Remembering Lala Amarnath on his Birthday

EVEN AS the India cricket team gets ready to play against New Zealand on Friday (September 11) and thus start another season of non-stop action today, there is a reason to pause and pay tribute to an Indian cricket icon, Lala Amarnath.

The legendary cricketer was born at Kapurthala in Punjab on this day in 1911. Nanik Amarnath Bhardwaj better known as Lala Amarnath, one of the great figures in world cricket was born on September 11, 1911. He belonged to a very simple family and took the world by surprise, when he scored 109 runs while playing for Southern Punjab against MCC in the year 1933-34. Wisden quoted his innings as “A Brilliant Display.” His performance got noticed and he became a star with a century on test debut at the genteel Old Gymkhana ground in Bombay.

Despite his performance, he had to sit out of the national squad for more than 12 years. The simple reason being that he raised voice against the dominance of royal figures and their supporters prevailing in the Cricket scenario of India those days. But after the nation got Independence, he led the Indian Cricket Team to the tour of Australia. In the year 1952-53, he led India to first series win against Pakistan. He played his last Test match against Pakistan at Kolkata in December 1952. Amarnath scored heavily in domestic circuit but couldn’t replicate the same success on International stage. He scored 878 runs in 24 tests and took 45 wickets. The figures are very ordinary, but they do no justice to either his spasmodic brilliance or his enduring influence.
It was his influence that made his two sons Mohinder and Surinder to takeup cricket as a career. Mohinder Amarnath later played a vital role in India’s triumph in 1983 world cup. Amarnath was called an icon by Atal Behari Vajpayee and his knowledge of Cricket was impeccable. In the later stage of his life he acquired widespread affection as the nation’s leading source of cricket anecdotes.

As a Cricket fan, I pay my respect to this great Cricketer on his birthday.

Interference in Team Selection: Story of Sports in India

Cricket in India is more than a sport. It is a religion which is followed by billions of crazy fans. This popularity has increased the flow of money in the sport as well. This can be attributed to the success of the team at international level and tremendous marketing strategy. The introduction of Indian Premier League last year changed the careers of many aspiring cricketers in terms of monetary compensation.

As the sport has grown in the country so has the competition. There is a very stiff competition for selection in district, state and national team in all categories. And this cut throat competition has lead to corruption in the system as well. The corruption is very much prevalent in the various sports played in India. The influential people in the association have ensured the selection of “their wards” in the team by hook or crook. We have come across various stories in newspapers. But perhaps for the first time the players have revolted for such malpractices against the association.

Indian Cricket Star, Virender Sehwag has made allegation against Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) for manipulation in the selection of Delhi under-16 and under-19 team and Ranji teams. Sehwag had lashed out against the DDCA administration on Sunday. “It has often happened that four selectors get together and vote for ‘their’ players, leaving the chairman of the committee and me defeated,” he said. “Especially when I am on national duty, they put pressure on the stand-in captains and the interference becomes more rampant.” There was allegation leveled on Sehwag as well that he has been allotted 23 acres of land by Harayana Government and thus he wants to leave Delhi and represent Haryana in the upcoming Ranji Trophy Tournament. But later few other senior and former players backed Viru thus giving ample of reasons to affirm that what Sehwag is saying is true. These names include Gautam Gambhir, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Aakash Chopra and Mithun Manahas.

“There’s a need to bring about transparency in the selection process. If things don’t improve, I will not hesitate to move out of Delhi this year itself,” Gambhir said. Nehra, meanwhile, said this was probably the DDCA’s last chance to set things right. “The manner in which the DDCA functions, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to leave Delhi. I think this is the last chance for the association to clean up their mess. For two years, when I was injured, I didn’t hear one word from anyone, and the moment I made my comeback, they are all looking to cash in on me,” he said.

Mark Twain once said- “It is curious – curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.” As a Cricket fan, I am in full support of the players who have shown moral courage to speak for the legitimate. If they are very genuine in their allegations then they must be supported and backed. They have shown courage to take on the association directly. Mind you, it requires lots of guts to revolt but someone needs to do that to keep things right. DDCA must ensure that it sorts out matter with the players and must not act reluctantly by allowing players to leave. Instead the nepotistic should be taught a lesson. This is an issue which concerns all the sport in country and it will be good for sporting fraternity if they can show such courage and stand for what is just.

