PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):Test captain Jason Holder says the standard of regional pitches needs to be improved if teams are to produce more attractive cricket.The 24-year-old, also the Barbados Pride skipper, said that scores in the ongoing Regional Super50 had been low because pitches were slow and turning and not conducive to good strokeplay.”It’s been tough. Obviously, the scores are not what we’ve been accustomed to in one-day cricket, and I think that’s been due to the slow pitches,” Holder said.”I’ve found it very difficult so far batting in this tournament, in the middle overs especially, and trying to get the ball off the square. I think spinners are dominating it, and that’s because the ball has spun quite early and quite sharply.”I just think we need to work a little bit more on improving our pitches and … strokeplay, and the viewing of the cricket would be a lot better.”The highest total of the tournament has been Jamaica Scorpions’ 260 against minnows ICC Americas at the Sir Frank Worrell ground at St Augustine here in the second-round Group ‘A’ contest.In Group ‘B’ played in St Kitts, the highest total there was 255 by Guyana Jaguars in the final round when they chased down a competitive total set by Combined Campuses and Colleges Marooners.Between both groups, there have been 14 totals under 200 runs, with four of these coming at Queen’s Park Oval, and Holder said that the par score at the tournament’s premier venue would be quite small.”It’s been a tough pitch. The games I’ve seen here and have played here have been tough going in terms of batting, so you have to be very sharp in the field in terms of restricting opposition under 200 runs. I think 200, 210 is probably a par score on this track.”The tournament is in its final stages. Barbados Pride clash with Windward Islands Volcanoes in the second semi-final today.
SALT LAKE CITY — Warriors center Marquese Chriss grimaced as he grabbed his leg, but he and the Warriors did not want an opportunity to earn a rare win slip away because of a banged knee.A collision with Jazz guard Emmanuel Mudiay sent Chriss limping to the locker room with a left knee contusion. Shortly after, Chriss checked back into the game. The Warriors (5-22) lost to the Jazz 114-106 Friday at Vivint Smart Home Arena, but not without showing the kind of grit they’ve grown accustomed …
Distraught and inconsolable, yet Shehnaz Begum, mother-in-law of 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari, victim of Jharkhand mob lynching, could gather all her strength to speak.“My son-in-law would have been alive had the administration showed a little bit of sympathy and given the minimum medical attention,” said Ms. Begum holding her teenage widowed daughter tight.“First it was the religiously motivated mob that meted out instant justice, and secondly, the administration committed cold-blooded murder by letting Tabrez die of excruciating pain. To save his life, the police at least could have admitted him in any hospital,” she said.The non-descript Kadamdia village, 15 km from the district headquarters town of Saraikela, where Tabrez’s family lives, has been receiving media and political attention. Three days after Tabrez’s death, District Collector of Saraikela-Kharasawan Chhabi Ranjan and Superintendent of Police Karthik S reached Kadamdia late on Monday evening to assure the family of justice, while another group of district officials landed in the village early Tuesday morning. And hordes of media professionals and rights activists have been thronging the place.“My son-in-law did not deserve such death,” Ms. Begum kept saying to everyone.Tabrez, who had lost both his parents at a very early age, had migrated to Pune to eke out his livelihood eight years ago. In April, he returned to his village to get married. On April 27, his marriage was solemnized with Sahista Pervez, 19. The couple would have gone back to Pune in few days.According to his extended family members, he was returning after meeting his aunt from Jamshedpur on June 17 night when some people of Dhatkidih village caught hold of him and branded him a thief.“Tabrez could have been let off with a few slaps. All hell broke loose when he revealed his name. He was tied to an electric pole and beaten up the whole night. Later, he was dragged to nearby bushy areas and another round of thrashing started. He was also forced to chant ‘Jai Sriram and Jai Hanuman’,” said Md Mansoor Alam, Tabrez’s uncle, who had gone to meet him at the police station after his rescue.‘Main accused was present at Saraikela police station’Tabrez’s family members got the shock of their life when they met him at the Saraikela police station. “Initially, I was not allowed to enter the police station. Then I heard someone saying ‘Ab tak yeh mara kyon nahin? [why did he not die till now?]’. When inquired, I found that it was Papa Mandal, the main accused, who was shouting right inside the police station. I could not hold myself back. I entered the police station forcibly only to find Tabrez having bruises all over his body and blood stains on his face, hands and legs,” Ms. Begam said. His young wife fainted then and there.After a day, the family members again met him in jail. “His condition was even worse. I pleaded with the authorities to admit him in hospital, but nobody paid any heed to my request,” said Ms. Begum.Tabrez was admitted in the District Headquarters Hospital only when his condition suddenly deteriorated on June 22.After the video of the lynching went viral on the social media and Tabrez was heard chanting ‘Jai Sriram and Jai Hanuman’, as directed by the mob, media started taking note of the incident. Only then, police swung into action.Eleven arrested“We have so far arrested 11 persons, including main accused Papa Mandal. Investigation is going on and more people will be rounded up if their complicity in the crime is established,” said Mr. Karthik.When his attention was drawn to the alleged administrative bias in handling Tabrez’s case, especially his poor health condition, Mr. Karthik said, “We are not the authority to give medical certificate. Doctors carried out medical tests on him. Tests such as x-ray and ECG were carried out multiple times.”On the accusation of the police recording only the ‘confession’ on the victim’s theft activities and not trying to know the attackers who thrashed Tabrez after knowing his religious identity, Mr. Karthik admitted that the subordinate staff had messed up the whole thing. He said two police officers had been put under suspension.
