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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No change in the team for 3rd Test at Kolkatta

There is many a slip between the Cup and the lip ~ so goes the saying !  The wishlist may be great but most times, you have to comprehend with whatever is made available – mediocrity and lack of decisions are more of rules than exceptions…..

The English spinner Monty Panesar taught Indians a lessons at their own backyard, on a pitch which assisted spin……. There cannot be any reasons for this defeat at Mumbai and anywhere else, heads would have rolled.. afterall, replacements cannot do worser !!

But Team selection in India is a different process ~ driven by more compulsions; the team has been announced today.  Indian selectors have made virtually no change, barring pacer Umesh Yadav who is ruled out due to an injury.  

Yadav, who also missed the second Test, was ruled out with a back injury and has been advised rest for 10 to 12 days. He has been replaced by Bengal pacer Ashok Dinda who was already with the team after being added as cover for Yadav before the Mumbai Test.

Sachin kept his place despite the recent poor shows.  Dhoni continues to be Captain; no word on the coach Duncan Fletcher  ~ the selectors would not want to make changes in the middle of a series !!! what logic !!! ~ non performers would be allowed to continue. 

Harbhajan Singh who bowled rather poorly has also retained his place; there were talks of bringing a leg spinner in the squad ~ only in the Press not an idea envisaged by the Selectors.  So the Indian team for 3rd Test: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli,  Sachin Tendulkar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, R Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Pragyan Ojha ; Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay and Harbhajan Singh.

The Third Test will be at Eden Gardens Kolkatta from Dec 5th to 9th; for the 4th Test at Nagpur from 13th Dec – 17th Dec, team will be announced later; however that is also middle of the series !!!!

Heard of the cliché – ‘if you continue to resolve the problems the same way that you have been ~ you cannot expect different results other than what you had got earlier’.

With regards - S. Sampathkumar

LPG - multi connections ~ decision of Courts

I had recently posted about KYC and the buzz in Cooking gas agencies.  The filing of KYC is applicable for those having ‘multiple connection’ and not for those having dual cylinders. In order to weed out multiple and fake connections, the three oil companies - Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil Corporation - asked consumers to voluntarily give up additional connections.  There were statements quoting officials that multiple connections "in the same name and at the same address" as well as "husband and wife" connections at the same address would be summarily disconnected. In case of multiple connections at same address under different names, distributors have been asked to collect KYC forms to verify genuine users.

Web-tracking of domestic liquefied natural gas ( LPG) connections has yielded results with oil marketing companies ( OMCs) blocking 1.3 million multiple connections this year. Growth in overall LPG consumption has also fallen to a single digit (6 per cent) in the past few months, which is sharply in contrast to a normal double digit growth even though new connections are being issued.  Formally launched in June this year, the transparency portal allows customers to keep an eye on the number of cylinders sold in their account by the dealer. It empowers companies to get quick data on number of connections a person or a house has and subsidy availed by each consumer.   Reports state that three oil marketing companies — Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum— have blocked 3.8 million connections by end of previous financial year under a drive that began in May 2010. According to the companies, 27 million of the total 140 million LPG connections in the country are with people who already have one LPG connection.

At this juncture, came the new norms announced by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas  that consumers can retain multiple connections but will have to shell out more for the cylinders. They will be priced thrice as much as the subsidised refill.

Then there are some cases filed before Courts and Courts coming to the rescue (!) of the consumers.  Recently, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court court  stayed  Govt. order mandating production of ration cards for new connections. The order came on a PIL filed by advocate J Suresh of Karuppayurani in Madurai district. In the order, the court said LPG agencies should not insist on production of ration cards or no objection certificates for consumers coming within their revenue jurisdiction.

Today, Express News Agency reports of another order of the Madras High Court  in case pertaining to  a joint family holding multiple LPG connections, ordering that they be allowed to retain them. The court ordered that the OMC had failed to take into account the hardship experienced by the household in question, which had three families. The court had, in this case, pointed out that the family was having a common kitchen, and hence, it was unfair to ask them to surrender the connections.

While the OMCs’ drive to eliminate multiple connections  is aimed at preventing fraud, there may be genuine instances where certain consumers such as joint families need to have multiple LPG connections.  But there is official channel for them to present their cases and get a favourable decision ~ such decisions have to be based on individual merits of the case or else only chaos will remain

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Kapil was dropped for a single shot ? What will selectors do now ??

India humiliated at Mumbai ~ it is not as though we have not seen losses; in fact we have been at the receiving end many times.  England’s comeback  to 1-1 in a four-Test series has  roused England's self-belief in Asia throwing open India's  strategy for the series of relying on sharply-turning tracks. England, ridiculed after their heavy loss in Ahmedabad, have now inflicted two of India's last four Test defeats at home.

