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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Sunil Gavaskar criticises Dhoni for playing slow !!

MS Dhoni walked a single to third man to reach 10,000 ODI runs, but there was barely a clap heard at Lord's. Even the Indian dressing room was glum.  In his syndicated column, Sunil Gavaskar was quick to launch a wileful attack saying – ‘MSD knock reminded me of my infamous 36’  ...

Rewind a few years back to that day  in Adelaide  A supremely calm MS Dhoni guided India to victory, with two balls to spare, over Australia in the ODI at Adelaide Oval. Dhoni's composure was best measured by how he paced his innings. It bordered on the statuesque early, before he raised tempo with swift running between the wickets. He saved his one stroke to the boundary - a towering six over long on off  Clint McKay, a clean 112 meters as the ball disappeared .. .. 

At Lords now,  Dhoni was booed as India's run rate came to a virtual standstill in the final 10 overs, after the chase of 323 fell apart. Boos and slow-hand claps rang across the ground because Dhoni was reluctant to play aggressively. Dhoni had walked in at the fall of Virat Kohli's wicket with India needing 183 in 23 overs, the asking rate a shade below eight. By the time he was dismissed for 37 off 59 balls, 20 overs later, India had added just 75 runs, and the required rate had nearly doubled. It was also the first time since the 2011 World Cup semi-final that India failed hit a six in an ODI.  Not a great show and an uncharacteristic innings from MS dhoni.  When Dhoni was finally caught slogging Liam Plunkett to deep midwicket in the 47th over, the crowd clapped his dismissal. At the presentation, Kohli reasoned that Dhoni's plan was to ensure India did not suffer a big defeat.

Immediately there are some voices on his effect waning ~ fitter and faster than players 10 years his junior, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is irreplaceable in the Indian ODI team right now, is what  national coach Ravi Shastri felt recently.  Dhoni proved all his critics wrong by leading dad’s army CSK to a convincing win in IPL 2018.  Dhoni's form with the bat has been heavily scrutinised in the recent past with every failure being looked upon as an ominous sign. However, the talismanic keeper-batsman did well in the just-concluded limited overs and has baled out India many a times. 

That is clear MSD in 90 tests 144 innings had 4876 runs averaging 38.09 with a striker ate of 59.11; in onedayers 320 – 273 – 10004 – avg 51.30; strike rate 88.27 add 1487 runs @ SR 127.09 in T2oI.  Age is just a number – it is the capability and fitness that matters most. 

Now read to understand what happened in Lords in 1975 by the smart commentator, wise Sunil Gavaskar, who certainly had the most organized defence.
India’s baptism in One day international was in  1974  which was disastrous tour for Indians by all means.  India participated in the inaugural WC in 1975 and lost the inaugural match to England.  That was a match to forget for the Nation as also for one the finest batsmen India has ever produced – Sunil Manohar Gavaskar. Sunil  had the most compact defence and probably played fast bolwing better than any body else. Yet he would like to forget that match under the captaincy of Srinivasan Venkatraghavan.  Of the three,India lost to England and New zealand and beat the novice East Africa. 

It was only ODI No. 19, and Indians had played only two matches earlier.  Anshuman Gaekwad, the bespectacled player from Baroda was considered not good enough for the limited over version.  His batting might not have been elegant but he displayed raw courage in handling red hot pace and made most runs against the quickest of the Caribbean bowlers at their land.  Women had already played their First WC two years earlier when the men’s inaugural version was launched in 1975.  On June 7 1975, the hosts England played India in perfect English surroundings of glorious sunshine and good weather at Lords.   England plundered the amiable Indian bowling  and piled up 334 for 4 in 6o overs – obviously the new high in ODI in those days.  Dennis Amiss the opener socred 137, supported by Keith Fletcher’s 68.  To show what acceleration was all about, Chris Old more better known for his swing bowling bludgeoned a 30 ball 50.  Karsan Devraj Ghavri, the indian left arm pacer proved too expensive conceding 83 in his 11 with a maiden and no wickets.

To say India lost would be extremely complex under-statement.  India made 132 for 3 and lost by 202 runs.  Gavaskar crawled to 36 not out off 174 balls with just one four and perhaps that was the only time Anshuman Gaekwad outpaced him.  There were more than 16000 spectators who left the stadium without happiness even when their home team won the match comfortably.  To rub in to the wounds, the manager GS Ramchand stated that Gavaskar had considered the England score unobtainable and so had taken practice. It was an excuse, but not one that anyone believed.  Rumours were aplenty.

Years later there was mention that he had actually been caught behind off the second ball of the innings.  Why Alan Knott did not make a sound appeal ?  Days later Clive Hubert Lloyd made a whirlwind 100 of 85 balls to ensure a win in the finals.  It was indeed a great finals.  For long that stood as fastest century. 

