Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Poem for Umar Akmal

It’s a testament to how beautiful and thrilling a talent Umar Akmal is that even a breezy yet ballsy 50 can inspire a song. I call this one:

"The man of my dreams"

Dear Umar Akmal, pardon my candour, as I express my feelings without the slightest hesitation.

I feel no shame in admitting, that the manner of your latest innings, has me questioning my sexual orientation.

You scored only 50, itself a mere trickle, compared to the landslide put up by the opposing side.

However your score isn’t important, it’s the way you carried yourself, which had me glowing with pride.

You came out to bat in a desperate situation as the wickets around you had started to fall.

The Aussies thought, that you’d follow suit, but they underestimated the gargantuan size of your balls.

You tackled the situation, with grave determination, yet also with your brand of derring-do.

While you were decisive, forthright and aggressive, our top 3 batsman didn’t have a clue.

The zenith of your awesomeness was summarized in 6 balls, in an over bowled by Peter Siddle.

He tried to stir you up with taunts and threats, but you weren’t about to be dragged into a quibble.

I bet Siddle figured, his words would leave you triggered, and you’d lose your head as his over began to take shape.

That never happened, because by now your skills you have sharpened, and his bowling you then proceeded to rape.

The first shot was nothing more, then stand and deliver, and you swung your bat like a knife.

And as the ball whistled through the outfield, a million Pakistani women must have wished you’d take them as your wife.

The next shot was more classical, a work of art in fact, a pull shot in front of square.

The Aussie fans were stunned, the commentators were speechless, as you showcased your natural flair.

So Siddle collected himself, went back to his run-up, and promised Ponting that the situation is one he could fix.

But you see its not that simple, Umar cannot simply be popped out like a pimple, and the next ball was short-arm pulled for six.

By this time even the Australian players had no choice but to applaud you for your aggressive force.

Meanwhile panic in the Siddle camp, as his embarrassed wife had filed for divorce.

The Australians were on the backfoot, Siddle was a wreck, things weren’t going according to plan.

Surely Umar must be finished by now, but no, the genius still had time to guide another boundary down to third man.

Now how does one sum up such a sensational spell of batting even though the context of the game it may not influence.

You gotta hand it to the young guy, since he is the only player to take on the Aussies with any semblance of impudence.

With a technique so unblemished, a heart so pure, no one can accuse you of gaddari.

Forget the repealed NRO, Umar Akmal will be the man to unseat Asif Zardari.

There is a rumor going around, that after you got back to the locker-room, you received a booty call from Angelina Jolie.

But even though you are not a Shia, you still respect Muharram, and refused to engage in an untoward act because it’s a time to be holy.

Though you are by no means a prude, and that is evident by how you, keep up with the latest fashion trends.

I know it’s a well kept secret in your family, that you stole all of elder brother Kamran’s girlfriends.

Shane Watson was given the task to unsettle Umar, a challenge as daunting as scaling Mount Everest.

Watson’s attempt at swing, was smothered by Akmal, who took two steps down the track to prove who is cleverest.

What other player, can claim to confuse the Aussie thinktank, as the wicketkeeper now stands up to the stumps.

I hear Umar Akmal is so pure biologically, that the toilet smells like daisies after he takes a dump.

Some might complain that the manner of Umar’s dismissal was weak, and his attacking instincts he should shelve.

I would simply, calmly, and succinctly tell such observers, that if they cant be happy they should go and fuck themselves.

You see Umar is perfect the way he is, any change would damage our courtship.

Now I must bid you all adieu, and return to my shrine, in which a life size mannequin of Umar I do worship.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An Open Letter to Imran Farhat

(a version of this article was published yesterday in Dawn and can be found here)

Dear Imran Farhat,

So, you’re back. I’d tell you it’s good to see you again, but it’s not. You must be over the moon, what with being picked for all three formats. Why, you must think you’re a regular Kevin Pietersen, eh?

Well you’re not, Imran. I haven’t forgotten who you are. You may be a year or so older. You may be a day or so wiser. But underneath all that flash, beneath all that ICL bravado, you’re still the same guy who’s going to perpetuate our opening problem. You’re still the same batsman who miscues an ambitious pull shot. You’re the same player who will attempt a cross-batted hoick across the line of the ball for no reason other than your own ego. And you’re the same guy who helps perfect the opposing side’s slip-catching skills.

I’ll give you one thing Imran: you must be one helluva husband.

Your wife probably has only good things to say about you to her parents, because not many father-in-laws would accost the coach of the international cricket team, berating him for not selecting his precious son-in-law out of, ironically, bias. Even fewer father-in-laws would threaten the national selectors for not picking the apple of his daughter’s eye for the Pakistan team. But I suppose that’s the kind of class act your dad-in-law, Mohammad Ilyas, is, eh? And how does the PCB choose to handle an individual who allegedly threatened to “start a war” against their selection panel? Make him part of the selection panel, of course. I suppose their skewed logic is that those primed to do the most damage to the system should be placed in a position of power within that system so they have a stake in its survival. One can’t really blame the PCB for such logic since the apex of the Federal Government’s been applying that strategy as well. Wonder how that’s working out?

And what was Mr. Ilyas’s first order of business? Restore you, Imran, to your “rightful” position, of course. Most might say that something fishy’s afoot. But not me. I think its one big, freakish coincidence. It’s not like your numbers don’t justify your inclusion. A healthy average of barely above 30 in both major forms of the game make you a shoe-in for any Wisden World XI team. And your discipline? Exemplary. Some called you a crybaby for phoning up a selector in the middle of the night and demanding to know why you’d been dropped. But I figured you just wanted to say “hi”. Apparently it got so heated that you were fined for dissent. It doesn’t stop there. When you jumped ship for the ICL you took a few more shots at the PCB for assassinating your career, as if your lazy wafts outside the off-stump weren’t the true culprits.

So kudos, Imran – you can’t bat competently, but I’m sure you are one exceptional family man. I can just see the case Mohammad Ilyas made on your behalf in front of the selection committee. Sure my son-in-law has no patience outside the off-stump. But he always asks my daughter how her day went when they’re on the dinner table. Granted he will give his wicket away carelessly, thereby enhancing the pressure on our other batsmen. But apparently he volunteers to do the dishes on Tuesdays and Saturdays. And his lack of foot movement is completely offset by the fact that he lets his wife handle the remote when they’re watching television.

The fact is Imran, you’re back and there’s no use crying about it. Just show up, make your random 30 odds and scratchy half centuries, and then leave us be. Pakistan cricket is at a very important stage right now. We’ve been deprived of home games and yet we’ve managed to win a World Cup and make it to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy. We’ve got a couple of young players in Umar Akmal and Mohammad Aamer who have it in them to ensure a very bright future for our team. And what’s more, we as a nation want revenge this time around. Beating New Zealand was supposed to be a sure thing, like it’s always been, which is what made it all the more traumatizing to lose to them in the Champions Trophy. We don’t want to beat them. We want to maul them. I’m sure you figure yourself to be the man to do the mauling. Sadly, you’re not. You’re not even the original, unreliable Imran. Now that kid could maul. Pity about the temperament, though.