Almost a quarter of a century after he immortalised himself and the Indian selectors with a pithy observation that has stood the test of time, Mohinder Amarnath finds that the joke is still on him.Sidelined as a player in 1989 – which is when he called the selectors “a bunch of jokers” – on Thursday Amarnath found to his chagrin that a change in status was not much improvement: he was now dumped as a selector and left to mull his standing in Indian cricket. By all reckoning, it is still that of an outsider.The precise reasons for Mohinder’s ouster are mired in conjecture. One school of thought says that he ran foul of the BCCI by donating his father’s bat to James Sutherland, chief executive of Cricket Australia, instead of the BCCI. I find this reason batty even if Mohinder, as this story goes, had not-so-kind words to say about his own Board. Fact is, the BCCI has been exceptionally tardy in caring for the legacy of Indian cricket.There is no museum yet, for instance, so what does a player do when he receives a request for this from somewhere else? Mohinder’s father Lala Amarnath, it might be remembered, had toured Australia, captaining independent India’s first-ever team, so there is historical significance attached to his bat.This event – if indeed it is true – only enhanced the friction between Mohinder and the BCCI which arose for the bigger – and more plausible – reason that he was not enamoured of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy: more so after the 0-4 whitewash by Australia on the last tour.From all accounts, Mohinder believed that a change in captaincy – Sehwag reportedly was his choice – is what Indian cricket needed to resurrect itself from the despairing incompetence that had gripped the team after the World Cup triumph.There can be pros and cons to this argument, but none whatsoever that a selector should not have a contrarian view to the rest of the committee.That said, I am not sure of the truth value to the speculation that Dhoni enjoys some kind of immunity because he also captains Chennai Super Kings, the franchise owned by BCCI president N Srinivasan.The BCCI is too large, diverse – and fragmented – a body to accommodate such blatant power-play I would imagine.Perhaps it is the art of negotiation (or lack of it) that cost Mohinder dear. A former selector – and his former colleague in the Indian team – I spoke to after Thursday’s dramatic developments said that Mohinder could be extremely stodgy in his opinions and hence gets easily isolated.It seems that Mohinder also did not quite enjoy the support from his own zone – North, which considerably weakened his position.Suddenly he was fighting on several fronts and without anything to prop him up.When the new selection committee was to be formed, the BCCI could simply use a technicality that selectors are appointed every year up to a maximum period of four years – to eliminate him.So here we are, with a new selection committee. It’s an interesting choice of personnel, though Sandeep Patil as chairman was a rabbit out of the hat.Nevertheless, he has a good track record as coach and selector in domestic cricket. What is significant, however, is the BCCI president’s statement that the Board is now not bound to choosing selectors on a zonal basis. “The best people will be given the job,” he said, though the current committee has still been drawn from the five zones.With the fee for selectors going up from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 60 lakh per annum, the level of expectations and accountability will rise too.The task for the new committee is cut out: find the team that can help India rise to number 1 in the Test rankings again.Else, Mohinder Amarnath might have good reason to raise his old refrain again. And this time the joke won’t be on him.(The writer is a seasoned journalist)advertisement
India were condemned to a humiliating defeat by South Africa in the first Test at Newlands which technically got over in three days. One day was washed out because of rain and yet India somehow managed to lose the match after a spectacular performance by their bowlers.While India’s pacers lived up to their billing, it was the batsmen who failed to deliver when it mattered the most.India were bundled out for 135 in their second innings while chasing 208 a run less than what they had scored in the first innings. South Africa took a crucial first lead of 77 and set India a tricky target on a pitch which assisted the faster bowlers. (Cape Town Test was a great advert for Test cricket: Faf du Plessis)Before coming to South Africa, India had played three Tests against Sri Lanka but at home and a