Thursday, July 11, 2019

Farewell, dear MS

Mahendra Singh Dhoni waited for the slo-mo replay on giant screen with a faint hope his worst fear is proven wrong. The replay comes up.

Semi Final 1. 48.3: WICKET! MS Dhoni (50) is out, run out (Martin Guptill), 216/8 (link:… #IndvNZ #CWC19

New Zealand celebrate. And that stoic head on a 38 year old hangs ever so briefly. His soul must have been momentarily disturbed enough to allow that unusual betrayal. MS looks up and walked back. Like that famous washing powder ad stating "daag achchhe hai", that run out had brought up Dhoni's final, final world cup 50, and his final, final run scored on the biggest stage.


These are some images from a telly screen taken during yesterday's Ind-NZ CWC19 semi-final match. More correctly though, these are images that are embedded in us.... images which yesterday we saw one final, final time in a world cup.

That unfastening and refastening of velcro on his gloves; that gloved thumb sneaking into his grill for a gentle scratch under the eye. Wahi sab adayein. Images that, since Pakistan ODI series 2006, have assured millions of Indian cricket followers like Rancho professed in a movie: "Aal ij well."

Well done, MS. On 10th March 2019 you were not good enough. You could not give us that and we are sad. Yet as that fan declared in yesterday's match:

You have given us everything.

Time to enjoy with your family, friends and dogs...and until you retire, enjoy your last days in the Indian team. Richly deserved enjoyment, if ever there was any.

Life often takes its own course but I do sincerely hope there is no final, finalness to your happiness and enjoyment on life.

And even if there is, we probably know how you will take it.

Good bye, warrior.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Post "Big Five Silver Lining", will it be dark once again?

This is the last straw.

I gave away my life-dream in the previous post a year back, and wished that post to be my last in Pavilion View. Sadly, I could not leave in the bitter-sweet afterglow of that nostalgic post which I had made when I started the most uncertain, indefinite and difficult time of my personal life. That phase continues and grows darker and I wanted to keep the blog out of it.
But I cannot. This blog, once nurtured chiefly by my continued addiction to cricket and sustained by the interesting times we saw in Indian Cricket, must now end in a scream of horror. Horror at the looming shadows that threaten to molest the game that I once so loved and stood by when it needed me to.

The bright spot of the post is, as usual, the Big Five. And to make it as positive as possible I will speak of the bright spot instead of the darkness around it.
I take this opportunity to say, one last time, that which I tend to repeat like a parrot having just that one line:  
The true measure of Indian cricket’s Big Five (not Big six or seven or eight) for their game and for Indian sports, in that specific era of theirs, will emerge only in posterity.

Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman.

It is widely seen that they achieved WITH the system they worked in.
That understanding may not stand the test of time by the looks of it.
Future history may observe that to a certain extent the Five Musketeers of Indian Cricket might have achieved their folklore-inspiring feats INSPITE of the system around them - and still managed to put to sword the Greatest Team in last 30 years. While the latter were likely working WITH their robust system.

When the mud settles the much-‘crazed’ (more than loved) game in the Big Five's country may record, at either chronological end of their conjoined careers, steep slopes into professional and moral troughs.

It did not seem to be so even in the toughest of times then. Now we know why. Because they were around. Perhaps we mistook the brilliant combined glow of these five, the 'silver lining' in the all-encompassing gloom of over-prioritised money eating away the fibre of sport in the name of sponsoring it, as a daybreak for those few years. This too is passing, as it seems..and the gloom is set to return.

For the past week or so we have watched with irritation, and annoyance, three of the five musketeers dispute each other in media on incidents from a buried past. It seemed a tad ‘beneath them’. Well it doesn’t look as bad any more. Indeed, we can debate the right and wrong about playing for one's century (or double) and holding grudges for 10+ years, OR about letting out an ex-colleague friend's hint of frustration with coach in front of media. The Big Five have their share of flaws, but none that cannot be forgiven and forgotten. The past few weeks and their Sydney / Multan / Chappell controversies shall be like baby pool splash in the aftermath of the disastrous tsunami we are waiting for.

With a tired smile I remember a 'lateral thinking' puzzle that all of us learnt as kids: if you want to make a long line short without erasing, you draw a longer line next to it.

In this respect the admirers of Big Five, the ones about to be indicted, are proving themselves to be true-blue die-hard fans of the quintet. A grand inadvertent 'self-sacrificing' service to the Five, if ever there was one. By becoming news that drowns the latter’s mild discord. A hugely longer line this surely is.

