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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Highs and Lows of Cricket and a Commercial Break!


After some terrific cricket and some horrific related incidents during the first three months of 2018 it’s time now for a commercial break. Well, not exactly though for millions of avid fans! They have been patiently waiting for this most commercially viable form of cricket since the last season. Come April-May for over a decade now,  and nobody can stop these fans for going gaga over this movie-styled entertainers of the sport.

Right, we are talking about the 11th Season of the Indian Premiere League-2018 T20 Cricket tournament starting from 7th April till the end of next month. Many fans would be excited this time for the return of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) with the former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni back as captain of CSK and Ajinkya Rahane replacing the tainted Steve Smith as captain of RR while New Zealand captain Kane Williamson replaced the tainted David Warner as captain of Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Shikhar Dhawan was earlier tipped for the position. Pune Rising Supergiants and Gujarat Lions that played for last two years after the two-year suspension of CSK and RR over a cricketing scandal could not qualify this time.

The buying of selling of internationally famed cricketers, euphemistically called auction, saw most of the regular players retained adding some exciting new ones. England cricketer Ben Stokes became the costliest overseas player while Indian pacer Jaydev Unadkat the costliest domestic one—both these players are bought by RR. Some known faces remained unsold including Lasith Malinga, Martin Guptil, Hashim Amla, Ishant Sharma and many others. Destroyer Chris Gayle somehow found a place in Kings XI Punjab in the third and last round of auction. Old warhorse Yuvraj Singh also found a place in this team which is being led this time by a new captain Ravichandran Ashwin. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) discarded Gautam Gambhir who is being lapped up by Delhi Daredevils (DD) as captain. The sensation of the T20 Tri-Series Final against Bangladesh in Colombo on 18th March, 2018, Dinesh Karthik whose 8-ball 29 won India the Nidahas Trophy, becomes the captain of KKR which would definitely cheer a lot of Kolkata fans.  India captain Virat Kohli continues to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) while Rohit Sharma is also retained as captain of Mumbai Indians (MI). The inaugural match between MI and CSK will be played in Mumbai on 7th April and Kolkata will see its first match on 8th April between KKR and RCB. The other venues will be Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Mohali assigned as hometowns to the different teams.  The Schedule:

This commercial break in terms of the IPL-2018 can be viewed as a much needed relief after the scandalous developments in international cricket recently. While the India Vs South Africa cricket series in South Africa was a high point in competitive spirited cricket the Test duel between the hosts and Australia cricket reached the lowest.

Although India under Virat Kohli lost the 3-Test series against South Africa 2-1 during January, 2018 the cricket was highly competitive with constant ups and downs. India nearly won the series with some superlative bowling performances, and many Indian fans believed that with some more batting application India would have seen the final result in its favour. South Africa won the closely fought first and second Tests while India won the final Test convincingly. And then, the Indians were unstoppable annihilating South Africa both in the one-day and the T20 series. Australia played the Test Series against South Africa during March, 2018 winning the first one and losing the second one. The series was looking up at that point of time despite the ugly off-field confrontation of David Warner with South African keeper Quinton de Kock during the first Test in Durban.



The ball-tampering incident happened on March 24, 2018 on the third day of the third Test being played in Cape Town involving Cameron Bancroft, and then skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner—both being in the know as well as in the leadership. The deliberate and cold blooded tactic shocked the whole world, both cricketing and non-cricketing, with absolute words of condemnation coming from one and all irrespective of the highest or the lowest positions of authority. Cricket Australia was swift in its action, and the implicated players accepted the punishment with lots of public tears, but with no appealing intentions. As per the latest information Cricket Australia wants to put all the lids on this most scandalous happening which is possible because as mentioned the players are not going to appeal against the punishment handed out. Of course, a lot of questions involving this shameful episode would remain unanswered forever.

Meanwhile Afghanistan cricket team qualified for the ICC World Cup-2019 against all odds and beating Ireland in its final outing. The other qualifier is the West Indies, surprisingly.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Discerning Commuter!


He was not sure. He could never deny that he never wanted it. He needed it, particularly at times when he was stressed and tired. However, he was not at all sure what way he should act in general.

Yes, Amlan considered himself as a deserving candidate since he was fast approaching the life landmark. He was not there now, but it was not that far off either. And, most of the other candidates often showed a bullish attitude which always made his will stronger.

The evening that day was very warm and humid. And to add to it the rush hour lingered on somewhat late into the night. Amlan couldn’t get a seat and had to retreat to the farthest corner of the metro train coach near the coupling. There he found some standing space with his briefcase tucked in between his legs. As he leaned against the side panel near the coupling opening he watched quietly the movement around those seats that meant so much or so little for him. He was not sure, he made sure.

The occupier at the other end of the four-seat bench got up and that seat fell vacant. The commuter nearest to the seat was a little balding but a young man in his prime. The young man looked greedily at the inviting seat, but decided to check if genuine contenders were there or not. His looks finally settled on Amlan, and it became lingering and also furtive as if he was trying to find out the credentials and at the same time not wanting to let go. Amlan didn’t make any move because he was not sure. Apart from the fact his destination was just two stations away and that he was relatively comfortable in his present position his continuing dilemma of so-near-yet-quite-far-off prevented him from going for the grab. He began to study the young man with interest now.

From his uncertain looks Amlan thought with certainty that the young man in fact found him genuinely deserving, but not wanting to give up. Amlan’s indecisiveness also emboldened him to go for it. Now Amlan felt offended, because he thought the commuter was very close to being a bully. And, finally he almost made for it. But it was too late. Maybe sensing the probability of the near-senior citizen of asserting his right the young man occupied the seat in an instant dash, now not bothering to look up at Amlan.

As always, Amlan couldn’t suppress the grin trying to crack open his lips. The senior citizen seats were on both sides of every coach of the metro railway rakes that also include the differently able, and it was always interesting to observe the mental wars between contenders. In India, one becomes a senior citizen after the age of sixty. However, from sixty to eighty plus years of age one is still a senior citizen only, and so the deserving stamp of the contenders is always relative. Nobody could possibly tell or ask about the age and there was no way to prove anybody’s case, because there is no system of checking identity cards. Therefore, the relative intensity of the grey hair or the frail body or the emaciated features are the only guidelines.


However, Amlan could not prevent himself from giving a rueful look at the young man, still seated securely, as he alighted at his station. 
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