This decade is India’s best in home test matches

Today, India begins its match number 501 in test cricket in Kolkata. Of the 500 test matches played by India before this, 249 were at home, in hot conditions and on tracks favouring a traditional strength of teams from the sub-continent: spinners.
Since the early-nineties, in the five-day format, India has won more at home than lost. If that split was examined by decades, the ongoing decade is the best India has been at home, winning 69% of its test matches.
In the 70s, the famed spin quartet gave India the edge at home. That edge eroded in the 80s, when they left and the obdurate captaincy of Sunil Gavaskar saw India take a safety-first approach. The winning habit at home became a constant in the 90s, with the advent of Anil Kumble. This was the decade when India was unbeatable at home but couldn’t win anything abroad, giving rise to the phrase, ‘tigers at home, lambs abroad’.
The first decade of this century—India’s best in test matches away from home—saw the winning rate at home fall. India drew more matches, and teams like Australia and South Africa adapted to Indian conditions a whole lot better. This decade, India is back to its crushing ways at home. And it’s happened in the backdrop of the emergence of another match-winning spinner: R Ashwin.

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Just how big is data for Indian telcos today?

Data has been the battleground in Indian telecom for some years now. The big-bang entry of Reliance Jio — which will charge only for data and offer voice calls for free — promises to take the tussle over data to a new level. But just how big is data for Indian telecom companies right now?

According to figures released by the telecom regulator, in the quarter ended March 2016, telecom companies whose services are based on the GSM technology (95% of Indian subscribers) earned average revenue per user (ARPU) of Rs 131. At 48.2%, voice calls made the largest contribution. Data usage was second, at 21.6%.

Seen through this prism, the Reliance Jio strategy aims to open two fronts to the competition simultaneously. On the one hand, by offering voice calls for free, it aims to attack the revenue component that fetches other telecom companies nearly half their revenues. On the other hand, by offering data cheap, it aims to increase the share of data in the overall telecom revenue pie while trying to wean away users from rival networks.

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Chart of the Day | Impact of anti-tobacco message on packages

Perhaps, this is the only product that has a huge sign on its label warning you about the dangers of using it. The Indian government made it mandatory for manufacturers of all tobacco products to increase the size of the graphic health warning from 20% to 85% of the total display area of the packs. You may be aware that people in India often buy cigarettes and other such products in loose (though this is banned in India) from the local tea stall or some small vendor and in such cases, would miss out on seeing the warning signs. But, for those who end up seeing such warnings on the pack, do you think this could be a factor in dissuading them from using tobacco-related products? A survey by International Institute of Population Sciences suggests that it has some impact, but not much. It has a higher impact on men than women, and in urban areas than in the rural areas.

Do tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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Chart of the Day | Why RCom and Aircel had to merge

The merger of Reliance Communications and Aircel, announced yesterday, is a union of two telecom companies who have been struggling to keep pace in a hyper-competitive sector. This is also a sector embarking on a fresh round of consolidation that will leave it with, the prevailing wisdom says, 4-6 players of significance.

The Reliance-Aircel merger is the first of those consolidation moves. In the last five years, both companies have struggled to contend with the big three: Bharti, Vodafone and Idea. Each has had its own challenges. In 2012 and 2013, Reliance bore the brunt of the directive from the telecom regulator to weed out inactive subscribers, and saw its subscriber base plummet; even otherwise, it has struggled to add subscribers. Aircel has added subscribers, but legal troubles around the company have robbed it of the capital and entrepreneurial ballast needed to stay competitive in Indian telecom.

The fourth-largest telecom company by subscribers (Reliance Communications, owned by Anil Ambani) and sixth-largest (Aircel) have joined to create the third-largest telecom company. For how long is anybody’s guess. Unless the two companies decisively and effectively address the issues that have hobbled them, it’s probably only a matter of time before the merged company is either overtaken by current number four (Idea) or swallowed by another (Reliance Jio, owned by Anil’s brother, Mukesh).

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