World Cup: a method for predicting the winner.


  I first came across this “theorem” in the runup to the 1992 World Cup. Its statement is:

If the World Cup tournament is held in a white-majority country, it will be won by a “non-white” team.

If it is held in a non-white country, it will be won by a “white” team.

Consider the instances before then:

1975  in Eng, won by WI   True

1979  in Eng, won by WI   True

1983 in Eng, won by Ind    True

1987 in Ind/Pak, won by Aus    True

Now we see how this theorem worked after someone had deduced it:

1992 in Aus/NZ, won by Pak    True (5 out of 5 so far)

1996 in Ind/Pak/SL, won by SL  False (for the first time)

1999 in Eng/Neth, won by Aus  False

2003 in SA/Ken/Zim, won by Aus True (we consider SA to be a non-white country)

2007 in WI, won by Aus                  True

2011 in Ind/BD/SL, won by Ind        False

Thus this theorem has worked in 7 out of 10 cases or 70%

Now figure out which of the following contenders will win in 2015: Ind, Pak, SL, BD, WI

Odds and ends from the World Cup

We know that Kumar Sangakkara now holds the record for the most consecutive centuries in all ODI cricket (not just in the World Cup):

As you can see, the previous record was 3 by various people. No one scored more than two in a row in the World Cup. R. Dravid was one of them.

We now look at the records for dismissals in World Cup matches as on Mar 11:

Sangakkara:      54 dis, 41 ct, 13 st

Gilchrist             52 dis, 45 ct,   7 st

McCullum          33 dis, 30 ctw, 2 st, 1 ctf

Boucher             31 dis, 31 ct, 0 ct

Moin Khan         30 dis, 23 ct, 7 st

Ponting              28 dis, 28 ctf

Dhoni                 26 dis, 21 ct, 5 st

Ramdin              25 dis, 25 ct, 0 st

We can expect Sangakkara and Dhoni to add a few more in the course of the tournament, besides McCullum (now not keeping), Dhoni and Ramdin. But Sangakkara’s total of 54 dismissals and 13 stumpings are likely to stand for a long time,while he may also cross Gilchrist’s total of 45 catches.

Ponting’s 28 catches as a fielder may also be a record for a long time. The next in line is Jayasuriya with 18. No current fielder is even close.

Guess which fielder has taken the most catches as a fielder in this World Cup? Umesh Yadav with 7.

Soumya Sarkar from Bangladesh took 4 catches in an innings (vs Scotland) to equal the World Cup record of 4 by Mohammed Kaif against Sri Lanka in 2003.

There is a strange symmetry here as the record is shared by a Hindu from Bangladesh and a Muslim from India. Also remember the only Hindu to score a hat-trick in Tests is Alok Kapali from Bangladesh. India does have Harbhajan Singh as the only Sikh to take a hat-trick, besides Irfan Pathan.

MH 370-the Indian angle

As the anniversary of the disappearance of MH 370 draws around, we look back at some news reports from last March considering what India may have been able to do at that time and why they did not do anything.

While the transponder on MH 370 ceased to function while approaching the Vietnamese coast, it was still trackable by primary radar until it went out of range. This is the last definitive information we have about its path:


Note that at the last point it is heading towards the Nicobar islands.

We first look at this report discussing possible landing sites in the Andamans and the nearby Coco islands (which are Myanmarese territory). This was written before the Inmarsat pings and the Southern Indian Ocean trajectory became common knowledge.

Of course, landing at the Indian airports at Campbell Bay, Car Nicobar, Port Blair and Shibpur could not have happened without the knowledge (or connivance) of the Indian armed forces. And the path to the Coco Islands should have been detected by Port Blair’s radar if it was working.

As this is the most remote part of India, a few maps may be helpful for orientation:Andamans-A 001

Note that the Andamans and the Nicobars are distinct island groups. They are grouped together as a single territory called “The Andaman and Nicobar Islands”, as in the map above.

Most of the population is in the Andamans, and the Nicobars have little population outside the Indian military bases. The forests of both island groups are largely inhabited by tribes who have little contact with the outside world. (You may recall the poison dart man from “The Sign of Four”).Very few Indian civilians (other than those employed by the government) are allowed to travel to the Nicobars.

Another point of interest is that the islands are considerably closer to Myanmar and Indonesia than they are to India. In turboprop days the Indian Airlines Viscount flights from Calcutta to Port Blair used to refuel at Rangoon. Direct flights started only with the 737s.

The islands had been occupied by the Japanese for a long period during WW2.

A closer look at the Andamans (and the Coco Islands):

Andamans-B 001

Here you see the main town of Port Blair, its airport (which is run by the military, who allow civilian flights for part of the day), the little-used airstrip at Shibpur and the Coco islands.

And finally the Nicobars:

Andamans-C 001

Here we see Car Nicobar with its 8900-ft airfield which was wrecked in the 2004 tsunami and promptly rebuilt, and the smaller base at Campbell Bay which handles smaller aircraft and probably has little or no radar. Car Nicobar does handle 737s and A320s on military charters, besides Il-76s and the smaller military transports such as AN-32s.

Note the proximity to Banda Aceh which would have been circumnavigated by MH 370 as many believe.

Now a couple of articles by an Indian aviation expert. This newspaper and the writer are generally considered to be reliable. Of course, these articles are based on what was known at the time of writing.

From the Hindu of 18/03/2014:

and from the same paper of 26/03/2014:

These two articles reflect what was known at that time. I am not sure whether the writer’s comments about the state of affairs at the radar facilities at Car Nicobar and Port Blair are fully reliable. But if the Car Nicobar radar was functioning, it would certainly have caught some part of the track of MH 370 before if it disappeared towards the South Pole (or to the Maldives or Diego Garcia if you believe those theories).

However, even if you stick to the northern path to Baikonur or nearby, it would be difficult for it to get through the radars of Kolkata international airport and several large air force bases in eastern India where the radar would be better monitored than in the sleepy outposts in the islands.

Footnote: A total of 239 persons were aboard the missing aircraft, being 12 crew and 227 passengers. 5 passengers were listed as Indian citizens. There may have been a few crew members and passengers from Malaysia with Indian-sounding names.

MH 370-miscellaneous notes

What India and Pakistan had to say about the “Northern Route” last March:

What the Maldivians said they saw on March 8:

And if they did see something, could it be from this airline which has cargo flights between Sri Lanka and the Maldives:

FitsAir Wiki

The colour scheme of the DC-8 is not too different from that of MAS. Here is a closer look:

Their current website is below. Perhaps someone in Colombo could take a closer look at them: