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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Super Cop Pon Manickavel retrieves idol of Raja Raja Chola

Though I am no movie buff ~ it is cinemas, that we see honest and efficient cops – people love them too .. .. … in real life, a cop’s life is tough and difficult.  A posting in the Railway Police is generally considered dull and dusty, but not for senior IPS officer Pon Manickavel. He had seen many transfers and postings, when transferred as IG, Railway Police, the tough cop launched into top gear and issued a bomb of a circular telling his officers and men they should report crime to him “within 120 seconds of coming to know of it”.  Within a couple of days of assuming charge, Pon Manickavel  issued the circular to the 45 railway police stations telling them strictly he should be informed of any crime coming under their jurisdiction within two minutes of coming to know of it.  We should consider it our great fortune that   Inspector General (IG) of Police, Railways, A.G. Pon Manickavel, was given full  additional charge as IG, Idol wing, CID too.  Idol wings is nothing new to him !!

In Mar this year, the ebullient cop - Inspector general A G Pon Manickavel, idol wing head, in a complaint filed with the Thanjavur west police stated that  two statues, donated by former king ‘Poigai Naadu Kizhavan Aadhithan Suriyanagiya Thennavan Moovenda Velaan’ to Raja Raja Chola during the construction of the temple 1,000 years ago, had gone missing. While the value of Raja Raja Chola statue could be 60 crore, Logamadevi’s idol is worth 40 crore in the international market, said  officials while   Thanjavur police  estimated that those  statues could have been stolen 50 years ago.

miles away in Ahmebadad lies the ‘Calico Museum of Textiles’  housing  comprehensive collection of Indian textiles. The Calico collection along with the Sarabhai Foundation collection of outstanding bronzes, pichhwais, Jain art and Indian miniature paintings are housed in The Retreat in the Shahibag area of the city.  The museum was founded in 1949  by the industrialist Gautam Sarabhai and his sister Gira Sarabhai. Ahmedabad at that time had a flourishing textile industry. The museum was originally housed at the Calico Mills in the heart of the textile industry. But as the collection grew the museum was shifted to the Sarabhai House in Shahibaug in 1983.

Raja Raja Chozhan I (ராஜ ராஜ சோழன்), born Arulmozhi Thevar respectfully known  as Peruvudaiyar, a great Emperor  who ruled between 985 and 1014 CE took the Chola glory to greater heights.  By conquering several kingdoms in India, he expanded the Chola Empire as far as Sri Lanka in the south, and Kalinga (Odisha) in the northeast.  He was a great patron of Tamil literature as during his reign the texts of the famous Tamil poets Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar were collected and edited into one compilation called Thirumurai.

The imposing structure ‘Thanjai Periya Kovil’ ~   Peruvudaiyar Kovil (தஞ்சைப் பெருவுடையார் கோயில்) is one of India's most prized architectural sites. Built by emperor Raja Raja Chola I and completed in 1010 AD, the 'Big Temple', turned 1000 years old in 2010. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples". The vimanam  is 216 ft (66 m) high;  the kalasam the bulbous structure on the top,  is carved out of a single rock and it weighs around 80 tons.  There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock, at the entrance measuring about 16 feet long and 13 feet high. The entire temple structure is made out of granite, an  axial and symmetrical geometry rules the temple layout.

The idol wing of the CID of Tamil Nadu retrieved two stolen bronze statues of King Rajarajacholan and his queen Lokamadevi from the Calico museum in Ahmedabad in Gujarat this day. The antique statues of Big Temple in Thanjavur worth several crores of rupees would be brought back to Tamil Nadu on Thursday.

Reports suggest that  the idol wing - led by inspector general of police A G Pon Manickavel - carried out investigations with the authorities of the museum managed by the Gautam Sarabhai Foundation. Police said evidences collected by the team during the three months of investigation proved that the statues kept in the museum had been stolen from the UNESCO-tagged World Heritage Brigadeeswarar or Big temple in Thanjavur more than five decades ago. The wing estimated the value of the two statues measuring 74cm tall at more than Rs 100 crore in the international market considering it is a Panchaloha (made of five metals, including gold) and in view of its antiquity value.

The theft of the antique idols had come to light after the idol wing team visited the temple in March 2018. The preliminary investigation of the case was carried out by the deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Venkataraman after he lodged a complaint with the Thanjavur police.  An idol wing, team wing led by additional deputy superintendent of police Rajaram, is expected to bring the statue to Chennai on May 31, 2018.

We feel happy and heartily thank the super cop Mr Pon Manickavel Sir

With profound regards to him ~ S. Sampathkumar
30th May 2018.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Abe ~ Akita ~ Alina - Figure skating and more !!

