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Analysis

Why the best team is not in the World Cup final?

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ICC World Cup 2019 Team India

A couple of days before league table-toppers India took on New Zealand in the first semifinal of the World Cup on Wednesday, Sachin Tendulkar, a legend of the game, wished the country ‘s most successful captain and wicketkeeper M.S. Dhoni on his 38th birthday. But it was more than a simple birthday greeting.

Sachin tweeted: “Wish you a happy birthday @msdhoni! Have a great year. All the very best for the next two games.”

For Sachin, as diplomatic as they come and one who is extremely cautious and measured with his words in the public domain, it was the supreme belief in the calibre of the Indian team, coupled with the fact that they would be taking on the weakest team that made it to the semis of cricket’s biggest spectacle, which got him to emphatically presume that India and Dhoni would win the semis and definitely play the final.

Sachin was not wrong in his assumptions, and as the match showed, despite being in a huge spot of bother while chasing New Zealand’s moderate total, the strong Indian team nearly pulled off a win.

But, various factors contributed to the loss. These factors were visible to all, but got glossed over due to the overwhelming positives that were perceived as making the Indian team invincible.

New Zealand in semis

While the team-related weaknesses were exposed during the league stage, the unexpected emergence of this small country as the opponent only aided in not addressing these weaknesses. For the No.1 team in the world, it would have been euphoria as they avoided the favourite team to win the cup, hosts England, the only team to whom they lost during the group stage.

There would have been the mandatory strategy meetings and analysis of the opposition, but no member of the contingent would have attached the kind of seriousness needed for a semifinal match if it was against England, or defending champions Australia.

Strategy paralysis

While many scenarios would have been mapped, one where the top three batsmen scored just one run each, putting the team in a precarious situation, could not have been imagined by anyone. And that these would include Rohit Sharma, with a record-breaking five centuries in CWC19, and Virat Kohli, captain and probably the best batsman in the world now. Here is where it was required for the team management to quickly rework all the strategies and put forward a clear path towards achieving the target.

Kohli was back in the dressing room with the coach, Ravi Shastri, and they had the brains of Dhoni for assistance. It would be another seven overs before the fourth wicket fell. A strategy was put in place, but that there was a collective vacuum when a crisis came to the fore.

Pant & Pandya

Once Dinesh Karthik returned to the pavilion and the score read 24/4 with 40 more overs to go and an inexperienced Rishabh Pant at one end, there would not be any cricketer or analyst worth his salt who would have not pointed out that Dhoni had to go in to hold up one end and also guide the non-strikers through to victory.

Instead, in came Hardik Pandya, a very talented player, but someone who didn’t have the experience for the situation at hand. Was it the strategy to take the aggressive route where one of them took the battle to the opposition by scoring some quick runs?

A good strategy if it could be implemented well. It would have upset the rhythm of the bowling attack, and simultaneously reduced the runs required for victory. But it was an ill-thought one fraught with problems.

In fact, the team think-tank had just to emulate how the Kiwi captain, Kane Williamson, and their No.4 batsman, Ross Taylor, stitched together a 65-run partnership eating up 17 overs for it with a run-rate of under 4.

Though they were batting first and setting a total, never did they opt for any risky stroke. They would have liked a better run-rate, but the veterans that they are, they did not allow their urge to take control of their better senses. When both Pant and Pandya got out to unnecessary slog shots, the asking rate was just 6 and 7, respectively, which with Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to follow could have got with some patience and smart batting.

While these were problems associated with the semifinal, there were other issues which plagued the team during their league campaign, but got ignored due to their imperious march to the top of the league table.

Hitman

The vice-captain, Rohit Sharma, had a dream run with the bat in CWC19. He became the first batsman to score five centuries in a single World Cup and became the tournament’s leading scorer. However, he was also dropped the maximum number of times before he even touched double figures.

In fact, the talk became that you drop Rohit and he will go on to make a century. Nobody spoke that if the catches were taken, most of them sitters, he would not have crossed a total of 100 runs. Well, the Kiwis didn’t drop the chance they got. And when Kohli joined him soon after, it was panic mode.

No.4 man

One of the biggest mysteries associated with world cricket, unsolved for reasons unknown, is that a country which has a problem of plenty as far as world-class batsmen are concerned, can’t find a No.4 player.

While the selectors could go back to the problem after the World Cup, it is surprising that nobody considered Dhoni as the ideal man for the job. Again, legacy became a mental block. Termed as a finisher, the team still continues to consider him for that job, while there are better finishers in Pant, Pandya, Jadeja, and even a Karthik. Dhoni should have played the role Taylor has played for the Kiwis. Steadying the innings in a crisis, or accelerating it when things are going good.

Mini Tests

The problem of the No.4 has also been aggravated by the thought process that a 50-over match is two T20 matches rolled into one. Hence, there was this talk about seeing a 500+ score in this edition.

It is ironic that in most matches there hasn’t been a combined score of over 500 from both teams. In fact, the 50-over matches are mini Tests, and therefore there was a strong need for a Ajinkya Rahane, or even a Cheteshwar Pujara in this spot. In their absence, Dhoni could have moved into the spot, not an IPL superstar.

Bad Day

Kohli said in his post-match press conference that 45 minutes of bad cricket cost India a spot in the final. There is also talk that it was a great campaign, and we had one bad day. But that is what champion teams are made for. To conquer that one bad day; definitely if it is a semifinal knockout match.

While tweeting, Sachin would not have thought this Indian team could have a bad day, but even if the thought crossed his mind, he would have been confident that it has the firepower to overcome all obstacles. He will definitely be more circumspect next time.

By: C.P. Thomas

(C.P. Thomas is a co-founder of SportzPower and The Fan Garage. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected])

Analysis

The US presidential elections and future of India-US relations

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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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Analysis

Covid-19 toll across world crosses 35,000

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

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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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Analysis

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.

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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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