Welcome back Rani Mukherji; all the best for “Hichki”


Image result for rani mukherjee hichkiRani Mukherji was the only actor to be invited by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the official banquet in honour of visiting President General Pervez Musharraf. Rani was invited as she was the favorite actor of Begum Sehba Musharraf and her role in Veer-Zara was very well appreciated by President Musharraf.

Rani who was not in movies for quite some time  is making a comeback today with the release of her film “Hichki” which means Hiccups. She plays the role of a person having Tourette Syndrome where an individual makes involuntary sudden sounds and movements. The movie is inspired by the real-life success story of American motivational speaker, teacher and author Brad Cohen.

As a part of promotion for the movie Rani interviewed her popular costars about Hichki’s in their lives. Shahrukh said it was his parents death, for Katrina it was dancing and for Ajay Devgn it was comments about his “ordinary looks, not-hero material”.

Hichki is expected to be one more unusual movie in Rani’s long list of films with different and unconventional roles in her outstanding professional career which has seen no hichki.

Let us have a look at some rare trivia about her.

 Her family tree; the Mukherjee-Samarth family

Rani is from the legendary Mukherjee-Samarth family. Her father is producer Ram Mukherjee, son of Ravindramohan Mukherjee who was the elder brother of Filmalaya studios founder the legendary Sasadhar Mukherjee. Sasadhar’s son was the popular Joy Mukherjee. Joy’s brother Deb is father-in-law of Ashutosh Gowarikar while another brother Shomu married Tanuja and they are parents of Kajol, Ajay Devgn’s wife and a huge star in her own right.

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Tanuja is from the famous Samarth family in which the 1st star was Shobana Samarth. Her daughters are Nutan and Tanuja. Nutan was also a huge huge star. Her son Mohnish Behl is a popular actor as well. For some time Rani was considered a second fiddle to her popular cousin Kajol, until she established herself in her own right.

1st major success; major awards

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Rani’s 1st super hit was in only her 3rd movie, Ghulam. Though she did not have an extended role, she had a terrific impact. Her song “Ae kya bolti tu, ….. aati kya Khandala” will be remembered for all.

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The very next year she had a supporting role in Karan Johar’s directorial debut, Kuchh kuchh hota hai. This movie remains the only movie in history to win all 4 main acting awards, Best actor for Shahrukh and Kajol , and Best Supporting Actor for Rani and Salman


Rani is also the 1st and only female actor to win both Best actor and Best Supporting Actor in the same year. She did so at the 50th Filmfare Awards for her roles in Hum Tum and Yuva.

The next year she once again got the best actor award for Black and also the critics choice for best actor female to be the 1st and only female actor to have this feat.

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For this remarkable movie, Amitabh Bachchan too got both Best actor and best Critics choice awards  for his role in Black.

The Oscar Connection. 

Two movies in which Rani has appeared have been India’s entry to the Academy Awards. Paheli was the official entry for the 2006 Oscars. In Paheli she plays Shahrukh’s wife.  Hey Ram was an earlier entry in 2000. However the movie which starred Kamal Hassan, Shahrukh and Rani was not nominated.

Rani will next be seen on screen in Shahrukh’s Zero. One does hope she will be seen regularly in movies from now on.

Wish you the very best for Hichki. 





Happy Birthday Shashi Kapoor

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Time indeed flies.  It seems just the other day on 4th of December 2017, that popular filmstar Shashi Kapoor had moved on.

Today 18th March is his 1st birthday in his new world, a world where he surely will be enchanting all with his handsome looks and boyish charm. In fact he was so young looking that though he was 4 years older than Amitabh Bachchan he played Big B’s younger brother in quite a few movies. The two mega stars had 15 movies together and the only movie of Shashi Ji as Director, namely Ajooba also starred Amitabh.

On his birthday let us have a look at some rare trivia about Shashi Kapoor, considered to be one of the most handsome heroes in the history of Hindi cinema.

His awards

Shashi Ji has been awarded with India’s 3rd highest civilian award the Padma Bhushan    which in precedence is behind just the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan. He has also been awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke award, India’s highest award in cinema. Since he was unwell, in a departure from tradition, the Hon’ble Minister Shri Arun Jaitley travelled to Mumbai to honour the star at a ceremony at Prithvi Theatre.

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Shashi Ji has also won the National best actor award for his role as an honest journalist in New Delhi Times. In a rare gesture of encouragement in today’s cut-throat commercial world, to encourage the financially struggling producer-director about whose talent was convinced of,  he had taken only a token payment of Rs 101/- for acting in the movie.

His Merchant-Ivory film “In custody” won the President’s Gold medal for best film in 1996. Shabana Azmi and Om Puri were with him in this movie

Interestingly, Shashi Ji as revealed by his son Kunal never gave importance to awards and the only awards important to him were the President’s Gold medal and the Dadasaheb Phalke award.