The 10000 club in ODI reads : Sachin Tendulkar (18426 off 463); Kumara Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jawardene, Inzamam ul Haq, Jacques Kallis, Sourav Ganguly, Brian Lara, Tilakaratne Dilshan and MSD ..  .. .. MSD has the best average 51.30 – next comes Sachin with 44.83; Dhoni is the 2nd topper in strike rate ; Sanath has 91.20 – MSD has 88.27 .. .. and not to forget the fact that he has 294 test victims, 407 ODI victims including 107 stumpings and 87 ODI victims as keeper.

Gavaskar became the first batsman to cross the 10000 barrier in Tests; went on to play 108 one dayers scoring 3092.  In his penultimate match against New Zealand, a WC group match, he scored his only century.  It is another matter that in what turned out to be his last match - the semi final of 1987 WC against England, when Indians were chasing 254, he was bowled rather uncharacteristically to De Freitas for 4.   India lost that match. Sunil owes explanation to Indian fans and more so his captain Srinivasa Venkatraghavan for that disgraceful innings, but now wielding pen and mike, he disgraces Dhoni’s innings !! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th July 2018.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Croatia to play France in FIFA 2018 finals ~ something on President Kolinda Grabar

Tomislav  was the  first King of Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea. Its capital is Zagreb.  The Croats reportedly arrived in the area in the 6th century and organised the territory into two duchies by the 9th century. Tomislav became the first king by 925, elevating Croatia to the status of a kingdom, which retained its sovereignty for nearly two centuries.  In October 1918, in the final days of World War I, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, independent from Austria-Hungary, was proclaimed in Zagreb, and in December 1918 it was merged into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

People are reading more about Croatia after they  sent Gareth Southgate's boys packing home in a scintillating encounter 2-1. And while Luka Modrić and his boys sent Kane & Co home, photo of this women  Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic supporting the team went viral.  She is no ordinary person – she is the   President -  Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic speaks Croatian, English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently and has basic understanding of German, French, and Italian. Only recently she ascended to power as the fourth president of the Republic of Croatia and the first female president of the country.

I have heard of Croatia earlier .. Croatia declared Independence after a referendum in 1991.  In 1992, Goran Ivanišević steamrolled his way to reach his first Wimbledon singles final, having defeated Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, and Pete Sampras in succession. Ivanišević's 6–7, 7–6, 6–4, 6–2 semifinal victory over Sampras was particularly impressive, with Ivanišević serving 36 aces and not even facing a break point in the entire match. In the final, Ivanišević faced Andre Agassi and was heavily favored to win; with both players attempting to win their first Grand Slam title. Agassi eventually won 6–7, 6–4, 6–4, 1–6, 6–4. In the fifth set, Ivanišević had a break point on Agassi's serve at 3–3, but failed to convert it. Ivanišević's ace count for the tournament (206) was the highest in Wimbledon history at the time, until Ivanišević beat his own record in 2001 with 213 aces. Ivanišević served 37 aces in the 1992 Wimbledon final against Agassi, while Agassi had 37 aces in the entire tournament. In recent times, the flag is kept high by - Marin Čilić, the reigning US Open champion.

Their legs had stopped working long before the end. Their muscles ached, their lungs heaved, their bodies creaked and groaned. Croatia’s players had hit their limits and traveled beyond them, yet again; they had drained themselves of adrenaline; they had passed deep into the red, into the pain. And still, even as their movements grew stiff and their tendons tight, when they were gasping for breath and it looked as though they could not possibly give any more, they kept going, kept chasing, kept running: past England, into the World Cup final, into history.
When the final whistle blew after two periods of extra time and their 2-1 victory was confirmed, several sank to the turf, floored not just by the sheer physical effort they had produced, but by the scale of their achievement. All but one of the superpowers have gone: Brazil and Germany, Argentina and Spain are out. Croatia, this nation of four million people, remains. Only France stands between this team and what would, most likely, rank as the most remarkable World Cup victory in history. It has reached the final the hard way, via the scenic route: extra-time and penalties against Denmark, extra-time and penalties against Russiaand now this: an exhausting, compelling 120 minutes against England, the sort of epic occasion that only the World Cup can produce. Modric is a veteran of four Champions League finals, Mandzukic three, Dejan Lovren and Ivan Rakitic one apiece. Of England’s starters, only Jordan Henderson had played in the biggest game in club soccer, and that was only a little more than a month ago.

England somehow wound up with just one shot on goal: the first-half score by Trippier. Of their other 10 shots, six were off target and four were blocked. In contrast, Croatia fired off 22 shots, getting seven of them on net.  After England’s loss it is  Croatia who return to the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday to face France.

Getting back to the good looking female President, the Nato summit kept her away from the semi-final, where her country broke English hearts, but she is expected to fly straight back to Moscow for the final against France.  Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (1968 born) is a Croatian politician and diplomat serving as the 4th  and current President of Croatia since 2015. She is the first woman to be elected to the office after the first multi-party elections in 1990. At 46 years of age, she also became the youngest person to assume the presidency. Before her election as President of Croatia, Grabar-Kitarović held a number of governmental and diplomatic positions.

Sometime back a photo went viral stating to be the President in bikini – however it was fake as it turned out to be   a American supermodel  Coco Austin.

