by Rex Clementine
Former captain Kumar Sangakkara seems confident that the national cricket team has turned things around following their first multi-nation tournament win after eight years on Sunday. After a horrific start in the curtain-raiser of the competition, where they went down to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka did well to reach the finals in the process winning four games in a row.
By the time the final came by, everyone was predicting that the team that won the toss had a big advantage in the game. Pakistan won the toss and started off well reducing Sri Lanka to 58 for five, but then Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne batted around Bhanuka Rajapaksa to enable the team to 170 for six. Rajapaksa, whose fitness had been questioned in recent months, was the hero finishing with an unbeaten 71, off 45 deliveries with six fours and three sixes.
Sri Lanka not only won a fifth game in a row to clinch the title but changed the trend of teams that winning the toss winning the contest in UAE.
“This Asia Cup victory by our cricketers is very special. Young, inexperienced and not given much of a chance by so many, they played as one team,” Sangakkara, who was Man of the Match when Sri Lanka last won a multi-nation tournament -2014 T-20 World Cup final against India – said.
The players credited the Asia Cup win to their fans, who have gone through immense hardships in recent months due to the economic crisis. Sangakkara echoed similar sentiments. “In the context of the past two years and the recent socio economic upheavals and crisis, they played for something more than a Trophy. They played for each and every Sri Lankan. All of us, the people and the country, needed a boost. A shot in the arm in terms of morale. The Sri Lankan cricket team delivered that in spades.”
Sangakkara was part of a high profile cricket committee that was appointed two years ago under the leadership of former captain Aravinda de Silva to address cricket woes. The committee had recommended several measures to be implemented in order to get the national cricket team back on winning track and it seem those measures are paying off.
The Sri Lankan team will resume training shortly in preparation for the ICC T-20 World Cup. They will travel to Australia early next month and will be based in Melbourne. Sri Lanka play a warm-up game on the 10th of October in Melbourne to get their campaign underway. The former champions need to play a qualifying round to go through like the last time.
Methwan wins marathon encounter
ITF Junior Circuit Tennis
Methwan Wijemanne overcame Josh Hinton of Great Britain in a marathon three and half hour battle to win the first-round encounter of the ITF Junior Circuit Week 1 Tennis Event at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Tuesday.
Wijemanne scored 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 against Hinton.
ITF Junior Circuit Tennis Tournament which is currently underway in Colombo will conclude on February 5.
Meanwhile, in another first-round encounter, Nithila Goonathilake beat Aryan Mehata of India 6-3, 6-0.
England Lions strongly placed
Top-order batsmen Alex Lees, Haseeb Hameed and Tom Haines scored half-centuries for visiting England Lions to reach 249 for three wickets at stumps after they dismissed the hosts for 136 on day one of the unofficial Test at Galle on Tuesday.
Sadeera Samarawickrama with 43 runs was the top scorer for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka ‘A’
136 all out in 35.4 overs (Oshada Fernando 21, Sadeera Samarawickrama 43, Lakshaitha Manasinghe 26; Matthew Fisher 5/34, Liam Patterson-White 3/51)
249 for 3 in 48 overs (Alex Lees 56, Haseeb Hameed 81, Tom Haines 62, Josh Bohannon 26n.o.; Lasith Embuldeniya 2/89)
Hathurusingha named Bangladesh head coach
Bangladesh Cricket Board, on Tuesday (31), said that Chandika Hathurusingha has been named as the new head coach for a two-year period. He is expected to join the set-up in February.
“We have appointed Hathurusingha for two years as across the format head coach,” BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury was quoted by Cricbuzz as having said.
The former Sri Lanka all-rounder had earlier served as the head coach of Bangladesh from 2014 to 2017. He has also served in various coaching positions with Sri Lanka, Canada, NSW and Sydney Thunder.
In his previous coaching tenure, Bangladesh had won ODI series against India, Pakistan and South Africa, alongside achieving Test victories versus Sri Lanka, England and Australia. During his stint, Bangladesh also reached the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in 2017.
“It’s an honour to have been given this opportunity to coach the Bangladesh national team once again. I really loved the warmth of the people and the culture of Bangladesh whenever I have been there. I’m looking forward to working with the players once again and enjoy their successes,” he said in a press release.
Cricbuzz had earlier reported that BCB is unlikely to continue with split coaching and Hathurusingha is the front-runner to replace Russell Domingo, who resigned before completing his stint that ran until the end of the 50-over ICC World Cup.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan remained tightlipped on the return of Hathurusingha as the head coach. No comments,” it’s all right,” he said, without elaborating further.
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