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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Devastated Uttarakhand-A Saga of Endless Suffering And Indomitable Courage



It’s now nearly a fortnight since the flash floods devastated the north Indian state of Uttarakhand leaving a trail of endless sufferings and indomitable courage. Torrential rains and cloudbursts led to the flash floods the fury of which was beyond our human imagination. The floods swept away or swallowed up anything that came its way—pilgrims and tourists; cottages, houses and buildings; guest houses and hotels; huge chunks of land mass and roads; hills and hilly tracks and the temples and even the sacred idols in this holy state of the Char Dham Yatra pilgrimage. After the rescue of more than 100000 pilgrims thousands are still trapped and missing. While the official death toll has been pegged at around 1000 sources say it could be beyond 10000 when you account for the fact that thousands of missing persons have not returned still. Mother Nature punished her greedy children one more time in such a telling manner that the governments and the people of our planet earth better stop and ponder before embarking on the next folly.

Thousands got trapped and stranded in various tricky and inaccessible nooks and corners of this hilly state—a natural paradise ever increasingly compromised by human greed in the forms of lobbies and coteries involving an unholy nexus of politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, builders and brokers. Questions of Eco-zone sensitivity and ecology guidelines always get relegated against such overpowering greed.
It’s no secret that millions of sinners in this great country throng temples, holy places and sacred waterways in a desperate bid to wash away their sins and you can see their desperation when you get pushed, sidestepped and manhandled while standing in any queue for any temple or holy places. It looks like the incorrigible sinners try to absolve their sins so that they can go back to commit more sins in their daily life and come back again creating a vicious circle of vice and virtue. This desperation translates into the 'business' desperation to cash on. We like it or not, the Uttarakhand devastation is another classic example of man’s folly and Nature’s wrath.

While the inimitable Indian politicians of all hues and colors hankered for garnering credit—the most sought after commodity in any form of Indian activity—for providing relief and rescue for the stranded pilgrims the trapped ones continued to suffer indescribable misery of starvation and death, and the soldiers of the armed forces launched the biggest rescue mission in Indian history braving the furious weather and risking their own lives. The unsung heroes of Uttarakhand have made thousands of helicopter sorties rescuing more than hundred thousand stranded so far and they have displayed full skill, bravery and courage while getting them to the helicopters through makeshift bridges over rifts, rope-ways from inaccessible hilltop roads and plain mountain climbing. Few days back the armed forces—prominently the Ind-Tibetan Border Police, the Army, the Air Force—rescued 4500 people with 330 helicopter sorties in a day making this the biggest chopper rescue mission of the world so far.

Can you imagine in this modern age of communication people have died in thousands failing to find roads to travel, for the lack of shelter in adverse weather conditions and not finding enough water or food. In this saga you hear tales of good Samaritans coming to their help providing free food and water, and also of cheats and thugs robbing and overcharging the hapless masses.


The brave soldiers fighting the immense human tragedy have had their share of tragedy too. Twenty excellent pilots of the Indian Air Force engaged continuously in the rescue mission got killed tragically when the helicopter carrying them to transit camp crashed in Uttarakhand. India cried for these martyrs belonging to almost every state of the country with three of them from Maharashtra and Mumbai. We salute the Heroes.

With the rescue operations scheduled to end in a day or two the authorities are trying hard to prevent the possible outbreak of epidemic as it has been a mammoth task to cremate all the bodies of the victims. Unfortunately, the blame game continues too, with the met office insisting it had issued rare kind of weather warnings for stopping and evacuating the pilgrims, and the state authorities denying it stoutly.

Granted we are always at the mercy of Mother Nature and we are helpless against the kind of immense calamities that can confront us anytime. But we can definitely correct ourselves to help our Mother in a more meaningful way and possibly prevent more Uttarakhands from unfolding in near future.

Monday, June 24, 2013

India Do A T20 To Lift The ICC Champions Trophy-2013!



It was a miracle of a match. Rains being a spoilsport in the most important encounter of the tournament the final between India and England in Edgbaston finally became a T20 match with one-day rules. England in the morning won the toss and looking at the weather decided naturally to field first. Then the rains, rains and rains. The crowds never gave up hope though. Some genuine cricket lovers of genuine cricket cursed the ICC for not keeping a reserve day for the all-important final involving the hosts England and the best undefeated team of the tournament India.

