2013 in review

Hello everyone!

It’s been just over two years since this blog opened up (November 5, 2011 to be exact), and I honestly don’t know what to say when I see these huge numbers in the report below. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my blog will grow this much and garner these many views (visitors from 197 countries in 2013!), and I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for taking time to visit my blog, for sharing my posts, for subscribing/following my blog, and for all your valuable comments and suggestions. 2013 was really great, and I’m most certainly looking forward and inspired to an even bigger 2014!

Once again, thank you so much for all your support. Please take your time to see what my little blog was up to in 2013.

Wish you all a very Happy New Year !!!

 

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 240,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 10 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Sachin-Tendulkar

Thank You Sachin

How  did Sachin become the greatest ? Why is he called so ? What makes him so special and keeps him apart from the rest of the players who played with him and before him ? Why does the people worship him like a God all the way ?

Such questions are aplenty. But the answer is only one – because his name is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

For a boy who took up cricket seriously at the age of 11, scored in a mammoth 664-run partnership in school, and made his international debut 5 years later at the age of 16 after playing just a single season of domestic cricket (scoring a hundred on debut in each of Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Irani Trophy), he was nothing short of a child prodigy with a god-given talent. He could have faltered soon, buckling under the pressure of international cricket or losing his touch after the initial spark, like the stories of many others we have witnessed over the years in sports. That is where this kid became special. Not only did he live up to the expectations of his well-wishers and selectors by playing admirably well in his early years with Team India, but he kept getting better ever since and ended up breaking and achieving almost anything and everything out there in the record books. He made a believer out of every cricket fan out there, created new fans around the world and took the game entirely to a whole new level where it’s never been to.

Each sports format strives for a hero, for them to show the world – “here’s the one that played our game in the best way possible”. And Sachin was cricket’s favorite poster boy. He was much more than just a great cricketer who wowed both the fans, peers and opponents equally on and off the ground. He meant much more than that to the people of India and other passionate fans who follows the game like a religion. I need not look any further than my mom. She doesn’t know the game much and never follows it. But, if there ever a time when I say that India is playing, my mom would ask “Is Sachin playing?”. If answer is yes, then the next question directly skips to the end… ‘Is he batting? And did he score hundred?’. I don’t know how many times this scenario repeated itself, but still even today the only cricketer she knows, recognizes and cares about is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. I wonder who can take that spot now! The only cricketer, who took cricket across the barriers of countries, interests and languages, the true brand ambassador of the game. No one has ever toyed with the hearts of millions of people the way Sachin did, no one really induced so many varied emotions from his fans like him, and that too for 24 years. India has always been mad about cricket, and even crazier when it comes to Sachin. But, the fact that he received standing ovations each time he walked in and out of the pavilion on every foreign ground he played in the last few years, is a testament of how much he is respected around the world.

When Sachin debuted for India, the team was not in a good shape. Those greats who brought the World Cup to India in 1983, had mostly retired, and the team struggled to get things on track to put up a good fight at home and on foreign soil against some quality oppositions. Being a team from the sub-continent, a lot of things were against them. The players melted under the pressure, they couldn’t handle the pace and bounces. Same was expected of Sachin as well who was way younger than anyone in the rest of the team. But he played admirably well, growing in confidence after every match. The trip to Australia in 1992 is remembered for Sachin’s fighting hundreds at Sydney and Perth on the fastest tracks against some of the best in fast bowling. The guard was changing. He showed that he belonged to the big stage. He took over the responsibility, and soon became the lone-fighter for Team India on a consistent basis. There was a time when the entire batting line-up revolved around Sachin. The opposition teams knew that once they get Sachin out, the rest would fall like a house of cards. This probably launched him and his stature to a different level, that of a hero, a savior which stayed with him until today. The period from 1996-2003 was without a doubt, the greatest period in his career as a batsman. Kids like me who were born in the late 1980s had just started watching and understanding the game, and here he was at his absolute best. He was our first hero, and still is the only one. 

He got struck with various injuries by 2002-03, most notably the tennis elbow, which tied him from playing a lot of his shots. He had a rather lengthy lean patch where he became inconsistent, scored less,  and perhaps less-confident. I lost count of the number of times he got out in 90s during that period. He went back to his former self later, again scoring consistent 100s, including the very first 200 in ODIs, culminating in his ultimate dream come true moment – winning the World Cup in 2011.

Looking, back, it felt like a lot of things fell in place for him and his career. I don’t think there is anyone else who can lay claim to have such a fairytale ending to his career – achieving every single dream he had when he started playing for the country.

