Archive for category sports

Thoughts on Eve of World Cup Final

Tomorrow we play one of the crucial games of the year (yes, this year, not of four years) when we face Sri Lanka in World Cup Finals. I don’t know why this game does not excite me much. May be because we have played Sri Lanka too much in recent time or may be because I feel so many similarities between Indian and Sri Lankan team. May be because I would have supported Sri Lanka for World Cup if India exited earlier. There can be many reasons, but this game does not enthuse me as an India-Australia or India-Pakistan final.

Most of the let down in energy comes from the fact that both teams are similarly placed – heavily dependent on batting line up, masters of spin pitches, donning heavy spin attack spearheaded by one fast bowler. This makes both teams adopt similar strategy and that does not make me happy. I wanted it to be a battle of bat and ball, but it seems like a contest of bat and bat.

But that’s not the biggest thing going on in my head. Sachin Tendulkar is the key, not because he will play a crucial role in game but because this is his final World Cup. We need to win this cup for him. If we succeed, India’s greatest star will get the gift he deserves.  If it was just up to his performance we would have secured at least four out of five cups he has played in, but cricket is a team sport and there are too many aspects for a victory or failure than just an individual’s brilliance.

Sachin Tendulkar

Then is the idea, that it might be the last time we will watch Sachin Tendulkar bat in a One Day International. And if that is going to be the case then I want time to stop now, I don’t want to see what happens tomorrow, I don’t even want to imagine what happens afterwards. World Cup or not, without Sachin Tendulkar, cricket will never be same again.

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What Matters More – Runs or Money?

Two big news coming from Cricketing world today – Sachin Tendulkar crossing 14,000 runs in test cricket and BCCI suspending Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab. Two pieces of info, about almost the same set of players but still making a huge difference to fans.

We cricket loving fans live in a different world, we treat cricket as religion and love it more than anything, and when people try to take advantage of that fact it hurts us the most. In last couple of years, money has taken the center stage, most people would not have noticed yet but will notice it now. The kind of corruption is in under either in form of spot fixing, match fixing or accounting irregularities it hurts us the most.

We are the fans, when we wake up at 5 AM to watch Sachin Tendulkar play against Australia, we do not care about what logo is on his shirt – either it be Nike or Sahara it does not matter us. It does not matter to us what advertisements are played, it is Coca Cola or Pepsi. What matters to us is the straight drive, hook and the pull, that battle between bat and ball is so powerful that when Ravi Sashtri says “when Sachin plays well, India sleeps well” is absolutely true.

Cricket is healer for this developing country. We get in all sorts of arguments, fights, reservations, and demolitions and are even hit by internal and external terrorism. But when it comes to Cricket it does not take much, we just need a TV in a show room and outside public becomes happy. People forget they have to go for work, college or meetings, they forget what religion or cast they are from, they forget what language they speak, and there is only one thing which wins – the joy of watching our favorite team play.

And it is not just about our team; we appreciate and cheer good Cricket from everywhere. We cheer for good bowling from Muralidharan, nice hitting by Peterson, fast bowling from Bond, Andy Flower’s reverse sweep or anything nice which is played with proper sprit.
Lately it has been hit by scandals. It all started with Hansie Cronje’s revelations a decade ago. Some players got greedy and we got a setback that caused us a lot of players. Because of that we would never be able to see Azharuddin’s masterful wrist strokes. What caused it all, it was the greed of certain players.

Now in 2010 we uncovered the story of Lalit Modi and how his greed is causing problems again. Not just some teams are being kicked out of tournament, he has taken a format of the game to such high level where it has started to outshine the real cricket. It hurts not only the fans but players as well, as summarized by Coach and Captain of Rajasthan Royals, Shane Warne in his tweet:

3 seasons ago royals won the first ever ipl, underdogs come good what a story, it helped give credibility to the competition !!! Now look. The royals gave young unknown Indian players a chance and I as captain backed them, and our coaching staff supported them we were a team. What now for the youngsters, I hope BCCI come to there senses, fingers crossed!

Who has the answer to these questions? It’s all well and good that new players got chance to play, it gave stage to new stars to shine but was that just a cover for a scandal that was brewing up beneath? The story is not just limited to Cricket, but if we look around all major sports have issues like these – be it match fixing scandal of Serie A and Serie B league of Italy, or Nelson Piquet Jr. slamming his car into barriers in Singapore GP, or NBA referee gambling on the games he was officiating.

