Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tendulkar enters 41st century!

By John Cheeran
Sachin Tendulkar entered 41st century on Wednesday in Baroda.
The most pleasing aspect of India’s total of 341 for three is definitely Tendulkar’s return to his old aggressive self as he hammered 100 off 76 balls against the West Indies in the fourth one-dayer.
Most of his trademark strokes were out there, the square cut and pull and his hunger for runs was evident as he shifted gears in the final overs.
Unlike Chennai, Indian batting kept his composure after Sourav Ganguly and Robin Uthappa gave another resounding start. Skipper Dravid and Tendulkar dug themselves in before accelerating the score. And it was remarkable that after a long time, Tendulkar took the initiative to go for the final assault.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni through his exuberant ways tweaked the Indian innings beyond 300 with some bold hits. All these should be positive footnotes to the four-match series.
More than the result, the series has given India the much needed confidence ahead of the World Cup after a tantalizing series in South Africa.
Yes, problems remain on both batting and bowling fronts. The runs that Sourav Ganguly, skipper Rahul Dravid, Tendulkar, Uthappa and MS Dhoni scored have come at near-perfect batting conditions.
Uthappa’s incandescent batting should ease the worries over a woeful Virender Sehwag.
And Dhoni’s big-hitting capabilities will be a source of solace in World Cup and beyond for India.It remains to be seen how they will behave if the ball wobbles and move around a bit.
I shudder to think of what happened (90 for seven) at Cuttack in the second one-dayer in this very series.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

You shall steal: vs

By John Cheeran
Has the Times of India Group acquired the website?
It is quite possible.
I have evidence that these two media organisations are involved in a caring and sharing arrangement.
When I researched the internet on Robin Uthappa, I was taken to the Indiatimes site, which has given a profile on the Indian cricketer. (
When I began to read the profile in, it struck me that I have read this somewhere else.
Then I went to and checked out their profile on Uthappa.
Word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence, those two profiles are same.
Yes, has added two lines (original, I must say) to the stuff.
May be, who knows, would have stolen from But cricinfo has credited the Uthappa profile to Anand Vasu, who happens to be a staffer for them.
Even S Sreesanth's profile in is a ripoff from what cricinfo has given.
And I don't know how many more are there.
I have mentioned in a recent post ( that how a commentator in the Times of India pontificated about the editorial process that large media groups employ to ensure truth and facts.
I understand the meaning of that learned piece now.

Note: The wonders of the internet is that you can change your content at will.
Hence I'm producing here what copied from

Tall and robust Aiyudda Robin Uthappa, The son of Venu Uthappa (an international hockey referee) has, for a while, been talked of as a batsman who cannot be kept out of international sport for long. Although his record in domestic cricket - a first-class average of 32 from 20 matches with just one hundred - is modest his numbers in the limited-overs version recommend him well. He averages a touch under 40 with a highest of 160 and his runs come at a strike rate of over 93. At one time a wicketkeeper-batsman, Uthappa has since given up the big gloves to concentrate on batting, and now occasionally bowls medium pace.
As a batsman he has always been attractive to watch, hard-hitting, with every shot in the book, unafraid to hit the ball in the air. If anything it is his temperament that has come under question and stopped him from claiming higher honours thus far. A useful member of the India under-19 team that won the Asia Cup, Uthappa first caught the eye when he made a brilliant 66 in a losing cause for India B against India A in the Challenger Trophy in Mumbai in 2005 against an attack that included Zaheer Khan, Murali Kartik and RP Singh. But it was in the subsequent edition of the same tournament, in Mohali in 2006, where he cracked a match winning 93-ball 100 for India B against an India A team that had seen a ton from VVS Laxman, that Uthappa really arrived in the big league. It won him a place instead of Virender Sehwag in the final One-dayer against England early in 2006, and he capitalised with a well-paced 86 at Indore. His next two outings were less spectacular, but time is on his side. Robin is sometimes confused with Vinay Uthappa, coincidentally a wicketkeeper batsman from Karnataka but the two are in no way related.
He played excellent domestic cricket in late 2006. As a result, he has found a space in the international squad for the January 2007 West Indies series.
(The last two lines are's original contribution.!)

Robin Uthappa, the bomb from Bangalore!

By John Cheeran
Is there any gain for India from the Chennai one-dayer against the West Indies?
Yes, India lost the third one-dayer to the West Indies by three wickets.
It again brought forth India’s lack of batting backbone that resulted in the side not playing out the 50 overs in perfect batting conditions at Chepauk.
But more than the rusty batting of Yuvraj Singh and failure of Dinesh Karthik to repeat his quick scoring, skipper Rahul Dravid should be delighted on one count, the provocative batting produced by the 21-year-old Robin Uthappa from Bangalore.
It is a pity that India could not convert the shock and awe start given by Uthappa to blow away Brian Lara and his boys.
Uthappa’s 41-ball 70 against the West Indian bowlers has tweaked the edges of the aggressive batting in the opening overs. Virender Sehwag has got some competition for the time being.
Chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar owe an apology to Indian fans for his crime in not including Uthappa for the South African tour. If Uthappa is not talent enough who else is?
Vengsarkar, who included Mumbai’s Wasim Jaffer for the South African one-dayers ignoring Uthappa, has no choice now but to scribble the Bangalore boy’s name for the World Cup 15.
It is important that Uthappa gets more chances in the remaining pre-World Cup games against the West Indies and Sri Lanka. It would be foolish to expect Uthappa to strike gold every time he goes out to bat, a largess India had given in the past for Sehwag.
Such things happen rarely in cricket, or to be much more truthful, in Indian cricket. But the violence that this boy can unleash on a cricket ball should give skipper Dravid some leeway to pause and plan India’s World Cup adventure.

For the record: Windies beat India in Chennai

A Blog Report
The West Indies defeated India in the third one-day international by three wickets in Chennai and kept the four-match series alive. West Indies made 270 for seven in 43.4 overs in reply to India's 268 from 48 overs.
Marlon Samuels and skipper Brian Lara played the crucial roles of run gathering during the chase.
Samuels' 95-ball 98 and his 127-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Lara (83) effectively nullified the electrifying knock the Indian opener Robin Uthappa played earlier in the afternoon.
For India, Robin Uthappa (70), Sachin Tendulkar (60) and skipper Rahul Dravid (57) made significant contributions.
Tendulkar was dropped twice as he crafted his 75th half-century in one-dayers and shared a 106-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Dravid.
Indian captain also posted his 75th-half century in one-dayers and the second of the current series.
Robin Uthappa, the young opener from Bangalore, came up with an electric innings that gave India a rousing start despite the early departure of left-handed opener Gautam Gambhir for zero.
Uthappa hit two sixes and 11 boundaries, but miscued a drive off Gayle to Lendl Simmons at mid-off.
Uthappa's early belligerence and a brisk 88-run stand with Suresh Raina (23) boosted India's run-rate to more than nine from the first 10 overs. Tendulkar and Dravid kept the pace, but Indian innings slumped after they fell in quick succession.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Shantaram: a memoir or novel?

