A DUBIOUS SCORE

Posted on October 13, 2016. Filed under: ODISHA, POLITICS | Tags: , , , , |

For the fans of cricket, a score of 50 is an achievement, be it in any format of the game.The batsman raises the bat and it is followed by cheers from the spectators inside the stadium and also those who are glued to the television. The statisticians also find themselves occupied with the record.

But the score of 50 for the Government of Odisha, led by the BJD, is by no means a matter of pride, rather it is a matter of shame. There is no batsman and there is no cricket match. The score, unfortunately, relates to the number of deaths of infants caused by Japanese Encephalitis in the district of Malkangiri. Of course, deaths have also been reported from Brahmagiri constituency in Puri district shortly after the tour of the Chief Minister of Odisha.

Malkangiri is one of the most underdeveloped districts in the state of Odisha. The district continues to be neglected by the rulers. The situation has not changed by much since the time the district was mentioned by P Sainath in his magnum opus ‘Everybody Loves A Good Drought’.

Usually, the Government of Odisha is in the habit of blaming the Union Government or some neighbouring state for its troubles and travails. The Chief Minister responds by reading a prepared statement and his party colleagues take the cue and carry it forward. The Chief Minister also has the habit of dashing off letters to the Union Government on any issue.

Sometimes, a party worker or even a Minister comes up with truly great arguments that can only be generated by politicians.When children belonging to the Juang tribe were dying of hunger and malnutrition, the Minister for Child Welfare claimed that the welfare measures of the state government could not reach the tribals since they lived on the hills ! She stated that the tribals would be encouraged to settle at alternative places.

Japanese Encephalitis is a disease spread through mosquito bites. Pigs act as the reservoirs of the deadly germ.

As always, the officials of the Government denied the initial reports. Then the monsoon was blamed for the spread of the disease. The good rainfall led to the stagnation of water and that resulted in the growth of the mosquito population.

Now, it is the turn of the pigs to take the blame.

in the aftermath of the reports of farmer suicides from different parts of Odisha, the Government claimed that most of the suicides resulted from matters not relating to agriculture or poverty. In many cases, suicides were attributed to ‘family troubles’ or ‘love matters’. Even a farmer who was nearly 80 years old also committed suicide due to ‘love failure’! Now in Malkangiri since infants are involved, no such reasons can be advanced, much to the chagrin of the rulers.

The Government distributed medicated mosquito nets with great fanfare. Those nets have not helped the poor people of Malkangiri.

The Government promises to start the vaccination against the disease from the month of December even as the doctors claim that there is no ‘treatment’ for the disease.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan,

“How many more have to die

Before they are counted as people”

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UNCALLED FOR

Posted on June 30, 2016. Filed under: CRICKET, SACHIN TENDULKAR | Tags: , , , , |

This is too much.

Kumar Sangakkara played cricket for Sri Lanka with a lot of distinction. Even after retiring from international and first class cricket, Sangakkara has been playing T20 cricket in different parts of the cricketing world.

During his playing days, Sangakkara was known as someone who was not afraid to speak out in public. He was also not averse in giving back to his opponents verbals when required.

Sangakkara has suddenly become the person to hate for a large section of the followers of Sachin Tendulkar. Why? Sangakkara picked a team of eleven players that did not include Sachin.The list includes only one player from India-Rahul Dravid. I think this made the followers very angry, to say the least. How dare Sangakkara ‘drop’ the legend when Indian selectors never even dared to think about leaving Sachin out of the team. Sachin did not want to continue, otherwise he would still be playing even now.

Tennis player Maria Sharapova was taken to the cleaners on the social networks when she pleaded ignorance of Sachin and achievements. The attacks were extremely vitriolic and uncalled for since not many of the so-called fans of Sachin know much about the tennis player.

It will not  surprise me if somewhere in India people start rioting in the streets and burn up the effigies of Sangakkara for his unpardonable ‘crime’ !

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WHY THE SELECTORS ARE RIGHT?

Posted on December 4, 2012. Filed under: CRICINFO, CRICKET, INDIA, M S DHONI, SACHIN TENDULKAR, SEHWAG, YUVRAJ SINGH | Tags: , , |

After the loss in the Mumbai test, there was a clamour for changes to be made for the rest of the series versus England.But the selectors decided to stick with the players who donned the national colours in Mumbai. On expected lines, the selectors were criticised. But I have my reasons why the selectors could not take any harsh decisions.

1.GAUTAM GAMBHIR

He is someone who played well in the past and who captained his team the Kolkata Knight Riders to the IPL glory.Gambhir is someone who is potentially a captaincy material.If Shahrukh Khan were the chief selector, then Gambhir would have been the captain of India.Moreover, he plays alongside the other opener Sehwag for the Delhi team and they make a good combination of the left and the right.

