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Forget bilateral series, India may not even travel to Pakistan for Champions Trophy: BCCI sources

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New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) Team India may not travel to Pakistan for the ICC Champions Trophy next year, and the venue for the event will likely get shifted or a hybrid model used, sources in the BCCI told IANS on Tuesday. They added that a bilateral series with the neighbours is “unlikely” in the near future.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Mohsin Naqvi on Monday reportedly said that they would think about a bilateral series with India if they send their team to Pakistan for the Champions Trophy.

However, sources in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said, “Forget bilateral series…Team India may not even travel to Pakistan for the Champions Trophy. There might be a change of venue, s hybrid model is also possible.”

“The Indian board would need permission from the government for travel, currently our relations with Pakistan are not that good either,” sources told IANS. “Champions Trophy is an ICC event, so it would be a tough call for India but nothing without the government’s order/green signal. Bilateral series, I don’t see in the near future, that’s next to impossible.”

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India and Pakistan last played a bilateral limited-overs series in 2012-13, when Pakistan visited India.

Last year, India refused to send its team to play the Asia Cup in Pakistan and eventually, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) had to adopt a hybrid model for the event which was split with a vast majority of the matches being organised in Sri Lanka.

–IANS

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French Open: Sofia Kenin upsets Garica to reach third round

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Paris, May 29 (IANS) Former French Open runner-up Sofia Kenin continued her resurgence with a straight sets upset of No.21 seed Caroline Garcia to reach the third round in women’s singles for the fourth time.

The 56th-ranked American had a disastrous start to 2024, winning just one of her first 11 matches. But on Wednesday, Kenin, who found her groove in style in Rome, upsetting Ons Jabeur en route to the third round, romped to a 6-3, 6-3 victory in 1 hour and 25 minutes on a rain-interrupted day in the French capital.

On Court Philippe-Chatrier, Kenin delivered another cool-headed tactical performance to take out the French No.1, her third win in as many meetings with Garcia. Indeed, Kenin has yet to drop a set in their rivalry so far.

Garcia fell to her fourth consecutive second-round exit at Roland Garros, and the 11th time she has lost before the third round in 14 appearances to date. Only three home players remain in the draw: Varvara Gracheva, Diane Parry and Chloe Paquet.

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In the pivotal fifth game of the first set, Kenin chased down a full-blast Garcia smash to land a lob precisely in the corner of the home player’s court. Garcia ended that rally, and the next, with wild forehand errors to drop serve for the first time.

Kenin will next face either No.9 seed and 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko or Clara Tauson as she bids to make the second week of a major for the first time since Roland Garros 2021.

–IANS

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Champions League: Lunin flu makes Courtois clear favourite to play in final

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Madrid (Spain), May 29 (IANS) Thibaut Courtois’ chances of playing in goal for Real Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League 2023-24 final against Borussia Dortmund look to be increasing with the news that Andriy Lunin missed Wednesday’s training session with flu.

Lunin has now missed two days without being able to train with the rest of the squad and he didn’t play a minute in the last La Liga match of the season against Real Betis on Saturday, while Courtois played over an hour.

Although the Spanish press report that Lunin is recovering well, the club preferred for him to miss Wednesday’s session to avoid the risk of infecting any of his companions, reports Xinhua.

Lunin was the first choice for Real Madrid for the majority of the season after Courtois tore his cruciate knee ligament in a pre-season training session, and his performances had led many to believe that he would get the nod from Carlo Ancelotti in the Champions League final.

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However, Courtois’ performances in the four appearances he has made since completing his recovery show that he has quickly returned to his best form, and the Belgian is now the favourite to play in the final with Lunin on the substitutes’ bench.

–IANS

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Boxing World Qualifiers: Ankushita, Nishant Dev seal quarters spots; Arundhati also advances

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New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Indian boxers continued to excel in the 2nd Boxing World Qualifiers for the Paris Olympics with former world youth champion Ankushita Boro (60kg) and Nishant Dev (71kg) registering comfortable victories in their respective weight categories reaching the quarterfinals in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday.

National champion Arundhati Choudhary also advanced to the Round of 16 of the 66kg weight category as she won her bout easily.

Boro was up against Asian champion Rimma Volossenko of Kazakhstan. But the Indian wasn’t bothered by the stature of her opponent as she went for her punches from Round 1 and never really looked in trouble throughout the bout to earn a 4-1 verdict.