month before the first Test in the rainbow nation.WATCH VIDEOIndia claimed to have prepared pitches somewhat similar to South Africa but barring the first two days of the first Test against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens, the wickets at Nagpur and Delhi were flat and most assisted the spinners. (South Africa add fresh faces in fast bowling arsenal for second Test vs India)After the Test series, India skipper Virat Kohli was give a much-needed rest for the ODI and T20I series against the same opposition. In that period, Kohli got married to his girlfriend Anushka Sharma in Italy. (Virat Kohli defends Rohit Sharma’s selection, says current form was the reason)advertisementKohli did return to field for training in Mumbai before flying to South Africa on December 27.India were scheduled to play a two-day warm-up game on December 30-31 but that was cancelled on team management’s demand.The Indian cricket team opted for the tried and tested method of going for training sessions instead of playing warm-up fixtures on their tour of South Africa.Virat Kohli’s take: “There is no point wasting two days in which guys go out and score quick fifties and come out. We would rather have them do two sessions and get into the Test match zone and test ourselves. We can try and prepare the wicket the way we want to but if you are playing a two-day game then there is no room for changing the wicket at different times of the day.”However, this move by the Indian team has now been questioned by cricket pundits as they believe that it was impossible for a team to compete in alien conditions without proper preparations.”India had a golden opportunity. There were periods in the game when Virat and Rohit, and Ashwin and Bhuvi were batting…208 was gettable. It was a disappointing batting performance by India, especially in the second innings,” Ajit Agarkar said on a post match show on ESPNCricinfo.”Preparation was not good. When to pride yourselves on doing well abroad maybe you don’t get the best practice games but then it’s in your hand how you plan it. You can’t just turn up in you first real competitive innings in conditions which are so alien to you. You have not actually travelled at all in the last few months. For playing in those conditions you got to prepare yourselves a little better. Your first innings can’t be almost a shock to you and these were proper South African conditions. The preparations not being good enough for going abroad and compete in first Test itself,” he further said.Reuters PhotoFormer South African cricketer Daryll Cullinan agreed with what Agarkar had to say adding “India need personnel change”.”India need personnel change. There were some soft dismissals. If India are to be effective they need to look at Shikhar Dhawan. Going forward, if they continue to have bad starts they are not going anywhere in the series. I am exactly on the same page as Ajit on this. You can’t just expect to walk in and be on top of your game. India will get better. Tour games are invaluable. You play two, three, four hard games then you play second best XI in the country in a game just before the Test match. Those moments, the practice time around it set you up for the rest of the tour,” Cullinan said.India blew their chance in Cape Town and the challenge is going to be only stiffer up in Centurion for the second Test and Johannesburg for the third Test. South Africa won’t have Dale Steyn in their ranks but they have enough firepower to go with Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada. In fact, they might even contemplate adding an extra batsman to the line-up after the way India’s pacers bowled this week.advertisementThere is not much time left to learn, recover and stay alive in the series. However, given the potential of their top-order and the experience in the ranks, fans would hope some sort of fightback this weekend. Do not yet count out Kohli, Pujara, Vijay and Dhawan. There is still plenty left in the series.India came into the series on the back of nine consecutive Test series victories starting from Sri Lanka 2015.India did lost a couple of Test matches and interestingly both those games were the first of the series. They loset to Sri Lanka in the first Test but bounced back in style to record their first-ever series in the island nation.India again began poorly against Australia last year and lost the opening game of the Test series. But they against regrouped and defeated the Steve Smith-led side 2-1 in a tight contest.India will now hope to do a repeat of those two series and keep alive their dream of winning their first-ever Test series win in South Africa.