The US Presidential elections and Indian place names

As the saturation coverage of the US elections will continue for a while, we may as well try to match their leader’s names to place names in India.

While the incumbent President Barack Obama came to India more than once, he does not seem to have visited this place:


His predecessor Jimmy Carter did indeed have a village near Gurgaon named after him. Supposedly his mother had been there with the Peace Corps at one time:

A halt station called Carterpuri (between Bijwasan and Gurgaon) was listed in the timetable for a few years, though it seems to have closed down long ago and no trace of it can be seen now. A new station called Palam Vihar Halt was built some years later in the same general area, though no trains appear to stop there now.

When Bill Clinton was President, the combination of him and the First Lady was referred to as Billary. Therefore, a logical place for them to visit is:


although it has now been renamed to:


If (somehow) Donald Trump wins, he could visit the small town of McDonald’s Choultry in Tamil Nadu, though the station (between Salem and Erode) was long ago renamed to:


This name change in the 1970s was perhaps the first step against the McDonaldization of India.

We close with this one currently making the rounds on social media, presumably taken in around 1970:


Also read this one:

A statistical tribute to Max Walker

As you would know, Australian pace bowler Max Walker passed away recently. He played an useful support role to the more flamboyant Lillee and Thomson. Oddly enough, he never played against India in his 34 Tests and 17 ODIs. Most of his teammates such as the Chappell brothers, Marsh, Lillee, Thomson and Mallett did play in at least one series against India.

I remembered him for a statistical quirk in his last Test, the final Test against England in 1977. This was a dead rubber match, which saw Walker and debutant Mike Malone putting on a century partnership for the 9th wicket. Being Packermen, they were not able to return to the Test team after the “amnesty”. They did get to play a few ODIs.

The scorecard of that Test:

Now Walker (besides debutant Malone) made their highest Test scores (78 and 46) in their final Test. In fact Walker had never made a Test fifty before. This led me to study how many people had made their career-best score in their final Test.

This is not something which can be pulled out directly from Statsguru, but requires some additional work. If you stick to career-best scores of 50+, there are over 80 such instances so there isn’t much point in listing them all.

Anyway, I have listed all such cases of making their career-best score in their last Test, that score being 100 or more:



Of course, the 4 instances of 2016 should not really be here as all of them (especially Kohli and Rahane) will be playing for a long time to come. Note the strange case of Andy Sandham who made the world Test record in his last Test, though Bradman overtook it a few months later. The special cases of Ganteaume and Redmond would be familiar.

I also listed the Indian players who made their career-best score in their last Test, that score being 50 or more:


The Yuvraj of Patiala (a.k.a. Yadavendra Singh) is the only Indian among the 15 who scored a fifty or more in his only Test. Leaving out Kohli and Rahane, there is only Vijay Merchant who made his highest score of 100+ in his last Test.

Review of India-New Zealand Tests-2

Hope you have read the first part:

We now look at fielding records.

Overall dismissals (12+):


Dhoni has the most dismissals (33) followed by IDS Smith, who took the most catches by a keeper (29). Dhoni has the most stumpings (5) while Fleming (20) and Dravid (17) have the most catches as fielders.

Most dismissals in an innings (4+):


Kirmani, Dhoni and Watling share the record of 6 dismissals in an innings. When Kirmani achieved this in 1976 he had a share in the existing world record. Wadekar and Venkataraghavan took 4 catches as fielders.

Most dismissals in a match (5+):


While Watling has the record of 9 dismissals followed by Harford, Smith and Dhoni with 7, three fielders (Surti, Fleming and Jadeja) share the record of 5 catches.

Highest dismissal rates (minimum 20 innings fielded, rate 0.5):


FM Engineer is the only keeper here, since other keepers (even Dhoni) did not play enough matches to qualify for 20 innings. Fleming and Taylor have the highest rates for non-keepers.

Finally we look at all-round performances.

