Browsing all articles from February, 2017

Akhilesh Yadav takes on Narendra Modi at his own game

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LUCKNOW, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi out-campaigned all-comers in the 2014 general election but, as he faces his biggest mid-term test, he is up against a rival determined to beat him at his own game.

In Uttar Pradesh his opponent, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, has been repackaged as a youthful and media-savvy go-getter who seeks to steal a unique selling point of Modi’s – development.

“I am taking it a bit beyond Modi: I work,” Yadav told Reuters in an interview in Lucknow, capital of the state of 220 million that is holding the biggest democratic election anywhere in the world this year.

“My work speaks for itself. Modi’s empty promises do not,” said the 43-year-old leader of the Samajwadi, or Socialist, Party.

Yadav entered the vast election, being held over the course of a month, as a narrow favourite: He had just emerged from a power struggle with his domineering father and struck a pre-poll alliance with the Indian National Congress.

While Modi excels as a stump speaker who can deliver an hour-long address without notes, Akhilesh has sought to connect with the youth vote via new media, taking personal control over his social media accounts and doing a Facebook Live with one of India’s best-known TV journalists.

He has even climbed on a bicycle – his party’s symbol – for another prime-time interview that gave him a chance to showcase the newly landscaped riverfront in the state capital.

Dimple Yadav, wife of Samajwadi Party (SP) president and chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav, addresses an election campaign rally in Agra, India February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Yadav’s campaign has been backed by his wife Dimple, a member of parliament, who has courted women voters and helped create an image as a political ‘power couple’.

Throughout, Yadav has stayed firmly on message. Asked about endemic crime, he says he has set up a new police hotline that is ensuring quicker response times.

On developing his poor state where incomes average less than $750 a year, he highlights his achievements in building an expressway to Agra, site of the Taj Mahal, and a new city metro in Lucknow.



Yadav became the youngest-ever chief minister of Uttar Pradesh with a slim mandate, winning just 29 percent in the 2012 state poll.

But in the general election two years later he was swept away by a Modi ‘wave’ as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 42 percent of the vote in the battleground state.

Yadav, who received a university education in Australia yet became typecast as the ineffectual scion of a political patriarch, decided he needed a makeover.

“It was at this point Yadav took a cue from Modi’s image as a technology-loving modern man,” said R.K. Mishra, an independent political analyst in Lucknow.

Yadav commissioned the construction of a mansion behind his old party headquarters to operate as his campaign “war room”.

Volunteers work inside a Samajwadi Party (SP) election campaign “war room” in Lucknow, India, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

He met two dozen Indian and international political scientists, and roped in Harvard graduates and marketing gurus from Mumbai. They set up a big data operation – cloning the backroom setup used by Modi in his own rise to national power.

“The recruitment brief was clear: Everyone working in the war room should be in their thirties and have family in Uttar Pradesh,” said Aashish Yadav, a campaign manager who previously worked at BBC Media Action, a development charity.

Aashish Yadav manages a team of 100 young men and women who compose jingles as well as messages that are circulated via WhatsApp and community radio services. “Modi’s campaign looks jaded compared to our blitzkrieg,” said Aashish.



It’s been a tough sell for a party that under founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh’s father, was criticised for breakdown of law and order. Many resented corruption that favoured the Yadav community – a “backward” caste that makes up 9 percent of the population of Uttar Pradesh.

“Akhilesh had to dismantle the existing perception about himself and his party,” said one close aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Rahul Gandhi (L), Vice-President of India’s main opposition Congress Party, and Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party (SP) President and Chief Minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, wave to the crowd during a road show ahead of the fourth phase of state assembly polls, in Allahabad, India, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

By teaming up with Rahul Gandhi of Congress – another forty-something politician – Yadav hopes to prevail in the three-cornered contest with the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Mayawati, a former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

“There is a great deal of ease between the two leaders and this is making Modi nervous,” said an aide to Gandhi, who is the son, grandson and great grandson of Indian prime ministers.

Pre-election polls put the Yadav-Gandhi alliance and the BJP in a close race, but no surveys are allowed during voting held over seven stages. Results are due on March 11.

Gandhi and Yadav have both turned for advice to Prashant Kishor, the strategist who stage-managed Modi’s triumphant 2014 march on New Delhi.

Kishor later switched sides to help a similar opposition alliance defeat the BJP in Bihar, another big northern state, in late 2015. He now divides his time between advising Congress and Samajwadi.

The BJP’s state leader in Uttar Pradesh, Keshav Prasad Maurya, dismisses the alliance as a fiasco and called the war room a poor imitation.

“Yadav and Gandhi both lack imagination,” he told Reuters. “Being Modi is different from being like Modi.”


Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses an election campaign rally in Allahabad, India, February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

For full coverage of India’s 2017 state elections, click here


(Editing by Douglas Busvine and Lincoln Feast)

Kansas man charged with murder of Indian engineer due in court

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OLATHE, KS A white U.S. Navy veteran charged with murdering an Indian software engineer at a Kansas bar was due in court on Monday over the shooting, which federal authorities are probing as a possible hate crime.

Adam Purinton, 51, is accused of killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and wounding Alok Madasani, also 32, as well as an American who tried to intervene during Wednesday evening’s incident at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe.

The shooting in the Kansas City suburb led news bulletins in India, where some people suggested on social media that U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration had fueled a climate of intolerance.

A White House spokesman said on Friday that any loss of life was tragic, but that it was absurd to link the killing to Trump’s “America First” stance.

At least one bystander told the Kansas City Star he shouted “get out of my country” before shooting the Indian victims.

Purinton will be read charges of one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder at a hearing at Johnson County District Court scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (1930 GMT), a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said.

