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Batting might, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur give India series

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An unbeaten 80 by Virat Kohli and a stunning half-century by Rohit Sharma in an unfamiliar but effective opening partnership set India up for a comfortable win in the fifth T20I before Bhuvneshwar Kumar finished it off to seal the series 3-2 in Ahmedabad.

India left out regular opener KL Rahul and brought in an extra bowler, T Natarajan, in a move Kohli described at the toss as prompted by a desire to “bring in a good balance with bat and ball”. But there was no denying Rahul’s struggles – he had made 1, 0, 0, and 14 in the series – and his absence meant Kohli would open for just the eighth time in T20Is. Kohli and Sharma combined for a 94-run stand from 56 balls to lead India to a commanding total of 224 for 2, their third-highest T20I total at home and fourth highest overall. Persisting with the back-of-a-length and short-pitched bowling which had brought them success through the series, England’s attack looked toothless on this occasion as India’s batsmen adapted and thrived.

 

India fined for slow over-rate

India have been fined 40% of their match fee for maintaining a slow over-rate during the fifth T20I in Ahmedabad.

Javagal Srinath, the ICC match referee, found the side two overs short of their target at the end of England’s innings after time allowances were taken into consideration. The charges were leveled by on-field umpires Anil Chaudhary and Nitin Menon, and third umpire KN Ananthapadmanabhan. There was no need for a formal hearing as India captain Virat Kohli pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the sanction.

According to Article 2.22 of the ICC code of conduct, which relates to minimum over-rate offences, players are fined 20% of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the given time.

England had said after India levelled the series 2-2 with an eight-run victory on Thursday that they would relish the pressure of a must-win clash as ideal preparation for the World Cup in October. They set out in pursuit needing to score at 11.2 an over and recovered from the early loss of Jason Roy as Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler carried them to 62 for 1 by the end of the powerplay, which compared favourably with India’s 60 for 0, en route to a 130-run partnership.

But some wonderful bowling by Kumar – who claimed 2 for 15 from his four overs, including 17 dot balls and the vital wickets of Roy and Buttler on a batting-friendly pitch – damaged England’s hopes beyond repair. Shardul Thakur accounted for Malan and Jonny Bairstow in the space of four deliveries, which left England needing 83 off the last five overs. When Eoin Morgan fell cheaply to Pandya, the task proved too much.

 

Rampaging Rohit

Going into the match with scores of 15 and 12 for the series after being rested for the first two matches, Sharma unleashed a masterclass of timing, power and elegance with an effortless-looking 64 off just 34 balls that consigned Kohli to the shade initially. No sooner had Kohli thumped Jofra Archer for a beautiful cover drive for four, Sharma signalled his intent, threading an Archer slower ball between point and cover for a boundary of his own. From there, Rohit took charge, nailing Adil Rashid over deep midwicket for the first of five sixes.

When Mark Wood came into the attack in the fourth over, India took 13 off it, including two fours that Rohit drilled straight back down the ground. Kohli brought up India’s 50 with a huge six over long leg in Wood’s next over and Rohit produced an almost identical shot three balls later. Wood, having taken 3 for 18 over the three previous powerplays he bowled in this series, ended up conceding 28 runs off two overs with nothing to show for it in this one. Rohit crashed sixes off Jordan, thudded over deep square leg, off Sam Curran to bring up his fifty having narrowly evaded Wood in the deep when his leading edge dropped short, and off Ben Stokes with an 83m hit down the ground. It was Stokes who finally made the breakthrough with a legcutter which Sharma dragged back onto his stumps to end an entertaining and valuable innings.

 

Kohli comes out to play

Kohli took his cue at Sharma’s dismissal and stepped into the limelight with an unbeaten 80 off 52 deliveries. He was well supported by Suryakumar Yadav, who had top-scored with 57 in the fourth match, which was just his second T20I. This time Yadav played a tidy cameo of 32, hitting not his first ball for six as he had in his previous innings, but his second and third, both off Rashid. After 10 overs, India had struck eight sixes. Only once had they hit more by the halfway stage of a T20I – 10 against New Zealand in Christchurch in 2009. Hardik Pandya was unbeaten with 39 off 17 but it was Kohli who provided the steel in an imposing India innings. He added another six to his earlier one off Wood and his seven fours, when he charged down the pitch to launch Stokes over long-on in the 13th over. He brought up his third fifty of the series with two clipped neatly through square leg off Wood and took 12 runs of Archer in the final over of the innings.

