Science News This Week:
1) Discovery may make it easier to develop life-saving stem cells:
Not unlike looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, a team of researchers has found a gene that could be key to the development of stem cells -- cells that can potentially save millions of lives by morphing into practically any cell in the body. The gene, known as ASF1A, is at least one of the genes responsible for the mechanism of cellular reprogramming, a phenomenon that can turn one cell type into another, which is key to the making of stem cells.
Not unlike looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, a team of Michigan State University researchers have found a gene that could be key to the development of stem cells -- cells that can potentially save millions of lives by morphing into practically any cell in the body.The gene, known as ASF1A, was not discovered by the team. However, it is at least one of the genes responsible for the mechanism of cellular reprogramming, a phenomenon that can turn one cell type into another, which is key to the making of stem cells.
In a paper published in the journal Science, the researchers describe how they analyzed more than 5,000 genes from a human egg, or oocyte, before determining that the ASF1A, along with another gene known as OCT4 and a helper soluble molecule, were the ones responsible for the reprogramming."This has the potential to be a major breakthrough in the way we look at how stem cells are developed," said Elena Gonzalez-Munoz, a former MSU post-doctoral researcher and first author of the paper. "Researchers are just now figuring out how adult somatic cells such as skin cells can be turned into embryonic stem cells. Hopefully this will be the way to understand more about how that mechanism works."
In 2006, an MSU team identified the thousands of genes that reside in the oocyte. It was from those, they concluded, that they could identify the genes responsible for cellular reprogramming.In 2007, a team of Japanese researchers found that by introducing four other genes into cells, stem cells could be created without the use of a human egg. These cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs."This is important because the iPSCs are derived directly from adult tissue and can be a perfect genetic match for a patient," said Jose Cibelli, an MSU professor of animal science and a member of the team.The researchers say that the genes ASF1A and OCT4 work in tandem with a ligand, a hormone-like substance that also is produced in the oocyte called GDF9, to facilitate the reprogramming process."We believe that ASF1A and GDF9 are two players among many others that remain to be discovered which are part of the cellular-reprogramming process," Cibelli said."We hope that in the near future, with what we have learned here, we will be able to test new hypotheses that will reveal more secrets the oocyte is hiding from us," he said. "In turn, we will be able to develop new and safer cell-therapy strategies."
2) Romanian cave holds some of the oldest human footprints:
Human footprints found in Romania’s Ciur-Izbuc Cave represent the oldest such impressions in Europe, and perhaps the world, researchers say.
About 400 footprints were first discovered in the cave in 1965. Scientists initially attributed the impressions to a man, woman and child who lived 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. But radiocarbon measurements of two cave bear bones excavated just below the footprints now indicate that Homo sapiens made these tracks around 36,500 years ago, say anthropologist David Webb of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and his colleagues. Analyses of 51 footprints that remain — cave explorers and tourists have destroyed the rest — indicate that six or seven individuals, including at least one child, entered the cave after a flood had coated its floor with sandy mud, the researchers report July 7 in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
Published ages for other H. sapiens footprints in Europe and elsewhere go back no more than 33,000 years. At a 2011 conference, scientists said that H. sapiens tracks at Tanzania’s Engare Sero site were 120,000 years old. Those findings have not been published yet, suggesting to Webb a problem with dating or footprint authenticity. Nearly 1-million-year-old footprints of modern human ancestors were recently documented at a British site
3) Transplanting gene into injured hearts creates biological pacemakers:
Cardiologists have developed a minimally invasive gene transplant procedure that changes unspecialized heart cells into "biological pacemaker" cells that keep the heart steadily beating.Cardiologists at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute have developed a minimally invasive gene transplant procedure that changes unspecialized heart cells into "biological pacemaker" cells that keep the heart steadily beating.The laboratory animal research, published online and in today's print edition of the peer-reviewed journal Science Translational Medicine, is the result of a dozen years of research with the goal of developing biological treatments for patients with heart rhythm disorders who currently are treated with surgically implanted pacemakers. In the United States, an estimated 300,000 patients receive pacemakers every year."We have been able, for the first time, to create a biological pacemaker using minimally invasive methods and to show that the biological pacemaker supports the demands of daily life," said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, who led the research team. "We also are the first to reprogram a heart cell in a living animal in order to effectively cure a disease."
