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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Australian Open ~ good gestures by Roger Federer and Serena Williams

Every day as we enter our Office building, Security would want us to show the Identity Card ! ~ what would be your response on being stopped and how do rich and famous people [read Cine actors and politicians] behave at Public places, especially, if they are asked to establish their identity – this man was remarkable !

At Melbourne, it was  – master class Dhoni finished another match, with Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav batting well and earlier Yuzvendra Chahal bamboozling with 6 for 42 at Melbourne .. .. then the Capt Virat Kohli and his actress wife Anushka Sharma enjoyed some more special and memorable moments in Australia signing off  in the most stylish way possible. Kohli and Anushka went to watch the first Grand Slam of 2019 - Australia Open - that is being played at the Melbourne Park. Not just that, they met the legendary Roger Federer, who is aiming to win this third consecutive Australian title. Roger Federer is a six-time Australian Open champion, the owner of 20 major singles titles, a man who has spent more weeks ranked number one than any other and one of the most recognisable athletes on the planet ?

The Australian Open is now on .. .. For the first time in his career, Alexander Zverev is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open. The No.4 seed got there via a largely trouble-free 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory over local wildcard Alex Bolt. The South Australian lefty had enjoyed a breakout tournament, advancing further at a Grand Slam than he ever had before. Suddenly, he was appearing at Rod Laver Arena under lights – also a career-first – on Saturday night. In spurts, the 155th-ranked Bolt troubled Zverev, with his big first serve, power off the ground and net-rushing instincts keeping the match competitive. But the gulf between the two on this occasion came in the consistency department. And Zverev had this attribute in spades over his opponent.

Like Federer, there is another one at top – Serena Williams has been in devastating form and she made short work of 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska, winning 6-2, 6-1. The title favourite has dropped just nine games on her way to the fourth round and spent only three hours and six minutes on court in total. Yastremska grew up idolising Williams, and the American gave her young opponent a hug at the net, telling her: “You did amazing, don’t cry.” Williams added later: “As she was walking towards the net, I could tell she was quite upset. I kind of liked that. It shows she wasn’t just there to play a good match, she was there to win. She wanted to win. That really broke my heart. I think she’s a good talent. It’s good to see that attitude.”

Williams also talked to Yastremska in the locker room after the match about a time violation the Ukrainian teenager received in the second set that the American felt was unfair. “I didn’t think she deserved the time violation,” said Williams. “I thought that the umpire has to wait until the crowd stops clapping before announcing the score. I felt just to keep the match going he was announcing it really fast, which is fine, which is normal, but maybe she wasn’t used to that.

The 23-time grand slam champion on Saturday cruised through to the fourth round with a steamrolling 6-2 6-1 blitz of teenager Dayana Yastremska, but wasn’t 100 per cent sure about some of the decisions made in the match. The 37-year-old legend’s uncertainty was only revealed when her opponent opened up in her post-match press conference about an exchange they shared while returning to the locker room following their third round match. The Ukrainian said Williams was on her side when it came to a controversial time wasting code violation warning issued to Yastremska. She suggested umpire James Keothavong was overly pedantic when enforcing the 25 seconds players are allowed in between points. Yastremska claimed Williams said Keothavong was also too quick in announcing the scores after each point was played — triggering the serve clock early in her opinion. Meanwhile, Williams has earned widespread praise for her consoling of Yastremska immediately after their clash. The youngster looked like she was ready to cry as she approached Williams at the net after the match, and will have been heartened to receive some comforting words from a woman nearly 20 years her senior.

More amazing was the incident that occurred to Roger Federer – and the way he reacted to that !!  Rules are rules, after all. So what if Federer is a six-time champion at Melbourne Park ... the owner of 20 Grand Slam titles in all ... a man who's spent more weeks ranked No. 1 than any other ... and one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet? A video showing Federer stopped by a security guard in .. Federer stopped by a security guard in a hallway outside a locker room at the Grand Slam tournament made the rounds on Twitter on Saturday, drawing a mix of amazement and amusement.

In the clip, the guard is seen indicating to Federer that he was missing his Australian Open accreditation pass. Players, coaches, officials, members of the media and others are given lanyards with badges that have a name, a photo, tournament role and a bar code that can be scanned at security checkpoints.  Fed idn't argue. He stood patiently, waiting until he was joined by members of his entourage. That's when he was allowed to proceed and go through the door. Saturday was a practice day for Federer at Melbourne Park. He is scheduled to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round on Sunday.

The Swiss ace is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, having amassed a staggering 20 Grand Slam titles, but that did not stop security keeping him out of the players area with no pass to show. Federer is on form right now as he bids to defend the Australian Open title he won 12 months ago and looks unstoppable on field. Unruffled, Federer, waited until he was joined by coach Ivan Ljubicic before he could continue with his afternoon as he continues his preparations for his last-16 match against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Meantime, Women's ace Maria Sharapova strolled through the corridor with confidence, not noticing the security officer asking for proof of ID. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Jan 2019.

