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Sunday, September 30, 2012

India Vs Pakistan: Super Sunday Super Eight Cricket T20!

Two nations and millions of fans the world over are waiting with bated breath for the titanic clash of the arch-rivals, India and Pakistan in a crucial Super Eight match of the ICC World Cup T20 2012 in Colombo today. Fans would love their favorite team win and the desperation to win for any of the two teams is conditioned by the two passionate nations. This passion is not conditioned though by whatever happens in the tournament later.
The desperation for India is even greater. On superior bowling strength and current performance Pakistan have the edge over India. Add to this the terrific Pak all-rounders like skipper Hafeez, Jamshed, Afridi and now even Umar Gul. India, on the other hand, are burdened with the last thrashing by Australia, the Sehwag riddle and team selection chores. Indian skipper Dhoni has been under fire by many cricket experts and cricket lovers for omitting Sehwag in the last two games and his gamble for three spinners. Anyway, the three spinner tactic is not going to work against Pakistan as they are expert players of spin. Some point out that Yuvraj Singh is not hundred percent fit and only emotional reason to have him in is not good enough. Either drop one spinner or drop Yuvraj and bring Sehwag in for this almost do or die match—seems to be the mood. Dhoni’s autocratic decisions are not helping his team much at the moment. If Sehwag is guilty of not playing well against Afghanistan, then several others are also guilty of the same crime.
The Indian fans are also caught up in this team selection confusion and they were agonized yesterday by media reports that Sehwag did not come in for net practice. Fielding the best possible team is a must, because India must win this game to stay alive in the tournament. If Australia win the first game today against South Africa the India-Pakistan match would be like a knockout—with a Pak win India will be out. There are several other permutations for the final standings in the tournament.  India’s lowest net run rate at the moment is also a cause of great concern.
In two largely one-sided low-scoring matches yesterday in Pallekele England defeated New Zealand by 6 wickets and Sri Lanka defeated West Indies by 9 wickets. Sri Lanka have almost their place in the semis and New Zealand nearly crashed out of the tournament. If Sri Lanka win their last encounter against England and New Zealand defeat West Indies Sri Lanka would be through and there will be a three-way tie with net run rate deciding.
Over to Colombo for the Big one at 7.30 this evening. Enjoy your Sunday! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cricket Twenty20 World Cup: Pakistan Makes A Match Of It, India Makes A Mess!

The two Umars—Umar Akmal and Umar Gul—rescued Pakistan out of absolute devastation and powered them to a pulsating victory by two wickets in low scoring thriller against South Africa in Colombo yesterday. In the second match India made a mess of everything and lost by nine wickets to Australia with 31 balls to spare. Both of these Super Eight matches of the ICC World Cup T20 2012 were studies in contrast.
Australia exploded the myth created by India that Colombo tracks had been becoming ideal for spinners offering lot of turn and spin. They have hardly made a difference between fast and slow bowlers hitting everyone mercilessly out of the ground. Such was the fury of the Australian openers Shane Watson (72 off 42 balls with 7 sixes, and 3 wickets) and David Warner (63 off 41) that the top Indian spinners Ashwin, Harbhajan and Chawla were not even allowed to settle down. India skipper Dhoni complained of a little rain that made the ball wet, but finally it comes to good and accurate bowling regardless of the type. Just check the length and accuracy of Harbhajan and Chawla against England the day before and against Australia yesterday. Maybe poor England batting also contributed to the myth.
Of course, inspired by the Colombo turnaround of tracks Pakistan opted for four spinners while South Africa, normally depending on pace, opted for two. But the sheer intensity of the T20 international between Pakistan and South Africa was because of inspired and accurate bowling by both seam and spin bowlers.
The first match of the day between Pakistan and South Africa was a genuine thriller with fortunes swinging from one end to the other. Winning the toss SA elected to bat, but never looked confident against the Pak bowlers—mostly spinners. They could not build a single lasting partnership and lumbered to 133/6 in allotted 20 overs. Pakistan while chasing the modest target of 134 were reduced to 76/7 in the 15th over and the game was almost lost for them. But Umar Akmal and Umar Gul then launched an incredible attack on SA bowlers hauling up the total in the last over with two wickets to spare. SA skipper AB De Villiers made several critical tactical mistakes like bringing himself down to the sixth position in the batting order due to unknown reasons and not bowling his successful slow bowlers—Dumini and Botha—the full quota of four overs each.
India too won the toss and elected to bat. They too could not build on a single lasting partnership and lumbered to a just competitive total of 140/6 in allotted 20 overs. They were reduced to 74/4 in the 12th over and reached 140 thanks to some lusty hits by Suresh Raina and Ashwin. But what India did in the Australian chase was the farthest from inspired or intense cricket. It exposed their inability in bowling one more time and had posed serious questions regarding the team’s further progress in the tournament. The Dhoni experiment in the match against England proved costly too. Big players like Virender Sehwag are needed on big occasions like this and his continuing omission stank of problems within the team. If Dhoni detested senior players as exhibited clearly in the away tours recently then why he opted for Zaheer Khan who had done precious little so far. He also broke the rhythm of Ashwin by resting him in the last match. Now Dhoni’s future prospects can be protected only by individual brilliance of the highest order in the two matches to come irrespective of whom he drops, rests or selects.
But it is not for nothing that this awesome Group-2 of foursome—India, Pakistan, Australia and South Africa—is called the group of death. All these teams are capable of surprising one another on a particular day and therefore no forecast is good enough about which two will proceed to the semis.
India meet Pakistan on 30th September at 7.30pm. And, an encounter between these two arch-rivals is never conditioned by how they have been faring in the tournament. It is a passion and the biggest one every time they meet.The Results and Schedule:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cricket T20 World Cup: Sri Lanka and West Indies Win Super Eight Matches!

The first Super Eight match of the ICC World Cup T20 2012 ended in a tie and for the first time in the tournament the super over eliminator came in to decide the outcome. Malinga for Sri Lanka did the trick finally in his super over and Sri Lanka won beating an unlucky New Zealand in Pallekele.

Winning the toss New Zealand elected to bat and made a solid start thanks to Nicol (58 off 40 balls) and Guptil (38). Brendon McCullum (25) kept the momentum on, but could not last long. Though well on the way for a total in excess of 190 the Kiwis finally fell short by about 20 runs, but 174 was still a challenging total and the match was on. Sri Lanka in reply raced to 119 in the 13th over with Dilshan (76 off 53 balls) coming into form in a magnificent way, but midway lost the plan with a bit too many run outs. Interestingly both teams were at level in the 17th over and like New Zealand could not capitalize on the last four overs Sri Lanka too could not force a win from a commanding position. They needed 21 runs off the last two overs, but just a single from the last ball. The winning run did not come, a run out came instead and there was a tie leading to the one-over eliminator. Tilakratne Dilshan was named player of the match. The Scorecard: 

Johnson Charles!
In the second Super Eight match of the day England proved again that they did not learn at all from the Indian thrashing. Besides, the stronger they asserted that they did not miss Kevin Pietersen at all the more apparent it became how dearly they missed him. West Indies won the toss and elected to bat first. Another Gaylestorm (58) breaking out and with a solid innings by J Charles (84) West Indies went off to a flyer posting the first hundred run in the 11th over. A few hiccups midway, as is usual with this team, a total of 179/5 was reached, again at least 20 runs short. England started disastrously and almost lost the match in the middle of their chase. A late charge by Eoin Morgan (71 not out off 46 balls) could not save them and they lost by 15 runs. What rankled most was that England lost only four wickets at that stage. Future prospects look ominous for England at the moment. J Charles was named the player of the match. The Scorecard:
Now for the big ones today: Pakistan Vs South Africa and India Vs Australia. Over to Colombo!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cricket T20 World Cup: Super Eight Big League Starts Today!

The Super Eight stage matches of the ICC World Cup T20 2012 in Sri Lanka start today with the big one coming between hosts Sri Lanka and spirited New Zealand in Pallekele. In the last match of the group league on 25th September buoyant Pakistan beat a fighting Bangladesh by 8 wickets. Bangladesh fought very hard trying to win by more than 36 runs which would have taken them into the Super Eight stage.
There is hardly much to choose between the two teams. While Sri Lanka would be looking for the home advantage with their specialized slow bowling that suffocates opposition on various occasions New Zealand is set to benefit too as they played their two matches here in Pallekele where they crushed Bangladesh and ran Pakistan to the wire in the second. Sri Lanka on their journey to the Super Eight bulldozed Zimbabwe in the first match of the tournament and then lost to South Africa in a ridiculous 7-over encounter.
The biggest plus for Sri Lanka would be the return of the magical spinner Ajantha Mendis who had the tournament best bowling figure of 6 wickets for 8 runs against Zimbabwe and was not fit for the South Africa match. If the out-of-form Dilshan delivers along with Mahela and Sangakkara in batting and if Malinga gets his ferocity back Sri Lanka looks formidable. With Brendon McCullum firing again if New Zealand can overpower their batting inconsistency they look formidable too. In fact, the Kiwis have won five out of the 9 T20 international encounters against Sri Lanka and won both matches played in Sri Lanka. In all, a tremendous prospect to look forward to today.

The second encounter tonight defending champions England will take on West Indies in Pallekele. While England would be smarting from their crushing defeat against India in the group league the West Indies team has not really been tested so far in the tournament. A surprise package this that could very well be a thriller or a hopelessly one-sided encounter. 
Mohammad Hafeez
AB De Villiers
And, tomorrow in Colombo there are two mouth-watering encounters coming up. The daytime match will be played between South Africa and Pakistan at 3.30pm Indian time.

Shane Watson
MS Dhoni
The day-and-night blockbuster will be between India and Australia at 7.30pm. All these four top teams have won all their group matches and are the toughest unbeaten rivals. While Pakistan must get on with their current super cricket show South Africa looks the most consistent with incisively intense bowling and power packed batting. Indian skipper Dhoni must set his priorities right and field the best team possible for the day. Australia who never made it good in T20 World Cup so far has everything to gain from their powerhouse cricket. Meanwhile India climbed up to the third position in Reliance ICC T20 rankings thanks to their thumping victory over England. South Africa in No.1 and Champions England slips a position to second spot.
When rivals of super class clash with each other it no longer matters what format of the game they are playing in. It is only cricket that triumphs all the way. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Humor: The Absent Minded Professor And The Adamant Elevator!

That was a very hectic day at work and he got really late. Finally he cleared the last file on the desk, picked up his briefcase and hurried towards the elevator or the lift as you may prefer to call it.
His office was on the fourth floor and naturally he was headed for the ground floor. He pressed the down button outside and the elevator came up promptly with the indicator showing down. His mind still going through the bits and pieces of the day yet he could not help but feel happy at the elevator’s perfect timing.
He pressed the number four button in the panel and then the door-close button. The number four button flickered red briefly and blanked out, but the doors closed immediately. The lift did not budge and the doors opened up a moment later. Dumfounded, he repeated the act with the same result.
A man came in and asked if it was going up, the professor replied authoritatively that it was in fact going down. The man looked desperate to go up just one floor and finding all floor buttons untouched he pressed fifth floor button. Annoying the professor a great deal the lift this time went up obediently. The man left quietly as his floor came.
The absent minded professor pressed the number four button, then the close-door button, and this time the elevator started going down. But it stopped again at the fourth floor. He thought somebody must have been waiting there. Finding nobody he promptly pressed the fourth floor button, then the close-door button. The button flickered red briefly and went blank, the doors closed. But the elevator did not budge and the doors opened up again.
Exasperated and his patience running thin now, he pressed the fourth floor button again with the same chain reactions. He finally decided he would do it one last time and if the same thing happened he would call it day. He was also getting worried a little, because he thought the lift might not be working properly and he might get trapped midway.
He pressed the fourth floor button again and then the close-door button. The fourth floor button flickered red briefly and went blank, but the doors closed promptly. The lift still did not budge. He cursed the unpredictable elevator loudly and ran down the four flights of stairs to the ground floor safely.
                               (BTW, this is a firsthand report of a true experience. LOL, you are permitted anyway!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Politics: Dial M for Music of the M3 Kind!

Article first published as The M3 Riddle Of Indian Politics on Technorati.

This one is the farthest removed from the musical Mp3s! Yet, there is a striking similarity between the two if you want to behold at all. Concentrating on the ‘music’ commonality the whole nation and the people of India have been facing the music thanks to M3.

While many of the states of India, the economists, the industrialists, the farmers, the sensible leaders within insane groups, the opposition parties that can sense a good thing and the ‘uncommon’ people within the ‘common people’ syndrome have all hailed the new steps of the Government of India as very necessary for a stagnating economy and to avoid a crisis in the long term, the M3 and its like-minded followers had been splitting the hapless ears of the unwilling listeners with its draconian music.

M3 is consisted of naturally three basic political ingredients...

                                                                                              Read the Full Article... 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cricket World Cup T20: Harbhajan Shines As India Crush England!

Harbhajan Singh The Player of the Match
It was India’s biggest win in terms of margin of runs in any T20 history. It was England’s lowest total ever in T20 history. It could be the T20 international of the century in terms of the most dramatic turnaround with spinners dominating absolutely. It gave Harbhajan Singh a most memorable comeback to Team India. The off spinner had an incredible figure of 4 wickets for just 12 runs with 17 dot balls in 4 overs. With his partner spinner, another comeback guy, Piyush Chawla the duo captured 6 England wickets for 25 runs. Thanks to them England crashed from 39/2 to 60/9, looking at achieving the ignominy of being the team scoring less than the lowest ever total of 67 by Kenya in T20 history.  The last England pair saved that humiliation at least by taking the score to 80.
India crushed England by 90 runs in their last group encounter in Colombo on 23rd September, 2012.  Indian skipper Dhoni seemed to have done everything right on this day. He ‘rested’ his supposed best players—Zaheer, Sehwag and Ashwin, and inducted two spinners in Harbhajan and Chawla with 6 batsmen to 5 specialized bowlers formula. He asked Irfan Pathan to open with Gautam Gambhir and promoted Rohit Sharma ahead of Yuvraj and Raina. Irfan could not deliver with the bat, but all other decisions vindicated Dhoni.
England won the toss and skipper Stuart Broad, perhaps taking the cue from the Indian Test cricket disaster in his country in 2011, put India in to unsettle them with short and bouncing stuff. Broad also opted for three fast bowlers and just one spinner. Maybe he failed to read the slower than anticipated pitch better than Dhoni.
Gambhir romped back into form with a well made 45 and Virat Kohli put in another classic act of 40 runs playing exquisite shots all around the park. The duo gave the team a momentum to build a total in excess of 180. But things slowed down midway with English spinner Graeme Swann bowling a tight spell. Rohit Sharma and Dhoni finally plundered 51 runs from the last four overs to take India to a sound 170/4.
Have India scored a good enough total? The debate was just picking up all around when Irfan Pathan struck in the last ball of his very first over bowling out English opener Hales for a duck. He struck again in the fourth ball of his second over getting the other opener Wright leg before. With two expensive overs by Balaji and Dinda in between the spinner duo of Harbhajan and Chawla came in when the Powerplay was still on, and England wickets started tumbling in heaps as if under a spell. The most fantastic spin bowling in a T20 International was witnessed thus as the balls started to turn appreciably. It was all over with more than five overs to spare. The Scorecard:
The encounter was technically inconsequential as both teams had already qualified for the Super Eight stage. This gave Dhoni a scope to experiment and get his best team ready to fire on the next stage. With Irfan Pathan not quite doing well as an opener Virender Sehwag, a match winner on his day, is most likely to come back, but Dhoni is set to have a most difficult time choosing from Harbhajan, Chawla and Ashwin even if he sticks to two spinners. And then the pacers, all of whom except Pathan were largely ineffectual. The choice of one or two pacers to partner Pathan would need a lot of thinking. As India have topped the group they stay in Colombo for the Super Eight games and the conditions experienced in this game are likely to favor the team.
Earlier, in a cracker of a match Pakistan defeated a fighting New Zealand by 13 runs in Pallekele thanks to a splendid all-round performance by Mohammad Hafeez and a superlative knock of 56 runs by Nasir Jamshed. The cricket lovers had their money’s worth as New Zealand fought to their last breath. Both of these teams have qualified for the Super Eight too.
 Not much action till the Super Eight starts from September 27. The big one for Indian cricket lovers is coming on 28th September in Colombo at 7.30pm when India meet Australia. The Schedule:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cricket World Cup T20: Gaylestorm...And Rains Spoil First Two Big Matches!

The first two big matches of the ICC World Cup Twenty20 2012 were scheduled on September 22--Sri Lanka Vs South Africa and Australia Vs West Indies. Spectators were indeed regaled by some splendid batting performances including that of Chris Gayle who is back in the West Indies team (54 runs off only 33 balls with 5 fours and 4 sixes), De Villiers for South Africa (30 runs off 13 balls) and Shane Watson for Australia (41 off 24).

The first match between Sri Lanka and South Africa in Hambantota started after a delay of more than two hours due to heavy rains and so it got reduced to a ridiculous 7 overs each. Sri Lanka made it worse for themselves by opting to field first after winning the toss, maybe influenced by the overcast conditions. Thanks to De Villiers South Africa posted a daunting 78 runs for 4 in 7 overs. The Sri Lanka reply was a disaster as their batsmen had no answer to the pace and accuracy of South Africa bowlers. South Africa won by a huge margin of 32 runs. Malinga was the most expensive bowler for SL, a cause for worry indeed. 

The second big match of the day between Australia and West Indies in Colombo started on time with West Indies winning the toss and deciding to bat first. Immediately there ensued a Gaylestorm and riding on that superlative innings West Indies made a healthy looking 191/8 in 20 overs. Australia started in a fitting manner and blazed away to 100 runs in just 9.1 overs for the loss of only one wicket when rains stopped play. After an agonizing wait the DL method came into force and Australia was declared winners by 17 runs. Shane Watson was the player of the match. 

In the earlier matches South Africa defeated Zimbabwe by 10 wickets on September 20. In the two matches played on September 21 New Zealand thumped giant-killer Bangladesh by 59 runs with Brendon McCullum making a scintillating 123 runs--the highest ever in any T20 history off only 72 balls, and in the second match England sent Afghanistan home in great style winning by a mammoth 116 runs.  

Two big matches are again scheduled for Super Sunday today. Pakistan meets New Zealand in the first match which promises to be a eye catcher with McCullum peaking at the right time. And then the biggest one for India, England Vs India at 7.30pm Indian time. Team India must gear up for this encounter in all departments of the game.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lord Ganesha Arrives In The City!

Happy Lord Ganesha Festival wishes to all of you! The beloved God of wisdom and prosperity who protects everyone from obstacles and mishaps has arrived yesterday in Mumbai. Huge endless queues line up the biggest public worship places while millions do the rituals, the offerings and chanting of devotional songs in their homes. At home for the desired duration of days He is like the Head of family and is respectfully installed, bathed ritualistically, dressed and offered all the daily meals—an integral part of worship. No wonder He is so fondly called Ganapati or Gananayaka (leader or protector of people).

This year Ganapati Festival on the occasion of Lord Ganesha's Birthday is being celebrated from September 19 in Mumbai and Maharashtra. This 10-day festival begins on the fourth day of the new moon lunar cycle. Worshiped both publicly and at homes across the state this festival is celebrated from one and half day to the full ten days. On the 11th day idols are immersed in a big way. Depending on the days of worship major immersions take place on the second, fifth and the 11th day. To check pollution in the seas the municipal corporation of Mumbai has kept ready many artificial ponds. Many idols are being conceptualized on the running themes of corruption, drought, organ donation and many others. 

Ganesha Festival has a special significance for Maharashtra because in 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed the annual domestic festival into a large, well-organized public event. Tilak recognized the wide appeal of the deity Ganesha as "the god for everybody", and popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order "to bridge the gap between Brahmins and 'non-Brahmins' and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them", and generate nationalistic fervor among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesh in pavilions, and also established the practice of submerging in rivers, seas, or other pools of water all public images of the deity on the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturthi.