India started batting with the opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma making a relatively good start, though repeated rain interruptions did not help them much. England had them on the mat at 65/5 in the 14th over. But thanks to the most incredible all-rounder for India in this tournament Ravindra Jadeja with Virat Kohli took his team to a fighting 129/7 in the allotted twenty overs. While not even the most optimistic really thought India would win India had England on the mat at 46/4 in the 9th over Bopara and Morgan almost ensured an England win. Then the miracle of miracles.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni brought on his most expensive bowler of the chasse Ishant Sharma in the 18th over saving his most precious spinners Jadeja and Ashwin for the last two overs when most cricket expert said the match would almost be over by then as England needed just 30 runs off three overs with six wickets remaining. Ishant was hit for a six...to make matters worse he bowled two wides next…and then…he took two wickets in two balls. England batsmen got into a maze giving India an extremely avoidable run out. With the unplayable spinners in operation England had a hard task hauling up the required 19 runs off the last two overs. Finally India won the match by a miraculous five-run margin and became the deserving winner of the ICC Champions Trophy-2013 played in England and Wales.

What a way to compensate for the domestic unrest regarding the IPL Spot or Match fixing scandal. That there was not even a single firecracker burst in Mumbai said volumes about people’s loss of faith in the game. But mind you, even the deftest and experienced bookies, betters, punters, brokers and fixers just could not have had a clue to this match of unpredictable twists and turns. More seriously, the tale of utter devastation and sufferings and loss of lives in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand following torrential rains and cloud bursts could be one crucial reason for the apathetic response to a most memorable Indian win.

That India now has the ICC Champions Trophy too in its bag is still some good reason to celebrate a little. At least some good to get over the ugly to some extent. In our opinion poll eighty percent voted for an Indian win. We thank all of you for participating.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Champions Trophy: England Vs South Africa! India Vs Sri Lanka!


On Monday the full semifinal line-up has finally been completed for the ICC Champions Trophy- 2013 currently on in England and Wales. On Sunday in a crucial Group A encounter England faced with elimination if defeated managed to beat New Zealand by 10 runs in a rain-curtailed match reduced to just 24 overs each side and booked a berth in the semis—the first team in that group to do so amassing 4 points. New Zealand with 3 points missed the bus thanks to their wickets falling in heaps, but stuck on to their hopes that Australia beat Sri Lanka and stay below NZ's much better net run-rate.

Mercifully there was no rain threat on Monday yesterday. Australia put Sri Lanka in winning the toss to be perhaps on a better position to track the required run-rate for a semis berth. For Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jaywardene played a superb innings of 84 runs batting tactically lower down the order and brought his team into real contention. Set a competitive target of 254 runs to win Australia pushed hard aiming to haul it up within 30 overs ensuring victory as well as place in the last four. But they lost too many wickets in the effort and when they were out of contention for semis past 30 overs the real agony began for Sri Lanka.

At 168/8 a win for Sri Lanka seemed a mere formality. However the last two Aussie pairs—AC Voges (49) and CJ McKay (30) for 24 runs for the ninth wicket and then McKay and XJ Doherty (15 not out) for the last wicket partnership of 41 runs—had better ideas and fought real hard for a honorable victory not bothering how improbable or impossible that looked. The hapless Sri Lankan bowlers tried every trick under the sun, but to no avail. The last dogged pair brought their team within 21 runs of an incredible win. The Aussies were in no hurry as there was a huge number of balls left. The vocal Sri Lankan supporters fell into deathly silence and the clueless Sri Lanka cricketers started appealing pitifully for everything. They knew that an Aussie win would eliminate them and put New Zealand in the semis. Finally when a desperate Dilshan leapt to his left to take a brilliant catch of his own bowling it was more relief than ecstasy in the celebrations! This pulsating phase brought out the excitement of cricket that could make you bite your nails irrespective of your team loyalty. Sri Lanka entered the semifinals for the sixth time in the last eight world cricket tournaments.

So then, England meet South Africa in the first semifinal to be played tomorrow, the 19th of June at the Kennington Oval in London and India meet Sri Lanka for the second one to be played in Cardiff on Thursday the 20th of June. The grand final between the winners would be played on 23rd June at Edgbaston, Birmingham.



The first semifinal is evenly poised as both England and South Africa had to struggle to meet each other. While England would be enjoying the home advantage South Africa would try hard to shake off the ‘chokers’ tag this time. Playing their main attack bowler Dale Steyn is more or less confirmed. 