I dread to see the names, though I am sure that they will emerge one day.

Quite painfully, some of them would have been lovingly 'hand-grown' Chinese Bamboos in the orchard that was once sown, grown and ruled by the Big Five. An orchard that stood together, unlike before and after them, and refused to cower even when faced by a rampaging Cyclone called Australia.

I am glad I don't follow cricket these days. I am still smarting for the rumblings of 2000 and I could not have gone through that period of shock again - to sense his name coming up from the hints dropped in newspaper articles, and then actually finding the man, the icon who brought me to cricket and who I loved and wished well more than anyone else not personally known to me, getting named with evidence.

It’s curtains for Pavilion View. This time for good. It has been a privilege. I shall be forever indebted that you took time to even have a look at these pages. And return back to them from time to time. I hope once in a while I could light up your day, sometimes when you needed it most. It has been well worth it. Thanks for the good wishes and kind patronage.


Okay, I am making a laboured attempt to make it a ‘smiley’ ending. I am changing topic. And sport.
It is hardly easy to smile though when it features an injury to Roger Federer. Wish him a quick recovery, he is shaping up well for one last hurrah.

I hope some day Andy Murray writes a movie script, and I shall queue up when the movie gets released. I love his British one-liners, besides admiring the no-fuss sport lurking in him:

Roger Federer gave Novak Djokovic a walkover in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday after he pulled out of the tournament due to a back injury. The announcement came just 30 minutes before the final was set to begin and Federer addressed the crowd himself, apologizing and explaining he was unfit to compete against Djokovic. 
Knowing that Federer was unfit to take the court, the ATP scrambled to come up with a solution to give the fans a show. Chris Kermode, head of the ATP, called up Andy Murray at 2pm to see if he would be willing to come down to the O2 to play a series of exhibition matches. Murray was at home on the couch playing videogames when he got the call. He immediately agreed and drove himself down to the arena to play an exhibition set against Djokovic and then team up with John McEnroe to play doubles against Pat Cash and Tim Henman.  
"I was playing Mario Kart on my sofa when I got the call," Murray said. "I was winning at that. It's better than my tennis at the moment," he joked. 

Friday, November 08, 2013

Watching Shami Ahmed in the debut of my dreams

I have watched matches at Eden Gardens since 1988. Although I have not been remotely as regular a visitor as some other avid cricket buffs, I have attended enough for Eden to give me a 'home' feeling whenever I arrive there.

It all started in 1988. A 13 year old attended an India West Indies ODI (in whites, those days) with mama. And somewhere down the line when I returned to play at my mohallas I developed this secret dream: of making my Test debut as on opening bowler for at the Eden Gardens. Polished red cherry in hand,  raring to go at the end of my runup decked in sparkling whites. All set to bowl my first delivery in a Test match playing for India.

Of course I didn't chase my impossible dream and it didn't even take shape. But it remained – as my favourite impossible dream.

In all these years, I doubt if I have been on the ground when an Indian quickie has made his Test debut and opened the bowling. Perhaps certainly not. Before yesterday, the only Eden test I attended on opening day was India-vs-England in 1993..and I am pretty certain no Indian quickie made his debut in that match.

On 6th November we went to the ground on first day of Sachin's 199th Test. The whole point was to say goodbye to Sachin Tendulkar. That's an entirely different post, and I will not go on about Sachin here.

Takking our seats, we found that Shami Ahmed has been picked in playing eleven. This will be his Test debut. Shami would the bowling along with Bhuvaneswar Kumar, the only other medium pacer in the side.

My impossible dream came rushing back as the Indians took the field. As Shami took the ball and walked up to the end of his run-up I slipped into a trance…as if I was reborn as a spectator on the day of my dream debut..and Shami was me. All decked up in sparking new whites, raring to go with a red cherry in hand.  This was the moment I have repeated visions of, even to this day when I no more follow cricket with any devotion.

I watched him closely when he delivered his first ball. From the slow start of run, to the acceleration, ending in the brisk delivery action which generates decent fast-medium pace. I don't remember what happened after he delivered. I had made my debut and the rest mattered little at that point of time.

"Sapne hona zaroori hai". It is important to have dreams. Coz sometimes you can live them through another person.
A friend of mine had asked me not to give up on this dream, as it will happen one day if I keep on nurturing it. Well, in more ways than one 6th November was my "Joy of giving" day, sort of. I ended up relinquishing my dream to India's newest Test player, Shami Ahmed.

