Thursday, December 11, 2008

Diego – how could we be so injudicious?

He came. He saw. He conquered.
But, even if he had not decided to take the trouble of travelling all the way from Buenos Aires to Kolkata, it would have been the same.
Diego Armando Maradona had already conquered the mind and soul of every Kolkatan, some 22 years before, when his Argentina had won the world cup under scorching Mexican heat. His physical presence was not necessary to reconfirm it.
In those 48 hours of his staying in Kolkata, we got football for only ten minutes – seven in the Mohun Bagan ground on December 7 and three more here and there - in the official press conference and in other places.
Then what did he do in the rest of those 47 hours and 50 minutes?
Assuming he had taken rest for 40 hours, in the remaining seven, he had to meet the press, offer the photographers probably the greatest moment of joy in their career, inaugurated a football academy, met a retired politician and was present at the Salt Lake stadium to be frustrated at the VIPs’ constant endeavour to get closer to him so that their faces can be seen in television!
There was not a single moment when he was allowed to talk to the leading footballers or football-coaches of the country!
Some may ask, what was the use? Would it have changed the course of Indian football if Maradona was allowed to talk to the national team players?
No, never. Indians, however, may think otherwise. For, the cricket-crazy Indian media always feed them, one sudden observation of changing the grip or stance or posture can change a cricketer’s career overnight! Person who had observed so, is interviewed umpteenth times. Person who was forced to change his style due to that observation, is interviewed even more. And the observation is quoted every time the cricketer does something extraordinary. So, we are inclined to believe it to be such an easy task.
Football, I am afraid, can not be changed only through conversations or observations. It requires acquired-skills. In fact, all the games. But that is a different issue.
Here, it is difficult even to make people understand the value of interacting with a footballer of Maradona’s stature. They are blatantly asking, if Maradona’s conversations with the footballers could not have the desired effect on Indian football, what is the problem? And you thought this country would prosper in soccer!
Maradona had openly declared in the official press conference that the only difference between Pele and him is, while Pele is a friend of the administrators, he is a friend of the footballers. And he was denied the opportunity to interact with the fraternity of footballers. That is simply shocking.
Was not it really important to meet Baichung Bhutia? Or, Alvito de Cunha, Sunil Chhetri? Or, for that matter, coaches like Bob Houghton, Subhash Bhowmick, Subrata Bhattacharya, Derek Perreira, Sukhwinder Singh?
Was not it more important to have an interactive session with football-related people rather than meeting political leaders? Who did deserve it more to interact with Diego – the leaders, the VIPs who do not know how to behave, the media-persons, or, the footballers?
We do not know whether we shall get another opportunity to have him so near to us. Then, if Diego was available, why did we fail to arrange one interactive session of half an hour with the Indian footballers and coaches?
Football was really the last thing in the priority list during those 48-hours and probably that had irked Diego more than those publicity-hungry politicians present at the Salt Lake Stadium on the afternoon of December 6!
How could we be so injudicious?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Aajkaal links: August & September 2008

Those who can follow Bengali, please click on the following links

September 21

September 17

September 16

September 10

September 7

September 5

September 4


August 27

August 21

August 19

August 18

August 15

August 6

August 4

Friday, June 6, 2008


Group – A : Portugal, Czech Republic, Turkey, Switzerland.
A1 – Portugal
A 2 – Czech Republic

Group – B : Germany, Poland, Croatia, Austria
B 1 – Germany
B 2 – Poland

Group – C : France, Italy, Netherlands, Romania
C 1 – France
C 2 – Italy

Group – D : Spain, Russia, Greece, Sweden
D1 – Spain
D 2 – Russia

Quarter finals:

1. A1 vs B2 : Portugal vs Poland : winner Portugal
2. B1 vs A2 : Germany vs Czech Republic : Winner Germany
3. C1 vs D2 : France vs Russia : Winner France
4. D1 vs C2: Spain vs Italy : Winner Spain

A) Winner of 1 vs Winner of 2: Portugal vs Germany : winner Germany
B) Winner of 3 vs Winner of 4: France vs Spain : Winner Spain

Winner of A vs Winner of B : Germany vs Spain

My winner: Germany

Michael Ballack will get his revenge of losing the Champions League final to Manchester United, beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, in the semi final.
He is yet to win a big trophy and he will win it this time by beating Spain. Spain will be playing well, they have to face the same opponent they had faced two years earlier in the world cup and this time, without Zinedine Zidane, France will bow out.
Ballack versus Torres, once again and this time, Spain will fail because of the sheer weight of expectation in the final match of the tournament.
Germany will lift their fourth EURO trophy.

