Different Stories, Same Ending

Image Courtesy: AFP
South Africa beat India in Centurion to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-Test series.

It happened once again, only the margin of defeat got wider-from an achievable 72 runs to a yawning 135 runs, the twin defeats not only cost Indian Cricket team a chance to win a series abroad, but also raised questions about the team’s ability to perform outside its comfort zone of home turf. Adding trouble to the woes, it was not the expert pacers Dale Steyn or Van Philander who did the damage but relative newbies like Rbada and Ngidi who ripped apart the much famed Indian batting line up.

Now fans have always enjoyed the dominance of India over Sri Lanka in the repetitive home and away (in Sri Lanka) series, but some of them have always questioned about the ability of likes of Rohit Sharma and Ashwin to prove their mettle abroad. Their doubts just proved to be true.

The consecutive, convincing test defeats handed the second overseas series defeat to captain Kohli besides putting question marks over team selection along with individual performances. Ajinkya Rahane, who has pulled India out of unpleasant situations more than once, was dropped unceremoniously even after Rohit Sharma failed in first test. Cheteswar Pujara, normally a solid middle order player found himself struggling under new conditions, while the openers Vijay, Rahul and Dhawan never looked comfortable against the opposition attack.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took five wickets in first test and faced more balls than any other batsman was dropped for Ishant Sharma, someone who did not had a great time in recent past with the ball. Also, Saha was replaced by Parthiv Patel (due to injury) who let some chances fly past him.Hardik Pandya, dismissed by ridiculous mistake, and was left wanting with his role with bat and ball. Only Kohli managed to avoid a complete whitewash with his innings of 153.

India now have  not won against South Africa, Australia, England or New Zealand since 2014.The fact that India did not arrive early enough in South Africa to play practice matches and get acquainted with the pitches does speak of the confidence of the team, but it is now turning out to be cocky confidence instead of pragmatic confidence. Also, the ability to bowl long spells accurately by Indian seamers seems to have been paled by better performance by their counterparts.

With the troika of Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar gone India seemed to have found able replacement in likes of Kohli, Pujara and Rahane along with having a bench of good seamers and spinners-Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya along with Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav. But the best performance of these people have come at docile, friendly pitches and a big series win overseas still remains a distant dream. For Both captain Kohli and Coach Shastri the third test at Durban will be an acid test.

A win will at least validate their point regarding team selection and tactics, a defeat will once again put the tag of paper tigers abroad on the team. At the moment, the hands of these two men are full-they have to not only select the right team, but to make sure that the boys gather back their self-belief and fulfil their roles with more than expected commitment.

Muslim Cleric charged with raping 12-year-old girl

Image Courtesy: ANI
Maulavi Saber Farooqui, a Muslim cleric at a madrasa in Nanded, Maharashtra raped a 12-year-old girl, and is now absconding.

Nanded (Maharashtra), January 18: A Madrasa cleric in Nanded, Maharashtra has been charged for allegedly raping a 12 year old girl and molesting another minor according to official police reports. The minor was raped at a seminary in Deglur Naka, Nanded called Islamia Arabia, a few days ago say the police. The cleric has been identified as Maulavi Saber Farooqui, who is presently absconding. The madrasa has several girl students from the Marathwada region.

Farooqui allegedly raped the girl after showing her clips of pornography on his mobile phone. After this, he also molested another 8 year old girl, reports NDTV. The case will be further probed by a special investigation team (SIT). When the mother of the victim showed intent to file a case against the cleric, three local politicians from the village tried to dissuade her. These three local leaders have been arrested after the mother registered a case with the Itwara police station in Nanded, according to Hindustan Times.

The police have reported that Farooqui had allegedly approached the minor’s mother to negotiate the situation but was immediately thrashed by locals. SIT head Sunita Borgaonker has said that more complaints could be filed against the accused and that the police have seized all documents from the Madrasa. Officials have been dispatched to trace the cleric.

Dalits in UP threaten protest after 22 year old youth is attacked by Hindu group activists

Youth being thrashed on the streets by Hindu groups and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’
Image Source: ANI

Several Dalit organisations have threatened to launch protests aftera  22 year old lower caste man Vipin Kumar was allegedly beaten up by 4 Hindu Vahini activists in Muzaffarnagar, UP. The youth was forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ said the officials on Wednesday. Shahid Udham Singh Sena, Bheem Army and other Dalit rights group, have announced that there will be agitations if the accused are not arrested at the earliest, reports Asian age.

Vipin Kumar was allegedly brutally thrashed on Monday in Kalanpur village in Muzaffarnagar, said Circle officer Yogender Singh. A complaint was filed by the victim under sections 307 of IPC and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Singh also added that a case was registered against four individuals who are currently absconding. Hindustan Times reports that Vipin was allegedly assaulted for leading a Dalit group that had intentions of converting to Buddhism while also removing Hindu deities from their homes.

A video clip documenting the entire assault was released on Wednesday that created significant caste tension in the region that was already volatile because of the clashes between Dalits and Thakurs last year.

In the video, the attackers can be heard saying that they had no objection to Dalits keeping portraits of Dr.Ambedkar in their homes but they could not remove portraits of Hindu deities.  The Dalit rights groups staged a demonstration at the office of the senior superintendent of police in Muzaffarnagar. The accused are yet to be arrested.

Sources: Hindustan Times, Asian Age

South Africa defeat India by 135 runs at Centurion; register a series victory

Debutant seamer Lungi Ngidi celebrates the dismissal of Indian batsmen during the 2nd innings of the Centurion test

South Africa defeated India by 135 runs during the second test at Centurion. With this, they have also registered a series victory. The loss marked an end to India’s nine series unbeaten run.  

