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Posts Tagged ‘Cricket

Aussie cricketer defies the laws of physics

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During a crucial period of an embarrassing [1] loss to the Kiwis last Sunday at the WACA, the Australian side effected the following controversial dismissal:

If you watch the replay, you will find that the New Zeland batsman Broome was given out bowled, but it looks like it was Haddin’s gloves and not the ball that clips the bails.

There is little controversy that the ‘bowled’ verdict was quite wrong. Not only did the umpires miss out on the fact that it was Haddin’s gloves that displaced the bails, they failed to enforce a law that states if a wicket-keeper has his gloves in front of the wicket, a no-balled should be called.

What is debatable is how much Haddin knew about what was going on i.e. did he know that it was not out and deliberately suppress the knowledge while keeping up the celebrations? This would be a clear-cut case of cheating and Haddin should face a censure. Alternately, he was  not sure if it was the gloves or the balls that hit the wicket. In this case, popular opinion is that he should have said something to the umpires about the doubt,  although I personally he was not obligated to do the umpire’s job.

The incident has kicked up a storm of accusations between the trans-Tasman rivals.  New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori definitely believes that Haddin knew something and was suppressed it:

“I think you saw from Haddin’s reaction that he knew something was wrong so he probably should have made more noise about it,” Vettori said

As expected this barb mightily upset Aussie captain Prickly Ponting, who rushed to defend his player, and without even the benefit of a second look at the incident, took up the role of a judge and jury to declare Haddin innocent of any wrong-doing (not too surprising coming from a captain who regularly takes up the mantle of umpiring while on the field).

“[Haddin] obviously didn’t know, because if he knew then he wouldn’t have claimed it. Whatever we’re saying about Brad Haddin here, you can’t say that knowingly happened, that is for sure.”

(also brings to mind the denialisms of a certain recent ex-President of a large country)

I would have been inclined to give Haddin some benefit of doubt and not call him an outright cheater (perhaps just a bad sport), but that was before he came up with this clanger today. Miffed at Vettori’s accusation, Haddin claimed to have done nothing wrong, but let slip this gem:

After looking at the replay my hands were in front of the stumps, but the ball I am 100 per cent sure hit the bails first then came up into my gloves,” he said. (link)

So according to him, the ball hit the bails and then lodged in his gloves which were in front of the bails ! That would require the ball to hit the wicket and then travel back towards the bowler before landing in his gloves. There must have been one hell of a spin on that ball.

Reminds me of this Seinfeld episode:

[1] It was an embarrasing game all around: Australia put up a pathetic batting display and the Kiwis were hell-bent on wanting to lose the match in a miserable manner.

(Btw, it is possible for the balls to hit the bails and come upto into the gloves even if they are in front of the wickets – if his gloves are pointed with open face down. However, from the replay it is obvious that Haddin’s gloves are cupped upwards. Ergo, Haddin is lying)

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 3, 2009 at 12:19 am

A winning note and a farewell.

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Finally a series win in Test cricket against the Aussies. Well done to the entire team. My wish for the last match of the Fab4 together ending on a winning note was fulfilled.

Dhoni is turning out to be the proverbial man with a Midas touch. Three wins in three tests, a major ODI tournament in Australia and the 20/20 World Cup. I had mentioned in an earlier post that he remains unruffled under pressure. The last day of this test match, he showed himself as a good leader as well by offering Ganguly to lead the team for a few overs once Australia were nine down and then insisting that former-captain Kumble lift the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with him. Humility and respect are two qualities of a good leader.

———————————————————

So whats left?

Saying so long to Dada.

Thank you for all the great memories, and there have been great many. But the most cherished one would  still have to be that summer evening in our central Kolkata flat, the chest swelling with parochial pride as Ganguly – derided as the zonal selection and who got a chance to play only due to Manjrekar’s injury – stroked one silken drive after another on the off-side. India had lost the first test, and were under a bit of pressure in the second match at Lords, having lost one opener cheaply. In came Ganguly, who had already taken a few wickets while bowling, but certainly sent out by Azhar as a lamb for the slaughter in the fading lights. Not only did he survive that evening, but went from strength to strength the next day.The rest as they say, is history.

