Jannik Sinner reached the final of the ATP Finals yesterday, beating Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-1 in front of passionate home support in Turin.World number four Sinner is the first Italian to make the final of the season-ending tournament. He will face either Novak Djokovic or Carlos Alcaraz today.The 22-year-old now the chance to win the biggest title of his career at the end of his best season, in which he has won four tour-level titles.Two of those wins, in Vienna and Beijing were earned by beating Medvedev in the final. The Russian is ranked third in the world.“It’s very difficult to play against him, but I found a way to win. I’m really happy with my performance, let’s see how things go tomorrow,” said Sinner.“It’s an incredible feeling... It’s a privilege to play under this kind of pressure... The crowd has given me so much energy and for me it’s a pleasure to play in front of home fans.”Sinner took early control in game four of the first set when he broke Medvedev’s serve and then fought back from 0-30 down in the next game to take a 4-1 lead.Huge applause rang around the arena when Sinner served out the set, but Medvedev did not immediately wilt in front of the vociferous support for the home favourite.The pair went at it toe-to-toe in the second set, holding their respective serves and slugging it out in long baseline rallies.Medvedev eventually struck back in the tie-break, his powerful service game too much for Sinner who started to show signs of being ground down, even if it was the Russian who called for treatment straight after drawing level.But an inexplicably bad second game in the third set from Medvedev, ending with a double fault, handed a break of serve to Sinner.Medvedev became increasingly irritated with his own errors and the partisan crowd, following up one lost point by gesturing towards a spectator after smashing his racket into the floor.The game was up for Medvedev once he was broken again in game six. Sinner needed nearly the best part of 10 minutes and three break points to get the double break and close in on victory, which he sealed with a perfect service game to love.The other semi-final promises to be a blockbuster clash as Novak Djokovic continues his bid for a record-breaking seventh finals title. The world number one has a burgeoning rivalry with Carlos Alcaraz. as the Spaniard is already a two-time Grand Slam champion at the age of 20 and beat the Serbian in an epic five-set Wimbledon final.“Well, it’s just two matches, but at the same time it’s too far away. I have Novak in the semifinal. If I win that match, I have a really tough final,” Alcaraz said.
RNF Aprilia’s Raul Fernandez enjoyed a dream practice session yesterday at the MotoGP Grand Prix of Qatar as he not only bagged himself a spot in Q2 but was the fastest of the bunch as his 1:52.892 saw him snatch top honours by just 0.049s.Under the floodlights at the Lusail International Circuit, it was a day for the youngsters as Gresini Ducati’s Fabio Di Giannantonio was the closest contender to the Spaniard. The Italian looked strong from the off and took P2 ahead of Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) who despite setting the fastest lap of the session, was denied the top spot after his lap was cancelled following a yellow flag.With the Grand Prix of Qatar serving as the penultimate round of the season, it’s game on in the championship fight as just 14 points split Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing). It was even closer out on the circuit last night as the duo were locked together with just 0.007s between with Martin in 7th and Bagnaia in 8th.There were Q2 spots up for grabs as the riders hit the Lusail circuit for a full hour of track time. Bagnaia and Martin struggled through most of the session as they were running 1.5s off the pace. The tensions rose in the title battle as the final 10 minutes came around and it was time to bite the screen on soft rubber.The red sectors came flying in and it was Fernandez who went top before the riders came back into the pits for a change of rubber. The second run of laps was underway and the timing screens were being lit up with red sectors once again. Fast laps came in every direction but a yellow flag saw laps cancelled and it was down to the final minute to decide the order.It was looking like a disaster for Martin as he found himself outside of Q2 contention until the Spaniard pulled together a flyer to put himself in P6 and bag a spot in Q2. Bagnaia was one of the riders who had a lap cancelled as he dropped down the order from P4. The Champion responded however as he set another flyer to slot himself just behind Martin.Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was very much in the mix as he took fourth place. The South African got the better of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) who rounded out the top five.Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) put in a very late run and was looking good for the top spot as he proceeded to put down red sectors with no other riders circulating at pace. The Italian only managed P6 in the end but demoted the title contenders Martin and Bagnaia down a place each as they took 7th and 8th.Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) was just behind in 9th place, with Marc Marquez (Respol Honda Team) taking full advantage of a Pecco Bagnaia tow to round out the top ten and take the final Q2 spot.There are some heavy hitters set for battle in qualifying 1 today. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was the first to miss out on a Q2 spot as the Aussie fell just 0.014s short of the top 10 in P11.Miller will be joined by the Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing) as well as Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha), Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3), Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing). The action has only just started at the Lusail International Circuit. The title fight is on with MotoGP enjoying some of the closest racing in its history.
Carlos Queiroz has set Qatar the target of winning all their matches following a resounding start to their Preliminary Joint Qualification - Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 campaign on Thursday.The reigning AFC Asian Cup champions were at their best as they cruised to an 8-1 win over depleted Afghanistan in a Group A tie at the Khalifa International Stadium.Queiroz, taking charge of his first official match since being appointed head coach, was pleased with his side’s focus and drive. “We will play to win all matches regardless of the other results in the group. This will be our way to achieve our target and qualify,” said the highly experienced Queiroz.Almoez Ali led the way with four goals, with Hassan al-Haydos, Mostafa Meshaal, Ahmed Alaa and Tameem Mansour all netting one each. “Our team spirit is very high, which is a very important thing as it makes things easier at the technical side. We managed to win today but our target is to develop the team and we will now concentrate on the second match,” Queiroz. said.Qatar’s journey to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Finals on merit for the first time takes them to India on Tuesday, with the South Asian side having opened their campaign with a 1-0 defeat of Kuwait.Meanwhile, India coach Igor Stimac said he was not surprised that his team beat Kuwait. The home side were the favourites going into the match but a disciplined and focused performance saw Manvir Singh striking 15 minutes from time to earn India a flying start.“I am not surprised by the outcome, but I always maintain respect for our opponents. Nevertheless, I have complete confidence in our team and their abilities,” said Stimac. “Our goal was to win the game, although it is important to exercise caution when expressing such sentiments, as it may be perceived as underestimating our opponents. I have utmost trust in our team and the effort they have put in over the past four and a half years.“We have worked diligently with them, supporting and guiding them, acknowledging their mistakes and urging them to persevere. And now, we are beginning to see the results of our efforts. We maintained complete control over the game and denied Kuwait any opportunity. I had some concerns as we were missing three key players due to significant injuries, but the players who took their place did an exceptional job,” Stimac added.
