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A big ask for Sri Lanka in Group ‘D’

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ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Group D Preview:  

A quick glance at the make-up of Group D of ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup shows just how challenging it will be to make it out of the first round.

Hosts West Indies won the tournament back in 2016, Australia are three-time champions and Sri Lanka also have a final appearance to their name.

Scotland round out the group in their ninth appearance in the competition, qualifying after New Zealand were forced to withdraw due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Australia (13th appearance)

Only India have won the ICC U19 Men’s CWC more times than Australia’s three titles, with Australia also second in terms of matches won and win percentage.

In fact in 12 previous appearances, Australia have made it through to at least the semi-finals on eight occasions, they are remarkably consistent.

The last win came back in 2010, a team featuring Mitchell Marsh, Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood, who 11 years later would play key roles as Australia claimed the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.

This time around, all-rounder Cooper Connolly will lead the side, and he will have fond memories of taking on the host nation. In 2020 he hammered 64 off 53 balls against the West Indies in a play-off match that was eventually abandoned due to rain.

He is the only player who returns from the 2020 squad, but will not lack for support, notably from ambidextrous spinner Nivethan Radhakrishnan.

Scotland (9th appearance)

Scotland initially missed out on qualification after losing to Ireland in the final of the Qualifier, but were handed a reprieve when New Zealand withdrew from the competition.

The Scots are yet to make it past the first round, and face a battle to do so for the first time in 2022 with the strength of the group.

Gordon Drummond is the coach of the side, which will be captained by 18-year-old left-arm spinner Charlie Peet.

The Scots will not lack for experience, with Peet one of five players who were also part of the squad two years ago.

Sri Lanka (14th appearance)

Sri Lanka will be looking for an improved showing after going out in the first round in each of the last two editions of the ICC Men’s U19 CWC.

Semi-finalists in 2016 with a squad featuring Avishka Fernando, Charith Asalanka and Wanindu Hasaranga, they have twice finished third in their group since.

The aim will be to avoid a third straight failure to make the quarter-finals, but the group in which they find themselves will not be easy.

Matheesha Pathirana is back in the squad after playing in 2020 when Sri Lanka finished 10th overall.

Dunith Wellalage will captain the side having previously withdrawn from a Sri Lanka U19 squad to focus on his studies.

West Indies (14th appearance)

An ever-present at this tournament, hosts West Indies will be looking to follow in the footsteps of the 2016 side that went all the way and won the title.

To do so, they will have to overcome the odds. Not since Australia in the very first tournament back in 1998 has a host nation won the tournament, although Sri Lanka and Australia have both made it to the final on home soil.

The 2016 crop that won the title were captained by Shimron Hetmyer, with another future international, Alzarri Joseph, leading the bowling attack.

If recent matches against South Africa are anything to go by, the bowling may be the West Indies’ strength once again with quick bowler Johann Layne one to watch out for.

Middle order batter Ackeem Auguste captains the side which kicks off against Australia in Guyana before heading to St Kitts and Nevis for the remaining two group games.



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Shoriful ruled out of SL Tests with wrist injury

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Bangladesh’s injury woes continue as pace bowler Shoriful Islam has now been ruled out of the remainder of the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka due to a wrist injury. Shoriful is the latest addition to the hosts’ injury list as they earlier lost Taskin Ahmed (shoulder) and Mehedy Hasan (finger).

“Shoriful Islam had a contusion of the right hand while batting. After the fourth day’s play an X-ray was carried out which has revealed a fracture on the base of the 5th metacarpal bone,” physio Bayjedul Islam said in a statement on Thursday.

“Such injuries tend to take around three weeks to heal followed by a couple of week’s rehab. He will not be available to play for four to five weeks.”

Shoriful was retired out on Day 4 after pacer Kasun Rajitha’s short delivery hit him on the gloves. Bangladesh were forced to end their innings at 465 following his injury.

Cricbuzz has learnt that Shoriful is unlikely to be available for the Test series against West Indies as well. Bangladesh will leave on June 6 to take part in the full fledged tour of West Indies, comprising two Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is.

Meanwhile, the BCB has retained the same squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka that will begin on May 23. The board opted to not name a replacement for Shoriful since they have a big squad to pick from.

“We did not take any replacement for Shoriful as we have got a big squad in hand,” BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin told Cricbuzz. ‘’We have to see fitness of Hasan Mahmud (who was in discussion as a possible replacement of Shoriful) and though we are not considering him in this series, if he is fit we might pick him for the Bangladesh ‘A’ team tour of West Indies.”

Squad:

Mominul Haque (C), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Litton Kumar Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Nayeem Hasan, Taijul Islam, Syed Khaled Ahmed, Yasir Ali Chowdhury, Quazi Nurul Hasan Sohan, Musaddek Hossain, Ebadot Hossain Chowdhury, Shohidul Islam, Rezaur Rahman Raja.

( Cricbuzz)

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Yupun enters World Championship qualifying fray with a superb start

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by Reemus Fernando  

National record holder of the men’s 100 metres Yupun Abeykoon produced a superb sprint performance to commence his season proper at the World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger meeting at Savona’s Fontanassa Sports Centre on Wednesday.

In a race where Marcell Jacobs also made his first 100m appearance since his Tokyo Olympic triumph, Abeykoon clocked 10.16 seconds to finish fourth. That was after the sprinter clocked a wind assisted 10.04 seconds in the heats.

