Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Brussels hit by explosions at Zaventem airport and metro station!

Brussels is in lockdown after explosions at an airport and metro station, with reports of multiple casualties.
Two explosions struck Zaventem airport and a separate blast hit a metro station near European Union buildings in the Belgian capital shortly after.

The Belgian prosecutor confirmed that the airport explosions were caused by a suicide attack. All flights were cancelled, arriving planes were being diverted and Belgium’s terror alert was raised to its maximum level. Security was also tightened at all Paris airports.

The explosions took place in the departure hall at about 8am local time. TV pictures showed people fleeing the terminal, while smoke billowed from the roof of the building. A false ceiling collapsed, causing lots of dust and smoke. The airport has been closed and people advised not to travel to the area.

One witness, Gil Durand, told Le Soir that the first explosion occurred in the departure lounge, followed by another a few seconds later. “The ambulances arrived slowly, people were evacuated, there was a lot of smoke,” she said. She added that many of the injured were wearing the uniforms of Brussels airport and Brussels Airlines.

Controls have been stepped up at Charleroi airport, about 46km south of Brussels.
Rescue workers set up a makeshift treatment centre in a local pub near the entrance to the Maelbeek metro station, not far from the headquarters of the European Union.

Dazed and shocked commuters streamed from the metro entrances as police tried to set up a security cordon.

Britain called a meeting of its crisis response committee, as international travel security measures were stepped up. The Dutch military strengthened security at airports and borders and London’s major airports said they were working to provide a high police presence.

European security officials have been braced for a major attack for weeks, and warned that Islamic State was actively preparing. The arrest of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam in Brussels last week heightened those fears. Investigators said many people involved in the November attacks that killed 130 people were still on the loose.

After Abdeslam was arrested, Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders said authorities learned he had created a new network around him and had access to several weapons, though there was no immediate indication that he or the Islamic State group had any involvement in Tuesday’s attacks.

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Saturday, 19 March 2016

Survival at stake as India take on Pakistan!

Jolted by the shock loss to New Zealand in the opening game, India will be fighting a survival battle quite early in the tournament when they take on arch-rivals Pakistan in what is being seen as the marquee clash of the ICC World T20 in Kolkata.

The hosts, who started clear title-favorites, were in for a blow in the first match itself when New Zealand's spinners bamboozled their famed batting line-up on a turning Nagpur track. 

As a result, the World No. 1 side is staring at an early elimination should it lose to Pakistan in the high-voltage today at the Eden Gardens.

As is the case with most Indo-pak contests, this game too has been preceded by its share of drama.

The match was originally scheduled to be held in Dharamshala but was shifted here after the Himachal Pradesh government expressed inability to provide security to the Pakistan team owing to protests by ex-servicemen and their families.

Next was the delay in Pakistan's arrival due security concerns but the side eventually relented after repeated assurances from BCCI, CAB and West Bengal government.

The political undercurrents aside, the game assumes immense significance for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men after the opening loss.

Pakistan on the other hand, would look to break the jinx of never beating India in an ICC event and they would be buoyed by the comprehensive win over Bangladesh in the tournament-opener.

However, dubbed the most unpredictable team in the world for a good reason, Pakistan wilt under pressure every time they meet India in an ICC world event.

Given the record, India do have the edge on paper and the team's undire-fire batsmen will look redeem themselves after their capitulation against the Kiwis while chasing a modest 127.

However, Pakistand also did splendid job in brushing aside the off-field furore which was triggered by skipper Shahid Afridi's comments that his players get more love here than back home.

With a legal notice on the skipper back home, it was the worse that could have happened to the 2009 champions who were already short on match practice and suffered early elimination in the recently concluded Asia Cup.

But Afridi led by example with a 19-ball 49 and followed it up with his 2/27 in their huge 55-run win over Bangladesh.

Given the circumstances, it is hard to pick a favorite  but the stage is perfectly set for an enthralling contest which is to be played to a full house.

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Friday, 18 March 2016

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Resolute Root helps England script record World T20 chase!

In what turned out to be a remarkable run chase, England defeated South Africa by two wickets to stay alive in the ICC World T20 at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai today. Chasing a mammoth 230 runs, Joe Root slammed a brilliant 83(44b, 6*4, 4*6) as England held their nerve to upset the South Africans. England needed a good start and their openers did exactly the same as they smoked the white ball all over the park.

The fifty was up by the end of second over as Jason Roy and Alex Hales punctured the South African opening bowling pair of Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn. Roy(43, 16b, 5*4, 3*6) was severe on the bowlers as England were off to a dream start.

Although South Africa was successful in removing the openers, Root with a positive mindset continued the charge as the others chipped in with quick runs.

Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan and Jose Buttler all played short yet effective cameos as Southe Africa were up for a leather hunt. A resolute Root was at his very best as he dispatched the South African bowlers all-round the park.

Batting with a most matured head, Root anchored a magnificent run chase as England kept their chances alive in this World Cup. Anything short was dispatched over the mid-wicket and anything full was driven down and over the ground as South Africa failed to stop the run flow.

The start was crucial for England and having got the platform, Root and co. expressed on a batting paradise to flatten the South Africans.

Earlier, Quinton De Kock and Hashim Amla struck half centuries at the top while JP Duminy provided the late assault as South Africa posted a massive 229/4.

England were on the receiving end of a brutal onslaught from West Indies opener Chris Gayle during wednesday's defeat when their spinners struggled to grip the wet ball and that prompted captain Eoin Morgan to field after winning the toss.

But Amla(58) and De Kock(52) continued to torment the English bowlers, plundering 96 runs of 7 overs during an explosive opening stand.

South Africa, one of the favorites to win the tournament, opted to use Amla and De Kock as openers and it proved to be the right decision from the onset.

De Kock, who thrashed David Willey for 20 in the 3rd over hit seven fours and three sixes during his 24-ball knock before he fell to off-spinner Moeen Ali.

Amla, who was dropped on nine by Reece Topley of Ali, hit an identical number of boundaries before falling to the off-spinner.

Duminy(54 not out) and David Miller(28 not out) provided the finishing touches for South Africa with an unbroken 5th wicket stand of 60.

England paceman Chris Jordan conceded four fours and a six in the fifth over and finished with figures of 0-49 in three overs. Topley  gave away 33 runs in his two overs.

At the end of the first half, the England fans felt they were let down. However, at the end, Root emerged as their hero who saved England from being knocked out.