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Badminton loses a courageous queen  

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Oshadee Kuruppu (second from left) represented and played badminton at the highest level.

By a Special Sports Correspondent

The passing away of national badminton player Oshadee Kuruppu was a big loss for the game even if it didn’t come as a shock for her family members.

Oshadee was suffering from leukemia and was diagnosed with the illness in 2020 July. Till then her life was pretty good; having achieved most of her life’s goals. She had played badminton at the highest level and was the proud recipient of a silver medal at the 2009 Asian Junior Under 16 Badminton Championships; contesting the girls’ doubles event. Completing her school education at Visaka College she was selected to pursue a degree in Sports Science at the Sabaragamuwa University. Her interests in badminton continued at university and she was able to represent her academic institute at the World University Games. She was even employed at MAS in the Human Resources Division and also got positive responses for job applications when she sought state sector employment. Her illness curtailed the time she spent on employment.

She was a determined girl and sports had driven into her that fighting spirit. No challenge in life was too big for her. That’s how her brother Virajith described his late sister.

But two years ago after returning home from training she had complained of being under the weather. “She said that she had felt unusually tired. At one time had seen two shuttlecocks while playing badminton; suggesting a certain adverse body condition had given impaired vision. Oshadee suggested we see a doctor and a blood test done a few hours after her training session revealed that her hemoglobin count in the blood had dropped drastically. She was asked to admit herself immediately because medical experts wanted to inject blood into her body,” recalled Viranjith.

Her world started collapsing slowly after that. But the good news for her was that all her loved ones, friends and most importantly her boyfriend Akila Dahanayake were right behind her. She was in and out of hospitals and when her condition was deteriorating her family sent her to India for extensive treatment. Though she was receiving treatment at Apeksha Hospital she was given a new lease of life when receiving treatment in India under the guidance of Dr. Mallikar Arjun. She made amazing progress there within 45 days and returned to a somewhat stable condition before coming back to Sri Lanka.

Her treatment in India was made possible due to the generous contribution made by well-wishers (Mostly Old Visakians). This social media group was able to raise around Rs 10 million. According to Viranjith there were other donors contributing and the total efforts produced a fund worth Rs 15 million which was sufficient to send her to India for treatment.

However despite making it to India, the plans to perform a donor transplant didn’t materialize. The donor chosen for this mission was Oshadee’s mother. But according to Viranjith his mom had become unsuitable to continue being the donor because of altering antibodies within her (mother) body. Oshadee was given a strong dose of chemotherapy as the alternative and sent back to Sri Lanka.

Her family is grateful to all who made contributions to enable Oshadee receive the best of treatment in India. Special mention must be made of Sri Lanka Badminton President Rohan De Silva for his contributions made personally to lift the spirits of Oshadee’s family when the chips were really down and funds were needed for treatment. The family is also grateful to Dr. Buddhika Somawardene who treated Oshadee at Apeksha Hospital.

The first few days of February had started off promisingly for Oshadee. She wanted to visit many people, eat the food that she loved and spend time with her boyfriend Akila. But suddenly her condition had started to deteriorate and she was rushed to the hospital once again. She was pronounced dead on February 8 and the cause of death, according to the hospital, was cardiac arrest. She was 27 years old at the time of death.

When contacted her boyfriend Akila said that they were to get married in 2020 August, but Oshadee was diagnosed with the disease and she had started showing symptoms in July that year. Akila had been a great strength to Oshadee and stood by her during this ordeal. Even at the funeral it had been Akila who had attended to most of the matters concerning the final rites.

“She was a courageous person and faced her condition without fear. She used to seek information on google and knew what the doctors were doing at each stage of her illness. But there came a time when she said that she was tired and had had enough. But her condition improved again and she was facing life. Then death came and took her away,” said Akila.

Chintaka Fernando, who coached her in badminton during the 2009 Asian Youth Championships, said that he was amazed by the courage shown by Oshadee during her battle with the illness. “She wanted to live and never gave up. She was a committed badminton players and played at the highest level. Apart from all that she was a very friendly person; hence everybody loved her,” said Fernando.

The last rites for the late Oshadee Kuruppu were performed at the Godigamuwa Public Cemetery on February 10. The badminton fraternity will have fond memories of Oshadee’s fighting skills in the badminton court here and abroad, but those who knew her outside the sport will remember a charming lady who won everybody’s hearts with her charming smile and gracious manners.



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Will Smeed hits the Hundred’s first hundred to get Birmingham Phoenix off the mark

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Will Smeed hit the first hundred in the Hundred as Birmingham Phoenix thrashed reigning champions Southern Brave by 53 runs in a sun-soaked Second City.On NHS Heroes Night at Edgbaston, with NHS workers and support staff invited along as a thank you for their brilliant work, a 14,000 crowd was royally entertained as Smeed socked an unbeaten 101 off 50 balls to lift his side to 176 for 4.Brave replied with a paltry 123 all out as Henry Brookes enjoyed a dream debut on the ground he has always called home. The Edgbaston product took 5 for 25 and two excellent catches in the outfield as Phoenix banked their first victory of the campaign and handed James Vince’s side their first defeat in nine matches.

After Phoenix were put in, they leaned heavily on Smeed after Chris Benjamin, promoted to open, and Moeen Ali each raced to 17 but then perished. Benjamin sent up a skier off Marcus Stoinis before Moeen, having lifted George Garton deep into the crowd at midwicket, chopped James Fuller’s first ball on to his stumps.Smeed galloped to a 25-ball half-century, reached with six over long off off Jake Lintott in a stand of 80 in 44 balls with Liam Livingstone. Livingstone was the top six-hitter in last year’s Hundred, but this time never really hit his stride, scoring just two from his first seven balls and 21 from 20 before lifting Lintott to extra cover.