These laboratory findings could lead to clinical trials for humans who have heart rhythm disorders but who suffer side effects, such as infection of the leads that connect the device to the heart, from implanted mechanical pacemakers.Eugenio Cingolani, MD, the director of the Heart Institute's Cardiogenetics-Familial Arrhythmia Clinic who worked with Marbán on biological pacemaker research team, said that in the future, pacemaker cells also could help infants born with congenital heart block.
"Babies still in the womb cannot have a pacemaker, but we hope to work with fetal medicine specialists to create a life-saving catheter-based treatment for infants diagnosed with congenital heart block," Cingolani said. "It is possible that one day, we might be able to save lives by replacing hardware with an injection of genes.""This work by Dr. Marbán and his team heralds a new era of gene therapy, in which genes are used not only to correct a deficiency disorder, but to actually turn one kind of cell into another type," said Shlomo Melmed, dean of the Cedars-Sinai faculty and the Helene A. and Philip E. Hixson Distinguished Chair in Investigative Medicine.In the study, laboratory pigs with complete heart block were injected with the gene called TBX18 during a minimally invasive catheter procedure. On the second day after the gene was delivered to the animals' hearts, pigs who received the gene had significantly faster heartbeats than pigs who did not receive the gene. The stronger heartbeat persisted for the duration of the 14-day study."Originally, we thought that biological pacemaker cells could be a temporary bridge therapy for patients who had an infection in the implanted pacemaker area," Marbán said. "These results show us that with more research, we might be able to develop a long-lasting biological treatment for patients."If future research is successful, Marbán said, the procedure could be ready for human clinical studies in about three years.
Using ultra-short X-ray flashes, an international team of researchers watched electrons jumping between the fragments of exploding molecules. The study reveals up to what distance charge transfer between the molecular fragments can occur, marking the limit of the molecular regime. Such mechanisms play a role in numerous chemical processes, including photosynthesis.Using ultra-short X-ray flashes, an international team of researchers watched electrons jumping between the fragments of exploding molecules. The study reveals up to what distance a charge transfer between the two molecular fragments can occur, marking the limit of the molecular regime. The technique used can show the dynamics of charge transfer in a wide range of molecular systems, as the scientists around Dr. Benjamin Erk and Dr. Daniel Rolles of DESY and Professor Artem Rudenko of Kansas State University report in the scientific journal Science. Such mechanisms play a role in numerous chemical processes, including photosynthesis.
"The charge transfer takes place at up to approximately ten times the normal bond length," says Erk, a DESY scientist working with the free-electron laser FLASH and at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL), a cooperation between DESY, the University of Hamburg and the Max Planck Society. "A central question posed is: when is a molecule a molecule," Rudenko says, explaining the motivation behind the study. "In this case then, up to what distance do the molecular components share electrons, at what distance does the charge transfer between the two molecular fragments break down? The critical distance we measured marks the transition from the molecular to the atomic regime."
For their study, the scientists shot an infrared laser at molecules of iodomethane (CH3I), made of iodine and a methyl group (CH3), to break the bond of the two partners. "With the help of ultra-short X-ray pulses, electrons were knocked from the inner shells of the iodine atoms, allowing us to then observe how the shared electrons of the disintegrating molecule were distributed between the two fragments," explains Rolles, who heads a junior research group at DESY. The researchers used what is currently the world's most powerful X-ray laser, LCLS, which is located at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California.
"During each step we delayed the X-ray pulse a bit more after the infrared laser pulse," says Erk. This delay ranged between a few femtoseconds and one picosecond, that is a trillionth of a second. "The later the X-ray pulse arrives, the farther apart the two molecular constituents move from each other." The researchers thus managed to obtain a series of snapshots in which the electron transfer can be observed at an ever-increasing distance between the molecular debris."The further apart the fragments move, the more the probability of the charge transfer decreases," explains Erk. "We were able to detect electrons jumping between the two fragments up to a distance of about 20 Ångström." The bond length of iodomethane is only about 2 Ångström, or 0.2 nanometres (millionths of a millimetre)."Our results are important for a variety of systems," stresses Rudenko. "For instance, in astrophysics X-rays produced by charge transfer processes have been observed. Such mechanisms play an important role in numerous chemical processes, for example, in photosynthesis or in solar cells. And during their research, scientists who study biomolecules using X-rays struggle with radiation damage to their samples. Here, too, the processes we studied play an important role."These first results also provide a bridge between the study of electron transfer between single atoms and the analysis of the charge flow in larger systems such as those that often occur in biology and chemistry. Further investigations will help to understand the observed process of charge transfer in detail.
5) Meet the Gomphothere: UA archaeologist involved in discovery of bones of elephant ancestor:
An animal once believed to have disappeared from North America before humans ever arrived there might actually have roamed the continent longer than previously thought -- and it was likely on the list of prey for some of continent's earliest humans, researchers from the University of Arizona and elsewhere have found. Archaeologists have discovered artifacts of the prehistoric Clovis culture mingled with the bones of two gomphotheres, ancient ancestors of the elephant, at an archaeological site in northwestern Mexico.The discovery suggests that the Clovis -- the earliest widespread group of hunter-gatherers to inhabit North America -- likely hunted and ate gomphotheres. The members of the Clovis culture were already well-known as hunters of the gomphotheres' cousins, mammoths and mastodons.Although humans were known to have hunted gomphotheres in Central America and South America, this is the first time a human-gomphothere connection has been made in North America, says archaeologist Vance Holliday, who co-authored a new paper on the findings, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"This is the first archaeological gomphothere found in North America, and it's the only one known," said Holliday, a professor of anthropology and geology at the UA.
Holliday and colleagues from the U.S. and Mexico began excavating the skeletal remains of two juvenile gomphotheres in 2007 after ranchers alerted them that the bones had been found in northwestern Sonora, Mexico.They didn't know at first what kind of animal they were dealing with."At first, just based on the size of the bone, we thought maybe it was a bison, because the extinct bison were a little bigger than our modern bison," Holliday said.Then, in 2008, they discovered a jawbone with teeth, buried upside down in the dirt."We finally found the mandible, and that's what told the tale," Holliday said.Gomphotheres were smaller than mammoths -- about the same size as modern elephants. They once were widespread in North America, but until now they seemed to have disappeared from the continent's fossil record long before humans arrived in North America, which happened some 13,000 to 13,500 years ago, during the late Ice Age.However, the bones that Holliday and his colleagues uncovered date back 13,400 years, making them the last known gomphotheres in North America.The gomphothere remains weren't all Holliday and his colleagues unearthed at the site, which they dubbed El Fin del Mundo -- Spanish for The End of the World -- because of its remote location.
As their excavation of the bones progressed, they also uncovered numerous Clovis artifacts, including signature Clovis projectile points, or spear tips, as well as cutting tools and flint flakes from stone tool-making. The Clovis culture is so named for its distinctive stone tools, first discovered by archaeologists near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1930s.
Radiocarbon dating, done at the UA, puts the El Fin del Mundo site at about 13,400 years old, making it one of the two oldest known Clovis sites in North America; the other is the Aubrey Clovis site in north Texas.The position and proximity of Clovis weapon fragments relative to the gomphothere bones at the site suggest that humans did in fact kill the two animals there. Of the seven Clovis points found at the site, four were in place among the bones, including one with bone and teeth fragments above and below. The other three points had clearly eroded away from the bone bed and were found scattered nearby."This is the first Clovis gomphothere, it's the first archaeological gomphothere found in North America, it's the first evidence that people were hunting gomphotheres in North America, and it adds another item to the Clovis menu," Holliday said.
Movies Release This Week:
When Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) first got together, their romantic connection was intense - but ten years and two kids later, the flame of their love needs a spark. To kick things up a notch, they decide - why not? - to make a video of themselves trying out every position in The Joy of Sex in one marathon three-hour session. It seems like a great idea - until they discover that their most private video is no longer private. With their reputations on the line, they know they're just one click away from being laid bare to the world... but as their race to reclaim their video leads to a night they'll never forget, they'll find that their video will expose even more than they bargained for.
When world-famous air racer Dusty learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting. Dusty joins forces with veteran fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger and his team, a bunch of all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers. Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire, and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero.
Wish I Was Here is the story of Aidan Bloom (to be played by Braff), a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is still trying to find his identity; a purpose for his life. He and his wife are barely getting by financially and Aidan passes his time by fantasizing about being the great futuristic Space-Knight he'd always dreamed he'd be as a little kid.
When his ailing father can no longer afford to pay for private school for his two kids (ages 5 and 12) and the only available public school is on its last legs, Aidan reluctantly agrees to attempt to home-school them.