So whom are you supporting in the finals tomorrow ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th July 2018.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Hima Das does India proud in U20 IAAF at Finland

A match is not over until the last ball is bowled and a race isn’t over until it’s over.  Yesterday at Nottingham where the last two matches had scores of 400+ - India romped home comfortably with 10 overs to spare ~ Rohit’s 137* did not fetch him the man of the match, for Kuldeep Yadav had outshone him with a six for .. ..

The women’s 100m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 was effectively all over in the first few strides.  Prodigious Jamaican Briana Williams, who turned 16 just a few months ago, shot out of the blocks to steal a march on world U20 leader Twanisha Terry of the USA. Terry, who had clocked a championship record of 11.03 (0.4m/s) to win her semifinal, couldn’t make up the ground on Williams as her younger rival held on to victory in 11.16. Despite being the youngest 100m entrant of the entire championships, Williams was a model of poise and composure in the final. It was only when she crossed the line that her face lit up with emotion, her eyes and mouth wide open in pure disbelief.

Tampere  is a city in Pirkanmaa, southern Finland. It is the most populous inland city in the Nordic countries.  It's also the most populous Finnish city outside the Greater Helsinki area and a major urban, economic, and cultural hub for central Finland. Tampere is wedged between two lakes, Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi. Since the two lakes differ in level by 18 metres (59 ft), the rapids linking them, Tammerkoski, have been an important power source throughout history, most recently for generating electricity. Tampere is dubbed the "Manchester of Finland" for its industrial past as the former center of Finnish industry.  The capital Helsinki is approximately 160 kilometres (99 mi) south of Tampere. 

IAAF world champions is happening here and Indians have reasons to be reading this !!

IAAF World U20 Championships is a biennial world championships for the sport of athletics organised by the International Association of Athletics Federations, contested by athletes in the under-20 athletics age category (19 years old or younger on 31 December in the year of the competition.  The competition was launched at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Athletics in 1986 and . The name of the competition was changed in November 2015.  Boasting 49 Olympic track and field champions to date, Finland has a long and proud history of producing some of our sport’s greatest athletes, and an equally strong record of hosting major events, from the 1952 Olympic Games, to the inaugural world championships in 1983 and the 2005 edition, both held in Helsinki. As one of 17 founding members of the IAAF 106 years ago, Finland has always been a major contributor to the development of our sport. With such a rich history, it is entirely fitting that it hosts  the event that will introduce to the world the next generation of champions.

India's Hima Das made history by becoming the country's first track athlete to become a world champion at any level after winning the women's 400m at the U-20 World Championships in Tampere, Finland yesterday night. Hima is also only the second ever Indian athlete to claim a gold medal at the World Juniors, following javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra's victory at the 2016 edition of the championships. With a power-packed finish, India’s Hima Das sealed her nation’s first ever medal in the 400m at the IAAF World U20 Championships, sling-shotting to the lead down the home straight and coming home a clear winner in 51.46.

It made her the first Indian woman to win a global title of any kind and the first Indian, male or female, to win a global track title. Hima  had looked an overwhelming favourite for gold throughout the rounds, but on an evening of surprises it looked like another one was on the cards midway through the 400m final. She was to say  afterwards, “my biggest strength is the last 100m.” “I'm very proud to hold the Indian flag on my shoulders,” said Das. “I'd like to thank India and my team leader and my coach.” Running in lane four at the Ratina Stadium, the 18-year-old who had begun learning the basics of sprinting just a couple of years ago, stormed to victory in 51.46 seconds, beating Romania's Andrea Miklos, who was a distant second at 52.07 seconds and USA's Taylor Manson, who clocked 52.28 seconds.

Australia’s Ella Connolly, Romania’s Andrea Miklos and USA’s Taylor Manson all appeared in better shape for victory, but Das finishes like few others in the world of one-lap running. She torched up the home straight and was drawing away at the finish, coming home well clear of Miklos, who grabbed silver with a PB of 52.07. Manson claimed bronze for USA with a strong run of 52.28, while Connolly was run out of the medals in fourth with 52.82.

She had earlier increased confidence of all Indians by beating her rivals in the heats and had qualified for the finals as the fastest athlete in the semi-finals on Wednesday. Despite her wins, her times in those two races were far short of her personal bests, something that worried Nipon Das, who had initiated her career in athletics.

Hailing from the rice fields of Dhing village in Assam’s Nagaon distrist,  the 18-year old Hima has come up so high .. ..  Well done and hearty congratulations Hima Das

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
13th July 2018.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

KUldip Yadav chinaman bowler bamboozles England with a 6 for at Nottingham

Trent Bridge is a cricket ground mostly used for Test, One-day international and County cricket located in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England, just across the River Trent from the city of Nottingham. .. .. India is playing the first ODi today there !

In Sept 2013, I had posted about him writing - given the uniqueness of his style, the 18-year-old Kuldeep Yadav  is among the brightest bowling prospects in the country. A left-arm wrist spinner like him is essentially an attacking, wicket-taking option. Former India left-arm orthodox spinner Maninder Singh said, “It is very hard to come across a genuine left-arm chinaman bowler. It is because of this that batsmen struggle to pick them.  This breed requires the support of the team management and Kuldeep has been backed by Uttar Pradesh coach Gyanendra Pandey and skipper Mohammed Kaif. And the years spent at the NCA have been immensely beneficial. He was part of the U19 team that toured Australia and Sri Lanka and his coach Bharat Arun was immensely satisfied with him..

