ICC Test Rankings: Australia top ranked side, India drops to third

Dubai [UAE] (ANI): After winning the Ashes 4-0, Australia has now become the number one ranked Test team in the world.
Meanwhile, after suffering a 1-2 series loss against South Africa, India has dropped to the third spot while New Zealand has held onto its second position. New Zealand had played out a 1-1 series draw against Bangladesh.
Australia has 119 points at the top and the Pat Cummins-led side is three points ahead of third-placed India.
After the series win against India, South Africa has jumped to the fifth spot in the ICC Test Rankings. England is in the fourth position with 101 points.
Pakistan has gone down one spot to sixth place, whereas Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, and Ireland have retained their positions. (Image source: Instagram)

India’s first homegrown mRNA vaccine to be tested amid Omicron spike: Official sources

New Delhi [India], January 17 (ANI): The country’s first messenger mRNA vaccine is expected to begin trials on humans in February.
The Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals has submitted phase 2 data of mRNA vaccine and has also completed the recruitment of phase 3 data. Drugs Controller General of India’s (DCGI) Subject Expert Committee (SEC) is expected to review the data soon, the official sources said. Gennova Biopharmaceuticals has also developed the mRNA vaccine for the Omicron variant that will be tested on humans for efficacy and immunogenicity soon, the official sources said.
Earlier in the month of September 2021, the Gennova issued a press statement and updated about the vaccines trials, “The Drug Controller General of India, had approved Phase II and Phase III study protocols for HGCO19, India’s first mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Limited (“Gennova”) back in August.”
“Gennova had submitted the interim clinical data of the Phase I study to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), the Government of India’s National Regulatory Authority (NRA). The Vaccine Subject Expert Committee (SEC) had reviewed the interim Phase I data, and found that HGCO19 was safe, tolerable, and immunogenic in the participants of the study,” it said
The company also mentioned the number of trials sites, “The study is being conducted in India at approximately 10-15 sites in Phase II and 22-27 sites in Phase III. Gennova is using the DBT-ICMR clinical trial network sites for this study.”
mRNA vaccines belong to the category of nucleic acid vaccines, which use genetic material from disease-causing virus or pathogen to trigger an immune response against it within the body. (Image source: Unsplash)

Apple becomes world’s first USD 3 trillion company

Washington [US]: In yet another major milestone, Apple became the world’s first three trillion US dollar company on Monday.
The iPhone maker topped a market value of USD 3 trillion — the first publicly-traded company ever to be worth that much, reported CNN. Shares of Apple (AAPL) were briefly up about 3 per cent to a new all-time high of USD 182.88, surpassing the USD 182.85 per share it needed to be worth USD 3 trillion. The stock later pulled back from that level.
Earlier, Apple’s market value first crossed the USD 1 trillion thresholds in August 2018 and passed USD 2 trillion in August 2020.
Apple shares were up nearly 35 per cent in 2021. The company has benefited from booming demand for its new iPhone 13 and other older models as well as subscription services such as Apple Music, Apple TV+, iCloud and its popular App Store, reported CNN.
Sales surged nearly 30 per cent to more than USD 83 billion in Apple’s fall quarter, which ended in September. The company has a whopping USD 191 billion in cash as well.
It seems that Apple will be joined in by other companies in the 3-trillion club – Microsoft (MSFT) is now worth about USD 2.5 trillion and Google owner Alphabet’s (GOOGL) market value is right around USD 2 trillion.
Still giant but further behind are Amazon (AMZN), which has a market cap of USD 1.7 trillion, and Elon Musk’s Tesla (TSLA), worth about USD 1.2 trillion, reported CNN.

