Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How to Politely Tell Your Wife to Bugger Off

In just 30 seconds (from 0:53 onwards), Roger Federer manages to mock women who expect their husbands to be involved with their pregnancies ("Oh I'm pregant...I can't move around...Help me"), condescend to his wife ("Mirka is a wonderful person anyway") and only see your wives pregnancy in terms of how it benefits you ("Mirka is feeling great which is really helping me"). Coming from, say, Shane Warne, it would sound horribly sexist. But Federer just seems all the more endearing.

Microsoft Word Changing The English Language Watch

The red squiggly line Nazi has just told me that "redressal" is no longer a word.

Other stupid MS Word corrections here, here, here, and here.

Punjab, Sindh Assemblies Locked In Battle To The Death

I absolutely love my country. Why? Because shit like this simply cannot, I repeat cannot, happen anywhere else. It just makes my day brighter.

On Saturday, the Punjab Assembly saw a walk-out in protest against, as Dawn says, something that was never said. Please, please, please read the whole article. In fact, I am copying and pasting here to save you the trouble of having to click.
LAHORE, June 27: Sheikh Ala-ud-Din of PML-Q Forward Bloc on Saturday must have made history in the Punjab Assembly when he walked out of the house in protest against something that was never said.

The ire of the Sheikh, a member from Kasur (PP-181) fell on Mohsin Leghari (PP-245, DG Khan) of the PML-Q when Mr Leghari, while accentuating his southern roots, read a few lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

Mr Leghari, delivering his budget speech, maintained the finance bill was more of an urban document, which excluded rural development.

Speaking on the neglect of southern Punjab, he said though he loved Lahore – a city where he was educated, got his first employment and still resides in – he has not forgotten his ancestral land. Explaining his predicament, he quoted from the last scene of the Julius Caesar, where Brutus explains his killing of Caesar by saying: “It’s not that I loved Caesar less, but I loved Rome more.”

Provoked either by his lack of understanding or knowledge, Mr Ala-ud-Din immediately stood on a point of order and started grilling Mr Leghari for insulting Lahore, which gave him education, employment and residence, and thundered: “This Lahore bashing must end, especially by those who have benefited immensely from the city.”

Both Speaker Rana Iqbal and Mr Mohsin tried to convince their colleague that no insulting remark had been passed against Lahore, but to no avail. After making an emotional speech, Sheikh Ala-ud-Din walked out of the house in protest against “insult to Lahore”.

He was later brought back by Education Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rahman on speaker’s request, and the minister also lectured the house on avoiding hurting each others’ territorial feelings.

As if all this was not enough, Dr Asad Ashraf of the PML-N found a new dimension to the innocent quote and stunned everyone in the house. On next point of order, he took off by saying: “Since Mr Mohsin has called himself Caesar, he must know how Caesar was born.

It was his difficult birth, which gave birth to Caesarian Operation (C-Section). How bad Caesar proved for his mother.”

On both occasions, Leghari defended himself that he has neither insulted Lahore nor called himself Caesar, but the die was cast.

The Sindh Assembly, on the same day, decided that this was not farcical enough, and decided to observe a minute's silence in honor of Michael Jackson's death. Because, after all, if there's one thing bridging the PPP/MQM rural/urban divide in Sindh, it's old Wacko.

The Punjab Assembly, in retort, decided that no, they should assume most-ridiculous status in Pakistan. And so this happened:
LAHORE: Government representatives and leaders of the opposition exchanged blows in Punjab Assembly hall when the assembly session was underway here on Monday.

According to Geo News, PML-Q’s PA member Bushra Gardezi waved a banner against Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif which led to the brawl as the Provincial Minister Prisons Abdul Ghafoor took the banner away from her and made some abusive remarks.

Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor then threw budget proposal scripts at the female opposition leaders which further contributed to the heated environment and the opposition and govt leaders burst into a physical fight.

Women leaders of PML-Q threw back the books at Chaudhry Ghafoor and government leaders.

The opposition staged a walk out from the session in protest of the incident. Later, leader of the Unification Bloc, Atta Manika also walked out.

Opposition leader Chaudhry Zaheeruddin talking to media said it is no longer possible to sit here due to the inappropriate attitude adopted by the government leaders.

As with most things in Pakistan, Punjab wins this round, but the war is surely not over just yet.

When Academics Get Catty (Healthcare Edition)

Henry Kissinger is said to have once opined that "academic debates are so bitter because the stakes are so low". I'm not exactly endorsing that view -- wouldn't say much about my career choice, would it? -- but I did think of that quote today, because of this debate:

Greg Mankiw: Blah blah blah health care blah blah blah market best.

Paul Krugman: Meoooww.

Greg Mankiw: Meeeeeoooooowwwwwww.

Ok, ok, that's not actually what they said. But it wasn't far off.

Here's what actually transpired:

If the government has a dominant role in buying the services of doctors and other health care providers, it can force prices down. Once the government is virtually the only game in town, health care providers will have little choice but to take whatever they can get. It is no wonder that the American Medical Association opposes the public option.

To be sure, squeezing suppliers would have unpleasant side effects. Over time, society would end up with fewer doctors and other health care workers. The reduced quantity of services would somehow need to be rationed among competing demands. Such rationing is unlikely to work well.

FAIRNESS is in the eye of the beholder, but nothing about a government-run health care system strikes me as fair. Squeezing providers would save the rest of us money, but so would a special tax levied only on health care workers, and that is manifestly inequitable.

In the end, it would be a mistake to expect too much from health insurance reform. A competitive system of private insurers, lightly regulated to ensure that the market works well, would offer Americans the best health care at the best prices.

Krugman's response:

Both George Will and Greg Mankiw basically argue that we don’t need a government role because we can trust the market to work — hey, we do it for groceries, right?

Um, economists have known for 45 years — ever since Kenneth Arrow’s seminal paper — that the standard competitive market model just doesn’t work for health care: adverse selection and moral hazard are so central to the enterprise that nobody, nobody expects free-market principles to be enough. To act all wide-eyed and innocent about these problems at this late date is either remarkably ignorant or simply disingenuous.

And Mankiw's final word:

On the issue of tone, I again think I understand Paul's point of view. He likely believes that civility is overrated. He seems to think that in the blogosphere, and perhaps in the public debate more generally, you score points simply by insulting your intellectual adversaries. Sadly, I am afraid he may be right.

Right-o. My personal view on Krugman is: great economist, excellent writer, kind of a douche. His commentary during last year's Democratic primaries, when he blindly supported everything Hillary did and said, really got my goat. My personal view on Mankiw is: anyone who thinks the market can provide healthcare adequately in an advanced economy can't possibly be thinking right and being honest at the same time. The healthcare system in America is so broken, it's actually quite funny.

Anyway, here's good ol' Nate Silver adjudicating the dispute.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Good News: Pakistan Moving Down Failed States Rankings (Updated Below)

To quote Borat, wow wow wee waa. After a move to number nine last year, we've slipped to tenth, as Guinea and the Central African Republic put in sterling performances to displace us. Brilliant! At this rate, we will be Denmark in 2167.

Yes, yes, these rankings don't really mean anything, but is anyone going to deny they're fun as hell to look at?

UPDATE: Here's the link for the full rankings, complete with an interactive map and everything. A commenter wondered how we're above (below?) Haiti. I don't know about Haiti, but I'm wondering how the hell we're seven spots above (below?) North Korea and a full thirteen spots above (below?) Niger. Niger!

Puerile SMS Of The Day

Dhoni: Mama aaj app nay mujhay plate mai chai kiyun di?

Dhoni Ki Mama: Kyun kay Cup tho tumhare baap lay gaye.

Pakistan Zindabad!

(Courtesy: SM)

Photograph Of The Day

For the westerners out there, it says "sub-inspector Ameer Ali, Sindh police". And no, before you ask, that's not what a cop car looks like in Pakistan.

Photo credit: Raja Islam/Karachi Metblogs.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How You Know You Have Bourgeois Friends

You know how Jeff Foxworthy has his "You might be a redneck if..." routine? Well, I couldn't help but think of that when I got this email from a friend, as part of a long chain:
also, i've been trying to called julius meinl and they are
just not answering their phones! i think they probably just have a house blend, which would be great, or whatever they use at the neue gallery (pronounced nu-ya) in ny. ground for a french press, so coarse rather than fine. thank you so so so so mcuh!! i cant wait to drink this coffee!