Nottingham is a city and unitary authority area in Nottinghamshire, England, 128 miles (206 km) north of London, in the East Midlands.  Nottingham has links to the legend of Robin Hood and to the lace-making, bicycle (notably Raleigh bikes), and tobacco industries. It was granted its city charter in 1897 as part of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations  Nottingham has an award-winning public transport system,  including the largest publicly owned bus network in England.  It is also a major sporting centre, and in October 2015 was named 'Home of English Sport'.

On 11 December 2015, Nottingham was named a "City of Literature" by UNESCO, joining Norwich, Melbourne, Prague and Barcelona as one of only a handful in the world. The title reflects Nottingham's literary heritage, a thriving publishing industry and a vibrant poetry scene.  It has two universities, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, which are attended by over 60,000 students. 

In ODI 4014, Jason Roy and Jhonny Bairstow gave a flying start scoring 70 without loss in 10 .. .. the man who had been dropped for the 3rd T20 had other ideas.  Kuldeep Yadav bagged his maiden five-wicket haul in one-day internationals just nine days after snaring his first five-wicket haul in T20 Internationals. The left-arm chinaman bowler spun a web around England's batsmen as India took the upper-hand in the first ODI at Trent Bridge on Thursday. Kuldeep finished with 6/25 off his 10 overs - these are now the fourth best bowling figures for India in one-dayers. Anil Kumble is second with 6/12. Ashish Nehra, who had picked 6/23 against England in the 2003 World Cup, is third.  Can you imagine, who tops that list ??

In an ODI at Dhaka in Jun 17, 2014, pacy teenage debutant Taskin Ahmed was the star of the first half of the game, with a five-for that kept India to their lowest total (105) against Bangladesh, but that faded into insignificance as Stuart Binny conjured figures of 6 for 4 to extend the home side's losing streak to nine.  Bangla were all out for 58 – with Stuart Binny’s figures reading a staggering  4.4-2-4-6 !!    
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th July 2018.  @ 11 pm.

PS :  At the time of posting, India was well on target to a victory ..  Sidharth Kaul made a forgettable debut with figures of 10-0-62-0.  Shikhar Dhawan gave a rousing start of 50 off 27 before charging down and losing out to Moeen Ali; Kohli made 75 -  Rohit Sharma scored his 18th  ODI century (137 off 114 with 15 fours and 4 sixers) all taken over by the  brightest shine Kuldeep.

when postman came calling ~ Triplicane remembers the good service

What makes you feel happy ? – ‘knowing lot of people or being known to lot of people’ ?  ~ a few decades ago, there was at least person who thrived knowing the resident’s name and perhaps their occupation too .. .. .. gone are those good old days, in a culture, where the next door neighbour is not known and people do not care to know ‘who lives next !’.

this building was once a place where hundreds would come daily ~ - days when post cards, inland letters, money orders ruled the roost – and it fell to dust.  For the unknown, this building on Big Street, Triplicane hosued Sri Parthasarathi Post Office.  In Mar 2013 and some other times, I had posted on the endless wait of Triplicanites for the functioning of Sri Parthasarathi Post Office. It is not merely a Post Office that Triplicanites yearned for -  not simply a building or an Office – but something unique in the name of the presiding deity of Thiruvallikkeni …………

In days of yore when communication thrived in written form – sent on  post cards / inland letters / covers / telegrams / Greeting cards / money orders / postal orders and the like… for communicating…  the most important man, for whom all the residents of the street waited was the ‘uniformed postman’.  ‘Sir Post’ were the most awaited words – the time when Postman came calling to deliver the communication that you yearned for.   The post man  easily was once the most respected and known person in any village / city  as people waited for his arrival expectantly everyday.

History reveals that it was way back in 1712, Governor Harrison first started a Company Postal Service in Madras to carry mail to Bengal by dak runner. Decades later the postal rules were in place  ~ Chennai General Post Office was initially opened in Fort St. George Square, just outside the Sea Gate, on 1 June 1786.

For Thiruvallikkeni vasis, the post got sorted either at Triplicane Post Office in Triplicane High Road or nearby Sri Parthasarathi Post Office at Big Street.  The building housing the Post Office in Big Street became dilapidated, was demolished and now has become a car park. The PO was later housed in a smaller, old building in Hanumantharayan Kovil Street off Kairavini Pushkarini, the temple tank before moving to its present position in North Tank Square street after the residents fought relentlessly. 