Rohit Sharma’s undefeated India will look to end a 10-year global title drought in front of 130,000 fans in the World Cup final against five-time champions Australia tomorrow.India have racked up 10 straight wins at the tournament as they seek a third World Cup triumph to add to their 1983 and 2011 victories, the last of which came on home soil.Despite the country’s cricket riches, India are without an international title since the 2013 Champions Trophy and expectations in the cricket-crazy nation of 1.4 billion people have reached fever pitch.However, the hosts are up against an Australian side who have won eight matches in a row and will be playing in their eighth World Cup final.“This is going to be an unbelievable game,” former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, who was part of the 1983 World Cup-winning team, told TV channel India Today.“You are playing against the five-time champions, a team that knows how to come back from almost impossible situations, who know how to play finals, how to win finals.”“So I believe it will be a real, real challenge for the Indian team but I do believe that Rohit Sharma’s men are up for it.”Apart from their five World Cup victories, Australia clinched their maiden T20 crown in 2021 and also beat India convincingly in the World Test Championship final earlier this year.India handed Australia a six-wicket mauling in the group stage in Chennai four weeks ago where Pat Cummins’ side were bowled out for 199.Australia also slumped to a 134-run defeat to South Africa in Lucknow but they avenged that loss on Thursday with a three-wicket win over the Proteas in a tense semi-final at Kolkata.India made the final by hammering New Zealand by 70 runs in Mumbai with a red-hot Virat Kohli hitting a record 50th ODI century.Kohli, who surpassed compatriot Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 tons, leads the tournament batting with 711 runs including three hundreds.Rohit is the next best Indian batsman with 550 runs and his leadership has been widely praised - former England captain Nasser Hussain called him a “real hero”.India also boast the tournament’s leading bowler with Mohamed Shami taking 23 wickets in six matches, including 7-57 against the Kiwis on Wednesday.Despite losing to India and South Africa in their first two matches of the tournament, Australia have bounced back.They won seven league games on the trot with a hobbling Glenn Maxwell authoring a performance for the ages with his undefeated 201 not out against Afghanistan, rescuing his team from 91-7 and carrying them to their victory target of 292.Leg-spinner Adam Zampa is Australia’s top bowler with 22 wickets with pacemen Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, who both played in the 2015 World Cup winning side, peaking at the right time.Starc and Hazlewood reduced South Africa to 24-4 inside 12 overs on Thursday after the Proteas and elected to bat first and their opponents only played catch up from that position.Starc returned figures of 3-34 and Hazlewood grabbed 2-12 in the victory which set up their second World Cup final against India after 2003 when Australia raced to a 125-run win in Johannesburg.Tomorrow’s meeting will be the eighth between the two teams in ODIs in 2023.“We have played them a lot of times so we know them inside-out,” Hazlewood told reporters.“Same for them, with us. They have been a quality team, they have been on the march the whole tournament. No real weaknesses in their team, so looking forward to Sunday.”India rode on an explosive start from opener Rohit (47) and Shubman Gill (80) as they racked up 397-4 against New Zealand in the first semi-final.But Hazlewood prefers to focus on the early stages of India’s chase against his team in the league game four weeks ago when India were three down for two runs in pursuit of a modest 200 to win.“Hopefully similar to last time we played them,” Hazlewood said on tackling the Indian top-order.“We got them out cheaply. I think we made them 3-3 maybe so that would be ideal.”Tickets have been sold out for tomorrow with a packed house expected and Starc said it will be “loud and a spectacle of cricket”.
South Africa may have suffered more Cricket World Cup semi-final heartache but coach Rob Walter believes they have laid a platform for the future with a core group of players after exceeding expectations at the most recent tournament in India.Poor starts with the bat and ball cost the side in their tense three wicket defeat to old foes Australia on Thursday - the fifth time they have exited a World Cup in the semi-finals.South Africa will co-host the next 50-over finals with Namibia and Zimbabwe in 2027 and Walter believes there is much room for optimism they can improve further having arrived in India under the radar and with little expectation of success.“I’m excited,” he told reporters. “There’s huge scope for us to grow as a team and to play even better than we have. The majority of the people that are going to be on the journey (to the next World Cup) are still in the changing room.“We’ve seen young guys at the end of the tournament with less than 15 games to their name stand up and really dominate in certain phases for the team. Different people putting their hands up throughout the competition.”Wicketkeeper-batter Quinton de Kock announced he would retire from the 50-over format before the tournament started, while 2027 may be too far off for 34-year-old batters David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen, the core of the group should remain.“We’ve seen guys play unbelievable cricket that probably surprised a lot of people in this (media) room and around the world. I think that is what fuels them to come back and be better,” Walter said.Former South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn, who lost in the semi-finals in 2015, also believes there is cause for optimism.“If you look at the stats overall, South Africa will walk away and say they ticked all the boxes they wanted to, but they just didn’t get over the line,” he told CricInfo.“There will be some question-marks, but overall they were fantastic. I didn’t think they would make the semi-finals when (fast bowler) Anrich Nortje was injured.”Too nice? That’s the NewZealand way, says MitchellNew Zealand batsman Daryl Mitchell has rejected criticism of the Black Caps for coming to the aid of India’s Virat Kohli during Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final loss, saying the team took great pride in the way they went about the game. Several New Zealanders checked on Kohli and helped him stretch his hamstrings when he went down with cramps while scoring a century to help India romp to a 70-run victory at the Wankhede Stadium and a place in tomorrow’s final.Former Australia all-rounder Simon O’Donnell slammed the Black Caps for their lack of competitive instinct but Mitchell, who scored a 119-ball 134 in New Zealand’s response, said the approach would not change.“I think that’s something we really pride ourselves on as Black Caps and as New Zealanders. We want to play cricket in a way that suits us as a country and how we want to see our kids grow up and play the game themselves,” he told reporters before the team left Mumbai.“We’ll keep playing cricket the way we do as Kiwis and hopefully the rest of the world can respect us and how we go about our day-to-day life, not only on the field but off it as well. It’s something that we’re really proud of, so we’ll just keep being Black Caps and doing what we’re doing.”New Zealand next travel to Bangladesh for a two-Test series starting on Nov. 28 and Mitchell said the disappointment of their semi-final exit at the World Cup would not have any impact on their performance.“That’s the nature of international sport these days,” he said. “(After) the T20 World Cup final we played a couple of years ago, we had a T20 in India about 48 hours after that so we’re used to it.“We’ll show up, we love Test cricket, it means a hell of a lot to this group. We’ll be ready to go come the first day of that Test and wear that black cap again.”
Charles Leclerc led Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz in a practice one-two yesterday to cap an extraordinary first night at the Las Vegas Grand Prix with the delayed track action ending at 4am and in front of empty grandstands after earlier drama.Sainz’s performance was all the more impressive considering the Spaniard’s car had been wrecked by a loose drain cover that forced the cancellation of first practice after just eight minutes’ action.White smoke and sparks erupted from the Ferrari as the cover punched a hole through the floor, leaving a trail of destruction that triggered an automatic 10 place grid penalty for tonight’s race.The survival cell, engine, battery and control electronics were all damaged beyond repair during an incident that Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur called “unacceptable.”“I think it’s tough for a team to arrive in Vegas and to have this kind of incident,” he said as mechanics rebuilt Sainz’s car.Action resumed more than five-and-a-half hours later at 2:30am following repairs to the 3.8-mile course which runs down the famed Strip and against a backdrop of neon-lit hotels and casinos, but with fans cleared from the grandstands.Despite the governing FIA recognising “highly unusual external circumstances,” Formula One stewards said Sainz would still incur a 10 place grid penalty for today’s race.Alpine driver Esteban Ocon’s chassis also needed to be replaced due to damage but he too returned for second practice.Leclerc’s fastest lap of one minute 35.265 seconds was 0.517 faster than Sainz.Fernando Alonso was third quickest for Aston Martin with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez fourth and Valtteri Bottas fifth for Alfa Romeo.Red Bull’s triple world champion Max Verstappen was sixth on the timesheets ahead of a race with little at stake for the Dutch driver, who wrapped up the championship in Qatar last month. “We managed to do the whole programme which I think was the most important for today,” said Verstappen, who has been no fan of all the hype surrounding the event and extended that to the track as well.“I’ve had better tracks in my life...there’s nothing new that I discovered,” he said.Mercedes seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton was more enthusiastic, however.“It’s incredibly fast and a lot of fun...I’m so glad we got to run again. Not a good FP1 (first practice) but they did a good job to fix it,” said the Briton.MEGA EVENTTeam principals were quick to defend the brand new course and the massive investment that has gone into staging the event for the first time in the heart of bustling Las Vegas, a move that has drawn criticism from local residents.“I’m still convinced that the event is mega for the F1,” Vasseur said, noting that issues with manhole covers had impacted races in Monaco and Baku in the past.“This is probably going to be one of the most watched Grand Prix in the history of the sport,” said McLaren CEO Zak Brown.“We have a tremendous amount of corporate partners out here, lots of fans, lots of attention on this sport as a whole and I think it’s (F1 owner) Liberty taking the sport to yet another level,” Brown added.Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff lashed out at a reporter who asked how the cancelled practice was not a “black eye” for F1.“That’s completely ridiculous,” Wolff said.“How can you even dare to talk bad about an event that sets the new standard, and you’re speaking about a...drain cover that’s been undone.“It’s happened before, it’s nothing.”Leclerc was also fastest in the first session, with a time of 1:40.909, followed by the Haas duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen. Verstappen was fourth.The sessions along the transformed Strip marked F1’s return to Las Vegas for the first time in nearly 40 years.
The two-day Al Shaqab International Arabian Horse Show began yesterday under the patronage of President of the Qatar Olympic Committee and Chairman of Al Shaqab HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani.Organised by Al Shaqab, a member of Qatar Foundation, at Al Shaqab indoor and outdoor arena, the inaugural day of event saw fierce competitions among participants. The equestrian spectacle has attracted a total of 272 horses amid greater participation of horse owners from Qatar and beyond.In Yearling Fillies section A (Class 1A) competitions, Farida Mudhar owned by Shiekh Hamad bin Ali al-Thani won the first place, followed by D Rayah owned by Al Rajhiah Stud in second place and Jood Al Yacoub owned by Al Yacoub Stud in third place.Rahaf Mudhar owned by Shiekh Hamad bin Ali al-Thani claimed the first place in the Yearling Fillies Section B (Class 1B) competitions, followed by Hariryah Al Nasser owned by Al Nasser Stud and Sabha Al Khor owned by Al Dawasir Stud, respectively.In Fillies 2 Years Old Section A (Class 2A), Mzoon Al Diriyah owned by Al-Diriya Stud finished in the first place, while Sab’ah Al Shahania owned by HE Sheikha Iman Mohamed bin Khalifa al-Thani and Joud Al Hamad owned by Sheikh Hamad Khaled al-Sabah won the second third places, respectively.Al Shaqab International Arabian Horse Show is classified as a B show by the European Conference of Arab Horse Organisations (ECAHO), allowing winning horses to qualify for international shows of higher classification.This show not only showcases the beauty and grace of purebred Arabian horses but also celebrates the traditional and cultural significance of owning these magnificent creatures, reflecting the deep-seated love for Arabian horses in the community.Since its establishment in 1992, Al Shaqab’s vision has been to build on Qatar’s Arabian horse heritage and be a leading global centre for equine professionals. Al Shaqab’s facilities, which are distinctively designed in the shape of a horseshoe, cover 980,000 square meters, with a state-of-the-art Main Arena comprising both an indoor and outdoor venue capable of holding over 5,000 spectators.
Uruguay ended Argentina’s 14-match unbeaten streak with a 2-0 victory over the world champions in World Cup qualifiers on Thursday as Luis Diaz scored twice to fire Colombia to an emotional 2-1 win over Brazil. Defender Ronald Araujo fired Uruguay ahead on 41 minutes before Liverpool forward Darwin Nunez made the game safe with an 87th-minute goal on the counter-attack to settle a hard-fought clash at the Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires. It was Lionel Messi and Argentina’s first defeat of the 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign, and their first loss since they were stunned 2-1 by Saudi Arabia at the 2022 finals in Qatar. “We never felt comfortable,” Messi said after the defeat. “They’re a physical team that works well and on the counterattack they were very dangerous,” added Messi, praising the work of Uruguay’s revered Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa. “You can see his hand in the team. In all the teams or clubs he’s been involved in, including Argentina, you can see his hand,” said Messi. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni meanwhile backed his team to recover in time for next week’s showdown with Brazil. Argentina, who had won all four of their opening qualifiers, remain on top of the standings with 12 points from five matches. Uruguay’s win leaves them in second place on 10 points. In other South American qualifiers, Nunez’s Liverpool team-mate Diaz scored two goals in five minutes as Colombia came from behind to stun Brazil 2-1 in Barranquilla. Diaz’s dramatic double capped a roller-coaster month for the forward, whose father was taken hostage by Colombian guerrillas at the end of October before being released last week. Diaz’s father, Luis Manuel Diaz, was watching from the stands in tears as his son scored in the 75th and 79th minutes to fire Colombia to a crucial win. Diaz’s second-half double cancelled out Brazil’s opener, which came from Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli after only four minutes. A disappointing result for Brazil was compounded by an injury to Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr, who limped off clutching his left thigh after 27 minutes. Diaz meanwhile said he had experienced “hard moments” after learning of his father’s kidnapping in late October. “But life makes you strong and brave and I think that’s football, and not just football but life,” said Diaz, dedicating his performance to Colombian compatriots. “I’m grateful to my teammates, to the coaching staff who were always there for me at every moment. And I dedicate the victory to the people, who deserved it.” Colombia moved up to third place after the win with nine points from five games. In other games, Venezuela ground out a 0-0 draw with Ecuador while Bolivia moved off the bottom of the 10-team standings with their first points of the qualifiers after a 2-0 home win over Peru. Chile and Paraguay remain outside the qualifying spots after a goalless draw in Santiago. Chile’s Argentine coach Eduardo Berizzo resigned after a 0-0 draw that leaves ‘La Roja’ in eighth place, with five points from five games. The top six teams of the round-robin home-and-away qualifying tournament will earn berths at the expanded 2026 World Cup taking place in the United States, Canada and Mexico, while the seventh-placed team goes into a play-off.
