India gives away 27,000 tickets to avoid World Cup ‘embarrassment’

Indian policemen stand near the poster of FIFA U-17 football World Cup mascot at The D.Y. Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai on Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 06 October 2017
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India gives away 27,000 tickets to avoid World Cup ‘embarrassment’

NEW DELHI: India has given away 27,000 tickets to the opening games of the FIFA U-17 World Cup to fill empty stands, an official said Friday, in a desperate bid to avoid an embarrassing repeat of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The under-17 World Cup, which kicks off on Friday, marks India’s first attempt at hosting a FIFA tournament, but sales for the high-profile event have been poor, despite some seats costing less than a dollar.
Organizers are now scrambling to ensure that the 56,000-capacity Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi appears packed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the opening games which will see India play the United States.
“We have given away 27,000 tickets to schools around the Delhi region and will also provide pick and drop facility. It will be embarrassing for us if the stadium looks empty,” an organizing committee member told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The event, which runs until Oct. 28, has been dogged by bad news, with Greenpeace issuing a report Wednesday that said the poor quality of air in India’s pollution-clogged cities poses a “serious health risk” to players and spectators during the tournament.
Twenty-four nations are competing in the event, which is being held in New Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Kochi, Guwahati and Kolkata.
Greenpeace said all the six cities “share dangerous levels of air pollution” but singled out New Delhi as the venue with the highest risk.
“Air pollution levels during the Indian tournament could be significantly worse than during the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” the report warned.
India’s capital will host its last game of the tournament on Oct. 16, just before pollution levels spike around the Diwali festival, when Hindus celebrate by setting off huge amounts of fireworks.
Media reports said matches were deliberately kept out of Delhi after Oct. 16 because of pollution fears.
India’s Supreme Court has ordered authorities to take precautions ahead of the festival, and measures under consideration include pulling some cars off roads and closing polluting industries.
World Cup organizers did not comment on the Greenpeace report.
The event is among India’s highest-profile global tournaments after the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010 which were meant to showcase the country’s status as an emerging power but instead left memories of shoddy venues, empty stadiums and massive budget overruns.


India rout Pakistan by eight wickets in Asia Cup clash

Updated 20 September 2018
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India rout Pakistan by eight wickets in Asia Cup clash

  • Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (3-23) sent Pakistan collapsing
  • Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday

DUBAI: India crushed Pakistan by eight wickets in their long-awaited Asia Cup match which failed to live up to its hype in Dubai on Wednesday.
Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (3-23) sent Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, collapsing to just 162 all out in 43.1 overs at Dubai Stadium.
Skipper Rohit Sharma then struck three sixes and six boundaries in his 39-ball 52 while fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan hit a six and six fours in his 54-ball 46 as India romped home in 29 overs.
Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik both finished on 31 not out as India exacted some revenge for their humbling 180-run defeat against their arch-rivals in the final of the Champions Trophy in London last year -- the most recent match between the teams until Wednesday.
Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday.
Bangladesh and Afghanistan meet in Abu Dhabi in the last Group B match on Thursday, having already qualified for the second round after Sri Lanka crashed out.
The top two teams from the Super Fours will play the final in Dubai on September 28.
Once Pakistan's unpredictable batting crumbled, Wednesday's match turned into a damp squib for a near-capacity crowd comprising of Indian and Pakistani expats living in the United Arab Emirates.
Kumar ran through the top order by dismissing openers Imam-ul-Haq (two) and Fakhar Zaman (nought) inside five overs, before Babar Azam (47) and Shoaib Malik (43) rebuilt the innings during their 82-run stand for the third wicket.
But after Azam was dismissed in the 22nd over, bowled by left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav, Pakistan lost their last seven wickets for 77 runs.
Azam hit six boundaries in his 62-ball knock while Malik, dropped on 26 by MS Dhoni off Hardik Pandya, cracked one six and one four in a vigilant innings which lasted 67 balls.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (six) became Jadhav's first wicket, holing out to long-on where substitute fielder Maneesh Pandey completed a brilliant catch, throwing the ball back into the field to avoid running over the rope and completing the catch.
But it was Malik's run out which derailed Pakistan, sent back by Asif Ali after setting off for a quick single.
Paceman Jasprit Bumrah took 2-23 but India lost all-rounder Hardik Pandya to injury.
Bowling his fifth over, Pandya fell in his follow through and was stretchered off with a lower back injury, the extent of which was being assessed by the India team's medical staff.