Thursday, January 05, 2012

‘Out of the Blue' – A Look Back into a Miracle in Indian Cricket

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It was around 10:00 PM that I started reading the book “Out of Blue” written by former Indian Opener Aakash Chopra about Rajasthan’s Road to the Ranji Trophy. My wife reminded me I have a lecture for my students at 8:00 AM, an indication that she normally gives so that I sleep early. Typically when I have to be in office by 8:00 AM I sleep latest by 1:00 AM. But as I started reading “Out of Blue” I forget about time and in one go finished reading it. I looked at the watch once I finish reading it and it was 5:50 AM in the morning. The book was such a gripping story of Indian cricket that I forgot that I had to sleep early that day. 
Rajasthan’s journey to lift the coveted Ranji Trophy in the year 2010-11 is nothing but a fairly tale. After being placed last (27th) a year before, it was a spectacular fete to win the championship next year. It is more like Bermuda lifting 2015 world cup after not even qualifying for 2011 World Cup. If such an unbelievable thing has to happen, there should be lots of hard work, dedication, planning and execution that go with it. This book is all about how Rajasthan could achieve that miracle of winning Ranji Trophy. 
It is said that in India “Cricket is a religion and Sachin is the main God”. All other cricketers who are playing for India have the status of demi-God. Cricket loving public rarely cares about other cricketers who sweat out for their states – who are not fortunate enough to represent India. This book by Aakash Chopra is for all those players who have represented their respective states and never got a chance to play for India. This book shows us a glimpse of how much passion for cricket and hard work that goes on to make a first class cricketer. 
This book is the story of Akash Chopra who was unceremoniously dumped from Delhi team, his home for more than a decade and how he found an abode in Rajasthan; this is the story of Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who after so much selfless service to Maharastra state team was dropped from the team; it is the story of Pankaj Singh – only other member in the team (others being Kanitkar and Aakash) to represent India, his initial struggles to make a mark as a cricketer; it is the story of Ashok Menaria, the former Indian Under-19 team captain – his initial rise and fall in cricket and his subsequent rise; it is the story of Deepak Chahar, whom Greg Chappell branded “good for nothing”, who went on to take 8/10 against Hyderabad on his debut; it is story of Robin Bist who like Chopra shifted loyalty from Delhi to Rajasthan and his initial struggles to set his foot right in Rajasthan; it is the story of Madhur Khatri, a Class IV cadre employee in the Railways who has to work close to 12 hours a day to look after his family and then find time to practice even after getting selected to play for Rajasthan; it is the story of Vineet Saxena, who was courageous to pad up hours after the burial of his two month old daughter; it is the story of Rashmi Ranjan Parida, former Orissa captain and the third professional player in Rajasthan team; this is the story of Vivek Yadav who “ran away” from his own house when his parents were against him playing cricket; this is the story of Sumit Mathur, who flunked 12th grade exam because he had time only for cricket and not for studies; this is the story of Vaibhav Deshpande – the pain taken by his family to make him a cricketer; this is the story of Gajendra Singh another Class IV employee of Railways who get rid of Ricky Pointing, Mathew Hayden, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson in an exhibition match even before he started playing for Rajasthan; this is the story of Rohit Jhalani, the senior most player in the Rajasthan team and his struggles to retain his place. In short this book is the story of those players who made that impossible happen for Rajasthan for the first time in the Ranji Trophy history. 
The planning and  execution of the game plan on the day of the game, how domestic cricket is played in India, how Rajasthan Cricket Association looked after its players during their dream journey – this book tells us all that. 
I have to get up at 7:00 AM after an hour of sleep as my students will be waiting for me for the 8:00 AM lecture. But I don’t have any complains. I have read a well written book about Indian cricket. 
For all those budding cricketers who dream of playing for India – this is a must read book; for all those Indian cricket fans out there – this is a must read for you all.. 
On a side note: As I write this Rajasthan has just beat Hyderabad to qualify for the Ranji Trophy semifinals of this year and Aakash Chopra has hit a century. May be another exciting book on the way about Ranji season 2011-12?
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