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Sri Lanka Artillery beats Army Ordinance Corps to win inter-regiment T20 championship

Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army, signalling a new chapter for the promotion of Army Cricket, declared open the newly-constructed cricket ground at the Sri Lanka Army Ordinance Corps (SLAOC) Headquarters in Dombagoda.  

The final match of the Inter Regiment T-20 Cricket Championship was played between Sri Lanka Army Ordinance Corps (SLAOC) and Sri Lanka Artillery (SLA) teams who gained prominence after competing with 20 regimental teams.

In a close tussle, Sri Lanka Artillery defeated the Army Ordinance Corps by 15 runs to take home the inter-regiment T20 championship.

The state-of the art, cricket ground lies in a 10-acre area and will be be equipped with two dressing rooms to accommodate the two teams, a cafeteria and 04 side practice pitches.

A swimming pool and an indoor stadium is also expected to be completed under a three-year development plan.

Army said that the new ground can be also be used for school cricketers and club cricketers on request. 

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Warriors crisis and Nuggets supremacy: now is the time to be wrong about the NBA

We are a quarter of the way through the NBA season, which means that – aside from Jimmy Butler’s escape from Minnesota – absolutely nothing of consequence has happened  yet. We know this. We know that the NBA season doesn’t really start until Christmas, and Thanksgiving has only just gone. And yet, despite the fact that we know we’ll feel stupid about it later, we get carried away.

Remember last year, at the start of November, when the Orlando Magic were good? Aaron Gordon was knocking down threes, all that young talent was finally gelling, and they were going to make some noise in a weak East. And then two weeks later it turned out they were bad.

This fall, thanks to his move to the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James entered the season facing lower expectations than he has in a decade.

For once, the NBA hive mind was preaching caution with his team – finding a groove with this young/old, fragile/insane Lakers supporting cast would take time. Of course it would, we all agreed quite reasonably. And then the Lakers got off to a sluggish start and we all lost our minds. Even Magic Johnson got in on the act. We shouldn’t misread Magic’s tirade at head coach Luke Walton as a sign that there’s anything actually wrong; superstar ex-athletes are just as prone – sometimes more prone – to overreact as the rest of us. And that’s all it was.

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Kevin Durant’s Warriors have lost four in a row, but the funk is unlikely to last. Photograph: Eric Gay/AP

On 5 November, the Denver Nuggets were 9-1, and had somehow transformed one of the NBA’s worst defenses into one of its best, a huge leap that the healthy return of Paul Millsap, bless him, did not entirely explain. We restrained ourselves from wondering if they could beat Golden State – we’re not delusional – but what about second in the West? A home playoff series? Anything (other than beating Golden State) is possible. Then the Nuggets lost six out of seven and currently sit just half a game above the Lakers, who are now firmly back over .500 and in a playoff place thanks to coach of the year candidate … Luke Walton.

The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, have pulled a reverse Nuggets, erasing both their bad start and all traces of Carmelo Anthony from their franchise, winning five straight, including a blowout win over the Steph-less, Draymond-less Golden State Warriors, who, by the way, are reeling and on the brink of implosion after a somewhat heated argument between two of their five superstars, both of whom get in arguments a lot and always seem fine a week later.

In fact, we need to declare a moratorium on all “The Warriors are in trouble” hot takes until at least mid-April, and only then if Draymond Green bites off Kevin Durant’s lower right leg and pummels Boogie Cousins with it. (And even then, Warriors will win the NBA finals in five.) As ESPN’s Zach Lowe put it last week, with magical simplicity: “The Golden State Warriors are going to win the NBA title this year. They are so much better than everyone else.” Yes. What he said.

The real question is how bad things would need to get between Dray and KD before it actually impacted either of them on the court. Both are such merciless and title-driven competitors that their families could be trapped in a blood feud and they’d still ball out with each other between the lines. It’s almost cute that we think a brief shouting match in mid-November will derail the Warriors in the finals next June. It’s cute we think we’ll even remember it happened.