Most   Postmen would know all the streets of the locality as also the residents of each street.  Once a mammoth Govt Dept employing most people next to Indian Railways, the Department of Posts has lost most of its pristine glory now.  For those with sharp memories and even to those with short memories, there are some postmen who have endeared to the locality by their friendly demenaour –  the tall hard complexioned Ravi (Mr S Ravichandran) has been one – amiable and professional in his delivery.  Every other day, we could hear people talking loudly on mobiles and quite often we hear people quarelling complaining about poor service et al.  The postman had the simple (perhaps thankless) arduous task of delivering letters – made more difficult when houses started vanishing and they turned apartments (many of the earlier ones not having lift)

Ravi, fondly called aloud the name of the recipient and hand over or place it gently at the doorstep / letterbox after bringing the arrival to their notice.  There was never a problem with incomplete or illegibly written addresses, as he knew all the residents (of his beat) too well.   Be it sweltering Sun or heavy thunder showers, Ravi came calling !

All good things do come to an end – Mr S Ravichandran retired peacefully on 31.5.2018.  our friend TA Sathyanarayanan met him in Triplicane Post Office to say thanks for the meritorious service.  Today TAS, R Kannan and TJ Ramani organized a farewell, recognizing this affable individual for the good services rendered.  The man so simple spoke loudly of what he considered his duty, how much he loved his work and the opportunity of mingling with people, helping in whatever little way he could.  Moving it was ~ and the parting shot .. .. .. he said, he felt complete when many citizens recognize him and appreciate him and added that he would be too happy to receive a certificate of recognition from the ‘great service organization – SYMA’ – to him this was a dream .. ..

We immediately felt that SYMA should indeed honour people like him, who have played a long innings with passion  - perhaps Aug 15, our Independence Day, when we have our eye camp should provide the podium for SYMA honouring him.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th July 2018.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Croatia takes on England in 2nd Semis of FIFA 2018

Tomislav  was its first King.   He became Duke  in c. 910, was elevated to kingship by 925 and reigned until 928. At the time of his rule, this place  forged an alliance with the Byzantines during their struggle with the Bulgarian Empire, with whom it eventually went to war that culminated in the decisive Battle of the Bosnian Highlands in 926.

Excitement has reached fever pitch across England today as fans rush home to watch the national side take on Croatia in the World Cup semi-final. Millions are hoping to see history made with England on the cusp of their second-ever World Cup final if they can win in Moscow.  The country is expected to come to a stand-still and queues have already started building up outside bars and pubs in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and other major cities and towns. The  nation is on tenterhooks with so much at stake in the match, the winner of which will face France on Sunday.

Although there were plenty of songs and chants heard around the country before kick-off, there were also nervous smiles and faces as the reality of the situation dawned on people. Fans have already started arriving at Hyde Park where 30,000 people will watch the match together and big screens are also up and running across London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Leeds, Bristol and Brighton.  Offices and landmarks were turned into giant crosses of St George and staff wore their England shirts while schoolchildren swapped hymns for renditions of 'Three Lions' and giddy students danced on the chairs and desks in excitement.

        World Cup fever has taken complete control of the country, which will come to a standstill tonight as 30million people tune in to watch Harry Kane 's heroes take on Croatia in the semi-final.Many took to social media as they celebrated leaving work hours early and heading to the pub for a drink to calm their already frayed nerves. Millions knocking off early is set to cause chaos on the roads and railways with rush hour starting at 2pm instead of 4pm and peaking at around 5pm.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: 'Historically, the biggest TV events and quietest roads in the UK were during the World Cup final in 1966 followed by the funeral of Diana, Apollo 13, royal weddings and Muhammad Ali's 'Rumble in the Jungle'. This game will join the list'.

The last time England were in the semisin 1990, no-one was chanting "football's coming home" in the streets. That's because the song wouldn't come out for another six years. The team's official World Cup song was New Order's World in Motion - one of the few football songs to stand the test of time. It's now most famous for one thing: England midfielder John Barnes wrote and performed his own rap in the song.  Germany was two countries the last time England played in a semi-final (and this Wednesday's opponents Croatia didn't even exist as a country).

So it was West Germany who lined up against England on that night in Turin in 1990. The wizardry of England's brightest talent - 23-year-old Paul Gascoigne - had helped spur the team to the semi-finals, sparking Gazzamania around the country. But, with the match at 1-1 after 90 minutes, legs were tired and Gazza got booked for a late tackle in extra time - his second yellow of the tournament. His bottom lip started to wobble. If England were to make it to the final, he would be suspended.

FIFA 1990  was won by West Germany, their third World Cup title. They beat Argentina 1–0 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, a rematch of the previous final four years earlier. Italy finished third and England fourth, after both lost their semi-finals in penalty shootouts. This was the last tournament to feature a team from the divided Germany, with the country being reunified later in 1990, as well as teams from the Eastern Bloc prior to the end of the Cold War in 1991, as the Soviet Union, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia teams made appearances.

Tomislav  was the  first King of Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea. Its capital is Zagreb.  The Croats reportedly arrived in the area in the 6th century and organised the territory into two duchies by the 9th century. Tomislav became the first king by 925, elevating Croatia to the status of a kingdom, which retained its sovereignty for nearly two centuries.  In October 1918, in the final days of World War I, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, independent from Austria-Hungary, was proclaimed in Zagreb, and in December 1918 it was merged into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, most of the Croatian territory was incorporated into the Nazi-backed client-state which led to the development of a resistance movement and the creation of the Federal State of Croatia which after the war become a founding member and a federal constituent of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 25 June 1991, Croatia declared independence, which came wholly into effect on 8 October of the same year. The Croatian War of Independence was fought successfully for four years following the declaration.

