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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Test Cricket: India Finally Manage To Break The Jinx In Sri Lanka!

India under the young Test skipper Virat Kohli finally managed to break the 22-year no-win jinx in Test Series hosted by Sri Lanka defeating the hosts by 117 runs in the third Test today thus winning the Series 2-1 after wasting a huge opportunity in the first of the three Tests mostly dominated by them. In the first Test at Galle a win for India seemed only a formality when a dismal bout of batting ensured a win for Sri Lanka. In the third Test in Colombo India put Sri Lanka on the mat setting a huge target of 386 runs and capturing three vital wickets for 67 runs at stumps on the fourth day yesterday. They needed to capture 7 wickets today for a series win in Sri Lanka after 22 years, but their bowlers again showed the haunting lack of penetration for most part of today with the scare of Sri Lanka either drawing or even winning the match and the Series looming large. However, at the last moments of the fifth day Ashwin came back to capture 4 wickets ensuring a win for India. In the second Test India won hands down by 278 runs giving the first ever Test victory to Kohli as a captain. Ironically, it was after the second Test that the legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara decided to retire from test cricket and in the third Test without this mainstay of batting, wicket keeping and all-round leadership India could not capitalize to a desired extent upon the hosts.

The third and the final Test match between India and Sri Lanka in Colombo has proved to be the best one with the series level at 1-1 prior to it, both teams staging fight-backs from tight situations, tails of both teams wagging and the match stretched to full five days. Sri Lanka gave India an advantage too by opting to field first after winning the toss—maybe because playing without the assured presence of Sanga after some years. However, India struggled to make 312 and in reply Sri Lanka struggled more, but finally able to reduce the lead to just 111. India struggled again and finally managed to reach 274 setting a seemingly invincible target of 386 runs. And finally on the last day today Sri Lanka could not prevent India from creating history by breaking the jinx. Virat Kohli has an away Series win under his belt now.

For India Dhawan, Kohli, Rahane, Pujara and Sharma scored quite a few runs. However, the consistency was lacking with almost all making a big individual scores in one outing followed by flops in the next. Of course, India had the disadvantage of playing without the service of their regular openers—Dhawan and Murali Vijay. Dhawan could not play after a century in the first Test. Vijay played only the second Test. Ravichandran Ashwin’s ten-wicket haul in the first Test went in vain, but Ishant Sharma’s improved line and aggressiveness gave India something to hoot for in the near future. For Sri Lanka too the batting lacked consistency except for the glorious 162 by Chandimal in the first Test and some good scores by Mathews. On the bowling front Herath’s performance in the first Test was memorable with some aggressive bursts from pacers Prasad and Pradeep. Next India go into the home series named Gandhi-Mandela Series against South Africa starting end of this month. There will be three T20s, five ODIs and four Test matches with the first T20 starting on 2nd October and the first Test starting 5th November in Mumbai. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Nostalgia: The Golden Habit of Book Reading!

The late sixties to the late eighties—the golden period for us as far as the habit of reading book is concerned. For my father the period started from around the early forties. Rightfully, my father and we children were termed as ‘book worms’ by family and friends. We used to coil up wherever and whenever possible with books—books of various nature ranging from detective novels to heavy non-fiction in mostly English, Assamese and Bengali. We can hardly forget those golden moments of reading—on a fresh morning in the veranda armchair or reclining on the sofa in the drawing room or half inclined on the pillow in the bedroom or on winter nights after supper inside the warm quilt with the table lamp burning. On Sundays my mother had a hard time getting us on to the table after serving lunch. My father had the usual habit of trying to finish a book on a single sitting and we also tried to imitate him on various occasions. Thanks to my father’s childhood we favoured English classics a lot and were desperate to procure those from all possible sources apart from the huge home reserve of classics built up over time.

My father was in the civil service and it was transferable. Therefore we were used to move from town to town every two or three years. Coming to a new town our prime focus was to locate the public library. Normally my father took us two brothers there and we were never happy with two membership cards insisting on four and getting them due to his support. Almost at every weekend we brothers used to walk up to the library, returning the read books and searching all nooks and corners for newer ones. Back home we used to display our treasure of books enticingly enough knowing that father would soon hover over them. He would select and pick one and retire to his favourite place to devour. We would contend ourselves with the rest for the time being with our sisters also joining in now.

