The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed the men's and women's teams will not travel to Pakistan for scheduled tours in October. 

England had been due to play two warm-up matches ahead of the men's T20 World Cup, with the women's team also set to play a double-header in the shortest format, followed by three one-day fixtures. 

However, following New Zealand's decision to withdraw from a white-ball series in Pakistan due to security concerns, the ECB has announced the upcoming tours will not now take place as planned. 

A statement released on Monday explained that "the mental and physical well-being of our players and support staff" remained the governing body's highest priority. 

The statement read: "The ECB has a longstanding commitment to tour Pakistan as part of the Men's Future Tours Programme in 2022. 

"Earlier this year, we agreed to play two additional T20 World Cup warm-up games in Pakistan in October, adding a short women's tour with double headers alongside the men's games. 

"The ECB board convened this weekend to discuss these extra England women's and men's games in Pakistan and we can confirm that the board has reluctantly decided to withdraw both teams from the October trip. 

"There is the added complexity for our men's T20 squad. We believe that touring under these conditions will not be ideal preparation for the ICC men's T20 World Cup, where performing well remains a top priority for 2021. 

"We understand that this decision will be a significant disappointment to the PCB, who have worked tirelessly to host the return of international cricket in their country. Their support of English and Welsh cricket over the last two summers has been a huge demonstration of friendship. 

"We are sincerely sorry for the impact this will have on cricket in Pakistan and emphasise an ongoing commitment to our main touring plans there for 2022." 

Pakistan did not host international cricket for six years following the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009. 

Friday's decision by New Zealand Cricket to pull out of the ODI and T20I series just hours before the start of the opening match was met with disappointment from the Pakistan Cricket Board. 

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja used social media to convey his sorrow at England "failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most" following the latest development in the situation.

"Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment and failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most," he posted on Twitter.  

"Survive we will inshallah. A wake-up call for Pakistan team to become the best team in the world for teams to line up to play them without making excuses."

England could follow New Zealand in cancelling their cricket tour to Pakistan amid new security concerns about visiting the country.

The England men's and women's teams are due to face Pakistan next month, with Eoin Morgan's side set for a two-match T20I series starting on October 13.

However, New Zealand's series against Pakistan was called off on Friday amid growing worries over player safety, and England are now assessing the situation.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement: "We're aware of New Zealand's decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour due to a security alert.

"We are liaising with our security team who are on the ground in Pakistan to fully understand the situation.

"The ECB board will then decide in the next 24-48 hours whether our planned tour should proceed."

Friday's decision by New Zealand Cricket to pull the ODI and T20I series, hours before the first match was due to be played, was met with disappointment from the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam echoed the PCB's sentiments, indicating that he trusted the security services would have ensured it took place in safe conditions.

"Extremely disappointed on the abrupt postponement of the series, which could have brought the smiles back for millions of Pakistan cricket fans," Babar wrote on Twitter.

"I've full trust in the capabilities and credibility of our security agencies. They are our pride and always will be! Pakistan Zindabad!"

European champions Italy are on a world record 37-game unbeaten streak, but they remain lodged at number five in the FIFA rankings.

The world governing body published its new list on Thursday and the only change in the top five saw England jump to third, nudging France down to fourth.

England were runners-up to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, losing on penalties at Wembley after a 1-1 draw, and two wins and a draw from World Cup qualifiers in September have seen Gareth Southgate's team edge ahead of Les Bleus.

It is the first time since 2012 that England have reached the top three, and third place remains the highest position they have achieved in the rankings.

Didier Deschamps' France could only manage two draws and a win in this month's international break, while Italy were held by Bulgaria and Switzerland before landing a 5-0 victory over Lithuania.

Italy have been a roaring success under the leadership of Roberto Mancini, who inherited a team that failed to qualify for the last World Cup and had plummeted to 21st in FIFA's rankings.

