Thursday, June 30, 2005


A great semifinal clash awaits us with Federer taking on Hewitt. I have got this feeling that the Swiss takes his game to a higher level when facing opponents like Hewitt, Roddick and Agassi. Remember the severe trashing that Federer gave to Agassi at the Australian Open earlier this year. Agassi was made to look his years. Perhaps, Federer wants to show who is the best. When it comes to other lesser known players, Federer does not display the same kind of intensity. In the other semifinal, Roddick has to face Johansson. In the quarters, Grosjean put up a tough fight with the American. The Swede can do the same.
My prediction is a Federer and Roddick repeat of the final of 2004.

It is quite open among the ladies. Venus Williams appears good after a shaky start to the championships. Sharapova has to be really good. The more tougher the shot, the shrill of her shriek gets stronger! Davenport looks to have the edge over Mauresmo on account of her experince with grand slam semis and finals.


What a night it was. Brazil were the favourites but no one expected the samba boys to put up such a display that annihilated Argentina. Actually, it was only a few weeks ago that Argentina got the better of Brazil in a world cup qualifier to top the South American group. If I am correct, then between these two countries, it is Argentina that has the advantage in their encounters.

For me, Adriano was the player of the tournament. He started the proceedings with a goal and added a second after the break. In between Kaka and Ronaldinho added their names to the scoresheet. Kaka was somewhat lacklustre in the previous matches but in the final his was a class act. Ronaldinho was, as usual brilliant. The others like Robinho, Cicinho were all contributors to the team glory. It was only in the last ten minutes that Dida had to make a couple of good saves.

Argentina tried hard to make some impression with only Aimar managing a goal. The Brazilian strikes may have completely shocked them.

To me the rivalry between these two football superpowers is the most fierce. Looks like the Brazilians were determined to avenge their loss in the world cup qualifiers and put the record straight. Now they are the world champions in the truest sense with wins against different countries.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


What a day it promises to be with the quarterfinals of the gentlemen. In the ladies event there was no upset, no drama in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Barring a couple of tiebreaks, everything was too predictable.

But today the men will not let go of any opportunity to go through to the last four. The top seeds Federer and Roddick have very easy opponents, although Grosjean might cause a few irritants to the American. Hewitt also will make it to the semifinals. The most interesting match up is between David Nalbandian and Thomas Johansson. The Argentine is a former finalist on the same courts while the Swede is a former Australian Open winner. If it is something of a long drawn out affair, the strong Nalbandian has the edge.

Monday, June 27, 2005


I know nothing much about golf. Cannot make any out any difference between birdies and eagles. Don't find much difference between an under par score and an over par score. Tried to follow after some Indians started to make some waves.

But the victory of Birdie Kim of South Korea in the Womens' US Open with a fantastic shot that left other fancied opponents biting the dust is really fabulous. It is worthy of a name.


What a day it promises to be in Wimbledon today with all the fourth round matches to be played on Monday. Federer is the favourite to go through to the next round defeating Ferrero. It is really a credit to the Spaniard to come this far when other clay court exponents have failed including Nadal. Hewitt may be in some sort of bother with Taylor Dent who can fire big serves. Of course, the Aussie is known to have one of the best returns in the game today. David Nalbandian has come to the fourth round with a hard fought victory in the last round over Murray. Roddick takes on another Argentine baseliner in the shape of Coria. The American starts the favourite. The conqueror of Henman, Tursunov takes on the talented Frenchman Grosjean. Will the crowd support him? The big serving Croat Mario Ancic has to dispose off Lopez who put out Safin. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the match between Max 'the beast' Mirnyi and Johansson.

In the women's side will Venus Williams be able to take revenge for the defeat of her younger sister? She takes on Creyas. Myskina and Dementieva meet once again following the French Open final of 2004. Sharapova can overcome the challenge of Dechy. It is a good match in prospect between two power hitters, Davenport and Clijsters. Kuznetsova has struggled in the earlier rounds. There are other Russians in the form of Petrova and Likhotseva as well in the fourth round. Pierce has another shot at glory with a match against Penneta.

From an Indian point the challenge continues with Paes, Bhupathi and Sania in various doubles events.

I would be happy to see my predictions go wrong.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Brazil made it to the finals of the Confederation Cup with a rather unconvincing display. Germany could not force the issue despite having controlled the match for a long time. Interestingly, it were the Germans who had most of the possession and dominated the second half. Twice they came from behind. They just could not finish inside the box.There were two debatable penalty kicks but the referee was consistent in his approach.