The result is some funny chaos, until Aidan decides to scrap the traditional academic curriculum and come up with his own. Through teaching them about life his way, Aidan gradually discovers some of the parts of himself he couldn't find.
In a world where you can travel around on a pink cloud or literally be swept off an ice-skating rink into a hole, Colin, a wealthy young man and inventor of the cocktail-mixing piano, wants to fall in love. With the help of his cook Nicolas and best friend Chick, he meets Chloe, the incarnation of a Duke Ellington tune. But soon after their wedding, Chloe falls ill. She has a water lily growing in her chest. Ruined by medical expenses, Colin resorts to increasingly desperate methods to save his beloved's life.
Starring Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Steven Yeun and Archie Panjabi, I Origins follows a molecular biologist whose study of the human eye points to evidence with far reaching implications about our scientific and spiritual beliefs.
Political News This Week:
1) Malaysia defends MH17's flight path; demands probe:
Malaysia on Friday defended the flight path taken by the crashed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, confirming that the plane’s systems were functioning normally before it was shot down by a missile over Ukraine killing all 298 people on board.
Transport minister Liong Tiong Lai told a press conference that the path was approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and by the countries whose airspace the route passed through.He said the International Air Transportation Association had also stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was unrestricted. “Fifteen out of 16 airlines in the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines fly this route over Ukraine. European airlines also use the same route, and traverse the same airspace. In the hours before the incident, a number of other passenger aircraft from different carriers used the same route,” he said.
Local media reports had quoted data from Flightradar24.com that a Singapore Airlines and an Air India plane were 15 miles away at the time of the incident.
The minister stressed that there were no last minute instructions given to the pilots of MH17 to change the route of the flight. He added that Malaysia Airlines flights would not take the route anymore as it had been closed after Thursday’s incident.Liong said that no distress signal had been received from the pilots before the plane crashed. He said if it was confirmed that the plane was shot down “it would contravene international law, and be an outrage against human decency,” adding that those responsible should be swiftly brought to justice.The Ukrainian government will institute an investigation into the circumstances of the accident, and be responsible for the conduct of the investigation, the minister said.
Earlier on Friday, Malaysia Airlines released a list of those on board the flight and their nationalities. The list included 41 passengers whose nationality could not be verified at the time, as they were in transit from previous flights, and had not entered passport control in Amsterdam.21 of these passengers’ nationalities have now been verified, and 20 still remain. The latest breakdown of known nationalities of those on board shows a majority of the passengers were Dutch. A total of 173 passengers were from the Netherlands.
Malaysia Airlines released a statement on the aircraft’s service record, confirming that all the aircraft’s systems were functioning normally. The Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System and the aircraft’s transponders were working and transmitting as normal.Ukraine authorities will take up the issue when the black box is found, the minister said .His remarks follow a Russian news agency report that pro-Russia separatists claimed to have recovered the black box of MH17 and had announced that they are planning to have it moved to Moscow for examination.The Malaysian Star newspaper quoting a Russian news portal reported that 121 bodies had been recovered from the crash site. Additionally, about 95 rescuers and 18 vehicles were involved in the recovery process in the Donetsk region of the country.Meanwhile, local media reported that one of the victims of the plane crash was Malaysian premier Najib Razak’s step-grandmother Siti Amirah. According to a family spokeswoman, Siti was travelling alone on her way back to Jogjakarta, Indonesia from Amsterdam and intended to transit at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.She was aged 83 and was once married to Mohammad Noah Omar as his second wife. Noah, who passed away in 1990, was Najib’s grandfather.
2) The missile system that shot down Malaysian plane:
The BUK surface-to-air missile system is believed to have been used to shoot down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 298 people aboard.
The missile system is an old Soviet-built weapon designed to engage aircraft, cruise missiles and drones that is still widely used in eastern European states, including Ukraine.
The Buk, also called SA-11, is a large ground-to-air missile that can reach a maximum altitude between 11,000 and 25,000 metres depending on the version.
Guided by a radar station on the ground, it would be powerful enough to bring down a large aircraft with a single hit, but not accurate enough to discern between a civilian airliner and a military transport aircraft, experts say.
Doug Richardson, missiles and rockets editor of IHS Janes' International Defence Review, told The Telegraph that a mobile BUK missile battery was usually composed of three separate track-mounted units, made up of a radar, a launcher and a command post.
