Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar will return to Brazil to continue his recovery from a right foot injury.
Neymar was injured playing against Strasbourg in a French Cup game in late January with a recurrence of a fifth metatarsal injury he sustained one year earlier.
League leader PSG said in a statement Wednesday evening that Neymar will continue his treatment in Brazil for about 10 days, under the supervision of members of PSG's medical department.
When he broke his foot last year, Brazil star Neymar had an operation in order to get back in time for the World Cup in Russia. But medical experts decided against another operation in favor of a more conservative form of treatment this time around.
Neymar was ruled out for 10 weeks and is hopeful of returning for the Champions League quarterfinals in April if PSG advances.
Ferrari's early dominance in Formula One preseason testing has caught Lewis Hamilton's attention.
Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc have been among the fastest drivers in the first week of testing in Spain, with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas unable to keep pace.
Daniil Kvyat, back in F1 after a one-year absence, was the fastest in his Toro Rosso on the third of four test days at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit on Wednesday, ahead of former Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, now with Alfa Romeo. Daniel Ricciardo was third with Renault, ahead of Vettel.
"Ferrari are very, very strong right now," said Hamilton, who was 12th fastest, just behind Bottas. "As you have seen, they are racking up great mileage as well and it appears that they have a better package than they had last year, which means it is going to be even more of a challenge for us this year."
Hamilton won his fifth world title last year, beating Vettel and Raikkonen in the drivers' championship.
"Ferrari always looks particularly strong, for the last few years they have looked very strong, so that is to be expected," Hamilton said. "For us, we are just going about our process and trying to understand, so everyone is working incredibly hard."
He said it's too early to be overly concerned with the rival's performance.
"It's not a time when we need to focus on others, we let everyone else do their thing and really dig deep and focus on making sure our processes are better than ever before, that we are analyzing the data better than ever before and that from a driver's point of view the feedback is more accurate than ever before," Hamilton said. "That is what we are trying to focus on and making sure we get through our run plans."
There was some concern that Mercedes may lose ground this year because it didn't do as well as Ferrari with the design of the new front wings, which are part of regulation changes for this upcoming season. Red Bull, which also is using a similar front-wing design to Mercedes, had Max Verstappen fifth-quickest after 109 laps on Wednesday.
Kvyat's time of 1 minute, 17.704 seconds was the fastest of the week. Raikkonen ran the most laps with 138, one more than Kvyat, and four more than Vettel.
Williams finally made it to the track after missing the first two days of testing because of delays with its 2019 car. Rookie George Russell managed only 23 laps and was the slowest driver of the day.
"It's embarrassing not bringing a race car to a circuit when everyone else has managed to do that, particularly a team like ours that has managed to bring a race car to testing for the past 40-odd years," Williams team principal Claire Williams said. "We can only apologize."
There were three red flags on Wednesday, all prompted by problems with Haas cars.
Testing will continue through Thursday and then again from Feb. 26-March 1 at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, home to the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
The season-opening Australian GP is on March 17.
The kind of excitement and buzz that an Indo-Pak clash generates goes unabated. And if it's a World Cup game, you can only imagine the madness surrounding the epic clash between the South Asian neighbors cum arch-rivals.
During a promotional event in London, ICC World Cup tournament director Steve Elworthy revealed that the demand and craze for tickets of the Indo-Pak group league clash was way more than Australia vs England game or even the big World Cup final at the Lord’s.
“That particular game (India vs Pakistan), we had over 400,000 applications for tickets, which is an incredible number. The stadium (Old Trafford) only holds 25,000 people. So there are a number of disappointed people. That’s just locally, but (there is also) the audience globally,” Elworthy was quoted as saying by ESPN Cricinfo.
He further added, “To put that (number) in perspective, England vs Australia was around 230-240,000. And the final was around about 260-270,000 applications for tickets. So that gives you a bit of perspective for the demand for this match (India v Pakistan). It’s a big game. They could end up playing each other in the final (too), you never know.”
India and Pakistan will lock horns in Manchester on June 16 in the ICC megaevent. Ever since the Pulwama terror attack, there have been calls for canceling the Indo-Pak clash in the World Cup. Pakistan have never defeated India in a World Cup game.
Salman Butt is hoping to make a national team comeback after replacing the injured Mohammad Hafeez in the Pakistan Super League.
The left-handed opening batsman spoke in Lahore before leaving for the United Arab Emirates to represent Lahore Qalandars in the PSL.
"I really hope that if I can come good and help the team win then definitely the other things will work out," Butt said.
Hafeez was ruled out of the PSL after he fractured his right thumb against Karachi Kings last Saturday. AB de Villiers will take over as captain in his absence.