Four goals from Almoez Ali helped Qatar cruise 8-1 past Afghanistan in Group A of the Preliminary Joint Qualification – Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 at Khalifa International Stadium yesterday. The reigning Asian champions travel to the Indian state of Odisha where they face the Blue Tigers, while Afghanistan welcome Kuwait in Dammam for their second game of the group.Qatar coach Carlos Queiroz said after the match his team is already focused for the game against India. “It will be a massive game against India. We start tomorrow to prepare. We need to be at our best to defeat them,” the Portuguese said.Almoez added: “India will be a stubborn opponent and they’ve improved a lot. It will be tough playing in front of their fans,”Yesterday, the home team needed just 11 minutes to open their account in the qualifiers through captain Hassan al-Haydos who arrived late in the box, picking up Akarm Afif’s pulled back pass and hammering it low into the back of the net.Within less than 120 seconds, the Afghans restored parity after Mustafa Azadzoy supplied an excellent through pass for Amiruddin Sharifi who beat the offside trap and applied the finish past goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham.Qatar’s response was even faster as left-back Homam al-Amin whipped a cross from deep that was met by the diving header of Ali, who scored his 43rd international goal, moving clear off Mansour Muftah as Qatar’s all-time top scorer.Al-Amin was again the creator in the 18th minute, this time advancing into the byline and sending a low cross for Mostafa Meshaal who collected it and finished with aplomb to make it 3-1. Before the half-hour mark, al-Amin made it a hat-trick of assists, making an overlapping run and picking up Afif’s pass before finding Ali at the far post and the forward was left with the simplest of finishes for the fourth.Ali completed his hat-trick in the 32nd minute, powering in from the penalty spot after goalkeeper Ovays Azizi had brought down Afif inside the box. Just before the break, Ali added his fourth of the night following a second penalty as Qatar went into the dressing rooms with a 6-1 lead.Qatar were awarded a third penalty in the 52nd minute after a challenge on Pedro Miguel. Ahmed Alaeldin stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, adding Qatar’s seventh goal of the game.Young forward Tameem Muftah, who replaced Ali earlier in the game, added his name to the scoresheet, sweeping home from close range following a cross from al-Amin who made it four assists on the night as Qatar wrapped up an 8-1 victory.Manvir strike helps India beat KuwaitMeanwhile, Manvir Singh struck 15 minutes from time to earn India a 1-0 win over hosts Kuwait as Igor Stimac’s side claimed all three points in their Group A opener yesterday. Singh’s first-time strike secured the Indians victory at the end of a keenly contested clash at the Jaber Al Ahmad International Stadium, where many in the crowd had turned out to back the visitors.Mohun Bagan striker Singh showed his ruthlessness to finish off a lightning quick move forward with a clinical strike after Lallianzuala Chhangte’s ball across the face of goal. And the hosts’ problems were compounded deep into injury when Faisal al-Harbi was sent off for a high challenge on Chhangte, effectively guaranteeing Stimac’s side left with the points.Stubborn Palestine hold Lebanon at bayPalestine began their quest for a place at the 2026 World Cup with a goalless draw against Lebanon in their Group I World Cup qualifier in Sharjah yesterday.The match was played at Khalid Bin Mohamed Stadium in Sharjah because of a one-match stadium ban on ‘host’ Lebanon following unruly scenes in their qualifier against Syria in Beirut last year.But with Palestine also displaced because of the current conflict with Israel in Gaza – they play their first ‘home’ game against Australia in Kuwait next week – the two sides stood for a minute’s silence before the game for the victims killed in Gaza. It was the first meeting between the teams and saw a defensive Palestine largely on the back foot as the Lebanese created the best of the opportunities.
Ahead of this weekend’s Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar, MotoGP championship leader Francesco Bagnaia was asked what he would do if he became a world champion. The Ducati Lenovo Team rider, who holds a 14-point lead over Prima Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin, came up with an witty answer at the press conference as he held up a board which said: “I will organise my wedding better (less stress).” Martin chipped in saying: “Maybe he can invite me.”Bagnaia is getting married to his fiancee Domizia Castagnini on July 20, but the thought of preparing for his big day is less stressful for the Italian compared to defending his title. With a maximum of 74 points still up for grabs in Qatar and in Valencia next week, Bagnaia is in a better place than his title rival Martin. In fact, the Qatar GP at the Lusail International Circuit will offer the 26-year-old his first opportunity to win a second MotoGP crown.After beating Martin to third in last week’s Malaysian GP, Bagnaia can emerge champion if he scores 23 points more than his rival in Qatar. This has happened only once this season, at the season-opening Portuguese GP when Bagnaia outscored Martin by 28 points with a sprint/grand prix double. If he has 12 points (or more) of an advantage over Martin after the Sprint tomorrow, it’s match point on Sunday for championship leader.Bagnaia, who shared a bonhomie with Martin at the press conference yesterday, said he was not thinking about wrapping up the title this weekend. “I’m not considering this weekend as a match point, honestly. I have to gain 23 points and that’s too much in a single weekend,” he said.“Jorge is doing a really great job and it will be more important to think session by session, to work like the past weekend in Sepang and try to be competitive. We know perfectly the tarmac has been resurfaced and could be a very great question for the tyres. I think it could be very demanding for the tyres because it’s new. Let’s see. It’s a track that I like, we have always been competitive here apart from last year, which was at the wrong moment of the season. But the lap record is still mine and I think our bike suits this track very well,” the Italian added.Bagnaia said his main goal for the rest of the season was to do better than Martin. “Yeah, maybe, it could be better because right now 14 points with the championship we are living is nothing. 37 points every weekend is a lot, and you can gain or you can lose a lot of points,” he said.“So, it will be important to be calm, work well and try to do the maximum. We saw last weekend he gained three points in Saturday and lost four on Sunday. So, it’s very balanced and I think it will be another head-to-head.”Meanwhile, Martin vowed to give his all as he seeks to overturn Bagnaia’s advantage. The Spaniard, who, is seeking to make history as the first satellite rider to win the MotoGP crown, said he has nothing to lose.The Pramac rider has already assured a runner-up position in the championship thanks to being 75 points clear of third place Marco Bezzecchi. “I don’t know the maths exactly, I just know I need to recover points! So this is my target,” Martin said yesterday.“I’m already second in the championship, even if I don’t race the next two rounds. So I’m already in second and I can just change that position to first. So I will take all the risk I can and maybe take some gambles to try to do it. I just need to attack and try to recover the most points. It’s a good chance to acquire a lot of points. But there’s also a good chance to lose a lot of points. So we need to be clever, fast and try to win. For sure there is a lot of pressure. If you make a mistake, you will lose the championship. So we need to be fast, but don’t make any mistakes, so I guess it’s a really complicated weekend. I think it will go to Valencia,” the 25-year-old said.
