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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dharamshala test interestingly poised ! - the china(wo)man bowler !!

Ever heard of Priti Dimri, who played 2 tests and 23 ODIs for India ? 

The second most powerful politician in China has touched down in New Zealand - championing free trade at a time when the United States is turning towards protectionism. Premier Li Keqiang, whose influence is such that he is sometimes called "Chairman of Everything" in China, is travelling with a 200-strong government and business delegation, and his wife, Professor Cheng Hong, who specialises in American literature. The Premier, also referred to as prime minister, travelled to New Zealand from Australia, where he and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull both warned against trade protectionism.  Back home, we are reading more about China because of the debutant at Dharamshala – Kuldeep Yadav.

At draw of stumps on day 2, the fight for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy hangs in the balance with the game's two top-ranked nations locked in an unforgiving stride-for-stride slog to the post after another intense day in Dharamsala.  In pursuit of Australia's 300, India reached stumps on the second day on 6/248 with Saha and Ravindra Jadeja surviving – Nathan Lyon single-handedly turned the Dharamsala decider on its head to send one of the most epic series in Test history down to the wire, is what the Aussie Press has written about the day’s play.  They feel that the  Australian spinner with a heart as ferocious as his surname ripped through the Indian middle-order with an inspiring four-wicket masterclass which all came in a hurry in a thrilling final session.

India had spent much of day two patiently grinding Australia into the dirt, but after the Lyon blitzkrieg the hosts went to stumps 6-248 and still trailing on the first innings by 52 runs.  A wagging tail, a long one at that, of India will give the hosts an enormous boost in this Test, but if Australia can snare early wickets they will surely hold the advantage given they won’t have to bat last on a pitch that’s showing signs of misbehaving !

This morning as Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul negotiated the seamers, they would have marveled at the relentless pace and pressure applied by comeback kid Cummins. Before you read further, here is something from Brad Hodge on Indian Capt Virat Kohli opting to sit out and even volunteering to carry drinks for the team ! ~ yet the chattering Aussie tried to needle by writing that Virat  risks shattering his reputation if he fronts up for next week’s IPL. Hodge says big questions will be asked about Kohli’s leadership as Indian skipper if he runs out for Royal Challengers Bangalore in next week’s IPL opener against David Warner’s Sunrisers Hyderabad after he pulled out of the biggest Test match of his captaincy career in Dharamsala.

Hodge didn’t dismiss the severity of pugnacious  Kohli’s injury, but he said he sincerely hoped the Indian skipper isn’t like the many cricketers he knows who have “limped” into the lucrative IPL, only to then miraculously recover in time to cop their pay cheque.  Hodge perhaps knows it too well about the Australians who skipped National interest to play for Kerry Packer, though he was not playing at that time.

Spats are not new; controversies neither, though they get highlighted in every media.  Last week, we were witness to a rather messy legal tangle involving music composer Ilaiyaraaja and singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, after the former served on the singer a legal notice when he was performing concerts in the U.S. After he received the notice, SPB took to his official page on social networking site Facebook to announce that he and two other singers, K.S. Chitra and S.P. Charan, had been served a legal notice by Ilaiyaraaja’s attorney, asking them not to perform his compositions. The notice stated that if they continued to perform his compositions, they would be breaking the copyright law and would have to pay huge financial penalties while also facing legal action. SPB is currently performing a series of concerts as part of the SPB50 world tour, which began in August 2016 in Toronto.  Who owns the song and who should be paid, when, how long and how could remain unanswered Qs.  Without trying to get at the issue, the social media started taking sides poking at the Isaignani and the Singer, making rather unwarranted comments on their personal traits.  To the Tamil music listener, especially after 1980s, there are hundreds of great songs rendered by SPB to the music of great Ilayaraja and it is a loss for all of us.

Getting back to Dharamshala, Kohli sat down and his place was not taken by Shreyas Iyer but Kuldeep Yadav, who given the Test cap by L Sivaramakrishnan and Ravi Shastri felt so happy in repeating what Tony Greig had told about the name as ‘Lord of destroyer’ in 1985 when Siva played down under.  There are legspinners and there are left-arm wristspinners. While both ply the same craft, albeit with a different arm, they are treated and viewed differently.  We have seen Bishan Bedi, Padmakar Shivalkar, Rajinder Hans, Rajinder Goel, Dilip Doshi, Maninder Singh, Ravi Shastri, Raguram Bhat, Nilesh KUlkarni, Sunil Joshi, Ravindra Jadeja and more -  Kuldeep Yadav, who also bowls left handed is different in that he is the first left-arm wristspinner to play for India in Tests, used his variations to great effect on the first day.  He had a good debut claiming 4 with those deliveries dismissing Handscomb and Maxwell were gems. 

This morning in the 11th over, Hazlewood running in had a spat with  Murali Vijay whose wide grin suggested he was smiling sheepishly without getting angry – but the next ball, he was gone – was that a lapse in concentration, well trapped ? – in edging.  Comeback man Pat Cummins was streaming in and ripping it fast, peppering the Indian opener with short balls, mostly directed at the body, tempting the batsman to hook or pull. Rahul, to his credit, did well to bend and sway out of the way, and whenever Cummins erred in length, or gave him width to cut, he capitalised on it. When one  bouncer was awkwardly fended towards cover, Cummins muttered something again, for which Rahul nodded. The next ball was expectedly short, but not on the body. Bowled wide outside off stump, Rahul swished at it and the ball ended up taking the toe-end of the bat before tamely lobbing to mid-off – another dismissal bought verbally ?

