by Rex Clementine
With sheer pace and skill Kagiso Rabada cut the big talking Bhanuka Rajapaksa to size. Bhanuka had made us all believe that the entire cricketing fraternity was against him and that he wasn’t getting a fair deal. Bhanuka can not walk the talk. The whole nation watched it live. Mickey Arthur was spot on in assessing him. Bhanuka is a lazy, overhyped; sloppy cricketer who is not just had troubles with the Sri Lankan team management but even his own club; BRC.
In this series against South Africa Bhanuka got three ducks in a row. He should have been axed but the selectors persevered with him.
Well, you can understand the selectors’ dilemma. Bhanuka has met their fitness criteria, he is one of the few players who can clear the boundary and more importantly he has a powerful social media network. So the selectors have all the reasons to be scared of him and preserve with him.
But at the same time what wrong has Avishka Fernando done? For Bhanuka to be continued after scoring three successive ducks and Avishka to be axed three innings after he had scored a hundred doesn’t make sense. Bhanuka will turn 30 next month. Avishka is 23. He certainly is the future. You are willing to give the long rope to Bhanuka, but you are not prepared to do the same to Avishka.
Then there is this ridiculous argument put across that Avishka’s numbers in T-20 cricket are not that spectacular although he has done exceptionally well in ODIs. Is that so? Then how come you give Bhanuka a place in the ODI side having initially brought him to the T-20 team? There can be only two reasons. Either the selectors are scared of Bhanuka or they have got no clue.
When Pramodaya Wickramasinghe axed a whole bunch of seniors promising to rebuild he created the image of a tough guy who will not take any nonsense. Four months later, he has been taken for a ride by an average First Class cricketer who can not pass a simple fitness test on the first time.
The press has so many questions to ask Pramodaya, but he has avoided the media like the plague. If you think that in these days of the pandemic there’s no room for media briefings, let us tell you that SLC has a vibrant media unit that has conducted over 100 media briefings virtually since the pandemic restricted movements.
Pramodaya has to come out and explain his policies. At the moment it looks as if the he is groping in the dark.
For the last World Cup in the UK, we entered uncharted territories rather than going with the flow. Swimming against the current seems to be the trend in our backyard as we fielded half a dozen players who had at least not played an ODI in more than a year. Remember Eoin Morgan’s tongue in cheek comment that Sri Lanka were the surprises package in the World Cup. You reckon something similar is in store this time around too. Teams put out their best outfits for World Cups after years of planning. Sri Lanka are taking a bunch of rookies. Half of the team picked for the World Cup have played less than a handful of T-20 Internationals and that is recipe for disaster.
Dimuth Karunaratne was one guy who was doing a decent job as one-day captain. What was the mighty hurry in sacking him? What wrong had he done? Then you get someone who has not even captained his school to lead the side. The trial with Kusal Perera lasted just one month. Then the job is handed to Dasun Shanka who is not sure of his place in the ODI side. The selectors have run out of options. There are no more leaders to be given the job. The game is at its lowest ebb.
We can not afford to have a bunch of amateurs doing selections. We need professionals and people who are well respected in the game to do one of sport’s toughest tasks.
Iyer, Gill, Suryakumar and Ashwin stud India’s series-clinching win
India’s box-ticking ahead of the World Cup continued, with Shreyas Iyer and R Ashwin coming up with impressive performances, as the hosts secured a 99-run victory (DLS) in the second ODI in Indore on Sunday (September 24) to seal the three-match series. Iyer’s third ODI ton and Shubman Gill’s sixth hundred, along with half-centuries from Suryakumar Yadav and KL Rahul, powered India to a commanding 399/5. After a rain break in the second innings, Australia’s target was revised to 317 in 33 overs but they ended up well short as Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja bagged three apiece to bowl the visitors out for 217.
Matthew Short started positively in the chase as he managed two fours off Mohammed Shami in the opening over. But Prasidh Krishna, who replaced Jasprit Bumrah for this game, had Short caught at third man and also got Steve Smith, the stand-in captain, to edge to slip. The bowler, though, was taken for a few boundaries by David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne as they took Australia past 50 before it started to rain again in Indore, forcing the players off the field. Upon resumption, Australia faced a steep challenge as they needed 261 in 24 overs at close to 11 an over as per the DLS revised target.