In order to reassert my of-the-people street cred, I would like to make the following points:

1. I don't even fucking drink coffee.
2. The only "Julius" I'm familiar with is Caesar (and Erving, I suppose).
3. The words "Neue" (pronounced nu-ya, remember), "french press" and "coarse rather than fine" mean nothing to me. To me coffee can either be black or with cream, sugar or without.

How to Embarrass a Cricket Team

I wonder how many Pakistan players would have turned down the money that is being thrown at them by the government if they knew they had to sit through this (via Well Pitched)

0:38: Misbah is congratulated for his rear-guard efforts, which would be true if this was 2007.

1:10: Well Pitched has a great description of Shoaib Malik's intorduction

Its interesting to note what the speaker has to say about Shoaib Malik. He says that Malik's full support to the captain that replaced him is thought of as a change in the camp's culture.

Duly implying that no former captains have supported their successors.

1:52: Shahid Afridi is "well-sung". Either the speaker knows something about Afridi's vocal talents that we are not privy to, or he meant "on-song".

2:37: Do you really want to begin the introduction for Akmal by referring to him as "dimunitive."

3:50: Salman Butt is one of the "few younger younger players confident when expressing himself." Yeah, I can't think of anything positive to say about him either. What I love about these descriptions is how brutally honest they are.

4:22 Poor Rao Iftikhar Anjum. What do you say about a guy who didn't get a single game?

5:02 Fawad Alam, "unlike most of his contemporaries is a brilliant fielder." Hahahha. More honesty.

6:50: Uh, he's meant to praise Mohammed Aamir not Tilkeratne Dilshan.

7:11: And the best one yet. Shahzeb Hasan is described as "ungainly."

7:32: Yasir Arafat "ironically..had fitness problems during the World Cup." Are they admitting we faked his injury so we could fly in Razzaq?

9:44. Restraint from Zardari. This is the only mention of Benazir in his speech.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Excerpt Of The Day: Bathroom Diplomacy To Save A Country

I'm currently doing some research on ethnic-centered independence movements for my dissertation, and quite naturally, the case study of East Pakistan/Bangladesh is crucial for the study. I plan on doing a post on the various historical interpretations of that event maybe next week, but today I wanted to highlight one quite amazing passage from War and Secession: Pakistan, India, and the Creation of Bangladesh by Richard Sisson and Leo E. Rose.

To set the stage for you, we're basically just around the corner from formal civil war breaking out at the end of March 1971. The crisis -- born of decades of political, economic, social, and cultural mistreatment of East Pakistan at the hands of the West Pakistan establishment, culminating in the election results of 1970 being ignored by Yahya's military regime and Bhutto's PPP -- has reached a boiling point. Yahya has postponed the convening of the National Assembly, a meeting which Bhutto has barred all PPP representatives from even attending (the famous "break your legs" line). East Pakistan has erupted, and law and order has broken down. The central authorities in Bengal have lost control of events on the ground.

Under these circumstances, Yahya has gone to Dhaka for one last throw of the dice. He is meeting with Mujib ur Rehman, the leader of the Awami League, the democratically elected most powerful party in Pakistan. Take it away, Messrs Sisson and Rose:
Negotiations between the government and the Awami League began the following day, 16 March. After an early morning meeting with his senior colleagues, Mujib arrived at the President's House in a white car flying a black flag that symbolized the public's mourning for those who had died under army and police fire after the postponement of the National Assembly. The first decision to be made was where the two leaders were to confer. Mujib strongly objected to meeting in the drawing room for fear that it might be bugged and insisted that Yahya and he hold their discussions in a room that was more private and secure. After some deliberation, and with Mujib's concurrence, the president ordered two chairs brought to the bathroom off the main bedroom of the President's House. It was there that the final negotiations to save Pakistan began.

All I've got written in the margins next to this paragraph is the word "nice".

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Breaking News: Michael Jackson Is Dead (Updated Below)

Holy shit. Do you guys believe this?

UPDATE: You know who I feel really bad for? Farah Fawcett and her family. Normally when a public figure as important/popular/seminal as Fawcett dies, there are tributes and celebrations to their life and career. Right now, no one gives a rat's ass.

UPDATE II: A friend and I were discussing this: whose death would be/is bigger news: Michael Jackson's or Bono's? We both agreed on the choice, but I won't tell you which one we agreed upon. What do you guys think?

UPDATE III: Another question for you guys. What is the list of all people -- not just entertainers -- whose natural death (i.e. no assassinations or murders allowed) would be bigger than Michael Jackson's death? Keep in mind that his passing basically caused the internet to slow down. Let me say that again -- the internet slowed down. Not one website. The entire bloody thing. Here's my list, in no particular order:

1. Barack Obama
2. Nelson Mandela
3. George W. Bush
4. Michael Jordan

People who I'm split on but sort of leaning toward Michael Jackson:

1. Paul McCartney
2. Madonna
3. Dalai Lama
4. Pele

I'm sure I'm leaving off some people. Thoughts?

Quote of the Day

Either Shoaib Malik has fundamentally misunderstood the job of a psychologist or he is trying to channel the tongue-in-cheek statements of Younus Khan. Either way, it's a great quote:

I think those sessions helped as the doctor used the power of hypnotism to drill it into our minds that we were going to England to become the World Twenty20 champions.

Nicolas Sarkozy Misunderstands Secularism And Freedom

I'm sure a number of you heard about this, but in case you didn't, here's what French President Nicolas Sarkozy said a couple of days ago:
In a speech at the Palace of Versailles, Mr Sarkozy said that the head-to-toe Islamic garment for women was not a symbol of religion but a sign of subservience for women.

"The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience," he told members of both parliamentary houses gathered for his speech.

He added: "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic."

Why the hell not? What business is it of Sarkozy's, or really anyone's, what a woman chooses to wear? As long as she is not physically or mentally abused or threatened into wearing it -- and my guess is many Muslim women who wear it in the West aren't abused or threatened -- then who the hell cares? How is it any of Sarkozy's or the state's business?

People like Sarkozy make life very difficult for people like me. When I argue for a secular system of governance in Pakistan (a pipe dream, I know, but humor me for a bit), I take care to mention that secularism is not the absence of religion from society. It is merely the politico-legal separation of religion and state, so that (a) everyone is free to practice their religion however they choose without interference from the state, and (b) no one is impelled to practice a certain type of religion as a requirement as a citizen.

When I am met with the argument that "Pakistan will never be secular because we are a religious people" I am at a loss for words because the second part of the statement is a non-sequitur. You can be religious and secular at the same time. There is no contradiction there. You can pray five times a day, grow a beard to your navel (if you're a man), cover yourself in a burqa or niqab (if you're a woman) and still live in a secular society. The two concepts are not opposed. I can't emphasize this point enough.

Unfortunately, the mistake many religious people make in Pakistan in delegitimizing secularism is the exact same mistake people like Sarkozy make: they think of secularism as the absence of religion, when it is anything but. This irony is both tragic and comical. Essentially, when I scream my head off at mullah types in Pakistan that they should mind their own goddamn business if a woman chooses to wear a tank top and jeans, and when I shake my head at Sarkozy types and ask that they mind their own goddamn business if a woman chooses to wear a burqa, I am arguing against ideological bedfellows, both totalitarians in their own way.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shot of the Day

Since there isn't much too talk about in the early days of Wimbledon, other than Roger Federer's outfit, which the Guardian says make him look like an ice cream vendor, I thought I would just link to Federer's best shot of the day from Wimbledon. This one is from his first round match on Monday. He had a couple of unbelievable shots today too and as soon as they go up YouTube, I'll post them.

Watch and admire:

How To Make Bill O'Reilly Look Sane

Come on his show and explain the socialist conspiracy using a dollhouse. (via Gawker)

There is a second dollhouse video on Gawker from Glenn Beck's own show.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is International Cricket Divided Into The Haves And Have-Nots?