Till we have a lot of money in sports we will have these problems. And without money we will also have problems as we see in case of Indian athletes, who do not have proper infrastructure. We need money, but at the same time a system that regulated the kind of money getting into the system. This calls for a wide reform of the system and almost seems impossible, but things can be changed. Same way we could throw out tobacco sponsorship out of sports, we can deal with this issue as well. Government has to step-in, authorities have to be less corrupt and more passionate about the games they are involved in. Lets just keep the sports what it is, lets keep the passion alive for the fans and players and it will last forever. Learn a lesion from Sachin Tendulkar, he has lasted 21 years playing international, which is not just mentally but physically impossible. With his simple lifestyle, passion for the game and not letting success get into his head can last him this long why can’t we adopt same approach to the sport. Lets bring in more administrators who are passionate about game rather than about money or politics and we can be on right track.

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Lessons from The Master!

I am not saying cricket is simple, but everything around it, if you keep simple, it becomes relatively easy

On the eve of becoming the most capped player in Test Cricket, these words perfectly sum the way he thinks and explains how he handles the burden of expectations from millions. I like this statement very much because I believe the same in technology arena.  Technology is not simple, but if separate it out from other things and remove all the jargons, it can be understood easily.

People who do not know Sachin would always wonder how can one person dominate World cricket for more then 20 years and still remain simple, down to earth person who when walks on the filed is hope for billion people and nightmare for opposition. Answer is simple – his simplicity and love for game acts helps him play but he never allows that success to get into his head. He answers it simple -

Time flies. You just need to enjoy it, it’s a circle. You are not always on the top, sometimes there are rough patches, but the simple formula that I have followed is, whenever I have gone through tough phases, I have found a reason to work harder. And try and spend all my energy at something I have been wanting to get better at.

Congratulations on yet another record and lets level this ‘dead’ series.

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Team Orders

Formula 1 has been hit once again with the controversy of Team Orders. Team Orders can be defined as team dictating the outcome of it’s two players. Mainly this situation arises when team favors one drive over another. This has been a controversial topic in motor sport for long time and change of regulation has a lot to do with how it can be perceived. In earlier days of F1, a specific leader of team was chosen and even if he can problem with his car, he could use his teammates during the race. But those times are gone and now sporting rules do not allow to dictate the results.

The bigger question then arises is – Formula 1 is a team sport or not? Lets see how the teams are designed. Both drivers have separate car, with moderate modifications done for each driver as per his driving style, physical conditions and other factors. Both drivers have separate team of engineers working on respective cars, that makes it more like individual sport. On other side, funds for a team are handled from one team, almost all of the technology is developed for both drivers and data is completely shared between both, this makes it a team sport.

If we consider F1 as team sport, then team has right to dictate the result. It would be similar to Cycling where complete team tries to win the race for the leader. Here unlike other team sport such as football and cricket, the team leader is considered a winner and not the team. World knows about Lance Armstrong as winner, but very few know about which team helped him win the title.

But the difference is a team leader is selected in the beginning and everyone knows what they are getting into and what are their duties. Unlike in Formula1 where no one driver is selected as leader and that is why I believe F1 should be considered an individual sport. No one should be robbed of the victory one deserves. But this is not the end of story, every team order situation should be considered individually.

For example the Austrian GP 2002 when Schumacher was asked to take lead off Barichello was not a fair move. Point being, Barichello was fast in practice, qualifying and race as well. That time to ask him to give his position away was unfair. But during yesterday’s race where Alonso was allegedly given chance to overtake Massa is totally different. Massa could never match the pace of Alonso is the race and that could have resulted in few situations. One being where Vettel would have come close to Alonso and started pressuring him, that could have resulted in something lesser then Ferrari 1-2 which is not favorable. Second situations is where Alonso and Massa could have collided trying to fend each other and could have resulted in zero points. The same situation arose few weeks back where it resulted in collision between Vettel and Webber. To Ferrari’s defense, they would never want to have a repeat situation of such and asked Massa to back off for the greater good of team (no pun or double meaning intended).

This situation barely justifies the move and it might yield in punishment or not, all depends on WMSC, which is handling this matter.  This time WMSC should not only resolve this matter, but also come up with strict guidelines to protect individual’s rights. They should specifically have scenarios where similar conflicts in team can be resolved.

As a F1 fan, we do not want any more scandals in this sports. Already for last few years we had too much politics, race fixing, espionage etc and this season seems to be shaping up well keeping everything behind. 

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Ouroboros

Today I shot my last Basketball game for Collegiate Times. One interesting thing that happened today reminded me of the first Basketball game I shot. I am attaching both the photographs as part of story.

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First shot is from my first game (14th Dec 2008) and second is from today’s game. Both times I was sitting at exact same location when this happened, player lost control of ball and it came toward me. Being a rookie that time, I could not move and I was hit by ball and the player. This time I was fast enough to move and get out of the way. Not only did I achieve it, I was able to capture a much better photograph too. I surely learned a lot in last two years about photography, thanks to all the photographers around me. That blog would be some other day, but I just find this “coincident” humorous. 

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Bow to The Master

Today was the day that will go down in golden world in Cricketing history. The mythical 3109890657_58d06b2217_m[1]200 run mark in ODI was broken and it was by none other than India’s proudest possession, Sachin Tendulkar.  For last 20 years he has given India a consistent performance that is unparallel to any other effort. He has many names – God, Master Blaster, Little Master, Tendya, One man army etc. He has many names and I won’t get into detail which one I like, but what he means to country. He is HOPE, he is the one who can swing the game in India’s favor. Till he is on crease no Indian ever loses hope, opposition fears him more than anything and bowlers have nightmares before and after the game. He has played many great innings – ranging from his ‘Desert Storm’ inning in Sharjah to ‘cut shot’ in 2003 world cup which sent Pakistan back home.

He not only survives the tremendous pressure put by opposition but also the enormous amount of expectations from more than a billion people. When he walks onto the filed every fans wants a century from him and nothing less. To meet those levels of expectations constantly for twenty years is phenomenal.

He has literally almost all the batting records to his name, but the one he created today has eluded him few times. Why is this great (if not greatest) inning? why does it carry more weight than anything when it is just six run ahead of previous record? What makes this the one to remember for life? Here are my reasons:

‘Carry the bat’ is not an easy thing to achieve. It takes immense concentration, stamina, patience and requires perfection of the incomparable level. It takes just one mistake – a slight miscalculation, loss of concentration or something minute and you are sent back to pavilion. To perform such task in changing conditions and distractions all around is huge task. In not only requires patience but also controlling the emotions. One cannot achieve such perfection without hard work, dedication or letting success get into head. Even one survives those five grueling hours on pitch, it takes enormous effort to scores runs consistently at such high rate. One is not just concentrating on batting but also running, keep the score ticking and attacking the opposition mentally. To achieve such a feat at age of 37 in itself is amazing. He not only has stamina to survive, which he has developed over years of rigorous training and immense discipline, but also cunningness to adapt to situation. The way he switched from hitting shots to using bowler’s pace was marvelous. To end this argument, I would say, he does not have the body structure of modern day players who believe in power hitting. Sachin Tendulkar is not six foot tall with broad shoulders to attack all the balls, he is a class act – a mix of brilliance, elegance and ability to innovate shots. All these things make this one of the greatest innings of Cricket.

What now? Sachin Tendulkar has one more dream, to win the World Cup for India. We know he is going to do his best and he will have more than a billion fans to support from him. If he continues this form, I have no qualms in proclaiming that India will not fail to win the World Cup. What could be a better gift than winning the World Cup on home turf. We all LOVE you Sachin! You are Cricket to me and I don’t want to imagine…

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American Football – A closer look (literally)

Last Saturday I got a chance to shoot the football game. I don’t know all the rules of Football but as a photographer I know all the moments that needs to be captured and that is why I took this opportunity. I have been doing sports photography for almost a year not but this game was most exiting for me because of the craze of Football here at Hokie Nation. Other obvious fact was the energy at Lane Stadium, where just as a viewer a person gets exited listening to Enter Sandman and starts jumping on the seat, and being on field for such a game itself is an amazing experience.