Labeled the best team of the tournament so far India enjoys an edge over Sri Lanka. Team India looks more balanced and stronger than Sri Lanka at the moment. In fact, India would have felt better to face their traditional rival rather than New Zealand—an unpredictable entity capable of turning the tables against any team on their day. Sri Lanka would hope for great knocks from Sangakkara and Mahela and for their attacking bowlers including Malinga prominently to fire. The sub-continental cricket fans are waiting for the big encounter with abated breath.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Champions Trophy: India Rout Pakistan Despite Rains And D/L!


India have demolished a listless Pakistan by 8 wickets with nearly three overs to spare in the ICC Champions Trophy last Group B match cut short and shorter by innumerable rain interruptions followed by Duckworth-Lewis (D/L) revisions. It was a huge occasion with the archrivals playing each other and crowds filled in to the brim in the Edgbaston stadium apart from millions of viewers glued in to their TV sets on Saturday. Everybody expected exciting cricket and they desperately wanted it to be of full fifty overs. Well, a poor batting display by Pakistan made it a one-sided affair and frequent rain interruptions dampened the excitement further. But Indian fans still have a cause to celebrate while the Pakistan fans can only feel sorry as their team let them down.

The match started as a full fifty-over encounter, but shortly afterwards rains made it forty-overs. Pakistan could not even last that many overs and got all out for a paltry 165 with two balls to spare. D/L method revised the target to 168 to win for India.

The Champions Indian opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma started in style and looked to be in no trouble at all when another rain interruption made the target 157 to win in 36 overs. Then a major rain interruption and D/L reduced the overs to just 22 and the target 102 to win. Dhawan missed his fifty by 2 runs and shone as ever making 48 entertaining runs in 41 balls. Rohit was the first wicket to fall for India. Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik took their team to victory never showing any sign of complacency. The terrific form of Karthik is a good sign for Team India. The Scorecard:

India kept its Group B slate clean winning all the matches and emerging as the top team. They have also bagged the unique honor of being voted the best fielding side of the tournament too so far. Who would be their rival in the semis is yet to be decided as the Group A is still wide open and no team has made it to the semis so far.

Rains have been playing the spoilsport of late in the ICC Champions Trophy matches. But for a change it proved lucky for the ‘chokers’ of big tournaments South Africa on Friday. For the first time since the 2003 World Cup disaster South Africa got a favor from the D/L calculations. It was again the case of just one ball in that match cut short to 31 overs each. At the end of 26 overs West Indies were ahead of South Africa as per D/L at 190 for five. If the first ball of the 27th over was left alone West Indies could still have won in terms of losing less number of wickets. But Pollard played a wild shot and got out, and the rains came pouring down. D/L calculations ruled the match tied and South Africa sailed into the semis thanks to their better net run-rate. A thoroughly disappointed West Indies could not still blame Pollard because at that particular moment he could not possibly have anticipated rains.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Champions Trophy: India Going Strong, Pakistan Out!



While Indian Cricket made all the wrong headlines thanks to the IPL Spot Fixing scandal the Indian Cricket team in England and Wales for the on-going ICC Champions Trophy-2013 played the best of cricket so far. India became the first team of the tournament to sail into the semifinals outplaying West Indies in their second Group-B match on 11th June. Earlier in the Championship opener on 6th June India edged out South Africa by 26 runs in a toughly competitive and high-scoring encounter. In both matches Shikhar Dhawan, the sensational new-find for India, made brilliant back-to-back centuries contributing hugely for the team victories. In fact, this is Shikhar’s 3rd consecutive hundred if we take into account his brilliant Test century against Australia in Mohali after which he got injured. With Rohit Sharma this opening duo seems to be doing extremely well at the moment and cricket fans would hope they make the pair Team India has been looking for after the failures of the Sehwag-Gambhir duo. India’s powerful batting display in English conditions has won special praise.

The other semifinalist from Group B is likely to be decided in the crucial encounter today between South Africa and West Indies—both teams with one win each. In a virtual quarter final the winner will go straight into the semis. There is a worry of rain over the match and in case the match is abandoned both teams would be locked at 3 points each making net run-rate coming into play.

The scenario in Group A is far more complex. Sri Lanka on the brink of elimination fought for dear life last night and convincingly beat a strong England by 7 wickets with 17 balls to spare. Chasing a big target of 294 runs Sri Lanka won in style thanks to a scintillating unbeaten century by Sangakkara. The England-New Zealand tie on 16th June is set to be another quarter final where the winner would go straight into the semis. However if New Zealand is defeated they would still stick on for the last match of Group A between Australia and Sri Lanka on June 17. If Australia win Sri Lanka will be eliminated and New Zealand-Australia will be tied with 3 points each making net run-rate decide the second team to go into the semis.