There has been some interesting discussion prompted by my post-World Cup post. In both comments and an email exchange with a friend, there was issue taken with the following passage:
Without Pakistan, the world of cricket was on the verge of a becoming a super exclusive super-club of Australia, India, England and South Africa -- who play each other pretty much twice as much as they do against everyone else. This was a victory for the underdogs, the acned and pimpled kids who never get invited to the cool-kids parties, the ones who are socially awkward and can never get the hot girls (even those that claim to like the eccentric types). This was a victory for Sri Lanka and New Zealand too, ironic since we knocked them both out, because they are in the same position we are: an afterthought in the increasingly exclusivist cricketing hierarchy.

Before you read the rest of this post, it might be instructive to go and read a couple of the critiques made of that point in the comments. Go on, I'll wait.

Using that discussion as a background, I want to answer three questions. First, is it true that international cricket is divided into an upper class and a lower class, where the upper class plays other members of the upper class a lot more than they do members of the lower class? Second, if it is true, then why is it true? Third, if it is true, then are the reasons for it being true fair, just and smart? Let's deal with each in step, in separate blog posts. Today's question is:

Is there an elite in cricket?

Let me be more concrete with what I mean by this question. It's obviously not the case that Australia, England, India and South Africa don't play anyone else in international cricket. The question to consider is: is there a noticeable bias in scheduling that leads those four teams to play each other significantly more than proportionately? Remember, perfect proportionality would dictate that every team plays every other team equally, and since there are 10 international test sides (I'm including Zimbabwe for simplicity's sake), it would mean that we should ideally expect every team to play every other team 11.11% of the time. Obviously, this won't be true to the decimal point, but how far, if it all, do the actual data diverge from the null hypothesis?

To answer that question, I used Cricinfo's statsguru to collect data on all test cricket played from January 1, 2000 to the present. I also collapsed Bangladesh and Zimbabwe into one category, so for the purposes of this analysis, BanZim is one team. In my view, this corrects for the fact that both teams really do represent the sisters of the poor, so if we combine the two, we get something approaching a "real" test team in terms of scheduling. Of course, I was then forced to assume that Zimbabwe and Bangaldesh don't play against each other, but this is no big deal, because I am not really interested in them in the first place.

Here is what I found:

You can click on the picture for a larger view. The way to read the table is from left to right. So looking at Australia's row first, you see that since January 1, 2000 they played 6 tests against BanZim, 20 against England, 20 against India and so on.

Immediately, a problem with the hypothesis manifests itself, that is, the so-called big four (Aus, Eng, Ind, SA) simply play more cricket than everyone else. This might prove to be problematic for the hypothesis. Recall that I hypothesized that the big four pick and choose to play each other more than proportionately. But could it be the case that instead of playing less than proportionate cricket against the big four, it's simply a matter of the other teams playing less cricket in total? Which of these possibilities is closer to the truth? Let us investigate.

The chart below is basically drawn from the same data. There are a couple of points to make about it, but first have a quick look at it. Again, you can click on the image for a larger view.

When you break down all the teams' big four tests vs. everyone else tests, an interesting picture emerges. Basically, except for BanZim and Sri Lanka, everyone plays more cricket against the big four than the others. This is clear from the "positive difference" column, which is basically the difference in rate of playing big four teams vs. the rate of playing everyone else. Only BanZim and Sri Lanka have negative signs in front of this number. So, at first blush, this spells a little bit of trouble for the central hypothesis, because it suggests that the big four aren't the only ones treating themselves better than everyone else; everyone is treating the big four better than everyone else. We can call this the Uncle Tom/babu explanation.

I would submit, however, that the Uncle Tom/babu explanation does not disprove my hypothesis. Why? Simple: because it could be the case that even if everyone treats the big four better than everyone else, members of the big treat each other even better. This is where the last two columns of chart 2 come in.

The average level of "treating the big four better than everyone else" is 0.333; put differently, this means all international teams are will play 0.333 more tests against any one member of the big four in any given year vs. any non-member of the big four. It is against this baseline that we can truly judge levels of selectiveness. That is basically what the last column is about -- it is the quantity of "positive difference" less the quantity of "average positive difference".

When we analyze those numbers, an interesting picture emerges. Basically, Australia are enormously selective with an astounding "real difference" of 0.71. They really, really hate playing against non-big boys. At the other end of the spectrum is, predictably, BanZim with a "real difference" of -0.833. They consistently get screwed by the schedule-makers, even if you try and cheat the system by making two teams into one.

England and South Africa have negligble real differences. So they are basically average teams with respect to scheduling; they play the big boys more, yes, but no more than everyone else. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are fairly badly screwed -- they are definitely marginalized, for a variety of reasons including security (though Sri Lanka haven't really had major problems hosting cricket this decade, it should be noted).

India is fairly selective too, particularly against Sri Lanka and New Zealand (a paltry nine and seven tests respectively this decade).

The real shocker from these data is the West Indies. Their real difference is off the charts, second only to Australia. It appears that the big four should really have the West Indies in place of England, whose real difference is actually negative. I think this outlier is almost entirely due to the ridiculous amount of cricket England and the Windies have played against each other this decade -- they have played 24 tests between themselves, which is more than any other dyad (even more than immensely popular ones like Aus-Eng and Aus-Ind). So if we were to replace England as a member of the big four with the Windies, I would be willing to bet their real difference drops close to 0, because the only thing bringing up their "selective" rating is their schedule against England. Conversely, England's selective rating would shoot up, because they only thing keeping them out of the upper class is their fixture list against the Windies (I would run the data on this but I'm tired of Excel -- one of you is welcome to try and it let me know in the comments).

So given these data, we can reach the following tentative conclusions:

1. There is an elite in test cricket, but it's not the big four, it's the big two: Australia and India. These two teams really, really like scheduling cricket against other marketable teams and really, really hate scheduling cricket against the non-marketable teams.

2. Of the better teams in international cricket (i.e. everyone but BanZim), Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the teams most badly screwed. The reasons for this will be dealt with in another post, but let me just say this right now: it's not just security. Not in my opinion, anyway.

3. There is a broad middle class, consisting of England (who, on the basis of these numbers, have been excellent about keeping commitments against less marketable teams), New Zealand, West Indies, and South Africa.

Thoughts? Have I gone about this completely the wrong way? Do you find the data convincing? Could there better crude measures of this than the ones I have employed?

Why the Pointless UN Investigation into Benazir's Murder is Going Ahead

It has now been 18 months since Benazir Bhutto was assassinated and we can finally solve that vexing 'sunroof theory' once and for all. That's the only conclusion I could draw from reading this story that a UN team, requested by the Pakistani government to investigate Benazir's murder, is about to start work.

I doubt there are very few non-PPP people who dispute that this exercise is a colossal waste of Rs 200 million. But it could be justified if the purpose of the UN commission was to prove beyond any reasonable doubt who killed Benazir. That is not the case:

"The duty of determining criminal responsibility of the perpetrators of the assassination remains with the Pakistani authorities," said a U.N. statement released Saturday.

The mandate given to the UN team seems no different than that under which the Scotland Yard operated: find out how Benazir was murdered but no need to figure out who was responsible. This is a needless farce and I think the 'cult of Benazir' is responsible for its continuation.

In the weeks after Benazir's assasination, passions were undoubtedly ignited and trust in the government was so low and their performance in the aftermath - symbolized by the 'sunroof' press conference - so shambolic that no one even believed a single word uttered by them. Zardari further inflamed the masses by referencing the PML-Q as the 'Qaatil' League. In that climate, it made for good politics when Zardari rejected the government-invited investigation by the Scotland Yard and asked the UN to step in.

Now, the rationale for the UN to involve itself has dissapeared. There is no physical evidence for them to examine - that was washed away minutes after the assassination. If there was any evidence that the previous government was hiding, well, that government has been out of power for a long time and many of its principals are no longer in the country.

Yet, the UN investigation continues, I think, because Zardari would feel that he is somehow disrespecting the memory of Benazir if he called it off. She has now been ascribed such supernatural powers by the PPP that the very fact that the T20 final was played on her birthday guarantueed our victory (according to Rehman Malik in a statement he made on TV). According to this line of thinking, her importance to Pakistan is on a par or surpasses that of Jinnah, as this photograph of the President's House shows. The normal rules don't apply to Benazir, which is why Bilalwal Bhutto Zardari, in a speech he gave at his mother's birth anniversary, made the baffling claim that filing a First Information Report after Benazir's assassination would have been an insult to her memory.

