Gambhir, Dhoni Impress

India’s fightback last night after being four down was remarkable. Gautam Gambhir continued his dream run in the T20 World Cup and the good form in the domestic circuit with one of his finest centuries. Last night’s performance was brilliant in every sense. His running between the wickets, his handling of Muralitharan and his big hits down the ground were all very impressive. The ease with which he reached his 100 in the last over speaks volumes of his confidence. Under Dhoni, Gambhir seems to have found his groove. With his position in the team now rock solid, we might just see him scale greater heights. 

Dhoni on the other hand deserves to be commended for a real captain’s knock. The manner in which he curtailed his bang-bang style of aggressive cricket and deployed instead a more sensible and steady approach is a sure sign of his maturity. Walking in at a time when India was struggling, he played a calm innings with some aggressive running between the wickets. This was easily the best running between the wickets that India has displayed in a long time. Most importantly, this was against the Sri Lankan team whose ground fielding was excellent, barring a couple of dropped catches.

Yuvraj’s failure once again proved that he is a very poor player of spin. Brad Hogg and Muralitharan have always troubled him. In addition to overcoming his poor batting form, he will need to figure out a way to tackle these two bowler in order to come good in this series. India’s good score despite the failure of Yuvraj and the limited success of Sachin and Sehwag, should serve as a psychological boost to the young team after the disastrous T20 game against Australia and the batting failure in the first ODI.

Dhoni’s Team Selection Questionable

The selectors and the captain want to focus on youth for the ODIs. Agreed. A good forward thinking move. But how does one explain the inclusion of Manoj Tiwari ahead of Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina in the first ODI against Australia? Not that there is a world of difference between these folks as far as skill is concerned. Dinesh Karthik has been in Australia for a few weeks now and has played a game or two. In other words, he is best prepared of the lot in terms of getting a fee for the conditions, which incidentally is a huge factor when playing in Australia. Suresh Raina has more experience and has been in good form in the domestic circuit. To top it all, Manoj Tiwari barely landed in Australia the day before the ODI!

Dhoni said he goes by instinct. In other words, his instincts tell him the Tiwari is a better bet than an acclimatized Karthik and an in form Raina. Hopefully, Tiwari will justify his captain’s faith in him in the match against Sri Lanka. After all, he can’t be dropped after one failure. If he fails again, he will make room for Yuvraj in the third ODI. Where does that leave Raina and Karthik? They can make the team only in place of Sehwag or Uthappa.

The team selection is clearly questionable. It is a little premature to attribute motives behind Dhoni’s moves. The rest of the series should provide good insights into Dhoni’s thinking and captaincy.

Technology in the Skies: Airline Uses Linux

Singapore Airlines is now flying some new aircrafts in the SFO-Singapore sector. These aircrafts appear to be a a little more spacious and better designed. For instance, the acrobatics needed to shut the bathroom doors has been reduced significantly. At the back of the aircraft the staff has a U-shaped area where they can hang out and chit-chat with their colleagues without having to get in the way of passengers hurrying to the toilet. The passage way and the leg room has also been increased a “delta”.

The TV screens in front of each passenger is much larger. You no longer have to strain your eyes on those miniature screens. However, the most daring use of technology was what goes behind the TV screens. What you see is actually a PC running Redhat Linux. At the first screen you have an option to use the system simply to watch films, TV etc. or to use it as a PC. Next to the screen is a USB port and a LAN port! (Does the airline expect passengers to be carrying a wires?) I suspect that Internet access might be available through the LAN. (Emirate Airlines actually offers wireless access). In any case, I plugged in a USB stick and surprise, surprise, I had StarOffice(!!) to edit my MS-Office files if I wished to (thank you very much!). Sounds like Singapore Airlines is firmly in the anti-Microsoft camp.

Here is the bad news. The UI of the entire system is far from idiot-proof. At least on a couple of occasions the screen froze while attempting to navigate the various options. But thankfully the Steward could go behind the scenes and reset the system. This also means you have the pleasure of seeing the entire boot up sequence. Ideally these screens should have a touch screen UI because most passengers struggle to navigate these complicated systems. I can’t remember a flight where I haven’t had to assist a fellow passenger with using these systems. So much for the use of technology.