Friday, January 24, 2020

India beats New Zealand in U19 WC too - DL method and life of Atharva Ankolekar


At Auckland there was mayhem – 407 runs in 40 overs -  at half-way today, NZ for sure would have fancied their chances setting up a target of 204 – never they would have imagined that this would be eclipsed with 6 wickets at hand and a over to spare. Score card would read : India 204 for 4 (Iyer 58*, Rahul 56, Kohli 45, Sodhi 2-36) beat New Zealand203 for 5 (Munro 59, Taylor 54, Williamson 51, Jadeja 1-18) by six wickets.

One could not avoid thinking it is heavily batsmen’s game – can you imagine a situation where team batting first makes 115 and team chasing makes 147 in same overs, yet loses the match by a long way – by 44 runs !!

Team India won by DL method – the  names of Frank Duckworth & Tony Lewis are known  to every Cricket fan.  It is the rain rule or rather how scores will be calculated when it rains in the midst of a match.  Rain rules are indeed strange; the revised targets generally favour the chasers as they have the job cut out in the shortened version. Today it was entirely different though !  The Duckworth–Lewis method (often written as D/L method) is a mathematical formulation designed to calculate the target score for the team batting second in a limited overs match interrupted by weather or other circumstances. The D/L method was devised by two English statisticians, Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis.

The basic principle is that each team in a limited-overs match has two resources available with which to score runs: wickets remaining, and overs to play. Where overs are lost, setting an adjusted target is not as simple as to reduce the batting team's run target proportionally, because a team batting second with ten wickets in hand and 25 overs to play can be expected to play more aggressively than one with ten wickets and a full 50 overs, and can consequently achieve a higher run rate. The Duckworth–Lewis method is an attempt to set a statistically fair target for the second team's innings, based on the score achieved by the first team, taking their wickets lost and overs played into account.

Back home, former  India players Chetan Sharma, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Nayan Mongia and the Mumbai duo of Abey Kuruvilla and Ajit Agarkar have applied for two positions in the Indian men's selection committee after the board invited applications last week. PTI reported that two others, the former India and Madhya Pradesh duo of Rajesh Chauhan and Amay Khurasiya, have also thrown their hat into the ring. The BCCI had earlier announced January 24 as the cut-off date to receive applications. They are yet to release an update on the number of applicants and the interview date. It's also unclear as to when the new set of selectors, which also includes a new women's selection panel and a couple of junior men's selectors, would be appointed.

The position of chairman in the men's committee is up for grabs with MSK Prasad, the former India wicketkeeper, finishing his four-year term last November. Since then, he has been on an extension along with former India and Rajasthan batsman Gagan Khoda. Sivaramakrishnan is the oldest among the list of people ! ~ remember seeing him making ripples as a leg spinning prodigy in 1980s .. .. and it is stated that as per the rules of the constitution, the person with the most Test caps will be the chairman of the selection committee.

Today it was match no. 20 in   ICC Under-19 World Cup at Bloemfontein, a group A match between Team India and Junior Black Caps.    India batting first were 115 without loss in 23 overs when rain came.  YBK Jaiswal was unbeaten on 57 while DA Saxena had made 52*.  The Newzealanders did organize their chase well with RA Mariu scoring 42 off 31 & FF Lellman threatening with a quickfire 31 – but the bowling was tight backed up by some good catches and Kiwis were bowled out for 147 in 21 overs.  Ravi Bishnoi, the leg spinner was the best with figures of 5-0-34-4 while Ankolekar took 3/28 in his 5 overs.

Atharva Ankolekar has risen the hard way sweating and persevering amidst personal tragedy.     Son of a bus conductor, Atharva Ankolekar was not even 10  when his father passed away. His mother Vaidehi Ankolekar raised him single-handedly, working as a conductor in BEST, Mumbai bus services.  He was  selected for Indian Under-19 cricket team for the Youth Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. He  is a left-arm orthodox and left hand bat, currently studying in a college in Mumbai.   One of the most memorable moment of his short career was in  2010, when Atharva dismissed the legendary Sachin Tendulkar in a practice match. Impressed with the child, Tendulkar  later  gave him with a pair of autographed gloves.