Recently when we lost 4-0 at England it was all about swing and unfavourable conditions; the 4-0 drubbing that followed at Australia was due to pace and bounce ~ here it was all favourable conditions, a spinning track, 3 spinners, a toss won – yet India lost the match.  More importantly no Indian spinner matched Monty Panesar.  This  defeat should not be forgotten — India need to learn from this defeat and they need to learn that winning needs more than just favourable conditions.   The Team for the remainder of the Series is to be announced today…..  other than Cheteshwar Pujara, Pragyan Ojha and Virender Sehwag – nobody deserves a place ~ but will there be harsh decisions from Sandip Patil and Co ?

Recall the  Test no. 1148 played at Lords in July 1990 – Gooch, captained, won the toss and made a marathon 333 in 485 balls. England declared after making massive 653 for 4.  India had a good start; Ravi Shastri made a 100; Vengsarkar 52 and the captain Azharuddin 121. When the 9thwicket of Sanjeev Sharma fell, it was 430, still a good 23 short of avoiding a follow-on. Kapil was joined by the bespectacled Narendra Hirwani. Eddie Hemmings, the off spinner was the bowler – the first 2 deliveries were innocuously played by Kapil. then came the savage attack – all the 4 remaining deliveries went for huge sixers. The fourth one, a straight six saved the follow-on and to end the drama, Hirwani was out to the first ball at the other end lbw to Angus Fraser – India All out for 454. India set to score 472 were all out for 274 and lost the match, is another story

Way back in Dec 1984, it was different turmoil – India had won the 1st Test at Bombay thanks to debutant L Sivaramakrishnan taking 12 wickets.  In the 2nd at DelhiIndia scored  307 in the first innings, Kapil Dev top-scoring with 60; England replied with 418.  Indians had to play for a draw as wished by the then Captain Sunil Gavaskar; the ebullient  Kapil Dev, having just hit Pat Pocock for a six,  was caught in the deep in trying to repeat the shot.  India folded; England won the test.  Gavaskar was furious and the greatest allrounder of Indian cricket was unceremoniously dropped for the Calcutta Test ~ yes dropped.  The greatest allrounder was punished for one shot !

Fast bowler Umesh Yadav, who was ruled out of India's second Test against England due to a lower back injury, will miss at least the third Test.  No point in allowing personal landmarks with Harbhajan’s 100th appearance beckoning.    The situation is not far different ~ but will  the Selectors have the guts to drop  Senior players or the Captain himself now ?

At P Sara Oval, Colombo, Kiwis after losing the 1st Test made a strong statement making 412 with centuries by Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor with their 262 run partnership.  Ranganna Herath shone with the ball again with figures of  : 49-10-103-6.

At Adelaide Oval, it was a great show by the South Africa in keeping the scoreline 0-0 ;  CSK player Francois du Plessis, known as Faf,  made his debut and played a marathon knock to stand denying defeat and took his team for a draw.    Faf  would not have been playing in this Test were it not for JP Duminy hurting his Achilles tendon at the Gabba. du Plessis has grabbed his first chance at Test cricket to provide a remarkable result for the South Africans.

Batting first Aussies made 550 with centuries by Warner (119); Michael Clarke (230) & Mike Hussey (103).  Imran Tahir had forgettable figures of 23-0-180-0.  Jacques Kallis  fought off his hamstring strain to provide important support in a 110-ball innings of 46. And Dale Steyn, Rory Kleinveldt and Morne Morkel did just enough to ensure that the No.11, Imran Tahir, would not be required. Steyn fell for a 28-ball duck when he chipped an inswinging full toss from Siddle to midwicket, where Rob Quiney snapped up a sharp catch. And Kleinveldt survived for 17 deliveries before he missed a yorker and was bowled by Siddle for 3.  Faf who made 78 in the 1st;  remained unbeaten enduring 376 deliveries making 110*

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Temple elephants head for rejuvenation camp at Mettupalayam, Coimbatore

The sort of secluded place near Vanabhadrakali Amman temple in Thekkumpatti near Mettupalayam, Coimbatore is abuzz with activity ~ Solar electric fences  are being erected around as  Thekkumpatti forms part of the migratory path of wild elephants during winter and forest officials are keen to avoid any disruption that may be caused to the proposed activity.

