Agar, Holland dominate third day of practice match

Ashton Agar

 

Australia spinners Ashton Agar and Jon Holland dominated proceedings in the final day of Australia’s intra-squad match at Darwin.

In a wicket that was prepared to mimic pitches that Australia might face in Bangladesh, the spinners ran riot.

The Australia players had previously lauded the fact that Darwin was a great location to be preparing for the Bangladesh tour.

The pitches had quite a bit of wear and tear (some artificial according to cricket.com.au) helped the spinners. The priority was for the top order batsmen to get some quality time in the middle but wickets fell ‘thick and fast’ on the third day.

Left-arm spinner Holland changed teams to open the bowling today and claimed four wickets in 11 balls, grabbing the wickets of Hilton Cartwright (0), Adam Zampa (0), Peter Handscomb (2) and Jake Weatherald (0).

While Holland is not part of the Bangladesh tour, however, the Aussies possibly had Shakib Al Hasan in mind when they picked the spinner for the intra-squad match and it was a good idea to face Holland’s music before the tour.

Holland proceeded to change teams again and then bowled two overs where he got another wicket.

Left arm tweaker Ashton Agar bowled 12 overs and grabbed four wickets as well. Leg spinner Adam Zampa also took two late wickets to finish the practice match.

Pacer Jackson Bird also got a taste of the action after having been unable to bowl the first two days. He was on the mark, taking the scalp of Umar Khwaja, who scored one run from 41 deliveries.

While the result was immaterial, the game carris hints that Bangladesh can put some pressure on the Australians with their own arsenal of spinners. However, Australia will be just as much excited about their spinners putting the squeeze on the Bangladesh batsmen.

Scores in brief

David Warner's XI: 1st innings: 6-360 declared (Handscomb 105, Weatherald 96, Cartwright 81; Hazlewood 2-30, Smith 2-52)

2nd innings: 9-181 (Head 104 retired; Holland 4-1)

Steve Smith's XI: 1st innings: 6-181 declared (Smith 84 retired, Maxwell 45; Lyon 2-27, Cummins 1-39)

2nd innings: 142 (Swepson 31no, Maxwell 31; Agar 4-56, Lyon 2-26)

Result: David Warner's XI win by 218 runs.

Mashrafe urges cautious optimism

 

“The team we are going to play against are, in my opinion, one of the two most passionate Test playing teams, the other being England. But I personally think that Australia is the most passionate team when it comes to Test cricket,” said Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza when talking about the Tigers' immediate opposition.

The upcoming Test series against Australia has already created a lot of excitement among players and fans as the Tigers are going to play Tests against the Aussies after 11 years.

The recent successes of the Tigers have taken expectation among the fans to another level altogether, while the players are also up for the challenge to play a Test against the Aussies. Mashrafe however urged not to put unnecessary pressure on the players.

“I don't play Test cricket but being a supporter I want to say that if we put unnecessary pressure on them it will be difficult for the boys. Australia are far better and ahead in all formats, and especially in Test cricket. In limited-overs cricket, it's just a day but it's not the same in Test cricket where you have to play at your best till the fifth day and then the result will come. From that point, Australia is ahead in passion and patience compared to us, and we need to be patient.

“The message I want to give is that we should not create extra pressure on ourselves and realistically Australia are a better team. At the same time, we have the ability to win a Test match against them on home soil. Being a player I am not expecting so much and I am hoping that they [Bangladesh] will give their best, and fight hundred per cent and if there is any outstanding spell or brilliant innings, it can change the scenario. But I would also say that we have all the ability to beat Australia,” Mahsrafe told The Daily Star yesterday.

The Bangladesh think tank is going to finalise their team combination and game plan before the first of the two-Test series starting from August 27. According to Mashrafe, the cricketers have taken the best possible preparation and are practising specific skills, which will help them against Australia.

“Obviously, I am very positive and what is very important for Bangladesh is that they are prepared physically, mentally and skills-wise. I believe they were always prepared and they are getting better. They are practising specifically on those areas which are required and I think the boys have taken the best possible preparation to play against Australia,” Mashrafe added.

Meanwhile, none of the current members of the Bangladesh team have played a Test against Australia, apart from Mahsrafe, and according to the Tigers ODI skipper he had played against the all-time best Test team in the Australia sides of the 2000s.

“When I played against Australia I think it was not only the best ever Australian team but also the all-time best eleven in Test cricket. Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh -- who wasn't there?

“Maybe this team is different from what we have played before and it's obviously possible to beat them if we can give our best and more importantly, we have to continue the attitude in which we have been playing. Those who are coming with the Australian team, many have said this is not their strongest side, but this same team has played very well in India but unfortunately they were unable to win the series. They have Smith, Handscomb who can single-handedly change the course of the game,” he said.

