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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Vishy Anand beats Magnus Carlsen in World Rapid & Blitz championship

Chess tournaments, for better or worse, don't usually command international headlines. Do you remember those matches in 2013  ~ it was the World Chess Championship between reigning world champion Viswanathan Anand and challenger Magnus Carlsen, to determine the 2013 World Chess Champion, held from 9 to 22 Nov 2013 in Chennai, India, under the auspices of FIDE (the World Chess Federation).  Carlsen won the match 6½–3½ after ten of the twelve scheduled games, becoming the new world chess champion.

The 2017 King Salman FIDE World Rapid Championship is a 15-round Swiss open taking place in the Apex Convention Centre in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh from 26-28 December. The prize fund is $750,000, with $250,000 for 1st place. The time control is 15 minutes per player for all moves, with a 10-second increment from move 1. The  Championships in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has become the focus of debates this week on Israeli-Saudi relations and women's rights in the country. On Saturday, one of the best women's chess players in the world, Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine, said she and her sister would skip the tournament as a protest of the country's treatment of women as "secondary creature(s)."  Separately, Israeli officials criticized Saudi Arabia and the World Chess Federation, known as FIDE, on Tuesday after seven Israeli competitors were not granted visas to attend the tournament.

Saudi Arabia and FIDE agreed to loosen the dress code for the event and allow women to wear high-necked white blouses rather than a hijab or abaya, a loose-fitting robe worn by some Muslim women. That dress code was a first for any sporting event in Saudi Arabia, the organization said. FIDE also said that it had made "ground-breaking special arrangements" to issue visas to chess players from Iran and Qatar, two countries at odds with Saudi Arabia politically. The statement did not mention Israel, however.

Ukraine's grandmaster Anna Muzychuk won  two gold medals in the FIDE World Chess Rapid & Blitz Championships 2016, in the Qatari capital Doha.  The World Blitz Chess Championship is a tournament held to determine the world champion in chess played under blitz time controls. Since 2012, FIDE has held an annual joint rapid and blitz chess tournament and billed it as the World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championships. The current world blitz champion is Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin.  Time controls for each player in a game of blitz chess are, according to FIDE, 10 minutes or less per player

The happy news is that Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand stunned World No 1 Magnus Carlsen in the ongoing World Rapid and Blitz Championship  yesterday.  Anand and Carlsen met in round nine of the championship with the Indian on an unbeaten run. Starting with black pieces, Anand began with an aggressive approach. Carlsen was caught off-guard with his approach and faltered to give Anand the advantage.
The Indian finished off the match in 34 moves to remain unbeaten in the tournament after nine games. Anand has drawn four games and won five. Before facing Carlsen, Anand drew his match against Russia’s Vladmir Fedoseev.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28th Dec 2017.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Maize, elephant hide, 2 day Test, political turmoil ~ all about Zimbabwe

Do you wear – leather shoes, leather belt and if you are a woman, are you fond of costly leather vanity bag ?  Shell Cordovan is one of the most expensive leather.  This leather comes from just a small area of the rear of a horse hide where it is most dense and one hide yields just two such “shells”, just enough for one pair of shoes.   The leather derives its name from the city of Cordoba, Spain, where it was first produced.   

There is a commonly held view that Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Africa, although the specific timeframe in history is usually unclear. This vague narrative gives an impression that Zimbabwe lost its “breadbasket” status during former President Robert Mugabe’s tenure. While Mugabe’s land reform programme seemingly contributed to a decline in Zimbabwe’s agricultural output, there’s limited evidence to suggest that the country was a dominant player in Africa’s food production prior to that period – at least from a staple food production perspective.

On the contrary, there is news that Zimbabwe is expected to harvest 2.1 million metric tonnes of maize this year after good rains followed successive El Niño-induced droughts. For the first time in many seasons the country will be able to feed itself and not require commercial imports or food aid. But is this the result of good fortune or good policy? Is not known.  The Zimbabwean government is convinced it has found the secret to food security after the biggest maize harvest since a controversial land reform programme was launched nearly two decades ago. It’s ignoring the critics who say success was mostly due to the better weather and who worry about the scheme’s gaps and longer-term returns. New President Emmerson Mnangagwa is doubling down on “command agriculture”, a major private sector-backed subsidy programme in which farmers are provided with seeds, fertiliser, fuel, and chemicals – on loan, with repayment made with a portion of the harvest the following season.

While agriculture gives happiness, it is not so for wildlife and its elephant population. Some 30,000 African elephants are killed by poachers for their ivory each year, and it is cruelly shocking to read that elephant skin leather can be exported and sold around the world legally.  A report in National Geographic reads :  “If you are looking for the toughest of leathers and the sturdiest of boots, elephant is the hide for you, as nothing compares to the strength of a custom elephant cowboy boot.”So reads the website of the Paul Bond Boot Company, one of the firms that turn the gnarly-patterned hide of Earth’s largest land animals into boots, wallets, belts, suitcases, jackets, golf bags, pool cues, furniture, car and motorcycle seats, gun holsters, and whatever else well-heeled customers may fancy. 

Better yet, adds Paul Bond, “the tanning options are second to none, with several different textures and colors available.”  Another claims  “People who work with venomous snakes like it for their boot tops.” The softer ears are reserved for uses where suppleness and smoother grain are preferred. The current legal trade in elephant hide dates back to 1997, when the southern African nations of Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia persuaded the U.N.-sponsored Convention on International Trade in the Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to reclassify their relatively well-protected elephants from Appendix I (which allows no commercial export and applies to Asian and other African elephants) to Appendix II. South Africa gained a similar adjustment in 2000.