Thus when England played in semifinals of FIFA, Croatia had not been born.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th July 2018.

Roger Federer bows out of Wimbledon 2018

In press conference at Wimbledon after his second round match win over Lukas Lacko, Roger Federer commented on Switzerland loss to Sweden by 1-0 in the football World Cup. 'I was disappointed yesterday', the world No. 2 admitted. 'I expected more from the team. But that’s the thing with a knock-out. When you have to bring it like it was the finals every match, it’s 11 guys at the same time. It can’t just be three guys, eight guys. It needs to be everybody at the same time doing the same thing. I felt it’s an opportunity missed. I think we had our chance against Sweden. In the end, I thought they were maybe a little bit better. We didn’t create enough chances.

Roger Federer holds several ATP records and is considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time. The Swiss player has proved his dominance on court with 20 Grand Slam titles and 97 career ATP titles. In 2003, he founded the Roger Federer Foundation, which is dedicated to providing education programs for children living in poverty in Africa and Switzerland.   In Wimbledon 2018, continuing to play strong, Roger took on Adrian Mannarino to reach the Quarterfinals at the All England Club today. He has not lost a set and not lost serve this tournament. He faced 4 break points against Mannarino, but battled his way out of each of them and commanded play as he won 6-0, 7-5, 6-4.  Needing just 16 minutes to take the first set, the 8-time Wimbledon Champion has now won 32 consecutive sets at Wimbledon.

Disappointment for Roger Federer fans .. .. the Cape Town born  - South Africa's Kevin Anderson and eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer were embroiled in a classic quarter-final that  entered the fifth set - and passed the four hour mark. Federer took the opening two sets 6-2 and 7-6 (7/5) before Anderson rebounded to take sets 3 and 4, 7-5 and 6-4 to even the contest.

Final scores read :
            1          R. Federer      6          7(7)      5          4          11       

            8          K. Anderson  2          6(5)      7          6          13        

Top seed Federer, who was aiming for a record-equalling ninth singles title, missed a match point in the third set.  It proved pivotal as the South African recovered to win 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 6-4 13-11 in four hours and 13 minutes.  The 2017 US Open finalist will meet Canada's Milos Raonic or American John Isner in his first SW19 semi-final. Federer’s defeat was his first from two sets up since 2011, when he was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the US Open semi-final. Three months before that he had gone down in five sets to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Wimbledon.

Eight-time champion Federer has already won more Wimbledon singles titles than any other man, but was aiming to equal Martina Navratilova's all-time record.  The Swiss, who turns 37 next month, had been utterly dominant on his way to the last eight, swatting off Dusan Lajovic, Lukas Lacko, Jan-Lennard Struff and Adrian Mannarino in a combined total of little more than six hours on court.  But Anderson, playing in his first Wimbledon quarter-final, finally made the 20-time Grand Slam champion look human.

The 32-year-old became the first opponent to win a service game, and then a set, against Federer at this year's Championships. All good things do come to an end !! -  of his many coaches,  Severin Luthi  played a key role in the Roger Federer's career. The Swiss player hired Luthi back in 2008, and since then he often praised the work they have done together. At the end of 2015, when Stefan Edberg decided to leave the team, Federer asked Luthi to become his main and one coach.  The 41-year-old didn't accept the request as he works as Swiss Davis Cup team captain and cannot guarantee a 365-day (or so) availability a year.   

The other successful coach is  Ivan Ljubicic,  a Croatian former World No. 3.   He played the Swiss 16 times in his 14-year career, before retiring in 2012. Ljubicic won just three times. The two also spent many hours practicing together when they were both competing.  Federer had praised Ljubicic in the past, calling him a “natural leader,” and “very bright.” Ljubicic is no stranger to top-level coaching, he previously worked with Canada’s Milos Raonic. The highlight during his time with Raonic was a semifinals appearance at Wimbledon in 2014 before he lost to Federer. Raonic talked of Ljubicic’s “tremendous amount of support, knowledge and understanding,” when the two split in November 2015.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th July 2018.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

FIFA semis France plays Belgium at Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg

Neva is a river in northwestern Russia flowing from Lake Ladoga through the western part of Leningrad Oblast to the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finland. The Neva is the only river flowing from Lake Ladoga and it  flows through the city of Saint Petersburg.  It is a site of numerous major historical events, including the Battle of the Neva in 1240 which gave Alexander Nevsky his name, the founding of Saint Petersburg in 1703, and the Siege of Leningrad by the German army during World War II.  Krestovsky Stadium officially Saint Petersburg Stadium, also called Zenit Arena, is a retractable roof stadium in the western portion of Krestovsky Island in Saint Petersburg, Russia, which serves as home for FC Zenit Saint Petersburg.. this stadium is set to host today’s semi-finals of FIFA 2018.

London Ambulance Service (LAS) is a National Health Service trust that is responsible for answering and responding to urgent and emergency medical situations within London. The service responds to 999 and 111 phone calls, providing triage and advice to enable an appropriate level of response. It is one of 10 ambulance trusts in England providing emergency medical services, and is part of the National Health Service, receiving direct government funding for its role. .. .. .. and it was in news !!

FIFA 2018 is drawing to closure.  France face Belgium while England play Croatia in their biggest match for a generation. It is England's first World Cup semi-final appearance since 1990 when they lost to West Germany on penalties.  An unquestionable sign of world-class quality and international prestige, there are few better indicators of greatness than when a player manages to score more goals than anyone else at the World's greatest sporting event. With Eusebio, Garrincha and the original Ronaldo among its previous winners, the Golden Boot has kept company with some of the best footballers of all time, and it's England's Harry Kane that currently leads the way at the 2018 Russia World Cup.  Six-goal Kane has proven himself priceless, scoring in each of the games he's played in so far, demonstrating killer instinct and nerves of steel on his country's path to the quarter finals. Belgium's Romelu Lukaku, currently in second place alongside Russia's Denis Cheryshev, has done his best to keep pace with Kane by scoring four goals of his own. French sensation Kylian Mbappe also lurks behind on three, alongside Russia's Artem Dzyuba, and Uruguay's Edinson Cavani.

As expected, a  football frenzy is sweeping  across the nation as England reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time in 28-years. Gareth Southgate's side has already broken a national World Cup record, becoming the first ever to win a game on penalites against Colombia. In the last few days England fans have rushed for tickets in Russia, splashing out thousands - while in London, pubs seats sold out in seconds over the weekend, after England beat Sweden 2-0 on Saturday.

Fans celebrated England’s win over Sweden .. ..  and a woman  was pictured dancing on an ambulance service car .. social media reports identified her as Larissa Bell who had damaged the emergency service vehicle by jumping on it along with several other yobs following Saturday's win over Sweden. Miss Bell, 20, who says she is a waitress at an Italian restaurant from East Kilbride, Glasgow, took it in turns with the thugs to stand on the car in Borough, south London. Their actions meant the vehicle, which should be helping those wounded or ill around London, has been forced off the road for repairs. Asked if it looked like Larissa was attempting to get off the vehicle in the photograph, the friends who saw it on social media  added: 'Yeah, and the reason that we know that it is definitely her is that there is a picture on Instagram of her with another girl and she is wearing the exact same outfit.  Police tweeted a photo of Miss Bell wearing pink shorts as she jumped on the car as part of an appeal to track her down.

Yesterday they revealed they know who she is, with the tweet: 'IDENTIFIED. Many thanks to all for sharing.. Now it's our turn.'  There is growing concern around the country that some fans are taking their celebrations of England's World Cup glory too far ahead of the semi final clash with Croatia. After Saturday's victory over Sweden a group of supporters invaded an Ikea store in east London this weekend and another man jumping from the roof of a double-decker bus and smashing through the roof a bus stop in Clapham.  London Ambulance tweeted: 'We're delighted with the result, but this has put a big dampener on the celebrations for us: while our officer attended a call nearby, this car was damaged in Borough High Street during the celebrations after the game - it's now off the road to be repaired.'

Meantime, Croatia defender Domagoj Vida could face further action by Fifa following the emergence of a second video of him appearing to shout “Glory to Ukraine!”, as well as “Belgrade burn!”, after his country’s World Cup win over Russia. The game’s governing body confirmed today that  it was “looking into” the new footage two days after issuing the 29-year-old with a formal warning for breaching its rules on political statements by yelling the first slogan in a separate clip. The former Dynamo Kiev player’s actions were widely perceived as anti-Russian, prompting the host nation’s fans to  pledge their allegiance to England in the latter’s semi-final against Croatia on Wednesday night. Vida is a key player for Croatia and has become even more so with Sime Vrsaljko doubtful for Wednesday’s game with a knee problem.  Decrying the revolution as a “fascist junta”, Russia annexed Crimea and backed separatists in a grinding war of attrition in eastern Ukraine that continues to flare up periodically.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th July 2018.

Monday, July 9, 2018

TNPL 2018 - BCCI tries to muzzle TNCA

This evening as I returned home ~ could see MA Chidambaram stadium glowing – yes, the flood lights were on .. .. sadly could recall the IPL match 2018  that was marred by outside demonstrations and subsequent decision to shift CSK matches out of Chennai.  No IPL to Chennai is not totally new – there have been controversies, with lankan players barred for a couple of seasons, matches played with 3 stands kept empty, CSK barred for a couple of seasons and more ! – now TNPL, the interesting T20 tournament beckoning !!