The suspect was arrested hours after the shooting at an Applebees restaurant in Clinton, Missouri, about 80 miles (130 km) south of Olathe.

According to a recording of a 911 call made by a female bartender at the Applebees, Purinton said he needed to hide because he had killed two Iranian men, local NBC affiliate KSHB-TV reported.

“He wouldn’t tell me what he did. I kept asking him and he said he would tell me if I agreed to let him stay with me. I finally got him to tell me,” the bartender tells a dispatcher, according to the tape obtained by KSHB-TV. “He said he shot and killed two Iranian people in Olathe.”

Both the gunman’s Indian victims worked as engineers with navigation device maker Garmin Ltd.

Ian Grillot, a 24-year-old construction worker, was shot in the hand and chest as he tried to intervene. In video at the hospital where he was being treated, Grillot said he had been more than happy to risk his life for others.

“I couldn’t stand there, I had to do something,” Grillot said. “That’s why I acted the way I did.”

(Additional reporting and writing by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Andrew Hay)

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Derbyshire drop interest in Samuels

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Marlon Samuels has hit out at his treatment by the WICB © Getty Images

Derbyshire have announced that they are “no longer pursuing” a deal to bring Marlon Samuels to the club. Samuels revealed in an interview last week that he had been offered a contract “worth £120,000-130,000 a year” to sign as a Kolpak player for Derbyshire, while expressing his frustration with West Indies’ selection policies.

Samuels was left out of the ODI squad for West Indies’ series with England but was said to be reluctant to go down the Kolpak route, as it would bar him from international cricket. However, Derbyshire have now withdrawn their interest.

A statement on the club’s website said: “Derbyshire can confirm it has been in contact with West Indies international Marlon Samuels and his agent regarding opportunities at the club.

“The club remains committed to exploring all options to strengthen the side ahead of the 2017 season. However, we have a number of routes available and, in view of recent events, the club is no longer pursuing Marlon Samuels.”

Samuels, 36, was not selected for the England ODIs after opting to miss the majority of the WICB’s Regional Super 50 competition in order to play in the Pakistan Super League. He was critical of the board for not showing more loyalty after a 17-year international career that has seem him play more than 300 times for West Indies.

“I’ve got a Kolpak deal on my plate which I’m contemplating,” he said of the offer to play county cricket. “It’s a three-year deal with Derbyshire. Worth probably £120,000-130,000 a year. The money is not the issue at the moment, I’ve been playing international cricket the last 17 years so have set myself the right way. This is about principle, about being loyal.”

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Brathwaite can’t repeat World T20 heroics every time

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After Carlos Brathwaite helped West Indies win the World T20 last year, he hasn’t enjoyed much success © Getty Images

Courtney Browne, the West Indies chairman of selectors, has said that allrounder Carlos Brathwaite cannot be expected to produce the heroics of the World Twenty20 final each time he plays. Browne was commenting on Brathwaite’s lean form with the bat in the recently-concluded Regional Super50 domestic one-day tournament, won by Barbados Pride, Brathwaite’s team.

Since the beginning of 2016, Brathwaite has scored just 304 runs in 27 List A games at an average of 14.47, with a highest score of 46. With the ball, he has taken 46 wickets at an average of 30.66. Brathwaite, who was recently made West Indies’ T20 captain, hasn’t enjoyed too much success in the shortest format either. In 26 T20s since 2016, Brathwaite has managed just 212 runs at 12.47 and 33 wickets at an average of 30.66.

“What you must understand is this is still a young man,” Browne told a Caribbean radio station. “If we expect Carlos to repeat what he did in the World Cup every single time, we’re going to fool ourselves. Carlos needs to develop like any other cricketer. We’ve dug ourselves in a massive hole over the years, there’s no quick fix to our problem. It is about hard work. It’s not about ‘you’ve had five games, you have not performed’ so just throw the player away.”

Browne pointed out that Brathwaite has earned a lot of respect from coaches and captains over the years with his attitude and hardwork. In January, Brathwaite opted to leave early from the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League where he was signed as a replacement for fellow West Indies allrounder Andre Russell.

Incidentally, he was one of the three players – along with Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels – to decline a WICB contract late last year. Although he is an attractive buy for teams across domestic Twenty20 leagues, Brathwaite has said he wants to focus on doing well for West Indies.

Brathwaite, Browne said, was an “investment” that would come good eventually. “He’s a young player who is a very exciting player on his day, who hasn’t played a lot of international cricket either,” Browne said. “He’s an investment and we all know if we get him right what he can produce for us. Carlos’s strike rate would be more than the other bowlers because of the time of the games when he bowls.

“Carlos and a lot of the other players, we have players now who actually want to play, we have players who are committed, they are self-starters, they work hard. When you see players who are doing that, you know that you will be able to create that environment that is conducive to producing cricketers that can perform consistently.”

Browne said West Indies’ selection panel are likely to give players an extended run in the playing XI to help them develop, as opposed to the approach of selection in the past.

“We are number eight in the world because we put ourselves there by playing bad cricket over the years by making bad decisions. When you look at our players, there are some who have been given a little extension because you want them to develop,” Browne said.

“We don’t want to have a case where you have a whole bunch of players, like what used to happen in the past, where we had so many players, all of them had games under their belts but none ever got a good extension or fair run to help them to develop. We need to develop cricketers.”

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PSL aims to finalise foreign players list for Lahore

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Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators are expected to face the most difficulty with the PSL final set to be played in Lahore © PCB/PSL

With only three matches left in the UAE, the Pakistan Super League and its franchises are beginning the process of figuring out which foreign players will travel to Lahore, where the final is scheduled for March 5.