On the political front, Zimbabwe's new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has appointed the country's former military commander as one of his two vice-presidents, state-run media has reported. The move deepens concerns about the military's influence after its ousting of Robert Mugabe last month. The appointment of Constantino Chiwenga was widely expected after his retirement earlier this month. He had to retire from the military to take up the position, according to the constitution.  Mr Mnangagwa took power after Mr Chiwenga led a military takeover in the southern African nation that forced Mr Mugabe, then the world's oldest head of state at 93, to resign amid impeachment proceedings after 37 years in charge.

And .. .. at Port Elizabeth,  Test no. 2290 was to be a novel experiment.  Yes, not the usual test, but a test match with duration of 4 days only .. far away from timeless tests to 6 day tests to tests with a rest day in between.  This present  Test match was meant to last four days. It didn't last too much longer than four sessions. In all, it lasted 907 balls, which made it the third-shortest Test match since World War II, not counting the contrived events of the Centurion Test in 2000.

It was also the first two-day finish since 2005. Zimbabwe were the losing side then too, and they lost this one by an innings and 120 runs, as South Africa rolled them over for 68 and 121 in a combined 72.4 overs.  Morne Morkel was South Africa's bowling hero in the first innings, picking up his seventh five-wicket haul in Test cricket and his first in five years. He was only needed for four overs after South Africa made Zimbabwe follow on. Keshav Maharaj didn't bowl at all in the first innings; he did the bulk of the wicket-taking in the second, finishing with figures of 5 for 59.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Dec 2o17.

Boxing Day test at Melbourne

Millions of Britons enjoyed a last hurrah in the Boxing Day sales with determined shoppers camping out in the early hours to secure the best bargains although crowds were smaller than in previous years. Reports suggest that shoppers started queuing outside branches of high street chain Next at 12.30am while on Oxford Street, in London a crowd started forming outside Selfridges at 2.30am. However, retail experts said that overall shopper numbers were significantly down on 2016.

A glimpse of Chepauk stadium … the MA Chidambaram stadium to be precise – brings in lots of memories … the famous stadium is named after  M. A. Chidambaram, the former President of BCCI and the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. Today is a holiday…. Boxing ~ pugilism is a combat sport – known as contest of strength, reflexes, speed and more… but can be quite nasty.  Thurman (WBA and WBC champion) has inherited the title of unofficial king of the welterweights after Floyd Mayweather Jr's retirement. However, many with respected opinions will tell you that Spence (IBF champion) is the best fighter currently competing in the weight class. The talk of a Thurman-Spence fight has already begun, but Thurman believes the banter needs to continue for a while longer to allow the bout to become a bigger, more anticipated event.

A boxing champion who has represented England six times has been arrested and locked in an immigration detention centre, pending deportation to Nigeria, a country that has said it won’t allow him to live there as he is not a citizen. Kelvin Fawaz, London’s current middleweight boxing champion, has been in the UK for 15 years, since he was a child. He is a gifted amateur boxer whom Team GBwanted to represent Britain in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, writing twice to the Home Office on his behalf.

At MCG, England debutant Tom Curran described his near-miss of a first Test wicket as 'the worst feeling I've had' after opener David Warner enjoyed an outrageous moment of good fortune in the fourth Ashes Test. Warner failed a patience test on 99 when, faced with a seven-two off-side field to stifle his scoring, he mistimed a shovel-pull off Curran for a simple catch to mid-on. But, as the combative opener trudged off, television replays showed the seamer had overstepped for a no-ball from round the wicket, and he returned to clip the very next delivery off his hip for three-figures - having hit 13 fours and a six from 130 balls.

On day 2 this morning,  England  fought back admirably on the second day at the MCG, where debutant Tom Curran denied Steven Smith a century and Australia lost  wickets to fold at 327.  At lunch,  Pat Cummins was on 4 and Josh Hazlewood was yet to score, and the Australians were on 8 for 326, having added 82 to their overnight total.  An MCG crowd that ultimately swelled to 88,172 were still settling into their seats, or bar-side perches, when Warner and Cameron Bancroft walked to the middle after Smith had won his first toss of the series. As if to underline his aggressive intent, Warner waited only until his second ball to throw his hands at a James Anderson delivery angled across him, sending an airy forcing shot into the ground's cavernous outfield for three runs. David Warner has joined the elite 6000 test runs club in  129 Innings - the joint-fourth fastest Australian batsman to achieve this feat. Don Bradman (68), Ricky Ponting (125), Mathew Hayden (126) and Greg Chappell (129) are the others on the list. Warner also scored his 21st century in Tests, 15 of which have come at home. Warner now has consecutive centuries at the MCG, having scored just one fifty from nine innings from 2011 to 2015.

Boxing Day perhaps has nothing to do with pugilism but traditionally the day following Christmas day when people would receive gifts from their employers known as Christmas box (not here in India) … understand that it is most popular down under; but in South Africa, Boxing day was renamed to day of Goodwill in 1994. Aussies are taking  on battered and bruised England at Melbourne now.

There is another long standing tradition, - the Boxing Day Test match  hosted in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia involving the Australian cricket team and an opposing national team which is touring Australia that summer. It begins annually on Boxing Day (26 December) and is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Every four years, the Boxing Day Test forms part of the 5-match Ashes series with England.  The popularity of the Boxing Day Test also has something to do with Australia's relaxed outdoor lifestyle, which sees sports lovers appreciate a fine summer's day spent with friends watching sporting greats battle it out on a well-manicured field.

