That’s the way – Mahi Way

Being a die hard fan of the game of Cricket, it’s a no brainer to say that I did see every game of T20 and did enjoy every bit of it. Finally, the custodians of the game have managed to take it out of the closet of the purists and make it s thrilling 3 hour adrenalin-pumping-edge-of-the-seat spectacle which can be viewed with a large bucket of pop corns in your living room, and if you are lucky you might save some corn even till the end of the game, as you will be totally engrossed on the see-saw battles that this format promises. So it wasn’t any surprise when Zimbabwe drew the first blood and set the cat amongst the pigeons after beating Australia. To me that the was the turning point for the tournament as that made every single team realize the Aussies are beatable, thereby giving everyone a fair shot at the title. After that it was an open war, as match after match it was a great roller coaster ride for all of us.

Finally, the wish of billions came true. For decades now the citizens of both these cricket-crazy-title-hungry nations have been praying an India Pakistan final in a World level tournament. Their wishes did get answered. And how?

A match that was scripted by the Almighty in the heavens and placed in the Wanderers for us to savour and sweat over. And Sweat we did..right from the first ball when Yousuf Pathan escaped marginally till the ever so suspicious scoop shoot from Misbah, which will remain a real scoop for the entire world for many years to come now. India are champions and they will remain so forever as the first champions of T20. A truly admirable effort from a band of boys who came together at a moment when the trinity of Indian Cricket decided to give a chance to the talent of tomorrow. And went onto win zillions of hearts across the globe, with their simplicity, screaming passion, burning desires, and liberated spirits. For a moment we the hung up mortals of this nation couldn’t believe our eyes that this was modern India sending the best names in the game packing.

This post, is not to write what happened. I am sure millions of articles, talk shows, blogs have already captured that. What I wanted to write here are a few things that I noted:

1. Venkatesh Prasad & Robin Singh: Come Forward and Take a bow.
Amidst all this brou ha ha, I am amazed how the Cricket Pundits and so called custodians missed the efforts of these two simple souls. Irony is it was the same with these two when they actually donned the Indian Colors as players. Like true backstage technicians they remained backstage till the energetic malyali pouched that scoop at Wnaderers. I was pleased to See Robin rushing on to the field and actually beating a lot of players from the bench in that sprint to the middle and hugging Sreesanth. Noone realizes what it is to be a fielding coach for Team India, which has always taken its fielding as drudgery. Its one hell of a thankless job description which will never promise any great moments in that man’s career. I have been watching Robin for sometime now, and I have always found him mesmerized with the likes of Powar, and Munaf, who just do not like fielding. And here was a team which probably was like Robin’s long lasting dream come true. In the entire tourney very little went abegging from the Indians. Catching, Throws, Direct Hits, Pick up and throws, Charging the ball…everything seemed right from the top drawer, and Robin deserves a champagne for bringing this Cultural change in the Indian think Tank.

Reams of papers have been written on how good RP bowled, how great was Bhajji’s Yorkers, How cool was Irfan Pathan in his return to Indian Cricket, and in doing so we forgot to look beyond these personalities. I would like to draw the attention on a few areas like the zone in which these bowlers were bowling. Each of them had a specific zone and that to me appeared to be a well thought out game plan. And that cannot be so consistent match after match unless and seasoned technician like Venky is keeping a hawk’s eye on proceedings. Barring Agarkar, every bowler who gto a chance was on the money right from the first ball. Hats off Venky, its time you too toasted a bubbly for yourself.

2. Opening Combination:
Its been some time since we have seen a well planend opening at the top. Of course Sachin- Sourav duo are a class apart and most recently in England they did showcase that yet again. But at T20 we saw a well planned strategy in every match at the top. A plan to score 40 – 60 in the first 6 overs withour trying to go over the top. Most of the big upsets or losses that happened in T20 was due to the mistake that the top batters tried to be too over ambitious in the Power Play overs and gave away more than 3 wickets and thus, the match. Not with India, and to some extent Aussies. India (except for their first game against Pak), had a plan of being subdued first 3-4 overs, scoring at a rate of 4 -5 runs per over and then going on. In fact what this did was, unsettled some of the tope bowlers who generally came in for a spell of 3 overs each at the top, to become a little impatient (for not getting wickets) and dishing out hittable deliveries which were sent packing by Veeru and Gambhir. Fantastic Ploy. Every time we had a situation of 60 – 70 runs in first 8 – 10 overs without loss we had a great batting display to follow.

Somewhere I reckon India showed the world how to play 20-20. This is where Pak lost the plot in the finals. They gave away 5 wickets in first 10 overs of which 3 were in first 7 – too much pressure to come back from.

3. Running between the wickets:
This is where I think India scored an extra 20 – 30 runs every game. The dab and run policy in the first 5 overs really gave a good rate at the top thus not putting undue pressure on our openers to unnecessarily hit at the top. Many teams lost here. They went for expansive blows which were too expensive for them on the long run. Dhoni’s reading of the oppositions that no one except Aussies were bothered to stop the singles ans mentally everyone wanted to stop the sixes and fours, was Spot on !!!

4. Mahi Way:
No amount of praise is enough for this free spirit from the ranches of Ranchi. He is a cowboy to the core and made his team into a bunch of cowboys in SA. Of course the world is overawed by his straight talk and straight face. To me he is an astute reader of the game, a good clean thinker and a master executioner. I like the way he made it clear “who’s the boss” – by calling the shots. And how? The team was bowled over by his ability to smile and be cool in the most strenuous circumstances. And they were only to happy to respond back with whatever they could muster within. After ages, I witnessed sheer joy in playing, a joy which was not only after a victory, but the joy of every passing moment, the joy of being there, the joy of a sport. I think some management gurus wrote reams of paper describing Employee Satisfaction under a manager. Dhoni exemplified it for us. A Manager who was a great motivator, planner, executioner and Servant Leader.

I can bet if the establishment and the corrupt babus at the helm of affairs in cricket administration in India, doesn’t pollute this soul, Mumbai is in for many more such manic traffic jams that the team caused this time on their return. Because this man doesn’t want to win. He wants to enjoy. And victory always somehow loves people who are happy.

I would just want to reflect on those moments of bowl out against Pakistan. When the entire Paki team was puzzled thinking how to handle that new monster, We had a confident Dhoni smiling and joking and laughing almost making a mockery of that nail biting moment. That relaxed demeanour got 3 of our bowlers to hit the stumps as if they are having the morning nets. Priceless !!!

Good days are here. Because they are not just good but intelligent too. They say theres always some hidden method in every madness. Well, T20 and India proved, there is no madness without method !!!

Bravo guys !!! After a long time you have made us proud by making us feel more intelligent than the world !!! That’s the way – Mahi Way


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