IPL 7 – A sporting phenomena

Where talent meets opportunity. As the curtain prepares to come down on yet another hair raising, typically nail biting IPL season let’s take a look back at one of the most enthralling seasons in recent history. This season’s roller coaster ride enters its grand finale as two formidable opponents go face to face in an epic clash of teams with contrasting styles and tactics. This IPL season has been one like never before. The thrills and the spills, ranging from Mumbai Indians’ monster hitting against RR to Chris Lynn’s out-of-the- world catch to dismiss AB de Villiers early in the tournament to RCB’s stunning batting collapses and KKR’s mesmerising 8-match winning run have given the IPL an extra edge that captured audiences all over the world.

Making their first appearance in ultimate clash of the sporting extravaganza, the Kings XI Punjab have entertained en masse with one of the most complete, devastating lineups in the tournament. The flair and the grace of Viru at the top complemented by the berserk hitting of the Maxwell-Miller combo coupled with the emergence of rising talents like Akshar Patel and Sandeep Sharma brought hapless bowlers to their knees all season. The country watched and admired as the revelation of the season Glen Maxwell gazumped oppositions with ruthless ease.

ipl7    7 years of hard work seem to be paying off for Punjab as the the young guns ousted the now perennial bridesmaids Chennai. Finally, did the team of the season deserve to beat one of the most consistent sides of the IPL’s short 7-year history? Oh yes, they did. It was a game one fan aptly described as a game of snakes and ladders, and eventually the gutsy Kings XI booked their ticket to Bangalore for their first final of the showpiece event. It was a stunning show of perseverance and unity that epitomises what the IPL stands for – the spirit of the game.

But what’s particularly heart warming for the Indian fan is the success of homegrown players. A lot was said early on about the fact that home grown talent was being overlooked in favour of more established international stars. But all that talk has vanished into thin air with Indians Robin Utthappa and Mohit Sharma leading the batting and bowling charts respectively and local players staking a claim for global recognition. The future of Indian cricket looks to be in safe hands. From now on, the only way is up.

 

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Lost in the dark!

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On a cold morning, I woke up with excitement. Running around doing last minute packing, checking passports, visas and itineraries added to the excitement. We were going on an exotic holiday to Singapore!

Our flight was at 11:00 pm and I just could not wait for the day to finish. A seemingly unending wait ceased when the clock finally ticked to the flight time.

Thanks to clear skies, we had no flight delays and boarded the Singapore Airlines SQ-354 at 10:45 pm and set off on our dramatic journey to Singapore.

The journey was amazing. In the flight, we could watch movies, watch television, play games etc. The food was a mix of Singaporean and Indian cuisine .It was a really good start to the journey and we enjoyed the five and a half hour flight trip.

As we landed in Singapore, I felt great enthusiasm. As we walked along the streets, we saw a variety of people from around the world. The weather being hot and humid suppressed our fears of rain playing spoilsport. We relaxed for a couple of hours and set out for the much awaited sight seeing.

Our first rendezvous was the night safari. The introduction given by our tour operator made us impatient! A couple of hundred people were ahead after which was our turn to alight the battery operated buggy that was supposed to take us around. I was thrilled!!

The buggy was swarmed with multinationals and lo! Only two seats were left in the current one. The operators ushered me and my sister hurriedly into the buggy despite my sister wanting to come with our parents. They assured us that our parents would be right behind and in the fervour I felt agreeable. The slow paced buggy explored through the dark night into the dimly lit forest and freely wandering animals. The wild boar, wild deer, the bison and many new ones. It was amazing to see the animals so calm despite the human excitement. The buggy slowly stopped and the operator suggested that we could take a short walk along the trails.

In the excitement, I assumed that my parents too would opt for such a walk and got off the buggy and decided to take one of the trails on offer. I had committed my first mistake when I got off the buggy without checking on my sister. I only realized my sister was still in the vehicle after it left.

I couldn’t do much and feeling helpless, I informed one of the officials about this. He assured me that she would be taken care of.

We were handed a route map in case we got lost and since it was the first time I was looking at a route map, it took me some time to locate my position on the map and where I should head.

I decided to take the tiger trail to view all the different varieties of this majestic wild animal. The first sight of a magnificent white tiger sent shivers down my spine and I involuntarily looked around for my parents. To make it worse the tiger and I were the only living beings on the trail. The encounter with the tiger was the last thing I expected. Then I consoled myself that the tiger would not get too intimate and physical and moved forward.

As I continued my endeavours on the trail, I entered a dark patch which was isolated to created a natural vibe.

I saw that alternate patches of dark and light added to the ambience of the forest. Gathering all my courage, I dragged my feet along the remaining course of the trail and ended up seeing a Bengal tiger, a Siberian tiger and other varieties of them.
My body was soaked with sweat due to fear and the climate of Singapore.

As I returned to the now familiar but nevertheless scary dark patch, I felt numb hearing the rustle of leaves and a buzz which made me jump in panic only to realise that it was just a mosquito. In the thick of the jungle, close to wild animals, I was susceptible to fear even by the buzzing of a mosquito. At any
other time it would have sounded ridiculous.

As I regained my composure, I continued defiantly. But, it seemed that nature had more in store for me when I saw lightning. A brief spell of light assured me that no wild animals were around. It is said that there is light at the end of the tunnel but for me it was danger at the end of the trail. My fears were far from over as my fear of darkness was replaced by the fear of wild animals getting a taste of me.