So enjoy yourself, Imran. Don’t get too comfortable and please, don’t do any lasting damage while you’re out there. When you’re in the nets, don’t drive a ball straight at Saeed Ajmal and cause him bodily harm. He’s the best thing to happen to Pakistan off-spin bowling since Saqlain Mushtaq and we’ll need him in the tests against New Zealand. Furthermore, if you’re ever in the locker room and arguing with Shahid bhai about whether youngsters like Umar Akmal respect you, don’t grab a bat and start swinging at Umar. Akmal’s a national treasure. Furthermore, you might meet two guys while you’re training with the team: Ahmed Shehzad (though he’s not selected) and Fawad Alam. Both of them have the potential to be extremely successful and productive batsmen for Pakistan. So steer clear of them and don’t offer them any pearls of wisdom such as: “always charge down the track when the ball is full and swinging”. Just point them both towards the direction of Younis Khan and you’ll have done your bit for Pakistan cricket.

You know Imran, you may very well have a good series, maybe even comparable to that glory tour against the same team a few years back. You’re even capable of a test century or two. But you’re not a long term solution. You’re just another in the line of ICL alums whom the selection committee insists on trotting out even though they forget that they were dropped for poor performance in the first place.

Enjoy your run, Imran. My regards to Ilyas sahb.


Divine Justice

This is a small point, but how frustrating must it be for a player to do all the hard work and then watch an undeserving team mate reap the awards?

Case in point: the first 10 overs in Pakistan's ODI against NZ.

Umar Gul, while not bowling terribly, was easily the weaker link of the attack. After starting well enough with a maiden, he leaked 10 runs in his second over and was smoked for 3 fours in his third, altogether leaking 23 runs in his first 3.

At the other end, Aamer was immaculate. Mixing his length and generating the odd lift from the pitch, Aamer repeatedly beat the edge, rapped the pads and grazed the stumps. He made Aaron Redmond, and McCullum to a lesser extent, look like schoolgirls.

But, as fate would have it, first blood went to Gul.

This is hardly a rare phenomenon, but it just got me wondering how frustrating it is for a bowler. Forget the idealistic "who cares, its all for the good of the team" argument. It must have really sucked for Aamer to see Gully walk away with that first wicket, eh?

I'm sure most of us can relate. Lets say you're working on a project for your firm along with a colleague and you're putting in the hard hours, producing some excellent memos / research pieces when one day, you walk out of your room to go to the bathroom at the same moment your boss walks in and congratulates your colleague for all the good work done and promising him a raise when he's actually just been sitting on his ass the entire time eating super crisps. I dont know about you, but I'd be fucking pissed. I'd question the point of my work ethic and my place in the world in general.

Ergo: Mohammad Aamer's plight. There's no solution for it. It's really just bad luck.

As I write this, the following incident ocurred which I will let the live commentary team of cricinfo relate to you.


Umar Gul to Taylor, no run, on a length around off stump, driven hard back down the track and Umar Gul tries to stop it from front of his face but ricochets it to his groin. Ouch!

Ouch indeed. That's one possible solution. Letting God restore parity. That's two wickets for Gul but one less child in the future. Actually, I'm glad this happened because its allowed me to change the title of this blog from a boring "Aamer's woes" to a more mildly catchy "Divine Justice". That settles it. Next time I'm sidelined at work by a colleague I'm diving fist first into his crotch.


And Aamer gets a wicket! Considering he didn't have to lay his testicles on the line for it, I'd say he's one-upped Gul now.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

For the prudent Pakistan fan..

How a rational cricket fan would think:

With victories in the warm-up games followed by two wins from two games in the league stages, Pakistan are at their peak entering this tournament. The team needs to mantain its intensity by thoroughly beating a severely weakened and impotent Australian one-day side and go into the semi-final stages with a 100% win record which would be an added boost to their confidence.

How a Pakistani cricket fan SHOULD think:

We have victories in the warm-up games and two wins from two games in the league stages and risk going into the semis UNDEFEATED!

We're so screwed.

AS things stand, we're through to the semis so why tempt fate by being ungrateful and asking for more. Temporarily resting on one's laurels is a severely underappreciated form of leisure. Look at it this way, if the Aussies beat us, Pakistan and Australia go through to the final and India get knocked out completely. How sweet would that be?

More importantly, a loss to Australia ensures we get a defeat out of our system to satisfy the law of averages. Look, we're not capable of having a perfect track record and we need to get a loss out of the way as soon as possible before it occurs at a time when it can hurt us. Our players are at their worst when they are in a comfort zone (except Younis Khan who always tries hard and expects the most from himself no matter whether its a crunch game or dead rubber). Once we lose, we'll be startled out of our complacency and will be less likely to slack off in the semis and the final, since we ARE making the finals.

Imran KIND OF had it right when he said we play at our best when we're cornered tigers. But we need to get cornered first for those fighting instincts to come to the fore. Otherwise we're like a kind of gay tiger who stumbled onto his first kill (which was injured to begin with) and was lucky to get his second since the prey almost turned the tables on him.

If Australia beat us and India beat West Indies by a VERY substantial margin that MAY mean India go through to the semis with us. Thats the tricky part. Because then, if we get to the finals, we might meet India there and I dont think we as a nation can handle that. I know I cant. And I don't envy our chances in beating India twice in a major tournament.

Plus, the Indian cricket team is a more like us than they're given discredit for. If they're doing badly in the early stages of a tournament, they're more likely to win it under the guise of underdogs since they wont have the enormous pressure of expectations their unreasonable country puts on them.
Right now, I can console myself with the fact that we beat India. That'll be all for naught if they come back to win the tournament.

Also, lets hope we meet New Zealand in the semis. A good luck charm if there ever was one. Mark Guptill zindabad. Incidentally, if we're ever stupid enough to declare war against India, we should first first invade New Zealand and shoot a few nukes down there. Whenever we kick kiwi ass, we always go on to do greater things.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meeting Mr. Miandad

I think I've been waiting my entire life to hear something like this:

Lifelong thanks to OQ for alerting me to this.

I have a theory about this song: If you're from Pakistan and you dont like it or enjoy it, then the odds are that you're probably a bad person who is unhappy in his/her life, incredibly bitter, jaded and cynical and most probably a drag to be around.

If India does manage to beat us, I think this is the only song which could cheer me up.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hey Nadal, how’d that feel?

The ingredients are all there. Maybe it seems familiar. Want me to paint you a picture?

Utter demolition. Complete annihilation. Abject embarrassment. A great athlete undeservedly humbled by a player possibly great, but not legendary.

Ring a bell, Rafa?

No, this isn’t the 2007 French Open final. This is YOUR life, September 13, Flushing Meadows. Eat it!

That medicine’s pretty hard to swallow isn’t it? Yeah well I hope you choke on it because, as a Federer fan, you’ve been shoveling it down our throats for the last 3 straight years.

I don’t dislike Nadal. In fact, he’s quite possibly my second favorite player on the tour. It says a lot for Nadal that, by and large, he doesn’t really inspire hatred in the fans of his chief rival. Think about it: in most sporting rivalries you’re duty-bound to hate the other guy. If you were an Agassi fan, you despised Sampras. If Messi floats your boat, Cristiano probably sinks it. If you’re an Alonso-phile, then you’re most probably anti-Hamilton. If you think Shawn Michaels is the greatest thing in pro wrestling, then you would entertain the notion that Bret Hart is the worst thing to happen to it (okay, I lost you with that last one).

But, as endearing as he is, one thing Federer fans can’t forgive Nadal for is how ordinary he makes an undisputed legend like Roger look. He reduced him to tears at the Australian. He took his Wimbledon title in the greatest sports match ever played. His looping, spin-infested forehand has given people the illusion that Federer’s backhand is actually “weak”. And then there was Roland Garros ’07.

