Former England captain Alastair Cook believes that India are fielding their strongest ever pace attack in the five-match Test series, starting August 1 in Birmingham.There have been a lot of talks around India’s bowling unit this time, considering the fact that pace attack has not been India’s strong point. As a touring side, India have mostly lacked quality pacers, which have usually cost them matches in alien conditions.Cook feels this time around, India have variety and depth in their pace unit, something that is very unusual to them.Even without their pace mainstay Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was expected to play an important role in England, India have immense quality in Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.While Ishant and Umesh are considered to be the fittest among all the fast bowlers, the performance and fitness of Shami will be key for the team in this series.Also read – India vs England: Injury concerns around India’s pace attack”India seem to have got a good variety of bowlers, especially pace bowlers, which is probably unusual. They have strength and depth in their pace bowling,” Cook said on Monday.”Over the last couple of years – certainly in the last 10 years I’ve played them – they haven’t had the option of playing five or six different types of seamers. That’s different to what I have experienced in the past but we’ll see over the next six weeks.”India’s top order has been under scrutiny and their form seems to be a cause of concern for the visitors but Cook backed struggling Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara to come good in the series.advertisement”With very good players, form is certainly temporary. The reason they’re very good players is the number of runs they’ve scored in the past over a sustained period of time.Also read – Kuldeep our X-factor but we can’t forget Ashwin, Jadeja: Ajinkya Rahane”That’s why they’re the number one side in the world. You can go a couple of innings not scoring any runs, and suddenly you get a couple away and start to get that rhythm and timing back, and you get a big one. That is the nature of the beast, certainly with top-order batting,” Cook said.Cook is making a return to the English side after playing against Pakistan earlier in the summer. He said that he is feeling fresh for the challenge against India, a side against whom he has had a lot of success at Edgbaston.”I feel fresh. I haven’t played a huge amount of cricket over the last three and a half weeks. It was nice to score those runs last week (180 for England Lions versus India A). I moved pretty well, I batted pretty well. I feel ready,” said Cook.Cook, who had resigned as England Test captain last year to pave way for Joe Root, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time as England captain. It is a very challenging job. It’s a hard job. But it’s also a very rewarding job. You get tested in ways you never thought you would be.”And you make decisions every day about things which, before the days starts you don’t know about, and you’re captaining your country, which is the biggest honour a sportsman can know. I absolutely loved it. But I believed it was the right time (to quit) for me personally.”Also read – England gear up for historic 1000th Test, India eye rare series triumphCook feels the constant change in the combination of the playing XI has affected England’s dream of becoming the number one team in the world.”To become the number one side in the world, it takes two or three years of really good results and we haven’t had that. The team has been changing as we’re finding out different things about different players and different combinations,” he said.”You go back to that side in 2011, that was probably the end of two or three years under Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower playing really good cricket with the same 14 or 15 players. Everyone produced the goods over a period of tome. We’re a little bit away of that and that’s the challenge of this time,” he said.(With PTI inputs)
Nepal’s Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli in a tweet said 25 people had been killed, and around 400 were injured.ReutersA massive rainstorm swept through parts of southern Nepal on Sunday (March 31) evening, killing at least 25 people and injuring 400 others, officials said. The rainstorm has hit the southern district of Bara and adjoining Parsa.Nepal’s Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli in a tweet said 25 people had been killed, and around 400 were injured. “Helicopters have been kept ready for immediate rescue and relief,” Oli said in his post. He offered condolences to the families of the victims. Prime Minister’s Chief Advisor Bishnu Rimal said army personnel have been mobilised in the affected areas.Government administrator Rajesh Paudel who is a top bureaucrat of Bara district, where the storm hit, said the death toll may increase as rescuers were still trying to reach many of those affected. According to the National Emergency Operation Centre, the injured are undergoing treatment at various health services.Bara is located about 62 km (39 miles) south of Kathmandu and borders India’s eastern state of Bihar. Pre-monsoon thunderstorms are common in Nepal during the spring season but are rarely of an intensity that causes high casualties.Police officer Sanu Ram Bhattarai said rescue teams had been dispatched to the affected villages, but reaching the victims was difficult at night. Many television channels said the storm and accompanying heavy rainfall, uprooted trees and electric and telephone poles, crushing some people to death. Most people in the district are farmers.(Inputs from agencies)