In someways, Kuldip is not the first Indian Chinaman bowler; Priti Dimri, who played for Indian women was the first china(wo)man bowler !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Mar 2017.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

picturesque Dharamshala ~ Shreyas Iyer called - remembering WI tour of 1975

The climax of the gripping India-Australia Test Series 2017 is to occur at Dharamsala, a city  in Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh. It is the district headquarters. It was formerly known as Bhagsu. From the earliest times until the British Raj, Dharamshala and its surrounding area was ruled by the Katoch Dynasty of Kangra. The Katoch Dynasty is said to be the oldest serving Royal Family in the world.  The indigenous people of the Dharamshala area are the Gaddis, a predominantly Hindu group – over the recent past,  Gaddis lost their seasonal pastures and farmland when the British and the Gurkhas arrived to settle. The Tibetan settlement of Dharamshala began in 1959, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet and the Prime Minister of India allowed him and his followers to settle in McLeodGanj (in Upper Dharmshala), a former colonial British summer picnic spot. There they established the "government-in-exile" in 1960 and the Namgyal Monastery.

The ground here can be described as the most picturesque, surrounded by a massive beauty of the nature. This stadium is located at a height of 1,457m above the sea level and had snow capped mountains at the back side of the stadium. Here is a breathtaking photo courtesy http://reporter365.com.

Not great news for India .. .. .. in an interview Michael  Clarke said Kohli had hidden the true extent of the shoulder injury he suffered diving in the outfield on day one in Ranchi. The Indian physio, Patrick Farhart, is trying to manage his shoulder injury as much as he possibly can; there are fears that he may not be fit to play in the final test.  Interestingly, there is a call for  Shreyas Iyer, an attacking top-order batsman capable of marrying classical shots with brute force. Iyer made headlines when Delhi Daredevils bought him at the 2015 IPL auction for a whopping INR 2.6 crore, and he repaid the faith with interest. Opening the batting, he aggregated 439 runs from 14 matches and went to win the IPL emerging player of the year award.

Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer has been called up to Dharamsala as cover for Virat Kohli, who still hasn't completely recovered from his shoulder injury. Iyer is expected to join the team on Friday, the eve of the match when greater clarity on Kohli's fitness is expected. Besides a hundred for India A against the touring Bangladesh side in Hyderabad, Iyer smashed an unbeaten double hundred against Australia in a tour game at Brabourne Stadium last month. Kohli hurt his shoulder while making a diving stop on the boundary on the first day in Ranchi. He spent the rest of Australia's first innings off the field, but batted at his usual No. 4 slot and fielded in the second innings - though at slip even against the spinners rather than his usual station in the covers or midwicket. Iyer had a breakout first-class season in 2015-16 where he scored 1321 run to become the leading scorer in the Ranji Trophy. He finished as Mumbai's highest run-getter (725 runs at 42.94, including two hundreds) in Ranji Trophy 2016-17, where they finished runners-up.

Not related though, mind wavers back to that tour of Clive Lloyd’s West Indies in 1975 – we best remember that classy unbeaten 97 by Gundappa Viswanath and Indian win on Pongal day leading to declaration of holiday !

That was the turbulent time, when Indians had returned low after dismal 42 all out in England, losing all 3 tests.  Ajit Wadekar suddenly announced his retirement and the Indian Cricket Board slapped a one Test ban on Bishen Bedi for airing controversial views during an unauthorised TV interview in England. Mansur Ali Khan Pataud captained at Bangalore, was injured and Gavaskar was to lead; but he too suffered an injury in a Ranji game and the great planner Srinivasan Venkatraghavan led – though it was more of a misfortune – an innings defeat and Venkat losing his place becoming 12th man in the next game.  What an ignominy !!

In the 1st Test at Bangalore  (test 745) in Nov 1974 – Hemant Kanitkar, Gordon Greenidge and Isaac Vivian Richards made their debuts.  WI won by 267 runs.  In the 2nd test at Kotla, Parthasarathi Sharma made his  debut; Venkat as Captain – India lost by an innings and 17 runs.  Sunil Gavaskar who had become the mainstay could not play due a fractured finger.

When people were fearing a rout, India won by 85 runs at Calcutta, thanks to a century by Vishy and 80 by debutant Anshuman Gaekwad.  Karsan Ghavri, was the other debutant.  At Chepauk, the first day of Pongal test was dominated by truly great exhibition of pace bowling by Andy Roberts and a more classy unbeaten 97 by Vishwanath.  India came back winning the test by 100 runs. 

In Test no. 753,  there was tremendous interest in the decider to be played at the brand new Wankhede stadium in Bombay. West Indies ran up a total of 604 for six declared on the third morning after a minor riot interrupted play on the second evening. Lloyd hammered an unbeaten 242 while Fredericks got his second hundred of the series. Despite some fine batting by Gavaskar, Viswanath, Gaekwad and Eknath Solkar, who posted his only Test century, India just about managed to avoid the follow on and the West Indies had plenty of time to coast to victory by 201 runs in the decisive Test, played over six days.

This time, we expect, Indians to clinch the Series with a win at Dharamshala.  Mitchell Johnson says Jackson Bird could come into Australia's side at the expense of spinner Steve O'Keefe for the series decider against India, starting on Saturday. Johnson expects the pitch for the fourth Test in Dharamsala to favour the pace bowlers and he believes Bird could earn a recall to play alongside fellow quicks Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. O'Keefe was Australia's match-winner in the first Test in Pune, claiming 12 wickets in India's shock 333-run defeat.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Mar 2017.


