India and Pakistan drive US ticket demand for T20 World Cup

India's Virat Kohli (R) shakes hands with Pakistan's Shadab Khan after the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2022 cricket match between India and Pakistan at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne on October 23, 2022. (AFP/File)
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Updated 24 February 2024
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India and Pakistan drive US ticket demand for T20 World Cup

  • The highly anticipated clash in New York was over-subscribed by 200 times in public ballot for tickets
  • A 34,000-seat temporary venue has yet to be completed but is already assured of a sell-out crowd

Fort Lauderdale: Organizers of June’s T20 Cricket World Cup games in the United States say that early ticket sales have shown there is a huge demand for the sport among cricket lovers in the country.

The highly anticipated clash in New York between cricket rivals Pakistan and India was over-subscribed by 200 times in the public ballot for tickets, the International Cricket Council said.

The 34,000-seat temporary venue, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium on Long Island, has yet to be completed but is already assured of a sell out crowd for the June 9 encounter.

The tournament is being co-hosted by the West Indies and the United States.

While big crowds are expected in the traditional cricket countries in the Caribbean, this will be the first time that an international tournament is held in the United States with the 16 games in the country also including matches in Lauderhill, South Florida and Grand Prairie Stadium, near Dallas.

“We had amazing ticket interest. The ballot process showed there’s a really big demand,” T20 World Cup USA, Inc. chief executive Brett Jones told AFP on Friday.

“India-Pakistan is obviously a game that at every World Cup carries great interest. I think it’s really pleasing to see those two countries come to the USA,” he added.

Powerhouses India and Pakistan will play all their group games in the USA and are sure to attract packed crowds from the diaspora living in the country.

While organizers hope that they can “convert” some Americans to the game, they are well aware that there is already huge interest among immigrant populations and their focus is on serving those fans.

“I think, number one, we want to celebrate those that are already fanatical lovers of cricket. They deserve to see the best players in the world come into their backyard and have that chance,” said Jones.

“So, number one, we want to make sure that happens and they get to feel like they’re close to a game they love. Number two, I think it’s about spiking curiosity in the game,” he said.

Americans have never fallen for the charms of cricket, preferring baseball for their bat and ball action, but the sport is set to get an unprecedented platform in the country with the T20 format, including in the Los Angeles Olympics in four year’s time.

“Obviously there’s a great runway to the Olympics in LA in 28 and then on into Brisbane in 2032 for cricket, which again will keep it in the global view and the consciousness of a big country like the US. I think we’ve got those two things working for us,” said Jones.

“We’re saying we want to reward our cricket fans and lovers of cricket in the US, which is a huge market.

“Then we want to spike curiosity and really hopefully start a bigger conversation about the game and its benefits at the community level,” he added.

Ireland, Sri Lanka, South Africa, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and Canada will also play in the USA along with the host nation themselves.

While there is no lack of interest, organizers still have plenty to do to create the facilities and infrastructure needed for a global tournament.

Lauderhill, just outside Fort Lauderdale, has already played home to international cricket matches but is undergoing significant upgrades.

Grand Prairie opened last year as the venue for the new domestic tournament, Major League Cricket, but is also being enhanced for the tournament.

“We’re still going to have a lot of work to do to make sure we can provide access to our cricket fans,” Jones said.

“We want to show people that in a sports-mad country that demands entertainment, cricket is a great entertainment product,” he added.

The tournament will start on June 1 with the USA facing Canada in Texas.

USA vice-captain Aaron Jones says he hopes the team’s performances will offer inspiration to youngsters starting out in the sport.

“We want to show everybody in the world that the USA can be a cricketing country as well and be a role model for kids coming up,” he said.


Pakistan condemns Israeli attack on Rafah refugee camp, calls it ‘blatant defiance’ of ICJ ruling

Updated 27 May 2024
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Pakistan condemns Israeli attack on Rafah refugee camp, calls it ‘blatant defiance’ of ICJ ruling

  • Israeli airstrikes killed at least 45 people on Sunday and ‘numerous’ others were trapped under debris
  • Gaza’s Health Ministry said women and children made up most of the dead and dozens of wounded