There were two regrets that day: one, I could not watch Ganguly get to his century live. Whichever channel was covering the test had to switch to Euro’96 action during the time he got his century. And two, that day I was hoping India would create a record with a second debutant scoring a century, but Rahul Dravid fell at 95.

For far more eloquent tributes to Dada, read GreatBong’s excellent piece here and JAP’s moving tribute.

(another tribute here).

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

November 11, 2008 at 1:21 am

In which I am Conn-ed

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Gautam Gambhir apparently purposefully elbowed  Shane Watson yesterday in the third test between India and Australia. The Aussies are furious. How dare Indians turn cricket into a physical sport ! It should have been an innovation coming from them.

I reckon they have a fair enough complain, banging into opponent players has no place in cricket. However, reading most of the reports from the Australian media, you would have no idea about all the sledging being indulged by the Aussies all through the day. Or the fact that just before Gambhir’s elbowling, Watson had in a very unsporting manner stuck his hand out to block Gambhir’s running.

Local lad Gambhir and Watson continued their series-long feud and exchanged verbal barbs from the moment Gambhir charged the blonde fast bowler. This tension escalated when Gambhir appeared to purposely nudge Watson in the ribs when he completed a second run in the 51st over.

Nope, the Aussies were as pure as freshly fallen snow. Just watch this video and observe the Aussie bowlers indulging in ‘jaw exercises’ through the day.(you can see the elbowing incident here too) Now suppose the exact incident happened but with Matt Hayden elbowing Ishant Sharma. Here is how Australia’s leading cricket journalist Malcolm Conn would have seen it:

Having copped a verbal barrage all day from the frustrated Indian bowlers and close-in fielders, matters reached a boiling point when Sharma – in a blatant contravention of the spirit of the game – blocked Hayden on his way to the first of an easy two runs. In response, Hayden nudged Sharma with his elbow on his way back, a gentle reminder to the young speedster that it was the burly Queenslander who held the upper hand at that stage of the game.

(inspired by this post and my comment there).

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

October 29, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Weeding Monkeys

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Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma.

Names I had not even heard of before this Aussie summer. But names that should come up frequently if this recently concluded series is any indication.

And if people had told me back in January that this combination was going to win India its first ODI tournament in Australia in a gazillion years of trying, I’d have asked for a puff on the obnoxious weed they were smoking.

But it was the youthful energy of these guys along with the likes of Gambhir, Uthappa, Sreesanth, Dhoni etc., and the prescence of just one ‘senior’, the evergreen Sachin Tendulkar that lifted the CB Series trophy at the Gabba last Tuesday. And in the process they have also made me (and a few other bloggers) eat a humble piece of my own words.

But I hardly care, I will write down those words and eat the paper too; after a long, tumultuous summer, we gave it to the mighty Aussie – winning on the field and delivering a bitter taste of their own medicine off it. And that just warms the cockles of my heart.

Back in late January however, it had begun real badly – a total rout in the 20/20 at MCG. But then, slight flashes of brilliance in bowling and batting at the rain-soaked GABBA encounters, followed by a good win at the MCG, and then losses to Australia in games that could have been won, a trundling win against Sri Lanka, followed by an emphatic one. Still, it seemed we were consistently doing what we do best: being inconsistent.

And then something happened: Mathew Hayden, FSM’s gift to the foot-in-the-mouthers, came on a Brisbane radio show and graciously expressed his opinions on gardening, demonstrated his acute grasp of the Indian accent, and shared his pugilistic fantasies of beating up young kids. In the same breath, he also mentioned something like ‘Indians are always losing…..’.

The rest, as they say is history. After that interview, Australia promptly lost three in a row. Over the two finals, Harbhajan Singh, the bete noire of the Australian cricket team, public and particularly the media, took the wickets of Symonds twice, Hayden once and had a hand in the run-out in another.

