England star Alex Hales joins Adil Rashid in snubbing first-class cricket for county

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Hales has signed only a limited-overs contract extension with his side.

Alex Hales has become the second England player in less than a week to turn down a red-ball cricket contract with his County outfit.

The swashbuckling England batsman has signed only a limited-overs cricket deal with Nottinghamshire. The new deal is for a period of two years.

Just last week, leg-spinner Adil Rashid had turned down a first-class cricket contract with his county side Yorkshire for 2018.

“Alex is entitled to make himself available for whatever format he wants to play, and we respect his decision. He’s an outstanding white ball player and we look forward to him helping us win more trophies in that format of the game,” said Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket Mick Newell.

The decision to do so, Hales said, had come after a long period of contemplation.

“For the next 18 months I’m excited to focus entirely on limited overs cricket and want to be part of a Notts Outlaws team that retains the white ball double,” Hales said in a statement.

“It was a fantastic year for the club last year, and I believe we can have more success in the future with the players we have at our disposal. I’m also hoping to be part of a World Cup-winning squad with England.

“The decision to focus on my white-ball game wasn’t taken lightly or on the spur of the moment, it’s one I’ve thought long and hard about. It’s also one I’ve discussed at length with the Notts management. I’d like to thank them for their continued support.

The 29-year-old has played 11 Tests for England over the course of his career with his last red-ball appearance coming in August 2016 against Pakistan at the Oval.

He is however a vital component of England’s limited-overs side and is currently in New Zealand with the ODI squad.

Similarly, Rashid has not seen been involved with the Test side in recent times either with his last appearance coming in December 2016 during England’s tour of India.

He was recently snubbed in favour of uncapped Mason Crane for the Ashes series Down Under and that could very well have played a role in his decision to forego first-class cricket for the 2018 season.

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New Zealand vs Australia: The three key battles as Trans-Tasman rivals clash in T20I tri-series finals

Ashish Peter 20/02/2018
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Williamson's and Warner's men will fight it out for the title.

New Zealand will take on Trans-Tasman rivals Australia in the finals of the T20I tri-series at Auckland on Wednesday in what will be a repeat of their round-robin fixture at the same venue a few days earlier.

Then, Australia had successfully completed a world record chase of 244 at Eden Park with its short boundaries.

Runs should flow once again and so we take a look at the key battles ahead of the finals.

TRENT BOULT V D’ARCY SHORT

Boult might not be the top-ranked Kiwi bowler but he remains the indisputable lynchpin of their bowling attack. The left-arm pacer has been expensive in his last three outings but has still managed to chip in with crucial wickets at the top and at the death.

His job on Wednesday will be to provide the crucial breakthroughs at the start and up against him will be David Warner and D’Arcy Short. While the reputation of the former precedes him, that of the latter is only growing with each passing innings in international cricket.

The Big Bash League (BBL) record-breaker has taken to international cricket like a duck to water and his match-winning 76 in the record chase will be fresh on the minds of the Blackcaps. His battle with Boult at the start should be an intriguing affair.

D'Arcy Short is fast developing a fearsome reputation.

D’Arcy Short is fast developing a fearsome reputation.

AARON FINCH VS ISH SODHI

The Australian batsman is having an extended purple patch that is showing no signs of stopping.

He was brilliant in the ODI series against England where he scored two tons and he has carried that form into the T20I tri-series. He played a big part in Australia’s record chase at the same venue and was on hand to score the winning runs.

Coming in to bat down the middle-order, Finch will up against New Zealand’s ace leg-spinner Ish Sodhi The Kiwi has been economical in the recent matches and his match-up against Finch will be interesting.

Finch loves to attack the spinners and there is no doubt he will go after Sodhi when the invitation is offered. Who comes out on top remains to be seen.

Finch has been having an extended purple patch.

Finch has been having an extended purple patch.

COLIN MUNRO V BILLY STANLAKE

Munro has been in destructive form in the T20 format since the end of the last year and has looked ominous in his last two outings where has registered two smashing half-centuries.

With Eden Park’s miniscule boundary distances, Munro could turn the match on its head with an explosive start. His partnership with Martin Guptill at the top has flourished of late and they will need to deal with Australia’s pace threat at the start of the innings.

That threat comes from Billy Stanlake who has been cranking up the speeds in this tri-series. The 23-year-old hurling in his rockets at Munro who will be looking to fight fire with fire is a mouth-watering prospect.

The Blackcaps opener is on fire at the moment.

The Blackcaps opener is on fire at the moment.

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Virat Kohli achieves career high rating in ODI cricket and overtakes Brian Lara into seventh on all-time list

Ashish Peter 20/02/2018
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Kohli has notched up another feather in his cap.

Virat Kohli has achieved his highest ODI career rating points to extend his lead in the ICC rankings for batsmen to a whopping 65 points.

In the updated rankings released by the ICC on Tuesday, the India skipper achieved a rating of 909 points, which puts him seventh in the all-time list in ODI cricket history.

909 is the highest rating ever achieved by an Indian batsman in one-dayers, and it comes on the back of an extraordinary series with the bat for Kohli in India’s 5-1 thrashing of South Africa. It also puts Kohli above West Indies great Brian Lara who has a highest rating of 908 points.

Only two subcontinent batsmen, Zaheer Abbas (931) and Javed Miandad (910) of Pakistan, have achieved a higher rating than the Indian batting maestro.

The 29-year-old scored a staggering 558 runs in the six matches on the back of three centuries, at an eye-popping average of 186.

South African stalwart AB de Villiers is stationed in second spot in the rankings with 844 points. India’s Rohit Sharma lies in the sixth behind England’s Joe Root with 799 points to his name.

In the bowlers’ category, Jasprit Bumrah is tied for first spot with Afghanistan sensation Rashid Khan. Bumrah has achieved a career high rating of 787 points on the back of the South Africa series.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Rashid has become the youngest bowler to occupy the top spot in the ICC rankings, a truly remarkable feat for the Afghan youngster whose rise in international cricket has been something to behold.

The leg-spinner picked up 16 wickets in the recently concluded ODI series against Zimbabwe. He is the youngest player in men’s cricket to achieve the top of the rankings in any format, making his achievement all the more noteworthy.

Yuzvendra Chahal’s fabulous series has seen him climb to the eighth spot in the rankings with Kuldeep Yadav also making a big jump to the 15th spot.

India are perched at the top of the team rankings with 122 points, ahead of South Africa who have 117.

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