In the day’s final bout involving an Indian boxer, world championships bronze medallist Nishant Dev was clinical in his 5:0 demolition of Thailand’s Peerapat Yeasungnoen to reach the last eight stage.

Earlier in the day, Choudhary began her 66 kg campaign with a clinical Round 1 against Stephanie Pieneiro of Puerto Rico. She was slightly conservative in Round 2 as she consolidated her position before dominating the next round again to get a unanimous 5:0 verdict in her favour.

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However, it was curtains for Narender Berwal in the +92kg category despite the Indian putting up a strong fight against Ecuador’s Gerlon Gilmar Congo Chala.

The 2022 Asian Games bronze medallist started slow in Round 1 and was then forced to catch up. He did well to impress three of the five judges with his punches in Round 2 and 3 of the Round of 32 bout. However, his efforts were not enough to overturn the overall deficit.

On Thursday, Sachin Siwach (57kg) will look to seal his quarterfinal berth against Batuhan Ciftci of Turkey while 2022 Commonwealth gold medallist Amit Panghal (51kg), Sanjeet (92kg) and Jaismine (women’s 57kg) will start their campaign after having received a bye in the opening round of their respective weight categories.

–IANS

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French Open: Jabeur struggles through to third round with win over Osorio

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Paris, May 29 (IANS) Ninth seed Ons Jabeur survived a scare at the French Open on Wednesday as he came through a bruising three-set encounter against Colombia’s Camila Osorio to book a place in the women’s singles third round at the French Open here. The Tunisian star advanced on Parisian clay with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 victory as she improved to 3-0 over Osorio in their head-to-head series.

While rain had stopped play on the outside courts, Jabeur bolted out of the blocks under the roof on Court Suzanne-Lenglen to take a 3-0 lead in just seven minutes. The 77th-ranked Osorio stopped the rot as she strung together three straight games. But the Tunisian soon took control of the proceedings though the going was not as soon as Jabeur would have hoped as she struggled with her serve.

Jabeur failed to register an ace and landed just 54 per cent of first serves, from which she claimed just 60 per cent of points. The eighth seed faced break points in 13 games, of which she dropped serve six times. Fortunately, she was equally effective at breaking her opponent (six from nine converted) and had few difficulties serving out the contest after an hour and 45 minutes.

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Bidding to make her first third round at a Grand Slam this year, Jabeur’s control and accuracy dipped in the second set to let the battling Colombian back in the mix. After striking 12 winners to 9 unforced errors in the first set, Jabeur hit 11 winners to 15 unforced errors in the second. Osorio seized her opportunity, taking control with more aggressive hitting to win her first set in five tries against Jabeur.

Jabeur steadied herself in the deciding set, playing more contained and disciplined tennis to diffuse Osorio’s threat. She finished the 1-hour and 45-minute match with nearly double the winners compared to Osorio, striking 31 to 16.

She next awaits the winner of match between Wang Xiyu and Leylah Fernandez. She is now 15-4 in the second round at Slams, including 5-0 in Paris, where she was a junior champion in 2011.

–IANS

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West Indies storm to fourth spot in rankings ahead of Men’s T20 World Cup

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Dubai, May 29 (IANS) While India maintained their position atop the rankings, two-time World Champions West Indies moved up to fourth position in the ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings, their players showing some great form ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, which they co-host from June 1-29.

West Indies, the winner of the 2012 and 2016 editions of the tournament, are ahead of New Zealand and South Africa after their 3-0 win over South Africa, who were pushed down to seventh position in the list led by India.

India, winners of the inaugural edition in 2007, are on 264 rating points, 2021 champions Australia are second with 257 points, defending champions England third with 254 points and the West Indies two points behind them on 252. New Zealand are on 250 while Pakistan and South Africa are both on 244 points with Pakistan slightly ahead on decimal points, the ICC informed in a release on Wednesday.

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The West Indies players have reaped the benefits of their superb performances in the home series not long before their tournament opener against Papua New Guinea in Guyana on 2 June.

Opening batter Brandon King is up five places to eighth position after topping the series aggregate with 159 runs and Johnson Charles, who hammered 69 off 26 balls to be named Player of the Match in the third T20I, is up 17 places to 20th.

Kyle Mayers is another batter to move up, gaining 12 places to reach 31st position with an aggregate of 102 runs while left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie has advanced a whopping 84 places to 27th after finishing with eight wickets in the series.

–IANS

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