Thursday, January 21, 2021

the invasive hippos of Escobar terrorise the Nation !!

After that famous day at Gabba, I have now read at least 100+ forwards on a substituted team India won the Test with ease and created history.  Am no big follower of Football, yet the name Escobar did ring a bill – for I saw that 1994 FIFA World Cup match !!  the Colombian footballer played as a defender for Atlético Nacional, BSC Young Boys, and the Colombia national team.  Not sure how popular this name (Escobar) is in Colombia, yet this post on his namesake, a notorious don !

I feel and I think most feel happy and gleeful in seeing animals – visiting Zoo, though there could be arguments galore that they are moved out of their natural habitat and held captive by mankind.  There are many Zoological parks that provide good healthy natural environment and large space for the animals, though some of them could be in a foreign land !!  While the purpose of Zoo is different, the animals do face different types of trouble from the visitors !  

A few years ago, in  El Salvador, occurred the gruesome killing of Gustavito, an adored hippo, attacked and badly mauled with metal bars and knives that  shocked even the Nation, where killings are so high.  Close on its heels, came the news of a  group of visitors at a Tunisia zoo stoning a crocodile to death.  People at times turn crude, savage and do gruesome acts !

Hippopotamuses love water, which is why the Greeks named them the "river horse." Hippos spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in rivers and lakes to keep their massive bodies cool under the hot African sun. Hippos are graceful in water, good swimmers, and can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes. One detail that cannot be misunderstood is that hippos are huge – mature males weigh up to a whopping 3,200kg. They also have a well-documented reputation for aggression and engage in brutal battles over mates, slashing and biting with their incisor teeth, which can measure up to 40cm (1.3ft) in length.

Scientists have got it wrong about hippopotamuses a lot over the years. Their name in ancient Greek translates to “river horse” yet modern science linked the animals to pigs. The most recent studies have found they are more closely related to whales.They also don’t sweat blood as once thought, but excrete a red fluid that contains antibacterial sunscreen. Plus the stubby-legged rotund creatures have surprised biologists with running speeds of up to 19mph. While hippos can be very aggressive towards humans and are considered one of Africa's most deadly animals, they are herbivores and the battle with the crocodile was likely territorial. The pair share the same habitat and clashes are not uncommon.


Slightly more than a dozen years ago, in 2007, 14 years after Escobar's death, people in rural Antioquia, 200 miles north-west of Bogota, began phoning the Ministry of Environment to report sightings of a peculiar animal. It was stated that ‘they found a creature in a river that they had never seen before, with small ears and a really big mouth." –startling for the villagers for it was not native to that place…. Situated halfway between the city of Medellin and Bogota, the Colombian capital, Hacienda Napoles was the vast ranch owned by the drugs baron Pablo Escobar. The estate covered about 20 km2 (7.7 sq mi) of land.  In the early 1980s, after Escobar had become rich but before he had started the campaign of assassinations and bombings that was to almost tear Colombia apart, he built himself a zoo. He smuggled in elephants, giraffes and other exotic animals, among them four  of these  - three females and one male. And with a typically grand gesture, he allowed the public to wander freely around the zoo. Buses filled with schoolchildren passed under a replica of the propeller plane that carried Escobar's first US-bound shipments of cocaine.

The animals now vast in number and fully grown are dangerous. Despite their ungainly appearance, they are very agile in the water and can charge on land at up to 18 mph (29km/h). It's often said that they are responsible for more human deaths in Africa than any other animal - though it may be more accurate to say they cause more deaths than any other wild mammal. Attacks happen when humans encroach their territory – they are not crocodiles – not instinctive killers, nor man-eaters. Yet  living near the animals is inevitably a risk, - one that local people have to decide whether they are willing to take.

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gavíria (1949 –  1993) was a notorious and wealthy Colombian drug lord and an exclusive cocaine trafficker. He is regarded as the wealthiest criminals. In 1975, Escobar started developing his cocaine operation. He even flew a plane himself several times, mainly between Colombia and Panama, to smuggle a load into the United States.  Reports state that he later bought fifteen new and bigger airplanes (including a Learjet) and six helicopters, he decommissioned the plane and hung it above the gate to his ranch at Hacienda Napoles. The war against Escobar ended on Dec 2, 1993, when Colombian National Police assisted by Colombian electronic surveillance team,  using radio-triangulation technology, found him hiding in a middle-class barrio in Medellín and  shot him dead.    