The first ever Test match involving Boxing Day took place in 1950. Prior to that, Boxing Day at the MCG had been the domain of Sheffield Shield cricket, often the highly popular Victoria-New South Wales encounters.  Many famous events have happened during the Boxing Day Test, including umpire Darrell Hair calling Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing in 1995 and Shane Warne taking his 700th Test wicket in 2006 against England in his final MCG Test.  Bruised in the present series, and down 0-3, England is unlikely to reverse the trend of losing in the present series…………..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Dec 2017.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Washington Sundar debuts in T20; Sachin could not at Rajya Sabha

At   Wankhede, Washington Sundar at 18 years and 80 days,  became the youngest to represent India in a T20 International.   He was handed over his cap by Sarandeep Singh.   Washington opened the bowling and was successful in having Mathurage Don Kusal Janith Perera caught and bowled – how important is it to succeed in one’s debut match ??  Do you know who was the first player to debut for India in a T20 and who was that  in ODI International ?? 

When Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut, he was player no. 187 – he went on to play 200 tests for India scoring 15921 runs with 51 hundreds / 68 fifties and 463 ODI – 18426 runs with 49 centuries and 96 fifties.   A player by name Alan Sippy scored 127  against Gujarat and must have felt elated thinking of a green future……..  in that Ranji match in the WZ league in Dec 1988, Rajput made 99; Sippy 127 and a small boy of 15 made a century on debut – those who played alongside could hardly have imagined his meteoric rise but sure would have seen the difference in class which catapulted him so high.  That was young Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.  He did not have to wait long and in Nov 1989 made his debut at National Stadium, Karachi against Pakistan in Test 1127 under the captaincy of Krishnamachari Srikkanth, who had a good tour as a Captain but a very ordinary one as a batsman.    In that Karachi Test,   Salil Ankola, Shahid Saeed and Waqar Younis all made their debut in the same test alongside Sachin.  For Salil Ankola and Saeed that was to be their only test.

Master batsman, Sachin Tendulkar who made runs at will, struggled to make his debut speech at Rajya Sabha, despite being a  member since five years and is a year short of completing his term. According to Rajya Sabha procedures, “Any member desirous of raising discussion on a matter of urgent public importance may give notice in writing to the Secretary-General specifying clearly and precisely the matter to be raised. Provided that the notice shall be accompanied by an explanatory note stating reasons for raising discussion on the matter in question. Further that the notice shall be supported by the signatures of at least two other members.”   There is no need of a formal motion before the Council nor voting for a shot-duration discussion. “The member who has given notice may make a short statement and the Minister shall reply shortly. Any member who has previously intimated to the Chairman may be permitted to take part in the discussion.”

It sounds simple yet things have stopped Sachin’s   first attempt at initiating a debate.  He has not been successful here nor has played any long innings – the ace batsman  last appeared in the Parliament in August this year, just two days after Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal had raised the issue of absenteeism among the nominated lawmakers in the Rajya Sabha and criticised the former cricketer and Bollywood actor Rekha.

And when the day of reckoning finally seem to arrive, Sachin just stood there smiling as the Congress raised a massive ruckus over PM Narendra Modi's comments about Pakistan and ex-PM Manmohan Singh. The  master blaster could not drive his way – scoring on the  topic of the 'right to play and the future of sports in India'. A frustrated chairman of the house Venkaiah Naidu tried several times to quieten the opposition MPs, telling them their protests were not going on the record and asking them to show respect to the Bharat Ratna awardee, who is the only cricketer (current or former) to score 100 international centuries. Mr Naidu, finally, had to stop live telecast of Rajya Sabha before adjourning the Upper House for the day, and in the process calling off Sachin's debut speech.

Jaya Bachchan, Rajya Sabha MP was to ask :  He (#SachinTendulkar) has earned name for India at the world stage, it is a matter of shame that he was not allowed to speak even when everyone knew it was on today's agenda. Are only politicians allowed to speak?:

So from 2012, the master blaster could not initiate a debate, though having asked  questions relating to sports infrastructure and employment for sportsmen and has used 98 per cent of the funds allotted him as an MP for social welfare.

                Now to answer the Q at the start – in Leeds in 1974, India played its first ever ODI and that way all the 11 were debutants – in such a scenario, the procedure is to allot the cap in alphabetical order – S. Abid Ali was no. 1; Bishan Bedi 2; Farokh Engineer 3; Sunil Manohar Gavaskar 4.

In T20, India debuted at Johannesburg on Dec 1, 2006 against South Africa – no1 was Ajit Agarkar;  MS Dhoni 2;  Harbhajan Singh 3; Dinesh Karthik 4; Zaheer Khan 5
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Dec 2017.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Ro'hit' ~ Holkar carnage

In mid  2013, I had posted   - ‘It would ever remain a mystery as to how he played against England at home after scoring – 5,0,0,4,4 at Srilanka and 4 against Pak at Chennai.. 17 in 6 innings and still he got a chance’. Today, I would have no qualms in taking back those words ~ he is very special and belongs to a different genre; he does not bludgeon but caresses – sending balls soaring with silken touch ! – no prize for guessing, this star.

In 2nd T20 today, Sri Lanka captain Thisara Perera won yet another toss, and elected to bowl in the second T20I against India in Indore. Thisara said he felt the short boundaries at the Holkar Stadium would lend better to a chase.  KL Rahul was out caught brilliantly by keeper Dickwella off  Pradeep for 89 made of just 49 balls with 8 sixers and a strike rate of 181.63; yet he will not the MoM and not much would be talked about him .. ..