Goguryeo  was a Korean kingdom  located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula and the southern and central parts of Manchuria. Along with Baekje and Silla, Goguryeo was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Pyeongchang which was in news was part of this kingdom !.    Pyeongchang carved out a name with the Winter Olympics 2018.  At the opening ceremony, one thousand residents of Gangwon Province entered the stage, before standing in the formation in dove, holding lit candles. The enthusiasm of these particular individuals  was very impressive.  One of the biggest surprises of the night was the identity of the roster of famous faces that would sing in the centre of the Dove ~ who would alight the cauldron was also kept a secret.  

                 Of the many games, Figure skating was one – it  is a sport in which individuals, duos, or groups perform on figure skates on ice. It was the first winter sport included in the Olympics, in 1908. The four Olympic disciplines are men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating, and ice dance. The blade has a groove on the bottom creating two distinct edges — inside and outside. Judges prefer that skaters glide on one edge of the blade and not on both at the same time, which is referred to as a flat edge. During a spin, skaters use the "sweet spot" of the blade, formally called a rocker, which is the roundest portion of the blade, just behind the pick and near the middle of the blade.

Russia’s 2018 Olympic champion in figure skating Alina Zagitova pledged on Sunday she will never follow the lead of her teammate and closest rival, Yevgeniya Medvedeva, and will never part with her coach Eteri Tutberidze. Welcoming Zagitova at the airport of her home city of Izhevsk, reporters asked her whether she could imagine herself changing her coach like other figure skaters do, she replied definitely: "No, I cannot even imagine that." Earlier in the month, Russia’s 2018 two-time Olympic silver medalist in figure skating Yevgeniya Medvedeva officially announced her decision to part with her coach Eteri Tutberidze and start working with Canadian specialist Brian Orser.

It is not for the game alone, Alina is in news ~ she was in news as a recipient of a famous gift that too from the Prime Minister.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on a three-day visit to Russia, took part on Saturday in the handing over of an Akita puppy to Russian Olympic champion figure skater Alina Zagitova. Russian President Vladimir Putin said a solution with Japan had to be found to allow the two countries to conclude a World War II peace treaty which would reflect the interests of both. Putin had welcomed Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Moscow on Saturday after meeting in Saint Petersburg for the economic forum, which Abe attended as a guest of honor. "Yesterday we discussed the advancement of economic and commercial ties" Putin said Saturday.   The Japanese premier said he also hoped for a "new breakthrough" in settling the dispute that has festered for decades. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had sparked outrage in Japan when he visited the disputed territory in 2015. After meeting Abe, Putin said on Saturday that a Japanese business delegation would visit the islands this year.

The dog breed in news ! ~ Akita is muscular, double-coated dog of ancient Japanese lineage famous for her dignity, courage, and loyalty. In her native land, she's venerated as family protectors and symbols of good health, happiness, and long life.  Akitas are burly, heavy-boned spitz-type dogs of imposing stature. Standing 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder, Akitas have a dense coat that comes in several colors, including white. The head is broad and massive, and is balanced in the rear by a full, curled-over tail. The erect ears and dark, shining eyes contribute to an expression of alertness, a hallmark of the breed. Akitas are quiet, fastidious dogs. Wary of strangers and often intolerant of other animals, Akitas will gladly share their silly, affectionate side with family and friends. They thrive on human companionship. The large, independent-thinking Akita is hardwired for protecting those they love. They must be well socialized from birth with people and other dogs.

Alina Ilnazovna Zagitova is a Russian figure skater who competes in the ladies' singles discipline. She is the 2018 Olympic champion, the 2018 European champion, 2017–18 Grand Prix Final champion, and the 2018 Russian national champion. Zagitova also won a silver medal in the team event at the 2018 Winter Olympics, representing the OAR team.  In the free skating at the 2018 Olympics, Zagitova was the only competitor to perform all her (eleven) jumps in the second half of the program. This capitalized on the ISU scoring system, which awards a 10% bonus to jumps performed on "tired legs".  Her combination jump of triple lutz–triple loop was technically more difficult and higher scoring than those performed by her competitors irrespective of where it appeared in the program.

Russian Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova received an Akita puppy Saturday from a group preserving the Japanese dog breed at a presentation ceremony in Moscow attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Zagitova plans to name the red-haired female Akita dog Masaru, meaning victory in Japanese, although the name is typically used for men in Japan.  Zagitova fell in love with the breed while training in Japan before and during the Olympics and asked her parents to let her have an Akita puppy if she won the Games.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th May 2018.

Monday, May 28, 2018

'dad's army' ~ CSK lifts IPL 2018

                Millions watching – SRH set a decent target - Bhuvneshwar Kumar  bowled 10  consecutive dot balls bowled in the match ~ Watson was struggling to make runs and people started trolling ‘Watson quit Test cricket long back, why is he playing it here ?’  getting trolled is perhaps nothing new for CSK – they had been  trolled as the "dad's army" after the auction, Chennai Super Kings managed to convert their perceived weakness into their biggest strength. Shane Watson, 36, was one of their many over-30s stars, and he came good when it mattered most, his unbeaten century delivering their third IPL crown.

