19th December 2020, it was supposed to be the first day of holidays for my five-year-old son, Christmas holidays. The time zone ensured that it was early hours that would upset the entire day’s schedule.

Pink ball cricket. On Day one, he saw it briefly after his return, on day two of the test match he saw Pat Cummins rip through Prithvi Shaw’s defences, and before he could watch more of it, stumps were called. So, the Saturday of 19th December would have been an ideal opportunity to show and explain Test cricket in detail to my son. The timings of the Pink Test were best suited for his sleeping hours.

He had questions, and I thought the best way to learn is while watching the game.

The unforgettable 36 happened just as my son woke up. He watched Australia chase down the target, and it was an opportunity lost, there was not enough time to explain the intricacies of Test cricket. As an Indian cricket fan, I was hurting, and he could sense that, and said, “India played badly, right?”

“It is a bad result, and there are three more Test matches to go,” I replied.


Unlike the previous years, this time Christmas and Fever went hand-in-hand for reasons well-known throughout the world. Switzerland was under mini-lockdown, and the kids (my son and my two nieces)  had a different experience of the holidays. As a family, we embraced the holiday, and I was looking forward to spending the holidays leading up to the new year in Zurich, after 11 years.

Of course, there was cricket and the ease of not having to go out to work.

Living in a tiny landlocked nation of Switzerland, cricket is not one of the sports that comes to one’s mind, and as a father who loves this beautiful sport, I wanted to ensure my son wasn’t behind on this front.

In the days leading to the Melbourne Boxing Day Test, we caught up on some highlights of India’s previous Test matches. He absorbed the new names and kept pestering why individual players who played in the IPL aren’t playing with ‘white shirts.’


At 12.30 am Central European Time, the match started. I slept and didn’t watch any action until the last few overs of the day. To see Australia rattled for 195 on the first day of the Boxing Day test match reinvigorated my spirits to change my sleep schedule moving forward.

My son and I watched the highlights, and boy, was he delighted to see the likes of ‘Gill,’ ‘Siraj,’ ‘Pant,’ and ‘Jadeja’ in action. On occasions, we watched the entire innings or crucial passages of play.

Thanks to the subscription these days, one could watch (in my case re-watch) the repeat telecast and this way my son didn’t miss much of the action as he could watch it live. Rahane’s hundred, Jadeja’s sword winding fifty ensured India took the lead.

The rate at which my son absorbed the nuances was remarkable, and it always ended in questions. Why is Kohli not playing, he played the previous match. Who is the captain of the team?

Why doesn’t Rahane captain the Delhi Capitals team? Isn’t that wide? How come no free hits after a no-ball?

They are playing slow, and bowlers are not taking wickets.

And, the best of all, why does Paine keep saying ‘bowling Gary’?


The concept of ‘lead’ is an integral part of Test cricket. Both teams play out the first innings to ensure they take the lead, while the second innings are all about maintaining the lead.

In the end, a team with a lead after the second innings for both teams wins the match. In some cases, one doesn’t need the fourth inning.

The explanation became easy; India won because they scored more than Australia. The series tied at 1-1. By the end of the second Test, Pujara and Vihari, the two-non Iimited over players were etched to his vocabulary. And the test match ended on Day four.


It was status-quo when it came to events that were happening around the world. Vaccine administration started to raise the hopes for a better future, and amidst all this, many forgot they still had to deal with the present, and that’s the hardest part.

By the time the pink Test started, his school had resumed, and he had a tough time waking up in the initial days. The test match’s commentary was enough to make him get out of bed, get ready, and the day’s play got over around the same time as he had to leave for school. It worked out perfectly.

Navdeep Saini, Rohit Sharma, David Warner and Will Pucovski played the Test.  Australia took the lead and going into the final day, my son asked, how long do they keep playing. This Test gave him the answer as both teams had to play the fifth day, the last of a Test match for the first time in the series.

Rohit Sharma and Gill provided the start, Pujara led the resistance, Pant gave hope while Vihari and Ashwin guarded the fort to ensure the match ended in a draw against a threatening bowling line-up.

Now, what was a draw? And how do you explain to a five-year-old? Once again, the world of games came to my rescue. From time-to-time, my son and I play chess. He is learning, and occasionally I lose, however most of the time I win. Sometimes I ensure the game reaches a point where we are left with set pieces that result in neither a win nor a loss, hence ‘a draw’ – a conclusion where both teams have won and not won at the same time.

By comparing the parallels between chess and cricket, it was easy to explain the concept of a draw in Test cricket. It isn’t’ a tie, and so far, he knows all ties in cricket are broken by a super over.