Following Escobar's death in 1993, his family went into a legal struggle with the Colombian government over the property. The government prevailed and the neglected property was later  managed by the Municipality of Puerto Triunfo. The cost of maintenance for the zoo and the animals was too expensive for the government, so it was decided that most of the animals would be donated to Colombian and international zoos.  Escobar's hippopotamuses became  feral, living in at least four lakes in the area and spread into neighbouring rivers.   Now comes the news that Pablo Escobar's 'Cocaine hippos' have overrun Colombia's waterways with their prodigious breeding after four escaped from drug kingpin's compound in the 1990s

Now  decades after his death and escapade by hippos, they became 100+-strong herd that rampage his former village. Their toxic urine and faeces are killing wildlife, say eco-experts. They are now the largest invasive species in the world with largest, wild hippo population outside of Africa.  It is apprehended that by 2040 numbers could rise to 1,500, making their environmental impact irreversible and their numbers impossible to control !!  their erstwhile owner, the King of Cocaine was once estimated to be the seventh richest person in the world, worth around $59billion in today's money.  The  Medellin Cartel once controlled over 80% of the cocaine shipped to the US.   

Now, dozens of the descendants of the original three females and one male roam the wetlands north of Bogota, causing untold damage to local wildlife with their 'toxic' urine and feces.  By 2040 the invasive population could swell to almost 1,500 individuals, making their environmental impact irreversible and their numbers impossible to control, a new study has claimed.  David Echeverri Lopez, a researcher at the regional environmental agency Cornare who led the 2013 sterilization effort, told The Washington Post that Colombia is a 'hippos paradise' with the animals spending hours grazing and basking in the Magdalena River, with no large predators to keep numbers down.  He said: 'I’ve worked for many years to understand the problem and find solutions, but the problem keeps happening over and over again. The only thing that changes is the number of hippos.'  

Attempts to kill the animals have been met with resistance by locals who see the hippos as unofficial mascots.  Gift shops in nearby Puerto Triunfo sell hippo keychains and T-shirts. At Hacienda Napoles, the zoo opened on Escobar's former pleasure palace and private zoo, a few of the recaptured animals attract tourists, whilst their wild cousins occasionally plod into town. In 2013 a judge issued a ruling making it illegal to kill hippos in the country, sparking the start of the sterilization campaign. But Echeverri Lopez said that sterilization of the 4,000lb animals is difficult to do and going too slowly, with the team managing only one a year, whilst the population grows by about 10%.     

The  animals have turned themselves into an emblem for a whole community of people. It’s not possible to just take them away.'     A renowned  Colombian ecologist working at the University of Quintana Roo in Mexico, said that the hippos threatened native species including the giant, guinea-pig-like capybaras that feed on the grasses and fruits now consumed by hippos, as well as endangered Antillean manatees.  In September 2020, the nephew of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar said that he found a plastic bag with $18million of cash hidden in the wall at one of his uncle's houses.  Escobar reportedly wrote off 10 per cent of his profits per year, $250 million per month, because it was being damaged by water, eaten by rats, or otherwise destroyed.  He owned luxury cars, planes and even two submarines at one point.   

Now moving to the other Escobar - Andrés Escobar Saldarriaga  played for Atlético and the Colombia national team. Sadly, Andres Escobar was killed in the aftermath of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, reportedly as retaliation for having scored an own goal which contributed to the team's elimination from the tournament.  At that time, Pele’s suggestion that Colombia would at least make the semi-finals of USA 94 wasn’t a crazy shot in the dark. Those would come later, six of them; bullets fired in a Medellín nightclub car park during a row that occurred in the early hours of 2 July, 1994. They would ring around the world, rendering millions incredulous that the captain of Colombia had been murdered, shot six times in the back, apparently as revenge for his contribution to his own team’s elimination from a World Cup that was not yet over. It seemed that for no crime more heinous than accidentally scoring an own goal during a football match, Andrés Escobar had been gunned down in cold blood.] 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
pics not mine .. taken from twitter and reposted. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Pant Sings ... breaks Aussie spree at Gabba !