MS Dhoni, two months shy of 37, felt the key to their campaign lay in managing experienced players like Watson, even if it meant giving them slight leeway on the field. "I think we talk a lot about age, but what's important is the fitness aspect," he said. "[Ambati] Rayudu is 33, but he covers good ground. Even if he plays a few games where he's spent a lot of time on the field, he's not going to turn up and say 'I'm stiff'. So fitness matters more than age. What we have seen is that our fitness has improved. Most of the captains want players who move well on the field. "It doesn't matter who was born in which year, you have to be fit and agile. Yes, age is just a number."

A team returning to centrestage, faced injury problems, could not play at their home – after their first match, when fringe groups challenged the conduct – and more -   Super Kings won the final with ease helped by a  century from the 36-year-old Shane Watson, who took  11 balls to get off the mark.  But there is little to look at the scorecard that also contains the name of Faf, Raina and Rayudu.  WAtto unbeaten 117 off 57 – 11 fours and 8 sixers !!  -  Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan, champion bowlers both, went for 17 and 24 in their allotment of four overs each, but that brought no panic to Super Kings' ranks. It was crucial that these two were not given a wicket; a maiden rather than a wicket. Ruthlessly, meanwhile, Watson targeted the young bowlers from Punjab, Siddarth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma, who went for 95 in their seven overs. If the chase was perfection, Super Kings were asked to dig into their defensive reserves when they bowled first. Sunrisers batted a little like Super Kings: take it slow at the start, keep wickets in hand, put pressure on the bowlers and go big at the death. Lungi Ngidi and Shardul Thakur, though, bowled well to restrict them to just 52 runs in the last five overs.
It is  the fourth time CSK had beaten Sunrisers in four meetings this season, an emphatic record against the team that had finished top of the league stage. Kane Williamson, the tournament's leading run-scorer, made 47 in Sunrisers' 178-6 in Mumbai. Victory gave Super Kings a record third IPL title. Chennai also won the competition in 2010 and 2011 and were runners-up in 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2015.

Now fans will look forward to that Test against Afghans in Bangalore from June 14-18.  Ajinkya Rahane, 29, will lead the 15-member Indian squad in what is the first Test ever for Afghanistan, who were granted Test status last year alongside Ireland. India are set to take on England in a three-match T20 and one-day series in July followed by a five-match Test series.  The squad reads  Ajinkya Rahane (c), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Shardul Thakur. [save a couple, all stars of IPL ! ]

IPL has changed the way of Cricket and cricketers.  In addition to the financial benefits the IPL has brought Indian cricket, the league has had a huge positive effect on playing standards. Since the advent of the IPL, Indian national teams have been more confident and aggressive in their approach to the game, and nowhere does this better show up than in their fielding. The overseas influence on Indian cricket through the IPL has resulted in a more combative national team, confident in its ability to match it with any opposition. There's nothing like playing with and against international stars on a regular basis to help young players discover that despite their great skill, these lauded individuals are still vulnerable to a good delivery or capable of bowling the odd bad ball.

Aside, Virat Kohli's much-anticipated county stint has been cancelled with a neck injury suffered during his penultimate IPL on May 17. The India captain will not be training for the next three weeks with a BCCI press release saying he will only resume on June 15 at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. He will then undergo a fitness test before he flies out for the tour of Ireland and England in late June.

Sri Lanka batsman Dhananjaya de Silva has withdrawn from the tour of West Indies after his father was killed by an as-yet unidentified gunmen on Thursday night. Sri Lankan Police confirmed that Ranjan de Silva, Dhananjaya's father, was shot dead in Rathmalana - just south of Colombo - at around 8:30 pm. Ranjan was a councillor in the Dehiwala-Mt. Lavinia City Council, having been elected in February. Dhananjaya was due to depart to the West Indies on Friday, with the rest of the Sri Lanka squad. Many of his team-mates  visited Kalubowila Hospital on Thursday night, where his father had been taken. For now, the team's departure has not been affected, though it is possible plans may change.

Statistically,  7 Number of T20 tournaments  have been won by MS Dhoni – most by any captain. His tally includes three IPL, Two CLT20, one World T20 and one Asia Cup T20 tournament. The man at the start handing over IPL cup is BCCI acting president CK Khanna.  His wife, Shashi Khanna, will contest the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) elections slated on June 30. The veteran administrator’s wife has filed her nomination for the vice-president’s post. She will be fighting Rakesh Bansal, the younger brother of former DDCA president Sneh Bansal, who was stripped of all functioning powers following alleged financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 1.55 crore levelled by its executive committee.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28th May 2018.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Chennai Metro rail extends its outreach !

One common feature in every city is its bustling traffic – Chennai bustles at seams. The metropolis is growing rapidly and the traffic volumes on the roads have  been increasing enormously.   There is always need for effective means of communication – not all cities have extensive rail network – in Chennai – there is Beach-Tambaram line (which extends up to Thirumalpur); Central – Athipattu / Nandiambakkam, extending via Minjur, Ponneri, Gummidipoondi to Sulurpeta.  Chennai Central – to Thiruvallur – Arakonam, Tiruttani.. .. and there is the MRTS from Chennai beach to Velacherry. 

