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Sunday, March 10, 2019

remembering Pulwama ~ Indian Team wears army caps at Ranchi

The power of a Cap !  ~ how much do you care to see, what people who see elsewhere wear ? – would you like to comment or change or challenge the way they do ? 

Even the most curious Cricket fan in India may not be following the Paki Super league or even the International matches .. did you notice that West Indies  won the first-ever Women’s One Day International to be played at the Dubai International Stadium to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series against Pakistan. Deandra Dottin and Afy Fletcher were the star performers with the ball as Pakistan were rolled over for 70 runs in reply to West Indies 216 for five total in the allotted 50 overs. .. .. .. but some one is shouting, nay crying ! ~  Pakistan has demanded that the ICC take note of Indian cricketers wearing camouflage military caps during the third ODI against Australia, accusing Virat Kohli’s team of politicising the game. That is their desperation, their isolation is telling !!

On Feb 14, 2019,  there was this convoy from Jammu that  has plied only thrice in the previous  fortnight, as snow blocked road and CRPF jawans were stranded in Jammu since February 4 . 16 vehicles dropped out at Qazigund on reaching destination but 16 ‘mobile bunkers’ joined convoy as the  convoy left Qazigund at 2:38 pm ..  sadly, for the Nation, at  Latoomode of Awantipora in Pulwama, an explosive laden vehicle entered the Jammu-Srinagar highway from a left bylane.  More than 40  CRPF jawans died.  Jaish claimed ownership for the cruel killing (there are still some in the country who would claim nothing happened – No war, only peace – and you cannot utter no to terrorism !) .. .. it is common knowledge that the terror base is the neighbouring frontier – Pakistan.  While some Red intellectuals claim otherwise, Pak itself assured investigations,  b u t - Pakistan’s assurance on investigation into Pulwama terror attack flies in the face as Islamabad’s poor probe track record into the past terror attacks by LeT & JeM and would seldom  inspire hope of any strong action against the masterminds of the February 14 terror attack.

Growing International pressure ensured Prime minister Imran Khan offering to investigate if India provides evidence into the Pulwama terror attack and cracked on terror groups and operatives amid mounting international pressure. Khan’s predecessor Nawaz Sharif offered full cooperation in the investigations after January 2016 Pathankot terror strike following evidence provided by the Modi government. But Pakistan’s interior ministry under the influence of Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) refused to act on the evidence.  Supply of evidence by India was also acknowledged in the Pakistan senate by the Nawaz Sharif government but investigate agencies did not follow thorough probe .. Speaking in the senate on October 4, 2016, then Pakistan interior minister even acknowledged that the Indian government had provided documents and these included five mobile phone numbers of Pakistani telecom companies, after the Pathankot attacks. These numbers had been mentioned in the FIR lodged in a police station in Gujranwala. A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was formed and it visited India in March 2016. However, nothing has come out of the investigation so far, the whole World knows.   Yet some would advocate a Nobel peace prize for Imran Khan.

They do not read newspapers to know that since February 15, there have been 230 ceasefire violations at the Line of Control (LoC).  The last three weeks have been extremely tense with heavy shelling form both the sides including heavy artillery using the 155 MM Howitzers; something that has not happened in years. While there have been regular confrontations at the LoC, the number of anti-terror operations in Kashmir has also gone up. Since the Pulwama attack 16 terrorists have been killed while over a dozen security personnel have also lost their lives. The increased hostilities on the ground have been overshadowed by the aerial strike of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on a terror camp in Balakot and subsequent air raids by Pakistan targeting Indian military installations.