Warner and Labuschagne, who extended their stand past 50, had to play their shots from the get-go and they were up for it as they targeted Shardul Thakur. Ashwin, on the other hand, wasn’t as easy to score off and Warner even batted right-handed against him, executing a sweep shot for a four. Labuschagne, though, fell to the offspinner as he was bowled off a back flipper. Warner, who registered his second fifty-plus score of the series, persisted with his right-hand tactics against Ashwin, and ended up being out lbw attempting a reverse sweep, although replays revealed he had edged the ball onto his pad.
Ashwin also removed Josh Inglis soon after and Jadeja, after an expensive start, accounted for Alex Carey. A direct hit from Ishan Kishan, who was ‘keeping in this game, caught Cameron Green short of the crease. Jadeja picked up his second by having Adam Zampa bowled, as Australia slipped to 140/8. Josh Hazlewood and Sean Abbott struck a few big hits while a couple of dropped catches came as blemishes in an otherwise dominating show by India. Australia got some ticking done too as Abbott showcased his hitting skills to bring up a 29-ball fifty, his first in ODIs. A 77-run ninth wicket stand came to an end when Hazlewood, who had hit two fours off Shami, was eventually bowled by the experienced pacer for 23. Abbott was the last to fall, bowled by Jadeja, as Australia’s innings ended in the 29th over. It meant they had now lost five ODIs on the bounce.
Earlier, having been asked to bat, India got off to a good start as Ruturaj Gaikwad struck two fours off debutant Spencer Johnson. Hazlewood, back in the side, bowled in the right channels, and reaped the reward as he got Gaikwad to edge to Carey. Iyer hit the straps straightaway as he dealt in regular boundaries. Be it driving through covers or going over it, he exuded confidence as he helped India pick up pace. Gill was a bit subdued until he went straight over Abbott’s head for his first boundary-shot, which was a maximum, and then came down the track to hit one past cover for a four. Gill also took on Green in his first over, striking a four and a six. After a brief rain interruption, Gill and Iyer continued to tee off, with the former bringing up a 37-ball fifty and the latter getting to a 41-ball half-century with a six off Johnson.
Australia weren’t able to keep a lid on India’s scoring rate, with Iyer targeting the spinners for a couple of sixes and Gill finding the boundaries regularly. India’s 200 came up in just the 29th over and an 86-ball ton for Iyer came next, and the joy and relief of getting to hundred was palpable in his celebrations. Iyer was reprieved when the third umpire ruled that Abbott didn’t take a return catch cleanly. But the batter fell in the same over, soon after hitting a boundary to raise the 200 partnership, when he failed in his attempt to clear the fence. Rahul started with a six off Zampa, after which Gill reached three figures, becoming only the fifth player to get five ODI hundreds in a calendar year before turning 25. Rahul also hit a Green delivery out of the ground before Gill’s innings came to an end in the same over when he was undone by a slower ball.
Rahul and Kishan kept the big hits coming as they raised a 59-run stand to help India past 300 in the 41st over. But Kishan fell soon after, getting out to Zampa for an 18-ball 31 looking to go for another big one. After two quiet overs, Suryakumar unleashed his array of strokes in the 44th over off Green, hitting four successive sixes. Rahul got to a 35-ball fifty but it was Suryakumar who scored the bulk of the runs in a half-century stand before Green ended the Indian skipper’s stay. But there was no stopping Suryakumar, who smashed a six and two fours in a 17-run over from Abbott as he got to a 24-ball fifty. Jadeja and Suryakumar scored a four apiece off Hazlewood in the 48th. It was a forgettable outing with the ball for Green, who conceded 103 runs despite giving away only five runs in the 49th over. Abbott was hit for a six by Suryakumar in the final over but he kept it tight otherwise, preventing India from reaching 400.