ISL: FC Goa, SC East Bengal eye first win of campaign

Panaji [Goa]: SC East Bengal and FC Goa will have their eyes locked on that elusive first win when the two sides cross swords in a bottom-table clash in the 2021-22 Indian Super League (ISL) at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Tuesday.
SC East Bengal, who will play their fifth straight game at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, their ‘home’ this season too, eked out a point against Chennaiyin FC in their last outing. The red and gold outfit showed grit in a 0-0 draw, with the likes of Hira Mondal, Md Rafique, Suvam Sen and Tomislav Mrcela making their presence felt.
The Jose Manuel Diaz-coached team have two points from four matches. But against FC Goa, the century-old club will fancy their chances.
Juan Ferrando’s FC Goa are yet to win a game after three games, suffering a last-ditch heartbreak against NorthEast United FC.
The reigning Durand Cup champions had almost ensured a point after the match leaned towards a draw in the end, but to their misfortune, Khassa Camara scored a stunner in stoppage time to snatch all three points on offer.
SC East Bengal will look to heap more misery on their rivals with the likes of Daniel Chima Chukwu and Antonio Perosevic likely to partner upfront with Semboi Haokip also adding to Diaz’s options.
“It’s a good start for improving our level. We could have won the match and we hope that we win a match in the near future,” coach Diaz said after the match against Chennaiyin.
FC Goa, meanwhile, have not clicked as a unit despite having in their ranks proven quality like Edu Bedia, Glan Martins and Jorge Ortiz. Airam Cabrera has been impressive too but the backline has looked out-of-sorts.
Head Coach Juan Ferrando suggested there would be light at the end of the tunnel. “It is difficult for the dressing room atmosphere and the players to digest the results after they have put in the hard work. However, we need to brush it aside and concentrate on getting all three points in the next game”
“The most important thing will be the psychology of the players to finish off games. I know SC East Bengal will be ready to pounce upon every mistake we make but for us, our biggest opposition is not the team in front, it is FC Goa itself, we have to overcome that and hope for results,” said the 40-year-old Spaniard.

Hyderabad man becomes India’s first dwarf to obtain driving license

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India]: Gattipally Shivpal, who hails from Hyderabad, has become the first dwarf in the country to obtain a driver’s license.
The 42-year-old man with a height of about three feet has beaten all odds and has become the first to complete his degree as a handicapped in his district Karimnagar. Shivpal finished his degree in 2004. Speaking to ANI, Shivpal said: “People used to tease me because of my height and today I am nominated for The Limca book of records and many others. Many short people are contacting me for driving training.”

The highly ambitious man said that he has decided to start a driving school next year for physically handicapped people.
Shivpal presently works at a private firm here and says that he came to Hyderabad in 2000. “I am the eldest sibling and the only dwarf in the family,” he added.
Narrating his struggles with finding a job to sustain himself in the city, Shivpal said that he featured in a movie and a daily soap initially but could not sustain in the industry for long.
“People were not ready to offer me a job as I was handicapped. Through a friend, I got a job in a private company and now I have been working here for the past 20 years,” he said.

“To commute, whenever I booked cabs, they used to cancel the ride. When I used to go out with my wife, people passed bad comments. That’s when I decided to own a car and ride it,” he added.
Enthusiastic to learn to drive, Shivpal surfed the internet and found a video uploaded by a man in the US. It explained to him the modifications required in a car to lift the seat and other equipment up to his height.
After getting a car modified, Shivpal learnt car driving from a friend. However, his struggles did not end here, as getting a license posed another challenge as the transport department had certain guidelines for height.
Shivpal said that after appealing to the authorities, he obtained a learner’s license for three months and then received a driver license after giving a proper driving test with an official sitting beside him.
“Everybody has some fault in them, but finding your hidden talents and achieving them is what matters,” he remarked.