It is a fight not against the system only but also for the ethics and well being of the sport as well.  If such corruption is allowed then many young dreams will die young and many careers will finish before they start.

Baljit Singh: The case of Life being Cruel!

LIFE CAN be cruel. Just when you start feeling that everything has fallen in place, the next moment something unexpected happens. The hard work you have put in becomes zilch in a moment. This is what has happened to star Indian hockey goalkeeper, Baljit Singh. Baljit sustained a career-threatening eye injury while he was practicing at a camp at Pune. Baljit’s right eye’s retina, cornea and lens were  damaged. Baljit underwent an eye surgery at New Delhi’s AIIMS hospital on July 18, but doctors have not promised too much.

It has been ten days since he was operated, but it appears that vision has not yet returned to the injured eye. In an interview to the IBN, Baljit said, “I feel scared that if I don’t recover in time, it may be difficult for me to come back to the game and be fit for the game again.

And if this doesn’t get better – the visibility, then the future seems very dark for me, as far as the game is concerned. I am very worried about this.” The young player was seen as the pillar in the Indian hockey team. His absence would have an impact on the team’s overall performance as well. He was awarded India’s Best Player at Punjab’s Gold Tournament last year. And since then he has never looked back. He was in prime form with high fitness levels and was raring to make a big name for himself. The stage was set but this injury has taken away his chances. A promising career and a great talent is in danger of being finished before it really took off.

All I can do is hope and pray and hope for his recovery. I hope that Baljit will get the full support of the Indian Hockey Federation and the sports ministry. He must be provided with the best treatment available so that his dream does not die young.

Revival of Test Cricket

India is always considered as a cricket-loving nation. India’s journey to fame of cricket was not so easy. Fans worship their favorite cricketers next to God. Recently, there was news that the MCC and ICC are worried about Test Cricket, and think its in trouble. Yes, there is no doubt to it. We all know that Test Cricket is a real talent test for any cricketer in the world. But what I see from here, test cricket will eventually become somewhat similar to the proverbial goldfish swimming in a bowl, players playing in an empty stadium or for the benefit of those who can subscribe to media carrying the highlights.

Don’t Blame BCCI & ICC:

For those, who are constantly criticizing BCCI and ICC for introducing IPL. I really don’t understand how a two-year-old baby of cricket can destroy 130 yr old tradition of cricket. In England T20 is played from a long time, why not cry for that?

I am a big fan of Test Cricket when it’s played at the highest level but that doesn’t mean I just shun off other versions of cricket too. I doubt any T20 would have given you the thrill the last moments of the drawn Ashes Test or the Test-saving innings from Laxman-Dravid against Aussies.

Makeover: There are many ways that ICC shall adopt so as to make test cricket amazing and pull the attention of cricket lovers back. Here are some of the ways I would suggest.

1.      Introducing an International Test Championship

2.      Making sporting pitches, not the deathbeds for bowlers mostly seen on the subcontinent

3.      Allow substitutions to make it more interesting at least in the 3rd and 4th innings, so teams can adapt mid-way. Imagine defending a 120 run target with 7 bowlers

4.      Allow day-night versions of test cricket. The crowd will start pouring in.

5.      Performance-based points/payments for Test cricket.

Although some of the above-mentioned points seem to be ridiculous at first glance, but you never know which might hit the jackpot.

We need to make sure that Test cricket will not die – but will change and become more exciting.

What do you think? How can Indian cricket play a role in reviving the oldest form of cricket?

Postpone IPL: Is it the only solution?

IPL or Elections

There is a national debate going on throughout the country, whether the Indian Premier League (IPL) Cricket tournament scheduled from 10th April 2009 should be postponed due to security concerns as the dates clash with 15th general elections  or to  go with both events simultaneously. Recently, our home minister voiced concern over terror threats on both of these events.

