Sunday, May 22, 2016


The IPL regular season ended yesterday. The 4 teams who made it to the playoffs start their matches tomorrow, with the finals on the 29th: Gujarat, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkota. Mumbai, 'my team' and the defending champion, ended their season 5th.

Below are the verses I have been writing for the past 6 weeks (the two 3-line verses are attempts at Japanese haiku):


The floodlights shine bright
Players huddle and take the field
The opening batsmen saunter to the wickets
Game time in Hyderabad!

Sharma, Buttler, Guptill, McClenaghan
Pollard and Rayudu
Ready with their willow woods
Squint at the bowlers

Experienced Nehra, young Rahman and Kumar
Flaunt their wiles with the cork
It was to be Hyderabad’s day
As Warner demolished the MI bowlers

Cool Wednesday morning two days later
MI to take on RCB
The vaunted scoring of Kohli
The sporadic brilliance of Gayle

MI batsmen have to step up today
Not rely on Bhajji to top-score!
The record of 1-3 needs a’ changin’
Or else ‘Tis going to be a mighty bore

MI beat RCB last night
T'was bliss to see Kohli and de Villiers
Out in the same over
Watch out Delhi, it will be Sad Saturday

Lions felt Sun's heat
Devils will dare nought tomorrow
Pune vs RCB, who cares... (Today) 

No cricket today
Family celebration dinner
Awaiting tomorrow's match
MI, MI, MI...
Must try and stay awake
To savour the victory

Seems RCB won last night
Planned to skip parties for MI 
Relieved match is at Four

Despite Captain Rohit’s heroics
Delhi won by 10 runs
Now eight more matches
For MI to come out with blazing guns

Slept through MI's win last night
Old age creeping up perchance
It was not much of a fight
Thursday, KKR will feel MI's lance

Watching Thu match with friends
And libations of course
Glad not to be alone or too sleepy
To savour MI's winning bourse

    Will be watching Thu match alone after all
    Being the sole cricfan in these woods
    Ah well, so be it
    Just so long as MI brings home the goods

     MI did win and jump to 3rd place
     Alas, Delhi and Hyderabad won yesterday too
     So it's Gujarat, DD, KKR 'n Hyderabad in top four
     MI will need to claw its way up tonight

    Cool Cap Dhoni's Pune team
    Will be taken by MI
    Must keep alive the dream
    Will be watching with a cousin/friend tonight

      Pune was taken and MI vaulted to #2
      Then Kolkota won last night and MI now #3
       It's a roulette between these two, Gujarat and Delhi 
       Latter two play tonight and Gujarat must win
       Or else beloved MI will be #4! 

IPL saga unfolds yet
#1 Gujarat slaughtered by Delhi last night
Now MI is #4
Their next match on Sunday shall be a fight. 

Kolkota beat Punjab last night 
And tops Standings now
Followed by Gujarat and Delhi
While to #4 MI takes a bow

DD plays Pune tonight
Negative rooting again
For Pune to win the fight. (.... Sorry, Deepak) 
Maybe #3 spot will then be MI's to gain

Mi resting till Sunday 
When Hyderabad will prove litmus test 
Meanwhile hoping other 3 teams in top four
Keep losing, encouraging MI to perform best.

Dozed off of course
But woke up to see the end
When Pune beat Delhi 
Driving some folks around the bend! 

Four crucial games remain
Mumbai 5th with Delhi just ahead
Revived Bangalore/Virat catching up
We must gather to watch more games!

For MI's sake, got to keep DD at bay
May de Kock be blinded by the Rising Sun
Let Warner do his batting voodoo 
And let Zaheer's Devils fall under the gun. 

‘Twas a dismal night
MI bundled out for 124 runs
Watch out Daredevils and Lions
As MI performs its usual last-stand heroics

It was a Sad Sunday
As Kolkota and Bangalore
Secured their playoff births
The four qualifiers now decided
With MI only fifth

Shall await the next season
To see MI victorious again! 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Cricket Fever

IPL, Indian Premier League, is a bit of a misnomer. The eight teams in the league have top players from all over the world battling side by side with the Indian players - they come from Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies to play in the most lucrative cricket league in the world. The format is the shortest form of the game, T20 i.e. 20 overs or 120 balls per side. These 240 balls still take 3+ hours to be bowled; but this certainly is shorter than the One Day Internationals (ODIs) and Test Matches, which last six hours and up to five days respectively.