2 cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant found in Karnataka: Union Health Ministry

New Delhi [India]: The Centre on Thursday informed that two people have tested positive for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Karnataka.
A 46-year-old male and a 66-year-old male were those who contracted the variant. Addressing a media briefing Joint Secretary of the Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal said all primary and secondary contacts of the two infected persons from Karnataka have been identified and they are being monitored and COVID-protocols are being followed.
The two cases of Omircron were detected through genome sequencing effort of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) consortium of 37 laboratories established by Union Health Ministry, said Balram Bhargava, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) at today’s same press briefing.
Meanwhile, Lav Agarwal informed that the Omicron variant can be five times more infectious than the other known variants of the novel coronavirus.
“Around 29 countries have reported 373 cases of Omicron Variant so far,” he added.
The new COVID-19 variant was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 25. As per the WHO, the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9 this year.
On November 26, the WHO named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as ‘Omicron’. The WHO has classified Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’.
Dozens of countries have imposed travel restrictions on the southern African nations since the mutation was discovered.
The new Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in 23 countries and their number is expected to rise, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said.
India has also added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in the country, including post-arrival testing for infection.

Kanpur Test: Need one or two wickets to pull things back, says Ishant Sharma

Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: Indian pacer Ishant Sharma feels the first hour of play on Day Three of the ongoing first Test against New Zealand will be important for the hosts.
New Zealand opening batters Will Young and Tom Latham registered half-centuries as the Kiwis dominated Day 2 here at Green Park, Kanpur on Friday. Ishant on Saturday said India need to go with an open mindset on day 3 to pull back things in the hosts’ favour.
“Really important (first hour). The ball is 55 (57) overs old, I don’t know how the ball is going to behave. There is a little bit of dew as well now. Let’s see how the ball behaves (reverse swing) a couple of overs into the day then we can plan according to that,” Ishant told the host broadcaster before the start of Day Three.
“It generally won’t swing if there is dew, will go straight. We may get a normal swing at times. I can’t go in with the mindset like if it doesn’t swing I don’t know what to do. It’s better to go in with an open mindset.
“If nothing is happening just bowl in one area and wait for things to happen. That’s what we generally do in India. If we can get one or two wickets we can pull back things,” he added.
Ishant got things underway on Saturday as he bowled the first over of day three. The right-handed pacer bowled a maiden over.

Japan tops G-7 chart with highest fully vaccinated population

Tokyo [Japan]: Topping charts among the Group of Seven industrialized nations (G-7), Japan has so far vaccinated 75.7 per cent of its population with two COVID-19 shots, reported local media.
Japan has successfully immunized its 125 million populations with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, reported Kyodo News citing government sources. Leaving Canada behind, which earlier was at the top with a 75.5 per cent vaccination rate, Japan has left behind other G-7 nations including the US, Germany, France, and Britain.
According to the government records, 195.32 million COVID-19 vaccination shots have been administered so far, with 99.4 million having received the first shot, reported Kyodo News. Among the people of age group 65 and above, over 91 per cent are fully vaccinated.
With ramped-up vaccination drive in Japan, which commenced earlier this year has resulted in the significant plunge of new COVID-19 cases. Coming down from the peak of 25,000 in a day, reported in August this year, Japan reported merely 163 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, reported Kyodo News.
Citing government sources, Kyodo News reported that Japan has been witnessing a lesser number of severe COVID-19 cases, coming down to 76 on Thursday.
While Canada has vaccinated the maximum number of people (79 per cent) with the first vaccination dose. Eight countries including Spain and Singapore, which are not a part of G-7 have a higher score of fully vaccinated population, that is 80.2 per cent and 91.9 per cent, respectively, reported Kyodo News.

Saudi Arabia launches 1st non-profit city

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud announced on Sunday the launch of the first non-profit city, the Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Non-Profit City.
The city in Riyadh is expected to be a model for the development of the non-profit sector globally and an incubator for youth and volunteer groups as well as local and international non-profit institutions, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The city will be built on an area of around 3.4 square kilometers and will support innovation, entrepreneurship and qualifying future leaders by defining non-profit work.
The city that implements the digital twin model, will host academies, colleges, schools, a conference center, a science museum, a creative center offering a space to support the ambitions of innovators in sciences and new generation technology, the crown prince said.
In addition, the city will host venture capital firms and investors to support and incubate innovative enterprises to drive community contributions from around the world.
The launch of the city comes days after the announcement of the offering of Saudi nationality to some talented individuals, in order to promote creativity and innovations.