The history is only a decade or so less than a century.  Way back in 1930, the first consignment of 25 electric carriages from England came and Chennai (aka Madras) life changed thereafter.   The first electrically operated rail service in Madras began on 2 April 1931 between Madras Beach and Tambaram, launched by Sir George Fredrick Stanley, the then Governor of Madras.  The services became available to general public a month or so later. 

To meet the ever challenging increase of commuters in the city, a   Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for implementing the Chennai Metro Rail Project was created.  2 corridors were  proposed.  The first one running from Washermanpet to Chennai airport through – Broadway, Central, Govt Estate, Spencers, Gemini, Saidapet, Guindy…… the other running from Chennai Central to St Thomas Mount through Vepery, KMC, Aminjikarai, Shenoynagar, Thirumangalam, Koyambedu, Vadapalani.  The portions of Corridor-1 with a length of 14.3 kms. fromWashermanpet to Saidapet, and Corridor-2 with a length of 9.7 kms. from Chennai Central to Anna Nagar 2nd Avenue will be underground and the remainder elevated.

The attractive metro rail (the all air-conditioned train) is novel to Chennai,  certainly not the first for the Nation.  Calcutta was the first to possess one – in Mumbai, it is Govt-Private joint-initiative and in Delhi, there are so many lines : Red line; Yellow line; Blue Line and another Airport Metro Express line, which is more sophisticated. In Oct 2015, A  distance of 10 Kilometers from Koyambedu to Alandur, the first phase of the much anticipated multi-crore Metro Rail chugged off with Chief Minister Ms.JJayalalithaa flagging off the inaugural service from the  state secretariat through live video.  The entire route is on an elevated structure covering a distance of 10.15 km, with stations at Alandur, Ekkathuthangal, Ashok Nagar, Vadapalani, Arumbakkam and Koyambedu besides the yard at the last stop. 

After six years of construction, Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) on May 25, 2018 opened two underground stretches — Nehru Park to Chennai Central and Saidapet to AG-DMS. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri inaugurated the stretches from the Chennai Egmore Metro Rail station on Friday. These two are the fourth and fifth stretches to be opened in the network. The maximum fare has now been increased to 70; the minimum is 10. A commuter who wants to travel from Chennai Central to Chennai airport or AG-DMS to Chennai airport will have to pay 70.

There has always been the  need for a new rail based rapid transport system and towards this objective the Government of Tamil Nadu have decided to implement the Chennai Metro Rail Project. This project aims at providing the people of Chennai with a fast, reliable, convenient, efficient, modern and economical mode of public transport, which is properly integrated with other forms of public and private transport including buses, sub-urban trains and MRTS.  The Government of Tamil Nadu approved this scheme  in principle – schemed to be  two initial corridors in Nov 2007. 

Now life has come a long way as Chennai Metro services no connect  four major transport hubs in the city — Central, Egmore, the CMBT and the airport.  At the launch function, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said the government planned to extend the Metro Rail from the airport to the proposed express bus terminus in Vandalur (through the southern suburbs) and tweak the alignment in the next phase to take the Metro to Poonamalee on the city’s western outskirts via Porur. The Chief Minister announced that a feasibility study would be taken up to explore the possibility of extending the Metro. 

Unlike MRTS which has lesser frequency – the Metro has a smaller capacity but increased frequency.  To me, for the cosy comfort that the metro rail offers, the fare is  reasonably priced  as one would spend much more for travelling lesser distance in an auto-rickshaw.

Reports suggest that the  Chennai metro witnessed a huge crowd on Friday with the inauguration of six metro stations along Nehru Park to Central and Saidapet to AG-DMS stretches. ~ ~ and media reports suggest that the rides are free for 3 days !!  - really do not understand this .. where was the need and what are the authorities trying to invite ? ~ ludicrous it sounds !! ~   The economic theory is that whatever goods and services are provided, they must be paid for by someone - that is, you don't get something for nothing. The phrase is also known by the acronym of 'there ain't no such thing as a free lunch' !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th May 2018.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

TN X (SSLC) results announced ~ SYMA boys do well 2018

Old timers will recall that the First Public Examination for the students used to be at Class XI – those who passed would join PUC in College and those days, the State First used to secure a little over 400 out of 500 -  a time when securing more than 80% was considered the ultimate !! ..  recall that in 1977, MK Raman of our school (The Hindu High School, Big Street, Triplicane)  secured 407/500 and was State 4th – photo of him with a beaming smile appeared in newspapers .. .. Those were the times when Newspapers would roll out special editions containing the Roll No. of those Candidates who passed the Examination.  It was ‘all numbers’ and those Special Supplements would sell like hot cakes…….. students, parents, near and dear would be elated to see their Registration No. appearing on the newspaper – it was a time to celebrate and so they would buy toffees and distribute ! – simple life …

            The Tamil Nadu Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) or Class 10th exam results were declared today, May 23, 2018. The pass percentage of this year is 94.5 %.  A total of 10,01,140 students appeared for the exam this year which is a drop from last year's 10.25 lakh students who took up the exam last year. Sivaganga, Erode and Virudhunagar districts have topped with pass % of 98.5; 98.38 & 98.29 respectively.  It is reported that 96.4 per cent girls qualified the exam; while it was 92.5 per cent boys passing out. 