It’s been a privilege more than anything to witness the storied career of one of the greatest of all time, walking with him through thick and thin, celebrating each and every runs he scored, every record he broke, every big moment in his career. He inspired millions of people to take up the game, to believe in their dreams, to give your best in whatever they do and to be passionate about it. There is nothing else, but to say thank you, for all the wonderful memories, for all those cruel entertainments you had with our emotions, for all the service you gave to the country keeping the game higher than it ever was. The phrase ‘you will be missed’ is a serious understatement. He will live in the hearts of every single cricket fan. Wishing him a great life with his family, which he so rightfully deserves.

#ThankYouSachin!

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Long Live Federer!

For those who said – its over, for those who said he’s done, for those who said he’s past his peak, for those who said he should retire and make way, here’s the breaking news :

With his career Grandslam victory #17, Wimbledon Crown #7, Roger Federer, the undeniable king of modern day tennis,  is back where he belongs – the top of the world.

Two weeks ago, when Federer began his journey at the first round of Wimbledon 2012, not many had anticipated or predicted with full belief, that he would eventually raise the Golden trophy on Centre Court for the record 7th time. Such was the combined impact both Nadal and Djokovic had on the tennis world over the last 1 year and more – sharing glories among themselves and keeping Federer at bay, stopping him in Semi final or Final each time. With Federer winning his last Grand Slam back in 2010 Australian Open, and subsequently ending up short of glory, it all looked bleak for the Fedex box, and it even felt like Federer was never going to win a grand slam again, let alone the climb back to World No.1.

But, Federer was never going to be denied. What he has achieved so far, is beyond words. I’m not talking about the number of trophies he won, or the number of wins he had on tour, but there are many other things that made Federer the legend that he is already today. He played, inspired thousands of kids and teens, enthralled millions of crowds across the world, and calmly collected respect and adulation from everyone around him in return, and that will keep him on top of everyone else who played along with him, in the hearts of people. Humility is what sets great ones apart from those who do exceptionally well in their career. Had he sustained his volatile on-court behaviour from his teenage, the story would’ve been entirely different. He held his emotions, smiled, and let his racquet speak for him. Winners after winners, started flying past the hapless opponents and the teen World No.1 started to blossom in the Men’s world as well.

Wimbledon 2001 was my earliest recollection of Federer’s first real announcement in the big world of Mens’ Tennis. And, he chose none other than his childhood idol, seven-time Wimbledon champion and the then record holder for most number of Grand Slam titles, the Great ‘Pistol’ Pete Sampras, to turn the spotlights over his head. It literally was, the ‘Passing the Baton’ moment in Mens’ Tennis, their only meeting in the ATP tour. Two years later, he claimed his first of the many Grand Slams he captured, at Wimbledon 2003, while Sampras bid farewell just before that year’s US Open.

What followed, is history. Tournament after tournament, Federer racked up trophies to his collection, running wild, mercilessly tearing apart any opponent, making each of them look so amateurish, no matter how devastatingly in form they were, coming into the match. Sometimes, we got to feel sorry for those unfortunate souls who practiced and perfected their game, playing on top of their game, only to face Roger in the final hurdle and get the worst beating they can ever get. Perhaps, the ATP tour looked so one-sided for a few years whenever and wherever Federer played. He went on almost seemingly invincible till the end of 2007. Yet, no one could hate him, even his opponents. Just, pure admiration.

Well, every great champion had a nemesis during their time, a rival who would step up to the challenge, rise above the rest, and stop him in his tracks, and slow him down in his quest for eternity. Enter Nadal. Started as a pure clay-court specialist thereby stopping FedEx from winning title since 2005, the Majorkan powerhouse soon flourished on other surfaces as well. This was a rivalry that took the game to a whole new level, peaking at the epic Wimbledon 2008 final where Nadal  after two previous unsuccessful challenges in final, finally broke Federer’s defence on Centre Court in a thrilling five-setter to get his first Wimbledon title.

Then came the Djoker from Serbia. He mocked, made people happy and slowly but steadily, he climbed the ladder, and finally entered the big league of both Federer and Nadal in 2010. He progressed, and finally touched his peak in 2011 and thus dethroned everyone else and crowned himself with the top ranking and 3 grand slams that year. Federer’s so-called decline could be attributed to the success to these two highly talented players who rose to the occasion and made it big on big occasions.

In 2008, we started to sense the slide of Federer in Grand Slams as he started to miss the Finals. He would play phenomenal game of tennis and reach the last 4, or even 2, and would lose to either Nadal or Djokovic , most of the time. It was that time of his career where he was on the threshold of a monumental record of equalling and even surpassing Pete Sampras’ 14 Grand Slam titles. Federer got stuck at 13 and started to shows signs that he indeed, is human. More players rose, beginning to believe that they can finally beat Federer.