Preparation for the game included asking some colleagues about all the accessible areas on field and what kind of shots people like. But I just got one advice – do whatever you think is appropriate but don’t get hit by a football player. My gear for the game was two Nikon D200, a Nikon D40, a 300mm prime lens, 55-200mm lens and a 28 mm lens.

Lane Stadium has excellent facilities for press. I was amazed to see how different it was from the general area, its obvious that Alumni and people who pay a lot for tickets should get that kind of facilities. Photographers had a separate room with facilities to keep camera and other equipment and upload photos during half time. As always, I would like to say the management of event was perfect.

The game went pretty well, I don’t understand all the rules but I know when its attack and defense. I have basic understanding of rules, so it was not hard to capture all the important moments. My colleague and I decided to switch sides at half time so we can get shots from all the angles and it was also important that we both don’t end up on one side and miss some important shots. Overall it was a great game and the story was published here (with photo) and rest of photo gallery can be accessed here.

Mistakes I made:

1. Almost got run over by a Football player, but he was quick enough. Else I would have had similar accident as at Basketball game last year.

2. Took all the photos at 1600 ISO. I should have not gone above 400 because the light was pretty good and photos may have to be blown up.

3. In all the excitement I forgot to take the crowd, cheerleader and wide angle shots.

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Review: Truth in 24

Yesterday I watched Truth in 24 for the second time. This is a movie about Le Mans 24 hour race and Audi Team. It talks about the raceday and rest of the year, what are the preparation that go into it, what is the mood on pitwall, the kind of situations they face, the communication, trust between teammates and above all the engineering effort. The movie takes care of all the intricacies involved and point out the minutest details that are taken care of (not the how part!). The preparations before the race, parade, qualifying and the race. Factors such as night, rain, fog, tiredness and how a combination of men and machine conquer all this to win the race.

Movie documents the 2008 Le Mans race and the victory by Audi team. The movie talks about ‘human element’ involved in winning the race and how with a slower R10 they managed to win a race against faster Peugeot 908. Audi team go as an underdog and win the race with few proper judgements and dedication of complete team. This team also focuses on importance of team and its not just the drivers who win the championship. I liked Howden Haynes, the chief engineer of the team and how he worked continuously for 24 hours to make perfect decisions throughout the race. The last part of race where he argues with race driver to change his tyres is brilliant. He with his data is confident but has to convince driver on track on how the conditions are going to change is nice piece to watch. And when later driver thanks him for perfect choice, as a student of science we feel great. My favorite scene from movie is after the victory, when everyone is enjoying, Haynes just goes away and sits on a pile of tyres. That is the moment when head of the team has called him ‘secret weapon’, but he is not overjoyed, he just want to take some rest. Twenty four hours of such pressure is not just on cars but endurance test for humans too.

A must watch for motorsport lover. Either be f1, Indycar or Nascar fan, it does not matter, you will love it. Another aspect of movie that I liked is its narration, I suppose producers chose the best man to do this kind of job, Jason Statham.

Free download from iTunes

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A Tribute to Sourav Ganguly

Today (Nov 09,2008) would be last day of Dada in International Cricket and a very sad day for fans all over the world.  He made debut in ODIs in 1992 in West Indies and it went almost unnoticed, but his Test Debut was the best that any player could have – back to back centuries in first two innings, first at Lords and then at Tent Bridge. Rest is history, he went on to become the most successful Test and ODI captain for India. He is Photo by RB. responsible in transforming the Indian Cricket Team mostly in shatters after match-fixing scandal into ‘Team India’, the team that reached the World Cup Finals in 2003. He is the one who changed the way Indians used to play cricket, he added aggression and innovation to cricket and taught everyone how to fight against odds.  He brought the positive/winning attitude to the team that has been missing for more than 50 years. He proved to everyone that its not just talent but believing in oneself or team that wins the match.

He would always be remembered as the God of off-side, no one in Cricketing world can hit off-side shots with such accuracy and confidence. There was a time when 6  players used to be put in off-side to protect boundaries during field restrictions. Once he developed his leg-side shots he was unstoppable and went on to become second highest run scorer (ODIs). If someone asks me what is the image of Ganguly in my mind, it would have to be Dada coming down the track and hitting a high and long six of Muralitharan, it was such a beauty. The best spinner in world, bowling in conditions very good for spin bowling and still Ganguly can smash him all over the ground.