By John Cheeran
Shantaram, a memoir or novel, could have been written only by a junkie.
As the blurb claims author Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin-addict, escaped from an Austalian prison to India, where he went through a series of adventures. Roberts wrote Shantaram three times after prison guards trashes his first two versions. There is no doubt that Shantaram is a profound tribute to Robert’s willpower.
The book is a tortured soul’s bleatings and the purple prose that is poured on to the pages often makes one wonder about the artfulness of it all.
How much of the 933 pages are memoirs or fiction is question left unanswered by the author.
Undoubtedly, Shantaram offers an interesting ride through Indian reality and I should say I enjoyed, most of it.
I was somehow unaware of the enormous popularity this book enjoyed in India and could read it only now.
Shantaram is a tribute to all things Indian and especially to that hellhole on earth, Mumbai.
As Roberts writes “In the end I realized that it was heart, the Indian heart that Vikram talked about – the land where heart is king – that held me when so many intuitions told me I should leave. And the heart, for me, was the city. Bombay. They city had seduced me. I was in love with her. There was a part of me that she invented, and that only existed because I lived there, within her, as a Mumbaikar, a Bombayite.”
Words come so easily to Roberts and in a writer it is a quality that should be abhorred. Roberts loses himself in a monsoon of adjectives whenever he attempts to describe his muse, Karla.
Roberts, hemmed in by circumstances, learned Marathi and Hindi but even then could not escape portraying
each sari he notices as silk.
Though spread over 933 pages, Roberts has little to say as a writer except putting forward the so-called Resolution Theory and giving an almost day-by day account of his time in India.
Roberts trained to be a writer and has spent a large part of his life getting incarcerated in prisons in Australia and India. That, indeed, is a dangerous mix to produce bestsellers.
Shantaram happened during the early 1980s in Mumbai. Afghanistan had a different tormentor in Russia.
Reader cannot miss the glorification of jihad by Roberts, a jihad orchestrated by Abdul Khader Khan, whom the narrator venerates as his father.
It shows how naïve Shantaram has been despite Mumbai and India.

The Lies of Ryszard Kapuscinski

Jack Shafer in Slate
The Washington Post obituary of Ryszard Kapus´cin´ski, who died Jan. 23, calls him "among the most celebrated war correspondents of hisgeneration."
The Los Angeles Times obituary proclaims him the "most celebrated of Polish journalists, whose work earned international acclaim."
In the Guardian, director Jonathan Miller speaks of Kapus´cin´ski's "magnificent reportage" from Haile Selassie's royal court. The Daily Telegraph obituary describes him as "Poland's most renowned foreign correspondent and a witness to much of the turbulent birth of the Third World."
The obits and appreciations published this week make much of Kapus´cin´ski's bravery in reporting storiesfrom Africa, Central America, the Middle East, and elsewhere. He's credited again and again for witnessing 27 coups and revolutions, of enduring malaria, tuberculosis, and blood poisoning in backwater hellholes.
He is said to have lived on almost nothing while filing brilliant stories about deprivation andoppression, and he cheated death time and again as it claimed others. Take, forexample, the much-repeated account that he wrote about escaping death after agang soaked him with benzene at a roadblock in Nigeria during civil war. Irony,in the form of demonic laughter, saved his life.
John Updike worshipped him. Gabriel García Márquez tagged him "the true master of journalism."
But there'sone fact about the celebrated war correspondent and idol of New York's literaryclass that didn't get any serious attention this week. It's widely conceded thatKapus´cin´ski routinely made up things in his books. The New York Timesobituary, which calls Kapus´cin´ski a "globe-trotting journalist," negotiatesits way around the master's unique relationship with the truth diplomatically,stating that his work was "often tinged with magical realism" and used "allegoryand metaphors to convey what was happening."
Scratch a Kapus´cin´skienthusiast and he'll insist that everybody who reads the master's booksunderstands from context that not everything in them is to be taken literally.
This is a bold claim, as Kapus´cin´ski's work draws its power from the fantasticand presumably true stories he collects from places few of us will ever visitand few news organization have the resources to re-report and confirm. IfKapus´cin´ski regularly mashes up the observed (journalism) with the imagined (fiction), how certain can we be of our abilities to separate the two whilereading?
Should we regard Kapus´cin´ski's end product as journalism?
Should we give Kapus´cin´ski a bye but castigate Stephen Glass, who defrauded the NewRepublic and other publications by doing a similar thing on a grosser scale?
Do we cut Kapus´cin´ski slack because he was better at observing, imagining, andwriting than Glass, and had the good sense to write from exotic places?
Exactly how is Kapus´cin´ski different from James Frey in practice if not in execution?
Some Kapus´cin´ski sympathizers want us to understand his books as allegoriesabout the place he came from-totalitarian Poland.
As a reporter for thegovernment news agency, he couldn't write the truth about his country, so hechanneled his experiences in Sudan, Ethiopia, Angola, El Salvador, Bolivia,Iran, and Chile, among other places, to speak about Polish life under Communism.
That's fine with me as long as nobody calls his footwork journalism. John Ryleinventories Kapus´cin´ski's skills at inventing details in a Times LiterarySupplement piece published in 2001 and recently revised. Ryle, currently of theRift Valley Institute, documents scores of embellishments, fabrications, errors,and fictions in Kapus´cin´ski's work, most of which even the greatest fan of theman's work would not have gleaned had they given every page a close reading.
So much for understanding Kapus´cin´ski in his context.Ryle quotes a 2001interview in the Independent, in which Kapus´cin´ski complains about the excessof "fables" and "make-believe," saying, "Journalists must deepen theiranthropological and cultural knowledge and explain the context of events.They must read."
He also captures Kapus´cin´ski criticizing the shoddy reporting of other foreign correspondents, which establishes that he paid lip service to thetraditions of accurate reporting, even if he didn't observe them in the field.He wasn't very consistent on this point.
In a 1987 interview in Granta, he speaks disdainfully of journalistic conventions, saying: You know, sometimes the critical response to my books is amusing.
There are so many complaints: Kapuscinski never mentions dates, Kapuscinski never gives us the name of theminister, he has forgotten the order of events. All that, of course, is exactlywhat I avoid. If those are the questions you want answered, you can visit yourlocal library, where you will find everything you need: the newspapers of thetime, the reference books, a dictionary.
The liberties Kapus´cin´ski takes withevents, places, and people matter for the same reason it would matter if anEthiopian journalist had covered the Solidarity uprising but ginned up his storyin order to speak allegorical truth to the authorities in Addis Ababa.
Nice try, but no journalism. Ryle writes that the criticisms do not rob Kapus´cin´ski's work of its bright allure, its illuminating moments, its often lively sympathy for the people of the countries he writes about, but they warn us not to take itseriously as a guide to reality.
A "guide to reality" is a pretty good pocketdefinition of journalism, if you ask me. Some Kapus´cin´ski enthusiastsbelieve that his "techniques" are defensible because they allow writers to reacha higher truth than does the low-octane variety of journalism.
Slate's MeghanO'Rourke writes that our culture needs a label for the hybrid bred byKapus´cin´ski, and such writers as Joseph Mitchell and Truman Capote, whose books straddle the wall between fiction and nonfiction.
Dave Eggers attemptssuch labeling (successfully, I'm told) in his new book, What Is the What, whichbills itself as the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng done as a novel.Truthin packaging for wall-straddling authors would calm my savage, beating heart, but I'm still bothered by the conceit. Every news story ever published could bebetter-contain a higher truth, if you will-if reporters were allowed to make upstuff. The measure of a journalist, especially a foreign correspondent, is to achieve the effect of Kapus´cin´ski without scattering the pixie dust of magicalrealism. Dexter Filkins, John Burns, Anthony Shadid, Carlotta Gall, and othergeniuses of foreign correspondence have astonished readers without"allegorizing."
To create a special category of international reporting that is true-except where not specified as true-would diminish the true masters' feats.