Earlier, it was believed that terrorists would never attack cricketers or cricket matches in the sub-continent as it will bother the sentiments of this cricket crazy part of the world. But, the Lahore terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team disproved this conventional notion. And looking at the impact of those attacks, any fool can predict that the next terror strike could be on the high profile cricket event IPL to be held next month in India. And it makes it even worse for security agencies that this event of tremendous public interest clashes with another major event with heavy public involvement – the general elections. For a huge democratic country like India general elections would be the event of utmost priority and no cricket tournament is bigger than elections. The constitutional requirement is that the general elections to the Indian Parliament were due before May 2009, which has to be fulfilled. So it is very much clear that elections are going to be held as per there schedules.

If we look at arranging both the events simultaneously then it will be a tough job for our security forces.  Making security arrangements for the elections in the rural and urban areas is always a very difficult task. And also, the level our political parties can go down to in the crucial election periods if there are lapses in the security arrangements is not a very big secret. And to conduct polls in such a huge region, we require our entire force. So it will be tough for our security agencies to protect IPL at the same time.

West Bengal and Punjab already said that go for IPL if you don’t want security for elections, Andhra and Delhi denied the security while Maharashtra and Rajasthan asked for central forces, which means they are not providing the state police forces for IPL. There could be another reason behind this stand taken by above states. Most of these states are Congress-led and it may be the anxiety of Congress not to step down before Sharad  Pawar, who’s the honcho of cricket in India along with a ministry in UPA cabinet  and can also be playing the major role in preventing the professional judgment in above matter. Also, the IPL chief Lalit Modi is close to Vasundhara  Raje (BJP). We have seen what happened to him in Rajasthan as soon as the government altered from BJP to Congress in Rajasthan. T he stand taken by these states might be just an extension of that. But, no matter what, the security of the life and property of common citizens along with the pride of the country, should not be put up on stake. If we do not postpone IPL and go on with these two major events simultaneously with some changes sought by IPL organizers and if there would be any attack on any event due to lack of security, then this will be a major setback for us. As we are hosting some major sporting international events in upcoming years, including the Commonwealth Games(one of the reasons of Delhi’s fast track development) and the Cricket World Cup 2011, our authorities should be much more careful and sensible in taking such decisions.

Taking a look at the other side of the coin, if we go on to postpone IPL, it will be a win for terror groups and looking at IPL’s prospect, a large commercial loss as they are just one month away from the tournament. It will be close to impossible for organizers to hold this event at some other time of the year, as ICC’s schedule for international teams would keep most players out of it and climates then would not favour the game. One more thing we should not forget that cricket and IPL earn some reputation for India, though they are not bigger than our democratic identity

What’s the bigger picture here? What’s the issue of concern here? Is this politics or is this security concern?

Whatever it is that is happening, what is more important here is a sensible decision that all the concerned authorities need to consider in benefit of all.

So, we have to find some alternatives to the concerned situation. We still have some amount of time and better cricketing infrastructure at our hand to manage the tournament. Ultimately, it is the home ministry who’s doing to decide the faith of IPL. The picture will be all clear in few weeks. But, I still feel that security should be given prime concern and elections are utmost important than any cricket tournament. We hope that our home ministry and IPL organizer come up with a more professional and practical solution.

What is your take on it?

Indian cricket under Sourav unified the country

Cricket is a religion in India and the passion and emotion which it instills in every Indian is unbelievable. The massive fan following that the game commands across the length and breadth of this country is a testimony to its unsurpassed popularity. But I feel the importance of the game in Indian perspective has reached a new level. At a time when we are surrounded by questions on terrorism and regionalism, cricket is perhaps, the only unifying force that exists in the country now. During this period of sectarian violence, terrorism and caste-based politics, cricket has come as manna from heaven for us.

At a time of crusade against “outsiders” in Maharashtra, demand of Telangana in Andhra, Bundelkhand in UP, Gorkhaland in West Bengal, terrorism being used as identity for Hindus and Muslims, riots in Orissa, freedom for Kashmir, attacks on Hindi-speaking people in Assam, water dispute in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, ethnic and cultural differences in other parts. Cricket in this testing time is the only place where you can say: This is “Unity in Diversity”.