His 10.04 seconds performance is the fastest sprint a Sri Lankan has run according to Sri Lanka Athletics statistician Saman Kumara Gunawardana.

In 2019 former record holder Himasha Eshan, who is currently serving a suspension, had a 10.11 seconds feat to a tailwind measured at +3.1.

With his superb season open performance, Abeykoon has entered the race to earn qualification for the World Championships which will be held in Oregon in July. The Italy based sprinter enters the fray at the 56th position in the ‘Road to Oregon 2022’ rankings.

The athletics’ showcase discipline will have 48 slots for the World Championships. While 26 spots will be filled by athletes who reach the tough qualifying standard of 10.05 seconds, the other positions will be filled according to ranking positions in the ‘Road to Oregon 2022’ list.

With the qualifying period closing on June 26th Abeykoon who also set a new Asian record in the 150 metres recently, will have just over a month to achieve the rare honour.

Currently, javelin thrower Sumedha Ranasinghe (25th) and high jumper Ushan Thiwanka are the only Sri Lankan male athletes to have secured a top position in the Road to Oregon 2022 Rankings. The US-based high jumper has come closer to accomplishing the target with back to back 2.20 metres feats. Thiwanka is currently ranked 30th on the list of high jumpers. Both athletes need to remain within the top 32 positions until June 26th to qualify for the event.

In the women’s category, steeplechaser Nilani Ratnayake is the only Sri Lankan athlete to be ranked within the top 30 places.

At the World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger meeting on Wednesday where Abeykoon finished fourth, Marcell Jacobs made a victorious return winning the final in 10.04 seconds after a wind-assisted 9.99 (2.3m/s) in the heats.

Ivory Coast sprinter Arthur Cisse finished second in 10.10 seconds beating former European record-holder Jimmy Vicaut (10.12).

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Dickwella, Chandimal help Sri Lanka draw opening Test

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Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella dug deep with the Chattogram surface staying true to its nature of being a batting paradise as the first Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, ended in a draw. Things, however, could have been different if not for the pair’s dogged 99-run stand for the seventh wicket on the fifth and final day.

Having started the morning on a brisk note, Sri Lanka lost two wickets each on either side of the lunch interval to stumble to 161 for 6, with a narrow lead of 93. But both Chandimal and Dickwella showed grit and determination keeping the Bangladesh bowlers at bay for 203 deliveries to eke out a draw. Dickwella, more adventurous with his shot-making, brought up his 20th Test half-century and finished with an unbeaten 61 off 96 balls. Chandimal, on the other hand, was more measured during his 135-ball 39 not out. The two teams shook hands an hour before the scheduled close of play, with Sri Lanka on 260 for 6 in 90.1 overs.

The Bangladesh bowlers, particularly Taijul Islam and Shakib Al Hasan, stuck to their lines, but were unable to break the seventh-wicket stand. Taijul was the pick of the bowlers returning 4 for 82. Angelo Mathews was named Player of the Match for his 199 in the first innings.

It took Sri Lanka all of 24 balls to wipe off the 29-run deficit in the first session with Kusal Mendis taking the attack to Bangladesh. He was the aggressor while Karunaratne, more circumspect in his approach, rotated the strike well as runs came at a premium in the first hour of the morning.

Kusal started off the day by clattering Taijul for two fours in the first over before slamming Khaled Ahmed for a hattrick of four either side of the wicket as Sri Lanka scored 59 runs in the first nine overs of the first session. It did not help that Bangladesh were a bowler short with Shoriful Islam ruled out of the series, after fracturing his right hand courtesy a Kasun Rajitha bouncer late on day three.

Shakib and Taijul then restored some parity with the latter striking twice. He first removed Kusal Mendis with a peach of a delivery that pitched on middle stump to turn and trim the off bail for a 43-ball 48 before accounting for Mathews with a stunning return catch for a duck. Mathews, who was visibly frustrated having not scored for 14 balls launched a straight drive back at Taijul, who somehow got both hands to it and completed the catch above his head.

Sri Lanka, ahead by 60 runs at lunch, started off after the break on a positive note collecting seven runs from each of the first two overs. Karunaratne reached his 28th half-century with a thick outside edge off Shakib. However, his joy was short-lived as he fell soon after to Taijul. Going the aggressive route, Karunaratne skipped down the track but his mistimed flick could only travel as far as Mominul Haque at midwicket, who completed a good catch diving to his right.

Dhananjaya de Silva continued taking the attacking option and he did succeed to an extent before falling to a rank long-hop for 33. Shakib, to his credit, floated the short of a length delivery, enticing the batter, who took the bait and pulled straight to Mushfiqur Rahim. Shakib could have had another wicket the very next ball but Dickwella’s sweep just evaded a leaping Taijul at backward square.

Sri Lanka were staring down the barrel at that stage but Chandimal and Dickwella dug in to rescue the visitors.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 397

(Angelo Mathews 199, Dinesh Chandimal 66, Kusal Mendis 54; Nayeem Hasan 6/105) & 260/6 (Niroshan Dickwella 61*, Dimuth Karunaratne 52, Kusal Mendis 48; Taijul Islam 4/82) drew with Bangladesh 465 (Tamim Iqbal 133, Mushfiqur Rahim 105, Liton Das 88; Kasun Rajitha 4/60, Asitha Fernando 3/72).

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