance of winning the test match. Or to defend and block and make sure that his team doesn’t lose and at least draw the match; even if they can’t win.

It is a very fine line. One bad shot in the quest of the former and he would have been labeled naïve and reckless and inexperienced. Too many balls defended to make sure he preserves his wicket and blame would have been laid on him that he let away a very realistic chance of winning what would have been a historic win. Twitter trolls etc.

Vihari is not known for his flamboyancy. If Pant is exciting like a yacht; Vihari is a ship- calm and stable.

After he played few balls and before he could decide how to pace his innings; his choice was made easier by his injured hamstring. He was unable to run anymore. As the runner is no more allowed; it was either bat or wait in the pavilion.

Vihara chose the gallant route and stayed on the crease. With thin batting to come next and with a half-fit Ashwin with him; he decided to block everything. As easy as it sounds; the execution of the same is extremely difficult. And that too against the world’s most potent bowling attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazlewood. Add to that a certain Nathan Lyon and half a day, roughly 250 balls do not sound great. And there is an obvious Aussie cockiness.

Vihari faced everything. With every ball he blocked, ducked, and left alone; he made another fan of himself in the country. Aussies were rattled. Their captain decided to be a lesser gentleman and increased the chatter. Vihari was unperturbed.

At the end of the day; everyone who follows cricket had praise for Hanuma Vihari. And he richly deserved it. What is ironic is that after such an innings; he will not play the next match because of his hamstring injury. The same hamstring that made his choice easier and made him a national hero.

It does not mean that a fit Vihari couldn’t have won the match for India. But with low scores in previous 4 innings; a Rishabh Pant who is good with the bat and awful with the gloves and Wriddhiman Saha would have been the preferred 6 and 7 in the last match in Brisbane. Vihari’s failure would have certainly meant his ouster in the team and as Karun Nair can tell; it is not easy to come back into this Indian team. By the time, you sharpen those rough edges; another guy had taken your place and you are out of reckoning.

For a moment, imagine yourself being Hanuma Vihari. You have just saved a match for your country. It was one of the best bowling attacks. It was a 5th day pitch on away soil which is unpredictable in turn and bounce. But you braved everything. The batting scorecard is not great but you can’t care less. Twitter is celebrating you. National hero!!!!!

And then it sinks in. You are not playing the next match because of the injury that elevated your status. You don’t know if you will again play for India. What if somebody else claims your place as his own?

You sure don’t have an answer for that today. But that thought just can’t go away from your head.

Life, sometimes, is cruel.

IPL Beginning to Get Things Right

It was 3rd Feb 2008. India vs Australia. Brisbane.

Manoj Tiwary was the latest debutant in Indian cricket. He went on to bat at no 5 with India having lost Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, and Gautam Gambhir cheaply. And Brett Lee was spitting fire among with usual suspects Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Bracken.

I still remember his 2 runs off 16 balls. Brett Lee peppered him with pace and short balls. Tiwary had no clue what to do. To play or not; to duck or pull. There was a very evident lack of confidence. His clean bowled came as no surprise.

As I said, it was early 2008. A couple of months later, IPL happened. And the cricket changed in India. Just like that.

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Being a 90’s kid, I still remember my early winter mornings whenever India toured Australia. Setting up an alarm of 5.30 to see the first session of the test match before I went to school. If you get half an hour late in switching on the TV, one always feared if India will be 70/3. And most of the time they were. And Rahul Dravid was trying to bail out the team.

There was a visible lack of belief in the team and its members because they were outside their home conditions and playing the mighty Australians. Especially the batsmen. A complete generation was pampered by flat pitches and small boundaries used to scoring huge runs against local bowlers. Hence, the tours to Australia, England, South Africa became difficult even before they started.

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Fast forward, today, India played Australia in a T20 International. The playing 11 had direct exports of IPL- Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar, T Natarajan.

Sanju Samson made an enterprising 20s.

Washington Sundar bowling figures were none for 16 in 4 overs.

T Natarajan took 3 wickets on his debut.

And that is what IPL has done to Indian cricket.

IPL has become a de-facto route for the Indian players to get into national reckoning. They play for their states in Syed Mushtaq Trophy when nobody is watching apart from some very keen IPL scouts. Then they get sold for crores (or bargains) in the mega auction. Then they play in IPL, locking horns with the biggest of the names. You prove yourself; you get selected. Or you go back to the drawing board.

Take the example of Sanju Samson. He first played IPL in 2013. The feedback was good but he was not a finished product. He went back to the domestic circuit, scored tons of runs, and came back to IPL. Last 2 seasons he has played magnificently. And today, against the Australians; it didn’t look as he was out of place. He was very much a part of the gang. The big grounds, (very) hostile opponent, different pitches- these things didn’t seem to faze him. And this is what IPL has done to Indian cricket.

I firmly believe IPL has done wonders for Indian cricket. Yes, it took some time but like all good things; the process was important. IPL will always be a glamorous tournament for its critics but for Indian cricket, what it has done is something that people do not acknowledge enough.