Tommy Paul lifts maiden ATP title

Stockholm [Sweden]: Tommy Paul on Saturday defeated defending champion Denis Shapovalov to clinch his first ATP Tour title at the Stockholm Open.
The American recorded a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory over third seed Shapovalov of Canada in two hours and 12 minutes. With his 25th match win of the season, the 24-year-old is the first American to lift the Stockholm title since James Blake captured his second straight trophy in 2006.
En route to his title win, the world number 53 defeated Leo Borg, Taylor Fritz, Andy Murray, and Frances Tiafoe.
“I played some of my best tennis to beat Denis,” said Paul, as per “It’s the most fun I’ve had playing a tennis tournament. It means everything to win my first title. I’ve worked so hard to achieve this and I’d like to break into the Top 30 at some point,” he added.

Anshu Malik scripts history, becomes 1st Indian woman to win silver at World Wrestling C’ships

Oslo [Norway]: Anshu Malik scripted history on Thursday as she became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the World Wrestling Championships.
Anshu Malik lost the final to Olympic medallist Helen Maroulis 4-1 in Oslo, Norway on Thursday. The American wrestler pinned Anshu Malik in the women’s 57 kg division during the summit clash. Maroulis won the gold medal after her splendid show in the World Wrestling Championships as she defeated Anshu by fall in the final.
Anshu Malik has been a trainee of SAI national centre of excellence Lucknow since 2016.
She made her debut in the Olympics earlier this year and has now become the first woman in history to win silver in the Wrestling Worlds.
Anshu Malik is a two Asian Championship medalist, which includes gold and a Ranking Series silver medalist.
On Wednesday, Anshu Malik had etched her name in history books as she became the first Indian woman to advance into the final of the World Wrestling Championships.

Anshu Malik becomes first Indian woman finalist at World Wrestling Championships

Oslo [Norway]: Anshu Malik scripted history on Wednesday as she became the first Indian woman to advance into the final of the World Wrestling Championships.
Malik defeated Solomia Vynnyk of Ukraine by 11-0 through technical superiority, in the semi-final of the 57kg division at Oslo in the ongoing World Wrestling Championships 2021. The 20-year-old Indian will now take on the Rio 2016 champion and Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist Helen Maroulis of the USA in the final for the historic gold medal.
Earlier, Anshu was hardly troubled by Kazakhstan’s Nilufar Raimova, whom she overwhelmed by technical superiority and later outwitted Mongolia’s Davaachimeg Erkhembayar 5-1 in the quarterfinals to book her place in the SFs.
Malik is a two Asian Championship medalist, which includes gold and a Ranking Series silver medalist. She has also participated in the Tokyo Olympics.

Ernakulam administers 100% first doses

Kochi (Kerala) [India]: Ernakulam becomes the first district in Kerala to complete 100 per cent COVID vaccination of its target population with the first dose, Industries Minister P Rajeev announced on Saturday.
While addressing the audience at a felicitation program of hospital authorities and health workers in the district, Rajeev said, “Today is a very proud occasion. A vast district like Ernakulam has completed 100 per cent first dose vaccination in Kerala. I am now announcing this formally.” Sharing state government’s target of completing 100 per cent administration of the second dose of the vaccine within the next three months, the Minister said, “The second dose will be completed within three months. Now the second completed around 50 per cent.”
“The district administration and the health system have done a commendable job. The health system in the state became ready to deal with COVID very quickly. The district has set an example for India. We tried all the possibilities. We used a technological system to perform well. Coordination between government and private agencies was well established. As part of that, we are able to control COVID and its death rate in the district. No one in the district has been deprived of oxygen since the second wave of COVID,” he said while lauding the efforts of the healthcare workers and their crucial role in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In Kerala, the health sector has created the largest number of posts for jobs. In India itself, perhaps the world itself, Kerala is the best in terms of controlling the death rate. It has to be said that the government’s strategy for COVID control has succeeded,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kerala on Saturday reported 13,217 new COVID-19 cases, 14,437 recoveries and 121 deaths in the last 24 hours. The state has 1,41,155 active cases. The death toll stands at 25,303. In the last 24 hours, 96,835 samples were tested to detect the presence of the virus.

J-K administration establishes valley’s first art gallery in Srinagar

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India]: Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday established the valley’s first art gallery in Srinagar.
While speaking to ANI, Jeelani Malik, in charge of the art gallery, said, “We have three sections in the gallery, consisting of modern art, archaeological section and the collection of ancient art. Students are coming here in large numbers. They are really excited and happy about this.”
Naushad Gayoor, a famous artist of Kashmir, said, “It was a long pending demand by the artists and the students. We have cultural academics and the archaeological collection here. After the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), we have the best archaeological and modern collection in this gallery. We started the trend to collect artworks by artists all over the country. We have a gallery now where the students can witness the artworks and study the precise works of them.”

Showket Ahmad, an art teacher, said, “It was the long pending demand for nearly 70 years. The art will energize the air of Kashmir as we all know that art plays an important role in society. As per the data available in the university departments, students are visiting in large numbers. I welcome the decision of the administration.”

Sanober Ashraf, an art student, said, “We were not having any place to display our artworks. I saw the works of famous artists and our seniors. I felt something very positive.”

IPL: Rohit Sharma becomes first batter to score over 1000 runs against one franchise

Abu Dhabi [UAE]: Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma on Thursday became the first-ever batter to register more than 1000 runs against one particular franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Sharma registered more than 1000 runs against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and he achieved the feat in the ongoing game between the two franchises at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. He brought up more than 1000 runs against KKR in the third over of Mumbai Indians’ innings which was bowled by spinner Varun Chakravarthy.
The right-handed batsman had missed MI’s game against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Sunday, but he returned to action against KKR.
Eoin Morgan-led Kolkata Knight Riders won the toss and opted to field against Mumbai Indians in an IPL encounter.
Mumbai Indians made one change as Rohit Sharma came back into the side.
MI captain Rohit Sharma said: “Feeling good. Looking forward to the game. Just one change – Anmol misses out. Not a lot to be honest. Certain basics of cricket that was missed, we need to do right. We have spoken about it and hopefully, we can execute.”
Mumbai Indians had lost their last game against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) while KKR had registered a win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last game.
Rohit-led Mumbai is at the fourth spot in the points table while KKR sits in the sixth position.

India beat Kuwait to clinch first win at Asian Volleyball Championship

Funabashi Arena [Japan]: The Indian men’s volleyball team beat Kuwait 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-20) in the Asian Volleyball Championship 2021 at the Funabashi Arena, Japan, on Thursday.
India had earlier lost to Bahrain, Qatar and nine-time champions Japan to finish bottom of Group A. With only the top-two from each group progressing to the last eight, India is now fighting for the best-possible finish within the ninth to 16th positions at the biennial competition, as per The Indian volleyball team has been clubbed in Group G — with Kuwait, Uzbekistan and Bahrain — in the classification round. It was a dominant performance by India against Kuwait.
India’s Mahesh Ashwin Raj led the way with 11 points in the match — the highest in the team — followed by Shubham Chaudhary (10 points) and captain Karthik Ashok (nine).
Kuwait’s Anbar Rashed Saleh scored a match-high 18 points but did not receive enough support from his teammates as Kuwait fell in straight sets of identical scores.
Courtesy the win, India rose to world No 82 from 108 in the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) men’s rankings. Kuwait was ranked world No 135 after the loss.
India will next play Uzbekistan on Friday. If India finish in the top-two in Group G, they will compete for places between nine and 12 and if they finish below that, will vie for the 13th to 16th positions.
India, who finished eighth in the last edition in 2019, has played in all but three of the editions since the competition began in 1975.