That recurring moment of my dreams has now passed into reality with Shami's debut delivery. I do not see it returning again in my daydreams. Perhaps I shall now be content to die without having bowled a 'real' delivery in my first Test match at Eden.

Update: I guess I should also give up a second, and very lately nurtured, secret hope - to earn tributes like this when I retire :

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My alter ego

I always thought I had jussssst a bit of Rahul Dravid in me....and that did me proud. Now I am ecstatic - 'coz I just learnt that Dravid too perhaps has a bit of me in him!!
Check his 'tree analogy' for Test cricket, while trying to explain why other forms of cricket don't have a hope in hell to survive without it, even though these other formats do not 'appear' to depend much on Test cricket right now:

Now check the 'family analogy' this old Pavilion View post, supporting Dravid and Pink Ball Cricket while the former started actively promoting the latter couple of years back:

If you find similarities in the two analogies, I will buy you a drink. Not that such analogies are unlikely to come to anyone's mind, but forget that mundaneness and imagine how much happy a Dravid admirer can be when he finds that his idol's mind thinks along the same (albeit obvious) lines as his own on while thinking of the same issue!

Ready for the drink I offered? Now give me your sweat analysis report....:-D

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Great Indian Team Performance Curve: A Thesis

I read a friend’s Facebook status post, wondering about the changes we are witnessing  in the Indian team’s performance. To be precise, his questions were “how so much” and “how so quickly”.

A while ago, I had read an extremely well-conceived article by Cricinfo’s Siddharth Monga on the contribution of the “system” to India’s Champion’s Trophy win last night. Here it is.
Armed with the thoughts that came while reading Monga’s thoughtful piece, I set about trying to construct a quickfire “thesis” to explain the path charted by the Indian cricket team

Part A: how so much?

Ans: The direction that a cricket team – correction, an Indian cricket team goes can be largely explained by measuring the following areas:

(A)   the leadup to selecting the final 15 who set off for the tour – including resourcefulness, non-compromise and vision,
(B)   Captain’s performance as a player
(C)   The captain-coach duo and their (interpersonal) vibes within the team including handling of individual players as well as coaching staff,
(D)   Form of individual stars in the team, if any; and
(E)    Expectations set by the leadership team from the players, series by series (completely on-field stuff, nothing interpersonal here). This includes flexible thinking.

[A, B & D are extremely version specific; hence same set of people can produce different performance curves in different versions of cricket]

  • Ganguly's team, in rebuilding phase of 2000-2003, thrived partly on A & B,  a lot on C & D and little less on E (except uncompromising integrity).

  • During the latter parts of Ganguly era (late 2004-2005) the team form dipped due to partial dips in B, C & D.

  • In Dravid’s (2005-mid 2007) era the emphasis on A & E became supreme; B was very good too, for most parts. However all of that was completely undone by the then coach Chappell's effect in undermining C - so much so that the huge minus in B led to underperformance in D as well.

  • MSD's 1st era (2007--2010), on the other hand, revived team form almost entirely based on C, D & E. In Tests, B almost did not come into picture, such was the overwhelming effect of D [Big four + Viru + Zaheer]!! A got toned down to moderate – which is fine if D is good.

  • Dhoni’s 2nd era (early 2011 to end 2012) saw a virtual disappearance of D, while B did not come up to compensate. This made BIG difference, even as A & E remained very similar and C dipped only marginally compared to Dhoni’s 1st era. [Not by coincidence, Era-2 was the first days for captain with new coach]

  • Dhoni’s 3rd era is just starting. D is not likely to reach the stratospheric heights of his 1st era anytime soon (certainly not in Tests). I agree majorly to this article. By accident or by design, Team India's A has shot up in past 3 months, even compensating for seniors' exodus contributing to instability in D (it is also looking up, thanks to performing youngsters).  In fact, A has fared so well that D (at least in Champion’s Trophy) was a factor of A!!   Decisive A has also led to decisiveness in E. Factor C, while still very good, is now so very different from Era 1. These days we see an animated Dhoni who actually tells youngsters what to do…and I believe he is now in sync with India's "new" coach Duncan Fletcher.

Part B: how so quickly?

A & E are the only components that are largely controlled by intent rather than chance. While teams thrive or perish on ‘culture changes’ in either direction it is foregone that culture changes take a lot of time.