Kathiawar Saurashtra makes history ~ chases 372

This region was once known as ‘Kathiawar’ ~ the  word Kathiawad means the land of the Kathis, a Rajput tribe who migrated to the region in the 8th century and controlled the southwestern peninsula of contemporary Gujarat. Before Indian independence in 1947, most of Kathiawar was divided into numerous princely states, ruled by local potentates who acknowledged British suzerainty in return for local sovereignty.   After Indian independence, the Princely  states of Kathiawar acceded to India.  Now it is Saurashtra, also known as Sorath or Kathiawar, is a peninsular region of Gujarat,  located on the Arabian Sea coast. It covers about a third of Gujarat state, notably 11 districts of Gujarat, including Rajkot District.

Now they play Ranji and have the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Sir Ravindra Jadeja in their ranks.  Recently, Chairman of the senior national selection committee, MSK Prasad heaped rich praise on Cheteshwar Pujara, calling him a "modern-day Buddha" after the India batsman played a key role in India's historic Test series win in Australia. Prasad insisted that Pujara is turning into a role model for young cricketers in the country and that he is going to inspire a generation of traditional Test cricketers, who are considered endangered species in the T20 era.

One would recall that famed Indian Triumph on Feb 3, 2018 at Mount Maunganuj, New Zealand – in  ICC Under-19 World Cup Finals.   The score card would read : India U19 217 for 2 (Kalra 101*, Desai 47*, Gill 31) beat Australia U19 216 all out (Merlo 76, Uppal 34, Anukul 2-32, Shiva Singh 2-36) by eight wickets.  India sauntered to a record fourth Under-19 World Cup title in front of a partisan crowd of 4000 odd at Bay Oval, to finish an unbeaten campaign that had begun against Australia at the same venue three weeks ago. The margin of victory then was 100 runs, and it was comprehensive in the grand final as well - eight wickets.  In winning the tournament,  India pulled off their second highest successful chase in U-19 World Cups, after the 226 to beat Australia in Townsville in 2012. Unmukt Chand had led that chase with a sublime century, as  another Delhi boy, Manjot Kalra, reprised the feat. In the tournament opener against Australia, Kalra had missed his century by 14 runs in an effort to hit out; he was unbeaten on 101 off 102 balls in the final.

The finisher was Wicket-keeper batsman Harvik Desai with 47* ~ and in a land where you have so many young Wicketkeepers in the fray including Rishab Pant, Ishan Kishan, the keeper for Saurashtra in this match is Snell Sukhdev Patel – Harvik Manishbhai Desai is playing as an Opening batsman .. as the keeper   Snell Patel has been doing pretty well for Saurashtra - today, too, he scored 72 - there was no place for Desai in the side. However, an injury to Avi Barot, a regular Saurashtra opener, just before the start of the tournament threw up a vacant opening slot. Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak took the gamble of playing Desai as a pure batsman and the 19-year-old didn't disappoint.

Now in the 2nd Quarter Finals at Lucknow (Jan 15-19, 2019)  - Uttar Pradesh made 385 & 194 and Saurashtra 208 & chasing mammoth 372 won by 6 wickets.  Vidarbha and Saurashtra pulled off victories over Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh on the final day of their Ranji Trophy 2018-19 quarter-finals, to book their berths in the semi-finals. Saurashtra will face Karnataka to try and get into the title round, while Vidarbha will take on Kerala.
Chasing a mammoth total of 372, Saurashtra got off to a solid start with Harvik Desai, the opener, scoring a 259-ball 116. With wicketkeeper-batsman Snell Patel scoring 72, Saurashtra's got a 132-run opening stand. Saurashtra were in a spot of bother after losing Kamlesh Makvana cheaply and then Desai in a span of six overs. However, Pujara did what he does best control the temp of the game with a well-paced 110-ball 67. Notably, Pujara suffered a rare failure in the first innings when he was dismissed for 11 in the first innings by young U-19 World Cup-winning pacer, Shivam Mavi.

Harvik Desai's maiden first-class century helped Saurashtra pull off the highest chase in Ranji Trophy history, breaking the previous record of 371 set by Assam against Services in the 2008-09 season.  Saurashtra, the visiting side, began the day on 195 for 2, still 177 adrift.  With 136 runs still needed, Desai's wicket gave some hope to the hosts, and the new ball was taken after the 85th over. But Pujara and Jackson batted sensibly, mostly playing with soft hands. The UP seamers drew a couple of outside edges but they fell well short of the slip fielders.

Earlier, Vidarbha took only eight overs on the fifth day to wrap up victory by an innings and 115 runs against tournament debutants Uttarakhand in their game in Nagpur. Umesh Yadav and left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate picked up five wickets each to bring a swift end to Uttarakhand's second innings for 159.

This is only the highest run chase in 4th innings ~ not the highest – in the  famed Ranji Trophy, in between it became an unwritten rule that Toss is the most vital. The winner bats first without hesitation, amasses runs - amass runs mostly by staying put, wear down the opponent and  win by First innings lead.   My memory takes back to the finals in 1981/82  at Delhi in March 1982.  Karnataka played first.  Roger Michael H 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.

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. ....