Irony, divine justice, karma, call it what you will. And to top it all, Sachin Tendulkar, long castigated for never winning it for India ‘when it mattered’, joined the party and played two highly innovative innings.

All followed by wonderful celebrations; and especially, as I mentioned before, the wide eyed innocence of the small-town boy, Praveen Kumar, while accepting the MoM award. (the other great moment was in the first final at Sydney, where Yuvraj and Harbhajan started a bout of mock boxing after Hayden’s dismissal).

A special salute to Captain ‘Uber-Cool’ Dhoni.In situations where Dravid would have frowned deeply, Ganguly thrown fits, Dhoni calmly – with nary an expression on his face – handed the crucial last over to Pathan. It was a strange decision given Pathan was certainly the worst bowler on display through the day, but he repaid the confidence. Since being appointed 20/20 and ODI captain, it has been a good season for Dhoni. Most of his decisions regarding player selections, backing of youngsters (a point he did not forget to make during the presentation speech) paid off handsomely – they may not in future – but his unflappability under pressure has me impressed [1].

So once again, here is to the young lads in blue ! Cheers !

(Picture: Cricinfo)

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[1]: As if I required more reasons to like Dhoni, read about his departing words to the Aus media. Very cheeky :)

“There was a time when it seemed like he was like Michael Jackson, the way the media were following him,” Dhoni said before flying out of Australia with the Indian team.

“I think it would have been better if they (Australian media) stuck to cricket.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 5, 2008 at 6:06 pm

The Scratchy Itch…

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While the Sydney Morning Herald continues to embarrass itself by its near apoplectic harping on the ‘scartching’ non-issue (see the previous post), one of its writers, Greg Baum, cuts through the crap (via):

“There are a lot of young people sitting here, and it was inappropriate,” one spectator told The Age. “If he wants respect, he has to treat others with respect.” This spectator, who was so concerned about young people and so insistent on the need for respect, was sitting in a crowd that in chorus was calling Harbhajan a “wanker”.

Another spectator complained in the Herald Sun that Harbhajan spat in his direction, six or seven times. “Spitting is not on in my book,” he said. “That’s a bit out of line.” This spectator, who was so upset by Harbhajan’s demeanour, was wearing a fluorescent green T-shirt inscribed: “Monkey see … monkey do.” (link)

The clincher:

And the idea of a sporting crowd staking a claim to the high moral ground is absurd.

Make no mistake. Harbhajan has been here long enough, and seen and heard enough, to know better.

If he did make monkey gestures towards the crowd on Sunday, he knew what he was doing, and should be sent straight home and told to stay there

Well said !
*********************************************

PS: At the same time, I find BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah’s retort “Let Australia come to us and see what the crowd might do.” in extremely bad taste. This is borderline hooliganism. But do we ever expect any sensible action from the BCCI ?

PS2: Inspiration for the title goes to Naked Cricket’s comment.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 3, 2008 at 6:24 pm

Dont scratch yourself….

with 9 comments

….err in the arm-pits. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the gesture is racist (apparently a monkey taunt) !!!!

Check for yourself and judge:

I won’t be defending Harbhajan if indeed he made monkey taunts, but if this is the picture that forms the basis of their accusation, it is a very weak one.

[Not justifying anything, but apparently the crowd was also having quite a go at him with shouts of 'wanker' (typically Australian) to 'knob head'/'cut your hair', a reference to his Sikh religion. Classy stuff.]

The Aussie press has really gone ballistics after their invicible team lost last night. Most of the reports keep focusing on meaningless stuff like how much the Indians celebrated e.g. how Yuvraj and Harbhajan cheekily started a mock shadow boxing round after Hayden was out (hilarious stuff IMO), rather than the game itself.

W hat a bunch of sore whiners.

Take this absurdity from Malcolm Comm whose list of Harbhajan’s past trangressions include:

Others included poking his tongue out in a one-day match against SriLanka and running most of the way to the boundary during the SydneyTest before doing several awkward rolls after dismissing Ricky Ponting

Now you cant stick your tongue out ?!! What about Brad Hogg then ?