When this is how you perceive Benazir what's the harm in chucking away another Rs 200 million?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Buffy Slays Edward Cullen

I doubt the Rs 5 readership includes many 15-year-old girls, but if there are any lurking around, they may want to look away just about now.

Any women readers in their mid to late twenties, annoyed by the Twilight mania of their younger sisters and tired of explaining how Buffy was the far superior, if less popular, pop culture phenomena should immediately watch this Buffy Summers/Edward Cullen mashup (via James Wolcott). This should leave no doubt that Buffy would take about five seconds to ram a stake through Cullen's heart, without even feeling the need to stop riffing with Willow and chiding Zander for his stupidity. Or, as Walcott puts it:

One of the comic bonuses of this mashup is how gulpily mannered Robert Pattison looks and sounds compared to the springy, melodic zing of Sarah Michelle Gellar. Drowning in his own beauty, he hems and haws like James Dean asking the correct time because in his world there are no watches to bind such delicate wrists.

And if there are any techical whizzes with a fondness for vampire tales reading this, do you think you could whip up an Angel/Cullen mashup? Angel may be the greatest vamp ever created (Blair from Gossip Girl doesn't count) with Spike a close second.

Time To Get Rid Of 'Breaking News'

Pakistani news channels have an affinity for breaking news tickers that is beyond ridiculous. It is 12.47 a.m. and ARY News is breaking the news on its flashy news ticker:

"President Zardari has telephone conversation with Angelina Jolie."

Who cares?

The same channel has shown a clip of Bilawal B. Zardari giving a speech at a congregation commemorating Benazir's birthday. He's trying really hard to sound impassioned and fiery, he comes out looking really awkward; poor guy has huge shoes to fill and just doesn't seem to have the qualities that made his mother and grandfather so successful.

The channel is now interviewing MoYo and he's trying his best not to sound like a 'patriot' rather than a greedy moron, I'm not too sure that he succeeds.

Hey, Obama, Did You Learn How To Say "Pander" In Urdu Too?

You've got to love Barry O. Check out this in-depth interview of the US president by Dawn, the first interview by a Pakistani news organization of an American president. As usual, he strikes all the right chords, and is respectful and conciliatory and careful in his language. But then there's this:

‘I would love to visit. As you know, I had Pakistani roommates in college who were very close friends of mine. I went to visit them when I was still in college; was in Karachi and went to Hyderabad. Their mothers taught me to cook,’ said Mr Obama.

‘What can you cook?’

‘Oh, keema … daal … You name it, I can cook it. And so I have a great affinity for Pakistani culture and the great Urdu poets.’

‘You read Urdu poetry?’

‘Absolutely. So my hope is that I’m going to have an opportunity at some point to visit Pakistan,’ said Mr Obama.

First of all, any idiot can cook daal -- hell, even I manage to do it, and let me tell you, I'm an awful cook (I once tried to cook chicken karahi and it ended up looking like, no joke, Chinese stir fry).

Second, please stop. Enough already. We get it. You respect everyone. You can connect with everyone. Your melange of childhood and adolescent experiences that bring together issues of race, class, education, nationalism, religion, indeed the meaning of life itself -- we get it: you understand everything at a deeper level. Stop making us feel like lesser beings all the time. And stop pandering, it's getting annoying.

Inane Headline Of The Day: World Cup Edition

From the Press Trust of India as published in the Hindu:

"T20 triumph a blessing in disguise for Pakistan cricket"

Who the hell is disguising this blessing? Has to be Imran Khan.

A Triumph Against The Odds -- And Against The Cricketing Establishment Too

On the cricket field, there can be no doubt how this World Cup victory compares to the one in 1992: it doesn't, really. The ODI World Cup in 1992 really, really meant something, while T20 cricket is still treated as somewhat of a sideshow in international cricket.

Compare the teams, too: the talismen of the teams were Wasim Akram and Shahid Afridi respectively -- one is among the twenty greatest cricketers of all time, and one has so barely scratched the surface of his talent that it is criminal. Compare the batting: Miandad, Imran, Inzi and Malik against Younis, Misbah, Afridi and Malik (the other one). No contest. The bowling? Aaqib Javed against Abdul Razzaq? Mushtaq Ahmed against Saeed Ajmal? Wasim Akram against Umar Gul? Please.

And yet this victory is more liberating. Why? Because it represents more than just sporting accomplishment. Because it has freed Pakistan cricket and its followers from the shackles and chains that have been imposed on us by the ICC, the Taliban, western boards, incompetent security and board officials in Pakistan, and everyone else that has wittingly and unwittingly ensured that Pakistan will not see international cricket within its borders for the foreseeable future. Because Pakistan, which was already isolated as a cricketing destination, was at considerable risk of being isolated as a cricketing nation. Because we have loudly and unequivocally announced to the world: Hey! We still matter!

We have shown that international cricket needs a thriving Pakistan team. To his eternal credit, Sanjay Manjrekar -- one of the world's most underrated and incisive commentators and analysts -- realized this, and said so as much in the turnaround-game against New Zealand. Without Pakistan, the world of cricket was on the verge of a becoming a super exclusive super-club of Australia, India, England and South Africa -- who play each other pretty much twice as much as they do against everyone else. This was a victory for the underdogs, the acned and pimpled kids who never get invited to the cool-kids parties, the ones who are socially awkward and can never get the hot girls (even those that claim to like the eccentric types). This was a victory for Sri Lanka and New Zealand too, ironic since we knocked them both out, because they are in the same position we are: an afterthought in the increasingly exclusivist cricketing hierarchy.

And what a victory it was. The whole "Pakistan win with their usual unpredictability and glorious unknowability" angle is valid but seriously overblown. Pakistan have easily been the world's best T20 international team since the format's inception. Is it really that much of a surprise that we won? Our players have grown up playing a format remarkably similar -- galli/mohalla cricket, intensely competitive games of 10-15 overs each on average, played over and over and over again well into the night, especially in Ramadan, games which place a premium on intelligence, skill, and ingenuity. We have the heady, sensible batsmen who don't get fazed (Younis, Malik, Misbah), bowlers who can bowl dot balls through variations and accuracy (Gul, Afridi, Ajmal) and the all-important wildcards (Akmal, Afridi with the bat).

The only people for whom our T20 skills were a surprise were the ones who don't actually pay attention to us, i.e. every non-Pakistani in the world. In that respect, our IPL boycott/unofficial ban (depending on which version of the story you believe) was the best thing that could have happened to us. The idea that the IPL was a cause of fatigue and thus the exit of teams like Australia and India is nonsense -- you don't get tired playing cricket for three and a half hours when you've been playing seven hour cricket your whole life.

But one advantage of not playing in the IPL that was true was that we were completely unheralded going in. Think about how ridiculous it was to hear foreign commentators being surprised at Gully's bowling at the death or Afridi's strangling of the middle overs. They simply didn't know. And why would they? What was perfectly obvious to us was simply unknowable to them, because nobody plays us or pays us attention.

That said, we did make it immensely difficult for ourselves with our abject failures against England and Sri Lanka earlier in the tournament. But even those losses were due to rust (the fielding against England would make school-level coaches barf) and silly selection (Salman Butt? really?) rather than some fundamental problems with our cricket.

So while it is fair to say no one really expected us to win, no one really expected us to fail to contend at all either. Our victory didn't come from nowhere, it just came from somewhere unlikely. While some of our strenghts could not have been foreseen -- Afridi remembering how to bat, anyone? -- some of our weaknesses (Misbah's underwhelming form) could just as much be written off as unexpected. In short, we were a prototypical cup-winning team: we had all the ingredients for success, and were one of three or four legitimate contenders, and we caught fire at the right time, and that was the end of that. Italy in 2006, Australia in 1999, the Lakers in 2001 -- all are examples of peaking at the right time, even when success never looked likely early on. Such is life.