Unfortunately for the sub-continental cricket fans Pakistan got eliminated very early due mainly to their uninspired performances. They lost both their matches against West Indies and South Africa. However, the much-awaited blockbuster encounter between Pakistan and India is yet to be played. Whatever the stakes for both teams and the lack of it an India-Pakistan match is always a mouth-watering prospect. Pakistan is eliminated no doubt, but they would love to exit with the satisfaction of beating India. And India would like to make its slate clean winning all group encounters and play the semifinal with tremendous confidence. The respective fans would not settle for anything less than a win. Stay tuned tomorrow for the big one! 


The Teams As They Stand Today the 14th of June:

Group A
Teams
Mat
Won
Lost
Tied
N/R
Pts
Net RR
For
Against
New Zealand
  2
 1
 0
 0
 1
  3
+1.048
139/36.3
138/50.0
England
  2
 1
 1
 0
  0
  2
+0.289
562/100.0
518/97.1
Sri Lanka
  2
 1
 1
 0
 0
  2
-0.517
435/97.1
432/86.3
Australia
  2
 0
 1
 0
 1
  1
-0.960
221/50.0
269/50.0
Group B
Teams
Mat
Won
Lost
Tied
N/R
Pts
Net RR
For
Against
India
  2
 2
 0
 0
 0
  4
+0.979
567/89.1
538/100.0
South Africa
  2
 1
 1
 0
 0
  2
+0.410
539/100.0
498/100.0
West Indies
  2
 1
 1
 0
 0
  2
-0.086
405/90.4
406/89.1
Pakistan
  2
 0
 2
 0
 0
  0
-1.108
337/100.0
406/90.4

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Advani Vs Modi: A Tale Of Acceptance, Rejections And Denial!



We have been used to getting impatient with Pakistan for being in a constant denial mode, but presently we are increasingly getting used to the Indian national opposition political party BJP demonstrating the same mode most lucidly. Interestingly enough, the BJP has always been used to castigating Pakistan in the strongest of terms for upsetting India with its constant irritants and then the denials instantly. That we are not beating around the bush would get clearer as we push ahead with this post. 

As we all know one of the founder figures of the BJP, Lal Krishna Advani has always been used to opposing the idea of Narendra Modi taking over the lead role in BJP. But the BJP could no longer ignore Modi due to his natural aggressive leadership and recent achievements for his party. The Goa BJP national convention was the occasion when the party had to take a position on Modi considering the paramount importance of getting battle-ready for General Elections-2014. Threatened with internal disagreements, rival camps and absence of prominent leaders including Advani the BJP was in no state to rush through the decision. The denial saga started gloriously from here. The party denied that Advani was absent due to difference of opinion, but only because he was not well. 

The traditional denial of the BJP had been that the party had never had any political links with the right-wing Hindu nationalist organization RSS, and that it was always a cultural association only. So when a prominent leader of the RSS ‘advised’ the BJP President Rajnath Singh to announce Modi's anointment as the Chairman of its Election Campaign Committee for 2014 the Goa convention accepted Modi in that role and denied that the RSS played any part in that historic decision. 

Just the next day the 85-year-old doyen of the party resigned from all party posts putting BJP in its worst crisis and dilemma ever. As it has always been used to the party downplayed the episode saying that they would persuade their guiding angel to take back his resignation. Accordingly the BJP Parliamentary Board ‘rejected’ his resignation and negotiations with Advani continued to the next day involving all possible camps or groups within. It was ironic that all these groups within wanted him to continue blessing and guiding the party never wanting to understand that the veteran leader might still have his sights focused on being the next Prime Minister—an honour he could not achieve so far even after becoming the Deputy Prime Minister during 2002-04. Alas! BJP President Rajnath Singh said on the contrary that the decision on Modi would never be rolled back.

Finally then, another prominent leader of the RSS again ‘advised’ Advani and immediately thereafter the veteran politician ‘accepted’ the party’s ‘rejection’ of his resignation. You guessed it! The BJP again denied any influence of the RSS and the RSS also corroborated this by claiming that they have never been used to interfering in BJP’s internal matters. Well, you must be knowing that LK Advani had to resign from his party president post in 2005 after the RSS criticized him severely for his praise of Pakistan’s founding father Jinnah and referring to him as a secular leader. It is ironic that nobody within BJP seemed to understand why RSS needed one and not the other.

Mamata+Navin+Nitish
All the while the most pleased beholders of the Advani Vs Modi spectacle were their political rivals, former allies of the UPA-2 and allies of the BJP led NDA. They rallied behind Advani for BJP’s discomfiture and when Advani had to take back his resignation the prominent ally of NDA, Janta Dal-United (JDU) having a coalition government with BJP in Bihar, started discussions about withdrawing from NDA. And, a Third Front began to loom large with the inimitable Mamata Bannerji trying to rope in the Odissa Chief Minister Navin Patnaik and also the JDU Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar. Unfortunately the Left, harassed by merciless Mamata since she ousted them after 34 years in power in West Bengal, had already left the Third Front forces in the lurch. The BJP still denies any rift in the party or in its alliance.

And as is only natural with a diehard veteran LK Advani became active again trying to save and rejuvenate the NDA. Despite the occasional ‘advice’ coming his way he would never have Narendra Modi stealing the lead from him in his own party. The Advani Vs Modi political saga is here to stay. And hark! Dare not speak anything against the denying BJP, because they have been used to terming anything against them as conspiracy, particularly now with a new leader at its helm.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Politics: Narendra Modi Named BJP Election Campaign Chief!

Finally the BJP national President Rajnath Singh seemed to have mastered the required support and/or dictates of the party’s top rank leaders including prominently LK Advani who absented himself from the Goa convention and the fundamentalist organizations to take the decision awaited with abated breath since the last few days. It had been a most suspenseful run-up to the announcement made in the last moments of the two-day convention in Panaji, the capital of the state of Goa. He was flanked by Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj on his left and right respectively as if to render him the most needed moral support. Narendra Modi was not present in that brief news conference where Rajnath Singh just made the announcement and did not take questions from the press.

Yes, Narendra Modi has been declared the Chairman of the BJP Election Campaign Committee for General Elections-2014. Celebrations started inside the venue and outside in Goa, in Gujarat and also in other parts of India as thousands of BJP workers welcomed the decision. All three BJP Chief Ministers including Manohar Parikkar of Goa too were part of the decision coming after three days of classic indecisiveness. This step is being looked as the first in clearing the way for Modi to emerge as the consensus Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014. Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley gave rousing speeches afterwards fully justifying the decision and the party’s faith in Narendra Modi. In his animated speech Modi magnanimously acknowledged the senior BJP leaders for grooming him for this hugely responsible post and he assured that he would leave no stone unturned in his efforts to ensure victory for his party. Of course, there had been innumerable references to the ‘non-performance’ of the ruling coalition of India in all of their speeches. Now it is up to Modi to provide a ‘performing’ alternative for the politically restive nation. 


Allies of the BJP led National Democratic Alliance were non-committal about the declaration. Some of them referred to it as the BJP’s internal affairs while some pointed out more directly that Modi had only been anointed Campaign Chief and not as a Prime Ministerial candidate. The Congress took potshots at the national opposition party over the apparent divide within its top brass on the decision. The party also said that the Modi appeal is only limited to his own state Gujarat and his ‘communal’ politics would go against the interests of India as a whole. The final tale on Narendra Modi would only unfold in the aftermath of 2014 General Election results. . 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Politics: The Modi Pill!



Narendra Modi has become the classic pill that still affects you irrespective of your decision to swallow or not to swallow it. If you ignore the pill you suffer from relapse; if you swallow it and then throw it out you still suffer from wrong diagnosis and if you swallow it with a contented heart you are still not sure of escaping from its side effects.  Greatly relishing the spectacle the Congress party already quipped that the very mention of Narendra Modi’s name had made many BJP stalwarts sick unable to attend Goa meet.

For a change media attention has somewhat shifted from the still raging IPL Spot Fixing scandal and has now been totally focused on Narendra Modi—the Chief Minister of Gujarat famous for his successful development model and arguably the most controversial leader within the national opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Recently there were a few opinion polls on General Elections-2014 that forecast that with Modi as the BJP campaign leader or a declared Prime Ministerial candidate the BJP would much better to possibly form a government at the centre. Besides, Modi has also done exceptionally well in the just concluded by-elections in Gujarat sweeping all the Parliament and Assembly seats. Narendra Modi cannot be ignored anymore. The two-day National Convention of the BJP started in Goa with a pre-Convention agenda meeting yesterday. It has been widely speculated and expected that the party would take a decision this time to make Modi BJP Election Campaign leader or BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate or both.

