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Virah Kohli’s captaincy not thoughtful, if not mindless



virat kohli

These days there is little time to celebrate or brood after a cricket series. After a long tour of England, some key India players, who play in all three formats of the game, are in the Gulf to play the Asia Cup.

On return, they are up against the West Indies before another long taxing tour to Australia. The focus is shifted so fast that everything preceded is history for the statistician to record.

Their Australia tour, third leg of the year’s Grand Slams after South Africa and England, will be another gruelling one. Skipper Virat Kohli got a breather to keep his feet up and follow his teammates playing in the Asia Cup on the telly. The break should help him ruminate about his captaincy and why he lost the two tours he could have won with a little bit of application and some luck.

The stocktaking is a part of life and so is in cricket after every tour. Not many former cricketers or the itinerant correspondents are happy with the team’s performance in South Africa and England, more so the way the coach and captain reacted to the scrutiny.

Captaincy and team selection are the things on which not everyone will be in agreement. Some question the team selection before the game and many are wiser after, with the advantage of hindsight. It must be said that captaincy, particularly bowling changes and field placements, were not thoughtful, if not mindless.

Whether Kuldeep Yadav should have played at Lord’s on a wet English summer day, Ravichandran Ashwin at Southampton or Cheteshwar Pujara should have been dropped for the first Test are not the issues that led to India’s defeat. If Yadav had taken wickets and had Pujara played and failed their showing in the run-up to the Tests would have come into question.

Same way, the class and talent was not fairly judged, the dependable Murali Vijay, who got some big runs overseas, was sent back after failing in two Tests whereas the other two openers were retained for no apparent reason except their ability to turn matches on their day.

Till the last day of the series when he came up with a strokeful hundred, Lokesh Rahul’s performance was not commensurate with his enormous potential, though he made up with his outstanding slip catching to retain his place in the eleven.

It seemed Shikhar Dhawan was given the opportunity to make sure his technique is not suited for seaming and bouncy pitches. Will he be given another chance against the West Indies to allow him to stake his claims for a berth in the Australia-bound squad, or will Vijay get another opportunity?

There is nothing new about the selectors and the team management not being on the same page. There have been a number of instances when the team management snubbed the selectors’ choice.

The clash of minds was seen again when the late joinee Hanuma Vihari, who came in for the last two Tests, was preferred over Karun Nair, only the second Indian to score a triple hundred in Tests and that, too, against England.

Mind you, Nair was picked in the original squad and retained for the entire series.

The only argument the selectors and the team management can have is that Hanuma was in form, having scored heavily for India ‘A’ against international sides before the Oval Test whereas Nair had only been accompanying the drinks brigade the entire summer.

The simple fact is that Indian batsmen let down the bravehearts Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah who for the second series in succession bowled the team into a winning position overseas.

When it comes to batting, there was no support for Kohli and the captain publicly stated that he felt miserable after his failure in the second innings of the Birmingham Test which India lost by 31 runs.

He must have had a similar sick feeling after the way he got out in the second innings at the Oval. Who knows, if he had stayed and Rahul and Rishabh Pant played around him the team could have even won or returned with an honourable draw in the last Test.

The word draw is not in the dictionary of the coach and captain.

Both Rahul and Pant, were either advised to bat the manner in which they were trying to potter around or they were simply overcautious to justify their selection.

Both of them and Hardik Pandya should have been told to bat they way they normally do. They looked scared of getting out playing audacious shots.

This batting failure brings us to the topic of preparation for a major tour, playing an adequate number of warm-up matches. After their foolhardy decision not to take practice matches seriously, now coach Ravi Shastri wants a fair number of first-class matches before they go into the Test series.

Even for the hosts these matches should help try their talented youngsters, more so when Australia is in the process of rebuilding their side. Kohli, too, may look at practice games seriously.

It is high time Shastri and Kohli walked their talk.

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist and the views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])


The US presidential elections and future of India-US relations




Donald Trump Joe Biden

As the coronavirus pandemic dominates global news in the United States, progress toward the next presidential election scheduled to be held on November 3 moves slowly forward. President Donald Trump had no real opposition in the Republican party and is running for re-election. And it has now become apparent that former Vice President Joe Biden will be his opponent as the Democratic candidate for president.

What would a Trump victory bode for the future of US-India relations? What would a Biden victory bode? Let me answer each of those questions in turn.

Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump’s ‘Namaste Trump’ event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. This would be an incorrect assumption.

Both of these events were more symbolic than substantive. Trump’s participation in them undoubtedly helped to persuade some — perhaps many — Indian American Modi supporters who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to cast their ballots for Trump in 2020. Trump’s campaign team took steps to ensure this by holding an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in which a group of prominent Indian Americans announced their plans to work for his re-election and to mobilize Indian Americans on his behalf.

To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style.

In a word, the best way to characterize the current relations between the US and India is “functional”. The relationship was relatively good for the first two years of Trump’s presidency. In fact, near the end of 2018, Alice Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, was quoted in the media s saying: “This has been a landmark year for US-India ties as we build out stronger relationships across the board.”