Player of the Tournament:
Michael Ballack

PS: I shall be the last one to be happy, if my predictions are proved right. You can ask why. I just do not like to watch a German football team on a football field. But, I respect their abilities and their fighting attitude. My football sense says, Ballack has to win it this time in absence of an individual of his stature to rock the tournament.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

FIFA World Cup: India's first!

By Kashinath Bhattacharjee

What a Bhaichung Bhutia or Sunil Chhetry cannot even dare to dream, an Indian company, Satyam, already did it!
And they did it in football, the most beautiful game of the universe, ignoring the game considered as religion in the Indian sub-continent. Never ever the leading global consulting and information technology services company had expressed their willingness to be associated with the cricket world cup, although two editions of the tournament were hosted in this country.

Here's an e-interview with Sridhar Maturi, Vice President, Global Marketing and Communications, Satyam

Q: What prompted you to be associated with the FIFA?
Satyam is a global company. Football is a global sport – it’s the global sport. It’s a perfect match.
We have 50,000 associates generating nearly $2 billion in annual revenues. Our operations span 6 continents and 57 countries. We have 27 development centers around the world. 40% of our revenue comes from Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. We probably are one of the most global IT services organizations on the planet.
FIFA is also a global body and our relationship with them, over the last couple of years has been enriching and we wish to extend this relationship further by our participation in the forthcoming world cups in 2010 and 2014

Q: Satyam had never been associated with the cricket world cup, though, in India, cricket is the most sought after game. And India is ranked around 150 in the FIFA ranking list. Yet, why you at Satyam preferred to be associated with the Football world cup rather than the cricket world cup?
Football is the most popular, most played, most watched – probably most talked about – sport on the planet. Our sponsorship will leverage that popularity and reach. It recognizes the sport’s universal appeal as well as its tradition of skill, speed, competitiveness and teamwork – attributes that reflect Satyam’s own qualities.

Q: How you got selected for the world cup? What was the official procedure to be selected as the official IT sponsor?
We have had an ongoing relationship with FIFA and we explored the possibilities of working with them to expand the reach of the game and as the discussions progressed, we were preferred as the only IT solutions provider for FIFA World Cup.

Q: What would be the amount you would be paying as the sponsorship fee for these period of seven years?
Our engagement is more to provide Value added services to FIFA and these form the integral part of the commercials for this sponsorship. The services delivered are a substantial part of the understanding.

Q: Is there any possibility that, for the Indian National League ie I-League, you may own an existing football club, like some other corporate houses?
We have not yet explored any of these possibilities as on date and will evaluate as we go forward.

Q: How do you wish to be associated with the development of Indian football? Your plans in this regard...
We are definitely interested in expanding the reach of this global sport in India and our efforts will be focused in this direction. Our initial focus will be to support at the grass root levels in our country and we will be chalking out our plans in the near future. We will be actively associated towards the promotion of the sport at various levels. We will share such plans very soon.

Q: Are you planning to set up any kind of football academy in India, like the Tata Football Academy?
As mentioned earlier, we will be exploring all avenues and will be working towards all possible opportunities in our efforts to promote the game. We will have to study various such models and analyse the efficacy, before we initiate any steps in this regard.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter
I am very proud that Satyam has chosen the FIFA World Cup for this historic move. Satyam's commitment is a testimony to the immense appeal of FIFA as a superior marketing platform for transporting a brand around the world. It is a big advantage for all those involved in the events to have such an experienced IT service partner on board. We look forward to working with such a dedicated partner who shares our ideals and identifies with our mission to use football as a tool to touch the world and build a better future.

B Ramalinga Raju, Satyam chairman and founder
We are pleased with the confidence FIFA has in Satyam to deliver mission-critical business and technology services for the world's foremost sporting event. This sponsorship recognises the sport's universal appeal and its tradition of skill, speed, competitiveness and teamwork – attributes that reflect Satyam's own qualities. Over the last two decades we have become an established global company, and this sponsorship will serve to further accelerate our global expansion.