In the  eight edition of Asia Cup U19 held in Sept 2019 in Sri Lanka -  India retained their title… .. but that was after lot of drama !  The score card reads :  India Under-19s 106 (Karan Lal 37, Hossain 3-8) beat Bangladesh Under-19s 101 (Akbar Ali 23, Ankolekar 5-28) by five runs.  Left-arm spinner Atharva Ankolekar broke Bangladesh's spirited late resistance to help India defend 106, taking them to a seventh Under-19 Asia Cup title with a five-run win in a rain-interrupted, nerve-wracking encounter in Colombo.

On 22nd Mar 1992  - SA will ever curse the rule…. Victories over Australia, West Indies, Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe had propelled the reemerging SA all the way to the semi-finals.   Chasing 253 – rain  interrupted play for 12 minutes with South Africa 231/6 off 42.5 overs and the over limit was reduced to 43 overs with the target reduced by 1 to 252. So suddenly when it rained, the target became 21 off a single delivery….. !!!!

Earlier in the same tourney, rain had deprived England of the emphatic victory expected when Pakistan were dismissed for their lowest total in limited-overs internationals, and the smallest by a Test country in the World Cup. They were bowled out for 74 and the target was reduced to 64 in 16 overs.  It rained again and the points were split…. Pak went on to make history by winning the cup

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th Jan 2020.

Shreyas Iyer enraptures ! ~ story of a debutant Hamish Bennet


Long ago when he was on screen, (at a time when Rohit Sharma was getting out regularly for low scores) – Sunil Gavaskar remarked ‘you are seeing the future of India’ – similar tone is being spoken of about Shreyas Iyer and if we had wondered what the hype is all about – today, he was the player of the match with a classy innings.

Is Cricket a game between Bowlers and Batsmen or .. .. a couple of decades ago, in 50 overs limited Cricket, score of 240 close to 5 runs per over was considered imposing total and scores of 260+ were potential match winners – no longer.  Now in T20, what is a winning total ? is becoming a moot Q !! – Today in T20 n0. 1031, a whopping 407 runs were scored at Auckland in 40 overs.  A nightmare for the bowlers  - Mohammad Shami with figures of 4-0-53-0 & Santner 4-0-50-1 would vouch for.

~ and there was a debutant whose 4 overs cost 36 runs without a wicket – a man who had last played for NZ in 2017.  He has played only one test and 16 ODIs thus far.  Hamish Bennett is currently joint-third highest wicket-taker in this season's T20 Super Smash, with 14 wickets at an average of 18.42 and an economy rate of 7.06.  one can pity him for he made his test debut at Ahmedabad way back in 2010.  His co-debutant has meantime played  78 tests (6379 runs); 149 ODIs (6132 runs) and 58 T20I (1556 runs) and captained New Zealand too.

At Auckland at half-way today, NZ for sure would have fancied their chances setting up a target of 204 – never they would have imagined that this would be eclipsed with 6 wickets at hand and an over to spare. Score card would read : India 204 for 4 (Iyer 58*, Rahul 56, Kohli 45, Sodhi 2-36) beat New Zealand203 for 5 (Munro 59, Taylor 54, Williamson 51, Jadeja 1-18) by six wickets

The last time India and New Zealand met, in the World Cup semi-final last year, Martin Guptill pulled off a memorable direct hit to run MS Dhoni out and seal India's fate. Today it was walk-in the-park for India. Shreyas Iyer finished the chase with a classy innings, hitting all bowlers for 58* off mere 29 balls with 3 hits over the boundary.  When Iyer had joined Manish Pandey, who had been picked ahead of  Rishabh Pant, India still needed 62 off 40 balls. Iyer took charge, making 48 in the unbroken stand with Pandey, and pressed on to a 26-ball half-century, thrilling the sea of blue in the stands.
For Kiwis who had been asked to bat earlier in the evening, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor reeled off quicker fifties - off 25 balls each - and Colin Munro hit a relatively sedate half-century. When India batted, KL Rahul got a 27-ball 56 and Kohli made 45 – yet it was Shreyas who stole the show.  