They set the record for the most games unbeaten at international level during their run of September games, staying in control as leaders of World Cup European qualifying Group C.

With FIFA's rankings offering significant weighting to World Cup tournament performance, Italy could make a significant leap should their strong form under coach Mancini continue into the Qatar 2022 finals.

Belgium remain top of the FIFA list, with Brazil in second. Copa America winners Argentina stay sixth.

 

Pace trio Andel Gordon, Johann Layne, and Isai Thorne bowled superbly to push the fifth Youth ODI down to the wire, despite West Indies surrendering the Royal London U19 series to England on Tuesday.

This was the second agonizing one-wicket defeat in the series, following a similar result on the second Youth ODI in Beckenham.

Left-arm quick Gordon, who claimed 3 for 37, stood out bowling with good pace and swing, highlighted by his dismissal of England opener William Luxton, clean bowled in the first over. He was well supported by his right-arm pace duo compatriots Layne, 3 for 40, and Isai Thorne, 2 for 40, as they kept West Indies in the contest by regularly taking wickets.

When Layne dismissed tail end batters Nathan Barnwell caught behind and Joshua Boyden comprehensively bowled in the space of two overs, West Indies were on the verge of pulling off a thrilling fightback win with England still needing 12 runs. However, George Bell, who had an unbeaten half-century of 60 from 115 balls, held his nerve alongside the number 11 batter Sonny Baker to take the home side over the line.

Earlier, Matthew Nandu (51) became the second West Indies batsman to score a half-century on tour alongside Teddy Bishop. His 57-run third-wicket partnership with Ackeem Auguste 32 had West Indies solidly placed at one stage on 101 for 2. But the innings never kicked on, with captain on the day Giovonte Depeiza (34) being the only other major contributor.

The two teams will return to the same venue on Friday for the series finale. First ball is 10:30 am (5:30 Eastern Caribbean/4:30 am Jamaica).

 

Australia Test captain Tim Paine will undergo neck surgery this week but expects to return in time for The Ashes in December.

A pinched nerve in his neck had caused problems in pre-season with Tasmania and the wicket-keeper has chosen to undertake surgery in Hobart on Tuesday.

The first Ashes Test starts in December in Brisbane, but Paine is estimated to be back to light training by the end of September, resume full training the following month and complete his recovery by the start of November.

"The consensus of the spinal surgeon and the CA medical team was to have the surgery now which will allow plenty of time to fully prepare for the summer," Paine said in a statement released by Cricket Australia.

"I expect to be able to restart physical activity by the end of this month and be back in full training in October.

"I will be ready to go by the first Test and am very much looking forward to what will be a huge summer."

Paine, whose finger injuries almost forced him into an early retirement in 2016, averages just 28.61 against England – making just two 50s in 16 innings – but has lifted the urn twice.

The 36-year-old was a part of the side that thrashed England 4-0 in the home 2017-18 series before a 2-2 away draw in 2019 saw his side retain The Ashes.

Australia have only played four Tests in the last 18 months but Paine also gave his backing to cancel November's Test against Afghanistan due to the Taliban's stance that women will not play cricket during their ruling.

Following Cricket Australia stating there was "no alternative" but to cancel the maiden Test, Paine added to SEN Radio last week: "I don't think we want to be associated with countries that are taking opportunities or things off literally half their population."

Fabio Capello claimed former side England have a "monkey on their back and then fail" when it comes to finals.

Gareth Southgate's men reached their first major final in 55 years at Euro 2020, but lost on penalties as Italy claimed their first European Championship since 1968.

England have enjoyed relative success in September's World Cup qualifiers, crushing Hungary and Andorra 4-0 before conceding a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with Poland.

In the latter game, Southgate opted to not make any substitutions – the first time the Three Lions have done so since the Euro 1996 semi-final against Germany.

And Capello believes there is a reason for the England manager's lack of substitutes in Warsaw after heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final two months ago.