Overall all-round performances:

(note the criteria at the top of the table)


Oddly enough, Harbhajan emerges on the top here (mainly on the strength of his two centuries in 2010). Bedi is also a surprise, though he did make his career-best score against NZ. Vettori is not here because of his poor bowling average above 45.

All-round match performances (Fifty and 5+):


BR Taylor is the only one with a century and fiver, and is indeed the only debutant in all Tests to achieve this. Others such as Congdon and Bracewell also have creditable performances.

Review of India-New Zealand Tests-1

With the conclusion of India’s 3-0 clean sweep over New Zealand, a total of 57 Test have been played between the two teams.

Overall, India leads 21-10 with 26 draws.

In India, the home team leads 16-2 with 16 draws. The only 2 Tests won by New Zealand were in 1969-70 and 1988-89.

In New Zealand, again the home team leads 8-5 with 10 draws. India’s 5 wins here include 3 in 1967-68 (India’s first Test and series wins abroad), one in 1975-76 and another in 2008-09.

Overall batting figures (600+ runs):


Among current players, Gambhir and R. Taylor lead.

Highest innings scores (150+):


Only Kohli and Rahane among current players. Strange that Mankad’s 231 in 1955-56 is still the highest by India against NZ. It was the record for India against all countries until Gavaskar made 236* against WI in 1983-84.

Highest batting averages (all instances of 20+ innings batted):


R. Taylor is the only current player here. The relative infrequency of Tests between the two countries means that many prominent batsmen have not reached the cutoff of 20 innings.

Now to bowling.

Most wickets (25+):


Here we see Ashwin rapidly moving up the ranks with 27 wickets in this series. He has the most fivers (6) and tenners (3), moving ahead of the famous knight (not Sir Ravindra).

Best innings bowling:


Ashwin moves into 4th position here. Venkataraghavan’s career-best innings figures came in his debut series.

Best match bowling:


R. Ashwin now has the best match bowling figures on either side. He surpassed his own record set in 2012, and took another tenner in this series. The “other” knight has the best figures for NZ, both in India and NZ.

Finally we look at the bowling averages (2000 + balls bowled):


Only 12 bowlers make the cutoff, with relatively few from recent years. Indian spinners have the first 4 places in the list before Sir Richard makes an appearance.

It can also be seen that RG Nadkarni (who else?) has the best economy rate of 1.52 followed by Bedi and Venkataraghavan. Hadlee has the best strike rate of 47.7 followed by Prasanna and Zaheer. Note that Ashwin has bowled only 1415 balls so far (see the first bowling table) but has a strike rate of 31.4.

Also note Vettori’s unexpectedly poor average.

Enough for now, will take up fielding and all-round performances here.

Cow slaughter on the tracks

While British cattle are larger and heavier than their counterparts in India and other Asian countries, they do not seem to be particularly intelligent, as we see here. Wandering onto a track which is a main route with rated speeds of 225 Km/h is not very smart. Anyway, see this news item from Peterborough in eastern England which refers to an accident on 2 Oct 2016:

Sometimes the cows win, as we see from this accident in 1984 in Scotland where a single cow caused a push-pull diesel express to derail with the death of over a dozen humans:

A picture of the accident site:

As you can see from the above Wikipedia article, this was a significant accident in that it brought out the dangers of push-pull trains with the loco at the rear running into an obstruction. If the loco had been in front the accident and number of casualties would not have been so serious.

India has had its share of relatively minor accidents involving cattle and camels, which have caused some derailments but without major damage or casualties. However, unlike the British railways, IR does have a significant number of larger animals such as lions, tigers and elephants.

Tigers and lions do get run over quite often. The relatively small number of lions in the Gir forest may be able to cope with the slow metre gauge trains in their area. But overcrowding has caused them to disperse to areas further away which have heavy broad gauge goods traffic, notably the line to Pipavav port. The results are predictable.

Elephants have caused accidents in several parts of the country, notably in North Bengal and Assam. The worst such accident was in Jalpaiguri district in 2013 which led to deaths of 7 elephants and injuries to several several others:

No humans were affected in this accident.