Not many would remember that Test no. 1974 in Nov 2010 at Ahmedabad – Harbhajan & Hamish Bennet for different reasons though ! – in that drawn test, Harbhajan Singh realised every bowler's dream of making a Test hundred to steer India to safety on the final day of the first Test.  He had a  163-run partnership with VVS Laxman. Hamish Bennett made his Test debut along with Kane Williamson in that Test.  While it remains his only test, Kane grew in great stature.   Hamish  bolted into New Zealand's World Cup squad the next year and later, in 2014, he bowled a remarkable spell of pace bowling to  Virat Kohli.    Hamish  played for the Under-19 side, he was handed his first call-up in 2010 - taking three wickets on his ODI debut against Bangladesh - and made his Test debut against India. While Williamson scored a century in Ahmedabad, Bennett bowled 15 wicketless overs before picking up a groin strain.

The game is tough on some – nowadays, more so on the hapless bowlers, who are hit all over the park – today’s 40 overs ending up 407 runs.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24.1.2020

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Azhar debuted as a sensational batsman - faded with match-fixing infamy


Australia top-order batsman Steve Smith has broken silence on India captain Virat Kohli's gesture during the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales last year. During the India-Australia World Cup clash, the 'Men in Blue' supporters tried to rile up Smith by mentioning the sandpaper scandal. However, the India captain egged the crowd on to support and not boo Smith soon after his return to international cricket from a one-year suspension for ball-tampering.  Smith finally spoke on the incident and said it was a nice gesture from the Indian skipper, which recently won Kohli International Cricket Council's (ICC) 'Spirit of Cricket Award'.  Steve Smith is back after International ban and is scoring runs in buckets.

In  Nov 1984, England toured India and played Indian Under 25  lead by Ravi Shastri in the tour opener at Ahmedabad.  Krish Srikkanth made a flamboyant 92;  the team lead by David Gower lost to the Juniors by an innings and 59 runs.  In the only innings that he got, a classy left hander from Chennai – Rangachari Madhavan who was hardly 24  remained unbeaten on 103 – though he did not bowl in that match, he was considered a good left arm orthodox spinner.  Laxman Sivaramakrishnan sprang to prominence and made a name against the visitors. Offie Gopal Sharma too bowled so well.  There was a berth in the middle order and this century did not earn him that.  That was to be taken by Mohammed Azharuddin  who also scored a century, got selected and went on to score 3 consecutive centuries in debut is all history.  Madhavan, whom I have heard to be a Chartered Accountant never could break the ranks thereafter, played in 39 first class matches and went for greener professional pastures, which denied him further cricketing opportunities.

Mohammad Azharuddin a lean fit athletic cricketer burst on to the international cricketing arena like a thunderbolt, scoring three back to back Test centuries in his first three Tests in the year 1985. Next year down under his stock rose more with the classy innings he played in WCC.  Becoming a great fielder and a backfoot batsman, he rose, becoming the Captain of India, leading the Nation in 3  World Cups.

Years later, he was to fall to ignominy.  Azhar's international career nosedived after he was reported involved in match-fixing and was banned by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The ban was eventually lifted by Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2012 as no clear evidence was found against the former captain. During CBI investigation, Azharuddin reportedly confessed that he had fixed three ODIs - the first against South Africa at Rajkot in 1996, then Pepsi Cup matches in Sri Lanka in 1997 and Pakistan in 1999. But then in an interview he denied being involved in any such activity. After investigation BCCI imposed a Life ban of him on Dec 5, 2000 but on Nov 8, 2012 The Andhra Pradesh High Court lifted the life ban on Azharuddin, terming it as 'unsustainable' as there was no concrete proof.

He dangled in politics but not successful and now in news for wrong reasons.  Media reports suggest that a case has been registered against former Indian cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin and two others for allegedly duping a travel agent off nearly Rs 21 lakh. Azharuddin, however, dismissed the allegation as "baseless", and said he will file a defamation case worth Rs 100 crore against the complainant.