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Denver Nuggets, team of the future? Not just yet. Photograph: Veronica Dominach/AP

That’s pretty much the only thing this chunk of the NBA season is good for: lining up a bunch of things for us to be wrong about, despite all our better judgment. We’ve come back to Earth on the Nuggets, and we’ve stopped predicting the apocalypse for the Rockets and the Lakers and especially the Warriors. But we still need to settle down about so many things.

The Sacramento Kings are not this year’s Orlando Magic – they’re more talented, they run older teams until they collapse, and they have a budding star point guard in De’Aaron Fox – but sorry, we need to calm ourselves: they are not going to win 40-plus games, nor are they going to compete for a playoff spot in the West.

We need to settle down about Derrick Rose’s return to form, because he is not going to continue shooting 47% from three-point range (he’s a 30% shooter for his career) and also because his comeback narrative has been enabled by people who want to ignore the part about his dubious exoneration from a gang-rape charge. With any luck, he’ll start missing soon. But it won’t take luck. It’ll just take a few more weeks.

We need to settle down about skyrocketing scoring across the league – partly because it’s already starting to come back down, and also because it’s fun.

One of the biggest reasons we need to settle down about many of these teams and their playoff prospects is that many of them will look very different by the playoffs. It’s already begun. The Lakers added Tyson Chandler. The Rockets ushered Anthony out of the door (and, more significantly, coaxed defensive coaching guru Jeff Bzdelik out of retirement). The Sixers saw themselves slipping behind not just Boston but also Toronto and Milwaukee, so they traded for Butler and probably have at least one more deal to make.

The shuffling will accelerate in mid-December, which is when league rules permit teams to begin dealing free agents whom they signed over the summer. Holes that we think are fatal now will be plugged by Valentine’s Day. Kyle Korver will go to a good team in need of a three-point shooter. The Celtics could flip plucky young point-guard Terry Rozier, whom they can’t afford to keep – not if they also intend to pay Kyrie Irving – for the bouncy big man they lack. The Wizards look ready to rip their entire team apart. And the Spurs, hovering just outside the playoff bubble, may decide to surrender and send LaMarcus Aldridge – an All-NBA power forward and unrestricted free agent this summer – to a title contender.

Any of them would have a bigger impact on this NBA season than some silly squabble between Green and Durant. And none of them would change a thing about how it ends.

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Sri Lanka appoints new fielding coach

Sri Lanka on Saturday announced the appointment of former Australian cricketer Steve Rixon as their fielding coach, in a bid to boost preparations for the Cricket World Cup next year.

The 64-year-old will begin his new assignment later this month and join the team in New Zealand where, starting December 15, Sri Lanka are scheduled to play two Tests, three one-day internationals and one Twenty20.

They will later play two Tests in Australia from January 24.

"We are happy to welcome Steve into the team," Sri Lanka Cricket CEO Ashley de Silva said.

"I am sure he will be able to help the team moving forward, with his expertise in the area of fielding which is a vital component of the game."

De Silva said Rixon will work with the national team until the end of the 2019 World Cup.

Sri Lanka have been struggling for form recently, losing the home ODI and Test series to England.

They have also been hit by crisis off the field.

Bowling coach Nuwan Zoysa was suspended by the International Cricket Council in October after he was accused of match-fixing and other "corrupt conduct".

Earlier that month, ex-chief selector and former captain Sanath Jayasuriya was charged for failing to cooperate with a match-fixing probe and concealing information.

The country recently sought help from neighbouring India to draft laws to combat cheating in the game.

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England cricketers visit Sri Lankan minefields in stark reminder of civil war horrors

The last time England won a Test series in Sri Lanka, the country was still ravaged by a civil war that lasted 25 years, caused over 100,000 deaths and nearly one million islanders to be displaced. 

And this week the tourists got a reminder of how much works there still is to do in repairing the damage of that bloody conflict. 