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Jan 2019.

Carrom ~ Kajal Kumari won Swiss League !

My friend asked me how much of other Sports I follow ? – I wrote about this – and he was angry !!

It was MSD all the way – master class Dhoni finished another match, with Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav batting well and earlier Yuzvendra Chahal bamboozling with 6 for 42 at Melbourne .. .. then the Capt Virat Kohli and his actress wife Anushka Sharma enjoyed some  more special and memorable moments in Australia signing off  in the most stylish way possible. Kohli and Anushka went to watch the first Grand Slam of 2019 - Australia Open - that is being played at the Melbourne Park. Not just that, they met the legendary Roger Federer, who is aiming to win this third consecutive Australian title.   some other search took me to this winner in Swiss League, honestly, I have not heard of this nor followed this when this occurred in Aug 2018 !!!

The Indian women outplayed Sri Lanka 3-0 in the team championship final of the fifth Carrom World Cup in Chuncheon, Korea, in 2018.  However, the Indian men continued to find the reigning World Champions Sri Lanka a tough nut to crack and got beaten 2-1 in the final. Rashmi Kumari, Kajal Kumari and S. Apoorva helped India beat Sri Lanka without dropping a game for the women’s title. Rayana Fathimath of Maldives had put up a better fight against Kajal Kumari, the Swiss League champion the previous day, in the semifinals, but could not stop India recording a 3-0 victory in the semifinals.  In the men’s final, Zaheer Pasha gave a good start for India by beating Shaheed HIlmy, but Nishantha Fernando and Chamil Cooray asserted Sri Lanka’s supremacy in the other two matches against Sagayabharathi and Prashant More respectively.

In the Swiss League, the Winner was Kajal Kumari (India) – the runner-up was Chamil Cooray (Sri Lanka)            ~ interesting for the simple reason that a woman outscored a man in a Sports !

Kajal Kumari (born 1999) is an Indian female carrom player who represents India internationally and is employed by Indian Oil Corporation.    During the 2018 Carrom World Cup, she created history by becoming the first ever woman to clinch the overall combined Swiss League title after defeating defending Swiss League champion Chamil Cooray of Sri Lanka in the combined Swiss League final.  Before you read further, have you heard of :   Appa Rao; Lazar, Dilli, Radhakrishnan,  Nagsen Etambe, RM Shankara, .. Maria Irudayam and more ….  Some of legendary players of an enticing game ! ~ the Carrom board.

By some accounts the game is played here since 18th century  - the game of Majarajas and was popular during 1st World War ?  It is increasingly becoming popular all over the world and is played in about 50 countries. At international level this game is controlled and supervised by the International Carrom Federation and respective continental Federations.   It was (and perhaps is) popular in PSU, where every Branch would have a Sports club and a carom board at that !

A game that can be played with a min of 2 and max of 4 players – Red (Queen) at the centre, surrounded in a formation by White and Black.   The opener starts with a hit trying to pocket Whites while the opponent will have Black to dispense with.  In doubles, four persons comprising two teams, sit opposite to each other, occupying all the four sides. At the end of each board, a player gets one point for each carrommen of the opponent left on the board and 3 points for the Queen if already pocketed and covered by him.  The official recognition for a Carrom player came only once, in the form of A Maria Irudayam, Two World title and 9 national crown winner getting Arjuna award. 

She started playing carrom in 2005 and also went onto compete in state level carrom championships,  Kajal Kumari later emerged as one of the finest carrom players in the state level competitions and went onto represent India at Carrom World Championships and in the Carrom World Cup tournaments.  Kajal was part of the Indian women's carrom squad which won the 2014 Carrom World Cup title defeating Sri Lanka in the final. She also secured bronze medal in the women's singles at the 2014 World Cup with gold medal eventually secured by fellow Indian Rashmi Kumari.  Kajal Kumari was also one of the key members of the Indian team which won the 2016 Carrom World Championship beating India in the final and also won the women's doubles with S Apoorva. She  played a pivotal role in India's defense at the 2018 Carrom World Cup where India thrashed Sri Lanka 3-0 in the final.

In the format known as Swiss league, it  was woman power to the fore as 20-year-old Kajal Kumari tamed a 86-member field, that included 55 men, by scoring a maximum of 14 points from seven rounds in the Swiss league of the fifth Carrom World Cup  at South Korea. “I am happy to win a tough competition as there are so many good players from India and Sri Lanka,’’ said Kajal.   In topping the league, with all rounds played through the course of a day, Kajal beat the reigning World Champion Chamil Cooray of Sri Lanka, and also the India No.1 Riyaz Akbarali.

Interestingly, it was the first time a woman was winning the combined event in the history of the game. In the league, played in a format of 45 minutes, 25 points and eight boards, whichever is earlier, four players tied for the second spot with 12 points.  Chaml Cooray placed second, and K. Sagayabharathi was third on the basis of their better net score. Prashant More of India  and Azim Ali of Maldives were fourth and fifth respectively.  The competition, featured 17 countries, including Switzerland, Korea, Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan, France, Germany, US, Poland and Serbia.