Cricket was not like this in the last decade but its face changed ever since the legendary Sourav Ganguly took over captaincy of the national side. He sidelined regionalism in the selection process and it was under his reign, that he unearthed few very exciting talents from the streets of India. He created a side which believed in team effort rather than individualism and made new records. The current Indian team has players from the diversified backgrounds, language and cultures but when they enter the ground, they are Indians and only Indians.

As Pradeep Magazine says, “In the aftermath of the anti-Muslim killings in Gujarat in 2002, while the Indian team was practicing on eve of a one-day international in Baroda, some Hindu spectators were initially taunting Muslims in the crowd. But once Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan entered the ground, this taunting lot started shouting slogans in favour of the two. When Suresh Raina or RP Singh play in Mumbai, nobody is bothered about their home state. The scene of Bhajji, Zak and Ishant celebrating each other’s success is a soother to the eyes.”

The support which people give when the team is in trouble reinforces the fighting spirit and it tries to battle it out till the end. It is India that matters and nothing else when Sachin’s willow speaks or Munaf comes out with a brilliant spell. We all appreciated the efforts taken by John Wright, Andrew Leipus, Greg King and now Gary Kirsten to help the side. People from all walks of life and of every colour and religions are seen together cheering for team India after remarkable success in T20 World Cup and CB series. The whole nation stood behind Harbhajan Singh when he was accused of racism.

This typifies the binding power of cricket.

But when I think of what is happening in the country apart from cricket, my very notion of being Indian starts wobbling. The whole credit goes to our political parties who are continuously dividing the people on the basis of religion, region, caste, colour, sex, etc.

They have perpetuated the parochial views and have questioned the “Indianness” in our minds. Perhaps, we need another Sourav Ganguly in Indian politics too, who can sideline the differences and take India forward to achieve the vision 2020. Cricket has given various regional and ethnic identities a sense of national belonging and we want the same on political stage as well. It’s time for the generation which thinks about the nation in a different perspective, free from any religious and regional clutches to come together and realise the dream of taking India and only India to the top. Our spirit of unity got us Independence and same is needed for continuous growth and welfare of the nation.

Obesity Epidemic in India

OBESITY IS a condition in which there is excessive accumulation of the fat in the body. Some years back it was restricted to affluent countries where per capita income was high, physical activity was low and and foods high in saturated fat and sugar were freely available. But with the dynamic growth in last decade or so obesity has now reached epidemic proportions in prosperous, urban India.
Both overweight and obesity are defined in terms of body mass index or BMI- the ratio of your weight to your height that is calculated by dividing your weight in kg by your height in meters squared. The doctors say that the changes in diet coupled with increasing inactive lifestyles have sparked the obesity epidemic in urban India.
Because of urbanisation and moderniaation, our lives are becoming more sedentary and less physically active than it was before. People are spending most of their leisure time in front of television. Household durable goods like washing machines, cooking gas and electric ovens etc, again reduce the physical activity. Application of transportation even for shorter distance is increasing. All these prevent the people from physical activity and leads to overweight and obesity. At the same time, consumption of oily and junk food is responsible for overweight and obesity.
According to Dr Umesh Kapil of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, “The risk of obesity in India is highest in the 20 per cent of the population that consumes 80 per cent of visible dietary fat.” Obesity is largely seen among adults but is growing in incidence among children mainly because they pick up unhealthy lifestyle patterns from there parents. Kapil said that school surveys in Indian cities show that 30 per cent of adolescents from India’s higher economic groups are overweight. Though the obesity is starting scene in India compared to western countries, it is very essential to tackle the same before it becomes epidemic.
With such high rate of globalisation and industrialisation, more and more people are settling in urban areas and their lifestyle is also changing at great pace. All this is having an effect on human body and people are becoming obese. Obesity is related to various other diseases as well. There is an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallstone disease and cancer of breast, prostate and colon. In fact, there are 30 medical conditions which are directly related to obesity.
Apart from this many psychological problems are related to the obesity. Emotional suffering may be one of the most painful parts of obesity. Many people think that obese individuals are gluttonous, lazy, or both, even though this is not true. As a result, obese people often face prejudice or discrimination in the job market, at school, and in social situations.
It is very sure that in coming time, obesity will emerge as challenge for India and therefore this is the right time to throw attention on the problem, as prevention is always better than cure.

