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Messiah Messi might bid adieu to Barcelona

The thought of a Messi’s probable farewell has sent Barcelona fans into a frenzy with most of them now wanting an overhaul within the board and demanding the resignation of club president Bartomeu.

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Lionel Messi with his six Ballon d’Or awards.

Sixteen years, 33 key trophies, 6 Balon D’ors, 485 appearances, 444 goals, that’s what Lionel Messi has achieved at Barcelona. And to no one’s surprise, the Internet exploded when the news came out that Messi submitted a transfer request at Barcelona and wanted to move elsewhere this season.

Out of all the 16 seasons that Messi has excelled at Barcelona, this looked like the most probable end to his stint at Camp Nou. Barcelona was humiliated in the Champions League, lost a title that they should have won to Real Madrid and the club is surrounded by all kinds of infighting rumours. Most fans and pundits would have predicted this outcome simply by looking at his postmatch reaction, he looked that defeated.

But the big question on every football fan’s mind is: Where is Lionel Messi heading to? For most, Manchester City looks like the most fitting destination primarily due to the Pep Guardiola connection. And if reports are to be believed, the talks for that move have already started between Pep and Messi. Although every football club with a big purse is expected to now be linked to Messi, the other big names doing the rounds are the Champions league finalists PSG, Inter Milan, and shockingly, Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi in action.
Lionel Messi in action.

But the very thought of a Messi leaving has sent Barcelona fans into a frenzy with most of them now wanting an overhaul within the board and demanding the resignation of club president Bartomeu. Some of them even gathered outside the club office, making their views about this pretty clear.

But the bigger worry for Barcelona other than convincing him to stay is the cost at which he could leave — which is for free. Messi’s contract with Barcelona ends in 2021 and he has a 700 million release clause on him, something which would ensure a financial exit back then almost impossible. But the key here is a secret clause put in his contract, which as per reports, says that he can leave at the end of any season if he wants for no cost at all. This particular flashpoint is likely to surface a lot in the coming days, possibly even going to the courts. If you ask me, for a player who has served this club for 16 long years, a smooth exit should be ensured just to honor his legacy.

So if Messi is allowed to leave for free, it will be him picking the club he wants to play for rather than the usual opposite. Only that the club he selects will have to pay his wages, a whopping 1 million euros a week and close to 60 million euros a year, something that not many clubs can afford to do.

If the Argentinian has set his mind on leaving the club, Barcelona will have to look for a suitable replacement or maybe a few replacements to try and fill the void he will leave.

 But no matter what happens in the coming days, this transfer window is all set to be one that goes down in history, now that arguable the best player in the world is finally moving away from Barcelona. It remains to be seen what drama unfolds in this transfer saga.

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JABEUR BECOMES FIRST ARAB PLAYER IN TOP-10; BADOSA JUMPS TO 13TH IN WTA RANKINGS

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Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur has made her Top 10 debut in WTA rankings of singles on Monday where she has become the first Arab woman or man to enter tennis’ elite ranking bracket.

Jabeur solidified her spot in the Top 10 debut following her win over Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit earlier on Thursday in their quarterfinal match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. It marked Jabeur’s 48th match-win of 2021, the most by any player on the WTA Tour this season. She reached the 8th position in the WTA rankings.

Spain’s Paula Badosa who defeated Ons Jabeur in the sem-final by 6-3, 6-3 en route to the Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells jumped to the 13th spot after jumping 14 places in the rankings. She excelled the final WTA 1000 event of the season by overcoming Victoria Azarenka.

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Need to create a cricketing bond with BCCI: PCB chief

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Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ramiz Raja on Monday said the 2023 Asia Cup in Pakistan will be a 50-over competition. He was talking to PCB digital following his return from Dubai, where he also met the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials.

“The ACC has agreed and approved that the 2023 event in Pakistan will be a 50-over competition and will be held in September. This aligns very nicely with the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, which will be held in October and November,” said Raja in an official release.

“We are looking forward to hosting this tournament in Pakistan and I am confident it will be a well-organised event because this is what the fans want,” he added.

The ACC has also confirmed next year’s tournament in Sri Lanka will be played on a 20-over format and will be a prelude to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 to be held in Australia from October 16 to November 13.