Sounds interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Jan 2019.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Chucking in International Cricket ~ MSD & Chahal shine at Melbourne

Chucking ! – many Cricketers have been complained of doing this …. Somehow, many Off-spinners have been called for chucking – not many fast bowlers with suspect action. .. .. .. at the end, you will read of a famous Indian who was reported for ‘chucking’ in a Test match [clue – he played in all matches in 1983 World Cup]


Beating Australia in Cricket is dream ~ beating them in their own land is fantasy ! – way back in ODI 104 on 8th Jan 1981- Australia thumped India, bowling them out for a paltry 63 ! Dennis Lillee, Rodney Hogg, Lenny Pascoe were not the stars – it was Greg Chappen who had enviable figures of 9.5-5-15-5 !!


10 years later,  Dec 8, 1991- in Benson & Hedges World Series at Perth, India beat Aussie by 107 runs.  Krish Srikkanth, the man of the match scored a blistering 60,  Aussies were bowled out for 101 with Ravi Shastri having figures of 6.5-1-15-5.

At Melbourne rain threatened – but the result was to the liking of every Indian fan – an Indian victory and MS Dhoni performing well.  The match had started like the other two: with a superb opening spell from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He got one to bounce outside off to take Alex Carey's edge to second slip, where Kohli made good ground to claim the catch, and then there was  the  dismissal of Finch. He tried everything, standing out the crease and more, yet failed again.    In 622 ODIs played in Australia since the very first took place at the MCG in 1970-71, no-one has ever bettered the bowling figures of 6 for 42 claimed by Yuzvendra Chahal for India against Australia on January 18, 2019. He now shares that lofty perch with another Indian, Ajit Agarkar, who plucked his one haul of same at the MCG in January 2004.

The score card reads :  India 3 for 234 (Dhoni 87*, Jadhav 61*) beat Australia 230 (Handscomb 58, Chahal 6-42) by seven wickets.  India has had a highly successful trip downunder – today, the team had 3 playing their first match and two of them performed exceptionally well.   Yuzvendra Chahal's career-best 6 for 42, the joint best ODI figures in Australia, set up a seven-wicket victory to take the series. Chahal's haul left a modest target but a slow pitch made scoring tricky as MS Dhoni, whose role has dominated the narrative of the series, scored his third half-century in three innings - while being given three lives - and the recalled Kedar Jadhav produced an excellent hand.   Chahal's second ball of the match began Australia's downfall when he had the in-form Shaun Marsh stumped, and he claimed three wickets in each of his two spells, surpassing his previous best of 5 for 22 against South Africa at Centurion.

After scoring three-successive fifties, including a series-clinching 87 off 114 balls from No. 4 at the MCG, MS Dhoni said that he's ready to float in the middle order.  There are times, when you need Dhoni to ensure that the team is not all out inside the allotted overs.. .. In the series opener in Sydney, he walked in at No.5 after India were reduced to 3 for 4 within four overs. He weathered many attacks in a chase of 289 before falling in the 33rd over. He batted at No. 5 in the must-win second ODI for India and struck an unbeaten 54-ball 55 to force the series into a decider. In the third match on a tough pitch, Dhoni was dropped twice ended up making 87* - now in this ODI series, he has aggregated 193 at an average of 193 !! – he is the man of the tournament, though Chahal had an exceptional performance today.

Moving away, there has been instances of chucking in International Cricket – more recently, the ICC has attempted to codify the maximum permissible flexing of the elbow as 15 degrees. When a player is found by the umpire to have delivered the ball contrary to those rules, the umpire will call a no-ball and he is said to have been called for throwing. Where public opinion is that a player's bowling action appears to be that he routinely throws, he is said to have a suspect or an illegal action, or more derogatorily, he is said to be a chucker.  Over the years, a number of players have been called in Test cricket and One Day Internationals, invariably creating controversy and occasionally destroying cricket careers. For many spinners, especially off-spinners, they are susceptible to be called for throwing when they have a front-on approach because the elbow gets in front of the wrist upon release, especially bowling doosra.  In the first ODI at Sydney, an Indian bowler was called for ‘suspect action’

~ if you had guessed it was Ambati Rayudu.  The part-time offspinner now has to get his action tested within 14 days, but can continue bowling in international cricket until the results are known.  Virat Kohli used him for a couple of overs in the middle of the innings and when they went for 13 runs, he was taken off.  Rayudu has only ever bowled in nine of his 46 innings in ODIs.

Chucking is no recent event ~ before the turn of 1900s, two bowlers Ernie Jones of Australia and CB Fry of England had been called for chucking.  In International, the list is long and includes – Shoaib Akhtar, Shabbir Ahmed, James Kirtley, Johan Botha, 

Abdur Razzak (Bangla); Shane Shillingford, Marlon Samuels, Sachitra Senanayake,  Kane Williams, Saeed Ajmal, Prosper Utseya, Sohag Gazi, Taskin Ahmed, Arafat Sunny and .. .. ..