Adriano scored a couple and showed how he is a very important member of this side. Robinho appeared rather subdued perhaps due to the typical German defence. It is most likely that Brazil meets Argentina in the finals. Argentina can score where Germany failed.


Federer advanced to the next round with an unconvincing display to win against the German Kiefer. The young Briton Andrew Murray put up a good show against David Nalbandian. Murray was up two sets and then his lack of experience and injury allowed the Argentine to come back into the match. He is showing a lot of promise. Nalbandian next is scheduled to face another young hopeful in the form of Richard Gasquet of France.

Good to see Leander and partner go through to the next round in the mens' doubles. Bhupathi is teamed up with Mary Pierce in the mixed doubles.

What made up my week was that John Mcenroe and Boris Becker were there in the commentary box.


The Aussies put up a good showing to defeat Bangladesh by 10 wickets. Bangladesh were comfortably placed before Andrew Symonds did the star turn with the ball this time round. Then Gilchrist and Hayden feasted on the bowling to take their team to victory with many overs to spare. Ashraful continues to be in good form. I believed his innings against India in a test match was a fluke. But now with this kind of showing, I am forced to change my opinion.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Don't know much about NBA or for that matter basketball. Actually, don't know anything apart from the names of a few players. This is all despite spending time watching live NBA action beamed on ESPNSTARSPORTS. My younger brother follows the sport very keenly and he also gave some time to make me follow the same.

San Antonio Spurs have won the championships defeating the holders the Detroit Pistons. The Spurs won for a third time in seven years and joined an elite group in the process. There is an interesting thing I want to point out. In all the three years Tim Duncan was voted the MVP(Most Valuable Player). Incidentally, he was nicknamed 'Timid Tim' for his uninspiring efforts!


The Championships have a habit of throwing up surprises. Marat Safin who appeared to have discovered the game for the surface lost. It was not expected for the French Champion Nadal to make much progress. But he seemed to give up without a fight. The Williams sisters are a very pale shadow of their past. Is the gap in the womens' game narrowing down or have the sisters lost their touch? Fellow bloggers are welcome to speculate.

I am very surprised by the exit of Mahesh Bhupathi and Todd Woodbridge from the doubles competition. I have always felt that the combination of Bhupathi and Paes was the best. Wonder what took place that led to the rather messy break up. I feel that the two behaved just as bands break up once they become famous. But there is always hope for the future.

Hewitt and Roddick won with ease before rains came down heavily.

Friday, June 24, 2005


The Australians have managed to win over England. However, in the batting department, there seems no be no fire at the top of the order with Gilchrist unable to make big runs; Hayden can't at the moment score more than 30 odd runs. Ponting is the disappointment who reminds me of his failure against the Indian spin in the past. The return of Symonds has certainly added a new dimension to the batting. But it is the arrival of Brett Lee has given the greatest hope to the Aussies. It is ironical that the same bowler was made to warm the bench till a couple of moths ago. Whether one accepts the bowling action or not, Lee made the difference. The other bowlers were hit by Pietersen in the last match.

I was unable to watch the hiding that Pietersen gave to the Aussies with that 91 not out. My brother told me that it was a truly good knock. That made me sit before the televsion well past the midnight hour. However, there were no heroics this time. Only Flintoff was able to stay at the wicket for a considerable length. The others notably, Trescothick, Strauss and Collingwood-the new England hero were made to look very ordinary by Lee and company.

I hope this win will keep the big English mouths shut.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Finally, Brazil could make it to the semifinals of the Confederation Cup. After blazing away to a win over the Euro champions Greece, the samba boys were humbled by the Mexicans. There was a hard fought win over Japan.

Even when the Brazilians seemed inconsistent and lost at times, there was plenty of the familiar magic to see. In the first match, Adriano opened the proceedings with a scorcher of a goal. Robinho is truly someone who is going to make a name for himself in the future. Ronaldinho displayed his wares and went on to score a goal versus Japan. The men who were supposed to defend also seemed really anxious to put their names on the scoresheet. It is something that has proved costly in the past against fast counter attacks from the opponents.

Every time Brazil step onto the field, the expectations run very high. But the absence of players like Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos may be felt in the match versus Germany. The Germans would be thirsting for revenge after their defeat in the last edition of the World Cup. Then Germany had an inexperienced team. Now they are playing on the home turf and Jurgen Klinsmann would like to prove his doubters wrong. If Brazil contrive to lose, it would shock more than the day Bangladesh defeated Australia in a one-dayer.