Ian Jack on Ryszard Kapuscinski

Ian Jack is the editor of Granta (The Independent, London)
A few years ago a party to celebrate the publication of Ryszard Kapuscinski's book on Africa was held, properly enough, in the Polish Club in South Kensington. A few of us then walked to dinner with him at a restaurant inKensington High Street; no more than a luxurious toddle, but someone complained that a taxi would have been a better idea, that it was really quite far.
Obviously, said Kapuscinski of the complainant, he never went on a route march with the Polish army in Stalinist times.
A lot of Kapuscinski's passionatecuriosity about the world can be explained by the circumstances of hischildhood. He was born in Pinsk, now in Belarus, an isolated town of unmetalledroads. He was seven before he saw his first train and 30 before he owned atelephone.
During the terrible hardships of Poland's German occupation, he andhis family subsisted on pastries of flour and water and wore tree bark on theirfeet rather than shoes. Shoes were always one of his enthusiasms. In 1987, in aninterview with Bill Buford, my predecessor at Granta, he said, "I'm obsessedwith footwear."
As Pinsk was to Warsaw, so post-war Poland was to the rest ofthe world. "Don't forget that for my generation the outside world didn't exist,"he told Buford.
"Africa and India were fairy tales." It's useful to rememberthis when we think of Kapuscinski's writing. He came to places fresh, withoutthe preconceptions and cultural baggage of an English or American writer, and hewas determined to describe what they were like as vividly as he could.As aforeign reporter for the Polish Press Agency he saw an awful lot - Africa, SouthAmerica, Asia, 28 revolutions in the wake of European de-colonisation - but hisquick reports couldn't begin to describe the rich complexity of the reality infront of him. Agency reporters, filing daily, were, as he described them,"terrible victims of information".
His books could never have been writtenwithout this experience, but their success as literature is owed to a differentside of Kapuscinski. Before he was a reporter, he was a poet and short-storywriter: his sentences, with their rhythms and images and careful selection ofthe persuading detail, could have been written by a fine novelist.He used towonder where the novelists were when he covered riots, wars and coups.
Why werethey all back in Europe tinkering with their "little domestic stories" aboutmarriage and divorce? Why weren't they here in the thick of it, grappling withthe events that mattered?
Very few writers answered this call, and he had fewrivals in the business of depicting the troubled reality of poor countries andpeople. (VS Naipaul is one of them, and, perhaps not coincidentally, is fromanother place, Trinidad, which was well off the beaten track.)
The world toKapuscinski was silva rerum, the forest of things, and he believed that "tocapture it you have to penetrate it as completely as possible". He came to beknown as a literary reporter, but often saw his work more accurately as"literature by foot".
The long march has ended for him, but he has shown usunforgettable views.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Fratricide among Kerala Christians

By John Cheeran
Love your enemies. It is easy to say but tough to practise.
Your loved ones, however, can turn into your enemies. May be you can carry on loving them.
All this I write watching the fratricide that unfolds in Iraq where Shiite and Sunni Muslims are hacking each other to death.
Closer home in Kerala two Christian factions are up in arms against each other.
The Orthodox and Jacobite Syrian Christians, the disciples of the guru who preached to love your enemies, are fighting over a few brick and mortar churches.
It is a pity that faith cannot heal the wounds of the flesh.
It is awfully tragic that when you are preaching about heavenly kingdom you worry much about these finite quarters. Do the Orthodox and Jacobite believers consider they are setting examples to others in the society?
It all boils down to power. Power over the your sheep and stables.
Kerala Congress politicians might have more sense than our beloved metropolitans who struggle to live up to their Sunday sermons.
It is tough indeed to love your bishops.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mera number kab ayega, asks Sehwag

By John Cheeran
The wait continues for Virender Sehwag.
Selectors have ignored the former India opener while announcing the team for the last two one-dayers against the West Indies to be played in Chennai and Baroda.
As expected, the middle-order bat Yuvraj Singh and veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble are back in the side.
There is good news for Irfan Pathan too. Pathan is back in the side and might make the XI in Baroda.
Selectors have left out RP Singh and Joginder Sharma. These two are now effectively out of the World Cup race.
Dilip Vengsarkar made it clear that Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Suresh Raina will play the next ODI at Chennai on January 27.
With selectors prepared to give early knocks to Uthappa and Raina, and at home conditions these batsmen are sure to make some runs, Sehwag's World Cup ticket is likely to be torn to pieces.
Squad for the last two one-dayers against the West Indies
Rahul Dravid (captain), Sachin Tendulkar (vice-captain), Robin Uthappa, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar, Anil Kumble, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh

Karthick boards World Cup bus in Cuttack

By John Cheeran
What a change of fortunes we witnessed in Cuttack.
The flat track bullies who made merry in Nagpur were exposed when batting conditions became a bit challenging, and to rescue India from the depths of 90 for seven to a fighting score, it took a young and inexperienced Dinesh Karthik.
With his brilliant 63, crucially coming from a mere 87 balls, Karthik took the battle into the West Indies camp on a wicket that offered low bounce and made shot making a difficult exercise.
Karthick eventually won the man-of-the match award when Ramesh Powar and Sachin Tendulkar struck crucial blows during the Windies innings and helped India clinch a 20-run win to go up 2-0 in the four-match series.
With his knock in Cuttack, Karthik, carrying on his good form from South Africa, has ensured his place in the World Cup 15 to be announced soon.
I hope Chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar would have watched the experienced Sourav Ganguly struggle out there as well as the no-hoper Gautam Gambhir.
Vengsarkar will have to play Robin Uthappa as opener without wasting further time.
Among the seasoned Indian campaigners only skipper Rahul Dravid held the bat with a modicum of comfort. Tendulkar's woeful batting continues and he is fast plunging into the same lane where Virender Sehwag finds himself now.
Whatever the series of scores Tendulkar is going to come up with during this twin-series, he is too big a shot to be dropped for World Cup.
With Indian batting refusing to shed its thermostat attitude, a consistent performance will be a rarity. After the first two matches, the list of 30 hopefuls can keep their fingers crossed.
With a few more wobbly innings from India's top order, who knows even Sehwag would get a knock on his door from Vengsarkar!

When will the US bomb Iran?

Editor's note: The Middle East is again in the grip of war anxiety. Guys are scanning the sky for clues to when will the United States shock and awe Iran. May be this AP story from Dubai may help you to hedge your bets.
DUBAI, UAE, (AP)A U.S. State Department official ruled out talks with Iran and said Tuesday that a second U.S. aircraft carrier strike group now steaming toward the Middle East is Washington's way of warning Tehran not to challenge America.
Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, said Iran must halt enrichment of uranium before the Bush administration will agree to direct negotiations.
Several prominent American leaders have urged Bush to seek Iran's help quelling sectarian conflict in neighboring Iraq. "The Middle East isn't a region to be dominated by Iran. The Gulf isn't a body of water to be controlled by Iran. That's why we've seen the United States station two carrier battle groups inthe region," Burns said in an address to the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, an influential think-tank.
Iran is going to have to understand that the United States will protect its interests if Iran seeks to confront us," Burns continued. "We will defend our interests if we are challenged. That might be a message Iran must understand.U.S. officials said Burns was in the Middle East to outline specifics of new U.S. strategies for Iraq and Iran following a visit to the region last week by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
But the audience of Dubai-based diplomats and analysts appeared dismayed by Burns' tough talk on Iran.
Some complained that U.S. actions were already threatening regional stability and asked the American diplomat to sort out Iraq and the Israel-Palestinian conflict before turning attention to Iran.
"What we are not interested in is another war in the region," Mohammedal-Naqbi, who heads the Gulf Negotiations Center, told Burns.
"Iraq is your problem, not the problem of the Arabs. You destroyed a country that had institutions. You handed that country to Iran. Now you are crying to Europe and the Arabs to help you out of this mess.
"The U.S. and Iran are locked in a standoff over Tehran's defiance of U.N. demands to halt uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for both nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.
Iran says it intends only to generate energy, but Washington some of its allies suspect Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons.
The U.N. imposed limited sanctions on Iran last month. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last week that the country is 'ready for anything.'
Iran conducted missile tests on Monday, the first of five days of military maneuvers southeast of Tehran.
The U.S. aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and several accompanying ships are heading toward the Gulf to join an aircraft carrier group already in the region, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Stennis is expected to arrive in late February.
The Stennis's arrival in the Middle East will mark the first time since theU.S.-led Iraq invasion in 2003 that the United States has had two carrier battlegroups in the region.The U.S. Navy said Tuesday that the minesweeper USS Gladiator arrived in the Persian Gulf, one of six such ships - four American, two British - now plying the Gulf for anti-ship mines.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the U.S. buildup in the Gulf aimed to impress on Iran that America's four-year war in Iraq has not diluted U.S. military power in the Mideast.
U.S. officials have long said Iran would be expected to block busy Gulf shipping lanes if there is a conflict.
Two-fifths of the world's oil exports pass through the Gulf.
Burns' speech appeared as a rebuttal to similar comments by Iranian officialsin Dubai and Bahrain last month.
In December, Iran's top national security adviser, Ali Larijani, appealed to Gulf Arabs to shut down American bases ontheir soil and instead join Iran in a regional security alliance.
The Emirates and other Gulf states enjoy close trade ties with Iran. U.N.sanctions are expected to boost Emirates' exports to Iran this year to $10billion, the Dubai-based Iranian Business Council said.
While targeting Iran's nuclear development, Burns said Washington would be a 'willing partner' in support of civilian nuclear power programs in its six Gulf Arab allies, saying the Bush administration supports nuclear energy as a means to combat global warming.
But he insisted Iran halt uranium enrichment as a precondition for any directdiscussions with Washington.
"It doesn't make any sense to negotiate with Iran while their nuclear programis ongoing," Burns said."There is an entry fee to the game and everybody has to pay it. You too, Iran, have to pay it."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Kalinga sena and Chappell

Indian Police arrested a cricket fan who accosted coach Greg Chappell after complaining about team selection. The former Australia captain was jostled as the Indian team arrived in Bhubaneswar on Monday to play in the second one-day international against West Indies.
India cricket boardvice-president Rajiv Shukla was quoted by AFP, saying: "I understand that Greg was not hurt but this is a serious security lapse. "We have demanded the state government increase security for the two teams." Amitabh Thakur, Bhubaneswar Superintendent of Police, said: "A man did try to break the security cordon andin doing so, stumbled on Mr Chapell."
The attacker was reported as shouting:"I am angry with Chappell because no player from Orissa has been included in the national team."
Bhubaneswar is the capital of Orissa state.
Chappell's attacker was taken away by police, and was later identified as Biranchi Maharana by local officials. He was in a group of about 50 protestors who had managed to mingle with other travellers in the airport terminal.
Their little known group, Kalinga Sena, had gathered at the airport waiting for the team to arrive from Nagpur. Chappell, appointed coach in 2005, was rushed onto the team bus stationed outside the airport gate.
India play the second one-dayer against the West Indies at Cuttack on Wednesday.

