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Four test playing nations. A former World Number One lost its way to experience one of the lowest points in the annals of their sporting history. In recent times, a supremely insurmountable side at home became more prone to defeats. A team famously regarded as the most volatile side to have taken the field endured isolation and wilderness in the Arabian deserts. A team deemed misfit started making significant strides that the world took note of. These are tumultuous yet exciting times for the test playing nations from the subcontinent.

One day, the leaves wither as they turn old. India and Sri Lanka are primarily experiencing this phase. There are more greens on their tree today. Pakistan is almost in a situation where the leaves are about to fall. The cricketing expiry for Misbah and Younus is much closer than what it was yesterday. Take the story of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, for example. The chances of comeback become slim for the veteran sportsmen moment the form slips away. As long as the fire in the lamp withstands the external pressure of the winds, these legendary players can continue writing more pages in their autobiographies.

 

India, now in the Sri Lankan shores, are all set to be challenged in conditions they are more familiar of. Ever since the dramatic 8-0 whitewashes in 2011-12, India showed mild signs of recovery. They have had to reshuffle the batting line up ever since the glorious trinity signed off along with the famous Delhi openers who seem to have lost their mojo. Fortunately, they have managed to construct another batting order which a lot of top ranked test countries can feel jealous about. But that’s about the best part of the segment that the team can feel proud of. As a unit, the losses at South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia meant that the slide wasn’t arrested. With the one-off Bangladesh test abandoned due to rain, this Lankan tour is the beginning of a two year journey around the rivers and mountains of the sub-continent.

With a new leader and with the Board all set to soon announce the new coach, who would be the man to plot the route map for the future, India’s test resurgence is in tricky waters. The followers of the sport in the mad nation have had a long break since the IPL. Since IPL they have had to endure an ignominious one-day tour of Bangladesh. It has been the longest break for the team for a long time. Kohli has promised that he will play five bowlers thus thrusting more responsibility both on the top and the lower order batsmen. So far, Kohli’s approach as a leader has been all about making the moves to create a positive result. The aggressive attitude now goes a step further to embolden and empower the players with more trust and responsibility. It is time for his players to contribute with a very conscious mindset craving for consistency. With more matches scheduled in the sub-continent, the onus would be on the spinners to take lead with the attack.

On the other side of the border, Pakistan’s resurgence in test cricket has been nothing less than extraordinary. It is no easy task to defend at the adopted home as well as to beat the Lankans in their territory. Significantly, the batsmen contributed crucial runs for their bowlers to pick twenty wickets. After a relentless search for steady batsmen who build their game on temperament, Pakistan seem to have solved the puzzle. Ahmed Shehzad’s ability to convert starts into hundreds has provided a reasonable stability at the top of the order. Shan Masood, is still very young. But he showed enough gumption to convince about his ability and temperament. Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali have been the biggest finds for Pakistan cricket in recent times. They have been the pillars around whom the game revolves. The best part about the two is that, they emerge from a different school of cricket where calmness and patience are considered as stepping stones for success. Shafiq and Ali have both tasted success and have good knowledge of what it takes to score hundreds in test matches. Between Shafiq and Ali, come the most experienced Pakistani pair of Younus Khan and Misbah Ul Haq. While they both don’t seem to come close to an end with their careers, Pakistan’s fresh approach in ODIs gives a good look into their batting resources when the legends call it a day. That Pakistan completed a rout in Sri Lanka, defeating the hosts in all formats of the game, shows that the team is experiencing a positive growth. After the final T20, there were great scenes of camaraderie and team bonding. Importantly, Pakistan have showed that they enough stomach for challenge and hunger for victory.

The inclusion of Sarfaraz Ahmed in the middle order is the single most powerful addition for their line-up. Teams are prone to produce inconsistent results if they carry a lot of flashy batsmen. Such batsmen will change the complexion of the game within a session or two. Since their approach can’t be tempered, it would be difficult to expect them play a fighting innings. Sarfaraz, amazingly, can play both roles. He has lent fire to the batting order that finally found solidity and method to their game.