I have been posting about our full-time tuition centre SYMA Growth providing quality tuition free to under-privileged children.    SYMA Growth students hand-picked from lower strata of society  have done well.  In Engligh  Medium 22 students passed - out of 24 ;  3 of them secured more than 400 marks. B.Manikandan 450 is our centre first. 13 students got above 300.  In    Tamil medium 18 students passed of 20. 300 to 400 - 9 students.

As you may know now, there is no State level ranking !!! -  State-level ranks will not be released this year as well to ensure that students don’t get disheartened by an unhealthy competition. “We have done away with the ranking system as even one mark will cause serious distress,” said School Education Minster KA Sengottaiyan. Students, who have not done well in the exams, should not get too stressed, Sengottaiyan said, adding that those in need of counselling or help can use the 14417 helpline. He said that parents, who notice unusual behaviour or sadness in their wards, should use the helpline immediately.  But is that not a disincentive to those who perform well .. .. .. because DD / KX1 / MI / RCB failed to qualify should we not speak of champions CSK ? 

At our SYMA Growth, a couple of years – all   21 students of Tamil medium passed; in English medium 29 out of 31 passed; unfortunately the two who failed – failed in Tamil language.  Growth topper secured 490 – toppers of NKT Boys High School and National Girls High School were from our Growth ~ that way, there is lot of scope for improvement.

We rededicate ourselves and would start functioning in the 11th year of operations of SYMA Growth ~ the quality tuition centre for poor and downtrodden. Applications have already been issued and the last date for returning the completed forms is drawing to a close in a couple of days.  We will scrutinize the applications, conduct a private interview and select the deserving candidates. Welcome you all to visit our Educational centre and provide us suggestions and support.  

No words can describe our gratitude to the management of NKT Boys Higher School.  We thank the NKT Management for providing us the infrastructure and all the support.  We thank  the Head master of the School Mr S Venkatadri.  We pray to Almighty for continued success of this project and look forward to continued support of you all.  The success is due to the blessings of Lord Parthasarathi who guides us in all our steps.  We must place on record our thanks and gratitude to those teachers who taught these students with great dedication, commitment and devotion.  Our Coordinator Mrs Thara and the team who assisted her also deserve special appreciation. .  A Big Thank you to all of you  who have been supporting us in all our endeavours.

Together We will strive to make the society better place for all of us. ~ and very very special thanks to M/s  Manpower Inc for their sponsorship.  Gratitude is due to  Mr PV Venkatesan of Manpower.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd May 2018

Faf innings .. and how did CSK win ???

They kept saying in IPL T20, no target is safe ! ~ yet at Wankhede seemingly small target was daunting – best of CSK fans would have thought of switching off and going to bed ~ yet the result was to their liking. 

In IPL, no side had   lost a wicket off the very first ball of a playoff match before today. Sunrisers Hyderabad provided the first such instance with Shikhar Dhawan getting dismissed by Deepak Chahar.  ~ and Harbhajan Singh bowled none  in the match – only the second time he did not bowl a single over even though the opposition innings lasted for full 20 overs. The  other such instance for him came while playing for Mumbai Indians against Rajasthan Royals in 2010 when he got injured while batting and was thus unable to bowl.

Chennai Super Kings grabbed a win by 2 wickets against Sunrisers Hyderabad in a nail-biting finish in Mumbai on Tuesday and made their way into the finals. Chasing a target of 140 in 20 overs, CSK were in complete trouble  after being reduced to 62/6 in the 13th  over but senior pro Faf du Plessis anchored his side to their seventh final in the Indian premier league. CSK  needed 23 runs in the last two overs,  Shardul Thakur who came in at number 10 dominated Siddarth Kaul. Kaul gave away 17 runs in this over while Thakur struck 15* eventually. That makes CSK’s 7th entry into IPL final. No other side has reached the final more than four times.

Faf du Plessis, playing only his fifth match of the season, repaid his captain's faith by playing an innings MS Dhoni himself will be proud of. Chasing 140 CSK were in all sorts of troubles due to  excellent bowling, but du Plessis took the game deep, induced a few errors from the opposition captain, and capitalised on small mistakes here and there. Carlos Brathwaite bowled the 18th  over, with 43 to get, ahead of Sandeep Sharma and Shakib Al Hasan. Du Plessis hit that over for four, six and four to give an excellent match its final momentum shift.

