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Monday, June 3, 2019

Bangla Tigers roar at Oval

As part of his government's "neighbourhood first" policy, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modiji  has said he will visit Bangladesh soon to raise the relationship between the two countries to an "unprecedented new height." Modiji has already accepted the Bangladesh's invitation to visit the country. Dates will be decided through diplomatic channels, according to Press Information Bureau (PIB), India. Shri  Modi is set to visit the Maldives in his first trip abroad after being appointed as the Indian prime minister for the second consecutive term.

In a move that will have major ramifications for intra-South Asian politics, Bangladesh has decided to stop issuing visas to Pakistani citizens, further worsening ties between Islamabad and Dhaka. Since last year, the Sheikh Hasina government withheld approval for Pakistan’s high commissioner to Dhaka following Pakistan High Commission’s activities to destabilise the Hasina government. Pakistan High Commission officials last year were also found interfering with the poll process by by supporting Opposition candidates besides promoting anti-India activities.  Diplomatic tension between Bangladesh and Pakistan has intensified as the Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad has stopped issuing visas to Pakistani citizens since last week, ET has learnt. Hossain said Dhaka has informed the decision to the South Asia wing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan.

General Ziaur Rahman, Bangladesh’s first military ruler, rose to power through bloodshed and mayhem in Nov 1975. He survived innumerable abortive coups, eventually succumbing to a putsch in Chittagong on 30 May 1981. Rahman navigated his way into history books in March 1971. He made a faux pas when he ‘declared’ Bangladesh’s independence despite being a serving major in the Pakistani army. It took several illustrious Bengalis at the time in Chittagong -- to have him amend his statement and go forth for a second announcement in the name of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His earlier statement, they were quick to point out to him, would be construed as nothing more than a declaration of mutiny by a mid-ranking officer of the Pakistani army.

World Cup 2019 is the attraction ~ even at 37, M.S. Dhoni manages to surprise cricket fans all across the globe. Be it his power-hitting or his extraordinary glove-work, Dhoni just keeps on raising the bar for himself and his fellow cricketers.  Not just his batting and wicketkeeping, even his on-field presence proves to be a blessing for Virat Kohli as he helps the Indian skipper in strategy making and setting fields for the bowlers while keeping from behind the stumps.   There are varied reports that   during the course of India's second warm-up game against Bangladesh at the Sophia Gardens, genial Dhoni, while batting in the 40th over of the Indian innings, stopped Bangladesh leg-spinner Sabbir Rahman on his tracks and asked him to move the square-leg fielder towards his left. Just like an obedient ward, Sabbir did not even ask his captain Masrafe Mortaza and promptly moved the fielder as advised by the Indian wicketkeeper-batsman.

Kennington is a district in south London, England. It is mainly within the London Borough of Lambeth, running along the boundary with the London Borough of Southwark, a boundary which can be discerned from the early medieval period between the Lambeth and St George's parishes of those boroughs respectively. Kennington is the location of three significant London landmarks: the Oval cricket ground, the Imperial War Museum, and Kennington Park. .. it is here that a famous upset was staged last night .. !

South African team is ever impressive – it has bunch of natural talent. Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi and Imran Tahir are all match-winners in their own right, and having all four in the same line-up was South Africa's Plan A.  Steyn is yet to recover from the shoulder flare-up that cut short his IPL jaunt, Ngidi limped off with a tweaked hamstring after bowling four wicketless overs in which he leaked seven boundaries, and Rabada endured one of his rare off days, conceding 0 for 57 in his ten overs – all that and more was to happen on ODI no. 4147 at Oval.

This is where it all began. The first-ever Test on English soil was played here in Sept 1880, resulting in an England win over Australia by five wickets, with WG Grace scoring a hundred on debut, and this is where a Test series in England traditionally ends. More pertinently, this is the historic venue where the legend of the Ashes was born a couple of years after the inaugural Test, in Aug 1882. England, chasing only 85 to win, slumped from 51 for 2 to 78 all out. The next morning The Sporting Times published its famous mock obituary and the legend was born.   The first One Day International match at this venue was played on 7.9.1973 between England and West Indies. It hosted matches of the 1975, 1979, 1983, and 1999 World Cups.

Bangla and SA matches have been fascinating.   In previous World Cups, that has meant one-sided games, in which one side completely dominated the other - as South Africa did with a 10-wicket thumping in their first encounter in Bloemfontein in 2003. Four years later, it was Bangladesh's turn to bring the pain as an array of left-arm spinners sent South Africa spiralling to a 67-run defeat at Providence. The pendulum swung back when Bangladesh wilted to 78 all out under lights in Mirpur in 2011. And now it's swung once more, Bangladesh excelling to soar to a 21-run win. Along the way, Bangladesh's achievements, collective and individual, were both many and noteworthy. Shakib Al Hasan became the first Bangladeshi - and fastest cricketer - to the double of 250 wickets and 5,000 runs in ODIs, getting there quicker than anybody else. Bangladesh reached 330 for 6, their highest total in ODIs, smashing their previous best against South Africa by 52 runs.

That they soared so high was thanks mainly to a 142-run stand between Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim, which is also Bangladesh's highest in World Cups. Together they built on the solid early efforts of Soumya Sarkar, who took on the short ball with gumption, showing echoes of his early outings against the South Africans at home way back in 2015, when he ramped and hooked his way to 205 runs in three innings to help his team to a 2-1 series win.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
3rd June 2019.

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