England’s Test players arrived on the island at the beginning of this month amid a backdrop of political uncertainty as the president, Maithripala Sirisena, unconstitutionally ousted the prime minister and replaced him with his predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa. 

Rajapaksa is best-known as the prime minister when the civil war ended but has also been accused of war crimes in the closing stages of the conflict. His name still adorned the pavilion at Galle, where England won the first Test and posters on the streets in Pallekele, where England won the second Test professed their support for the ‘strong man’ leader.

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Olly Stone, Joe Root, Keaton Jennings and Jonny Bairstow visited Periyamadu. Getty

A day after that Pallekele victory, some England cricketers went to the north of the island to witness the damage the civil war is still wreaking on some communities. 

Captain Joe Root, Keaton Jennings, Jonny Bairstow and Olly Stone travelled to the village of Periyamadu where a charity, the Mines Advisory Group, is still working to clear the landmines left behind during the war that ended in 2009.

The players watched on as specialist minesweepers painstakingly worked to find and remove explosive devices left behind, with the target of clearing the area by 2020. 

“The scale of it really is amazing,” said Bairstow. “To be able to come up here and learn about a country’s history, with the war and how they’ve tried to get people back together, this is a massive project.

“They seem to be doing a great job. The intricacies of de-mining must be so nerve-wracking. Knowing that if you place one finger wrong that could be it.”

England’s players are used to dressing in protective gear but for this test they were given heavy-duty flak jackets, helmets and faceguards as they were taught about the damage residual minefields continue to cause, even years after the conflict has ended. 

minefield 2England players learned about how charities locate and remove landmine. Getty

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Army launches its maiden Handball Tournament 

Sri Lanka Army's Handball Committee for the first time in its history launched the maiden ‘Sri Lanka Handball Fiesta - 2018’ on Tuesday at the Panagoda Indoor Stadium. 23 Men's teams and 5 Women's teams took part in the island wide competition.

The entry free Sri Lanka Handball Championship will run from 4th to 8th of December .

Directorate of Sports in the Sri Lanka Army and Sri Lanka Army Handball Committee have played a significant role to promote handball as a sport in Sri Lanka since it was introduced to Sri Lanka in 2009. Sri Lanka Army is the only organization that has staged handball tournament of this magnitude to date.

Major General Bimal Vidanage, Quarter Master General of the Sri Lanka Army graced the brief inaugural ceremony of the ‘Sri Lanka Handball Fiesta - 2018’ as the Chief Guest.

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Ireland shocks New Zealand for first win in Dublin

Ireland recorded a memorable first ever home victory over New Zealand in Dublin last night - only the second time they have ever beaten the All Blacks.

The World number one side were simply not allowed to get any room as Ireland pounded them and man for man produced an awesome display in a massively physical contest in the Aviva Stadium. It was a frantic opening to the much anticipated high profile game. New Zealand pressed the Irish in the early stages, but the men in green's defence held solid.

Then the Irish came out fighting, going through the phases, building well. The spelll ended with a penalty in front of the posts, outhalf Jonathan Sexton firing over.

Beauden Barrett, Damien McKenzie and Reiko Ioane made lots of runs for the visitors as it was their turn to inject something into the game. That pressure eventually told when Ireland conceded a penalty and outhalf Barrett obliged to level the scores.

But Ireland get the bit between their teeth again and some solid pressure has them pressing hard. Stander makes the initial surge but it is held up. From the 15m scrum a little chip over from Sexton seems to be recovered on the ground by fullback Rob Kearney and he appears to ground. Referee Wayne Barnes gives an onfield decision of a try, but on TMO review it is ruled out as the ball went slightly forward.

It comes back for the penalty advantage and Sexton goals to make it 6-3.
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Ireland's Keith Earls makes a tackle as New Zealand attack

The All Blacks attack again as the end to end game continues. Barrett finds an instant response as he sends a drop goal sailing between the posts to level matters again after 29 minutes.

