by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka are taking several young players to South Africa for the two match Test series and while most of them are there as cover because last minute injury replacements are impossible to be flown in due to the pandemic, the one who perhaps has got a chance to make his debut in the Boxing Day Test of Centurion is all-rounder Santhush Gunathilaka.
The 21-year-old is a top order batsman who bowls seam and he has impressed Head Coach Mickey Arthur.
“Very impressed by Santhush Gunathilaka. We are trying to develop a seam bowling all-rounder for conditions outside Asia. It’s tough to find in Asia someone who bats in the top six and bowls seam and we are excited by the talent set of Santhush,” Arthur who has coached the likes of Jacques Kallis and Shane Watson, top class all-rounders told Sunday Island.
What is ahead of Sri Lanka when they tour South Africa is a daunting task indeed. After they surprised the Proteas last time around becoming the first nation to win a Test series in South Africa, the hosts have given them two of the quickest wickets this time – The Wanderers in Johannesburg and Centurion, half hour’s drive from the capital.
Historically Sri Lankan sides have fared poorly at both grounds with Hashan Tillakaratne being the only batsman to post a hundred at one of those venues. Apparently, during his knock 16 years ago, the South Africans slip cordon kept reminding Hashan that the only drive he was going to get was from the ground to the hotel and back.
The 22 players who will tour South Africa began a week-long residential camp in Pallekele to prepare for the series.
“We have to get back into Test match mode We deloaded them after the Bangladesh series was pushed back. Now we have to get them back to load up. We want to build all over so that the boys get the right amount of work ahead of the tour. You can not ask a fast bowler to bowl four overs in LPL and then to bowl ten to 15 overs in a Test match. Skills simply won’t be at the appropriate level,” Arthur explained.
“Going to South Africa and playing on those bouncy wickets, you have got to get the batsmen’s technique get going. It’s all about preparation. The last thing we want to do is to take a team there without much preparation,” remarked Arthur.
There are nine seam bowlers in the squad, something that you expect when the team tours to South Africa. The return of Dushmantha Chameera is the most talked point in cricket circles. Once the quickest bowler in the country, Chameera has played little cricket since the 2015 World Cup due to injuries.
“Very excited about Dushy in particular going into South Africa. He bowls a good bouncer and hurries the batsman up. We have him and Lahiru Kumar putting a lot of pace into our attack. Then we have Suranga Lakmal who is always on the money. We are having a good pace battery for the tour.”
Also drafted into the squad for the first time is 20-year-old left-arm quick Dilshan Madushanka.
“There is a lot of promise there in Dilshan. He is obviously our seventh seamer. We see a future for him and we need to make sure that he learns and works with David Saker, our Fast Bowling Coach.
There is some criticism as batsman Lahiru Udara has been overlooked for the tour having scored heavily in domestic cricket. Arthur explained the reason. “He has certainly not been overlooked. He is in our system. We have conveyed what he needs to work on and he knows that. Why we have opted for someone like Lahiru Thirimanne is that he gives you stability, depth and experience particularly in a place like South Africa.”
Openers star in India’s crushing win
India tour of Zimbabwe, 2022
Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill struck unbeaten 80s after a clinical performance with the ball, helping India take a 1-0 lead with a 10-wicket victory against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Thursday (August 18). Deepak Chahar, playing his first international game since February 2022, bagged a three-wicket haul and was complemented by Axar Patel and Prasidh Krishna who also picked up three wickets apiece as India bowled Zimbabwe out for 189. Gill (82* off 72) and Dhawan (81* off 113) then put on their third 100-plus stand in the last four innings to lead India over the line with 19.1 overs to spare.
Dhawan and Gill weren’t in any hurry in the chase, taking their time to get going. Apart from a couple of fours at the start of the innings, Dhawan was mostly watchful, as was Gill as they negated the new-ball bowlers who were finding swing. But Victor Nyauchi struggled for rhythm and erred with his lines, bowling as many as eight wides in a four-over opening spell. Gill was dealing in singles while Dhawan capitalised on the loose deliveries for a couple of boundaries. The vice-captain also got a reprieve, put down by Evans at square leg off Sean Williams.
Having gone without a boundary till the end of the 13th over, Gill finally broke loose in the 14th, scoring three fours (one off an outside edge) off Brad Evans while taking the run-rate past five an over. With the field spread, there were easy opportunities to milk singles and twos, and the Indian openers went about in a risk-free manner to build their partnership. Dhawan got to a 76-ball fifty and then struck a four over extra cover off Sikandar Raza in the 20th over to bring up the century partnership.