On Sunday evening in Dubai, Karachi Kings became the last team to qualify for the play-offs. They begin on Tuesday in Sharjah, with Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators, the two teams that finished top, playing each other. Looming over the games, though, is the question of who from the foreign contingents of the four teams is ready to travel to Lahore.

The PSL management is expected to further brief the overseas players before the play-offs begin and the primary aim remains to try and convince as many of them as possible to make the trip. However, preparations are also underway to create a nominated pool of foreign players willing to travel in case the finalists’ current roster pulls out.

On Monday, the Punjab government finally gave a public go-ahead to the staging of the final in Lahore. In theory, that ends the uncertainty of recent days caused by a wave of terrorist attacks across Pakistan that have claimed over 100 lives, including a suicide attack in Lahore two weeks ago when 13 people were killed.

There was another blast in the city last Thursday, when at least seven people perished, heightening nerves and casting fresh doubt on the sense of bringing the final to Lahore. Though reports initially said it was a bomb, the government has since claimed it to be the result of a gas leak from a cooking cylinder.

Senior league officials have worried over the fluidity of the situation, and had been waiting for a definitive go-ahead from government authorities. With that now in hand, the situation of the foreign players needs resolution. Najam Sethi, the PSL chief who was in Pakistan on Monday, said: “I will be going back to Dubai now and once the finalists are confirmed I will again talk to the franchise owners and foreign players. We have also prepared a back up list of foreign players in case the overseas signings of the finalist teams refuse to come to Lahore. ”

Kumar Sangakkara, who was in the team bus which was attacked in Lahore eight years ago, is almost certain not to travel to the city again © PCB/PSL

Of the four remaining teams, Peshawar are the most confident their foreign contingent will go to Lahore should they reach the final. No player, however, has come outright and said so yet. And though no official word has come from Islamabad United, it is believed neither Brad Haddin nor Shane Watson will stay on.

The two teams who might face greatest difficulties are Quetta Gladiators and Karachi Kings. Kevin Pietersen, of the former, will almost certainly not travel and Tymal Mills is also unlikely. Others such as Luke Wright and Rilee Roussow, who were considering making the trip, are said to have reassessed after the recent spate of attacks.

Officially Karachi say their players will make a decision once the team’s fate is clear. Until then, it is said, their players do not want to “jinx” their chances of getting to the final by talking about it.

It is almost inconceivable that Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, two players who were in the team bus in Lahore when it was attacked eight years ago, will travel. They have told officials that they cannot take the decision alone and have to consult with their families. And the call they make could potentially have an impact on what Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard do as well.

One-off payments, ranging from USD 10,000 – 50,000, are being offered to foreign players should they agree to play in Lahore. That, as one foreign player considering taking part in the final pointed out, brings its own complications. “What is the difference in me playing in Lahore under a security threat and a Pakistani player doing so?” he said. “In any attack both are at risk. And physios and masseuses? A life is a life, mine or a Pakistani player’s.”

In case the teams end up severely shorthanded, a pool of nominated foreign players could be roped in. The list, initially of 54 names, has now grown to above 60 and is said to be composed of those who were not picked in the draft last October as well as additional names from outside the draft, who are willing to travel to Pakistan.

Each franchise will nominate five to six players from the long list and hand it to the PSL, who hope that ultimately, accounting for common names that appear in multiple lists, they have a shortlist of 12 to 15 waiting on standby to participate in the final.

Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Goel, Shivalkar to receive Lifetime Achievement Awards

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Former left-arm spinners Rajinder Goel and Padmakar Shivalkar will receive the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award this season. Starting this year, the BCCI has also decided to institute the Lifetime Achievement Award for Women with India’s first Test captain Shantha Rangaswamy being the inaugural recipient of the honour. The trio would each get a cash prize of INR 25 lakhs too.

The winners were chosen by a three-person jury comprising the pair of Ramachandra Guha and Diana Edulji (both of them sit on the Supreme Court-appointed committee of administrators that presently supervises the BCCI) along with senior journalist N Ram. Another category introduced by the committee is a Special Award for their yeoman services to Indian cricket which would be given to former India and Tamil Nadu legspinner VV Kumar and the late Ramakant Desai, former India and Bombay fast bowler. This award also carries a cash prize of INR 15 lakhs each.

Both Goel, who played for Haryana and Delhi, and Shivalkar, who represented Bombay, never played for India. Still, their legend is well-known in Indian cricket history. In the mid-1960s, when Bishan Singh Bedi was making his mark, the question that was asked was, “is he as good as Goel?” Ironically, one reason Goel never played for India was because Bedi had cemented his position in the Indian team. The closest Goel came to play for India was in the unofficial Test against Ceylon in 1964-65.

In 1985, Goel retired aged 43. He had 637 wickets in the Ranji Trophy, a record that stands to date, going past VV Kumar‘s tally. He had an incredible 53 five-fors and 17 ten-wicket match hauls. Overall, Goel played 157 matches and got 750 wickets.

Another young man who was denied an India berth as his career clashed with that of Bedi was Shivalkar. A product of the famous Shivaji Gymkhana, Shivalkar’s accuracy to land the ball repeatedly on the same spot and then spin it viciously made him unique. He made his Ranji debut at 22 and retired when he was 48. During that time, Shivalkar finished with an aggregate of 589 first-class wickets at an average of 19.69 in 124 matches, between the 1961-62 and 1987-88 seasons. Shivalkar’s 361 Ranji wickets came for Bombay, most by any bowler. He had 11 ten-wicket hauls (joint-second).

While recognizing their efforts, the awards committee praised Goel and Shivalkar saying: “The two left-arm spinners traumatized the batsmen picking wickets in a heap.”