Dhoni plays it straight

India’s captain brings an uncomplicated, honest approach to cricket

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a forthright, straightforward cricketer unburdened by the baggage that generally accompanies a man onto the field, thereby restricting his outlook. At once he is intelligent and simple, aggressive and canny, tough and respectful. He did not come to cricket as a youthful dreamer but as a young street rat. He did not arrive with high expectations or parental pressure or anything of that sort. He was not a favoured youth plucked from the masses and put through the academies and tracksuits and felicitations that await prodigies, condemning most to a life half lived. He enters the arena with one thought in his mind: the uncompromising pursuit of victory. It is a liberating, empowering simplicity. And it is going to take India to the top of the rankings, and without an excess of celebration. Dhoni brings to Indian cricket not hope but expectation. It is the bravest force in sport.

Dhoni has taken to cricket and leadership without fuss or fear. In a land of gods and legends he has not sought permission to lead. The captaincy was bestowed on him by authorities who recognised the power of the clean slate, the potency of the uncluttered thought. Of course he has an ego but it works on both a greater and lesser scale than the common run. He is happy to lead or serve, does not need the game, has no romantic illusions about it, might just as well be racing bikes. Cricket and Dhoni met by accident not design, took a look at each other and decided they could get along. It’s not that Dhoni cherishes the game or is obsessed with it. Nor is it merely a means to an end, a vehicle for an uncovered talent. He just plays it exceptionally well. Accordingly he can look it in the eye.

To him it is a job as much as a game, a profession as much as his passion. And he came to cricket as Dhoni the man, not Dhoni the boy cricketer. He plays hard because he lives hard. He fights to the last because Ranchi boys do not quit or cry. He plays a ruthless game because with every bone in his body he wants to win, because that is how games are played back home. He celebrates victory because he is proudly Indian, not because he is against anyone else. History has not touched him, with its movements and its Wisdens. He is not post-colonial, he is post-politics. Its not that he challenges notions of India; he is not a philosopher or an economist. He is modern India.

To him Indianness is not a cause. He is a patriot not a nationalist. With his unparaded affluence, his composure and laughter, and his rags-to-riches story so easily told, he is modern India, not a land of a thousand dreams but a place of a hundred possibilities. As a contemporary Indian he senses that life is to be lived. As a modern Indian sportsman he knows that matches are not to be played but to be won. His rugged bottom-handed batting gives no ground to aesthetic sensibilities. It is the unspoken message a rising generation was waiting to hear. Indian cricket is lucky that the call came from a full-grown man.

Cricket comes easily to Dhoni because he was not overwhelmed by it. It was just the game he happened to play. Captaincy comes easily to him because he did not pursue it. He was born to lead but in his boyhood no one thought along those lines, or took themselves that seriously. After all, Dhoni and his pals were growing up in ignored Jharkhand, in forgotten Ranchi, surrounded by each other, making the best of things, laughing a lot, enjoying whatever thrills and spills life had to offer. He was not a boy struggling to break away from a restricting background, was not unhappy, had not been defeated. Always he has been able to focus on matters in hand – the next skylark, the next ball. Throw him at a wall and he will not break.

It was Dhoni’s lack of defined ambition that made achievement possible. Frustration messes with the mind. He lived the life of a typical outstation youth: active, audacious, not bothering so much with books, getting on with life, never expecting it to fall at his feet. He came to cricket as might a passenger at a train station, reached captaincy, runs, fame and riches not as some ruined child or as a street urchin destined to cover himself in bracelets but as a grounded and gritty young man for whom wealth was a consequence and not an aim. He wanted to rise, but on his own terms; he was not hungry enough to sell himself short. He is Obama in white clothes.

