Who Disrupted the 5th Test at the Old Trafford – Covid-19 fear or IPL?

The recent bilateral series between India and England has been stalled over a fear of the Covid-19 outbreak in the Indian camp after several members of the team caught the Covid-19 disease before the test was played. The declaration came just two hours before play as the deputy physio was reported to be Covid-19 positive the night before the match was played.

Earlier, the head coach Ravi Shastri, the bowling coach Bharat Arun and the fielding coach R Shridhar had contracted the virus. Many blame attending Ravi Shastri’s book launch in London before the 4th test as the main culprit behind breaching the bio-bubble. It was still bearable to the playing XI until both their physio turned out Covid-19 positive. The Indian players refused to take the field, although the players still tested negative, resulting in the match being rescheduled.

The England Cricket Board (ECB) refused to reschedule the match. The Indian cricket team has a tight schedule ahead, with the IPL starting 2 days after the conclusion of the scheduled 5th test. Hence postponing the match by 1-2 days was not possible. After the conclusion of the IPL, the T20 world cup is scheduled, making it impossible to be rescheduled anytime soon. ECB has made it clear that in no way can the rescheduling take place, and if the match does happen in the future, it will be a standalone test. ECB also concluded that India had forfeited the match, and hence England was declared winner of the match.

The IPL could have been played without a few Indian players at the start, but it is alleged that the absence of star players in the IPL would result in a sharp drop in popularity. Hence, BCCI is taking no chance to delay the IPL further or do away with a few star players. The second leg of IPL 2021 is scheduled to begin on 19th September in the UAE. As for how the India-England bilateral test series would conclude, the officials are yet to have an answer.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Paralympic Games – What is it?

Paralympic Games are periodic series of international multi-sport events involving athletes, who are physically disabled in some way. The Paralympic Games are organized a few days after the Summer Olympic Games. The Paralympic Games are held in the same venue as the Summer Olympics. For example, the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics was followed by the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Several sports have subcategories based on the disabilities of the athletes. In short, Paralympic Games are Olympic Games that are meant for persons with disabilities to compete in international sports.

Like Summer and Winter Olympics, Paralympic Games also have a winter version, right after the Winter Olympics. The first Winter Paralympics was held in Sochi in Russia in 2014. The first Summer Paralympics date way back to Rome in 1960. Since their inception, Paralympic Games have evolved and expanded far and wide due to the different types of disabilities athletes possess.

India has a good record at the Paralympic Games. India’s first-ever individual medal came in 1972 when Murlikant Petkar broke the world record in 50m freestyle to win the gold medal. India’s second gold medal was won by Devendra Jhajaria in javelin throw in 2004. Recent successes at Rio Paralympics 2016 has put India’s hopes for many future medal contenders. Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia bagged another gold medal in javelin throw, while Mariyappan Thangavelu won gold in the high jump. The high jump event also had India’s Varun Singh Bhati as the bronze medal winner. The veteran shot putter, Deepa Malik, got silver at shot put.

Tokyo Paralympic Games 2020 is now underway in Tokyo, Japan. The Games began on 24th August 2021 and will continue up to 5th September. Along with the Tokyo Summer Olympics, the Paralympics had been postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the world. Now, the Paralympic Games has begun, India will now once again look forward to the medal contenders. After historic success at Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020, India will hope to repeat the same and add more medals to her campaign at Tokyo in Tokyo Summer Paralympics 2020.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Tokyo 2020 Olympics is Underway

It is always said that it is better late than never. The Olympics was originally scheduled to be held initially in the summer of 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. However, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic postponed the mega event that occurs every 4 years. However, extensive research on Covid-19 and the invention of vaccines mean that the games could still be conducted amid strict pandemic protocols. Tokyo has taken the initiative to proceed with the Olympic games in July 2021.

As of now, only two countries have pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics – North Korea and Guinea. Some Czech, US, and British athletes have also pulled themselves out of the Olympics as they are infected with Covid-19. Covid-19 also showed its presence in the games village, where several athletes were found to be Covid-19 positive. Games related Covid-19 cases have till date shot off to 155, of which 20 are residing in the village. Some well-known athletes have also been affected by the deadly virus, including Czech beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic, Dutch tennis player Jean-Julien Rojer, U.S. tennis player Coco Gauff, British shooter Amber Hill, and Russian swimmer Ilya Borodin.

Russian athletes will be participating in the Tokyo Olympics as ROC, or Russian Olympic Community. Russians are not allowed to use their flag or national anthem in the event as the World Anti-Doping Association, or WADA, has banned Russia from participating in Olympics for 4 years, which has now been cut down to 2 years. As a result, 335 Russian athletes, who have cleared themselves of being unaware of doping scandals, will now participate under the name ROC.