Man. Roland Garros 2007. A lot of us just wish that day could forever be blotted from our memory. I hate getting into it.

But it’s a day like today which makes me want to revisit it.

Nadal was completely dominated and outplayed by Del Potro today as Federer was by Nadal two years ago. I don’t want to use the word outclassed, because I think Nadal may be “great”-er than Del Potro could ever be. But you can see it in Nadal’s face today. He’s irritable, tetchy, self-reproachful, and just altogether negative. You don’t see it very often. If at all. I saw flashes of it the day when Tsonga spanked him in the Australian semis. But Nadal is mostly renowned to keep his frustrations in check. Something Federer prides himself on (during matches) but failed to do at Roland Garros. Everyone came down on him for that. They used it as some sort of psychological marker of his athletic inadequacy.

The fact that Federer has a poor head-to-head record against Nadal is the ONLY thing anti-Feds have left to use against him after Federer’s phenomenal 2009 summer. The fact that he couldn’t unlock Nadal’s game seemed equivalent to the holy grail.

Which is why I’m glad that Nadal is finally being punished for his style of play. Nadal’s topsin-heavy forehands probably gives Federer nightmares. Armed with it, Nadal relentlessly assaults Federer’s backhand, forcing him to play an extremely uncomfortable shot with the ball above shoulder height. Unfortunately for Nadal, that height sits up just about perfectly for Del Potro to lace with his 6 foot 7 forehand.


See that’s why I’ve never given a damn about assholes who go around saying that Federer can’t be considered great due to Nadal’s dominance against him. Look, dicks. Federer has beaten everyone under the sun and has more talent in his well manicured finger than Nadal has in his entire manufactured body. But it’s just a helluva coincidence that Nadal’s game has been built PERFECTLY to counter Federer’s. The kind of loop and spin Nadal gets from his left handed forehand is probably God’s most perfect weapon against Federer. And, I really think Roger was on track to conquering it soon, following his performance at Madrid and his keenness with the drop shot and backhand slice. But, as things stood, it seemed like the heavens were conspiring against Federer when Rafa’s game was being hewn.

And it’s that VERY game which has come back to haunt Nadal today and bite him in the ass.

I don’t know how you interpret 6-2 6-2 6-2 as any thing other than a complete humiliation. Nadal just did NOT know what was going on. At least Tsonga used to come to the net and play those audacious drop shots. But Del Potro just barged into Nadal’s house, the baseline, and dictated the game from there. In many ways, he out-Nadaled Nadal.

So if anybody thought Roger didn’t deserve the “greatest of all time” title following Roland Garros 2 years ago, then I’m sorry but Nadal just lost his right to that label after today’s massacre. It’s a day Nadal will never forget. Maybe he’ll be the better for it, as Roger definitely was. But then Roger is a legend. And Nadal is simply “great”.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Federer lays down biological marker for Nadal

So that’s 60 singles titles. 15 grandslams. 21 straight semi-finals. A career grandslam.

Oh yeah – and twins on the first go.

Beat that Nadal.
Beat that and you’ll go down as the best male tennis player of all time. And you only get to capitalize the “male” part if you can accomplish that last feast.

In keeping with his phenomenal year, Federer has done it again by producing twins out of GoodYear blimp Mirka. This is totally a testament to Federer’s virility rather than receptiveness of Mirka’s uterus because, if the rumors are true, Mirka’s been sperm-blocking the Great Fed.

Apparently the couple had been trying to conceive for a while but something about Mirka’s biology just expelled all of Federer’s seed. It wasn’t Roger’s fault. He was producing some brilliant sperm cells. Probably the best of his life. He probably could have impregnated any woman on the planet. But Mirka’s cervix refused to budge. Her internal organs deflected whatever Federer tossed their way. One night, after half an hour of love making, Federer broke down in tears. Mirka’s genitalia still looked fresh and ready to take more of whatever Federer had left to throw at it. But he had had enough. What was the point? God had perfectly constructed Mirka’s reproductive organs to reject anything Federer might send their way. This may have been the same night he nicknamed her vulva “Rafa”.

Then, one day, Mirka suffered a freak horse-riding accident. And suddenly, a gateway opened for Roger.

Roger is not one to wait for his opponent to recover from a setback so he dived right in. He may very well have mounted Mirka right there on the riding track where she lay bruised and bloodied from her fall. Wherever it was, Federer would give no quarter. Suddenly, his game started to click. Reverse missionary, doggystyle, cowgirl, piledriver. Tantric. Kamasutra. Greco-Roman. He pulled out ALL the sexual stops.

There was no holding him back. Gavin Rossdale of Bush, in attendance at the time, claims that at one point Mirka lowered her abdomen and clenched down on her insides, robbing Federer of the freedom to maneuver his famously fertile seed. Federer responded with the deftest of touches, slowing the pace down and withdrawing just a bit, tempting Mirka to arch her back, and then he drilled in the winner past the g-spot breaking open the gates of the cervix once again. By now it was all Roger. In another bang-defining moment, during the reverse cowgirl, Mirka tried to dominate the rhythm by increasing her own pace. The Swiss Maestro simply used this strategy against her – absorbing all her heavy pumping like a sponge he waited for a break in her momentum. When her persistence faltered for a millisecond, he seized the opportunity with a swift forward motion, gently dropping her inches along the bed post and gliding on to his haunches. Before Mirka realized what had happened, Federer had the night back under his control with the doggystyle. She never recovered from that one.

The fruits of his labour are there for all to see. Two beautiful baby girls. Who are already being tipped for tennis stardom, might I add.

Commented Federer:
“Yeah I just don’t know, you know. It’s like, unbelievable. I’ve always seen these great men produce twins and I always dreamed that I’d be able to be right up there, you know. A lot of people doubted me, said I was finished, I was shooting blanks. But I never let it get to me. It’s all about moving forward, you know. Breaking new ground.”

On the extra pressure this added on Nadal:
“It’s gonna be tough on him, that’s for sure. But no, Nadal is a good looking guy and the power of his forward thrust is unbelievable, you know. I’m just glad I got to impregnate Mirka before he did.”

Responded Nadal:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Enter: Imran Nazir

I don’t mind Nasir Jamshed, I really don’t. While I don’t see in him the promise I see in Umar Akmal, the kid has done enough to warrant a chance. And since he didn’t abandon his country for some rebel league in India, I suppose the establishment would place him higher in the pecking order than the IPL prodigals. Also, he didn’t exit the team due to a lack of form. He was actually making runs in the last couple of matches and then got injured.

So, fair enough. He gets to make his case before the other guy. Weak dismissal first match? Chalk it down to nerves. It’s only fair to give him a second chance.

But enough is enough. He’s had his shot, and is only 19 so he’ll get many more if he works hard. But it’s time for him to make way because he is keeping another guy out of the team. And not just any guy.

For the good of all mankind, Imran Nazir needs to play in the fourth ODI.

Look, we’ve all but lost this ODI series. Sure, there is every chance we’ll win this match but Nasir added next to zero to the innings. If we win, replacing one wild card opener for another really doesn’t make a difference. We would still have a winning combination, albeit with a better fielder. And if we lose? Well then the case for Nazir’s inclusion is watertight. The last 2 matches become dead rubbers and we should test him out looking ahead to the Champions Trophy. Imran Nazir may very well score a duck and a 1 in both matches. But I fail to see the relative gain in leaving him out in favour of Yousuf, Misbah or Jamshed.