Ireland's workrate was through the roof as they mounted another series of attacks. It is sparked by a brilliant break from the Ulster winger as he gathers Smith’s box kick and then surges through the middle. The hosts are on the front foot as Furlong picks up the mantle, before Stockdale carries again on this left side.

It is a sea of green as the hosts press. The Irish scrum obliterates the All Blacks at the set-piece and with a penalty advantage coming, Sexton looks cross-field for Stockdale. Nothing comes of it and then Sexton opts to go for the corner once again.

The driving maul never comes off, but Ireland remain in the ascendancy and a further penalty sees Sexton goal to send them in with a 9-6 lead - scant enough in some respects given the dominance they have had.

Ireland's dominance at the set piece see's Kiwi boss Steven Hansen send the shepherd's crook out for the entire front row two minutes into the second half.

But it is the All Blacks who have an early chance, Stockdale's attempted chip charged down by Kieran Read. Only the number eight knocks it on it may well have led to a try.

Things can turn quickly, another attack from Stockdale, he chips it over the defence and this time races through to gather and get over for the try as the Aviva Stadium lifts out of its foundations. It is is 12th try in 14 games. Sexton's conversion gives Ireland a 16-6 lead after 48 minutes.

Stockdale then turned defender as he stopped a threat on the All Blacks right hand side, Barret popping a grubber kick through, but the Ulster winger gathered to halt the imminent danger.

But it was now a sea of Black hitting the Irish line, Barrett instrumental in it with replacement Richie Mo'unga and Loane threatening. Peter O'Maohny made two huge hits to stop two separate attacks, it took its toll and he was replaced by Ulster;s Jordi Murphy while Iain Henderson came on for the hard working and ever present Devin Toner.

Barrett looked as if he had eluded the home defence, but as he turned for support he passed straight into the grateful hands of Kearney.
Ireland grew back into the game but two missed lineouts by replacement Sean Cronin foiled good attacking positions as the game ticked into the final 10 minutes.

The play was all in the All Blacks half as the Irish pressed and reacted to every touch the visitors got.

Replacement scrumhalf Luke McGrath foolishly kicked possession away when the Irish were in control and that led to a nervous finish as the tourists pushed one final time. A knock-on was met with a thunderous roar in the Aviva Stadium - Ireland had won!

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28 Lankan players up for grabs for IPL 2019

As many as 1003 players have registered for the upcoming Indian Premier League auctions, including 232 overseas cricketers. 28 Sri Lankan players have also been included in the auction. Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga has listed himself among nine players with the maximum base price of INR 2 crore for the auction, which is scheduled to kick off in Jaipur on December 18.

With 70 spots available to be filled, the list includes 800 uncapped cricketers with India registering the highest number with 746 players.

One player each from Hong Kong, Ireland, Netherlands and USA have also registered for the auctions. Among foreign countries, South Africa have the maximum number of entrants (59), followed by Australia (35) and West Indies (33). Afghanistan has seen a massive boost, with 27 players registering for the auction.

Sri Lanka (28), New Zealand (17), England (14), Bangladesh (10) and Zimbabwe (5) are the other countries that have seen registrations.

For the first time in 12 seasons, Richard Madley won't be the auctioneer. In Hugh Edmeades, an independent fine art, classic car and charity auctioneer - IPL will have a new gavel master.

Franchises have been given time till 5:00 PM IST on December 10 to send in their shortlist of players.

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Resolute Roshen Silva guides Sri Lanka to a first-innings lead 

Half-centuries from three batsmen and resistance from the lower order saw Sri Lanka record a 46-run lead on day two of the second Test against England.Nightwatchman Jack Leach, who went out to bat alongside Rory Burns, played out one over in England's second innings before the close of play.