However, this accident in 2000 near Dehradun did cause some injuries to humans:

 May 2, 2000

18 injured as 3010 Dn Dehradun-Howrah Doon Express derailed after hitting a herd of elephants at  unmanned crossing between Raiwala and Motichur (near the  latter) on Dehradun-Haridwar section. The engine and 3 coaches were derailed. An elephant was killed.

A close look at Pakistan’s railways and their weak points

As armchair warriors are now having a field day, it is time to take a good look at Pakistan’s railway system and how its major routes could be fairly easily disrupted in the event of a major war.

We first take a look at this system map of the late 1960s, from Berridge’s “Couplings to the Khyber” published in 1969.

PWR in 1969

Metre gauge lines are not shown separately. At that time they existed in a corner of Sind, from Mirpur Khas to Khokhropar, the Jamrao-Pithoro loop and Mirpur Khas-Nawabshah.

This map shows a line under construction from Kot Adu through Dera Ghazi Khan and Kashmor which connected at Jacobabad to Karachi and Quetta sides. This was opened in the 1970s.

Now take a look at the bridge over the Sutlej between Lodhran and Bahawalpur. If something were to happen to that bridge, there is no way ANY train between northern Pakistan and southern Pakistan could run. Try, for example, to travel from Karachi to Lahore if that bridge near Bahawalpur was disabled. Also note the portion of the main line from Rohri to Khanpur which is relatively close to the Indian border and vulnerable to air and land-based attacks.

Now let us look at a more recent map. I am not sure exactly who created it, but it seems to be relatively accurate in showing today’s system when cross-checked with the online timetables on


Note how the system has shrunk. No metre gauge left, one line to the Indian border being converted and the rest abandoned. All those narrow gauge lines to exotic places like Thal and Fort Sandeman (Zhob) have been pulled up by the 90s. Many BG branch lines (particularly in Sind) have closed. The ambitious project on linking Gwadar does not seem to have made much progress. And the branch from Sibi to Khost has been immobilized by sabotage by Baloch militants a decade ago, and is probably not going to reopen.

The only significant addition is the line from Kot Adu to Jacobabad mentioned earlier, which works as an alternative link between the north and the south and further away from the border.

Thus, if that bridge near Bahawalpur was disrupted, you could still route trains by this branch. Let us consider a trip from Rawalpindi to Karachi. Under normal conditions it would run from Rawalpindi to Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, Rohri and Hyderabad on the way to Karachi.This would be mostly on double line.

Minus the Bahawalpur bridge, you would have a long journey over single track most of the way through Kundian, Kot Adu, DG Khan, Jacobabad, Rohri and Hyderabad on the way to Karachi. The line from Kot Adu to Jacobabad happens to pass through a somewhat lawless area where express trains generally do not keep to timetables. Then the line crosses the Indus near Kot Adu on the Taunsa Barrage (not unlike our Farakka barrage) which is somewhat further from the Indian border but should not be impossible to disrupt-particularly if the intention was to disrupt river control over a significant part of central Pakistan.

So let us say there is disruption to our old friend the Sutlej bridge near Bahawalpur and our new friend the Taunsa Barrage near Kot Adu. Let us see if ANY train can travel from Peshawar/Rawalpindi/Lahore to Quetta/Karachi.

The Indian railway system, particularly with its dense network of BG lines in north-western India, are not so easy to disrupt. There are some fairly well-known choke points, but it would take a considerable effort to completely block traffic to the numerous railheads near the border.

The coming of unigauge may not be welcomed by everyone, but it has removed significant vulnerabilities in rail transport between Northern and Southern India. In 1991, it could be shown that disruption of the Krishna bridges near Vijayawada and near Raichur would result in complete blockage of BG traffic from the North, West and East to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, most of Karnataka and a good part of undivided AP. At that time there was no Konkan Railway, no Hubli-Bangalore BG line and no Secunderabad-Dronachellam-Guntakal BG line. Now there is some redundancy.