"These things always happen in life. Somebody goes down somebody comes up ... nobody can control that," Butt said. "I wish him (Hafeez) all the best in his recovery and hope he's back for Pakistan."
PSL will be Butt's most high-profile cricket event since he returned in 2016 from his five-year suspension following the spot-fixing scandal of 2010.
Butt has played 74 T20s and scored 2,278 runs at a strike rate of 113.5. He has represented Pakistan in 24 T20s, scoring 595 runs at a strike rate of 107.98.
The 34-year-old Butt made his mark on his return in 2016 when he scored a century in a National One-Day Cup and then led Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) to the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy — Pakistan's premier first-class tournament.
But selectors have overlooked Butt for the last three years with the likes of youngster Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman being drafted in the opening slots.
"Definitely I've been keeping my hard work going on," Butt said. "The thing to learn was how to keep yourself motivated throughout this long time and this long awaited call has come."
Pakistan is scheduled to play Australia and England in ODIs before the World Cup in May. Coach Mickey Arthur has already said that Pakistan will form his likely team for the World Cup after the ODI series against Australia in the UAE next month.
Jason Roy and Joe Root hit centuries to power England to its record one-day run chase on Wednesday, seeing off the West Indies by six wickets after weathering a barrage of sixes by Chris Gayle.
The tourists were given a target of 360 in the first ODI after Gayle ended his six-month exile from the team by hitting 12 sixes in a knock of 135. England's previous best pursuit was the 350 they scored against New Zealand in 2015 but Jos Buttler clipped his first ball for four to put England on 364-4 and seal a historic win with eight deliveries remaining.
Roy led England at the top of the order with 123 in 85 balls, while Root all but finished the job with a measured 102 before falling with the scores tied.
Gayle, beginning a lap-of-honor that will end with retirement after this summer's World Cup, was nearly caught when he was on just nine from 33 balls when he fended Liam Plunkett just over the grasping Roy at point.
Four balls later he struck his first six and began working through the gears, clattering four sixes from Plunkett's 14 balls at him.
Where Gayle's first 50 had occupied 76 balls, his second 50 required only 24. He celebrated the moment by dropping to his knees and hailing the pavilion before getting to his feet, balancing his maroon helmet on top of his bat.
He finally fell in the 47th over, turning a Ben Stokes slower ball into his stumps.
The England all-rounder finished with 3-37, including the wicket of Carlos Brathwaite.
Adil Rashid also took three wickets, despite being curiously held back until the 34th over, and Nurse added three late sixes to break the innings record of 22 previously held by New Zealand.
Far from being overwhelmed by the chase, Roy went after opening pair Devendra Bishoo and Oshane Thomas.
Roy's fourth ball of the day, from Bishoo, disappeared down the ground for six while both he and Jonny Bairstow used Thomas' express speed against him amid a flurry of early boundaries.
England reached 50 inside six overs and 100 in exactly 12, with Roy's focus undimmed by Bairstow's departure for 34. With Root calmly accumulating, the West Indies needed to halt Roy's charge but a top edge drifted away from Thomas in the breeze and Holder failed to grab a reaction caught-and-bowled on 82.
Roy had further luck before finally slicing Bishoo to short third man. Root put on 116 with Eoin Morgan, who made an enterprising 65, but found an equally willing accomplice in Nurse, who misread a hat trick of takeable chances to leave England's finisher in position until the closing moments.
Aakash Chopra, the former Indian opener, wants Tem India to play against Pakistan in the World Cup. According to him, it is not right to mix politics with sport. India are scheduled to play Pakistan on June 16 in Manchester.
He added that emotions are running high as the wounds of the Pulwama terror attack are fresh and there is a need to be more sensible instead of taking a call on boycotting the World Cup match against arch rivals.
"It's a question whether India should be playing against Pakistan in the World Cup or not. Do we need to answer it now? The wounds of the attack are very fresh. What has happened in Pulwama has hurt all of us. We are all pained and saddened. We will always make decisions based on emotions. But do we need to make that decision right now? I don't think we are obliged to make that decision today," Aakash Chopra told India Today on Wednesday.
"All progressed nations in the world don't mix politics with sport. They don't use sports as a vehicle to push their political agenda. I firmly believe India is a first-world country and not a third-world country. We are not a regressive nation in any way. We are a proud nation that actually is mature enough to distinguish between the two(sport and politics).
"We are already not playing bilateral cricket with them. You want to be the world champions. You want to be the best. What will be the worth of that World Cup trophy if you haven't beaten Pakistan along the way?