Also, I think some people tend to undervalue the psychological importance of electric fielding. How often is it that you’re watching a fielding side just go through the motions – shoulders drooping because nothing’s going their way? A brilliant catch, a spectacular save or an unexpectedly precise run-out can turn all that around. It lifts the team up. It rouses them from their indifference. Nazir brings that to the team. I’m not saying he does that on a daily basis. But at least that’s something he is capable of doing. Misbah, Salman and Nasir are NOT capable of that.

Alright, that’s that for the reasonable arguments. Now to appeal to your heart.

Imran Nazir IS Pakistan cricket.

His unpredictability. His flair. His vulnerability to rushes of emotion. His brashness. Match-winning booms followed by sharp declines. Nazir is Afridi by another name (and ethnicity). He's the Beast and I'd insist on calling him that if a friend of mine hadnt already made that nickname all her own.

Nazir is one of the sweetest hitters of the cricket ball in our nation and you’re a fucking idiot if you think Afridi can still bludgeon the way he used to. You think the Yuvrajs and Gayles were picked because of their technique? No, they were picked because selectors understood that, more often than not, you’re going to get a flat pitch so why not opt for players who can make maximum use of that. They were picked for their aggression. A short yet belligerent innings can knock the wind out of the sails of the opposition or rob their best bowler of some of his confidence.

Lets face is – technique is pointless for Pakistani cricketers. We need to fact facts: the players with the best techniques (Younis, Yousuf) are as capable of playing the moving ball as the players with mediocre ones (Akmal, Alam). Not that Younis or Yousuf’s technique is textbook. We have never won matches but out-techniqueing the other batting side. We’ve done it by inspiring ourselves to just outplay the opposition.

And Nazir is inspirational. That’s what a team like Pakistan needs. We don’t need a Khurram Manzoor or a Salman Butt blocking their way to a partnership of 4 runs per over. We’ve always had the simmering talent to be whatever we want to be. We just need certain players to ignite that talent. Check out Akmals innings today. Maybe it’s the trigger that’ll set off Umar Akmal’s talent later in the innings. Fawad Alam’s test century? He was boosted by the psychological lift given by Kaneria and Ajmal’s bowling. And unlike the Maliks, Misbahs and Yousufs, Imran has not been psychologically scarred by Kulusakera and Thushara. The older guys have no confidence against the Lankan bowlers. Nazir will either cream them all over the park, or get out too soon for him to watch the ball beat his outside edge delivery afer delivery, slowly creating self doubt in his mind.

So for the sake of all that is good and holy: Imran Nazir needs to be given a chance to be what he is.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Deep quotes

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine forwarded me a short essay/answer he had written in response to a question posed in the business school application for Lahore University of Management and Sciences (LUMS).

Suffice to say, I could suggest no improvements to his masterpiece below:

Why do you want a MBA/Executive MBA degree from LUMS? How will you benefit from it? (maximum 4000 characters)

My motivation for joining LUMS stems from an inherent belief that there are no simple answers in real life. There is never a black or white answer, atleast for all the crucial questions. For those lucky enough to have it figured out, life must seem rather pale. But it is not for me to judge them. I live amongst non-linear roads, ones which wind back on themselves and where the forks in the road do not come with right way or wrong way signs. The only markers are your own judgments.

It is thus imperative to allow your instincts to be honed to meet such challenges. Our value systems and social constructs provide only a blurry view of which choices are better and which not. It is however a characteristic of every society to condition us in a manner that we become compatible with the society’s norms.

Isn't it absolute genius?!

You have to read it thrice to really be able to capture its full beauty. The first time you read it you sort of get sucked into believing its normal since the language isn't particularly jarring in the first sentence. Neither is the central theme particularly ludicrous - basically the guy just wants to be a flexible thinker but is expressing that in the stupidest way possible. Half way into the first paragraph, however, you feel your "what the FUCK is going on" sensation starting to kick in - probably around the time where the writer announces that his residence is third house down the non-linear road. So then you collect your thoughts and read it again, now prepared to appreciate the bullshit for what it really is. I would then urge you to read it a third time because there are some brilliant contradictions in there. Like, the "non-linear roads which wind back on themselves". He's basically telling the admissions panel that he likes going around in circles.

Just great stuff.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lady and the Tramp

Nothing says "I love you" like your lady paying for your defense counsel.

For all the bad that's happened to Mohammad Asif over the last couple of years, he can at least take solace in the fact that he's found true love in the beautiful (or at LEAST fairly do-able) Veena Malik. This is one lady who knows that the way to a man's heart is his legal costs. The following is an excerpt from an article in the News announcing their nuptials:

Asif gave Veena a car as a gift on her birthday, while Veena bore Asif’s expenses including the fee of the lawyers he had hired in connection with cases relating to his cricketing career.

Now thats class. I wish sometimes the chicks im involved with would quit buying me colognes or clothes and just pay for my medical or foot my car insurance already. I wonder how Asif's mom evaluated the rishta? Ok, can she get along with the family? Check. Can she cook? Check. Can she manage the house servants? Check. Can she field questions from the anti-doping commission and liaise regularly with the lawyers defending Asif against charges of taking performance enhancing drugs which may cripple his career? Check.

Honestly though, I'm glad this happened. As some of you may know, Asif is back in the reckoning for a place in the Champions Trophy and I for one will consider Veena a breath of fresh air when it comes to eye candy in the player's family enclosures. After years of specimens like these:

we'll finally be treated to quality like this:

And why the hell not, I say? We Pakistani cricket fans are an oppressed lot. We usually have to wait for half a decade for the team to do anything of note, so why cant we spend the time in between oggling our heroes wives? Or would you rather watch another exhilirating Khurram Manzoor innings or a tense Danish Kaneria spell of bowling? Seriously, if anyone has a right to gratuitous relief, its us. I mean, sometimes I've caught myself checking out Chacha Cricket when times have been tough on the field (and for me personally).

So all hail this new pairing. May it bring good fortune to Pakistan cricket and may the prospect of boning his wife appear more appealing to Asif than snorting a line of cocaine.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oh Hina, How i love thee

I'd like to begin with a quote from renowned philosopher, George Edward Moore:

"Other men said they have seen angels, But I have seen thee, And thou art enough."

Well said, George, well said. I saw an angel today, and her name is Hina Rabbani Khar.

She's the State Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs and with a seductive title like that, you can be sure that she had me at "State". This overachieving young lady puts the "fine" in "finance" and is being marketed by the PPP as a younger, smarter, non-psychotic Sarah Palin. Khar is renowned for her outside-the-box, maverick approach, which is on ample display in the picture below where she chose to quench her thirst with a bottle of Aquafina rather than stale Nestle or conventional tea:

Please forgive me for the effusive exhibition of my feelings, but you must understand, I am in the initial throes of infatuation. I cant hide what I feel, and what I feel is a deep longing for Hina.

You see, after Sherry Rehman left the public eye, I always felt there was a gaping hole in the "hot women in power" category. Fahmida Mirza is a poor man's milf. Fatima Bhutto's hot, i suppose, but she's not in power so she fails one of the two essential prerequisites for being a turn-on in this category. Kashmala Tariq is way above Fatima in the hotness category, but she has this stuck-up, high maintenance aura about her. With Hina, you get the wholesome, girl-next-door-who-owns-the-neighborhood vibe.

But I wasnt drawn to Hina by her looks only. She's quite a sharp cookie. Did you know she was the first woman to present a budget speech to the national assembly (check out the cute picture of her in that last link)? Did you also know that some organisation called the World Economic Forum put her on its list of young global leaders? Well neither did I until I saw her wikipedia page. I couldnt care less if its true or not. Im sure she's decently intelligent to get this far in life, if not cunning as a fox.

The point is, she's cute. She's in power. She could probably get me killed. So I can finally move on from Sherry Rehman.


I have just been alerted by a friend, coincidentally another Hina, that Hina Khar is married, though I'm awaiting confirmation on whether it's a happy marriage. Suffice to say that I'm incredibly upset with both Hinas at the moment.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Younis gives Fawad the crazy eyes

Q: When can you tell a Pakistani player has the potential to be a breakout star?

A: When Younis Khan makes it very clear he wants to rape him.

Check out Younis's expression in the photo above. If that look doesn't spell sodomy for Alam, I dont know what does. Subtlety aint one of Younis's strong suits, and there's nothing delicate about that fiery gaze he's directing at Alam. YK is sizing FA up. YK likes what he sees. YK is going to go to town on that boy after the end of the innings.

And why not?

You see, I'm not rehashing the old "pathans are ravenous gays" jokes, which are pretty tired. Neither am I implying that Younis is romantically interested in Fawad.

Rather, I'm talking about the ultimate test of character Younis subjects all emerging Pakistani cricketers to and this test is usually carried out in a roughly horizontal position (emphasis on "rough"). You see, the mark of any good player is the mark Younis leaves on his body. Misbah got it. Akmal got it. Afridi kind of gave it right back to Younis. But let no one accuse Younis of being an indiscriminate lover. Mohammad Sami never got it, even though many felt he had the potential. Sami wishes YK would have given it to him, but Sami could never have handled it.

Unlike Alam.

Fawad Alam may very well be the missing link in our batting line-up; the solution to all our problems. But far be it for Younis to simply celebrate him as such. Younis is not given to faint praise. He's seen them come and go. He's been around for guys like Mohammad Asif who were trumpeted as the second coming of Christ but couldn't handle a night with YK - turning to drugs and steroids to relieve the pain from that one night YK tested his mettle.

And if anybody thinks I'm talking out of my ass, check out Sidharth Mongia's confirmation of YK's special test:

Younis told him (Fawad) he had got something for him, which he would show him in the dressing room.

If Alam is ever to make it as a player, he has to grit his teeth and survive Younis's test. If he truly wants to convince himself and the world that he's for real, he has to withstand the thrust of Younis's argument. In order to earn the respect of his team and his country, he has to match Younis pound for pound. He has to let Younis drive his point in. Alam shouldn't approach this test half assed, but rather be very anal about the fact that Younis give him the full monty.

And I think the kid can do it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Michael Bay can’t direct humans

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen reviewed

[I have pasted a few randomly selected stills from the movie to give you a flavour of what I’m writing about]

About a quarter of the way through Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, I had to ask myself:
Why, in spite of its many shortcomings, was I really enjoying this movie.

After all, there’s quite a lot not to like about the movie:

The Autobots weren’t given more of an individual identity as compared to the last movie – in fact, at least the last movie had more then passing references to the supporting Autobot cast. Once again, it’s all just Optimus and, to a lesser extent, Bumblebee. It sucks because its only possible for an audience to root for characters if they’re “humanized” to a degree, which would have been possible by allowing each Transformer to exhibit certain personality traits (gruffness, fear, eagerness).

The Decepticons seem weaker in this installment. Not only does the supreme badass Megatron cow down before his mentor, his mentor pretty much admits he’s going to shit bricks if a true Autobot leader shows up to a fight. So once Prime enters the fray, Michael Bay has already ensured that the audience knows its curtains for the bad guys. Also, I was hoping StarScream would get his chance in the sun this time around.

The comic element introduced by the human protagonist’s parents slips into camp at times. They’re funny at first, kind of like the American Pie dude’s father was funny in the movie. But the jokes deteriorate rapidly into farce. Sometimes it feels like you’re watching an Indian movie. You know - those serious Indian movies which rely on the “bumbling” hired help/servants to provide the laughs. It’s that bad. The humor in general is lame after the first half hour. It kills me that they could have utilized some of the time they wasted on jokes towards giving the robots more of an identity.

After the first 15-20 minutes, basically as soon as Sam walks into college, any scene without a robot sucks ass. Michael Bay canNOT handle hate, gravity, anguish, love – basically any aspect of human behavior and emotion. And, uffff, the dialogue is “has-to-be-heard-to-be-believed” bad.

Sam, the central protagonist, is an ungrateful shit. I mean, who the HELL would turn down an opportunity to hang out with the Transformers? If Optimus Prime came to you and asked you to be his spokesperson, would you actually tell him to leave you alone because you’re a “normal kid with normal problems”? Hell no! Can you imagine the kind of action a guy would get with those kind of friends? Frankly, its utterly implausible that a character Sam’s age would not want to be associated with the Autobots. Angst is angst but this is just fucking preposterous.

So what was it about this movie which had me hooked?

Well, I suppose it was a bunch of things but I’m having a hard time pinning it down.

It could be Optimus Prime. While the Autobot focus was mostly Optimus-oriented, the big guy made the most of his screen time. From his action sequences, to his unquestionably majestic presence, the guy is a movie unto himself. His character would have benefited so much more if he had a dynamic with at least ONE of the other Autobots. But regardless, he carries his race for 150 minutes.

Speaking of action sequences, that may very well be the reason I enjoyed this flick since Michael Bay outdoes himself in this regard. The robot battles in this installment will blow your mind right back through your asshole! The level of detail is spectacular – at times you can track each blow being traded by these massive machines. The special effects in the movie are truly summer-movie worthy and then some. There’s a sequence when some kind of Decepticon dog barfs thousands of spheres into a tunnel leading into a government facility. To watch those spheres combine and turn into something was beautiful – almost a work of art akin to the T-1000’s liquid effect from Terminator 2.

Oh, and the mid-movie fight sequence in the park/woods? To-fucking-die-for. That has to be one of my favorite action sequences of all time.

Notice how the good things about the movie follow a pattern of being non-human. It goes on. The plot being hatched by the Decepticons really hooks you in. You get to learn about a bit of the history of the Transformers and a BIT about where they come from (but not who made them). I’ll give Michael Bay credit for stumbling upon the realization that moviegoers MIGHT just want to know more about the eponymous characters of a movie they spent good money to see.

So yeah, I guess it’s a combination of the reasons above which made this such a fun movie. However, I don’t think I could stomach the human scenes again. Particularly the interaction between Sam and his girlfriend as well as his parents. I’ll deifnetly get the dvd so I can forward past that shit.

As a sidenote, Megan Fox, playing the character of Mikaela Banes, is also looking very nice through the course of the film. The following is a picture to illustrate my point:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

An Open Letter to Salman Butt

Dear Salman Butt,

I hope this letter finds you well, and by “well” I do mean in inexorable pain and mental agony.

My name is PakFan69. Do not mistake my pseudonym as some kind of attempt to hide my identity. Nothing would make me happier than to tell you who I am, arrange a meeting between us, and then shoot you through your spinal chord. However, I speak to you today not as an individual, but as part of a larger collective. My words are those of hundreds upon thousands of Pakistani cricket fans - hence I have chosen the alias “PakFan”. As for an explanation of the “69” part, you can ask your sister about that one.