"If [Southgate] doesn't make subs it means he wants this group to be convinced to be strong, as the results proved," Capello, who managed England for five years until 2012, told reporters.

"Bear in mind, they have just botched half a match versus Italy in the final, when they were overwhelmed by fear and stopped playing.

"I know England and their problems. They have that monkey on their back to get to the final and then they fail."

England are unbeaten in their last 16 international matches (W13 D3) – their longest streak without defeat since a 16-game run between September 1995 and November 1996.

While international teams pursue qualification for Qatar 2022, FIFA's chief of global football development, Arsene Wenger, is pushing a biennial plan for future World Cups.

The former Arsenal manager's proposition, which was put to FIFA in May, would see global football's most important tournament switch to a two-year cycle.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin greeted the suggestions with disdain, but Capello revealed he would support the proposed changes as a player.

"As a player, I would like the World Cup to be played every two years," the 75-year-old Italian continued.

"Four years is a long time and sometimes you are at the top of your game but when the World Cup comes you are not and you have no chance to shine.

"At the same time, waiting four years makes that trophy more coveted and important, it is bigger.

"Every two years, this value would decrease but again, as a player, I played the World Cup just once, and the second time I missed it for the width of a hair, so I would [play every two years]."

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is working with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to reschedule the fifth Test after it was called off due to coronavirus fears.

The final match in the series at Old Trafford, which India lead 2-1, was cancelled a little over two hours before the first day of action was due to begin at 11:00 BST as India felt they were unable to field a team.

India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for COVID-19 during the fourth Test victory at The Oval and has been isolating along with backroom staff members Bharat Arun, R Sridhar and Nitin Patel.

Another member of the tourists' camp, reported to be a junior physio, was next to test positive on Thursday, forcing India to cancel their training session on the eve of the match 

Despite each member of the India squad returning negative PCR tests on Thursday, the decision was taken to call off the fifth Test to prevent the respiratory disease from further spreading.

In a statement published on Friday, the ECB initially said that India had forfeited the Test and the series was therefore drawn at 2-2, but they later clarified that was not the case.

The BCCI has now stated the call to cancel the contest was a joint decision and the governing body is working closely with the ECB to find a window to reschedule the final Test.

"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have jointly decided to call off the fifth Test match scheduled at Manchester in India's tour of England 2021," the statement read.

"The BCCI and ECB held several rounds of discussion to find a way to play the Test match, however, the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Indian team contingent forced the decision of calling off the Old Trafford Test match.

"In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match. Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match.

"The BCCI has always maintained that the safety and well-being of the players is of paramount importance and there will be no compromise on that aspect. 

"The BCCI would like to thank the ECB for their co-operation and understanding in these trying times. We would like to apologise to the fans for not being able to complete an enthralling series."

Any prospect of rescheduling the match during the current tour seems unlikely as the Indian Premier League resumes in the United Arab Emirates on September 19.

England are already due to host India next year across three T20Is and three ODIs, including a T20 fixture in Manchester on July 1.

The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford has been called off due to fears of rising coronavirus cases in the tourists' camp.

The start of the final match in the series had been in doubt after India cancelled a practice session on Thursday as a result of a member of their support staff testing positive for COVID-19.

England had been hopeful of the contest, which was due to begin at 11:00BST on Friday, going ahead as planned.

But after talks between the England and Wales Cricket (ECB) board and their Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) counterparts, the match has been cancelled.

"Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled," an ECB statement read.

"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team.

"We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many."

The statement initially said India had forfeited the final Test and the series was drawn at 2-2, but that was later removed.

India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for coronavirus ahead of last week's 157-run win at The Oval, which gave his side a 2-1 lead in the five-Test series, while bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel isolated as a precautionary measure.

The overall number of positive cases climbed this week after another backroom staff member, reported to be a junior physio, also contracted the respiratory disease.