I went through a gamut of emotions and breezed through my escapade. I remembered as many gods as I could and recited all the shlokas I had learnt and begged Him for forgiveness for all the sins I had committed.

Finally, I could hear human voices and, in my dazed state, it seemed like I was hallucinating! The sight of a buggy was so soothing! I jumped and reached the place where we had boarded. I had never felt so much relief on seeing my parents and sister .Teary-eyed, all of us were speechless for some time.

The thought of what could have gone wrong dazed us. I narrated my tryst with wild animals with a few doses of exaggeration.

As we bid an eventful day a good bye, I felt humbled and confident of scaling unknown territories in the future.

Thank God I was lost and found!

Tax evasions, Match fixing, corruption, and more – Uncovering the dark side of football

One of the main questions that linger over modern day football and put its integrity in question is this: Is top-level football a sport, or a business?

A top football club like Real Madrid generates about $600 million of revenue every year. In the modern day, money talks. Big clubs splash out billions of dollars every year to sign exciting, phenomenal players to conquer the football world. However, there is a dark underlying secret to all these big money deals.

Real Madrid, as is all too familiar, broke the bank, quite literally, to sign 24 year old Gareth Bale this summer. The transfer fee – A ludicrous $138 million. But what didn’t meet the eye, is the fact that Bale repaid most of his astronomical transfer fee, not through his on-field heroics, but mainly through his shirt sales, which topped $90 million. So in hindsight, Real Madrid have already recovered most of the money they spent! This raises the question as to whether Bale was bought to build Real’s legacy, or increase their bank balance?

Football is a sport that generates revenue. Lots of it. Mighty clubs attract the eye of wealthy businessmen, who recognize the financial benefits of success at club level. One such case is the record breaking takeover of Manchester United by the Glazers’ family for more than $800 million. A popular line of criticism for the Glazers is that they were more interested in the drop in United’s share price in the NY Stock Exchange than the club’s miserable shortcomings this season!

Then comes the issue of corruption, not just in multi-billion dollar governing bodies like UEFA and FIFA, but also from the grassroots level. Football is being invaded by corruption both on-field as well as off the field. FC Barcelona, one of the most successful clubs of all-time, are believed to have offered a whopping $50 million as a sweetener for the deal to add young Brazilian hotshot and footballing sensation Neymar to their already power-packed side.
(The total amount is believed to be closer to $94 million)

 

One issue that has been thrust into the limelight recently has been the evasion of taxes. Global superstar and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was taken to court over alleged non payment of taxes, whereas mighty Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness spectacularly confessed to unpaid taxes of up to $30 million.
But the issue that grieves the football faithful is that governing bodies UEFA and FIFA do nothing worthwhile whatsoever.
The feeling among the general public is that UEFA and FIFA may be apprehensive about tarnishing forever the reputations of mighty clubs like FC Barcelona.

FIFA have willingly brought the chopping block on its own head when it announced that the 2022 FIFA World Cup would be awarded to oil-rich Qatar, ill equipped to handle such a major football tournament. Once again money was the all-important factor in the negotiations as FIFA overlooked medical and safety concerns of players and workers in inhuman working and playing conditions. Tragically to this day, workers continue to sacrifice their lives due to the intense heat during stadium constructions. It’s tough to play football in the middle of the Arabian Desert or the Amazon forests of Brazil as will be the case at this summer’s World Cup.

One issue usually dominating the back pages is bribery of referees and match-fixing. On a weekly basis, clubs and referees come under the scanner for their involvement in suspicious activity.
The most famous incident of match fixing, the Calciopoli scandal,
when Serie A champions Juventus were stripped of their winners’ medal and relegated to the second tier of Italian football, made shockwaves throughout the football world.

However not all hope is lost. Certain guidelines are coming into place to ensure that clubs stick to the rulebook, while big clubs like PSG and Manchester City were fined for using their financial might to conquer Europe under the new Financial Fair Play rule to give smaller clubs a lifeline. This is a fresh lease of life and makes an important contribution to preserving the religion that is football.

Football is not all about the game, the glamour and the flair. There is a darker side to it too.

 

 

 

 

From tea seller to prime minister- the rise of NaMo

 

As Narendra Modi takes his place amongst the elite group of India’s politicians, he, and 1.3 billion Indians will know that his journey into the upper echelons of Indian society has been nothing short of a miracle.
From being a tea seller on the railway platform of Delhi to entering the field of politics, he always epitomised mental and physical strength and perseverance.    But the real game changer on his resume  was the drastic transformation of Gujarat, which endeared him to the people and earned him a heroic status. He was considered as a god-like saviour, which points to the emergence of slogans like “Har Har Modi”.

The much heralded Modi wave  swept through the country and made waves across boundaries, encapsulating the power and popularity of a man whose stature rose astronomically.
NaMo’s meteoric rise has unsurprisingly coincided with the dramatic fall from grace of the ill-fated reign of the Congress party. These events have led to the dawn of a new era of politics, an era of change and development, and one of ” Minimum government and Maximum governance “, quoting the man himself.
However, Modi has had his fair share of criticism along the way. Cries of discontent emerged due to his so-called authoritarian policy, and his image of communalism in favour of the Hindus. There is also a fear that he may flatter to deceive.

The next 5 years will be pivotal for Modi as he attempts to transform the country and make India the nation of his dreams. Will Modi stand up and deliver, or will he, as is all too familiar, sink into the dark depths of corruption and betray his motherland?
Let’s wait and watch. But for now, it’s “Abki baar Modi Sarkaar!”.