Functioning anarchy and Bertrand Russell

By John Cheeran
Last October (2006), Times of India carried a comment piece on the mystery of editorial process in mainstream media. I had the fortune of not reading that at the time.
The thrust of that learned comment was blogs seldom are subjected to the editorial rigour.
I don't want to argue that point.
Instead I want to draw your attention to a book published by Penguin, India, recently. Games Indians Play: Why We Are the Way We Are is written by V. Raghunathan, an acclaimed economist professor.
The writer is an expert in economics and Penguin is one of India's foremost publishers.
That must ensure the editorial rigour.
Then on Page 115 of the book a famous quote is given.
"India is a functioning anarchy --- Bertrand Russell (Philosopher and the US ambassador to India in 1962).
How could such a howler defeat the eyes of Penguin editors?
The anarchy quote belongs to John Kenneth Galbraith. Yes, Galbraith was the US ambassador to India.
So this is what editorial rigour gives you in book publishing where author and commissioning editors have a long time to pore through the print.
Having worked for quite a few rags, I know how much thought goes into each word that gets ink on it.
Journalists are paid to write and edit. Bloggers are not.
Yes, it is important to make it clear that blogs alone are not culprits of rush hour writing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Shilpa Shetty's Reality!

By John Cheeran
I pity those who spent their energy by defending Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty who managed to kick up a racist abuse row while participating in the Celebrity Big Brother show in Britain’s Channel 4.
Those who sensed a big cause in Shilpa Shetty could not take the denouement when it came.
The aggrieved actress herself has said now it was all a mistake that happened in the ‘heat of the moment.’
Well, Shilpa is in heat. That much everyone knows.
Didn’t she do her homework when she signed up for the outrageously silly programme?
Except for a few excerpts I haven’t watched the reality show in Channel 4. But the point is, you, as a contestant, should have the vim and vigour to combat whatever comes your way.
If someone abuses you, you have got to give it back. What’s the point of shedding tears over such things as racism? Reserve your tears for graver moments in life.
The fact is Shilpa suffered racial abuse, that is if she thinks so, to gain a huge financial incentive (three crore Indian rupees!) and be in the limelight.
But there are millions of Asians, and Indians in particular, who work away from their homelands and familiar cultural milieu, combating racism every day of their working lives.Those silent millions do not cry over such bullying but give it back as often as they can.
I’m quite amused when it has been reported in the Indian media that Shilpa and Indians were ridiculed for eating with their fingers.
Well, the riposte for such a jibe should have been that God invented fingers first and knife and fork much, much later.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

India defeat West Indies by 14 runs in Nagpur

By John Cheeran
Despite Shivnaraine Chanderpaul's heroic innings of 149, India broke Brian Lara's stranglehold over them by 14 runs in Nagpur on Sunday.
It was very, very close, despite the eventual 14-run margin of victory in India's favour.
The magic carpet in Nagpur did not discriminate against Indians whether they are from East or West. There were runs for both sides and it was not easy being a bowler on track like that.
Ask S Sreesanth, India's bowling hero, a few weeks ago in South Africa.
The match did not prove anything. West Indies will be keen to come back and derail India in the remaining three matches. They have a batting lineup ready to rock during the World Cup and it was pretty much evident in Nagpur.
For India they can take solace from the fact that they did not fritter away the good opening Sourav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir gave them.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and skipper Rahul Dravid made maximum use of the final overs and ensured that the target will be beyond the reach of West Indies batsmen.
Dravid's batting was quite a revelation in Nagpur.
Known for his dour and sensible ways, Indian skipper went for the West Indies' jugular hammering 54 runs from a mere 35 balls. An imperious Dravid clouted three sixers and four boundaries. A few more innings such as this from Dravid's blade down the order should draw the line between defeat and victory for India.
Dhoni was equally explosive. MSD took only 42 balls to score 62 runs, revelling in the batsmen-friendly conditions and cracking four sixers.
But the important thing is that whatever gains India made from this match they will have to leave them at Nagpur itself and begin afresh for the next round of the battle.
For, such perfect batting conditions will not come your way everyday.

Magic carpet reinvents Indian batting

By John Cheeran
Is this the beginning?
If it is, even factoring the benign batting conditions in Nagpur, India have begun well by giving Brian Lara and folks a winning target of 339 runs to seal the first one-dayer in Nagpur.
Four half-centuries have brightened up the Indian innings.
Sourav Ganguly has led the way with his 98 while skipper Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir all made quick half-centuries.
The only failure, if you want to be uncharitable, was Sachin Tendulkar who made 31.
So what's the secret of India's batting revival?
Credit has to be given to the magic carpet that has been laid at Nagpur.
In the recent times Indian team has been denied the luxury of dry wickets not just in South Africa but during the Champions Trophy that was staged in India.
Much as Rahul Dravid and folks would love to carry this magic carpet to the Caribbeans for their World Cup adventure, it remains to be seen whether they will be given such allowances at the customs.
Meanwhile, savour moments such as these in Nagpur.

Runs speak for Ganguly in Nagpur

By John Cheeran
I'm not the one easily enthused by individual performances in a team game. Still a much reformed Sourav Ganguly's comeback knock in the one-day international against the West Indies in Nagpur deserves unstinting praise.
Ganguly, welcome back to the top spot.
It is runs that win you matches and Ganguly has grabbed the chance to open the Indian innings on a beautiful batting track in Nagpur by belting 98.
It was unfortunate that Ganguly missed out on a century but he has won many more hearts with his refreshing approach to the team cause.
Gautam Gambhir too has intensified his efforts to be in the World Cup team by a rollicking half-century.
I hope Virender Sehwag is watching the scoreboard.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Waiting game for Sehwag