Shashi-Amir Khan Connect

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The movie which established Shashi as a hero was Jab Jab Phool khile. Interestingly no one wanted to do the movie and several including Sholay creator GP Sippy rejected it. However the movie was a huge hit not just in India but also in African countries such as Algeria, Morocco and Libya. The movie had immortal songs like “Ek Tha Gul Aur Ek Thi Bulbul”, “Pardesiyon Se Na Ankhiyan Milana” “Na Na Karte Pyar Tumhin Se” and “Ye Samaa, Samaa Hai ye Pyar Ka” which are hummed even today. It is said that Hrishikesh Mukherjee was thinking of Shashi ji for Rajesh Khanna’s role in Anand but Shashi who was reinforcing himself as a romantic hero after the success of Jab Jab Phool khile was a bit wary of experimenting with the unusual role of the cheerful terminally ill patient Anand.

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Jab Jab Phool khile was remade 31 years later as Raja Hindustani, starring Amir and Shashi’s niece Karishma. The movie was a blockbuster hit.

Shashi-James Bond Connect

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Shashi has acted with Pierce Brosnan in Ivory-Merchants “The Deceivers“. Brosnan gave him a super compliment by saying that his ability to subtly underplay was his greatest asset.

The Deceivers was also on the Thugee theme like this years awaited movie, Thugs of Hindostan starring Amitabh and Amir.

Shashi Kapoor-Shabana Azmi Connect

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Shabana says she was Shashi’s crazy fan and would save her pocket money to his posters from Grant Road and would get him to autograph them on Sundays when he came to Prithvi Theatre. It was a dream come true to get a role opposite her childhood idol  in Fakira. On the first day, they were shooting the song Dil mein tujhe bitha ke and Shabana was extremely uncomfortable with the steps which were changed on Shashi’s behest.

Shabana says that once in 1986 she was on hunger strike while taking up the cause of slum dwellers. As it was the 1st instance of an actor going on a hunger strike , the film fraternity was both confused and guarded. On the 5th day her blood pressure started falling and Shashi, as a friend and colleague went straight to the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shankarrao Chavan, stating that the film industry had always supported the government in a crisis and he couldn’t let the demands of one of its members go unheard. The CM agreed. Shabana says that when she was giving a speech and wanted to thank Shashi she saw he had quietly disappeared as he did not want any credit.

Shashi Kapoor, always addressed as “Hi Handsome” by Dimple Kapadia will always remain in our memory.

Happy Birthday Shashi Ji.

Sridevi’s last journey; and her top-ten movies

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Sridevi’s last journey was a 7.5 km route from Celebrations Sports Club, Lokhandwala to the Seva Samaj Hindu crematorium ground, Vile Parle.

Apparently the original guesstimate was that a crowd of 3000 fans may come to pay their last respects for Sridevi and 200 policemen were pressed into duty. However the estimation went totally wrong and more than 40000 grieving fans came from throughout Mumbai and throughout India to have a last glimpse of their beloved “Chandni”. Ironically police bandobast had to be increased to 3200 to ensure that law and order situation remained normal, which meant that policemen on duty were more than the number of mourners originally expected.

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Mumbai had never seen such frenzy since superstar Rajesh Khanna had passed away. The masses came spontaneously on their own to join her. Yes, a few may have come to have a glimpse of celebrities who would pay their respects. However overall, the surging crowds were a reflection of the popularity of India’s first female superstar. The masses had come out to display their shock and dismay at her untimely, sudden and shocking demise.

Sridevi was bubbly and effervescent. She was a powerful actress and a terrific dancer. Let us remember her by listing out her top ten movies, a tough task in itself as she had much more numerous hits. Well, my top ten is as follows;

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Sadma. Sridevi plays the role of a retrogade amnesia patient who becomes like a 6 year girl. Kamal Hassan who gets her cured but ironically she forgets him after regaining memory. The performances of both stars were awesome and Ilaiyaraaja’s music was special. Aye Zindagi Gale Lagaa Le (Suresh Wadekarand Surmayee Ankhiyon Mein            ( Yesudas) are songs hummed even today. Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted that Sadma was his favorite movie.

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Himmatwala starring Jeetendra and Sridevi was one of the biggest hits of the 1980’s. Music was by Bappi Lahiri and the nation danced to  “Nainon Mein Sapna ( Kishore-Lata) and “Taki O Taki” ( Kishore-Asha). It was remade recently with Ajay Devgn playing Jeetu Ji’s role and Tamannah playing Sridevi.

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Tohfa starred Jeetendra, Sridevi and Jaya Prada. This super hit movie had some amazing duets. “Pyar Ka Tohfa Tera” “Gori Tere Ang Ang Main” “Ek Aankh Marun Toh” were by Kishore-Asha while “Albela Mausam Kehta Hai Swagtam” was by Kishore-Lata.

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Nagina was a hit solely due to Sridevi’s prowess. It is one of the best snake fantasies ever and one of the biggest hits of any women-centric movies. Rishi played her hero and Amrish Puri showed himself to be a commanding villain. Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera” by Lata ji is one of her most iconic dances.