Holkar Cricket Stadium is in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. It was earlier known as Maharani Usharaje Trust Cricket Ground. Virender Sehwag hit 219 in a ODI here. 

The Holkar dynasty was a Hindu Maratha royal house in India. The Holkars ruled as Maratha Rajas, and later as Maharajas of Indore in Central India as an independent member of the Maratha Empire until 1818. Later, their kingdom became a princely state under the protectorate of British India. The dynasty was founded by  Malhar Rao, who joined the service of the Peshwas of the Maratha Empire in 1721 – the head was known as Holkar Maharaja.  The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1818) was the final and decisive conflict between the British East India Company (EIC) and the Hindu Maratha Empire in India. The war left the Company in control of most of India. It began with an invasion of the Hindu Maratha territory by British East India Company troops, the largest such British controlled force massed in India. The troops were led by the Governor General Hastings  supported by a force under General Thomas Hislop.  The Peshwa was eventually captured and placed on a small estate at Bithur, near Kanpur.

Today it was a different kind of massacre at Holkar as India amassed 260 in 20 overs.  There were to be 21 fours and equivalent no. of sixers from the Indian side. Rohit Sharma has been in phenomenal form, ever since making a comeback to the team from injury during the Champions Trophy. In his first series as India captain, however, he has reached a different level as a batsman, scoring runs at an unimaginary pace, even by his own standards.

In the second T20I against the Lankans at Indore, Sharma was in his elements, smashing the fastest century ever by an Indian in T20Is and the joint-fastest ever with David Miller. A 43-ball 118 was laden with 10 maximums, one of which flew for 104 metres. He completed his century in 35 balls, striking the ball as cleanly as he ever has, hitting the ball with disdain against the spinners. Rohit saved his best against Thisara Perera, smacking the medium pacer for four sixes in as many balls in remarkable fashion.

His 35 equalled David Miller's record - against Bangladesh in October 2017. The previous fastest T20I century among India batsmen was 46 balls by KL Rahul, against West Indies in Lauderhill last year. Rohit Sharma scored his eighth International century in 2017, the second most by any batsman. Only Virat Kohli has more centuries (11) than Rohit this year.

Srilanka is fighting back

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Dec 2017.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

some history of Berar ~ Vidarbha likely to enter Ranji finals

MSD is a cult star ~ last ball of the innings – bent to hoist, up, up and up it went – and as it descended it was not too long (71 M) but so high – up above the World so high, like a diamond in the sky !

It was during the viceroyalty of Lord Curzon that Berar was permanently ceded to the British by the Nizam. It was announced from Fort William that Berar had been administered by British under the treaties of 1853 and 1860 for meeting the expenses of the Hyderabad contingent, and any balance of revenue was to be handed over to the Nizam; but this arrangement had not worked satisfactorily.

Berar Province (Marathi: Varhā), known also as the Hyderabad Assigned Districts, was a province of British India. The province, formerly ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, was administered by the British after 1853, although the Nizam retained formal sovereignty over the province. After  1903 the administration of the province was placed under the commissioner-general for the Central Provinces as the Berar Division. In 1936 with the establishment of the legislative assembly of the 'Central Provinces and Berar' the territory was renamed the Central Provinces and Berar.

In the famed Ranji Trophy finasl that I remember watching all the days in March 1982,   Karnataka played first.  Roger Michael Binny scored 115; Brijesh Patel 124, stylish Sudhakar Rao 71, Kirmani 116, Ranjit Kanwilkar 116 – as they were all out after 255 overs making 705.  Seemingly impossible target, one thought. Ranjit Kanwilkar,  an all-rounder was only 21 and was considered to be an exciting prospect, sadly died later in an accident when coaches fell into lake Ashtamudi Kayal in July 1988. Delhi bowling was in the hands of Madanlal, Mohinder Amarnath,  Maninder (who went for 204 runs), Shukla and Kirti Azad. 

Chasing  706 is certainly daunting – but Delhi had other plans.  Raman Lamba scored 36, Gursharan Singh made 101; Surinder Amarnath fell cheaply.  Kirti Azad,  Surinder Khanna, Madanlal all made useful runs – Mohinder was rock steady and made 185.  At one stage Delhi were 589 for 8 -  116 short……….   Shulka made an unbeaten 69 and Rajesh Peter made 67 in an unbroken stand  as Delhi took the lead.  Hapless  Binny, Khanvilkar, Vijaykrishna, Raghuram Bhat all went for 100+. As there was no rule for unfinished match, the match went into the sixth day enabling the hosts to gain first innings lead and mercifully stopped at that. ....

At Cuttack, India made 180/3  (KL Rahul 61, Dhoni 39*, Pandey 32*) beat Sri Lanka 87 (Chahal 4-23, Pandya 3-29) by 93 runs, a very huge margin.  There was the dew factor – Lankans read it differently, picked just one specialist spinner, packed their side with seam options, and gave themselves the early advantage by winning the toss. At a time when I thought the score was not enough, with 4 overs to go - Nuwan Pradeep and Thisara Perera sent down five full-tosses in the last two overs of India's innings, and MS Dhoni and Manish Pandey clattered two of them for four and two for six. In all, India scored 61 in their last four overs.  Later Chahal magic and Pandya’s performance handed the biggest T20 win.

