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India offers extra tickets for Pakistan clash

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KARACHI:

The Indian cricket board has confirmed the release of 14,000 tickets for eager fans ahead of the highly-anticipated clash between Pakistan and India in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup. Scheduled for this coming weekend, the group-stage showdown between these arch-rivals will take place at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on October 14. Pakistan’s cricket team is set to travel to Ahmedabad from Hyderabad, where they are facing Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

The tickets for the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 matches were quickly snapped up when they became available on August 25, leaving many fans disappointed due to the high demand and limited availability.

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Keeping in view a huge demand for tickets that persisted, the ICC and India’s cricket governing body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), have chosen to release additional tickets. “BCCI set to release 14,000 tickets for India vs Pakistan league match on October 14, 2023,” it tweeted on X.

Ahead of the match, concerns have also arisen following a terrorist threat sent to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), targeting the Modi Stadium. The threat, conveyed through an email from a terrorist group, demanded Indian Rs5 billion and the release of jailed gangster Ravi Bishnoi.

The Mumbai police had traced the origin of the email to Europe, and authorities were taking the threat seriously, according to reports. In view of the threat, security measures for the World Cup games would be reassessed and enhanced if deemed necessary.

The World Cup commenced on October 5, featuring the opening match between England and New Zealand held at the Narendra Modi Stadium. Babar Azam’s team kicked off their tournament with a convincing 81-run victory against the Netherlands on Friday. Now, they have their sights set on securing a place in the top four to secure a spot in the semi-finals.



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Sabalenka to play in Brisbane

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SYDNEY:

Aryna Sabalenka will launch preparations for the defence of her Australian Open crown by playing at the Brisbane International, organisers said on Tuesday.

Elena Rybakina – beaten by Sabalenka in the final in Melbourne at the start of this year – will also play at the December 31-January 7 Brisbane event.

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Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka was already named in the field as she returns to tennis.

“I’m excited about starting my 2024 Australian season in Brisbane,” world number two Sabalenka said in a statement released by organisers.

“Australia holds a special place in my heart after winning my first Grand Slam there.”

Tournament director Cam Pearson said he was looking forward to welcoming the Belarusian Sabalenka and Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina, who is fourth in the world.

“We all remember the exciting Australian Open final the girls played at the start of the year,” he told a news conference.

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“That has really kicked off what is a pretty exciting rivalry between the two players.”

On the men’s side, fast-rising world number 17 Ben Shelton of the United States will join a draw that also includes three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray.

Pearson said he would welcome Australian Nick Kyrgios to the tournament if he recovers from injury in time.

“We would love to have him here, he’s a past champion and a fan favourite but he needs to do what’s best for him and his recovery,” he said.

“If that means he’s playing in January, fantastic.”

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Kyrgios had knee surgery in January and then aborted comeback plans at Wimbledon after tearing a ligament in his wrist.



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Giro fail to reclaim top La Liga spot

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MADRID:

Surprise package Girona failed to return to the top of La Liga on Monday after they were held 1-1 at home by Athletic Bilbao.

Winger Viktor Tsygankov put the hosts ahead 10 minutes after half time but Inaki Williams scored 12 minutes later to claim a point for the away side.

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Girona trail league leaders Real Madrid on goal difference after dropping points for just the third time this season, while Athletic climbed to fifth spot.

Athletic had the better of the first half and their best chance fell to Gorka Guruzeta but the striker poked his shot straight at Girona goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.

Girona had early chances of their own including an Aleix Garcia volley, which he skied over the crossbar, but did not find the rhythm they have found so often this season.

After the break, the hosts broke the deadlock when Tsygankov rifled home.

Williams, who started on the opposite wing from his brother Nico, equalised from a counter-attacking move that started in Athletic’s own box.

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The wide man finished smoothly for his sixth league goal of the season as the Basques went looking for their third straight win.

With 10 minutes left, Inaki Williams came close to finding the winner as he cut in from the left but his shot was parried by Gazzaniga.

Inaki Williams was replaced in the final minute of normal time for youngster Adu Ares, but both sides were forced to settle for a point.

On Sunday, Rodrygo sent Real Madrid top with a double in 3-0 win at Cadiz.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid are four points clear of fourth-placed Barcelona, who drew 1-1 at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

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PCB announces Pakistan team management for Australia tour

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The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have announced the Team Management for the upcoming Test tour to Australia, which is scheduled to take place from December 2023 to January 2024. They will be playing three Test matches in Australia.

Former England cricketer Adam Hollioake has been hired as the batting coach. Hollioake played four Tests and 35 ODIs for England. The 52-year-old transitioned into coaching, contributing his expertise to the England Lions team. His coaching abilities were further recognized when he was enlisted to join England’s coaching staff for the final two Ashes Tests during the 2021-22 series.

Meanwhile, Simon Grant Helmot will serve as the high performance coach on the tour. Helmot is an Australian cricket coach, who was formerly the coach of the Melbourne Renegades in Big Bash League.

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Last week, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal were announced as fast-bowling and spin bowling coaches, respectively, for the Pakistan team.

Team Management:

Naveed Akram Cheema (Team manager), Mohammad Hafeez (Director – Pakistan men’s cricket team), Adam Hollioake (batting coach), Simon Grant Helmot (high performance coach), Umar Gul (fast bowling coach), Saeed Ajmal (spin bowling coach), Abdul Majeed (fielding coach), Mansoor Rana (assistant team manager), Shahid Aslam (assistant batting coach), Drikus Saaiman (strength and conditioning coach/Trainer), Cliffe Deacon (physiotherapist), Talha Ejaz (team analyst), Lt Col (Rtd) Akhtar Hussain (security manager), Raza Rashid Kitchlew (media manager), Ammar Ahsan (videographer), Dr Sohail Saleem (team doctor) and Malang Ali (team masseur).

The Pakistan cricket team will play their first Test match against Australia in Perth from 14 to 18 December, followed by a Test match in Melbourne, from 26 to 30 December. Sydney will host the last game of the tour from 3 to 7 January, 2024.

The squad is set to depart from Lahore on 30 November.

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Pakistan squad for Australia Tests: Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi.