Bangladesh cricket players prep in masks in pollution-stricken New Delhi

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Bangladesh's bowling coach Daniel Vettori, head coach Russell Domingo and batting coach Neil McKenzie wearing masks look on during a practice session ahead of their Twenty20 cricket match against India in New Delhi on Nov. 1, 2019. (REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis)
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Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma plays a shot during net practice session ahead of their first T20 international cricket match against Bangladesh in New Delhi on Nov. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Updated 03 November 2019

Bangladesh cricket players prep in masks in pollution-stricken New Delhi

  • The Indian capital has been engulfed by its worst pollution of the year which has reached “emergency” levels
  • New rise in pollution blamed on fires lit by farmers to burn off stubble in regions around New Delhi

NEW DELHI: Bangladesh players trained in masks in gloomy smog Saturday ahead of the opening match of their India tour but insisted they have no choice but to endure the conditions in pollution-stricken New Delhi.
Liton Das, Shafiul Islam, Aminul Islam and bowling coach Daniel Vettori all wore masks in their final training for the Twenty20 international but Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah Riyad said no player had been affected by the extreme conditions.
The Indian capital has been engulfed by its worst pollution of the year which authorities said Friday had reached “emergency” levels. Schools have been closed and other restrictions imposed.
“We had a chat about these conditions. I think probably it is not within our control,” Mahmudullah told reporters. He said Bangladesh were focusing on “trying to adapt to the conditions,” playing and winning.
“Everybody is healthy and fine,” he added.
Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo had also downplayed fears, while admitting that some players had “scratchy eyes” and sore throats after Friday’s practice.
“When we first came here, there was smog, we all know, but the players have practiced for the last three days,” said Mahmudullah.
Much of the new peak in the most dangerous PM 2.5 pollutants — particulates smaller than 2.5 microns that get into the lungs and bloodstream — has been blamed on fires lit by farmers to burn off stubble in regions around New Delhi.
Bangladesh arrived in India in shock after star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was last week handed a two-year ban for failing to declare illegal approaches by a bookmaker in 2018.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) ban ruled Shakib out of the tour and next year’s World T20 in Australia.
Mahmudullah, who took over as T20 captain, put on a brave face, saying he will try to lead from the front in Shakib’s absence.
“He made a mistake but did not commit a crime. We still have the same love that we had for him,” said Mahmudullah.
“That’s an issue that has gone by. Probably it will be a proper opportunity for the younger guys to show up and stand up for the Bangladesh team.”
India’s stand-in T20 captain Rohit Sharma did not discuss the pollution and concentrated his comments on preparations for the T20 world chmampionship.
While India top the world Test championship table, they are just fifth in the T20 rankings and Sharma, who will play his 99th T20 international and become the most capped player in the format, said they would have to progress.
“We want all our bases covered before we head in to that World Cup in Australia. So this is the perfect time to do all of that but at the same time we want to win games as well,” said Sharma, leading the team while Virat Kohli is rested.
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Riyadh route revealed for inaugural Saudi Tour cycling event

Updated 24 January 2020

Riyadh route revealed for inaugural Saudi Tour cycling event

  • The race, will begin at the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee headquarters on Feb. 4 and end on Feb. 8 at Al-Masmak Fort

RIYADH: The Saudi Cycling Federation on Thursday revealed the full route for next month’s inaugural Saudi Tour event in Riyadh.

The 755 kilometer race, which is split into five daily stages, will begin at the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee headquarters on Feb. 4 and end on Feb. 8 at Al-Masmak Fort. Along the way, the competitors will pass many Riyadh landmarks, including Sadus Castle, Wadi Namar Park and Al-Bujairi historical district.

Eighteen teams from 13 countries will compete, and the riders include Mark Cavendish from the UK, Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni and Dutch cyclist Niki Terpstra.

Subah Al-Kraidees, chairman of the Saudi Cycling Federation, said he is delighted that the Kingdom is hosting a major Union Cycliste Internationale cycling event for the first time.

“I am so proud that the Saudi Cycling Federation is able to see one of its dreams realized with this event, and to have Saudi Arabia recognized as an important station in the international biking scene,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for Saudi athletes to rub shoulders with international bikers, and to see what they have achieved and learn from their experiences.”

The Saudi Tour will be broadcast worldwide by 25 TV networks, six of whom will also live stream the event.

Three other events will take place on the sidelines of the main race: a public bike ride from noon to 12:45 p.m. on Feb. 6, a junior race on the same day from 1 p.m. to 2.40 p.m., and a women’s ride from 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 p.m. on Feb. 8.

You can find more details of the event and broadcast schedules, and track the teams and their race times, at www.thesauditour.com.