Spinners put India on backfoot after Dhawan ton

 

Shikhar Dhawan smashes a scintillating century for India, but Sri Lanka's spinners strike five times to leave the tourists on edge after the first day of the third Test today.

Malinda Pushpakumara took three wickets and Lakshan Sandakan two, leaving India on 329-6 at the close, with Wriddhiman Saha on 13 and Hardik Pandya on one.

Pushpakamara rattled the Indian top-order with his left-arm spin after a 188-run opening stand between Dhawan, who hit 119 in 123 balls, and Lokesh Rahul.

Left-arm wrist spinner Sandakan's wickets included the prized scalp of Indian skipper Virat Kohli for 42.

The left-right opening batting team of Dhawan and Rahul, who made 85, took India through the first session against a hapless Sri Lankan bowling attack.

Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal then rotated his spinners in the second session and India lost three top batsmen in just 11 overs.

The 30-year-old Pushpakumara, who made his Test debut in the second Test in Colombo, removed the openers to bring the hosts back into the contest.

Rahul, who scored his seventh consecutive Test fifty, mistimed a drive to mid-on and Dhawan soon followed his partner to the pavilion.

Rahul joined Everton Weekes, Andy Flower, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kumar Sangakkara and Chris Rogers on the list of batsmen who have made seven consecutive 50-plus scores in Tests.

Kohli tried to stem the rot during a 84-ball innings, ended when he edged a Sandakan delivery to slip.

Kohli and India toiled in the last session. The innings run-rate plummeted from around five in the morning session to 2.76 after tea.

Pace spearhead Vishwa Fernando chipped in with the wicket of Ravichandran Ashwin, who was caught behind after a hard-working 31.

 

India elected to bat first as they eye a series sweep after taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in Colombo.

‘Isco’s head too big for his body’

Real Madrid's Isco and Marcelo celebrate a goal during the UEFA super cup match against Manchester United. Photo: AFP

 

ESPN Uk reveals that Manchester United were keen on Isco’s potential back in 2013 but deemed him to be ‘not good enough’.

Real Madrid's Isco Alarcon was the man of the match against Manchester United for his superb performance in the UEFA Super Cup. The midfielder tore apart Manchester United with his dazzling skills.

It was towards the end of Sir Alex’s Ferguson’s reign during 2013, when United sent a senior scout to assess Isco, who was playing at Malaga.

"He's good, but not quite quick enough and his head is too big for his body," was the verdict on the then 21-year-old playmaker.

Isco has kept improving all the while -from his Malaga days, playing in the Champions League quarterfinals – to winning the Champions League for Real Madrid and staking a claim to be a starter in a star-studded Real Madrid midfield.

 

Manchester United must be ruing that decision from four years ago after Isco’s latest performance against them.

Fine-tuning on & off the field

Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal does some stretching exercises during their training camp at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on August 7. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

 

While the Tigers have been preparing extensively to make sure that no stone is left unturned in their upcoming challenge of hosting the Australians, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has all but completed their preparations for the two-match Test series to start on August 27.

With a mission to become as familiar with the conditions as possible for the second Test, the players are now in Chittagong where they have toiling hard in the scorching heat, which will include a three-day practice match starting from today on a wicket that may be used for the Test match at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.

Bangladesh Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim will lead a team comprising Soumya Sarker, Imrul Kayes, Nazmul Hasan, Mahmudullah Riyad, Nurul Hasan, Taijul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain, Subhashis Roy and Naeem Hasan, while his deputy Tamim Iqbal will lead a team comprising Liton Das, Mominul Haque, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Tanbir Hayder, Sunzamul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Kamrul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman and Saqlain Sajib.

Meanwhile, BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury informed yesterday that everything was going according to plan as far as successfully hosting the two-match series is concerned.

“Both venues are ready. Now we are just nursing the grounds. On the other hand, Fatullah is still our preference to host the tour match and we have kept BKSP under consideration as an alternative venue,” said Nizamuddin, adding that excessive rain had created problems with the Fatullah venue.

 

He also said that the Australia team will arrive on August 18 as scheduled, but an advance party comprising two-three players will come two days earlier as per their standard practice.

After the resolution of the pay dispute Australia's cricketers are scheduled to participate in a pre-tour training camp in Darwin from August 11 to 17 and they will get a chance to acclimatise to Bangladeshi conditions during a two-day practice match on August 22-23.

The first Test will take place at the refurbished Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur from August 27 and after that the teams will travel to Chittagong to play the second match from September 4.

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