3) How BRICS bank can affect world economics and politics:
Borrowing from BRICS bank will help India avoid other kinds of politics emanating from the West. Overall, the BRICS institutions will necessarily adopt alternative ways of doing things based on their own cultural and socio economic needs, says M K Venu.
The BRICS bank with an authorised capital of $100 billion (about Rs 600,000 crore) as well as a separate contingency reserve arrangement of $100 billion, created jointly by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, could mark a profound shift in the way global finance and politics might operate in the years ahead. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund, formed after World War II, served to create a philosophical framework within which the global political economy was shaped for many decades.
These agencies did not quite recognise or understand the cultural factors which were deeply embedded in the social and economic behaviour of the Third World. This is admitted by many scholars now.The BRICS financial institutions will necessarily have to create a different kind of economic and political consensus among the developing societies, transcending past ideological categories. This will be the biggest challenge for the BRICS financial institutions.The BRICS bank, like the World Bank, is expected to fund much needed physical and social infrastructure in the BRICS countries. The contingency reserve arrangement will act like the IMF, which provides temporary bail-out funds to economies facing capital flight and currency crisis.
Of course, the IMF also follows a political agenda, such as showing excess generosity to Russia in the early 1990s when it broke away from Communist Soviet Union. BRICS contingency reserve is not expected to display such overt biases!
The BRICS bank could, at a later stage, invite other emerging economies also to become shareholders and widen the ambit of its operations to much of the developing world. South Africa already wants the benefit of a BRICS bank to reach other African countries. Similarly Latin American nations like Mexico and a few others also want to be part of the BRICS story.In short, BRICS has fired the imagination of the people in a way no other global grouping has in recent times. Though western commentators pooh-poohed the idea of BRICS bank and contingency reserve as a pie in the sky, they are all surprised at the speed with which these institutions have been launched. It appears that expert observers have not been able to grasp the spirit of the times.The main criticism levelled by sceptics is that the BRICS nations are too disparate to be able to come together in any meaningful way. Actually what makes BRICS really meaningful is the presence of China and India, the two most populous nations in the world, who will really decide the nature and trajectory of world growth in the next 30 to 40 years. This is so logical as to not require even a debate.
So if China and India are critical to how the world economy shapes up in the coming decades, it stands to reason that BRICS could play a role in driving a consensus around issues like climate change, nature of future consumption, world trade and use of appropriate technology etc.This will become even more potent when other developing countries rally around BRICS whose nations are already playing a key role as a pressure group on the sidelines of the World Trade Organisation and climate change negotiations.A top Prime Minister’s Office official told me some time ago that the BRICS bank has particular relevance for economic cooperation between India and China. He argued that the Indian establishment was still hesitant to directly deal with China because of the legacy of past suspicion and bitterness between the two nations.
However, such business interaction can be pushed through financial institutions like the BRICS bank. For instance, if there is a temporary attack on the Indian currency, it can now take the help of the reserve fund in which China has 40 per cent contribution. In normal circumstances, the Indian establishment may feel constrained to directly seek help from China. A more robust engagement between India and China could occur via these new platforms.Also, even as the BRICS financial institutions eventually expand their catchment area to other developing economies, they will at the core serve as a conduit of meaningful interaction between India and China. This is a less appreciated aspect of BRICS. So critics who talk about the disparate nature of BRICS countries fail to see how it brings India and China much closer, which by itself can have a profound impact on South-South cooperation.One of the big benefits that flowed to Indian industry from the BRICS deliberation was after the New Delhi summit where it was decided that BRICS economies can do trade in their local currencies instead of dollars. After that the Indian government allowed domestic infrastructure companies to borrow yuan-denominated loans from Chinese banks to pay for massive import of power equipment from China.At least 25 per cent of our power generation capacity over the next decade is based on Chinese equipment import. This means roughly $30 billion (about Rs 180,000 crore) of power equipment could be imported from China. The BRICS bank could also offer cheaper loans for such power projects in BRICS countries.
Borrowing from BRICS bank will help India avoid other kinds of politics emanating from the West. For instance, the United States is clearly discouraging the World Bank from lending to coal-based power projects in the populous developing world.India will be dependent on coal-based power for 50 per cent of its electricity consumption over the next few decades. China's position is similar to that of India's. So the BRICS bank can chart a course different from that of the World Bank in this respect.
Overall, the BRICS institutions will necessarily adopt alternative ways of doing things based on their own cultural and socio economic needs.
