Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Dead


Al-Qaeda founder and leader Osama Bin Laden is dead, according to US media reports citing officials.

The US is in possession of Bin Laden's body, the reports say. President Barack Obama is due to make a statement shortly.

Bin Laden is top of the US most wanted list.

He is accused of being behind a number of atrocities, including the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

India - the world champs!!!!

India is the world champions of cricket and what an awesome feeling for 1.2 billion Indians !!! Many people of this generation were not even born when Kapil Dev's Indian team lifted the cup in 1983. So, except the proud momentous video of Kapil lifting the cup, many couln't even relate to that win. Because youngsters of this generation haven't seen Kapil, Gavaskar and Amarnath play cricket. All they know is Sachin Tendulkar!!!! This guy has been closely followed by the young Indians because they have grown up watching him play cricket. For many of them, Sachin experience in cricket i.e 21 years is their age.

After watching him do all that is possible in cricket: highest number of runs in tests, ODI, highest single innings score in ODI cricket, highest number of centuries in both tests and ODI's ... this is the one jewel in the crown that was elusive for little champion. So, no wonder when India won the world cup, he had tears in his eyes. Probably the first time anybody woud have seen Sachin, the child-faced legend cry literally like a child. That shows how much he wanted to have that world cup winners medal. So, now everything has been achieved by him and truly he has become the 'King of Cricket'!!!

Dhoni - the boy from the small town Ranchi and look where he has gone in just a space of seven years. He has done eveything as captain: Captain of the no: 1 test team, Captain of the IPL winning team, Captain of the champions league winning team and now Captain of the world cup winning Indian team. So, for sure he is the best captain for India after Sourav Ganguly. People shouldn't forget the strong foundation to this team laid by Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid. They too deserve a tremendous applause for the way they had groomed today's senior players like Sehwag, Yuvraj singh, MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.

For me, the most important player to this team is Zaheer Khan. He has responded everytime India were in a bad position by taking very crucial wickets. Yuvraj Sigh, Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag and Munaf Patel had their moments. Harbhajan Singh was big let down. But that analysis can wait for later posts.

And finally, not least by any stretch of imagination is Gary Kirsten and his support staff. Gary along with Paddy Upton, mental conditioning coach and Eric Simmons, the bowling coach has transformed a very talented Indian team to be world beaters in every cricket stage. BCCI should do all that is possible to retain him as the Indian coach.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

India V Pakistan : World cup 2011 to be at its peak

March 30th 2011..... and you can be sure that 2 nations will come to a standstill. Overwhelming joy for one nation and depressing sorrow for the other by the end of an event. And the event is India v Pakistan in Mohali., a dream semi-final in cricket's world cup this year. Cricket at its best, thanks to the biggest rivalry which potentially can change people's moods with flows and ebbs over the course of the 8 hours.

India's campaign has been one of ups and downs and they are yet to fire together as a team. Bowling has been a big worry throughout the tournament. Except Zaheer Khan, no bowler was able to bowl consistently which is a big worry. Harbhajan Singh has been a big let down, not able to spin his magic over the opposition. Admittedly, ever team has played Harbhajan comfortably. Potentially, Harbhajan will be under more pressure as the Pakistan batsmen play spin very well.

Munaf Patel has been hot and cold but he needs to be used a defensive bowler and Munaf does that role very well. Ashwin's inclusion has been a breath of fresh air and he will be the trump card for MS Dhoni.

India's batting is yet to peak and its best for them if people like Sehwag, Yuvraj,Dhoni and Raina play around the likes of Sachin, Kohli and Gambhir. Batting woes still persist and they would have to sort out the risk of a batting collpase in the first innings. Dhoni is yet to fire as a batsman and he generally plays well against Pakistan. Pakistan has clever bowlers like Gul, Razzaq and Afridi. They would challenge the Indian top order and they have to be prepared for the Pakistani onslaught.

Pakistan on the other hand, has a weak batting order and its highly reliant on Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq to pull them out from difficult situations. Watch out for the young Umar Akmal. This young lad has a great technique and will for sure shine in the future. Inconsistent batsman like Kamran Akmal and Afridi has to step up to the plate and be counted. Razzaq can be dangerous in his own ways. Bowling has beenn very strong throughout the tournament with the likes of Gul, Razzaq and Afridi. Its time for Shoaib Akhtar to be in the team and he will take the bowling to the next level.