Cricket World Cup T20: India Just Manage To Beat Spirited Afghanistan!

Yuvraj Singh Takes Crucial Wickets!
India struggled to beat Afghanistan in their first match of the ICC World Cup Twenty20 in Sri Lanka yesterday in Colombo. When finally they won by 23 runs it was not at all worthy of the current one-day Champions. 

India huffed and puffed to 159 for the loss of five wickets in allotted 20 overs with the openers Gambhir and Sehwag failing again. The pitch could be a valid reason, because the Australia-Ireland match was played in the same track a little earlier. Just to exploit the wear and tear of the pitch Afghanistan must have decided to send India in after winning the toss. But equally important was the sheer pace of Afghan pacer Shapoor Jadran who accounted for the both the openers and the energy of a spirited Afghan team. The openers departed for just 22 runs on the board in the 5th over. Yuvraj Singh in his second major comeback match made 18 off 20 balls with one six. They could have reduced India to 79 for 5 if the catches were taken and fewer extras conceded. There was just a solitary half century by the ever dependable Virat Kohli in the Indian innings. Raina made a neat 38 and Dhoni added a quick-fire 18 off 9 balls to set a somewhat respectable target of 160 to win for Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan started in a whirlwind fashion notching up 27 runs in the fourth over when Balaji struck for India. But the momentum was never lost though wickets started to fall at regular intervals and in the form of a gallant Mohammad Nabi (31) Afghanistan kept fighting to the end. Slow and spin bowling had the better of the Afghans as Yuvraj Singh exhibited his all-round abilities by capturing three wickets at a crucial juncture. The comeback medium pacer Balaji too came up with three wickets and R Ashwin got two scalps. Finally India just managed to win by 23 runs and the underdogs Afghanistan proved its point very emphatically to the cricketing world. The Scorecard:
Indian captain Dhoni would still be a worried man on his team’s batting and bowling against a qualifying team. India has almost ensured a place in the Super8, but they must set things right in the match against England on September 23 to get ready for the final stage. Man of the match Virat Kohli cannot be expected to come to the team’s rescue every time. Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan continue to be big worries too. 

The results in ICC World Cup Twenty20 cricket tournament so far: * On the first day that is September 18 hosts Sri Lanka crushed Zimbabwe by 92 runs riding on the incredible performance of spinner Ajantah Mendis who created T20 history by capturing 6 wickets for 8 runs in 4 overs. Scores: SL 182/4 and Zimbabwe 100 all out in 17.3 overs. * On September 19 Australia registered an easy win on qualifying Ireland by 7 wickets. Scores: Ireland 23/7 & Australia 125/3 in 15.1 overs.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cricket World Cup T20: All Out War In Warm-Up Match As Pakistan Thump India!

Match winning 92 by Kamran Akmal
As anticipated an all out war broke out at the warm-up T20 cricket match between India and Pakistan in Colombo today in the run-up to the ICC World Cup T20 tournament starting tomorrow. In line with the epic cricket wars between the archrivals even this insignificant practice match whipped up passion and tension in cricket lovers. Amidst ups and downs finally Pakistan emerged triumphant beating India by five wickets with nearly an over to spare. 

India elected to bat winning the toss and lost Gambhir early. Sehwag too could not get going after a good start and it was the ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year Virat Kohli again who took command. With Rohit Sharma Virat crafted a partnership of 127 runs to take the total score to 185/3 and set a challenging target of 186 runs for Pakistan. Virat remained unbeaten on 75 off only 47 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes. As in the practice match against Sri Lanka that India won comfortably Rohit came good here too scoring 56 runs off 40 balls with 6 fours and 2 sixes. Except for Saeed Ajmal Pakistan bowlers failed to rein in the Indian batsmen.
Pakistan started well, but the same old story of unpredictability almost repeated itself with the team reduced to 91/5 in the 12th over thanks only to terrific bowling by R Ashwin who finished with an incredible figure of 4 wickets for 23 runs in 4 overs. At that stage Pakistan needed 86 runs in 51 balls and India had the best chance to force a win. But keeper Kamran Akmal had better ideas as he tore the Indian bowlers apart and raced to an unbeaten 92 superlative runs off only 50 balls with 5 fours and 6 huge sixes. With an equally belligerent former Pak captain Shoaib Malik (quick fire 37 off 18) Akmal led his team to victory not losing any more wicket with 5 balls to spare. The Scorecard:
As the ICC World Cup T20 starts tomorrow India has cause to worry about failing to contain Pakistan with five frontline bowlers including the comeback man Harbhajan Singh. Irfan Pathan who seemed to have continued his terrific form in the last practice match against Sri Lanka failed miserably today. Another worry being India’s over-dependence on Virat Kohli his super batting form notwithstanding. For the pluses Rohit Sharma seems to have found form at last and that the sub-continental conditions would favor India.
India, Sri Lanka and South Africa are the hot favorites for the title, but in this shortest format of the game any weak team is immensely capable of surprising the biggies. Besides, Pakistan as ever with its glorious unpredictability, West Indies with Chris Gayle back, defending champions England though without Kevin Pietersen, sharp as ever cricket by New Zealand and yet to be beaten by India in T20 history, and even supposed minnows Bangladesh—all have their chances to win the title. Australia who could never make it good in T20 and lost the practice match to England is the darkest of all horses!
Tomorrow hosts Sri Lanka play Zimbabwe in the inaugural match. India play their first match against largely unknown Afghanistan on the 19th. A combination of league and round robin the tournament is little complicated. Two top teams from four groups go to the Super 8s. The Super 8s stage consists of the top two teams from each group of the group stage. Even at this level the teams are split into two groups, Groups E and F. Group E will consist of the top seed from Groups A and C, and the second seed of groups B and D. Group F will consist of the top seed from Groups B and D, and the second seed of groups A and C. Thanks to the rules number of matches gets reduced and the chances of archrivals like India and Pakistan meeting each other at this stage is uncertain.
With nations and national pride involved the shortest format of cricket, normally used for commercial purposes, the ICC World Cup T20 2012 in Sri Lanka is eagerly awaited and is expected to be keenly fought.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Indian Retail Opened Up For FDI: The Day After Diesel Price Hike!

The economist in Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, has finally decided to take control of the country’s economy and growth, and end the nearly one-year-long policy plus reforms paralysis politically enforced by the opportunist opposition parties as well as the allies of the ruling coalition. Undaunted by the countywide rallies and protests against the diesel price hike on September 13, 2012 Dr. Singh captained his government along to push through the reforms further the very next day. Goodness for the country’s economy and future growth prospects in a global perspective must be kept beyond politics and political fortunes of the government; he seemed to have decided upon.
In a landmark decision on the evening of September 14, 2012 the Government of India approved the much opposed 51% FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in the over $500 billion Indian multi-brand retail market and 49% FDI in the misery-ridden Indian aviation sector. The FDI cap for the Broadcasting sector has also been raised from the current 49% to 74%. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has justified this decision and the diesel price hike as much needed reforms to rescue the country’s economy from stagnating growth and the fears of being termed junk by the international credit rating agencies. But still the reforms were not imposed on all states leaving the governments free to allow FDI or not in their respective states.
The markets immediately responded to the diesel price hike buoyantly. The industrialists, business experts and the economists hailed both of the courageous steps as the much awaited policy reforms to sail the economy out of the present crisis. Many of the experts dismissed common perceptions that marginal and small retailers will go out of business, global giants will make profits at the expense of indigenous entrepreneurs and farmers will be adversely affected as completely unfounded. They pointed out that in various advanced countries where the multi-brand giants opened shops the small retailers continued to exist, that in a global economy no country could afford to go back to self-reliant policies and that the farmers in fact stand to benefit getting better prices for their crops in the absence of the middlemen.
But unfortunately the opposition political parties and allies do not want anything good happen to the country at the moment, because at the moment they only want to capitalize on the crisis-ridden government and want to come to power forcing early elections. They are not ready even to debate the possibilities as was corroborated by their tactics to stall the entire monsoon session of the Indian Parliament. They are sure of victory, because they represent the middlemen and moneylenders who exploit and loot the farmers often driving them to suicides; because they represent all the unscrupulous traders who adulterate our food serving poison on our plates; because they represent all the apathetic and comfort loving middle classes who spend thousands at restaurants and bars but grimacing at the 20 bucks to be paid as taxes and who swoop down on the cinema multiplexes or most expensive shopping complexes spending dirty sums and yet bargaining with the local vegetable vendors for a buck and because they represent all the gullible masses, their largest vote banks and divided on caste or religion or language or whatever lines, who know little politics and much less economics. 
Of course, one cannot be damn sure about all possible benefits or losses of reforms at the moment and therefore befitting a perfect democracy the people can elect their beloved leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mamata Bannerji and a whole lot of aspiring others into power. Their beloved leaders will never let them down, because they will oblige by never raising the fuel prices again or will try even reducing; because they will oblige by never allowing foreign investors enter the country; because they will oblige all their vested interest groups and protect them viciously. If finally, the worst economic crisis of the millennium engulfs the country and threatens the very existence of the masses they will simply pass on the blame to their predecessors and lead the masses again on protests.
At the moment if a political leader says that going back to the good old days of the barter system would be beneficial for all the democratic people would hardly get the difference!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cricket: Mahendra Singh Dhoni Named Captain Of ICC ODI Team Of The Year!

Laurels for Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. For the fifth consecutive year Dhoni has been selected in International Cricket Council (ICC)’S ‘ODI (One Day International) Team of the Year’ and this time he has been named the captain too. Not only this, Team India got its three players along with Dhoni selected—the highest for any team. Australia (Michael Clarke and Shane Watson), Pakistan (Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal) , England (Alastair Cook and Steven Finn) and Sri Lanka (Kumar Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga) have two players each and South Africa has one (Morne Morkel). The other two Indian players are Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir.

The ICC Chief Executive David Richardson announced the 'Squad' at a special function ahead of the LG ICC Awards being held tomorrow in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The LG  ICC Awards honor the best performing international players and officials of the last 12 months. A specially appointed five-member expert panel headed by West Indies cricket’s living legend Clive Lloyd selected the twelve-member team. The other members of the panel were former Sri Lankan captain Marvan Atapattu, former West Indies skipper Carl Hooper, Australian all-rounder Tom Moody and former England women's team captain Clare O'Connor.

This is indeed a good moment for the Indian team that already arrived in Sri Lanka for the ICC World Cup Twenty20. Dhoni has already expressed his hopes for repeating the World Cup-2011 achievement here too and if they do so India will have the unique distinction of being World Cup-2011 Champions, the under-19 World Cup-2012 Champions and World Cup T20-2012 Champions! Get cracking, Team India! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Diesel Price Hike And The Curious Story Of The 7th Gas Cylinder!

How many cooking gas cylinders do you use a year or how many days one cylinder lasts for you! The frenetic calculations must be raging at the moment in households or in the minds of housewives across the length and breadth of India! The curious spectacle of the 7th cylinder must be getting embedded in various brains. But the first story first.
After months of introspection, retrospection and brainstorming the Government of India today took the courageous decision of hiking diesel prices by 12% or 5 rupees per litre. This is very courageous basically on two grounds; first, diesel has been the basic fuel of India used in various activities meant largely for the poor and the farmers and second, with the political opposition hounding for controlling inflation and the pressure of big and bigger scams building all the time the ruling coalition government was in a tight corner.
The fiscal deficit of the government that has been growing due to the heavily subsidized diesel, cooking gas and kerosene almost threatened a credit rating downgrade. Increasing crude oil prices in the international market and continuous fall in the Indian Rupee value against the US dollar the oil imports bill was growing with the oil companies making huge losses on a daily basis. The business experts across India hail this decision as a positive step forward to further reforms and a boost to the markets, and they appeal to the government not to resort to rollback. But the opposition political parties and the allies are already threatening a countrywide agitation and demand an immediate rollback. Well, the politics of economics or business is an old story in India. But now to the curious story.
The government found the decision to hike cooking gas, petrol and kerosene prices too politically risky at the moment and therefore decided to leave them untouched. But with a condition. There will a cap of six gas cylinders per year per household at the subsidized prices and if any family has to go for the 7th cylinder its market price which is nearly double will have to be paid. Since the year considered is the April-March financial year all households can have only three more cylinders till March, 2013. Any exception for the poor families has not been specified so far.
So then, single, married, nuclear family, joint family, large families…beware! Keep guard over your kitchen and on what you eat! Happy calculations!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

India Vs New Zealand Cricket T20: Kiwis Win A Thriller By One Run, Yuvraj Singh Wins Hearts By Millions!

Brendon McCullum Blazing Away!
New Zealand in the death moments prevailed over India in a nail-biting thriller and won the second and last Twenty20 international cricket match by just 1 run in Chennai today thus winning the T20 Cricket Series 1-0. The first match in Visakhapatnam was washed out due to heavy rains. And, for all the eager fans—Yuvraj Singh played cricket again. He fielded, bowled and batted. His cancer was a thing of the past now—fought, conquered and forgotten.

Finally in Chennai the rain gods had mercy and play began dot on time. Indian skipper Dhoni won the toss and perhaps to use the conditions and some little grass on the pitch invited New Zealand to bat first. As anticipated by Dhoni the Kiwis started badly losing the openers for just two runs on the board. Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan shared the two wickets. Star Kiwi keeper-batsman Brendon McCullum took charge and made a hurricane 91 off just 55 balls. Kane Williamson (28) gave him able company and the pair added 90 runs for the third wicket.  Skipper Ross Taylor played a cameo of 25 and New Zealand managed to reach a somewhat healthy score of 167/5 in allotted 20 overs. Pathan took 3 wickets for 31 runs in 4 overs. For India the target of 168 was neither here nor there meaning it could be easy meat or could get very risky.
As Virender Sehwag was declared unfit Virat Kohli opened the Indian chase with Gautam Gambhir. Kohli was in an aggressive mood from the word go and despite losing Gambhir early he kept the momentum going. Suresh Raina (27 off 22) joined him and took the score from 26/1 to 86/2. 
Yuvraj Singh Winning Hearts!
And then walked in Yuvraj Singh in his customary No.4 position and provided the most sought after sight for his fans and cricket lover all over. Settling in he made his first boundary, a tricky shot past the slips, off Milne and two balls later he was dropped of the same bowler. Next over by Vettori and Yuvraj was back in his original glory using his crease and lofting the ball tossed up outside his off stump to over long on boundary—a Yuvi six that always makes his fans go wild with joy. A mini crisis next over as Kohli fell to Franklin after making 70 off just 41 balls, but at 120/3 in the fourteenth over it looked immensely attainable for India needing just 48 runs in  40 balls with 7 wickets remaining.
Skipper Dhoni joined Yuvraj and smart slow-pace bowling by the Kiwis made run-scoring difficult for India. New Zealand roared back into the match when India needed 32 runs from the last three overs. Then stiff 25 runs from 2 overs when Yuvraj hit his second six to make things a little easier. Finally 13 runs to win in the last over. First ball—Yuvraj takes a single; second ball Dhoni hits a four and third ball a wide that makes it 7 to win from 4. Dhoni takes a single off the third making it 6 from 3. The biggest blow in the fourth ball as Yuvraj (34 off 26) gets bowled by Franklin to make it 6 from 2. In comes the hopelessly out of form batsman Rohit Sharma ahead of hitters like Pathan and Tiwary and still manages to take a couple to make it the classic situation of requiring a four to win in the last ball. But Rohit fails to clear the boundary and again manages only 2 and New Zealand wins a thriller by 1 run, winning the T20I Series 1-0. Brendon McCullum was both the man of the match and of the Series. And, in T20 Internationals New Zealand makes it 4 out of 4 wins against India. Harbhajan Singh making a comeback after more than a year was not selected with Ashwin getting the nod and Balaji coming back after 3 years made his debut in T20 Internationals. Of course, Balaji has been a veteran in IPL T20 cricket.
It proved to be a glorious cricket match. New Zealand the most deserving winners. Yuvraj Singh making a comeback and winning hands down. For India perhaps Dhoni (22 runs off 23 balls) was a bit slow and he seemed to depend too much on taking quick singles which was a wrong tactic considering the obviously slow reflexes of Yuvraj coming back to cricket after nearly a year. Dhoni acknowledged that India should have won the match after Kohli and Yuvraj, but in the same breath also blamed the pitch as going slower in the second half. The Scorecard:
Anyway, much more to come with the warm up matches of the ICC World Cup T20 in Sri Lanka starting from 13th September. The scheduled warm-up encounter between India and Pakistan on 17th September has already got the attention of the cricket lovers and the advertisers. More cricket and more of Yuvraj Singh coming your way! Cheers! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Jal Satyagraha Ends? Khandwa Farmers Claim Partial Victory!

The watery ordeal of the Khandwa farmers was supposed to have finally ended on the 17th day today after the government of Madhya Pradesh agreed to their basic demands. The state Chief Minister assured the traumatized farmers that the water level of the Omkareshwar Dam will be lowered from 196 to 189 meters and the affected farmers would be given ‘land for land’ compensation.
Media attention, though belated, finally brought the issue into national or even international focus and the authorities were forced to bow down to the demands.
But the farmers who stood in neck deep water for 17 days claimed only a partial victory as they felt that delaying tactics would be applied considering their present weary condition and therefore as per some reports they refused to come out of the water. They said that with the increased water level of the dam to 196 meters the expanding reservoirs had already submerged many low lying areas, and they actually wanted to see if water receded after the government assurance. They would come out only if the water where they continued to stand actually receded. 
For the moment let us welcome at least the partial victory that the farmers have managed out of the floundering system of the largest democracy of the world. And thank God there are no casualties except for some extremely sore, shriveled and bruised feet of the suffering agitators. The price for a ‘partial’ democratic victory? Meantime another watery movement is going on still in the adjacent Indira Sagar dam where the agitating farmers demand the level of the dam be reduced from 262 to 260 meters.
Farmers toil hard to feed the whole nation. Their interests must be protected.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Farmers Agitate Immersed In Neck Deep Water! Jal Satyagraha In Khandwa!

Fifty one farmers including old women had been staying immersed in neck deep water for the last fifteen days. Crabs and fishes were biting them and the limbs of many of them, particularly the old ladies, were deteriorating fast. They could not call it a day because they wanted their demands met first. The farmers had been protesting against what they considered wrong moves by the government. They say it is Jal Satyagraha (Water Movement for truth)-their final struggle even if it means death.

Even the media did not pay them attention for ten days, busy as usual covering the insane politicking going on all around. The state government finally thought of examining their demands and meeting them only on the 13th day. A group of observers from the Central Government is likely to visit the agitating farmers today.

The agitating farmers were from the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh, a central state of India. They cultivated in the low-lying areas surrounding the Omkareshwar dam over the river Narmada. Since the river was flowing above the danger mark the government of Madhya Pradesh decided to open all the gates of the dam and to increase the height of the dam. The farmers protested that their low lying lands and villages would be submerged by the decision and that the decision had to be taken after first extending compensation and rehabilitation facilities to them. They claimed that a huge chunk of land had already been submerged and demanded the height of the dam to be reduced from 196 to 189 meters. Activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmada Movement) that had been going on for decades joined in the protest. A ruling by the Supreme Court of India that says villagers must be rehabilitated at least six months before such moves are implemented was also quoted. 

Desperate needs mostly require desperate measures. With the state government not listening the farmers had no other option but to undertake a movement in a drastic and eye catching manner. Therefore, they decided to immerse themselves continuously in neck deep water to attract attention and ultimately to safeguard their subsistence cultivation to survive. Unfortunately even the desperate measures took a desperately long enough time to get noticed.

Such a scenario is only befitting the current degeneration that threatens to set in over the country’s political, social and economic existence. Political parties or leaders are busy exchanging charges or allegations or blackmail between themselves with nobody interested in a solution; the Indian Parliament, the supreme constitutional body of a democracy, gets stalled continuously leading to a washout of a full session; the pretentious fight against corruption only adding to the chaos and the poor masses who understands no economics and less politics getting ignored totally.

A mass watery grave is good enough to waken India’s leaders? Who knows!
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