 

What a catch, Jordan

Chris Jordan’s torrid time with the ball was epitomised when he all but nailed his yorker to Yadav only to watch the batsman thread it nonchalantly between point and third man. Jordan managed a wry smile at the time but he brought a grin to his team-mates’ faces – none more so than Roy – with his hand in Yadav’s eventual dismissal. Yadav lofted Rashid down the ground and Jordan, running full-pelt towards the boundary to his right from long-on, stuck out his right hand and the ball stuck beautifully. That was until Jordan’s momentum continued to propel him over the rope and he had the presence of mind to lob it to Roy, waiting like a Cheshire cat at deep midwicket. The catch would go down next to Roy’s name, perhaps adding insult to the injury of Jordan conceding 57 from four wicketless overs, but his brilliance in the field was undeniable. And, while it’s little consolation, he wasn’t the only England bowler left hurting – Wood went for 53 runs from his four overs. (cricinfo)

 

Scores:

India 224 for 2 wkts in 20 overs (V. Kohli 80 n.o., R. Sharma 64)

England 188

for 8 wkts in 20 Overs (D. Malan 68, J. Buttler 52; S. Thakur 3-45, B. Kumar 2-15).

 

Malan to the fore

When Kumar had Roy out for a duck on the second ball of England’s chase, with one that swung in as the batsman charged down the wicket for an attempted slog over midwicket and clattered into middle and off, it was still India’s game. But then England showed the might of a top order that the likes of Alex Hales – historical off-field issues aside – and Joe Root can’t break into. England could have been tempted to tinker with line-up, with suggestions they should take a look at Stokes at No. 3, and they might have done had it been a dead rubber but, with the series on the line, they went with their full-strength side. Malan, the No. 1-ranked T20I batsman in the world, had not breached 25 in four innings going into the match. But his 68, combined with some power hitting by Buttler, who carted Rahul Chahar for two sixes in the eighth over and another in Chahar’s next as the bowler conceded 20 runs in seven balls, kept England in the contest.

Malan also broke Babar Azam’s record for the fastest batsman to 1000 T20I runs. Azam reached the mark in 26 innings, while Malan’s knock took him to 1003 runs in 24 innings.

 

Brilliant Bhuvi

It was Kumar who had put England on the back foot and he struck again when Buttler holed out to Pandya at long-off for 52 in a pivotal 13th over of the innings yielding not only the wicket but just three runs. By that stage England had fallen considerably behind at 130 for 2, compared with India’s 140 for 1. At the same time, Kumar had taken 2 for 9 from three overs to squeeze England before Thakur and Pandya accounted for Bairstow, Malan and Morgan in quick succession to leave the tourists short of answers.



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Under 19 Division III cricket tournament to be concluded after schools reopen

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The knockout stage matches of the Under-19 Division III cricket tournament will be played only after the schools reopen, the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) said.

The SLSCA managed to conclude the Under-19 Division I and II tournaments before the third wave of the Covid 19 pandemic forced cancellation of all public events. But the Division III tournament largely consisting of outstation and up and coming schools was stranded at the quarter-final stage as the schools were closed due to the third wave of Covid 19.

The Sri Lanka Cricket conducted Under-19 Inter Provincial Tournament too was postponed due to the third wave of the pandemic.

Nishantha Kumara, the Under-19 tournament secretary of the SLSCA said that the Division III Level one and two tournaments will be concluded after schools reopen.

He said that there were no health issues emanating from the concluded phase of the tournament as the matches were conducted according to guidelines stipulated by health authorities.

“We were able to conclude the Division I and II tournaments successfully as all schools, players and parents of players and match officials cooperated well to conduct the tournament according to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education,” said Nishantha.