Remembering the 3 great martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev

Today ~ 23rd March is a very important day for the Nation .. .. . .. and do by chance you know the relevance of a small town Khed in Pune in Indian history ?

Today  marks the 86th  year of martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru. They symbolise the best example of sacrifice to free India from the imperial clutches of British rule. Indian history books perhaps have provided lesser  exposure to their visionary battle against British rule. These revolutionaries envisioned India’s future were not in the same stream of Congress and did not garner that attention that the party gotten. 

They are the very  definition of martyr and would eternally motivate the youngsters for the Nation Cause.   Before that have you heard of Kartar Singh Sarabha.  In the leaflet he threw in the Central Assembly on 9 April 1929, he stated: "It is easy to kill individuals but you cannot kill the ideas. Great empires crumbled, while the ideas survived.   While in prison,  he and his 2 friends wrote to Lord Irwin,  asking to be treated as prisoners of war and consequently to be executed by firing squad and not by hanging.  He declined to sign letter for clemency…….
-        that is Shaheed Bhagat Singh

From his early days, he had been attracted by revolutionary activities against oppressive British Raj.  Seeking revenge for the death of Lala Lajpat Rai at the hands of the police, Singh was involved in the assassination of British police officer John Saunders. He eluded efforts by the police to capture him. Together with Batukeshwar Dutt, he undertook a successful effort to throw two bombs and leaflets inside the Central Legislative Assembly while shouting slogans of Inquilab Zindabad. Subsequently they volunteered to surrender and be arrested. Held on this charge, he gained widespread national support when he underwent a 116 day fast in jail, demanding equal rights for British and Indian political prisoners. He was convicted and subsequently hanged for his participation in the murder, aged 23. His legacy prompted youth in India to begin fighting for Indian independence and he continues to be a youth idol in modern India.

Sadly, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death in the Lahore conspiracy case and ordered to be hanged on 24 March 1931; but Singh was informed that his execution had been advanced by 11 hours on 23 March 1931, just a few hours before his execution.  Singh was hanged on 23 March 1931 at 7:30 pm in Lahore jail with his fellow comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev. It is reported that no magistrate of the time was willing to supervise his hanging. The jail authorities then broke the rear wall of the jail and secretly cremated the three martyrs under cover of darkness outside Ganda Singh Wala village, and then threw the ashes into the Sutlej river.  An ex-parte trial was against the principles of natural justice that no man shall be held guilty unless given an opportunity to defend in a hearing.  It was probably for the first time, that executions were carried out in the evening, by advancing the date of execution. The families of the accused were not allowed to meet them before the execution nor were they informed about it, even the bodies of the three were not given to their relatives after the execution to perform last rites. 

Even lesser is known about the other two daring colleagues of Bhagat Singh.  Shivaram Hari Rajguru (24 August 1908 – 23 March 1931) was  born at Khed, near Pune.  He was a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, who wanted India to be freed from British rule by any means necessary. He believed that ferocity against oppression was far more effective against British rule than the nonviolent civil disobedience preferred by Mahatma Gandhi.

Rajguru became a colleague of Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev, and took part in the assassination of a British police officer, J. P. Saunders, at Lahore in 1928. Their actions were to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai who had died a fortnight after being hit by police while on a march protesting the Simon Commission. The three men and 21 other co-conspirators were tried under the provisions of a regulation that was introduced in 1930 specifically for that purpose. All three were convicted of the charges and hanged on 23 March 1931.

Years later, his  birthplace of Khed has since been renamed as Rajgurunagar in his honour. Rajguru Market, a shopping complex at Hisar, Haryana, was named in his honour in 1953.

Almost a century ago, there were different ideologies - the paths Gandhi and Bhagat Singh.  Were they complementary could not be commented now ..   in some ways, the Gandhian path was focussed on the transfer of political power but Bhagat Singh's vision was to transform independent India into better society.  There has been criticism that Gandhi and other national leaders of that time, did not do much to prevent or reduce the sentence of 3 martyrs.  Lord Irwin, in a report to the Secretary of State, penned his position on the issue of commutation: He (Mahatma Gandhi) did not plead for commutation, although he would, being opposed to all taking of life, take that course himself. He also thought it would have an influence for peace. But he did ask for postponement in present circumstances. I contented myself with saying that, whatever might be the decision as to exact dates, I could not think there was any case for commutation which might not be made with equal force in the case of any other violent crime.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Mar 2017


Pic Credit :  By Alicia Nijdam from Cordoba, Argentina - https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14889056

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

terror attack on UK Parliament foiled .. .. Mrs May safely escorted to Downing Street

Mayhem at Westminster ~ terrified witnesses described watching a terrorist using a 4x4 as a weapon sending pedestrians flying like skittles before 'plunging' a seven-inch knife into a policeman. The terror suspect crashed into UK Parliament's railings and then rushed the gates and stabbed the Met officer before an plain-clothes officer then shot the assailant three officers. One victim of the car attack was thrown from Westminster Bridge and left floating face down in the Thames but was pulled from the river alive. At least one person is dead and more than 12 people are injured including some with catastrophe. .. .. ..

Westminster is on the north bank of the River Thames. Westminster's concentration of visitor attractions and historic landmarks, one of the highest in London, includes the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral. The name Westminster originated from the informal description of the abbey church and royal peculiar of St Peter's (Westminster Abbey), literally West of the City of London.  In a government context, Westminster often refers to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, located in the UNESCO World Heritage Palace of Westminster - also known as the Houses of Parliament.