By John Cheeran
How bright are Virender Sehwag's chances of making a comeback into the Indian XI during the West Indies and Sri Lanka series?
Sehwag should have learnt from Ganguly's example.
Sehwag's return will depend more on how other batsmen in the team perform, crucially Robin Uthappa and his Delhi team mate Gautam Gambhir perform than his own reckless scoring ways.
It is not sufficient that Sehwag hammers some centuries in the domestic circuit, his replacements should fail too.
For whatever Ganguly has achieved on his comeback trip to South Africa, things were possible thanks to factors beyond the Calcutta batsman's control.
Even before the South African tour began, Ganguly's replacement and close friend Yuvraj Singh injured himself. A costly injury, and Ganguly will be ready to pay the price of that injury to Yuvraj now.
And other collective failure of Indian batting from top to bottom paved the way for Ganguly's comeback. Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer and Sachin Tendulkar all failed to give Ganguly his lucky break.
On Indian pitches it is unlikely that there will be a collapse as disgraceful that happened in South Africa.
If Uthappa and Gambhir grab their chances with both hands selectors will be right to wait before they eye Sehwag again.
Yes, it is quite likely that if India perform really well in the matches against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, Sehwag may get a trial match before the twin-series is over.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Art of living and Ganguly

By John Cheeran
Another load of crap is here from Sourav Ganguly.
In an interview to Aaj Tak, a channel that wants to maximise its Bengali eyeballs, Ganguly has said that regaining the Indian team's captaincy is not a priority for him.
Aha, what a noble man he is!
And I wonder about the guy who posed the question to the former Indian cricket team captain.
Even if Ganguly is plotting for Indian captaincy, is he such a dude to admit it so?
Ganguly is no fool. He knows power equations have changed in the Indian cricket and with Sharad Pawar out there laying out the grand design, captaincy will not go back to Ganguly in his present incarnation at least.
So Ganguly should do well to concentrate on his place in the one-day team for now.
A sensible Ganguly says he just wants to concentrate on his game and win matches for his side at the moment. Ganguly said it was inappropriateto talk about a change of captaincy since World Cup was round the corner and Rahul Dravid needed the full backing from all quarters.
"I am not in the race for captainship, at least at the present time. I think we all should back Rahul and we should not even talk about these things when the World Cup is just two months away," Ganguly says.
"My mission is just to perform and be a part of the winning team. I will try and play well under pressure if I go to the World Cup, that is if I am included in the World Cup squad," he said.
Ganguly said he would like to regain his opening slot in batting order but would go with whatever the team decides. "It is for the team management to decide but if you see my record, I have played almost 250 matches as an opener. If they (team management) were to ask me I would like to open but as I said I am ready to play at any position for the country," he says.
A politically savvy Ganguly offered his take on South African tour. "We should have drawn the series at least but we lost it, but every member of the team is responsible for the same (for the defeat). It is not the captain or the coach alone."
Ah, this sort of art of living even Sri Sri Ravishankar could not have taught Ganguly.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Flies on the wall of Indian cricket

By John Cheeran
The vantage position, if one can say that, in Indian cricket goes to the fly on the wall.
Apparently there are quite a few flies on the wall of Indian cricket.
Especially when the buzz from playing field has stopped for a while allowing cricketers and cricket writers to catch their breath.
Why has the BCCI announced Sachin Tendulkar as the vice-captain for the one-day series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka at home?
Normally India does not identify a vice-captain for home matches.
Will Tendulkar get Indian captaincy after the World Cup?
How did Virender Sehwag retain his place for the last Test of the South African series in Cape Town?
Why did the Board retract from the move to send the callow Delhi pacer Ishant Sharma to South Africa as a replacement for Irfan Pathan?
What exactly happened between New Delhi and Cape Town?
Will Sourav Ganguly open for India in one-dayers?
Will Greg Chappell continue as Indian cricket team coach after the World Cup?
Have our cricketers formed survival groups with in the dressing room? How grave are the factionalism and parochialism in Indian cricket?
Such profound questions are answered everyday by Indian cricket writers, a few of them I should still count as my friends. During India’s 2006-2007 South African tour a few of the bylines felt familiar to me.
I wonder how they manage to prise out such behind-the-scene secrets in Indian cricket.
Yes, this is the era of communication revolution. This is the media age of snoopy dogs. This is the age of hidden cameras. But nothing can swat the fly on the wall.
Separating news from gossip can be as daunting as batting on a sticky wicket.
Cricketers are forced to play their cricket out in the open in the presence of cameras and crowd.
But these days, news is not what happens in front of our eyes, but what happens inside the dressing rooms and boardrooms.
No wonder then that flies on the wall are much in demand.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

World Cup: List of 30 is a futile exercise

By John Cheeran
The list of 30 for the World Cup announced by the Chairman of National Selectors Dilip Vengsarkar on Friday is a ritual without any purpose.
With the World Cup only 60 days away what's the use of coming up with a list of 30?
This bloated list only gives rise to unnecessary speculation.
The tournament committee insists to have a list of 30 submitted by each participating nation.
But this does not serve any purpose.
Teams with a serious intent of winning the World Cup should have settled on their the first 16 by this time.
To have an excess to the tune of 30 is a self-defeating exercise. India with their large players' base can appease a few egos with this circus list but for countries such as Bermuda they will have to submit their entire voting list to the International Cricket Council.
India's list of 30 now includes Virender Sehwag, Mohammad Kaif and Dinesh Mongia -- players who are ignored for the first two matches of the series against the West Indies. We also have a host of newcomers such as S Badarinath, Chetsehwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma in the list.
Certainly a few of them will get a chance to play in the last eight one-day matches that India are scheduled to play against the West Indies and Sri Lanka.
The team that is announced for the first two matches against the West Indies should be an accurate pointer to the World Cup team.
As things stand now my team of 15 for the World Cup reads:
Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar (vice-capt), Robin Uthappa, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, Harbhajan Singh and Romesh Powar.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A mini break for Sehwag and Mongia

By John Cheeran
Yes, Virender Sehwag is out at least for the first two one-day matches against the West Indies.
There are hardly any surprises in the list of 30 for World Cup.
All the usual criminals are there including Sehwag, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina and Munaf Patel.
With Robin Uthappa seizing his place against the West Indies it is clear that Ganguly will push his luck lower down the order.
There are hardly any significant choices by selectors as they came up with the list of 30 for the World Cup, where they have included the likes of Dinesh Mongia, Kaif and Raina.
This should be proof enough for the fact that Dilip Vengsarkar is still to learn to use the scalpel of tough decisions.
Squad for West Indies one-dayers
Rahul Dravid (capt), Robin Uthappa, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly,Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Gautham Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Ramesh Powar, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, Joginder Sharma, Ajit Agarkar, Rudra Pratap Singh
World Cup probables
Rahul Dravid, Robin Uthappa, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Gautham Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Ramesh Powar, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, Joginder Sharma, Ajit Agarkar, Rudra Pratap Singh, VRV Singh, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Rohit Sharma, S Badrinath, Cheteshwar Pujara, Dinesh Mongia, Ishanth Sharma, Rajesh Powar

Vengsarkar and co lack the will for a surgery

By John Cheeran
I have little doubt that Sourav Ganguly will be in the list of 30 for the World Cup, to be announced today.
After his gutsy batting in South Africa Ganguly can stake claim for a berth in the World Cup squad.
That, however, does not cover the flaws in Ganguly as a batsman. But the point is that Ganguly made whole-hearted efforts in South Africa to overcome his shortcomings against fast bowling and be in the reckoning for future series. How comfortable Ganguly was against Shaun Pollock and Dale Steyn is altogether a different matter.
In Virender Sehwag's case I cannot say the Delhi batsman made any efforts at all to deserve a place in the Indian team.
I would suggest selectors and team management to ignore Virender Sehwag for the World Cup.
But considering the overall equations in Indian cricket I expect Sehwag to find place in the list of 30 and as well as in the team for the first two one-day matches against the West Indies.
Selectors had erred by bringing back Ganguly for the South African tour. They wasted a golden opportunity to blood young batsmen such as Karnataka's Robin Uthappa and Tamil Nadu's Badarinath during the South African tour.
In sport, experience counts for little. Instinct and daring are far valuable qualities on the playing field.
Had Dinesh Karthick been given preference over Ganguly as a specialist batsman in the first two Tests in South Africa, who knows the outcome the series would have been quite different.
Irrespective of the team composition arrived at by selectors for the World Cup, India should have it easy in the group stage. Apart from Sri Lanka, India's opponents in the group stage of the World Cup are Bermuda and Bangladesh.
An ideal platform for guys such asVirender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly to hammer centuries.
No wonder Ganguly, a man who is so reluctant to open the Indian innings inTests, has come forward to open the Indian innings in one-dayers once more.
Should one be ready for a few surprises in the list of 30 for the World Cup?
Certainly not.
Indian cricket will again see the usual suspects crowding around the dressing room.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Balachandran Chullikadu: Such a long journey

By John Cheeran
It has been such a long journey for Balachandran Chullikadu.
Chullikadu shot into Kerala’s sub-consciousness as a poet, whom I would like to compare with John the Baptist.
Like John the Baptist, Chullikadu cried out unpalatable truths that he bore witness.
Every line Chullikadu uttered in the late 70s and 80 had soul piercing honesty and a clarity only arrack could have given you.
Again it is Chullikadu’s honesty that led him to skirmishes with fascists and fundamentalists and that motor mouth, Sukumar Azhikode. His honesty helped Balachandran leave the folds of Hinduism and embrace Buddhism.
Again it was honesty that took him to the sets of the much maligned television serials in Kerala. Much before that, poet Chullikadu had starred in G. Aravindan’s Pokuveyil (Twilight).
Can a poet act? Questions were asked when Chullikadu took serial acting quite seriously.
Balachandran had his answer. They give me money and I need money.
What triggered this post is a new television advertisement where Chullikadu reminds viewers that the establishment that he endorses has an array of MNC products too.
So life has finally reduced the firebrand poet into singing praises of MNCs!
Well, from the hero of Pokkuveyil, Balachandran Chullikadu has come a long way indeed. Again I salute Balachandran’s honesty. A poet must pay his bills too.
May be Balachandran cannot afford to being an idealist like many other cultural czars in Kerala.
Balachandran is the last poet who captured Malayali’s imagination since the days of Changambhuzha. Balachandran of yesteryears was not just a poet.
He was a rebel, he was drunkard and he was a tramp.
When Balachandran wrote
“Lokavasanam varekkum pirakkathe poka en makane
Parayapeddatha vakkine pole arthapoornanayi,
Kalathrayangalkku atheethanayi,
Athra mel njan ninne snehikukil hasthabogathal
keduthunnu Srishti dahathe nithyavum,”
he was putting a stake through his heart itself.
Chullikadu has come a long way from those lines.
Reader, however, can reclaim the old fiery Chullikadu by returning to his poetry pure and simple.
Let Balachandran blissfully endorse MNCs and realize his serial nirvana.
We should be grateful for the pages he has left behind, for his fire and brimstone.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Kant, Moninder and Nithari Killings

Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made: Immanuel Kant
By John Cheeran
For us, the most chilling part about Nithari (Noida) killings is that someone like you and me masterminded such an enormity.
In an educated crowd you would not have figured out Moninder Singh Pandher could have done such reprehensible series of crimes.
Well, Pandher and his immediate family have challenged the allegations by saying that the accused is being framed by some others.
But reality remains that remains of 17 youngsters were dug up from Moninder’s residential premises. That should not have been part of this rich man’s antique collection, however deep his sense of geography might be.
What shocks us, at least me, is that how could a Stephanian contemplate, leave alone commit, such acts that insult life itself.
Nithari killings prove that being affluent, educated and intelligent do not necessarily make you a good human being.
Education does not set men and women free. It only help them further their designs.
I believe everyone is capable of at least one murder. That applies to me as well.
In fact scriptures and Gitas leave enough room for murders as retribution.
But a series of murder? There is no sanction for such brutalities.
And for commercial gains?
And for the pleasures of flesh?
Committed by someone like your father or brother?
Put next to Moninder, even Saddam Hussein begins to look like a saint.
Moninder’s deeds have hit the middle class Indian homes like a sledgehammer.
Now everyone has an unutterable question in his or her lips.
What skeletons are waiting to tumble out of our cupboards?
I console myself reading those lines by Immanuel Kant. Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.
But even Kant would not have imagined how crooked Indian timbers could grow into.

Smith's take on Cape Town victory

From Cape Town
South African captain Graeme Smith was thrilled after South Africa won the third and final Test by five wickets on Saturday to clinch the series 2-1.
"This series win is massive in all of our careers," Smith told a news conference. "We knew how difficult it would be to come back from 1-0 down but we've played superb cricket and never given up.
"We played fantastic cricket to win (the second test) in Durban and the way we stuck to our game plan in this match made the win very meaningful."
Smith made a bold tactical change on the final day by promoting all rounder Shaun Pollock, who batted at number eight in the first innings, to number four.
The move was designed to minimise the effects of a deteriorating pitch and approaching bad weather.
Pollock scored 37 and shared a brisk 72-run partnership for the third wicket with Smith (55).
"Before the ball got to the reverse swinging stage, there was a period where you could score freely," Smith said.
"It was important for us to take the initiative up front this morning and Shaun has all the experience and the ability."
The series was a tour de force for Pollock, who became the first South African to take 400 test wickets during the defeat in Johannesburg.
"You don't get to 400 wickets without knowing what you're doing," Smith said. "I don't know how many compliments we can give the guy but he is a superb asset."
Pollock said South Africa used their sixth place in the test rankings as a spur.
"We're not proud of where we are in the rankings and that was a motivating factor," he said.
"If we keep showing character like this you can expect us to start moving up the rankings."

Chappell's post-mortem on Cape Town defeat

By John Cheeran
Greg Chappell cannot bat for India, unless considering the paucity of talent, chairman of national selectors Dilip Vengsarkar includes him in the team list for World Cup.
Since Vengsarkar is a champion of experience, the idea does not seem far fetched.
But for the time being, Chappell does what he knows best. Putting the knife through India's gyrations on the f ield.
It is not just Chappell who is disappointed with Indian batting, the whole nation is.
"The positive side of it is that some of the young boys performed very well. They showed they have got some skill, some temperament and good personalities for international cricket. Sree's bowling has been outstanding, Zaheer has been very good as well. Kumble has done a pretty good job for us, I don't think he can be criticised for today. It just wasn't a wicket that gave any of the bowlers a great deal of assistance which probably highlights how disappointing our batting was yesterday."
Chappell also said the pitch had not deteriorated as much as expected.
"It offered some targets for the spin bowlers but it really wasn't a minefield," he said.
"The major landing areas of the wicket were pretty good which made our batting effort on Friday that much more disappointing."
Despite the defeat, Chappell had praise for former captain Saurav Ganguly.
"He's done what he was chosen to do, which is to get in there and get runs. His performance on Friday in difficult circumstances, having to be rushed in at the last minute, was exceptional. He's done a good job."
Chappel on Sehwag:
"He's certainly a concern but I don't think he is our only batting concern at the moment," said Chappell. "We are just not getting enough consistent runs. We seem to be losing wickets in batches, which is something you try and avoid in international cricket, particularly in a Test match.
"Looking at the tour as a whole, there are more questions than answers. Over the next week or so, when we get back to India and have a chance to digest what's happened and discuss and debrief, we're going to have to make some decisions on which direction we go. There will be a few guys under a bit of pressure, there's no doubt."
"I don't know that you can say that any decision is a wrong decision," he said.
"It was a calculated decision. He has been an opening batsman, he made 40 in the first innings, and it was a pretty slow, Indian-type wicket. We felt that if any wicket in South Africa was going to suit him, this one would. With a lead of 40, if we had got an hour or so of Virender playing the way he can, all of a sudden that lead would have been 100, and the whole game would have changed.
"The other thing you have to take into consideration is that Karthik did a fabulous job in the first innings, and then kept for 130 overs. I don't think we can ask too much of a young man. We asked a lot of him in the first innings and he delivered as well as anyone could. But you don't necessarily expect a stop-gap opener to be able to do the job continuously."
Sloppy fielding
"What Rahul [Dravid] was trying to do was minimise the number of boundaries to try and stretch that 211 as far as possible," said Chappell. "Obviously, we didn't need them to get away with a string of boundaries early in the day. But to be fair, the wicket didn't deteriorate like a lot of people expected, including ourselves.
"I'm not sure it changed greatly. There were some targets for the spin bowlers but it wasn't a minefield by any stretch of the imagination. The centre areas, the major landing areas, were still pretty good, so I suppose it makes our batting performance of yesterday that much more disappointing. There weren't that many gremlins in the wicket, there weren't that many balls flying around. It wasn't up and down, or staying down. If you were prepared to get in and not do anything silly, then batting was not that difficult."
On Munaf Patel and Harbhajan Singh
"It was never a choice between Munaf and Harbhajan," said Chappell. "We wanted the batting that we had and we wanted the balance of the bowling that we had. To be fair, Harbhajan hasn't bowled for a month, so it was going to be a big ask to push him into the team as well.
"It's very easy to look at things in hindsight and say what if, what if. We made the choices based on what we saw and what we had. It wasn't a fitness thing at all."

For the record: Disgrace in Cape Town

From Cape Town
South Africa completed a come-from-behind series victory when they beat India by five wickets on the fifth day of the third and final Test at Newlands yesterday.
Captain Graeme Smith and Shaun Pollock set South Africa on the way to their win with aggressive batting early in the day before rain caused a delay of three hours 45 minutes.
Left-arm opening bowler Zaheer Khan struck twice when played resumed, dismissing both Smith and Pollock, but Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince crafted a 77-run partnership to consign India to their third series defeat in as many tours of South Africa.
Khan had Kallis caught at midwicket with two runs needed to finish with four for 62.
India won the first Test in Johannesburg by 123 runs but South Africa hit back with a 174-run win in the second Test in Durban.
South Africa became the seventh team to win a three-Test series after losing the first match.
The home side were racing towards victory when Smith and Pollock put on 56 before heavy rain started to fall 50 minutes after the start of play.
The pair added another 13 runs before Khan dismissed Smith for 55.
Smith started the series badly but made 58, 94 and 55 in his last three innings and captained the side positively in the decisive match.
He was fortunate with the first ball he faced yesterday, scoring four runs off an inside edge against Khan but he set the tone for the morning in Khan's next over when he thumped the bowler past extra-cover for four and then played a wristy stroke behind square-leg for another boundary.
Pollock was promoted to number four after a wicket fell with the last ball on the fourth day. It proved a positive move as he and Smith scored briskly.
Between them the pair neutralised the threat of Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble, with Pollock in particular using his feet and taking the attack to the bowler.
Pollock was beaten early on by a ball which drifted in and then spun past the bat but otherwise looked comfortable.
Kumble bowled unchanged for 20.4 overs until only 13 runs were needed, without adding to the wicket of Hashim Amla which he took with the last ball on the fourth day.
Bowling into a large patch of rough outside the left-hander's off stump, Kumble made one ball lift sharply to hit Smith's glove.
The ball went past short-leg for a single to raise the 50 partnership. Another delivery kicked viciously, beating both Smith and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik.
John Cheeran at Blogged