Former Australian pacer Shaun Tait to coach Pondicherry

Former Australian pacer Shaun Tait will be the bowling coach of the Pondicherry cricket team for the upcoming domestic season. Tait, who is also the bowling coach of the Afghanistan cricket team, will be the lone foreign coach in the Indian domestic circuit.

Tait will join the team in the last week of September.

“We have roped him (Tait) in as bowling coach subject to his availability. He had expressed his willingness to come on board. Whenever he is not on any international assignment he will be with the Pondicherry team,” Cricket Association of Pondicherry (CAP) spokesperson said.

Tait played three Tests, 35 ODIs and 21 T20 internationals for Australia.

The CAP has announced former Rajasthan wicket-keeper batsman Dishant Yagnik as its coach for the season.

“Pondicherry has a lot of naturally talented fast bowlers. They need a professional coach to guide them. Tait will assist all age groups to groom our fast bowlers, he will also be going to work with our local bowlers in our academy,” the spokesperson said.

The BCCI released an extensive list of domestic fixtures on Monday. Delhi is the host of the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali final on November 22 and Kolkata will host the Ranji final on March 16. Neutral venues will be used across all tournaments with the men’s domestic calendar commencing with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on November 4. The Ranji Trophy will start on January 13, 2022 while the Vijay Hazare Trophy will get underway from December 8.

Matches will begin after the teams complete a five-day quarantine, with matches being held at Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Trivandrum and Chennai. Kolkata will host all the knockout matches, starting February 20. On the other hand, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will be held across Lucknow, Guwahati, Baroda, Delhi, Haryana and Vijayawada, with the knockouts starting in Delhi from November 16.

The venues for Vijay Hazare Trophy have not been announced yet.

Kimi Raikkonen ruled out of Dutch Grand Prix after testing COVID-19 positive

Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen has tested positive for the coronavirus and will be replaced by Robert Kubica for the Netherlands Grand Prix.

The 41-year-old Raikkonen, who is retiring from Formula One at the end of the season, tested positive following on-site testing at the Zandvoort track.

“In accordance with COVID-19 protocols he will take no further part in this event. All contacts have been declared,” F1 said in a statement on Saturday.

“The procedures set out by the FIA and Formula 1 will ensure no wider impact.”

Alfa Romeo said that 2007 F1 champion Raikkonen was showing no symptoms.

“He has immediately entered isolation in his hotel,” the team said in a statement on Saturday. “There is no further impact expected for the team for the remainder of this event.”

The 36-year-old Kubica has not raced since the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP in 2019. It will be his 98th start and first for Alfa Romeo, where he is a reserve driver.

Verstappen tops last practice for Dutch GP, Bottas second

Dutch driver Max Verstappen had the fastest time ahead of the two Mercedes cars in the third and final practice session for the Netherlands Grand Prix ahead of qualifying later Saturday.

The orange-clad home crowd roared as the Red Bull star finished an impressive .56 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas and .79 quicker than Lewis Hamilton, the defending Formula One champion and current leader this season.

Ferrari faced a race against the clock to repair Carlos Sainz Jr.’s car in time for qualifying after he slid sideways off the Zandvoort track on the high-speed Turn 3 and into the crash barriers about 20 minutes into the session.

The session saw McLaren driver Lando Norris and Haas driver Mick Schumacher go off into the gravel, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took evasive action late on when he swerved sharply left to avoid two cars in front of him.

Hamilton looks for a record-extending 102nd career pole while Verstappen seeks his 10th. This season he leads Hamilton 6-3 for poles and 6-4 for wins, but Hamilton is three points ahead in the standings.