“We will try our best to conclude the Division III tournament in a similar manner after normalcy returns,” said Nishantha.

Meanwhile player registrations for the Under-15 and 17 tournaments is now on. The SLSCA has introduced an online registration method for the schools to register their players for various age category tournaments.

“We invited officials from schools to introduce the system before hand and now those officials nominated by the respective schools are conducting the registrations online successfully. We are requesting all schools to conclude the registration process. So that we can commence tournaments when the authorities grant permission,” an official of the SLSCA said.

The SLSCA conducted the Under-19 tournament as a curtailed limited overs tournament after the Ministry of Education granted permission to hold events within a short period of time from March to April. Generally the Under-19 tournament commences in September and concludes in April with matches of two innings format (of two-days of duration) being played in a league tournament.

Schools cricket tournaments remained suspended for a year from March 2020 due to the pandemic. (RF)

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Karunaratne closes in on top 10 of ICC Men’s Test Player Rankings

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Dimuth Karunaratne has closed in on a top-10 spot in the ICC Men’s Test Player Rankings after a successful second Test against Bangladesh in Kandy which Sri Lanka won by 209 runs to clinch the two-match series 1-0.

The opening batsman struck 118 and 66, moving up four slots to 11th position in the list led by New Zealand captain Kane Williamson. Karunaratne’s career-best ranking is sixth, attained in August 2019. He is the top-ranked Test batsman from Sri Lanka with Angelo Mathews next in the list in 24th position.

Niroshan Dickwella (up four places to 31st), Oshada Fernando (up 10 places to 58th) and Lahiru Thirimanne (up 13 places to 60th) are the other Sri Lanka batsmen to advance while left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama’s player of the match haul of 11 for 178, the best figures by a Sri Lankan on Test debut, sees him enter the rankings in 48th position.

Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal’s knocks of 92 and 24 have helped him gain three places to reach 27th position while Mushfiqur Rahim and captain Mominul Haque have inched up a slot each to reach 21st and 30th positions, respectively, in the latest men’s weekly update that includes the first Test between Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

Pakistan fast bowler Hasan Ali’s haul of nine for 89 in the first Test against Zimbabwe in Harare not only won him the player of the match award for starring in the innings victory but also enabled him to gain 15 slots and reach a career-best 20th position among bowlers.

Left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi (up two places to 31st) and left-arm spinner Nauman Ali (up 12 places to 54th) have also advanced in the list for bowlers while left-handed batsman Fawad Alam continues his fine run, moving up 31 places to a career-best 47th position after scoring 140, his fourth century in 10 Test matches. Abid Ali is up six places to 78th position. 

For Zimbabwe, Regis Chakabva has gained two slots to reach 97th position while fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani has progressed 26 slots to reach 55th position with figures of four for 73.

(ICC)

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The story of Devapathiraja’s rise to glory

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by Reemus Fernando

When the Devapathiraja team visited Colombo for the knockout stage matches of the just concluded Under-19 Division I tournament Lumbini and Wesley generously provided free lodgings for the team. When they host teams, Richmond come to their rescue providing accommodation for the visiting teams. Foundation of Goodness has been providing them team kits. Except the umpire fees, all their other expenses on cricket are met by the cricketers’ not so well to do parents. Their coach had done a voluntary job for a better part of the last two decades. In return, Devapathiraja College, Ratgama boxing their way up in the country’s schools cricket rankings have not disappointed.

When schools with over 100 years of rich cricket history and substantial funds to nurture the sport struggle in lower divisions in the premier Under-19 cricket tournament, Devapathiraja, a little known entity at the start of the millennium, have improved by leaps and bounds during the last two decades. Their latest achievement was reaching the final of the just concluded Under-19 Division I Tier ‘B’ cricket tournament.

Devapathiraja were the babies of the Tier ‘B’ of the Division I tournament inclusive of power houses of cricket namely Ananda College, Thurstan College and St. Peter’s College from Colombo and strongholds of Southern Province, Mahinda, St. Servatius’, St. Aloysius’ and Dharmasoka. Against many odds Devapathiraja reached the final. After being bowled out for a low score they made Mahinda College, Galle toil hard for victory.