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Mr India is yet another cult status movie. While Anil Kapoor was Mr India and Amrish Puri put in yet another stellar performance as arch-villain Mogambo, Sridevi as Miss Hawa-Hawaii stole the show as well. “Hawa Hawaii” by Kavita Krishnamurti, Karte Hain Hum Pyaar Mr. India Se” by Kavita-Kishore and Kaate nahin kat-ti ye din ye raat by Kishore-Alisha are immortal songs.

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Chandni, directed by Yash Chopra starred Sridevi, Rishi and Vinod Khanna once again showed Sridevi in a heroine dominated movie. Each and every song of this block-buster movie was a superhit such as “Chandni O Meri Chandni” ( Jolly Mukherjee and Sridevi),    ( “Mere Haathon Mein” ( Lata) and Tu Mujhe Suna” ( Suresh Wadkar and Nitin Mukesh) where Rishi and Vinod sing to each other about their love without realising it is the same lady. Sridevi as Chandni indeed took the country by storm.

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Lamhe was a rare “flop” movie which won super reviews as well as best movie and best actress awards. Probably Indian audience was not ready to accept a daughter falling in love with the man who loved her mother. “Kabhi Main Kahoon” by Lata and Hariharan continues to remain one of the all time romantic songs.

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Chaalbaaz saw Sridevi re-enacting Hema Malini’s Seeta aur Geeta double role in an incredible performance. The No. 1 actress reduced superstar Rajnikant and leading hero Sunny Deol to “sidekicks”. Na Jaane kahan se aayi hai showv=cased her amazing dancing skills.

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Judaai saw Sridevi act with Anil and Urmila Matondkar in yet another woman-centric movie. It is one of her blockbuster hits and she went out at the top for a 15 year sabbatical from movies, yes-with a best actress award.

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English Vinglish was Sridevi’s comeback movie and what a performance she put in as an Indian lady who tries to learn English after being mocked by her family. Amitabh Bachchan had an amazing cameo in this movie.

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The superstar will be last seen on screen in Shahrukh Khan’s Zero to be released on December 21st, 2018. Sridevi is no more, but her movies will be played and replayed forever.

These are my top ten favorite Sridevi movies. Do u agree with my choice, or u differ ?.

Rest in peace, Sridevi.

Australia South Africa Test Series Preview

South Africa and Australia square up for a much awaited 4 test series in March-April 2018 with the 1st Test starting at Durban on 1st March. Australia had characteristically announced their Test Squad pretty early with Skipper Steve Smith and Vice-captain David Warner leading a strong and well balanced side. South Africa have also announced their team as well.

Here is my preview of the series where I look at the relative strengths and weaknesses from the aspects of batting, bowling, fielding and wicketkeeping.


Australian batting looks good. Steve Smith is enjoying a purple patch for the last 4 years with 22 tons in his last 83 innings. In the recent 4 Nil win versus England,  Smith scored 687 runs @137.4. More importantly he played as per the demands of the situation. In a stressful situation at Brisbane he scored his slowest Test hundred, and at the WACA he scored his fastest test ton in just 138 balls on the way to his highest test score of 239. Smith followed this up with yet another ton at Melbourne. 3 test tons in a series was awesome , and he had also done the same feat in the tough away series to India. The Australians will be hoping South Africa is a happy hunting ground as well for their skipper.

Australia would however look forward to other top order batsmen David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb to contribute and help Smith. Bancroft had a stunning Ashes debut in which he scored an unbeaten 82 to partner Warner who scored 87 not out for a 187 run opening stand and a 10 wicket win. Thereafter he did not do well, but he has the backing of Steve Smith and Justin Langer and should feature as opener versus the South Africans.

Faf du Plessiss  is nursing a finger injury as is middle order batsman Temba Bavuma. However both are in the squad. Du Plessis is one of their best players against Australia ever since he announced his arrival at the world stage with a match saving Test hundred on debut and South Africa would want him to be fit.

South Africa will also hope AB De Villiers and Hashim Amla rise to the occasion. Their opening pair of Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram will play a crucial role if South Africa hope to do well. In the recent 3 Test series South Africa played 5 batsmen and 5 bowlers and if they continue the trend then they may hand a debut to young 20 year old batting allrounder Wiaan Mulder who has impressed Otis Gibson.


In the recent 4 Nil win versus England Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood all bowled with venom and pace and consistently exceeded 145 kmph. Smith will hope they maintain their fiery attitude. Importantly Cummins is an excellent lower order batsman too who averaged 40 versus England. He can potentially be a leading all rounder for Australia in future.

The spinning options for Australia are off-spinner Nathan Lyon and left arm spinner Jon Holland. Both are just 30 and yet are Australia’s oldest bowlers. This shows how young a side it is. While Holland is unlikely to play, Lyon is a pivot and is expected to play an important role in the series.