The entire India squad returned negative PCR Tests on Thursday, though any hopes of rescheduling the match appear unlikely given the start of the Indian Premier League on September 19, four days after the England series was due to finish.

The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford has been called off due to concerns over rising number of coronavirus cases in the tourists' camp.

The start of the final match in the series had been in doubt after India cancelled a practice session on Thursday as a result of a member of their support staff testing positive for COVID-19.

England had been hopeful of the contest, which was due to begin at 11:00BST on Friday, going ahead as planned.

But after talks between the England and Wales Cricket (ECB) board and their Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) counterparts, the match has been cancelled.

"Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled," an ECB statement read.

"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team.

"We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many."

India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for coronavirus ahead of last week's 157-run win at The Oval, which gave his side a 2-1 lead in the five-Test series, while bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel isolated as a precautionary measure.

The overall number of positive cases climbed this week after another backroom staff member, reported to be a junior physio, also contracted the respiratory disease.

The entire India squad returned negative PCR Tests on Thursday, though it has been reported that some players raised concerns around leaving the United Kingdom ahead of the start of the Indian Premier League on September 19, four days after the England series was due to finish.

The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford has been called off due to concerns over rising number of coronavirus cases in the tourists' camp.

The start of the final match in the series had been in doubt after India cancelled a practice session on Thursday as a result of a member of their support staff testing positive for COVID-19.

Jos Buttler said England have their "fingers crossed" that the fifth Test against India will go ahead at Old Trafford after the tourists were hit by a new COVID-19 case.

A member of India's support staff, reported by the Times of India to be a junior physio, has tested positive for coronavirus, and the team did not appear for a net session or hold a news conference on Thursday.

On the eve of the match, the last in a series in which India hold a 2-1 lead, it remained to be seen whether there could be an issue with it going ahead as scheduled.

India do not want to concede the match, yet this is the latest case in their camp, after head coach Ravi Shastri and two members of his staff also tested positive and were sidelined during the fourth Test at The Oval.

England wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler said: "At present we're fully expecting the game to go ahead. We're preparing to play tomorrow and fingers crossed the game will go ahead.

"Things are all fine in our camp and we trained well this morning so, hopefully, we're looking forward to the game tomorrow."

The Oval defeat for England came as India carved through the hosts' batting line-up on the final day, reducing them from 100-0 to 210 all out, earning a 157-run success.

"It was a fantastic Test match for the neutrals," said Buttler, who missed the game as his wife gave birth. "The team played some brilliant cricket for large parts of that game but couldn't quite get it done.

"As a group we're determined to win this Test match and level this series. Spirits are high and so it's one last big push this summer for a must-win game for us."

England have a proud Old Trafford record against India to defend, having never lost in the nine matches the teams have contested at the ground. England have four wins and five draws in their head-to-head, winning by an innings and 54 runs when the teams last played in Manchester, in August 2014.

An Old Trafford draw in 1990 featured the first Test century of Sachin Tendulkar's stellar career, the then 17-year-old making 119 not out in the fourth innings of the contest.

 

BUTTLER SEES ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Buttler made a Test ton against India at Trent Bridge three years ago, and a return to that level of form would be welcome after a run of low scores, with 25 his highest across five Test innings in this series.

"I haven't played my best by a long stretch," Buttler said. "I think I've felt like that the whole season. It's on yourself as a player to put the work in, to train hard and make some runs.

"I've been working hard on that and that's the challenge of the game: can you do the work to give yourself the best chance to perform in the middle?"

For the Lancashire player, home advantage may help in the coming days.

ANDERSON COULD TAKE CENTRE STAGE

Another player relishing the chance to shine at his county ground will be James Anderson, England's evergreen paceman.

The 39-year-old has 15 wickets at an average of 24.66 so far in this series, and Buttler is confident Anderson and fellow quick Ollie Robinson will be raring to go after a heavy Oval workload.