The area is the centre of UK government, with Parliament in the Palace of Westminster and most of the major Government ministries known as Whitehall, itself the site of the royal palace that replaced that at Westminster.  The Parliament of the United Kingdom,  is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and its territories. Its head is the Sovereign of the United Kingdom (currently Queen Elizabeth II).  The parliament is bicameral, consisting of an upper house (the House of Lords) and a lower house (the House of Commons).  Prior to the opening of the Supreme Court in October 2009, the House of Lords also performed a judicial role through the Law Lords.  The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Treaty of Union by Acts of Union passed by the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland.

Today, as terror attack occurred on the Parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May was rushed out of Parliament as it came under terrorist attack by a man wielding a seven-inch knife.  In a swift action, Mrs May, who was in the voting lobby by the Commons, was seen being bundled into the back seat of her silver Jaguar surrounded by armed guards at around 2.30pm. She then was driven out of the Palace of Westminster at high speed and is now off the estate and safely inside Downing Street.

MPs were locked inside the Commons and told to remain there for their own safety and armed police are going through Parliament 'floor by floor' and 'room by room' looking for any other assailants.  People inside were warned to stay away from any windows.

Daily Mail and other media report that at least two people are dead after a terror attacker brought carnage to central London today, mowing down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before attacking police with a knife in the grounds of the Houses of Parliament. More than 12 people are said to have been hit by a vehicle on the bridge after a 4x4 drove into pedestrians and cyclists before crashing into the gates of Parliament. An intruder, described by a witness as 'middle-aged and Asian', then managed to break into the grounds of the Parliament and stabbed a police officer before he was shot. The policeman is thought to have since died. An hour after the attack, paramedics removed a man, thought to be the attacker, from the scene after extensive CPR. Another body appeared to have been left on the ground covered by a red blanket.

Scotland Yard said the attack, which comes a year to the day after the terrorist atrocities in Brussels, is being treated 'as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise'. Commons Leader David Lidington told MPs a 'police officer has been stabbed' and the 'alleged assailant was shot by armed police' following a 'serious' incident within the parliamentary estate.  Witness Jayne Wilkinson said: 'We were taking photos of Big Ben and we saw all the people running towards us, and then there was an Asian guy in about his 40s carrying a knife about seven or eight inches long. 'And then there were three shots fired, and then we crossed the road and looked over. The man was on the floor with blood. 'He had a lightweight jacket on, dark trousers and a shirt. He was running through those gates, towards Parliament, and the police were chasing him.'

A spokesman for the Port of London Authority, which looks after safety on the River Thames, said: 'A female member of the public was recovered from the water near Westminster Bridge. She is alive but undergoing urgent medical treatment on a nearby pier. We believe she fell from the bridge.' He said the river has been closed from Vauxhall to Embankment 'as part of the security response'.  Tourists who were riding the London Eye when the attack took place are currently being held inside the pods of the attraction as a safety measure.  The Ferris wheel's official Twitter account said given its close proximity to the Houses of Parliament, it would be keeping hold 'of all its guests as per tried and tested security procedures'.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd Mar 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Intresting animals : Quokka thrown into sea ! Lilou, stress relieving pig !!

Reading the history of Madras – it is stated that a Zoological garden in connection with the Museum was started in 1855.  Ripon Buildings opened in 1913 by the then Viceroy, Lord Hardinge. It  is surmounted by a graceful tower with a big clock which chimes out, Westminsterlike, in a musical and sonorous tone, the hours and the quarters.  Behind the stately buildings, lies the People 's Park opened in 1860 by Sir Charles Trevelyan, Governor. It is the largest open space in the city, and contains several ornamental palms, a good nursery of plants, a fairly representative collection of animals in a wellkept Zoo and a small well laid out flower-garden known as "My Ladye's Garden " where annually the Corporation holds a flower show.  .. by the turn of mid 1970s, the Moore market complex was dirty and had a Zoo where animals where pale shadow of themselves !!!

Animals are interesting – ever heard of ‘quokka’, the only member of the genus Setonix,  a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat. Like other marsupials in the macropod family (such as kangaroos and wallabies), the quokka is herbivorous and mainly nocturnal. Quokkas are found on some smaller islands off the coast of Western Australia, in particular on Rottnest Island just off Perth and Bald Island near Albany.

Last week,  a security dog named Grizz was shot after he escaped on to the tarmac at Auckland Airport. The incident triggered an international outcry, with some asking why the situation couldn't have been resolved differently. That reflects the affection, people have towards these working dogs, which (along with other animals) have become commonplace in airports, in a variety of roles ranging from drug detection to therapy.    Flying can be stressful for many, have seen a couple of good looking canines at Mumbai airport but one airport has found a novel way : a therapy pig named Lilou.

The small, spotted Juliana pig  joined San Francisco International Airport's (SFO) Wag Brigade - the only non-canine member among 22 therapy dogs who wear special "Pet Me!" vests, offering comfort to anyone in the terminals who needs it.  Lilou already has her own Instagram account and can perform a number of tricks to put travellers at ease. USA Today reported she is well versed in ""greeting people with her snout or a wave, twirling and standing up on her back hooves, and playing a toy piano". Like a true performer, she even finishes with a "proper, post-performance bow.

Down under, Australian police have charged a 37-year-old New Zealand man over an incident in which he's alleged to have thrown a quokka into the water from a jetty at Rottnest Island, off the coast of Western Australia, on Friday night. Police say the quokka was able to swim to shore after the alleged incident, which happened around 10pm near the Rottnest Hotel. The man, from Christchurch, has been charged with animal cruelty and had to appear  before the Perth Magistrates Court.
 
Bevan Denis Hames, 37, who has a degree in zoology, has defended his actions with the Perth Magistrate's Court accepting he placed, rather than threw, the marsupial in the water.  It is stated that the quokka was able to swim to shore from a jetty near the Rottnest Hotel.  Hames, who is from Christchurch in New Zealand, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was granted a spent conviction and fined $2,000. Hames' lawyer Nick Terry told the court his client had no idea he was doing anything wrong, and wanted to show his friends at the pub that quokkas were surprisingly good swimmers.

ABC reports 37-year-old Bevan Hames has been given a spent conviction - which can in future be legally ignored - after pleading guilty to animal cruelty in the Perth's Magistrate Court. Hames has a degree in zoology from Canterbury University, and claimed to be knowledgeable about marsupials.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st Mar 2017


Aussie enforce draw at Ranchi mudbowl; TN wins Vijay Hazare

At Ranchi, appearance of MS Dhoni was something to cheer ~ otherwise the Indian fan was disappointed.  A good few minutes to lunch,  Peter Handscomb joined Shaun Marsh amid a Ranchi tumult. Their captain Steven Smith had just shouldered arms to let Ravindra Jadeja bowl him, symptomatic of a tired mind, the over after Matt Renshaw had also fallen.  Sanjay Manjrekar called it brainfade again ! - Australia were still 89 runs short of making India bat again; the eternally optimistic Indian fan was hoping for early conclusion.

At close of play, Handscomb was still there and Marsh not long departed. The Test match was drawn, and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy bout remained locked at 1-1. Through batting of commendable calm and sure-footed technique, the Australian duo had thwarted India in a manner that will be a source of enormous satisfaction to the tourists. While Kohli felt that he had Aussies in a corner, Steven Smith believes "momentum" is with Australia and India would be "hurting" after a day-five resistance mission in Ranchi kept the series level at 1-1.

Australia refused to crumble on the final day - just like the pitch, despite some dire pre-Test predictions - and their great escape was made possible chiefly by a fighting 124-run partnership between Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh. The pair had come together at a precarious time for Australia, at 64 for 3 after Matt Renshaw and Smith had fallen in the space of four balls towards the end of a morning session. "I'm very proud. They had magnificent plans," Smith said. "They backed their defence for a long period of time and to see the game out for as long as they did, it was an outstanding performance. I'm really proud of the way they did that.

But if only the pitch can sue or voice ! – it for sure would ask those who doomed it as a mudbowl and that a match will not last 4 days !!! – where are the pundits ?

For those of us following, Dinesh Karthik struck his 10th List A century as Tamil Nadu secured the Vijay Hazare title with a 37-run win over Bengal at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. It was Tamil Nadu's fifth one-day title, and their first in seven years since their dual triumph in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Karthik's 112 helped Tamil Nadu recover to 217 after they were dented by Bengal's fast-bowling duo of Ashok Dinda and Mohammed Shami, who took four wickets in his second match back from knee injury. He hit speeds north of 140kph and also impressed with slower offcutters. Tamil Nadu's bowlers, however, fought back and dismissed Bengal for 180. Seamer Aswin Crist took 2 for 23 and finished as this season's highest wicket-taker with 20 scalps.  Manoj Tiwary was to blame the slow start given by his openers.

The win capped a dominant three weeks for Tamil Nadu, whose 22-run defeat to Maharashtra in a Group B clash in Cuttack was the lone blip. That despite them missing several key players, with regular captain Abhinav Mukund, M Vijay and R Ashwin engaged with the Indian Test team, and their new-ball duo of T Natrajan and K Vignesh having sat out with injuries.

In neighbouring Pak, plans for an international recall for former Pakistan captain Salman Butt have been shelved for now, in light of the continuing fallout from the recent corruption allegations emanating from the PSL. Butt has no connection to the PSL corruption issue, but his role in the spot-fixing scandal in England in 2010, for which he was banned, has forced a selection rethink ahead of Pakistan's tour of the West Indies. The PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan had publicly cleared Butt's potential selection earlier this year, but it appears he will have to wait longer for a comeback.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st Mar 2017


Monday, March 20, 2017

What makes gambling wrong but Insurance right ? ~ article from BBC

What is insurance …. A contract providing indemnity at the time of a loss or damage ~ a pecuniary loss at that … with avowed principles of : ‘Indemnity, Insurable Interest,  Subrogation and more…’ In Insurance contract  there are some primary requirements – in property Insurance, there has to be a subject matter and loss or damage to it would form the nuclei. In general,  insurance is against fortuity – something that can occur or not happening and the policy holder standing to lose by its occurrence ~ the avowed principle of indemnity – would respond by placing back the policy holder in the position that one was prior to the loss.

Wager (noun) : is
a. An agreement under which each bettor pledges a certain amount to the other depending on the outcome of an unsettled matter.
b. A matter bet on; a gamble.

The meaning of ‘wagering’ is staking something of value upon the result of some future uncertain event, such as a horse race, or upon the ascertainment of the truth concerning some past or present event. In UK “ All contracts or agreements, by way of gaming or wagering  are null and void; and no suit can be  brought or maintained in any court of law or equity for recovering any sum of money or valuable thing alleged to be won upon any wager”. In every Insurance contract, insurable interest  and the principle of Indemnity ensures that no body recovers more than what was lost.  Insurance cannot be for gain.  Sec 6 of Marine Insurance Act 1963 – states
(1)    Every contract of marine insurance by way of wagering is void.