Came across a very interesting news item. There was a mention of how a few passengers of Indian Airlines were stranded on a remote island in the Lakshadweep. The reason is that the pilot of the flight was found missing with no trace. Actually, the pilot left to join another airlines. There was no other pilot as a contingency measure.

The Civil Aviation Minister has gained reputation as a go-getter. He is certainly not averse to giving soundbites in front of the cameras. He speaks of his vision to make air travel in India comparable with the best. The other day he cautioned the airline operators not to take part in price wars as the market is not 'mature' enough. Mr. Minister, leave that part to the players. It is the market to decide as to who gets the break and who is going to break. It is time that the passengers of state owned airlines are treated properly.


Sania Mirza was really close to beating Svetlana Kuznetsova but could not do it. In the end it was the Russian who came up with the big answers when the Hyderabadi posed difficult questions. The result was along expected lines but no one could have imagined such a close contest.

At the post-match press meet, Sania was really composed. There is no point in feeling disgraced after putting up such a fight and losing to a far higher ranked player. In a prominent Indian website the headline ran “Sania crashes out of Wimbledon”. This is far from the truth. It was only the expectations that ran high especially because the Indian had beaten the same opponent in Dubai some time ago. As an Indian I only wish for Sania to achieve greater things in the future.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Sports has its own way of springing surprises when they are least expected. It is nothing but miraculous the way Bangladesh got the better of Australia. The media, especially those calling for the removal of the test status of Bangladesh must surely would have felt a bitter taste in their mouths. While going through old magazines, I found that the same kind of arguments were made when India were bowled out very cheaply in a test match in England (1974 at Lord's). The same experts are now singing the praises for the young talent that made the famous victory possible. The British media seems to forget the brownwashes suffered by the English at the hands of the West Indies in the eighties.

It is not entirely unustified for questions to be asked about the ability of Bangladesh to play cricket at the highest level. However, since test status is given, now it cannot be taken back.Well, what about the noise made of Zimbabwe? It is only after Andy Flower fled for England that people began to notice the falling standards of cricket in that country. It is not for just cricketing reasons that people are calling for the demotion of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe from test cricket. Let us play cricket in the fair way and not resort to chucking or other unfair means and throw out the baby with the bathwater.


Day two of Wimbledon is over. There are no great surprises except for the loss of Justine Henin-Hardenne. I always believed that the Belgian was no great shakes on grass. In the men's side Henman battled after a two set deficit before overcoming Jarko Niemenin who put out Agassi in the first round of the French. Marat Safin kept his cool and played quite attractive grass court tennis against the Thai Srichapan. Paradorn was a pale shadow of the player who got the better of Agassi a couple of years on the same courts. If Safin plays in the same way, then, Federer has to be careful. For all of us Indians it would be interesting to watch out for Sania with her second round clash against Kuznetsova. This is too big a stage for the Russian to be on the losing side but there is always a room for a miracle.

Friday, June 17, 2005


It is sad to see Agassi pull out of this year's Wimbledon. Of course, he was not expected to win the championships. But it makes the event lose some of its colour. In an earlier blog I mentioned how Agassi is finally feeling the effects of time.

I was never a fan of Agassi. I grew up with Becker. It hurt me most when the German lost to Agassi at Wimbledon. That year the American won the championships. In that time no one won Wimbledon without seeing off the challenge posed by Becker. The second time Agassi angered me was during a U.S. Open match up with our own Leander. That day the American was at the receiving end for a set and a half. Then Agassi complained about the grunting of Paes and there was a remarkable turnaround. Agassi won in four sets. However, in the last few years I have become a fan.
There is no denying the talent that is possessed by Agassi. He put up a grand show at the Australian before being dismantled ruthlessly by Federer. I think the slide down the slope started with that defeat. He seems to have lost his hunger and with the body refusing to cooperate, Agassi might call it a day.

I like to quote from Amrit Mathur writing in 'The Sportstar'(June 11, 2005) albeit in a different context. “Watching the slide is sad. We want our heroes to remain heroes not become support players doing insignificant side roles. That is why watching Agassi lose a first round match is painful. Similarly, seeing a great performer lowered to mediocrity, a Mercedes shrunk to the size of a Maruti 800, is equally soul-searching. But, like it or not, nobody can arrest the march of time and nature(like kanoon) takes its course. In sport, what is outstanding today has perforce to become ordinary tomorrow, the greats and legends pass into record books and exciting new talent rises to the top.”