Those days it was not easy to buy books even though the price was much lesser, because earnings were also very less, and our father, being an honest officer, had only his meagre salary to take care of everything. So we tried to save out of our daily pocket money to save enough to buy books later; we used to cajole and beg ‘able’ family guests to take a trip with us to the book-store and once there we were bolder to get our demands through; on our birthdays or any special festive occasions we used to request, depending on opportunities, the likely visitors to gift us only books.

There was such a ‘book-reading bond’ with our scholarly father that whenever we managed to buy a book we used to show it first to him and if he preferred to devour it immediately we let him to do so waiting for our turn with a happy and joyful heart. Even my farmer grandfather and half-literate grandmother were avid readers too. When they visited us they would normally join us reading books at every opportunity. During the time when grandmother came to live with us a crisis of sorts was building up. She was devouring books at an alarming rate and we were running out of our stock of books. Since that time we brothers got employed outside the visits to the public library became far and less. So often we would discuss the problem with our mother how to solve it!

I remember one particular book-store in a particular town. Not having enough savings at the time and enticed by a whole new series of exciting books I went over there with my bicycle quite often. I would always ask the owner for a particular book and try to demonstrate by leafing over that I really intended to buy it. As the owner got busier with other customers I would proceed to the corner of the counter and read the book then and there. I would finish it in about two hours if I was lucky and would return the book with a smile. I repeated the exercise many times and the kind owner never showed any suspicion. Maybe he knew and was amused or maybe he did not suspect genuinely.

Now your mobiles, iPhones, tabs, laptops or desktops and the 24-hour television channels hardly give you enough time to read books. Whatever little or more you may read now it is invariably on the electronic screens. Many of you may have already left the habit irreparably behind. Personally I would buy a book with all pristine excitement planning to read it coiling up in my favourite corner, but would not succeed for days on end. However, it is such a beautiful experience that everyone would like to come back to it now or later, I’m sure. Members of the present young generation should first try to realize what they are missing out on before getting hooked again to their gadgets. For me the nostalgia is just overpowering. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Shaken Shillong Bids Adieu To Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam!

It was just unprecedented and a supreme moment of stupefied indecision for a quiet hilly city of Shillong in the state of Meghalaya of north eastern India. News of global proportions rarely happens in this city. The easy-going people here are not much bothered about breaking news or that kind of stuff and are happy with their daily chores—going to work, going to markets, going for their favourite dishes and worrying about rains or the lack of it and electricity or water supply or cleanliness. So nobody was ready for such kind of a huge news break that could go livewire globally. To confound matters, the media did not have a clue about this visit of an eminent personality, even in a small city like Shillong. Finally then, when the news broke around 8pm on that momentous day of 27th July, 2015 it was incredulity, sheer disbelief, indecisiveness and numbing inaction. The men here in power were mostly looking for protocol and for ways how to handle it. The Governor, the ministers, the bureaucrats, the police and army officers, the doctors—all found themselves rushing to the hospital without giving any thought to making an official declaration. The media acted on their sources and camped at the hospital waiting hours for the doctors or any authority to come down and make it official. The easy-going folks were shaken out of their reverie and took to the streets crowding the hospital campus and the surroundings.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was no stranger to Shillong or Meghalaya. He had been coming here since 2002 mostly for his lecture-interaction with students and some other official inaugurations in the role of the Indian President. This time he was scheduled to give a lecture here in the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Shillong on the topic ‘Creating a Liveable Planet Earth’. He had been in the faculty of the IIM and came for lectures quite often in the last two years. Accordingly on 27th July he arrived in Guwahati by a flight from Delhi and undertook a road journey to Shillong. Upon his arrival in Shillong after 5pm he was taken to a guest house for a little rest with tea and light refreshments. After 6pm he was there in the auditorium of the IIM for giving the lecture to senior students. He was his usual self—jovial, eager to interact and in full energy.

His Last Lecture
Barely ten minutes into his lecture the Missile Man fell silent suddenly and collapsed. The IIM doctor examined him and declared a medical emergency. He was shifted immediately to the nearest Bethany hospital and admitted into the ICU. Apart from the hospital doctors the Army doctors and the state government doctors were called in to treat the former President. Desperate efforts continued to revive the beloved teacher and the scientist. The mouth to mouth news went viral.

The Governor of Meghalaya, V Shanmuganthan rushed to the Bethany hospital and stayed there for hours. The state ministers, the top bureaucrats, the army commands and top cops started landing at the hospital. Meanwhile the reception lounge of the hospital got filled with hyperactive media personnel and the outer courtyard and the surrounding streets were filled beyond capacity with his ardent and anxious admirers—mostly young people and students.

Finally at around 10.30pm the body of the immensely versatile personality of utter simplicity, draped in the tricolor, was brought down to the courtyard to be taken in an ambulance to the military hospital. The large crowd looked on in utter disbelief and with a sense of profound loss, and then erupted into an endless chain of spontaneous reaction. The slogans of ‘Long Live Abdul Kalam Sahab’ rent the air around. Most of them were out with their mobiles and cameras trying frantically to record a last glimpse of their beloved and ever inspiring leader-teacher. Many of them were in tears.

The last journey of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam began. His mortal remains were taken on a helicopter to Guwahati in the wee hours of 28th July and from there to New Delhi by a special aircraft. Next day he was taken to Rameshwaram, his native place in Tamil Nadu. And today, the 30th July, 2015, the People’s President was finally laid to rest with full state and military honors. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ministers and top leaders of the whole country attended the funeral paying their soulful homage for the last time.

Popularity of Dr. Abdul Kalam has to be seen to be believed. Even in this farthest north eastern region of the country tributes were paid to him in almost every corner and the striking highlight is that everywhere it is the common people or the students who showed their pain at this great loss so emphatically. Yes, he has been a role model and source of inspiration for the youth to succeed in life, and his down to earth nature and incredible simplicity won millions of hearts all over. Long Live the People’s President. We pray for the eternal bliss of his noble soul.

Shillong in the meantime has been coming to terms with the reality. The state government had declared a holiday on 28th July, maybe to recover from the shock and prepare for the next course of action. There were mixed reactions all around here and in the social media. Some objected to the holiday declaration saying this was contrary to what Dr. Kalam stood for. Some found even a glory in this profoundly sad happening—a glorified death for Shillong. They posted or tweeted that the great scientist did a favour to Shillong by choosing to breathe his last here. Now, Shillong will figure prominently in Google searches and people all over the globe will come to know what Shillong is and where it is. The reason for this is simple. People here have always to contend with the nation’s colossal ignorance about the north east India and a sense of being neglected over the decades. People here struggle to come into the national mainstream not for the wrong reasons that usually include natural disasters or terrorism. Now at least, they have the best possible reason to be considered seriously—Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

About the media not having a clue to this visit the IIM sources said that Dr. Kalam came for strictly class-room lectures where no distractions could be allowed. Besides, in 2014 when he came for his usual lecture media came to know about it and the eager teacher was very upset at being disturbed in his mission. They have good reasons to block the media this time. But the loss is immense. Millions of his followers were deprived of the audio-visuals of his last lecture.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The IPL Aftermath: The Conglomerate Of Vested Interests!

Money continues to talk. Such is the extent of the dirty dough, the immense stakes and the clout of the stakeholders inherent in the scam-stricken Indian Premier League (IPL) that even a verdict from the apex court of the country does not prove to be enough to force the richest cricket Board of the world straight away into action. It has been therefore a natural follow-up that the Supreme Court of India had to intervene to make the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to see reason, to force its president to at least step away, to appoint committees to probe into the scam and finally give a verdict that should be binding where no other authority in the country commands such ‘authority’. The two franchises under suspension are the two super brands of IPL—CSK and RR—and it is quite clear how much money-powered clout these teams and the superstar cricketers playing for them command.

Of course, since it is the Supreme Court empowered Lodha Committee there was some pressure indeed for the BCCI and the IPL to fall in line. So the BCCI-IPL Governing Council held an emergency meeting in Mumbai on Sunday, the 19th of July, 2015 to examine the ‘implications’ of the IPL Verdict. What really about the implications? Do the cricket mandarins fail to understand the implications of a somewhat plainly obvious verdict? The cricket board had to say that “BCCI respects the verdict of the Lodha Commission and will abide by their decisions, in toto” and yet they went on to say “The members recognised that there is an urgent need to understand the impact of this decision and the wider ramifications for BCCI in detail, so as to uphold the paramountcy of the game in our country.” The so-called members are so erudite and elevated that they on their own must study the points to take action as they desire! And the BCCI-IPL themselves had drafted a clause 11.3 (c) of the franchise agreement that says the agreement can be terminated if “the Franchise, any Franchise Group Company and/or any owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the League, BCCI-IPL, BCCI, the Franchise, the team (or any other team in the League) and/or the game of cricket.” They have the rule and they have the binding verdict. Why cannot they act straight away? It is the delay or the need for buying more time which is of utmost urgency for this conglomerate of vested interests. And delay it was they managed in that meeting—at least by six weeks.

