As the Indian cricket team's tour of New Zealand reaches its damp conclusion, let us cast our eyes back on some of BVK's memorable insights into the contest. These are not, I should stress, carefully chosen highlights: those who trawl TOI's user-hostile archives will doubtless land a richer catch.
14 February: Dhoni's men will be setting off in pursuit of the game's Holy Grail itself, on a mission many deem nigh impossible.
Yes, New Zealand, for all its beauty and purity, has always been a dreaded place for cricketing tourists: its spongy wickets, windy conditions, tenacious players (not to speak of blinkered umpires, not too long ago) made it an ideal holiday
spot for pesky mothers-in-law.
Playing away has, of course, rarely been as enjoyable as a walk in the rain: but over the years, thanks partly to the shrinking of the globe, such an idea doesn't give the shivers anymore...
Only five players have experienced the travails of New Zealand. A lot will depend on how well Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman convert that into an advantage. The others, even if they are in the pink of form, will have to grope and cope around them.
In the end, it will all come down to overcoming the conditions. Can India interpret the omens on their way correctly? Can they unravel the Holy Grail and come back triumphant?
Some might argue that lifting the World Cup or beating Australia in Australia would be a more substantial achievement than winning a series in New Zealand. What I really want to know, though, is how grails are unraveled.
26 February: The problem is, the next game is in less than 24 hours; there is absolutely no time to pull out Plan B.
Memo to Gary Kirsten: incorporate intensive training in pulling out Plan B, there is clearly room for improvement in that area.
7 March: The Indian cricket team was left swinging on a tricky question after the second one-dayer was officially abandoned at around 8.30pm on Friday night...
In a game that saw more stops than starts, or indeed wickets, India were ahead right from the time the dubious coin twirled in the air.
Which means that, on at least one occasion, play stopped without first having started, right? And why was the coin 'dubious'? Did it have two heads or two tails?
14 March: If the square is shorter than a fine lady's leg on the one side, on the other, the cover boundary looks even sweeter. The NZ bowlers must already be feeling bare and helpless: in fact, gang-rape can't be far from their fears...
It's their bowling that needs urgent aid from Red Cross: and India will not want to be that benevolent soul.
Bet you didn't know that fine ladies have short legs.
15 March: Sehwag faced four deliveries and couldn’t manage even one run: the ball beat his gasping willow and seamed maniacally, almost in celebration, after that...
Daniel Vettori stuck to his much-mauled seamers and reaped their dividends.
Allow your bowlers to reap their own dividends, Daniel, it's the considerate thing to do, specially in these harsh times.
30 March: Resuming the day on 252 for two, with danger still looming nearby, the overnight pair (Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar), had to bury their heads into the ground and forget about everything else.
The myth that ostriches bury their heads in sand when faced with predators is used as a metaphor for the human tendency to ignore bad news. "Dig in" is the phrase usually utilised in the situation in which Tendulkar and Gambhir found themselves. It's derived from trench warfare, and refers to resolute defence in the face of sustained attack.
7 April: (I have provided more extensive annotations to articles published this morning) Rahul Dravid barely needed seven overs into the tour here to claim his 181st Test catch. The edge from Martin Guptill, in the first test at Hamilton, helped him sit on par with Mark Waugh, who needed all of his 128 matches to become the best catcher in the game.
Does having the most catches mean being the best catcher? Even if it does, Mark Waugh got to the world record long before his final test. Near the end of his career he dropped a few sitters.
But then the long wait began. India took 29 wickets since then but Dravid didn’t get his record-breaking catch... It didn’t help that in the second Test at Napier, he had to stand at third slip as Yuvraj Singh was handed that position. ..
Does this mean both players stood at third slip? Must have been cramped.
The 182nd catch deserved special treatment; he slowly got up and pumped his fists like Hercules.
Strangely, in books I've read related to Greek mythology, Hercules never once pumps his fists.
Zaheer Khan bowled 15 straight overs, either side of lunch, but couldn’t expose the top order.
That's like saying, 'he dug and he dug, but couldn't expose the soil's surface'. The job of new ball bowlers is to remove the top order, thus exposing the middle, and potentially lower, order.
He accounted for McIntosh and Flynn; but NZ are not all about apples: they have a few decent bats as well.
I get the connection between apple and McIntosh, but where does Flynn come into that equation?
Harbhajan, who had started bowling a few overs before lunch, was almost unplayable. Using the breeze, he got the ball to dip and turn or bounce after pitching. Suddenly, the Kiwis looked like they were on a burning tin roof.
Tin roofs get hot in the sun, but aren't flammable as far as I know.
I intend updating this post periodically with effusions from the keyboard of the inimitable Bobilli. If you come upon a passage worth a mention, do point me to it, I'll add it along with any comment you may have.
UPDATE 1: Gautam Gambhir completes his century: He punched the air, came out of his helmet and thanked the skies above. (thanks, pp)
2: After strutting around for more than 15 years, Australia have finally started walking with their tails tucked under the legs.
Are they really being ensnared by that monster called vicious cycle? Or are they just the latest victims of the malaise not-so-popularly known as the champion's syndrome? (thank you, av)
3. Sunday, April 19: Unfortunately, it looks like Bobilli isn't covering the IPL for the Times. However, we still have his column to look forward to. This from today's piece, make of it what you will: The cricket captain in some ways is larger than life, if not the game itself: unlike in other sports, he is not just the leader on the field whose job is to keep the flock together; he can't be only mother, father, brother, teacher for each and every player.
4: Monday, June 8, following Federer's victory over Soderling in the French Open final: ... the brave Swede just couldn’t pin Federer to his backhand, allowing himself to be demolished as delicately as a craftsman can. The grammar indicates that the 'craftsman' is Soderling, though of course Bobilli is referring to Federer when he uses that term. Craftsmen, it is worth mentioning, are not associated with demolitions, however delicate.
5: Sunday, July 12: Almost two years ago, when the Dilip Vengsarkar-led selection panel decided that it was time for hot blood, it seemed that Dravid's career was going cold too: his form had gone for a walk and his bat was behaving like an invisible stick; not too surprisingly, impulsive minds started ringing.