Rangaswamy, who is 63, played 16 Tests for India out of which she led in 12 matches. In her own words, Rangaswamy was a batting allrounder. She shared the new ball and was a hard-hitting, middle-order batsman. There were many other notable firsts attached to her name: she scored the first Test century, hit the first six and led India to their first series victory (against West Indies in 1976). Rangaswamy, who was the chairman of the selectors till 2016, had also won the Arjuna Award in 1976.

Rangaswamy was thrilled to receive the BCCI honour, and felt it was a reward to the collective brilliance of the “pioneers” of Indian women’s cricket. “It is more a recognition of the services rendered to the game of Indian women’s cricket by the pioneers, those founding mothers if I can use the word. Because had we done badly in the initial stages the game would have just withered away. We did well. We could rub shoulders with international teams and that ensured the longevity of the game. And that I feel is the single-most significant contribution of all of us. With pride I can say – yes, we did it.”

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‘We don’t want a two-day Test’

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The India-Australia Test will be the M Chinnaswamy’s first since it’s drainage system was refurbished © Hindustan Times

The spotlight on pitches has returned to Indian cricket following their defeat inside three days on a rank turner in Pune by an unfancied Australian team. Preparations at the venue for the second Test, Bangalore, though suggest the playing surface might not be as extreme.

R Sudhakar Rao, secretary at the Karnataka State Cricket Association, has said that the groundstaff at the M Chinnaswamy stadium are working towards providing a strip that helps a Test match to last its entire duration. He also said the Indian team has not arrived on site yet and haven’t left any instructions that to be followed either.

“So far we have not been told anything,” he told the Hindu, “Once they arrive, we have to see if they make any suggestions.

“Our intention is to prepare a sporting, Test-match pitch. We want a five-day match. We definitely don’t want to see the match end in two and a half days.”

The last Test match at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, between India and South Africa in 2015, was washed out with only one day’s play possible. That prompted a large-scale renovation and though the pitches on the square were untouched, the outfield itself was dug out to install a state-of-the-art drainage system. Bangalore has already hosted an international match since then – the T20I between India and England – but this will be its first Test since its makeover. PR Vishwanathan, the South Zone head of the BCCI’s ground and pitches committee, is expected to oversee preparations before it begins on March 4.

For now, the Chinnaswamy deck, under the supervision of the in-house curator K Sriram, continues to get water. “We like to keep some moisture underneath. So we haven’t stopped watering it,” Rao said. “We’ll water it until two or three days before the match. Then we will see what the pitch looks like, two days out, and take a call.

“On the first two days, the pitch should be good for batting and help medium-pacers. On days two and three there should be slow turn. Then on the last two days there should be more turn. I have told Sriram to prepare that kind of wicket,” Rao said “At least, that is our intention.”

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Herath to lead Sri Lanka, Pushpakumara called up for Bangladesh Tests

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Rangana Herath had led Sri Lanka in a two-Test series against Zimbabwe last year © AFP

Rangana Herath will captain Sri Lanka in the Tests against Bangladesh, while prolific domestic left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara joins him in the squad, Sri Lanka Cricket has announced.

These are the only squad details released so far, however. It is likely the remainder of the squad has not been picked yet – an earlier release stated the selectors were not due to meet until Tuesday.

Though Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga may have been considered for the captaincy in Angelo Mathews’ absence, Herath always seemed the frontrunner for the position. He had led Sri Lanka to a 2-0 series victory in Zimbabwe in October and November. He took 19 wickets in the series at an average of 15.10.

Pushpakumara, 29, has been consistently impressive in first-class cricket, and it is possible he has only been omitted from Sri Lanka’s Test squads for so long because Herath already fills the left-arm orthodox role in the side. However, Pushpakumara’s match-winning 13 for 205 for Sri Lanka A against England Lions this past weekend has finally earned him a Test call-up. All told, he has 558 first-class wickets at an average of 19.85, and is routinely among the top three wicket-takers in the Premier League Tournament.

“Slow left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara has been included in the test squad,” the SLC release said. “Pushpakumara first represented the Sri Lanka A team in 2012 when he faced South Africa and Zimbabwe during a triangular tournament and made an appearance for the Sri Lanka A team in 2015 against Pakistan.” He has 29 first-class wickets at 26.17 for Sri Lanka A.

The presence of the two left-arm orthodox spinners may put left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan’s place in doubt.

The first of Sri Lanka’s two Tests against Bangladesh begins on March 7 in Galle.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

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Academy issues apology over Oscar best picture gaffe

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Refrain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks, name calling or inciting hatred against any community. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines by marking them offensive. Let’s work together to keep the conversation civil.

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Pic: Deepika Padukone’s look from the Oscars 2017 after party will make your jaw drop

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Refrain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks, name calling or inciting hatred against any community. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines by marking them offensive. Let’s work together to keep the conversation civil.

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Video Alert: The most fashion-forward looks from the 89th Academy Awards

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It was a night of glamour and high fashion at the 89
Academy Awards, with Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars in attendance. With more than 50 shades of red, green and grey on the red carpet, the Oscar night was a fashion gala to reckon with.

Also Read:
Oscars 2017: Complete winners’ list

Priyanka Chopra exhibited powerful fashion in her futuristic body hugging Ralph Russo number. She was sexy, elegant and boisterous at the same time.

Emma stone, winner of the Best Actress award for ‘La La Land’ oozed sheer allure in Givenchy gown, that she teamed with Tiffany jewellery.

Viola Davis who picked the Best Actress in a Supporting role Oscar for her performance in ‘Fences’ was a vision in red. She wore an Armani Prive off-the-shoulder gown.

Talking of Ryan Gosling, the ‘La La Land’ actor pulled off a ruffled white tuxedo shirt. Gosling kept it interesting and classic in his Gucci designer suit.