We should all thank this team, not just because of the success they have allowed us to share in, not just because they have guaranteed that we won't be pushed around on the international stage for the foreseeable future, but also because they are so damn likeable. With the charismatic and disarmingly honest Younis as captain, with the cancerous Shoaib Akhtar jettisoned, with youthful exuberance in the form of Aamer, Ajmal and Shahzaib, and with unfair outcome upon unfair outcome tripping us up, people couldn't help but like us. But to all those people who avoided us like we were lepers, who didn't want to tour us for personal reasons masked in the language of security, who scheduled us for bullshit tours as run-ups to main events, who brushed us aside and questioned our place in the international cricketing fraternity, who almost ensured that cricket died in Pakistan, I just have one question:

How do you like us now, bitches?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Live Blogging T20 World Cup Final: Pakistan Vs. Sri Lanka At Lords

Hello and welcome to Rs.5's coverage of the T20 World Cup final between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. As always, all times are local (i.e. Chicago).

8:34 a.m. Man, it's early. I was up not four hours ago. Let's get the dodgy feed up and running.

8:35 a.m. Um, ok. I'm staring at a screen with the DirecTV logo and Nelly Furtado blaring away. I'm assuming that the coverage will switch over. Soon.

8:36 a.m. Breaking news: U2's "The Sweetest Thing" is now playing.

8:39 a.m. I don't know if I'm completely awake because the radio play over seems to be talking about "toilet twinning", the country of Burundi and something about "adopting a commode". No, I'm most definitely still asleep.

8:41 a.m. While we're waiting, check out some cricket videos I posted that should get you pumped up for the final.

8:43 a.m. I'm giving myself five more minutes before pressing the panic button.

8:50 a.m. Give me a couple, will you?

8:51 a.m. Ah, excellent. Everything is as should be. Anyways, these are the teams that are lining up. For Pakistan, it's Shahzaib, Akmal, Razzaq, Younis, Misbah, Malik, Afridi, Fawad, Aamer, Gul, and Ajmal. For Sri Lanka, it's Jayasuriya, Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Silva, Mubarak, Mathews, Udana, Malinga, Murali, and Mendis. Sri Lanka have won the toss and chosen to bat. Basically, we've already lost.

8:56 a.m. These Sri Lankan dudes need to drop the sixth fashion sense and drop the shades for their national anthem. So goddamn disrespectful.

8:57 a.m. God, Razzaq even does the anthem lazily. And what's wrong with Shoaib Malik's hair? Did he have a Cameron Diaz in "There's Something About Mary" episode?

8:58 a.m. Alright, we're all set here. I suppose if you're looking for omens, the last time Pakistan were playing a final at Lords...well, let me not finish that sentence.

8:59 a.m. Ian Bishop: "This is a people's final, if ever there was one." I'm getting kind of tired of this whole political turmoil angle to the final, to be honest. I get it. Leave me alone and let me watch the cricket.

9:00 a.m. Dilshan and Jayasuriya to open. Aamer with the first over.

9:00 a.m. Bouncer to start. Yeah, Aamer. Yeah.

9:01 a.m. Another short and pacy delivery, on target.

9:02 a.m. And another. "Definitely a plan there," says Waz, helpfully.

9:02 a.m. And another. Why don't I just tell you when it's not a short ball?

9:03 a.m. YEAH! Aamer gets Dilshan -- the tournament's batting star. Unbelievable start here! Aamer keeps it short, Dilshan tries to scoop it, doesn't get all of it, and Shahzaib takes a good running catch at short fine. That was a good catch under pressure. Sri Lanka in a spot of bother here.

9:04 a.m. Mubarak in.

9:05 a.m. Wicket maiden. "Perfect start for the Pakistan team," Waz tells us. He's pumped too, Waz.

9:06 a.m. And Sri Lanka are off with a legbye off Razzaq's first ball.

9:06 a.m. Ooooh. Jayasuriya edges Razzaq through a vacant second slip region. It's all happening. Two slips now for Mubarak.

9:07 a.m. And another! Sri Lanka in disarray here. Mubarak skies Razzaq trying to smack him through a light leg side field, catches a leading edge, and it's a safe catch from Shahzaib for the second time in a day. Wow, this is a real Pakistan circa 99 start from Sri Lanka here. 2-2 in 1.3. Sangakkara in.

9:09 a.m. Younis has two slips in for Jayasuriya too. The crowd is buzzing.

9:10 a.m. And Sri Lanka have their first boundary, as Jayasuriya flays Razzaq through the leg side. Massive inside edge, but there's just two fielders on the leg side. Wow, what a start. 8-2 after two.

9:11 a.m. Aamer really steaming in here. Nearly 90mph, and just back of a length. Hasn't given a run yet in his eight deliveries.

9:12 a.m. Arrghh. Too short, and Sangakkara short-arm jabs it for four.

9:13 a.m. And now through the covers. What a player Sangakkara is. You guys know he's a lawyer in his spare time, right? Anyway, we need him early. Like preferably now.

9:14 a.m. Just the two boundaries off the over, then. 16-2 after three. This is the key partnership for me.

9:15 a.m. Hah! Jayasuriya thinks its 1996, nonchalantly hoiking Razzaq over deep square for six and then flicking him to fine leg for four. How do you flick someone to fine leg from outside off stump?

9:17 a.m. Waz doesn't like the way Razzaq is running in. That makes 170 million of us, Waz.

9:18 a.m. Hahahaha. How lame is Razzaq? Jayasuriya plays on to his stumps, but Razzaq can't even celebrate properly, falling down before it even gets underway. Dork. Big wicket though. 26-3 in 3.5, and Jayawardene in.

9:20 a.m. And it stays at 26-3, with four overs gone.

9:20 a.m. Goddamn Shahzaib is slow. That shouldn't have been two. I love when our young guys can't field for shit.

9:24 a.m. Waz and Bishop have a discussion about how young Aamer is, and Bish asks Waz how old he was when he was started. "I was the same, seventeen, seventeen and a half." He neglects to mention this is in "Pakistan" years -- different metric for us. Anyway, 31-3 after five after an excellent over from Aamer.

9:26 a.m. Gone! One more! Bloody hell, Razzaq gets another! What's going on here? Jayawardene looks like he's giving catching practice to Misbah at a widish first slip, and Sri Lanka are in ALL sorts of trouble here. Razzaq, of all people, has wreaked havoc with three wickets. Silva in.

9:28 a.m. And a quiet end to over, 34-4 after the end of the power play. Afridi into the attack.

9:31 a.m. By the way, it's a final, so what counts as a "good" score changes to about 80% of the normal estimates. Sri Lanka will be able to defend anything in the 140 range, I think. That's probably what Sangakkara is thinking anyway. He's the key now, to state the obvious. Anyway, five from Afridi's first over, and it's 39-4 after seven. Ajmal into the attack from the other end.

9:37 a.m. Sorry guys, a couple of technical issues here. Anyway, short and sweet summary of the last couple of overs: spinners keeping it tight. Surprising, right?

9:38 a.m. 46-4 after nine. Afridi's given away 7 runs in two overs. Again, before the Pakistani fans out there get too excited, remember what I said earlier: you don't need a normal good score in a final. And if you don't believe me, ask England from 1992 or Australia from 1996. Ajmal taken off for Malik, by the way. Real brain-teaser, that one. Younis has done this a couple of times in the tournament: taken Ajmal off after one over, and giving Malik a go.

9:40 a.m. "They've got a lot of work to do here, Sri Lanka," says David Lloyd. Not if we keep fielding like this. We're leaking singles in the circle, and don't do too great a job on the boundary either.

9:42 a.m. I don't even know what language Akmal is speaking anymore. Anyway, it's 54-4 after ten. This pitch is taking spin, which again should be cause for consternation for us, what with Mendis and Murali in the wings.

9:43 a.m. Haha. Afridi appeals for an LBW and ends up next to the batsmen. Spirit of a quick bowler in a spinner's body, Afridi. Sangakkara cuts him for four in front of point before under-edging him to the fine leg fence. Some momentum here for Sri Lanka.

9:45 a.m. 65-4 after eleven. They've scored 19 in the last two overs. Gully into the attack. Key phase this.

