An impressive campaign with lots of positives
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.
Tharushi shocks seniors, breaks own record and sets world-leading time
By Reemus Fernando
Ratnayake Central, Walala prodigy Tharushi Karunaratne blazed the track with the country’s second fastest time ever in the women’s 800 metres to provide a sensational start to the 2023 season proper as the Junior and Senior track and field trials commenced at Diyagama on Monday.
The athlete trained by Susantha Fernando clocked 2:01.39 seconds to beat reigning national champion and national record holder Gayanthika Abeyratne. The 18-year-old’s winning time was only 19 milliseconds shy of the national record established by the veteran runner last year.
Incidentally, Karunaratne’s feat is the world-leading time in her age category this year.
Abeyratne led the race for a better part but Tharushi beat her in the last few metres in the home straight to produce one of the fastest 800 metres races on home soil.
Tharushi who emerged as a future prospect with notable performances at the Under 16 level at Junior school competitions has been on a record-breaking sphere.
Competing in the senior category she shattered her own National Junior Record and announced her readiness even to make her senior debut for Sri Lanka at international competitions.
Her winning time yesterday stands out as it ranks above the women’s 800 metres Asian Junior Championship record. No one has run the women’s 800 metres faster than China’s Lang Yinglai (in 1997- 2:02.66 secs) at Asian Junior Championships.
Tharushi, who has represented Sri Lanka at back-to-back World Junior Athletics Championships has not only secured a place in Sri Lanka team for Asian Junior Championships but has also emerged as a strong contender to make the teams for the Senior Asian Championships and the Asian Games.
Sri Lanka Athletics conducts the two-day event as a precursor for the final selection for the Asian Junior Championships, Asian Senior Championships and the Asian Games taking place this year.
Meanwhile, in yet another notable feat Janindu Lakvijaya broke the national record in the men’s 110 metres hurdles as he clocked 13.82 seconds in the heats.
After Big Match duties Sineth, Tharupathi guide Sri Lanka U19s to big win
Just a day after finishing their Big Match duties Royal College batsman Sineth Jayawardena and Richmond College spinner Malsha Tharupathi featured prominently in Sri Lanka Under 19s five-wicket victory over their Bangladesh counterparts in UAE on Monday.
Chasing a target of 230 runs to win Sineth Jayawardena top-scored with 101 runs to secure a five-wicket victory with 33 balls to spare. Jayawardena put on a first-wicket stand of 95 runs with St. Joseph’s batsman Hirun Kapurubandara who scored a half-century.
When Bangladesh Under 19s decided to bat first, Sri Lanka bowlers did well to restrict them to 229 runs. Tharupathi with three wickets was the pick of the blowers.
Sri Lanka Cricket had given exemptions for Sri Lanka Under 19 players Jayawardena, Tharupathi and Mahinda College Galle player Dinura Kalupahana to join the team in UAE after completing their Big Match duties.
Jayawardena took two wickets in the second innings though he was off colour with the bat in Royal College’s victory at the historic 144th Big Match. Tharupathi took six wickets for Richmond in the drawn Lovers’ Quarrel Big Match against Mahinda. All rounder Kalupahana who scored a half century and took three wickets for Mahinda in the Big Match, contributed with 10 runs yesterday, while his five overs could not yield wickets.
229 for 8 in 50 overs (Chowdhur Md Rizwan 38, Jishan Alam 40, Ahrar Amin 50; Malsha Tharupathi 3/35)
Sri Lanka U19s
234 for 5 in 44.3 overs (Hirun Kapurubandara 52, Sineth Jayawardena 101, Hiran Jayasundara 35; Jishan Alam 3/31)
New Zealand seal 2-0 whitewash despite Sri Lanka’s lower order resistance
Despite a strong resistance by Sri Lanka’s lower order, three wickets apiece by Tim Southee and Blair Tickner helped bundle out the visitors for 358 to help New Zealand clinch the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington by an innings and 58 runs, on Monday. With the win, the hosts also sealed the two-match Test series 2-0.
The visitors, who were asked to follow on after bundling out for 164 in the first innings, in response to New Zealand’s 580 for 4, provided a strong fight for most parts of the first two sessions, led by Dhananjaya de Silva’s 98 – and well supported by Dinesh Chandimal’s 62 and Nishan Madushka’s 39. However, on either side of the two partnerships – for the fifth and sixth wicket respectively – the hosts triggered collapses.
They struck in the first over of the day itself, with Kusal Mendis mistiming a pull off Matt Henry to mid wicket, without adding to the overnight score. The short-ball which got them the success early in the day, was used rather generously by the New Zealanders throughout the day, especially Blair Tickner who filled in that role in the absence of Neil Wagner.
In the fourth over of the day, the other overnight batter – Angelo Matthews – departed pulling Tickner to square leg. Despite losing two wickets early in the day, Sri Lanka continued to be on the offensive, with Chandimal and Dhananjaya taking on the short-pitched attack. The duo stitched a 126-run stand for the fifth wicket, in what proved to be a high-scoring session where Sri Lanka picked 136 runs.
The attacking approach that the two batters maintained also helped them quickly take advantage of the loose deliveries as well. However, late in the morning session, Chandimal eventually fell to the ploy, top-edging a pull off Tickner to the fine leg fielder.
Madushka, on debut, got off the mark by going down the track off Michael Bracewell and hitting the offspinner for a six in the last over before Lunch. He attempted to drive the next delivery, but was tricked by the dip and eventually hit it just short of the fielder. The approach post Lunch though was rather cautious. Against the moving new ball, the batters were tested by Matt Henry and Tim Southee. However, apart from a couple of leg before appeals and a few beating the bat, there wasn’t much threat posed to them.
They slowly kept chipping away at the deficit with a 76-run partnership for the sixth wicket before Madushka fell at the stroke of Tea – yet again dismissed pulling against Tickner, this time caught at mid on.
Sri Lanka’s chances of wiping off the deficit took a massive hit when Dhananjaya was dismissed in the second over after tea. Looking to sweep Michael Bracewell, he got a top edge to the short-leg fielder. Thereafter, the lower order only delayed the inevitable. They kept the New Zealand bowlers at bay for nearly two and a half hours from thereon to hand them the last three wickets, two of which were eventually scalped by Southee.
Kasun Rajitha played out 110 deliveries in the company of Prabath Jayasuriya and Lahiru Kumara, both of whom added 45 balls each. Rajitha’s dismissal – caught at second slip poking at an away-going delivery – ended Sri Lanka’s innings soon after play was extended for the day.
580/4 decl. in 123 overs (Kane Williamson 215, Henry Nicholls 200n.o.; Kasun Rajitha 2-126)
164 all out in 66.5 overs (Dimuth Karunaratne 89; Matt Henry 3-44, Michael Bracewell 3-50) and 358 all out in 142 overs (Dhananjaya de Silva 98, Dinesh Chandimal 62; Tim Southee 3-51, Blair Tickner 3-84)
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