Naomie Harris, the Best Actress in a Supporting role nominee for her performance in ‘Moonlight’ was the first to hit the red carpet. She looked super glam in a Calvin Klein white number. Fashion critics are hailing Naomie’s look calling it the most fashion-forward of the night. She kept her footwear game strong in embellished mismatched yellow pumps.

Looks like Jessica Biel took a cue from the golden statue of the Academy Awards itself. The actress glittered in a golden ensemble as she walked down the red carpet, hand-in-hand with husband Justin Timberlake.

Multiple Oscar winner Meryl Streep arrived wearing an Elie Saab creation. She was a vision in a blue embellished gown and sent the shutterbugs in a click-happy zone.

Brie Larson was the sexy lady in black, she stuck to a velvet strapless dress by Oscar de la Renta, with a deep sweetheart neckline

The ’50 Shades of Grey’ actress Dakota Johnson looked super lean in
‘s high-necked, long-sleeved dress with a dramatic cascading bow accent at the waist.

Nicole Kidman was a head turner as always sporting a nude gown by Armani Prive. The deep red lips added to her dramatic look. Her ‘Lion’ co-star Dev Patel stood out in a crisp black and white look.

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Rani Mukerji confirms comeback with ‘Hichki’

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She took everyone by storm with her power-packed performance as the policewoman in ‘Mardaani’, and then took time off for motherhood. Now, actress Rani Mukerji is returning to the big screen with ‘Hichki’, which she says is built on a positive response.

Then and now: Rani Mukerji’s vintage pic

To be directed by Siddharth P Malhotra and produced by Maneesh Sharma under the Yash Raj Films banner, ‘Hichki’ will see Rani in a positive and inspiring story about a woman who turns her biggest weakness into her biggest strength.

Talking about it, Rani said in a statement, “I was looking for a script that would challenge and excite me, and ‘Hichki’ came my way.”

“Each of us has a weakness that pulls us back. It could be a disability or any condition but if we just look at it as simply a hiccup, we can emerge as a winner. It won’t come in the way of achieving our dreams. ‘Hichki’ is built on this positive premise and I decided to take it up,” added the actress, who is married to YRF head honcho Aditya Chopra and has a daughter named Adira with him.

‘Hichki’ will be Sharma’s third film as a producer with YRF after ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ and the forthcoming ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’.

Malhotra, who has earlier directed ‘We Are Family’, will be making his first film with YRF.

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Bhai Dooj: Famous B’wood Siblings

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Bhai Dooj: Famous B’wood Siblings

The festival of Bhai Dooj is to celebrate the strong bond of love between siblings. Bhaidooj, as the name suggests, is a festival for the brother (‘bhai’) observed on ‘dooj’, which is the second day after the new moon.

Let’s look at some of the famous Bollywood siblings:

First cousins Kareena Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor share a strong bond. During an interview, Kareena expressed her desire to play Ranbir’s sister in a movie. Apparently, Kareena and Ranbir were supposed to play siblings in Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Dil Dhadakne Do,’ but things didn’t work out.

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‘Sarkar 3’ poster: Amitabh Bachchan, Yami Gautam, Manoj Bajpayee steal the show

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O’Keefe takes 12 wickets as Australia thrash India

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PUNE, India Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe took 12 wickets in the match to help Australia beat India by 333 runs on Saturday as the tourists took a 1-0 lead in the four-test series between the world’s top-ranked sides.

India, who went into the contest on a 19-match unbeaten streak, were skittled out for 107 in their second innings, chasing a mammoth victory target of 441 in a test that lasted less than three days.

O’Keefe took six wickets for 35 runs in both innings to record his maiden test 10-wicket haul.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by John O’Brien)

Kansas shooting raises fears with local Indian-Americans

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The shooting death of an Indian engineer and the wounding of another man in a possible hate crime at a Kansas bar has raised fears among members of the area’s fast-growing Indian-American community.

The suspected gunman, U.S. Navy veteran Adam Purinton, 51, has been charged with the premeditated murder in Olathe, just outside Kansas City, of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and the attempted murder of Alok Madasani, also 32, as well as an American who tried to intervene.

Before opening fire, Purinton is accused of shouting “get out of my country,” a bystander told the Kansas City Star.

Several members of the Kansas City area’s Indian-American community said the attack had forced them to think about their safety.

“The main reaction is shock, because this is home,” said Samarpita Bajpai, 45, who lives in suburban Overland Park and runs a non-profit Indian dance company.

Going forward, Bajpai said that for the first time in her nearly 20 years living in the Kansas City area she will try to refrain from being out late at night.

She said the local area had always been very welcoming. Through her Gurukul Dance Company, Bajpai tours U.S. cities with a troupe of 10 dancers, all of whom except her are white people with an affinity for Indian culture, she said.

The shooting comes as some members of U.S. minority groups have expressed unease with the political and social climate in the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report this month hate groups proliferated in 2016 as Donald Trump’s bid for the U.S. presidency energized the radical right.

A number of Jewish leaders called on Trump to speak out against anti-Semitism following a spate of bomb threats to Jewish community centres. Trump this week called the threats horrible and he has said he rejects violence and harassment.

The greater Kansas City area, which straddles the border between the states of Missouri and Kansas, is home to about 2 million people with an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Indian-Americans, although exact figures are not available, said Vijay Ainapurapu, 45, the former president of the India Association of Kansas City.

Ainapurapu, who works in software at Sprint Corp, said by telephone that the local Indian-American community has grown about tenfold since he arrived in the Kansas City area in 2001.

Due to the shooting, he added, safety precautions are a major talking point for his group.