Airtel Payments BankTwitterPayments banks are struggling to draw depositors after almost a year of starting operations in India.Currently, India has four operational payment banks — Airtel Payments Bank, Fino Payments Bank, India Post Payments Bank and PayTM Payments Bank. And as of September 30, all four banks’ combined outstanding demand deposits stood at Rs 236.45 crore, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in a response to an RTI application filed by BloombergQuint.Demand deposits are deposits that customers hold in their savings accounts and current accounts, and can be withdrawn without any prior notice.For payments banks, the central bank has capped demand deposits at Rs 1 lakh in each account. Payment banks are not allowed to offer fixed deposits and provide loans to customers. Moreover, RBI has mandated payment banks to invest majority of their deposits in government securities.Of the Rs 236.45 crore demand deposits with the four banks, the largest share — worth Rs 224.03 crore — lies with Airtel Payments Bank, while Rs 6.8 crore is parked with Fino Payments Bank, and PayTM Payments Bank has demand deposits worth Rs 3.25 crore as on September 30, BQ reported.Airtel Payment Bank has the highest market share in the payment banking space because it offers highest interest for demand deposit in India 7.25 percent. Peers like India Post Payments Bank offer 4.5-5.5 percent interest to its customer, while Paytm Payment Bank offers 4 percent.”As a business we are not chasing customer deposits right now. We have a well established presence and customer transactions have been growing steadily. That is the part of the business that we are focussing on right now. Deposits will start flowing in as the payments bank grows,” Rishi Gupta, Chief Executive Officer, Fino Payments Bank, told the business news portal.Do the numbers suggest that payments banks are waning in popularity over the quarters? Difficult to say, as it has been just one year since payments banks were rolled out. But one thing is evident: Payments banks’ managements want to polish their strategy to lure more customers.However, some experts feel the other way. “For a payments bank CASA won’t make much sense since it is not permitted to lend. It can only invest in government securities and other bank deposits and use the differential as a way to earn some margin. These companies would rather use the data they collect through transactions and use it to sell third party products to make an income,” Kalpesh Mehta, partner, Deloitte India, told BloombergQuint.
IOCL kicked off home delivery of fuel: Now get diesel at doorstepReuters fileDiesel vehicle owners in Pune can now skip fuel stations and instead get fuel delivered to their doorsteps. Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), India’s largest fuel retailer, has started a first-of-its-kind scheme that will get diesel delivered at home.IOCL announced Friday, March 15, that the delivery had already started in Pune, Maharashtra.Indian Oil is the first to launch this Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)-approved delivery system.The company is reportedly planning a nationwide expansion of this doorstep service soon.IOCL announced the new scheme — named “Fuel At Doorstep” — on Twitter. “Another milestone in customer convenience Fuel At Doorstep” its post on Twitter read.Another milestone in customer convenience #FuelAtDoorstep. IndianOil launches FIRST OF ITS KIND PESO APPROVED Mobile dispenser for Door Delivery of Diesel to its esteemed customers at Pune. pic.twitter.com/7xB23at2Dj— Indian Oil Corp Ltd (@IndianOilcl) 16 March 2018The initiative by Indian Oil Corporation is aimed at reducing long queues at fuel stations. Fleet owners and people from remote areas will be the major beneficiaries of this scheme.IOCL has not disclosed any details about the cost of the fuel, how the delivery system will function, the delivery time frame or the charges for delivery.Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan last year hinted at starting doorstep delivery of fuel. “Using the technological advancements in the IT & Telecom Sector we will soon be starting online home delivery of Diesel & Petrol,” Pradhan tweeted September 27, 2017.Bengaluru-based startup ANB Fuels had started delivery of fuel particularly diesel in several parts of the city in 2017. However, PESO, which works under the department of industrial policy and promotion, issued a circular to state-run oil marketing companies and private retailers to stop selling fuel to the start-up citing “safety” concerns.
By Bill Barrow and Kate Brumback, The Associated PressDemocrat Stacey Abrams ended 10 days of post-election drama in Georgia’s closely watched and even more closely contested race for governor Nov. 16, acknowledging Republican Brian Kemp as the victor while defiantly refusing to concede to the man she blamed for “gross mismanagement” of a bitterly fought election.The speech Abrams delivered at her campaign headquarters Friday evening marked the close of the 44-year-old attorney and former lawmaker’s unsuccessful attempt to make history as America’s first Black woman governor. Since Election Day her campaign fought on, insisting efforts to suppress turnout had left thousands of ballots uncounted that otherwise could erode Kemp’s lead and force a runoff election.Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams makes remarks during a press conference at the Abrams Headquarters in Atlanta, Nov. 16, 2018. Democrat Stacey Abrams says she will file a federal lawsuit to challenge the “gross mismanagement” of Georgia elections. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)Kemp, the 55-year-old businessman who oversaw the election as Georgia’s secretary of state, will keep the governor’s office in GOP hands as the state’s third Republican governor since Reconstruction. He responded to Abrams ending her campaign by calling for unity and praising his opponent’s “passion, hard work, and commitment to public service.”The kind words came just days after Kemp’s campaign spokesman derided Abrams’ efforts to have contested ballots counted as a “disgrace to democracy.”Abrams made no such retreat from her criticisms of Kemp, saying she refused “to say nice things and accept my fate.” Instead, she announced plans to file a federal lawsuit to challenge the way Georgia’s elections are run. She accused Kemp of using the secretary of state’s office to aggressively purge the rolls of inactive voters, enforce an “exact match” policy for checking voters’ identities that left thousands of registrations in limbo, and enact other measures to tile the outcome in his favor.“Let’s be clear: This is not a speech of concession,” Abrams said. “Because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”The race grabbed the attention of the nation, with Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey campaigning for Abrams in the final days and President Donald Trump holding a rally for Kemp.Unofficial returns showed Kemp ahead by roughly 60,000 votes out of nearly 4 million cast on Nov. 6. Kemp declared himself governor-elect the next day and stepped down as Georgia’s secretary of state, though thousands of absentee and provisional ballots remained uncounted.Abrams, meanwhile, sent volunteers across the state in search of voters whose ballots were rejected. She filed suit in federal court to force county elections boards to count absentee ballots with incorrect birthdates. Her campaign even planned for possible litigation to challenge the election’s certified outcome.Abrams didn’t take that route. She said she had concluded “the law currently allows no further viable remedy.” Instead, she said she would fight to restore integrity to Georgia’s election system in a new initiative called Fair Fight Georgia.“In the coming days, we will be filing a major federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for the gross mismanagement of this election and to protect future elections from unconstitutional actions,” Abrams said, though she gave no details.Kemp tried to move past the contentious campaign even if his opponent wasn’t willing.“The election is over, and hardworking Georgians are ready to move forward,” he said. “We can no longer dwell on the divisive politics of the past but must focus on Georgia’s bright and promising future.”Kemp had been secretary of state since 2010. He was backed by and had embraced Trump as he tried to maintain GOP dominance in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the governor’s mansion since 1998.Trump praised the Democrat in lauding Kemp’s victory, tweeting: “Congratulations to Brian Kemp on becoming the new Governor of Georgia. Stacey Abrams fought brilliantly and hard — she will have a terrific political future! Brian was unrelenting and will become a great Governor for the truly Wonderful People of Georgia!”Kemp stormed to the GOP nomination with ads featuring everything from the candidate cranking a chain saw and jokingly pointing a gun toward a teen male suitor of his daughter, to Kemp’s offer to “round up criminal illegals” himself in his pickup truck. He’s promised a tax cut and teacher pay raises and pledged to continue Georgia’s refusal to expand Medicaid insurance under President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul.Abrams’ campaign sparked huge energy across the state and she became a national Democratic star. Election turnout among both sides’ energized bases nearly equaled that of the 2016 presidential vote.Aides close to Abrams said that since the election she had been wrestling with competing priorities: She wanted to advance her assertions that Georgia’s elections process — which Kemp managed as secretary of state — makes it too hard for some citizens to vote. But she also recognized that a protracted legal fight would harm that cause and potentially her political future.Kemp’s victory is an important marker ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Kemp’s narrow margin already suggests that Georgia, a state Trump won by 5 percentage points in 2016, could be a genuine battleground in two years.___Associated Press writer Russ Bynum also contributed from Atlanta.