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Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo Hitting Top Gear Ahead Of Atletico Clash

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Real Sociedad winger Takefusa Kubo has waited a long time to make good on his potential but finally he is shining in La Liga ahead of Atletico Clash. The Japan international has scored four goals in his last four league games and is the Basque team’s key figure ahead of the visit to face Atletico Madrid on Sunday. Imanol Alguacil’s side have plenty of other dangerous weapons, including Brais Mendez, Mikel Oyarzabal and Mikel Merino, but Kubo is playing particularly well. With victory on Sunday La Real, fifth, could overtake Atletico and climb into fourth place, which is where they finished last season to qualify for the Champions League.

Atletico are in formidable form after a convincing derby win over rivals and league leaders Real Madrid and two impressive comeback wins over Cadiz and Feyenoord, the latter in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Real Sociedad have started well in Europe themselves, dominating last season runners-up Inter Milan albeit in a draw before pocketing a 2-0 win at Salzburg on Tuesday.

Kubo has five strikes in La Liga, with only Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham ahead of him on six.

The 22-year-old’s most recent came in the 3-0 Basque derby win over Athletic Bilbao which cemented La Real’s status as the region’s current best side.

Kubo celebrated in humourous fashion, appearing to pull up injured before breaking out into a “twerk” dance move.

Athletic defender Yuri Berchiche twice clipped him around the head as he jogged back for the restart.

“I was calmly going back to my own half and I was hit twice, I realised it was Yuri who was very angry,” said Kubo.

“I didn’t want to get involved … if I go down there it’s probably a red, but I didn’t want to.”

The winger has become known for his honest post-match interviews, which he conducts in a chatty and jovial demeanour.

If circumstances had been slightly different, Kubo could be at one of Spain’s traditional big two.

Barcelona brought him to La Masia at age 10, before the club were hit with a punishment for breaking rules in the signing of youth players.

Kubo was forced to leave, heading back to Japan, and was eventually signed by Real Madrid in 2019.

Los Blancos loaned him to Mallorca, Getafe and Villarreal, where he did not find much success, and eventually sold him to Real Sociedad in 2022.

Kubo has said he saw La Real as a last chance to make it at the top level and grasped it with both hands.

The visit to the Metropolitano will be another opportunity to showcase his status as one of La Liga’s best players, after a complicated climb to the summit.

Real Madrid host Osasuna on Saturday looking to extend their one-point advantage on champions Barcelona, who visit lowly Granada on Sunday.

La Liga’s top goalscorer Bellingham continued his superb form by helping Los Blancos snatch a 3-2 win at Napoli on Tuesday in the Champions League.

Girona, third, face Cadiz in Andalucia where they hope to bounce back from the 3-0 defeat by Real Madrid last weekend which brought them down to earth after they topped the table.

Player to watch: Inaki WilliamsThe Ghana international forward has started the season in fine form, showing the finishing quality he has not always produced so consistently. He has scored three times in his last four games. Williams will look to keep filling his boots on Friday against bottom side Almeria.

Key stats2 – Betis teenager Assane Diao, 18, is the youngest player to score on each of his first two La Liga starts in the 21st century

16 – Rayo Vallecano full-back Alfonso Espino has completed more tackles than any other player

95.4 – Barcelona centre-back Andreas Christensen holds the best pass completion percentage in the top flight

Fixtures

Friday

Athletic Bilbao v Almeria

Saturday

Cadiz v Girona, Real Madrid v Osasuna, Real Mallorca v Valencia, Sevilla v Rayo Vallecano

Sunday

Villarreal v Las Palmas, Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad, Alaves v Real Betis, Celta Vigo v Getafe, Granada v Barcelona

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Smriti Mandhana Gifts Wheelchair-Bound Girl Mobile Phone After India Match In Asia Cup

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Smriti Mandhana (right) with a differently-abled girl.© X/@OfficialSLC




In a heartwarming gesture, star India batter Smriti Mandhana gifted a wheelchair-bound girl a mobile phone after the team’s match at the ongoing women’s T20 Asia Cup tournament in Dambulla. Adeesha Herath, who came to the stadium escorted by her mother in a wheelchair, experienced a pleasant surprise as Mandhana came to meet her and presented her a phone. “Adeesha Herath’s love for cricket brought her to the stadium, despite all the challenges. The highlight of her day? A surprise encounter with her favourite cricketer, Smriti Mandhana, who handed her a mobile phone as a token of appreciation,” Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said in a tweet.