Coming back to Pakistan, you may like to know more about the bridges in question. First there is the Empress Bridge on the Sutlej, between Adamwahan and Bahawalpur stations. (BTW President Zia ran into trouble when something happened to his C-130 after it took off from Bahawalpur). Here is the location of the bridge:,71.6509437,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x393b9991ae721695:0x45f2cf0c82819072!8m2!3d29.4466254!4d71.6531324

And here is a  TV report about the bridge, which dates back to the 19th century when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress. It was in fact opened in 1878 soon after she had been proclaimed Empress.

The Taunsa barrage with its rail tracks is located here:,+Taunsa+Barrage+Rd,+Pakistan/@30.3649011,70.8420215,10z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x39253fb026194f83:0x16d64fce6e8c18bd!8m2!3d30.5128977!4d70.8497033

We also have a video of a train passing over it:


Similarities with the Farakka Barrage and its railway line and road can be seen.

Needless to say, there are probably heavy anti-aircraft defences around these bridges-but they wouldn’t help against something as basic as a land-based Prithvi missile or one of the numerous longer-range missiles in our inventory.

And remember that India does not have a suitable anti-missile system at present, unless one counts some kind of “jugaad” like using Patriot-type anti-aircraft missiles which might just work against primitive ballistic missiles such as Scuds. But those days are gone. But there are plenty of innovative things which our armed forces have done, such as using AN-12s as bombers or anti-aircraft guns to hit targets on the ground (which seems to be a common method of execution in North Korea).

The zoo that is Indian Railways

In the beginning there were Mail trains, Express trains and Passenger trains besides goods trains. So you also had Mixed trains, slow trains which had passenger coaches as well as goods wagons. Some of these may still exist on minor branch lines.

After Independence new varieties came along, such as the Janatha Expresses (only 3rd class) and Deluxe Expresses (with a small number of AC chair and AC I coaches).

In 1969 the first Rajdhani Express ran. A few years later we had the Jayanthi Janatha Express. These ran on a number of routes, though the only one which lasted long enough with this name was the first one between Nizamuddin and Mangalore, with a few coaches to Cochin. It still survives with a completely different route and name (the Mangala Express via the Konkan route to Ernakulam via Mangaluru Jn). Other short-lived phenomena included the DC (Diesel Car) Express which ran on metre gauge between Kanpur and Lucknow, and a few other MG routes on the NER.

In the late 70s came the “classless” trains such as the Gitanjali Express, basically all 2nd class sleeper with cushioned berths. In the mean time 3rd class had vanished and had become 2nd class just by using a bit of red paint to change III to II.

Still later, various Railway Ministers kept introducing various new ideas for express trains. No new Mail trains were introduced since the 70s. The last one appears to have been the Tinsukia Mail in c.1974, which became the Brahmaputra Mail. Some Mails were transformed into Expresses, such as the Bombay/Poona Mail to the Mahalaxmi Express (if I remember right). And the one-time 1/2 Delhi/Ahmedabad Mail first became the Haridwar Mail and then the Yoga Express (Don’t ask me why. Swami Ramdev might know).

The Shatabdis, Jan Shatabdis, Durontos, Garib Raths, Double Decker, Jan Sadharan and Sampark Kranti Expresses should be familiar enough now. I must have missed out a few species. Right now the new Railway Minister has unleashed several new beasts, for which you can refer to this news item:

and this older reference:

The new timetable from October 1, 2016 will include these:

Deendayalu appears to be a type of coach rather than a train. Probably these coaches will run on the Antodaya trains.

So now you have it. India does have the most variety of trains of any railway system in the world.

Just waiting for Uday Expresses to run to these places:

As you would guess, the “original” Udaipur is the one on the right while the one on the left is in Tripura (where the local language is Bengali).

The real original Udaipur station existed until 1964 when the new route from Udaipur to Himatnagar was built. It now goes by this name: