Usain Bolt turns coach for Australian cricket team in Ashes preparation

Ashish Peter 20/11/2017
The most decorated sprinter in history is an ardent lover of cricket.

Australia's preparations for the highly anticipated Ashes series against old foes England might have just got the cutting edge after sprint legend and icon Usain Bolt conducted a training session with a few select players.

Hailing from Kingston, the retired sprinter has always been an avid fan of cricket growing up in Jamaica and he wasn't going to miss any opportunity to wield the cricket bat himself.

Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Agar and Peter Handscomb were Bolt's disciples for the day as they were put through the paces by the Jamaican at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.

The eight-time Olympic gold medallist conducted a session, putting the running between the wickets of the four players to the test.

Bolt was critical of the lack of 'explosiveness' in the cricketers' running and said it was one of the aspects he wanted them to improve on.

“It’s all about explosiveness, and that’s one thing I’ve noticed with cricket...They don’t really have a lot of explosiveness when they’re running. They seem to always take off at a slow rate. Getting that right will definitely help people,” he told the Herald Sun.

While the four players were seen toiling hard under the watchful eye of the track legend, there was some time for games and fun too as Bolt showed-off his cricketing skills, embracing the opportunity to raise his bat after connecting well with one delivery in particular.

It was only fitting that the four cricketers and their coach for the day ended the session with a signature 'Bolt' pose.

How much good the players' time with the Sprint King does to their Ashes hopes ahead of the first Test remains to be seen though considering Handscomb is the only one in the group to get a call-up.

Nevertheless, a chance to train under probably the greatest sprinter in history does not come about so often.

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Two good, two bad as Rahane struggles with the bat but Kumar shines

Ashish Peter 20/11/2017
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Kohli's 50th international ton gave India hope for victory.

A draw was the ultimate result of the opening Test much interrupted by rain and weather conditions at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Hosts India had come back strongly in the second innings after being outplayed by the visitors in the first half of the match though Sri Lanka were able to resist a late onslaught of pressure to share the spoils.

We look at two good, two bad performances from a hard fought Test which sets up the rest of the series nicely.

THE GOOD

VIRAT KOHLI’S 50TH INTERNATIONAL CENTURY GIVES INDIA HOPE

After the visitors had rocked India in the first innings and gained a substantial 122-run lead, it looked like a battle of survival for the hosts heading towards the fourth day of the Test. A breezy and fluent century stand from India’s openers KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan erased the deficit with ease to bring Kohli’s men back into the game.

A mini middle and lower order collapse though meant that India were not out of the woods just yet but the skipper took control of the innings as he turned on the accelerator towards the fall of Wriddhiman Saha’s wicket. The 29-year-old put on a display of some terrific clean hitting as he notched up his 18th Test ton, breaching the 50 international centuries mark in the process.

Kohli’s late assault and declaration meant India went from seeking safety in the morning to dreaming of an improbable victory by the afternoon.

BHUVNESHWAR KUMAR PUTS ON A SEAM MASTERCLASS

The right-arm medium pacer kept the hosts in the game after Kohli’s men had been bundled out for just 172 runs in their first innings. The 27-year-old bowled with some excellent line and lengths, making full use of the swing and seam on offer throughout the Test.

While not quite possessing any express pace, Kumar’s sublime control of the red-ball and excellent consistency makes him a threat on almost any wicket let alone one which greatly aided the pacers.

His four wickets in the first innings ensured the visitors did not garner a huge lead and he turned it up once again on the final day to put Sri Lanka in all kinds of trouble. Kumar removed opener Sadeera Samarawickrama in the very first over of the final innings to register his 50th Test scalp in his 19th game for India.

He then had Lahiru Thirimanne edging to slip soon after, ruffling the feathers in the Sri Lankan dressing room as the visitors found themselves batting to save the Test after dominating much of it. Kumar kept up the pressure on the batsmen and was rewarded with two more wickets as he nearly carried India to a famous victory at the Eden Gardens.

THE BAD

AJINKYA RAHANE HAS A TEST TO FORGET

The deputy Indian skipper was all at sea against the swinging ball in the first innings as Suranga Lakmal extracted every ounce of juice on a wet pitch. After a scratchy and fidgety 21-ball vigil at the crease, Rahane was undone by a gentle seam up delivery from Dasun Shanaka which held its line, taking a thin outside-edge before resting in the hands of the wicket-keeper.

His misery in the first-innings over, the 29-year-old would find that there would be no upturns in his fortune in the second. The right-hander was caught in his crease as a beautiful in-swinger from Lakmal had him plumb in front of the wicket. A DRS review wasn’t enough to save Rahane’s blushes as a dismissal for a duck capped off a Test he would quickly like to leave behind.

WEATHER GODS DEPRIVE CROWD OF FITTING FINALE TO THRILLER

Heavy rainfall had watered the Eden Garden’s pitch in the lead up to the Test and a combination of a wet outfield, bad light and poor over rates from both sides meant that a result was hard to come by.

Despite the massive loss of overs within the first two days, the Test came alive in the final day as the hosts turned the tables over Dinesh Chandimal’s men in front of a vociferous Kolkata crowd. After Kohli’s century, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s heroics with the ball had brought the crowd to its feet as it sensed an improbable victory. The islanders were crumbling under the pressure as they found themselves perilously hanging by a rope at 75-7.

Bad light though once again turned up to spoil the party much to the relief of the visitors as the crowd were robbed of what could have been a thoroughly entertaining final hour.

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India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to play tri-nations T20I series

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India and Sri Lanka are set to face each other once again.

Sri Lanka are all set to host India and Bangladesh for a T20I tri-series to be held in March, 2018.

The tri-series is being held to mark the 70th year of Sri Lanka’s independence along with 70 years of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) as well.

Named as the Nidahas Trophy 2018, the tournament will be played between March 8 and 20 at the R Premadasa stadium in Colombo with each team playing each other twice before the finals.

“70 years is a long journey, and one that needs to be commemorated and celebrated. We are happy that our closest neighbours, who share more or less the same journey of independence are joining us in this celebration, which we believe will be a milestone and an augur of the great things to come in the annals of cricket,” SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala said.

“We are privileged to be a part of Sri Lanka’s 70th year celebrations, there is no closer friend to the BCCI than Sri Lanka [and Bangladesh] and when Mr. Sumathipala first floated this invitation, there was almost instant agreement that the Indian Team would participate for this reason,” BCC President Rahul Johri added.

Their Bangladesh counterpart Nazmul Hossain stated: “the support and contribution of Sri Lanka [and India] in Bangladesh’s cricketing journey could not be overemphasized, and that this invitation was a clear testament to what a good friend Sri Lanka has been to Bangladesh’s Cricket.”

“This tournament too, would no doubt continue to strengthen the bonds between the 3 nations,” he added.

India and Sri Lanka are currently locked in a Test battle at the Eden Gardens in the first of the three-match series. This will be followed by three T20Is and as many ODIs.

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