Russell’s absence doesn’t put us on the back foot: Yusuf

IPL 2017

Russell’s absence doesn’t put us on the back foot: Yusuf

Kathakali Banerjee • Last updated on Mon, 03 Apr, 2017, 07:30 AM

Competition for spots is healthy, feels Yusuf Pathan. © Getty

Countdown to the new season has begun and Kolkata Knight Riders are looking to make it count in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League which gets under way on Wednesday (April 5). The Knight Riders, who launch their campaign against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot on April 7, are still looking to get their team combination right.

Senior pro Yusuf Pathan feels that bowling will be KKR’s strength this season. “This year we have a lot of variety,” said the swashbuckling all-rounder, ahead of their practice session at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. The KKR management picked up England’s Chris Woakes, New Zealand’s Trent Boult, Australian Nathan Coulter-Nile and Caribbean speedster Rovman Powell at the auction in order to bolster their pace attack that also includes Team India pacer Umesh Yadav.

Gautam Gambhir’s side is also well stacked in the spin department with the likes of off-spinner Sunil Narine, left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav in the ranks.

Talking about young Kuldeep, who made a fine Test debut against Australia in Dharamshala last month, Pathan said: “He has a bright future and should do very well for us.”

Apart from genuine all-rounders like Shakib, Yusuf and Woakes, KKR also have a number of bowlers like Chawla, Kuldeep, and Rishi Dhawan who are handy customers with the bat. Yusuf reckons this will add a lot of depth to KKR’s batting. “When you have such a wide variety of players competing for spots in the playing XI, it is a healthy sign,” Pathan added. KKR will, however, miss the all-round talent of Andre Russell, who copped a ban for violating Wada’s anti-doping code. “He had a lot of positive impact on the team in the last couple of seasons and his lively presence in the dressing room will be missed,” Pathan said.

“I don’t agree that Russell’s absence puts us on the back foot. In a long tournament like IPL, teams are bound to miss key players at times for a variety of reasons. We have to look ahead and work with the ones who are available,” he added.

Woakes, picked as Russell’s replacement, arrived in the city on Saturday night and joined the team practice on Sunday. But Powell, Shakib, Boult and Narine are expected to join the squad in Rajkot, hours before KKR’s first match.

Asked whether it will hurt the team’s performance Pathan said, “We are playing our first couple of matches away from home. It takes the pressure off us. We are well aware of the conditions in Rajkot and Mumbai. As professional cricketers we are expected to adapt quickly,” he added.





IPL 2017: Variety in our bowling is a good headache to have, says Yusuf Pathan

Yusuf Pathan side will miss out on Andre Russell because of an anti-dope code violation. Yusuf Pathan side will miss out on Andre Russell because of an anti-dope code violation.

Senior Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Yusuf Pathan feels that the variety in their formidable bowling attack will make it very tough for the team management to choose their preferred men in the playing XI.

“It will be a tough selection. We have a lot of variety in our bowling. There’s depth in batting, we have a lot of all-rounders. We will see how we combine as a team,” the 34-year-old Pathan told reporters on the sidelines of their training session at the Eden Gardens.

The 2012 and 2014 champions have reinforced their pace attack with the trio, who are also handy with the bat down the order, while the sizzling form of Umesh Yadav is an added bonus to the side.

Yusuf was all praise for chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, who recently had an impressive Test debut against Australia.

“Kuldeep has a bright future. He made a great debut. Also Umesh has done well whole season. He’s doing well with the new ball… We have quality in (pace) bowling which we were lacking earlier,” the big-hitting batsman.

They purple-and-gold brigade will miss out on Windies bighitting all-rounder Andre Russell because of an anti-dope code violation.

“This (Russell’s absence) does not put us on backfoot. He has done well for the team. He brings an air of positivity to the changing room. We will definitely miss him. But there are other players, who will have to live up to the challenge. We are focussed on that.”

KKR begin their campaign with two away matches beginning with Gujarat Lions in Rajkot, and Pathan sees a positive side to it.

“I don’t think it’s a disadvantage. It’s good that we’re playing away. There won’t be much pressure of playing at home. Besides, we know the conditions well with 10 years into IPL. I don’t think it will make much of a difference.”

April marked the sixth anniversary of India’s World Cup triumph at the Wankhede, which came after a long gap of 28 years since 1983.

“It was a proud moment not only for me but for the whole country. We won it after a long gap of 28 years. It will always remain fresh in everyone’s memory,” he said.

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Diet diary: Don’t turn Navratra fasting into a feast

The usual range of cereals like rice, wheat and millets are replaced by alternate cereals such as buckwheat, chestnut, sago, amaranth and a special variety of rice, known as samak rice (Barnyard millet). The usual range of cereals like rice, wheat and millets are replaced by alternate cereals such as buckwheat, chestnut, sago, amaranth and a special variety of rice, known as samak rice (Barnyard millet).