Today chanced upon an article in BBC by Tim Harford titled ‘ What makes gambling wrong but Insurance right’ ?  ~ here is the article reproduced in its entirety with full credits to its author and BBC.co.uk.

Almost a decade ago, I tried to place a bet with a leading UK betting shop that I would die within a year. They should have taken the bet - I am still alive. But they will not gamble on life and death. A life insurance company, by contrast, does little else.

Legally and culturally, there is a clear distinction between gambling and insurance. Economically the difference is less visible. Both gambler and insurer agree that money will change hands depending on what transpires in some unknowable future.
Gambling tools such as dice date back millennia - perhaps five thousand years in Egypt. Insurance may be equally old. The Code of Hammurabi - a law code from Babylon, in what is now Iraq - is nearly 4,000 years old. It includes numerous clauses devoted to the topic of "bottomry", a kind of maritime insurance bundled together with a business loan. A merchant would borrow money to fund a ship's voyage, but if the ship sank, the loan did not have to be repaid. Many of the provisions of the Code of Hammurabi - as seen on the stone stele - deal with matters of contract and trade.

Around the same time, Chinese merchants were spreading their risks by swapping goods between ships. If any single ship went down, it would contain a mix of goods from many different merchants. But all that physical shuffling around is a fuss. Much more efficient to structure insurance as a financial contract instead, something the Romans did a few millennia later. Later still, Italian city states like Genoa and Venice developed ever more sophisticated ways to insure the ships of the Mediterranean.

Then, in 1687, a coffee house opened on Tower Street, near the London docks. Run by Edward Lloyd, it was comfortable and spacious, and business boomed. Patrons enjoyed the fireside tea and coffee, and - of course - the gossip. There was much to gossip about: London's great plague, the great fire, the Dutch navy sailing up the Thames, and a revolution which had overthrown the king. But above all, the inhabitants of this coffee house loved to gossip about ships: what was sailing from where, with what cargo - and whether it would arrive safely or not. And where there was gossip, there was an opportunity for a wager.

Lloyd's patrons were happy to speculate on the likely death of Admiral John Byng, who was shot in 1757. The patrons bet, for example, on whether Admiral John Byng would be shot for his incompetence in a naval battle with the French. He was. (a separate post on Admiral and his being shot down is posted) ..  The gentlemen of Lloyd's would have had no qualms about taking my bet on my own life. Edward Lloyd realised his customers were as thirsty for information to fuel their bets as they were for coffee, and began to assemble a network of informants and a newsletter full of information about foreign ports, tides, and the comings and goings of ships. His newsletter became known as Lloyd's List. Lloyd's List was published daily until 2013, when it became online-only. Lloyd's coffee house hosted ship auctions, and gatherings of sea captains who would share stories.

If someone wished to insure a ship, that could be done too: a contract would be drawn up, and the insurer would sign his name underneath - hence the term "underwriter". It became hard to say quite where coffee-house gambling ended and formal insurance began. Eight decades after Lloyd had established his coffee house, a group of underwriters who hung out there formed the Society of Lloyd's. Today, Lloyd's of London is one of the most famous names in insurance.

Lloyd's is not an insurer: it is a marketplace in which multiple financial backers, grouped in syndicates, come together to pool risk. But not all modern insurers have their roots in gambling. Another form of insurance developed not in the ports, but the mountains. Alpine farmers organised mutual aid societies in the early 16th century, agreeing to look after each other if a cow - or child - fell ill. While the underwriters of Lloyd's viewed risk as something to be analysed and traded, the mutual assurance societies of the Alps saw it as something to be shared. And when the farmers descended from the alps to Zurich and Munich, they established some of the world's great insurance companies.

Deep pools of risk : Risk-sharing mutual aid societies are now among the largest and best-funded organisations on the planet - we call them "governments". Governments initially got into the insurance business as a way of making money, typically to fight a war in the turmoil of Europe in the 1600s and 1700s. Instead of selling ordinary bonds, which paid in regular instalments until they expired, governments sold annuities, which paid in regular instalments until the recipient expired. Easy to supply, and much in demand. Annuities are a form of insurance: they protect an individual against the risk of living so long that all their money runs out. Providing insurance is no longer a mere money-spinner for governments. It is regarded as a core priority to help citizens manage some of life's biggest risks - unemployment, illness, disability and ageing. Faced with these deep pools of risk, private insurers often merely paddle.
At least, citizens in richer economies expect insurance from their governments. In poorer countries, governments are not much help against life-altering risks, such as crop failure or illness. And private insurers tend not to take much interest, either. The stakes are too low, and the costs too high. That is a shame, because there is growing evidence that insurance doesn't just provide peace of mind, but is a vital element of a healthy economy. A recent study in Lesotho showed that farmers were being held back from specialising and expanding by the risk of drought - a risk against which they couldn't insure themselves. The Red Cross has called Lesotho's current water shortages "the worst drought in a lifetime". When researchers created an insurance company and started selling crop insurance, the farmers bought the the insurance and expanded their businesses.

Today, the biggest insurance market of all blurs the line between insuring and gambling: the market in financial derivatives. Derivatives are financial contracts that let two parties bet on something else - perhaps exchange rate fluctuations, or whether a debt will be repaid. They can be a form of insurance. An exporter hedges against a rise in the exchange rate. A wheat farming company covers itself by betting that the price of wheat will fall. The ability to buy derivatives lets companies specialise in a particular market. Otherwise, they would have to diversify - like the Chinese merchants four millennia ago, who didn't want all their goods in one ship. The more an economy specialises, the more it tends to produce. But unlike regular insurance, for derivatives you don't need to find someone with a risk they need to protect themselves against. You just need to find someone willing to take a gamble on any uncertain event anywhere in the world.

It is a simple matter to double the stakes - or multiply them by a hundred. As the profits multiply, all that is needed is the appetite to take risks. Before the international banking crisis broke in 2007, the total face value of outstanding derivatives contracts was many times larger than the world economy itself. The real economy became the sideshow, the side bets became the main event.

.. – and  ~ that story did not end well.

Tim Harford writes the Financial Times's Undercover Economist column. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy is broadcast on the BBC World Service.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Mar 2017.

Battle of Minorca ~ failure to prevent capture by French led to him being shot down !!

History has many interesting stories; often only victors are represented !!

Minorca is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. Its name derives from its size, contrasting it with nearby Majorca. This small place has seen some wars and some fallen heroes too. 

Away, the memorial in a Bedfordshire church bristles with outrage: "To the perpetual Disgrace of Public Justice," it claims of the man it commemorates, an Admiral executed on the quarterdeck of his ship 250 years ago on 14th March,  for failing to engage the French in battle with sufficient enthusiasm. He was, it adds, "a Martyr to Political Persecution...when Bravery and Loyalty were Insufficient Securities for the Life and Honour of a Naval Officer." Or, as Voltaire put it more coolly and cynically in his contemporary novel Candide: "In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others."  Guardian reports that this year, people gathered at the church in Southill, Beds,  at noon, the time of that admiral’s execution, to lay a wreath and say prayers, with the bell tolling 52 times in commemoration of his age, descendants of the unfortunate admiral who have petitioned the government for a posthumous pardon were aware that their request was unlikely to be granted.

Media reports suggested quoting a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence that the admiral could not receive the sort of pardon that ministers granted last year to men shot at dawn during the first world war - basically because there is no one alive who remembers him. The MoD said there had been specific reasons for the first world war victims to be pardoned: "There are people alive who knew them. There was a feeling that a wrong had been done. It was a personal matter rather than something lost in the mist of time." The naval admiral  episode, however was to be accepted past history and a pardon would set a precedent.  But descendant called it a shameful end for an admiral with an unblemished career. "His court martial was a sham, with false testimonies, witness intimidation and intrigue - all to cover up the failure of the government."

The man - Byng, a career naval officer, certainly appears to have been stitched up. He was sent with an inadequate fleet in May 1756 to prevent the capture of the British garrison at St Philip's Castle on the island of Menorca after a French invasion. The admiral made it clear that he believed he did not have enough ships or men, but was denied reinforcements. When a French fleet hove into view, they were half-heartedly engaged but then allowed to escape and Byng eventually set sail back to Gibraltar without relieving the fort.

The island of Minorca had been a British possession since 1708, when it was captured during the War of the Spanish Succession. On the approach of the Seven Years' War, it was threatened by a French naval attack from Toulon, and was invaded in 1756. Admiral John Byng  was serving in the Channel at the time and was ordered to the Mediterranean to relieve the British garrison of Fort St Philip, at Port Mahon. Despite his protests, he was not given enough money or time to prepare the expedition properly. His fleet was delayed in Portsmouth for five days while additional crew were found. His correspondence shows that he left prepared for failure, that he did not believe that the garrison could hold out against the French force, and that he was already resolved to come back from Minorca if he found that the task presented any great difficulty.  In the battle of Minorca, neither side lost a ship in the engagement, and casualties were roughly even, with 43 British sailors killed and 168 wounded, against French losses of 38 killed and 175 wounded.

Admiral John Byng (1704 – 1757) was a Royal Navy officer. After joining the navy at the age of thirteen, he participated at the Battle of Cape Passaro in 1718. Over the next thirty years he built up a reputation as a solid naval officer and received promotion to vice-admiral in 1747. He was a Member of Parliament from 1751 until his death.

At the battle of Minorca, he called a council of his captains at which he suggested that Minorca was effectively lost and that the best course would be to return to Gibraltar to repair the fleet. The council concurred, and the fleet set sail for Gibraltar, However, before his fleet could return to sea, another ship arrived from England with further instructions, relieving Byng of his command and ordering him to return home. On arrival in England he was placed in custody.  He was to be court-martialled and found guilty of failing to "do his utmost" to prevent Minorca falling to the French. He was sentenced to death and, after his plea for clemency was denied, was shot dead by a firing squad on 14 March 1757.

First Lord of the Admiralty Richard Grenville-Temple was granted an audience with the King to request clemency, but this was refused in an angry exchange. Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder was aware that the Admiralty was at least partly to blame for the loss at Minorca due to the poor manning and repair of the fleet. Lord Newcastle, the politician responsible, had by now joined the Prime Minister in an uneasy political coalition and this made it difficult for Pitt to contest the court martial verdict as strongly as he would have liked. He did, however, petition the King to commute the death sentence. The appeal was refused; Pitt and King George II were political opponents, with Pitt having pressed for George to relinquish his hereditary position of Elector of Hanover as being a conflict of interest with the government's policies in Europe. The King did not exercise his prerogative to grant clemency. Following the court martial and pronouncement of sentence, Admiral Byng had been detained aboard HMS Monarch in the Solent and, on 14 March 1757, he was taken to the quarterdeck for execution in the presence of all hands and men from other ships of the fleet in boats surrounding Monarch. The admiral knelt on a cushion and signified his readiness by dropping his handkerchief, whereupon a squad of Royal Marines shot John Byng dead.