He doesn’t know about the 1960 Brisbane Test and 1986 Chennai Test. He will get to this slowly and in time.


The government announces that the ‘mini-lockdown’ open to multiple interpretations will be extended until February. In cricket, it was a trip to the Australian fortress, the Gabba at Brisbane.

No Bumrah, no Ashwin, no Jadeja and in came the two debutants, Washington Sundar, T. Natarajan and Shardul Thakur, playing in his second Test match after he injured himself in his debut Test match.

The fourth test match was a re-enactment of David and Goliath in a field that has traditionally favoured the Goliath. If India were to lose the Test match, and the series 1-2, it would not have created major headlines or attracted the critics’ wrath as long as they remained in the game for most parts of the five days.

For Australia’s score of 369, India replied, falling short of Australia by 33 runs. Honours even after first innings, with a little over two days left.

A draw or an Australian win seemed the only two possibilities with the weather playing a role towards the end. At lunch on Day five, India stood one per cent chance of winning, while draw seemed the most favourable one with 75% and Australia 24%.

Two sessions left, and 62 overs to be bowled—245 runs to win at a rate close to four an over.

It was three in the morning, and my eyes didn’t flinch, my mantra for each delivery was, one ball at a time. I was in a trance, a sort of Pujara-esque, intensely focussed on every aspect of each delivery that was bowled. I relaxed seconds after the delivery was released until the bowler went back to his run-up, repeat the same thing each ball.

It was meditative, and when there was a break, I closed my eyes for the interval duration. It was back to resuming my duties as a fan for another 25 overs. The umpire called tea with India needing 145 runs in 37 overs at less than four runs an over. Australia needed seven wickets and a new ball due in 17 overs.


My son woke up at the start of the third session; he came to me with an evil smile. My trance was disturbed, and I was out of rhythm for a few minutes. As a parent, one has to be good at reacting. No amount of preparation or planning can help if you don’t respond on time.

My son started asking questions, he was like, why any wickets aren’t falling, and I had to explain what was at stake. Wickets will help Australia win, chasing the runs will win it for India. Or else, there might be a draw. I was about to say, maybe a tie, and I stopped myself from uttering that term.

He calmed down, and I moved around in between deliveries to get him ready. No, it isn’t such an issue. I am mentally tuned to work between deliveries or even study. He had his breakfast by the time the new ball was taken. Cummins to bowl, and the next few overs can decide which way the match was heading.

Pujara out and 118 deliveries were in play.

Six wickets left and a round figure of 100 still needed for India.

Pant and Agarwal, the new man at the crease, went about to win the match. Agarwal had a brain fade, he scooped it straight to Wade, and Cummins towards the end of his marathon spell raised hopes for Australia. Crucially, 33 runs were added.

Pant for India, Cummins for Australia, and it seemed only two results were possible. India winning or Australia winning.

My son was now putting on his gear for school. There was time, with a flurry of boundaries, my son could witness what would be a historic finish.

Sundar took on Cummins, Pant went after Lyon, and my half-hearted meditative trance was completely thrown off. Pant dictated it, he took it upon himself and sooner I gave in, the better it was. The southpaw dictated the match and my mind.

India reaches 302 with 37 deliveries left in the Test match. Twenty-six runs, surely there isn’t a twist to this fairy tale, a fleeting thought.

The four byes off Lyon is an indicator that it isn’t Australia’s day. After completing the over, the deficit was further reduced by 15 runs, India needed 24 runs.


I am at the door watching my son as he put on his cap, shawl, his traffic band, and his snack box.

In between, the flow of commentary makes it possible for me to run back to watch the action. I would have made my son stay longer if there wasn’t a German class, 30 minutes before the kindergarten started. Reluctantly he left, one of the tasks from the morning was ticked.

Hazlewood to Pant, two runs off two consecutive deliveries and in between I checked to see if my son had crossed the road and was he walking towards the kindergarten.

Pant takes a single off the third delivery. Hazlewood to Sundar, five wickets to take, 19 runs for India. The memories of Hazlewood taking five wickets for eight deliveries crossed my mind, but the four leg byes off the next ball brushed aside that thought.

The runs were coming in a hurry; five runs more added to the total bringing down the equation to ten runs.

And, then Sundar lost it for a moment, Lyon took his 399th scalp. Four wickets left. Pant takes on Hazlewood, scores a boundary, safely hands the strike to Thakur. Two more runs and Thakur mistimes his flick, one more wicket. From an Indian perspective, Pant crossed over. Two balls from the over, will Pant be able to take the strike?

