HE HITS A 600!

Football's just another branch of entertainment which is what Mick Jagger & the Beatles are in and I'm just another entertainer as far as I'm concerned.
- George Best

The tall New South Welshman steamed in. It was the 74th over of the day, 121st of the innings. His more illustrious fast bowling mate had bowled his heart out. Scores were level. The home side needed just 1 run to win. The visitors, the fielding side, needed just the 1 wicket to tie. The 2 batsmen at the crease, the current skipper and his predecessor, had survived a dropped catch and a yorker respectively. The last quarter of an hour was filled with such tension that lesser men would have retched their entire digestive systems out. It was not a game for boys.
He crouched back into the crease with an ever so slight shift to the left. As he flexed his right elbow the rapier in his hands was perpendicular to the ground. It was the 355th minute of his innings. He knew the exact trajectory of the ball as soon as it pitched on length and outside the off-stump. The rapier came down in a flourishing arc to send the ball flying through the covers to produce of the most incredible and improbable test victories ever. With due respect to 375, 501* and even the epic 213 just a fortnight earlier, this was Brian Charles Lara's greatest moment of his career.

Sports is primarily about entertainment. It is about doing things in style, with panache & glamour. An ugly person would never want to marry another ugly person even though they are in the best position empathize with a fellow uggo. It's unfair but that's how we are wired. It's simply natural to want beautiful things: beautiful spouse, beautiful children, beautiful house. If Humans were fighting Aliens and it was somehow settled via a cricket match, a phlegmatic, unemotional decision would be to pick someone like Steve Waugh to bat. He was as effective as the two darling batsmen of the 90s. He broke the will of West Indies in 1995 in such a fashion that they are yet to recover after nearly a quarter of a century. Despite matching his more glamorous opponents, blow for blow, Tugga never gets the love they get.

Brian Lara completes 600 months on the planet today. With that in his bag, he's now the only cricketer to have hit a hundred, double hundred, triple hundred, quadruple hundred, quintuple hundred & a sextuple hundred at First Class level and above. Crouch, hop, back-lift, flourish. The bat came from so high up & with such precise timing that even the faintest of blocks would see the ball fly through to the boundary. It was supposedly a technical weakness against the really quick bowlers and yet the exact same weakness produced more than 22,000 international runs and more than 50 international 100s. But the numbers are irrelevant. It is how they were scored that matters.

What set Lara apart from his contemporaries was his utter refusal to compromise on his attacking instincts. He truly believed in adage of giving the 1st hour to the bowler but he very rarely traded his extravagance for accrual. A bit of pragmatism and self-denial would have produced a 1000-1500 runs more but it would have been less entertaining. We watched Lara because he fought fire with fire. It is what made Lara, Lara. If we wanted see someone to fight fire with water, there's always lesser beings like Chanderpaul, Kallis & co. As great as they were, they are never going to fill stadia like the man from Santa Cruz.

His last words as an international cricketer were, "Did I entertain?". The short answer to that is:



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    30-year-old Duradei Sanskrit School struggles to survive

    BALASORE: The Duradei Sanskrit School was established at Parusottampur village under Khaira block 31 years ago with the objective to preserve and promote the ancient language of the country. Only to be left orphaned immediately after.

    Wallowing in neglect for the last three decades, the institution is now struggling to keep itself alive. Crumbling infrastructure has threatened its very existence. Right from missing boundary walls, decrepit classrooms and other physical infrastructure to poor sanitation and lack of safe drinking water, the school faces it all.

    The boys’ school has 119 students from Class VI to X, most of them belonging to tribal communities of Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts. Of the total three classrooms in the asbestos-roofed thatched house, one has been converted into a kitchen. Without a hostel, the classrooms double up as dormitories. Around 50 students sleep in two classrooms in the night.

    While the school has total six teaching and non-teaching staff, the district administration is yet to appoint a cook for the inmates. Headmaster Harischandra Sankhua has engaged a local for the purpose and the expenditure is being incurred from school fund.

    The school also lacks proper sanitation facilities as students attend nature’s call in a polythene-covered open toilet on the school premises. They are forced to use unsafe water from a tube-well despite its foul taste and smell.

    Locals alleged that despite several requests, the administration even failed to construct an all-weather road to the school. During rainy season, teachers and students face immense problems to come to the school. Though the school had received Government recognition in 1992, no substantial funding has been made for infrastructure development. An amount of `one lakh was sanctioned by the 14th Finance Commission through the panchayat for construction of a boundary wall, but work is yet to be started, they said. A Class X student alleged that while the asbestos of the house have been damaged since long, it is yet to be repaired. Polythene sheets have been used to cover the damaged asbestos. The quality of food is also not good, he said.


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