South Africa’s pace attack is even more potent even though Dale Steyn has been ruled out of 1st 2 Tests due to injury. However Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada will all be looking forward to the series and contributing majorly.

These 4 played against India and it was the 1st time since Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Colin Croft that any team played a 4 man pace attack with all 4 bowlers taking more than 100 test wickets each. Steyn will be replaced in the quartet by Lungi Ngidi. The 21 year quick had immediately impressed with his 6-39 against India in which he touched the 150 km mark and also got disconcerting pace and bounce. These 4 bowlers will test Australia.

Possibly South Africa may also play 3 of the 4 quicks and play the allrounder Mulder and the spinner Keshav Maharaj who is a competent batsman as well. This will rotate the fast bowlers and keep them fresh. Playing Mulder and Maharaj will strengthen the batting as a mark of respect to the Aussie attack without compromising the bowling as well. Maharaj incidentally is the only spinner in the history of Test cricket who debuted at Perth and he was instrumental in picking up 3 wickets resulting in an Aussie collapse. This will definitely encourage SA to play Maharaj at home against Smith’s boys.


Both sides are known for their electrifying fielding. Uncharacteristically South Africa had too many fielding errors in the recent series versus India and their coach Otis Gibson accepted that this may have been an important factor for the ODI and T20 series loss. South Africa would hope to improve on this aspect.


The Australian selectors pulled a rabbit out of the hat when they played Tim Paine versus the Englishmen and he responded well. He will play all the Tests for the Aussies. South Africa have a dilemma. Should they play the out of form Quentin De Kock who ironically has an excellent record against Australia ) Or should they play the inform Heinrich Klaasen, fresh from his matchwinning exploits against the Indians in an ODI and a T20 where he was like a breath of fresh air for the South Africans who were otherwise outplayed by the Indians in these two formats.

Looking forward to a great series and some super cricket from both the teams.







Roger Federer’s Laureas Awards; 5 and Counting.

The First Laureas Awards ceremony started in 2000 with the incomparable Nelson Mandela announcing: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people  in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope when once there was only despair.”

These stirring words set the tone for some much awaited and much respected awards aspired for by sportspersons the world over, especially as these awards are across sports.

The awards themselves have been instituted by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which is a global organisation involved in more than 150 charity projects supporting several lakh young people. To give an illustrative example of one of the projects, it involves cleaning of the slums of the poorest part of Nairobi, where 14000 youngsters play in 90 football leagues. There are several awards such as “World sportsman of the year award”, “World team of the year”, “World comeback of the year”, “World breakthrough of the year”, “World action sportsperson of the year”, “world sportsperson of the year with a disability” and “Worlds best sporting moment of the year”. .

The most looked forward Laureas award is the Laureas sportsman of the year award which is awarded to the sportsman who best demonstrates supreme athletic performance and achievement – such as consecutive or multiple world, continental, international or national and major championship titles or the establishment of world records or best performances. The awards ceremony was hosted by Hollywood star Benedict Cumberbatch and the sportsman of the year 2018 award went to Roger Federer.

Federer in his acceptance speech said that it was an honour to receive the award especially as the foundation does amazing work. He also said that he has a Foundation as well and the Laureas Foundation inspires and motivates him and maybe in future he would be known more for his philanthropic work than his tennis. Federer also spoke about his great rival, Rafa Nadal and said that Rafa has helped him become a better player.

For 2018, Federer won the award edging out great sportspersons Rafa Nadal, four time formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, Tour de France champion Chris Froome and Real Madrid footballer Christiano Ronaldo.  Federer also won the comeback of the year award as well which was his 6th Laureas Award overall, which is maximum ever for any sportsperson.

If one has a look at who votes and selects the Sportsman of the year, one sees that the worlds leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters do so. Some extremely select legends of the game are also in the panel and there is a secret ballot as well. This goes a long way in ensuring that the awards gets legitimacy and the respect it deserves. For instance the cricketers who are the voters are all legends such as Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Rahul Dravid, Steve Waugh and Sachin Tendulkar.  Can there be better voters?

The winners so far are all legends and all time-greats. The maximum awards for sportsman of the year has been won 5 times by Roger Federer from 2005-2008 and 2018. The great Usain Bolt has won 4 times in 2008, 2010 2013 2017 while Novak Djokovic has won thrice in 2012, 2015 and 2016.  There are two two time winners in Tiger Woods who won the first two awards in 2000 and 2001while racing great Michael Schumacher won it in 2002 and 2004. Rafa Nadal in 2011 and Sebastian Vettel in 2014 have won the award once each.

Congrats Roger Federer. Its 5 and counting. Or is it 6 and counting if we include the world comeback of the year award along with the 5 world sportsman of the year awards won by him.

Rest in peace Our 1st lady superstar Sridevi

Isnt it the year 2018? It should have been at least 2048 for us to say rest in peace to our ebullient superstar Sridevi. However, sadly our effervescent, exuberant, buoyant, sunny and cheerful Sridevi, at only 54 has left us, to move on. Her passing away is one of the most shocking and untimely news of recent memory.