Into the last ten balls, the big question was whether Smeed could complete his first professional hundred. He needed five runs from the last three, and a four and a two took him to the landmark from 49 balls.Phoenix set about defending their total with an increasingly depleted seam attack, Adam Milne (Achilles) having joined Matt Fisher, Chris Woakes and Olly Stone on the absentee list. But Kane Richardson soon stepped up, bowling Vince with his first ball after the Brave captain had smote Moeen for 16 in three balls in the first set.

Richardson conceded just a single from his first five balls and Phoenix struck again when Stoinis was brilliantly caught by Brookes at short fine leg off Tom Helm.Brookes followed that up in sensational style by striking with his second, tenth, 13th, 15th and 17th balls. Quinton de Kock sent back a return catch, Tim David lifted to deep square leg, Alex Davies was bowled through an attempted scoop and Fuller and Garton were pinned lbw. Who needs Milne, Fisher, Woakes and Stone?

Brookes hadn’t quite finished. At 108 for 7, Brave’s one sliver of remaining hope lay in some pyrotechnics from the big-hitting Ross Whiteley, but when he hoiked Benny Howell to long leg who was waiting underneath the ball? Brookes made no mistake and Phoenix closed out a victory which owed everything to the precocious talent of two young Englishmen.Birmingham Phoenix 176 for 4 (Will Smeed 101*) beat Southern Brave 123 (Alex Davies 33, Henry Brookes 5-25, Kane Richardson 3-19) by 53 runs

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Niroshan Dickwella stars in Greens 8-run win over Reds

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Opening batsman Niroshan Dickwella hammered an unbeaten 76 off 56 balls packed with 8 boundaries as Team Greens defeated Team Reds by 8 runs to register back to back wins in the SLC Skyexchange Invitational T20 League 2022 at the R. Premadasa International Stadium yesterday. Batting first the Greens ran up 161 for 6 off 20 overs with Dickwella dominating the innings. Skipper Dasun Shanaka struck 21 off 12 hitting 3 boundaries before getting run out followed by Dhananjaya de Silva 19 off 12 with 3 boundaries and Ramesh Mendis 11 off 8 (1×4).

The Reds did make a match out of it making 153 for 5 but lacked the final charge to make it despite having enough wickets in hand. Bhanuka Rajapaksa top scored with 34 off 28 with 2 boundaries while skipper Kusal Mendis made 30 off 28 with 3 boundaries and Kamindu Mendis 24 off 22 hitting a six.Upfront opening batsman Lasith Croospulle struck 31 off 24 inclusive of 3 boundaries for the Reds. Dickwella was adjudged Player of the Match.

CHIEF SCORES:

Team Greens 161/6 (20 Overs) (Niroshan Dickwella n.o. 76, Dasun Shanaka 21, Dhananjaya de Silva 19,.Dinesh Chandimal 15, Ramesh Mendis 11, Asitha Fernando 2/32, Sahan Arachchige 1/13, Matheesha Pathirana 1/25, Wanindu Hasaranga 1/30).

Team Reds

153/5 (20 Overs) (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 34, Lasith Croospulle 31, Kusal Mendis 30, Kamindu Mendis 24, Sahan Arachchige n.o. 19, Ramesh Mendis 1/22, Nimesh Vimukthi 1/23, Nuwan Thushara 1/32, Dhananjaya Lakshan 1/39).

(SLC)

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New Zealand juggernaut rolls on with another all-round win

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Odean Smith’s all-round show went in vain as West Indies’ batting once again did not manage to come to the party. Chasing 186, West Indies fell 13 runs short in the opening T20I in Jamaica as New Zealand’s juggernaut rolled on.

New Zealand had their returning skipper Kane Williamson put up a solid 47 off 33, and with Devon Conway’s 29-ball 43, the pair gave New Zealand a solid foundation to pile on the runs. There was a rain interruption in the 12th over for almost two hours, and although New Zealand lost momentum, briefly then, they recovered pretty quickly. Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell got starts but couldn’t convert them. It was, however, Jimmy Neesham’s 15-ball 33 in the end that propelled New Zealand towards the finish they wanted. Odean Smith finished with a career-best 3-32, striking at vital junctures to dismiss New Zealand’s top three; else the West Indies could’ve been chasing a lot more.

Tim Southee struck in the second over to dismiss Kyle Mayers, but West Indies would take heart from Shamarh Brooks’s fighting 42 off 43 while wickets fell at the other end as all of New Zealand’s bowlers cashed in. West Indies were reduced to 114/7 with the inevitable end drawing closer, but resistance came, albeit late, of 50 off 23 balls from the eighth-wicket stand Smith and Romario Shepherd.

Smith smashed four boundaries and a six in his unbeaten 27 off 12, while Shepherd struck three sixes and a four in his 31 not out off 16 balls. New Zealand’s spinners shone through once again on a wicket that assisted them, returning four wickets. Santner was the pick with 3-19 in his four leading New Zealand’s defence, making the most of the knowledge gained from his CPL experience.

Brief scores:New Zealand 185/5 in 20 overs (Kane Williamson 47, Devon Conway 43; Odean Smith 3-32) beat West Indies 172/7 in 20 overs (Shamarh Brooks 42; Mitchell Santner 3-19) by 13 runs.

(Cricbuzz)

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