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Best of BS Opinion: Towards more equal India, AI and global job market


Can one reconcile caste-based reservations with whatever is happening in the AI space? Something the reader may ponder over.Nitin Desai says continuing with caste-based reservations for some more time is necessary. But the primary approach for the underprivileged is enhancing access to quality education and skill development. Click here to follow our WhatsApp channelAtanu Biswas says adapting to AI is the wisest course of actionBy making promoter guarantees inescapable in the insolvency process, the Supreme Court has strengthened the insolvency code, says the first edit. And the second edit deplores the lack of proper appraisal for projects in the Himalayas. That is endangering human lives and much more

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Oriental Insurance hopes to turn profitable by end of FY24: R R Singh


The Oriental Insurance Company hopes to turn profitable by the end of the financial year 2023-24 on the back of measures taken by the company to contain its losses. The company expects the premiums to touch Rs 18,000 crore at the end of FY24, but the management said that it will not be at the cost of profitability.The public sector non-life insurer narrowed its losses to Rs 47.12 crore in the first half of the financial year 2024 from Rs 3,586.93 crore recorded in the same period a year ago. However, Oriental Insurance said that the figures are not comparable with the year-ago period because the firm paid a wage revision arrear in H1FY23. Click here to follow our WhatsApp channel“Generally, our wage revision happens after every five years. So, last year it was done for five years and the company paid Rs 2,300 crore. Excluding the amount, the company had incurred a loss of almost Rs 1,300 crore,” said R R Singh, CMD of Oriental Insurance Company.The combined ratio of the company, which stood at 163 per cent in the half year ended in 2023, has come down to 119 per cent in the period under review. Excluding the provision for salaries, the combined ratio was 132 per cent in H1FY23.R R Singh added, “If the trend continues and if there are no catastrophic losses, hopefully by the end of the financial year, we may generate some profit.”Speaking about the expectation for the premium, the management expects it to grow to Rs 17,500-18,000 crore by the end of FY24.“H1FY24 we grew at a rate of 15 per cent. I would like to retain this growth rate so I will be happy even if it is 10 per cent by the end of this year. Therefore, I have set an internal target of around 18,000 crore this year against 16,000 crore of last year. But I don't want to grow at the cost of my bottom line. So, a positive mix is required. So hopefully, we should be somewhere near 17,500 to 18,000 crore,” R R Singh added.

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Among several measures taken to boost the health insurance segment, which accounts for 50 per cent of the company’s business, the firm decided not to renew loss-making medical insurance policies. According to Singh, the company did not renew around 300 medical policies which had been creating losses for it for three years.Further, the company also stopped the renewal of Ayushman Bharat, which was a hugely loss-making business for the state-owned insurer.Another key measure taken by the company to improve their retail health segment was to focus on the sale of products to the younger generation instead of the older generation by giving better incentives to the agents.“We reduced commission from 15 per cent to 5 per cent for the people of the higher age group and increased commission from 15 per cent to 30 per cent for the lower age group. This has also started giving results because now agents are more inclined to bring us the premium of the young generation which has helped the retail health segment,” Singh added.The company was able to reduce the Initial Claims Ratio (ICR) in the health segment down to 106-107 per cent from over 120 per cent in the year-ago period. Another important business is motor insurance and the company has been able to bring the ICR of the segment down to 125 per cent from around 160 per cent last year. The reduction in the ICR of the two major segments brought down the overall ICR of the company to 100 per cent in H1FY24 from 113 per cent in H1FY23.In addition, the insurer remains bullish on crop insurance after the 80-110 format set by the government and has underwritten around Rs 1,500 crore insurance in this year.In the 80-110 format of Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the losses below 80 per cent will refund the premium to the government and in case of losses exceeding 110 per cent, the government will bear the excess.Apart from restraining its losses, the company is also cutting down on its expenses by shutting down offices and reducing the rental expenditure along with other expenses.The liquidity cash flow of the company remains healthy, however, the solvency margin of the company is still perched in negative as the losses from the last five years eroded the capital. Any infusion of capital from the government will help in improving the solvency margin.