Sridevi’s life has been a constant journey, a travel from one “role” to another. Let us go through some of the different destinations this fascinating explorer visited and discover some little-known trivia about her.

Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu is synonymous with fireworks. It is only appropriate that Sridevi who is a fire-cracker among stars was born there. Born as Shree Amma Yanger Ayappan, she entered Tamil movies in the devotional Thunaivan when she was only 4. Sridevi’s mom was Tamilian and father was Telugu and maybe this helped her effortlessly act in movies of different languages. She acted with both superstars Kamal Haasan and Rajnikanth and quickly became the no.1 in both Telugu and Tamil movie industry.

To be No.1 was her destiny in Hindi movies too. Amitabh Bachchan was the reigning superstar of Hindi movies but it was Sridevi who became the industry’s 1st female superstar. Both of them acted together in several movies such as Khuda Gawah, Aakhree Raasta and Inquilaab. Eerily, less than 2 hours before Sridevi passed away, Amitabh tweeted that he is having an unusual fear. Was it a premonition ?

During the course of the journey she made a hit pair with Jeetendra and later on Anil Kapoor. Her Himmatwala with Jeetu Ji was heavily criticised but over the years it has becamo a cult movie, and was remade recently starring Ajay Devgn and Tamannah. Sreedevi and Jeetu Ji were associated with as many as 18 movies together with Justice Chaudhury, Mawaali and Tohfa being some of them.

Sridevi and Anil Kapoor made a hit pair too. Lamhe, Mr India, Laadla, Jaanbaaz and Judaai are all memorable movies which showcase her versatility and fearless experimentation. Her famous blue sari song ( Kaate nahin kat-tii ye din ye raat- I love you) dancing alone with an “invisible” Anil Kapoor was shot in 1 take by the great director Shekhar Kapur who applauded her sense of dance and timing.  Sridevi went on to marry the producer of the movie, Anil’s brother, Boney Kapoor.

An eulogy of Sridevi will be incomplete without a mention of Chaalbaaz and English Vinglish. Chaalbaaz was a remake of Seeta aur Geeta and her incredible performance reduced her redoubtable heroes in the movie, Rajnikant and Sunny Deol to supporting actors. English Vinglish which had both critical acclaim and huge commercial success saw her make a remarkable comeback after 15 years in an unusual role of a mother trying to learn English after being moved by family. For this movie in which Amitabh Bachchan had an inspirational cameo, Sridevi was hailed as India’s Meryl Streep.

Rest in peace Sridevi. Would like to always remember you for your effortless dancing such as the dance number from Chaalbaaz, “Na Jaane Kahan se aayi hai”. 

BCCI; Please convert a wasted tour to an opportunity

My Open Letter to BCCI.

Dear BCCI,

From 11th of November to 24th of December 2017, you organised a 3 Test, 3 ODI and 3 T20 series between India and Sri Lanka. There were murmurs that there was a surfeit of India-Sri Lanka matches but you went ahead. We won the Test series 1 Nil and our skipper Virat Kohli piled up more than 600 runs and Ravi Ashwin took 12 wickets. We were happy at yet another series win. We then saw India win the ODI series 2-1 and the T20 Series 3 Nil. We were happier.

However a thought lingered at the back of the mind. Did this affect preparations for the important forthcoming overseas series to South Africa. After all South Africa especially for Tests is acknowledged to be one of the toughest propositions. India had never won a test series there, and yet India was going to play the 1st Test of such a tough series without a single day of match practice. India quickly lost the 1st 2 Tests and therefore the series but then thankfully pulled one test back with a super win.  We were relieved since a 1-2 loss is better than a 0-3 loss. India then won the ODI series 5- 1 and we were even more happy. The Test series quickly became for some a distant memory. However the long tour was not over. A 3 match India South Africa T20 series was played and won 2-1. This would be followed by some much needed rest before the IPL would start in April followed by the all important tour to England. Or so it was thought.

However, no, instead of the rest and recuperation India, in March is going to play the 2018 Nidahas Cricket Tournament which is organised to celebrate Sri Lanka’s 70th year of Independence. It will be a 3 Nation T20 series between India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Both teams will play each other twice with the top 2 teams progressing to the final.

The query obviously arises as to whether this series is important from the point of view of Test cricket, from the players point of view and from the point of view of fans. From Test cricket point of view, India does have some players who play all the formats of the game and most of them would be playing the IPL too. Will this help for the forthcoming tough Test series to England. India has a potent bowling attack and just as they had never won a series in South Africa and had a realistic chance of doing so ( but could not), similarly they have a realistic chance of winning in England as well. Will this series help to attain that objective?

From players point of view , will it help hone their skill sets. All the matches will be played at Colombo so it will certainly help them develop a domain knowledge about the city, but how will it help them as players? What about fans.? Will a surfeit of cricket not make them disenchanted from the wonderful game ?