Devapathiraja started playing cricket when their current coach Ranjan Lasantha de Silva was a student at the school. Many schools started playing hard ball cricket following the 1996 World Cup win. Ranjan, like the rest of the youth of his era was craving to play cricket. Unfortunately there was no cricket team or facilities for the sport at the school. He requested in writing that cricket be started at his school. Fortunately the principal, late T.A.C.N. Gunasekara had come from a cricket playing school (Revata College) and facilitated the start. Like the majority of schools which started playing cricket after 1996, the sport started with a Big Match against Sri Sumangala College, Hikkaduwa in 1997. But the sport did not really kick off until the correct combination of coach, Master in Charge and the sports loving youth got together a couple of years later.

With no previous coaching experience Ranjan after leaving school started training the school’s teams. By 1999 the school had started training all four age groups.

“I was influenced and helped by the likes of Tedlal Silva and Viraj Chaminda to pursue qualifications in coaching. So I did the Level I coaching course conducted by Sri Lanka Cricket. Also followed whatever other courses available to be qualified for the job. I must also thank former District Coach Lasith Chaminda and officials like, Jayananda Warnaweera for their support,” said Ranjan in an interview with The Island.

When cricket Devapathiraja commenced playing cricket they did not have a proper ground and the teams took refuge at the Ratgama Public ground. The school received a boost when Nishantha Kumara, who had the experience in running cricket at Neluwa National School received a transfer to Devapathiraja in 2000. He did all the necessary correspondence for all age group teams to play in Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association conducted tournaments and worked hand in hand with Ranjan until they were promoted to Division I.

Devapathiraja achieved their first breakthrough when they reached the final of the Under 19 Division III tournament in the 2013/14 season. They were the runners up to Debarawewa National School that season and earned the all important promotion to Division II the following year. It did not take too long for them to graduate from Division II to Division I.

“You have to play in the Division I category for your players to get recognition. Players in the lower divisions too are called for selection trials but it is highly unlikely for them to get the selectors’ nod. That realization compelled us to strive for Division I qualification,” said Ranjan.

However by the time they had reached the top Division they had already produced several cricketers to club level and one of their products, Tharindu Kaushal had played several Tests for Sri Lanka.

They were the Division II champions in the 2017/2018 season and commenced their Division I campaign in the 2018/19 season where they struggled but managed to avoid relegation.

Devapathiraja have done well in the lower age category tournaments as well and has produced players who have represented the Sri Lanka Schools Under-15 teams and National Youth Teams. Dilshan Kanchana, Umesh Mayurakantha, Pathum Madusanka, Raveen Yasas and Thikshila de Silva are among them.

According to Ranjan, cricket at Devapathiraja survives thanks to the contributions made by the cricketers’ parents who are not from well to do families. “The Schools Development Society provides umpire fees. But all other expenses are taken care of by cricketers’ parents. But there are others who help like the Foundation of Goodness which provides several scholarships for students and playing kits. Principal of Richmond College and the Masters in Charge of Cricket of both Mahinda and Richmond support us when we host teams. When we went to Colombo for the knockout stage matches Wesley College and Lumbini College provided lodging” said Ranjan.

Ranjan also appreciated the support given by the school’s Principal Sam Silva and current Master In Charge of Cricket Ranjith Kumbalathara.

Ranjan said that cricket at Devapathiraja has not only helped the national team find raw material but has also helped youth of the area to engage in sports in a meaningful way.

Devapathiraja Team:

Sudeera Weeraratne (Captain), Irushka Thimira, Dinitha Prabanka, Pawan Sandesh, Jeewaka Shasheen, Sasanka Nirmal, Tharindu Rukshan, Matheesha Saranga, Darshaka Sandeepa, Sandaru Theekshana, Chaminda Sandaruwan, Pathum Shaminda, Pradeep Rangana, Hiran Chamikara, Chanuka Sulakshana, Simash Dilunja.

 

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