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ICC Champions'Trophy 2009

MONEY can give you power, but it cannot guarantee a place in the top four all the time. Especially not in cricket, which is rightly called the game of uncertainty. India learned this the hard way, as the economical powerhouse of cricket crashed out from the group stage in the ICC Champions' Trophy in South Africa. Such unpredictability continued as New Zealand qualified for the final along with Australia.

The second greatest tournament in the ICC fixture, the Champions' Trophy, has just concluded in South Africa after 15 days of competitive cricket. Sadly Bangladesh was not able to take part in the event because of being the ninth team in the ODI ranking.

West Indies, who Bangladesh washed white, very recently were in the tournament instead. They were again without their top players, but surprisingly they managed to do better than expected. Giving Pakistan a good run for their money and ruffling up the Aussies sure surprised a lot. But nothing can be compared to the eliminations of India, South Africa and Sri Lanka from the group stage.

Very few expected Pakistan to qualify for the semi finals, given their recent poor form and unpredictability. But they came out victorious from a close contest with their arch-rivals India in a high scoring match, thanks to two brilliant knocks from Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf. India were kept to waiting to the last match played between Australia and Pakistan, with calculators in hand for complex equations. Australia cleared all by emerging victorious in the last ball. India went home, with questions on their ability to perform against quality fast bowling and bouncy pitches and the performance of their bowlers.

In the other group we had two more surprises. Among South Africa, Sri Lanka, England and New Zealand, the strongest team on papers are the first two. But the teams to qualify were the last two. After getting hammered at the hands of Australia (6-1 in the 7 match ODI series) few expected England to emerge as one of the top four teams. But they did and did so in classic style, beating both comfortably. Favourites South Africa just couldn't do it in the big stage yet again. Sri Lanka followed suit. New Zealand somehow managed to qualify for the last four and they deserve congratulation.

England surprised everybody with their spirited display in the field, and of course by their absolute thrashing in the hands of the Aussies. They killed their English pride, chasing down 257 with 9 wickets and 9 overs to spare. Brilliant hundreds from Shane Watson and skipper Ricky Ponting showed them the way.

The least attractive team in the cricket world, New Zealand, also managed to qualify for the finals. The team without any big names and full of all-rounders may actually win this one too, given their past record against their island neighbours Australia, or so we thoguht.

Plagued by injuries, the Kiwis put up a disspointing performance while the Aussies once again showed sparkle of their golden days. You should know the result by now.

By Jawad

Memoirs of the read …and the re-read

“It. Was. Heaven.

There was no doubt about it. A treasure-chest of crisscrossed alleyways buzzing with its cubicles in display of delightful delicacies- who would've thought such a place even existed, stowed away in the very heart of the city with its impassive façade of photocopy shops, the 'utopia of fashion accessories' to its right and the market of wonders where 'nothing-is-unavailable' up in front. God must really love me. The existence of such fabulous a place bears solid evidence to that…”

Thus started the diary entry of one of my hard-core bookworm friends. The place in question was our very own Nilkhet and it was his first-time-ever visit there. Poor kid literally went crazy (and drooling) at the sight of so many books assembled in one place and reportedly had to be dragged off book-stacks by the people who accompanied him.

'Nilkhet' is probably another example of those peculiar nomenclature-evolutions, for (historical aspects aside) the place no longer conjures up any picture of blue fields to people's imaginations these days. Instead, what comes to mind is a solitary word that seemingly has become the newest identity of Nilkhet itself- books. It is the cheapest haven for those rectangular elegant-spined beauties, their sacrilegiously high price rendering them almost 'untouchable' anywhere else. But here not only can you touch them, you can also OWN them. The only apparent catch is that you may have to bear with the well-known practice of the second-hand culture. But what is that compared to the insatiable hunger of knowledge, right? And so, the culture has flourished further, with countless shops specialising in the age-old art of give and take, offering concessions to students, old customers etc. and thereby becoming one with the book-lovers' motto worldwide: “Good books are for sharing with all”.