Sri Lanka, who started the day at 26/1, posted a total of 336 after batting through almost the entirety of the second day. Opener Dimuth Karunaratne notched up a 125-ball 63 and middle-order batsman Dhananjaya de Silva supported him with 59 off 98 balls. 

The best performance with the willow, though, came from Roshen Silva, who was the last Sri Lankan wicket to fall in the innings. He scored a splendid 85, batting smartly with the tail to take his team to a sizeable first-innings lead. 

Roshen was resolute in his innings, facing 174 balls and adding 125 runs with the last three batsmen in his valuable effort. He came into the middle with Sri Lanka in trouble at 165/6, even as the England spin attack continued to wreak havoc on the dry surface. 

All the wickets that fell on the day – barring the Karunaratne run-out – came from spin bowling. Jack Leach, the pick of the English bowlers, returned figures of 3/70 in his influential bowling effort, while Adil Rashid claimed three scalps for 75 runs in his 22-over spell.

Sri Lanka looked in a spot of bother at 31/2 in the morning session, when Malinda Pushpakumara fell to Moeen after adding just four runs to the total. However, Karunaratne and De Silva steadied the ship with their 96-run stand for the third wicket. 

The momentum swung back in England's favour, however, when Karunaratne fell to a moment of brilliance in the field by Ben Stokes, who sprang from gully, picked up the ball at point, and threw down the stumps with only one to aim at. The visitors tightened their hold on the game by dismissing Kusal Mendis, De Silva and Angelo Mathews within the next 15 overs. 

Just when it started to look like the hosts would have to accept a first-innings deficit, Roshen brought his A game. He stitched a 46-run stand with Niroshan Dickwella before the latter was dismissed by Joe Root in the 67th over. He then built formidable partnerships with the last three batsmen, denying England the chance to cap the innings on a high. 

Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dananjaya and skipper Suranga Lakmal scored 15, 35, and 15 respectively, facing 106 deliveries between them as Roshen steered Sri Lanka to a first-innings lead.

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Thirimanne, Pradeep recalled for New Zealand Tests

Pacer Nuwan Pradeep and left-hand batsman Lahiru Thirimanne on Friday were recalled to the Sri Lanka squad for the two Test series against New Zealand starting in Wellington on December 15.

Both Thirimanne and Pradeep are making a comeback to the Sri Lankan Test side after a year. The 29-year-old Thirimanne played his last Test against India in Nagpur while Pradeep played against Pakistan in Dubai.

Spinner Akila Dananjaya, who is awaiting the results of a reported suspect action, has been omitted from the squad.

The first Test will be played in Wellington from December 15 while the second Test will begin from December 26 at the Hagley oval in Christchurch.

 

Sri Lanka Test Squad:

Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya De Silva, Angelo Mathews, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera.

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Iran lets women attend soccer match, ending decades-old ban

Iran allowed hundreds of local women to attend the Asian Champions League final in Tehran on Saturday, Iranian news agencies reported, in a possible step toward ending their decades-old exclusion from top soccer matches in the country.

The semi-official news agency Tasnim said an unspecified number of women had entered the Azadi (Freedom) Stadium to watch Persepolis seek to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Japan’s Kashima Antlers and claim their first continental crown. 

It said the women had joined in with chanting in support of Persepolis, Iran’s best-supported club.

Iranian women and girls have not been allowed to attend any men’s sporting events in the country for much of the 39 years since the Islamic revolution, and have not been granted access to matches involving top clubs since 1981.

However, in a rare move last month, about 100 women were allowed to watch a friendly soccer match between Iran and Bolivia.

As 80,000 people gathered at the Azadi to watch Saturday’s game, Iranian social media reports said most of the women who had been let into the stadium were relatives of players or members of Iran’s female football and futsal teams and football federation employees.

The ISNA news agency said fans around the stadium cheered as the women entered the stands set aside for them, which an official said had a capacity of 850 seats.

Elaheh Hamidikia, a reporter for ISNA, said on Twitter that about 500 women were admitted.

