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Ashen Bandara set to raise Sri Lanka’s fielding standards

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Ashen Bandara has been named in the Sri Lankan squad for the first time.(The Papare)

by Rex Clementine

Over the years, there’s been a few concerns about Sri Lanka’s poor fielding standards. Dropped catches have cost the national cricket team dearly with costliest of them being at the Champions Trophy in 2017 in Wales when Thisara Perera put down Sarfraz Ahmed. At the post match media briefing, the Pakistan captain rubbed salt into wounds saying, ‘I will remember it for the rest of my life and he will remember it for the rest of his life.’ Pakistan went onto win the title beating arch-rivals India in the final at The Oval. Mickey Arthur was Pakistan’s coach.

Arthur desperately searches for fielding excellence and he was able to raise Pakistan’s standards. He seems like pushing for excellence in fielding with Sri Lanka too and several young players who are good fielders are being drafted into the side and the most exciting of them all is Ashen Bandara.

Galle has produced many fine cricket talents in recent years with Richmond College producing most of these standout players. Bandara, however, is from St. Aloysius.

In 2017, during the Galle Test against India, a few players were injured and soon word was sent to the closest school to the ground to send a few players just in case of emergency. So St. Aloysius sent down a few of their First XI cricketers and Ashen was one of them.

In fact, Ashen had to come onto the field for a session. He was electric – diving around and sprinting like a cheetah to cut off boundaries. He caught the imagination of Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who predicted a bright future for the young kid.

That Ashen would go onto make headlines in international cricket was first predicted by Upul Chandana, the fielding coach of Sri Lanka Under-19.

“We are really pleased that both Ashen Bandara and Pathum Nissanka are joining us on tour for the first time. They are both dynamic and versatile in the field which is a credit to Manoj Abeywickrama and the staff at High Performance Center,” Shane McDermott, Fielding Coach of the Sri Lankan team told The Island.

“Ashen is very exciting young talent. He hits the ball well and he is very athletic. He has a good technique and he is electrifying in the field,” Head Coach Mickey Arthur said.



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Silverwood applauds problem solver Asalanka

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His ability to debate makes him a cut above the rest – Arthur

By Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka’s Head Coach Chris Silverwood and his predecessor Mickey Arthur heaped high praise on middle order batsman Charith Asalanka, whose stunning 83 not out helped Sri Lanka to complete the highest successful run chase ever at home on Wednesday.Set an improbable target of 314, Asalanka played a blinder smashing five fours and four sixes during his 72-ball knock with the last six sealing Sri Lanka’s victory with two balls to spare.

Asalanka made his Sri Lanka debut in England during Arthur’s time as Head Coach last year. Although a top order batsman, Arthur made him to bat at number five, a position where you have to absorb pressure, especially during run chases. What factors in Asalanka impressed Arthur?

“Charith worked so hard when he came into the team. He is always willing to take on information, listen and ready to debate if he wasn’t convinced on something. That’s a very good feature in a young player. I like that kind of attitude. He has this aura about him. Dasun Shanaka is doing a fine job right now but one day when he is finished Charith is the guy who is going to take on the reins of leadership,” Arthur told Sunday Island.

The former Head Coach currently lives in UK where he coaches English county Derbyshire. He is in Colombo for the Lanka Premier League that gets underway next week.

“What prompted us to fit him in the middle order is that a left-hander gives you so many positives. Charith has this ability to switch gears. Increase and decrease the tempo. He is a wristy player and can manipulate things when he is out in the middle. He can hit boundaries at any given time with his ability to find gaps and he is good at rotating the strike. He has worked very hard on sweeping and he is now able to score all-around the wicket.”

While Arthur is in Colombo, Silverwood is back in the UK spending time with family for Christmas. Although he is from Yorkshire, he lives now in Essex, half hour drive from London. Silverwood won the County Championship with Essex, a title that they won after 25 years.

“I am looking for people who want to put their hands up and get the team over the line. The way Charith went about his business was superb. The influence he had on Dunith was a strong one as well during the run chase. He took calculated risks and showed what a fine player he is,” Silverwood added.

“Charith is a problem solver. He can find answers for any tough situation. He is a strong character and a good thinker.”

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World Cup 2022: Did it cross the line? Germany out as Japan and Spain progress

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Did the ball cross the line?

That is the age-old World Cup question for Germany, who crashed out as Japan beat Spain thanks to an opinion-dividing winner that left many scratching their heads.Kaoru Mitoma’s cutback for Ao Tanaka’s tap-in happened just after the ball looked to have crossed the byeline.

Even after cropping and zooming it looked incredibly close. Eventually it was ruled that the ball had not fully crossed the line.

In other words, if you drew an imaginary line upwards at 90 degrees from the far edge of the whitewash, it would have still passed through the curve of the ball – albeit only just – even though the part of the ball that touched the ground had fully crossed the line.The goal was initially ruled out by the assistant referee after a long pause, then the video assistant referee (VAR) intervened and ultimately Japan’s lead would stand – and they would go on to win.

“I have seen a photo that must have been tampered with, it cannot be that this photo is real. It has to be manipulated,” said Spain boss Luis Enrique.

“I felt that something fishy was going on when the VAR took as much time as it did to decide… I have nothing to say.

“Luckily, the team only goes into collapse mode once every four years, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to cope.”

The controversy evoked memories of Frank Lampard’s “ghost goal” against Germany in 2010, when England went out in the last 16, and – no doubt for German fans of a certain vintage – of 1966 and Geoff Hurst’s extra-time effort when England won the World Cup.

In Qatar, those three points for Japan meant Germany were out, the four-time winners falling at the group stage for a second consecutive tournament.It was just one moment on a World Cup night full of spine tingling drama.

(BBC)

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Vishen Halambage could be next big thing in cricket

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St. Peter’s take on Thurstan College in the under-19 finals today at Colts Cricket Ground and all eyes will be on young Vishen Halambage, who has been making headlines as a prolific run scorer in schools’ cricket.
The right-handed opening batsman is the leading run scorer in the competition having scored 456 runs with two hundreds and one fifty. He is also a handy leg-spinner and has taken 18 wickets in the tournament.
Vishen hails from Ambalangoda, a town that has produced many fine cricketers. He had his initial education at Stafford International before shifting to St. Peter’s to pursue his cricketing ambitions. He has done well in all age groups at St. Peter’s and has got one more year in the under-19 set up.
Vishen is in the national selection panel’s radar and has been shortlisted in the initial pool of 30 to take on West Indies in the bilateral series. He is also expected to feature in the next ICC Under-19 World Cup and could go onto skipper the Sri Lankan team having already captained the national under-15 side.
Cricket is in Vishen’s blood. His father Kumara Halambage played cricket for Dharmashoka, Ambalangoda and First-Class cricket for Singha SC. His uncle, Premasiri Halambage, was the President of Galle District Cricket Association.

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