Nine states record higher inflation rates compared to national average


As many as nine states have recorded a higher rate of inflation compared to the national average in October.While the average Indian consumer’s cost of living rose by 4.87 per cent in October compared to the previous year, it increased by 6.47 per cent in Odisha, 6.25 per cent in Rajasthan, and 6.02 per cent in Haryana. States like Bihar, Karnataka, Punjab, Telangana, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh—all of which have a higher inflation rate than the national average—recorded a price rise between 5.06 per cent and 5.63 per cent.chart Click here to follow our WhatsApp channelMeanwhile, India’s overall inflation rate is lower than South Africa and Russia, two key emerging market peers in the BRICS grouping of nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). Prices rose by 5.4 per cent in South Africa and by 6.69 per cent in Russia. China, on the other hand, recorded a negative inflation of -0.2 per cent compared to the same period last year, an indication of a weak economic recovery since the pandemic.Among the advanced economies, only the UK has recorded higher prices compared to India. While the UK reported retail inflation of 6.7 per cent and the USA of 3.7 per cent (as of September), it was at 3.3 per cent in Japan, 3.8 per cent in Germany, and 4 per cent in France in October.

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Cambodian template for Bangladesh elections


As Bangladesh moves closer to the general election due in January 2024, violence and instability in the country are set to increase. Nearly 10,000 opposition leaders and activists were arrested after the October 28 rally of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Media reports suggest that the prisons have no room left.  The opposition BNP had been demanding that the Sheikh Hasina government resign so that elections could be held under a caretaker government when violence broke out. With the arrest of its top leaders, the ruling Awami League, which is seeking re-election for a fourth consecutive term in January 2024, seems to be working according to plan. Indeed, some observers of Bangladesh politics believe that the Awami League is followingDisclaimer: These are personal views of the writer. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of or the Business Standard newspaper

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Torrent Power jumps 6% to fresh high; soars 92% from January's 52-week low


The share price of Torrent Power jumped 5.8 per cent on the BSE to a new lifetime high of Rs 829 on Monday. The gains came following the company's strong earnings performance on Thursday after market hours.  With today's gains, the stock has surged a whopping 92 per cent from its 52-week low of Rs 431 touched on January 30, 2023. The company's consolidated net profit rose 9 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to Rs 531 crore in the Septemeber quarter. Click here to follow our WhatsApp channelRevenue from operations were up 4 per cent to Rs 6,961 crore. The EBITDA for Q2FY24 grew 6 per cent to Rs 1,330 crore from Rs 1,258 crore in the year-ago period. The net profit growth came on the back of increased contribution from merchant power sales in gas-based power plants, from licensed distribution businesses, higher contribution from renewable businesses due to capacity addition and higher wind PLF and decrease in tax expenses, the company said.Meanwhile, it also noted an increase in finance cost and depreciation expenses along with lower net gain from trading of LNG partly compensated by increased contribution from merchant power sales in gas plants. Torrent Power, an integrated power utility of the Torrent Group, is one of the largest companies in the country’s power sector with presence across the power value chain of generation, transmission and distribution.The company has an aggregate installed generation capacity of 4,287 MW comprising of 2,730 MW of gas-based capacity, 1,195 MW of renewable capacity and 362 MW of coalbased capacity.Further, Renewable projects of 953 MW are under development. Total generation capacity, including projects under advanced stages of development, is 5,240 MW.In distribution, Torrent Power distributes nearly 28 billion units to over 4.03 million customers in the cities of Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Dahej SEZ and Dholera SIR in Gujarat, Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Bhiwandi, Shil, Mumbra and Kalwa in Maharashtra and Agra in UP. 

