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Jaspreet Sahni
Sunday , November 30, 2014

When death is unjustified: RIP Phillip Hughes


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Death is not unusual. Every day, every minute, people, of every age, die. When timely, it's accepted as 'had to happen'. But when untimely, we ask: 'Why?' A wise man never goes for an unripe fruit. God is the wisest; then why He plucks away His wards as young as 25? His decisions are indisputable, not open to appeal. But hey Old Man, why Hughsey? That's not fair. Phillip Hughes, 1988-2014, we miss you. "The fair man doesn't invariably win," Mark Hodder is right, and here it's not steampunk: a 25-year-old man died doing what he lived for - playing a sport, in this case, cricket. A sportsman is indeed has to be 'fair man', for he has to play and act 'fairly'. That's the values he grows up with learning a sport. But life can be unfair and death unjustified. And....


Tuesday , August 19, 2014

Untimely calls for Dhoni's head


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You change a captain on performance grounds in two cases: (a) if he continues to fail as a skipper after his appointment or (b) when a proven leader hits a downward slide, fails to lift the team out of the hole and there's someone capable waiting in the wings to take over. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is in the fast lane to make the grade for category (b), barring the last bit of the qualification criteria after India's batting order turned into a 'disorder' of unmatched proportions in England. India's last five Test innings in the Test series - which culminated with a 1-3 scoreline at The Oval - read 178, 152, 161, 148 and 94. That effectively put to bed the chances of Virat Kohli, who, until his sorry average of 13.40 in 10 Test innings in England, was considered the best bet to take over from Dhoni. ....


Monday , November 18, 2013

Tendulkar, the constant


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Now that he's gone, it will hit us. At no. 4, for 24 years, on those 22 yards, he was there. But won't be now; the Zen master has left. Detached from the hysteria, yet well connected; simple, yet complicated; millions with him, yet alone when holding a bat. There was a different space about Sachin. 'God' may be a little exaggerated title, but the zone he maintained put a halo behind him. In that zone, Sachin was engaged only to cricket. But to do that for almost a quarter century is beyond grey matter: what lay beneath that helmet to allow a human being leave adulation of gargantuan proportions at the boundary ropes and enter into a zone where only wood and leather found existence? It was like Sachin in a soundproof room with 14 other men, where he could hear....


Tuesday , May 28, 2013

Indian cricket resembles an abandoned parent


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I am saddened. The foundation of my fancy for cricket has taken a beating. It's shaken up, still jarring as I speak. Not because the game is in disrepute, but because the attempts to disinfect it are obtuse. It's a façade, so to speak. Fraudulent attempts by shallow men wearing veils of hypocrisy to get away scot-free. Unfortunately, the spinal cord of our cricketers hasn't stimulated their brain stem. And that's hurting amid this humiliating episode. It's awfully convenient to say, "The show must go on". But dear elite, be careful when you say that. Be very careful about it after selling your vocal cords to the BCCI, after filing for amnesties, after bargaining contract fees and extensions, after being helped onto ICC committees, after getting vice presidencies in the chief's company and so on. That makes your ambassadorial comments nothing but 'His Master's Voice' and makes you a....


Thursday , May 23, 2013

The punter and the journalist


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It took close to 14 years, since the Mohammad Azharuddin episode in 1999, for a first-of-its-kind crackdown on the betting mafia, which has had contrasting effects on cricket's two beneficiaries - the 'punter' is in the bunker and the 'journalist' out on the prowl. No one can deny that India has paid a big price for the delay in cleaning up its cricket. The game is less pleasing, many playing the game have become dishonest, the majority of its administrators are crooked, the experts are commentating under instructions and most of those who loved the game by heart are now in contact with it either to bet (the punter) or to make ends meet (the journalist). At least three in five persons, especially boys under 20, are into cricket betting: easy, quick money as they call it. You just need a cell phone, access to live telecast and....