BCCI, please have a thought at the answers to these questions.

At the same time BCCI, Why not convert this to an opportunity.

Why dont u go in for a brand new team to give exposure to players who have not had a feel of international cricket or those who have not made a permanent place for themselves in the regular Indian team.

For a start, you can certainly think about giving regulars like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jaspreet Bmraah a much needed break. Maybe from these, Hitman Rohit can go as captain

Chance can be given to youngsters like say Rishabh Pant or Sanju Samson to have a glimspse as to whether they are ready to fill in the shoes of MS Dhoni. Jayadev Unadkat and Shardul Thakur can get a chance to start as the new ball bowlers and Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar patel can continue to play as spinners with Hardik Pandya getting a chance to rediscover his form . Lokesh Rahul and Shreyas Iyer can get a chance to show they deserve a spot in the regular team. This series could even be an opportunity to blood some youngsters into the national team.

Yes Sri Lanka Cricket Board will cry foul, they will say you have to send your strongest team. Since they have been good and obliging neighbours, probably you would not like to ruffle their feathers but then you have to think about the interests of Indian cricket and Indian players first. You can also tell them politely that the “replacements” are not just good but will probably be the stars of the future.

Dear BCCI, please convert this needless tour into an opportunity,

Thank you,

Ritesh Misra


India South Africa ODI Series, SWOT Analysis

In Tennis a Bagel is a 6-0 score where a player wins a set without conceding a game. Cricket almost saw a Bagel in the 2018 South Africa-India One Day International (ODI) series where the visitors led by Captain Virat Kohli triumphed 5-1. I present to you my SWOT Analysis of Both Teams

Team India SWOT Analysis;


The Top order is indeed India’s greatest strength in ODI’s. Virat showed that he is easily the best batsman in the world in this format with an incredible display. He hit 3 hundreds, a big 50 and became the 1st player ever to cross 500 in a bilateral ODI series. Hiss average for the series was an incredible 186. Shikhar Dhawan left his test horror behind and played freely in the 50 over format. While Rohit came good in only 1 match with a big hundred and had 5 failures he remains a “hit-man” in ODI series and his match winning ability is such that he will be an automatic opener.

The two spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav too were super and excelled throughout the series barring the truncated game which India lost. Ian Chappell gave them an ultimate complement by comparing them to Bill “Tiger” O’Reilly and Clarrie “the fox” Grimmett. The duo took as many as 33 wickets at an economy of less than 5 in a commanding display.

Virat’s captaincy was very good and it is evident that he enjoys leading from the front and the team looks a happy unit with him at helm of affairs with MS Dhoni’s calmness complementing Virat’s exuberance.


Middle order was not up to the mark. Ajinkya Rahane was brought back to the Number 4 position and Shreyas Iyer was tried at 5. They were followed by Hardik Pandya and Dhoni. However the Indian middle order’s performance by and large did not impress and it more often than not failed to capitalise on the super starts given by the top order. Fielding was another area of weakness with crucial catches being dropped. The Indian think tank needs a long, close look at improving the aspect.


Under Kohli, the team looks fit and strong. The skipper himself is super fit and he wants to instill that discipline in the rest of his team mates. In this journey, tough decisions need to be taken such as not selecting players who fail the fitness tests and the team management has done exactly that, not hesitating to drop senior players. The results have been good and this ruthless attitude needs to continue.


The major threat is lack of a finisher, a role that Dhoni used to do so well. Added to it is that with passage of time, Dhoni’s ability with the bat has understandably gone down. His running between the wickets may still be awesome, but does that suffice?. India seriously needs to have a thought about Dhoni’s successor in both ODI as well as the T20 format.

As of now it seems that the team management as well as Dhoni himself want him to continue till 2019 and therefore the need is to carve out a role for him. Virendra Sehwag says Virat should play Dhoni consistently at Number 4. Would that help ?

South Africa; SWOT Analysis


South Africa is a team which can explode and it is capable of scoring 200 runs in 25 overs. Its fielding is top class with the ability to turn a match their way with a brilliant catch or a run out.


If South Africa can explode, they can implode as well. The batting may well be able to score 200 in 25, but they dont seem to be able to have the ability to last 50 overs, especially if the opposition has quality spinners.


South Africa has a couple of exciting youngsters such as Kagiso Rabada, Adile Phehlukwayo and Heinrich Klaasen who have the potential of doing well on the world stage for some time to come. Two years back their National Academy Coach Shukri Conrad had said Klaasen who was the Captain of South Africa’s Emerging squad had potential to be “South Africa’s Dhoni” and Klaasen indeed showed glimpses of Dhoni’s most well known quality, coolness in the few chances he got. Lungi Ngidi did well in the Tests and maybe South Africa can play him in ODI’s as well, keeping in view that the 2019 World Cup will be at England.


The seemingly strong decision to give captaincy to a  young captain Aiden Markram appears to be a hasty one , more due to gut feeling than strong reasoning. Comparisions were drawn with Graeme Smith but Smith himself says that South Africa could have thought of Hashim Amla or Duminy for the 1st 3 games and De villiers after he returned. In the result, Markram scored only 121 runs in his 5 outings with the bat. I consider this a threat as  possibly South Africa with this hasty decision may have dented the confidence of a highly promising batsman.

Do u agree with my SWOT analysis ?




Federer shows “Old is Gold”

Roger Federer by reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 ABN Amro ATP 500 Tournament at Rotterdam became the oldest Number 1 in the history of tennis at 36 years and 195 days . Andre Agassi  who in 2003 at 33 was the previous record holder was one of the 1st to congratulate Federer by saying “36 years 195 days…@RogerFederer continues to raise the bar in our sport. Congratulations on yet another remarkable achievement!!

Federer is back as Number 1 after a gap of 5 years and 106 days. This in itself is a record for the longest time between reigns at Number 1. The champion chose to crack a joke at his own expense by saying “Apparently I’m the oldest tennis player with a ranking. Somebody might have mentioned that to me already but I had a hard time hearing”. 

Federer’s achievement in reaching the top of the ATP rankings is an even more remarkable story if one sees his tennis story of the previous 5 years in general and the previous 2 years in particular. If we go back to 4 years prior to the Australian Open of 2017, we see no Grand Slam titles after the 2012 Wimbledon. He already had 17 Majors which in itself was an awesome tally but it seemed he would not add to them.

To his fans it was a bit strange to see their hero reaching say the semi-finals and then losing. To the more discerning however there were two important aspects. Federer was normally winning against almost everyone and only unable to close out matches against his illustrious rivals Nadal and Djokovic, that too in the best-of-five matches at the Grand Slams. At the best-of-three Masters and other matches he was holding his own against them as well. Hence it was theoretically possible that if their game slipped a bit or his improved he would be back.

2016 however was a particularly disappointing year which started with him losing to Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals. It was the 45th meeting between the 2 great rivals, and it was the first time that Novak took a career head-to-head lead against Federer by winning his 23th match to Fed’s 22nd. Was it going to be symbolic of the beginning of the end ? Possibly.

The disappointments of 2016 continued with Federer missing Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells after he went through arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus. His return was scheduled at Miami but he opted out due to a stomach virus. The clay season, as such, never his strongest point anyways saw him lose to Tsonga at Monte Carlo and Thiem at the Italian Open. He had to opt out of French open as well ending his record 65 appearances at the Grand Slams.

Federer however prepared to return for the grass season. He however lost to Thiem at Stuttgart and Sascha at Halle. It seemed that finally he had started to lose to others apart from Novak, Rafa and Murray. At Wimbledon, he reached the semi-finals before losing to Milos Raonic. Federer was then out for the next 6 months due to injury. He even had to give up his Olympics Gold medal dream. It seemed all was possibly over for the great champion though he insisted he was taking a break to come back stronger.

Federer made a comeback just an year ago as 17th seed at Australian Open 2017. People were doubting whether he would  ever win one more Grand Slam and regaining world number 1 position looked impossible. He had after all not won a single title in 2016, which was his 1st blank year since 2000. It was the 1st time since 14 straight years that he was out of the world Top 10. Ominously he had started losing to players other than his illustrious rivals at the top which was surprising as his middle name was Consistency.

However Federer turned in a magical 2017. He won the Australian Open with a brilliant win over Rafa in the final by coming from a break behind in the final set.  In this tournament he defeated 4 top ten players back to back, namely Berdych, Nishikori, Wawrinka and Rafa. He won Wimbledon by defeating Cilic in the final. He defeated his greatest rival Rafa three times more during the year. He had a 91.23% success rate and won 7 titles, including Indian Wells, Miami and Shanghai Masters 1000 tournaments where he had wins over Wawrinka and Nadal (twice) in the finals.

Federer had a chance to be Number 1 at Cincinnati 2017 if he would have won the tournament. In fact it was an unusually dream situation as both he and Nadal had a chance to be Number 1 by winning the tournament. However Federer’s withdrawal led to Nadal becoming Number 1 and regaining the Number 1 ranking after 3 years.  Rafa of course thoroughly deserved the Ranking as he too had a magical year including 2 Grand Slam and 2 Masters titles.

Since Cincinnati 2017, Rafa maintained his Number 1 ranking, until Rotterdam 2018 when Federer dethroned his worthiest rival to become the oldest ever Number 1 ranked player of all time.
Federer has Shown, “Old is Gold”.

An interactive evening with Mike Brearley; Book Launch of “On form”

Mike Brearley is universally accepted as one of the best cricket Captains ever. His book, “On Form” was launched recently in Mumbai by Dilip Vengsarkar in the presence of former Indian test cricketer Madhav Apte.