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This PSU co joins Rs 1-trillion m-cap club; zooms 127% in so far in 2023


Shares of Power Finance Corporation (PFC) joined the Rs 1-trillion market capitalisation club as the stock of the state-owned financial institution company rallied nearly 8 per cent, hitting a new high on the BSE in Monday’s intra-day trade. In comparison, the S&P BSE Sensex was down 0.5 per cent at 64,936 at 12:26 PM.Currently, PFC's market captialsation stands at Rs 1.05 trillion, the BSE data shows.Thus far in the calendar year 2023 (CY23), the stock price of PFC has zoomed 127 per cent on strong business performance and healthy outlook. The S&P BSE Sensex, meanwhile, has gained 6 per cent so far in CY23.PFC is a government company engaged in extending financial assistance to

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Remote villages in Rajasthan to have polling stations for the first time


Rajasthan's Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Gupta announced that polling stations will be set up in remote villages to ensure people are able to cast their votes from their own village in the upcoming state Assembly polls 2023, according to a report by PTI.The Election Commission, in its commitment to accessible and inclusive voting, has made special arrangements, particularly in challenging locations such as hilly, remote, and sparsely populated areas. This is especially important for the state of Rajasthan, which has many regions as such due to harsh climatic conditions influenced by the Thar Desert and the Aravalli Range. Click here to follow our WhatsApp channelSituated at an altitude of 4,921 feet in the Sirohi district, Shergaon's voters previously needed to travel to Utraj village for polling. To overcome the geographic challenges, a dedicated polling station has been established with the assistance of forest guards, who will trek approximately 18 kilometres through dense forests to reach the location. This will allow residents of Shergaon in the Abu-Pindwara Assembly constituency to vote in their own village for the first time.Also Read: They are misleading people, Rajasthan CM's swipe at PM Modi, Amit ShahIn Barmer Ka Paar village, near the international border, a polling station has been set up for 35 voters, and a similar initiative is underway in Manjholi village, accommodating 49 voters. Kantal Ka Paar village is also witnessing the establishment of a polling centre for 50 voters, improving accessibility for the local population.In Jaisalmer's Mainau polling station, housing only 50 voters, a temporary booth will be set up in a tent on voting day. Furthermore, a new polling station at Kali Teer in the Baseri Assembly constituency of Dholpur district, catering to 682 voters, will eliminate the need for residents to travel 7.5 km to the previous polling station.Also Read: For his fourth term as CM, Gehlot faces challenge of job creationThese efforts by the State Election Commission in Rajasthan make the democratic process more accessible in one of the largest states in India. The Rajasthan State Assembly elections will be conducted on November 25. The votes for Rajasthan and four other states – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram will be counted on December 3. 

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11.5 cr PAN cards deactivated for not linking with Aadhaar: How to reactivate


A Right to Information (RTI) response from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has revealed that a total of 11.5 crore PAN cards were deactivated for failing to be linked with Aadhaar cards by the June 30 deadline. India has 70.24 crore PAN card holders, of which 57.25 crore have successfully linked their PAN cards with Aadhaar. More than 12 crore PAN cards remain unlinked, with 11.5 crore  facing deactivation due to non-compliance, said reports last week. The RTI was filed by Madhya Pradesh activist Chandra Shekhar Gaur.  Click here to follow our WhatsApp channel“This linking of PAN and Aadhaar was required to be done on or before a notified date, failing which PAN becomes inoperative,” the RTI reply further said. Notably, for new PAN card applicants, the Aadhaar-PAN linking is automatically processed during the application stage. However, for existing PAN holders assigned PAN on or before July 1, 2017, it is deemed "mandatory" to link their PAN and Aadhaar. To reactivate an inoperative PAN card, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has imposed a penalty of Rs 1,000.Here is how you can reactivate your PAN card:If you have missed the Aadhaar link deadline and your PAN has become inoperative, you can reactivate your PAN by providing Aadhaar details to the I-T department. “If a person fails to link PAN-Aadhaar by due date, he shall be liable to pay a fee, maximum of Rs. 1,000 under section 234H,” said the I-T department. ​In case your PAN is de-activated then you need to do the following:1) You need to write a letter to your jurisdictional AO in the Income Tax Department for activation of your PAN.2) The following documents need to be attached to the letter for activation of PAN:Indemnity Bond in favour of the Income Tax department.Copy of PAN on which the PAN holder is regularly filing the Income Tax Return.Copy of last three years' Income Tax Returns filed on the PAN de-activated.3) It takes at least 10-15 days for the Income Tax Department to re-activate the PAN after submission of the letter to the I-T department.