Travis Head starred with bat and ball as Australia set up a “special” World Cup final clash with India after a tense three-wicket win over South Africa in Kolkata yesterday. Chasing a tricky 213 for victory, Australia wobbled after Head hit 62 but Steve Smith (30) and Josh Inglis (28) helped the five-time champions reach their target with 16 balls to spare in the second semi-final in Kolkata. “It’s hard to unpack all of that. I didn’t move for the past couple of hours. It was a tense finish and an amazing game,” said Head. As Australia reached an eighth World Cup final, South Africa were left to rue a fifth semi-final loss despite David Miller’s 101. It was particularly painful for the Proteas who had routed Australia by 134 runs in a group stage game at Lucknow four weeks ago. Australia slipped to 137-5 and then 193-7 before Mitchell Starc (16) and skipper Pat Cummins (14) kept their nerve to steer the team home. “It’s going to be a special final, I still talk of the 2015 as one of my career highlights and I wasn’t even playing,” said Cummins of the final in Melbourne eight years ago when Australia defeated New Zealand. “So to be out there in a final, in India, world’s biggest stadium...it’s a very happy changing room at the moment.” The final is on Sunday at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad which boasts a 130,000-capacity. Two-time champions India made the final on Wednesday with a 70-run victory over New Zealand in Mumbai, taking their record at this World Cup to 10 wins in 10 games. Left-handed batsman and part-time off-spinner Head stood out after taking two wickets and then with his 48-ball innings laced with nine fours and two sixes. Australia were in trouble when they were five down as spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi struck in quick succession to rattle the middle-order. Maharaj bowled Head, who was dropped on 40 and 57, and Shamsi, a left-arm wrist spinner, trapped Marnus Labuschagne lbw for 18 and bowled Glenn Maxwell for one in his next over. Australia started the tournament with two losses but registered their eighth straight win. “The way we started with the bat and ball was the turning point, we always had to play catch-up,” said South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma. The conditions combined with the quality of the Australia attack. They were ruthless and exploited every bit of advantage, and really put us under pressure.” Starc led the bowling charge with figures of 3-34 and Cummins also picked three wickets to bowl out South Africa for 212 in 49.4 overs. Left-arm quick Starc struck in the first over to send back Bavuma, who had said he was not “100% fit” at the toss, for a fourth-ball duck. Josh Hazlewood claimed the wicket of in-form Quinton de Kock for three as Cummins took a stunning catch. De Kock, who will quit one-day international after the World Cup, ended with 594 runs including four centuries to sit behind the tournament’s leading batsman Virat Kohli (711). The new-ball bowlers kept up the attack with the wickets of Aiden Markram (10) and Rassie van der Dussen (six) as South Africa slumped to 24-4 and were 44-4 when rain interrupted play. Klaasen and Miller hit back after the 45-minute rain break as the two put on 95 runs but Head broke through to bowl Klaasen for 47. Head trapped Marco Jansen lbw on the next delivery to be on a hat-trick, which was saved by Gerald Coetzee, who put on a 53-run partnership with Miller. The left-handed Miller smashed eight fours and five sixes in his 116-ball knock.
Virat Kohli and Mohamed Shami starred as India beat New Zealand to reach the World Cup final but Nasser Hussain believes captain Rohit Sharma has been their “real hero” of the tournament.Unbeaten hosts India defeated New Zealand by 70 runs in Mumbai on Wednesday to make it 10 wins out of 10 this World Cup as they booked a place in Sunday’s final in Ahmedabad.Kohli scored a record 50th one-day international hundred in an imposing total of 397-4 that also featured Shreyas Iyer’s rapid 105 off 70 balls before Mohamed Shami cleaned up with a stunning seven-wicket haul.But it was 36-year opener Rohit, on his Wankhede Stadium home ground, who set the tone with a 29-ball 47 after winning the toss.Hussain said Rohit, appointed India’s white-ball captain in December 2021, deserved plenty of credit for India’s run to the final.“The headlines will be about Kohli, about Shreyas, about Shami. But the genuine hero of this Indian side, the man who has changed the culture, is Rohit Sharma,” Hussain told Sky Sports yesterdayThe former England captain, himself born in Madras (now Chennai), added: “It’s one thing coming in the group stage, but can you do it again, can you play fearless cricket in a semi-final?“Their skipper went out there and showed everyone, showed his dressing room that they’re going to carry on in exactly the same way.”Kohli may be the tournament’s leading batsman with 711 runs, but Michael Atherton – another ex-England captain – said the manner in which Rohit, who has now scored 550 in this World Cup himself, batted on Wednesday was telling.“For a team who have occasionally blinked when the critical moment has arrived in recent ICC events, often tip-toeing through an innings, Rohit led brilliantly, as he has throughout a campaign where he has eschewed personal milestones and batted selflessly against the new ball,” Atherton wrote in The Times.“It was not the number of runs that he scored, but the message he sent in getting India off to a flyer, making 47 in only 29 balls, that was vital. Don’t go into your shells, he was saying.”Yet in a match where 724 runs in all were scored, despite concerns about a used pitch, it was paceman Shami who had the final say with an extraordinary return of 7-57 - the best by any bowler in a World Cup semi-final.Out for the first four matches Shami was out of the India team for the first four matches of the tournament and might not have featured at all but for an injury to Hardik Pandya.Yet heading into yesterday’s second semi-final between Australia and South Africa, he was the leading bowler at the World Cup with 23 wickets from six games at astonishingly low average of under 10 apiece.England’s 2019 World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan, who faced Shami during his career, said: “The level of control he has shown throughout this tournament to move the ball off the seam and in the air has been great to admire.“Seven for 57 in a one-day international is unheard of, particularly in a World Cup knock-out game where there is a huge amount of pressure on him...To have someone like that at your disposal for Rohit Sharma adds more value to the strength of India.”
