Indian Team brings home the T20 Blind World Cup

The game of cricket is perhaps the ultimate test of hand-eye co-ordination. The Indian cricket team has proved it infinite times and brought glory to the country. But this time it’s not the team captained by Sachin, Dhoni or Virat that made the Indians proud, it is the Indian Cricket team for the Blind!

The second edition of the T20 Blind World Cup, hosted by India contested with great zeal and dynamism. India won the tournament after beating Pakistan by nine wickets in the finals at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Riding on an unbeaten 99 by opener Prakash Jayaramaiah, India chased down a score of 198 with a loss of just one wicket and 14 balls to spare. India versus Pakistan matches usually draw hundreds of millions of television viewers but this particular final between the blind teams of both the countries brought in great applause and appreciation to all the players.

The event was organized by the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI), which is supported by the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and is affiliated to the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC). The ten-nation tournament featured 48 matches held from 28 January 2017 to 12 February 2017 at multi cities in India. The teams participating are England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan with India as the host. India won 8 of the 9 matches it played in the tournament, ironically losing a group stage match to Pakistan. Pakistani team, on the other hand, won all the matches except the finals. For the 2nd T20 World Cup for the Blind, Rahul Dravid was chosen as the Brand Ambassador.

The Indian team has emerged as the best team in the world by winning all the formats of International Championship including First T20 World Cup in December 2012, ODI World Cup in December 2014, T20 Asia Cup in January 2016 and recently the T20 World Cup.
Cricket for the Blind was introduced in Australia in the 1920s and made its opening in India in 1980. The rules of cricket are modified for the visually impaired players to play. The ball has few ball bearings inside it, producing audio for the players’ ease. Designed by National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun, the ball is currently accepted as an international standard ball. The teams guide the players through verbal signals like the word ‘play’ while the ball is delivered. The game also involves underarm bowling and the field is slightly smaller in area. Totally blind fielders are allowed to catch the ball on the bounce.

The game boosts confidence of visually impaired players and abandons the feeling of denial and dependency from their minds. Also, it kindles social responsibility in every individual and organization. Whosoever contributed to this event enjoys a tax exemption under section 80G of Indian Income Tax Act. The tournament raised funds by selling the unique balls and t-shirts through their website which would be used to support the cause for visually impaired. The team runs on donations and awareness campaigns. They believe that with funds, they can have better equipments and thus can perform better.

India’s blind cricket team has been performing astonishingly well but hasn’t got much recognition and attention. Unfortunately, it is the only team not affiliated to its country’s national board. BCCI is yet to recognize blind cricket and this is one of the team’s major demands.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted a congratulatory message on Twitter for the triumphant team. Also Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar applauded the team on Twitter. Another tweet by Virendra Sehwag gathered criticism as the hashtag #OtherMenInBlue was taken as an offence by a few players.

Sources: The Week, Scroll

Image source: PTI

FIFA nods to World Cup with 48 teams from 2016

Zurich, January 10: The footballing fraternity has seen a major change in the pattern of the sport with the decision of FIFA to include 48 teams instead of just 32 in the World Cup on the morning of January 10. The decision came after FIFA decided to brush aside concerns related to lowering the overall standards of the game and the making it long and unwieldy.

The decisions have been approved at a FIFA Council meeting in Zurich on Tuesday.

The council unanimously voted in favour of the new format, which will involve 16 groups of three teams that will see the top two qualify for a knockout round of 32 games. The decisions are set to be implemented from 2026.

The plans will see the total number of games increase from 64 to 80, although teams will still play a similar number of matches during the World Cup. The four semi-finalists will play seven games – the same as the current model.

The plan to expand was driven by both political and financial reasons. FIFA’s new president, Gianni Infantino, had suggested the changes even when he ran for the presidency last year, as a way to invigorate the event and to include more countries in the tournament.

The new format is expected to generate around $1bn extra for the international governing body from the World Cup alone.

Sources: 1] Indian Express

2] New York Times

Shami in; Bhuvi, Pandey out for Asia Cup and World T20

The BCCI announced the Indian squad for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup and the Asia Cup here on Friday. Pacer Mohammed Shami found a place in the squad while Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Manish Pandey were excluded.

Youngster Pawan Negi was a surprise pick to the team, while Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh retained faith from the selectors. Mohammed Shami returned to the team after a hamstring injury and will be playing for the team after the 2015 World Cup. The 15-member squad presented no major inclusions It seems after the Australia tour of the Indian team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni seems to have implemented his tactics in forming this team.

The Asia Cup is scheduled to be played between Febrauary 24 and March 6. India will be playing against host Bangladesh in the opening match at Mirpur. They will next face Pakistan(February 24), Sri Lanka(March 1) and the qualifiers(March 3).

The World T20 championship will commence from March 8, and India’s opening game is scheduled on March 15 against New Zealand at Nagpur’s VCA Stadium.