~ and the spark for a search on this shooting down of Admiral was an oneliner that was read in BBC today on ‘Gambling Vs Insurance’ which said, the  patrons of UK, bet, for example, on whether Admiral John Byng would be shot for his incompetence in a naval battle with the French. He was.

Interesting ! with more than tinge of sadness !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Mar 2017.

Biblio : theguardian; bbc and Wikipedia.

Unfashionable is how Aussie Press hails Indian classy innings !! Gaffaney guffaw !!

There is an outrage on social media with Smith being slammed for poor sportsmanship after pictures emerged of him appearing to hold his shoulder while celebrating Kohli's wicket.  It is the way they are – this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald while lauding the efforts of Indian batsman titled its article “ Unfashionable cricketers teach lesson in patience ”  - what has fashion and appearance to do in the classy innings ! only they know !!  in their usual way they tried hoarse on the pitches in two tests, this one appeared a beauty wearing the skin of a beast. Predictions were that the match could not last five days on this strip of rolled mud. Pundits wrote that toss is the decider.  But India won three Test matches against England recently after losing the toss, and one after winning it.

Heard of Christopher Blair Gaffaney, from Dunedin, aged 41 the Umpire – just imagine an Indian doing this !

Though would like to remember Anshuman Gaekwad for that bold innings in  Test no. 776 in April 1976 at Sabina Park, an  innings was one of raw courage taking several blows on the body and arms – the gears were not so protective those days.  I thought that his innings at Jullundur in Test 962 was the longest. He grinded the Pak attack for 671 minutes playing 436 balls scoring 201. 

Indian fans are delighted in reading the scoreline at Ranchi - : at draw of stumps on day 4 : Australia 23 for 2 (Jadeja 2-6) and 451 trail India 603 for 9 dec (Pujara 202, Saha 117, Vijay 82, Rahul 67, Cummins 4-106) by 129 runs.

Cheteshwar Pujara secured the longest occupation ever by an Indian batsman in a Test match as he and Wriddhiman Saha ground Australia into the Ranchi dust on the fourth day. The tourists were unable to maintain their shackles on the middle-order pair after a pair of close calls went against them in the morning, leaving India as the only side who can win this match. And when their chance came to bat,  Renshaw was shaky against Ashwin; Ravindra Jadeja bowled David Warner through the gate and then followed up by skidding through the nightwatchman Nathan Lyon with the day's last delivery. Jadeja's accuracy and variation of spin loom as the gravest threats to Steven Smith's bedraggled team on day five.

In all the Pujara-Saha stand was worth 199, denying Australia a wicket until the evening session when both batsmen fell in pursuit of quick runs to increase India's lead. Jadeja prolonged the punishment with a rapid fifty, celebrating with a rapier dance.  Patience has always been a strength of Pujara's, and by surpassing Rahul Dravid as the Indian batsman to spend the longest time batting in a Test, he showed fortitude of a truly rare kind. Saha offered excellent support, opening his shoulders to play attractively against a tiring Australian attack and reaching a deserved century. The comeback hero Pat Cummins  bowled with great quality for the tourists and deserved his four wickets. Closer to lunch Pujara was given out lbw to a delivery that Lyon straighted down the line of the stumps from around the wicket, but his review showed the ball to be spinning too much and also sliding past leg stump. Pujara's performance has effectively cancelled out the big hundred made by Australia's captain Smith, and put India in the ideal position to pressure the tourists on the final day.

O'Keefe's 77 overs were the sixth most ever by an Australian bowler in a Test innings, a tally not surpassed since Jim Higgs against England in 1979.  Pujara faced 525 balls, the most by an India batsman in a Test innings (where balls faced is known). The previous record was Rahul Dravid's 495 deliveries for his career-best 270 in Rawalpindi in 2004. 215 Number of balls Pujara faced from Steve O'Keefe in his innings - the second most by a batsman off a bowler in a Test innings since 2000. Mahela Jayawardene had batted 221 balls off Nicky Boje in his famous 374. Pujara scored 65 off O'Keefe at a strike rate of 30.23, and against other bowlers he scored at 44.19 - 137 runs off 310 balls.

In neighbouring Lanka, Bangla achieved a rare win on foreign soil against a strong team – in their 100th test by beating Sri Lanka with four wickets to spare at the P Sara Oval in Colombo. There were plenty of nervy moments though, especially after Shakib Al Hasan was dismissed with 29 still required in the 191-run chase. Then, umpire S Ravi adjudged Mushfiqur Rahim lbw, only to be overturned on review. In the next over, Rangana Herath could not hold on to a rather touch return catch offered by Mosaddek Hossain. It was Bangladesh's first win over Sri Lanka in Test cricket. They came into this game on the back of a timid performance in Galle. Then they had to deal with the messy axing of Mahmudullah and a late injury to wicketkeeper Liton Das. It must have been difficult to summon the focus needed to level the series.

Umpires after all are humans. Little did Umpire Chris Gaffaney know that one of his actions will get turned into a hit internet meme when he went out to do his job on the fourth day of the third test match between India and Australia. 

In the  140th  over of the Indian innings Gaffaney, after raising his finger realizing that there were no appeal from the bowler Hazlewood or the keeper Wade – settled to scratching his head.  To the bouncer, Pujara was tempted to a pull but it appeared not making contact.   Gaffaney, reacting to the appeal, started raising his finger only to quickly change his mind and end up scratching his hat.
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Mar 2017.