The Al Shaqab International Arabian Horse Show will kick off today under the patronage of HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, President of the Qatar Olympic Committee and Chairman of Al Shaqab.The two-day event will unfold at Al Shaqab indoor and outdoor arena, marking a significant milestone for Arabian horse enthusiasts. This equestrian spectacle is poised to be an unforgettable experience, uniting a total of 272 horses, including 70 from outside Qatar. The inaugural edition of the show boasts a panel of judges who will bring their expertise to evaluate and appreciate the prowess of these equestrian teams, adding an extra layer of excitement to the competition: Renata Schibler (Switzerland), Josy Everars (Belgium), Helen Hennekens-van Nes (Belgium), Marek Trela (Poland), Robbie Den Hartog (Netherlands), Terry Holms (USA), Christine Valette (France), Soheil Sanati (Iran), Bassem Badr (KSA), Mohamed Mohsen (Egypt), Barbara Pfisner (Switzerland), Mohamed Hammad (Egypt).Breeding & Show Manager, Al Shaqab, and Event Director Khalid al-Jehani said that Al Shaqab International Arabian Horse Show is classified as a B show by the European Conference of Arab Horse Organisations (ECAHO), allowing winning horses to qualify for international shows of higher classification. This show not only showcases the beauty and grace of purebred Arabian horses but also celebrates the traditional and cultural significance of owning these magnificent creatures, reflecting the deep-seated love for Arabian horses in the community.This show promises not only a world-class competition but also a celebration of the timeless bond between humans and these majestic Arabian horses. The two days of this event will be filled with thrilling competitions, breed presentations, and an opportunity for attendees to witness the grace and beauty of the Arabian horse.Since its establishment in 1992, Al Shaqab’s vision has been to build on Qatar’s Arabian horse heritage and be a leading global centre for equine professionals. Al Shaqab’s facilities, which are distinctively designed in the shape of a horseshoe, cover 980,000 square meters, with a state-of-the-art Main Arena comprising both an indoor and outdoor venue capable of holding over 5,000 spectators.
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will clash in a “historic” fight for the undisputed heavyweight title in Saudi Arabia on February 17. British star Fury will put his WBC belt on the line, with the WBA, IBF and WBO titles held by Ukraine’s Usyk also up for grabs in Riyadh.The winner will be crowned the heavyweight division’s first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis from 1999 to 2000. Fury, 35, and Usyk, 36, were originally expected to clash on December 23.But Fury’s disappointing performance in a split-decision victory over MMA star Francis Ngannou last month forced a delay to the hotly-anticipated bout. He was left with a swollen eye and cut on the forehead after the contentious win against Ngannou.Fury had already been criticised for failing to agree a deal with Usyk when a proposed meeting at Wembley in April couldn’t be confirmed. The pair will finally step into the ring in 2024 as Fury looks to add to his record of 34 wins with one draw since turning professional in 2008.“This is a historic event. The whole world of boxing has been waiting for many, many years, and they now have this fight,” Fury’s promoter Frank Warren told reporters at a press conference in London. “For the first time this century, we will have an undisputed heavyweight champion. As a promoter I’ve been banging my head against the wall. But now we have the creme de la creme. These two undefeated heavyweight fighters.”In typically combative mood at the press conference, Fury referenced his 2015 victory over Usyk’s fellow Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko, which earned him the WBA, IBF and WBO titles. “I already relieved one Ukrainian of all the belts, and now I’m going to take them all back,” Fury said. “Usyk’s a champion, I’m a champion. It’s going to be a fight for the ages.”Fury believes a victory over Usyk would cement his status as one of the all-time greats.“He’s a good boxer, slick. But I’ve seen people like him before, and when they fight the big man, they lose,” he said. “I believe we’re both destined to be here. I’m destined to become the undisputed champion, and more than that, cement my legacy.”Usyk kept his cool amid Fury’s insults, which included taking swipes at his opponent’s height and his ear-ring. “Yes I’m a little man. I’ll speak in the ring,” Usyk said.Fury has held the WBC belt since he defeated Deontay Wilder in 2020 and has defended the title three times. He stopped Dillian Whyte at Wembley in April 2022 and beat Derek Chisora at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium eight months later.Usyk, who has won all 21 of his fights, has been the WBA, IBF and WBO title holder since defeating Anthony Joshua in 2021. The Ukrainian has defended his titles twice, defeating Joshua by split decision in Saudi Arabia last year and knocking out Daniel Dubois in August. Saudi Arabia has staged several leading boxing events in recent years, including Usyk’s win over Anthony Joshua in 2022.
The Qatari national triathlon team impressed at the Asia Triathlon Sprint Championships held in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.Representing the elite player category, Faris al-Mohannadi and Abdullah al-Kuwari spearheaded the Qatari team’s participation in the challenging race which consisted of a 750-meter swim, a 20-kilometer bike ride, and a 5-kilometer run. It was their third competition this year as part of the strategic plan developed by the Qatar Cycling and Triathlon Federation (QCTF) to elevate their athletes to a high level of competition under the International Triathlon Federation.The Qatari triathlon team also made their mark in the Team Relay category with Tamim Jamal al-Kuwari, Mohamed al-Kuwari and Nayef al-Musallam securing a commendable third place overall while claiming the top spot in the team rankings.Adding to the success, the Qatar triathlon team also participated in the aquathlon, showcasing their versatility in swimming, running, and swimming once again.QCTF president meets officialsOn the sidelines of the tournament, QCTF President Dr Mohamed bin Jaham al-Kuwari participated in the West Asian Triathlon Federation meeting alongside H H Prince Fahad bin Jalawi al-Saud, President of the Asian Triathlon Federation. The discussions centered around strategies to further develop the triathlon sport.QCTF President al-Kuwari, during his meetings in Saudi Arabia, emphasised the importance of collaboration between the QCTF and the federations of West Asian countries, focusing on the championship agenda for the region. This collaboration is particularly significant given the surge in triathlon sport developments, from Doha hosting the Asian Triathlon Cup in November 2021 to Saudi Arabia hosting the Super League, highlighting the rising popularity of the sport in the region.A delegation of technicians from the Qatar Triathlon Federation, including Firas al-Hamoud - Technical Secretary of the Federation and Director of Development at the Asian Triathlon Federation, and three referees, Ibrahim Mohamed, John Bonalos, and Alexandro Abetri, actively participated in organising the popular tournament, ensuring its seamless execution.