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Consequences of inoperative PAN:The PAN of taxpayers who fail to provide the required Aadhaar information will become inoperative. During the period of inoperability, the following consequences will apply:1. No refunds will be issued for transactions associated with such PANs.2. Interest will not be payable on any refunds during the period in which the PAN remains inoperative.3. TDS (Tax Deducted at Source) and TCS (Tax Collected at Source) will be deducted or collected at a higher rate as stipulated in the Act.

Govt relaxes norms for small savings schemes: Check details here


The government has relaxed the norms for various small savings schemes, including the Public Provident Fund (PPF) and Senior Citizen's Savings Scheme. The Senior Citizen's Savings Scheme now allows three months to open an account, up from the current one month. Additionally, changes have been made to the premature closure rules for Public Provident Fund (PPF) accounts too. These changes were notified by the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on November 7.    Click here to follow our WhatsApp channelThe government currently offers nine small savings schemes, including the Public Provident Fund (PPF), Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, Senior Citizen's Savings Scheme (SCSS), Post Office Monthly Income Scheme (POMIS), National Savings Certificate (NSC), Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP), Post Office Time Deposit (POTD), Atal Pension Yojana (APY), and Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY). Each scheme comes with its own set of features, tenures, and interest rates.  Here are changes made in small savings schemes:Senior Citizen’s Savings Scheme (SCSS)The Senior Citizen's Savings Scheme (SCSS) is designed for individuals aged 60 years or employees above 55 years of age and below 60 years of age, offering a 5-year tenure. However, earlier it mandated that investment be made within one month of receipt of retirement benefits.Under the latest change, the government has: Provided three months to invest in SCCS for individuals aged above 55 but below 60. The new rules also permit the spouse of a government employee to invest the financial assistance amount in the scheme.The scope of retirement benefits has been clearly defined. As per the notification, retirement benefit means any payment received by the individual due to retirement or superannuation. This includes provident fund dues, retirement or superannuation or death gratuity, commuted value of pension, leave encashment, savings element of group savings linked insurance scheme payable by the employer on retirement, retirement-cum-withdrawal benefit under Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) and ex gratia payments under a voluntary or special voluntary retirement scheme.Under the updated rules, a one per cent deduction of the deposit is applicable if the account is closed before completing one year of investment.Account holders can now extend the account for any number of blocks, with each block lasting three years. Previously, the extension was allowed only once.In the case of extending the SCSS account on maturity, the deposit will earn the interest rate applicable to the scheme on the date of maturity or on the date of the extended maturity.As per the notification, “The deposit made at the time of opening of account shall be paid on or after the expiry of five years or after the expiry of each block period of three years where the account was extended under paragraph 8 from the date of opening of account. Provided that after the closure of the existing account or accounts, new accounts or accounts may be opened again as required by the depositor subject to the maximum deposit limit.”New PPF ruleEarlier, the premature closure of a Public Provident Fund Account incurred a penalty, with interest allowed at a rate 1 per cent lower than the rate credited to the account since its opening or extension. However, the latest change in the Public Provident Fund Scheme, 2019, paragraph 13 and the second proviso, substitutes the clause "or from the date of commencement of the current block period of five years." This modification implies that interest on premature closure will now be allowed at a rate of 1 per cent less than the interest periodically credited to the account from the start of the current five-year block period.