The BCCI so decided to constitute a working group to study the order and the recommendations of the Lodha committee within a period of six weeks. Then the report will be submitted to the BCCI’s all-powerful Working Committee and it is supposed to take the final decision on the decision of none other than the Supreme Court. And pray who are the members of the working group? It will be chaired by IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla and will have BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur and Treasurer Aniruddh Chaudhary as members. Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly is the fourth member. BCCI's legal adviser U N Banerjee will assist the panel. It is so obviously self-contained and vested. What will they represent except the clout in the corrupt-confused Board? Ganguly does represent the players of course, but he has been getting ‘retirement’ benefits from both the BCCI and IPL. So it is extremely scary at the moment as to what ‘decision’ they will finally arrive at which may even cause disregard to the apex court verdict! It is the national cricket craze that generates all the money and this money in no time turns dirty big creating the Frankenstein of a clout. Therefore, anything is possible in this dirty business called IPL! Despite everything! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The IPL Verdict: Operation Clean-Up Indian Cricket!

July 14, 2015, a very important day for Indian Cricket. On the one hand the forcibly-constituted second-string Team India has crushed Zimbabwe 3-0 in the ODI Series being played in Zimbabwe. On the other the Supreme Court appointed Justice Lodha Committee delivered a historic and ruthless verdict on the IPL Spot Fixing scam. Operation Clean-Up Indian cricket has begun with a big bang. In these pages we have always opposed the sleazy cricket in the garb of the Indian Premier League (IPL) tracking all the important developments including the Supreme Court of India coming into the picture taking on the corrupt practices both in the tournament and in the Indian cricket board, BCCI. Now the IPL is in the worst crisis ever. Now, we stand vindicated, we say now…scrap the IPL.

Sans the superstars the second-string Indian team played freely in Zimbabwe under the ‘no-choice’ skipper Ajinkya Rahane. They have built up big partnerships that the main team was found lacking in recent matches; several key batsmen hit centuries and what is important stayed on for the team’s interest that many superstars of the main team could not do; they have pulled the team out of tricky and dangerous situations especially in the first and the third one day internationals winning both matches whereas as found recently under the same situations the main team would have given up meekly; without pondering over the ability or the lack of it of the opposition they have batted, bowled and fielded with determination winning finally in style. For the first time Stuart Binny got the opportunity to showcase his all-round abilities. He was in the World Cup-2015 team, but was hardly utilized. Within a few days the new team grouped well and delivered. And what about the superstars? They forced out the ‘rest’ because they were IPL-weary. Now, most of them find that they have no IPL teams to play for.

The sensational IPL Verdict has banned two major franchises—Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR)—from the IPL for two years. The axe fell on these two teams due to their two key officials—Gurunath Meiyappan of CSK and Raj Kundra of RR—who were found guilty of being involved in heavy betting. Despite their obvious complicity no action was ever taken against them by the concerned franchisee or the BCCI. Meiyappan and Kundra are banned for life from all cricket activities and from all cricket matters relating to the BCCI. Crucial evidence in this regard was submitted by the Mudgal Committee last year.

Question marks are also on the current one-day skipper MS Dhoni who also leads the CSK as to what he disclosed or hid from the Mudgal committee. He was found to be in close coordination with Meiyappan, the CEO of the franchisee, in all matters related to CSK. The shadow of doubt on him and several other star cricketers are bound to continue till further disclosure. Three players of RR were arrested for spot fixing and with the co-owner Raj Kundra also implicated nobody in the franchisee bothered to examine or take action. This is not the end of justice being done; this is just the beginning of operation clean-up Indian cricket. More is bound to follow with the Lodha committee set to take up the corruption and lack of transparency in the BCCI next.

And what about N Srinivasan? His team gone, his company Indian Cements debarred from any business with the BCCI and his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan banned for life. However, well known for his craze for power, N Srinivasan will not step down or resign from his ICC Chairmanship or other cricket posts. Questions will be raised again on his role, but the great cricket-czar is still looking for options expressing his disappointment at the ‘unfair’ verdict. One thing is sure though, Indian Cricket cannot be the same after today.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Cricket: No Alternative But To Make Rahane Lead Second-String Team India For Zimbabwe Tour!

Finally all the IPL-weary Indian cricket superstars have to be rested, especially after the full-strength Team India failed to deliver in the just concluded Bangladesh tour losing the ODI series 1-2. The rested players are ODI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Test captain Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and spinner R Ashwin. With Dhoni not around some decisions became easier to take. Like dropping Ravindra Jadeja, bringing in Harbhajan Singh to the one day team after he made a comeback to the Test team in Bangladesh and selecting the captain for the second-string Team India for the tour of Zimbabwe starting 10th July. The tour consists of three one day internationals (ODI) and two T20 matches. This made-easy squad was announced by the BCCI national selectors in New Delhi today. 

Of course, having rested all the 'worthy' cricketers there was nobody 'worthy' enough to lead the team except for Ajinkya Rahane whose 'quality' is conveniently discovered now. After the humiliating defeat in the first Test against Bangladesh this very captain-now player was dropped for the second Test. This writer criticized the move mentioning his quality as a reliable batsman in these pages. But now, with no alternative available, the same player is named captain. Well, this is always a toss between the musts and the expendables that the Indian cricket Board exercises for team selection. And mind you, the BCCI has the 'wisdom' to justify the move of a forced second-string Team India on the ground of so-called preparations for the ICC World T20-2016. Their 'young blood' argument falls flat on so many occasions, yet they continue taking guard on the same. Maybe the Lalit Modi revelations regarding three star Indian cricketers may have some influence on the decisions notwithstanding the fact that the BCCI has given them all a clean chit. With the kind of storm Lalit Modi is creating all over the country anything seems to be plausible. 

Robin Uthappa, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Sandeep Sharma, Krn Sharma and Manoj Tiwary manage to get selected now. Now Murali Vijay too manages to come back to the team. His super form was immaterial when selection for the World Cup-2015 was made. Anyway, let us see what this team does in Zimbabwe after the tour was revived. 

The Indian Squad: Ajinkya Rahane (capt), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Harbhajan Singh, Axar Patel, Karn Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cricket: Bangladesh Win First Ever ODI Series Against India!

Bangladesh have made history on the night of 21st June, 2015 at Mirpur in Dhaka. On the first International Yoga Day they have made their golden day in cricket. They have won the first ever One Day International (ODI) cricket series against mighty India. Not only won, they have outplayed, mauled and humiliated India in all departments of the game and in every cricketing way possible. Bangladesh defeated India by 6 wickets with 9 overs to spare of the 47 allotted through D/L method due to rain interruption in the second ODI against India last evening. In the first ODI they won by 79 runs thus outclassing India in the series and taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3-match series. For the first time the erstwhile ‘minnows’ have beaten India in two back to back ODIs. The sensational d├ębutante of the first ODI, Mustafizur Rahman took an incredible haul of 11 wickets and became the first bowler in the world to do so in his first two one day internationals. And, Bangladesh have qualified for the ICC Champions Trophy to be played in England in 2017. What is more significant is that they have deserved this fully—displaying tremendous cricketing abilities. From here they can only go up and up in the ladder of world cricket.

Whatever chance Team India had of regrouping and giving it back to Bangladesh in this do or die encounter was nipped in the bud when Team management ‘changed’ the team. The primary reason why India lost in the first ODI was the casual and complacent approach of mainly the superstars. But the management, as usual, ‘managed’ to axe only the expendables—Ajinkya Rahane who could have been invaluable on his day and bringing in an IPL expert Ambati Rayudu; Umesh Yadav who could have been lethal with his pace and bringing in another IPL expert Dhawal Kulkarni and Mohit Sharma who could have been encouraged to find his line and length and brining in Axa Patel who perhaps had nothing to prove except being close to the Indian captain.  Yet again, the superstars performed in almost the same way as before while the ‘changes’ hardly changed anything. Nobody in the management seems to be aware of the fact that Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni and to a lesser extent Rohit Sharma continue to be out of form and unpredictable.

This series calls for a lot of introspection for Indian cricket. In fact except for the bright interlude in the World Cup-2015 Team India has not been performing to its potential. It has reached the climax now. If the usual complaint of ‘too much cricket’ is to be held valid then the two-moth long IPL tournament comes into deep focus. Maybe the Indian cricketers were too tired after giving in everything for the dollars of the IPL. And for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, undoubtedly the most successful and positive Indian captain, this could finally be the end of the road as far as at least captaincy is concerned. He had already escaped from Test captaincy and nothing is clicking for him at the moment. His batting form continues to be dismal, his wicket keeping not being of top class and his captaincy is coming to be questioned most frequently. His ‘protection’ within the cricket Board also seems to be gone. However, for a cricketer of his class he should decide fast before being unceremoniously axed. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Cricket: Bangladesh Thrash India, Captain 'Cool' Loses It!

Bangladesh proved it precisely and clinically--that their cricketers are a spirited and hugely improved lot, that they beating Pakistan squarely was not a fluke, that they running India close to elimination from the World Cup-2015 was not an aberration, and that they have now avenged their exit from the World Cup effectively, so-called it might be though. They had excelled in every department of the game in the first One Day International match against India in Dhaka last evening thrashing and humiliating India by 79 runs. Winning the toss and electing to bat first they raced to a big score right away, despite being put into a tight corner at least twice by India. The Indian pacers were made fun of and only some spinning ability prevented them from reaching even 400. There were no big individual scores, it being a total and spirited team effort. 

It seemed the Indian cricket superstars did not take them seriously enough. Even after conceding 307 runs Indian batsmen had a rather casual approach while chasing. A tight and beautiful pace bowling by the Bangladesh pacers beat both openers again and again, just missing the outside edge. Within first four overs both the openers could have been out. However, India did manage to have sound opening stand of 95 for no loss. Just then, Shikhar Dhawan had a lazy heave getting out caught behind. That started the slide of 'star' batsmen falling to casual shots. This is not to say that Bangladesh bowlers namely Taskin or Mustafizur were bowling loose. This is to say that the so-called quality batting of India had the potential to face up to it effectively. For once the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) made a correct decision sending a full-strength Indian squad, but the players could not muster the humility to treat them as at least equals. Mustafizur Rahman, making his ODI debut, had a brilliant haul of five wickets while keeper Mushfiqur Rahim held five great catches behind. At times Bangladesh tried a little too hard and was momentarily allowing the game to go the Indian way. 

When you make unnecessary mistakes you rue it very badly later, and get angry too. That was what probably happened to captain 'Cool' MS Dhoni. Seeing the match going away supposedly to a 'minnow' and that too due to his team's complacency he lost his cool and deliberately shoved Mustafizur on the way to a run. No doubt, Mustafizur cultivated a habit of standing on the batsman's way quite a few times in the match. But that did not permit the Indian captain to behave the way he did. This thrashing should act as an experience and also a warning for Team India in the following matches against Bangladesh, and perhaps in all their encounters against supposedly weaker sides. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Cricket: Rains Engineer A Draw For The India-Bangladesh One-Off Test!

It rained every day of the five days of the one-off Test match between India and Bangladesh at Fatullah. The second day's play was completely washed out and rains accounted for the loss of about 248 overs of the match, mind you, everyday you are supposed to play out 90 overs. This shows the poor planning of bilateral cricket series between the Asian neighbors. It was scheduled at a time when the South-West Monsoon hit India and advanced to most parts of the country. Besides, it was the only match that could be fitted into the madness. Now what will happen to the 3 one day internationals, nobody could guess. The first one is scheduled to start on June 18 in Dhaka. 

Ashwin With Virat
The test, in its realized portions, went the way it was expected with India dominating in all fields of the game. Winning the toss and electing to bat first India had to fight primarily its main opponent--the rains--than the Bangladesh bowlers. India lost the first wicket only after scoring in excess of 250 runs. Both of the openers scored big centuries each--Shikhar Dhawan 173 and Murali Vijay 150. Thanks to rain India had to go on playing till the end of the third day making 462 for 6 wickets. On the morning of the fourth day India declared and afterwards Bangladesh struggled and struggled. The rain curtailed fourth day saw them still at 111 for 3 with Indian spinner R Ashwin in top form. The recalled spinner Harbhajan Singh too bowled tight. Therefore, if at least a full day's play was available on the final day, there was no harm in fancying an Indian victory. 

However, when heavy overnight rains washed out first session's play today, a draw was inevitable. Even then, India put Bangladesh in some nail-biting moments by getting the hosts all out for a mere 256, lasting only for just 65.5 overs, and enforcing the follow-on. We cannot blame Virat Kohli now for not preventing Team India slipping down to No.4 in the ICC Test rankings. R Ashwin took 5 wickets and Harbhajan Singh 3 in the Bangladesh first innings. Bangladesh would really feel disappointed at not being able to avoid the follow-on, particularly after all the spice and expectations about their spirited performance. Mominul Haque too could not get his 12th consecutive Test fifty to equal AB de Villiers' record. Anyway, Bangladesh still has a lot to show in the three ODIs, rains permitting, of course. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

India Against Terror: A Strong Prime Minister Makes The Difference!

It was just another attack on the Indian security forces in the terror ridden North Eastern region of the country. Only that it was one of the worst attacks in decades. On 4th of June, 2015 terrorists ambushed an army convoy in Manipur and butchered 18 soldiers and injured 11 more. The heinous terror attack seemed, as usual, to figure only in the book of records with some observations made about the folly of a supposedly vulnerable army movement on that fateful day. However, things took a dramatic turn this time.

Within five days of the terror attack the Indian Army embarked upon a surgical strike on the India-Myanmar border, reportedly going into the Myanmar territory, and hunted down and killed the perpetrators of the Manipur ambush. Equipped with accurate intelligence feeds the Army successfully launched a clinically precise and ruthless assault on the terrorists in an operation lasting only 40 minutes not having time even to count the number of terrorists gunned down. So far we have been used to hearing stories of the US Commandos, Marshall or Military or Navy Seals carrying out such strikes inside enemy territories and eliminating dreaded terrorists and their hideouts. Refreshingly this time this happens in our own country India and what an effective message it sends out to the enemies of humanity.

Normally a country with adorable levels of tolerance and goodwill, always waiting for others to respond positively to all such tragedies, suddenly transforms its ‘soft response’ into ‘hot pursuit’ and for the first time conducts a joint operation with a neighbouring country on a Mission Counter-Terrorism. How did it come about? Well, precisely because post May-2014 India have had a strong government installed at the centre with a strong Prime Minister whose sterling qualities and innovative approach have already established him a visionary cum leader.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had just returned from a visit to Bangladesh—a strategic neighbouring country whose cooperation in crucial areas can always be game changing. Immediately thereafter into the late night hours he okayed the ‘hot pursuit’ and allowed the Indian Army to strike back. Zero Tolerance against terrorism was announced with a lot of meaningfulness and effectiveness now. The earlier government too pursued a policy of zero tolerance against so many evils, but that was mere policy with the so-called ‘coalition politics’ dominating and making the government bite the dust so often. To be precise, India did not have a strong Prime Minister or a strong government that time.

Since taking over the helms on 26th May, 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been leading from the front with innovative schemes-projects and a fresh interactive approach taking even the common people into confidence. ‘Policy Paralysis’ of the earlier government is long past and gone. His people-oriented economic-financial-social schemes have been welcomed all over and are benefiting millions. He has been cheered as hero whatever foreign country he has visited in the past one year—from America-Europe to China-Japan-Mongolia-Myanmar-Bangladesh. His fan following all over the globe is getting bigger and bigger threatening that of the mega film stars. What is important, Narendra Modi has been doing the right things in the right places—understanding perfectly what is required to be done in what areas as far as a particular foreign nation is concerned. The Indian Prime Minister is ushering in a unique kind of diplomacy be it with President Obama or Sheikh Hasina. If the fringe elements of his political party and associated organizations finally see reason and understand the Indian realities the Narendra Modi government would be the best option for India in the years to come.

The Indian Army operation has been hailed all over the nation with even rival political parties unable to politicize the development. The Indian Government has made it loud and clear that this operation is intended to convey a message to all aggressors or terrorists and the countries supposedly assisting and abetting them. The era of ‘tolerance and softness’ is over and from now onwards any act of aggression or any terror attack or sponsored terror attack on Indian territory or on Indian civilians would not be tolerated and would be retaliated with dire consequences inside or outside India. Although the Government did not specifically point out the crucial neighbour for this message is indeed Pakistan—a nation ravaged by terror and forced to comply with terror. Pakistan must understand better now and must make an effort to put an end to its state of eternal denial. The final target is lasting peace only.
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