Fielding has been a worry for both the teams and so don't expect sensational fielding effort from both the teams. So, on paper India looks a better team on paper but dont be surprised if Pakistanis upstage the Indians in Mohali. High octane matches like these make new heroes and ride their team all the way. The team which holds its nerve and controls pressure will eventually win the match. Either way, one sub-continental team will surely play the Final on April 2.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

These days, 330 is the new 250 in ODI cricket : England given a taste of their own medicine

Kumble and his boys have given a batting paradise to the cricketing fraternity for this world cup so far. A pathetic decline in the bowling skills across the board have left batsmen the kings of cricket. Earlier it was the Indian bowlers who infused great amount of belief to many a the beach cricket bowlers in Chennai that they could challenge the Harbhajans and the Zaheer Khans of the world. Now its the turn of the English lads to show their ridiculously mediocre bowling prowess.

Broad, Anderson, Swann.. you name it and he was punished mercilessly. What an effort by the Irish boys to oust the heroes of the Ashes last year!!!! 'Associate nations sidelined for the next WC' - ahem... Get your papers tomorrow morning to see sea of green in the front pages. Egg on the faces on those who said these minnows just make up numbers for the Cricket WC in the Indian sub-continent.

Bangalore crowd - watch out for a shock again on Sunday!!! Indians should be very careful against these minnows and especially the lessers teams in the Group B. MSD - Dont think of South Africa and West Indies just yet. You have Ireland and Netherlands in the waiting.

Stats and scores can wait... Just not important in great games like these.. But for those stat-hungry people , England made 327/8, thanks to a decent knocks from Trott and Bell, but it was Kevin O'Brien's day out. Fabulous and one of best WC knocks rocketed Ireland to a win by 3 wickets against rivals-in-a-way England.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cricket is played by batsman and also the BOWLERS : Tonight, Dhoni found out that the hard way

'Should Sachin come down the order? Should Dhoni promote himself up to No: 4? Should Raina play instead of Pathan?. Sachin or Sehwag play 40 overs every match and the match is in our bag. ' ------ Its all rubbish if you cant pick up 10 wickets in a match. You go in effectively with one and a half bowlers and very soon you will see the Indian cricket team just getting blown away by all the top teams out of this world cup. England batting was all top class, accepted but Indian bowlers looked irritatingly below par. They didnt show any skill, bowled as though they dont care about the outcome of the match.

World cup winners in the past have one thing in common. They had a potent bowling attack in their ranks, whether it was the West Indies team of the 70's, the pakistan team in '92 or the all powerful Australian attack of the past decade. I am not even suggesting that this Indian team shoould be compared with those teams. But the present Indian bowling attack is under the mercy of their batting legends to show off themselves as a decent bowling attack.

We will analyse the current bowling attack of the Indian worldcup squad:

Zaheer Khan : He is a very impornant wicket taking bowler and the whole team looks at him to get them early wickets. Yet he is not in the league of a Brett Lee or Dale Steyn. He is good only in conducive bolwing conditions. He will have some odd bad day like the one today and all of a sudden the whole fast bowling attack is under threat. To be honest, he is a steady bowler who could get you two wickets and give away 45 runs every match on an average. So, to expect him to run through sides will not happen. In the end of the day, he is no McGrath, Pollock or Dale Steyn. But he is vital to this Indian attack, else honestly there is no seam attack.

Harbhajan Singh: First of all, i was confused if i should put him in this list. Last time , i heard he wants to hit a ton in ODI. This guy has just forgotten his main skill and that was offspin. Somebody has to tell him that his primary duty in the team is to bowl 10 good overs of offspin and not just economical bowling but a aggressive bowling and go for wickets. If he goes on giving away 45 runs in tem overs without a wicket, he essentially is not doing his job. Best way to show him this is to drop him from the side and replace him with the talented R Ashwin. Infact, it would allow Ashwin to show his class and emerge as the next best spinner from India. So, Harbhajan Singh should be shown his place.

Sreesanth: He was not in the team but was a last minute draft in to replace a very talented Praveen Kumar. India will very badly miss Praveen whose wonderful in-swingers and out-swingers bamboozled South Africa and New Zealand in the home series last year. Sreesanth is no good if keeps leaking important runs in crucila matches like the ones against Bangladesh. Lets hope this guy doesn't get the white cherry for the rest of the world cup. If he gets in the team again in this WC, then something is wrong with the Indian captain.

Ashish Nehra: This injury prone cricketer should is a bad selection to this squad. Poor old Srikanth can do anything as he has to choose from the pool that is given to him only. So, Nehra is in not because of his bowling prowess but because the supply system has a structural problem in India not just in essential commodities but also in the market of fast bowlers.