FIFA News says...
FIFA had announced on 24 November, 2007, that Satyam, a leading global consulting and information technology services provider, has become the first Indian company to sign up as a FIFA World Cup™ Sponsor. This historic agreement awards Satyam global rights for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil and the two FIFA Confederations Cups which fall within the 2007-2014 period. The partnership, sealed by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and Satyam chairman and founder B. Ramalinga Raju at a signing ceremony on the eve of the Preliminary Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ in Durban, represents the first major sponsorship deal the IT services company has entered into – a further indication of the enduring appeal of football.
As the Official IT Services Provider to the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, Satyam, which already enjoys a business relationship with FIFA, will play a crucial role in developing the core IT event management system for FIFA and its service partner for IT, accommodation and hospitality – MATCH AG, as well as local organising committees during the next seven years. With a presence in more than 57 countries, Satyam can fully leverage its global expertise and therefore enable FIFA not only to deliver world-class events but also focus on generating a long-lasting legacy for the host countries through hiring and educating local event staff.
Satyam is a significant investor in South Africa and leads a skills development initiative for South Africans under the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) programme. Currently, more than 80 South African students are enrolled in the year-long technical training programme at the company's campus in Hyderabad, India.
Satyam is the fourth company – after Anheuser-Busch, McDonald's and MTN – to join the proposed six-member FIFA World Cup Sponsor line-up under FIFA's commercial hierarchy, which comprises six FIFA Partners, six FIFA World Cup Sponsors and six National Supporters. FIFA has already signed contracts with adidas, Hyundai, Sony, Coca-Cola, Visa and Emirates Airline as FIFA Partners. In addition, Telkom SA was recently announced as the second National Supporter of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ after FNB.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Breaking Law in Satyagraho, a Perth March!

Australia-India test series 2007-8: POST-SYDNEY FARCE

An appeal to the Indian cricketers

By A "cool" fan of Indian cricket, Kashinath Bhattacharjee

The Aussie way to play cricket ‘hard’

1) If any bowler gets me out eight times, we should bring a baseless allegation of racism against him and ban him with the aid of WHITE Umpires and a WHITE Match Referee.

2) We shall BUY the umpires. If we are in trouble, they will say ‘not out’ after we had nicked and make the wrong a ‘right’ one by giving another wrong decision to fool the world. And be assured of the fact that, in between the two decisions, the team will come out of danger. After all they are men in WHITE coats, so they would do anything for the WHITES!

3) Wait if we nick the ball. Watch the fielder to catch the ball and still wait. Since we are always ‘honest and fair’ on a cricket field, our waiting on the wicket may give the umpires an opportunity to call it a no ball. Don’t deny them the opportunity!

4) If we catch it on one-drop, we shall claim that we had caught it right and playing the game in the ‘true spirit’ of the game. After all, the umpires are getting paid to make ‘decisions’ while our job is to ‘appeal’!

5) If, at any time, our integrity is questioned, we will say bravely, boldly, "you don't have any right to stand there".

6) Throughout the history of the game, we could not play an off-spinner. So we shall hire Daryll Harper or people like-minded, to call the bowler a cheat, especially if he is a Sri Lankan, at the very first opportunity!

7) We have every right to comment on the forefathers of the opposition cricketers, ICC Manuals do support this. But make no mistake, the opposition has absolutely no right to do so.

8) If we can not chase 110 runs in the fourth innings of a test match, the pitch is to be blamed. We should stamp, spit and piss on it, like we did in Mumbai three years before. We can call for a condolence, too, our captain keeping an eye on the stop-watch to observe two minutes of silence to mourn the death of wicket and cricket, simultaneously. But, and this is serious, when the opposition can not do the same, it's only due to their cricketing inabilities and nothing else. They are poms, whining...

9) Our umpires should be umpiring in the matches involving our team once our team had shown signs of being weakened. Remember Steven Waugh advocating Tauffel, on the second day of the SCG Test match?

10) We shall send our coaches throughout the world to ensure that the other teams are dismantled when our graph is downwards.

11) We had played the game with utter disrespect to all the countries and "we will continue to do the same". But don't make a mistake, others have no RIGHT to call us cheats even if we are caught red-handed!

12) We are always right, you are always wrong - Sunil Gavaskar, do remember what Dennis Lille said to you!