The full squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c) , Rohit Sharma, Shikar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja , Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bhumrah, Ashish Nehra, Pawan Negi, Mohd Shami



FIFA confirms dates for 2022 Qatar World Cup

Zurich: In a move to confirm the 2022 Qatar World Cup amidst the controversy surrounding it, the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) on Friday, announced that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will begin on November 21.
The tournament will be 28 days long and will finish on December 18. FIFA’s executive committee confirmed the 2022 dates six months after picking the December 18 date for the final, which happens to be a national holiday in Qatar.
Earlier, in March 2015, FIFA decided to switch the 2022 World Cup from the usual June-July schedule to avoid Qatar’s summer heat.
A 28-day World Cup is four less than the usual tournament and is designed to cause less disruption to clubs and leagues which must shut down for several mid-season weeks.
According to the calendar approved on Friday, clubs must release players to the 32 World Cup teams by 14 November 2022 – a week before the opening match.
No qualifiers for continental championships or friendlies have been set for October 2022. Instead, the two fixtures typically scheduled in October will be moved forward four months.
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Impressive Ireland take on unbeaten India

India will look to confirm their position as table toppers by defeating Ireland whenthey take on them at Seddon Park in Hamilton. Ireland need to win one of their remaining two games to make the quarterfinals. Both the teams have been mightily impressive so far and have exceeded expectations.

India will look at a more significant contribution from its openers and lower middle order who have blown hot and cold or not been tested adequately so far. Ireland has promised to play a fearless brand of cricket which may well be their best chance of victory against an aggressive India.



Team News:

MS Dhoni has already stated that he will not provide the fringe players unless there is an injury or one of the first XI dramatically loses form. Ireland may stick to the same team that prevailed in a tight encounter against Zimbabwe in their previous game.

Weather and Pitch:

The pitch is expected to be a good one for batting and over 600 runs were scored in the encounter between South Africa and Zimbabwe. The weather is expected to be humid with a forecast for clear skies. India are the overwhelming favourites and would look to fine tune all aspects of their game before the knockouts.

New Zealand’s everyday hero

When Daniel Vettori was brought into the attack in the third over of Afghanistan’s innings, it was only to facilitate a change of ends for Tim Southee and Trent Boult, to suit their natural swing. The decision typified Vettori’s career, as throughout his time as an international cricketer, he has never been afraid of doing the dirty work and doing whatever the team needs of him. So, it was fitting that he picked a wicket on his first delivery as Usman Ghani was bowled by his deadly arm ball. It was a apt reward for a man who has never had it in easy in life and who has rendered yeoman service to New Zealand’s cricket team.

That he has made it to the World Cup is an achievement in itself as he had to fight a debilitating Achilles injury which threatened to end his career. In the series’ against Sri Lanka and Pakistan which preceded the World Cup, he had picked up 1 wicket in 46 overs across 5 matches at an average of 196. He has risen to the occasion in the World Cup picking up 12 for 136 at an average of 11.33 and a miserly economy rate of 3.00. He has picked up crucial wickets like Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Steve Smith, Shane Watson and Eoin Morgan who are some of the best players of spin in World cricket. While Trent Boult ran away with most of the accolades after the win against Australia, Vettori’s changed the complexion of the match by first keeping a tight leash on the scoring and then picking up the vital wickets of Watson and Smith.

Vettori’s contribution in this match was vital as well as he picked up the wickets of Nawroz Mangal and Mohammad Nabi, who are Afghanistan’s most experienced players. The dismissals had the stamp of Vettori as batsmen were either dismissed trying to play for the turn or fooled by the change in pace. Vettori has never been a huge turner of the ball. His skill lies in deceiving the batsman by subtle use of flight, speed, angles and the width of the crease. Watching Vettori bowl is like watching a surgeon at work as he pays attention to the minutest details of his craft.

As he became the first Kiwi to pick 300 wickets in One Day Internationals and took his World Cup tally to 33, he may just prove the key when it comes to the crunch moments in the bigger games for the men from New Zealand. A World Cup win would be a fitting swansong to New Zealand’s finest limited overs bowler.


Lethal left arm works for Pakistan

Pakistan’s left arm pace battery fired for the second match in succession as they bowled out South Africa for 202 in pursuit of a target of 232. The win was the second match in a row where the left armers accounted for 9 of the 10 wickets to fall.

Pakistan were put in by South Africa and their new look top order – Sarfraz Ahmed and Younis Khan came in for Nasir Jamshed and Harris Sohail – provided a solid start as Sarfraz hit a run a ball 49 and younis chipped in with 37. The only other significant contributor was Misbah ul Haq who scored a sedate 56 off 86 deliveries and held the innings together. Dale Steyn was pacy and picked up 3 cheap wickets for 30 runs.

In reply, South Africa were jolted early when Quinton de Kock departed for a duck. However, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis looked in sublime touch and creamed boundaries at will before Rahat Ali struck to remove du Plessis. Sarfraz, then pulled off an outstanding catch to get rid of Amla. He pouched six catches in the innings and was named the player of the match.

AB de Villiers counterattacked with an innings of 77 but did not receive support from the other batsmen as Pakistan maintained pressure by striking at regular intervals. Eventually, he was the 9th wicket to fall when he tried to hit out towards the end.

The win will act as a significant confidence boost for Pakistan who had a torrid start to the tournament but now have three wins on the row rekindling memories of their triumph on the same shores 23 years ago.