A & E can be implemented in a very short time-frame. It is only the start, though. Any major changes in A & E, implemented too quickly, might create a shock-wave in ‘good’ (read ‘comfortable’) times, leading to adverse impact on results. However in THIS case, major changes in A & E were done when the team performance was close to its nadir (i.e. around when Dhoni’s 2nd era was closing out). Things that would seem to be “upsetting” otherwise...those were perhaps now seen as a “Ray of Hope”.

Everything, absolutely EVERYTHING can happen when people chuck out the resistance and look forward to a change.

That ends my thesis, responding to Shrikant Subramanian’s Facebook question. [wiping brow]

Exciting? Indeed. I was just as excited while force-fitting the pieces of the puzzle. Thanks to you for appreciating. And at this humbling moment of success I would like to thank my…zz-zz-zz-zz

Crappy?? Yippie kay yay…..all theses necessarily are.

Monday, June 03, 2013

20 Greatest Sledges in Cricket

Someone has apparently carried out the hard work of collecting people's opinion on the famous sledges that keep making the rounds, and then publishing the 20 that people voted as the greatest.

Here it is:

Looks good, as it features almost all the memorable ones I have read. 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Greg Chappell, the cricket visionary: caring(!!) views on Indian cricket

I was going through some of Greg Chappell's articles in The Hindu. They make for intriguing reading, quite far removed from "the guy that rubs everyone up the wrong way", an image that Indian cricket fans make of him due to his negatively eventful 1½ tenure as coach of Indian cricket team (end 2005 to Mar 2007). In fact, on the contrary these articles are a testimony of why then-captain Ganguly thought of him as a personification of astuteness in 2004-05, and strongly recommended Greg to BCCI as next Indian coach.

The articles were especially delightful to read in this tough period for Indian cricket. These are times when fans are not sure if anybody really cares for Indian cricket. If we can detach the much-hated name while going through the content of these articles, these are valuable views and analyses coming from someone with no ulterior motives and wanting to share his knowledge for the betterment of cricket in India.

Sample this one:

Even more than his fine take on Karthik in that piece, the discussion on Sreesanth's cricketing talent was my takeaway - perhaps because Greg kept the section to just that: discussing Sreesanth's cricketing talent (even after the IPL spot-fixing fiasco). However he has also touched upon the latest controversy. Like a wise statesman, he has clearly  hinted at the fact that accepting Sreesanth as an eccentric talent and handling him accordingly JUST might have avoided him from turning into a wasted cricketer with unfulfilled potential. I liked the tone of that comment. 

There is a hint of sadness as he witnesses the fall of Sreesanth, a player that Greg still believes to be a major talent. He suggests that there was scope of improvement in the way Sreesanth was handled, but he makes his point without looking to transfer the blame of the errant cricketer's own indiscretions towards BCCI's incompetence at talent management.

Greg himself was hardly better at managing talent....while he was excellent at spotting talent, he failed abysmally in turning it into finished product. I reckon he still cares for these young guys he backed, if not for Indian cricket. Perhaps he realises today that HE could have done things differently as well.

[BTW, this is not the first time that BCCI's talent management woes are costing Indian cricket of its talents. If they had been even half decent at it, then Yuvraj Singh should have been India's next cricketer to retire with 50+ Test average, and Zaheer would have been our spearhead much before 2007..not to be.] 

And this marvellous piece on what EXACTLY is needed to be done for improving a batsman's concentration:

What I found during this phase, was that I tired very quickly and actually began to make mistakes after a relatively short period of time. If I did succeed using this method, I was usually so tired that I couldn’t relax easily afterwards and I was generally ‘flat’ for a few days.
On reflection, it dawned on me that this method was bound to fail and I had to find an alternative method. The alternative I chose was to train myself to concentrate for one ball at a time.
Concentration is the ability to focus on what is important at that moment.
From that point, my practice sessions became a contest with myself to see how well I could manage the conflicting messages in my head. Training was no longer an exercise in polishing my technique, but a mental exercise in engaging with the bowler at the appropriate time.
What I learnt to do was to switch-on to the bowler once he reached his bowling mark. The fiercest concentration was saved for the time that the bowler reached his delivery stride until that particular play was finished.
In between balls, I had a quick look into the crowd to give my mind a break before returning my attention to the field of play. I re-engaged with the bowler again once he got back to his mark.
The look into the crowd was an important part of my concentration routine. If I was playing at home, I would pick out someone whom I knew to look for. I astounded my family and friends when, at the end of the day, I could tell them what time they had arrived at the ground, who they had spoken to and what time they had a drink or something to eat.
Once I perfected this routine, I was never fatigued during play nor was I exhausted at the end of a long innings. Effectively, I had only concentrated at full intensity for a matter of minutes, even if I batted all day.
This is a pearl of wisdom coming from one of the finest batsmen ever. I wish to take printouts of this article and share with cricket crazy kids in our backyard. It is a must read for anyone who wants to become a better batsman at longer versions of the game (i.e. longer than 20 overs).