During the test - when off-spinner Washington Sundar was bowling, Rishabh Pant shouted from behind the stumps when Paine came to strike and said, "Aise web phenko web (Throw a web like this)"  and started  singing the famous Indian Spiderman song, "Spiderman,  Spiderman" in the same tone, as it could be clearly heard from the stump mic. Today too, he was on a song! 

Way back in Dec 1977 India captained by Bishan Singh Bedi  played their 1st test of the Series at Brisbane.  The series was  overshadowed by the arrival of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket (WSC), unleashed on the world six months earlier, which left the home side fielding a virtual third XI under Bob Simpson,  a 41-year-old who had retired from the game in 1968, and was  hauled out of retirement to lead the side.  In that test there were 6 debutants : David O Gilvie, Paul Hibbert, Peter Toohey, Steve Rixon (wicket keeper), Tony Mann and Wayne Clark.


An opener and the wicket-keeper figured prominently in that chase of 341, which India lost narrowly.  After bowling out Australia for 166, India batted poorly and conceded a lead of 13.  Bedi took 5 in the first innings and Madanlal 5 in the second.  Aided by Simpson’s 89 and Toohey’s 57, Aussies made 327. 

Master batsman Sunil Gavaskar made 113 and was out at 243 (6); his partner Dilip Vengsarkar did not score much (1); Mohinder Amarnath made 47, Gundappa Viswanath 35, Patel out cheaply 3, Ashok Mankad, 21. .. .. but Syed Kirmani made a fighting 55 but was out at 318 – 22 runs short.  Of the many debutants, Paul Hibbert,  a tall, dark, stodgy opening batsman made  a 77-ball 13 and 2 and was never selected again.  

                       The Brisbane Cricket Ground is located in the suburb of Woolloongabba has been Australia’s favourite hunting ground. In  1975, England and West Indies were subject to a fierce spell of fast bowling from Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson.   West Indies team  last defeated Australia at this venue in 1988. England has never won a Test in Brisbane since 1986 when Ian Botham hit a century.  In 62 Tests that Australia has played at Brisbane since 1931, Australia has lost only eight times with one match being tied against the West Indies in 1960. In fact, apart from England, West Indies and New Zealand, no nation has managed to beat Australia in Brisbane, thus far. All that is gone and shaken, as India battled to save the test and as the last hour neared – changed gears to win the test with 3 wickets in hand.  

Australian skipper Tim Paine had a forgetful outing while leading the Baggy Greens on Day 5 of the 4th and final Test match   at The Gabba, Brisbane. Leading the formidable Australian side in the high-profile Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Paine's captaincy was under the scanner and the  wicketkeeper-batsman got involved in a verbal spat with  Ravichandran Ashwin in the 3rd Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).  Tasked to restrict the depleted Indian side for a paltry total on Day 5 of the series decider at The Gabba, the Paine-led side remained under the pump thanks to some outstanding batting from youngsters Shubman Gill, Rushabh Pant, and seasoned campaigner Cheteshwar Pujara. Riding on Pant's match-winning 89* on the final day of the Brisbane Test, supported by many including a cameo by Washington Sundar,  Ajinkya Rahane-led Team India defeated the mighty Aussies by three wickets and the visitors also clinched the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-1 margin.  As Team India pulled off a record run-chase in a thrilling series decider on Tuesday, Australian skipper Paine was jeered by the Brisbane crowd at The Gabba. When the Australian skipper walked in to reflect on the series defeat at the hands of the Virat Kohli-less side, Paine was booed by the fans that opted to stay at the stadium after Australia's devastating loss.