.. .. … interestingly  – in April 1983 at Bridgetown Test, West Indies required a solitary run to win.  Greenidge and Haynes opened and the bowler was ….. Syed Kirmani, the wicket-keeper.  His only ball was reported ‘chucking’ and WI won with that extra. Thus Kirmani  was not hit for  any run of his bowling … !!

.. what will the Selectors and coach Ravi Shastri offer for not picking up Kedar Jadhav and Yuz Chahal earlier !


With regards – S. Sampathkumar

18th Jan 2019.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

giant leaf for mankind ~ cotton sprouts in moon !

A small green shoot is growing ~   it is germination of a plant, that of cotton to be specific -  and .. .. is touted as ‘giant leaf of mankind’..baffling !!

No space mission has ever explored the far side from the surface. As such, it's the first chance to explore a mysterious region of Earth's natural satellite.The "face" that's never seen from Earth has some key differences to the more familiar "near side". The far side has a thicker, older crust that is pocked with more craters. There are also very few of the "maria" (dark basaltic "seas" created by lava flows) that are evident on the near side.   If you are wondering, it is all about Moon and Chinese exploration of the darker side. Plants have been grown outside this Universe,  previously on the International Space Station, but this is the first time a seed has sprouted on the moon. The ability to grow plants in space is seen as crucial for long-term space missions and establishing human outposts elsewhere in the solar system, such as Mars.

Chinese spacecraft named Chang’e 4 braked out of lunar orbit and slowed to a controlled touchdown on the far side of the moon, a first in the history of space exploration. The spacecraft landed at 0226 GMT on Jan. 3 (9:26 p.m. EST on Jan. 2).  Chinese Chang'e-4 has reportedly landed at a site known as Von Kármán crater, a 180km depression located in the far side's southern hemisphere. But Von Kármán lies within a much bigger hole punched in the Moon - the South Pole-Aitken basin.It's the oldest, largest and deepest such basin on the Moon and formed when an asteroid - perhaps 500km across, or more - collided with it billions of years ago.This event was so powerful that it is thought to have ploughed through the Moon's outer crust layer and through into the zone known as the mantle.  

 ‘Cotton’ the soft,  fluffy staple fibre grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fibre is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fibre is to aid in seed dispersal.  The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, and India.  The fibre most often is spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile.  Current estimates for world production are about 25 million tonnes annually, accounting for 2.5% of the world's arable land.

It  marks the first time any biological matter has grown on the Moon, and is being seen as a significant step towards long-term space exploration. The Chang'e 4 is the first mission to land on and explore the Moon's far side, facing away from Earth. It touched down on 3 January, carrying instruments to analyse the region's geology and now comes the news of germination of cotton ! .. the  ability to grow plants on the Moon will be integral for long-term space missions, like a trip to Mars which would take about two-and-a-half years. It would mean that astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space, reducing the need to come back down to Earth to resupply.

The Chinese Moon lander was carrying among its cargo soil containing cotton and potato seeds, yeast and fruit fly eggs. The plants are in a sealed container on board the lander. The crops will try to form a mini biosphere - an artificial, self-sustaining environment. On Tuesday, Chinese state media said the cotton seeds had now grown buds.  China’s  official mouthpiece the People's Daily tweeted an image of the sprouted seed, saying it marked "the completion of humankind's first biological experiment on the Moon". Fred Watson, Australian Astronomical Observatory's astronomer-at-large, told the BBC the development was "good news". "It suggests that there might not be insurmountable problems for astronauts in future trying to grow their own crops on the moon in a controlled environment."   I think there's certainly a great deal of interest in using the Moon as staging post, particularly for flights to Mars, because it's relatively near the Earth," Mr Watson said.

Prof XieGengxin, the experiment's chief designer, was quoted as saying in the South China Morning Post: "We have given consideration to future survival in space. "Learning about these plants' growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base." He said cotton could eventually be used for clothing while the potatoes could be a food source for astronauts and the rapeseed for oil.   China's Xinhua news agency said that the seeds were rendered dormant using "biological technology" during the 20-day journey from Earth to the Moon. They only began growing once ground control centre sent a command to the probe to water the seeds. Xinhua said the probe had taken about 170 pictures so far which have been sent back to Earth.

On Friday, the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) released several images taken by the probe including panoramic images of the landing site as well as video of the vehicles touching down.

Really an interesting news that could have far reaching effects for the future !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Jan 2019.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Win at Adelaide fashioned by Kohli and Dhoni

Today is Pongal ~ happy celebrations in all parts of Tamil Nadu ~ in fact today celebrated as Harvest festival across the Country.  In Jan 1988, in Pongal Test against a mighty West Indies, Narendra Hirwani made a dream-debut claiming 16 wickets (8 in each innings) and handing over a big defeat for the Champion side.  Today at Adelaide, Indian bowlers had another off-day.  Bhuvi started well removing Finch and ended up 10-0-45-4;  debutant Mohammed Siraj had a match to forget with figures of 10-0-76-0 while Kuldeep Yadav who initially bamboozled Aussies, ended up 10-0-66-0.  At a time when things appeared going Aussie way, Jaddu with mercurial alertness effected a direct-hit runout of Khawaja.