Iran's football team aspire to claim their fourth continental title when they take part in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 that will be held from Jan. 12 to Feb. 10, 2024.In a series of reports on the teams that will participate in the AFC Cup, the AFC website shed lite on Iran's team that were drawn in Group C along with United Arab Emirates, Palestine and Hong Kong. The AFC report said that Iran will feel that the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 is the perfect stage for them to end their wait for a long overdue fourth continental title.The last of Iran's three titles - won consecutively - was in 1976 with the Central Asian side's best having been semi-final finishes since.Head coach Amir Ghalenoei believes this can change in Qatar 2023. Iran's best players are in their prime and have been consistently impressing in leagues across Europe over the last few seasons.They were stopped by a rampant Japan in the semi-finals of the UAE 2019 edition but there is belief that Iran have a squad that will challenge for the title in Qatar 2023. They start their campaign in Group C and will be confident of progressing despite the challenge that Palestine, Hong Kong, China and United Arab Emirates will pose. (QNA)
Doha is gearing up to achieve a success in the MotoGP World Championship during the organisation of Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar, which constitutes the 19th and penultimate round of the 2023 MotoGP season, making it a crucial competition that could determine the championship title. Doha relies on an elite group of its creative sons who work in one spirit and constitute the engine of success in motor sports.The races of the Qatar Grand Prix are set to kick off Friday and will continue for three days under the floodlights of Lusail International Circuit (LIC), featuring the participation of the world's top riders.For the 20th year, Doha hosts one of the rounds of the MotoGP World Championship, including MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 categories for men. Notably, Qatar has hosted the opening round of the global championship for the past 15 years.Qatar Grand Prix first took place in 2004, with Spain's Sete Gibernau securing the title. Italian rider Enea Bastianini won 2022 season in QatarAustralian Casey Stoner and Italian Valentino Rossi share the record for the most championship wins with four titles each, followed by Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo with three titles. Spanish rider Maverick Vinales and Italian Andrea Dovizioso have each won the championship twice.In the 18th editions of the Qatar Grand Prix, victories have been secured by riders from four countries: Spain, Italy, Australia, and France. Spanish riders have claimed the most titles in Doha, with seven titles achieved by four drivers, equally with the Italian riders, accomplished by three riders.Qatar is the only country in the Middle East to host a round of the MotoGP World Championship. Qatar Grand Prix is unique among the championship rounds as it is held at night under floodlights since it was held for the first time in 2008.The Lusail International Circuit, with a track length of 5.380 km (3.343 miles), is considered one of the prominent circuits globally, especially after undergoing comprehensive renovation. It is the only MotoGP circuit to host races under floodlights, introducing technology to the sport and switching it from daytime to nighttime race. The State of Qatar has become a pioneer in track sports, providing a scientific addition to the sport, thanks to the support and commitment of officials, aligning with Qatar National Vision 2030.In conjunction with the MotoGP World Championship, Qatar hosts the races of Asia Talent Cup, organized by Dorna Sports, the rights holder of the MotoGP World Championship. Asia Talent Cup aims to qualify talented riders for participation in the Moto3 category, supervised by technical specialists.The activities of the MotoGP Qatar Airways Grand Prix 2023 will begin on Thursday evening with official photos for the 3 categories, as well as a press conference with the participation of the most prominent MotoGP world champions participating in the round who will talk about their preparations for the inaugural championship and the world championship season, which consists of 20 rounds.The starting signal for the official start of the 1st day of the Grand Prix is scheduled at 1:20 pm on Friday, which will begin with the first 35 minute trial races for the Asia Talent Cup, followed by the same trails for the Moto3 Category at 2pm for 35 minutes as well, then the Moto2 Category for 40 minutes and the MotoGP category for 45 minutes before the 2nd trails for the three categories in succession, starting from 5pm until 9pm.The second day of the competition on Saturday will witness the third trial races and the first and second qualifying trials for the Moto3 and Moto2 categories, in order to determine the starting positions in the official race scheduled for next Sunday. As for the MotoGP category, it will witness the third and fourth trial races and the first and second qualifying trials to determine the starting positions in the official race, which is also scheduled for next Sunday.Saturday will also witness the first race of the Asian Talent Cup, which consists of 12 laps at 5pm, in addition to the 11 lap Sprint race, which is held for the first time in Doha as part of the Grand Prix at 8pm.Finally, the third and final day next Sunday, will begin with the second race of the Asian Talent Cup at 2:35pm, following by time for warm-up operations and final preparation for competing in the official races, which will begin with the official race for Moto3 category, which consists of 16 laps, at 5pm, followed by the official race for Moto2, which will go one for 18 laps at 6:15pm before the official and final race for the MotoGP category, which consists of 22 laps at 8pm.The Qatar Grand Prix, the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship for the 2023 season, will be attended by the world's most prominent riders in the three categories, as all of the star participants in the round announced their full readiness to compete. The competition is expected to be strong in the MotoGP category between the Italian Francesco Bagnaia, rider of the Ducati team, who leads the overall standings with 412 points, and the Spanish Jorge Martin, rider of the Pramac Racing team, who is in second place with 398 points.Frenchman Fabio Quartararo and Spaniard Joan Mir, former world champions, will also compete for the championship title. Australian Jack Miller, who broke the record time at the Lusail International Circuit by achieving the fastest lap time of 1:53.183 minutes, Italian Marco Bezzecchi, South African Brad Binder, who are ranked third and fourth, and Spaniard Marc Marquez, Honda team rider and eight time world champion, are also competing.Competing for the title in the strongest category will be Frenchman Johann Zarco, Spaniards Pol Espargaro, Aleix Espargaro and Alex Rins, Japanese Takaaki Nakagami, Italian Franco Morbidelli, and Australian Jack Miller.All teams, which include a group of the biggest names in the world of MotoGP racing in its three categories, have traveled to Doha since early November, in preparation for the new season and adapting to the atmosphere of Doha, especially the night atmosphere, given that the Doha round is the only one that will be held under floodlights throughout the season.