The score card reads : India 329 for 7 (Gill 91, Pant 89*, Pujara 56, Cummins 4-55) and 336 beat Australia 369 and 294 by three wickets – it may not reflect the real tension and drama, especially on day 5 and close hours at Gabba. Punctuating the end was Rishabh Pant,  who offered chances, rode his luck, but also played many authentic shots.  In all, he remained supreme confident with his approach and in herding his team mates towards that victory.  It was an  expertly paced unbeaten 89 that helped shatter a 32-year streak of Australia not losing at this ground and sealed for India a 2-1 series win with three wickets in hand. Pant's dashing best came during the last hour of play, after a series of partnerships had taken India to within 63 runs of victory at which point they lost Mayank Agarwal. The burden of either pushing for a win or shutting the gates fell on Pant and debutant Washington Sundar.  

Sundar took on Pat Cummins, who had become the singular threat to India's ambitions as the rest of the bowling tired out. Sundar got his first boundary against Cummins, a neat check-punch past mid-off,  astonishingly hooked him for a six and the very next ball had an edge flying over the slips for another 4.   Then Rishab Pant  walked across his stumps to ramp Lyon  fine. A boisterous sweep to the deep midwicket fence came next ball, a crack in the pitch turned Lyon's offbreak into a gigantic legbreak that was too much for Tim Paine, and that 15-run over took India within 24 runs of victory with six overs left.  To bring in some chaos,  Sundar reverse-swept Lyon onto his own stumps, and hope sprung when first-innings batting hero Shardul Thakur miscued a slog to midwicket.  Meantime, Pant  fell on his backside for a pulled boundary, survived a splice to sweeper cover as he looked to finish with a six, and managed to cross over when Thakur's slog was still in the air. Josh Hazlewood had two balls at him, and an injured Navdeep Saini at the other end. He fired a full one down the leg side that Pant looked to sweep, one-handed, and missed. Pant was indignant at not being awarded a wide for it but was composed enough next ball to reach out and pat a tired attempted yorker past the bowler for the win.

In the morning  Shubman Gill did a Gavaskar in scoring a 91 and  Cheteshwar Pujara showed his body – was struck so many times on body and on head but ended up making a very slow 50 but more importantly kept tied one end, which in final stages provided that platform for a great win. 

Well done Team India, as Sachin tweeted, India found different heroes in every Session and despite losing a full team due to injuries, still India managed to win 2 matches after that disastrous 36 all out.


With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Monday, January 18, 2021

How accurate is Bureau of Meteorology ~ gripping final day at Gabba !!

How accurate are the predictions of Bureau of Meteorology, Australian Government ?

How will the Indian tour of Australia 2020-21 end ? – it was 1-2 in ODI; 2-1 in T20I and LWD thus far in Tests.   On 12 November 2020, the Indian squad arrived in Sydney to begin a two-week long quarantine period.  On 24 Nov 2020, BCCI confirmed that Ishant Sharma and Rohit Sharma were  ruled out of the first two Test matches.  Couple of days later, T. Natarajan was added to India's squad for the ODI series.  .. .. .. now Nattu has donned India colours in all 3 forms !

Tropical Cyclone Kimi is a currently active tropical cyclone which is threatening Queensland in Australia. The tenth tropical low and third tropical cyclone of the 2020–21 Australian region cyclone season, Kimi originated from a weak tropical low which formed northeast of Queensland on 16 January. The low strengthened into Tropical Cyclone Kimi early the next day, as it slowly moved towards the coastline of northeastern Australia.   Impacts are anticipated to be significant, with the effects of the previous storm to hit the state, Cyclone Imogen, to be exacerbated from the heavy rainfall.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is an Executive Agency of the Australian Government responsible for providing weather services to Australia and surrounding areas. It was established in 1906 under the Meteorology Act, and brought together the state meteorological services that existed before then.  The report reads :  Cloudy. High (80%) chance of showers. The chance of a thunderstorm, possibly severe. Light winds.  Tropical monsoon activity continues to be visible in the north of the country with convective cloud and thunderstorms. This particularly visible around Cyclone Kimi off the coast near Cairns in QLD with visible cyclonic rotation. Brisbane is the capital of  the Australian state of Queensland. Woolloongabba is a suburb of the City of Brisbane,  and contains the Brisbane Cricket Ground ('the Gabba')  where the 4th and final test is underway !