In this present tour, India started with the first test on  Dec 6, 2018.  Adelaide  is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. Adelaide is a coastal city situated on the eastern shores of Gulf St Vincent.  Port Adelaide is a suburb of Adelaide lying about 14 kilometres northwest of the City of Adelaide. It lies within the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and is the main port for the city of Adelaide.  The city was founded in 1836 and was planned as the capital for British province in Australia; named  after Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.  Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen (Adelaide Amelia Louise Theresa Caroline; 1792 –  1849) was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and of Hanover as spouse of William IV of the United Kingdom.

Around 4.40 pm – it was the last over and the first ball of Behrendorff was fiercely hit by Dhoni – a length ball on Offstump, Dhoni leaned back, cleared his front leg, bottom hand to the fore, ball went sailing over long-on and all of us felt so elated. That was Dhoni’s 50 and more importantly brought India score equal .. .. and how many times has Dhoni done that – hitting a six of the last ball of the penultimate over or off the first ball of the last over !  MSD’s fans went berserk.   ~  that was his 221st hit over the fence – 10279 runs in 334 matches with 69 fifties and 10 tons !!

Today it was  a tale of two captains at Adelaide Oval. While Australian skipper Aaron Finch failed again, unable to overcome what cricket great Adam Gilchrist described as a "glaring issue," Indian counterpart Virat Kohli composed his 39th  one-day international century, leading his side to a series-levelling victory ahead of an MCG decider on Friday.   MSD too shone and  was instrumental too, and despite feeling the pinch late in his side's run chase on a sapping Adelaide day.

Chasing 299 runs to win on Tuesday at Adelaide Oval, Kohli struck a sublime 104 from 112 deliveries as India reached its target with four balls remaining. Kohli's 39th ODI ton was followed by a typically ice-cool finish from MS Dhoni (55 not out from 54 balls) as India set up a series decider in Melbourne on Friday.  When Dhoni arrived at the crease, the equation read 139 off 118 deliveries. He took it to the last over. He hit the first ball for a six, and made sure India won the game. MS Dhoni was in his element in Adelaide and Virat Kohli was highly appreciative of him.

"There's no doubt that he should be a part of this team. When you haven't played so much cricket [recently], you take a bit of time to get back into the groove, and tonight was an MS classic," Kohli said at the post-match presentation. "He takes the game till the end, but only knows what's going on in his mind, he calculates the game so well. He backs himself to hit those big shots when required. So hats off to him."

India had gone 0-1 down in the three-match series and that loss had put a harsh spotlight on Dhoni's role in ODIs. He made 51 off 96 deliveries - although there were mitigating circumstances, namely he had walked in with his team 3 for 4 chasing 289.  The score card reads :  India 4 for 299 (Kohli 104, Dhoni 55, Maxwell 1-16) beat Australia 9 for 298 (Marsh 131, Maxwell 48, Bhuvneshwar 4-45) by six wickets.

Australia didn't make the early inroads they did at the SCG, this time Shikhar Dhawan peppered the boundary five times in a 28-ball 32 before trying for a sixth and lofting a catch to mid-off. After the early high tempo, the chase settled into a steadier pace with Rohit Sharma and Kohli adding 54 in 10 overs followed by 59 between Kohli and Ambati Rayudu. Rohit, who made 133 in Sydney, was starting to move through his gears with sixes off Peter Siddle - a wonderful pick-up off the hip - and Lyon, when he was caught deep on the leg side by Peter Handscomb, who judged it well coming out of the setting sun. The bowler, Marcus Stoinis, celebrated in a manner not dissimilar to Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk.  Rohit 43, Shikhar Dhawan 32, Kohli 104, Dhoni 55*; KD Karthik cameo 25* ~ the failure was Ambati Rayudu who perhaps should pave way for Shubman Gill, who is there as replacement of Hardik Pandya. 

The handling of the disciplinary issue involving Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, suspended for comments made on a TV talk show, has created another flashpoint in the differences between the two members of the Committee of Administrators. While CoA chairman Vinod Rai wants Rahul Johri, the BCCI chief executive officer, to conduct the initial inquiry, Diana Edulji has said it should be done by a committee comprising the CoA and the BCCI's office-bearers. Edulji has been firmly against Johri conducting the inquiry considering the "grave sexual allegations" against him last year. A three-member ad-hoc inquiry committee did not find him guilty of those charges and he was cleared to resume work.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Jan 2019.

Adelaide ODI starts .. .. China hits lowest ever in Women T20I

Emergency warnings have been issued as a heatwave pushes temperatures into the mid 40s in some regions across the country. Adelaide is sweltering through some of the most extreme weather conditions; parts of Adelaide hit 38C by midday, leading to the summer’s first emergency alert by South Australia’s State emergency service. The mercury rose to 37C by 10am in some suburbs, and Roseworthy on the outskirts of the city reached 41C by noon. The warning is in place for the next three days - with temperatures set to soar to 40C tomorrow and 37C on Thursday, before cooling slightly to 29C on Friday.

The extreme heat comes as the Tour Down Under cycling event starts in Adelaide today.  The Australia vs India second One Day International is also got  under way at the Adelaide Oval.  Mohammad Siraj is making debut coming in place of Khaleel.

India lost at Sydney – some blamed Dhoni for his slow innings.  India's ODI vice-captain Rohit Sharma believes No. 4 is the "ideal" position for MS Dhoni as India continue to jostle with their middle-order combinations ahead of the World Cup.
Dhoni made 51 off 96 balls in the first ODI against Australia at the SCG. He added 137 in 28 overs with Rohit to repair the early damage after India were 3 for 4, but it was an innings that could again divide opinion on Dhoni's diminishing strike rates at the twilight of his career. As such, his form has prompted much debate following a lean 2018 where he averaged 25 with a strike-rate of 71.42, without a half-century in 13 innings. These returns were comfortably his lowest in any year since his ODI debut in December 2004. However, there is little doubt over his place in India's 15-member World Cup squad.

Normally a batsman would be grateful for an extra ball in a T20 match, but not this time. A miscalculation from the on-field umpires led to Michael Klingerbeing dismissed in controversial circumstances in the BBL match against Sydney Sixers at Perth Stadium.  Facing Ben Dwarshuis in the second over of Perth Scorchers' chase, Klinger fell to the seventh legal delivery of the over when he upper cut a short ball to third man where Steve O'Keefe held a low catch. The catch went to the third umpire to confirm it was a clean take, meaning there was an extended stoppage in play, and by then the potential of it being a seven-ball over had been spotted by the host broadcaster, but the Laws stated that the dismissal had to stand. A quick tally up of the previous six deliveries confirmed there hadn't been any no-balls or wides missed.

Law 17.5.2 reads: "If the umpire miscounts the number of valid balls, the over as counted by the umpire shall stand." Cricket Australia issued a statement confirming there was no way to overturn the dismissal, but send they would address the error in their post-match review. A CA spokesperson said: "It appears there was a miscount of balls in the over, and the seventh ball was allowed by umpires. As the ball was bowled it is deemed live and consequently the decision stands. The incident will be followed up in Cricket Australia's general match review process and feedback will of course be taken on board."

There is something to read about of that Group B match on Jan 13 at Bangkok, Thailand Women's T20 Smash : the match between UAE & China.  The score card reads :____________  what is unique ?

Vijay Shankar has replaced Hardik Pandya .. in Mar 2018 in Nidahas T20 tri-series final, he was playing for the first time with India needing 69 off 40 balls. Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman was the bowler -  Vijay desperately kept swiping across the line and missed four successive balls. Then went for a leg-bye.  Critics wrote badly of him on that pressure situation as it boiled down to 12 off 6.   5th ball Vijay was out, DK hoicked Soumya Sarkar over extra-cover for a 6 winning the match – an year earlier, Dinesh Karthik had struggled to score runs in Sri Lanka.    That is the game, one day the player trolled, and after sometime, he could be back with hard work and after a good tour against  a strong New Zealand A. 

The other player who has got a chance now is Shubman Gill whose rise is nothing but meteoric. Gill's first call-up to the national squad may have come in unexpected circumstances - with India forced to replace Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul - but it's something Indian cricket watchers had expected would happen, sooner rather than later. He is a raw talent and made runs stylishly in U19 WC; he was the   Man of the Tournament in India's victorious Under-19 World Cup run.  Gill's first innings upon return from India A's tour of New Zealand in December was a monumental 268 against Tamil Nadu. In the next match, he made 148 as Punjab nearly pulled off a chase of 338 in the fourth innings.

In that match : Women's T20 Smash at Bangkok, Jan 13 2019 - China were bowled out for 14, the lowest women's T20I total ever, sinking to a 189-run defeat against UAE.  The margin of victory was the largest ever in women's T20Is, pushing Namibia's defeat of Lesotho by 179 runs in August 2018 to second place. UAE had elected to bat first in a Group B game at the ongoing Thailand Women's T20 Smash, a 10-team tournament underway in Bangkok, and put on 203 for 3. China's reply lasted only 48 minutes and 10 overs, and featured six ducks with a top score of four. The tournament, which also features other fringe women's international sides such as Nepal, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bhutan, Indonesia and Myanmar, along with a Thailand A team, is to provide much-needed game-time to the countries ahead of the ICC Women's 2020 World Cup Qualifiers.   The men’s team, in October 2018, had been bundled out for 26 against Nepal in the World T20 qualifier and Nepal achieved the target in just 11 balls.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Jan 2019.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Zimbabwean cash crunch ! ~ 3 accused of stealing crore of currency from Mugabe

Prescript :  1)  A couple of decades ago, the Nation was rocked by scandals -  According to a chargesheet, CBI investigations revealed that Narasimha Rao, Satish Sharma, Buta Singh, Suraj Mandal, Shibu Soren, Simon Marandi, Shailendra Mahto and other unknown persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy to defeat the no-confidence motion against the then Congress government.  In July that time, Mandal received three gunny sacks and one suitcase in the morning.  The sacks and the suitcase containing hard cash  were unloaded and taken to the flat of an employee -    and after counting the cash,  they were transferred to  four suitcases.