"They've bowled a lot of overs and bowled fantastically well," said Buttler. "They've rightfully taken rest in the few days since the last game.

"But they seem to be pulling up well. Jimmy is a fantastically fit guy who looks after himself and Ollie's exactly the same. Fingers crossed they'll both be in good shape and available for selection."

Robinson has a series-high 21 wickets at 21.33, and his contribution could be important as England target a fourth straight win in Tests at Old Trafford. 

The last and only time they enjoyed a longer winning run at the venue was a four-match span from July 2006 to June 2010. England have not lost consecutive home Tests against India since June 1986, which was the first time that had occurred.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– India last won a Test series against England, in England, in 2007. To deny them, England will be chasing a win that would be their 50th in men's Tests against India. They have passed that landmark against three other Test teams previously: 110 wins against Australia, 64 against South Africa and 51 against West Indies.

– England have not lost back-to-back men's home Tests since July 2008, when South Africa were the opposition.

– India captain Virat Kohli is 40 away from becoming the fifth player to score 2,000 runs in men's Tests between England and India (Tendulkar – 2,535, Sunil Gavaskar – 2,483, Alastair Cook – 2,431 and Joe Root – 2,353); however, Kohli's Test batting average (43.6) against England is his second lowest against any country (43.3 v West Indies).

– England skipper Root (1,455 in 2021) is 27 away from recording the most runs in men's Tests by an England player in a calendar year (Michael Vaughan – 1,481 in 2002).

England have recalled Tymal Mills after a four-year absence from international cricket for their T20 World Cup squad, while Ben Stokes remains on an indefinite break from cricket.

Stokes had announced his break before the Test series against India to prioritise his mental wellbeing and did not make himself available for selection for England's preliminary 15-man T20 squad.

In the absence of the injured Jofra Archer, Mills features for the first time since February 2017 after impressing in white-ball cricket this term, winning the inaugural Hundred competition with Trent Rockets and guiding Sussex to the T20 Blast Finals Day.

On announcing England's squad, head coach Chris Silverwood said: "We are excited about the prospect of challenging to win the ICC T20 World Cup. 

"I believe we have selected a squad that covers all bases and has the depth to be successful in what is expected to be a very competitive tournament featuring the best players in the world.

"Tymal Mills deserves his inclusion and has demonstrated over the past couple of years, but particularly this summer that he has all skills to succeed at this level. 

"His exceptional pace is a standout, and the way he has spearheaded Sussex and Southern Brave's respective attacks in the short-form game has shown that he relishes the pressures of the big stage.

"He will add variety to our bowling unit, and we can't wait to see him play in a major international tournament."

David Willey also makes the list after the disappointment of missing out on the triumphant 50-over World Cup squad in 2019, with Tom Curran demoted to the reserves.

There is no room for leg-spinner Matt Parkinson but Lancashire team-mate Liam Livingstone is included and could have a big role to play as a third spinner alongside Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

Eoin Morgan's men, who fell short in the final against West Indies at the 2016 T20 World Cup, have until October 10 to finalise their squad.

England finish off their preparations with a two-match T20I series against Pakistan, on 14 and 15 October, before their first group-stage fixture against West Indies on October 23.

 

England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Reserves: Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, James Vince.

England manager Gareth Southgate defended his lack of substitutions in the team's 1-1 draw away to Poland in World Cup qualifying.

Southgate did not make a change as England's winning start to World Cup qualifying ended after Damian Szymanski nodded home a dramatic first Poland goal on Wednesday.

Szymanski's 92nd-minute equaliser cancelled out Harry Kane's second-half opener in Warsaw, though England remain top of Group I on the road to Qatar 2022.

It was the first time England did not make a sub since the Euro 1996 semi-final against Germany.

Afterwards, Southgate was asked about his decision not to introduce fresh faces midweek.

"We were in total control of the game and to bring players into that moment when everybody was performing to a good level, and we were in control of possession," Southgate told reporters.