Then, in 2019, the relations went off the track in the first half of the year after the US and India got into a tit-for-tat tariff war after the US terminated India’s Generalized System of Preferences which allowed India to send certain goods to the US duty-free. There have been continuing efforts to structure a “modest” trade deal since then. It was thought there might be some type of deal done in September of 2019 while Modi was in the US by year’s end, and then during Trump’s India visit. But, as of today, there is still no deal.

This inability to get any meaningful trade agreement in place speaks volumes about India’s potential future relations with India with Trump as president. So, too does Trump’s style.

Trump’s campaign slogans this time around are “Keep America Great” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Trump is not a policy wonk and most of his effort will go toward “America First”. This involves making the US more isolated by withdrawing from international agreements, restructuring trade agreements, emphasizing building walls to stop immigrants at the border, using tariffs to block trade with countries who are taking away American jobs, and confronting businesses who are allegedlly stealing American trade secrets.

This perspective suggests what India can expect for its relations with the US if it has to deal with Trump for a second term as president. The relations will stay functional at best. As I have said before, that’s because the words partnership, cooperation and collaboration are not in Trump’s vocabulary. Nationalism, isolationism and protectionism are.

Joe Biden stands in stark contrast to President Trump both professionally and personally. Biden is a strategic thinker and doer with a solid eight-year track record of leadership experience as Vice-President in forging alliances that have made a difference around the world and he has also been a long-standing friend of India.

He was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading advocate for the Congressional passage of the Indo-US civic nuclear deal in 2005. At a dinner convened 10 years later in 2015 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Vice President Biden discussed the tremendous joint progress that had been made by the two countries in the past and declared “We are on the cusp of a sea change decade.”

Early in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in July of 2019, in laying out his foreign policy vision, Biden stated that the US had to reach out to India and other Asian partners to strengthen ties with them. The items on Biden’s foreign policy agenda for strengthening which are of importance for India include climate change, nuclear proliferation and cyberwarfare.

During his vice presidency, Biden worked side by side with President Barack Obama to do things that would contribute to achieving Obama’s vision stated in 2010 of India and America being “indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time.” In 2020, those challenges are even greater than they were a decade ago.

That is why it is so essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. That can happen if Biden assumes the presidency on January 20, 2021. It cannot happen if Donald Trump remains as president for a second term.

The results of this upcoming election in the US matter greatly for the future of the United States. They matter greatly for the future of India-US relations as well. Time and the American electorate will tell what that future will be.

(Frank F. Islam is an entrepreneur, civic and thought leader based in Washington DC. The views expressed here are personal)

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Covid-19 toll across world crosses 35,000

The COVID-19 is affecting 132 countries and territories around the world.



Patients infected with the novel coronavirus

New Delhi, March 30 : The death toll around the world due to coronavirus crossed 35,000 on Monday evening, with Italy heading the list of 35,097 deaths with 10,779, while the number of cumulative cases rose to 737,929, with US leading with 143,055 of them, as per data from the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Spain was second with 7,340 deaths, followed by China with 3,308 (3,186 of them in Hubei where the outbreak was first recorded), Iran with 2,757 deaths, France with 2,606 deaths, the US with 2,513 (776 of them in New York) and the UK with1,228 deaths.

In number of cases, Italy was second with 97,689, followed by Spain with 85,195, China with 82,198, Germany with 62,435, Iran with 41,495 and France with 40,747.

Meanwhile, 156,652 people around the world had recovered, with nearly half of them (75,923) in China, followed by 16,780 in Spain, 13,911 in Iran and 13,030 in Italy.

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45% of Indians do not back up their data, files: Survey

The survey was conducted among 728 Avast and AVG users between February 20-March 25.




Data Privacy

New Delhi, March 30 : Nearly half of Indians do not back up because they think their data or files are not important enough and most of those who back up their data, do it once a month, a survey said on Monday.

Other reasons cited by the respondents for not backing up their data included not knowing how to do it, not having time and forgetting about it, according to the survey by cybersecurity company Avast.

“It could be that many aren’t aware they are backing up, as it could be happening automatically, in the background, however, others really might not be backing up at all, thinking it is not worth it,” Luis Corrons, Security Evangelist at Avast, said in a statement.

“Losing personal documents, photos and videos can be a painful experience and it’s not until this happens that they realize how valuable it actually is,” Corrons added.

Of those who do back up their data, nearly 42 per cent Indians back up to a cloud storage, 36 42 per cent back up their data to an external hard drive, 23 42 per cent back up to a USB or flash disk, 18 42 per cent back up their phone to their PC, and 10 42 per cent back up to a network storage drive, the results showed.

Corrons recommended to back up data to two different locations, like the cloud, and a physical storage, like an external hard drive.

When it comes to iPhone and Android phone owners, the percentage that backs up is nearly the same, 69 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.

The percentage of smartphone owners that don’t know how to back up their data does not vary much between iPhone and Android owners, with 13 per cent and 17 per cent claiming not knowing how to, respectively, the study revealed.

Data loss can be caused by users accidentally deleting their data themselves, hardware damage and failure, as well as malware, causing valuable data such as photos, videos, documents, and messages to be lost forever.

Ransomware and other malware, such as wipers, can either encrypt or completely destroy files, and there is no guarantee that files can be decrypted if a ransom is paid.

The survey was conducted among 728 Avast and AVG users between February 20-March 25.

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COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.