Indomitable at their home turf, Indian batsmen failed to stand up against South African seamers. During the post-match presentation, Indian Skipper Virat Kohli held the batsmen accountable for the loss. He stated that the “bowlers were up to the mark and did their job pretty well”. 

Chasing a target of 287, the Indian batting line-up collapsed. Rohit Sharma’s 47 was the only noteworthy contribution. India could only manage a total of 151. 

Revenge was served since India had whitewashed South Africa 3-0 in 2015.  

Lungi Ngidi proved to be a valuable find for South Africa. The debutant managed to pick up 6 wickets for 39 runs in 12.2 overs. He became the sixth South African pacer to register a five-wicket haul on debut.  

Indian skipper Virat Kohli led from the front with a knock of 153 runs during the first innings. It was a record-breaking knock as Kohli became the only captain after Sachin Tendulkar to register a ton on the South African soil. He was all praise for the Proteas and felt that ‘they got what they deserved’.  

Sources: The Indian Express, The Hindu

Brazilian legend Ronaldinho retires from football, says his agent

Ronaldinho retires from professional football, as relayed by his brother Roberto Assis
Image Source: AFP

Ronaldinho, Brazilian football icon and World Cup winner, has retired from his long-standing football career, as confirmed by his brother and agent, Roberto Assis, on Tuesday. The 37-year-old veteran, best known for his performances in Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, was an indispensable member of the Brazil team that snagged the victory against Germany in the 2002 World Cup.

The legend has also won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006 and is a recipient of the Ballon d’Or (2005). His last professional stint was with Fluminense in 2015 since when he has not played for a professional team ever since.

According to The Guardian, Roberto Assis relayed his brother’s decision in a column of a Brazilian media outlet, O Globo, and divulged plans for the anticipated farewell tribute after the 2018 World Cup. Assis stated that they have scheduled multiple events post-August 2018 in Brazil, Europe, Asia and a dedicated event for the Brazilian team as well.

Ronaldinho was notoriously versatile in his football career and shone as a midfielder, forward and winger. His illustrious career began with Gremio in his hometown Porto Alegre, before his move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2001.

He spent five glorious years with Barcelona from 2003 to 2008 and logged three seasons with AC Milan between 2008 and 2011. Thereafter, he returned to Brazilian teams like Flamengo and Atletico Mineiro.

A season with Queretaro in Mexico was followed by his ultimate return to Brazil’s Fluminense with whom he played seven times before ending his contract before the fruition of his term. The football icon recorded the last of his 98 Brazil Cups in April 2013 against Chile.

Sources: Guardian, NDTV

CBFC Chairperson, Prasoon Joshi issued contempt notice for failure to respond to plea against Padmaavat  

Chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Prasoon Joshi, was issued a contempt notice on 16th January by the Allahabad High Court for not responding to a plea against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, made on court order. The court has granted him a period of three weeks to respond to the petition before the next hearing of the case on February 12th.

The petitioner had filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking a ban on the movie alleging that it promoted the practise of Sati. On November 9, 2017 the High Court dismissed the plea, but allowed the petitioner to approach the censor board wherein the board was required to give a response within three weeks. While a representation was filed before the CBFC on November 13th, Joshi has failed to give a response yet.

This becomes the latest in a series of disputes surrounding the release of the period film which was initially scheduled to release on December 1st, 2017.  Repeated protests and threats of violence by several Rajput groups, led by the Karni Sena, stalled the movies’ certification and release alleging that the makers distorted history.  Despite Bhansali repeatedly denying the allegations, it was claimed that the film had a dream sequence between Rani Padmini and Alauddin Khilji. The movie is finally set to release on January 25th with a few changes as per CBFC’s directive, including the change of its name from ‘Padmavati’ to ‘Padmaavat’.

Sources: Scroll, Times Now

Welcome to the Super Blue Blood Moon

In 2017, the world witnessed one of nature’s most awe-inspiring phenomena – a total solar eclipse. It became the subject of curiosity and anticipation for stargazers globally. On August 21, 2017, after nearly 99 years, all of North America was covered by this eclipse from coast to coast, making it one of the rare celestial events.

This year, however, is bringing in its first month another such rare event that will be experienced by the entire planet: The Super Blue Blood Moon. This celestial event – which will be occurring on January 31st – last occurred on March 31, 1886, nearly 136 years ago. It is a rare convergence of a blue moon, super moon, and a total lunar eclipse.

Super Moon:

The orbit of the moon is shaped like an oval. This allows for the moon twice during its revolution to come to closest to the earth. When the moon is closer to the earth, it looks a lot brighter and larger. According to NASA, it appears 14% larger than usual, and 30% brighter than usual.

Such a moon is called ‘Super Moon’.

Blue Moon:

Blue moons are another rare phenomenon, occurring once in 2-3 years. A blue moon is simply the second full moon within a month. The term blue moon does not in any way signify the change in color reflection of the moon, but simply means the second full moon of the month.

Blood Moon:

A Blood Moon is a phenomenon when the moon is undergoing a total lunar eclipse. Total lunar eclipse occurs when Earth’s shadow falls entirely on the moon, and is completely blocked by the sun’s spotlight.

This phenomenon is known as Blood Moon.

Super Blue Blood Moon:

When all of the aforementioned phenomena take place simultaneously, the resultant is the Super Blue Blood moon: a moon at its closest to the earth, experiencing total lunar eclipse, and at the full moon phase for the second time in a month. An extremely rare phenomenon, this is said to be occurring once in 150 years.

The total duration of the event is 77 minutes; in India, the eclipse is expected to last for an hour, beginning at 6:21 PM on January 31. According to Australian Astronomical Observatory, Australia and Pacific will best experience this phenomenon. In Western Australia, it will be followed by a Black Moon – lack of a full moon in a calendar month – with no full moons until March 2.