He may be a great run accumulator but there are enough reasons to dislike him. Mohammed Siraj bowled a snorter of a delivery to send Steve Smith packing. A length ball bowled by him hit the crack and took off the pitch. It ended up hitting Steve Smith on the glove, as the Australian tried to fend it away. The ball looped to Ajinkya Rahane at gully, who completed the catch. .. .. earlier Labuschagne got almost a similar delivery, edged and walked shaking his head but .. Smith gesticulated that the ball hit the glove and .. .. and he had taken the glove off the bat ?  - reviewed .. .. it was clear that glove was certainly on the handle at the point of impact !

At close of play on day 4 India chasing 328 were 4 without loss .. .. on a day of much happening Indians could feel happy that Australians did not set the target but were bowled out with 2 Indian bowlers hunting for the last wicket to conclude a five for !  eventually both were involved – it was Caught Sharadul Thakur bowled Mohammad Siraj  [Siraj 5-73, Thakur 4-61]

Rain wiped out nearly all of the last session of day four soon after Australia had set India 328 to win the Gabba Test. India's openers had only faced 11 balls, and still had a possible 23.1 overs left to negotiate before stumps, when rain sent the players hurrying into their dressing rooms for the second and final time on the day. On a pitch where inconsistent bounce has grown into a frequent menace, Australia probably have enough time left  in theory, to bowl India out and wrap up a 2-1 series win, but the weather forecast for day five isn't encouraging for them.

First India bowled  Australia out. This hadn't seemed likely when David Warner and Marcus Harris had extended their opening partnership to 89 and left Australia effectively 122 for no loss some 40 minutes into the day's play. But India regrouped, with Shardul Thakur breaking the partnership on his way to an impressive four-wicket haul and Mohammed Siraj capping off a stellar debut series with a maiden Test-match five-for.  Now day 5 is going to dawn more intriguing and challenging for   Tim Paine, whose place in Australian cricket history may hinge on the events of the final day of this landmark series.  The most unlikely of Australian captains has achieved all that could be reasonably asked of him since taking over after the trauma of Cape Town - but the halo has slipped.Winning is not enough for cricket fans in this country. The manner in which the game is played matters as well. Lose or draw on Tuesday and, in the eyes of many Australians, Paine will have failed on both counts.

Hopefully his  prized bowlers would not  summon one last effort and get the job done, Tim Paine  will go down in history as the only Australian captain to lose back-to-back series at home against India. So pressure is on Paine and not on stand-in Indian Captain Ajinkya Rahane.  Australia have enjoyed every possible advantage. They've played at home, won every toss and had the deciding Test played at their Gabba fortress, where they have not lost since 1988.  Tasked with bowling out India on the final day of the series to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Australia were on Monday night facing the prospect of being a paceman down after Mitchell Starc walked away clutching his hamstring at the Gabba. After 16 days of oscillating, absorbing theatre, it has come down to three sessions. Ninety-eight overs. Six-and-a-bit hours of play, weather permitting of course. At stake is not only custody of the trophy but possibly a place in the World Test Championship final, and even the legacy of Tim Paine's captaincy.

Australia, needing to win the fourth and final Test to clinch the series 2-1, have a day to complete the assignment. India, set an ambitious 328 to achieve victory, don't need to go for it to retain the silverware and could hang on for a draw like they ultimately did in Sydney.   Test Cricket at its captivating best !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18.1.2021 @ 10.26 pm.


dynamically lit Napier dazzles !!

Can you connect these ancient Shiva temples -  1)  Tiruvirkolam, 2)  Ilambaiyankottur, 3)  Thiruverkadu – if your line is correct, you can add  Koyambedu temple also.   

The Sicilian revolution of independence of 1848 occurred in a year replete with revolutions and popular revolts. It commenced on 12 January 1848, and therefore was the first of the numerous revolutions to occur that year. Three revolutions against Bourbon rule had previously occurred on the island of Sicily starting from 1800: this final one resulted in an independent state surviving for 16 months. .. .. can it be connected with our city of Chennai in any manner ?