In the video posted along with the tweet, Mandhana was heard asking the girl her name.

“You like cricket, that is nice. You enjoyed today’s match. I have brought a gift for you from all of us,” Mandhana told the girl, before having a high-five with her and posing for a photograph.

The girl’s mother said it was an unexpected gift.

“We came to watch the match unexpectedly, as my daughter wanted to go for the match. We met Mandhana madam from Indian team and my daughter received a phone from her. It was unexpected and my daughter is so lucky to receive this gift from her,” she said.

India beat arch rivals Pakistan by seven wickets on Friday in their opening match. They are up against United Arab Emirates on Sunday.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Sri Lanka Beat Bangladesh By 7 Wickets In Women’s T20 Asia Cup

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Hosts Sri Lanka started their campaign in the Women’s T20 Asia Cup on a positive note, beating Bangladesh by seven wickets in Dambulla on Saturday. After restricting Bangladesh to a modest 111 for eight, Sri Lanka completed the task with 17 balls to spare, reaching 114/3 in 17.1 overs. Opting to bat first, Bangladesh were off to a disastrous start and lost three wickets with just six runs on the board. It soon became 17/4, and then 48/5, before skipper Nigar Sultana steadied the sinking ship with a 48-run knock that came off 59 balls and included six boundaries.

Down the order, Shorna Akter contributed a brisk 14-ball 25 as Bangladesh crossed 100.

Udeshika Prabodhani (2/20) and Inoshi Priyadharshani (2/17) grabbed two wickets each for Sri Lanka, while there was one apiece for Sugandika Kumari, Kavisha Dilhari and Chamari Athapaththu.

As far as Sri Lanka batting was concerned, opener Vishmi Gunaratne was the highest scorer with 51 off 48 balls, hitting seven fours and a six in her knock.

Harshitha Samarawickrama chipped in with 33 in 31 balls and got out with her team on the doorstep of victory.

Nahida Akter was the best bowler for Bangladesh, finishing with fine figures of 3/12 in her quota of four overs.

Thailand defeat Malaysia

In the day’s first match, Thailand got the better of Malaysia by 22 runs.

Batting first, Thailand posted 133 for six after wicketkeeper Nannapat Koncharoenkai top-scored with a 35-ball 40, while Phannita Maya chipped in with 29 in 28 deliveries.

Mahirah Izzati Ismail was the most successful bowler for Malaysia, returning excellent figures of 3/16 in four overs.

Mahirah’s effort, however, went in vain as Thailand restricted their opponents to 111 for eight in the allotted 20 overs, despite a half century from opener Wan Julia (52 off 53 balls).

Captain Winifred Duraisingam made 22 in 28 balls at the top of the order while being associated in a 68-run first-wicket partnership with Julia.

The Malaysian batting, however, collapsed after that as Thailand produced a disciplined show with the ball to emerge victorious.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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“Very Slim Chances”: Ex-Pakistan Board Chief’s Blunt Admission On India Travelling For Champions Trophy

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File photo of an India vs Pakistan match© AFP




Former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Khalid Mahmood believes India will not travel to Pakistan for the ICC Champions Trophy early next year. “They are very very slim chances they will agree to play in Pakistan,” Mahmood, who is a retired senior bureaucrat, said. He, however, said that if India doesn’t visit Pakistan, it would be a non-profitable deal for PCB and the ICC.

“India is the richest cricket board and carries a lot of clout. If they don’t send their team to Pakistan I foresee even countries like Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh following their path,” Mahmood said.

“This would basically reduce the Champions Trophy into a venture where revenues will take a hit, expenses will grow and profits would fall,” Mahmood, who twice went to India in 1989 and 1999 as Pakistan’s junior and senior team manager, said.

Mahmood said that PCB should just follow their policy of not mixing sports and politics.

“Look the thing is at this level you can only lobby and try to convince other boards to be on your side. India has too much clout in the ICC it would do no good for Pakistan to adopt a tit for tat strategy.” “Thing is when the BCCI says it can’t send its team and will play its matches outside Pakistan, it does reduce the purpose for Pakistan of hosting an ICC event,” he added.

The Champions Trophy is scheduled to be held from February 19 to March 9 next year.

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