9:49 a.m. YES! Gully gets a breakthrough just as Sri Lanka were looking to get off to a gallop. Silva pulls Gully, it gets too big on him, high up on the bat, and straight to Ajmal at midwicket. Critical wicket at a critical juncture, and Sri Lanka are 67-5 in 11.3. Gully, by the way, is fucking awesome. Udana in.

9:51 a.m. Slip in. Yeah, Younis. Yeah.

9:51 a.m. Some away swing for Gul. What a bowler.

9:52 a.m. Udana doesn't look like even touching Gul, and the over ends with a couple of whishes. 67-5 after twelve. How many do you think Younis will give him? I say one more, and then bring him back at the end. Unless he gets a wicket in the next over.

9:53 a.m. Sangakkara is just biding his time here. Moved on to 33, basically giving him half of Sri Lanka's score. "Key wicket" would be a negligently gross understatement.

9:54 a.m. And another, this one from Afridi. Udana looked completely out of sorts, it must be said. Afridi gets him with the drift, as he plays all around it. What a way to end another superb spell (1-20 in four). He just stands there and points up, relishing the spotlight. 70-6 after thirteen. What a performance this has been from Pakistan. Mathews in.

9:57 a.m. It was just the one over for Gul, as Ajmal back into the attack. "Everywhere you look there's a wicket-taker," says Nass.

9:58 a.m. I see that Saeed Ajmal has perfected his "Listen, Akmal, will you just shut the fuck up and let me bowl?" look. Record time too, it took Dani a couple of years to master that one. Anyway, it's 74-6 after another quiet over from Ajmal; fourteen gone.

10:00 a.m. Gul replaces Afridi. Slip in for Mathews.

10:00 a.m. Younis has six players in the circle. In the 15th over of a T20 game. What. A. Hero.

10:02 a.m. Keeping the slip in for Sangakkara. What. A. Hero. Squared.

10:02 a.m. No yorkers yet, just keeping it back of a length outside off. As Nass says, why bother with the yorkers just yet?

10:05 a.m. Excellent over from Gully. Fast and accurate. Pretty simple, really. 79-6 after fifteen. Ajmal to continue from the other end.

10:06 a.m. Ian Chappell thinks 120 will be a good total to bowl at. I'm inclined to agree with him, but they'll have to bat really well to get eight an over against our attack from here.

10:08 a.m. Three twos in a row. Aaarrgh.

10:09 a.m. 88-6 after sixteen, nine from that over. Importantly, Sangakkara retains the strike with a single off the sixth ball. Very clever player, Sangakkara. By the way, he has WELL over half of Sri Lanka's score (46/88).

10:10 a.m. And now he clips Gul over midwicket for four to bring up his fifty. Captain's innings and all that.

10:12 a.m. Two more. Why the hell isn't Gully bowling yorkers? Seven off the first three balls of this over. Dangerous times.

10:15 a.m. An expensive over, to put it mildly. 15 off the over, and Sri Lanka are suddenly looking pretty good. 103-6, with three overs to go. Gully didn't bowl a single yorker in that over, and I can't recall a single yorker from him all day. 130 is on.

10:17 a.m. And Sangakkara now flays Ajmal to wide mid on. This has been a brilliant innings from him. Could be a match-winning one.

10:18 a.m. And now Mathews charges and smacks Ajmal down the ground. Ten off the over, and it's 113-6 with two overs to go. Partnership is 43, and really, it came out of nowhere.

10:19 a.m. Alright Gully, I want six yorkers now. No messing about.

10:21 a.m. Wow. Mathews moves back and leg side, gives himself room to smack Gul to midwicket for four. This has been underwhelming from Gully, to be fair.

10:23 a.m. Eight off the over, which I'll take given there was a boundary off the second ball. 121-6 with 6 balls remaining. This has been an excellent partnership for Sri Lanka. Gully's four overs went for 29, by the way.

10:25 a.m. Aamer to bowl the last over. Come on, man. Finish strong here. Nothing over 130, yeah?

10:26 a.m. Mathews skies into no-man's land, and it's two.

10:26 a.m. And now it's four to third man, who's in the circle (somewhat inexplicably).

10:27 a.m. Six over midwicket. I have no comment. Score is 133, by the way.

10:28 a.m. Two yorker types, for a two and a one. Last ball coming up.

10:29 a.m. And a two to finish. Sri Lanka end up with 138-6 in their twenty overs. The partnership was 68.

10:30 a.m. Wow, what a disaster those last five overs were. They scored 59 when I thought that getting 40 would be tough. I clearly underestimated Mathews and overestimated us. Disappointing close there. I say, with their bowling attack, Sri Lanka are favorites. I'm not even doing the whole jinxing thing; it's a final, there's added pressure, the pitch is taking bounce and spin, and Malinga is impossible to get away. 6.95 an over might just prove beyond us. But we shall find out soon enough.

10:38 a.m. So some questionable bowling tactics (Gully's first yorker came in his fourth over) and some questionable field placements (third man up in the last couple of overs, though it should be said Younis has done that before and it's come off) leave us chasing about 25 more than we would have thought not too long ago. Also, Sangakkara played a blinder -- smart cricket mixed with aggresion and good old fashioned "good cricketing shots". Anyway, if we're going to get this, it's important our openers give us something. Akmal and Shahzaib to open.

10:41 a.m. So this is it. For all the marbles.

10:41 a.m. Forward defensive to start for Akmal.

10:42 a.m. And another.

10:42 a.m. Ahaha. Beautiful. Classic cover drive from Akmal, just threading the needle in a packed off side field. Solid start.

10:43 a.m. And now two through midwicket. Araam sey, Akmal. Araam sey.

10:44 a.m. An ungainly hoik toward square leg for two more. 8-0 after one over. Hey, just sixteen more like that and we're home.

10:45 a.m. Udana to open the bowling from the other end. Shahzaib facing up.

10:46 a.m. A wide down the leg side to start. Solid.

10:47 a.m. Shahzaib taps it down to third man for his first run as Udana settles in on a line. Akmal on strike.

10:49 a.m. Clever from Sri Lanka, as they pack the off side ring (six guys in all) and dare Shahzaib to hit across the line, where the two boundary fielders are (backward square and midwicket). Just the three of the over, and we're 11-0 after two. Malinga replacing Mathews straight away.

10:52 a.m. Just back of a length to start. Quickish too. We've scored three off the last eight balls.

10:52 a.m. Three off the last nine.

10:53 a.m. Slower ball full length ball for one. He's got all the variations, Malinga.

10:53 a.m. Shahzaib has no idea. None whatsoever. He's going soon, I might add. Next three balls, and Younis/Malik/Afridi is in.

10:54 a.m. Oooh. Slower ball yorker after the short/quick one. Just the one off the over, and we're slowing down here. 12-0 after three, with jut four runs coming off the last two overs.

10:56 a.m. Udana continues, and is worked through midwicket for two by Akmal. Next ball, he tries a crazy scoop. Leg-bye. Shahzaib, who has scored a grand total of one run, is on strike.

10:57 a.m. Oooooh. Shahzaib slices one and it goes high and wide, over the covers. Mathews running back, dives and nearly takes a blinder. Well, at least it's two.

10:58 a.m. And now it's four. Chinese cut to fine leg. Better over, this.

10:59 a.m. And Akmal launches a slower ball over mid on for four. Excellent over, as we score 14 off it. 26-0 after four, and we're back on track. Just keep it solid guys. Keep Malinga out, and target everyone else.

11:00 a.m. The plot thickens. Murali in early. Power play is still on, mind.

11:01 a.m. Haha Shahzaib has NO idea. Somehow gets one. This could get ugly if it lasts.

11:01 a.m. Half a mix-up there. Sensible guys. Sensible.

11:02 a.m. Dangerous times here, as Akmal edges Murali after charging. Gets two for his troubles.

11:03 a.m. Four off the over, and we're 30-0 after five. Required rate is 7.27.

11:04 a.m. Another change in the bowling, as Mendis replaces Malinga. 109 needed off 90.

11:05 a.m. Oooh. Akmal didn't pick that one. No question.

11:06 a.m. Nor that one.

11:06 a.m. He got that one. Leg down, bat across, and six over midwicket. Beautiful sound off the bat too.