If you are wondering what this could be about, beginning from today [26th Nov 12], the Tamil Nadu government is organising a 48-day-long vacation for temple elephants in the wilderness. As many as 35 pachyderms are heading to a 'rejuvenation camp' in Theppakadu reserve forest along the Moyar river in the Mudumalai hills. Rejuvenation is the hypothetical reversal of the aging process; it seeks to repair the damage that is associated with aging or replacement of damaged tissue with new tissue. Rejuvenation can be a means of life extension, but most life extension strategies do not involve rejuvenation.  "The wild elephants have already started migrating. So we must protect the camp from possible attacks. The HR and CE minister M S M Anadan visited the camp site on Thursday and reiterated the need for solar fencing,'' said forest veterinarian N S Manoharan.   The new camp site possesses salubrious climate and adequate fodder in the plains, Thekkampatti offers plenty of water from the upper Bhavani. The Mettuppalyam camp is easily accessible from Coimbatore, Salem, Erode and Sathyamangalam. Better road connectivity is another advantage, claims the officials.
rally of elephants ! at Tirunelveli ~ courtesy : The Hindu 
Most of the elephants from various parts of the state  have proceeded to camp site before dawn. With some of them not willing to step into the truck, the mahouts had a tough time in pacifying the pachyderms and getting them on board.  Loaded in lorries, nine elephants with their mahouts from Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari districts on Saturday left for the 48-day annual rejuvenation camp to start at Mettupalayam from November 26 onwards. For those from Tirunelveli, the elephants’ journey began with flagging off by Minister for Khadi and Village Industries P. Senthurpandian at the Bypass Road Flyover near KTC Nagar. Elephants that left for Mettupalayam are from Lord Subramaniya Swamy Temple, Tiruchendur (Kumaran and Deivaanai), Sankaranarayana Swamy Temple, Sankarankovil (Gomathi), Sri Nellaiyappar Gandhimathi Ambal Temple, Tirunelveli (Gandhimathi), Kumarasamy Temple, Ilanji (Kumaravalli), Aathinaathar Temple, Alwarthirunagari (Aathinayaki), Vaiththamaanthi Perumal Temple, Thirukkolur (Kumuthavalli), Aravindalosanar Temple, Irattai Thiruppathi (Lakshmi) and Sthaanumaalayan Temple, Suchindram (Gopalan).  Reports state that  Vellaiyammal, elephant of Big Temple in Thanjavur, will not attend the camp. Doctors have advised against transporting the animal as it is 62 years old.  Tusker Goplan from Sucheendram Temple in Kanyakumari and female elephant Sulikampal from Agneewaraswami Thirukovil at Thirupukalur in Nagapattinam are the senior most members, both aged 60 years. The youngest member is nine-year-old Akhila from Arulmigu Jambukeswar Akhilandeswari Thirukovil at Thiruvanakaval in Trichy. While Gopalan and Akhila were at ease with the new surroundings, Sulikampal faced some difficulty in adapting to the new environment.

At the camp, the jumbos will receive a royal treatment for the next one and a half month. From a herbal diet to health screening and treatment for infections, the elephants will get to enjoy a stress-free life in the jungle environs.  They'll be fed with green fodder including sugarcane, sorghum and cariota leaves, for which special tenders have been floated. They'll also be looked after by forest veterinarians during the entire stretch of the vacation. A 650m road for their morning and evening walks was  made ready recently.  Construction of the kitchen and accommodation facilities for mahouts are also underway. Five bathing ghats have been created in the Bhavani River for the visiting temple elephants. During the 48-day camp, the animals will bathe twice a day. The public can view the elephants from a distance of 500 metres during the camp.

On their arrival at the camp, the elephants would not be allowed to mingle with the inmates but kept at a separate enclosure so as to prevent any possible spread of infections. To ensure that they become infection free, the pachyderms would be given an anti- viral bath with bleaching and lime powder. While the jumbos enjoy their break, the mahouts and the temple authorities would be trained on proper upkeep of their 'pets'. Accordingly, they would be taught about nutritional diet, first- aid and treatment procedures, which must be followed in elephant management.

A brainchild of Chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, the health camp was launched in 2003 during her previous tenure but was later abandoned by the DMK government.  The camp will go on till January 12, 2013, will have elephants from 33 temples and five mutts in the State. The camp is being organised by the departments of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) and Animal Husbandry in association with PWD and Forest Department. Except the sick, pre-disposed to sickness elephants and male elephants in masth (aggressive behaviour owing to urge for biological ventilation), all other elephants will attend the camp.

Good care for the elephants indeed

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Monday, November 26, 2012

major fire loss at Dhaka - property damaged and more than 100 dead

Of late, have been hearing of many fire losses ~ this one, though occurring in a different Country, is more intense – as the loss of life is very high !

Going by the reports in various newspapers,  124 people are reported to have been killed in the multi-storey garment factory on the outskirts in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The report states that fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions factory in suburban Ashulia Savar, 30 km from Dhaka, on 24.11.2012 and quickly spread to the  ground and first floors of the six-storey building, according to officials and witnesses.  Sadly there are reports of more bodies being recovered and most of the bodies were found to be  severely charred. Fire service officials earlier said several workers of the factory were trapped inside and took shelter on the rooftop of the structure awaiting rescuers.  Hours after the blaze, efforts were still  underway to extinguish the blaze with authorities mobilising several fire fighting units. Television footage showed army troops and fire service rescuers bringing out bodies one after another from the debris as hundreds of people, including relatives of the victims, waited outside.

Reports put that Bangladesh has some 4,000 garment factories, many without proper safety measures. The country  earns some useful foreign exchange through garment exports, mainly to the United States and Europe.   The blaze broke out late on Saturday 24th Nov. 12  in the multi-floor Tazreen Fashion factory in the Ashulia district on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka.  It feared to be the deadliest factory fire in the nation's history.  Opened in 2009, the Tazreen Fashion factory, part of Tuba group, employed 1,630 workers, who produced T-shirts, polo shirts, and jackets.

