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An impressive campaign with lots of positives

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Sri Lanka won five games and lost three during the ICC T-20 World Cup in UAE. Pic by Sameera Pieris.

Rex Clementine in Dubai

The national cricket team travelled back home yesterday (Friday) night having been away for a month and their performance during the ICC T-20 World Cup here in UAE were commended by many. The former champions had little momentum behind them when they left the island having been blanked by South Africa 3-0 at home. More than half the members in the tour party had played less than a handful of T-20 Internationals and there were worries whether Sri Lanka would even qualify having been grouped alongside Ireland, Netherlands and Namibia.

But to their credit, Dasun Shanaka’s side stormed to the second round with a clean sheet having won by heavy margins. In the Super 12 stage, they beat Bangladesh and West Indies while losing to England, Australia and  South Africa. The game against Proteas was decided in the penultimate delivery of the game.

All in all this campaign has been an excellent one. The  emergence of several young players should be the base on which Sri Lanka should be building on.

By the time Sri Lanka played their last game in the second round, they had the two leading run scorers in the competition in Charith Asalanka and Pathum Nissanka while Wanindu Hasaranga was the leading wicket taker. Into the bargain, Hasaranga also rose through the ranks and today he is world’s number one bowler in T-20 cricket. Not since Ajantha Mendis in 2011, Sri Lanka had a player ranked number one. All three players were involved in their first ICC event.

Maheesh Theekshana after being pushed into the deep end of bowling to some of the greats of the game in the Power Plays came off with flying colours as he contained the batsmen with his accurate bowling.

Dushmantha Chameera with his raw pace was on the money making breakthroughs every time he was called up to bowl.

Avishka Fernando on whom there was a lot of expectations was a disappointment along with Kusal Perera, the team’s senior most player. Had KJP’s wicket keeping been sharp, Sri Lanka could have pushed some teams even closer.

KJP’s contributions as a senior player was a disappointment. To start with you are not firing on all cylinders but surely you can at least be more proactive on and off the field helping a young team rebuild. On the field, when things were derailing, KJP’s contributions were not much and off the field you can get an idea that he has not been contributing much as he did not attend a single press briefing standing up as a senior player. Instead, Sri Lanka sent someone like Maheesh Theekshana, who was on his first tour for three press briefings. Surely, you expect more from a former captain. Or, is it a case of sour grapes having been stripped of captaincy?

There’s excitement among the fans that Sri Lanka have come out of their extended poor run. There’s lot of hope moving forward.

Death bowling is one of the areas that the team needs to work on. It is Sri Lanka’s death bowling that cost them a semi-final berth as England and South Africa did too much damage in that period.

Another area that needs to be looked at is the options batsmen are taking against spin bowling. They have struggled against quality spin, especially wrist spinners and the issue needs urgent attention.



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Mendis and Embuldeniya seal big win for Sri Lanka 

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Ramesh Mendis was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka finishing with 11 wickets. He claimed 18 wickets in two Tests and was named Player of the Series. 

Rex Clementine in Galle 

In Test cricket, no Sri Lankan bowler has had such an early impact as those with the surname of Mendis, not even the great Muttiah Muralitharan or his partner in crime Chaminda Vaas. First it was Ajantha Mendis and now it is Ramesh Mendis. These are very early days for this Dharmashoka lad but he could go onto become a prominent Test cricketer as he showcased with a match bag of 11 wickets yesterday as Sri Lanka completed a 164 run rout of West Indies in Galle.

Playing just his fourth Test match, Mendis complemented his career best figures of six for 70 in the first innings by claiming five for 66 in the second essay to finish with a match bag of 11 wickets. Ambalangoda is the home for many prominent Sri Lankans like CWW Kannangara, General Sarath Fonseka, Mahinda Deshapriya and Mendis could be the next big name from the coastal town popular for biling achcharu, ambul thiyal, masks and cinnamon.

Former great Michael Tissera hands over the Sobers-Tissera Trophy to Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne following Sri Lanka’s series win over West Indies in Galle yesterday. 

It was a fantastic display of spin bowling. Mendis kept bowling to an impeccable line and length playing the waiting game and then when wickets started falling, they were falling in clusters.

West Indies had done well to reach lunch at 65 for two and looked set to fight out a draw. But after lunch, Mendis broke the 27 run stand between Shape Hope and Nkrumah Bonner that had lasted for 48 minutes and soon found himself taking two more wickets in the same over as Roston Chase and Kyle Mayers were dismissed without troubling scorer Tushara Corray.

He had claimed 16 wickets in the two Tests and was named Player of the Series.