Qatar will begin their bid to qualify for the FIFA World Cup on merit for the first time when they kick off their Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 campaign for the 2026 edition and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 against Afghanistan at the Khalifa International Stadium today.Qatar’s inaugural participation as hosts of the global showpiece last year ended in the group stage with the highly experienced Carlos Queiroz now in charge of the squad. The former Iran head coach has been hard at work rebuilding the side and has named a blended squad of young talent and seasoned players for today’s tie against Afghanistan and against India five days later in Bhubaneswar.Queiroz has said his mission is for Qatar to defend the AFC Asian Cup title on home soil in January and also seal qualification to the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027. That Qatar are in good hands is undeniable with Queiroz having been involved in the last four editions of the FIFA World Cup as head coach, three of them with Iran. The former Real Madrid tactician, however, has warned his team will not to take the Afghanistan side, who advanced to the second round after defeating Mongolia, lightly.“We started preparations a week ago and I am happy with the commitment and discipline the players have reached,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We are motivated to play good football that will live up to expectations and achieve success. We are currently entering a new challenge and we must work towards facing it. Afghanistan will come into the match with all focus and we must respect the opponent and give our best on the field,” the veteran Portuguese added.Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s coach Ashley Westwood has urged his players to play for ‘self-esteem’. The Scotsman said: “The preparations for us were not worse than they are. We trained together yesterday here in Doha and we look forward to facing the Qatar national team in a positive manner.”He added: “The players are eager to put on a good show and will give everything they have in the match. The motivation here is the wonderful atmosphere in Qatar, the stadium and the facilities.”The other match in the Group A will see Kuwait hosting India in what promises to be an enticing affair. With Qatar the early favourites in Group, Kuwait and India will be eager to kick off with a win when they square off at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium today.Kuwait, who did not qualify for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023, will be driven to deliver in Round 2 of the Preliminary Joint Qualification. AFC Asian Cup winners in 1980 and having made their sole FIFA World Cup appearance in the 1982 edition, Kuwait’s mission is to regain their status as one of Asia’s premier teams.India, however, will not be easy opposition with the South Asian side also bent on making an impact. Head coach Igor Stimac said the target is to kick off their campaign with a victory, with the two sides having met in the 2023 SAFF Championship, with both matches ending in 1-1 draws.
Dorna Sports and Lusail International Circuit organised exciting pre-event activities with a desert activation held at the Nasser Rally Camp near the beautiful dunes of Qatar ahead of MotoGP Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar 2023. The thrilling event brought together some of the biggest names in MotoGP, such as Pedro Acosta, Alexis Espargaro and Jorge Martin, and they were joined by Qatari rally legend Nasser al-Attiyah.Using a combination of flags and trenches, a miniature version of the circuit was crafted, providing a unique and captivating visual experience in the dunes. Al-Attiyah, a legend in the world of rally racing, took part in a thrilling buggy race alongside the MotoGP riders. Teams were formed, and they raced around the mini version of the Lusail International Circuit set amidst the desert dunes replicating the upcoming Grand Prix.In addition to the buggy race, an exciting “Arabic Challenge” added a cultural twist to the event. The MotoGP riders were presented with their names written in Arabic on a mini whiteboard. They were given 30 seconds to study the script, and then they had to reproduce their names in Arabic from memory on the whiteboard. This challenge not only tested their memory but also celebrated the rich culture and heritage of Qatar.The highlight of the day was the “Time Trial of the Mini Lusail Circuit,” where each team went head-to-head to set the fastest lap time on the miniature circuit. The competition was fierce, and the riders’ determination was palpable as they navigated the challenging terrain. The Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar 2023 will be held this weekend and is set to bring the best of the sport as well as the Sprint Race for the first time at the Lusail Circuit.
Virat Kohli scored a record-breaking 50th one-day international hundred before Mohamed Shami took a sensational seven wicket-haul as India sealed a place in the World Cup final with a 70-run win over New Zealand in Mumbai yesterday.Kohli made 117, to surpass the record he had shared with India great Sachin Tendulkar, and Shreyas Iyer a rapid 105 in a commanding total of 397-4 that also featured Shubman Gill’s 80 not out.New Zealand were left needing to break their own record for the highest total by a team batting second to win a World Cup semi-final – a Duckworth/Lewis adjusted 299-6 against South Africa at Auckland in 2015.But in-form paceman Shami took a career-best 7-57 as New Zealand, the losing finalists at the last two World Cups, were dismissed for 327 despite Daryl Mitchell’s 134, his highest score at this level.India, who’ve won all 10 of their matches at the tournament so far as they bid for a third World Cup title and second on home soil, will face either Australia or South Africa, who play today, in Sunday’s final in Ahmedabad.“I still believe in pitching it up and getting wickets with the new ball,” said Shami. “I dropped a catch off Kane Williamson, I shouldn’t have. I felt terrible.”He added: “The last two World Cups, we lost in the semis. Who knows when or if we’ll get a chance, so this was one chance we didn’t want to let go.”First-change Shami struck twice early on, taking a wicket with his first ball, to leave New Zealand 39-2.But the Black Caps then enjoyed a revival during a third-wicket partnership of 181 between captain Williamson and Mitchell.Shami, however, all but ended the chase with two wickets in three balls during the 33rd over.Williamson fell for 69 when he flicked Shami – who had dropped him on 52 – straight to Suryakumar Yadav at deep square leg.And 220-3 became 220-4 when Shami had Tom Latham lbw for a duck. “Daryl Mitchell and Kane Wiliamson batted brilliantly,” said India captain Rohit Sharma, who made a dashing 47 at the top of the order. “We knew we had to pull something from up our sleeves. A bit of magic...We tried everything and Mohamed Shami was brilliant.”Mitchell’s fine effort ended in when he whipped Shami to Ravindra Jadeja at deep midwicket before the paceman finished the match when last man Lockie Ferguson was caught behind.“Congratulations to India,” said Williamson. “They’re a top side at the top of their game...But credit to the guys. I’m proud of the effort to stay in the fight.”Kohli’s innings saw him surpass the mark of 49 hundreds he had shared with Tendulkar as his compatriot looked on from the Wankhede Stadium stands in a capacity 33,000 crowd featuring football star David Beckham.Kohli put on 163 with Iyer, who made 105 off just 70 balls, including four fours and eight sixes.“It feels like a dream. Too good to be true,” said Kohli at the innings break. Tendulkar hailed Kohli’s “skill and passion”.“I couldn’t be happier that an Indian broke my record,” wrote Tendulkar, a teammate of Kohli when India beat Sri Lanka in the 2011 final at the Wankhede, on X, formerly Twitter.There was controversy at the start yesterday following revelations the match was being played on a used, rather than fresh, pitch.New Zealand thought they had number tree Kohli out for a second-ball duck, lbw to Southee, but their review revealed an inside edge. An unflustered Kohli completed his third of the tournament, as chants of “Kohli, Kohli” rang round the ground with a two off Ferguson, having faced 106 balls, hitting eight fours and a six.Tendulkar led the applause as Kohli bowed towards his childhood hero.Dropped on 107, Kohli was eventually out when he pulled Southee low to deep square leg and the dynamic Iyer’s second successive hundred ended after he holed out off Trent Boult.Shami, who took his previous best of 5-18 under the Wankhede lights when Sri Lanka were dismissed for just 55 in pool play, had an immediate success yesterday.Devon Conway could only edge his late-moving first ball, although it still needed wicketkeeper KL Rahul to hold a brilliant diving catch.Conway’s fellow left-handed opener Rachin Ravindra, the tournament’s breakout star with three hundreds in his first World Cup, was also caught behind off Shami for 13.