Oct 30, 2006

My World Cup XI

This team flatters to deceive. Last season, when they creamed SriLanka 6-1, and made a record of some 17 consecutive successful chases, one thought we had a bunch of world-beaters coming together and coming into their own.

Then they lost a string of close matches in the Carribbean. I remember one particularly heart-breaking defeat, where Yuvraj had single-handedly steered them from a hopeless position, to within 2 runs of victory. Then he got bowled of a full toss. I dont think he has fully got over that experience till now. It seems to have broken his spirit. He's been in and out of the team, and not looked focused when hes played.

The others are disappointing after promising starts. Kaif has been exposed as a batsman with limitations, and Pathan is unreliable and dependant on the 'condition's to generate some swing.

Anyway, here is the 'best possible 11' for the World Cup in my opinion:

Sehwag, Tendulkar - this is a good opening pair. I dont say 'partnership' coz they never do well together. At least one of them gets out early, but each is capable of taking matches away from the opposition qucikly. And if they ever fire in tandem - goody! Yeah yeah, Sehwag is inconsistent and Sachin is past his prime. But they are still the best bets, and I hope they rise to the occasion when it matters

Dravid - he is god. No explanation is necessary

Yuvraj - an immensely talented player who has been doing justice to his talent in the recent past. He is becoming a mature batsmen and I believe he's going to be the backbone of the Indian batting lineup in the future

Raina, Mongia, Kaif - none are particularly convincing. Can pick any one on form at the time. I'd like to see Raina being developed by the coach. The other two have already wasted a lot of chances they've been given.

Dhoni - I believe he is under-rated. He is known as a hard-hitting entertainer, but he can dig his feet in and hold one end when the situation demands. I dont think hes got much credit for his 'responsible batting'. He also needs to be used better by the team management.

Pathan - I dont know wtf happened to him. I mean - fast bowlers are these mean nasty guys who say tough things to batsmen. Who ever heard of a fast bowler 'sitting out due to lack of self-belief'. He needs to reduce dependence on 'swinging conditions' and learn to bowl accurate, economic spells. Like em Kiwis - they're masters at this.

Munaf - clearly the most consistent and reliable pacer India has.

Sreesanth - he has the pace, attitude and ability. The rest is the captain and coach's job.

Zaheer - Ok, whatever he'd done wrong, i think he's been punished enough. He's good, and he has done well in the Carribbean in the past. He has to be brough back in.

Nehra/Agarkar - both are incosistent but great on their days. And both are better than RP Singh and VRV Singh anyday. RP and VRV have no pace, no variety, no accuracy and no attitude. They are like Venkatesh Prasad. Please dont embarass India by picking them.

Harbhajan - is the only quality spinner and a pretty consistent performer.

Kumble - Someone please tell me why the hell is Kumble out when the best available alternatives are the likes of Romesh Powar and RP Singh?! Kumble at least has passion, commitment and a reputation - even if you cast aspersions on his craft.

Of course - this is an evaluation of 'the usual suspects'. If there is someone doing well, and hasnt been able to cut it with the selectors, i pray he is given a chance. At the cost of non-performers like Raina, Mongia, Kaif and RP

The sad thing is - sport is still about 'game', 'art', 'emotion', 'talent' in India. Why the hell dont people start seeing it as a profession? Where one has to produce wins, not 'perform to please'. Im tired of hearing about Raina's talent and Sania's talent. Ok, they're talented. Good for them. When they represent my country - all i want them to do is get down to work seriously, show some commitment and win. Thats the way we approach our academics, our jobs, our business and most of what we have to do in life. Why the hell are sportspersons given the leeway to be irresponsible and break hearts?

Oct 16, 2006


Kotler had defined the 4Ps of Marketing. I feel the most basic, and the most important, is the Product. And there is a new 'winner' product on the block. Its Cleartrip.com.

The 'online air ticket booking' space in India was pioneered by MakeMyTrip.com (MMT for convenience). Now, everyone is familiar with MMT. MMT offers good price and reasonably good service, and has no major competitor. It is also expanding its bouquet of services. I was one of the early adopters of MMT, and used to rave about it to many of my friends (blue-eyed b-school boys most of em, and fairly frequent flyers)

But recently i saw an ad for cleartrip, and decided to take a look. I liked what i saw. And the experience of booking thru cleartrip was so good, i will not even consider MMT in the future. The improvements these people have made include a 'clean' interface - very easy to understand and use, with all the info u need, and nothing that annoys. E.g., the fares u see on the first page after search, include taxes etc. This is much better than wat we r used to, at other sites - seeing fares that seem low at first sight, but keep inflating with taxes etc at every step of the booking process. Cleartrip always gives complete results (unlike MMT which often misses results from one/more airline), and the fares they show are actually available (unlike MMT, where u often see a 'Sorry, the fare u selected is no longer available' message).

This is a great Product. Try it! This is also a lesson for marketers - never relax. Especially when it comes to product improvement and innovation

Oct 13, 2006

F1 Update

Background: Schumacher needs to win the Brazilian Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso finishing out of the top eight in order to secure the World championship. This is his last race before he retires.

Schumacher's formal stand: "To be honest, I don't think there's any chance left for the championship," he said after the race (the last race in Japan)
"We all know that Fernando only needs one point now. To assume that someone will not finish, or to plan on winning (the championship) on something like that, isn't a basis that I want to build upon. I've digested it already," he insisted.

Reactions: Former world champion Damon Hill said: "Michael said he's not thinking about the championship now - that's baloney. He never gives up."
"Don't ever write that guy off. He's going to go into that last race thinking 'how can I win this and Alonso not score anything?' That's the way he's going to approach it. Otherwise he's not Michael Schumacher."

Smoochy's stand: Hmmm. Interesting. We will look forward to this race, licking our lips in anticipation. Hope its not an action-less damp squib, like F1 usually is.