And of course, Peter Lalor is at it again, this time raking up a bunch of pathetic excuses for Ricky Ponting’s slump in form.  I am too tired to fisk him, but Mohan at i3j3Cricket has done a pretty good job.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 2, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Stay classy, Matthew Hayden (updated)

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Updated: Here is the actual mp3 of the Hayden interview from Bisbane’s triple M (via). Apart from the comment on Harbhajan, Hayden mocks Ishant Sharma, mimicking an Indian accent, while inviting the 19-year old into a boxing ring. As I said, real classy behavior from one of the seniormost Australian players.

——————————–

  Matthew Hayden, otherwise known as a god-fearing, church-going bloke, and a celebrated cook who also opens the batting for Australia, obviously does not feel that dissing and bad-mouthing your opponents in public is anything that Christ wouldn’t approve of.

Matthew Hayden has stirred already troubled waters by calling Harbhajan Singh an “obnoxious weed“, a comment that will only serve to further deepen the animosity between the two sides which has surfaced during India’s current tour.

In the same breath he says:

Hayden played down the incident, accusing the Indians of complaining because “they are losing every game they are playing,”

Erm……even forgetting that India won two games recently againt Sri Lanka, Hayden obviously has a very short memory of his own team’s performance. Btw, Hayden also says that Harbhajan “has been charged more than anyone that’s ever played in the history of cricket.” which is a blatant lie (also consider that Hayden’s captain, Ricky Ponting, has the same number of charges as Harbhajan).

Finally, Hayden is even gracious enough to offer some advice to young Ishant Sharma (who was fined in the last match for helpig a lost Andrew Symonds find his way to the dressing room):

“He is just young. I have said to him many times, ‘You are 19, take it easy’,” Hayden said. “At the end of the day he is 19, why doesn’t he just worry about his bowling for a while?”

What a novel idea ! Wonder if Hayden will heed his own saying and worry about bludgeoning bowlers out of the park rather than talking up shit.

Eventually, it is unfortunate how all these slanging matches are deflecting attention from some fantastic cricket this summer. I am pretty pissed off (at both sides) to the extent I am considering not going to the stadium to watch the second final at the ‘GABBA. Saves me money and the headache you get from drinking XXXX all day.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 26, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Hmm………

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Cricket fans are planning to protest against the Indian side in tomorrow’s Twenty20 match against India in Melbourne.It’s believed text messages are circulating, urging supporters to verbally attack the tourists and their fans in the wake of the Harbhajan Singh race row. (link)

Should make it interesting if any ‘incident’ happens.

MEanwhile, the Australians are probably finally taking this form of the game a bit seriously. In their last match against New Zealand, they rested players, including Ponting. For this game, Ponting seems to be in a hurry to get fit. OTOH, India are treating this as a practice game.

By the by, the 20/20 will be telecast on HD – apparently the first time for cricket in Australia. Should be fun. I actually happen to like 20/20 better than ODIs (Test cricket trumps both).

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 31, 2008 at 6:33 pm

Recurring theme and a milestone

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The recurring theme for the first two days of the test match has been India on the verge of putting Australia away for good, but a combination of luck and Aussie resourcefulness sees the game back on even keel. Most commentators are saying that India are on top, but I still think it is anybody’s game, especially with three days left and the wicket still playing true.

After a disappointing morning with the bat, we had the Aussies reeling at 61/5 and hopes were up for a 100-odd runs rout. But then Gilly and Symonds managed to get into the usual rescue act, and what a partnership they produced! Would have loved to be a non-partisan viewer during that period of the game, but sadly their swishing and slaying held little joy. Of course, they were helped to some extent by poor fielding – couple of really sloppy moves by Ishant in the deep let off Gilchrist twice – and importantly, few slices of luck. Symonds is certainly having a charmed series. He was dropped at 3 by Tendulkar, then got a lucky reprieve when a RP Singh yorker squeezed through his defense and yet spun away to miss the stumps. Hopefully his luck will run out at a crucial time during the Australian second innings. :)

But overall, no one could have imagined this situation three days ago. Actually, it was predicted that a pace attack would rip through the opposition batting – only it turned out to be Indian medium-pacers, with their wily swing that coaxed out the vaunted Australian batting. The Indian bowling is arguably a second string line-up, given the absence of Zaheer, Munaf and Sreesanth, yet in the scorching heat of Perth, they have bowled with heart. Kudos to RP Singh, Pathan and Sharma. Keep it up fellows – we need it once more this test.