Navratri, the nine-day fasting period, rooted in the Hindu religion, offers some great opportunities to re-focus on your diet and take corrective measures. However, if made into a feast, it can be more damaging than your usual diet and lead to weight gain.

These days, even restaurants in our cities offer a range of speciality foods loaded with calories—the reason behind the post-Navratra kilos. The practice of preparing oily, deep-fried snacks and sweets in the name of tradition must be checked. So, remember to take your fast in the spirit in which it is meant—give up life’s pleasures for nine days to bring back balance in your life.

During the Navratras, alternate grains are eaten and traditional staples like wheat, rice, pulses and most vegetables are prohibited. The fast is observed with altered eating practices. The usual range of cereals like rice, wheat and millets are replaced by alternate cereals such as buckwheat, chestnut, sago, amaranth and a special variety of rice, known as samak rice (Barnyard millet). Amaranth, chestnuts and samak are in fact not true cereals.

Rather, they are seeds of fruits, also referred to as pseudo cereals. Pseudo cereals are higher in protein and are rich in carbohydrates like conventional cereals — wheat and rice. One of the principles of healthy eating is bringing variety into your food and the forgoing of certain foods in favour of others takes care of this. Here is how you can make the fasting period work in your favour.

# Eat small portions but do not starve.

# Include plenty of fluids, water, fresh fruit and vegetable juices.

# Include foods rich in micronutrients, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals (disease fighting nutrients)—fruits and vegetables.

# Include variety through alternate foods, cooked healthily, and ensure good nutrition.

# Break your fast with coconut water/ milk/yoghurt/buttermilk/vegetable or fruit juice/soup/fruits.

# Do not eat too much immediately after breaking your fast.

Plan one major meal with alternate grains, prepared in minimal oil, and ideally have it before sunset. Snack on milk, yoghurt, fruits, nuts, seeds, dry fruits and coconut. Such a diet can help you drop kilos and boost energy. These principles conform to scientific principles of nutrition.

Balancing everyday eating patterns with controlled eating—as done during a fast—when practiced on a regular, long-term basis, can indeed prove to be healthy. It not only helps in controlling weight, but also promotes better digestion, improves energy, prevents diseases and promotes a feeling of lightness and well-being.

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Ellen Pompeo Praises Shonda Rimes’ Multi Tasking Skills

Ellen Pompeo is convinced women are naturally suited to directing because they’re so good at multitasking.

The actress, who has played Dr. Meredith Grey in Grey’s Anatomy for 13 seasons, made her directorial debut on the series this week, and she admitted she was surprised to discover the poor track record of hiring female directors in Hollywood – considering a woman’s natural capabilities to juggle tasks.

In an interview with Variety Ellen praised Shonda Rimes, who is responsible for creating hit show Scandal as well as Grey’s, for her “leadership skills” and for allowing her to learn from the sidelines about directing, producing, and storytelling.

“Shonda Rhimes is definitely walking the walk. I can’t really say enough about her leadership skills and the way she’s running the company and how far she’s come,” the 47-year-old tells Variety. “Her evolution as a leader has been very inspiring to watch.”

Showrunner Shonda was unproven when her first show launched back in 2005, but she has since added Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, which she executive produces, to her roster. And Ellen praised Shonda for nurturing female directing talent, as well as creating an environment for people to learn and create in-house.

“I doubt there’s another show that hires as many women as we do – which is so weird to me because women are such amazing multi-taskers. Directing is multi-tasking. It’s baffling to me!,” she exclaimed as she went on to criticize the political realm for its lack of diversity.

“It’s also baffling to me that there aren’t more women in politics because running the country is multi-tasking, and women are notoriously better at that than men,” she blasted. “It’s so curious to me how we end up in these dynamics. Clearly, our president cannot tweet and do anything at the same time. (Hillary Clinton) can manage her emotion and tweet, all at the same time.”

Ellen admitted she herself didn’t have any ambitions to direct, because she already worked long hours and with three children at home, she didn’t want to work any longer. But she was encouraged by Shonda, and director Debbie Allen, who is in charge of hiring all the shows’ directors.

“Debbie Allen doesn’t take no for an answer! I thought about it and everything she said was true – I do know more about the show than more of the directors that come in, so if they can do it, I certainly could.”


Sustainable Agriculture: Punjab’s search for a less water-guzzling, yet high-yielding paddy

A farmer taking bags of PR-126 paddy seeds purchased from the Punjab Agricultural University’s Kisan Mela at Ludhiana. Source: Gurmeet Singh A farmer taking bags of PR-126 paddy seeds purchased from the Punjab Agricultural University’s Kisan Mela at Ludhiana. Source: Gurmeet Singh

A new variety maturing within 125 days, yet yielding nearly as much as those now grown over 135-160 days, could provide the ultimate solution to Punjab’s woes stemming from farming of water-guzzling paddy.

Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has released a paddy variety PR-126 that gives an average of 30 quintals per acre. This is only marginally below the 30.5 quintals from PR-121 and PR-124 or the 32 quintals of the other popular variety Pusa-44.