Salman, I don’t really know how to begin this. Most of me just wants to barrage you with obscenities and insults and point out how you have absolutely no talent and have chiefly contributed to some of our heaviest losses. Yet another part of me wants to actually try to understand you. How could God create someone so devoid of talent and backbone. Surely you must have SOME redeeming feature. I don’t think it’s possible for someone to be as waste of a bunch of atoms as you. If there isn’t anything worthwhile within you, surely you would have committed suicide by now to put an end to your wretched life, right? However, a very small part of me also wants to help you Salman; to nurture you. It’s a very small part, but its there nonetheless. I want to give you a guiding hand and help you through this difficult time and try to make a man out of you. I want to do all this because when you do make something of yourself after years of trial and error, I want to be there to take you to the ground we used to visit to perfect your technique and hire two gargantuan Afghanis to gang rape and sodomise the hell out of you and, when your sore-assed body crawls over to me, gasping out “whyyy, PakFan69 bhai, why”, I can pull out the revolver with the one bullet I’ve been saving for the last couple of years for this moment and shoot you through the face with it. A small part of me would do this, Salman, because I’m assuming that kind of betrayal and death would be more painful and heartwrenching for you than anything anyone else could think of. The fact that a father figure has that kind of contempt for you would conclusively make you realize what an overall shit you are before you passed over to the next life. But, like I said, only a small part of me wants to do all that because it would take too much time.

Salman, remember when you started out your career? People… it almost nauseates me to say this… people regarded you as the next SAEED ANWAR. Its kind of like saying that Jesse Jackson is the next God. No, that analogy is not apt because Jesse Jackson has done okay for himself in his narrow sphere. Its kind of like saying Dinara Safina is the next Steffi Graf. Again not totally apt because Dinara’s won a few titles and is the Number 1 tennis player in the world. Im having trouble finding a good analogy because I cant think of any instance where someone who is such an abject failure is compared to one of the greats in his field. Usually, the person being compared has SOME redeeming quality. But, as OBA rightly pointed out, you’re good at nothing.

Why were you touted as the next Saeed Anwar? Basically because you’re a left hander. That’s it, Salman. NOTHING else about you justifies that comparison. I adored Saeed Anwar and, right off the bat (heh), I felt personally injured at the comparison being made. Saeed was beautiful to watch. Whether he was driving through the off, or flicking through leg, he was one of those players who wasn’t capable of playing an ugly shot. You seem to have it in reverse – a graceful Salman Butt shot is the Haley’s Comet of world cricket. You can only, ONLY, play through the off side. And that too, only through certain gaps and channels in that off-side. Hell, I could draw a couple of lines through the offside field which would perfectly match the trajectory of your strokes.

The comparisons to Anwar were given weight by your record against India. Sure, you’ve scored a couple of hundreds against India. Does that make you good? Ijaz Ahmed had a good record against Australia, and where is he now? Having an asthama attack behind a jail cell on charges of fraud and waiting for his conjugal visit from Salim Malik’s sister. Even that frightening outcome would be too good for you.

The whole world took notice of you when you scored a hundred and a half century IN Australia against an attack which included Glen McGrath and Shane Warne. Those greats didn’t deserve to have a gandu like you score runs against them. A lot of very intelligent cricket fans thought that this was it – finally one half of our opening conundrum has been solved. Finally, we have another world class batsman in our line-up.

But I wasn’t fooled. I recognized you for the no-talent waste of space that you are. You were dropped once in that innings in Sydney and had two close lbw shouts turned down. Plus, your century came after we had lost the series and you had no pressure on you. And hey, every fucking bharwa dog has his day. That was yours. Even Vanilla Ice had one hit song. Where the fuck is he now?

Over the course of your career, you’ve actually ADDED to your shortcomings when most people try to improve on them. You’ve managed to become the worst fielder in our team, which is saying something for a Pakistani unit. Kamran Akmal must love having you around because the number of catches you let slip through your gay fingers takes the attention off him. Isn’t human existence supposed to follow a pattern of development – don’t we add to our skills or refine the existing ones? You seem to be deteriorating as time passes by. You’re the antithesis of a fine wine.

And now here we are. Our first test match after months and our first competitive game after the heady victory at the T20 World Cup. Bravo Salman, you managed to spoil both occasions for us. There was no need for that shot after Yousuf had just gotten out. Don’t you know you’re incapable of taking the attack to good bowlers and playing outside your limited comfort zone? And, in the space of a few seconds, you’ve extinguished most of the euphoria flowing out of the T20 triumph.

Tell me Salman, make me understand how a senior batsman in the team with 5 years of experience can play with such utter disregard for the circumstances around him. Explain to me why a guy who is supposedly the most educated guy in our team refuses to learn from his mistakes and doesnt put in the hard hours in correcting the substantial glitches in his technique. I don’t get it Salman – doesn’t being such an asshole affect you? When you wake up in the morning and look at your face in the mirror, what stops you from taking your razor blade and slitting your own throat as final penance for the embarrassments you’ve subjected Pakistan cricket to?

Salman do us all a favor and please exit the team. Currently your test and one day averages sit at 28 and 38 respectively and in the last year your average is probably half that. So, by your own standards, you’d still be going out at the top of your game. You seem to be sort of educated so maybe you can get a desk job of some sort. Im sure there is SOMEthing you can do in life. It’s just not cricket.

Kind regards,


p.s. I also blame you for the death of Bob Woolmer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wimbledon quips

I thought these jokes up myself.


Alright, so Tommy Haas beat Novak Djokovic in the quarter finals right?
At 31, Tommy is the oldest guy in the draw, yet made it into the Semis.
I guess he's proved to the world that he's no "haas"-been.

So Federer beat Ivo Karlovic in straight sets, huh?
Whether you're a Fed fan or not, you have to admit that Roger's a GOOD guy.
So you might say his victory over Karlovic was a triumph of good over Ivo-l (like, "evil", get it?)

Speaking of Karlovic, he despatched Fernando Verdasco in the earlier rounds, right?
Back in the first week, everyone was saying that Fernando would making it ll the way to the quarters.
But here were are and he's nowhere to be seen, prompting people to wonder "where'd-dasc-go".

Anybody catch Andy Murray's thumping of Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Man, they're still looking for someone who can get the better of Murray.
And I guess Ferrero wasnt the "Juan". So much for him being the chosen "Juan". (stole that last one from a Mourinho related headline).

Why did Lleyton Hewitt lose to Andy Roddick in their quaterfinal encounter?
Because Hewitt was lleyt-on his service return. (Actually he was pretty solid with his service return - i just didnt know what else to do with his name)

Thanks, i'll be here all week.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Destiny Beckons: Previewing the Pakistan v.s. Sri Lanka Final

In his biography of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Stanley Wolpert described an incident which occurred a few days after the landmark Lahore Resolution was passed by the Muslim League in March 1940.

An unnamed party clerk came upon the Quaid in the hallways of the Lahore HQ of the League and ceased the occasion to sound out his pessimism and misgivings regarding the Two-Nation theory and establishment of an independent state. It seemed impossible in the face of a strong Congrss and a League which still stood divided between its pro-Congress and pro-British factions. All the odds seemed stacked against the accomplishment of this task.