Vidarbha is the eastern region of the state of Maharashtra, comprising Nagpur Division and Amravati Division. Its former name is Berar.  The largest city in Vidarbha is Nagpur. A majority of Vidarbhians speak Varhadi and Zadi dialects of Marathi.  The Nagpur region is famous for growing oranges and cotton.  Throughout its history, Vidarbha has remained much calmer than the rest of India, especially during the communal troubles; but it is plagued very much by poverty and malnutrition. In recent times, there have been calls for a separate state of Vidarbha, due to perceived neglect from the Government of Maharashtra and incompetent political leadership in Vidarbha. The living conditions of farmers in this region are poor compared to India as a whole. There have been farmers' suicides and economic turmoil.

Vinay Kumar swings the ball both ways, Abhimanyu Mithun hits the deck at 140kph, left-armer Sreenath Aravind swings and seams,  K Gowtham bowls off-spin, Jagadeesha Suchith left-arm spin and Shreyas Gopal brings in wrist spin. They have contributed to  Karnataka’s five outright wins ; in stark contrast,  Vidarbha has the old Wasim Jaffer and Indian pacer  Umesh Yadav.  It appeared that they would be no match for Karnataka in the Ranji Semi finals.

At the end of play at Kolkatta today, Vidarbha's extraordinary resolve and single-mindedness have  put them within inches of their maiden Ranji Trophy final, as their classic against Karnataka headed towards a stunning conclusion. With unshakeable confidence, supreme skill and tremendous discipline, Vidarbha's pacers brought Karnataka's bullish batting order to its knees to all but knock out the eight-time champions on the fourth day at Eden Gardens. At stumps, Karnataka were seven down in pursuit of 198, still requiring an improbable 87 runs.   It  was Rajneesh Gurbani, Vidarbha's find of the season, who  ripped through Karnataka. Siddhesh Neral's double-strike had given Vidarbha an opening, but Gurbani pushed the door wide open. He ran through the heart of Karnataka's middle order with 4 for 35 that included the game-changing scalps of Karun Nair and CM Gautam.

Karnataka was not  in control of the chase: an unprecedented instance for a team that has racked up totals of over 400 six times in eight matches this season.  The score card now reads : Karnataka 301 and 111 for 7 (Nair 30, Gurbani 4-35, Neral 2-37) need another 87 runs to beat Vidarbha 185 and 313 (Satish 81, Sarwate 55, Vinay 3-71, Binny 3-74).

Hopefully, Vidarbha picks the balance wickets easily and enter the Finals for the first time in the history of Ranji Trophy to play another giant Delhi.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Dec 2017.

Navdeep Saini's INA connection ~ Ranji update !!

It cannot get bigger than this is the common refrain – but IPL keeps growing the 2018 IPL auction will be held on January 27 and 28, in Bangalore. The mega auction will coincide with the final two days of India's third Test on the tour of South Africa; Virat Kohli's team is scheduled to play the final Test of the South Africa tour from January 24-28 in Johannesburg.  It is read that IPL has asked all eight franchises to submit their final list of retained players by January 4. The IPL is likely to finalise the pool of players who will be up for auction around January 18.

Not many would have noticed him when Delhi Daredevils bought him for 10 lakhs – but many heads turned when Navdeep Saini managed to do what not many fast bowlers around the world can't: bounce-out David Warner.  In a tour match, the  Australian opener was sailing like he usually does at the top of the innings, racing to 25 in just 30 balls; the   two experienced India 'A' new ball bowlers – Ashoke Dinda and Hardik Pandya – were unable to trouble the left-hander even a little bit. But in the ninth over the day, Pandya threw the ball to a rather unheralded Saini. In just the fourth ball of his spell, the right-arm pacer banged one in at short of a length. It grew bigger on Warner than he would've expected, and the Australian top-edged the ball straight up in the air to wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan.

Indian history perhaps is to be taught far differently than what we read in history books as Gandhi winning freedom without spilling blood – that defies rightful place for many great freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of freedom for the Nation.  The Indian National Army (INA) was originally founded by Capt Mohan Singh in Singapore in September 1942 with Japan's Indian POWs . At the urging of their Japanese captors, almost 20,000 Indian prisoners-of-war had come together to form this army with the aim of freeing India from British colonial rule. Under the charismatic leadership of Subhas Chandra Bose, who led the INA from July 1943 until his sudden death in August 1945, the INA grew in strength and received significant support from the civilian Indian population in Malaya. After World War II, the British charged some of the captured INA soldiers with treason.

While the whole nation was engaged in the August movement, the struggle for independence was carried on by Subhash Chandra Bose outside the frontiers of India. Subhash Chandra Bose joined the non-cooperation Movement but was not satisfied with the principle of non-violence of Gandhiji and supported Motilal and C.R. Das in the venture of organising the Swarajist party. Subhash was appointed the Chief Executive officer of Calcutta by C.R. Das, the Mayore of Calcutta. The progressive activities of Subhash invited the displeasure of the Government and were deported to Mandalay. Subhash represented the young and extremist elements in the Congress. He was elected as the President of the Congress in 1938 and again in 1939. He could not make any compromise with Gandhi and thus resigned his President-ship and organized the famous Forward Block. In a romantic and daring journey changing names and looking different he proceeded from there to Moscow and finally reached Berlin in March 1941. Rash Behari Bose convened two conferences one at Tokyo in March, 1942 and the second in Bangkok in Jun 1942. The revolutionaries assembled in the conferences decided to form an Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauz) for the liberation of India from the British rule. In February 1943, Subhash left Germany from Kiel port in a Submarine. Through risk, suffering and untold hardship he finally reached Tokyo in June 1943. He held discussion with the Japanese authorities in the course of which the latter promised the independence of India after the war. From Tokyo he went to Singapore where he was warmly welcomed by Rash Behari and the latter handed over the leadership to Subhash.