Power Finance Corp issues Green Bond

New Delhi [India]: Power Finance Corporation Ltd (PFC) has successfully issued its maiden Euro 300 million 7-year Euro Bond issuance on September 13, informed the Ministry of Power on Wednesday.
The pricing of 1.841 per cent achieved is the lowest yield locked in by an Indian issuer in the Euro markets, as per the release by the Power Ministry. “It is the first-ever Euro denominated Green bond issuance from India. Moreover, it is the first-ever Euro issuance by an Indian Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) and the first Euro bond issuance from India since 2017,” it said.
“The issuance saw strong participation from institutional investors across Asia and Europe with participation from across 82 accounts and was oversubscribed 2.65 times,” adds the release.

First Look Poster Of ‘Vikram’ Features Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi And Fahadh Faasil

Kamal Haasan’s upcoming film titled ‘Vikram’ directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj is expected to begin soon, after the COVID-19 situation and lockdown gets better. Meanwhile, the first look poster of the film has been released. The poster features Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi and Fahadh Faasil, all there of them sporting a salt and pepper look with a beard and look menacing.

Looks like the fans are in for a treat and the film will be action-packed. ‘Vikram’ is said to be an action thriller written and directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj. The music for the film is by Anirudh Ravichander. Sharing the first-look poster, the Master director wrote, ” Yuththaththaal Adho Adho Vidiyudhu. Saththaththaal Araajagam Azhiyudhu. Raththaththaal Adho Thalai Uruludhu. Sorkkangkal Idho Idho Theriyudhu. Thudikkidhu Pujam!.Jeyippadhu Nijam! (sic).”

Touted to be a political thriller, the film is being planned to be wrapped up in a single schedule. The title logo in the first look poster has been designed with all kinds of gund, grenades and bullets.

Recently we had reported that actor Narain had been roped into the film, which already has Fahadh Faasil, Vijay Sethupathi and Arjun Das. Recently, a test shoot with Kamal Haasan and Vijay Sethupathi was completed in Chennai.

Cinematographer Sathyan Sooryan, who was supposed to crank the camera for ‘Vikram’ has opted out due to clashing schedules with his other film and it was officially announced recently that Girish Gangadharan will be the cameraman for the film.

Mercedes-Benz Reports A Strong End To The First Half Of 2021; Delivers 4,857 New Vehicles In India

Mercedes-Benz India on Thursday reported a strong end to the first half of 2021, a period in which it delivered 4,857 new vehicles in the country. This is a growth of 65% over the same time period of 2020 even if it is important to note that the Covid-19 pandemic had varying effects on the auto market in both of these time periods.

Bolstered by a massive product-launch offensive, Mercedes has been leading the luxury charge in the Indian automobile industry. The company has plans of driving in as many as 15 new or updated car models in 2021 and has already set the pace with the likes of A-Class Limousine on the one side of the price spectrum to the S-Class 2021 and GLS Maybach on the other. So far, the carmaker has launched eight products this year and is scheduled to drive out the new AMG E 63S and AMG E 53 performance sedans next week.

Not surprisingly, even though there is a general increase in preference for SUVs across passenger vehicle segments and in many countries including India, luxury sedans from Mercedes still fare better than SUVs here. As such, the updated E-Class LWB – launched in March – was the best-selling Mercedes model in the first half of 2021, along with the GLE. Mercedes is also claiming that it continues to have a strong order intake for the EQC, its first-ever electric vehicle which was launched in India in late 2020. Mercedes also notes that around 20% of all sales in the first six months of 2021 have been online. In Covid-19 times, carmakers have had to bolster digital sales platforms and Mercedes reports 35% of all its sales in the country in April and May were made digitally. With restrictions in many parts of the country being eased or removed completely, the German carmaker expects to emerge even stronger and highlights it is beginning a ramp-up in production from this month onwards.

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