Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tamil Nadu Cricket Ranji Trophy Final 2012

Just under 3weeks ago, I had written about cricket pitches and TN bowlers. Unfortunately, both have come to haunt Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Final.

I wrote on December 29 that having already qualified for the knock out, Tamil Nadu think tank chose to bat a 2nd time in its match against Madhya Pradesh on the pretext that the TN bowlers needed rest when they should have been raring to go a 2nd time to further build their confidence for the knock out matches. Instead, they wanted rest from bowling another 20overs each in the 2nd innings. And this team has been yearning to win the Ranji Trophy for the last many years!!! On four occasions this season, Tamil Nadu had stood a chance to win outright and yet they ended the league phase with just one win.

Subsequent to the previous story, Tamil Nadu once again chose to bat a 2nd time not enforcing the follow on against Bombay ( Abhishek Nayar and Surya Kumar Yadav could have turned the match in 3hours as the lead was just under 200, said one official justifying the reason for not enforcing the follow on)

The bowlers who sought rest during the league phase, and again in the knock out, have paid the price for it by having to bowl 250overs in one single innings against a team that had two of the top three batsmen at the very end of their career- Akash Chopra and Hrishikesh Kanitkar!!!

National Selectors
It was sad to see Mohinder Amarnath and Narendra Hirwani ( national selectors) sitting in the Terrace watching 180overs of cricket to see if they could spot an India talent. Wonder what they would be thinking now after seeing Aushik Srinivas bowl 88overs and Kaushik bowl almost 50!!! One wonders if Jimmy Amarnath was so frustrated at the quality of cricket that he deemed it fit to return to Delhi at the end of the 2nd day's play leaving Hiru Bhai all alone in the selector's room on Day 3!!!!

After batting for 2 1/2days, Rajasthan went for runs in the 2nd session today- the third day- against a tired and toothless TN attack. And within the first 10overs in the last session of play had knocked the top 3 of the TN top order including two of them LBW, leaving one to wonder as to why Tamil Nadu did not try something different once it was clear for everyone to see that Rajasthan were only defending and had no intent to score.

Waiting Game Strategy

Tamil Nadu played the waiting game as they had done with reasonable success through most of the season but this waiting game plan fell right into the lap of the Rajasthan batsmen.

It is time that Tamil Nadu started playing aggressive cricket of bowling out opposition and going for outright wins rather than be satisfied with 1st innings lead. If the intent is to win Ranji Trophy, one has to play for wins right from the grass root level.

In U-15grade cricket, one sees dour draws. In 1st division league, sometimes even one innings is not completed (Yes no time to prepare good sporting wickets). I guess this would be the same excuse given for the wicket provided for the Ranji final as well.

Sources in TN cricket told me that they were shocked at the pitch provided for the final. Home team had 3fast bowlers (who had bowled reasonably well through most of the season) and 2spinners and 4 batsmen knocking on the doors of international cricket. And yet, for some reason, it was deemed fit to provide a slow, no bounce wicket for the Ranji Finals that seemed tailor made for Akash Chopra and team.

On day 2, one of the senior officials of TNCA commented that he had just seen the match at Wankhade earlier this month and spoke so excitedly about that wicket. It had something for every body he said. ‘ A team could get all out on day 1 for 150 and the 2nd team could be 100 for 5 and still score 350 if 1-2of the batsmen put their head down and stroked the ball. Can this be said of the chepauk wicket, he questioned.’

He simply did not understand the logic behind the slow wicket provided for the Final. Forget home advantage, how would this contribute to good cricket.

A lady who had come all the way from the UK to watch the Ranji final and who stayed through the whole of the first 3days could not believe the quality of cricket she saw. She said she has seen domestic cricket across countries but nothing as bad as the cricket she has seen this week here at Chepauk.

And what about the bowling itself? Yes the pitch was slow and the batting was dour. And the bowlers could ask as to what they could do when the batsmen were so intent on defence for 200overs.

But did the TN bowlers try variations. Did they try and induce the batsmen to play strokes. For example, could Aushik have bowled without a cover/extra cover for a few overs to get Akash or Vineet to drive in a bid to change the batsmen’s mindset.