2.VIRENDRA SEHWAG

Viru scored a century in the first test at Ahmedabad although this fact was completely ignored after the feats of Pujara and Ojha.After all, he is the only Indian batsman to score over 300 runs in a test innings and that too twice.

 

3.CHETESWAR PUJARA

Whether he is the genuine replacement for Rahul Dravid, Pujara has shown great temperament and skill by making two three figure scores in the ongoing series.He had only one failure and that too in the second innings of the Mumbai test.

4.SACHIN TENDULKAR

It is very difficult for the selectors to even think about leaving Sachin out of the team especially given his past record.As many of his supporters felt, the selectors also realised that the great man is just one good innings away from glory.Besides, we ordinary mortals cannot decide on the future of Sachin.You cannot drop someone who is also a Member of Parliament. We don’t want the Parliament to shut down protesting against this kind of injustice.

5.YUVRAJ SING

Yuvraj failed in both the innings of the Mumbai test, so what? He just beat cancer and he was a prominent contributor to the win in the World Cup.Public memory is short and if he is dropped, his mother would become very angry.

6.VIRAT KOHLI

In the past 12 months, Virat has been true to his name-big scoring runs against different bowlers in different formats of the game.Moreover, he has made a hundred in Australia where the rest of the Indian batsmen found the opposition bowlers very hot to handle.As some would say, he is also in line to be the captain of the team in the not too distant future considering his experience of leading the Indian under 19 team to victory in the World Cup.

7.M S DHONI

This is about the most successful captain in the history of Indian cricket.He won the World Cup for India after a long wait for the entire nation. People forget the disastrous campaign in England and Australia both as a captain and as a batsman.Dhoni has never been a good batsman on good pitches and against good bowlers.The critics have been extremely harsh about the wicketkeeping misses of Dhoni too.The supporters of Dhoni argue that the captain is only as good as his team.

8.ZAHEER KHAN

Ever since Zaheer burst on to the scene bowling fast yorkers, most Indian cricket fans felt genuine pride.But as time passed by, the pace got reduced.Nevertheless, Zaheer got wickets by gaining control over swing.But he is the best non-spinner for India in the present times.

9.HARBHAJAN SINGH

He did not look like a bowler who has 400 test wickets to his name in the Mumbai test.On a pitch where Swann and Panesar got the better of Indian batsmen, Harbhajan merely looked like a bowler who was meant to complete his quota of overs.Public memory is short for he has a hat trick to his name and that too against the mighty Aussies.

10.PRAGYAN OJHA

Ojha bowled well in the first test and also took wickets in the test in Mumbai.But he too was not spared by the critics.He should have bowled from both the ends!.

11.RAVICHANDRAN ASHWIN

How can one even think about leaving Ashwin out of the team when he is regarded by some as the next great all-rounder after Kapil Dev.Ashwin should be in the team as a batsman who if required, can bowl a few overs.

Now going by the past contributions, the records and the sacrifices made by these players, how on earth can the selectors be expected to bite the bullet and take strong decisions? My vote is with the selectors.Moreover, as one expert put, where are the replacements?

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GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:ANDREW SYMONDS-2003

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003, IPL | Tags: , , , |

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He first came into the picture when the Indian team was at the receiving end on a tour game in England facing a county side. He had the great ability to hit the ball to great distances. The same person also toyed with the Indian bowling on a tour to down under. He had the opportunity to play for England but declined in order to play for Australia.

For most of the Indian followers, he became a hate figure following the on-field events involving Harbhajan Singh.

It was only when Andrew Symonds got into the Australian one-day side that the world started to take note of the prowess of the man. Not only could he bat but also he was a tremendous fielder and a more than useful bowler. Symonds was powerfully built and when song could take on any bowler in the limited overs contests.The dread locks gave way to the clean shaven head and yet there was no change in his style as far as cricket was concerned.

He had a disastrous start to his test career facing the likes of Muthiah Muralitharan on the turning wickets of Sri Lanka. Symonds was dropped from the test team while he was a regular for the one-day team. He got a lucky break to play test cricket once again and he scored a fine century versus the visiting English team. However, things began to become difficult for him as the cricket administrators were forced to take disciplinary action following many ‘incidents’. All these culminated in Symonds not being picked up for the Australian sides and he announced his retirement from the international game. These days, he is a freelancer for the different teams in the T20 competitions.

