Iraq: Civil War must stop!

It sad that complete out and out civil war has broken out in Iraq. I think the US is not as actively involved in controlling the situation because they expect the “trained” Iraqi forces to handle the situation. I was heard on the radio that these Iraq forces did nothing when Shiites were attacking the Sunnis. Its a pity that country that was invaded by another country is now in the midst of a civil war among its own people. I think what was bad has become worse. I hope the UN or the US or both will intervene to bring the situation under control. Ironically, the common enemy of the Iraqis (the US), has temporarily become the good guy trying to maintain peace!

BCCI Politics

Now that Dalmiya is out of power, Pawar and company are going after him in a big way. Its bound to get ugly, but like most big issues in India I suspect this will be in the news for a while after which we won’t hear anything about the issue. Notice that the Test and ODI veues have started to move towards the West Zone! Tests are in Nagpur, Mumbai and Mohali (this one is for IS Bindra’s support!). The practice match was in Vadodara. There are no ODIs or Tests in Kolkata. Go figure!

Cricket: Indian Team Selection

For once I feel pretty good about the recently announced the Indian Test team.

  • Piyush Chawla was a daring yet sensible selection although a little unfair to Murali Karthik.
  • Gautam Gambhir could have been given more opportunities before being dumped. But it is true that he hasn’t made any big scores of late and Wasim Jaffer has been a prolific scorer in the domestic circuit.
  • Sreesanth was a certainty after his performance in Pak and all the praise from the likes of Waqar and Imran.
  • Agarkar and Zaheer Khan were anyway on their way out and didn’t justify further chances. So VRV is also a welcome addition. With the desi Shoaib Akthar waiting in the wings all these bowlers must be under pressure to perform.
  • Suresh Raina was bit of surprise given that there are many prolific scorers in the domestic circuit. But I guess he recent show in Pak plus with an eye on the future the selectors decided to give him a shot. I suspect he’ll be replaced by Yuvraj provided Kaif plays in the 11 and scores some runs.
  • As for Ganguly, I am glad the selectors finally made the call to dump him. Its time to move on and hopefully there won’t be any further controversies around this issue (what are the odds of that happening! 🙂

With the team falling apart with injuries and other fitness problems, this Test series should be a tough one for England or so it seems at this stage.

Western Countries Are Sending Wrong Messages

Like it or not the world is fast moving towards an “us vs them” dichotomy. Shortly, after 911 the US mantra was “You are either with us or with the enemy”. This rings true even today despite all attempts to forge peace, spread freedom and democracy. With its actions the US and the rest of the Western Countries are continuously driving the world towards a new big divide — “The Muslim World and the Rest”. Here are three recent examples.

Ports Crisis: Just because it is a UAE based company that is going to take over management of port terminals why should it go through additional scrutiny? Its like telling the Arab world we don’t trust you. We suspect you might be terrorists! Btw, I have heard that the Jabal Ali Port in Dubai is one of the finest and best managed in the world.

Palestionian Aid: “The United States is not prepared to fund an organization that advocates the destruction of Israel, that advocates violence,” said Condi Rice. Fair enough. But what does the US expect from Hamas? Turn a new leaf and give up everything they have stood for all these years. Would anyone believe them even if they did? After all they stood for something and the Palestinians voted them to power. The US has been pushing for democracy and free and fair elections the world over. Then it should also be prepared to face the results. I think its important to give Hamas some time instead of “jumping all over them, setting the stage for their failure etc”. The BJP (by no means a terrorist org.) in India (known to include extreme right wing members), made a conscious attempt to make peace with Pak. They even nominated a Muslim to be the President of India).

Cartoon Crisis: The Europeans firmly joined the “Rest of the World” (despite its differences with the US) to appear as one giant conspiracy against Islam. Ironically, the US got some brownie points on the re-bound in this entire cartoon controversy. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear a “You are not the only bad guys, the Europeans are equally bad if not worse” sentiment from the Islamic countries.

There is a nice report in the NY Times (reg required)about differing views o the reaction in the Arab world to the crisis. Its heartening to note that there are liberals and others in Islamic countries who are denouncing the violent reponse to the cartoons.

Pak must look beyond Inzy

Pak were trounced by India in the ODIs. India was clearly a far superior side to Pak. The absence of Afridi and Shoaib made a huge difference to Pak and the final result. On the other hand, India won in style without three of their top players, Sachin, Viru and Pathan.

I think its time for Pak to think beyond Inzy for the ODIs. Even with the return of Shoaib and Afridi, I think Pak will enhance its chances in the World Cup if it can forge a new team without Inzy. This is in no way a reflection on Inzy’s form.

One day cricket has become extremely competitive. Fielding standards have improved dramatically. Batting demands adaptability, and often requires unconventional approaches. Inzy is no longer the devastating player he used to be. Besides he is a horrible runner and a below average fielder. One is tempted to compare him to Sachin, but lets not forget that Sachin is a very useful bowler, a decent fielder and excellent runner between wickets.

All rounders are the first preference when it comes to a place in any ODI 11. Specialist bowlers and batsman are very few and almost all of them are exceptionally good in their core competency area (e., batting or bowling) and are far above average in the fielding dept. if not exceptional.

I think a team under a Younis Khan makes sense though many question his presence in the team. But I think he has the potential to be Pak’s Rahul Dravid. He is an excellent fielder and good runner between wickets and appears to be a good captain. I think Pak’s team should be as follows:

Shoaib Malik
Younis Khan
Mohd Younus
Faisal Iqbal (or someone who is an excellent fielder and batsman)
Naved Hassan
Shoaib Akthar
Mohd Asif

Its a tough call, but if Pak have to stand a chance in the next world cup, its time for them to take a bold step forward.