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The Good, Bad & the Ugly ft. Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Indian Women’s Hockey

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The Good, Bad & the Ugly ft. Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Indian Women’s Hockey

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SportsCafe Desk

08/05/2018

From Virat Kohli’s innings at Edgbaston, which will go down at the annals of cricketing history, to Indian Women’s hockey’s pathetic state at the World Cup, to Indian men’s duo’s encouraging performance at the BWF World Championships, the Good, Bad and Ugly, this week, has a lot to reflect upon.

The Good

Test Cricket has been on the verge of getting discarded if not extinct with every major cricket association of the world taking giant strides towards retaining it. And amidst all this, happened the first Test match between India and England that gave the world a jolting reminder of its beauty. And at the heart of the spectacle was Virat Kohli. The Indian skipper’s first innings knock of 149 off 225 balls was the quintessential Test knock. The mental battle between James Anderson and Virat Kohli, the opportunistic instinct of the latter, and then playing with sheer determination with the tailenders to not bow down to some ruthless bowling by Sam Curran – the next generation now has a template to look forward to and a hero to look up to. Kohli returned to the pavilion amidst a standing ovation by the English crowd and the English players on the field. Kumar Sangakkara has rightly stated that Kohli has a chance to become the greatest Indian batsman of all time – we say he would be the greatest of them all in this sport’s history.

Like cricket, India had yet another encouraging showing in badminton as well in the Bwf World Championships held in China, despite eventually slumping to a defeat. Doubles category isn’t something that India ever took seriously as far as badminton is concerned and the lack of practice stands as their biggest hindrance today, despite promising players like Swastiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty and N. Sikki Reddy around the block. Fortunately, India’s men’s doubles pair of Rankireddy/Shetty has been in a good place for some time now and with effort, could reach the heights India never have, so far. Men’s doubles game is undoubtedly the fastest sport in the world and hinges significantly upon strength and speed. In 21-year-old Shetty and 17-year-old Rankireddy, both the traits are present, albeit in a raw state, and they proved their worth by beating CWG gold medalists Marus Ellis and Chris Langridge. Though they eventually lost to Denmark’s Kim Astrup and Skaarup Rasmussen, it was majorly because of Rankireddy’s untimely injury and their form bodes well for Indian in the upcoming Asiad.

The Bad

Every Indian cricket fan must have been gutted by the way India bottled a glorious chance to win the Test at Edgbaston on Saturday as they crumbled making just 52 runs on the last day despite the likes of Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, and Hardik Pandya remaining as proper batsmen. It goes without saying that the skipper was let down by the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, and Murali Vijay in the second innings, whose joint contribution 21 runs proved to be too much for the Indian captain to pull off at the end. However, the biggest culprit will definitely be all-rounder Hardik Pandya. Since breaking into the side, the Gujarat-born player has been compared to the likes of Kapil Dev, Jacques Kallis, and whatnot, but he has hardly stood at the face of fire. Saturday, too, saw something similar after England turned the heat by dismissing Dinesh Karthik and Kohli early on. 

Pandya was left as the only proper batsman with the likes of Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, and Ishant Sharma to bat with. He couldn’t complain he didn’t have a template to take notes from as Kohli had shown in the previous innings itself how to bat with the tailenders. Pandya, on the other hand, looked to avoid the responsibility as he stayed far from shielding the bowlers. In turn, he pushed the likes of Sharma and Shami to face the likes of Ben Stokes and Adil Rashid that consequently got them out. Eventually, Pandya got out leaving India high and dry by 31 runs. 

For all the glory and determination that the movie “Chak de India” had exhibited and in a way had introduced India’s women’s hockey to the nation, who before that hardly knew such a thing existed, their current state has successfully reduced all of that to zilch. The Indian eves lost to Ireland for the second time in the tournament and in a way shied away from making history. India were eyeing to play their first World Cup semi-final in 44 years and given the fact they were facing one of the lower rung teams in the tournament, they were definitely the favorites to advance. However, Rani and company slumped to a familiar heartbreak that they had faced in the group stage again on Friday as they lost in penalty this time. Hockey India’s current state has been abysmal in saying the least and we could only hope they don’t take another drastic step, like interchanging managers, ahead of the Asian Games later this month.

The Ugly

The Indian Olympic Association has turned sports tabloids into tales of circuses since the day the Asian Games contingent had been announced. As if their abrupt hacking and chopping of athletes weren’t enough humiliation to the foreign countries, the IOA now came up with the demand of the non-affiliate sports federations, like Sambo, Pencak Silat, Roller skating, Sport Climbing, Soft tennis, Kurash, Sepak Tekraw and Bridge who are all debuting this year at Asiad, to pay for the uniforms that they would be wearing for the opening and closing ceremonies and also during the competition. An estimated price of the dress in the ceremonies would cost Rs 10,000 each, while the playing kit would be Rs 20,000 each. The struggle was real as the organization wouldn’t have allowed the participants to participate without uniforms. Thanks to Sports Minister, Rajyavardhan Sinh Rathore, who took notice of it quickly and agreed to pay for it all. However, this ugly episode surely gave everyone a deep insight into the workings of the IOA and their continuous tussle with the non-affiliate sports federations.

The way BCCI and CoA have conducted their business over the last few months is akin to the fights we all have with our sibling when we are growing up. The only difference is that we eventually grow up, but these two organizations haven’t, and don’t seem to, in the near future. Our ‘Good, Bad and Ugly’ segment has always featured them in some form or other. Their recent tussle comes under the ‘Ugly’ form as BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary came out firing allegations at Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai stating him of incapable of doing his job, i.e, implementing the Lodha Reforms. This scathing attack comes after the CoA, in a recent interview, had called the BCCI office-bearers as obstructionists and spoke ill of them in a recent interview. Choudhary brought out 4th Status report and 7th Status report, which were documented by Rai and pointed out the contradictory observations around him. We are surprised that the BCCI is still being run without any problems because, given the amount of time and energy they have invested in fighting with CoA in the last year, it is implausible for them to do their work properly. CoA, too, has been a constant thorn in BCCI’s throat who had come to the fore by promising cooperation but has done nothing but disagreement since then.

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