Earlier, CSK bowled to plan and pinned Sunrisers down to 139. Incidentally, it was Brathwaite whose hitting in the final few overs - 43 off 29 - gave Sunrisers something to bowl at.  Du Plessis faced just six balls in the Powerplay. He looked inconspicuous during the collapse. Even as Bravo and Jadeja and Chahar fell to make it 92 for 7 after 15 overs, du Plessis kept knocking it around. In between, he hit Shakib for a four and a six in the 14th  over to stay in touch with the game.

Questions had been  raised when Chennai Super Kings used their right-to-match card on Faf du Plessis and let go of a gun death bowler in Andrew Tye. And then, du Plessis played only four games before Tuesday. Come the playoffs,  MS Dhoni needed more experience and turned to the South Africa captain. And du Plessis answered all the questions with a vintage 67* that had most of the traits of a Dhoni special: manoeuvring the middle overs, taking the match deep even as wickets tumbled at the other end, and sealing it with a six.

In the first eight overs of CSK's chase of 140, du Plessis faced just nine balls for five runs. He watched fellow opener Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni fall around him in that period. After Siddarth Kaul had removed Raina and Rayudu off successive balls, Rashid Khan stormed through the gate of Dhoni with a ripping wrong'un. Rashid proceeded to have Dwayne Bravo nicking behind with a sharp legbreak. When Deepak Chahar joined du Plessis, CSK were 92 for 7 with the asking rate reading 9.60. By then, du Plessis had moved to 38 off 31 balls. Rashid and Bhuvneshwar had one over each left, while Kaul had two. Williamson was left to choose among Shakib Al Hasan, Sandeep Sharma and Carlos Brathwaite for the other over.

Du Plessis survived an lbw call off Rashid after a successful review and helped bring down the equation to 43 off 18 balls. Williamson took a punt on Brathwaite and du Plessis launched a calculated assault on him, hitting him for four boundaries in the 18th  over. He anticipated slower balls from Brathwaite, maintained a stable base, and unleashed smooth swings. Du Plessis hit 27 off 11 balls from Brathwaite at a strike-rate of 245.45. After Shardul Thakur squirted a brace of edged boundaries and loft off Kaul in the 19th over, CSK needed six off the last. Du Plessis was up against Bhuvneshwar Kumar, one of the best death bowlers in the IPL. He read the slower ball from Bhuvneshwar and nailed it over his head to lead CSK into their seventh IPL final with five balls and two wickets to spare.

After steering Chennai Super Kings into their seventh IPL final with an unbeaten 67 off 42 balls, Faf du Plessis said the key to his innings was seeing off Rashid Khan's spell.  "It's nice to contribute since I haven't played much," du Plessis said at the post-match presentation. "Yesterday, I was just reflecting on my past games, and took some confidence from that mentally. I just entered the changing room now, and asked the boys, 'how did we win this, guys?'

~ and that is the Q most would be asking !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd May 2018.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Nadal comes back to win at Rome ~ temperament of Pliskova

There were days when Triplicanites could easily identify every league Cricketer playing at Marina ground ! ~ and tell history of them too .. .. those days we were fascinated to see a Singh playing at Marina – and my neighbour coolly added – it was Satwender Singh whose brothers Kripal Singh & Milkha too played at a higher level and their Ram Singh was one of the leading all rounders of his time, playing 2 unofficial tests !!!

Tennis followers might well know the twins Bob & Mike Ryan – and the attractive Pliskova sisters -  Karolina Pliskova and her  identical twin sister Kristyna.  For easy identification,  we have the tattoos,” Karolina said.  Karolina sports two tattoos – on her left thigh and left arm – while her sister has one. “She is a lefty and I am right-handed, and we have different hair.  Karolina was in news for wrong reasons !!

How  to explain what transpired in the third set of Rafa’s 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 win over Alexander Zverev in Rome on Sunday?   With Rafa down 1-3 in the third set and seemingly out of answers against Zverev, a storm conveniently swept across the Foro Italico, forcing a prolonged delay in play. When that delay was over, Nadal had answers again. He charged through the last five games for his eighth title in Rome, and reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in the process.  Zverev had a real chance at victory, up an early break in the third set, before rain threw a curveball into the match, allowing Nadal to reset and win the final five games. It was a high-quality final, with several long, grueling rallies bringing the Italian crowd to their feet in appreciation of the effort and impressive shot-making of both players. There were 24 rallies that went at least double digits (10 shots), totaling 313 shots in the court by both players.  Perhaps what made Rafa win was his temperament and firm belief that he could win though he was almost out of the match ~ and he remained cool !

