More than 400 whales washed ashore in New Zealand

On Friday 416 pilot whales swam ashore at Farewell Spit in the Golden Bay region, New Zealand. Most of them died quickly even though the volunteers desperately tried to save the survivors. According to the Department of Conservation, this was one of the largest mass beaching recorded, where such strandings are common.

By the time the wildlife officers arrived at the location 70 percent of the whales had perished and the remaining were being pushed offshore by the volunteers. Andrew Lamason, the department’s regional manager told Radio New Zealand “With that number dead, you have to assume that the rest are in reasonably poor nick as well,” he also added “so we’re sort of preparing ourselves for a pretty traumatic period ahead.”

Herb Christophers, Department spokesman told AFP that there were a huge number of whale carcasses and it was difficult for the volunteers to get the living ones into water. The dead ones were floating obstructing their course.

According to reports this was the third largest mass stranding in New Zealand. The biggest one happened in 1918 when almost a 1000 whales beached at the remote Chatham Islands, following in 1985 in Auckland where 450 whales were washed ashore.

 

Sources: Daily Mail, The Guardian

New Zealand PM John Key announces resignation

Wellington, December 5: New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key left the country in shock when he announced his resignation on December 5. Key, who was expected to contest his fourth general election in 2017, left his post after leading the nation for eight years.

According to the Guardian, the 55-year-old leader of the National party held a press conference in Wellington after informing the cabinet of his decision. According to the reports, his resignation will be effective from December 12 when the National MPs decide upon their new leader.

Key said that stepping down from his position was the hardest decision he has ever made. He further added that he would vote for his deputy prime minister, Bill English, if he put his name forward. He also said that he wanted to ensure that he didn’t make the same mistake that some other world leaders have done and instead wanted to leave while he was on the top of his game, reported the Times of India.

Key also revealed that he had a pretty long discussion with his wife Bronagh Key about him standing for a fourth term. Though he denied that Bronagh has given him an ultimatum, he said that his leadership had come at a cost to his family.

Key is considered one of the most popular PMs in New Zealand’s history. He was first elected in 2008.

Sources:  The GuardianTOI

Image source: stuff.co.nz

Indian Cricket reaches the milestone age of 500

On 22 September, 2016, Virat Kohli will walk down the lush grass of Green Park stadium in Kanpur, where he will lead the Indian Cricket team in its 500th test match. Carrying on his shoulders, the lustrous and milestone history, the skipper, with his carefully chosen players will look at it as just another test match against the Kiwis and would like to embark this journey of Indian team playing another 500.

To look back in the past, we have had series disappointments to white wash, innings loss to third day victories, building attractive stadiums at home to creating records overseas, Indian cricket team has had numerous ups and downs. India started their test journey at the Home of Cricket at Lord’s Cricket Stadium in 1932 against England, becoming the sixth nation to put their foot in the arena of test cricket.  The first ever test match led by CK Naydu ended in a losing cause by 158 runs. Novice at the game back then, Indian Cricket was uplifted from its humble state to the Cricket superpower gradually over the period of 84 years. With only 10 wins in their first 100 matches and 40 losses, Indian Cricket was recovering from its colonial rule for the first half of the century of test matches.

India played hosts to their first test match in 1933 with Bombay Gymkhana serving as the venue. It was not until 1952 that India secured their first win in their 25th test match defeating England by an innings. Vinoo Mankad starred by taking 12 wickets for 108, the first Indian to take 10 or more wickets in a test match. Later on, he again shot to fame by contributing comprehensively in India’s first test series win against Pakistan. The away victory drought was finally over after struggling for 43 test matches when New Zealand was humbled at Dunedin in 1968, eventually winning the historic series 3-1.

Then came the era of the great Sunil Gavaskar, who fearlessly faced the tall, fast bowlers from West Indies without proper gear. It was the year 1976, when he scored a staggering 774 runs in the 1-0 series win against the Caribbean, the powerhouse of Cricket in the 70’s. It was not before March, 1987, Sunil Gavaskar reached the figure of 10,000 runs in his penultimate test match. While 80’s is considered for India’s World Cup and ODI triumphs, it is important to note their 2-0 win in England and a drawn series in Australia. Kapil Dev surpassed Richard Hadlee as he tookhis wicket number 432 in a series against Sri Lanka in 1994. A memorable record of 10 wickets in an innings for Indian spinner Anil Kumble in 1999 carved his name in the history books forever.