But the real difference is in the duration, from the time of sowing seeds in the paddy nursery to harvesting of the ripened grain. This ranges from 135 days for PR-124 and 140 days for PR-121 to 160 days in the case of Pusa-44. PR-126 matures in just 123-125 days, including 30 days of nursery raising and 93-95 days after transplantation of seedlings.

“The average yield per day from the new variety, at about 24 kg per acre, is more than the 20 kg of Pusa-44 or 22 kg for PR-121 and PR-124. The shorter duration also means less water consumption. If farmers have to give, say, 26 irrigations for Pusa-44, this would be only 21-22 in PR-121/PR-124 and 17-18 in PR-126,” claims G S Mangat, head of PAU’s rice improvement programme.

PR-121 and PR-124 were released for commercial cultivation in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The PR-126 variety was officially released for planting in the coming 2017 kharif season at last week’s PAU Kisan Mela here. “Last year, about 400 quintals of seeds was made available on trial basis to select farmers. This time, we are distributing another 1,000 quintals. At 8 kg planting per acre, it will again cover only a limited area,” adds Mangat.

PR-121 has, within a span of three years, become Punjab’s most widely-cultivated paddy variety. Last year, it covered over 7.7 lakh hectares (lh) or 30.7 per cent of the state’s total non-basmati paddy area, with PR-124 accounting for another 9.8 per cent. In the process, Pusa-44’s share, which was 39 per cent in 2012, fell to 20.3 per cent.

“We have not recommended cultivation of Pusa-44 (developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi) in Punjab mainly due to its long duration. The nursery sowing has to be before April last week and transplanting by mid-May, to enable harvesting from October and timely planting of the next wheat crop. The water requirement will obviously be high during this peak summer period. Secondly, Pusa-44 is susceptible to bacterial blight. There is no chemical control available against the Xanthomonas oryzae pathogen causing this disease that can result in significant grain yield loss,” explains Mangat.

Released in 1993, Pusa-44’s main attraction was its yields. At 32 quintals per quintal, this exceeded the average 26 quintals of PR-106, a 145-day PAU variety that was till then Punjab’s workhorse paddy following its introduction in 1976. Being a medium-slender (‘fine’) grain giving higher head rice recovery than PR-106, which produced long-slender or ‘superfine’ grains, also made Pusa-44 a favourite with millers. The Union government’s decision merging ‘fine’ and ‘superfine’ paddy into a single Grade ‘A’ category from October 1997 — entitling Pusa-44 to the same minimum support price (MSP) as PR-106 — further tilted the advantage in favour of the former.

The last straw came from the Punjab government’s policy of supplying free power to farmers. “When water could be freely pumped out to allow transplanting even in May, the farmer had reason to grow a long-duration variety that gave him extra yield. But it came at the cost of the state’s

water table,” points out Satinder Singh Brar, a retired senior extension specialist with PAU, who has advocated a ban on Pusa-44 cultivation.

According to latest official data for 2010-11, groundwater resources in 110 out of Punjab’s 138 blocks were “overexploited”, with average extraction rates from aquifers exceeding recharge levels. Underground water being overdrawn has been attributed to paddy cultivation area in the state rising from under 3 lh to over 30 lh between 1965 and 2016. It has led to the enactment of the Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act in 2009, barring any nursery sowing and transplanting of paddy before May 15 and June 15, respectively.

PAU vice-chancellor B S Dhillon believes that weaning the Punjab farmer away from paddy is impractical, as it is a crop entailing less production risk and with an assured market based on MSP procurement. The more sustainable solution is in breeding short-duration, but high-yielding, varieties that require less water. The new PAU varieties, from PR-121 to PR-126, can be comfortably transplanted after mid-June 15 or even towards the month-end with the monsoon’s arrival.

“We bred these mainly by crossing PR-106 and PR-116 (a high head rice recovery variety released in 2000). Further, the PR-106 parent itself incorporated three bacterial blight resistant genes Xa4, xa13 and Xa21 (sourced from traditional landrace cultivars and wild relatives of paddy).

The transfer of these genes in pyramided combination lines (to confer durable resistance) involved use of molecular breeding and marker assisted selection techniques,” informs Mangat. The end-result has been reduced-duration paddy varieties having bacterial blight-resistance, and with yields and head rice recoveries comparable to Pusa-44.

“Last year, I sowed PR-126 on 20 acres and harvested 33 quintals per acre, despite undertaking transplanting only on June 27. This time, I plan to increase my area under the new variety to 25 acres,” says Kulwinder Singh, a 30-acre farmer from Mardanpur village in Patiala district’s Rajpura tehsil.

“For over a decade, we grew Pusa-44 because yields could even go to 35 quintals per acre. But with PR-126, I am getting around 31 quintals, while also saving money on running my diesel generator to ensure standing water for the transplanted paddy,” notes P P S Pangli, a progressive farmer from Ludhiana’s Panglian village, who grew PR-126 on 22 out of his 82 acres.

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