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Australia vs Sri Lanka an enthralling ODI series

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Dunith Wellalage was a revelation in this series showing an abundance of talent and temperament.

by Anura Tennekoon

The recently concluded 0DI series between Australia and Sri Lanka was one of the best if not the best cricket series witnessed on Sri Lankan soil. I am of this opinion due to the highly competitive and attractive cricket played by both sides.

1st ODI at Pallakelle Stadium Kandy

This contest was won by Australia by two wickets on the Duckworth & Lewis method as the game was affected by rain.

Sri Lanka batting 1st scored 300 for seven in 50 overs, with Kausal Mendis returning to form with a commanding innings of 86 not out.

Agar bowled best for Australia with figures of two for 49. Australia in its turn scored 282 for eight in 42.3 overs with the revised target being 282 in 44 overs. Maxwell led the way for Australia with a belligerent 80 not out. Hasaranga captured four wickets for 58.

2nd ODI at Pallakelle Stadium Kandy

Sri Lanka batted first to notch up 220 for nine in 47.4 overs. Once again Kusal Mendis was the top scorer with 36 runs. Pat Cummins was the main wrecker with four for 59. Australia in their turn were all out for 189 in 37.1 overs in response to a revised target of 216 in 43 overs. Chamika Karunaratne showed his prowess as a bowler in capturing three wickets while Chameera, Wellalage, and Dananjaya took two wickets apiece. This was a comprehensive win for Sri Lanka and signalled to Australia that they were up for a fight.

3rd ODI at Ketharama

Australia batted first and made 291 for six in 50 overs. Travis Head being the main scorer with a well compiled unbeaten 70. Vandersay three for 49 compensated for the absence of Hasaranga due to injury. Sri Lanka chasing a stiff target batted brilliantly to overhaul the Australian total in 48.3 overs for the loss of four wickets. Pathum Nissanka played a master class innings of 137 runs which made the difference in this game. I described his innings more comprehensively in a previous article of mine. Jhye Richardson was the only bowler to withstand the Sri Lankan onslaught taking two wickets for 39 runs. Sri Lanka going two up in the series must have been looking forward for the next match to seal the series.

4th ODI at Ketharama

In this game Sri Lanka batting first, lost early wickets, when Asalanka and Dananjaya associated themselves in a big partnership and pulled Sri Lanka out of trouble. Asalanka went onto score his maiden ODI century while holding the Sri Lankan innings together for a total of 258 all out in 49 overs. Australia in chasing down this moderate score were doing well when suddenly they lost three wickets in a space of two overs which turned the game on its head and Australia were all out for 254 loosing by four runs. Thus Sri Lanka registered a historic series win. Warner was unlucky to miss a well deserved century by one run.

5th ODI at Ketharama

The final game of this absorbing series was one in which Australia had to play for pride. Sri Lanka batting first kept loosing wickets regularly and looked like being restricted to a score of under100 runs. Chamika Karunaratne had other thoughts and established two partnerships with Vandersay and debutant Madushan and took the total to 160. Chamika batted aggressively with authority to stamp himself as a more than useful all-rounder in scoring 75 runs in 74 balls. Now this recovery in the Sri Lankan innings gave heart to its bowlers and they made batting tough for the Aussies on a wicket taking vicious turn. The Australians huffed and puffed in scoring the required runs winning by four wickets. Credit must be given to the Sri Lankan bowlers who almost defended a meagre score. 19 year old Wellalage was a revelation in this series showing an abundance of talent and temperament.

He is bound to do well in the future. Taking facts and figures I have enumerated it is evident that this series was hard fought and Sri Lanka came on top due to them winning more key moments. If this relatively young team keeps improving they will be strong contenders in the 2023 fifty overs World Cup which is being staged in India. The wickets and conditions there will be to our liking.

I would like to pay a tribute to Sri Lankans who turned up for the final game of the series in Aussie colours. This was a magnanimous gesture which is what sport is all about. In conclusion I say that the players and spectators made Cricket the winner in this series.



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All Seeded players through to semis

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P & S Sri Lanka Junior Open Golf Championship

The P&S Sri Lanka Junior Golf Match-play championship, sponsored by P&S Bakers group, entered the knock-out stage, with the quarter-final matches worked off with the seeded players moving through comfortably bar the thrilling cliff-hanger match between Jacob Norton Seeded 3 in the Silver Division and Varun Fernando (6th Seed) who fought all the way to take the match to the 20th hole, where Jacob prevailed.

Jacob Norton will meet second-seeded H.D. Adithya Weerasinghe (A’pura) who beat T. Deshan 6 & 4 comfortably. The top-seeded Reshan Algama beat Kaiyan Johnpillai convincingly 7 & 6, and will face fifth-seeded Jevahn Sathasivam who defeated fourth Seeded Keshav Algama with an easy 7 & 6 victory.

In the Gold Division, second-seeded Yannik Kumara withdrew after the qualifying round as he was scheduled to play in a tournament overseas and was not included in the match-play draw.

The top seed Haroon Aslam breezed through to the semi-final pulverizing W.G. Isurur  Shimal 9 & 7 and will meet Pranav Muralidharan the fourth seed who handsomely beat an experienced T. Vikash 7 & 6. In the bottom half of the Junior  Championship  Draw, second-seeded K. Danushan smashed Thenuk Sathnidu 8 & 7. He will play third seed Vinuka Weerasinghe who beat Yehan Kenthula 6 & 4.