A wide delivery, intentionally bowled by Hazlewood to ensure Pant doesn’t go off-strike. It was late in the day, Hazlewood was bowling the last delivery of his 22nd over, he tries to bowl wide of the off-stump, doesn’t get it right, a full toss timed down the ground, they take one, they scamper for the second, and before they start the third run, the ball trickles to the boundary. Siraj and Shaw start running towards the middle.

India wins the Test match, the fortress of Gabba breached, and importantly India wins the series.


Seldomly we label events in our lives as once-in-a-lifetime unless you are a person who is habitually into using such clichés.

The words “Can’t wait to get to the Gabba” must have been echoing in an endless loop on Paine’s mind. How fitting it would have been if Ashwin were to be at the crease when India hit the winning runs, maybe it tasted even better without Ashwin, India’s most experienced bowler and player.

I was nervous watching the 2001 Test match in Chennai when Harbhajan Singh hit the winning runs off Glenn McGrath, here, I wasn’t anxious, I had no control over my emotions, Pant had owned it, for most of the final two hours.


In the Western Hemisphere, the cricketing world woke up to this stunning display of cricket by Indians who lived in a bubble for the past four months. First, it was in the Middle-East during the IPL and immediately after that in Australia. Personal sacrifices only make this victory taste sweeter.

Working with IPL closely, I had come to know first-hand about the progress and processes placed by the BCCI. The back-to-back series wins in Australia are no fluke, or down to sheer luck, every achievement though seemed impossible has a backstory, a narrative worth discovering.

My son missed it, and after his return, his first question was, unsurprisingly, how much did Pant score? I had assured him that I would show him the repeat of the action he missed in the morning.

He rejoiced and saw the match, and I relived watching him enjoy as India chased down the target. He starts running, jumping saying Pant scores 89 and imitates what Pant does on the field, buoyed by the win.

My five-year-old, Test cricket’s newest fan!

One month on, India finished victorious after an embarrassing display when all went wrong on Adelaide’s Test’s third morning. At 36, I saw that score of 36 as a one-off anomaly. From what we know in life, the moment passes, the memories remain, once the hangover of the defeat settles, the next challenges present itself. You are continuously defined by how you handled the challenges, especially after the failure.

Yes, we must enjoy this victory for as long as possible as such successes are rare in cricket, and these experiences are once-in-a-lifetime.

Beyond Cricket!

Time has an exciting way to make us understand things in perspective. Two weeks ago, in our room in Salzburg, I saw India beat Pakistan. It was a great start to the tournament. Working in the sports industry and more so with cricket, I have learned to live the moment and just savior it. You know the age-old adage, this too shall pass.

Fast forward, two weeks later, the same two teams met, and this time it was the finals. India were firm favourites, and even the opposition knew it, and most of their countrymen on the media were marginally optimistic, if not confident.

The finals happened to be among the best two teams in the tournament, sorry England, you were good, but I am sure you are on the right track to winning your first ODI World Cup, which will take place on your home turf in 2019.

Before the day of the finals, I was asked what I felt about tomorrow’s match. The memories of the 1996 World Cup semi-finals and the 2003 World Cup finals came to my mind instantly. Don’t ask me why?

I had said, “India should stick to their strategy of batting first and score runs. In any case, the opposition would have done the same thing. I fear if they might opt to field first since Pakistan had chased down targets at ease in the lead-up to the finals.”

Hindsight is a great teacher, and minutes into the game, one feels it will be challenging for India. And the next few hours runs piled on, and wickets came now and then. The Pakistan score should have been much higher if not for India’s inspired bowling in the final five overs.

Indians would have had to bat close to 50 overs to have a chance. It didn’t matter what the score was for the first ten overs. If you are in the game with wickets in hand, anything is possible. I believe that is today’s mantra in limited-overs cricket.

A group of friends had gathered in a Zurich pub known to show cricket matches whenever it was on life. The place was filled with Indian fans, optimistic at the start of the second innings. After all, we have seen the same team chase down targets at will in the past.

Though professionals, cricket is a game that is played by humans. Like any sport, there is always room for the opposition to play better than you. And, so it happened. Rohit Sharma got out, Kohli got a life, and seconds later, he perished. Then Dhawan, Yuvraj, Dhoni, and Jadhav. It was inspired bowling performance than poor batting.

There were no tears of 1996 nor the irritation of 2003. It didn’t matter how the opposition was, for I saw the Indian team overshadowed by a better prepared Pakistan team.

And, then I heard arguments like, India played poorly. Two weeks ago, Pakistan’s performance resembled India’s defeat in the finals. I wish there were trophies awarded for every match. Would that have settled the argument?