On the ACC, Ramiz Raja said: “The ACC was set up to create a unified approach and collective stance so that we had one voice and if there was a situation, all stood together. I would like to see our relationship with other boards and the ACC be strong so that if there is an issue, like we had with the withdrawal of a couple of sides, a strong and joint statement could come out from the ACC platform.

On his meeting with the BCCI officials, Ramiz Raja said: “We need to create a cricketing bond, while I have also believed that politics should stay away from the sport as much as possible and this has always been our stance… A lot of work needs to be done to revitalise Pakistan-India cricket but there needs to be some comfortable level between the two boards .”

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Curtis Campher takes 4 wickets in 4 balls as Ireland beat Netherlands

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Curtis Campher created history by taking four wickets in four balls before Gareth Delany smashed 44 in 29 balls as Ireland defeated the Netherlands by seven wickets in the Group A encounter of the ongoing T20 World Cup on Monday.

Ireland restricted the Netherlands to 106 in the 20 overs and then chased down the target with 29 balls to spare.

Irish batter Paul Stirling scored 30 in 39 balls while Campher scored seven after his heroics with the ball as Ireland clinched their opening game.

Chasing 107, Ireland got off to a bad start as the side lost opening batsman Kevin O Brien in the fourth over and skipper Andrew Balbirnie in the fifth.

But Stirling stitched a 59-run stand with Delany to take Ireland over the line with 29 balls to spare.

Earlier, a superb bowling display from Ireland restricted the Netherlands to 106/10 in the allotted 20 overs. The Dutch were 51/2 before pacer Campher took four wickets in four balls to dismantle the Netherlands.

Campher removed Colin Ackermann, Ryan ten Doeschate and Scott Edwards to take a hat-trick and then added Roelof van der Merwe to the list of his victims in the 10 overs.

After the havoc, Netherlands still managed to get over the 100-run mark and posted 106 as opening batsman Max ODowd and skipper Pieter Seelaar stitched a 27-run stand.

Mark Adair too hogged the limelight as he picked three wickets to help Ireland fold the Netherlands to 106.

BRIEF SCORES: Netherlands 106/10 (Max ODowd 51; Curtis Campher 4-26, Mark Adair 3-9) vs Ireland 107/3 (Paul Stirling 30, Gareth Delany 44; Pieter Seelaar 1-14) .

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WAKO INDIA KICKBOXING PLAYERS WERE GREETED AND CHEERED UP BY MAHARASHTRA GUV BHAGAT SINGH KOSHYA

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Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari welcomed all Kickboxing players across India who are representing the Country in ‘WAKO World Seniors and Masters Kickboxing Championships 2021’ to be held from 15 to 24 October 2021 at Venice, Italy.

Giving the significance of Dussehra, Bhagat Singh Koshyari said, “Dussehra marks the victory in the famous Hindu epic Ramayana. You have come here on this auspicious day and I wish all of you this winning spirit, go and make our country proud.”

Hiranya Kumar Barua, President, Amateur Kick-Boxing Association Assam who is also one of the participants said, “Governor Sir’s blessing means so much to me, I feel more responsible and now coming back with a medal is my utmost aim, I will get a medal and greet him with victory.”

There were other kickboxing players and Suresh Babu, who is the Chief Coach of India, accompanied them.

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INDIA, PAKISTAN AND THE FUTURE OF BILATERAL CRICKET

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Will Team India tour Pakistan in the next Asia Cup? President of the Asian Cricket Council, Jay Shah, showed his stand while allotting the Asia Cup to Pakistan, it is almost clear that Team India is going to tour the Asia Cup in 2023.

Actually, the coming of Pakistan team to India or coming of Team India to Pakistan is neither in the hands of Pakistan Cricket Board nor in the hands of BCCI. In both these cases, the governments of both the countries take the decision, but the recent political and international developments have progressed so fast that in the next few days, the things that the Government of India are now seen batting on the front foot. There are four such big developments that show the possibilities of Team India touring Pakistan.

Once the meeting of foreign ministers of SAARC countries was opposed by the Government of India by saying this, the government did not want the Taliban representative to be invited to that meeting, but now the Taliban’s deputy prime minister will also attend the meeting on the future of Afghanistan. This meeting will be held on October 20 in Moscow.

