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Leaders of Afghanistan and India Vow to Deepen Cooperation in Fighting Terrorism

India is funding several infrastructure-related projects in war-ravaged Afghanistan

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Islamic Terrorism worldwide. Wikimedia Commons
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The leaders of Afghanistan and India have vowed to continue their joint efforts to “overcome terror and extremism” facing the two nations.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the resolve Monday during a video conference inaugurating the newly-restored Storay (Star) Palace, which is the office of the Afghan president in Kabul.

Lack of proper maintenance and decades of war damaged the nearly century-old building, which is seen as a symbol of Afghanistan’s foreign diplomacy. India’s government funded the nearly $6-million restoration project.

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“Let me assure the people of Afghanistan that in your quest to build a prosperous Afghanistan and to bring peace, security, and stability to your society, the 1.25 billion people of India will always be on your side,” Modi told the video audience.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

India is funding several infrastructure-related projects in war-ravaged Afghanistan. It has poured around $2 billion into Afghan reconstruction efforts, making it one of the largest donors to the war-ravaged nation.

In June, Afghanistan and India inaugurated the nearly $300-million Salma Friendship Dam in western Herat province. New Delhi also funded the construction of a new Afghan parliament building at a cost of $90-million that Ghani and Modi jointly inaugurated last December.

“Friends, Afghanistan is a close friend. Our societies and people have had age-old ties and links. It, therefore, saddens us to see that your proud nation continues to be challenged by externally sponsored instruments and entities of violence and terror,” Modi said in a veiled reference to rival Pakistan.

Afghan leaders allege Pakistani security institutions are covertly supporting the Taliban insurgency to try to retain their influence over affairs of the neighboring country and curtail India’s growing influence in Afghanistan. India also blames Pakistan for being behind terrorist activities on its soil.

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Addressing Monday’s ceremony, President Ghani thanked New Delhi for helping in the Afghan reconstructions efforts, saying it has strengthened historical bonds between the two countries.

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“We are decisive to show that we are ready to spare no effort in protecting peace, overcome terror and extremism and work for the prosperity and happiness of our nations,” vowed the Afghan president.

“This is not only a victory of two nations, Afghanistan and India, but also a victory of friendship over animosity, a victory of cooperation over sabotage, a victory of building over destruction and a victory of wisdom and foresight over superficiality and fanaticism,” Ghani added.

India’s growing ties with Afghanistan have raised concerns in Pakistan. Officials in Islamabad recently accused New Delhi of using Afghan soil for terrorist attacks, particularly in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan. India denies the charges.

India and Afghanistan’s relationship expanded under former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, which strained Kabul’s ties with Islamabad.

After assuming office in September 2014, Ghani took a political gamble by putting distance between Afghanistan and India as a confidence building measure with Pakistan.

But Ghani has publicly complained Pakistan has not reciprocated his overtures, blaming Islamabad for intensified insurgent attacks across Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies Ghani’s assertions and says it is working for peace and stability in Afghanistan because it is linked to Pakistani security and stability. (IANS)

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Cricket madness in Chicago

People sacrifice other chores just to enjoy this beautiful game and to keep it alive in countries outside India where cricket is not a major sport.

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Cricket has become a popular sport in Chicago. Around 900 people play the game in the windy city.

By West Loop Cricket Association, Chicago

WLCA Working Committee

Hari Mohan, Harshavardhna Hedge, Kunal Tembhurne, Niranjan Kulkarni, Saurabh Nigam, Shreenidhi Bharadwaj, Shekar Reddy Palla, Shwetabh Gaurav, Sunil Saini, Vivek Sarkar

About:

Cricket is more a religion, less a sport in India. People are obsessed with the sport and magnitude of love cannot be defined in words.

In the United States, Baseball, Basketball and Soccer are obviously more popular. However, Cricket has a strong presence due to the passion and love of Indians for the game. The Indian community in USA avidly plays and promotes cricket and, in the process comes closer to each other.

 

Cricket
The tournament played between Chicago Centaurs and Arrigo Avengers.

 

The passion for the game is unreal in USA too. Working men enjoy the sport in their free time. They even book grounds (baseball/soccer grounds) to practice and conduct tournament matches. The players are from all backgrounds – students, businessmen, lawyers, IT professionals to doctors. They all take out time out of their busy schedules and come together to rejoice the gentleman’s game in the windy city.

Tournaments in Chicago

As cricket has a strong presence in Chicago, many friendly yet competitive tournaments are conducted by cricket fanatics to keep the game alive.

Chicagotwenty20 tournament

Chicagotwenty20 is the oldest cricket tournament that was conducted in Chicago. It’s first season took place in 2009 and the tenth season was played in 2018. The league is played in 20 overs format. 56 teams participate from Chicago and are divided into groups 4 with 14 teams in each group.  Each team has a squad of 16 players with 11 playing and rest 5 as extras. Each team has a home ground. 7 matches are played at home ground and the rest at the opponent’s ground. The top eight teams from each group are qualified for the quarter finals. The tournament is almost four months long. The best player of the winning team is awarded the man of the match in every match. Best Batsman, Best bowler, MVP ( most valuable player) awards are given at the end of the season.

The 2018 season was won by team Yorkers. The Best Batsman, Highest score and the MVP award was given to Mr Pavan Shetty of team Yorkers, who scored 418 runs. The best bowler award was given to Sivakumar for taking 27 wickets.

 

Cricket
This is the team who connected via the meetup link which has more than 300 members.

 

WLCA Super 8 tournament

WLCA (West Loop Cricket Association, Chicago) was formed by four IT professionals in 2016 with the sole objective of promoting the game of cricket in Chicago City area. Based out of vibrant and affluent Chicago West Loop, WLCA is an assemblage of 300+ cricket players. These cricket enthusiasts come from different walks of life being corporate professionals, UIC/IIT students and local businessmen. There are hundreds of followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

WLCA mainly involve in:

  • Organize annual cricket tournament
  • Coordinate weekly cricket games in different Chicago City park locations
  • Coordinating friendly games with other known Chicago Suburban teams
  • WLCA team represented Chicago City in other Chicagoland tournaments including Chicago T20 League and Soha Cup
  • Maintaining and making available Cricket Equipment Kit free of cost to playing group

The WLCA hosts Super 8 Cricket tournament which started in 2017 by the West Loop cricket association (WLCA). It is played under the format of 8 overs and 8 players in each team. This concept of tournament was the first to be launched by WLCA in Chicago. This is the shortest time-consuming format (2 days) and the played at the heart of Chicago Downtown. The first season was extremely successful (12 teams) and participating teams called out as the best organized cricket tournament amongst many happening in Chicago.

Season 2 played in 2018 organized by WLCA had 16 teams divided into four groups with four teams in each group. The semi-finals and final are played with 10 overs. There is a man of the match, best bowler, best fielder award for every match

Cricket
Westloop Wolves Team.

 

Here is the fixture and schedule of Season 2:

There are 16 teams participating in this short format cricket tournament.

16 team is divided into 4 groups.

Group A Group B Group C Group D
Winter Wolves (A1) Chicago Wild Kittens(B1) Arrigo Avengers(C1) Super 9s(D1)
Dark Knights (A2) Challengers(B2) Cook County(C2) Chicago Super Kings(D2)
Chicago Centaurs(A3) Hunters (B3) Westside Wolves(C3) River City (D3)
International Khiladies (A4) Ballers(B4) Knights(C4) CSK+(D4)

Each team in the group will play only two matches with the other two teams.

From each group top two teams will be qualified for the quarterfinals, then semis and finals.

Chicago Centaurs were the Champions and Super 9s were the runners up.

The tournament has become a big deal in no time. It was sponsored by big names like USBank (thanks to Susan Brown), Lodha Group (this group was also the associated sponsor of Ind vs, Eng Test Series in 2018) and Metra Spice Mart (Only Indian Grocery Store in Chicago Downtown). The tournament has gained momentum in no time and is likely to do so in the years to come.

Keeping the game alive overseas

Cricket has become a huge deal in Chicago. Around 900 people play the game in the windy city. Tournaments like above help in maintaining healthy competition and something to be excited for.

People sacrifice other chores just to enjoy this beautiful game and to keep it alive in countries outside India where cricket is not a major sport.

 

Cricket
Dark Knights Led by Pranjal Chauhan

 

“My favourite sport and always loved to watch and play the game anywhere in the world anytime. Always loved to organize these kinds of tournament from childhood so continuing the same thing outside the country”, Says Harshavardhna Hedge, Organizer, WLCA super 8 tournament.

“Well I love the sport and love my country. We get to relive our childhood and impart love for the game to the next generation. The community comes together and enjoy, and we also return to the society through charity”, Says Hari Mohan, Organizer, WLCA super 8 tournament.