Could Kaushik or Mahesh have bowled without a Mid off for a few overs to see if the openers went for the boundary shot down the field?

One did not see L Balaji try anything different during the long period of 250overs. He waited and waited for the odd good ball or for the batsmen to make a mistake instead of trying out things against the defensive batsmen.

For the moment we will hope, against hope, that Dinesh Karthik will score a triple hundred to see TN home on day 5. But it is more likely that you will find Kanitkar lifting the Ranji Trophy for the 2nd year in a row. And he will owe TN a big thanks for playing into their ( Rajasthan’s) hands.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Namperumal Kaithala Sevai

Namperumal provides ‘Kaithala Sevai’ to Paraankusa Naayaki (Nam Azhvaar)

Nam Azhvaar as Naayaki

Lost in love for the Lord and thinking of nothing else but Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam, Nam Azhvaar presents himself as Paraankusa Nayaki to showcase how one can just get lured into devotion at the very sight of Ranganatha.

In this ( 7th 10) Thiruvoimozhi verse, Nam Azhvaar brings out the despair of a mother who seems to be lamenting to the Lord of Srirangam about her daughter uttering words that she is just not able to fathom. She begs an answer from Lord Ranganatha on what he has done to the little ‘Nayaki’ and how easily he has influenced with his charm.

The mother says “My girl has not known sleep for many days and nights, she is in happy tears all the time. And she is repeatedly chanting words that are difficult to comprehend – ‘Discus’, ‘Lotus Lord’, ‘I cannot live without you’.”

கங்குலும் பகலும் கண் துயில் அறியாள்
கண்ணா நீர் கைகளால் இறைக்கும்
சங்கு சக்கரங்கள் என்று கை கூப்பும்
தாமரைக் கண் என்றே தளரும்

எங்கனே தரிக்கேன் உன்னைவிட்டு என்னும்
இரு நிலம் கை துழா இருக்கும்
செங்கயல் பாய் நீர்த் திருவரங்கத்தாய்
இவள் திறந்து என் செய்கின்றாயே - Thiruvoimozhi verse

This event of Nam Azhvaar in a Naayaki Thiru Kolam was enacted at the Thirumaamani Mandapa on the 7th day of the Era Pathu Utsavam as part of the Thiruvoimozhi Thirunaal at the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam.

Namperumal’s procession at 315pm
Carried by the Seemaanthaangis, Namperumal came out of the Santanu Mandapa on a Palanquin at 315pm and proceeded to the Manal Veli (Sand Banks) through the Paramapada Vasal on the Northern side of the temple, amidst chanting of Vedas and prabhandham.

By the time, Namperumal reached the Manal Veli, Nam Azhvaar was already waiting for him there to display his once in a year ‘Paraankusa Nayaki’ Thiru Kolam.

At around 615pm, two priests lifted Namperumal by their hands and presented the big highlight of the 7th day Era Pathu Utsavam - the ‘Kaithala Sevai’- to Nam Azhvaar who was seated as a Nayaki in a beautiful white and green saree in front of him at the Thirumaa Mani Mandapa.

Araiyars’ enactment of Hiranya Vatham

Later in the evening, starting at around 8pm, five Araiyars enacted the story of Hiranya Vatham in front of the Thirumamani Mandapa at the 1000 Pillar Mandapa on the Eastern side of the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam. One araiyar became ‘Hiranya’ for the evening while another narrated the verses and dialogues of ‘Prahalada’ and the third one played the role of ‘Narayana’.

Nam Azhvaar had in his verse (7th 10 of Thiruvoimozhi) sung praise of this Lord as one who tore open the chest of Hiranyakashipu ‘அந்திபோது அவுணன் உடல் இடந்தானே’ and hence the relevance of this enactment on this 7th day Era Pathu Utsavam.

Recital of 100 verses of Thiruvoimozhi
Following the enactment of Hiranya Vatham, for almost 2hours, the Araiyars recited 80 verses (100 in total for the evening) including verses singing praise of Then Thiruperai and Thiruvaaranvilai.

Veena Ekantham

Having spent 9hours providing darshan to devotees and having enjoyed the Nayaki Thirukolam of Nam Azhvaar, Namperumal now needed rest ahead the Vedu Pari event the next day.

And what better way to get prepared for Sayanam than to listen to the Yaazh Isai Veena Ekantham presentation inside the Naazhikettan Prakara, by the ‘Sathya Kootam’ clan, in pin drop silence away from all the noise of the evening at Thirumaa mani mandapam.

Over 900years ago, Ramanuja had assigned ‘Sathya Kootam’, a clan that belonged to a village near Srirangam and well versed in this art form to present Yaazh Isai at the Ranganatha temple in Srirangam. Nine Centuries later, this has come to be included in the Limca books of records for paternal service at temples and its longevity and the now 77 year old former National College (Trichy) Vice Principal Veena G. Rangarajan features in the Limca records as the 45th descendent of this tradition.

Starting at 12.30am, the four member team of Veena Vidwans (Srinivasan, Ramanujam, Govindan and Gopalakrishnan) with the Veena tied to their shoulder presented for close to an hour, in a standing position, several Prabhandham verses that provided the few hundred devotees late into the night a peace of mind that seems to be missing outside.

During the Tamil Prabhandham Festival in Margazhi, the veena vidwans present around 250 pasurams inside the Srirangam Rangathaswamy temple. And they are paid just under Rs.3 for this divine service.

The compositions presented on the Kaithala Sevai night included Nam Azhvaar’s Paasuram of the day ‘கண்களும் பகலும்’ ( 7th 10 of Thiruvoimozhi), the Thiruppavai of the day ‘மாலே மணி வண்ணா’, ராமா கோதண்டராமா, an Uthama Sampradaya Keerthanai composed by Thyagaraja ( Bairavi) and Thondaradi Podi Azhvaar’s Thirumaalai verses of ‘பெண்டிரால் சுகங்கள் உய்ப்பான் பெரியது ஓர் இடும்பைப் பூண்டு’, ‘சோதனைக் கள்வனாகித் தூர்தரோடு இசைந்த காலம்’, ‘மற்றும் ஓர் தெய்வம் ஊடே, மதி இல்லா மானிடங்கள்’, “மனத்தில் ஓர் தூய்மை இல்லை வாயில் ஓர் இன்சொல் இல்லை’.

As the penultimate song, the Veena Vidwans presented Thirumangai Azhvaar's Siriya Thirumadal (Iyarppa)

கார் ஆர் மணி நரக கண்ணனூர் விண்ணகரம்
சீர் ஆர் கனபுரம், சேறை, திருவழுந்தூர்,
கார் ஆர் குடந்தை, கடிகை, கடல் மலை
ஏர் ஆர் பொழில் சூழ் இடவெந்தை, நீர்மலை
சீர் ஆறும் மாளின்ருன்சோலை, திருமோகூர்................

The Four Veena Vidwans' final song on the Kaithala Sevai night with Namperumal being carried up the steps leading up to the Santanu Mandapa was a fitting end to the 7th day Era PathuUtsavam- ‘எத் சரிக சதனம்பு ஏகாந்த ரங்கா’ (Vijaya Ranga Sokka Nathar’s composition). A seemingly happy Namperumal bid good bye to the devotees and went to sleep at around 130am.

Tail Piece

Ramanuja assigned Yaazh Isai for performance during the Prabhandham Festival in Margazhi 900years ago much much before now popular December Music Season which everyone seems to be talking about!!!

Namperumal, who during Pagal Pathu is out there in the hot sun for over 3hours and almost a similar duration in the Era Pathu (albeit in the evening) would only be too happy to listen to the Veena Recital for an hour/90minutes late into the night
before he goes to sleep.

Over the last few years, because this is the last evening of the Era Pathu event, and with difficulty in adhering to the tight schedule of events,because of the huge and ever increasing crowd, the Veena Ekantham, which as per the schedule has been slated for 11pm/1130pm on most days of Era Pathu Utsavam, starts only after midnight.

Given the fact that Ramanuja himself has assigned the Yaazh Isai to put Lord Ranganatha to sleep during the Era Pathu Festival on the back of a tiring and eventful evening/late evening, devotees would be happy to have a full session of the Veena recital lasting for at least an hour.