While many got trapped inside, Some people died after jumping from the building to escape the flames. It is unclear what caused the fire, which started on the ground floor trapping many victims in the factory. Officials suspect an electrical short circuit might have caused the disaster. Firefighters managed to contain the blaze on Sunday morning.  It is stated that fatal  fires are common in Bangladesh's large garment manufacturing sector,  and some reports speak of   the likelihood of Western companies to renew pressure on the local businesses to improve safety.

In the sad accident, thousands of people flocked to the factory frantically looking for their relatives. The factory is situated deep inside a small lane and fire service vehicles struggled to get through. All the windows are smeared with black smoke. Many workers jumped to their deaths as the fire raged on. The incident has shocked the entire neighbourhood, which is home to hundreds of factories making clothes for major Western brands and retailers like Walmart, Gap, Tesco and Sainsburys.

The factory owner denied the allegations that the building was unsafe to work in.  Its owner is quoted as stating - "It is a huge loss for my staff and my factory. This is the first time we have ever had a fire at one of my seven factories,".  Lax safety standards, poor wiring and overcrowding are blamed for causing several deadly factory fires every year.

Sad that human life is not given the due regard and even after repeated incidents, nothing much happen to improve the safety.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
Photos courtesy :

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Monty Panesar spins closer to a victory at Wankhede

The ardent Indian fan is crying ~ 31 runs lead with 3 wickets in hand – the result a foregone conclusion.  Losses are not new to India – for one following Cricket ever since 1975, there have been very many dismal performances, poor displays, Series losses and more…………. but this one at Wankhede is different for sure !

Before the match, there were reports that Dhoni wanted a dreaded turner and that match should be over by 3 days ~ it was almost achieved, with a difference, Indians at the receiving end.  The score card reads 117 for 7 on an Indian wicket – the star-studded Indian team caving in  the spin of Monty Panesar.

When Ashwin threw his bat only to be caught at Cover off a skier, the commentator remarked – what is this : Ravichandran Ashwin C Patel B Panesar ; an out involving a Gujarati and a Singh ~ that comment apart, the Indian batsmen played without application and without spine.  A performance of Sehwag 9; Pujara 6; Sachin Tendulkar 8, Virat Kohli 7; Yuvraj Singh 8; Dhoni 6 & Ashwin 11 : 9-6-8-7-8-6-11 ~ telephone numbers by those earning crores. 

MS Dhoni cannot take further down – Indians have lost series; but everytime a Series was lost Overseas, the Captain head was chopped and some more players were dropped, most of them never to be recalled.  that was the fate of Bishan Singh Bedi in 1978 followed by the unceremonious sacking of S. Venkatraghavan, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dec, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sachin Tendulkar, and ……..  Never had a Captain lost 2 away series 4-0; a continuous 8 Test loss cumulative of England and Australia ~ and now when everyone talked to a revenge whitewash, India on the verge of losing a Test at homeland.

Why have him as skipper and why pay money to a Coach – Duncan Fletcher, it cannot go worse than this and the Coach deserves to be sacked this evening.    We have been too sentimental in treating players and dear Sachin, perhaps time to say, that you are not in the XI for the next test.  It may not be foolish to chop many players from the present XI – Sachin, Kohli (yes make him sit for a couple of matches); Zaheer for sure; Ashwin, Harbhajan – and play the next Test with a fresh team under a new Captain. 

The cupboard is bare and there clearly has been no strategy.  Alistair Cook gets out only when he scores more than 150 and Pietersen plunders at will ~ on the same track, we crumble, telling that Panesar is spinning and bowling beautifully. It was hailed that it was a great tactic which has not happened in recent past – India opening the attack with 2 spinners – Ashwin and Ojha.  In the olden days of the spin Quartet, we used to have 1 medium pacer and somebody else bowling 4 or 5 overs, the ball would be rolled and rushed on the surface from deep before Bedi, Prasanna and Chandra came on to bowl.  They were effective most times is a different issue.  It was stated that Pakistan had opened with 2 spinner in 1967 Trent Bridge ~ who opens or who bowls is a non-issue, when we gift so much to the opposition and lose wickets in a heap in a pitch tailor-made to suit Indian spinners. 

Today Monty Panesar stands tall with a 10 wicket haul – there was a minor controversy when Jonny Bairstow was adjudged caught just before lunch.  The batsman walked – it was stated that the  ball had hit Gautam Gambhir's helmet before he completed the catch.

Some reports suggest that Andy Flower, approached the match referee, Roshan Mahanama, to ask for the decision to be reversed. Mahanama informed him that as Bairstow had left the field of play, the decision could only be withdrawn if India's captain, MS Dhoni, withdrew his appeal on the umpires' request. Dhoni, with the support of his coach, Duncan Fletcher, chose not to do so.  Remember at Trent Bridge during the last series,  Ian Bell was reinstated during the tea break after being run out.  The crowd jeered at Indians. 

