indian cricket

Second India-Sri Lanka Twenty20: Hardik Pandya repays skipper MS Dhoni’s faith

Pushed up the order, the 22-year old from Baroda played a vital knock to ensure Sri Lanka were chasing a massive total.

Sixty nine runs does not seem an awful lot, but in Twenty20 cricket, it is as comprehensive a victory as they come. Shocked by the upstarts on a seaming pitch in Pune on Tuesday, India’s power-hitters got their revenge in Ranchi in Friday on a track more to their liking. It was a dominating performance – India were hardly troubled for large sections of the match and their 69-run victory is their third highest margin of victory in all Twenty20 Internationals they have played.

The win followed a similar script as the ones in Australia with all of India’s big names coming to the party. Shikhar Dhawan hit a half-century, Rohit Sharma finished seven runs short of one and Ravichandran Ashwin floored Sri Lanka, returning figures of just 3/14 in his four overs. But captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will probably get more pleasure out of another player’s performance – youngster Hardik Pandya who was sent up the order and repaid the captain’s confidence with a sparkling 12-ball 27.

Dhoni’s double whammy

It was a typical Dhoni double whammy. During the series in Australia, Dhoni had quite categorically stated that he was not in favour of shuffling the batting line-up, even going on record to say that “[The] experiment word is never there with the Indian team.” Yet on his home ground with thousands baying for him to come in and bat, Dhoni made an unusual move – he promoted Hardik Pandya up the order ahead of both Yuvraj Singh and himself, a move which ultimately paid rich dividends.

Pandya has been in the team for a while now but has hardly got a chance to have a meaningful knock. But thanks to Dhoni’s punt today, the 22-year old Baroda boy finally got his chance. India had got off to a good start, but after the dismissals of the two openers, things had slowed down a bit. Sri Lanka seemed to be employing the middle-over squeeze on India and someone needed to hit out.

Shift of momentum

Pandya played the role perfectly. He immediately injected urgency to proceedings, running hard with Suresh Raina at the other end and converting singles into twos. At a critical juncture at the match when it seemed Sri Lanka might be able to tie India down to a 170 plus score, Pandya slammed two massive sixes to shift the momentum. He may have finished with only 27 but his knock was far more important in the grander scheme of the match.

All-rounders are a vital commodity in cricket which may be the reason why the selectors fast-tracked Pandya into the team, with an eye on the upcoming World Twenty20. But whatever doubt there was about his capabilities should be erased now. Pandya adds a vital finishing link to the Indian squad – a multi-faceted all-rounder who can bowl and can finish off games with power hitting. Twenty20 may be chaotic but India may have found a formula to excel amidst the madness.

Second Twenty20: India (196/6 in 20 overs) beat Sri Lanka (127/9 in 20 overs) by 69 runs.

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As India turns 70, London School of Economics asks some provocative questions

Is India ready to become a global superpower?

Meaningful changes have always been driven by the right, but inconvenient questions. As India completes 70 years of its sovereign journey, we could do two things – celebrate, pay our token tributes and move on, or take the time to reflect and assess if our course needs correction. The ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, the annual flagship summit of the LSE (London School of Economics) South Asia Centre, is posing some fundamental but complex questions that define our future direction as a nation. Through an honest debate – built on new research, applied knowledge and ground realities – with an eclectic mix of thought leaders and industry stalwarts, this summit hopes to create a thought-provoking discourse.

From how relevant (or irrelevant) is our constitutional framework, to how we can beat the global one-upmanship games, from how sincere are business houses in their social responsibility endeavours to why water is so crucial to our very existence as a strong nation, these are some crucial questions that the event will throw up and face head-on, even as it commemorates the 70th anniversary of India’s independence.

Is it time to re-look at constitution and citizenship in India?

The Constitution of India is fundamental to the country’s identity as a democratic power. But notwithstanding its historical authority, is it perhaps time to examine its relevance? The Constitution was drafted at a time when independent India was still a young entity. So granting overwhelming powers to the government may have helped during the early years. But in the current times, they may prove to be more discriminatory than egalitarian. Our constitution borrowed laws from other countries and continues to retain them, while the origin countries have updated them since then. So, do we need a complete overhaul of the constitution? An expert panel led by Dr Mukulika Banerjee of LSE, including political and economic commentator S Gurumurthy, Madhav Khosla of Columbia University, Niraja Gopal Jayal of JNU, Chintan Chandrachud the author of the book Balanced Constitutionalism and sociologist, legal researcher and Director of Council for Social Development Kalpana Kannabiran will seek answers to this.

Is CSR simply forced philanthropy?

While India pioneered the mandatory minimum CSR spend, has it succeeded in driving impact? Corporate social responsibility has many dynamics at play. Are CSR initiatives mere tokenism for compliance? Despite government guidelines and directives, are CSR activities well-thought out initiatives, which are monitored and measured for impact? The CSR stipulations have also spawned the proliferation of ambiguous NGOs. The session, ‘Does forced philanthropy work – CSR in India?” will raise these questions of intent, ethics and integrity. It will be moderated by Professor Harry Barkema and have industry veterans such as Mukund Rajan (Chairman, Tata Council for Community Initiatives), Onkar S Kanwar (Chairman and CEO, Apollo Tyres), Anu Aga (former Chairman, Thermax) and Rahul Bajaj (Chairman, Bajaj Group) on the panel.

Can India punch above its weight to be considered on par with other super-powers?

At 70, can India mobilize its strengths and galvanize into the role of a serious power player on the global stage? The question is related to the whole new perception of India as a dominant power in South Asia rather than as a Third World country, enabled by our foreign policies, defense strategies and a buoyant economy. The country’s status abroad is key in its emergence as a heavyweight but the foreign service officers’ cadre no longer draws top talent. Is India equipped right for its aspirations? The ‘India Abroad: From Third World to Regional Power’ panel will explore India’s foreign policy with Ashley Tellis, Meera Shankar (Former Foreign Secretary), Kanwal Sibal (Former Foreign Secretary), Jayant Prasad and Rakesh Sood.

Are we under-estimating how critical water is in India’s race ahead?

At no other time has water as a natural resource assumed such a big significance. Studies estimate that by 2025 the country will become ‘water–stressed’. While water has been the bone of contention between states and controlling access to water, a source for political power, has water security received the due attention in economic policies and development plans? Relevant to the central issue of water security is also the issue of ‘virtual water’. Virtual water corresponds to the water content (used) in goods and services, bulk of which is in food grains. Through food grain exports, India is a large virtual net exporter of water. In 2014-15, just through export of rice, India exported 10 trillion litres of virtual water. With India’s water security looking grim, are we making the right economic choices? Acclaimed author and academic from the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, Amita Bavisar will moderate the session ‘Does India need virtual water?’

Delve into this rich confluence of ideas and more at the ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, presented by Apollo Tyres in association with the British Council and organized by Teamworks Arts during March 29-31, 2017 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. To catch ‘India @ 70’ live online, register here.

At the venue, you could also visit the Partition Museum. Dedicated to the memory of one of the most conflict-ridden chapters in our country’s history, the museum will exhibit a unique archive of rare photographs, letters, press reports and audio recordings from The Partition Museum, Amritsar.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Teamwork Arts and not by the Scroll editorial team.