They play it “hard”, Indians should play it “cool”!
There is no need to play the series any more in absence of fairness. But, to teach them a “soft” lesson, play the remaining test matches in Perth and Adelaide and play strategically.
Indian cricketers, you must remember MK Gandhi. Or, if you had forgotten what he preached, rewind the DVD of Lage Raho...
“Gandhigiri” is the only solution to what they are facing DOWN UNDER. That was true in the apartehid-ridden South Africa, some hundred and fifty years before. It is still relevant in Australia in 2008.
But how to do so? Follow these:


1) Go to bat. Leave the ball. Let it go to the "greatest sports-person of the century" behind the stumps, who had once "walked" in a world cup semi-final. Then, WALK! Umpires cannot say anything if you feel you had nicked it and they cannot prevent you since there is no such law in cricket!

2) If you cannot leave the ball for the wicketkeeper, use your pad to stop it and WALK! You feel your legs were before the wicket. WALK!

3) Don't get out bowled! This time, the umpire may overrule it, so at least you ensure a touch in the pads and without looking at any one, WALK!

4) Please do not hesitate to WALK or do not look at any other player or umpire. Just, WALK!

So, this way, you will give the first opponent bowler a double hattrick in his very first over and the second, four wickets in four deliveries.
The team will be “WALKED” out at zero, in 1.4 overs, the smallest innings test cricket has ever seen. No 8, the captain, will be there, not out at the end of the innings, without facing a delivery, since he would be coming at the fall of the sixth wicket at the end of the first over.


1) Make it a must that you do not appeal. Just NEVER! There is no rule in cricket that allows the umpire to give his verdict if not asked for. In that way you are erasing the possibility of getting anyone out.

2) Do not bowl in the line of the stumps. You cannot trust your opponent. They may be spirited enough to miss it. So, NEVER bowl in the line of the stumps. It hardly matters if you bowl outside off or leg, you are not bowling to get wickets, remember that first.

3) If there is any catch offered, just DROP it. You can never be penalised by any of the cricketing authorities for dropping a catch.

4) Just do not try to stop any ball going to the ropes. ALLOW it to go over.

5) MS Dhoni, please allow all the balls to go for byes...your 'byes' may score more than any batsman (Brian Lara’s record will be at stake!), but that will be a world record and should not be a problem for you.

6) The best way is to OPEN the bowling with Kumble. The captain has to ensure that he bowls every delivery illegitimate. Step over the crease and bowl lolly-pops. A no-ball will rule out every possibility of getting a decision in favour of the bowler since nobody in the Indian camp will be trying to get the batsman run-out either. That way, even if the good-natured batsmen of the opposition try to get themselves out, can not do so!
In one session a bowler will have to bowl 180 illegitimate deliveries to give the opponent at least 180 runs. Still there will be not a single legitimate delivery to count. Umpires can not prevent you from bowling no-balls and since you had overstepped, neither they can say that any bowler will be prevented or disallowed to bowl if he bowls consecutive 3/4/5/6 or 234 no balls at a stretch. Cricket rule books do not support it. You are playing well within the rules. They will be bound to allow you to bowl no-balls.
This way, in two sessions, runs will be more than 600 (360 no balls and 240 runs scored off those deliveries through byes and bats!)

So, you will not be able to claim a single wicket in five days. And there will be no shortage of runs, either. If the opposition captain be kind enough (he is so good-natured, we all know!) to declare at 700 for no loss (Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy, we'll never forget you, red salute to you, but...), FOLLOW the steps while batting again, ie, to be all out after 1.4 overs, scoring zero again.

The emphatic win will call for more celebrations. It's the 17th consecutive, the highest and with the highest margin of victory - an innings and 700 runs. There will be more reasons to celebrate and to play the game in the rightest of spirits in Adelaide where the late Sir Donald lived and died, for a memorable 18th consecutive victory!
Come on Kumble and Co. Do this in Perth and Adelaide.
Make it a farce, just like they had done it in the SCG. You are now on a crusade, so use your best weapon that Gandhi had used - Breaking Law in Satyagraho, a Perth March!
You were brilliant in charging them in their own “WOODFUL” words, now do this.

The rest will be taken care of, all the cricket-lovers of the world will ensure that except some “MONKEYS”.

Show the world what "Gandhigiri" is all about. Lage Raho Kumble bhai...