Ainapurapu, who came to the United States in 1998 and previously lived in Texas and California, said Kansas City had been “as welcoming as any other place in America.”

Akshay Anand, 34, the owner of the Karats jewellery store in Overland Park who is involved with the India Association of Kansas City, said he will avoid areas where he might feel at risk, including what he called neighbourhoods with low education levels.

“Everybody’s going to be extremely cautious,” said Anand, who lives a short drive from where the shooting occurred. “I think it’s going to take time for this to settle in.”

Kansas City resident Ajay Sood, 50, who teaches courses in Indian culture and ran as a write-in candidate for U.S. president last year, said he often finds native-born Americans are ignorant of his background.

Mistaking the ethnicity of Indian Americans was a hot topic after the Kansas City Star reported that the suspect said after fleeing that he had shot two Middle Eastern men.

“Most of the Americans who have never travelled outside the U.S., they cannot identify who’s a Pakistani, who’s an Indian, who’s an Afghani and who’s a Sikh,” Sood said by phone.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Shumaker)

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Karthik ton gives Tamil Nadu winning start

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File photo – Dinesh Karthik razed Delhi with his ninth List A century © BCCI

Dinesk Karthik‘s 118 off 97 balls took Tamil Nadu to 314 for 8 and set up their eventual 42-run win over Delhi at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. After being put in, Tamil Nadu’s openers Kaushik Gandhi (41) and Ganga Sridhar Raju (33) came good, which took the team to 94 for 2 when Karthik came out. Karthik began by adding 58 for the fourth wicket with Vijay Shankar, before sharing a 105-run fifth-wicket stand with B Indrajith. Karthik was bowled by Ashish Nehra with the score on 276, having struck 13 fours and three sixes. Thereafter, Indrajith, and Antony Dhas’ late cameo ensured a strong finish. Nehra finished with 4 for 39 in nine overs.

Shikhar Dhawan dominated the early part of Delhi’s chase, scoring 23 in an opening stand of 32 with Gautam Gambhir. Following Dhawan’s dismissal, Gambhir added 86 with Dhruv Shorey. Both batsmen struck half-centuries, but Delhi slid from 118 for 1 to 136 for 4. A late half-century stand for the seventh wicket between Milind Kumar and Pawan Negi brought the chase back to life. But Delhi’s hopes came crashing down with Milind’s dismissal for 68, with 49 still needed. Delhi were bowled out shortly thereafter for 272.

At the KIIT Stadium, Gurinder Singh‘s career-best 61 at No. 7 took Tripura to a tense two-wicket win in a slow-scoring thriller against Kerala. After electing to bowl, Tripura restricted Kerala to 233 for 9, helped new-ball bowler Abhijit Sarkar‘s 3 for 41. In reply, Tripura made 235 for 8 in 49.2 overs to win with four balls to spare.

That Kerala were lifted to 233 was down to captain Sachin Baby and Salman Nizar, who helped them recover from 60 for 5. The duo shared a 120-run stand before Baby was bowled for 77 by Sanjay Majumder. But Nizar carried on and remained unbeaten on 82 – his best List A score – as Kerala scored 53 runs in the last nine overs. Like Kerala, Tripura were helped by a sixth-wicket partnership. Gurinder, who walked out at 86 for 5, took them to 161 in the company of Yashpal Singh before the latter was caught behind off Sandeep Warrier. Sanjay Majunder then dominated a seventh-wicket stand of 49 before both batsmen fell on the same score. But Sarkar and Dwaipayan Bhattacharjee fought nerves to see their team through.

Maharashtra won a run glut against Himachal Pradesh by 25 runs in Tangi. After being inserted, Maharashtra put up 376 for 7 on the back of debutant Ruturaj Gaikwad‘s maiden List A century. Likewise, Prashant Chopra struck a century opening the innings in Himachal’s chase, but left-arm spinner Jagdish Zope‘s 4 for 60 on List A debut ensured Himachal were bowled out for 351.

Gaikwad set up Maharashtra’s platform with a 167-run opening stand with Vijay Zol (62). He added 53 more for the second wicket with Ankit Bawne before being bowled by Bipul Sharma’s left-arm spin. Naushad Shakih then took charge of proceedings, and along with Shrikant Mundhe, punished Himachal. Naushad struck 72 off 39 balls with eight fours and three sixes, while Mundhe’s 42 came off 20 balls and with the help of three fours and as many sixes.

Chopra’s even 100 in the chase came off 85 balls. He began by putting on 98 with his opening partner Ankush Bains (38), before following it up with 68 with Robin Bist (46) for the second wicket. With Bist falling for 46, caught off Anupam Sanklecha, Himachal were in a bit of a wobble at 227 for 6. But Ankit Kaushik mounted a late fightback, and along with Bipul Sharma (20) and Pankaj Jaiswal (24), took Maharashtra close. But Zope, who had taken out the openers, returned to dismiss the last two batsmen. Kaushik was unbeaten on 59 off 34 balls, with five fours and four sixes.

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Baroda open with win after Hooda’s maiden ton

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File photo – Deepak Hooda cantered to his maiden List A century with the help of eight fours and four sixes © ICC

At the Palam Grounds, Deepak Hooda began the tournament with his maiden List A century that set up Baroda’s 30-run win over Railways. Hooda’s 106-ball 119 lifted Baroda to 259 for 9 before their bowlers hunted in a pack to dismiss Railways for 229.

Railways gained the upper hand early after they opted to field, reducing Baroda to 36 for 2 in the 14th over. Hooda joined hands with Kedar Devdhar to resurrect the Baroda innings through a 135-run third-wicket partnership. Devdhar contributed 77, and once he was caught off Ashish Yadav, Baroda again began losing wickets at frequent intervals. But Hooda batted till the penultimate over to lift them to a reasonable total.