4) Peace dies as Israel invades Gaza Strip:
Israel has launched its first massive ground offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in five years, after 10 days of bombardment from the air and sea killed nearly 260 Palestinians but failed to stop the militants' rocket attacks on the Jewish state.
In a dramatic escalation of the conflict, Israeli forces backed by artillery and air strikes launched the ground offensive on Thursday night with the army saying the objective is to strike a "significant blow to Hamas' terror infrastructure."
Hamas, which has controlled the densely populated coastal Strip area since June 2007 after ousting rival Fatah in a bloody battle, warned that Israel would pay a "high price" for the ground incursion.
"Following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to de-escalate the situation, the IDF has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip," a statement from the Israeli army said.
The Israeli Defence Forces said the goal was to "establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continuous indiscriminate terror."
5) Uttarakhand: Chardham Yatra suspended, warning of heavy rains:
With the MeT department warning of heavy showers at various places in Uttarakhand on Friday and major rivers in spate, the Chardham yatra has been suspended even as the Centre decided to provide two Mi-17 helicopters to the state to deal with any emergency.
While yatra to Kedarnath and Badrinath was earlier suspended till today, the pilgrimage to Gangotri and Yamunotri which was going on in a low key manner despite the warning was finally halted on Thursday evening for the safety of pilgrims.
With yatra to Gangotri and Yamunotri also halted, the entire chardham pilgrimage stands suspended for the time being, Additional Chief Secretary Rakesh Sharma said, adding it will resume only when the weather clears up.
The Centre has, meanwhile, agreed to the state's demand for two Mi-17 choppers which will remain stationed in Dehradun till July 25 to operate in case of an emergency.
The demand was put forward to the Centre last evening when Union Cabinet Secretary Ajeet Sethi took stock of the situation prevailing in the state through video conferencing in view of MeT department's prediction of heavy rain in some parts of the state on Friday and Saturday.
Though most rivers in the state are in spate they are still flowing below the danger mark and the situation as of now is far from alarming, Sharma said.
Due to heavy rains over the past few days, routes are obstructed at 20 places between Rudraprayag and Sonprayag but no pilgrim is stuck at any destination, he said.
173 pilgrims stranded in KedarValley on Thursday have been moved to safe destinations. 13 'Kanwariyas' have also been shifted to safer destinations from Lincholi by a team of State Disaster Response Force.
Sports News This Week:
1) I was nervous because this is my first match at Lord’s, says Ajinkya Rahane:
Delighted to be on the Lord’s roll-of-honour after a gritty hundred on the opening day of the second Test, Ajinkya Rahane revealed that he was a little nervous before his first Test at this celebrated ground.
The batsman though did calm down on the morning of the match and that was enough to make him register his second Test ton in his seventh match - both the tons coming in overseas conditions.“Every hundred is special, be it at Wellington or at Lord’s,” said Rahane, referring to his maiden Test ton scored versus New Zealand earlier this year.
“But yes this is special because I have done this at Lord’s. I was a little nervous last night because this is my first match at this ground. But I calmed down in the morning realising that all I need to do was bat patiently until I face 25-30 deliveries and then see how it will go,” he said.
India, who ended Day 1 on 290 for nine, were invited to bat first on a green-top wicket by Alastair Cook and they collapsed to 140/6 by tea-time only to be rescued by Rahane’s 103 runs. He was helped by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who scored 36 runs and put up 90 runs for the 8th wicket - the highest of the innings for India.
“I was telling myself to play as close to the body as possible. After 25-35 runs, I started taking my chances. It was challenging and a completely different wicket. I had a good partnership with Bhuvneshwar. When he first came in to bat, I asked him if he was okay with me taking singles early in the over. And he said he was confident, so I trusted him,” said Rahane.
“I also want to thank the top-order - Vijay (Murali), Pujara (Cheteshwar) and Kohli (Virat) - they played through a crucial phase in tough conditions against the new ball, and watching them bat, I gained confidence,” he added.When asked if he has now gained expertise in batting with the tail, the century-maker replied, “I have been watching videos of Michael Hussey who used to bat a lot with tail-enders. I have learnt from Virat who in Australia batted with the tail. Dhoni bhai too has batted a lot with the tail so I am learning from them.”England had a mixed day in the field as they bowled well through the day only to let it slip in the last session. The hosts took 4 wickets for 67 runs in the middle session, but bowled too short in the post-tea session.When asked if their poor bowling helped him score, Rahane replied, “This wicket is different from the Trent Bridge pitch. Till the end the ball was doing something and it was good to get this hundred on this pitch. This wicket will suit our bowlers as well.”