Rafael Nadal may have stumbled in his bid to sweep all four “Big Titles” on clay, a feat he accomplished in 2010 when he won the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the Mutua Madrid Open, the Internazionali BNL d'Italia and Roland Garros. Nadal fell to Dominic Thiem in the Madrid quarter-finals earlier this month. But the 31-year-old Spaniard has still added two more Big Titles – a combination of Grand Slam, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and Nitto ATP Finals crowns – to his haul as the European clay-court season enters its final three weeks.  Nadal came out on top in a matchup of this year's top two clay-court players Sunday, beating defending champion Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 Sunday to win a record-extending eighth Italian Open title. Coming a week after a loss in the Madrid Open quarterfinals to Dominic Thiem, Nadal has his confidence back entering the year's second Grand Slam in Paris, which starts next Sunday.

"It's been an amazing week," Nadal said. "It was tough losing in Madrid so to come back and win the trophy here is great." Perhaps the question heading into next week's French Open should be: "Who can take a set off Rafael Nadal?" instead of "Who can beat Nadal?'" The Spaniard, dubbed the "King of Clay," is the white-hot favorite to land a record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros. Take this stunning statistic: Nadal owns a 79-2 win-loss record at the French Open, where the best-of-five set format makes the 31-year-old even harder to defeat. He's only lost to Sweden's Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinal in 2015.

But if there is to be a monumental upset at the French Open, who might be on the other side of the net?  There could be a sudden blackhorse, which doesn't include the absent Roger Federer.  As great athletes age, the first thing we look for is evidence of physical decline. The cliche is to talk about the “half-step” that has been lost, rather than inquiring about their psychological state. Yet even sporting legends can be worn down mentally by the accretion of small failures over the years, and the fear that certain opportunities may never come around again. Grey matter is as susceptible to the march of time as muscle fibre.

 “It is not a question of tennis,” Nadal said once after his  defeat by his compatriot Fernando Verdasco in Miami. “The thing is the question of being relaxed enough to play well.  Recently, World No 5 Karolina Pliskova lost her cool over a line call and bashed a hole into the umpire’s chair with her racket after suffering a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 defeat by Maria Sakkari in the Italian Open second round.

Pliskova had argued heatedly with umpire Marta Mrozinska after her smash was called out when serving at 30-30 and 5-5 in the final set, and her Greek opponent won the game before serving out the match.  The Czech exchanged a brief word with Sakkari at the net before approaching Mrozinska with an outstretched hand before withdrawing it and repeatedly smashing the chair with her racket.

Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna, who also ranks in the world’s top 100, slammed Mrozinska on social media. “The worst i have ever seen @wta and i hope this lady Marta Mrozinska will never ever judge any match of me or Karolina again #blacklistforever,” the 26-year-old wrote on Twitter.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd May 2018.

Monday, May 21, 2018

commemorating 150 years of aboriginal tour ~ Pataudi lecture controversy !!!

In the last league match of IPL 2018, that solid defence stroke on 18.5 may be a talking point.  CSK required 23 off 12 – and they had the most unconventional batting line-up yesterday.  Suresh Raina not exactly middling the ball, tore Andrew Tye for 22 runs and the last ball, played a forward defence ! ~ then Mohit Sharma tried bouncer, only to see it vanishing into the crowds at long leg – MS Dhoni as emotionless as ever !!! .. .. 

Cricinfo reports of a Q in a recent promotional event, MS Dhoni was asked: "[Erwin] Rommel, the legendary German general, said no plan survives contact. How do you relate that to cricket?" "After the first ball is bowled, it's only chaos," Dhoni replied. "What you are trying to do is you're trying to manage the chaos. It's not like a script that happens. My coach Stephen Fleming often comes and does that. He says 'mate, Lungi [Ngidi] can bowl the first over, then somebody else second' and so on. Yes, I know who are the bowlers and they will bowl at some point of time. But it does not work like that. It's about adaptability."  T20 cricket is all about managing chaos.

Former England batsman James Taylor has shown an unflattering light on sharing a dressing room with Kevin Pietersen, saying he has "no respect" for England's fifth all-time leading run scorer, calling him "embarrassing". Pietersen has long been one of the most divisive figures in England cricket, his undoubted talent and ability often clouded by personality conflicts that have been dotted throughout his career. However, back 2012, Taylor, who stands just 170cm tall, recalls how the 193cm Pietersen took immediate issue with diminutive batsman being around the England team.

Down under the  commemorations to celebrate the 150th  anniversary of the 1868 Aboriginal team that toured the UK continue, with Australia Post releasing  a special stamp to mark the event. The stamp is the latest in a series of events to honour the milestone tour, with men's and women's Aboriginal XI squads to travel to England in June to mark the anniversary of the first international tour by an Australian team in any sport. The First Cricket Tour: 150 Years stamp released on May 1  features 10 Aboriginal members of the original 1868 playing squad, as well as captain Charles Lawrence, an English professional who coached and mentored the Aboriginal players, and team manager W Shepherd. The stamp design, by Phil Ellett of Creative Ethos, incorporates player portraits from one of the few remaining photos of the Aboriginal XI taken while on tour in 1868, from the collection of the National Library of Australia.