Thus the cycle goes on. People buy books, sell them after reading or exchange for new ones. Knowledge is passed through different hands and eventually finds its way into different minds. But that's not the end of the story. For books, while carrying written stories inside themselves, can also give birth to fresh new ones as they travel from one hand to another. Stories of joy, of sorrow, of…remembrance. Ever wondered what those curious watermarks were on the pages where Edward leaves Bella in your Nilkhet-copy of the Breaking Dawn? Those could be the previous owner pouring her heart (and eyes) out in agony over the pages for all you know. And what about the insufferable guy who formerly owned your well-thumbed copy of detective stories and had written all over the front page in bolded block letters: THE COUSIN IS THE KILLER. THE POLICEMAN IS AN ACCOMPLICE. DUMBLEDORE DIES IN HARRY POTTER VI.

…Yes, let's damn him into the deepest pits of hell…

Anyway, second-hand books, likewise, have the potential of offering a surprising insight into the characters of people who share similar interest in books with you. For example, books that are passed on from over-conscious and study-tidy folks usually display constant reminders like “Property of omuk, please read with care” or “Do not leave book dog-eared” after every page or two, while those belonging to sloppy owners may sport doodling-marks or even crude 'jhol' stains. Extremely witty ones, however, proceed to scribble funny quotes in random pages…which to some extent explains how once a Thomas Hardy book ended up having side-lines like “This guy sucks”.

Sazzad Hossain, a Bangladesh Bank employee, fondly reminisces about his university days on the topic, “Once I came across this Chemistry textbook where, beside the Urea reaction, somebody had written: Por, por, beshi koira por.” Hamida, a student of Dhaka University, comments, “Most of the second-hand books I find usually have their romantic lines ardently underlined. People sure have lots of free time on their hands these days!”

Although those preferring to own pristine copies of fresh new (and expensive) books are still not entirely extinct, the second-hand culture, I daresay, is here to stay. It's economic, it's convenient and it ties people and books closer together in bonds of fond memories. Memories that grow old with the pages themselves, memories that bear evidence that the book was once read…and maybe re-read.

By Raisa M Rafique

Book Review

The Boy Next Door

HAVE you ever re-read a series of e-mails or letters and realised that there was a story hidden there? Ever thought you had just a hunch until you talked with some of the other parties involved to realise that you were right, but not in the way you ever imagined you would be? One guesses that's what inspired Meg Cabot to go and write The Boy Next Door. The celebrated author of The Princess Diaries series returns to New York City with this standalone novel about finding love in the least expected places.

The entire novel reads as a series of emails fired off between the principal characters. Gossip columnist Mel Fuller gets into trouble at work for her chronic lateness, which isn't helped by the fact that she has to take care of the pets belonging to her elderly next-door neighbour, who was assaulted and now is lying in a coma. Enter one photographer Max Friedman, the old lady's nephew, a supposed playboy, who's flown in to relieve Mel of her duties. Sparks fly, and the two are immediately drawn to one another. Other than the reputation, Mel finds Max to be the vision of perfection. He's smart, funny, caring and that's some serious chemistry going down between them. So why does something feel off? Why does he insist that she call him 'John'? And who would ever want to attack the sweet Ms Friedman? Get your sleuthing glasses on and join the cast on this romantic romp.

While the epistolary format is definitely an attention grabber, and adds to the humour of this author, Cabot fails at the characterization of the male characters, unless she really did intend for all of them to be slightly fruity. The ones that she intends to come off as cads merely sound juvenile and caricaturish, while the 'good guys' seriously lack testosterone. The female characters also sound like clones of one another, with superficial variations. Cabot definitely scores points for the setting, though. Even through the e-mails, the reader gets a sense of the surroundings of the people involved. If you're not being picky and want a simple, fun read, then you'll also appreciate the effortless humour of Cabot's style, and the feel-good factor of the overall plot. This is the perfect book to unwind with, after a long, hard week.

By Sabrina F Ahmad


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