At Wankhede, the score card reads :  India 327 and 117 for 7 (Gambhir 53*, Panesar 5-61) lead England 413 (Pietersen 186, Cook 122, Ojha 5-143) by 31 runs.  It was a great innings played by Kevin ~ it was back to olden days as the emphasis was on spinners – it was Panesar and Swann all the way.   England started with a lead of 86, which could have been easily wiped out – Panesar drew Sehwag and Pujara was out for a first failure this Series.  Sachin raised the anxiety only to succumb sooner and Virat Kohli buckled under the pressure. England, holding a lead of 86, made an impression, Panesar drawing Virender Sehwag cagily forward and Swann taking a catch at gully. Cheteshwar Pujara, England's scourge, was caught at short leg off an inside edge as Swann followed suit in the next over.

In 2004,  India defended a low target of 107 and won against Australia by 13 runs ………………..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar  [feeling sad and let down by the poor performance of India]

I don't support Cricket with Pakistan - Pak tour to India

I love the game of Cricket, and discuss about the game with my friends for hours together……….. I LOVE MY NATION MORE.. Some say that “Cricket Unites” and goodwill gets created ‘sans border’ especially when there is match between India and Pakistan  Hard to believe ! ~ only recently on 21st Nov. the dreaded mercenary, Pakistani gunman involved in Mumbai attacks was hanged at Yerawada prison – he was only a tool ~ those who had sent him are still at large.  For every terrorist attack, Indian Ministry is quick to state that is handiwork of militants from across the border and that Pakistan is actively encouraging them providing them nesting space…. When that is the case, why have sporting relations with them, when the security and peace of the Nation is at stake.

In a move which defies logic,  India's home ministry has cleared a limited-overs tour by the Pakistan team, prompting the BCCI to say the tour "is on" at the end of the year. The clearance was given at a meeting in New Delhi  between ministry officials and senior representatives of the BCCI - including its chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla and chief executive Sundar Raman.  Rajiv Shukla was quoted as saying that they had discussed all security aspects (and) the tour is on.  I had thought that BCCI administers Cricket and stops with that !!!

The tour  reportedly would have 2 T20s and 3 ODIs – at Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkatta and Delhi from 25th Dec to Jan 6th 13.  It will be the first bilateral series between the two sides since Pakistan toured India in end-2007, though they have met in multinational tournaments. Cricket ties between the two countries were snapped following the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai by militants from Pakistan.

It is Pakistan's turn to host a bilateral series between the two. But there has been no international cricket in the country between Full Members since the March 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team bus and it is understood that India were not keen to play at a neutral venue, as has been the case with all Pakistan's 'home' series since the attack. Subsequently, Ashraf said India had the prerogative to decide on the dates and host the series, but the PCB would want the BCCI to share revenue as they were apparently yet to recover from the financial loss suffered when India pulled out of their planned tour in 2009. So the magnanimous BCCI appears to have decided to host the Series and perhaps share the bounty with PCB too.

Playing Cricket is different – revival of Pakistan Cricket Board’s fortune is also another ~ the Nation’s security and sentiments are paramount. Is there need and correct reason to revive Sporting ties with a hostile Nation at this stage when they are relentless.  Immediately upon hanging of Ajmal Kasab, former cricketer Imran Khan's party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)  demanded the hanging of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in retaliation.  Kasab and Sarabjit Singh are no comparisons.   Sarabjit Singh has been on death row for over two decades. India and Sarabjit's family maintains that he is innocent who happened to stray over the international border in an ebriated state and his was a case of mistaken identity.

In a demonstration organized by the party in Multan, PTI leader Naeemullah Khan said, "India waited for less than a month after the final verdict by their judiciary and we are protecting the terrorists for the last eight years." Blaming the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, he said that the president was the biggest hurdle to execution of terrorists on death row in the country. It is pertinent to remember that no Pakistan cricketer figured in the last three editions of the Indian Premier League; though Sialkot Stallions participated in Champions League T20, it was hosted at South Africa and not in India

In 2005, sitting side by side to watch their countries play cricket, that the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and the then Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, declared to the world that the peace process between their two nations was "irreversible".  Years later,  Pakistani militants, apparently supported by the Pakistani secret service, unleashed a terror attack in Mumbai which left 166 dead and hundreds more maimed.  Clearly there is no point in ‘cricket diplomacy’. 

Back  in Mumbai, where the wounds from the attacks remain raw, the opposition and ruling parties of the Maharashtra state parliament reacted angrily to the news. "We should consider allowing them to come to our country only after Pakistan clears its policy on international terrorism," said Ramdas Kadam, leader of the local Shiv Sena party. Abu Azmi from the Samajwadi party in Maharashtra added: "Pakistan is a culprit [in the terror attacks] in Mumbai. How can we have sporting relations with them?"  Sunil Gavaskar, a former Indian international batsman,  was quoted as saying: "Being a Mumbaikar I feel: what is the urgency when there is no co-operation from the other side?"
There is further news that the Government sounded a word of caution about the resumption of cricket ties with Pakistan saying that one of the main 26/11 accused, David Coleman Headley, had entered India on the pretext of watching matches. Minister of state for external affairs E Ahmed said the issue of visas to Pakistani nationals coming to India to watch cricket matches at various venues will be in accordance with extant rules and regulations.  He was quoted as stating that terrorism against India emanating from Pakistan and territory under its control remains a core concern for us.   It is reported that two alleged conspirators of Mumbai terror attack, as revealed by David Coleman Headley, visited New Delhi in 2005 on the pretext of watching India-Pakistan cricket match, said Ahmed.

