Saturday, September 18, 2010

US Open 2010 - 'Rafa'slam

We didn’t quite get to see the Roger-Rafa final we were hoping for, but as the US open finally came to an end, for the third consecutive year, after a rain delay, there were a pair of well deserved champions.

Nadal beat the super Serb Novak Djokovic in 4 sets to win his 9th Grand Slam. With this he joined the likes of Rod Laver, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer in achieving the Career Grand Slam. Meanwhile the sparkling mum, Kim Clijsters beat Vera Zvonavera in the women’s final to win her second consecutive and the third title overall at the Flushing Meadows.

Among the other stars, Roger Federer was upset by Djokovic in the semis, although a world No 3 beating the No 2 shouldn’t be considered much of an upset. Andy Murray failed to live up to the hype surrounding him as he succumbed to Wawrinka in the third round. The Andy from the other side of the Atlantic, Roddick, flattered to deceive yet again as he crashed out in the second round. Among the women, Zvonavera, who had earlier reached the finals at Wimbledon, played some unbelievable tennis to get to the final. Venus Williams, in the absence of her sister, had a golden chance to win the title in front of her home crowd, lost to Clijsters in a disappointing semifinal. The Russians, Kuznetsova and Dementieva, and the Serbians, Jankovic and Ivanovic failed to create any waves.

But the US Open 2010 will be remembered for Nadal’s perfect run in the tournament. The win will draw more comparisons and open up more debates as to who’s the better player among him and Federer. Both Federer and Nadal are top notch players in their own style. While Federer has the charm and aura around him while he goes around his task at ease, Nadal relies more on his speed and strength to get him through. It can be argued that Nadal has still a long way to go to reach Federer’s record of 16 Grand Slams, but it’s easy to forget that Rafa is a good three and a half years younger than Federer. Questions will also be asked whether Nadal can maintain his fitness for so long as his knee is known to break down. But then questions were also asked earlier on his ability to play on hard courts, and he answered his critics by winning the Australian Open in 09 and now the US Open. The debates will continue but there is no denying the fact that Nadal has put himself in the pantheon of all time greats with this victory.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In a 'fix' yet again

Pakistan vs. England,
4th test,

Day 2
England were reeling at 102/7. Mohammad Amir was running riot having taken 6 wickets. Pakistan seemed to have made a comeback in the series and looked all set to level the series 2-2.

Day 5
Mohammad Asif offers a simple catch to Paul Collingwood and Pakistan crumbled yet again for another lowly total of 147. Moments later Andrew Strauss lifts the Natwest Trophy, but the series definitely hadn’t ended the way England would have imagined, amidst fixing allegations made against the Pakistani players.
Over the past 6 months, I have just been awed watching Amir and Asif swing the ball the way they have been doing and trouble the best of batsmen. The allegations made against the Amir, Asif and Butt took the cricketing fraternity and the fans world over by shock. It is just heart wrenching to see an eighteen year old kid, when the world was beginning to sit and take notice of his talent chose to tread the wrong path and put his career at stake.
Pakistan cricket seem to run from one controversy to another. They have seen it all: right from ball tampering incidents to forfeiting matches to public spats to doping scandals to terrorists interrupting matches. The root cause for the continuous turmoil in Pakistan cricket can be attributed to the lack of a strong governing body. The PCB (Pakistan Confused Board) is as much in the news as the Prime Minister of the country. They make huge, harsh, illogical decisions and distribute life bans to players and a while later they retract back their decision and the same players are back in the team (probably in the center of another controversy). Even after the fixing allegations came up, the PCB refused to drop the players for the ODI series. It is this leniency that makes the players take advantage of the system. Fortunately the ICC stepped in and suspended the players. It’s about time the ICC steps in and makes some harsh decisions and impose life bans and some heavy fines on the guilty players.
Somehow the cricketing maniac in me believes that Pakistan cricket will rise amidst the crisis and be a superpower once again .

But is it just me hoping against hope?