Munaf Patel: He is a steady bowler and that his job in the Indian team. So, dont expect anything extra-ordinary from him. He will get you one or two wickets and give away 45 runs which is fair enough. Best part is he has a constant line and length and sticks to basics. So, we must allow him to just carry on with his job and maybe demand to be kuch more agile in the field.

R Ashwin: Get this guy in the team.. He is a talented off-spinner and has a good amount of variety in his bowling armoury. Many teams havent had a look at him and his unique style would be tough for others to pick him up. Also, he can bowl at any stage of the game unlike people like Harbhajan Singh who performs at specific situations only. Ashwin will be the first choice spinner in my team.

Piyush Chawla: A good selection and leg spinners always are a good bet to get wickets. Some people would argue that Ojha would have been a better bet but this guy is also good and nobody else bowls leg spin other than him in this sqaud. (Sachin can bowl leg spin, but what that he doesnt do in cricket).

So, this Indian team will falter, if not today, but in the course of this world cup, due to a NON-EXISTENT bowling attack.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

ICC World Cup: Pakistan beat Sri Lanka in the league match

Pakistan, true to their status of the dark horse in this cricket world cup has beaten Sri Lanka in the Group A league match. Sri Lanaka played Pakistan in the Premadasa stadium in Colombo in the Day/Night encounter. Pakistan Skipper Shahid Afridi won the toss and elected to bat first. Pakistan had an unchanged team but Sri Lanka had made two changes in the team: Batsman Chamara Silva in for Kapugedera and Left armer Rengana Herath replaced the magic bowler Ajantha Mendis. Lasith Malinga was rested for the match.

Pakistan's batting got to a shaky start losing three quick wickets and then ace batsman Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq steadied the ship. They had a quick 100-run partnership. Both Younis and Misbah reached their fifties. After some last few over burst,Pakistan managed to fighting total of 277/7 in the alloted 50 overs. Sri Lankan bowling was steady and medium pacer Kulasekara and Murali along with Rengana Herath bowled a decent spells. Herath and Perara picked up 2 wickets while Murali finished a economical spell of bowling with one wicket giving away only 35 runs.

Sri Lanka had a positive opening partnership between Tharanga and Dilshan. But in came Hafeez and picked up tharanga for 33 and Dishan was bowled by Afridi. Suddenly, Sri Lanka lost 3 quick wickets with Akhtar showing glimpses of his past performance bowling out Mahela Jayawardena. Sangakarra and Chamara Silva played a calm innings and came up with a good parnership. Sangakarra was picked up by Afridi for 49 and there started the slide for Sri Lanka.

Chamara Silva tried his best but eventually fell for a well made 57 though he consumed a lot of deliveries.

Sri Lanka was able to get only to 265/9 and Pakistan won by 11 runs. This is Sri Lanka's first world cup loss in their country and Pakistan extended their unbeaten streak against Sri Lanka in worl cup's to seven matches in a row.
Pakistan could well be the dark horse team which could go all the way to win this world cup. Lets hope they do it, which could bring some joy to the war-torn country.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Is it a good time to invest in equities?

'Every time someone buys in a market, there is someone else on the other end who sells it. And the beauty is both think they make are making the right move in the market' - This is a famous ironic saying about the stock markets. 'Timing' in the market is something you would have to perfect and that comes with experience. So, when do you 'Buy' or 'Sell' in a stock market? There are people who have burnt their fingers pouring there entire savings into stock markets, pretty much like pouring the plastic currency into a full blown well. And everyone knows what would be the fate of your plastic currency.

We will look at a few examples to time the market.

1.If someone had invested in market in the early 2007, might have laughed all the way to bank with a 55% return on his investment in mid-2008. That is, his 100 rupee investment would have been all the way upto Rs.160.

2. If the same guy had invested the same amount in early 2008, he might have had a negative return on his investment of 40%. That is his 100 rupee investment would have come down to 60 rupees by the end of 2008.

So, its all about timimg the market, knowing the complete view of the stock you are about to buy and its perceived value in certain time frame and not to forget your own target towards your investment. Markets were just pummelled right from the start of 2011 and there is a general state of gloom in the market. Sensex and Nifty is down 13% for the YTD and many believe its a fair value now. But if its fair value, then the probability of 15 to 20% return this year is a tricky one.

Also, think about your equity(stocks and Mutual funds) exposure wi.h relation to your age. There is a belief that your equity exposure in your portfolio should be 100 - current age. So, if you are aged 40, your equity investments should be 60% in your investment portfolio.

On a macro-ecomonomic scale, India's fiscal deficit could be one of the biggest problem going forward this year. You just cannot run the government with debt and then hope for growth too. The reason is fiscal deficit is the percentage of the GDP which reflects government debt obligations. So, the government finances its needs with loans from the central bank. so, what happens is the private sector 'Crowding out' happens. That is, private sector capital needs for expansion will be possible only at a higher interests., as logically government would be preferred creditor to any banks, reason being their money is safe and repaying capacity is bright with the government.

So, unless the fiscal deficit is down, the private sector growth is always limited and this impacts the overall economic growth. So, economic growth being less, the company revenues is less and this in turn reflects in low profits for the companies. Obviously, low profits will conclude towards low share price in the markets. This is how fiscal deficit impacts growth.

Another side to it is the inflation. Higher inflation, leads margin pressures due to higer input costs and so the profits become lesser. So, bothe inflation and fiscal deficit greatly influences the market price. India's fiscal deficit this year could be arounf 4.5% and as you all know we have a sky-rocketing inflation (although early signs of tempering is on the anvil). So, that is the reason for the recent butchering in the dalal street in the last couple of months.

So, now that the stock markets have greatly corrected , this could be a best time to buy in the market. Sensex is expected to cross and close the year at around 21,500 and that translates to a double digit return from the market. And if you are not highely knowledgable in the market, you can take the Mutual fund root with Systematic Investment Plans.

So, invest in companies whose fundamentals are good and you the performance of the particular company. Otherwise the safe root is mutual funds. So, hapy investing in 2011 and this just could be right time to do it in 2011. And remember, you must have the final say in your investment and just nobody else, not even any third-party broker, as its your money that is being invested.

India to play Bangladesh in the World cup opener today

India will start its quest for first cricket world cup triumph in almost 28 years today. India take on Bangladesh in the world cup opener in Mirpur, Bangladesh. India start the tournament as one of strong contenders to win this year's world cup. Also in the reckoning for the title triumph are the likes of Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia. Pakistan and West Indies will be the dark horses. Although, after India, i would like to see Pakistan lift the world cup this time. Let's look at the India's chances at this world cup.

India: Undoubtedly, India look much better side on paper. India's strength lie in their batting line-up. Likes of Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Yusuf Pathan hold the key for India's batting performance. Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh are not in their best of nicks and Yuvraj's place in the playing XI is under doubt, though his part-time left armers could be useful for the team in the middle overs. Pity that the man around which the Indian batting revolved around couple of years ago is going through a very bad batting form for the past year and a half. But with Raina also not in inspiring form with the bat, Yuvraj might just be able to cling on to his place in the XI. All said, if he can somehow rediscover his form, India's chances will become even more brighter. Gambhir has been hot and cold in the past year with injuries not helping his cause either. If he doesn't bring back his dream form displayed not so long ago, then there is a strong possiblity of him being dropped from the team. Then we have the grand old man of the Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar. Last WC and expectation of him helping the young team to win the World cup are all weighing on this man. In terms of the records, eveything has been achieved and its time he guides this team for the rest of his career. Pressure is not a new dragon to the most sort after Indian in the planet and he would want to win this cup badly for himself and for the team.

MS Dhoni, the blue-eyed boy of the Indian team and its captain has so far done massively impressive job with the team. He along with coach Gary Kirsten have brought a new sense of freedom to this Indian team. There were previous Indian teams which were counted as one of the favourites for the cup, but this time, they have a strong, astute and well-balanced captain at the helm. You would see him not over joyed if he wins a match or become a bogged and point fingers on his players when he loses a match or the WC itself. Avery important thing is that no matter what happens, whether India win the WC or not, MS Dhoni is expected to captain this team for a long time to come. So, actaully he enjoys some amount of comfort zone. Previous WC's have seen Indian captains sacked after losing the WC, which itself is an added pressure on the captain.

Indian bowling looks vulnerable and not the best bowling attack by any stretch of imagination. A lot rides on Zaheer Khan and his bowling prowess. He is a wicket-taker. We need wicket-takers and India doesnt them apart from Zaheer Khan. Harbhajan Singh has been mainly doing a containing job rather than a wicket-taker. Surely, he should be replaced with Ashwin if he doesnt take vital wickets in earlier games. Otherwise, Indian baowlers have nothing much to write about and i have to say Praveen Kumar will be hugely missed in this world cup.

So, Indian batters have score a minimum 50 runs more than the winning score in every match to compensate for their hole in the bowling and appaling fielding they display in the park. That is an added disadvantage in itself.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

India win the opening warm-up game against Australia

India have won the opening warm-up game in the World cup 2011 against Australia. India batted first and scored only 213, thanks to lacklustre performance by the Indian batsmen. Apart from Sehwag and Ashwin who held the batting together, other Indian batsmen just were not good enough. Earlier in the day, Sachin Tendulkar didn't feel the need to play the warm-up game against a very formidable Australian side. A few experts justified his decision of him not playing the game as he has wealth of experience in the ODI format. I guess, each game is so much different and has its own experiences.

Australia managed just 173 and Ricky Ponting played well for his fifty. Indian bowlers especially the spinners were just too good for the Australian batsmen. Chawla picked up four wickets and Harbhajan walked away with three wickets. The pitch admittedly was two paced and just under-prepared to say the least. India now take on New Zealand in Chennai on 16th February in their second warm-up game before starting their world cup campaign against Bangladesh in Mirpur on February 19th 2011.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Inflation–The dragon which could eat up India’s growth story


Inflation, inflation, inflation!!!! Everywhere you hear about this in India inflation_mbaknolright now. India’s PM Dr. Manmohan Singh was very apprehensive about the high inflation and was worried that the it could stall India’s impressive growth story over the past five years.  Words of wisdom from the PM himself has not be taken seriously because being a economist himself he knows a thing or two about macroeconomics.

So, what is it all about this inflation which pinches peoples of all spheres very hard – from the you and me as common man to the business man owning hotels in sub-urban Chennai, to the leading auto makers, the stock brokers, to the lending private and public banks to the Indian government itself. Let’s look at this right from the common man’s perspective in this article.

Common man: As you all know, there has been steady increase in prices of all essential commodities in the past couple of months from milk, vegetables, fruits to the petrol costs. Food inflation has been persistently hovering in the higher teens. Increase in crude prices internationally has led to the overall domino effect in the increase of many essential commodities. The increase in petrol prices not only increases your monthly fuel expense but also same amount of increase in the transport of various essential commodities. The local wholesale and retail vendors add this to the essential commodities and pass it on to the common man. Also, after the deregulation of petrol prices by the government, the oil companies directly tweak the prices based on the international markets. So, in this regard the government has very little room for any change. The international crude prices been increasing due to the slight sense of recovery, though temporary in the developed countries like the US and northern Europe.

So, since inflation is something which hits the common man and the poor in particular are heavily hit, this immediately becomes a political issue. So, government has to be seen as being doing something. This is where RBI comes in. The theory is with increase in interest rates, the demand could be tempered and thus bringing down the inflation. This theory hold good if the pressure point is in the demand side. But, inflation in India is mainly due to supply chain which has just crumbled down. This needs some structural changes like effective management of the public distribution system, proper world-class storage facilities for all essential commodities and stricter rules for all types of hoarding.

Public Distribution System(PDS): State governments use PDS to supply rice, wheat and other essential commodities to the people below poverty line(BPL) in their respective states. This chain of distribution system is pathetic and dysfunctional in many states. So, the poor are forced to get the essential commodities from the private retail outlets. This not only is a burden on the poor, but also increases the demand in retail outlets resulting in overall increase in prices. So, the states has to reform their PDS and strive for better quality and low wastages in PDS. Also, an universal PDS, meaning everyone in the state in entitled to this ration card and particular quantity of rice, wheat etc. has to be put in force. This helps in avoiding duplication of ration cards and wastage of grains. This has been followed successfully in states like Tamil Nadu at present. Also, the prices of food grains through PDS should be uniform throughout the country. For example, illegal hoarding takes place from one state selling grains at Re.1/ Kg to another state selling grains at a higher price. So, this kind of hording can be avoided. Corruption of PDS employees also is a reason for this. They have their illegal ways with the middlemen in hoarding the grains.

Storage facilities: World class storage facilities has to be in place for food grains, milk, eggs, meat and other essential commodities. High technology storing facilities can be used in this regard. Public- Private partnership can be used and a involvement of FD in retail can be helpful to cut down on wastages due to inadequate storage facilities. Of late, we are witnessing grains rottening due to this particular hamstring in the government distribution system.

Strict rules on hoarding: Hoarding as was pointer out before was an critical impediment when it comes to food inflation. Government employees working in PDS has to be aware of the hoarding and take strong action against illegal hoarders with checkpoints at various places along state borders. Big retail corporations hoarding commodities to create artificially inflated demand has to be punished by the government. Futures markets on commodities has to be properly monitored and any sudden spike in Futures market has to be analysed on their cause.

These are some of the important structural changes to the distribution system which could bring down food inflation to a great extent. But this needs courage and conviction from both the states and the union government.