Some political parties feel that there is no point in resuming cricket with Pakistan until it changed its attitude towards terrorism.  Even if the threat of terrorism is perceived, such diplomacy should not be extended when the neighbouring Nation continues to be hostile. ~ and if such tour does takes place, the Govt. must ensure that Visas are granted to not a single individual other than the Team ~ why allow people to visit the Nation unchecked in the garb of Cricket diplomacy…..  On earlier occasions, there have been reports that hundreds who came under the garb of visiting the Test match, never returned back and have vanished into various parts of the Nation.

Even though an ardent fan of Cricket, I feel that this is not the opportune time and there is no fun in rejoicing the game when grave risk to the Nation is perceived.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

the 100th Match ~ how much of recognition one gets - Devendra Bundela

               Cricket of course is the game of fame in India – there is big money.  Present day children feel parental pressure ~ most want their ward to come first in the class ~ at the same time learn more arts and put them in Sports camps.  City grounds are abuzz with children whose parents aspire making their son become a Sachin.

As you would know, the BCCI now has a contract system – there are grades A, B & C.  9 players who are in Grade A now get a Crore each per year, irrespective of whether they get selected to play for the Nation or not; Grade B players get Rs.50 lakh and those in Grade C get Rs.25 lakhs.  

At Wankhede, it was Test no. 100 for the swashbuckler Virender Sehwag ~ some expected him to celebrate it with a hundred in his hundredth Test; he could not emulate the feat of Colin Cowdrey, Javed Miandad, Gordon Greenidge, Alec Stewart, Inzamam-ul Haq, Ricky Ponting and Graeme Smith  but was out at 30.  Rahul Dravid and Vengsarkar had had forgettable matches on their 100th outing.

The centurion, who continued his fine form – Cheteshwar Pujara had nerve-wracking moment.  In over no. 74, Greame Swann bowled to Pujara at 94* ~ the third ball, PUjara went for a pull and English players appealed for a catch at midwicket coming off a rebound of shortleg.  Replays showed that the ball first hit the ground before ricocheting off the boots of the fielder at shortleg.

While the 100th appearance of Nawab of Najafgarh is so written, another 100th appearance went almost unheralded – a feat performed before the empty stands at Indore.  That was Devendra Bundela playing his 100th Ranji match turning out for Madhya Pradesh against Bengal.  There are around 25 cricketers who have achieved this feat and hence still is very creditable.  For Bundela, featuring in 100 Ranji games, forr his home state Madhya Pradesh, is one of the biggest feats in his cricketing sojourn that started when he was 12, in Ujjain. Having featured in an ODI for India U-19 in Australia in March 1995, Bundela was included in MP's Ranji squad at the start of the next season and debuted  against Tamil Nadu in Indore.

He may never don the Indian cap but frankly accepts his limitations stating that it is more important to play the game rather than dreaming of playing for the Nation !   The love for the game motivates such players.  Bundela is quoted as saying Vengsarkar appreciating him after a 100 and beating Mumbai in Mumbai are the two most memorable events in his life.  

India has a well organized structure.  Ranji forms the basic foundation for players and serves as a good platform providing opportunity to players from all the States to claim National reckoning.  

Still, the no. 1 in runs aggregate in Ranji,  Wasim Jaffer played with limited success and the no. 2 & 3 – Amol Mazumdar [8237 runs] and Amarjit Kaypee [7623] never got a chance to play for India.  Ajay Sharma who briefly played for India head the no. of century list with 31; followed by Jaffer 29; Amarjit Kaypee 27.

Of the bowlers, the highest wicket taker left arm spinner  Rajinder Goel who took 637 never played for India; 2nd in the list is Srinivasaraghavan Venkatraghavan with 530; Sunil Joshi, Narendra Hirwani and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar have all taken more than 400 Ranji wickets.

Amol Mazumdar tops the list with 126 matches; Rajinder goel, Sairaj Bahutule, Sanjay Bangar, Y Goud, Sunil Joshi, Pankaj Dharmani, Ashok Malhotra, Kaypee, S Sharath, Madanlal, Kirmani, Sarkar Talwar are among the host of others who have played more than 100 Ranji matches.  You may not have heard some of them and many of them did not get the recognition nor earn in tune with what they did for the game

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
24th Nov. 2012.

Express Avenue Fire - any lessons learnt !

Malls are high risk – they are overcrowded; too different categories of risks exist. Since it employs people of all hues, coordination could be a hit. I had yesterday posted that seemingly -  authorities & public were not exhibiting that seriousness that ought to be exhibited.  When there is fire, before investigating into its intensity, people should be evacuated, outsiders should not be allowed entry – all gates should be kept open allowing free passage of vehicles and persons inside to get out and go farther.