Most folks, especially those in countries where the game is not popular, think of cricket as 22 men in white trousers, shirts and even half-sleeved sweaters, playing leisurely, even breaking for tea. A "gentleman's sport" is its traditional label. These are Test Matches. I have never watched a full one and do not intend to, so I shall not elaborate more on these here. Some hard-core cricket pundits consider these as 'real cricket' and shrug off the shorter forms of the game as aberrations. I don't even watch the ODIs unless it is the World Cup. The T20s fit my persona best.

If you expect to see men in sedate white knocking around the ball gently, T20 cricket can shock you. The team uniforms are in bright colours, each team has cheerleaders prancing away, and the runs come fast and furious. Some teams sometimes score 200+ runs off the allocated 120 balls; some, on a bad day, don't even cross 100 runs. IPL crowds, in cricket-crazed India, are loud, so loud that the umpires often have to make extra effort to be heard. I have seen bare-chested spectators, male, with their team's colours painted garishly on their bodies. Further, each team is owned privately, mostly by film stars and business tycoons. Watching colorful owners like dimpled Priety Zinta of Kings XI Punjab, Bollywood icon Sharukh Khan of Kolkota Knight Riders, or Mrs. Nita Ambani (Reliance Industries, owned by her husband Mukesh Ambani, the richest industrialist in India) of the Mumbai Indians are almost as much fun as watching the goings-on on the cricket pitch.

Game time, in Nepal, is 8.15 pm daily, except for the weekend double-headers when there is a first match at 4.15 pm. Glued to the television with all required paraphernalia lined-up along side the easy chair, one tries to make a real enjoyable evening out of cricket heroics. Often the games end around mid-night so staying awake, especially while watching the match alone, can prove difficult. But there are times when friends drop by. The enjoyment is greater with the ambiance and libations, even though few of them know the intricacies of cricket.

Nepal, never colonized by Britain or anyone else, is a latecomer to cricket. Even at school, football, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, and even softball, took precedence over the occasional cricket outing. But in recent times, cricket in Nepal has advanced to such an extent that the national team brings home more laurels than the national football team. Still our generation is not very familiar with the game, which has a language of its own. I had the fortune to be based in India and Pakistan for eight years during my UN days. In the 1990s, before the advent of cable, there wasn't much else to watch sports-wise on  TV than cricket. While in India, I watched Pakistan win the World Cup; the team was captained by Imran Khan, now a prominent politician. Four years later, while in Pakistan, I watched Sri Lanka lift the World Cup. It felt good to be a South Asian.

To my American friends, cricket is somewhat like your baseball. A home run is when the batter hits the ball outside the field boundary, getting 6 runs. The ball reaching the field boundary gets 4 runs. Crisis-crossing each other, since there are two batters at opposite ends of the bowling pitch, after hitting a stroke garners runs totaling the number of crisis-cross. Actually you have to watch a game to figure out what I'm talking about! My friend from New York was here for a couple of weeks; we watched cricket and now he's an expert on the game. I kind of repaid him for all the Mets baseball games he took me to while I was based in NYC.

So anyway, before this post becomes an epic, let me simply share my joy on these IPL evenings and on cheering for my favourite team, Mumbai Indians. No, I'm not receiving a commission from the Ambanis for supporting or writing about their team. I started supporting MI since the IPL began seven years ago. There were two players who inspired me: Sachin Tendulkar, one of the opening batsmen, and Lasith Malinga, a speed bowler. Sachin has since retired. Malinga is out this season with an injury. But I remain a MI fan, through thick and thin. It is the defending IPL champion, but is languishing in 5th place currently. Still four games remain, and it just has to be among the top 4 teams to enter the play-offs. Keeping my fingers crossed.

(To keep abreast of the current IPL season, please visit