Tuesday , October 30, 2012

There's nervousness in India's ruthless intent


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There's some sort of nervousness circling Indian preparations as England set foot through the Gateway of India for a four-Test series. Gautam Gambhir using the "we average 53 as an opening pair" alibi to salvage his own and Virender Sehwag's place smells of angst ahead of the Test squad selection. And an India A squad with clear intention of not giving the visiting batsmen any spin practice has surely sent signals of desperation into the opposition camp. It's fine to remember your wounds but to grudge and lose focus looking at the leftover marks can actually lead to fresh injuries. Virat Kohli's youthful aggression looks refreshing from outside but it puts him at risk of reversing his cone of focus. At the outset, Kohli is India's best hope, but by taking this give-England-turning-tracks talk a bit too far and to heart, he's given England a subject to....


Tuesday , September 04, 2012

Does Tendulkar decide when Tendulkar retires?


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This is hurting - excruciatingly so. It's hard to picture a struggling Sachin Tendulkar, agonising to actually watch it. But this can't continue. The end is nigh. It's been there for a while. Let it befall now. Let's swallow it - because we can't see him suffer, we can't see India suffer. Sachin Tendulkar has to move on - for his own and India's good. What's the fun in turning a norm into a clamour? You come, you serve, you leave. Some do okay; some good, some better and some are the best. Tendulkar is the best and will remain so. No two ways about it. The end is nigh. It's been there for a while. Let it befall now. Only Tendulkar knows when he should retire. Of course, he is the best judge. But his recent failures, his dismissals, his pressers and a silent bat tell....


Thursday , August 30, 2012

A knock at cricket's administrative door


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The other day my son was learning how to cycle - to put it right, the act of balancing. "If you don't pay attention, the only way you go is down," I shouted from a distance. He craned his neck backwards, causing the bicycle to go in all directions before he got his feet on the ground to escape a tumble. "I thought my dad won't let me fall." The words stunned me. The boy is right. The art of balancing doesn't mean that you order an instruction manual and the next day you can walk a narrow beam. It needs support to start things off, monitoring from close quarters and a periodic stock of status to fine-tune and refine the art. I haven't played or administered cricket at any mentionable level, but having graduated from watching to reporting and analysing it, I can, to a degree, decode....


Thursday , August 30, 2012

A knock at cricket's administrative door


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The other day my son was learning how to cycle - to put it right, the act of balancing. "If you don't pay attention, the only way you go is down," I shouted from a distance. He craned his neck backwards, causing the bicycle to go in all directions before he got his feet on the ground to escape a tumble. "I thought my dad won't let me fall." The words stunned me. The boy is right. The art of balancing doesn't mean that you order an instruction manual and the next day you can walk a narrow beam. It needs support to start things off, monitoring from close quarters and a periodic stock of status to fine-tune and refine the art. I haven't played or administered cricket at any mentionable level, but having graduated from watching to reporting and analysing it, I can, to a degree, decode....


Tuesday , July 31, 2012

A medal in three days. Not bad, India!


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I was typing frantically on my Twitter account: "10.4", "Oh, outside 10 again", "No, no. Wait. We still have a chance". Suddenly I stopped. Looked left, looked right. "What am I doing," I asked myself. "This isn't cricket, not hockey either. So what's driving me to pain my fingers, while someone else pulls the trigger a 10-hour flight away?" I quizzed myself again, with an eye on the London Olympics shooting page that showed Gagan Narang moving up and down in the top-five positions of the 10m Air Rifle final. And finally I punched the keys B, R, O, N, Z, and E on my cell phone. Goose bumps! At that point I realised when it's India, performance matters, not the sport. And nothing in sports but events like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics wake us up to this feeling of patriotism. But for the first....


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More about Jaspreet Sahni

After becoming an expert in the hook shot that ends in a six over the third-man boundary and scoring a few goals in hockey after all the hard work was done by the other 10 players, I confessed to myself that studying the two games from the ropes was a better option. Though I wish I had started that process earlier than 1996, around 15 years of watching, reading and sometimes still practising that 'hook shot' over has allowed me this space on Cricketnext and IBNLive to write and get read.
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