India vs Sri Lanka: Boys in Blue aim to bolster credentials ahead of World T20

India vs Sri Lanka: Boys in Blue aim to bolster credentials ahead of World T20
Photo Credit: Craig Golding/AFP
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After the convincing 3-0 win in last month’s Twenty20 series in Australia, the home series against Sri Lanka that starts on Tuesday must seem like a mere formality for an Indian side high on confidence. However, if history suggests anything at all, this series will be anything but a stroll for the home side.

India have a 3-3 record against Sri Lanka in this format, but it is their World Cup record against the islanders that will prove worrisome for MS Dhoni’s men. Rewind to the 2014 World T20 final – it was Lasith Malinga’s men who broke their final hoodoo to triumph over Dhoni’s boys in Dhaka.

The Indians did not fare much better in the 2010 World T20 when they succumbed to a last-ball finish in Gros Islet, St. Lucia in a group stage match. Being played a mere month before the World T20, this series against the world’s No 3 T20 side is a good chance for the home side to prove their title credentials, especially considering that they have been drafted into a tough group alongside Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan.

For one man in particular, this series will be more about redemption than anything else. Yuvraj Singh endured a horror show against the Lankans in the 2014 final, eking out a 21-ball 11 during the most crucial part of the innings, leading to India sub-par total.

Back in the squad and having had a fairly decent series against Australia, the Punjab left-hander will look to settle scores once and for all. The 33-year-old looks like he has got a new lease of life but he will still have to perform to retain hopes of getting into the final World Cup T20 squad. Fail to do so, and no doubt, the vultures will start circling again.

Finding the right combination

India’s best player in Australia, Virat Kohli, has been given a well-deserved rest. This will give captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni the chance to tinker with his middle-order to find his best combination. Although Suresh Raina, Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Dhoni pick themselves in the squad based on past exploits and current form, India’s middle order still remains a worry with the finisher’s positions – numbers five, six and seven far from settled.

Shikhar Dhawan for one will be looking to cement his place in the final XI for the World Twenty20. The opener has had an up-and-down season so far. With Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja and new boy Hardik Pandya all jostling for places, the competition is fierce.

Pawan Negi, the 23-year-old rookie who was selected for this series in place of Kohli, must be feeling confident after being sold for a whopping Rs 8.5 crore at the Indian Premier League auction on Saturday. Negi did well in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, where he scored 173 runs for Delhi and bagged six wickets in nine matches. Rishi Dhawan, Gurkeerat Singh Man and Umesh Yadav miss out, while Manish Pandey and Bhuvneshwar Kumar get a look in.

A return of two veterans

This will also be an intriguing tale of two returning 36-year-old pacers. While Ashish Nehra played all the three T20 matches against Australia, Dilhara Fernando will return to the Sri Lankan squad after almost two years on the back of his performances in the domestic Premier T20 tournament. Fernando finished as the third highest wicket-taker with 11 wickets at an economy rate of 8.40.

His experience will be key considering that Malinga and Mathews are out owing to injuries and the Lankans just lost a recent T20 series to New Zealand 2-0. Leading the side in Malinga’s absence will be Dinesh Chandimal. An injury to Tillakaratne Dilshan also means that wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella has been called up to the squad and most probably will play the first match.

One player to watch out for will be middle-order batsman Dasun Shanaka, who set the domestic T20 tournament alight with his performances. Spinner Ajantha Mendis still does not find a place despite a good show with the ball (12 wickets) in the same tournament.

In comparison with the World Twenty20 and the Asia Cup thereafter, this may look like a low-key series. But, Dhoni will not mind – it gives him an opportunity to play around with his team and figure out his winning combination. In many ways, this will be the perfect starter for the delectable main course that is coming up next month.

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Uber to Launch Carpool Service in Kolkata

Uber to Launch Carpool Service in KolkataAfter Bangalore and Delhi, taxi aggregator Uber would launch carpool service Kolkata this year, offering at least 30 per cent lower fares to those who share cab rides as part of efforts to check rising pollution.

“In 2016, we are going to start carpool service in Kolkata. This is keeping in view of the high pollution levels which are choking the various metros of the country by bringing down the number of cars on the roads,” GM (east) of Uber India Systems Ashwin Dias said.