Last but not the least, Chappell’s article celebrating Sachin on his 40th birthday:

What did surprise me was the meticulous attention that he gave to his bats.
I had seen others who were quite protective and caring of their bat, but I had never seen anyone who showered their bat with such loving attention. He constantly altered the batting grip and spent hours with a scalpel scraping and cleaning the blade so that it was pleasing to his eye.
As he explained it, he did not want anything out of place when he looked down at his bat when standing at the crease. I can’t say that I ever noticed my bat to that degree. It was an implement that I used, and as I often had to get used to another one, I did not want to be too attached to my current bat in case we were separated, for any reason.
Sachin built a symbiotic relationship with each bat that he used. Batting, I began to realise, was why Sachin lived and he was taking every part of it very seriously indeed.
A special and sensitive insight from a great batsman admiring another within the sacred confines of the Test match dressing room. Another section of that article discusses about the changes Sachin made in his batting stance and preparatory movement over his career.

I am looking forward to his Hindu articles hereafter, expecting those to be the best insights into Indian cricket that I am going to get on print or web in coming months.

Update: Here's another offering from Greg - discussing the reasons for India's cricketing upswing (barring those two 2011 away series) coinciding with Australia's downswing:

Friday, May 31, 2013

How about Gurunath getting a 3rd degree called "24 hours of compulsory attention to Shastri's commentary"

Ravi Shastri is selected in BCCI's three member committee for probing spot fixing. 

Hope he can fire on all cylinders and drive some tracer bullets into fixers, make them disappear like huge sixers before the contest goes down to the wire. it's his for the taking, that's what the doctor ordered. 

However Shaz's greatest achievement would be bringing down the (BCCI) president if he can...he has got good credentials as a 'president shooter' to start with: a three letter initial (same as LHO and JWB) !! 

That will set the cat among the pigeons...c'mon Shaz, throw caution to the wind and be like greased lightning. The situation is touch and's a pressure cooker, and something's got to give.

Can almost hear him commentate on the findings: "what Indian cricket needs now is a wicket...what Srini needs now is a partnership. Srini is rapped on the pads and the finger goes up....the umpire knew exactly what he was doing there. This decision sets up rest of the enquiry nicely Guru..edggeeed, and should be taken...aah, Delhi police have dropped it. Unbelievable - they will take it ten out of ten times. the atmosphere is there another twist in the tale? One gets a feeling Guru may have injured himself there..."


Thursday, May 23, 2013

IPL-6: Moment of the tournament

THE MOMENT of IPL-6 just came up in today's Eliminator between Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Delhi play-offs.
38 yr old "foreign" Brad Hodge finds a little time to use between deliveries of this knock-out match, and walks up to a forever-amused-looking "local" wonderkid (Samson) - less than half Hodge's age - to teach the latter a chapter from the book of stealing singles. 
"Don't hit it boy, work it and get that crucial extra run." The old man gestures, but only after having demonstrated it. 

Almost justifies the existence of IPL...such moments.

Monday, May 06, 2013

IPL-6, Rajasthan Royals, Uttar-Dravid, Sanju...and Uttar-Process

"Manzilein unki hoti hai jinki sapnon mein jaan hoti hai
Kyonki pankhon se nahi, hauslon se udaan hoti hai"

Sidhu goes overboard to describe Dravid's achievements as player and skipper this IPL season, coming back from "packing sandwiches for kids" to powering his team towards a high scoring chase tonight against Pune Warriors.

Gavaskar had a more unique line of tribute, from a Mumbaikar to Bangalorean:
"These guys from Bangalore are underrated - they are such nice guys who achieve but have no self-promotion."

But beyond this Rahul celebration (which is every bit deserved for the old man) a little story may be emerging in Rajasthan Royals backyard for Indian cricket fans. We may be hitting upon the next big thing in batting. I can't believe a batsman, even an 18 year old in-form talent, can strike a first ball cover driven four of THAT class. This was the first I saw of Sanju Samson - and I am already hoping for more, much more.

