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December 28, 2008

Captain Cool - My MSD !!

The story of Indian cricket over the last 12 months has been the story of M.S. Dhoni. The year 2008 was special for Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, emotional for Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble, forgettable for Rahul Dravid, exceptional for Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, and foolhardy for Harbhajan Singh. India vanquished Australia, crumbled against Ajantha Mendis before fighting back, pulverised England, drew with South Africa, and hosted the first IPL. But each of these tales - from the Rs 6-crore price-tag to the five-over captaincy offer to Ganguly in his final Test - had Dhoni sidebars attached to them.

Looking closely, you would realise that they weren't mere asides.A study of Dhoni, the skipper, must start with a quick glance at the background of the two other Indian captains who seemed to have a similar, inspirational hold over the team.Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, trained without mercy by his father, is considered the first of India's path-breaking skippers. Forget the results, though there were some very creditable ones, what made Pataudi different was the confidence he gave his teammates. Crafty on the field, with no insecurities of his own, he dealt with his players like a well-meaning monarch off it.Then, 30 years later, with Indian cricket mired in match-fixing scandals and parochial selection policies, with their tag of poor travellers more well-entrenched, came Sourav Ganguly. Born into a rich business family, Ganguly's dependence on cricket was not monetary. A very good batsman who couldn't make the transition to greatness, his contribution to Indian cricket must be measured by the barriers he broke as a leader.Liberated because of their backgrounds, Pataudi and Ganguly were able to bring to the team a sense of freedom that no one else could.

Despite growing over the last decade into a country that allows the freedom of aspiration, India wouldn't have thought that the next captain with a shot at path-breaking greatness would come not even from the burgeoning urban middle-class but a poorer small town.What is it that gives Dhoni the belief to back his players, battle selectors, give it back to the opposition, take hard decisions about seniors, and refer to India as "my team" with such frequency that he sometimes sounds arrogant?When the story came out about his disagreement with the selectors over their decision to drop R.P. Singh, Dhoni called the leak "disgusting", and even sarcastically suggested that there should be live TV in the meeting room.He placed a rare, ultra-defensive 8-1 field in Nagpur against Australia, and then told the visiting journalists in almost as many words how there were double standards about what was acceptable on the field of play ("When they do it, it is called strategy").

While his colleagues, some of them far more illustrious cricketers, are still trapped in their own insecurities, fearing they'll be dropped for the next match, what that might mean for their endorsement contracts, how they should deal with the media and the officials to ensure a longer run, to Dhoni these are trifles he couldn't be bothered with. It's as if he's thinking the money and the fame he's got is already enough, beyond his wildest dreams, so why worry about what will happen if he gets no more? Freedom of expression is a natural corollary of such a mindset.It may be early days still for Dhoni to be placed alongside Pataudi and Ganguly. Longevity, results and, most importantly, being a catalyst of long-term attitudinal change, are the yardsticks great skippers are measured against.But Dhoni has made the perfect start, even better than the two he now seems destined to emulate....!!

December 18, 2008

CAT - a MBA Rat Race

Just for one of my sweet friend....who is depressed at messed up CAT n IIFT..ya i know MBA rat race is like that only...heartbreaking at times...but still keeps you glued...

"QUIT! GIVE UP! YOU'RE BEATEN!" They shout and plead,
There's just too much against you now, this time you can't succeed.
And as I start to hang my head in front of failure's face,
My downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.

And hope refills my weakened will as I recall that scene.
For just the thought of that short race rejuvenates my being.
A children's race, young boys, young men; now I remember well.
Excitement, sure, but also fear; it wasn't hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope. Each thought to win that race.
Or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
And fathers watched from off the side, each cheering for his son.
And each boy hoped to show his dad that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they went, young hearts and hopes of fire.
To win, to be the hero there, was each young boy's desire.
And one boy in particular, his dad was in the crowd,
Was running near the lead and thought, "My dad will be so proud."

But as he speeded down the field across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win, lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his hands flew out to brace,
And mid the laughter of the crowd, he fell flat on his face.

So down he fell and with him hope. He couldn't win it now.
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow.
But as he fell, his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,
Which to the boy so clearly said, "Get up and win that race!"

He quickly rose, no damage done - behind a bit, that's all,
And ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself to catch up and to win,
His mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.

He wished that he had quite before with only one disgrace.
I'm hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn't try to race.
But, in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father's face
That steady look that said again, "Get up and win the race."

So, he jumped up to try again. Ten yards behind the last.
If I'm to gain those yards, he thought, I've got to run real fast.
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.

Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye.
There's no sense running anymore - three strikes and I'm out - why try?
The will to rise had disappeared, all hope had flew away.
So far behind, so error prone, closer all the way.

I've lost, so what's the use, he thought, I'll live with my disgrace.
But then he thought about his dad, who soon he'd have to face.
"Get up," an echo sounded low. "Get up and take your place.
You were not meant for failure here, get up and win the race."

With borrowed will, "Get up," it said, "You haven't lost at all,
For winning is not more than this, to rise each time you fall."
So up he rose to win once more. And with a new commit,
He resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn't quit.

So far behind the others now, the most he'd ever been.
Still he gave it all he had and ran as though to win.
Three times he'd fallen stumbling, three times he'd rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner as he crossed first place.
Head high and proud and happy; no falling, no disgrace.
But when the fallen youngster crossed the line, last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer for finishing the race.

And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, unproud;
You would have thought he'd won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his Dad he sadly said, "I didn't do so well."
"To me you won," his father said, "You rose each time you fell."

And when things seemed dark and hard and difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy - helps me in my race.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and down and all,
And all you have to do to win - is rise each time you fall.
"Quit!" "GIVE UP, YOU'RE BEATEN." They still shout in my face.
But another voice within me says, "GET UP AND WIN THE RACE!"