However, things are far from easy because Narendra Modi’s record of delivering stupendous growth rate and good governance always gets weighed against his fundamentalist leanings or connections and his dubious role during communal riots in his state in 2002. BJP being a party for Hinduism with tacit blessings from various fundamentalist groups notwithstanding, some leaders within its fold vouch for a secular changeover. It knows that it cannot form a government on its own in diverse India and has to play coalition politics for its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that brought BJP into power in 1998 and then in 1999. The NDA has other parties with secular ideologies and their own Prime Ministerial candidates too. Allies within the NDA has been fighting bitterly during the last two tumultuous years while cornering the ruling coalition again and again on new and newer scams and hardly allowing the Indian Parliament to perform. In this complex era of confrontational politics the basic reason for infighting is still Narendra Modi.

Several senior, competent and ambitious leaders within BJP make things murkier. There are two main groups—anti-Modi led by veteran LK Advani with the support of leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Shusma Swaraj, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Venkaiyya Naidu etc, and the pro-Modi group led by BJP national President Rajnath Singh with the support of leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parikkar, for BJP President Nitin Gadkari, Rajiv Pratap Rudi and others. Speculation has reached fever pitch with several anti-Modi BJP leaders including LK Advani deciding against attending Goa convention.

The BJP must understand that it must put up a Modified front, must present a tolerably united alliance and must desist from petty politics, if it seriously wants to aim at forming a government after the 2014 General Elections.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

Champions Trophy: India Beat South Africa In A Close Encounter!


Shikhar Dhawan

India beat South Africa by 26 runs in the first one day international of the ICC Champions Trophy at Cardiff in Wales on Thursday. It was a high scoring entertainer with both teams getting more than 300 runs each. It was the first one day match at Cardiff where the team batting first won and the chasing team also crossed 300 runs for the first time. Maybe due to the new one-day cricket rules the Cardiff pitch made its reputation of being a batting one a little stronger.

On a windy and chilly morning South Africa won the toss and put India in. India made a rollicking start thanks to a opening partnership of 127 runs between Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma who opened as Murli Vijay was rested. A sensational new-find Dhawan went on to score his maiden one-day century (114) and was around till the 38th over. The initial momentum of the innings was maintained throughout despite fall of too many wickets in the latter phase. The target of 332/7 looked mammoth and decisive, but the Cardiff pitch did not flinch an inch. A late charge by all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (47 not out) helped achieving the big total.

South Africa started shakily, but soon raced to a commanding position thanks to a well-paced partnership between Peterson (68) and AB deVilliers (70). The run-out of Peterson proved to be a turning point putting the match back in India’s favor. However, the highest individual score was yet to come. All-rounder McLaren played a ruthlessly effortless innings of 71 and with good contributions from others again threatened to snatch the match away. Exceptional Indian fielding and effectively utilized spinners finally sealed the victory for Team India. South Africa maintained a terrific run-rate throughout enough for winning the game, but lost too many wickets for the effort. They ended up for 305 giving a margin to 26 runs which hardly set the rivals wide apart. The Scorecard:


A new-look Team India rocked by spot fixing and all cross connections and corruption did quite well to start with a win. They can rest and regroup well for the next match.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cricket And Fixing: ICC Champions Trophy Begins!


The ICC Champions Trophy-2013 in England and Wales begins with the inaugural match between India and South Africa today. At a time when cricket or more specifically Indian cricket has been hyped to the height by the media for all the wrong reasons. The raging IPL Spot or Match Fixing scandal has cast a shadow of grievous doubt on players of Team India, its bosses and administrators. Fittingly enough Team India has a captain who had been right royally gagged by his corrupt cricket Board bosses and the right royally loyal captain has been obsequiously  observing the gag order even in England. Add to this his alleged conflict of interest concerning a management firm where he acquired stakes and put in his favorite cricketers as clients for whom he enjoyed the absolute authority of selection for the national team. Why bother! His cricket Chief had a more sinister conflict of interest with his son-in-law—the boss of an IPL franchise CSK captained by the Indian national captain—in jail and yet nobody dared ask him to resign. Therefore finally it is the ‘conflict of interest’ for the genuine Indian cricket fans who will continue to have doubt over all the possible results for India—victory, loss or tie. Only abandonment of matches due to rains is above doubt, because rains cannot possibly be fixed!