Female fans from other countries have previously been permitted to attend games at the Azadi Stadium.

Parliament member Fatemeh Zolqadr said earlier that world soccer’s governing body FIFA had demanded women be allowed to attend top-level games.

“This should be done to avoid any problems for the country’s football,” she was quoted as saying by the parliament news website ICANA.

Campaign group Open Stadiums has been lobbying for access to venues for women in Iran, and representatives of the organization met with FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura this week to hand over a petition signed by more than 200,000 people.

Speaking before Saturday’s game, a spokesperson for the group said overturning women’s exclusion “has been our dream for decades”
“We are always excluded from public happiness and excitement,” the spokesperson told Reuters by e-mail on condition of anonymity.

Samoura said FIFA would work with Iran to end the long-running ban on women attending matches but offered no insight as to when a breakthrough could be expected, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported on Thursday.

The restrictions on Iranian women that were relaxed for the match against Bolivia were quickly reinstated under pressure from hardliners within the government.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has also held talks with Iranian soccer authorities in an attempt to find a solution to the long-running issue.

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Sri Lanka Cricket announce new selection panel

A new National Selection Panel has been appointed ahead of Sri Lanka's tour of New Zealand, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said.

Accordingly, the new selection panel will be in charge of picking the national team going forward. The new panel will consist on the following members -

Mr Asantha De Mel – ChairmanMr Brendon KuruppuMr Hemantha WickramaratneMr Chaminda MendisThe previous selection panel met with Minister of Sports, Faiszer Musthapa, who thanked them for their services to Sri Lankan cricket. The previous Chairman of Selectors, Graeme Labrooy was present at the meeting. Labrooy has been in the role since September 2017.

De Mel, the new Chairman of Selectors, played 17 Tests for Sri Lanka between 1982 and 1986. He has also served as Chairman of Selectors in the past, taking on the role in 2012.  

The new selection panel’s first task will be selecting the team to tour New Zealand which gets underway next month.

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Akila Dananjaya reported for suspect bowling action against England

Sri Lanka’s off-spinner Akila Dananjaya was reported for a suspect bowling action during the first Test against England.

The match officials’ report which was handed over to the Sri Lanka team management cited concerns about the 25-year-old’s action, which will be scrutinised further under the ICC process laid down for international cricket.

Dananjaya is required to undergo testing within 14 days but he is permitted to continue bowling in international cricket until the results of the testing are known.

The chances of Dananjaya being selected for the Kandy Test had already been reduced since he endured a wretched game in Galle, where he took two for 183 in the match while scoring only eight runs in his two innings.

Definitely out of the remainder of the series is Sri Lanka’s captain Dinesh Chandimal because of a groin injury. Charith Asalanka, who scored an unbeaten half-century against England in a warm-up match, has been called up as a replacement.

England, who arrived in Kandy in time to mark Armistice Day in the gardens of their hotel, have taken the unusual step of trimming their party in the middle of the tour. Ollie Pope, the 20-year-old batsman from Surrey, will leave Sri Lanka on Wednesday, the first day of the second Test match and head for Dubai. There he will join the Lions tour in the UAE and he will be available for the unofficial Test match against Pakistan A, which starts on 18 November, which is followed by five ODIs and two T20s.

With Jonny Bairstow returning to fitness and Joe Denly also available the chances of Pope being required for the Test matches have dwindled to practically zero. So his imminent departure clearly makes sense. He will gain far more benefit from playing cricket in the UAE than batting in the nets and carrying drinks in Sri Lanka.

“It is important that Ollie is playing and the selection panel felt that to aid his development the best course of action is for him to go and play for the Lions in a competitive series against Pakistan A,” said the head coach, Trevor Bayliss.

“Ollie needs some game time before the West Indies Test tour early next year and will get more out of playing competitively for the Lions than spending the next three weeks on the sidelines. He will get the opportunity of playing up to eight matches across all formats in the UAE.”

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