The tournament kicked off well for India, with Mirabai Chanu from Manipur, clinching the silver medal in women’s weightlifting in the 49kg category. She became the second person to get an Olympic medal in weightlifting after Karnam Malleshwari’s bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Mirabai lifted a total of 202kg to secure the second spot after China’s Hou Zhizhi, who lifted 210kg in total, creating Olympic record. The veteran badmintonist and Rio Olympic’s silver medallist, PV Sindhu, the boxing legend and London Olympic’s bronze medallist, Mary Kom, and the Indian men’s hockey team have started well in their Olympics campaign.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Cycling Makes Comeback in India

Cycling was the most common method of personal vehicle transportation throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, most developed countries in the world are promoting cycle transport to stem the pollution from motor vehicles. Bicycles have the least carbon footprint among all means of transportation as they operate using the energy of the rider. However, they are classified as slow-moving vehicles and are banned from entering congested streets in many cities across India. This limited the growth of this eco-friendly mode of transportation in the early 21st century.

In 2020, world transportation was shattered by Covid-19. Short journeys, for which people used to take auto or bus rides, are replaced by cycles. The unavailability of private cars, buses, and autos means the roads are nearly empty most of the time. So cycling on empty roads did not pose any hindrance to the traffic. In such a scenario, the Government allowed several otherwise-congested roads for cycling purposes. Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, all have seen a spurt in the number of cycles and sales of cycles. A cycle is not only very cheap, but an effective mode of transportation for short distance journeys, and can be parked almost anywhere.

However, various independent surveys show that cycling is more a fitness sport than a transport. In lockdown situations, when fitness lovers are unable to move out to gyms or yoga, cycling comes to their rescue. Cycling not only keeps our body fit but also makes us go out in the sun. Various studies show that Vitamin D is linked with our immunity against Covid-19 and the major source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Thus there is a sudden growth in the number of cycle riders in the afternoon.

Seeing a positive response from the public, the Government is now thinking of making the congested cities suitable for large-scale cycle transportation. Cycle helps in reducing pollution, and also saves a lot of fuel. The commuters have also seen the benefits of cycling, both in terms of health and in terms of money-saving. There has been a 300-600 per cent increase in cycle sales across megacities of India. The best-sellers are expensive bicycles, specially meant for racing purposes. The rich section of the society, which previously did not feel the need to cycle, is now considering cycling as a means of staying fit. The Government now requires cycling as a safe form of transport. The Government should promote the development of bicycle tracks across cities so that riders can move from one part of the city to another without disturbing the traffic. The question is, after the pandemic, will the riders feel safe to ride across congested roads. The Government should create an atmosphere of prioritising cycling as a safe and effective transportation option, which not only the poor but also the rich can utilize.

Written by – Himadri Paul

World Test Championship in Cricket

Similar to the ODI world cup and T20 world cup, ICC has long thought of a test championship tournament. Test cricket has lost its charm, especially among the youth due to the advent of franchise cricket like the IPL or the big bash league. One of the means of a revival of test cricket was the pink-ball test or the day-night test. Now as many day-night tests have been conducted, a new concept in test cricket is expected to liven up its spirit. The latest added concept is the world test championship.

It is a world cricket league-like tournament, between the top 9 test-playing nations. The nations will play both home and away test series tours among each other. Not every country needs to play against each other, but there will be a minimum number of series to be played. Even that rule was also done away with due to Covid-19 restrictions starting March 2020. Each series was to give 120 points. The number of matches to be played in a series depends entirely on the playing nations, but the points would be divided accordingly. The top two teams with the highest points collected within the time frame of the championship will qualify for a final test match. However, as a few series were cancelled due to Covid-19, the point system was adjusted to percentage point system. India and New Zealand have been at the top of the list in the first edition of the world test championship 2019-2021.

India and New Zealand have advanced to the final of the world test championship, scheduled to be held on 18th June 2021. The final is to be played at the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground, Southampton. Initially, the Lord’s at London was chosen as the venue for the final, but it was changed due to some conveniences. 4000 spectators per day have been allowed in the Rose Bowl. We hope that the Indian fans and New Zealand fans living in England turn up in support of their team maintaining all Covid-19 protocols.

New Zealand has already played two test matches as a series in England a few days back, so they are familiar with the conditions. India, being at the top of the table, with number 1 ranking in world test championship, will surely give its best to win it. The match will be for 5 days from 18th to 22nd June. In case of any rain stoppage for a long duration, ICC has opted for a reserved 6th day on 23rd June to make up for the overs lost due to rain. An exciting clash awaits on 18th June 2021, starting at 10:00 am GMT, or 3:30 pm IST, or 10:00 pm NZST.

Written by – Himadri Paul