In this aerial photo [the original full sized one] – one could zoom and see the bridge over river Coovum ~Singara Chennai.

Rajnikant starrer ‘Billa’ (to name a movie after a hardcore criminal was in poor taste)  released in 1980s ran packed houses – the hero, chased by police (DSP Balaji) – escapes in a police car, winds through narrow lanes, hits obstacles, straddles on a horse ….. and nearer marina beach, shot by Police – jumps into Coovum river from this bridge ……… Arjun in Mudhavan also jumps into the very same coovum …. In the Madhavan movie ‘Run’ – Vivek coming to the city from a village is duped into bathing in the muddy Coovum river – much water has flown under the bridge in the past few decades.  Coovum no longer looks a river – with its pollutants it looks so ugly and more at the estuary after Napier bride.

Napier, the governor of Fort St George (Madras Presidency) built the iron bridge across Cooum river in 1869.  Francis Napier, a  colonial administrator, served as a Governor of Madras from 1866 to 1872; he also acted as the Viceroy of India from February to May 1872, temporarily though arising out of the assassination of the Earl Mayo….

Francis Napier, 10th Lord Napier and 1st Baron Ettrick, KT, PC (1819 – 1898)  was a Scottish polyglot, diplomat and colonial administrator. He served as the British Minister to the United States from 1857 to 1859, Netherlands from 1859 to 1860, Russia from 1861 to 1864, Prussia from 1864 to 1866 and as the Governor of Madras from 1866 to 1872. He also acted as the Viceroy of India from February to May 1872. He did not complete his graduation. Instead, he mastered foreign languages and served as a diplomat in foreign missions. In 1866, he was appointed Governor of Madras and served from 1866 to 1872.   Napier died at Florence, Italy on 18 December 1898 at the age of 79.

Due to his fluency in multiple languages, Napier's lack of educational qualifications was overlooked and he was appointed to the British embassy at Vienna and later, Constantinople, where he served as an attache.  The Governor of Madras earlier, served as the Acting Ambassador for a period of eighteen months in Naples, when Italy was embroiled in the Sicilian insurrection. 

Chennaites cross this  bridge leading to Fort St. George / War Memorial overlooking island grounds which  is named in his honour.  Napier Bridge connects the erstwhile British settlements [Fort St George / Parrys] to other southern parts of city of Chennai.  The landmark bridge was built in 1869, later transformed into a wide-concrete structure in 1943 for vehicular traffic, inaugurated by Arthur Hope and  widened to two pronged lanes in 1999.    An Island bridge was projected by Yale in 1690, wasn’t built until 1715, connecting the Fort to the Island, was damaged over and over again and was later removed because there was a diversion of the stream on which it was built. The Triplicane Bridge and Napier Bridge were built across the river Coovum, which was earlier known as Triplicane river.

The Greater Chennai Corporation has  launched a dynamic lighting system on   37 bridges and subways.   It generates  millions of colours using the combination of red, green and blue.  The dynamic lighting  highlights architectural aspects of bridges and is really a treat to watch. 

Here are some photos of the illuminated Napier bridge across Coovum (earlier known as Thiruvallikkeni river),   one of the shortest classified rivers draining into the Bay of Bengal. This river is about 72 km in length, flowing 32 km in the city of Chennai (urban part) and the rest in rural part. The river is highly polluted in the urban area (Chennai). Along with the Adyar River running parallel to the south and the Kosasthalaiyar River, the river trifurcates the city of Chennai and separates Northern Chennai from Central Chennai.

Three ancient Shiva temples are located at the source of the river. The first is Tiruvirkolam, in Cooum village, and the other is at Ilambaiyankottur. The third is Thiruverkadu Shiva temple. Koyambedu temple is also in its banks. These temples have been featured in the Thevaram sung by the Saivite saint Thirugnana Sambandar.  In ancient Tamil Nadu, under the Chola Empire, the river Cooum was referred to as Kashtabudhyotpathihi. They all form a group of villages called "padhinaru nattham".  The major islet in the course of the river is the Island Grounds in Chennai less than a kilometre from the mouth. The river splits into two near Chinthadripet and encircles a piece of land isolating it from the surrounding land before draining into the eastern sea.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Natarajan scores a run ! - India's no-names leave Aussie red-faced !!

