ROUND-UP: Liverpool win; Pirelli tyres; Lasitskene’s utterances; Pandya’s return; and Test in Pakistan

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International Round-up: Liverpool win to reach Champions League last 16; Teams unanimously reject Pirelli 2020 tyres; Pakistan ready to welcome back Test cricket; Demand for Tokyo 2020 tickets unprecedented, says IPC Chief; Russian champion blames own authorities over Olympic ban; and Hardik Pandya targets comeback against New Zealand.

FOOTBALL: Liverpool win to reach Champions League last 16

Defending champions Liverpool reached the Champions League last 16 as Group E winners thanks to two second-half goals against Red Bull Salzburg.

The Reds, who needed at least a point to progress, were on the ropes at times against attacking opposition.

But from the moment Naby Keita headed in Sadio Mane’s cross, there was only going to be one winner.

Mohamed Salah clinched victory 100 seconds later with an excellent finish from a tight angle.

Jurgen Klopp’s side needed the three points to top the group after Napoli beat Genk 4-0. (BBC Sport)

The decision to stick with the 2019 models is a blow both to Pirelli and F1

F1: Teams unanimously reject Pirelli 2020 tyres

Formula 1 teams have unanimously rejected the tyres proposed by supplier Pirelli for the 2020 season.

The Italian company had hoped the new design would be a step forward in plans to introduce less sensitive tyres, on which drivers can push and race harder.

But at a test in Abu Dhabi last week, teams preferred the 2019 tyres.

A statement from governing body the FIA said: “The lessons learned will be invaluable for the further improvement of the tyres in the future.”

Pirelli was not immediately able to comment.

The decision to stick with the 2019 models is a blow both to Pirelli and F1 in their plans to produce tyres that are more raceable than those that have been used in recent years.

The drivers, under their representative organisation the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GDPA), have been pushing for the tyres to be made more durable so they can push flat out and race harder than they have so far been able to in the Pirelli era. (BBC Sport)

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan is hopeful the series against Sri Lanka will reignite fans’ love for the sport

CRICKET: Pakistan ready to welcome back Test cricket

“This series is for the whole of Pakistan. It’s waited a long time and seen a lot of pain and heartache. It’s a celebration for our nation.”

As Test cricket returns to the country for the first time in a decade, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan is hopeful the series against Sri Lanka will reignite fans’ love for the sport.

“This is such a momentous moment,” Khan told BBC Sport. “It really is like a religion over here.”

The first Test of the two-match series, which forms part of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) World Test Championship, begins on Wednesday in Rawalpindi.

Pakistan have not played a Test on home soil since the Sri Lanka team bus was ambushed by gunmen in Lahore on 3 March 2009, when six policemen and two civilians died and several Sri Lanka players and coaches were injured.

There will be a strong security presence in Rawalpindi, in the north of Pakistan, this week with armed police patrolling the stadium. (BBC Sport)

About 600,000 tickets were allocated during the first lottery

TOKYO 2020: Demand for tickets unprecedented, says IPC Chief

There have been more than three million requests for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics tickets via the first lottery phase, three times the demand seen a year out from the London 2012 event which went on to post record sales, Paralympics chief Andrew Parsons has said.

London is seen as the benchmark for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in terms of interest in the Games with a record total of 2.7 million tickets sold.

“We have some very good numbers on ticket sales,” IPC President Parsons told Reuters on Tuesday.

“We had 3.1 million ticket requests. It is an unprecedented number, three times more than in London (one year from the start of Games) and London was the most successful Paralympic Games so far.

“(This) shows the appetite that Japanese society has for the Olympic Games next year.”

About 600,000 tickets were allocated during the first lottery. In Tokyo 2020’s bid for the Games, organizers said there would only be 2.3 million tickets for the Paralympics but organizers are hopeful more tickets will be made available. (Reuters)

Russian high jump world champion Maria Lasitskene

ATHLETICS: Russian champion blames own authorities over Olympic ban

Russian high jump world champion Maria Lasitskene on Tuesday accused her country’s own sports authorities of failing to protect athletes from the deepening doping crisis, in a rare public broadside at top officials. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday handed Russia a new, this time four-year, ban from top global sporting events, including the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 soccer World Cup, for tampering with laboratory data.

The ruling means Russian athletes cleared to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will do so under a neutral flag. But Lasitskene and some other Russian track and field athletes face additional obstacles to being cleared for competition.

“I’ve already missed one Olympics and one and a half years of international competition,” Lasitskene wrote in an open letter addressed to Russia’s sports authorities.

“And it seems that’s not the end of it. So who ultimately is to blame? Who’s going to give me back what I’ve lost?” she wrote in the letter published on Russian sports media outlet Championat.Com.

Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation, which has been suspended for doping since 2015, and has been one of the few Russian athletes to voice her anger publicly. (Reuters)

Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya

CRICKET: Hardik Pandya targets comeback against New Zealand

Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya is targeting an international return during the tour of New Zealand which begins in the last week of January 2020. Pandya, who underwent back surgery in October, indicated that, as per the plan worked out with India’s team management, he is scheduled to join the squad “midway” into the New Zealand series, then feature in the IPL, and then be ready for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October 2020.

Speaking to a small group of media persons over conference call, Pandya pointed out why he and the team management felt delaying the surgery was not an option. “We decided to do the surgery now because we saw the future and thought this is the right time,” IANS quoted Pandya as saying.

“We thought this was the right time because even if I take four months, I will be coming back before the New Zealand series, mid-way actually. That was the plan that I play some international games, the IPL and then the World T20. The biggest concern was the World T20 which touch wood is now in place.” (ESPNCricinfo)

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