The ICC World Cup of 2003 provided the platform for Symonds to display his talent in a big way. The defending champions Australia faced Pakistan at Johannesburg and Wasim Akram sent back Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden back to the pavilion early in the game. Damien Martyn also could not trouble the scorer as he was bowled by a Akram special. Jimmy Maher was out to Waqar Younis and only Ricky Ponting was holding fort tackling the Pakistan bowlers when Symonds came to crease.

Within no time the shots began to flow from the bat of Symonds and the pressure was on Pakistan. The ball kept racing to the boundary with the fielders joining the ranks of the spectators. Even the dismissal of Ponting could not deter Symonds from attacking the bowlers. Symonds made 143 runs from only 125 balls. The Pakistan bowlers had no answers to this onslaught and the frustration was reflected when Waqar Younis was stopped from bowling following two beamers bowled at Symonds. Thanks to Symonds, the Aussies scored 310 runs and Pakistan fell short by 92 runs.

In the semi-finals at Port Elizabeth, the Australians took on Sri Lanka. Chaminda Vaas had the Aussies in all kinds of trouble with excellent support from Aravinda DeSilva and Sanath Jayasuriya. None of the famous batsmen could stay long at the wicket and there was a real possibility of Sri Lanka upsetting the top ranked team. But Symonds had other ideas and in a display of controlled aggression scored 91 from 118 balls. This was a slow effort and Australia laboured to 212 from 50 overs. Following a rain disruption, the Sri Lankans had to score 172 runs in 38 overs. They could only score 123 and the Aussies went to the finals for the third time. In the finals versus India, Ponting and Martyn trashed the Indian bowlers leaving very little for the likes of Symonds.

Symonds was a part of the Australian team that won the World Cup again in 2007.By this time, he was an established member of the squad who had many years of top class cricket left in him. But things did not go according to the script and now when Australia is desperate to re-establish its superiority, Symonds is on the sidelines.

Symonds would have been a wonderful addition to the Australian side for the World Cup of 2011.His ability to clear the boundaries would have been a great asset on the smaller grounds of the subcontinent.

It is a pity that a man with so much ability would be restricted to the IPL and other such T20 events.

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A WIN AT LAST

Posted on December 27, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, T20 | Tags: , , |

In the first T20 match at Eden Park,the hosts New Zealand had an easy five wicket win over Pakistan.

Pakistan started well with Afridi hitting the ball well.But once the openers departed,the visitors floundered.Tom Southee took five wickets that included a hat-trick.The umpire gave Umar Akmal out in front when there was a big inside edge.

Ross Taylor who disappointed in India, took his team home.But it was Martin Guptill who shone for the home team in the batting department.

Looks like the familiar home conditions have brought the spark back into the Kiwis. Or is the victory due the appointment of John Wright as the Coach?

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INTRIGUING CONTEST ON THE CARDS

Posted on December 15, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, TEST CRICKET, THE ASHES | Tags: , , , , |

It is not very often that Australia trails behind in a test series and more so in the Ashes at home.It was more than two decades ago that this happened and the Ashes went all the way to England.

The last time the English went to the land down under, they were wiped clean, losing all the five matches.But now things are different with the home lacking the firepower in both the batting and the bowling departments to crush their traditional rivals.

It is true that the home team was regarded as not too strong going into the Ashes but after two test matches, the edge lies with the English.Of course, only a fool would be courageous enough the write-off the Aussies.

In a selection policy that is best practiced in the sub-continent, Cricket Australia has been busy in picking and dropping players.Add to this is the public clamour building up for the comeback of Shane Warne.

As a neutral, I would still love to see the Ashes being taken to England

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FULL FORCE GAYLE

Posted on November 17, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET | Tags: , , , , , , , |

My apologies to Van Morrison for using the title of his song and misspelling it.

Chris Gayle showed everyone once again his ability with the bat. It is not the number of runs that are important, but the way is which the runs are scored makes for a great game of cricket. The same can be stated of Sehwag. Despite the question marks over their technique and temperament, these two are only four batsmen to score triple hundreds twice in test cricket.

It is sad that Gayle has to play alongside far ordinary colleagues in the team from the West Indies. If he would have been part of a different and a stronger team, greater recognition would surely have followed.

Sometime ago the commitment of Gayle to test cricket was questioned following his confession of greater love for T20. But then that has not prevented his from scoring 333 runs at Galle. There is another interesting thing that I find common between Gayle and Sehwag. Both can strike the ball hard over long distances and yet they have accomplished more in the longer version of the game. Since Sehwag is in the company of really good players in his team, his knocks often turn out to be match winning ones. On the other hand, Gayle has to remain on the losing side. There is Shahid Afridi who has achieved a lot in the short and the shortest format of the game, without doing much of any substance in test cricket.