Those of us watching Cricket for decades – have been to MA Chidambaram stadium fondly the Chepauk and many other smaller ones like the Marina stadium, University Union, Gurunanak, AC Tech, India Pistons stadium, Pachaiyappas and more….. places where cricket matches are played.  It is ten years  since the first match in IPL was played  in 2008. Ten full years since Brendon McCullum smashed 158* for Kolkata Knight Riders – between and more so, much has changed since Chennai Super Kings last played Rajasthan Royals in 2015. Shane Watson  switched camps. Suresh Raina  missed an IPL game in yellow jersey  ~  MA Chidambaram Stadium could not  host CSK's home matches this season. .. .. all that was forgotten when Dhoni successfully led to another title triumph. 

We have been following news that 16  outstation cricketers will feature in the upcoming third edition of the Sankar Cement-sponsored Tamil Nadu Premier League for the first time,  as it was announced that  two uncapped other-state Indian players would turn out for each of the eight franchises.  A total of 112 players from 13 state associations, namely Baroda, Karnataka, Kerala, Hyderabad, Andhra, Goa, Saurashtra, Madhyapradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat and  Jammu & Kashmir, registered for the outstation Player draft of TNPL 2018 which was held at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wedneday.

The TNPL has clearly grown in stature over the past two seasons with a number of players picked by IPL franchises. Franchises will be allowed to field both outstation players in the playing XI, the organisers announced. TNPL-3, comprising 32 matches and spread over 33 days across three venues, is scheduled to be  held between July 11 and August 12.  However, it was restrained that such outstation players : should be uncapped for the Nation; should have NOC from their association; and .. .. .. and should never have been a part of any IPL – 2018  franchise.. now even that is not allowed !! 

News reports suggest that Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has challenged the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) directive, which prevents outstation players from participating in T20 leagues, saying it exhibits "a complete and utter disregard" for the interests of players, depriving them of the opportunity to "earn a living" and "showcase their talents to the world". The state association further accused the CoA of arbitrariness and malice in forming the rule. TNCA's response came after the CoA wrote an email to the association asking that it desist from having outstation players play in the 20-over Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) following the strict guidelines issued for domestic T20 leagues.

TNCA had wanted outstation players to be able to participate in the TNPL, but the guidelines not only barred that, but also further said that all support staff and match officials part of any league also had to be from the home association. The CoA said that in its communique to the TNCA that "pursuant to the decision of the working committee at its meeting(s) held on 13th August 2009 and 24th June 2016, BCCI does not grant permission to any member to allow participation of players from outside the jurisdiction of the said member in the T20 tournament being organised or conducted by any member.

Somehow this is only seen as another attempt to quell TNPL and not allowing the game to grow.  The Q remains "How will giving 16 players who haven't got an opportunity to play in the IPL be detrimental?"  that would only  have benefitted cricketers."  It is also  pointed out  that outstation players had been taking part in Tamil Nadu state-run tournaments since several decades.

"Brijesh Patel, K R Rajagopal, Sunil Valson, Vivek Razdan, AW Zaidi have played in 1st Division League and the like. So did players of the caliber of Rahul Dravid, Zaheer Khan, Venkatesh Prasad, Vikram Rathore, Venkatapathy Raju, Arshad Hyub, Suith Somasundar.  Even currently players like Piyush Chawla, Sandeep Sharma, Robin Bist, Srikar Bharath, A G Pradeep still play in league tournament at TNCA.  However, the tournaments that these tournaments aren't in the T20 format ~ but do they make any difference ?

Another report suggested that - Brad Hogg, the mercurial chinaman bowler, who has got 320 wickets across all formats for Australia will do the commentary for the first time at Sankar Cement TNPL. The 47 year old, western Australian has a hectic schedule this month travelling to Tirunelveli  - last year Dean Jones, Scott Styris were all part of the group that travelled to Dindigul, Tuticorin for TNPL matches.  

I remember seeing Krish Srikkanth hoisting Hoshidhar Contractor for a straight six – on another day closer to lunch, after a beautiful cover drive and one straight down, Cheeka pulling Sandhu in the hands of a lone fielder ........ and we all parting the ground sadly.  Apart from TN stars S. Venkatraghavan, Dalvi, Belliappa, TE Srinivasan, Kalyanasundaram, Mukund,  R Vasudevan, Arunkumar, Bharatkumar, Cheeka, VB Chandrasekhar, V Siva, CS Suraishkumar, B Arun, WV Raman - some names that readily come to mind are : Parthasarathi Sharma, Brijesh Patel, Kirmani, Rajinder Hans, Eknath Solkar, Ashok Mankad, Jyoti Prasad, Ramnarayan, K Jayanthilal, Shivlal Yadav, Dhiraj Parsanna, Sandhu, Ghavri .... and more playing in Buchi Babu tournament...... Those days it was dominated by teams from Bombay (Mafatlal & Nirlons) -  Ashok Mankad was hailed a shrewd leader bringing in youngsters, who went on to become popular later (Lalchand Rajput, Hattangadi, Jignesh Sanghani, Contractor ....)  .. .. also there were regular matches between Tamil Nadu and Ceylon in MJ Gopalan trophy.

For the match-starved fans of Chennai, the ruling barring other state players in TNPL is another cruel blow, this time, from the Cricket administrators

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
9th July 2018.