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England’s highest wicket-taking spinner Underwood dies at 78 – ARN News Centre

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Former England bowler Derek Underwood has died at the age of 78, his former team Kent County Cricket Club said on Monday.

Underwood played 86 test matches for England and took 297 wickets, the country’s highest wicket-taking spinner of all time in the format and the sixth highest wicket-taker overall. His 16-year international career includes 17 five-wicket hauls.

The retrospective ICC rankings put him as the world’s number one bowler for nearly four years between 1969 and 1973.

Underwood, born in Kent, played for his local club for 24 years before retiring in 1987 and had 10 seasons where he took 100 or more wickets.

“Watching Derek weave his unique magic on a wet wicket was a privilege for all who were able to witness it,” Simon Philip, chair of Kent Cricket, said in a statement.

“His induction into the ICC Hall of Fame shows the esteem in which he was held in world cricket.”

Underwood also served as the president of Kent Cricket and the Marylebone Cricket Club after retiring as a player.

“Derek also made substantial contributions off the field as well as on it and he will be sorely missed by everyone at Kent Cricket,” Philip added.

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World League of Fighters announces grand launch in Bangkok: Winners to secure golden tickets to UAE’s inaugural season

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The World League of Fighters (WLF), the first-of-its-kind franchise based league-styled Muay Thai tournament, announced the grand launch ceremony for the inaugural season on June 1st at the prestigious Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok. Sticking to the league’s ideology of sportainment, the mega launch event will offer the audiences mesmerising live musical performances from some of the renowned artists along with an action-packed fight night comprising of five intense bouts to mesmerise the local Muay Thai fans.

To further capture the imagination of the audiences all around the world, the launch ceremony will be held at the highly popular the New Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, in Bangkok, Thailand. Currently owned and run by the Royal Thai Army, the Stadium is regarded as the symbol of modern Muay Thai, and is frequented by the fans who pack the stadium in large numbers each week to witness thrilling fights.

The grand event will be attended by Mr. Rajesh Banga, Chairman World League of Fighters, Mr. Rahul Saxena, President World League of Fighters, Mr. Sunil Mathew, Co-Founder World League of Fighters, Mr. Nilesh Pundir, Co-Founder of World League of Fighters, along with President WBC Muay Thai, Colonel Thanapol Bhakdibhumi. Mr. Samer Al Suojhayer, Co-Founder and Head of Operations WLF Asia, Mr. Kevin P. Noone, Secretary General WBC Muay Thai, and Mr. Fouad Darwish Ceo & Managing Director of Palms Sports will also be present to witness the spectacle.

To kick start the exciting Muay Thai action, USA’s Matt baker will face off against Azerbaijan’s Rauf Gerayzade in the Cruiserweight bout, while Thailand’s own Satanfah Sitsongpeenong will take on Iran’s Mohammad Sirasani in the Middleweight fight. India’s Surya Sagar will vie for a win when he takes on Lithuania’s Deividas Danyla in Welterweight match, and Russia’s Dana Begzhanova will also be in action against Spain’s Alba Morral in the Women’s Featherweight bout. The winners of the four bouts will get a Golden Ticket to the inaugural season of the World League of Fighters which will take place in Abu Dhabi later this year. The Muay Thai action will close with the Headline Contest between Kazakhstan’s Ali Kabdulla and Armenia’s Martun Mezhlumyan in a 170 Pound Catchweight contest.

To further add to the spectacle, the fans will get a chance to groove along with the biggest Thai pop sensation Kratae Rsiam, who recently opened Bruno Mars’ concert in Bangkok, and will be performing live at the launch ceremony. The renowned local musical artist Tong Twopee, who has garnered a cult-like following on social media, will also be performing live for the audience in attendance.

Speaking on the upcoming Launch event, Mr. Rajesh Banga, Chairman World League of Fighters said, “The Launch event in Bangkok is a tiny teaser of the extravaganza that we will be presenting to the world with the inaugural season of World League of Fighters. We are bringing a revolution to the world of combat sports, and we are confident our vision will resonate with the global masses. The Launch event will not only give the fans a chance to enjoy live Muay Thai fights, but also allow them to engage with live musical performances. We are grateful to WBC Muay Thai for their constant support and for the Thailand and Bangkok government authorities for allowing us to showcase our vision at the Mecca of Muay Thai – the New Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.”

WLF partnered with World Boxing Council Muay Thai last year to revolutionise the sport of Muay Thai and spread its reach across the globe. This is the first time in the Combat Sport World, a franchise-based league-style tournament is being organised featuring 20 of the world’s best male and female Muay Thai fighters. The renowned international combat sports stars will be divided into 4 franchises that will compete against each other in a round-robin format, to claim the Coveted WLF * WBC Title Belt.

President WBC Muay Thai, Colonel Thanapol Bhakdibhumi, added: “It is about time the adrenaline-pumping sport of Muay Thai gets a revamp. A league-styled competition of such magnitude is a celebration will boost the popularity of the sport and expand its reach beyond horizon. The upcoming Launch event is a moment of celebration for all Muay Thai fans, aficionados, trainers, and fighters not only in Thailand, but all around the globe, and we want to give them a show that they will never ever forget. The mingling of Muay Thai with entertainment is an unprecedented chapter in the history of combat sports and we cannot wait to present a glimpse of what is in store for the fans.”

The event is slated to take place in UAE in September.

