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An English Whitewash: Team India Returns the Favour

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By Pradyut Hande:

After being thoroughly decimated and pummeled into submission by their ebullient and clinical English hosts this summer, Team India came back home to a tepid welcome, brickbats and humungous disappointment. Much was expected from MS Dhoni and his confident unit, but alas! They flattered to deceive (on second thoughts, all they did was “flatter” the English team and “deceive” their cricketing sense!). Team India came a cropper and endured humiliating loss after humiliating loss. The fact that they returned without a single victory on their torrid English tour was symptomatic of their lack of adequate preparation, “luckless injury syndrome”, dubious team selection and a general absence of fundamental application. The World Champions had been humbled and how! Knocked off their high pedestal…licking their wounds; the Indians returned to regroup for their Home ODI series against the same opposition.

Billed as the “Revenge Series”, there was a veritable degree of attention directed at the series, even before it got underway. Beset by injuries to key players, MS Dhoni and his young squad had the unenviable task of beating (some would say, “bringing down to Earth!) a buoyant and well balanced English unit, fuelled by confidence and a welcome injection of young blood. Without the likes of stalwarts such as Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh in the side; Team India faced an uphill task. Defeat was an ostentatious luxury they could no longer afford. “Failure” was a word that couldn’t have a place in their motivational lexicon. The time was ripe for India to step up to the plate and “defend their territory”…and defend their territory they did with aplomb and how!

Under the talismanic leadership of MS Dhoni, a young and relatively inexperienced Indian side put paid to England’s plans, ruthlessly trampling over them to clinch the ODI series 5-0! They “kick started” their victory run in Hyderabad and never looked back after that, improving with each passing game. They used their home conditions effectively to neutralize any sort of English resistance (there was hardly any!). The English never really got going, failed to come to grips with the Indian wickets and eventually stuttered, fumbled and floundered their way to spectacular capitulation! The World Champions rose to the occasion and obliterated a hapless opposition…

There were numerous positives to take away from this series for India. The batting and bowling clicked as a collective unit for the first time in many months. The manner in which the youngsters donned the mantle of responsibility and came out trumps is most praiseworthy. On the batting front, MS Dhoni led by example and played some critical knocks to put India into match winning positions. He finished with 212 runs in the series; without being dismissed a single time! He has definitely transformed himself to become one of the best finishers in present day ODI cricket. The likes of Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli too shone with the bat. Kohli has been in stupendous form all throughout this calendar year and has merely carried on in the same vein. His maturity, consistency, confidence and insatiable appetite for success are exceptional. If his recent form is anything to go by, the future appears more than bright for the talented Delhi lad. Rahane too staked a claim for a Test berth with his relatively consistent showings.

However, he does need to learn how to rotate the strike more often and build on his starts to eventually log substantial scores. The diminutive Parthiv Patel failed to impress while opening the batting with the perennially improving Rahane and did himself no favours by throwing his wicket away after getting off to reasonable starts. What was noteworthy was the fact that, someone or the other always raised his hand and “did the job” in testing situations; wresting the transient initiative back from the Englishmen. The same English bowlers that had the Indians hopping in grave discomfort in their own back yard were now being thrashed all over the park. In the absence of senior bowlers like James Anderson and Start Broad, the young English bowling lineup struggled on the docile and unresponsive Indian tracks and lost the plot entirely, especially in the death overs.

On the bowling front, the Indians evidently outperformed their English counterparts. The likes of Praveen Kumar and R
Vinay Kumar bowled with verve and consistency, giving India the crucial initial breakthrough on more occasions than one. It was more than heartening to watch Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron go flat out and beat the English batsmen with some ferocious pace! For far too long now have we incessantly clamoured, pondered, wondered aloud and what have you…”Where is our Brett Lee?”, “Why don’t we have out and out pace bowlers to trouble the most competent international batsmen??” Yadav and Aaron certainly did their future prospects no harm by rattling the Englishmen with sheer pace on the flattest of “batting utopias” (read Indian pitches!). If the performance of the India’s pace battery was satisfactory, then India’s spin duo in R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were not less than revelatory. The markedly contrasting off spinners bowled with guile and zip, using their myriad variations to good effect to bamboozle the jittery English batsmen. The likes of Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Jonathon Bairstow and Samit Patel struggled to counter the spin and allowed them to dictate terms with some poor shot selection and inefficient foot work. Ashwin appears to be growing in confidence with each outing and has now emerged as a serious contender for a Test berth. Jadeja too turned in some fine performances, with both bat and ball; furthering his growing reputation as a promising all-rounder.

Team India’s fielding also definitely deserves mention. The young outfit, brimming with energy and confidence, excelled on the park; backing their bowlers to the hilt. The likes of Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Manoj Tiwary and Ravindra Jadeja displayed their athletic prowess as they dove around to save India some precious runs in the field. If Dhoni’s batting left the Englishmen scratching their heads in utter bewilderment (“How do we get this lad out?” would have been a common question that would have been discussed in excruciating detail during the English team meetings!); his performance behind the stumps was also tidy. His bowling changes and field placements were spot on. Suffice to say; when you’re on a roll, it is hard to put a single step wrong! In sharp contrast, the Englishmen appeared to be bereft of ideas as they failed to conjure any remotely successful solutions to the “Indian conundrum”! What a cruel reversal of fortunes…The tables were turned and the English were humbled 5-0…

Revenge or no revenge…retribution was served in ample doses to an unwilling English side that surrendered rather tamely to the “Indian juggernaut”. Alistair Cook and his men will return home a bruised outfit…whitewashed in ignominy. They say sport is a great leveler. Certainly rings true for the English — they have been comprehensively “leveled” indeed! For India though, it is now a matter of capitalizing on their recent success and consolidating their position. But for now though, they can bask in the glory of successfully conceiving and serving the Englishmen an unappetizing dish we call…sweet, sweet revenge!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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