Saudi Arabian-funded 100,000-seater stadium in Iraq to be built in Baghdad

The Basra Sport City stadium where Iraq beat Saudi Arabia in a friendly last week. (Wiki Commons Media)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Saudi Arabian-funded 100,000-seater stadium in Iraq to be built in Baghdad

LONDON: Iraq Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said the new football stadium to be funded by Saudi Arabia will be situated in Baghdad and be able to host 100,000 spectators.
It was announced Tuesday that King Salman had offered to pay for the construction of a new arena following a telephone call with Al-Abadi on Monday evening, but no further details were given.
Al-Abadi used his weekly press conference to expand on details of the collaboration and how it arrived on the back of the first football match on Iraqi soil between the two sides in almost 40 years.
“I have received a phone call from the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdul Aziz,” he said. “He hailed Iraqi’s victory (in the friendly match between the two sides last week) and expressed his preparedness and commitment to expanding positive relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia at different levels — economical, commercial, communal, cultural, etc.— a t all levels that are of interest for the two countries.
“He also offered Saudi Arabia’s contribution to build a main stadium in Iraq that accommodates 100,000 people. We have welcomed the initiative and it was proposed today to the Cabinet.”
Al-Abadi said he has instructed his Cabinet to set up a task force to drive the build of the biggest stadium in Iraq, eclipsing the 65,000 venue at Basra Sports City.
“The Cabinet gave its directives to form a committee consisting of a group of key ministries concerned with this project,” Al-Abadi said. “The committee will consist of the Cabinet’s secretariat, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Higher Education, which includes the Center of Urban and Regional Planning
“It will handle developing the general framework for establishing the stadium, which will be the main stadium. 100,000 people is not a small number. We must pick a suitable location in Baghdad along with the stadium’s own additional facilities.
“The stadium will be established under the supervision and guidance of a higher Iraqi-Saudi coordinating council, which will specify the location and design in addition to following up on the project’s progress. The outcomes and progress of the committee’s work will be presented to the Cabinet.”


Australia confident they can win Perth Test to level series against Virat Kohli’s India

Updated 16 December 2018
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Australia confident they can win Perth Test to level series against Virat Kohli’s India

  • Nathan Lyon bullish about the Baggy Greens chances of levelling the series.
  • Another Virat Kohli masterclass not enough to get India on level terms with hosts after the first innings.

PERTH: Australia are confident they can overcome a deteriorating pitch to build a match-winning lead in the second Test in Perth.
At stumps on the third day, Australia were 132 for four, with Usman Khawaja on 41 and Tim Paine on eight, an overall advantage of 175 after leading by 43 runs on the first innings despite a stellar Virat Kohli century.
Although they still had six wickets in hand, opener Aaron Finch was taken to hospital for scans after retiring hurt with an injured right hand on 25.
Australian coach Justin Langer said Finch had been cleared of serious damage, but was uncertain if he would return to the crease.
The cracks in the pitch were starting to become a significant factor, with Finch’s opening partner, Marcus Harris, also struck flush on the helmet by a rising delivery in making 20.
Australian spinner Nathan Lyon, who claimed five wickets in the Indian first innings to move into the top 25 of Test wicket-takers, conceded the pitch was getting harder to bat on, and claimed Australia were set to post a total its attack could defend to level the series.
“The wicket is starting to play a few more tricks,” he said.
“We know we have the bowlers to make sure we can defend what we have to.
“Whatever we get to is just going to have to be enough.”
Indian paceman Jasprit Bumrah (one for 25), who was almost unplayable at times, said India’s batsmen would not be deterred by a tough fourth-innings chase.
“We want early wickets tomorrow to reduce the total,” he said.
“I am confident our team is capable of chasing any total but we will try to minimize it as much as possible.
“No one has really got out to the crack, it is just there, but it doesn’t do a lot but it is only in the mindset.”
The Australians found batting extremely challenging in their second innings, playing and missing time and again as they battled to extend their lead.
Shaun Marsh (five) and Peter Handscomb (13) again fell cheaply, doing little to ease the pressure on their pair to retain their spots in the side.
Marsh played a loose shot to a short ball from Mohammed Shami (two for 23) and was caught behind, while Handscomb’s shaky defense was highlighted when he was trapped lbw by Ishant Sharma (one for 33).
The struggles of the Australian batsmen were a far cry from the command of Kohli as he anchored his team’s first innings until a contentious dismissal.
In reply to Australia’s 326 after winning the toss and batting, India were bowled out for 283 despite Kohli’s 123.
In reaching triple figures, Kohli became the second-fastest player to reach 25 Test centuries in terms of innings with 127, behind only Don Bradman (68) and ahead of his countryman Tendulkar (130).
He also joined Tendulkar as the only Indian batsmen to have scored six Test centuries in Australia, and became the first Test centurion at the new venue.
The Indian captain’s innings came to a controversial end when he was caught at second slip by a diving Handscomb from the bowling of Pat Cummins.
Kohli was given out by the on-field umpires but clearly believed it had not carried.
However, the decision stood after it was reviewed by third umpire Nigel Llong.
Bumrah said the Indians were “a little surprised” by the on-field decision, while Lyon said the Australians believed it was a “great catch.”
The Indians lost their last five wickets for just 35 runs to hand Australia a small but valuable lead.