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Five-Year Time Deposit AccountAccording to the notification, if a withdrawal is made prematurely from the five-year Time Deposit Account after four years from the account's opening date, the applicable interest rate would be that of the Post Office Savings Account. As of now, closing a five-year Time Deposit account four years from the deposit date would entail the application of the interest rate applicable to a three-year Time Deposit account for interest calculation.For the quarter spanning October to December 2023, the interest rates on various small savings schemes are as follows: Public Provident Fund (PPF) at 7.1 per cent, Senior Citizen's Savings Scheme (SCSS) at 8.2 per cent, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana at 8.0 per cent, National Savings Certificate (NSC) at 7.7 per cent, Post Office Monthly Income Scheme at 7.4 per cent, Kisan Vikas Patra at 7.5 per cent, 1-Year Deposit at 6.9 per cent, 2-Year Deposit at 7.0 per cent, 3-Year Deposit at 7.0 per cent, 5-Year Deposit at 7.5 per cent, and 5-Year Recurring Deposit at 6.7 per cent.

World Cup 2023, IND vs NZ semis: Here's how India fared in semifinals


India will be once again up against New Zealand in the semifinal of the ICC Cricket World Cup. While Indian fans want revenge for the 2019 World Cup semifinal defeat from New Zealand, India's performance in the knockout stages of the 50-over World Cup since 1983 has not been encouraging as they managed to win only three of their seven last four encounters.However, this is the first time the Indian team have registered nine consecutive wins in the ODI World Cup, and Rohit Sharma's men have been a dominant force this time. Click here to follow our WhatsApp channelThe way the Indian team is playing even former India coach Ravi Shastri — who was with the team during the 2019 World Cup — reckoned that if India fails to win the marquee this time, the drought for an ODI World Cup trophy could be extended to 12 more years.Notably, since 2011 World Cup glory, India failed to win a single World Cup, be it ODI or T20I. With India set to play their 8th semifinal match on November 15, when they lock horns with Kane Williamson's side, let's take a look at how Team India fared in the semifinals of the ODI World Cup 48 years history.1975 and 1979 World CupIndia had failed to qualify for the semifinal of the first two editions of the World Cup under the captaincy of Srinivas Venkataraghava.1983 World CupIndia shocked the cricketing world in the third edition of the World Cup and not only qualified for the last four but went on to win it as they defeated the mighty West Indies side.India vs England semifinal in 1983India faced England after a superb outing in the league phase in Manchester on June 22, 1983. While bowling first, India restricted England to 2013 in 60 Overs. Captain Kapil Dev took two wickets, and Roger Binny and Mohinder Amarnath scalped two each.

