|SPORTS & WELLNESS|
ON the ground it has been a good year for Indian cricket. Even as it probably missed out a sure medal in the just concluded Asian Games at Guangzhou, with the BCCI not opting to sending a team (either men or women) citing "prior commitments." India has been able to retain its number one rank in Test cricket while clawing its way up in the one-day rankings, where it currently occupies the second spot behind arch rivals Australia.
Of the 12 Tests India has played so far, it won nine and has drawn the remaining three, remarkable achievements, but for the fact that most of the matches were played at home. And speaking of Australia, the rivalry seen in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is something now akin to the keenness to the clashes seen in the Ashes. India have not lost a single Test match in the year so far and their series against South Africa, beginning on December 15, will be keenly watched to see whether the South Africans can unseat India from the top pedestal. In one-day cricket, they have a 60 per cent win record, winning 15 of their 25 games (taking the third game of the India-New Zealand series at Vadodara into consideration).
Of course, Indian cricket
did have its share of controversies in the form of the IPL and the now
disgraced IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, who refused to return home from
London. The board has restructured the IPL governing body, suspended two
teams and is desperately trying to retain brand IPL while looking
towards two new teams. But the controversy refuses to die down with the
governing body yet to finalise the format of IPL 4.
Like the previous year, India’s challenge in Test cricket is being powered by the old firm of Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag, as also batsmen like Gautam Gambhir (who, incidentally, has done a remarkable job as a stand-in captain in the one-day series against New Zealand), skipper Mahender Dhoni and bowlers like Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, who has exhibited his cricketing skills in no uncertain terms by hitting two back-to-back Test centuries against New Zealand.
Of course, fitness problems continued to plague Zaheer Khan, who could play in only eight of the 12 Test matches India played this year. In these eight Tests, Zaheer took 41 wickets at an average of 22.92. Harbhajan, who played in 10 matches this year, took 35 wickets at an average of 42.88, not flattering figures for a bowler who is aspiring to overtake Anil Kumble’s record of Test scalps. Harbhajan’s spinning partner Pragyan Ojha, who had 33 wickets under his belt, at an average of 43.60.
But it was the Indian batsmen who really flourished this year. And it does not take too much of guessing in picking the best.
It is Sachin Tendulkar who seems to defy his age as he gets better and better. In the year gone by, he has scored runs at a furious pace. In the 12 Tests that Sachin has played this year, he has totalled 1396 runs at a phenomenal average of 82.11 with six centuries. And Sachin has yet to play a couple of games this calendar year. Not far behind is the flamboyant opener Virender Sehwag, who has so far totalled 1302 runs from 12 games with five centuries for an average of 68.52.
But the credit for India’s good show in the traditional form of the game should also go to Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman. Rahul Dravid, who has hit 31 Test centuries so far, has been lending stability to the Indian middle order for a long time and this year was no different. He played a total of 10 Tests this year, where he scored three centuries (thereby overtaking Sir Don Bradman’s tally of 29 Test hundreds) for a tally of 687 runs at an average 49.07. For a batsman who was struggling with form after he gave up the India captaincy, this is indeed a remarkable turnaround and the way the Karnataka batsman is going it seems that he has, like the more illustrious Sachin, quite some years to go in Test cricket.
It is rather unfortunate that Indian cricket folklore has not placed Hyderabad’s V.V.S. Laxman on the same pedestal like Dravid. But there is no denying the fact that this year, like on previous occasions, he proved to be the nemesis for the Australians, who went down 2-0 down to India in a two-game series. This year, Laxman, who missed some games due to injury, scored 790 runs in the nine games that he played with two centuries for an average of 79.00.
But what should worry the powers that run cricket in India is the fact that the Indian middle order is getting old and the time will come, sooner than later, to look around for replacements to these three batting stalwarts. Sachin is already 37 (1973 born), while Laxman, who is 1974 born, has been plagued by a number of niggling injuries for some time now. Similarly, Rahul Dravid who is a year older than Laxman, have served Indian cricket very well for a long time and now is the time for looking around for players who can walk into their shoes once they decide to call it a day. Already Laxman and Dravid have been eased out of the one-day squad, while Sachin may well take a call after the World Cup since this is one silverware missing from the maestro’s cupboard.
It was expected that Yuvraj Singh would become one of the mainstays of the Indian middle order but that has not materialsed. The south paw has been plagued by poor form, injuries as also attitudinal problems in his quest for greatness.
Suresh Raina and Virat
Kohli can someday take their rightful place in the middle order but for
that to happen both will have to work very hard. However, the fact
remains that the last two named players have done well in the shorter
game but will have to work hard to cement a place in the Test squad.
Raina’s highest score in ODI this year has been 106 against Sri Lanka
in the tri-nation tournament played at Dhaka in early January. Virat has
done comparatively better in ODI with a century each against Australia
and New Zealand this year. But while Raina has got his chances in Test
cricket, Kohli is still waiting for his Test cap. May be, it will happen
in the coming year.
THE winter season in north India starts in November, where you have a gulabi jadha, mild winter, which turns harsher in December and January to start declining again from mid-February. And it’s not unusual for individuals to put on weight during the colder months.
There are several potential reasons for this. Some suggest, for instance, that during winter we tend to gravitate to heavier, more calorific food, and, at the same time, are generally less active than when the weather is more agreeable. Also, one could argue that there is less ‘pressure’ to not be carrying excess weight during winter, as it’s less likely that our flab will be visible to others. Is it possible that the weather itself has some role to play in the increased weight? This may sound far-fetched, but a couple of studies recently have found that lower levels of Vitamin D (as found during the winter) are associated with higher levels of body fat. Another possible reason could be that our body is programmed to deposit fat for survival in colder seasons as part of our evolution.
Do we really need extra calories in the cold season?
The answer is no.
As long as you have a source of heat and clothing to keep body temperatures normal, you will not burn extra calories to generate heat. When people spend time outdoors in very cold weather, any extra calories they may burn keeping warm are offset by the reduction of calories burned in activity which is usually hampered by heavy clothing.
Here are some tips to stay healthy in winter:
Stick to your normal balanced diet, as there is no extra calorie requirement in cold weather.
Take advantage of the easily available seasonal fruits and vegetables. Stock up your Vitamin A reserves with palak and methi and the so-delicious sarson ka sag. Mouthwatering salads with radish, carrots, lettuce sprinkled with lemon juice are a good source of Vitamins A and C and fibre.
Methi, mooli, gobhi and palak rotis make excellent breakfast. Kinnows, oranges and amla are very rich sources of Vitamin C. They are tasty as well as low calorie!
The aroma of roasted nuts is definitely enticing in winters. But it is wise to stick to a handful only.
Gur and dates are a good source of iron, especially for vegetarians. Go ahead, have them but cut down on sugar so that the calories are balanced.
The best way to beat the blues on a cold winter evening is to have hot soups. The traditional chicken soup with black pepper would certainly pep you up! The minerals and proteins are very nourishing and the spices improve your blood circulation and keep you warm. Vegetarians could have a spicy mixed vegetable and dal soup for the same effect.
Most people who enjoy alcoholic drinks seem to justify that additional drink with the excuse that alcohol keeps you warm. On the contrary, it dilates your blood vessels, leading to lowering of body temperatures.
Make the most of the daylight in winters. For those who have the luxury, make an effort to sit out in the sun for at least 30 minutes daily. For people who are at work, go out in the sun at lunch time.The elderly should go for their walks in the afternoon. Time spent in the mild sunlight of the winters helps the body make the much needed Vitamin D. Apart from maintaining the bone health,Vitamin D helps keeping your heart healthy and it is anti-inflammatory, too.
It’s a good idea to add Omega3-rich foods like fish and flaxseeds in your diet. These are especially recommended for people with inflammatory conditions.
Since most people stay indoors during winter evenings, early dinner is highly recommended. Plan some after-dinner activity so that you just do not snuggle into most inviting quilt right after dinner.
So, be sensible! Make most of the winter bounties and improve your health this winter and come spring and summer you won’t be ashamed to show off your body beautiful.