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Australia win Super Over after Hazlewood heroics, take 2-0 lead against SL

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There’s no way Sri Lanka have a shot in this, right? With four overs left, they were five down needing 50. With three overs left, they were six down needing 46. Pathum Nissanka was playing the best innings of his T20 international career, but that career is only 14 matches old.

But with the help of Wanindu Hasaranga, Nissanka lurches Sri Lanka forward in the 18th over, bowled by Pat Cummins. Hasaranga hits two fours – one an intentional uppercut behind square, the other a thick outside edge. Nissanka then wallops Cummins over deep midwicket for six, and by the end of the over, Sri Lanka bring the requirement to 29 off 12 balls.

But it’s Josh Hazlewood, who keeps the runs in check in the 19th over, giving away only 10, and would thwart Sri Lanka later.

The final over, which has to be bowled by Marcus Stoinis, seems to be going Australia’s way, when Nissanka is caught at deep backward square, and Sri Lanka still need 12 off the last three balls, with only tailenders on strike.

Perhaps buoyed by the news of their big IPL contracts, though, Maheesh Theekshana and Dushmantha Chameera hit the boundaries that leveled the scores and forced a Super Over. Theekshana bashed his first ball over deep midwicket, where Steven Smith almost pulled off a stunning save, but didn’t quite manage to prevent a six. Last ball of conventional play, Dushmantha Chameera smoked one down the ground for four to tie the scores. If the ball in between, a fullish ball way outside off stump, had been called a wide as it should have been, Sri Lanka might have won the game there.

The visitors did well to force the match into overtime, but that is where their fight ran out. Australia won it easy, in the end.

The Super Over

Although Nissanka had played perhaps the innings of the game, captain Dasun Shanaka – who had also struck it cleanly in his 34 off 23, chose to open in the company of Dinesh Chandimal. It didn’t go well. Shanaka tried to scoop Hazlewood over his shoulder first up but didn’t make contact. Then he played and missed a wide yorker outside off stump. Third ball, he missed again, and when they tried to run on the overthrow, had Chandimal run out at the non-striker’s end. Nissanka hit a two and a single in the two balls he got to face, but a Super Over score of five was never going to be enough.

With Hasaranga bowling, Stoinis hit two fours off balls two and three to finish the match.

Hazlewood’s match-winning turn

Aside from the excellent Super Over, Hazlewood was outstanding all through Sri Lanka’s innings. He removed Danushka Gunathilaka in the first over – the batter smoking one straight to cover. He then had Avishka Fernando caught at cover as well – his figures reading 9 for 2 from his two Powerplay overs. He only gave away three runs in his third over – the 12th of the innings – and kept his last to 10. All up (including the Super Over), he sent down five overs and conceded only 27.

Nissanka’s slow-burn knock

Josh Inglis produced an excellent 48 off 32 to set Australia’s total up, but Nissanka produced the innings of the evening, progressing steadily while Sri Lanka lost wickets in the early overs, (they were 25 for 3, then 67 for 4), before moving up the gears alongside Shanka, with whom he shared a partnership worth 48 off 31 balls. In the death overs, Nissanka cleared the boundary twice, to bring Sri Lanka close when they had seemed out of contention for much of the chase’s duration. He will be annoyed at the ball he got out to – a knee-high full toss from Stoinis, which he slapped straight to deep backward square in the final over. Nevertheless, his 73 off 53 encapsulated much of Sri Lanka’s fight. (Cricinfo)



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Dominant Zverev wins second Italian Open title

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Alexander Zverev won his last Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati in 2021 (BBC)

Alexander Zverev produced a dominant serving display to clinch a straight sets victory over Nicolas Jarry and claim his second Italian Open title.

The German third seed dropped just five points on serve in a 6-4 7-5 win to seal a sixth Masters 1000 crown.

Zverev will now move up a place to fourth in the world rankings and served a warning to his rivals ahead of the French Open, which begins on 26 May.

But he said: “The focus is on Paris for sure, but let me enjoy this one for a few days first.  “Rome is a very special place for me. Obviously it’s a very, very special week.”

Chilean Jarry was competing in his first final at this level.

The world number 24 had knocked out sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals, but while he battled hard to stay in the match he had no answer to his opponent’s arrow-like serve, as Zverev landed 80% of his first serves in.

“He’s playing huge,” said Zverev of his opponent, who also beat America’s Tommy Paul en route to the final.  “I can see by the opponents he has beaten this week, that he is playing incredible tennis.  “I told him that if he carries on playing like that then he is going to have many more titles at this level.”