Lasith Embuldeniya, one year younger to Mendis and from Royal College, kept the pressure from the other end to also finish with a five wicket haul. He had started off by dismissing Jermaine Blackwood in the last over before lunch and then polished through the tail. It was his fifth five wicket haul in Test cricket.

West Indies collapse was quite dramatic as they lost eight wickets for 40 runs. None of their batsmen managed a half-century.

Former Ceylon captain Michael Tissera was present to hand the Sobers-Tissera Trophy.  Sri Lanka moved up to number seven in the ICC Rankings for teams in Test cricket while West Indies slipped down to number seven.

Sri Lanka also collected 24 points from the ICC World Test Championship. They had won the first Test by 187 runs.

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Vichinthya, Methwan, Githmi win singles titles  

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106th Colombo Championships Tennis

Vichinthya Nilaweera, Methwan Wijemanne and Githmi Fernando won their respective age group singles titles of the 106th Colombo Championships which continued at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Friday.

Nilaweera fought back to clinch the Under 16 boys’ singles title as the Stafford International College player scored 0-4, 5-3, 10-8 to win against Venuka Kithnula.

Royal College player Wijemanne beat Danushka Dias (5-3, 4-2) in straight sets to win the Under 14 boys’ singles crown’

In the Under 12 girls’ singles final, Ave Maria Convent, Negombo player Githmi Fernando was the winner against Gehansa Methnadi (4-1, 1-4, 10-8).

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Jaffna Central meet Vidyaloka Galle in the final

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Under 19 Division III Tier ‘A’ Cricket

Two unbeaten teams, Jaffna Central and Vidyaloka College, Galle will battle it out for the title of the Inter School Under 19 Division III Tier ‘A’ tournament at Nalanda College ground, on Saturday.

The two teams were the champions in their respective groups during the first round and they continued in the same vein in the knockout stage to secure their final berths.

Jaffna Central will bank heavily on S. Sarangan, the batsman in form. Sarangan was the key to their success in the knockout stage after having scored decisive knocks, an unbeaten 31 and a half century at the business end of the tournament. J. Vithushan and V. Viyaskanth also made notable contributions during that phase.

R. Newton, V. Viyaskanth, N. Ajay, T. Gowtham and Inthujan stood out in the bowling department during the knockout stage.

For Vidyaloka, Umanga Imanjana, Sonal Ransara and Sasindu Lakshan played key roles with the ball during that phase, while Sonal Ransara, Kavinda Basnayake, Yasith Deshan and Sineth Praveen did well with the bat.

How they reached the final

Jaffna Central beat all Group ‘F’ counterparts namely, Skandavarodaya MV, Chunnakam, Hindu College, Kokuvil, Hindu College, Jaffna and St. Patrick’s College Jaffna in the first round.

During the knockout stage the team captained by B. Inthujan beat Royal College, Polonnaruwa, St. Joseph’s College, Wattala and Rajasinghe Central, Hanwella.

Vidyaloka remained unbeaten in Group ‘J’ in the first round. The team captained by Pasindu Lakshan beat Debarawewa National School and Wanduramba Central College. Vijitha Central, Dickwella and Madampa Central were the other two teams drawn in their group but their withdrawal made things easy for them.

During the knockout stage they beat Badulla Central in the pre-quarter final round. Their quarter-final ended in a no result but they were able to advance to the semi-finals thanks to their superior run rate over Ibbagamuwa Central. In the semis they edged out Methodist High School Moratuwa in the semi final.

 Teams: 

Jaffna Central (from): B. Inthujan (captain), V. Viyaskanth, S. Abiyuth, B. Kavitharshan, G. Janujan, T. Kaveejan, S. Sarangan, U. Tharmikan, J. Vithusan, A. Kajan, R. Newton, T. Gowtham, M. Sansayan, N. Ajay, S. Anusanth, S. Similtan, D. Poulparamathayalan, T. Abilash, S.Sayanthan, S. Mohommed. Officials: S. Tharshan (Master in Charge), F.R. Selton (Coach)

Vidyaloka College (from):

Pasindu Lakshan (Captain), Senith Praveen, Dilshan Kavinda, Dilan Rashinda, Dulara Nimsara, Sonal Ransara, Gihan Asanka, Chamith Shiran, Umesh Kavinda, Chamath Nirmal, Sasindu Lakshan, Hasanka Jayanath, Yasith Deshan, Umanga Imanjana, Dasun Chamod, Rashmika Prabath, Harsha Manohara, Hansaka Randeepa, Prageeth Bimsara. Officials: L.R. Manatunge (Master in Charge), Thusitha Kariyawasam (Coach).

(RF)

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