Speaking of Indian bowling, the main news of the day: Anil Kumble reaching a great milestone: 600 Test wickets ! (and what a wicket it was – breaking up the Symonds-Gilchrist partnership).

I will admit there were times when I was exasperated by his bowling, especially ODIs, and believed he was past it. But I am really happy that Kumble proved us skeptics wrong.

Cricinfo has a wonderful timeline of his career.

Make no mistakes, the guy’s a fighter at heart – perhaps not the in your face street-fighter like Ganguly – but all the same, an indominable warrior (and he manages to hide it well behind the modest smile and unfailing gentlemanly conduct). No other moment captures his resilience and grit better than this picture:

The Cricinfo report of the Test match at Antigua says it all:

Not much later, just after news came in that Kumble was flying back to India the next day for surgery, out walked the man himself. Heavily strapped up, with bands going around his jaw, over his head and across the back of it, a semi-mummified Kumble walked out to the middle.

The ball was tossed to Kumble and a slider slipped past Lara’s outside edge off the very first ball. There was much speculation about the wisdom of such a move. Perhaps it was foolhardy to ask a man with a fractured jaw to bowl?

All talk was put to an end, as is so often the case with Kumble, by one delivery. Tossed up, fizzing through, pitching on off and spinning in just a touch, Lara’s across the line swat was not good enough. The pad was struck, Kumble appealed as well as his plaster would allow and umpire David Shepherd confirmed that Lara (4) was plumb lbw.

Congrats Jumbo. Now onto 700 !

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 17, 2008 at 9:08 pm

All said and done…

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…..in case you missed it, there was cricket played over the last five days as well. And some top-notch cricket at that with an even contest right upto that fatal Micheal Clarke over.

(Okay this is the final post about the recent test match…..and will try to restrict to cricketing aspects :) )

You have to admit that the Indian team demonstrated a lot of fight in this game. Their preparation was less then ideal: Beaten comprehensively at Melbourne less than a week ago, with no other practice games in between, they lost their frontline pace bowler to injury and then the toss on a good batting pitch. Yet they made a spirited start with two young seamers and an early umpiring error (first of the many to plague the game) notwithstanding, had Australia on the mats at 134/6. Then there was the (in)famous Symonds reprieve where the batsman luckily nicked the ball to the keeper just as Bucknor had settled into his late morning nap. The rest as they say is history. India had other opportunities to draw or even win the game but were outplayed (and some will say, out-umpired).

Irrespective of all the umpiring errors – India got a couple in their favor, especially Sachin’s lbw reprieve, but on the whole the errors were loaded against them – and what could have been, there are several cricketing aspects where India lost the game, or lost the chance to draw it. And not surprisingly they are the two old bogeymens haunting our cricket – fielding and running between the wickets.

In the field, Australia dropped a few catches (even the ever dependable Gilchrist dropped two easy ones) but on the whole they saved quite a few runs due to athletic fielding. The Indians, barring the a couple of hard chances by Yuvraj, took their catches, but allowed Australia too many easy singles. And its those single which I believe were quite crucial. On the crucial fourth day of the match, India, with a still healthy lead of about 56 odd runs, bowled well. Both the seamers and the spinners created a few problems and run scoring was not as easy as the free-flowing Aussies would have liked. Even with the close-in field, boundaries were hard to come by. Yet, both during the Hayden-Jaques and later the Hayden-Hussey and Hussey-Symonds partnerships, the run-rate never went below 3 to 3.5 odd. That’s because of some excellent running. Moreover, it was not just the sprinting capacity of the batsmen, it was their technique to a great extent where Hussey, Hayden and Symonds all used soft-hands to prevent the ball from reaching the fielders quickly, allowing that extra moment to get the run. Of course, the Australians are masters at the cliched ‘converting ones to two and twos to threes’ game. This ability ensured that not only the scoreboard kept ticking over, but no one batsman had to face the probing line from the Indian bowlers for more than 2/3 balls at a stretch, giving them ample breathing space. I my opinion, this was a decisive factor. Unfortunately, during the the Indian innings, this kind of singles were taken only during the Harbhajan-Sachin partnership. Not surprisingly, it was the one partnership that really rankled the Aussies.