Thursday, June 16, 2005


The surprise win by England over Australia in the 20-20 match has certainly managed to raise the hopes of the English for the forthcoming Ashes and the Natwest trophy. The latest defeat of the Aussies at Taunton would surely make the English think about turning the tables.Yours truly thinks that this is something over which too much is said and written about. In recent years, the English have not been able to do much in the Ashes except winning test matches long after the series and the famous urn were retained by the team from down under.In 1989 it was the English who won the ODI series and we all know what happened to the test series. Much worse when in 1997 England won the ODI series 3-0. Of course, there were some flashes of brilliance by some of the English cricketers. Few can forget the way Michael Vaughn batted the daylights out of the Aussies including the great McGrath. There was also a fantastic knock by Mark Butcher to win a test. Then there were some heroic bowling efforts from Gough and Dean Headley.

I certainly don't wish to underestimate the talent or the commitment of the English. But one has to remember that in recent times the losses suffered by the Aussies are more due to their overconfidence and not for the efforts of their opponents. During the time of Mark Taylor, they seemed to lose interest once the series was decided in their favour. Even the cool Steve Waugh made a declaration in Calcutta overestimating his bowlers. But then few could argue otherwise after the dismal batting of the Indians in the first innings of that famous test. It is not everyday that miracles of that proportion take place.

It is true that the English bowling looks much better this time with people like Harmison, Jones,Hoggard etc. But they are prone to injuries at crucial moments in battles against the old enemy. Flintoff might cause a few shocks but comparing him to the legendary Ian Botham is odious to say the least. 'Beefy' had something special in him to settle scores with the Aussies. In the batting department Trescothick seems to be no match to the wiles of McGrath and Gillespie. Vaughn is not the same player as in the last Ashes. Strauss is untested against the best bowlers. Finally, there is the spinning threat coming from Warne.

It is one thing to beat teams like Bangladesh in two and half days in successive test matches. It is an entirely different proposition against the Aussies. McGrath and Warne are probably on their last trip to the Old Blighty. They would surely want to make it more memorable. So watch out. It is too early to talk about the Ashes returning to England. Lest we should forget that the victory of Somerset was made possible by the splendid batting of Graeme Smith and Jayasuriya who cannot play for England. One swallow does not make a summer.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Another cricket match was organized-this time at Lord’s to collect relief for the victims of Tsunami. Tremendous talent was on display. Indian viewers had a mixed day with Ganguly failing to post a big score as was the case with Sehwag. But what hurt the most was the failure of Dravid. Of course, Laxman showed why he is the most underrated batsman of the Indian team. Then there were the wickets to Kumble and Harbhajan. It was Kumble who got the Man of the Match award for the telling contribution.

However, the biggest cheers went to a player who was not playing the game-Sachin Tendulkar with even claps from the man who handed over the mementoes. It was very much un-British like. This shows the popularity of the man across the cricket playing lands. Wonder, if any other player ever got or would ever get such recognition.

But sadly, Sachin never utilized this facet for the general betterment of the game. There was a complete silence when the game of cricket was engulfed by the biggest scandal-match fixing. If it was so all-pervading, surely, it would not have escaped the notice of Sachin. But he remained silent. It was left to players like Rashid Latif when views of Sachin would have sealed the matter forever.

Ganguly is respected for the support he extends to youngsters who he believes in. But Sachin never backed any players other than those who came from Mumbai. He is a person who always appears or rather wants to appear as politically correct. He is averse to take any kind of unnecessary risks outside the cricket field. The great Kapil Dev once backed a few players in their fight against the BCCI with regard to some masala matches played on North American soil. The Board responded by suspending five players. Sachin can never be expected to come up with such determination.

If Sachin needs to remembered not just as a great player, then he has to stand up. There cannot be any better person who can do this.


This is not about the television show that was featured on Doordarshan in the eighties. It is a common belief that the law is not the same for everyone. The rich and the powerful have their own set of laws. This blog is in reference to the poaching allegations leveled against a former cricket captain of India. The whole episode has only strengthened the belief.
First, the law enforcers took time to frame the charges and also to file the FIR(first information report). Then it was a mystery with regard to the post-mortem to confirm that the animal killed indeed belonged to an endangered species. Thirdly, now the alleged perpetrators are in hiding seeking anticipatory bail. Now, the police are extending the time frame for the guilty to surrender!

In a truly filmi style, the actor son of the gentleman alleged a conspiracy. The son rebutted all claims that his father has gone into hiding.
What I find detestable is the view of an advocate that cricketers are role models and they should not break the law. It is time that we realize that they are also human beings . Wonder, if this case also goes in the same track as the Salman Khan one where there were allegations that it was a frame up. It is heartening to know that Haryana is ruled by the Congress party to which the former captain owes his allegiance to. Otherwise, this would have sparked off another round of minority oppression

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


The clay court battles are put to a halt with the All England Lawn Tennis Championships round the corner where thankfully we are going to see tennis of the serve and volley variety. Of course, there are very few genuine grass court players in the game today. In the men there is Federer who can put the French Open disappointments behind him and renew the hold on the famous trophy for another year. Pete Sampras was the last of the grass court greats. Tim Henman was a good prospect for a championship as his game suited the grass. Unfortunately, in his prime he had to cross swords i.e., racquets with Pistol Pete. Very few can forget the loss of the Brit to Goran Ivanisevic that ultimately gave the Croat the chance to make peace by having the trophy. This year he does not seem to have any chance especially after the poor show at Stella Artois. Don't count out the Roddicks and the Hewitts. It is sad but true that Agassi is finally showing signs of an aged body.

Among the ladies, we can look forward to a new winner this time round with the Americans coming back stronger after the French Open. However, there are no such clear front runners with the Williams sisters on the downhill.

What prompted me to write is the past finals of the Championships being shown on ESPNSTARSPORTS. Great finals involving the likes of Arthur Ashe, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Boris Becker made me go into the past. It was not until 1987 that I could watch the finals live. So the telecasts before the start of this year's tournament are a feast. The style of play is entirely different from most of the players of today. The charging to the net after the serve and the volleys seemed out of this world. We are more accustomed to baseline rallies with hard hit shots interspersed by a few drop shots. Of course, Wimbledon will not mourn the absence of top clay courters. They always have this knack of suffering injuries just on the eve of Wimbledon. If my memory serves me right, then it is precisely to accommodate such players that the number of seeds in the grand slams was increased to thirty two from the previous sixteen.
All in all, a nice couple of weeks in the offing.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Mathematics is one subject that I dreaded the most when I was a student-in the schools and in the college also. The subject still gives shivers even in the month of June when the sun is burning the skin. Of course, a lot has be due to the kind of teachers and their method of teaching.

I shall start with the arithmetic problems that had to be solved or rather tackled at the school. There were some gems. Firstly, there was the one that related to cisterns and pipes. The problem could be like this- “it takes one pipe to fill the cistern one hour and the second pipe empties the same in two hours. Calculate the time taken by the first pipe to fill the cistern or the time taken by the second pipe to empty it”. The question was and still is why anyone would have such an arrangement! The second one relates to time and distance. It stated- “a monkey is climbing a greasy pole at two metres per minute and slips down one minute. Calculate the time taken by the monkey if the pole is thirty metres long.” What on earth made the monkey climb a greasy pole in the first place? Surely, such problems are monkey business.

At the high school it was the turn of algebra, trigonometry and coordinate geometry. The late teacher had a particular way of solving problems. His was a democratic method. He would ask us to make the choice between odd numbers and even numbers. Accordingly, he would solve the problems-i.e., write the solutions on the blackboard. The result was that our knowledge was basically restricted to the difference between odd and even numbers.

Worse was the experience in the college. A very experienced and senior Lecturer was really fast. He would divide the blackboard into three parts and each part contained a solution. He would want us to just look at the blackboard and copy the solutions. Surely, this is what is today called as multitasking in computer lingo! He was so fast that by the time we copied the second solution that the first one would be erased and the fourth solution was being written. No wonder most of us could not make any heads or tails of the subject.

After all these years of having observed the teaching of mathematics in the schools and the colleges, I have arrived at a conclusion. Most of the teachers involved in mathematics are only in search of tuitions-private coaching-generally at their homes. That is the reason why they don’t teach in the schools or the colleges. At the college level in the higher classes involving the Degree (graduate) students many spend their time in explaining the different theorems. Some of them take pain to tell about the life and times of the famous mathematicians. Things are just flying away off the tangent!

In recent times a new and a different thing has been observed. In the name of making the students informed about the computers, several changes have been made in the syllabus. What takes the beating is that the students opting for Mathematics honours course are taught things like Basic and FORTRAN. Worse is that all this is done even without the students having seen the computer once. It is all in the mind! The teachers are also not in the possession of any qualification in the teaching of these things. In the Engineering colleges-the private variety-the situation is even worse. Faculties who have just post graduation degrees in mathematics are not hesitant to take up the challenge of teaching advanced computer courses. No wonder, the students are unable to cope up with the syllabi are forced to take up coaching in private computer institutes. Clearly, it is a win-win situation for everyone. The students get engineering degrees and the teachers take their moments in the sun as computer experts. Newton and Liebeintz might be turning in their graves.