When talking about India’s test cricket journey, one cannot forget about the masterclass of Rahul Dravid, regarded as ‘The Wall’ and VVS Laxman. Their record breaking partnership ay Eden Gardens, Kolkata saved India from a brink of a defeat and took them to the memorable victory. Dravid, later, helped India win a test match after 23 years at Adelaide, Australia. Virender Sehwag helped India in its triumph in Pakistan after 49 years in April 2004.

The little master, Sachin Tendulkar reached his personal milestone of 15,921 runs, a record still unbroken. But it was not until December of 2009 that India reached #1 test ranking for the first time since the system was introduced in 2003.

 

It is now the era of promising youngsters, newcomers and evolved cricket. India has come a long way in its roller coaster journey of 500 tests. It will be interesting to see how we pave our path to playing constructively in the next 500.

New Zealand hit by its biggest earthquake in 20 years

New Zealand was hit by a major earthquake of magnitude-7.1 early morning on Friday at 04:37 am local time. The quake struck 169km (105 miles) north-east of the city of Gisborne , at a depth of 19km (12 miles).  Incidentally, this is the biggest earthquake to hit the North Island coast of the country since 1995, when an equally strong one had struck in a similar spot.

Followed by a series of aftershocks, tremors were felt as far as Christchurch in the South Island part of the country. Although no major damage or injuries were reported, a tsunami alert was issued by the authorities.

Questions have also been raised about the authorities issuing the first advisory almost 40 mins late, after the quake hit and the tsunami warning being issued almost 20 mins late, as reported by the New Zealand Herald.

Earthquakes in the area are not uncommon as New Zealand is one of the most seismically active areas in the world, but such a high magnitude is considered to be a bit odd. While, the officials have declared it safe for the residents to return to normal life, they have been advised against going near the ocean, as the warning has not been entirely lifted.

Sources: The Telegraph

India to send 40 tonnes aid to cyclone-hit Fiji

India is to send 40 tonnes of medicines, clothes and food to Fiji, which was struck by a devastating cyclone over the weekend. An Indian Air Force aircraft will carry the supplies to the island nation. The government is planning to fly a C17 plane from Delhi to Chennai with about 20 tonnes of the supplies. From Chennai, the aircraft will pick up another 20 tonnes of supplies before heading towards Fiji, sources told Economic Times.

Fiji was hit by Cyclone Winston, the most powerful to hit the islands in its history over the weekend, claiming close to 44 lives and rendereing over a thousand homeless. With winds at over 200 kmph, the cyclone was the worst ever

documented in the southern hemisphere.

The storm destroyed villages and caused extensive flooding, forcing people to drive out of their hometowns in scores.

Australia and New Zealand have led the international aid drive to support Fiji in rehabilitating their citizens, as more than half the nation is paralysed with in the aftermath of the massive cyclone.

Sources: Economic times

Indian Express

Australia continue to dominate against hosts

Australia continue to dominate New Zealand, reducing the hosts to 121-4 on day three of the second Test at the Hagley Oval on Monday.

After a scintillating 289- run partnership between Joe Burns (170) and Steven Smith (138) on day two, Australia took control on the third day as well, posting 505 runs on board in their first innings. Neil Wagner, with his short-ball attacks, picked up most of the wickets after lunch and ended with 6/ 106.

New Zealand’s top order was destructed by James Pattinson, who also sent Kiwi captain Brendon McCullum (25) back in the last innings of his career. Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls were reduced to scanty numbers as well, leaving Kane Willamson from the top order to battle alone. New Zealand are currently trailing by 14 runs, with Corey Anderson and Williamson looking to dilute the Aussie domination on day four.

Australia currently lead the two match Test series 1-0 and are eyeing to be on top of the World Test rankings with a win in the second Test.

 

Sources: New Zealand HeraldESPNCricinfo

Kiwi pacers crush Australia

New Zealand beat Australia by 159 runs in the first One Day International (ODI) at the Eden Park on Wednesday. Pacers Trent Boult  and Matt Henry starred in the victory, clinching three wickets each.

After losing the toss and asked to bat first, New Zealand put up a competitive 307 runs on board.  Martin Guptill contributed 90 runs in 76 balls to the total, and Brendon McCullum, playing his last series scored a 29- ball 44. Australia had a frail start, losing their top six batsmen within 10 overs, with Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh walking back with no runs. A 79- run partnership between James Faulkner and Mathew Wade that followed the batting crash was  broken by Corey Anderson, after he got the latter out. Kiwi pacers Boult (3/38) and Henry (3/41) bundled up the visitors for 148 in 24.2 overs.

The second ODI is scheduled to take place on Wellington on February 6.

 

Sources: The Guardian, DNA