In Dec 2003, at Adelaide – Ajit Agarkar scored just 11 & 0*  -    but scripted history !!  In Test Cricket, often day 3 could be the defining day but perhaps not at Gabba, Brisbane today !!  .. .. ESPN has this interesting statistics – as commentators kept telling that Natarajan should have run two to double his International aggregate – when he scored that solitary run it was “ After ten first-class innings without a run, T Natarajan  finally scores one” that too  on Test debut. How he emerges with the ball in the second essay could redefine this test.

Ian Chappel feels that both the batting line-ups are fragile and that makes it interesting and intriguing.  I feel, Aussie has an established line-up, playing at home – India dogged by injuries has almost two teams playing in 4 tests !!  .. the recent times has seen  the emergence of Marnus Labuschagne and the potential of Will Pucovski and Cameron Green, with David Warner and Steve  Smith.  The Indian line-up is so much stronger with Kohli in the middle, acting as the batting general. Their openers failed, middle-order fragile, coupled with injuries to all and sundry.  Today after close of play – The Courier Mail thundered “India’s no-names leave Aussies red-faced”  

That sums up their frustration even when they are 54 runs ahead on close of day 3.  Their strong line up of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins peppered and kept hurtling – Indian wickets were tumbling.   They started at 62/2 having lost Gill and Rohit.  Pujara went at 105 and Rahane out at 144; Mayank Agarwal batting at 5 for the first time left at 161 and when Rishab Pant steered Hazlewood to Green Gully it was 186/6 – 183 short with only tail exposed. If you are about to blame Pant, know that his  23 became his first sub-25 score in 11 innings in Australia.

Have seen Sharadul Thakur make some runs in limited overs and he opened with a six hooking Cummins ! Sundar & Thakur together – how much are they worth?

Washington Sundar is known more for his TNPL and IPL exploits. Seen as a limited over specialist opening the bowling and keeping great batsmen at bay.  Only because of the Covid-19 pandemic was Sundar asked to hang around for the Test series to help with bowling in the nets.   He is only 21.  Shardul Thakur,  is India's seventh-choice seamer in Tests. He spent the long tour playing just three limited-overs games and bowling a lot in the nets, getting to bat only when the throwdown specialists or the bowlers have any energy left after bowling to the players expected to play. Today both forged together adding 123 runs for the 7th wicket – making  maiden Test fifties to help India post 336.

Australia still finished the day with a handy lead and two full days left, but the rain forecast for the last two days is sure to play on their minds. Tim Paine faces the agonising scenario of leaving the door open for a historic defeat at the Gabba in order to keep alive Australia's hopes of regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against an opponent whose tenacity knows no bounds.  After that abysmal 36 at Adelaide   just under a month ago and Virat Kohli taking  the next flight out to Mumbai, few would have been shocked if they were flattened 4-0. The  severely undermanned visitors could now deny Australia the series and the silverware and even clinch it themselves. As holders and with the series locked at 1-1, India need only a draw to retain the trophy while Australia must win the Test.

There has been no shortage of heroes among the 20 players who have taken the field for India over the four Tests amid a football season's worth of broken bones and strained tendons.  After the heroics of injured Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin at Sydney – at Brisbane it is the   21-year-old debutant Washington Sundar and second-gamer Shardul Thakur, who were brought in from deep in the bullpen as bowling reinforcements in Brisbane yet blunted Paine's men with the bat before a crowd of 12,777 on Sunday. Josh Hazlewood. wound up with 5-57 but the Indian counterattack led them to an unlikely first-innings total of 336, only 33 short of Australia's.

Whatever the outcome, the never-say-die attitude of India that has stood them so sell so far. Australia, by comparison, have used just their usual frontline four throughout the series.  Besides their 3 quickies,   Nathan Lyon, is just  three short of 400 Test wickets, let us be hopeful of India finishing the tour on a high.