It was heartening to see Kohli giving credit to the better team – it felt like you are having one of those bad days in life, and it boils down to owning it up or blaming it on someone else. I am glad the Indian captain chose the ‘right’ words on occasion.

One way to understand the meaning of ‘sport’ is to look beyond the team we support. Try working in the sports industry, live through the struggles, the pain, the agony, and the successes that come with it. I promise you will cease to be a mere fan; in fact, I am still struggling to identify the right word for what I have become.

After the match, the cricket discussion spread to other fans who had come to watch the finals. Disappointed, yes, we all were. But we all agreed on one thing – the better team indeed won, and it wasn’t our Indian team.

It took me a week to get over the shock of India’s 1996 loss, a couple of days after the 2003 defeat, and yesterday, the disappointment was for mere moments.

The result didn’t cloud my judgment to appreciate the sport I love very much nor ignore to give credit where it was due. It gave me clarity as to why I chose ‘sports.’

Life is all about Timing- ‘Waugh kya baat hai’

People realize pretty early; some don’t. That’s the beauty; it’s all timing.
I heard somewhere, “Well arranged time is the surest mark of a well-arranged mind.”

When we say, “I don’t have time for this, that, etc.,” what does it imply?
Are we not arranging things properly, or, we know the right things to be done.
By the time we figure out what we want, it’s too late.

If youth only knows and age only could.”

This is just an aspect of our life, an important one. As a kid, I did things that used to cause harm to my friends. Very temperamental, I just did what I wanted without even thinking about the consequences of my actions. Dennis the Menace was appropriately my other name concerning pranks I used to play on others.


I couldn’t control my temper while I was playing because I always played to win, and it reached a stage wherein I started believing; only I could make my team win. I played brilliantly, and I guess my mind went crazy, seeing how I used to play. The mind of a youngster!!!


This was how I, till the age of 14.


In the past, I always felt I was more significant than the team, and to my credit, I used to play pretty well. One day I did see my friends feeling the heat when I yelled at a guy who got me run out. I was furious, and I thought the match would be lost because of me getting out.


We did lose, and I couldn’t accept defeat that easy on that day. I did play with many new guys (younger than me), gave them a chance (in a sense, to bat first and to bowl especially), but I never liked them getting better than me. I mostly competed with guys elder to me, and I always wanted to be better than them. Never felt intimidated in the presence of many people who were elder to me.

If indeed a player was better than me, I never used to like that guy in the same team. I used to work on my bowling to get him out or field like Jonty Rhodes to take a catch or create run-out opportunities. I made sure; he didn’t get better than me.

I did all this sportingly never used unfair means of getting them out.

This was how I improved my game, but my attitude toward carrying the entire burden didn’t go. This was also the result of my friends putting my name in a big way whenever I used to play. The thrill they used to get when they got my wicket, all this made me feel self-centered.

I always wanted to be known as the best player among all the guys who played, and I did make a special effort to raise the benchmark every time in whichever way possible.

Sometime late 1999, early 2000, I didn’t enjoy this tag, and I could not play that well. I mean, I had very high standards. Even though I scored more than anyone, I wasn’t doing the way I did all six years previously.

My bowling was getting better, and my fielding was never a problem. Batting wise, I stopped being ruthless (still used to score fast, but less compared to previous years).

I felt there were no challenges left. I didn’t have to prove to anyone as to how well I batted. People knew. Still, there were conflicting feelings inside me. I was15, and it was too early to stop playing cricket.

But I had to get over it fast. Some new guys were coming, and they were good. Soon we had a bunch of pretty talented guys. Maybe I was not too fond of this fact and trying to prove them; I was losing my touch.


When I saw others, I felt, “How can I fit in the team now? Clearly, no one is gonna drop me. But I didn’t like the present role; I need a change”.

Well, people I thought are average cricketers, and those who played under the shadows of me and other guys needed a boost somewhere. Timing is the key for every cricketer.

In a way, my yesteryear attitude would have ruined their self-confidence if I continued playing in the same way.

I decided and threw a challenge on myself. To start with, I opted to bat second last instead of my favorite and usual opening spot. I wanted to see how good others are, and my sole purpose was to make sure we won in the end. Now I started enjoying the victories even though I didn’t bat.

I was enjoying my bowling, and I was dying to bowl every time we played. It didn’t affect my batting, but it took the responsibility off my shoulders to hit the winning runs all the time.