Cricket Australia has announced the squads, schedule, community activities and uniform for an historic tour of the UK for the nation’s best Indigenous players including a match against the MCC.  Women’s and men’s squads will tour the UK for the first two weeks of June, with both to play under the banner of the ‘2018 Aboriginal XI.’ The event will commemorate 150 years since an Aboriginal cricket team became the first sporting team from Australia to tour internationally.  The Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), Exeter is lending Aboriginal artefacts, newly identified from the 1868 cricket tour to the UK, for display at Lord’s throughout the 2018 season.

Speaking on the squads, Cricket Australia National Talent Manager Greg Chappell said: “We have assembled two strong squads for this tour that include four players who currently or have previously represented Australia – Christian, Gardner, D’Arcy Short and Scott Boland - and a further six players on WBBL, BBL or State contracts last season.  To recall some history, in 1868, a cricket team composed of Australian Aborigines toured England between May and October of that year, thus becoming the first organised group of Australian sportspeople to travel overseas. It would be another ten years before an Australian cricket team classed as representative would leave the country.

The concept of an Aboriginal cricket team can be traced to cattle stations in the Western District of Victoria, where, in the mid-1860s, European pastoralists introduced Aboriginal station hands to the sport. An Aboriginal XI was created with the assistance of Tom Wills—captain of the Victoria cricket team and founder of Australian rules football—who acted as the side's captain-coach in the lead-up to and during an 1866–67 tour of Victoria and New South Wales. Several members of this team joined what would become the Aboriginal XI that toured England under the captaincy of Englishman Charles Lawrence. International sporting contact was rare in this era. Previously, only three cricket teams had travelled abroad, all English: to the United States and Canada in 1859, and to Australia in 1861–62 and 1863–64.

Australian all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner has been named captain of the women’s 2018 Aboriginal XI that will compete in an historic tour of the United Kingdom. Gardner, who is one of Australia’s most promising young cricketers having already played 26 matches for her country, will lead a squad of 13. The squad is a relatively inexperienced one, with Gardner the only member with international experience. “I think all the girls are really excited to (represent their culture), she said. It will be the second time Gardner captains an Indigenous XI, as she was tasked with leading the inaugural women’s Indigenous team which toured India in 2016. The team will play four matches, with a marquee match against Surrey to be played at The Kia Oval, one of the venues where the 1868 team played.

Both the female and male squads will also wear uniforms designed for them by Aunty Fiona Clarke, who is the great-great grand-daughter of Grongarrong (Mosquito), one of the stars of the 1868 team. The design is based off the commemorative artwork titled ‘Walkabout Wickets’ which tells the story of the 1866 Boxing Day match and the 1868 tour.

Back home,  BCCI members and the CoA are once again at loggerheads, this time over the latter's decision to pick Kevin Pietersen as the speaker for the Pataudi Memorial Lecture, to be held in Bengaluru next month.  After acting BCCI secretary Amitabh Chaudhary questioned the SC-appointed Committee of Administrators’ decision to pick Kumar Sangakkara as the choice to speak in this year’s Pataudi Memorial Lecture, CoA chief Vinod Rai had said that the Board should look at Chaudhary’s suggestions of getting a former India player (who played alongside Pataudi) if Sangakkara wasn’t available for the lecture. But now the CoA has gone ahead and picked Kevin Pietersen for the occasion after Sangakkara made his unavailability known and Chaudhary is not happy at the turn of events.

In another mail to Rai, in possession with CricketNext, the secretary has written: “The expression of happiness on it (General Manager Saba Karim’s mail that Kevin Pietersen has agreed to address the lecture) had left me wondering whether the Memorial Lecture was indeed MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture or Sir Len Hutton Lecture or for that matter Sir Frank Woolley lecture. Board members feel that former Indian cricketers who played alongside the man famously called Tiger Pataudi would bring more value to the occasion and feel someone among Nari Contractor, Chandu Borde, Erapalli Prasanna and Abbas Ali Baig should be invited as the speaker.

GM cricket operation Saba Karim had sent the mail to the CoA and the BCCI members asking them for the suggestion as the lecture is set to be held on June 12 in Bengaluru before the Afghanistan Test. The names of the speakers suggested by Saba were Sourav Ganguly, Kumar Sangakara, Kevin Peterson and Nasser Hussain.The topics were: A) Peace and sustainability through Cricket - Relevent since Afghanistan is a wonderful story. B) Behaviour and conduct of international players in the modern age - Players perspective. C) Cricket as an Olympic Sport - Way forward.

Diana Edulji was the one who suggested Sangakkara’s name and Rai seconded it and asked Saba to speak to the former Sri Lanka cricketer. The Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi Memorial Lecture was started by the BCCI on February 6, 2013. The inaugural lecture was delivered by Sunil Gavaskar in 2013. But what remains etched in everyone’s memory is the beautiful fun-filled lecture from Farokh Engineer in Mar 2017.

So on a day when there is no IPL ~ you have a lot on Cricket to read !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st May 2018.