Throughout his surge he has remained the same. Certainly he dresses sharply and speaks fluently, for a man does not want to embarrass himself or his constituency; but his essence has not changed. He gives the impression that he’d be just as happy with his school pals. Indeed he goes to see them whenever he can. It’s not that he is afraid of success or publicity or glory. To the contrary he has embraced them all. Just that they do not mean that much to him. He does not get carried away, keeps things in their rightful place. His Dad operated a pump. His character has deep roots.

Dhoni’s primary skill as leader lies in his ability to forge his side into a united force with one thought in mind. As India takes to the field, they form a huddle and he talks to them, mighty and meek, old and young, famous and obscure – none of it matters to him; all are treated the same, all are playing in a team. Players respond to him, trust him, and he does not let them down. When a paceman sends down rubbish he does not rant or rave or scowl but points out that “everyone has an off day”. Judgment is left to the priests. Players like him because he does not make a fuss, or get flustered or back down or yet confront. Misfields, dropped catches and other mishaps may occur and he takes them in his stride. Because he has faith in himself, he is able to convey faith, and without any clapping or backslapping or other artifices. Because he fights so hard he is able to instill the same attitude in his charges. Because he works so hard with gloves and bat he is able to coax long stints from his pacemen and long innings from his batsmen. Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan have bowled entire sessions; Virender Sehwag has been willing to deliver lengthy spells.

Ruthlessness and daring, an unusual combination, have been the main features of his captaincy. Previously India may have been defiant, even cynical, often charming, but they were never quite as ruthless as they have been under Dhoni. His 8-1 field set on the third morning in Nagpur was as uncompromising as it was unsettling. It was a civilised version of Bodyline. His India did not so much as pretend to play by the unwritten code. Overnight the team had been in a tizzy as the Australians had scored freely. Dhoni could feel the match slipping from his grasp and had to respond. Nor did he so much as contemplate half-measures, instead instructing his pacemen to aim well wide of off stump – a plan they loyally and precisely executed. Australia did not accept the bait and the game ground to a halt. It was not pretty but it was effective: 42 runs in the session. Australia lost momentum and never recovered.

On the final day India again fell back under an Australian assault. Despite the loss of three early wickets, Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey were able to push the score along at five an over, well above the required rate. Realising he was losing control, Dhoni sent four men to the leg boundary and ordered his spinners to bowl down the leg side. Although not against the rules of the game, the tactic offended its spirit. It was also a mistake, allowing experienced batsmen to collect runs without taking risks.

To make matters worse, Dhoni and his team dawdled to such an extent that only 21 overs were completed in two hours. As far as cricket was concerned, it was not a pretty sight. Indeed Dhoni was lucky that wickets started to fall and the game ended gloriously. But it was the unsentimental conduct of a single-minded leader prepared to stand his ground come what may. India was better served than the game, a viewpoint that may sound pompous in the hour of glory. Dhoni did not appreciate criticisms but then he was not a spectator.

These shortcomings pale into insignificance beside the achievements of a remarkable man who arrived from nowhere and with nothing except a lot of power, strength and ability. No one saw him coming. Boldness not meanness has been the hallmark of his captaincy. As much can be told from his leadership of the one-day side. Just that he has not yet embraced the rhythms and responsibilities of Test cricket, has not convinced himself that it is the ultimate expression of the game. Indeed, he withdrew from India’s last overseas Test tour.

That will change. Dhoni will come to understand that Test cricket is the greatness of the game, that the rest is a rush. For now it is enough that India has found its next cricketing leader. Certainly the community can absorb the loss of their fading champions without fearing for its future. It is in safe gloves.

–Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

Gambhir and Laxman put India in a commandable position

Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman’s knock of double hundreds have out India in command in third test at Delhi. Now Australia can only at best think of drawing the game, thus losing all hopes of winning the four match series against India.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Kumble could not have expected a better performance from the batsmen. Laxman summed it up perfectly by rubbing it in by saying that the Aussies had a defensive approach in this game. You cant really find Laxman at fault here. For how often have you seen Brett Lee steaming in with just one slip and a sweeper cover on the off side. Rarely in the past few years, have Australia played catch up in a series and gone into a test match with a defensive mind set. The writing is on the wall, the Australian domination over world cricket is about to get over and this is where teams of the caliber of India, South Africa and Sri Lanka should put pressure on the aussies so that they lose the coveted No. 1 ranking which they have held for so long.
Feroz shah kotla, Delhi has been a great hunting ground for the Indian team as they have won most of their test matches played here. And who can forget Kumble’s magical ten wicket haul against Pakistan, a feat that is almost impossible to replicate in the future by any cricketer. It couldn’t have been a better first innings score for India. Even after the early departure of Sehwag and Dravid, Tendulkar and Gambhir calmed the nerves. Tendulkar was in a class of his own as he reached a quick fifty, playing some audacious shots which only he can muster. On the other hand, Gautam Gambhir started off sedately only to hit the gas after the departure of Tendulkar. Laxman joined Gambhir close to the end of the first day’s play and it was little known that the two would form the biggest partnership at this ground against the Aussies. If Gambhir was aggressive, Laxman was the usual relaxed. The both complimented each other and gave India what it wanted a solid partnership. Laxman was at his wristy best, even trying to play the flick shots on the off side and Gambhir wasn’t held back from stepping down the pitch and taking the attack to the opposition. The partnership of 278 runs was only broken after Gambhir had scored his first double hundred in front of his home crowd. Though Ganguly and Dhoni fell in quick succession in order to get quick runs, Laxman didn’t disappoint as he completed his second double hundred against the aussies and the thirteenth hundred overall in test cricket.
The test match is now poised clearly in favour of the aussies. The Australian top order will have to bat out of their skins in order to save the test match from here or else they may be staring at losing the series in the third test itself. Whatever happens in the Kotla test, India cannot lose the series from here.

Vishwanathan Anand retains World Chess Championship

Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand did India proud by retaining the World chess championship crown at Bonn in Germany after drawing with Russian Vladimir Kramnik in the eleventh game of the twelve game series thus winning by a score of 6.5 to 4.5.
India can be proud of the fact that Vishy has retained the world championship and hence can be called the undisputed king of sixty four squares. Anand had earlier lost the tenth match but had always been in the driving seat for retaining the world championship after taking a three point lead over his competitor. Starting with white pieces, Anand gave no chances to the Russian to win the match. Anand had been opting for the queen pawn opening through out the series but preferred to begin with the king pawn this time as Kramnik was pushed to the Sicilian defense. Anand clearly wanted to draw the game to win the championship. The game lasted just twenty four moves as the champion and the challenger settled for a draw giving Vishwanathan Anand the championship title.
Vishwanathan Anand has been India’s best sportsperson on a global level and this win just goes on to prove that. The 38 year old Indian grandmaster has several records and championship wins to his credit. Anand is the only player to have won five championship titles at the prestigious Corus Chess Championships. He also has five chess Oscars which are given to the best player in the world. He’s one of only four players in chess history to go past the 2800 mark on the World Chess Federation rating list. From April 2006 to April 2008, Anand had a peak ranking of 2803. In the year 2007, Anand was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, which is the second highest civilian award of India, He was also the first recipient of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in the year 1991-1992.
After this win, Anand has become the first player to win the world chess championship in three different formats, Knockout, Tournament and Match. Next in line he will have to defend his title at the World Chess championship in 2009 against the winner of the match between Veselin Topalov and Gata Kamsky.
Anand has been a great ambassador for the sport of Chess, as thousands of youngsters in India now want to take up this sport. Indians can be proud of the fact that we have a world champion in a sport other than Cricket. The parents of Vishwanathan Anand. Thanked the media for their love and support but we will always be grateful to vishwanathan Anand for his accomplishments and hope that in the near future he continues to play the way he has and goes on to defend his crown next year as well. In a cricket crazy nation it is great to see a person like Vishy emerging as a World champion in a sport which still doesnt have the media and the sponsors support. Kudos to a great sportsmen and a great person.