Looks like with the burden of captaincy gone and with no need to give politically correct statements, Gayle has discovered new ways to liberate his soul. No longer does his batting is tied with the word ‘responsibility’.

The longer form of the game which is not exactly in the pink of health, needs players like Gayle and Sehwag. More importantly, there is a place for characters and players with attitude like Gayle. Otherwise, test cricket would become boring.

I cannot desist myself from using some lines from the song of Van Morrison even though the same praises somebody else.

Like a full force gale

I was lifted up again

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CHANGE OF ROLES?

Posted on November 15, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, IPL, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , , |

For the second innings in a row, Harbhajan Singh managed to upstage his more legendary teammates and scored a century.Harbhajan took four wickets in the first innings but could not make much of an impression on the New Zealand batsmen so far in the second innings.

Since announcing his arrival into the big league of test matches with a bang in Sri Lanka, Suresh Raina has failed to back his supporters. Even when he scored a half-century against the Australians, Raina looked extremely suspect when it came to the fast and rising balls. If one remembers correctly, Raina offered not so pleasant pictures when facing the short balls even in the IPL. What is worse is the fact that Raina tries a big shot and gets out as he did in the first innings of the Hyderabad test.But interestingly, Raina got the wicket of Ryder.

So is Harbhajan the new batsman and Raina the new off-spinner in the Indian team?

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NO CLEAR ANSWERS

Posted on November 15, 2010. Filed under: CRICINFO, CRICKET, MATCH FIXING, SPOT FIXING | Tags: , , , , |

Sharda Ugra tries to go into the minds of those who are alleged to have been involved in things like ‘match-fixing’ or ‘spot-fixing’ in this great piece in Cricinfo.

She cites people like Mike Brearley and Sandy Gordon to find answers to the question “why” or “what” motivates great sportspersons to take part in acts that are not sportsmanlike.

As an Indian and one who reads, hears about corruption and one who is also a victim of corruption, the reasons for going corrupt or bad are extremely complex.

There is a genuine feeling that when one is in the midst of corrupt people, the temptation to remain clean is extremely hard.Besides, the corrupt ones always try to enlist more members into their club, primarily to gain strength from larger numbers or to reduce the risk of being caught.But this hypothesis does not fit into the cases of sportspersons where most are clean.

It is mostly to do with greed and to nothing with the backgrounds-economic, social or religious. Even as sportspersons, especially, the cricket players of today are highly paid, the temptation to make that extra moolah without having to score runs or take wickets or grasp catches. The moolah is given precisely not to do anything of the above!

Personally, for me there is also a second factor that makes cricket players succumb to the lure of the lucre.There is no strong a deterrent or punishment that would discourage corruption.

There may be commissions and probes which can never conclusively prove the allegations and the whole thing repeats itself.

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A GOOD SERIES IN PROSPECT

Posted on March 5, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, SPORTS | Tags: , , , , , |

 

The first one dayer of the Chappell-Hadlee series played at Napier went in favour of New Zealand. With this win, the Kiwis have ended the 12 match winning streak of the Aussies. The second match at Auckland will surely see the Aussies going all out to keep their standing intact.

New Zealand always have the habit of pulling out all stops when it comes to their trans-Tasman rivals and more so in their home conditions. It is true that the Kiwis are much more of a capable team in the shorter form of the game.The New Zealand team also has the advantage of playing at home on some of the smallest and sometimes very funny shaped cricket grounds.It is here that people like Brendon McCullum can make the ball sail over the ropes even with mishits and edges.

The Aussies will never take their opponents lightly since the last time round the Kiwis managed a 3-0 whitewash over their much celebrated opponents. But this time things are going to be tough for the Blackcaps since their skipper Daniel Vettori is doubtful for the second match and their influential allrounder Jacob Oram is out of the whole series.Oram has the ability to clear the longest boundaries and also bowl a rather heavy ball. Vettori is a world-class albeit an understated spinner who often does well against the Aussies.Also, the tactical acumen of Vettori is also invaluable.

In the first match, Scott Styris played a winning knock down the order. It is interesting to note here that Styris came into the team only at the last instance following the fitness problems of Vettori.He will want to do well in the remainder of the series.Ross Taylor has to continue his good touch with the bat.

The Aussies have to post a really big total and their bowlers need to keep the opposition batsmen in check. Ricky Ponting needs to come up with a brutal and a big innings to take his team to the shores of safety.

It is time the Aussies learnt to put their emotions under control. The sight of Mitchell Johnson having a verbal go at Styris was something unbecoming of a champion team.I wonder if the match referee would have stuck to the 60 percent fine if an Indian player were in place of Johnson!

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