India 399/5 in 50 overs (Shreyas Iyer 105, Shubman Gill 104, Suryakumar Yadav 72*, KL Rahul 52; Cameron Green 2-103) beat Australia 217 (Sean Abbott 54, David Warner 53; R Ashwin 3-41, Ravindra Jadeja 3-42) by 99 runs (DLS method).
Hasaranga ruled out of World Cup
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka suffered a major blow before leaving for the ICC Cricket World Cup in India later this week when star leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga was ruled out of the tournament with a hamstring injury. The 26-year-old was sidelined from the Asia Cup after suffering a hamstring injury during the Lanka Premier League but was expected to be fit for the World Cup.
However, he aggravated the injury during rehabilitation and now medical experts will determine whether the former Richmond College cricketer needs surgery. Hasaranga has a grade III hamstring tear.Hasaranga had been named in the World Cup squad but now he’s most likely to be replaced by Dushan Hemantha, the leg-spinning all-rounder.
There was no place for fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera either in the World Cup squad, however, sources said that he will be back up if any injury happens to a fast bowler during the World Cup.Dilshan Madushanka and Lahiru Kumara, who did not feature in the Asia Cup due to injuries have recovered and have been drafted into the World Cup squad.
Maheesh Theekshana, who suffered a hamstring injury during the Super Four game against Pakistan in the Asia Cup has recovered and has also been named in the World Cup squad.
Sri Lanka did well to reach the Asia Cup finals despite the bowling attack being depleted with injuries. All bowlers who broke down lead up to the Asia Cup were expected to be available for selection and Hasaranga had in fact resumed bowling and had been picked in the World Cup squad before the same injury again flared up.
Later this week, Sri Lanka will fly off to the eastern Indian city of Guwahati on the Nepalese boarder for World Cup warm-up games against Asian rivals Afghanistan and Bangladesh before flying to Indian capital of New Delhi to prepare for their first game of the tournament against South Africa.The finalists of the epic 2019 World Cup – England and New Zealand will face off in the curtain-raiser of the tournament on the 5th October at Ahmedabad. Sri Lanka’s first game is two days later.Sri Lanka have two games each in Delhi, Bangalore and Lucknow while they play one game each at Pune and Hyderabad. The epic clash against hosts India is in Bombay on the 2nd of November, a replay of the 2011 World Cup final.
Sri Lanka women’s cricket team to fight for Asian Games gold
Sri Lanka outplayed Pakistan on a slow and sticky surface in Hangzhou to advance to the final of the Asian Games. Chasing a small target of 76, Sri Lanka reached the target in the 17 over to set up the gold-medal contest against India – who beat Bangladesh in a low-scoring, one-sided contest earlier in the day. Final will be played on Monday.
Opting to field first in the second semi-final, Sri Lanka’s bowlers were all over Pakistan’s batters from the beginning. They were restricted to 75 for 9 in 20 overs with right-arm medium pacer Udeshika Prabodhani starring with three wickets and young off-spinner Kavisha Dilhari picking up two wickets. Inoshi Priyadharshani, Achini Kulasuriya and Inoka Ranaweera took a wicket apiece to blunt Pakistan. That only three batters crossed double digits showed how Nida Dar’s side struggled to score.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka got off to a decent start with Chamari Athapaththu using sweep shots to negate the spinners’ turn. After scoring two boundaries, she mistimed a slog sweep to hole out on 14 off 19 balls. Opener Anushka Sanjeewani also fell inside the powerplay for a 13-ball 15 but Harshitha Samarawickrama at one-drop stitched a 35-run stand in 51 deliveries with Nilakshi de Silva for the third wicket to ensure Sri Lanka didn’t lose wickets in a flurry. Samarawickrama, despite consuming 41 balls, played a crucial knock of 23 while de Silva’s unbeaten 18 saw Sri Lanka chasing down the target with 21 balls to spare and six wickets in hand. Sadia Iqbal, Daina Baig and Umm-e-Hani were among the wickets for Pakistan, but it wasn’t enough to stop Sri Lanka from advancing to the final. They will face Bangladesh for a third-place play-off on Monday.
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