Railways made a solid start to their chase through a 60-run opening stand in 11.4 overs. Babashafi Pathan broke through, having Asad Pathan trapped in front for 34. Saurabh Wakaskar, his opening partner, continued to grind it out for 58, but the rest of the middle order, barring Shivakant Shukla (33) largely failed to make an impression and they fell short of the target. Six of the seven bowlers used by Baroda were among the wickets, with Krunal Pandya finishing on top with three wickets.

At the Karnail Singh Stadium, half-centuries from Chaitanya Bishnoi and Rahul Tewatia drove Haryana’s chase of 230 with five wickets in hand against Odisha. Bishnoi first stitched together 56 for the third wicket with Himanshu Rana after Haryana were reduced to 37 for 2. Haryana then lost their next three wickets for 40 runs, but Bishnoi (83*) and Tewatia (62*) both produced career-best efforts in their unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 97 to shut out Odisha.

Haryana could have been chasing a lot more had they not squandered a strong position. Their openers Sandeep Pattnaik (91) and Anurag Sarangi (77) put on 157 in 33.5 overs after their team opted to bat. Joginder Sharma’s double-strike in the 34th saw the back of Sarangi and Odisha captain Govinda Poddar, after which it was a procession of wickets as Odisha folded for 229 in 47.5 overs.

At the Feroz Shah Kotla, medium pacer Siddarth Kaul‘s four-wicket haul went in vain as Punjab chased down 219 on the back of Mandeep Singh‘s 86 not out, with six wickets in hand against Vidarbha. Vidarbha’s top four made solid contributions to get them into a solid position, but Kaul ran through the lower order as Vidarbha slid from 128 for 2 to be bowled out for 218. Kaul’s wickets included that of Ambati Rayudu, who top-scored with 86.

Half-centuries from Manan Vohra and Mandeep set the tone for Punjab’s chase as they raced to 91 in the 19th over, before Akshay Karnewar’s left-arm spin accounted for Vohra for an even 50. Shubham Gill and Gurkeerat Singh fell without doing much as Punjab became 118 for 3. Abhishek Sharma then took the score past 200 in the company of Mandeep. When he fell for 46, only 18 were needed, which Mandeep and Mayank Sidhana knocked off with just under nine overs to spare.

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Smith lauds O’Keefe, batsmen for adapting to ‘driest surface’

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‘A lot of preparation went into this’ – O’Keefe

If you thought for a moment that this was like any other win for Australia, think again. It was so special, so rare, that Steven Smith knew to the day the length of the drought his men had broken. “We haven’t won a game here for 4502 days,” he said after Australia’s triumph in Pune. The number rolled easily off his tongue in every interview. It might be imprinted in his brain forever.

When Australia last won a Test in India – in late 2004 – Smith was 15 years old, Matt Renshaw was an eight-year-old English boy living in New Zealand, Mitchell Starc was a 14-year-old wicketkeeper, and Steve O’Keefe was a 19-year-old yet to make his first-class debut.

Here, Smith made a century he will remember for the rest of his life, Renshaw scored more runs than any Indian batsman, Starc scored more runs than any Indian batsman (to go with a couple of important wickets), and O’Keefe gained better figures than any visiting spinner had ever before achieved in a Test in India.

And all of this on a pitch that should have suited India. “It was one of the most difficult wickets you’ll bat on,” Smith told ABC radio after the win. “This was, from day one, the driest surface and most inconsistent sort of spinning surface that I’ve ever seen. It’ll be interesting to see what they’ll come up with [for the second Test].”

Yet for all of that, Australia outperformed India in every facet of the game, more than doubling India’s total in each innings. Their batsmen found ways to score, their bowlers created more chances, their fielders snapped them up. Australia’s frontline spinner, Nathan Lyon, took five wickets for the match, but the stand-out was O’Keefe, who claimed 12.

Compare this to India’s two lead spinners: R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja managed “only” 12 wickets between them. Smith said the result was credit both to the way O’Keefe adjusted his bowling to suit the Indian conditions, and to the way Australia’s batsmen resisted the urge to chase deliveries that might turn away.

“A lot of our right-handers – and left-handers – got beaten on the outside edge of the bat,” Smith said. “Those guys are big spinners of the ball, and generally it’s the one that goes straight that gets you in a bit of trouble. It’s great the guys are learning and actually playing for that straight one and allowing the other one to spin past the bat. That has been a big learning curve for us as a team for a while.

“It’s great that we were able to implement the things that we’ve practised and talked about in the game. In regards to our spinners, I think SOK [O’Keefe], compared to Jadeja, probably goes a little bit wider of the crease and a little bit more side-arm, so potentially doesn’t have to get the ball to straighten quite as much to find the outside edge. It’s really smart bowling and you reap the rewards for that.”

In the first innings, O’Keefe picked up three of his wickets through outside edges and one from a stumping that beat the edge; in the second, five of his six wickets came from attacking the stumps for lbw or bowled dismissals. His match haul of 12 for 70 was second only to Ian Botham’s 13-wicket bag in Mumbai in 1980 for a visiting bowler in India.

“I love SOK’s willingness to learn, and try different things and adapt to different conditions,” Smith said. “He’s able to bowl differently to what he does back home. Back home he gets over the top of the ball a lot more, and here he comes around it and changes his seam positions and gets the most natural variation out of the wicket – very similar to Jadeja.”

O’Keefe was Man of the Match, but Smith’s contribution was also significant. In the second innings, he came to the crease at 10 for 1 and soon Australia were 23 for 2; they had a healthy lead already, but a collapse could have handed the momentum back to India. Smith had some fortune, dropped three times, but went on to make 109. Among Australians, only Mark Taylor and Damien Martyn had previously made second-innings hundreds in India.