As an Indian, and being a big follower of cricket, I could relate his legacy to what Sachin Tendulkar did for the game of Cricket. Wherever he went, appreciations and references to being the Greatest ever, kept following him, just like in Sachin’s case. Even those who have minimal exposure to cricket, would recognize the name of Sachin. And, everytime he stepped onto the crease, we all hoped that Sachin would return with a hundred, at least! That’s why even now, whenever Roger steps on court, we all hope and wait to see him raise and kiss the trophy, each and every time. We never go bored or get tired of living those moments. And, now when he gets back on winning ways like he used to, we can be assured that the Swiss Master is not finished yet, and we will get to see more, and more, and more of his racquet magic.

Long Live Champ! 17 is just not enough to stop!

Vishu

അങ്ങനെ വിഷു എത്തി… കണിയും, കണിക്കൊന്നയും, കൈനീട്ടവുമില്ലാത്ത ഒരു വിഷു… ചിന്തിക്കാന്‍ കൂടി സാധ്യമല്ലായിരുന്നു അങ്ങനെ ഒന്ന് ഇത് വരെ… പുലര്‍ച്ചെ, അലാറത്തിന്റെ മണി കേട്ട് തുറക്കാന്‍ വെമ്പുന്ന കണ്ണുകള്‍ ഇറുക്കിയടച്ചു തപ്പിത്തടഞ്ഞ് കട്ടിലില്‍ നിന്നും നടന്നു വിളക്ക് കത്തിച്ചു കണി കണ്ടിരുന്നതും വിഷു ആശംസകള്‍ കൈമാറി കൈനീട്ടങ്ങള്‍ വാങ്ങിയിരുന്നതും ഇന്നും ഓര്‍ത്തു പോകുന്നു… കാലമെത്ര മാറിയാലും മായാത്ത ആ ഓര്‍മകളെ കൂട്ട് പിടിച്ചു കൊണ്ട്, ഇങ്ങ്, ഇത്തിരി ദൂരെ നിന്ന്, മനസ്സ് കൊണ്ട് ഞാനും ആഘോഷിക്കുന്നു, ഈ വിഷു… ഏവര്‍ക്കും സന്തോഷത്തിന്റെയും ഐശ്വര്യത്തിന്റെയും പുതിയൊരു തുടക്കം നേര്‍ന്നു കൊണ്ട് വിഷു ആശംസകള്‍.. 🙂

Rahul Dravid

The Wall Stands Tall…

Time has come to say Thank You! and Good Bye to one of the most remarkable, yet the least celebrated sportsman in modern era Cricket. Rahul Dravid, the Wall, as they call him, has left the field. He led, he followed, he kept the wickets both from the front and behind the stumps, and most importantly, he held the spirits of what because of people like him we say, the Gentleman’s Game, higher than anyone.  What is it that he didn’t do for his team? After nearly 17 long years of service, when Dravid said its over, what remains is a legacy that can never ever be repeated. His was one career the cricketing world was most cruel to, he never got the attention and appreciation that he deserved. Wherever and whenever he delivered, there was someone who came in and stole the limelight. Right from his Test debut where his 95 got eclipsed by the heroics of fellow debutant and centurion Saurav Ganguly, he had to live with it till the end. He was not a master like Sachin, he didn’t display the fighting spirit as Ganguly, he didn’t possess crackers like Sehwag did, and his batting was not as artistic as Laxman’s. Yet, he never complained. With his rock-solid technique, and hard-working mind, he showed up in the office day after day, raised the willow and faced all sorts of oppositions all over the world. There is no count on the number of times he performed the rescue act for the team from misery (remember Kolkata, 2001 ?), or the number of occasions he played second fiddle to match-winning partnerships.

Critics said he scored slowly, was boring, and hence, a misfit for ODI. Well, think again. With nearly 11,000 runs at an average of 39 and with a strike rate of 71 in ODIs, he provided enough answers to prove them wrong. The longest streak for the most number of consecutive innings without a duck (120), top scorer in 1999 World Cup, one half of the highest partnership for any wicket in ODI (331) with Sachin, a full-time successful wicket-keeper during 2003 World Cup, the list goes on.

His Test career was even more mighty. Starting with the debut innings of 95 in Lord’s, he grew in reputation as Mr.Dependable. There was always a hope when he was at the crease. With a total of 36 hundreds, he was the first one to score a hundred against all the Test playing nations. And after so much of cricket, he finishes as the second highest run-getter in Tests, next to only Sachin, And on this day, as he walks back into history, one can be rest assured that Team India’s future Test campaigns will never be the same, and his missing in the batting-order will be felt more visibly. Its sad that he had to leave after a disappointing away Tour, both for him and the Team, but as he himself said, one’s career should not be judged based on one or two performances. His entire career is in front of us to watch over and over again, and say his, was a legacy that can never be repeated. There was, there is, and there will be, only one Rahul Dravid. Thank You for all the wonderful moments, for all the fighting innings that saved and won us matches, for being true to the game, for being the team man, and for being one of the best Ambassadors the game has ever got. I, as any other cricket fan, feels privileged to have lived to see the Fab Four in Indian cricket, play.

Long Live!