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DP World ILT20 Season 3 to begin on January 2025

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Season 3 of the DP World International League T20 will begin from Saturday, 11 January 2025. The 34-match tournament will run for a month with the final to be played on Sunday, 9 February 2025.

The Season 3 window announcement comes at the back of a hugely successful Season 2 (2024) which concluded with the MI Emirates lifting the iconic DP World ILT20 trophy in front of a capacity crowd at the Dubai International Stadium in the final played on 17 February 2024.

The broadcast numbers for Season 2 received a major boost with a total of 348 million unique viewers from around the world via the tournament broadcast rights holders Zee Network’s linear and online platforms and their broadcast syndication partners in different territories.

Season 2 also saw a major increase in crowds across the three tournament venues Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. There was a phenomenal increase in crowd numbers across the three venues, with a cumulative increase of nearly 300% in comparison to Season 1.

Season 3 will once again provide the spectators at the three stadiums and fans from around the world – on linear and online Zee Network’s broadcast platforms and partners platforms’ – enthralling cricket action with a line-up of world-class T20 talent and exciting entertainment offerings for fans from all age groups.

DP World ILT20 CEO David White: “We are delighted to confirm the window for DP World International League T20 Season 3. The window has been finalised after discussions with our stakeholders. We have begun our preparations for Season 3 with an aim of making the league even bigger and better.

“Season 2 was a massive success in terms of all relevant metrics’ and helped further strengthen the league’s reputation, making it one of the most sought after T20 leagues for players, fans and broadcasters from around the world. Having considered all aspects, the January-February window for Season 3 has turned out to be the most suitable.

“The DP World ILT20 is also proving to be a successful platform for the development of the UAE players as seen in their recent outstanding performance in the ACC Premier Cup in Oman which helped them qualify for the prestigious Asia Cup (2025, T20 format) for the first time in eight years. Most of the players who excelled in Oman had gained invaluable experience and exposure in Season 2. 

“The cricket fans in the UAE and those who travel to our wonderful destinations Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah from across the globe will have a lot to look forward to in Season 3. We have a series of exciting announcements lined-up as our six world-class franchises and their coaching staff put their heads together for retention of players while eyeing new local and international talent for Season 3 signings.”

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Dubai to host inaugural Basketball Champions League 2024

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In a landmark agreement unveiled at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) exhibition held at the Dubai World Trade Centre, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Regional Office Asia and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai have officially announced their partnership to host the highly anticipated Basketball Champions League Asia 2024. The ceremonial signing, attended by Mr. Hagop Khajirian, FIBA Executive Director Asia, and Majid Sultan, Executive Director of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, marks a significant milestone in the world of basketball. Also present was Mr. Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), part of the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, emphasizing the strategic importance of this collaboration. This partnership sets the stage for an electrifying championship experience, showcasing the dynamic fusion of sport and culture in Dubai.

Last week, FIBA Regional Office Asia awarded the hosting rights of the inaugural Basketball Champions League Asia to the city of Dubai, underscoring its status as a premier destination for sporting events of international acclaim.

Expressing his enthusiasm for the upcoming tournament, Mr. Khajirian stated, “This club competition in Asia boasts a rich history and tradition, yet this year’s edition holds special significance as it marks the debut of the rebranded Basketball Champions League Asia. It represents another strategic milestone in fulfilling FIBA’s objective of reshaping the landscape of international club competitions.“

I am thrilled and eagerly anticipating the tip-off in Dubai. For this, I want to extend my gratitude to Shabab Al Ahli Dubai and the UAE Basketball Association for their support and facilitation in organizing this inaugural edition in Dubai, he added.

“We at Shabab Al-Ahli Club are delighted to host the inaugural edition of the Basketball Champions League Asia. The trust bestowed upon us by FIBA Regional Office Asia  underscores Dubai’s stature as a premier destination for athletes and sporting events. With our outstanding infrastructure and talented team, we embrace the challenge and pledge to deliver an extraordinary edition.” said Mr. Sultan.

“I want to thank the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai for their invaluable cooperation and support in unveiling the BCL Asia 2024 hosting agreement contract signing at the Arabian Travel Market. This partnership not only captures the spotlight among attendees, exhibitors, and media but also underscores the synergy between event organizers and the host city, amplifying anticipation for the upcoming tournament and nurturing industry bonds. We appreciate the Department’s ongoing assistance in ensuring the success of the event, he added.
Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), said: “Our commitment to bringing world-class international sporting events to Dubai aligns with the strategic goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, to further consolidate Dubai’s position as a leading global city for business and leisure.  Sport is a central pillar in our tourism and events ecosystem, and the Basketball Champions League Asia 2024, which further strengthens Dubai’s year-round international sports calendar, is set to attract spectators from around the world, as well as appealing to basketball fans among our resident population. As Dubai looks forward to hosting this championship for the first time, we are confident it will be a resounding success, delivering an exceptional experience to players and spectators alike, and further highlighting Dubai’s position as an international events destination.”

Slated to be played from 9 to 15 June, the inaugural edition of Asia’s top-tier club competition will feature 8 champion clubs from 8 Asian countries. Two of these eight teams, Pelita Jaya Basketball (Indonesia) and NS Matrix Deers (Malaysia), have already secured their spots through the recently concluded BCL Asia Qualifiers. Two additional spots will be secured by the finalists of the FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) Final 8.

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