Years later,  former Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, `Godman' Chandraswami and his associate K.N. Agarwal alias Mamaji were  acquitted of all charges by a special CBI court here in the 15-year-old Lakhubhai Pathak cheating case. Pronouncing his verdict in a courtroom set up at the high-security Vigyan Bhavan annexe, the special judge, Dinesh Dayal, said, "I find that Lakhubhai Pathak's evidence is not reliable and it has not been corroborated. His evidence has been constantly changing and there have been contradictions on vital aspects of the case. The inordinate delay in filing the case has not been explained by the prosecution."  - those days, the Q raised was can crores of Rupees fit into a suit case !!  ~ the currency and suitcase !!!

PS 2:  June 9, 1983. In one of the biggest upsets in the history of World Cup cricket, Zimbabwe, playing their first ever match in the tournament, beat Australia by 13 runs. They were unknown. They were unheralded. They were there to make up the numbers. They had won the ICC Trophy a year earlier, but who cared? Least of all the proud Australians. After all, Test playing nations were a different order altogether. West Indies remained the giants of cricket, England and Australia still balanced the power axis. Pakistan could be considered a dark horse and no more. Even India and New Zealand were not taken seriously.  But, therein lay an unnoticed caveat. Before gaining independence in 1980, Zimbabwe existed as Rhodesia, and it was in that guise they participated in the gruelling South African Currie Cup.  Their skipper was  Duncan Fletcher. A jovial 34-year-old left handed all-rounder, he was a far cry from the unsmiling, jowly, taciturn coach that he was to turn later.  India too were in spot of bother reeling at 17/5 before that great knock by Kapil Dev [epic 175 not out] saved them. 

Miles away, this politician was 73 when child, Chatunga was born.  If nothing else, he has always been an extremely proud man. He often said he would only step down when his "revolution" was complete. He was referring to the redistribution of white-owned land but he also wanted to hand-pick his successor, who would of course have had to come from the ranks !!  Robert Mugabe, who led the country's liberation movement, was in power from independence in 1980 until he was ousted in November last year at the age of 93. His years in office, first as prime minister until the switch to a presidential system in 1987, were marked by economic turmoil and the crushing of dissent.

For some, he will always remain a hero who brought independence and an end to white-minority rule. Even those who forced him out blamed his wife and "criminals" around him. But to his growing number of critics, this highly educated, wily politician became the caricature of an African dictator, who destroyed an entire country in order to keep his job. In the end, it was the security forces, who had been instrumental in intimidating the opposition and keeping him in power, who made him go. They were incensed when he sacked his long-time ally, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, paving the way for his much younger wife Grace to succeed him, fearing it meant the end for them as the powers behind the throne.

He had survived numerous previous crises and predictions of his demise but with his powers failing at the age of 93, his former comrades-in-arms turned on him, favouring Mr Mnangagwa. Before the 2008 elections, Mr Mugabe said: "If you lose an election and are rejected by the people, it is time to leave politics." But after coming second to Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr Mugabe displayed more characteristic defiance, swearing that "only God" could remove him from office. And just to be sure, violence was unleashed to preserve his grip on power.  The key to understanding Mr Mugabe is the 1970s guerrilla war where he made his name.

In modern day Zimbabwe, people are suffering. Inflation is too much. Every minute, every hour, every day, the prices are just changing," said a wholesale trader.  KFC has closed its local outlets citing "these difficult times," while supermarkets have been rationing some items, and mining companies and other key exporters are complaining about a lack of access to foreign exchange reserves. At a time, when currency crisis has hit people hard, three  people have appeared in court in Zimbabwe, accused of stealing a suitcase containing $150,000 (£117,600) (Rs.1.06 crores)  of cash from the country's ousted president, Robert Mugabe.

The suspected thieves allegedly spent the money on cars, homes and animals. A relative of the ex-president, Constantia Mugabe, is among the accused, government-owned media report. She allegedly had keys to Mr Mugabe's rural home in Zvimba, near the capital Harare, and gave the others access. The other suspects were employed as cleaners at the time of the theft, which allegedly happened some time between 1 December and early January. "Johanne Mapurisa bought a Toyota Camry... and a house for $20,000 after the incident," state prosecutor Teveraishe Zinyemba told Chinhoyi magistrates court. "Saymore Nhetekwa also bought a Honda... and livestock which included pigs and cattle for an undisclosed amount."

Mr Mugabe, now is  94, and had been in power for 37 years, first as prime minister and later as president. Once famously claiming that a country could never go bankrupt, he was accused of enjoying a lavish lifestyle while presiding over Zimbabwe's economic collapse. US dollars are highly prized in Zimbabwe. In theory, the local "bond notes" that banks dispense are equal to the US currency - but in reality they buy much less. Since retiring, Mr Mugabe has had difficulty walking and has spent several months in Singapore for medical treatment. It is unclear if he was at home while the theft took place.  The three suspects have been released on bail. The AFP news agency reports that a fourth is still at large.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Jan 2019.