Passengers can take advantage of sharing rides in the same direction which would help them to reduce their individual fares by at least 30 percent, Dias told PTI.

For this, Uber would have to develop a Kolkata-specific app which would contain entire data relating to traffic congestion and traffic behaviour in the area where its GPS would operate.

The other app-based aggregator Meru Cabs had already started carpooling services in the city.

Dias said that Kolkata has been one of the fastest growing markets for Uber internationally.

“We started our service in August 2014 and the response was terrific. People who were used to the yellow taxis have moved over to app-based aggregators as it provided them convenience and the drivers got flexibility,” he said.

Asked about the number of cars which Uber was aggregating in Kolkata, Dias said as per international practice that number could not be divulged.

To abide by the West Bengal government guidelines, Dias said that Uber would apply for the for On Demand Technology Transportation Aggregators (ODTTA) licence soon.

Dias also said that Uber would also make efforts to take advantage of the state government’s Gatidhara’ scheme.

“The scheme entails that any unemployed youth of the state would get a subsidy of Rs. 1 lakh for purchase of a commercial vehicle”, he said.

This is a great opportunity for us to get more drivers in our fold, he said.

Regarding security and safety issues, he said that Uber was now doing a pilot project with Bidhan Nagar Police Station for GPS tracking of the vehicles.

“This will be implemented in other police stations as well,” he said.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

GrabTaxi, Asia-Based Uber Competitor, to Open Tech Centre in Seattle

GrabTaxi, Asia-Based Uber Competitor, to Open Tech Centre in SeattleGrabTaxi, the on-demand ride service and Uber competitor in Southeast Asia, is opening a technology centre in Seattle, marking the company’s first physical presence in the United States.

GrabTaxi said on Wednesday the new centre will work on cloud computing and data projects to support the smartphone app its customers use to hail rides in a car or motorbike.

GrabTaxi said it hired Raman Narayanan, a former Microsoft engineer, as technical adviser to the centre and to lead recruitment efforts. The company plans to hire a full team over the next year.

Seattle is home to e-commerce giant Amazon as well as a growing startup scene. Microsoft is located in nearby Redmond, Washington.

The Seattle centre will complement GrabTaxi’s engineering centres in Singapore and Beijing.

GrabTaxi is the leading ride-hailing app in Southeast Asia, serving Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. Its services include private cars, taxis, carpooling and deliveries.

Created in 2012, GrabTaxi says it has 185,000 drivers and up to 1.5 million bookings a day.

While the Seattle centre is GrabTaxi’s first physical presence in the United States, the company has a budding relationship with San Francisco on-demand ride service Lyft.

The two are part of a ride-hailing coalition created last month that also includes China-based Didi Kuaidi and India-based Ola that will allow passengers to use all platforms to hail a ride as they travel between the United States and Asia.

Seattle lawmakers last month approved an ordinance that gives drivers for on-demand ride companies, well as taxi and for-hire drivers, the right to collectively negotiate on pay and working conditions.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Uber Subsidiary Fined $7.6 Million in California

Uber Subsidiary Fined $7.6 Million in California

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday hit an Uber subsidiary with a $7.6 million (roughly Rs. 51 crores) fine for failing to comply with reporting requirements fully and in a timely manner.

The commission also said that the subsidiary, Raiser-CA, was in contempt and had 30 days to pay the penalty or face suspension of its license to operate in the state.

Information sought by the commission included whether requests for rides got similar responses regardless of neighborhood and whether people with disabilities are able to access Uber vehicles, a press release said.

The commission said it was trying to determine whether services were being provided safely and “in a nondiscriminatory manner enabling equal access to all.”

In a statement later Thursday, Uber said it was disappointed with the ruling and vowed to appeal.

Uber maintained that it provided what information it could without risking the privacy of riders and drivers.

Uber lets people use smartphone applications to summon and pay for rides provided by drivers using their own cars.

The San Francisco-based company last month made its billionth trip in a milestone for the global ridesharing service.

Uber has expanded to hundreds of cities around the world in at least 68 countries, offering new options for both riders and drivers but also running into complaints from the taxi industry and regulators.

The company has reached a valuation of more than $50 billion based on private investment disclosed to date.

Uber still faces competition from US-based Lyft and other global startups.

[“Source-Gadgets”]