Pakistani representatives will also be there as well as Indian contingent will also be seen participating in it. Not only this, India has invited Pakistan’s delegation to the National Security Advisors meeting in New Delhi in November. Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf has been called in this. The invitation has been confirmed by Pakistan but it has sought time to take a final call on its participation in the meeting.

Third, the Indian contingent has agreed to visit Pabbi (Pakhtunkhwa) in Pakistan. This meeting is the Regional Anti-Terror Mechanism Meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization. And fourth, Parliamentary leaders have been invited to the centenary celebrations of Commonwealth Nations, in which the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairperson of the Senate of Pakistan have also been invited. According to reports, the governments of both the countries have not expressed any objection to participating in it.

Although the whole matter is political, but it shows that now the Indian delegation is not averse to going to Pakistan, nor is there any objection to inviting the Pakistani delegation to India. In a way, both the countries seem to be moving towards cricket diplomacy.

Cricket diplomacy started in 1987 in both the countries. The Reliance Cup was organized in the same year. The Pakistan team visited India through the Cricket for Peace initiative. Zia-ul-Haq and Rajiv Gandhi restored the cricket series, but at the VIP stands, Zia-ul-Haq created a sensation in Rajiv Gandhi’s ear by saying that we had made an atomic bomb and 11 years after this incident, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif first met in New York and then the Lahore bus service was started.

On their initiative, a series was organized in both the countries and from this the Kargil war was imposed the very next year.

In 2004, Vajpayee went to Pakistan to be a part of the SAARC Summit. Once again, the series was organized in both the countries. In this way three series were organized in three years. Team India has never been to Pakistan since the 2008 Mumbai bombings. In 2011 World Cup semi-final peace talks were held between Manmohan Singh and Yusuf Raza Gilani as well as agreed on a cricket series.

Due to which after two years, the Pakistan team came to play three ODIs and one T20 match series. At the same time, the last Bi-lateral series between the two countries proved to be. Since the Modi government took over, no bilateral series could be organized in both the countries but now the hopes of cricket diplomacy have been raised again and Jay Shah has also indicated this by handing over the hosting of Asia Cup to Pakistan.

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THEEKSHANA, RAJAPAKSA HELP SRI LANKA REGISTER VICTORY OVER NAMIBIA

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Maheesh Theekshana’s three-wicket haul backed up by a 42-run knock by Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped Sri Lanka defeat Namibia by seven wickets in Group A of the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Monday.

Chasing 97, Sri Lanka did not get off to an ideal start as the side lost the wicket of Kusal Perera (11) in the second over of the innings. Soon after, Pathum Nissanka (5) was sent back to the pavilion by Bernard Scholtz and Sri Lanka was reduced to 18/2 in the third over. JJ Smit then got the better of Dinesh Chandimal (5) and Sri Lanka’s innings was left reeling at 26/3 and the side was in a dire need of a partnership. Bhanuka Rajapaksa (*) and Avishka Fernando (*) then got together at the crease and the duo revived the innings for Sri Lanka. Both batters ensured Sri Lanka does not suffer from more hiccups, taking the side over the line by seven wickets with 39 balls to spare.

Earlier, Theekshana’s three-wicket haul helped Sri Lanka bundle out Namibia for 96. Sent into bat, Namibia got off to a bad start as Theekshana dismissed Stephan Baard (7) in the third over of the innings. Zane Green (8) was also sent back to the pavilion by Theekshana and Namibia was reduced to 29/2 in the 6th over. Craig Williams and skipper Gerhard Erasmus then put on 39 runs for the third wicket.

However, when the time came for acceleration, Erasmus (20) ended up losing his wicket to Lahiru Kumara. Soon after, Craig Williams (29) was dismissed by Wanindu Hasaranga and Namibia was reduced to 73/4 in the 14th over. Namibia kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and in the end, the side had to settle for a score of just over the 90-run mark.

Earlier in the day, Ireland defeated the Netherlands in Group A of the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

BRIEF SCORES: Namibia 96 all out (Craig Williams 29, Gerhard Erasmus 20; Maheesh Theekshana 3-25); Sri Lanka 100/3 (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 42*, Avishka Fernando 30*; Bernard Scholtz 1-16).

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