Of course, the fact that India was carrying two passengers in the batting line-up: Jaffer and Yuvraj did not help matters. In the fourth innings, we were effectively playing with 7-8 batsmen. When your number 10 and 11 scores freely against Brett Lee while number 1 and 6 can only shuffle at the crease uncertainly, there is something horribly wrong. Jaffer surely needs to be replaced by Sehwag. If not anything, we might get 10-20 odd runs from the wild slashes and thick edges flying over the slip/gully :). As for Yuvraj, he seemed totally disinterested, weather fielding or while batting – it will not be harmful if someone with a better attitude, like Pathan, who could be an useful bowler as well, comes in his place.

But overall, I am quite proud of the manner in which India obviously rocked the Australian domination boat. With a few decisions going the other way, we were even in with a chance of winning till the last day.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 7, 2008 at 12:53 am

Medieval Justice

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[update: Also read this piece by the GreatBong - he is obviously angry. Also, my new post on the cricketing aspects of the test match here].

Mike Procter, the match referee for the recently concluded, controversial India-Australia Test at Sydney, determines that Harbhajan used a racial slur against Andre Symonds (called him a ‘monkey’). Yet he provides no evidence other than the fact he is “satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Harbhajan Singh directed that word at Andrew Symonds and also that he meant it to offend on the basis of Symonds’ race or ethnic origin.”

Anantha expresses it much better.

PS – Apparently, Symonds was upset that Harbhajan was patting Brett Lee’s bottom.

Symonds said Harbhajan’s bewildering decision to pat Australian fast bowler Brett Lee on the bottom during play on Friday in the second Test had sparked the furore.

When Symonds asked Harbhajan why he had done this, the fiery Indian – then batting – allegedly called the Queenslander a “monkey”.

Symonds feels he had a greater claim on that piece of ass.

PPS – News Corp is racist. Here is the proof:

picture2.png

PPPS (hopefully the final one): I am not condoning Harbhajan using a racist slur, or even trying to debate whether ‘the word’ is racist or not. There was apparently an agreement between the teams beforehand that ‘the word’ was not to be used against Symonds. But only IF Harbhajan indeed used ‘the word’. The way the inquiry was handled makes it far from certain if it was the case.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 6, 2008 at 5:47 pm

An Aussie Goes Bolly

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Bollywood is currently quite the flavor down under: huge posters for Bollywood dance parties dot the University of Queensland campus (even yours truly has been cajoled to attend one this weekend), film crews are welcomed in various cities, and of course, there is the cross-over talent of Brett Lee (also watch this).

Not surprising that enterprising TV producers are planning to cash in, combining the Bollywood interest with the other obsession common to the two countries, cricket. Gus Worland, a cricket buff who last year made a documentary on spending time with the Barmy Army over the Ashes down under, did something similar in India during Australia’s ODI tour earlier this year. The program, An Aussie Goes Bolly, will be aired next month, coinciding with India’s test and one day tours. The TV channels – both sports and others – are abuzz with the promo:

Cliched and overly caricatured (sure to raise the heckles of a few people I imagine) and passably funny. Still, I am looking forward to the actual show.

While one Bollywood, especially have to share this, possibly the greatest disco moves of all times :

(for some reason, the Russians have a fond affection for this song – its the Awaara Hoon of the 80’s for them)

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

December 12, 2007 at 6:49 pm

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