To this, the Quaid is said to have replied: “This is not a task, an assignment or a mission. This is our destiny. This is something which we were meant to have and, be it now or years from now, it is something which cannot be denied to us. It is our destiny to achieve this – we just have to wait for the right time.”

For many Muslims, the time was then.

For all Pakistani cricket fans, the time is now.

Anybody who tells you that this tournament doesn’t matter is a jackass. Anybody who disregards the importance of these matches due to the nascence of the format is short-sighted. Hell with them. We, the embattled Pakistani cricket fan, know how much this means to us. How much it has already meant to us.

I’m going to give all the pessimistic Pakistan cricket fans the benefit of the doubt by declaring this:

In the back of our minds, we all knew that there was every chance we’d get here.

I don’t know what it is about this campaign, but it’s struck all the right chords. Even when we were being thrashed in the warm-ups, our minds wandered to the “cornered tigers” speech. There was just too much going wrong with Pakistani cricket for us to simply bow out in ignominy.

Pakistani fans are a catious, conservative lot. We’ve had our hopes dashed on far too many occasions to place any concrete faith in our fortunes.

But this time it’s different.

Be it Gul’s law-of-averages defying pin-point yorkers, Afridi’s mercurial genius, Akmal’s raw brilliance, Ajmal’s understated flair, Aamir’s youthful daring, Alam’s unquestionable promise, Younis’s unpredictable canniness or whatever you want to use to describe Malik, Razzaq and Misbah. The stars have aligned for us. We feel it in our deepest recesses and it’s only our inherent culturally ingrained conservatism and cynicism which restrains us from voicing it.

This is a team of destiny. And we’re on the cusp of something incredible.

Sound familiar? In using the concept of destiny, I realize I’m borrowing a catch word/phrase from the Barcelona Football Club’s recent campaign. But when you have two of the best midfielders in the world, two of the best strikers in the world and the greatest footballer in the world at your disposal, isn’t success an inevitability rather than destiny? Barcelona did everything to put themselves in a position where they were destined to achieve some level of success.

Pakistan don’t have the luxury of circumstances. How could anything over the last two years be construed as positive steps towards a manifest destiny? Shoaib Malik captained the team into a mire. Naeem Ashraf alienated some of our best players. We’ve been rocked by constant drug scandals. A visiting team was freaking shot at. We’ve lost our status as a cricketing venue. Think about that. A powerhouse of a sport not being allowed to host any sort of international fixture. We play next to no competitive cricket for long stretches during the international calendar.

How could anyone say that getting to the T20 final is inevitable form the above facts. There’s something more to it than pure luck or chance.

It’s our destiny to be here. We deserve this. If not because of the facts I just mentioned, then because of the multitude of facts I haven’t. How the hell did a team whose followers have lost all hope, whose governing body may even have considered withdrawing it from the stage, whose country is rocked by suicide bombing and political and religious strife – how the hell did such a team get into the final.

Didn’t I just make my point? It’s our destiny.

A friend of mine is a real destiny-buff. I don’t usually buy into the whole predetermined course of events thing, but this friend has a particular approach to the concept of destiny. According to her, once you “account for karma” then one’s destiny is, pardon the circularity of the logic, inevitable. At the time, I thought it was one of the stupidest things I had ever heard. Today, on retrospect, I owe her an apology. I don’t know if I’ve interpreted her correctly, but basically, everything which has happened over the last couple of years has lead us to this moment.

Last time we left England, it was in a mixture of shame and disappointment. A major test match forfeited because a captain refused to let his country’s name be sullied. Not that it mattered anyway because sullied it was through the downfall of two of our best bowlers. We tragically lost a coach, murdered by 11 Irish upstarts. Yet we persisted. We lost Afridi as a batsman, but gained him as a bowler. There was a mass exodus towards the ICL, yet we retained Umer Gul who grew in stature. A reshuffling of the established order took place, a reliance on youth, and we were suddenly, almost unbelievably, in the finals of the first T20 World Cup. Brought there on the shoulders of a middle order batsman who contrived to somehow ensure defeat just when you sensed victory was destined. But it wasn’t our time then. The story after that you know. And now we’re back where we started. Back where things started going wrong for Pakistan cricket in the first place.

THAT, is fucking karma! We’re meant to come here. It’s just so damn perfect! We were meant to come here to finally put the ghosts of Darrel Hair and the Oval forfeit to rest. Hell, we even managed to vanquish the Irish on the way here. The only thing left is for Younis to promote Misbah over that fuck-up Malik and let destiny redeem him for his error last time around. It’s all falling into place. There is something about this team which will not be denied. It’s our destiny to be champions. Too much has gone wrong in the last couple of years for it to be taken away from us now.

One more thing Ms. Destiny said to me: “fate only helps those who help themselves”. Hardly an original thought, but poignant nonetheless. I know I’ve said a lot of abstract stuff about destiny, but we can’t go into the final expecting to win because we boast a phenomenal head-to-head record against the Lankans. We need to work towards achieving that destiny. This will NOT be a cakewalk by any means. If Gul is the Prince of death-bowlers, then Malinga is his younger step brother in waiting for the throne. Murali and Mendis are more than a match for Indian batsman which makes one shudder to think how anyone other than Younis will handle them. Their batting powerhouses are formidable and in Dilshan they have the best batsman of the tournament by far who will most probably kill Razzaq. The amount of runs Razzaq leaks to Dilshan and Jayasuria is key to our success because I KNOW our spinners and Gul will not disappoint. If we bowl, we need to get Jayawardene, Dilshan and Jayasuria. If we bat, we need to maximize the number of runs we get in the first couple of overs before Malinga and the spinners take over but still keep ticking along at around 7-8 an over during the middle period of the innings. Misbah needs to be sent higher up the order to account for his sins of the past. Younis has to reverse sweep the crap out of the M’s. And Afridi has to be Afridi.

It’s that simple.

Our destiny is staring us in the face. We just need to help ourselves get to it. It’s calling out to us. It wants us to claim it. This is our time.

Come what may in the final, this IS the new dawn for our team.

I fucking love Pakistan cricket.

p.s. If Sri Lanka do beat us, it doesn’t change the fact that as a nation, we are by FAR better looking than them.

p.p.s. The first paragraph on Wolpert and the Jinnah story was all a lie. I made it up to lend some gravitas to the piece. Hell, it COULD have happened.

Friday, June 19, 2009

7 Reasons Why Younis bowled Fawad

Cricket can be such a fickle game.

In the 17th over of South Africa’s run chase, Younis tossed the ball to 23 year old Fawad Alam for his first over of the tournament, not to mention his first over in international cricket for 7-8 months.

If Alam had picked up a lucky wicket or two, very likely since the Saffies had to go for broke at that time, Younis’s move would have been hailed as a masterstroke. Rather than be confounded by its perplexity, we would have been awed by its creativity.

Sadly for Younis, and Alam, such an outcome didn’t come to pass. Luckily for Younis, nothing hinged on that over and Pakistan ended up with a spectacular victory against a team which used to beat us for fun even during our 99-00 heydays.