In the Girls Gold Division number one seed Kaya Daluwatte will meet Yehani Perera who received a walk-over from Dhanushi Wanasinghe. Third seed Dhavinka Kanag-Isvaran beat R.M. Dinumi Sanjana 7 & 6 to set-up the second semi-final against second seed Sherin Balasuriya who also received a walk over from Sanduni Wanasinghe.

The Bronze Division Semi-Final clash between top seed Thejas Rathis Kanth and Keya Abhayarathne will be the feature battle. Keya Abhayarathne defeated Kaitlyn Norton 6 & 5 to set-up the semi-final match versus the top seed Thejas. In the bottom half of the draw second-seed Mohamed Saqeer Zuhar  will meet third-seeded Yehansa Senananayake.

In the Copper Division played over nine holes, Yuvan Rathis Kanth beat L.G. Anuja Methsara 6 & 4 to meet the second seed Jaeden Sathasivam whilst in the top half of the draw top seed Danik Daluwatte faces Taalia Silva.

The five semi-final matches scheduled for Thursday promise to be thrillers with the youngsters soaking in the pressure and performing well, adapting to the exciting Match-play format, that moulds the character of young golfers.

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Arjuna heads new Sports Council  

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Members of the newly appointed Sports Council pose with the Sports Minister

A new Sports Council was appointed by Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe yesterday with World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga taking the reign as the head of the apex body.

The other members of the Sports Council are: Lieutenant General H.L.V.M. Liyanage, Air Marshal S.K. Pathirana, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Amal Edirisooriya, Maj. Gen. Rajitha Ampemohotti, Dr. Maiya Gunasekara, Shriyani Kulawansa, Ajith Pathirana, Sunil Jayaweera, Chrishantha Mendis, Lasitha Gunaratne, Nalinda Illangakoon, Sudath Chandrasekara, Sujani Bogollagama.

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NH bids adieu to Ladies’ College after 50-year stint as TT coach

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N.H Perera pictured with the Ladies’ College table tennis team players

By a Special Sports Correspondent

Former table tennis National Champion, National Coach and sporting legend N.H Perera probably set a record in the Sri Lankan school sporting arena when he retired from coaching Ladies’ College Colombo in the ping pong ball and racket game after serving this academic institute for 50 years.

NH, as he is fondly known in the table tennis circles, started coaching Ladies College back in 1972 following an invitation made to him by the teacher in charge of sports back then Delita Fernando. When he turns the pages of time the only reason that came to his mind to say yes to this coaching assignment was that he wanted to give something back to the sport. He was quite young then (21 to be exact) and had won the table tennis national singles crown twice (1968/70) by then. He recalled with fondness how the lasses from this school won the National School Games title in 2019.

He produced many outstanding female players from this school and the secret behind his success was him being a strict disciplinarian. At the time he said yes to coaching at Ladies’ College he had laid down a condition for the authorities of the school. That was to arrange practices in the morning. This was because he was gainfully employed in work done outside table tennis. This goes on to show the caliber of players in the golden years of the sport. A good many of them had the capacity to contribute to society using their brains and education unlike today where the players are forced to supplement their income through table tennis coaching. For the record, NH served several companies and institutes in many capacities; proving that engaging in competitive sport and showing commitment to employment are a possibility when the individual has the capacity to manage both. When he finally retired from work he held the post of Marketing Manager at United Arab Shipping Lines.

He had his education at Nalanda College and had the honour of being the first table tennis national captain to be produced by this academic institute.

He rates the 1970s as the golden era of the sport. “I say this because we were invited by the ITTF to contest the Afro Asian Latin American Table Tennis Championship in Peking, China. During his playing days, NH had beaten top players from Russia, China, and also Europe. The picture he sees now in Sri Lankan table tennis is not so rosy. “We even lost to Nepal at the last SA Games. I believe the TTASL must be dissolved and a Board of Control for Table Tennis must be formed instead. Today we see many coaches out there who cannot put the ball over the net,” said Perera.

NH sees more potential in the Sri Lanka female players. According to him, the women’s players from Sri Lanka had finished sixth at the previous Commonwealth Games. “I trust that the way forward would be to bring down a female table tennis coach and male trainer; both from China. This would raise the standard of our playing,” said Perera who many years ago qualified as a coach from the Peking University of China.

He also spoke about the psychological aspects to training players. NH underscored the importance of bringing in psychology to training to help players handle unexpected challenges in the game. “You have to do sessions to develop the minds of the players,” said Perera.

He is at present engaged in coaching the students at S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia. The school by the sea won the All Island Table Tennis Championships in 2019 under his guidance.

NH maintains high standards for his players and himself. He recalls an incident in the past; which occurred during the time he was young and already the national champion. “I was coming out of the YMCA training hall after training and a photographer asked me to pose for a picture. I was in slacks and this picture appeared in the newspaper. I was summoned to the TTASL and a top official asked me why I had disgraced the sport by not being properly attired for a photograph that appeared in a national newspaper. I learned a valuable lesson in life,” concluded Perera.

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