As per the FIR, Shahab, owner of Danish Tours and Travels agency in Maharashtra's Aurangabad city, booked various international flight tickets worth Rs 20.96 lakh for Azharuddin and some others in November last year but was not paid. Shahab allegedly made the bookings on the request of the former India captain's personal assistant Mujib Khan and was repeatedly promised payment online. In his  complaint, Shahab said when he asked for the payment, Khan's associate Sudesh Awakkal sent an e-mail saying he has transferred Rs 10.6 lakh to him, but it was not received, the official said. In November, he was also sent a picture on WhatsApp of a cheque issued to him, but the complainant alleged that he did not receive any of the cheques, the police said.

Shahab on Wednesday lodged a complaint at City Chowk police station against Azharuddin, Khan and Awakkal under Indian Penal Code Sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 34 (common intention). Denying the allegations, Azharuddin in a video posted on Twitter said, "There is no truth in this complaint and is made just to be in limelight. The allegations made in the complaint are baseless. I will seek legal advice and file defamation case worth Rs 100 crore against the complainant."

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23.1.2020.

Remembering Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose - Gunami Baba !!


The Jharkhand government has declared January 23 as a public holiday – do you know the reasons ? – this morning as I walked in the Marina beach, Republic Day Parade rehearsals were on and this man on horse impressed – there is always another man, who too has a statue opposite to Marina grounds – who has inspired the Nation forever with his martyrdom !

A Nation must remember its martyrs who gave its freedom.  We became independent in 1947 and 72  years have rolled since.   There have been many unsung heroes – slowly we are losing generation which fought or witnessed the Freedom struggle ~ sometimes the news that we read in media about them are heart-rending. 

After their first defeat at the hands of British in 1757, there arose many instances  when Indian patriots formed groups and fought hard and bitter battles exhibiting selfless sacrifice.  Alongside hundreds of Velu Thampi, Peshwa Baji Rao, Sardar Shyam Sing, Rani Laximibhai, Tantia Tope, Maharaj of Dumraon, Nana Sahib, there are many hundreds hidden whose exploits, history did not record or were neglected by the British historians and later partisan historians. .. towering among them all would be ‘Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose’.  Ever since India attained freedom and PM addressed the Nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in August 1947 – there have been Congress politicians and most of the heroes never received the attention and mention they deserved.

Movie is only a form of entertainment, yet there are some films / some scenes that move us. Shankar directed ‘Indian’ [Bharatheeyudu] was a good film.  To many the hero was not the young Kamal but the older Indian Senapathy. The flashback in black & white was really moving taking us to older days, especially the footage of the great Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose.  The story shows Senapathi as a young valiant fighter joining  Bose’s army with the full support of his wife Amirthavalli. The handful of Nation’s soil to be smeared on forehead daily is poetic.  Senapathi gets captured,  survives the brutalities and comes to back in free India riddled with corruption, and he fights that !!

On Sept 16th, 1985, in a dilapidated house in Faizabad, formerly the capital of Oudh province in India, a reclusive holy man known as Bhagwanji or Gumnami Baba (‘the saint with no name’) breathed his last. Locals had long suspected that he was none other than Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945),  the greatest revolutionary  who raised an independent army against the British Empire seeking  total independence for India. The Second World War had enabled him to practise what he preached and his Indian National Army  fought with the Japanese in Burma attempting to drive the British out of the subcontinent.  Sadly, his death has remained mysterious.  Nethaji was reported killed in an air crash in August 1945, while trying to escape to the Soviet Union, many believed then and continue to believe now that, helped by his Japanese allies, he faked his death, reached Russia and returned to India many years later to lead the secret life of a hermit.