But there was much more to the rationale behind Younis’s decision than simply exploiting an opportunity for picking up cheap wickets. We all know Captain Younis has a unique approach to the game, thinking far ahead of the current situation – a Galileo of his time if you will. In his inventiveness, Younis is so far outside the box that the box is just a dot on the horizon to his maniacal eyes. His decision to bowl Alam makes perfect sense, given the circumstances and the way he gauged the situation:

1. He wanted Alam to scuff up the old ball by being hit around to facilitate reverse swing.

Its hardly rocket science. Batter a ball enough, and its bound to start swinging. The South Africans werent going for their shots and Younis needed the ball to develop some roughness in order for it to start reversing. Hell, he outright pointed out this strategy at a press conference where he bitchslapped that cry baby Vettori by reminding him that a ball could wear and tear by constantly being smacked around and being hit into the stands. And he needed a bowler who would help him accomplish that. Malik is way too senior to be sacrificed in that manner. So the onus fell on Alam. Who responded admirably under pressure to keep the run-rate down. He'll bear a lot of brunt from short sighted Pakistani fans. But he'll know that he did the job asked of him. He gave the ball every chance to reverse once it got back into Gul's hands. And Gul needed every advantage since...

2. Umer Gul was concussed.

Did anyone see Gully’s head smack the turf when he spilled a halwa catch off Aamir’s bowling. The thud on impact jerked his entire body. There’s no doubt that Gully was seeing stars, further evidenced by his lackluster first two balls. Younis didn’t want to put too much pressure on Gul’s fragile cranium at that point so he had to opt for someone else.

3. That someone else couldn’t be Shoaib Malik.

Shoaib Malik can keep the runs down when the asking rate is just around a run-a-ball or slightly more – basically, where the batsman don’t have to go out of their way to smack him around. If they’re looking for a bowler to outright hit out of the park – Malik is their man. He can’t beat the batsmen through the air. He sucks at darting the ball in. Younis was probably sure that Malik would be expensive at that point and I’m absolutely positive Malik would have leaked as many runs as Alam. Additionally, Kallis had already had a sighter of Malik’s one over, so why not just go for something new since it’s our inherent unpredictability which got us this far in the first place. Younis is always thinking two overs ahead of the match, which is why…

4. He actually gave Alam that over to warm up his throwing arm to effect those last over run-out(s).

Say you’re Younis Khan. You know your team is inches away from pulling off something special. You’re racking your brain about South African failures in the past and wondering what you can implement from those instances. Your mind harks back to the most famous South African debacle: the 1999 WC semi against the Aussies. You realize the South Africans are prone to frenzied running in the final over, making them vulnerable to sharp fielding. So you want your best fielder to be patrolling long on/off and be ready to fire in a great throw. Who’s your best fielder? You can’t trust Malik because he found his wife on the internet. You want Shahid close by getting under the batsman’s skin. Gotta be ALAM. But Younis is as cunning as he is farsighted. You don’t want to make your strategy too obvious. You need Alam to secretly warm up his arm. Here’s a thought: give him a bowl! And what’s more, that’ll give you a chance to subtly move him FROM point TO long on/off without the batsman noticing and second guessing your plan. You, Younis, are fucking brilliant!

You’re saying no normal person thinks in such convoluted terms? Well that’s why you’re sitting at some boring office job with your life beginning and ending with your family and friends. That’s why Pakistan won’t remember you and you have added nothing to society and culture. When you and I die, no one outside our circle will remember us and we’ll be forgotten after a generation. Younis will live on. Younis has made something of his life even though his family couldn’t afford to give him even a quarter of the opportunities we were privileged to have. But the few chances Younis did get, he took them. Something we didn’t have the balls to do. So 50 years from now, someone will say: “Hey, remember when Younis gave Fawad that over during the T20 World Cup? What a dick.” And someone will respond: “Hahaha, yeah that was nuts. And then he gave Alam the last over in the final against Sri Lanka and we still won that tournament. Man, I wonder if that’s what gave Alam the confidence to go ahead and score consecutive hundreds in test series verses South Africa and Australia as well as marry Shakira. Anyway, I’m off to watch President Younis’s latest address to Parliament and the Senate”.

Oh, you think the suggestion that Younis might one day lead our country politically is far-fetched do you? Well not if you consider the fact that…

5. Younis gave Fawad an over to ease communal tension in Karachi.

The facts behind this argument are as clear as day. In fact, we’re stupid not to consider it. Alam is Urdu-speaking. Younis is Pathan. Younis is all about brotherhood, love and having “fun”. Younis just wants everybody to get along, which is why the tension between the Mohajirs and Pathans in Karachi is particularly unbearable for someone like him. He feels he has to contribute to easing the hostility between the two sides which is why he gave the Urdu-speaking chap his chance in the sun. What better public display of communal togetherness than a Pathan trusting a Mohajir in a time of crisis. It’s like something out of a movie. Sure, you can turn this around and say that by putting an inexperienced Mohajir player in a pressure situation, Younis risked doing more harm than good when that player inevitably failed. Fair enough. But Younis acts on impulse. And his initial impulse is always a positive one. And if there’s one thing Pakistan has come to accept from this tournament, it’s that they’re at their best when it comes to relying on their instincts. Which brings me to my last, perhaps best, reason for bowling Alam in the last over.

6. Just go with the unpredictable flow.

Pakistan’s approach to this tournament can be likened to Christian Bale’s movie career. Everyone knows that Bale has all the natural talent in the world but he refuses to stick to the safe route of conventional studio dramas and chances his acting chops with risky roles which could break his career. “American Psycho” could have killed him. Instead, it made him Batman. But for every Batman, there is a “Reign of Fire”. For every “Machinist”, there is a “Swing Kids”. But why should he stop taking chances in the roles he chooses? He holds an eminent position in Hollywood due to most of those risks paying off so why toss the philosophy out the window.

Likewise: Pakistan. Would ANY other team have responded to a peripheral batsman’s failings by promoting him to one-down? Most teams wouldn’t have chanced Afridi as a central batsman, let alone trust him with that kind of responsibility. And I for one am glad we aren’t most teams. It’s what makes being a Pakistan cricket supporter so fucking special. It’s the one unique thing we have in sports. Our natural drama. And I’d absolutely hate it if our team became as formulaic as the Australians or the South Africans or as inflexible as England. To love Pakistan is to love the romance of chance. In a game of poker, we are the eternal first timers. Totally unpredictable; always rethinking our strategy without a clear understanding of the mechanics; capable of flashes of brilliance yet, more often than not, vulnerable to moments of stupidity. So please, take the good with the bad. If you love Pakistan cricket, the Fawad Alam decision was totally in character with the spirit we play the game with. I’m glad Younis is making moves like the Alam decision – it reinforces my belief that we’re playing cricket the best way we know how. I say open the batting on Sunday with Alam and Gul and

7. Because Salman Butt is an asshole.

Yeah I only said 6 reasons. But I’m being like Pakistan – unpredictable and impulsive. You know what IS predictable about Pakistan cricket though? Salman Butt’s lame-ass batting at the top. This guy is a bane to Pakistan cricket. He doesn’t know how to accelerate. He sucks at being a good anchor because he can’t rotate the strike. And he’s the reason Alam didn’t bowl a better over. Butt has been keeping guys like Alam out of the team for years now. If we had dropped Butt like a year back, maybe Alam would have gotten more exposure and, thereby, would have been better equipped to bowl such a crucial over. But no – the management refuses to drop Butt because he can string together a few sentences worth of English. As Afridi showed the world yesterday, you don’t need a broad vocabulary to get your message across in this game. All you need to do is be able to blow an obnoxious kiss and have at your disposal a solid, hearty “Inshallah”!

Bring on the final.