“I obviously rode my luck throughout the innings and had a few lives, but you need a bit of luck on a wicket like that,” he said. “I was pleased with myself to score a second-innings hundred here in India and formulate some different sort of plans than how I normally play and problem-solve on the spot. From that aspect I’m pleased with myself and it was great we were able to get such a big lead.”

That Australia emerged with a win in India for the first time in 4502 days was a remarkable achievement, and Smith was understandably proud of his men. But he was also at pains to note that much work remained in order to win the series – although as the holders of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy one more victory would be enough for Australia to retain it.

“It’s only one game,” Smith said. “It’s a four-match series, and we’d like to win the series. For us it’s about taking it one day at a time.”

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

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‘How not to bat’: Kohli faults batsmen not pitch

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‘Conceding such a lead on such a pitch criminal’ – Kohli

Lowest match total for two all-out innings in India. Quickest end to two all-out innings in India. India’s fourth-lowest match total. The third-quickest they have taken to be bowled out. If India asked for this pitch, they have been hoisted by their own petard. India’s captain Virat Kohli, though, insisted that he had not asked for this pitch, saw nothing wrong with the pitch, and pulled himself and his fellow batsmen up for capitulating for a total of 212 runs in 74 overs.

Asked if he or his team had asked for this pitch at a ground with a reputation for flat hard surfaces, Kohli said: “I don’t know. I didn’t speak to anyone.”

About the pitch itself Kohli said: “I don’t think it was any different from the turners that we played on in the past. We just didn’t play good cricket. You can ask me any sort of question or any perception about the loss. We know exactly what happened, the mistakes that we made. External perceptions don’t matter to us, they have never mattered to us.

“We played good cricket, that’s why we won. We played bad cricket, and that’s why we lost. That’s how simply we look at this defeat. We just want to take the learnings forward, improve and come back stronger in the next game. I can assure you that we are going to come back with more intent for sure, and put Australia under pressure straight from ball one.”

Once the pitch was laid out, India had the option of strengthening the batting like they did on a similar pitch in Nagpur against South Africa. Kohli defended the selection. “We wanted to pick up 20 wickets, we did manage to do that,” Kohli said. “I mean, not in time. I would say we did make breakthroughs but we could’ve done it quicker and if you don’t grab your chances in the second innings, if you drop five chances of one batsman, then you certainly don’t deserve to win. If you get bowled out within 11 runs and lose seven wickets, you don’t deserve to win a Test match.

“You can speak about combinations… I’m sure you wouldn’t have asked this question had we won the game. The question changes drastically when you win or lose. A lot of things are result-oriented, but not with our team. We focus on what we can do right, and what we need to do right on field, and we don’t drift away from that. Our mindset doesn’t change with the results.”

Kohli said Indian saw the defeat as “no big deal”. “It’s fine,” Kohli said of the mood in the dressing room. “It’s just another international game. It’s no big deal. It’s how you should stay calm and composed when you win, how you shouldn’t get overexcited. The same way you react when you lose, something that you take on the chin. We take failures and losses as an opportunity to learn.”

The defeat ended India’s 19-Test unbeaten streak, and Kohli looked back to their previous defeat for inspiration. “The last time we had a performance like this [in Galle, against Sri Lanka], we had the most outstanding run after that,” Kohli said. “I would say that we needed something like this for us to get a reality check and understand what are the things we need to work on and keep persisting with it. Not take anything for granted at any stage, especially at the Test-match level.”

Kohli blamed his batsmen for not applying themselves, but defended his bowlers, who were outdone by Australia who had little experience of bowling in such conditions. “The way we batted in the first innings, I think we put ourselves under a lot of pressure to be honest,” Kohli said. “Conceding a 160-run lead on that kind of wicket is criminal actually. If we were close enough to their first-innings total, the bowlers’ mindset is different in the second innings. The moment you give away 50-60 runs, the game is drifting away already.

“It’s very difficult to pull things back from there, even a single run hurts from thereon. And I would say our batsmen put us in that position where it was very difficult for us to come back into the game. Am not blaming the bowlers at all, they tried their level best, someone like Umesh [Yadav] bowling well in the first innings was great to see on a slowish wicket. They bowled in good areas, they put Australia under pressure, they were going well in the first innings and we pulled things back nicely. A few things we can take away from this game but [only] from bowling aspect. Our batting wasn’t up to standard, and that’s certainly how we shouldn’t bat from here onwards.’

When asked what the Australia spinners did right in comparison to India’s, Kohli found no flaw with his unit. “I think our spinners bowled really well as well,” he said. “I wouldn’t say what they did better. As I said, if you don’t apply yourself, any bowling attack can look dangerous. It’s as simple as that. Even a part-timer can get four wickets if you don’t apply yourself. And I certainly would like to think that that was the case with our batting line-up in this game. It rarely happens that four-five batsmen make errors in judgement in both the innings, especially with the way we batted in the last few months. I would say this was our worst batting performance and we need to accept that.”

One of the errors was Kohli’s, when he shouldered arms to become one of Steve O’Keefe’s 12 wickets in the match. This image was the most symbolic of all. Ravindra Jadeja had done this to Steven Smith in Delhi in 2012-13, and to Hashim Amla in Mohali in 2015-16. Now Kohli watched in horror as his off stump was laid flat. Kohli was forthcoming about his mistake.

“It was a judgement error from my side,” he said. “I left the ball too early. I should have waited for the ball a little more. You can’t say which ball is going to turn or which isn’t. You’ve got to play the line, and I certainly didn’t do that. It was my fault.”

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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