Another important part of his batting was his chemistry with Sachin Tendulkar. For long time Indian cricket struggled to find perfect combination for ODI openers, but when chance was given to Sachin and Sourav they went on become the most successful openers in the world and have many records on their name. Since both of them are aggressive players it would be hard to complement each other or restrict oneself when other player is taking risks, but he did that perfectly. As a kid when I used to watch cricket, I will never sit down for first 15 overs when Sachin and Sourav were playing, they played some of the best cricket I have seen in my life.

Dada and controversies are synonyms to each other, but most of them are media created than real. When he took of his shirt after winning at Lords in finals of Natwest Trophy 2002, many people criticized him saying it should not be done in gentlemen’s game, but I enjoyed it completely and saw it as a warning to world cricket – Indian cricket team has arrived and we are going to win the 2003 World Cup.

In late 2006 he was dropped from both ODI and test forms considering his bad form and some argument with current coach Greg Chappell. It was a huge disappointment for fans and it seemed he would never return back to International cricket. I still has the hope till I saw the Pepsi ad just before the World Cup 2007, where Dada was sitting in empty stadium and delivering the line “apne dada is baar maanange naa”. It was a big blow for me and I thought it to be end of his career.  But just in few months he did the unthinkable, he was back to cricket and scripted the most amazing come back in Indian cricket – by scoring highest runs in test series against South Africa and man of the series awards against Sri Lanka.

For me the most memorable Ganguly innings have to be 238 against Pakistan in Bangalore[2008] (where I was at the stadium), 183 vs Sri Lanka at WC99, 144 vs Australia [2000-01], His first innings at Lords, His excellent bowling performance vs Pakistan in Sahara Cup and 124 against Pakistan at Independence up final in Dhaka (where Kanitkar hits a 4 to win the match).

It sad he is retiring today, but we respect his decision and don’t want to create controversy by saying someone might have forced him to retire. Its more than 10 years that we have seen you playing and we will miss that.

(Photo by RB, Bangalore Test, Oct 2008)

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Crazy for Formula1 – every second counts

This was one of the most dramatic races I have seen in my life, last 30 second decided the World Championship. Congratulations Hamilton! This post is not about the race, but what happened with me and how I kept track of the race.

(Race to start at 12:00 EST)

11:00 AM : I am at the Tennis Center with a member of photography club. This is my first assignment and I have to learn the tricks of covering sports event. I checked that Wi-fi is working and I will be able to keep track of race (via @f1 which @prsn would be updating for this race)

12:00 Noon: I have learnt some tricks and am clicking some photos and still have some work to do. Race starts and I get the details about it.

12:30 PM : I am free to go. Massa is leading the race, Hamilton not far behind. Race seems to be very interesting, I don’t want to miss it and should reach home as fast as possible.

12:45 PM: I am walking close to VT buildings (Lane Stadium) so my wi-fi keeps working and I don’t loose connection. I reached Cassel Coliseum and now waiting for bus. I have to make a decision that I should wait for the bus or walk to library (10 min) and watch race. I checked BT timetable and figured out that the TCA is at 1:10.

12:55 PM : I can’t wait for the bus that long. So I decided to board Two Town Trolley and reached Newman Library (2 min) . Thankfully, the bus had wi-fi and I could keep track of race.

1:03 PM : TCA will be available at 1:15 and I could keep track of race on iPod but I want to see the race. I walk and move  into Torgerson hall to find a computer. I have never been here, so I make a call to Rahul to find out where is lab, but before I could connect I find the lab and get in. I know the next bus is at 1:15 so I have to get out at 1:14. I watch the race for some time. I have taken the PC near window so I could see where TCA arrives.

1:14 PM : TCA arrives and I run out to catch the bus, I get in and check wi-fi in bus, It’s not working (as usual). It takes 4 min to reach house and I was in my room in front of Laptop at 1:19 PM. Still 20 laps to go and still Championship undecided…GREAT! I made it!

It sound crazy, but this is love for the game. I believe in few sports and really love to follow them. I ran, got into 2 buses, went to lab and did not miss updates from race for more than 5 min.

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