However, from the extremely ‘cricket’ part of the scenario Team India seems to be in a good nick for the tournament after winning the first warm-up match against Sri Lanka and crushing Australia in the second. But the top order batting is yet to deliver, and it was largely thanks to Dinesh Karthik and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni himself plus the young Indian fast bowlers. Like India South Africa is also a line-up of young and relatively inexperienced players, but more worryingly without the services of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis who opted out due to personal reasons. While all Indian players have benefited from the ‘cricket’ of IPL despite the mess, the South African ‘cricket’ stalwart of IPL Dale Steyn also looks doubtful. Cardiff pitch is likely to help both batting and pace bowling, and considering Indian vulnerability to pace in greener pitches South Africa still could dominate India. Tagged as ‘perennial chokers’ in big tournaments South Africa too could crumble if Indian batsmen and fast bowlers deliver. Fixing or no fixing any of the three possible results are immensely plausible in this big match.

Another ‘cricketing’ highlight of the ICC Champions Trophy-2013 is the new set of rules for one-day cricket becoming effective from this tournament. As a big help to bowlers now there will be two new balls from both wicket ends which may of course negate out reverse swing and the bowlers can now bowl two legal bouncers an over. The other rules are; five fielders will have to kept within thirty yard circle throughout the matches and there will only two sets of powerplays—the first mandatory ten overs followed by the batting powerplay that will have to be taken before the 40th over.

So then, there is lot of ‘cricket’ despite fixing. What if all cricket legends who still maintain ‘loyal silence’ flocking back to egg you onto cricket! What if all the ‘paid to comment’ cricket experts flocking back to take you ahead in the encounters! You are still absolutely your own master to decide what to do with ‘cricket’ and ‘fixing’!

As for the ‘fixing’ part, Gurunath Meiyappan and Vindoo Dara Singh were granted conditional bail by a court in Mumbai on 4th June even after being remanded to judicial custody till 14th June on 3rd June. More hopefully, Delhi Police had applied MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act-19990 against all 26 bookies and cricketers including Sreesanth on June 4. This will enable Delhi Police to file charge-sheets within six months and the accused will be able to plea for bail for at least one month. Since yesterday interrogation of the boss of Rajasthan Royals (RR) and his business associates by Delhi Police has been going on. As per latest reports Delhi Police say that RR Boss Raj Kundra, husband of joint owner and Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty, had confessed to placing bets on his own team and his passport had been seized. After Gurunath of CSK Kundra becomes the second team boss who have been used to betting on their own teams revealing strategic information to the bookies.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Superfast South West Monsoon Hits Maharashtra!

The South West Monsoon always demonstrates a tinge of unpredictability. When something is in great demand and millions of people wait eagerly for it this kind of behavior is only natural—though most commonly seen in condescending human beings Mother Nature has started this practice of late maybe to put some sense into Her arrogant children or maybe due to the global climatic changes for which Her children are only responsible. Whatever, the South West Monsoon sometimes arrives late, sometimes it arrives early or on time and yet stays put for days in some place maybe to enjoy the local hospitality, sometimes it just keeps on playing hide and seek and sometimes it just gets lost keeping the met office totally in dark about its movements.

Yesterday we were elated over light showers in Mumbai and pre-monsoon showers in other parts of Maharashtra relishing the fact that the South West Monsoon that hit Kerala was just days away from Maharashtra and Mumbai.  The normal date for Mumbai is 10th June and this year it was expected to reach Mumbai by 15th June as it arrived late in Kerala. Even till late last night we or the met office could not anticipate its next move.

All the news headlines suddenly broke today in all local channels of Mumbai that the South West Monsoon had hit Maharashtra. Like a superfast express train! It arrived late in Kerala and yet made up time reaching Goa 2 days in advance and then Maharashtra in double quick time. There were monsoon rains today in different parts of South and Central Maharashtra. This was incredible and personally I myself was trying to confirm and double confirm the news again and again! If it maintains the super speed it is likely to spread to other regions of Maharashtra quickly and arrive in Mumbai even before the traditional date of June 10. Well, all the good reasons to rejoice and enjoy more! Hope the Monsoon is not holding back any crucial link that may impede its further progress! The forecast is already there for a healthy and normal monsoon this year. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mumbai: Monsoon Prepares For Rain Launch!