For those of us following Ranji, it was a debacle as in  Nov 2017  Tamil Nadu ended it's campaign in this year's Ranji Trophy tournament by losing its final Group "C" match to Baroda by 102 runs. Requiring 233 for a win, the visiting team was all out for 130 in 65.5 overs.  TN finished poor in their Group "C": 1. Madhya Pradesh 21 points (qualified); 2.Mumbai 21 points (qualified); 3. Andhra Pradesh 19 points; 4. Baroda 16 points; 5. Tamil Nadu 11 points; 6. Odisha 6 points; 7. Tripura 4 points.

Other teams played grittily – there would be not much of a fight when the team is three down and trailing significantly in the second innings. On Tuesday in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy, both semifinals had reached similar junctures. In Pune, Bengal had conceded a first-innings lead of 112 and lost their top three while still trailing by 77. In Kolkata, Vidarbha were 54 behind when they lost their top three. But from there, both teams took entirely different routes.

Bengal crumbled to 86 all out, as Delhi stormed into the final with victory by an innings and 26 runs. Vidarbha, on the other hand, lost just one more wicket, and scrapped hard to remain in contention for their maiden Ranji final. By the time play had wound down at Eden Gardens, Vidarbha had moved into a 79-run lead - marginal but enough to keep their dream alive.  Wasim Jaffar plays for Vidarbha now. 

On a day when fast bowlers on both the sides produced game-altering spells, it was Bengal's freefall with the bat that had them plummet to a defeat by an innings and 26 runs in Pune. After Mohammed Shami's 6 for 122 limited Delhi's lead to 112 runs, Delhi's bowlers shot the opposition out for 86 within 25 overs to book their team's spot in the final. Bengal's batting line-up was spliced open by Navdeep Saini and Kulwant Khejroliya, who relied as much on their red-hot pace as the batsmen's muddled thinking as they helped themselves to four wickets each. All of Saini's dismissals - Sudip Chatterjee, captain Manoj Tiwary, Aamir Gani and B Amit - were bowled. Saini knocked over Gani and Amit off successive deliveries that registered speeds of 140 kph and 144 kph respectively. He finished with seven wickets in the match.

With 29 wickets from seven games, Saini has been Delhi's second-highest wicket-taker so far this season, behind left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra. But, blockbuster showing in Ranji Trophy 2017-18 aside, he has been getting the attention of the national selectors for some time now, mainly for his ability to bowl at a sharp pace consistently. He provided a demonstration of that by frequently clocking speeds upwards of 140 kph in the semi-final - two such thunderbolts accounted for Aamir Gani and B Amit off successive deliveries.

Back home, one of Saini's biggest supporters is his "100-plus-year-old" grandfather Karam Singh, a war veteran whom he says had fought in Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army (INA). "He used to be a driver in the INA," Saini said. "He is still remarkably fit and even rides a bicycle. He doesn't understand any cricket, but derives a lot of pleasure watching me play on TV. I am sure he would have been watching this game as well."

Interesting and all the best Saini !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Dec 2017.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

caring for flora and fauna ~ ethnic cleansing and fitting spikes to trees to protect cars

In Cinema and in story books, we have read about some being so calm, peace-loving, caring for humanity and doing lot for promoting peace ? is all that true – or are humans cruel ? to fellow humans and more to the flora and fauna around them.

In the modern developed World, there are so many selling arms and in places, people engaged in ethnic cleansing? Do they fail to recognise the inherent humanity of their victims, or do their acts represent an excess of morality, morality that can be satisfied only by punishing a fellow human? What’s the motive that spurs on this violence?  And before you fall victim to those propagating peace, do not fail to see their ulterior motive of proselytization !  There is also much talk about killer robots that can attack without a human operator ! there are many theories and stories about these  dangerous tools. Such  autonomous weapons ‘can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons [that can be] hacked to behave in undesirable ways’.

History reveals many ugly sides too – there were those European wars of religion, a series of savage religious wars waged in Central, Western and Northern Europe from 1524 to 1648 following the onset of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. The wars were strongly influenced by the religious change of the period and the conflict and rivalry that it produced. Nevertheless, the combatants cannot be neatly categorised by religion, nor were they divided by religion alone, and in most cases religion was only a part of the causes of the wars.

~ and in this beautiful World, there are some to whom animals (be it small pets, birds and more) are passion of their life.  They love, live with them and laugh with them. Back home, landscape of Shekhawati region is dotted with khejri (Prosopis cineraria) trees, which can survive in the worst of the droughts and are an important source of fodder for camel and goats.  Banni tree, considered a symbol of courage, peace and prosperity, is the State Tree of Rajasthan and newly formed Telangana. The bark of vanni  tree is useful in treating piles, worm infestation, muscular and joint pains. Used as antidote for snake or scorpion-bite poisoning. Paste of flowers with sugar is given to prevent unexpected abortions. The leaves and fruits are used to cure nervous disorders. The smoke by burning leaves exposed in case of eye complaints.

In 1730 AD, a small village located 26 km south-east of Jodhpur in Rajasthan witnessed probably the first and most fierce environment protection movement in the history of the country. Amrita Devi of Khejarli village and her three young daughters laid down their lives to protect the sacred trees which the ruler of Marwar Maharaja Abhay Singh had ordered to be cut down for building his new palace. This inspired other members of the community and a total of 363 people sacrificed their lives in coming days trying to save the trees by hugging them while the king’s men chopped their bodies with axes. The ‘martyrs’ belonged to Bishnoi community and the trees which they were protecting were ‘Khejri’. In 1970s, this sacrifice became the inspiration behind the Chipko Movement. .. .. .. now you may be saddened reading this real incident in UK, reported in MailOnline.

In a particular area, people had expensive cars that were parked outside their houses and every morning they found them cluttered with bird droppings – humans being intelligent, thought that over and came with novel method of prevention that of fitting trees with 'anti-bird spikes' to stop pigeons relieving themselves on their vehicles. The spikes - normally used to stop birds settling on buildings - have been nailed to two beech trees in an exclusive suburb of Bristol. Several lower-hanging branches in the grounds of Essendene House and Heathfield House, near the city's famous Downs grasslands, have been fitted with the contraption.  They were fixed to branches overhanging a car park where numerous BMWs and Audis are parked to deter the creatures from defecating on their pricey cars.  The lethal-looking spikes have been criticised by environmentalists who claim the contraption makes it impossible for birds to rest or build nests in the trees.

A representative of Green Party is quoted as saying : 'I'm aware that the landowner might be legally within their rights to do this to the trees as they seem to be on private land. However, it does look bad and bad against birds.  'Whether allowed or not though, it looks awful and it's a shame to see trees being literally made uninhabitable to birds - presumably for the sake of car parking.

'Sometimes it's too easy to lose sight of the benefit that we all gain from trees and green spaces and from the presence of wildlife around us in the city.' One of those owner was clear that they had tried out things including keeping a wooden bird, but nothing worked and hence they decided that birds should not be sitting on trees under which they park their expensive cars – after all cars are more needed than the birds.

One tweeted it as a 'war on wildlife'.  Writing furiously : 'Now birds are not allowed in trees...?!'

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

19th Dec 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Swami Vivekananda's Madras connection ~ and the photographer who framed him here

Those days, when one travelled by Pallavan Transport Corporation,  people were used to hearing the conductor shout the place by identifying the nearest landmarks – at this place, they would tell the passengers -   ‘icose’…. ‘aicose’  ~  it was that derivative of Ice House !! It was in fact a more iconic landmark – more than a century and few decades more – where ice was stored.  In 1833, a merchant of Boston, Fredric Tutor built houses for storing ice.  He reportedly bought ice to India in merchant ships, stored them in well like structures with charcoal as protection and supplied them to Britishers. 

Narendra Nath Datta  later to be hailed as Swami Vivekananda, in his monastic life as, was born in an affluent family in Kolkata on 12 January 1863. His father, Vishwanath Datta, was a successful attorney with interests in a wide range of subjects, and his mother, Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was endowed with deep devotion, strong character and other qualities. A precocious boy, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. On September 11, 1893, the Parliament opened. On the first day itself, after four other prepared speeches were read, Swamiji was asked to speak. In one of the greatest orations, he started with ‘Sisters and Brothers of America’ – five immortal words that made the 7000 strong audience to stand up in the realization they were witnessing an epochal moment. The speech was very brief, but, so brilliant was he that overnight he became a sensation.

The greatness of Swami Vivekananda has many books written on him ~ this is limited to his memorial at Triplicane and some Triplicane connection of his.  Way back in 1890s, a person by name Alasinga  heard about ‘Parliament of World Religions’ to be held in Chicago in 1893. He being a well learned person,  could have gone to the Parliament himself, but, given his modesty, he wanted someone else more scholarly to go. By some description, MC Alasinga Perumal  is stated to be the headmaster of the High School attached to Pacheyappa's College. From the time when the Swami first came to Madras in December 1892 after his visit to Kanyakumari and Rameswaram, he attached himself with adoring love and never-failing enthusiasm to the Swami's person and to his ministry in the world in all its phases and details — an adhesion and service to the Great Master Vivekananda.

In Madras, Alasinga initially just organised Vivekananda’s lectures and he understood that Swamiji was the person to go to Chicago. He ensured collection of required resources for the trip and he himself carried  Swami Vivekananda’s luggage on to the ship , ‘Peninsular’, in Bombay bound for the America and saw him off.

Panoramic view of the Stately Vivekananda House, Triplicane

When Swamiji returned to Chennai in 1897 he was taken on a procession to Castle Kernan owned by Biligiri Iyengar (the same icehouse that had changed hands to a leading advocate in Madras).  During his nine day stay, he shook India’s national consciousness through his fiery lectures at Chennai. Later, Ramakrishna Math (Monastery) Chennai was founded by Swami Ramakrishnananda, a brother disciple of Swami Vivekananda. The Math functioned from here during its first 10 years (1897-1906) until it got moved to the current location at Mylapore, Chennai. In 1963, during the Birth Centenary of Swami Vivekananda, the Government of Tamil Nadu renamed the Castle Kernan as Vivekanandar Illam.  Vivekananda House now houses a Permanent Exhibition on Indian Culture and Swamiji’s Life, maintained by the Ramakrishna Math and is a source of inspiration to thousands of people who visit it every year.
Swami Vivekananda at Triplicane  1897 (pic wiki commons)

The museum houses some relics, showcases the room where he stayed and some rare photos of Swami Vivekananda including those taken during his stay in Madras, at Kanyakumari, Ceylon and elsewhere.  Some of them and more specifically a phototype of Swami in simple sanyasin dress  that appeared in Apr 1897   issue of Prabuddha Bharata has the credit line of one  T. G. Appavan Mudaliar, with address of  No. 3, Veeraraghava Mudali Street, Triplicane, Madras.. ..  those of us in Triplicane know that Veeraraghava Mudali Street, is the famous Big Street that has Hindu High School. Appavan Mudaliar is stated to be a reputed photographer of his time, residing in Triplicane.  Ramakrishna mission web states that the Chennai math researched in finding more on this photographer but could not locate the house or descendants of him.