11:07 a.m. And now a paddle sweep for two. Harsha is trying his best to jinx us, for the record. Bastard.

11:08 a.m. And a single to end the over. Nine off the over. Every now and then we get a good over to break the shackles. 39-0 after six. Really solid start, despite not playing particularly well (especially Shahzaib).

11:09 a.m. Mathews back into the attack, as the fielding restrictions are relaxed.

11:12 a.m. Goddamn. Did Akmal just sweep a fast medium bowler over square leg for six? Yes. Yes, he did. Brings back Moin-off-Donald-in-99 memories.

11:13 a.m. Meanwhile, Shahzaib is playing a different game at the other end, continuing to poke, prod, miss, and edge. Somehow he's survived. It's 48-0 after seven, with nine off the over. Jayasuriya into the attack, as Sangakkara looks for the breakthrough.

11:14 a.m. Well, he needs to look no further as Jayasuriya gets Akmal first ball. Dances down, misses it inside, and Sangakkara pulls off a smart stumping. Afridi in. How's this going to go, then?

11:15 a.m. Afridi taps it away to the leg side for one. "What's the world coming to? asks Harsha.

11:17 a.m. Just the three off the over, and we're 51-1. Rate required is hovering around seven and a quarter. Nass warns against leaving it to the end, and I agree with him.

11:18 a.m. Mendis back into the attack. This should be interesting.

11:19 a.m. Shahzaib doesn't pick Mendis, lifts his foot, and Sangakkara whips the bails off in a flash. Tough one for the third umpire, but it's given not out.

11:20 a.m. Bang! Shahzaib smacks Mendis down the ground for four. Needed that. Both him and the team.

11:21 a.m. And one more! Smacks Mendis over cover for four. Like I said, every couple of overs, we have a biggish over to release the pressure.

11:22 a.m. Smart placement from Afridi to finish the over, 12 off it. 63-1 after nine. Rate required drops below seven.

11:23 a.m. Murali back in, and gets the wicket. Shahzaib's painful innings is finally over, as he tries to slog Murali across the line and it loops up to short fine. Don't throw it away here, Pakistan. Just keep it ticking. You have them on the back foot. Keep them there. Malik in.

11:26 a.m. Malik drives to long on for one. Played an excellent innings on a wearing pitch against Murali and co in Sri Lanka in a test match in '06. Saved the game for us by batting over a day. Anyway, just the two off the four, and we're 65-2 after ten.

11:28 a.m. Malinga back into the attack. There hasn't been two overs from the same bowler from the same end in quite a while.

11:29 a.m. 72 from 58 is the equation as it stands. Sensible, guys. Sensible.

11:31 a.m. Two excellent bouncers from Malinga against Afridi. Just play him out, Lala. Play him out.

11:32 a.m. Just the four from the over, then. 69-2 after eleven. We need 70 in nine overs.

11:33 a.m. Jayasuriya back in, and Afridi smacks him down to long on for one.

11:35 a.m. Five singles off the over so far. Something's about to give.

11:35 a.m. Six singles then. 75-2 in twelve. 64 needed off 48.

11:36 a.m. Udana back into the attack. Think Afridi's going to go after this guy.

11:38 a.m. Excellent running from Malik. Makes a single a two. Brilliant. Five off three in this over so far.

11:40 a.m. Ian Chappell wants someone shot for changing the backing up law. What a cranky old fool he's become lately.

11:41 a.m. Eight off the over. 56 needed from 42. Nice and sensible, guys. Nice and sensible.

11:42 a.m. Murali back into the attack.

11:42 a.m. BANG! Afridi just smacks Murali for six over midwicket. He got a hold of that one, Lala.

11:43 a.m. One more! This time a four through the covers after giving Murali the charge. Acha now, calm down. We've got the runs for the over. Chill.

11:43 a.m. Chill he does, tapping it away for one. "This is a new Afridi with a bat in his hand," says Ian Chappell.

11:44 a.m. A single to end, giving us 14 for the over. 97-2 after fourteen. 42 needed from 36. Araam sey, bhai. Araam sey.

11:46 a.m. Mendis back into the attack. Chappell is trying his Harsha-jinxing-us routine. Stop it, yaar. Come on.

11:48 a.m. Sensible cricket gives us six from the over. 103-2 after fifteen. 36 needed from 30.

11:48 a.m. Two Lancastrians will be bringing us home in the commentary box: Waz and David Lloyd. Malinga back into the attack.

11:50 a.m. "How do you feel?" Bumble politely inquires. "I'm feeling very relaxed now," Waz assures us.

11:50 a.m. Don't know why the commentators think this game is over. 35 from 28 is not to be scoffed at, when ten of those balls are coming from Malinga (who's given away just 6 runs in 2.2 overs).

11:52 a.m. Brilliant bowling from Malinga. Star performer with the ball for Sri Lanka.

11:53 a.m. Only three from the over. 33 needed from 4 overs. Mendis back into the attack. "No mistakes now, Pakistan," says David Lloyd. I hear you bro.

11:55 a.m. Just one from the first ball.

11:55 a.m. Malik drives for another one.

11:56 a.m. Afridi and Malik both get another single each. Four off four so far. Need a boundary here, fellas.

11:57 a.m. Aargh Afridi wastes a full toss, just getting two when he could have gotten six.

11:57 a.m. Seven off the over. 26 needed from 18 balls. Malinga's over will be the key. Dangerous times here, as I said. It's getting tight.

11:59 a.m. Udana back in. This is the over, guys.

12:00 p.m. Two off the first ball.

12:00 p.m Afridi swings away to the leg side. Single, 23 off 16. Tight. Very tight.

12:00 p.m. Wide. Bless your heart, Udana.

12:01 p.m. Single to long on. Could have had two. 21 off 15.

12:01 p.m. Brilliant running from Malik. Gets us two. 19 off 14.

12:02 p.m. Oh yes, Afridi. Oh, yes. Picks up an Udana slower ball for six over midwicket. I groaned after he first hit it, I thought it was out. I was wrong. 13 off 13.

12:03 p.m. Oh, my. Full toss, above waist height, no ball, four. Oh, Afridi, you fucking beauty. Oh, Udana, you royal dumbass.

12:04 p.m. Single to finish. 7 needed off 12. 19 off that last over.

12:05 p.m. Malinga back in.

12:05 p.m. Malik hasn't hit a boundary yet, has he? In a 69 run partnership. Or am I wrong?

12:06 p.m. Single to start. By the way, Afridi got his fifty in the last over. Malik back on strike.

12:06 p.m. Glanced for four! Beautiful. I do the Afridi celebration by pointing at the W. She thinks I'm crazy and cute at the same time.

12:07 p.m. Single. Scores level. One needed off nine balls. And how appropriate that Afridi will score the winning run.

12:09 p.m. And a leg-bye to finish! What a performance! Unbelievable.

12:10 p.m. Bloody hell. This is Intikhab Alam's second World Cup triumph.

12:10 p.m. Wow. I don't believe we've done it. And what a non-Pakistani performance in the final -- cool, calm, collected and clinical. "Everything went according to the plan," affirms Waz.

12:11 p.m. Oye, Malik. You can take your helmet off now. What comical scenes here, as Manjrekar tries to shove the microphone in between his grill.

12:14 p.m. It bears repeating: the entire chase was very sensible, right from the start. Every time the rate looked to be getting away from us, we'd get a big over -- a 9 or a 14 or a 12. Always kept us there and thereabouts. This was a Bob Woolmer-inspired chase.

12:17 p.m. Did we just win? After getting thrashed by England and Sri Lanka not two weeks ago? England?

12:20 p.m.
Madrid, cabron, saluda al campeon! Ok, it's borrowed from another sport (and another language), but you know what I mean.

12:21 p.m. Afridi predictably wins the man of the match award. Nass calls him Boom Boom out of habit now.

12:23 p.m. Great interview, Lala. Well done. I like the giving-credit-to-Younis-and-Inti-and-Aaqib bit too. Very gracious.

12:23 p.m. Wow. Dilshan just stole Afridi's man-of-the-tournament award. Highway robbery, that.