"You can put players into the game who have had to sit in the stands and it's not so easy to come on in those latter stages, so there are a couple of times where we looked at it and said now that we're doing well, no, no problem.

"We're going to refresh the wide players right at the end, but really, that would have been to run the clock down as much as anything. But before we could get them in, we've conceded the goal and once we've conceded the goal, again, we didn't think that was a good moment to make a change, so that was that was why we did it."

For only the second time in their last 18 major tournament qualifying matches, England failed to register victory, also failing in October 2019 against the Czech Republic.

England have not lost any of their last 18 matches against Poland (W11 D7), a run that stretches back to October 1973.

Southgate's England, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last 16 international matches (W13 D3) – their longest streak without defeat since a 16-game run between September 1995 and November 1996.

"We knew that today if we could win the game then we were pretty much in Qatar," Southgate said. "That isn't the case we've still got some work to do.

"We could have been in an even stronger position, so that is a disappointment, but I can't fault what the players have given over that period and the way they've responded to the summer."

Harry Kane described Poland's late equaliser as "a kick in the teeth" after England's winning run in World Cup qualifying was ended on Wednesday.

Gareth Southgate's side took the lead through Kane's stunner in Warsaw, but were pegged back by Damian Szymanski's header from Robert Lewandowski's cross.

The Three Lions still sit top in Group J, five points clear of Albania and six clear of Poland in the hunt for a spot at Qatar 2022.

"A kick in the teeth at the end there, it's never easy conceding in the last minute," Kane told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It was a good performance from the boys though, we controlled the game well.

"Of course [there was an 'edgy' atmosphere], we're playing for the opportunity to play in the World Cup. Poland clearly saw this as their last opportunity to take some points off us and get closer to us in the group.

"I thought we handled it well. The Hungary game and this game away from home were not easy to play in. The boys stepped up and put in good performances."

Kane also believed his goal - a superb effort from around 25 yards out - was one of the best he has netted in his international career, as he moved onto 41 England strikes (only four players have scored more).

"That's probably one of the best goals, probably the furthest out I've scored for England," added Kane, who has now netted in 15 consecutive such games across the World Cup and European Championship, tallying 19 goals.

"I caught it really nicely, it wobbled in the air and caught the keeper off guard. It was a nice one to get because it's a tough place to play and it broke the deadlock, putting us in a good position. Hopefully I can continue that going into the next camp."

A fracas broke out between the teams at half-time, with Kane explaining England's players had reported an incident to the Football Association.

"There was an incident just before half-time which has been reported to the FA guys," he said. "They're taking care of it and investigating it and we'll go from there.

"Allegedly it was something that was done, not said. We haven't had a chance to look at the footage and talk to the lad."

Southgate, meanwhile, was satisfied with England's performance in what he labelled the most difficult game of their qualification campaign.

"It was no surprise that this was the hardest game in the group. Early in the game, we were a little slow to move the ball and Poland pressed us well," he told 5 Live.

"In the second half we controlled the game. If there's a criticism it's that we didn't create enough clear chances from that possession and we didn't get enough players in the box.

"While it's 1-0 you run the risk of what happened at the end. We're clearly disappointed not to get the three points but I have to look at what the players have done across these three matches.

"Given that there was no way of telling how they would react after what happened in the [Euro 2020] final, I think their mentality and application has been really good."

Damian Szymanski nodded a dramatic first Poland goal to end England's winning start to World Cup qualifying in a 1-1 draw, although the Three Lions remain firmly in pole position.

Gareth Southgate's side still hold top spot in Group I, yet they were moving eight points clear of Poland courtesy of Harry Kane's second-half blast until Szymanski's intervention.

The substitute headed past Jordan Pickford in the 92nd minute to secure a precious point in Warsaw.

It was a result England might have taken beforehand, but the late leveller will send the Euro 2020 finalists home frustrated after five straight victories.

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