In that 2003-’04 tour of Australia,  Sourav Ganguly century allowed India to draw the first Test, the Indian team arrived in Adelaide for the second Test.   Australian batsmen quickly found their touch. On the back of a classy 242 by Ricky Ponting, the hosts scored 556 (in just 127 overs) in the first innings.  In reply, India collapsed to 85/4 before Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman orchestrated a 233-run stand to help India finally finish on 523 all out. The hosts had a small 33-run lead (coincidence same today too)  then  Ajit Agarkar upped his game to script what is arguably his finest moment in international cricket. Agarkar’s spell of 6/41 broke Australia and   Dravid, with 72,   played a vital role as everyone chipped in. When the winning runs were scored Agarkar was fittingly at the non-striker’s end. He didn’t need to face a ball but   had done his part.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Saturday, January 16, 2021

India on vaccination drive .. .. Corona containment, failed Kerala module !!


Few months have rolled by after the media’s pet State Govt was extolled and awarded for the ‘successful handling’ of coronavirus -  some went overboard in advising their States to follow  the so-called ‘Kerala model’ of tackling coronavirus pandemic.  The reality is otherwise today !!


In a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 as Tamil Nadu celebrates Pongal, officials in Chennai  announced that the city's iconic Marina Beach – on Kanum Pongal day, lakhs of people would have thronged the Beach.  Police ensured that none were allowed inside and the beach remained by and large empty during these days.  Appreciations to the State Govt and Police in ensuring this.  

Britain reported its third-highest daily death toll from the novel coronavirus today  but the number of new infections dropped to its lowest level this year. The number of people recorded as having died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test rose by 1,295 to 88,590. The number of infections per 100,000 people measured over the past 14 days is 901, nearly double that in hard-hit neighbouring Spain, data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed.  Portugal's fragile health system is under growing pressure due to a worrying rise in coronavirus infections, with the country reporting 10,947 new cases and 166 deaths on Saturday, the worst surge since the pandemic started last year. The cases, which come a day after a new lockdown was put in place, bring the total number of cases in a country of just over 10 million people to 539,416, with the death toll increasing to 8,709.  The health system, which prior to the pandemic had the lowest number of critical care beds per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, can accommodate a maximum of 672 COVID-19 patients in ICUs, according to Health Ministry data. There are currently 638 people in ICUs and the Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators said the number of coronavirus patients needing hospitalisation was likely to dramatically increase over the next week. 

Such a situation was apprehended in India but could be avoided due to the good measures taken by our Prime Minister – now the numbers are really low and vaccines have arrived.  As India began its nationwide vaccination drive against Covid-19, as many as 1,91,181 people were vaccinated on Day 1, Union Health Ministry said. A total of 16,755 vaccinators were also involved in the process across India, it said, adding that no case of post-vaccination hospitalisation was reported. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji today launched India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive, the world’s largest inoculation exercise against the novel coronavirus. In a virtual address, an emotional PM Modi paid tribute to scientists and healthcare workers, who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic. He added that safety protocol, including social distancing and wearing masks, must remain in place.  India will administer shots to three crore frontline workers in phase one. There are 3,006 session sites across the country, where 100 beneficiaries each will be given either of India’s two indigenous vaccines, Covaxin or Covishield. Every beneficiary will need to receive two doses of the same vaccine, 28 days apart. 

Since the pandemic hit India in early 2020, over one crore and 5.42 lakh people have been infected with the disease, while close to 1.52 lakh have died. At present, Kerala and Maharashtra are reporting the highest number of daily cases.  Kerala reported 5,960 new COVID-19 cases and 27 related deaths on Saturday, taking the infection count to 8,42,843 and the toll to 3,442, the state government said. There were no new cases reported among the UK returnees to the state, Health Minister K K Shailaja said.

Today Kerala has pushed Tamil Nadu to the 5th place and here are the statistics:


Total cases

New cases (1 day*)

Cases per 1 million people

Population 2011 census

% as compared population



















Andhra Pradesh












Tamil Nadu












Uttar Pradesh







With regards – S. Sampathkumar