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan condemns Israeli bombardment of tents for displaced Palestinians in the southern Gaza city of Rafah that killed dozens of people, the Pakistani Foreign Office said on Monday.
Palestinian health workers said Israeli airstrikes killed at least 45 people on Sunday and “numerous” others were trapped in flaming debris. Gaza’s Health Ministry said women and children made up most of the dead and dozens of wounded.
The attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s population had sought shelter before Israel’s incursion earlier this month.
“Targeting of individuals who were displaced earlier because of Israeli bombardment and were sheltered in a refugee camp, is yet another breach of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupation forces,” the Pakistani Foreign Office said in a statement.
“The attack is also a blatant defiance of the additional provisional measures of 24 May 2024 by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah in conformity with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and the worsening humanitarian conditions faced by civilians.”
The case against Israel was initiated by South Africa in December 2023, where it labeled Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip as “genocidal,” asserting that they intended to destroy the Palestinian people in ways specified under the 1948 Genocide Convention.
The war on Gaza broke out after Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, which killed more than 1,100 people, in response to the deteriorating condition of Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation.
Israel launched a retaliatory offensive, widely viewed as disproportionate, in which more than 35,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have lost their lives, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
“Pakistan reiterates its demand for immediate and unconditional implementation of the orders of the ICJ of 24 May 2024. Measures must be taken to fully protect civilians in Gaza and the Israeli occupation forces must be held accountable for the Gaza genocide,” the Pakistan Foreign Office said further.
“We call on the UN Security Council to play its role in preventing Israel from any further attacks against the civilians in Rafah and taking effective measures to protect the people of Gaza.”
Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and calls for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
In recent months, the South Asian country has repeatedly raised the issue of Israel’s war on Gaza, launched last October, at the United Nations through its permanent representative, Ambassador Munir Akram.


Eight killed as jeep plunges into ravine in northwest Pakistan

Updated 27 May 2024
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Eight killed as jeep plunges into ravine in northwest Pakistan

  • The incident occurred in the northwestern Shangla district after the driver lost control of the vehicle
  • Road crashes are common in Pakistan, where traffic rules are rarely followed, roads are in poor condition

ISLAMABAD: Eight people, including women and children, were killed after a jeep plunged into a ravine in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, rescue officials said.
The incident occurred in KP’s Shangla district, when the driver lost control of the vehicle and it fell into the ravine, according a spokesperson of the Rescue 1122 service.
As a consequence, four women and three children were killed on the spot, while one person was injured who was shifted to the district headquarters hospital.
“A rescue team recovered bodies of the victims and handed them over to relatives,” the Rescue 1122 spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson said the injured person later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.
Road accidents are common in Pakistan, where traffic rules are rarely followed and roads, particularly in many rural areas, are in poor condition. In the country’s mountainous north, such tragedies are frequently reported.
In March, at least 20 people were killed and over a dozen others were injured after a bus plunged into a gorge in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region.


Pakistan’s Rauf says injury lay-off a ‘blessing in disguise’

Updated 27 May 2024
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Pakistan’s Rauf says injury lay-off a ‘blessing in disguise’

  • The 30-year-old fast bowler made an encouraging return to competitive cricket, taking 2-34, in the second match against England on Saturday
  • Rauf insists Pakistan, the 2009 T20 world champions, are optimistic ahead of their opening match at this year’s global showpiece against US

LONDON: Pakistan paceman Haris Rauf believes the three months he spent on the sidelines injured with a dislocated shoulder could yet prove a “blessing in disguise” as he gears up for the Twenty20 World Cup.
The 30-year-old fast bowler made an encouraging return to competitive cricket, taking 2-34, in the second match of Pakistan’s warm-up series against T20 world champions England in Birmingham on Saturday.
“I was injured the last few months but if you believe in yourself, then the layoff can be a blessing in disguise,” he told a pre-match press conference in Cardiff on Monday ahead of the third T20.
“Because you have time to recover and reassess your game-plans. I felt good coming back to cricket. When you play for your country, it makes you very proud.”
As for the mental and physical strain of returning from injury for a fast bowler, Rauf said: “It’s hard. It’s a struggle during your rehab, and it’s difficult when you come back to maintain that pace and accuracy. But if you believe in yourself, it makes things easier. When I wasn’t in the team and rehabbing, I had a lot of time to think about my game and work on myself.
“Thankfully I’m back now, and the World Cup is coming up.”
Rauf’s return at Edgbaston could not prevent Pakistan suffering a 23-run defeat by England as they fell 1-0 behind in the four-match series with two to play following a washed-out opener.
But Rauf insisted Pakistan, the 2009 T20 world champions, remained in optimistic mood ahead of their opening match at this year’s global showpiece against co-hosts the United States in Dallas on June 6.
“When you lose a game it hurts, but as a team, we are confident,” he said. “We feel we can beat any opposition on any day. We’ve done it in the past, too. When you make mistakes you learn and try not to repeat those mistakes. We’re looking to play better in the next few games and make a comeback.
“The camp is relaxed. We’re enjoying ourselves. We’re trying to follow our game-plans and execute them well. The results haven’t often been in our favor recently but if you stick to your plans they can sometimes follow.”


Pakistan temperatures cross 52°C in heatwave

Updated 27 May 2024
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Pakistan temperatures cross 52°C in heatwave

  • Extreme temperatures throughout Asia over the past month were made worse most likely as result of human-driven climate change
  • In Mohenjo Daro, a town in Sindh known for archaeological sites dating back to 2500 BC, temperatures rose as high as 52.2°C

MOHENJO DARO: Temperatures rose above 52 degrees Celsius (125.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, the highest reading of the summer and close to the country’s record high amid an ongoing heatwave, the met office said on Monday.
Extreme temperatures throughout Asia over the past month were made worse most likely as a result of human-driven climate change, a team of international scientists have said.
In Mohenjo Daro, a town in Sindh known for archaeological sites that date back to the Indus Valley Civilization built in 2500 BC, temperatures rose as high as 52.2 C (126 F) over the last 24 hours, a senior official of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Shahid Abbas told Reuters.
The reading is the highest of the summer so far, and approached the town’s and country’s record highs of 53.5 C (128.3 F) and 54 C (129.2 F) respectively.
Mohenjo Daro is a small town that experiences extremely hot summers and mild winters, and low rainfall, but its limited markets, including bakeries, tea shops, mechanics, electronic repair shops, and fruit and vegetable sellers, are usually bustling with customers.
But with the current heatwave, shops are seeing almost no footfall.
“The customers are not coming to the restaurant because of extreme heat. I sit idle at the restaurant with these tables and chairs and without any customers,” Wajid Ali, 32, who owns a tea stall in the town.
“I take baths several times a day which gives me a little relief. Also there is no power. The heat has made us very uneasy.”
Close to Ali’s shop is an electronic repairs shop run by Abdul Khaliq, 30, who was sat working with the shop’s shutter half down to shield him from the sun. Khaliq also complained about the heat affecting business.
Local doctor Mushtaq Ahmed added that the locals have adjusted to living in the extreme weather conditions and prefer staying indoors or near water.
“Pakistan is the fifth most vulnerable country to the impact of climate change. We have witnessed above normal rains, floods,” Rubina Khursheed Alam, the prime minister’s coordinator on climate, said at a news conference on Friday adding that the government is running awareness campaigns due to the heatwaves.
The highest temperature recorded in Pakistan was in 2017 when temperatures rose to 54 C (129.2 F) in the city of Turbat, located in the Southwestern province of Balochistan. This was the second hottest in Asia and fourth highest in the world, said Sardar Sarfaraz, Chief Meteorologist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department
The heatwave will subside in Mohenjo Daro and surrounding areas, but another spell is expected to hit other areas in Sindh, including the capital, Karachi — Pakistan’s largest city.


Body of 15-year-old Pakistani hiker found on Islamabad’s Margalla Hills — police

Updated 27 May 2024
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Body of 15-year-old Pakistani hiker found on Islamabad’s Margalla Hills — police

  • The boy had gone for a hike on Trail-5 along with six of his classmates at around 7am on Saturday but did not return
  • Police say his body was found in a ditch on Margalla Hills, further investigation is underway to ascertain the cause

ISLAMABAD: The body of a 15-year-old boy, who had gone missing while hiking with friends last week, was found near a Margalla Hills hiking trail on Monday, the Islamabad police said.
The boy had gone for a hike on Trail-5 along with six of his classmates at around 7am on Saturday, but never made it back, according to a police report.
The mother of the young student tried to search him after one of his friends called her to inquire about his return on Saturday evening.
After trying to locate him for hours, the mother lodged a missing complaint with the police.
“After a long search operation, the body of the youth who went missing on Margalla trail was found in a dangerous ditch,” the Islamabad police said in a statement on Monday. “It seems that the boy lost his way and fell into the ditch.”
The deceased’s family was present on the site along with police officials and the search team, according to the statement.
“Further investigation is underway and post-mortem of the body will be conducted to cover all aspects,” it read.
The Pakistani capital of Islamabad has seven hiking trails that stretch several kilometers on the Margalla Hills, which are part of the Himalayan foothills and have an area of 12,605 hectares.
These trails are frequented by hundreds of people on a daily basis and are famous with picnickers.