2) Germany top FIFA rankings:
Germany’s World Cup triumph has seen them rise to the top of the world rankings for the first time in 20 years, FIFA announced on Thursday.
The 1-0 victory in the final has taken them up one place to top spot, ahead of their opponents in the Brazil final, Argentina, who rise three to second. The Netherlands move up a hefty 12 rungs on the ladder to third after their impressive World Cup third-place finish.
Spain have paid the penalty for not progressing from the group stages in Brazil by dropping from first to eighth place with Colombia, Belgium and Uruguay occupying the places above them. Hosts Brazil, hammered 7-1 by Germany in the World Cup semi-final in the shock of the tournament, drop four places to seventh. England have fallen 10 places to 20th in the list, their lowest position since May 1996.
Formula 1 drivers’ championship leader Nico Rosberg has had to ditch plans to put an image of the World Cup on his helmet for the upcoming German Grand Prix following a complaint from FIFA. The German driver wanted to commemorate his country’s World Cup win with a specially designed helmet that also featured the German colors.
FIFA reportedly complained that featuring the trophy on the helmet would breach its “intellectual property” rights.Rosberg will race instead with a modified helmet featuring four golden stars, one for each of Germany’s World Cup wins.“It’s amazing that even a trophy has a trademark,” Rosberg said on Thursday. “I was surprised but of course I understand. It’s a pity because the helmet looked really cool with the trophy on top.It’s been replaced by a big star. No one can take that away. The star belongs to us!” Earlier the driver tweeted: “a shame,i would have loved to carry the trophy as a tribute to the guys.but of course I respect the legal situation.” Rosberg leads the championship by four points from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
3) Women’s team best bet for medal:
It’s not often that an Indian women’s hockey team enters a tournament with a better chance of a podium finish than their male counterparts. But such is their legacy at the Commonwealth Games that despite their indifferent form in the last year or so, the Neil Hawgood-coached side are India’s best bet for a medal at Glasgow.
After the high of winning the bronze medal at the junior World Cup last year, the team’s fortunes have gone downhill. At the Champions Challenge tournament, which was played in Glasgow in April-May, India were the wooden-spooners, finishing at the bottom of the eight-team event.
Hawgood, though, isn’t panicking, insisting that the team is in transition. India might be languishing at the 13th position in the world but the Australian feels his wards now can well and truly compete with teams ranked 5-8th.India have fielded a relatively young side for the CWG with as many 12 junior players in the squad. The team led by Ritu Rani will, however, miss the services of the experienced Chanchan Devi and Binita Lakra, both of whom are injured.
India enter the CWG in a positive frame of mind, whitewashing Malaysia in a six-test away series. “The Malaysia series gave the girls a chance to play test matches without any pressure. The series gave them an opportunity to express themselves and try out new things. In the end, the results lifted our confidence tremendously,” Hawgood said.
Aiming for a top-four finish at Glasgow, Hawgood said the team is using the CWG as a part of the build-up for September’s Asian Games. “The CWG is part of our preparation for the Asian Games just like the Champions Challenge and the Malaysia tour. We are aiming to play consistent hockey leading to the Asian Games. The CWG will provide us with a chance to test ourselves against some big teams,” he said.
Book of This Week :
A Sport of Nature by Nadine Gordimer
A bold, sweeping story of one girl's rise from obscurity to an unpredictable kind of political power Abandoned by her mother, Hillela is left to be raised by her two aunts in South Africa. At Olga's she might have acquired a taste for antiques and a style of dress to please a suitable husband. At Pauline's she might have developed a social conscience. But Hillela's betrayal of her position as a surrogate daughter so shocks both families that at seventeen she is cast adrift. Swiftly and perilously, her life opens out. She lives as a footloose girl among political exiles on a beach in East Africa, drifting between jobs and lovers, and finally becomes the wife of a black revolutionary. Personal tragedy is ultimately the catalyst for her political development, leading her into a heroic role in the overthrow of apartheid.
Nadine Gordimer (20 November 1923 – 13 July 2014) was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a woman "who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity".Gordimer's writing dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. Under that regime, works such as Burger's Daughter and July's People were banned. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress during the days when the organization was banned. She was also active in HIV/AIDS causes.