Gill’s fifty was the next milestone as the right-handed opener reached there off 51 balls with two successive fours off Ryan Burl. The first six of the innings came off Gill’s bat as he clubbed a Wesley Madhevere delivery over the midwicket fence to power India past 150 in the 26th over, and the 22-year old soon outscored the 36-year old veteran despite facing lesser deliveries. Both Gill and Dhawan added to their boundary count, getting the scoring rate past six. The left-hander struck the winning boundary in the 31st over as India recorded their 13th successive ODI win against Zimbabwe and also their ninth victory in the last 10 ODIs.
Earlier, with a generous amount of swing and bounce on offer in the morning, Chahar and Mohammed Siraj bowled a testing spell to the Zimbabwe openers after KL Rahul opted to bowl. Having gone past the outside edge multiple times and losing a review for a leg-before decision, Chahar finally bagged the wicket of Innocent Kaia with a short delivery and also dismissed Tadiwanashe Marumani a short while later. Siraj then got the better of Williams with a short of a length delivery to get the batter to edge to first slip, while Chahar bagged his third wicket by trapping Madhevere in front as Zimbabwe slipped to 31 for 4 in the 11th over.
Zimbabwe captain Regis Chakabva took the attack back to India by scoring a flurry of boundaries. Meanwhile, the visitors lost their second review when Chahar, who bowled his seventh straight over, rapped Raza on the pads and replays revealed that the ball was missing the stumps. Chakabva and Raza built a steady partnership but their association came to an end on 35 when Prasidh found the outside edge of the in-form Raza. Chakabva had a lucky break when he reviewed a leg-before decision in a Kuldeep Yadav over after being given out. At the other end Burl played some confident-looking shots but fell to a short-ball ploy from Prasidh.
The first wicket to spin came in the 27th over when Chakabva, looking to play the cut shot, was bowled by Axar for 35 and the left-arm spinner also dismissed Luke Jongwe. While India would have hoped to wrap up the innings quickly, Evans and Ngarava kept them waiting as they put on a fighting half-century partnership. The pair rotated the strike well, scored boundaries from time to time while Evans also struck the first six of the innings when he sent a Kuldeep delivery over the midwicket fence as they raised Zimbabwe’s highest ninth wicket stand against India. Ngarava also struck a six, sending an Axar delivery wide of long-on, before a yorker from Prasidh ended his stay. Axar dismissed last man Nyauchi as Zimbabwe’s innings ended with 9.3 overs still remaining.
Zimbabwe 189 in 40.3 overs (Regis Chakabva 35, Richard Ngarava 34; Brad Evans 33*; Deepak Chahar 3-27, Axar Patel 3-24, Prasidh Krishna 3-50) lost to India 192/0 in 30.5 overs (Shubman Gill 82*, Shikhar Dhawan 81*) by 10 wickets.
Raducanu’s promising Cincinati run ends
Emma Raducanu’s dominant form at the Cincinnati Open ended as seventh seed Jessica Pegula proved a sharp step up in class for the British number one.Raducanu had trounced veterans Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, but lost 7-5 6-4 to Pegula in the last 16.
Now the 19-year-old switches her focus to defending her crown at the US Open, which starts in New York on 29 August.British men’s number one Norrie, seeded ninth, won 6-0 6-2 against the teenage American wildcard Ben Shelton as the gulf between the pair showed.
Norrie, who beat Andy Murray in the previous round, secured victory in just 57 minutes and will play Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz, who is seeded third, in the quarter-finals.Following her defeat by Pegula, Raducanu said her time in Cincinnati had shown that making mistakes is not necessarily a step backwards.
“In the past year it’s one of the few tournaments that I have started going for my shots more,” she said.
Optimism around Raducanu increased after her statement wins against 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams and fellow major winner Azarenka, albeit with the caveat that both of her ageing opponents are nowhere near their prime.
Against Williams, the world number 13 produced probably her best performance since her shock win at the US Open last year, backing that up with another confident display against an out-of-sorts Azarenka.Dropping just six games combined in the two victories – each lasting a little over an hour – was a welcome boost for Raducanu after a tough year.
But facing the consistent Pegula was always likely to provide a better assessment of where the Briton’s game is.It was only the second time in Raducanu’s burgeoning career that she has faced a top-10 ranked opponent and, in Pegula, one who has racked up the second highest number of WTA 1000 match wins since the start of 2021.
After losing serve in the third game of the match, Raducanu broke straight back but continued to be put under pressure by Pegula’s heavier ball-striking.Raducanu fought off three more break points to hold for 3-2, and another in the ninth game, before Pegula finally took another chance for a 6-5 lead.That left the 28-year-old American serving for the opening set and she took the chance without conceding a point.