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In reply, Mohinder Amarnath scored 46, while Yashpal Sharma scored a match-winning 61.Sandeep Patil played a fiery innings of 51 not out in just 32 balls as India stormed into the semifinals for the first time, beating England by six wickets with 5.2 overs to spare.   1987 World CupIndia hosted the 4th edition of the World Cup along with Pakistan.India vs England semifinal in 1987With India entering the World Cup as defending champions, they sailed to the last four on the back of spinners Maninder Singh and L Sivaramakrishnan.England expected the spinners would have a significant role in the semifinal at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. And came up with a plan to sweep the Indian spinners, which helped their cause as they posted 257/6.The favourites, India were very much on the path to victory till Mohammad Azharuddin, who top-scored with 64 runs, was at the crease. But after he departed from the crease, the Indian lower order collapsed as India lost the match by 35 runs. 1996 World Cup India failed to qualify for the knockout rounds in 1992 World Cup but they did brilliantly in 1996 till the semifinal when the showpiece event returned to Indian sub-continent again.India vs Sri Lanka semifinal in 1996The 1996 Cricket World Cup is remembered as the catalyst for Sachin Tendulkar's incredible batting domination and Sri Lanka's rise to prominence in the global game.India were once again the favourites going into the first semi-final on March 13 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. They increased their hopes when they could limit Sri Lanka to 251 for 8 in 50 overs despite Man-of-the-Match Aravinda de Silva's 66 and Roshan Mahanama's 58.Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sanath Jayasuriya were among the three top-order wickets claimed by Indian seamer Javagal Srinath. Until Tendulkar reached the crease, Eden Garden supporters were yelling excitedly.However, India experienced one of the worst collapses in World Cup batting history after he was dismissed for 65 with the team at 98. The match was stopped because of the raucous atmosphere in the stadium caused by the crowd's hostility and rage towards Sri Lanka.When India was down to 120 for eight in 34.1 overs, the umpires ended the match because there was no break from the spectators. The cricket fans' memories are still vivid due to the unruly behaviour of the crowd and Vinod Kambli's tearful return to the pavilion. 2003 World CupIn the English conditions during ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, India were knocked out in Super six round itself. But under the charismatic leadership of Sourav Ganguly, India entered the last 4 stage in 2003.India vs Kenya semifinal in 2003On March 20, India took on Kenya as the underdog in Durban.India easily scored 270 for four wickets in 50 overs, led by Man-of-the-Match Sourav Ganguly's unbeaten 111 runs in 114 balls and Man-of-the-Tournament Tendulkar's 83 runs in 111 balls.Except for their captain, Steve Tikolo, who scored 56 runs, no Kenyan batsman could score more than 29 runs in response to the Indian superpower.Zaheer Khan's three wickets in 9.2 overs, conceding just 14 runs, would easily see India defeat Kenya by 91 runs. However, India faltered miserably against the mighty Australians led by Ricky Ponting.2011 World CupIn the 2007 World Cup, India were knocked out of the event in the league stage after facing defeats from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. But what came next is still a history as MS Dhoni's men won the second ODI World Cup for India. India vs Pakistan semifinal in 2011The rivalry between India and Pakistan was renewed during the 2011 World as the two Asian giants locked horns in Mohali on Match 30.Player of the Match Tendulkar performed admirably, leading India to an 85-run victory.India scored 260 for 9 in 50 overs with Virender Sehwag scoring 38 and Suresh Raina maintaining his undefeated score of 36.Pakistani pacer Wahab Riaz took 5 for 46 in 10 overs. Pakistan's batters Misbah-ul-Haq (56 runs) and Mohammad Hafeez (43 runs) responded with some resistance, but lack of support from the lower order didn't help their cause. Pakistan were finally dismissed for 231 runs in 49.5 overs. India vs Australia semifinal in the 2015 World CupOn March 26, Australia and India faced off in Sydney during the second World Cup semifinal. Australia defeated India in practically every aspect of the match.Man-of-the-Match for Australia The driving forces behind Australia's 328 runs for seven wickets in 50 overs were Steve Smith (105 runs in 93 balls) and Aaron Finch (81 runs in 116 balls).Batting first, Steve Smith hit a century while Aaron Finch scored 81 runs in 116 balls.In response, India needed big scores from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. But their batting order crumbled miserably as the team lost by 95 runs. While Captain MS Dhoni scored 65 runs in 65 balls, Shikhar Dhawan (45 runs in 34 balls), and Ajinkya Rahane (44 runs in 68 balls) too chipped in, but it was not enough. 2019 World CupWith Virat Kohli at the helm of affairs and a veteran MS Dhoni behind the wicket, every Indian fans were hoping for a World Cup trophy. However, New Zealand shattered their dreams in a semifinal which was played over two days due to wet weather conditions.India vs New Zealand semifinal 2019India were playing their seventh World Cup semifinal in Manchester, the same venue where they had played their first one in 1983. But with New Zealand, a different opposition.After restricting New Zealand to 239 for 8 in 50 overs with Bhuvneshwar Kumar claiming three wickets, it did raise hopes of Indian fans. The top scorers for New Zealand were captain Kane Williamson with 67 runs (95 balls) and opener Ross Taylor with 74 runs (90 balls).But what followed next was a traditional and classic Indian batting collapse. India were reduced to 5 for three as Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Rohit returned to the pavilion at scores of one run each.Dinesh Karthik followed the top three, with India tottering at 24-4. After a brisk stand between Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya, the duo too went to the pavilion with India 6 wickets down at 92.Ravindra Jadeja (77 runs in 59 balls) and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni (50 runs in 72 balls) attempted to right the ship but Boult scalped Jadeja and broke the 116-run stand in the 48th over.With Jadeja back in the hut, all eyes were pinned on Dhoni, but this time, the legendary captain failed to spin the magic by the barest of margins as India fell short by 18 runs.