This very look of the skies never fails to thrill you; makes you ecstatic. Particularly when you have been sweating out a month-long spell of humid energy-sapping heat with the air stilled and tree leaves forgetting how to sway. The full month of May this year has been one of unbearably persistent heat for Mumbaikars. This was not the case in the last two or so years when temperatures varied frequently with windy conditions keeping company consistently. No doubt, Mumbaikars collectively have a sigh of great relief. 

Today afternoon, clouds started to gather in the Mumbai skies and got darker towards the evening promising instant rains. A cool breeze continued all along bringing in a drastic change in the conditions. A drizzle started in most parts of the city in the evening and Mumbaikars welcomed it with all warmth and pleasure. That the drizzle failed to turn into a downpour and that traffic congestion always mysteriously or naturally associated with rains began immediately did not disappoint us. Because, we know that the Monsoon mood has just begun.

The spell of a searing dry heat with the mercury rising above 48 degree Celsius burned across the state of Maharashtra already under a raging drought for the month of May. In the last two or three days welcome pre-monsoon showers had brought tremendous relief for the people of different parts of the state, particularly for the distressed farmers.

The South West Monsoon, the mainstay of Indian farming, had already hit the southernmost Indian state of Kerala and is set to reach Maharashtra by 15th of June.

With the monsoon mood created, Mumbai is likely to have light and pre-monsoon showers over the next few days in the run-up to the South West Monsoon Rain launch. Welcome and enjoy the rains coming your way soon!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

IPL Spot Fixing: The Biggest BCCI Compromise!



The richest cricket Board of the world has finally made its dirty money work one more time for its vested interests ensuring the biggest compromise in the emergency working committee meeting in Chennai today that maintained the status quo despite all the odds. Every genuine cricket lover of the country and the right minded members within BCCI wanted the tainted Chief to resign on at least moral grounds after more than ten days of defiance, arrogance and greed. But the meeting today helped him only to step aside for allowing the so-called probe against the IPL Spot Fixing scandal go on ‘independently’. A new interim President was selected in the form of former BCCI Boss who also had had his share of controversies. The compromise displayed fully the pull and clout of various lobbies working for the interests of various political parties and members according to their political affiliations.

A kind of a revolt within the BCCI was palpable over the past few days with the Secretary and the Treasurer tendering their resignations on Friday followed by the resignation of the IPL Chairman cum Congress minister Rajeev Shukla late Saturday night. Arun Jaitley, the BJP leader and one key Vice President of the BCCI promised big happenings, but finally did nothing. His expertise has been seen in recent times in disrupting the Indian Parliament for days and months continuously on various ‘issues’ ranging from basically corruption in the UPA-2 Government. However, the great representative of common people apparently did not consider the issues of corruption in cricket and in BCCI as ‘issue’ enough, and his role in the compromise arrived today could be termed crucial. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of the resignations of the BCCI officials it was perceived that the pressure now was unbearable for Narayanswamy Srinivasan and that he would step down in the emergency meeting today. But he was allowed only to step aside.

The BCCI, in the grip of the worst crisis in its history and with the possibility of losing all credibility in the eyes of millions of cricket lovers, could have demanded Srinivasan’s resignation with renewed vigor or could have resigned en masse making his position ridiculous or could have discussed how to rope in fresh members in a bid to restore its credibility. However, the spineless members only allowed its defiant Boss to remain defiant disillusioning the cricket lovers completely. They cited ‘constitutional’ restrictions or bindings to justify their action. They also appealed to Sanjay Jagdale and Ajay Shirke to come back to the BCCI. Ajay Shirke, possibly the only BCCI member with some conscience left, refused to come back saying that despite his little knowledge about constitutional matters  the justification offered was not acceptable. The meeting was also left it ambiguous as to who was going to represent India at the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The BCCI handles national cricket, represents India at the ICC, controls the ICC with its money power and has politicians of all major political parties in its fold or lobbies. Therefore, there seems to be no one who could possibly control or scrap or change the BCCI. Suresh Kalmadicould pull it off similarly, but he was at least jailed for sometime and the International Olympic Committee at least had the power to ban the Indian Olympic Association. But what about this Board so full of corruption, with total lack of transparency and with no accountability or responsibility going on to handle national cricket that millions take pride in. 

Well, the millions of Indian cricket fans must take up this issue and decide the next course of action. They must do enough to take the issue to the Supreme Court of India and believe in the apex court to deliver the final and lasting justice. They also must realize the immensity of the cowardly silence still maintained by cricket legends and former greats of this country and adopt their stand on cricket at large clearly.
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