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Malinga slings back into menacing form

Lasith Malinga returned to ODI cricket with a fiery spell in Dubai

Rilava bene, girava gahe.
For all non-Sinhala speakers, this pithy sentence was the one that banished Lasith Malinga to the wilderness. When Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister, Dayasiri Jayasekara, questioned the fitness levels of certain members of the team in June 2017, it was widely assumed he was taking a dig at Malinga.

The response? Rilava bene, girava gahe. Roughly translated from Sinhala, this equates to: “What does a monkey know about a parrot’s nest? This is like a monkey getting into a parrot’s nest and talking about it.”

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And we’re back!

The Asia Cup 2018 has begun in Dubai and it’s time to get into the groove once more. Check out some of the early missives from the cricket ground in the middle of the desert.

India are always favourites, but Pakistan are at home in Dubai and the rest aren’t here to make up the numbers

As simple as the flicking of a switch or the changing of channels with the press of a button on your remote, Indian fans will be transported from the relatively cool heat-wave climes of England, where India lost 1-4, to Dubai, where it will be 40 degrees centigrade in the shade, the cricket balls white and kit blue.

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Vintage Yuvraj puts Pakistan in the shade

Yuvraj Singh

It was a Yuvraj special that made the difference in Birmingham

Yuvraj Singh announced his arrival in international cricket in a tournament then known as the International Cricket Council KnockOut in Nairobi. Exactly 295 One-Day Internationals later, he was difference between a decent score and a matchwinning one in the ICC Champions Trophy, a solid 17 years later.

The stage changed from sunny Nairobi to wet Birmingham, the tournament renamed itself, the opposition was not Steve Waugh’s Australia but Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Pakistan. One thing remained endearingly the same: Yuvraj dug out a Glenn McGrath full ball with ferocious intent then, and Hasan Ali suffered the same fate, the followthrough that once reminded the late great Hanif Mohammad of Garry Sobers, being shortened to an economical punch.

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Williamson is more than able to compete with the best

Kane Williamson

Kane Williamson is more than able to compete with the best

For all those people wondering why the Indian team’s principal sponsor is a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer while India’s biggest dairy producer is proudly on the front of the Black Caps’ jerseys, Kane Williamson provided the answer on a rain-drenched Friday in Birmingham.

After scoring a century that was typically smooth, not one shot played in anger despite bringing up three figures off only 96 balls against an Australian attack that was rated among the best at the Champions Trophy, Williamson refused to curse his team’s luck after rain cut short Australia’s innings with them 25 runs behind on the Duckworth-Lewis Stern curve.

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All-round India too good for Pakistan

India v Pakistan

Predictable Pakistan are mercurial no more

It was not so long ago that Indian fans went into a World Cup honestly thinking that the final result was irrelevant. Reaching the final was good, winning would be a bonus, but beating Pakistan on the way there was non-negotiable. In Birmingham at the 2017 Champions Trophy there was a mildly anti-climactic feel toIndia’s comfortable 124-run win.

Here was a Pakistan team that neither mercurial nor unpredicatable. Here was an Indian team on top of its game in almost every respect. For once, India even had a fast-bowling attack far superior to the one it was facing. There was no Imran, no Wasim, no Waqar, no Shoaib, and only in Mohammad Amir’s first spell, especially the testing maiden over to Rohit Sharma first up did the match feel like a contest.

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Cricket in the time of terror

India v Pakistan

The on-field action was largely calm and quiet

It was not quite Nero fiddling while Rome burned, but there was an eerie sense of calm at leafy Edgbaston where India and Pakistan played cricket in the backdrop of the atrocities of London. Not one full sleep after a van mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge, that most English of landmarks, and knife-wielding men slashed and stabbed people at a restaurant in Borough Market, cricket provided a soothing oasis of normalcy.

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Guha wields the sword in exit

Ram Guha

Guha’s resignation made clear the divisions within the CoA

There is an irony to the fact that Ramachandra Guha’s greatest impact on the governance of Indian cricket could have been his resignation, rather than anything he achieved in his short tenure.

Guha, a lover of certain aspects of the game, a historian with impeccable credentials in his area of expertise was an unusual choice, to say the least, for a seat on the Committee of Administrators. Certainly the haughty attitude he had towards Twenty20 cricket in general, and the Indian Premier League, in particular, left many wondering how he would reconcile his personal opinions with his professional ones.

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Nice guys New Zealand take on arch rivals

New Zealand v Australia

Do nice guys always finish last?

What can you expect when one of the nicest teams in world cricket takes on one built on a legacy of aggression, snarling and on-field skirmishes? New Zealand transformed the way audiences viewed cricketers when they rose to Brendon McCullum’s calls to play the game in a manner that was both attacking and well-behaved.

Kane Williamson, the man taking forward McCullum’s world view, has ensured that even in the face of severe provocation, the focus remains on runs and wickets, with his mates not falling into the trap or responding with words. He might be in for a bit of a surprise in the latest Australia-New Zealand clash, for Australia’s players are embroiled in a fight with their cricket board that may leave them with no appetite to dish it out on the field.

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What next for inventive Birmingham?

Birmingham

The world has much to thank Birmingham for

Maternity, it is often said, is a certainty, while paternity is a myth. And so it bears that necessity may be the mother of invention, but Birmingham never got credit for being the father.

Anyone reading these words, with acceptable and understandable skepticism should know they would not be doing so, if not for the good folk of the City of a Thousand Trades.

After all, it was Conway Berners-Lee, Birmingham bred, who brought the world the first computer, the Ferranti Mark 1, in 1951, and whose son Tim put forward the first proposal for something that we now know as the World Wide Web, in 1989. But before solving the transmission conundrum, there was the small matter of listening to the players, and Birmingham’s Michael Gerzon invented the microphone, in 1975. Go back further to 1822 and you can thank John Mitchell, who pioneered the technology of mass producing steel-nib pens when the quill was still mightier than the sword.

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Kumble-Kohli rift or smoke without fire?

Anil Kumble

The rift that nobody can confirm has made speculation rife

When did you stop beating your wife?

More children died in Iraq because of US bombings than Hiroshima, was it worth it?

Should a slap delivered to a naughty child as part of responsible parenting be considered violent behaviour?

These are only obvious examples of the concept of a loaded question, one which cannot be answered in any satisfactory manner without the respondent either implicating himself or sounding positively evasive.

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