Though I am born and brought up in Triplicane, for the first time visited the museum at Vivekanadar Illam today  and am thoroughly impressed.  One grievance is though it houses lot of good photos, photography is banned here.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th Dec 2017.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

the intelligent Brydon Coverdale ! - Cricket writer and Quizzer ..

Often tourists would be confronted and bowled over in a pacy wicket at Perth – in Nov 1981, the Aussies batting first were bowled out for 180 but struck back strongly dismissing Pakis for 62 – Dennis Lillee, the menace had figures of 9-3-18-5 while Terry Alderman took 4/36.  Australia went on to win that match by 286 runs. 
Every heard of - Ichthyology – do you know what is that associated with it ? ;  There is a blog ‘DadREads’ on what the person reads to tell his children – and one post goes  : other day I was flicking through Richard Scarry's Busiest Fire Fighters Ever, a Little Golden Book from the early 90s. And I noticed that these frightened looking pigs seem to be under attack from giant pieces of bacon. And one of the pigs is named Smokey. .. .. .. ..

‘Naan ready – Neenga Readiya ?” – was the poser to audience by Sarathkumar…. many years ago !  Do you remember the show “Koteeswaran” featuring the actor in Sun TV on the lines of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepathi’ ?  Koteeswaran is common name – a Hindu name after Lord Easwar; one denoting unlimited riches.  ‘koti’ is crore and the one named so is blessed to possess crores of values… way back in 1955 there was a Sivaji Ganesan / Padmini starrer produced by Sri Ganesh Movietone with background score by G Ramanathan.  KBC itself was made after – who wants to be a Millionaire

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?  Was aired in Australia too – the  game show offered a maximum cash prize of $1,000,000 for answering 15 successive multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty as a team. The show was based on and followed the same general format of the original version of the show from the United Kingdom, and is part of the international Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Today at WACA, Australia ended the day at 549/4 with Steve Smith 229*, M Marsh 181* going great guns giving a lead of 146 runs.  Brydon Coverdale covering the match for ESPN writes :   It would be hard to imagine a day of greater Australian dominance than this one. It was a day on which Steven Smith made his second Test double-century, Mitchell Marsh scored his maiden Test hundred, England claimed just a single wicket and Australia piled on 346 runs. A day that began with Australia trailing by 200 finished with them 146 runs in front, and with a realistic chance of pushing for victory - and the urn - over the next two days. Remind us why Australia would want to move Ashes Tests away from the WACA?
pic credit :

But a caveat is necessary, for it was not a day that necessarily ended England's campaign. The pitch remains good for batting - that is stating the obvious - and there is rain forecast over the next two days in Perth. It remains very possible that England will escape from this match with a draw, and as the holders of the Ashes, that would keep them alive in the series. Alive, but demoralised. They might have known that Smith could score a mountain of runs, but Mitchell Marsh eyeing off a Test double-century by stumps? They'd have been more likely to expect the Spanish Inquisition. This was a day that can best be illustrated by the numbers, and at the close of play, the numbers were these: Smith was on 229, Marsh was on 181, and Australia had 4 for 549. Hundreds were also piling up in England's bowling analysis: Craig Overton, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali had all conceded centuries by the close of play, and if James Anderson - currently at 0 for 85 - joins them on the fourth day, it will be just the eighth time in Test history that a team has had five or more bowlers concede 100 in the same innings.

The man at the start,  writer - Brydon Coverdale is an Australian quiz personality best known for being one of the "Chasers" on The Chase Australia, where he is nicknamed "The Shark".   Prior to The Chase Australia, Coverdale appeared on several other Australian quiz programs, including, Million Dollar Minute, where he won $307,000 in 2014. He became the first grand champion of Pass the Buck where he won $38,788 in 2002. He also won a total of $32,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,  and appeared in many other Quiz shows.  Coverdale is a reporter and assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo, a news website exclusively for cricket.  Coverdale is married to  Zoe in Eltham, and they have a daughter named Heidi. Coverdale also runs a blog named DadReads, discussing children's books he has read to his daughter.

The Cricket writer Brydon Coverdale  scored himself $307,000 on the Channel 7 quiz show Million Dollar Minute. In 2014, on that day, with  just two seconds left on the clock the Victorian local fluked the last question to take home the biggest cash payday in the history of afternoon game shows on Australian TV. “I really did not know the answer so I went with my gut feeling,” he said. “My wife Zoe is going to be speechless…I think I owe it to her to take her on a second honeymoon - a luxury tropical holiday.”

Inquisitive to know what the 5 Questions were ?  : Final 5 questions:
1.         Ichthyology is the study of what?
Ichthyology also known as fish science, is the branch of zoology devoted to the study of fish. This includes bony fish (Osteichthyes), cartilaginous fish (Chondrichthyes), and jawless fish (Agnatha).
2. In what year was the GST introduced?  (in Australia in 2000)
3. Which Olympic sport has provided Australia with the most gold medals? (Swimming)
4. Mickey Rourke was critically acclaimed for which 2008 movie? (The Wrestler)
5. On what part of the body do you wear espadrilles? (Feet)

Interesting !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th Dec 2017.