(BBC)

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Rajasthan Royals consigned to Eliminator after washout in Guwahati leaves them third

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There was a toss late in the evening, but there was no play (BCCI)

Rain in Guwahati denied hosts Rajasthan Royals a shot at a top-two finish in the final league fixture of IPL 2024. The game was abandoned, without a ball being bowled, at around 10.50pm local time, meaning RR ended the league phase with four losses in a row, followed by this washout, to finish third with 17 points.

Sunrisers Hyderabad also had 17 points, having successfully chased down 215 against a severely depleted Punjab Kings side earlier in the day, but they stayed second, thanks to a superior net run-rate. Pat Cummins’ SRH will now face table-toppers Kolkata Knight Riders in the first qualifier in Ahmedabad on May 21. As for Royals, they will run into a red-hot Royal Challengers Bangalore side, which is on a six-match winning streak, in the Eliminator the next day at the same venue.

KKR’s players might have to rock up cold in the playoffs, with their last two league games having been abandoned without a ball being bowled. Especially Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Phil Salt’s potential replacement, who is yet to play his first game this IPL. His last outing with the bat was for Afghanistan in mid March.

Royals have similar concerns around their overseas players. Their finisher Shimron Hetmyer was originally deemed fit for Monday’s fixture, but eventually didn’t make it to the XI or the Impact subs bench, with RR captain Sanju Samson suggesting that they had to make some last-minute changes to their team.

Hetmyer hasn’t played since failing to finish a tense chase against SRH along with Rovman Powell on May 2. Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who is somewhat of a like-for-like replacement for Jos Buttler, had a fairly rough initiation into the IPL, managing 18 off 23 balls against Punjab Kings in much drier conditions in Guwahati on May 15.

The Guwahati surface was under covers for the most of Monday evening before the rain briefly relented to allow the toss for a seven-over shootout, which was scheduled to restart at 10.45pm local time. However, soon after KKR won the toss and chose to bowl, the rain returned to force a damp end to the league phase.

(Cricinfo)

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Silverwood’s final hurrah

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Looking back at his tenure as Sri Lanka’s Head Coach, you would notice that the team won the Asia Cup under his watch. There were other highlights like squaring a Test series against Australia and beating the same opponents in an ODI series.

by Rex Clementine

The team that has won most County Championships in England is Yorkshire. Generally, Yorkshire’s players are snobbish often blowing their own trumpets and looking down upon others. But Chris Silverwood, Sri Lanka’s Head Coach, has been the complete contrast. A friendly, unassuming man, Silverwood hardly gives you the impression that he was a former fast bowler; that too from Yorkshire. He has been very passionate about his coaching and has embraced the Sri Lankan culture. More than anything, he is a good man.

While the coaching staff of the national cricket team was completely overhauled after last year’s World Cup debacle, Silverwood survived.

Having got an extension till the World Cup in the United States and Caribbean, the upcoming tournament will be his swansong. Will there be a final hurrah for Silverwood?

With Mickey Arthur done with Sri Lanka two years ago, when one of our former captains was entrusted the job of head hunting a successor for Arthur, he opted for Englishman Paul Farbrace. There was bad history between Farbrace and SLC as he had abandoned the team after just a few months into his stint in 2014. That he walked straight into the England dressing room as Assistant Coach from the Sri Lankan dressing room as Head Coach with a tour of England on the cards was a bitter pill to swallow. Farbrace abandoned Sri Lanka a second time too and then it was decided to settle for Silverwood.

Silverwood had been England’s Head Coach but was sacked after the disastrous Ashes tour. When a coach is sacked, the last thing he would want to do is to take up another struggling team. If things went south with the new team, that would be very bad to the reputation of the coach. Silverwood, however, took up the challenge.

Looking back at his tenure as Sri Lanka’s Head Coach, you would notice that the team won the Asia Cup under his watch. There were other highlights like squaring a Test series against Australia and beating the same opponents in an ODI series. But on paper, by and large, you would declare that his tenure wasn’t an overwhelmingly successful one. However, you need to look beyond results.

Despite the drawbacks, one thing that has stood out well for Sri Lanka in the last two years is fast bowling. That’s credit to Silverwood for bringing the best out of some young quicks that Sri Lanka have introduced in recent years.

The team also has had several discipline issues over the years and fitness has been a major concern. There is so much a coach can do at the highest level and the initiative has to come from the players themselves. You can only take a horse to the water. You can’t make it drink.

There’s another school of thought that a team that had so many discipline issues needed someone in the mold of Tom Moody, a taskmaster as Head Coach and not the nice guy in Silverwood. But in his own imitable style, Silverwood has groomed the team well giving young players confidence and backing the ones that had impressed him to the hilt. He deserves to go out on a high note.

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