The “Colonel” applauded the choice of the book’s name.  He said that going off form was something which every sportsman goes through including for instance even all time greats Viv Richards and Sunny Gavaskar in certain phases of their career. Vengsarkar remembered his interactions with Brearley on the cricket field and said Brearley was always a great captain and it was admirable the way he wonderfully captained two diametrically different personalities, Ian Botham and Geoffery Boycott.

Leading sports journalist Ayaz Memon popularly called “Cricketwallah” had an interactive conversation with Brearley followed by a question-answer session with the audience.

Some of the issues/topics on which Brearley offered his views are as follows;

Captaincy is an aggregation of small things. Brearley said that small things are very important. For instance the Captain should not fiddle around with the field placings too much. The same slip fielders in the same order are advisable as they develop a sense of comfort and calm while standing to each other. Similarly, more or less one should not tinker around with the batting order except once in a while maybe as a shock strategy.

On Form linked to “moving on”. As per Brearley, often one tends to brood on what has happened rather than moving on. He gave the example of Jonathon Trott who averaged 90 versus Australia but had an ordinary “Nets day” and got beaten a couple of times. He started thinking about it so much that it was the beginning of what ultimately let to mental disintegration, a term used by Steve Waugh for the 1st time. Brearley gave the contrary example of the much criticised Dean Elgar who was beaten maybe 20-25 times in the 2nd innings of the recent Johannesburg Test but with dogged determination was unruffled, as it was in his and his teams interest that he stayed on and he did, scoring a remarkable ( even if ugly) 86 not out, which was more valuable than a bigger score in easier conditions.

On thinking too much According to Brearley this too was to be avoided as it is counter-productive. He gave his own example of one day being overnight at stumps and then thinking a lot about how he would bat the next day. As he could not sleep he then read a book “Zen and Archery” in which the author had said that the best archers were those who did not shoot, but let the arrow shoot for them. Brearley thought to himself, “Well thats great, so tomorrow i will let my bat get runs for me”. He was out 2nd ball the next day.

On Bradman and Federer. Brearley agreed with Vengsarkar that remaining On Form was something not easy and said that the only two sportspersons he knew of who were always on form were Don Bradman and Roger Federer. In fact he had asked the Don about lack of form who had replied ” I dont know what it is to be out of form and i was never out of form”.

Brearley clarified that Out of form is different from getting out early and stated with a chuckle that Don Bradman had more ducks than him in Test cricket though Bradman was the best batsman of all time while he was a very ordinary test batsman. Whats important is not to think about the duck but to move on and play the next innings with a clear mind. He said Federer too had this ability and the rare matches which he lost early in a tournament that did not bother him at all and he was already preparing for the next tournament.

On Kohli– Brearley praised Kohli for giving the team pride and aggression. He said that he admired him a lot as he was always attentive, keen eyed, shrewd and a wonderful batsman. He gave the example of the 3rd Test of the recent South African Series where it would have been easy to give up with the South Africans at 140/1 chasing 260 however the Indians led by Kohli hung on, as they knew that if they took one or two wickets anything was possible. Indeed once Amla was out the floodgates opened and India had a morale boosting win.

Advice for Kohli. Brearley opined that Kohli needs to have people who will tell him when he is going wrong and he should listen to them. He said that a captain of a cricket team is like the leader of a country who needs people to guide him and gave the example of John F Kennedy who used to have a group of people whose job was to criticise his policies which was certainly very healthy.

On Kohli Flopping in England. Mike said that in English conditions , with wickets suiting quality bowlers like Anderson and Broad, one is bound to get out sometimes. In his opinion they would always be after the best batsmen and they will sometimes make the best batsmen look modest. He said that Kohli came through later and is now scoring runs everywhere and there was no reason why he would not do well in England.

Advice for Indian Batsmen in England. Thanking Dilip Vengsarkar for launching his book, Mike asked the current Indian batsmen to have several sessions with the colonel who had 3 consecutive tons at Lords, and said that Dilip was a very good example of how to play swing. He said that the key to success in England would be focus, balance and concentration.

On 3 captains he admired. Brearley straightaway took the name of Ray Illingworth who according to him was super strategically and used bowlers according to how the state of the pitch was and also in how to set fields for his bowlers so as to make life difficult for the batsman. He said that once Ray played 4 spinners for Leicetershire and all 4 bowled differently with different actions and the skipper used them differently.  The 2nd captain he named was Ian Chappell who according to him was very aggressive and a good reader of the game. Brearley said that sometimes he did go over the top somethimes with his aggression and Dilip Vengsarkar would probably know a lot about that as well but Ian was a very good student of the game and always wanted people to do their best, be resilient and try new things. He praised Ian  Chappell as an excellent commentator as well who always comes up with good insights.

As regards the 3rd, with a chuckle, Brearley said “I like the look of Kohli”. He went on to say that he was expecting great things from the Indian Captain

Overall it was an extremely interactive and enjoyable evening with the Captain of Captains.

( Blog Published by Pragativadi)