On the Cricketing arena, the WI that beat Pak – appeared to be regrouping so well for the World Cup as they performed strongly against the visiting England.  Chris Gayle was raining sixers – at Basseterre on Women’s day, in 2nd T20I – they failed miserably.  Sam Billings rescued England before Chris Jordan's four-wicket haul demolished West Indies for a paltry 45, handing the tourists a 137-run victory in the second T20I and an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. Man of the Match Billings' career-best knock of 87 off 47 balls and a return to T20I form for Joe Root, who made 55 off 40, resurrected England's innings from a dire 32 for 4 after 5.2 overs.  Jordan's remarkable 4 for 6 off two overs meant West Indies were never in the contest and they fell for the second-lowest T20I total, behind Netherlands' 39 against Sri Lanka at the World T20 in 2014. It was the lowest total by a Full-Member nation, worse than the 60 posted by New Zealand against Sri Lanka at the same tournament and West Indies' 60 against Pakistan in Karachi last year.

Back home Ranchi Onedayer was significant – a win could have clinched the series for India.  It was the homedown of the ever mercurial Mahendra Singh Dhoni – and Press touted it to be his last match at Ranchi (now with him being rested for the last 2 ODIs, has he played his last One dayer in India ?)  Australia have run the supreme Indian side close in all three matches, finally won one in Ranchi to keep the series alive. Aaron Finch has struggled out in the open, and has possibly turned a corner. Usman Khawaja has presented his credentials. Dhoni has shown his temperament for some of his lost hitting powers is a trade-off worth the consideration. The best bowler and batsman in the world, Jasprit Bumrah and Virat Kohli, have found ways to be even less believable at what they do. The length of the contest has allowed for a variety of facets of the sport to come into play. After the loss,  Dhoni has been rested, Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul could get chances.

More significant  for us – the  Indian cricket team decided to play the Ranchi ODI in army camouflage caps to honour those killed in the terror attack in Pulwama last month. They also donated their match fees for the ODI to the National Defence Fund. At the toss, India captain Virat Kohli explained the decision. "It is a special cap," he said. "This is to pay respect to the martyrs of the Pulwama attack and their families. All the players have decided to donate their match fees from this particular game to the National Defence Fund. I, as the captain of the team, would urge everyone in the country to do the same, donate how much ever they can to the National Defence Fund and help in the education and well-being of the families and the children of those who lost their lives in the attack. So this is a very special cap and a very special game indeed."

ESPNcricinfo  stated  that the BCCI had approached the ICC before going ahead with the plan, and that the ICC confirmed there was no breach of match regulations. "We discussed with the BCCI as they requested permission, it is as part of a charity fundraising effort," an ICC spokesperson explained.  Commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted that the gesture was initiated by MS Dhoni, who is an honorary lieutenant colonel in the Indian territorial army. Dhoni presented the cap to Kohli and the others before the toss. This could be Dhoni's last international in his hometown, Ranchi.  BCCI tweeted: "#TeamIndia will be sporting camouflage caps today as mark of tribute to the loss of lives in Pulwama terror attack and the armed forces. And to encourage countrymen to donate to the National Defence Fund for taking care of the education of the dependents of the martyrs."

Recently, the BCCI had also announced that a part of the budget for the usually extravagant opening ceremony for the IPL, estimated to cost around INR 20 crore, would be donated to families of Pulwama martyrs.

Elsewhere, unable to digest all these and suffocating in increasing isolation, Pakistan has demanded that the ICC take note of Indian cricketers wearing camouflage military caps during the third ODI against Australia, accusing Virat Kohli’s team of politicising the game. Taking an exception to the gesture, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the International Cricket Council must do something about it. “The world saw that the Indian cricket team wore military caps instead of their own, did ICC not see this? We think that it is the ICC’s responsibility to take notice of this without the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) bringing it up,” Qureshi was quoted as saying by Pakistan media.

India  lost the match by 32 runs but still leads the five-match series 2-1; to us this too is a victory, making Paki fume – remember no Pakistani player has been a part of the IPL since after 2008, its year of inception. Initially Shahid AFridi and few others made caustic comments but with their earning capacity curtailed, they are just pleading for an opportunity to be part of cash-rich IPL.  Azhar Mahmood, however, featured in quite a few editions representing Kings XI Punjab owing to his British passport.

Jai Jawan, Long live our Armed forces – and long live our Nation

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th Mar 2019.

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