Recent defeats in Washington and Toronto saw Raducanu edged out in tight opening sets before fading quickly against both Liudmila Samsonova and Camila Giorgi.Raducanu hit an untimely double fault to fall a break down early in the second set against Pegula and while her opponent’s level remained slightly higher, showed resilience to stay within a single break.
The narrow lead was enough for the impressive Pegula – who is enjoying her breakout year after struggling with injuries at the start of her career – to serve out the match without facing too much pressure.She will return to Flushing Meadows with renewed hope after a productive and confidence-boosting week in Cincinnati.Elsewhere in the WTA draw, top seed Iga Swiatek lost in the third round for the second successive tournament.
French Open champion Swiatek, 21, was beaten 6-3 6-1 by American Madison Keys, who earned the first win of her career against a world number one.Poland’s Swiatek has lost four of her past eight matches since her 37-match winning streak was ended at Wimbledon.Keys will face Elena Rybakina in the quarter-finals after the Wimbledon champion beat American Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2 6-4.Czech Petra Kvitova won 6-1 4-6 6-0 against Tunisia’s Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur, while Estonian second seed Anett Kontaveit was knocked out by China’s Zhang Shuai who triumphed 2-6 6-4 6-4.
In the men’s draw, world number one Daniil Medvedev wore down Canada’s Denis Shapovalov 7-5 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals before he starts his US Open title defence.The Russian faces American Taylor Fritz, who beat Medvedev’s compatriot Andrey Rublev 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 7-5.
Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, Canadian seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and American John Isner are also through, along with Croatia’s Borna Coric who followed up his win over Rafael Nadal by beating another Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
Southern Brave make it three in a row
Women’s Hundred 2022
Southern Brave made it three wins out of three following a narrow nine-run win over Manchester Originals on Thursday. Chasing 137, Originals found themselves in a very good position to register their second win of the campaign before a huge collapse saw them lose their grip on the game.
Lizelle Lee took some time before taking on Georgia Adams for 16 runs in the space of three deliveries to give her side a strong start. With Emma Lamb also making an impressive start, Originals’ openers added 46 for the opening wicket. The wicket didn’t deter the batting side as they continued to motor along in fine fashion and at one stage were 102/2 with 35 needed off 23 deliveries. Eight wickets in hand at that stage meant the target was definitely achievable.
However, Lauren Bell and Amanda Wellington struck to trigger a collapse. Under pressure, Originals also suffered a run out at that stage as Lamb continued to watch the procession from one end. She went on to make a half-century but she departed when her side needed 19 more runs to win. Brave then managed to close out the innings in perfect fashion to eke out a win.
Earlier in the day, a strong performance from the top order laid a solid foundation for Brave. Smriti Mandhana hit just the second ball of the innings for a boundary and then went berserk by smashing five more fours and a couple of sixes to race to 43 off just 24 balls. Her wicket gave the bowling side some much-needed respite as they started to pull things back.
Even though Danielle Wyatt made 31, a couple of quick wickets pegged back the batting side. Vital cameos right at the death from Maia Bouchier and Freya Kemp ensured Brave went past 130, which was just about enough to remain unbeaten in the competition.
Southern Brave 136/5 in 100 balls (Smriti Mandhana 43, Danielle Wyatt 31; Sophie Ecclestone 2-32) beat Manchester Originals127/8 in 100 balls (Emma Lamb 57; Amanda Wellington 3-27, Lauren Bell 2-17) by 9 runs
Domestic debt restructuring will cripple EPF, ETF – JVP
Powerful CEBEU says yes to restructuring but on its terms
SJB opposes blanket privatisations
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
U.S. Congress to probe assets fleecing by US citizens of Sri Lankan origin
Sunday Island 27 December – Headlines
News6 days ago
Wide ranging rackets benefiting CEB engineers
News4 days ago
Thanks to QR code expenditure on fuel drops from USD 500 million to USD 230 million a month
News5 days ago
Delisting of Tamil Diaspora groups irks some; explanation sought
News3 days ago
SJB alleges Prez under SLPP pressure to give up power to dissolve Parliament
Sports6 days ago
Mathews regrets Mankading of Buttler
News3 days ago
Wimal blames Gota’s naivety, Basil’s arrogance for current situation
News2 days ago
State sector reforms: Herath endorses Ranil’s agenda
News4 days ago
Jugglery alleged in Constitution making process: SJB, Gevindu make strong case against jumbo Cabinet