"Earlier, it was only cricket that was used as a vehicle to push some agenda. But right now the sentiment is fairly strong. If somebody is going to tell me, India is going to sit silent and do nothing about the attack for the next three months, then India will fail as a country. I don't think that's going to happen. A proper response will be given to Pakistan for what they have orchestrated in Indian land.
"So I think, three and half months down the line, India will be in a position to play cricket with Pakistan and beat them in the game of cricket. We are a better nation and a developed nation. India should be playing (the World Cup tie),” he added.
Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has ruled out the possibility of bilateral cricket relations between India and Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack. He is in sync with the emotions of common masses, saying he feels the same.
"Whatever happened in Pulwama last week was really sad...it is the worst possible thing that could ever happen. And, whatever reactions came from the people of India...was right. There is no chance of a bilateral series with Pakistan after this incident," Sourav Ganguly was quoted as saying by a media channel.
"I can also understand the sentiments of people asking India not to play Pakistan in the World Cup and I feel the government should take strong action on this issue. The after effect of this should be strong from India," Ganguly added.
He further added that BCCI has become powerless under the supervision of Supreme Court’s appointed committee and is not in a position to take any strong action.
"I don't think anything is left in BCCI after the Supreme Court situation. There are no office bearers left to take a decision but I feel that BCCI should take a strong decision on the issue and send a strong no nonsense message."
"This is a 10-team World Cup and every team plays every team and I feel if India doesn't play a match in the World Cup, it won't be an issue," Ganguly added.
According to him, it will be almost difficult for the ICC to hold World Cup without India.
"ICC can't go on with a World Cup without India and I feel it will be really difficult for ICC to go on with a World Cup without India. But, you also have to see if India have the power to stop ICC from doing such a thing," Ganguly said.
"But, I feel a strong message should be sent," Ganguly added.
Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, had clearly laid out the importance of resting key players especially fast bowlers in different phases of the Indian Premier League. However, the governing council of Indian cricket, has not paid any heed to his demands. According to Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) CEO Venky Mysore, they haven't received any instructions till date. MSK Prasad had said that the selectors will keep an eye on the workload of players throughout the IPL but as per KKR's CEO, they are yet to hear anything from concerned authorities.
“We have not heard any such thing from them,” Mysore was quoted as saying by Times of India, on the sidelines of a school cricket tournament final at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. “The tournament is finishing early enough this time. While the final is on May 12, India will play their first game on June 5 only. I think there is enough time. I have been around cricketers and coaches and I have seen they always feel it’s better to play competitive cricket than have net sessions.”
With general elections due at the time of IPL, KKR will have to play most of their matches away from Eden Gardens.
“There is a strong possibility of that,” Mysore said on the home games' situation. “It is the election year. But there is overwhelming support for holding all the matches in India. When BCCI sought the opinion of franchises before taking a call on the issue, I made it clear that KKR would rather play at a neutral venue in India than abroad.”
The dates for the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League have been announced by the governing council of the league. MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings will take on Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opening game of the new season. Wives of Indian cricketers have started receiving requests from fans for IPL tickets.
Pratima Singh, the better half of Ishant Sharma, shared one such hilarious incident, where she got a direct message from one of the followers regarding tickets.
She shared a screenshot of a conversation with a fan who sent her a message seeking IPL tickets.
"For the world its yey !!! IPL is coming, for cricketers and their family OMG IPL is coming !! Log Tickets le liye phone karenge (people will call for tickets, Tickets maangege (ask for tickets), tickets - tickets - tickets," she captioned the picture.
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For the world its yey !!! IPL is coming , for cricketers and their family OMG IPL is coming !! Log Tickets le liye phone karenge , Tickets maangege , tickets - tickets - tickets 😂😂😂😂 @ishant.sharma29 @divya4india @manishkumar5967 @prashantisingh @akankshasingh4 @vikrant_solanki__ @rajeev1717 @gaurav_chh 😜@anuj
Ishant Sharma will represent his state franchise Delhi Capitals in the 12th edition of the league. He had gone unsold in the last edition but was snapped up by Delhi for INR 1 crore.
Suresh Raina is all set to perform for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League. The left hand batsman was axed from the team after ODI series in England, which didn't go down well with him considering he was hitting the ball pretty well. Speaking to Times Now, Raina spoke about his ouster from the squad.
"Definitely. I was surely not expecting to be dropped because I got limited matches to play and during those matches, I did fairly well. But you know, you can’t really blame anyone for these things. I work hard, focus on my form & fitness every day. I am continuing to do my job," said Raina.
When asked about his World Cup chances, Raina didn’t rule him out of the contention.
"I have always given my best to the team I play for, be it national, domestic or IPL. And, I’ll continue to do so during any upcoming matches too, irrespective of the circumstance. But yes, who wouldn’t want to lift the World Cup twice (laughs)," he added.
Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who was bought by Mumbai Indians for INR 1 crore, is looking forward to play for the franchise under Rohit Sharma's captaincy.
Having represented Kings XI Punjab, Pune Warriors India, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the past, Mumbai Indians is Yuvraj Singh's sixth IPL outfit.
The southpaw took to twitter to ask his fans regarding what he should expect from Rohit Sharma as captain.
Rohit responded back and even tagged Netflix India to get some tips from them.
Netflix India was quick to respond. They stated that learning Indians’ ‘Duniya Hila Denge’ anthem would be enough.
Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar wants Dinesh Karthik as a backup opener at the World Cup to be played in England this year.
Dinesh Karthik was dropped from the ODI team for the upcoming ODI series against Australia, with the selectors deciding to give one more chance to Rishabh Pant before finalizing the squad.
He has been a regular member of the ODI side since Asia Cup but his mediocre performances in Australia and then in New Zealand proved fatal for him.
On the other hand, KL Rahul had a decent run against England Lions and has been included in the side as a backup opener. However, Gavaskar was not convinced and wants some flexibility in the team during the show piece event in England.
"There should be flexibility in the team. Dinesh Karthik has opened in Test matches in the past so he can do it in ODIs too," Gavaskar was quoted as saying by India Today.
Gavaskar also picked his 15-man squad preferring Dinesh Karthik over KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant.
"I have 13 names in my mind who will surely board the flight to England and they are Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav," said Sunil Gavaskar.
Vijay Shankar and Dinesh Karthik were the two remaining names.
Former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin has stated that India should boycott Pakistan at the ICC World Cup. He feels there is no need to play against Pakistan as country comes first.
The voices to forfeit the World Cup game against arch rivals are gaining momentum following terror attack on CRPF convoy. 42 security personnel were killed when an explosive-laden car rammed into one of the buses carrying soldiers.
After Harbhajan Singh’s request to BCCI, Azhar has also voiced his opinion on the matter. He said India should not play Pakistan anywhere if they have boycotted bilateral series against the neighbors.
He agreed with Bhajji that World Cup is not bigger than the country.
"If we are not playing Pakistan in bilateral series, we should not play them anywhere. I agree with Harbhajan, the World Cup cannot be bigger than the country," he was quoted as saying by India Today.
Azhar revealed that the game against Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup was full of tension as the Kargil war was on and there was fear of clashes between the two sets of spectators during the course of proceedings.
"There was tension...there was the war on. We were scared the spectators would start fighting. When we won, the soldiers celebrated. If you play Pakistan, play everywhere. Otherwise, don't play them anywhere. ICC and BCCI should resolve this quickly," said Azharuddin.
MS Dhoni's fan-following in the Indian dressing room is huge. No one is more senior and experienced than him in India's white-ball team. The former Indian skipper is the only international captain to have led his country to wins in all the major ICC events.
It is a great learning curve for youngsters in the team like Rishabh Pant, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Vijay Shankar to share the dressing room with someone like MSD. Yuzvendra Chahal opened up on how MS Dhoni is around the team and shared a few unknown things about Dhoni.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, the 27-year-old wrist-spinner said, “It is a big thing to play under Mahi bhai. Mahi bhai and I play PUBG together sometimes (laughs). Seven-eight people play PUBG for two hours. We go for dinners, [have] fun. It’s a big thing to play under Mahi bhai. He was my first captain. Whenever we need help in bowling, Kuldeep and I always ask him.”
He further added, “Whenever I feel something, I always talk to the senior players — Virat (Kohli) bhaiya, Mahi (Dhoni) bhai, Rohit (Sharma) bhaiya, Shikhar (Dhawan) bhaiya. They always help me. When Virat bhaiya is not there, I always [speak to] Rohit bhaiya and ask him what to do and what not to do.”
Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has called for a ban in cricket ties with arch-rivals Pakistan. The country is still reeling after Pulwama terror attack took away lives of 40 CRPF soldiers. India and Pakistan do not play bilateral cricket anymore but now there are question marks on their meeting in ICC Cricket World Cup as well, which will take place in few months' time in England and Wales.
"I cannot make any comment [on cricket issues] except to say those who are demanding it have some justification. You can see many films and concerts have been cancelled. Things are not normal. If things are not normal, the jhappiyan-pappiyan (hugs and kisses) issues have always been there," Prasad told India Today.
"Since it's an international tournament, the ICC and our Indian cricket board (BCCI) have to take a call after consideration with our security establishment.
"But I don't wish away their concern. It's time to say no. Mr Imran Khan had no word of condolence for those who were killed," he said.
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