While Pakistan need not worry about the fast bowler produce, Saeed Ajmal’s exit from the scene could have spelt dooms for any team. Yasir Shah’s emergence as an attacking leg spinner smoothened the transition. Yasir Shah provides Misbah with both control and strike force. When the batsmen succeed, Shah becomes a bigger prospect for Pakistan’s success. The way he bowled in Sri Lanka on not so friendly surfaces was a display of his stern character and his ability to play according to the conditions.

Pakistan’s biggest challenge, though, is yet to arrive. They have slowly begun to become a strong opponent in home conditions. But just like how the challenge was for India, or for that matter any other subcontinent team, Pakistan’s ability to survive and succeed will be tested on a bigger scale when they play in Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand.

The latest victim of the Bangladesh assault were the South Africans. Not so long ago, Bangladesh gave both India and Pakistan a rude lesson that told the world that they have finally arrived. While Bangladesh’s resurgence has mostly been in the ODIs, they made some impression when they bowled out South Africa for under 250 and took an important lead in the first test at Dhaka. The promise that Bangladesh have shown in the past six months only makes us believe that the team has matured heads who are ready to act responsibly for team’s success now. At the helm of affairs is Hathurusinghe, who is carving a legacy of his own with this resurgence. The coach has gone the long yards to make his team believe that they definitely can. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mashrafe Mortaza have absorbed enough quality of international cricket, that they can be the torch bearers for Bangladesh cricket now. These players have shown immense maturity in taking ownership on the field and guiding the younger ones in the best way possible.

Considering the following that Bangladesh have in their backyard, it was going to be impossible for them to never improve. All this while, the stars who are torch bearers today were seeking inspiration to grow bigger. Their heroes never made it big. They got back home defeated again and again.

With Australia touring Bangladesh next, there wouldn’t be a better measure of their progress than testing it against Australia’s Gold Standard.

Sri Lanka have a problem aplenty. It is a mixed scenario that each of India and Pakistan have experienced for a long time. Under Angelo Mathews, this Lankan team is taking baby steps with their resurgence. The best aspect of this resurgence has been the performance of their fast bowlers. The tank is full with quality that Mathews can afford to prepare fast and seaming tracks for their bowlers to achieve desired results. Dhammika Prasad has come of age. Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera have had their moments. Twenty three year old Chameera, especially, has come for a lot of praise. Along with the captain himself, Sri Lanka’s pace attack are in good shape for the present and for the immediate future.

But their real concerns come with their batsmen. Jayawardane is gone. Dilshan is gone. So will Sangakkara by the end of this month. While the batting has shown odd sparks with Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews continues to be the lynch pin in this batting order. The replacements and the next-in-line are the players who have been there with the team earlier. Jehan Mubarak’s and Upul Tharanga’s selections gives away the fact that the older men who were discarded before, continue to be the best of the lot to play test cricket. Sangakkara’s fear in the loss of quality in the first class cricket, is well placed. If the structure can’t produce new talents then there is something wrong that needs to be fixed at the earliest.

The Lankans trust Chandimal and Thirimanne a lot. While they have been impressive in shorter formats, both players need to raise their hands up now to shoulder responsibility. The series against India, is hence going to be very crucial for these two players. If both of them fail to make any mark, the middle order will be in tatters.

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Worsening Insecurity: CUPP Calls For Buhari’s Resignation

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The Leadership of the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign from office following his inability to curtail the worsening insecurity situation in the country.

The Coalition, in a statement issued in Abuja by its Media Committee Chairman, Chukwudi Ezeobika, insisted that Buhari should resign because of the unprecedented level of ineptitude and incompetence that characterized his APC led government.

The CUPP also lamented that the present administration lacked the requisite intelligence and or capacity to protect the lives and property of the Nigerian citizens which remain the primary responsibility of this very government.

The statement reads; “We as a Coalition view with serious concerns, the prolonged injustices, and inequities perpetrated by the Buhari regime which have consistently divided the Nation along ethnic and religious lines and which have the potential to cause the disintegration of the Nigerian State.

“The increasing insurgency, kidnapping and uncontrolled terrorist activities orchestrated by the illegal activities of Fulani herdsman in connivance with ISIS and ISWAP terrorists have shown that the Buhari administration lacks the requisite intelligence and or capacity to protect lives and property of the Nigerian citizens which remain the primary responsibility of this very government.

“The unprecedented rot in critical sectors and life of the Nigerian State such as security, health, power, and economy as well as in other critical democratic institutions, have made it expedient for Muhammadu Buhari to redeem the Nigerian State and honourably resign as President and Commander in Chief.

“The looming agitations for secession by various Confederating units and indigenous groups in Nigeria are as a result of the reprehensible actions and or inactions of the Buhari-led government which assault, on a daily basis, the very spirit of our unity and corporate coexistence as a people.

“The ongoing destruction of numerous democratic institutions in Nigeria, most especially security networks and structures as well as electoral institutions, portends grave danger to democracy and Rule of Law in Nigeria.

“The uncontrolled daily maiming and killing of Military and Police Officers across the States of the federation, calls to question, the competence of the sitting President in the discharge of the functions attaching to his office as the Commander in Chief.

“The inept and incompetent leadership consciously foisted on Nigerians by the Buhari administration is responsible for unlawful killings, kidnappings, and maiming of innocent Nigerian citizens across the length and breadth of the federation with no hope in sight.

“Being at the very point of disintegration and total collapse, we as a Coalition, call on all Nigerians to be awakened to these very realities which pose an imminent threat to our collective survival and coexistence as a people.

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A Poem On The Nigerian Army “Nigeria Without The Army”

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Nigeria, without the Army, Africa’s queen of the Prairie, The land of our proud forefathers, Overtaken by killer vampires and hyenas,  Dangling in air minutely, Devourers of your precious children, Who descend like swarms of bees on honey, Over your hapless children and, battered souls so delightfully,  In brutal extermination, This generation would have gone extinct, Ancestors would have been long invited for a funeral feast.

Even in dazing fear of blighting enemy swords, Of Boko Haram and their first cousins, The sacredness of our lives violated; Crude oil praying mantis of the Delta,  Explosively poured the black gold in our faces, We burned and survivors’ deserted homes for fear.

Ruthless bandits of the North and cattle thieves, Invaded our lands in millions, Replacing the nostalgia of rural life, With sounds of automatic guns; Eastern mercantile secessionists, Campaigned in bloodshed of kinsmen and strangers alike.

The electoral brigands and thugs, Wished democracy seized in Nigeria in 2019, As arranged guns and ammunitions floated, Everywhere like shrubs on sea surface at peak of rains; And virus Corona came with fresh troubles! Snaking through foreign valleys, Uncle Corona landed its fury in Nigeria, Sparing no friend nor foe,
The foreign demons hungrily, Foraged our hamlets; Searching for the next victim. Yes! searching for the next victim!

Luck Dube echoed it in mournful lyrics, We were all the “next victims,” Like blacks under apartheid South Africa.
Innocent victims of no evil on our hands, But Golgotha awaited us, With the hellish ambience of slayers , Killer vendors of herdsmen and farmers, Caused forlornness of fertile lands,  The fields left uncultivated,  Hunger loomed monstrously in mama’s kitchen.

But alas, the lone soldier shadowed, Smiling and stern simultaneously, He brought peace and war against,
Our cursed enemies, Of blood and perditions,  Vacated the war songs chanters on our graves, Seized killer blades, knives and guns and bombs, The assailants’ thrusted in frightened faces, As we stood askance, helpless!

But the men in khaki buffered, Enacted rehearsal of salvation from Almighty Yaweh, Operation Delta Safe came,
And militants went on self-exile; And day time dance of the Python, Descended bliss in the East of South.

Soldiers sermons on “Peace by all means,”  Sent Boko Haramists to the land of ghosts and repentance “Dole,”
Operation Sahel Sanity, dismembered the bandit’s clan , Uncle Corona balked from daring our lives, With soldiers mounting sentinels, At city and village gates, The deadly virus paused infectious, Campaigns, recoiled and cringed.

Election riggers and activists, Of violence sneezed, rather than barked, At Nigeria’s democracy, with frowzy faces,
In painful reminiscence of defeat, A reunion renewed among herders and farmers, In the grassy and greenish Middle Belt.

The fields became green with crops, Dancing to the tantalizing breeze, Awaiting harvest to fill empty bellies,
Looming starvation starved itself, And migrated to other nations, Far from us; far from us!

#EndSARS hoodlums despoiled the land, In pains and destructions, But have regained lost senses, Because the soldier! the soldier!! stood firm.

Eulogies of this soldier have filled heavens , Nigeria quakes; the earth quakes, With joyful songs at dawn, In tumultuous praises of these heroes, As token of our appreciation, Of the kindness and sacrifices,
To save us and preserve Nigeria!

Ooh! Soldier, your bed of roses, Is set in our carnival of celebrations, In expectations of your heroic home arrival.

Composed by Michelle Aluor

 

 

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Playing The China Card in the U.S. Presidential Election?

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Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn is a CGTN anchor, public intellectual, international corporate strategist, investment banker, and recipient of China Reform Friendship Medal. The article reflects the author’s opinions

I’m Robert Lawrence Kuhn and here’s what I’m watching: Playing the “China card” in the U.S. presidential election campaign. “China card”? In this election, it’s more like playing a whole “deck” of China cards.

The contest between President Trump and his presumptive Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, will be a slug-out brawl. Who can best bash China will be the winner, they believe, the tough-guy champion. Each will accuse the other of being “soft on China” – the ultimate insult. Democrats will attack Trump for his “weak” phase one trade deal and for his initial praise of China in containing the coronavirus. Republicans will attack Biden for his past engagements with China and for his son’s alleged financial dealings.

Specific policies – trade, technology, human rights, South China Sea – will not be debated much. Rather, each side will use generalized hyperbole to try to convince public opinion that their man is tougher on China.

Politicians follow polls – even though they say they don’t, they do. A Pew poll in March found two-thirds (66 percent) of U.S. adults with a negative view of China, the highest unfavorable ever. There is a vicious cycle between political pronouncements and public opinion about China, each reinforcing the other in a race to the bottom.

Is all this negativity furthering long-term American interests? Of course not. But then neither is the anti-American vicious cycle between Chinese officials and Chinese social media furthering Chinese interests. Notwithstanding real issues on both sides, simplistic bias and one-dimensional stereotyping, on both sides, is a recipe for confrontation, not cooperation.

For decades, the “China card” has been played in American elections. It was “who lost China?” in the 1950s. In the 1992 presidential campaign, after three hard years in Sino-American relations, Bill Clinton took a hard line on China to attack his opponent, George H.W. Bush. However, once in office, Clinton sought better relations with China.

From then on, Chinese leaders recognized that they should not take how China is bandied about in American elections too seriously, but simply seek to work with the winner, whoever it will be, in a business-as-usual manner. One hopes it will be the same this cycle, though one worries, it will not.

When playing the China card in the coming campaign, accusations against China will be made – alleged unfair economics, job loss, intellectual property theft, cybertheft, human rights violations, militarism, aggressive foreign policy, the pandemic, of course. But none, I suggest, is the deep reason.

The deep reason is “nationalism,” which features in leadership cycles in all societies and all social systems. Nationalism is rooted in biological evolution, where early human allegiance to the group, the tribe, increased fitness for survival and procreation in the development of our species. Human beings have confirmed over and over again that they will bear any hardship, endure any pain, to protect the sanctity and pride of the group, which today is usually the nation-state.

I am always amazed how intelligent folk can so easily see the counter productivity of misguided nationalism when viewing dispassionately the behaviors of others, while they are so easily blinded in not discerning the same misguided nationalism in their own, similar passions.

After the U.S. election is over, a window of opportunity shall open for China and the U.S. to reset relations. The window will be narrower than normal, and the differences will be wider. Still, I have hope. I’m keeping watch. I’m Robert Lawrence Kuhn

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