Though one would never know the exact occurrence, an ambulance apparently waded through the traffic nearer Royapettah Clock tower – some vehicles correctly stopped providing way for oncoming ambulance with siren; few foolishly tried following speedily the trail. The vehicle moved through the crowded area, took a right turn in the otherwise ‘oneway’ of Patullos Road from Whites Road.  Sure emergency vehicles have the right to use all the roadways – but could it not have been allowed at the first entry gate, perhaps opposite Odeon or nearer Clock tower ?

Reconstructing the event reading from newspapers, it is stated that even after the fire was noticed, reportedly, the Mall did not call for help from Fire Brigade but tried their hand, perhaps trying not to catch public attention ~ was that right ?   TOI reports that desperate  to keep a lid on a fire that broke out in Express Avenue Mall on Friday, authorities in charge of running the shopping centre and multiplex attempted to douse the blaze themselves, endangering visitors to the mall. Fire and rescue officials said they were informed about the blaze after two hours. Shoppers said the mall staff refused to call the fire and rescue services and futilely tried to use handheld extinguishers to put out the blaze. A visitor who saw smoke billowing through the corridors of the mall finally called for help, and fire tenders rushed to the spot.  The fire reportedly was first spotted around 10.45am and the Divisional Fire Officer is quoted as stating that they received a call fro help at 12.40pm.

The Hindu has a slightly different version – “At 10.35 a.m., a fire broke out in Regal, a retail footwear outlet on the first floor of the mall. Employees of the shop informed the mall’s fire safety officials, who then proceeded to evacuate the entire complex and closed the mall to outsiders. Between 11 a.m. and noon, a cinema-goer at the mall placed a call to the fire and rescue department (101). As the blaze progressed, at 12.40 p.m., mall officials placed a second call to the fire department, which then rushed four tenders (three of water and one of foam) to the mall, from various locations in the city — at least two hours after the fire had first been spotted. As smoke poured out of the building, panicked shoppers hurried out, forcing the mall’s staff to shut it down.”

For over seven hours, operations at all 245 retail outlets and the multiplex cinema in the complex were completely paralysed. Even after the fire had been brought under control by 2.30 p.m. and put out shortly after, smoke continued to billow inside the complex, and broken glass was littered all over central atrium — the result of several broken windows.  The mall was opened back with all operations resumed by 6 p.m.  

Newspapers identify the affected shop as Regal Shoes and in one paper an employee is quoted as the fire damaging all leather material, worth Rs. 1.87 crore.

Fire service personnel  is quoted as stating that  the blaze was likely caused by an electrical short circuit.  While one quotes people as stating that the electricity wires were faulty and not of good quality, another quoting the officials of the Mall claim that Express Avenue has installed a state-of-the-art integrated building management system catering to high fire and safety standards.

Fortunate that there were no casualties but this should sure sound alarm bells and help in adherence of quality safety standards.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th Nov. 2012.

Friday, November 23, 2012

It is Pujara again - tall amidst ruins - another century

India play England at Wankhede,  Mumbai in the 2nd Test of the Series Will this do something good to Test Cricket – though BCCI has no special plans..
Today’s match at Wankhede is touted to be special for some reasons.  It is dasher Virender Sehwag’s 100th test.  May be we are slowly moving away from crowds to see their home stars – Sachin Tendulkar may not be drawing the same no. of crowds that he used to and sure he is not making those runs, in the manner he used to earlier. 

This morning there was news that India won the toss – Dhoni immediately opted to bat – and as immediately lost Gautam Gambhir for 0; wickets crumbled Sehwag also gone and Sachin disappointed again. 

Watching the game for many years now, Virender Sehwag is a different opener with different class and different mould.  From the time, I started following it was Sunil Gavaskar and his array of partners –

Farokh Engineer; Anshuman Gaekwad, Dilip Vengsarkar, Parthasarathi Sharma [did he open ?]; Chetan Chauhan, Krishnamachari Srikkanth……………..then there were others Navjot Singh Sidhu, Wasim Jaffer, Akash Chopra to name a few – in between there were Prannoy Roy, Arun Lal, and a host of others – some designated and some stop gap.

Incidentally, Rahul Dravid’s 100th Test at the same venue turned out to be flop as he made that wrong decision of sending England in and losing the match.

Today, the cavalier Viru failed…… so did many others but there was Pujara to reckon.  The man from Saurashtra, Cheteshwar Arvind Pujara followed his unbeaten 200 in the First Test with a neatly complied ton here at Mumbai.  Giving him company is Ravichandran Ashwin with a well made 50 when reports last came in.

At close of play Pujara with 114 and Ashwin with 60 were at the crease; their 97 run partnership taking India to 266/6; Monty Panesar with 4 for 91 shared the honours of the 1st day.

With regards - S. Sampathkumar

Fire at Express Avenue Mall, Chennai

Today, 23rd Nov 2012, Chennai City’s famous mall – Express Avenue [popularly EA], situate near the old landmark – Royapettah Watch tower is attracting crowds for wrong reasons.
the facade of the mall - taken on a normal day morning
This noon, fire was noticed – thick smoke could be seen billowing out of the mall – even as cars were being evacuated.  Though not of any authenticity, the fire has affected a footwear showroom on the first floor. The cause of fire and how much it has spread is not known….
One felt that people / authorities are not exhibiting that seriousness that ought to be exhibited.  When there is fire, before investigating into its intensity, people should be evacuated, outsiders should not be allowed entry – all gates should be kept open allowing free passage of vehicles and persons inside to get out and go farther.
A group of curious onlookers were gathering around the mall gates – even as vehicles from the basement were slowly making a beeline towards the exit gates. Whether to appreciate their casualness and not reacting in panic or think that something is not properly practised !!!
Though not the first of the malls, Express Avenue, a big spacious shopping mall has come up in the place where once Express Gardens existed.  The Indian Express Group, once had all their publications housed here. 
The mall is built on a 10 acre site – has 4 floors of retail space, some eateries, cinema theatres, Big Bazaar and host of garment and footwear shops.  The mail has entries in Woods Road, Whites road and Patullos road and has 3 level basement parking.
Inaugurated in May 2010, this mall has become quite popular drawing huge crowds on holidays.  One can see people waiting outside in the morning even before the mall opens....

Eye witness state that the fire damage occurred to a shoe shop at First floor of the mall; the nearby Garment showroom was among many other stores which was affected by soot, heat and water used for extinguishing the fire.
[this post was updated more than a couple of times and hence a returning visitor might find some difference]

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

photo sent by a friend of mine
one can see the billowing smoke and the fire tender at work
another photo taken from a different angle - sent by another friend

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rabbits ~ No.10 debutant Abul Hasan scores a century

Heard of ‘Who framed Roger Rabbit’ and ‘Raja Chinna Roja’ ! ~ ~ ~ ~ Rabbits  - the cute little animals - are small mammals in the family Leporidae. The male is called a buck and the female is a doe.  ‘ a deer caught in the headlights’ -  means ‘to be so frightened or surprised that you cannot move or think’ – it is stated that deer and rabbit when caught in the glare of the vehicle headlight, would stop dumb. 

Do you know what brackets – Lala Amarnath, Abbas Ali Baig, Shodhan, Hanumant singh,  AG Kripal Singh, Gundappa Vishwanath, Surinder Amarnath,  M Azharuddin, Sourav Ganguly, Praveen Amre, Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina. ?

In Cricket terminology – Rabbit is no. 10 or no. 11 batsmen -  particularly incompetent – specialist bowlers but incapable of scoring runs.    Bunny is the term used when a higher order batsman gets out frequently to the same bowler.  In 1970s, Indian tail used to start rather early and would capitulate very easily once the top order got out – Bedi, Prasanna and Chandrasekhar were known for making little contribution with the bat and some higher no. of ducks.

At Bangladesh, West Indies were provided a great shock, as Abuil Hassan created history scoring a ton on debut coming in at no. 10.   Abul Hasan became only the second man in 135 years of Test cricket to hit a debut hundred batting at No 10 on the opening day of the second Test against the West Indies. The 20-year-old left-hander was unbeaten on 100 and added an invaluable 172 runs for the unfinished 10th-wicket stand with Mohammad Mahmudullah (72) to help the home team recover from 193-8 to 365-8 at the close.

The earlier instane of a no. 10 scoring century occurred way back in 1902 – it was Australian Reggie Duff  scoring 104 against England at Melbourne.   Ironically, Hasan’s previous highest first-class score was 61.   The pair has set a new record for the 10th wicket in all Bangladesh Tests, beating the 77-run stand between Mashrafe Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain, made against India at Chittagong in 2007.

West Indies bulldozed through the first eight Bangladesh wickets on a flat, low and slow Khulna pitch – then came the heroic innings of  Abul Hasan.  Reports suggest that it was not an innings of a debutant but a breezy boundary hitting and  sensible defending.  

He has become the 2nd debutant at no. 10 to score a century;  he is the fourth No.10 batsman to score a century - the last such performance came from South Africa's Pat Symcox. Abul is also the third player from Bangladesh to score a Test hundred on debut, after Aminul Islam and Mohammad Ashraful.  Next to  the centuries of RA Duff and Abul Hassan,  from no. 10 debutants is that of  Tim Southee 77* against England at Napier in Mar 2008. 

Getting back to rabbit, ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ was  a 1988 American comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis and released by Touchstone Pictures. The film combined live action and animation, and is based on Gary K. Wolf's novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, which depicts a world in which cartoon characters interact directly with human beings.

Close on heels was a Tamil film, a Rajni starrer at that ‘Raja Chinna Roja’ released in 1989 – a Tamil children's film directed by SP. Muthuraman. It reportedly was  based on the 1965 English musical The Sound of Music with a song of the original fully used in Tamil. The film was the first Indian film to use animated characters with actors.

The list of Indians that you read in second para of this post  is that of Indian Cricketers who scored a century in their debut in Test Cricket.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
22nd Nov. 2012.