12:27 p.m. I wonder if Younis is going to fail to credit his teammates, and mention his cancer hospital 17 times. Oh, wait.

12:28 p.m. All class, Sangakkara. All class.

12:29 p.m. Ten bucks says Sangakkara just made fun of Nass' hairline in Sinhalese.

12:30 p.m. Haha. I didn't even know Rao Iftikhar was in the squad until he got his medal. Excellent.

12:34 p.m. Is it just me, or does Nass really want to give Younis a hug?

12:35 p.m. Emotional scenes here. Watch the Youtube tomorrow.

12:36 p.m. Junaid Jamshed invades Lords. The crowd is singing along. What a moment. Hard to describe, really. I know I'm doing a crap job, but I'm trying my best.

12:39 p.m. Younis cloaks himself in the flag. What a man.

12:40 p.m. Hey, who let Salman Butt carry the trophy? Alright, alright, I'll stop being mean. Unbecoming, really.

12:41 p.m. To summarize, then: we got off to an excellent start with the ball, and simply didn't let Sri Lanka get away. We got so many wickets early on that they didn't know what hit them. But the Mathews/Sangakkara partnership brought them back into it, with Sangakkara playing an unbelievable innings, mixing caution with aggression. It was a trickyish total, and it was imperative we got off to a good start, which we did, Shahzaib's efforts notwithstanding. Every time the rate looked to get away from us, we got a big over to bring it back. Afridi played his second consecutive match-winning innings, and Malik gave him excellent support by rotating the strike intelligently and running hard. At the end of the day, we were the better team and were deserving winners.

Congratulations to the team and to all Pakistanis for this magnificent triumph. I don't need to go into what this means for us, because we are all well aware of what is happening in the country and to cricket in Pakistan.

So that's it from me. I hope you guys have enjoyed the coverage, and take care.

Cricket Videos To Get You Pumped Up Before The Final

In lieu of a preview, I'm putting up some videos to get everyone in the mood. Commenters are encouraged to put some up in the comments section; I will add them to the main post if they're worthy enough (which they should be, I trust you guys with these things).

Let's start with Waz making Rahul Dravid look all sorts of stupid.

Here's Ambrose destroying England in Trinidad. Look at Richie Richardson's shades and tell me the Windies are the coolest team of all time.

Here's Allan Donald bowling an absolute fearsome spell to Michael Atherton in 1998 (at Trent Bridge if memory serves). As a Pakistani, I'm proud that one of our own had a role to play in this spell; if you don't know what I'm talking about, google Javed Akhtar Donald Atherton 1998.

Six words: you just dropped the cup, son.

By the way, every time I've read about that incident (including Steve Waugh's autobiography), it is denied that Waugh ever said anything to Gibbs, least of all that most iconic of phrases. Why do I refuse to believe the denials?

Here's a sick Shoaib spell against Australia. We actually lost this match, which should give you a measure of how crap our batting was in the early part of this decade.

Brian Lara, as old-time readers will know, is easily my favorite player of all time. Here's the first video in a four-part series of his 277 against Australia, which happened to be his first hundred. Along with his own 153 in '99 at Barbados, Akmal's Karachi knock, Steve Waugh's double at Jamaica, and Laxman's rearguard in '01 (Calcutta?), it remains one of the five best innings I have ever had the privilege of watching.

Mohammad Asif has certainly bowled more important spells in his career (Karachi, Sri Lanka), but I wanted to embed this video only for how excited Athers' and Nasser Hussain get in the commentary box. Two fairest English commentators for me, and you can tell that they're genuinely excited to see this beautiful bowler in full flow.

As a bowling pair, Wasim and Waqar's peak was probably from 1991 to 1996. During this time, they had many things going for them but one obvious one was their ruthlessness and their sense of fear. They could smell that shit a mile away. Once you opened the door to the tail, it was all over. I really can't emphasize to non-Pakistanis how easy it was for these guys to rip through lower orders. This video is from an ODI in New Zealand when the hosts were coasting. They lost a wicket at the wrong time. And then Waqar took over. This video is so violent, it should come with an R-rating.

Here's some awesome sledging by Kumar Sangakkara, going for the mental and emotional weak spot of Shaun Pollock. Unless I'm badly mistaken, this is the infamous "we thought the DL score was what we had to get, not what we had to beat, oops" mix up that led to the Saffies ouster from their World Cup in 2003.

This is a fantastic catch from Paul Collingwood in the lead up to the 2005 Ashes. It's not the GREATEST catch I've ever seen, but the cameras have a great angle, and you can hear the crowd go "ooohhhh" when watching the replay. Great stuff.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mega Links Post (Updated Below)

All the random stuff I've enjoyed over the past week.

The New Yorker reports on the last days of the Shah of Iran's rule. Sorry for being 30 years too late with this but its worth reading, if only for this quote on co-education from a cleric:

I want to separate the schools of learning from the schools of flirting.

More Iran stuff from Foreign Policy which lists ten movies that will help you better understand the country.

I hope Pakistan's performance tomorrow isn't as bad as this pun in The News:

Opponents 'Afridi' of Shahid

Here's how you piss off an Australian cricketer (no, the word convict was never mentioned).

Gear up for Wimbledon and rue Nadal's absence by listening to this fantastic BBC documentary on the greatest match ever played (link will only work for one week).

Ever wondered how a tennis player's grunt compares to a lions roar? The Times lets you know.

By now you must all have watched Obama swat a fly. But have you seen Stephen Colbert's response to it?

And another example of something that would be incredibly annoying if done by George W. Bush yet seems so cute when Obama does it.

Quote of the week comes from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's lawyer:

"He does not need people to bring him women," Niccolò Ghedini told the newspaper Corriere della Sera. "It's seems a bit over the top to think that Berlusconi needs to pay €2,000 [£1,700] for a girl to go with him. I think he could have them in large numbers for free."

Warning to anyone recently married: Don't read this piece in The Atlantic.

Pray the Pakistani cricket team makes this a great weekend.

UPDATE (from Ahsan): Thanks to Bubs for giving me the motivation to put up some of my own links, which I've been very lazy with.

You remember how George Bush didn't even know who Musharraf was before he got elected? Well, here's reason 327671609ednuhndaiu0180389 Obama is cooler than Bush: dude is dropping Jinnah's name. Not only do I have no doubts whatsoever that Bush doesn't who Jinnah was, but I am also sure that when Bush hears the term "Jinnah" he automatically thinks "tonic".

You've heard of F My Life but have you heard of My Life Is Desi? (Link courtesy reader Wasay)

Steve Walt has an IR guide to parenting. This has to be the greatest passage ever written:
And once the kids are mobile, you learn about another key IR concept: the window of opportunity. You're feeding or changing Kid #1, and Kid #2 makes a bolt out the front door, just like North Korea tested a nuclear weapon while we were busy with Iraq. Or you're in the middle of a crowded department store and they each decide to head down different aisles. The potential complications of a multipolar order were never clearer the first time this happened to me.

I don't even want to imagine what a bait-and-bleed strategy looks like with child-rearing.

The Washington Post fires one of its only real journalists -- you know, the type who actually feels the need to investigate and challenge authority, rather than be subservient to it. They absolutely do not fire the partisan hack who continues to write trash.

Speaking of the establishment media in the US, a NYT reporter escapes from the Taliban with another Pakistani journalist by, uh, scaling a wall:

Mr. Rohde told his wife, Kristen Mulvihill, that Mr. Ludin joined him late Friday night in climbing over the wall of a compound where they were being held in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. They found a Pakistani army scout, who led them to a nearby army base, and on Saturday they were flown to the American Bagram military base in Afghanistan.

“They just walked over the wall of the compound,” said Ms. Muvihill.

But they left one guy behind (their driver), who is now in all probability having AK-47s shoved up his ass as retribution. Seriously, why didn't they take him with them? I mean, I'm happy for the two who got away and their families, but that drives is now FUCKED.

Hey, good news: some people from Buner are going home. Well done to everyone involved -- the NGOs, aig agencies, the people themselves and yes, the government. Kudos.

I had a few others, but I've forgotten now. Oh, and one more thing: no preview of the final from me, because I'm too lazy/have nothing to say. But I will live blog the shit out of it, rest assured.