Since he is 18, he is also the right person at the right place at the right time: playing for RR just when the team is buying Rahul's "horses for courses" theory, backed by the vision of "get the processes right and worry not of the results"....something that he developed with Chappell as his vision for 2007 world cup but could not sell to the Indian team due to "over-aggressive selling" tactics of his then coach.

This RR team, quite like RR of 1st IPL season, seems to be working to "process is king" theory this year. It shows in the lack of tension on the faces of the players. May or may not be the best / only way to win, but the journey sure becomes more enjoyable. Imran Khan used to speak of it during the later, more successful phase of his career - but can't even compare a modest team lke RR to the men Imran had at his disposal. So THIS really is the first case study of the "process + Horses for courses" theory in a sub-continent setup.

PS: In that 2005 article which predicted that Chappell-Dravid will be adopting this "horses for courses" theory in 2007 WC instead of set teams and batting orders, I had given almost all credit to Greg Chappell for the theory. But subsequent to that article, Chappell's way of handling shows that he was only the father of the idea. It is Dravid who, inspite of then failure of the concept, kept believing in it and now the man has found a perfect platform to try it out amidst a sea of youngsters. This time these guys do not have conflicting signs to confuse them as there is no Chappell around.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

My Brian

"I just want that someone in their 50s or 60s, when they talk about Brian Lara, they say `I enjoyed watching that guy playing cricket'. "
That's how Brian Lara wanted to be remembered by cricket lovers. Back in June 2002.....5 years before calling time.
It is nearly six years since he played his last international match. It is also for six years that I am drifting further and further away from this game that I wanted to live my life on. I wish I could just stop at saying: "I enjoyed watching that guy playing cricket."

Sunday, December 02, 2012

From Big Boots to Big Gloves

Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff never ceases to amaze.
Retired Test cricketer? Apparently he is a heavyweight boxer now!

Monday, November 26, 2012

'Defending beautifully'

"Never seen anyone defend so beautifully," says Sambit Bal on Sunil Gavaskar at cricinfo's Legends of Cricket.

Against best bowling under bowler friendly conditions, I have felt the same for RD when he was on song. It is a pity that the bowling attacks of his era, combined with the pitches, seldom threw up such situations.

Simon Taufel: the best umpire I have seen

Till about half an hour back, I did not even know that Simon Taufel has retired from international duties.
More than me, the media and sports pages need to be ashamed of that. At least I am open about a constantly increasing distance with the only game I ever loved.

Osman Samiuddin's farewell post on Simon can be read here.
And here's a tribute from his colleague, Daryl Harper.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Waqar essentially just did one thing with the ball"

When Wasim & Waqar were in their playing days, I used to hang around in a group of late teens / early 20's chaps who were more attracted to Wasim. That variety in swing and seam, that lift from a seemingly innocuous action, that magic surrounding his towering persona. In comparison Waqar appeared to be more of a ramrod to breach defences, the guy with perhaps the most imposing bowling action of his time.

However subsequently I have watched more cricket. And with the increasing dominance of the bat, I have come to value bowlers who had an aura of inevitability. With that realisation,  Waqar Younis and his craftwork during the 90's is a subject of particular interest to me. 

This passage in a lovingly written article on Waqar precisely describes why some of us find the Waqar phenomenon so intriguing: the inevitability of what the batsmen already knew was coming:

"International batsmen generally have half-decent balance, but the Waqar Younis inswinging yorker made fools of them all. Given a choice between losing their toes or losing their dignity, most batsmen opted for falling flat on their face, a position from where they could better hear their middle and leg stumps going their separate ways. Where Wasim was an expert lock pick with a wide array of tools at his disposal, Waqar just burst through doors with a battering ram so immense he could just as easily have gone through the wall. Wasim could do a million and one devious things with a cricket ball, but Waqar essentially just did one. And he only needed to do one. The Waqar Younis reverse-swinging yorker might just be the most destructive delivery in the history of cricket.

Maybe all of this is painting him as one-dimensional, but it was that yorker that grabbed me when I finally got to see him bowl, and it was that yorker that largely explains his phenomenal ability to run through a batting order in the time it took a dismissed opening batsman to say, "Mind your toes." Delivered with a different, more round-arm action to the one he used when opening the bowling, it was a virtually unstoppable delivery, and one of Waqar's greatest strengths was that he acknowledged that fact and was perfectly happy to bowl it again and again and again, where other bowlers might have held it in reserve as a surprise weapon. It didn't need to be a surprise, because knowing what was coming simply didn't help the batsman all that much."
Here's a video of that one thing that Waqar did incomparably.