A tall great leader to the mystic life of a poor Sadhu – this man perhaps can spring any surprise ! – he did leave behind many trunks of possessions and in 1986, realising that these might solve the mystery once and for all, Bose’s niece Lalita obtained a high court order for an inventory to be made of their contents. Among the 2,673 items indexed, Lalita claimed she saw letters in her uncle’s handwriting and family photographs. Gumnami Baba’s belongings were re-packed in 23 boxes and sent to the District Treasury.  Years later in 2001, large crowd had gathered to watch the boxes being opened. The belongings included : a pair of German binoculars, a Corona typewriter, a pipe (taken away for DNA but without result), a Rolex watch – ‘Netaji’s watch,’ a pair of silver, round-rimmed spectacles. Clearly, Gumnami Baba had been an extraordinary man. It was his collection of books that was most thought-provoking. Bear in mind that Bose had received an English education (finishing at Cambridge University) and, in the eyes of the British, had committed war crimes against them possibly escaping to the Soviet Union; then appreciate, for example, Gulliver’s Travels, P.G. Wodehouse’s The Inimitable Jeeves, the scarcely available International Military Tribunal for the Far East, The History of the Freedom Movement in India, The Last Days of the Raj, Moscow’s Shadow Over West Bengal and Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. This could not be the bedtime reading of a typical sadhu. Either he had been an obsessive collector of Bose memorabilia, or someone had added to his possessions posthumously as a hoax, or he really was Bose.  However, in his inquiry report, completed in 2006, Justice Mukherjee was categoric. He concluded: ‘Netaji Bose is dead [a safe bet as he would have been 109]. He did not die in the plane crash as alleged and the ashes in the Japanese temple in Tokyo [maintained by the Indian government since 1945] are not of Netaji.’ He was more narrowly legalistic about the Faizabad connection.

Thus the Great Man’s memory is still to be property documented ! ~ and what we did we do on our part to remember him ?  The history of freedom movement in India, often is  summarized in one pithy sentence: "Mahatma Gandhi gave us freedom through non-violence." For sure freedom was not that easy and there were so many sacrifices of persons with varied thought processes. The best and the bravest men and women of an enslaved nation hastened the demise of the mighty British empire by resisting them tooth and nail in the trenches of every part of the Nation.  They were brutally crushed by the Imperialist regime and have been relegated, not getting their due share in history.  

Give Me Blood! I Promise You Freedom!!   The British are engaged in a worldwide struggle and in the course of this struggle they have suffered defeat after defeat on so many fronts. The enemy having been thus considerably weakened, our fight for liberty has become very much easier than it was five years ago. Such a rare and God-given opportunity comes once in a century. That is why we have sworn to fully utilise this opportunity for liberating our motherland from the British yoke.  The first phase of our campaign is over. Our victorious troops, fighting side by side with Nipponese troops, have pushed back the enemy and are now fighting bravely on the sacred soil of our dear motherland. ~ excerpts of speech addressed at a rally of Indians in Burma, July 4, 1944 – the very famous words of one of the greatest sons of this soil - Subhas Chandra Bose,  very popularly known as Nethaji (lit. "Respected Leader").  From history books, we read that the great person Nethaji was born on 23rd Jan 1897 and lived till  18th Aug 1945 [this will remain disputed as the Nation yearns to know of the reality, the mystery shrouding his disappearance !] : 

Today marks the 123rd Birth anniversary of this great son of the Nation,  one of the most iconic Indian Nationalists the country ever produced. The dauntless freedom fighter served India as a brave patriot, who became the leader of the first Indian National Army (INA). His reputation as India’s luminary majorly comes from his patriotism, freedom calls and persistence to achieve the chosen goal.

History records that Subash Bose, whose success in Indian National Congress was not accepted by Mahatma Gandhi had their last face-to-face meeting and ‘long conversation’ in June 1940 before Subhas’s imprisonment and daring escape. Subhas made ‘a passionate appeal to Mahatma to come forward and launch his campaign of passive resistance’. Gandhi was ‘ non-committal’ because he felt ‘the country was not prepared for a fight’.

Interestingly, do you know that he was conferred with Bharat Ratna but the award was subsequently withdrawn. The award was established by the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad, on Jan 2, 1954. The original statutes did not make allowance for posthumous awards but later added in 1955 statute. Subsequently, there have been  posthumous awards, including the award to Subhash Chandra Bose in 1992, which was later withdrawn due to a legal technicality, the only case of an award being withdrawn. It was withdrawn in response to a Supreme Court of India directive following a Public Interest Litigation filed in the Court against the “posthumous” nature of the award. The Award Committee could not give conclusive evidence of Bose’s death and thus it invalidated the “posthumous” award.

Salute and remember the great martyr – the iconic Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Jan 2020.