Slowly I could see youngsters enjoying the game since they were getting involved lots. Later, I stopped bowling and gave youngsters a chance to bowl. I didn’t bowl but used to bat. Even if they conceded runs, I wanted to make sure we won and made sure they faced the opposition’s challenge.

Slowly, I batted down the order and bowled whenever I felt it was necessary to bowl. I enjoyed my fielding, and the fun I used to get taking catches and stopping the boundaries was just exciting. I was thriving on the factor of me being the leader.

The ‘I’ factor was slowly getting replaced by ‘We’, and I started enjoying a senior player’s role in one year. My temper level in yelling and giving back to bowlers abated, however the passion and aggression to win every match were very much there. I was more a patient man and, more importantly, understood the word ‘contentment.’ I also understood the fact, “We win as a team, lose as a team.” It is wrong to blame individuals for one’s failure.

My last three years, i.e., until 2003, were great in terms of personal growth and the way I grew intellectually with cricket as the backdrop.

It didn’t matter or affect me when we lost a game or two as long as we gave our best; I made sure I gave my best and could see everyone do their best.

In 2003, I felt it was high time I quit playing serious cricket. Somehow I didn’t want to involve playing regularly. It was a tough decision but a good one considering the trend and the changes that occurred.

Sadly, cricket was never the same, and I wouldn’t say because of me it stopped, but I am just proud that I pushed myself to greater heights, and along my way, I saw others trying hard as well. This was the sheer fun of Galli cricket, intersecting roads, huge plain lands; it was just fun.

Whenever I walk past these roads next to my place, I get reminded of all those moments that shaped my life to become a better human being than a cricketer I could have been at the highest level.

I never played serious cricket in terms of school or anything; I did play some serious atrocious games with guys who gave everything so that it was, at times, more than just fun.

It was a mission. All I can say, in retrospect, it was Mission Well Accomplished.
I want to thank all my friends who played a role in developing me into the right individual. Because of the challenges, I could raise myself every time, and 90% I did succeed.

Steve Waugh mainly inspired the change in attitude. He became the Captain of the Australian Team in 1998, which inspired me to become a leader and make others push hard and personally set challenges.

Like him, I was there only when situations demanded me to be there; otherwise, I was pretty happy seeing my other friends finishing the job.

This time, we started playing some ruthless cricket, and at the end of it, we had a great laugh at each other. It was a journey which I enjoyed without bothering about the destination.

My cricket life started trying to be a Sachin, which I did brilliantly by being the one-man army to end like a leader of Steve Waugh’s caliber.

In the end, more than cricket, I enjoyed the other aspects of seeing others happy, involving others, and, more importantly, compete as a team. Incidentally, Steve is my mom’s favourite cricketer, and she also used to accompany me to various cricket skill camps early in my life.

For me, the 6th of January, 2004, at 1.15 pm local Indian time, was a moment, which will remain with me forever.

Steve Waugh: caught Sachin Tendulkar bowled Kumble – 80

He got out off his trademark slog sweep, and fittingly Sachin took the catch. It was at his home ground SCG, Sydney. It was an emotional moment for me as well since I had stopped playing a few months back.

Last year, I did enjoy reading his book: “Out of my Comfort Zone,” which is what I always went through and which is also the inspiration for my Blog’s title.

I get reminded of the following line I thought of once as a kid.

“Many People think life is a game; I thought cricket was a game.”

Special Mention:

Sridhar (the first guy with whom I played on those roads in 1991), Anirudh (Bunty), Anupam (Dumpy), Praveen, Bharath, Ravi, Ajay, Vijay, Pavan, Anjaneya, Abhishek, Jaggu, Umapathy, Thejaswi Udupa, Abhilash, Monty, Niku, Basava ( the best I ever played with), Mallesh, Mote, Govinda (Kambli), Jagan, Raaghu, Pradeep, Sudhindra, Bipin( 4 years younger to me, highly talented), Kiran Sr, Kiran Jr, Nandu, Venugopal, Praveen, Renuka, Pavan, Santosh, Ramnath, Chetan, Nahush, Chaitanya, Kumaraswamy, Nikhil, Goutham, Preetham, Truthik, Anoop, Rakhshit, Rajat, Saravanan, Sharath, Allen, Elvin, Manjunath, Manu, Sanjay, Arun, Mayur, and others.

Most importantly, Anianna, who played a lot of cricket, and as a kid, I watched every game he and his friends played.

A special mention a man by the name of Mr. JayaPrakash. He was the first complete cricketer I ever saw. He gave me the first break into serious cricket as a substitute in a tournament. I still remember the way he used to hit sixes one-handed. Sadly he passed away in 1994 October.