Saturday, November 07, 2009

Tendulkar, Chennai, Hyderabad, 1999, 2009, Times of India, Plagiarism, Bakri and Gadha

I’ve followed cricket with great interest for most of my life, first as a fan and then as a journalist. Fans tend to get excited about teams, stars and results. But journalists become hardened cynics over a period of time. Sure, hacks love the game dearly, but without getting emotional about results. Win or lose, journalists have a job: to present cold, hard facts, and then perhaps analyse what went wrong or right.

But no matter how thick-skinned they are, a loss like the one at Hyderabad is a kick in the nuts. I’ll speak for myself. It hurts. Really bad.

Many of us have been discussing how Hyderabad 2009 is similar to Chennai 1999, when India lost to Pakistan by a gut-wrenching margin of 12 runs. In both cases, Tendulkar got a big hundred, raised hopes of a jail-breaking win, got out, and then the rest of the batting line-up had the tensile strength of a marie biscuit.

My colleague Arjun Sen first mentioned a possible similarity between 1999 and 2009, when we were discussing the match on my Facebook status.

I later thought it’d be worthwhile comparing the Chennai and Hyderabad scorecards to detect similarities. On top of my mind were 1) a Tendulkar hundred, 2) Nayan Mongia and Raina getting fifties and 3) a partnership of 130-odd runs in both games.

But once I began the analysis, the findings were startling. Eerie. Bizarre. Unbelievable. And mostly too good to be true. We suspected Chennai and Hyderabad were similar, but here was eye-popping data that confirmed our suspicion.

I ran the report on the findings on India Today an hour or so after the Hyderabad match.

Later, I updated the copy twice when I found some more eye-popping data from the two scorecards.

The story was picked up by and later by Cricinfo’s Surfer.

Later this evening, blog buddy Arvind Iyer saw my report. My jaw dropped when he said he’d read something similar in the Bangalore edition of Times of India today.

So I looked up their epaper. And here’s what I find, on Sports Pg 1 .

Fantastic headline, and a five-star rating, too. (Update: Venkat Ananth points me to TOI’s Mumbai edition which carries the same infographic. I’m guessing this originated from Mumbai.)

Now, the connections between Chennai ’99 and Hyderabad ’09 have been talked about by thousands of cricket followers. I’m just one of them. And the stats which establish these connections are also out in public domain.

But what gets my bakri is the sequence of TOI’s points. They are exactly the same as the sequence in which I wrote them.

Without suggesting anything, I’ll just add that TOI & Sons are known offenders in such matters. Ask Twilight Fairy, The Cook’s Cottage, Food For Thought, Jai Arjun, to name a few. They’ve given bloggers a hard time, and now they’ve done it to someone of their own community.

I’ll leave it at that. I hope India kick Australia’s gadha tomorrow. There, I said it. It was an emotional outburst. But only because Hyderabad still hurts.

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