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Beware of Dulla  



by Rex Clementine

Amal Silva spoke little English those days. During the Lord’s Test in 1984, when Ian Botham said not so complementary things about Amal’s mother, the opening bat was asking the non-striker and captain Duleep Mendis what’s going on. Both Moratuwa boys, they were playing contrasting knocks. Amal took 255 balls for his hundred while Duleep raced to 94 in 97 balls. The latter was dealing in boundaries particularly targeting Mr. Botham. That the golden boy of English cricket ended up bowling off-spin in that game is a little known fact. That’s Duleep. Never cross his path.

Well, the Sri Lankan cricket team will be crossing his path in a fortnight’s time. They take on Oman in two T-20 Internationals, a side coached by Duleep. One thing is absolutely certain, Duleep will be prepared for this challenge. He would have studied every Sri Lankan player; their strengths and weaknesses and what’s the best way to get the better of an emerging and unsettled team.

Mind you Sri Lanka will be without three of their leading players. Kusal Perera is recovering from a hamstring injury while Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga are on IPL leave. On paper, Sri Lanka are still the stronger team. But cricket is a funny game and Duleep is a different beast.

In this series, even if Oman do not pose a challenge at all to Sri Lanka who have been well grilled after a hard fought series against South Africa, the bigger picture for Duleep is the World Cup qualifiers.

Make no mistake, Duleep has completely turned around Oman’s cricket. That’s a fact. All that in such a short time too.

With sheer hard work and guidance, Duleep enabled the Omanis to achieve T-20 status. Then a few years later they ended up gaining ODI status. Now they will be playing in a World Cup. His expertise has been on not just how to develop Oman’s senior side. But to put a cricket structure in place and build the proper infrastructure. Isn’t it remarkable that in such a short span of time Oman will be conducting a World Cup! It’s proof that ICC has recognized the remarkable progress they have made over the years.

Duleep’s half a century of association with Sri Lankan cricket has helped him to turn things around for Oman. He has done it all as a player, coach, chairman of selectors, manager, director cricket operations and eventually CEO. A golden half a century in which Sri Lankan cricket reached new heights until all of a sudden on flimsy grounds they forced him to retire. Duleep by no means is someone to harbour grudges. Like all sportsmen he has seen good and bad days and knows how to take them on the chin.

Once Duleep reached the age of 60, those who removed him thought he will quietly go into retirement. But cricketing gods had other plans. He was sent to Oman to help a budding cricket nation. Here at the age of 69, you see him still doing throw downs at 20-year-old’s. Older the bull, harder the ….

Oman’s progress has been so rapid. Interestingly, it has coincided with that of Sri Lanka’s decline.

In 2017, Sri Lanka rang up Duleep asking him to return home to take up some key responsibilities. He turned down the offer politely saying that he has been well looked after by the Omanis.

It’s a dangerous thing to quote the scriptures. Your friends make fun at you saying, ‘it’s like devil quoting the scriptures.’ Nevertheless, stories like these need to end with the words that ‘a prophet is not welcomed in his own country.’


Afghanistan elect to bat first in third T-20 International



Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first in the third T-20 International against Sri Lanka at Dambulla on Wednesday. The Afghan captain won all three tosses in the series but this is the first time he has opted to bat first.

The game is a dead rubber with Sri Lanka having already secured the series 2-0.

Sri Lanka made four changes from the side that won on Monday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match series.

They left-out Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Binura Fernando and Maheesh Theekshanka and brought in top order batter Kusal Perera, all-rounder Kamindu Mendis, off-spinner Akila Dananjaya and seamer Nuwan Thushara.

Afghanistan also made four changes leaving out Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq.

They brought in all-rounder Sharfuddin Ashraf, left-arm seamer Fareed Malik, right-arm quick Wafadar Momand and batter Mohammad Ishaq, who is making his debut.

The tourists are yet to win a game in the multi-format bilateral tour. They lost the one off Test match in Colombo and suffered a 3-0 whitewash in the ODI series at Pallekele before conceding a 2-0 advantage in the three match T-20 series in Dambulla.

Sri Lanka:

Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (Wicketkeeper), Kusal Perera, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Kamindu Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga (Captain) Matheesha Pathirana, Akila Dananjaya and Nuwan Thushara.


Ibrahim Zadran (Captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (Wicketkeeper), Azmatullah Omarzai, Karim Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Noor Ahmad, Hazratullah Zazai, Sharfuddin Ashraf, Mohammad Ishaq, Fareed Malik and Wafadar Momand.  


Lyndon Hannibal (SRI) and Ravindra Wimalasiri (SRI)

Television Umpire:

 Ruchira Palliyaguruge (SRI)

Match Referee:

Chris Broad (ENG)

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Sri Lanka teams reach tennis quarter-finals



Dinara de Silva and Ganuka Fernando

The girls and boys teams of Sri Lanka reached the quarter-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup Junior and Junior Davis Cup Asia Oceania Pre Qualifying tournaments continued at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Wednesday.

The girls team beat Maldives 2-0, as Ivanka Samarasinghe (beat Nishan Naba 6-1, 6-2) and Dinara de Silva (beat Azim Araa Aasaal 6-2, 6-2) registered straight set victories in the singles.

The boys team edged out Iraq 2-1. Ganuka Fernando beat Shammama Faisac 6-1, 6-2 in his singles match before joining Lithum Jayabandu to win the doubles against Shammama Faisac and Bakr Akam 6-2, 6-1.

In the second singles Jayabandu went down to Bakr Akam (6-3, 6-2).

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Dialog powers Royal – Thomian for 19th time



Lasantha Thevarapperuma – Group Chief Marketing Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC handing over the sponsorship to Rev. Marc Billimoria – Warden, S. Thomas’ College and Thilak Waththuhewa - Principal, Royal College. Also pictured (L) Rehan Gunasekera – Co-Chairman, Royal Thomian Match Organizing Committee From RC, (R) Arjuna Waidyasekera – Co-Chairman, Royal Thomian Match Organizing Committee from STC.

Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, has extended corporate backing for the 19th year as official sponsor of the country’s blue ribboned cricket encounter, the ‘Battle of the Blues’ between Royal College, Colombo, and S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia on March 7, 8 and 9 at the SSC Grounds, Colombo. The limited-over ‘Mustang’s Trophy’ match will be on March 16, also at the same venue.

The 145th cricket encounter will be aired live on Dialog Television – ThePapare TV HD (Channel Number 126), live-streamed on and the Dialog ViU App.

Further, Dialog initiated the ‘Play for a Cause’ charity initiative with a mission to uplift school cricket across Sri Lanka. Through a generous pledge of Rs. 1,000 for every run scored and Rs. 10,000 for every wicket taken, last year’s encounter raised a substantial donation of Rs. 1,128,000. The proceedings were distributed in consultation with the Principal of Royal College and the Warden of S. Thomas’ College. This commendable effort helped support and empower four deserving schools in the country.

In this year’s encounter, the boys from Mt. Lavinia will be led by Mahith Perera, while the lads from Reid Avenue will play under the captaincy of Sineth Jayawardena, the U-19 Sri Lanka skipper. The ‘Royal-Thomian’ series spans an impressive 144 years, making it the second longest uninterrupted cricket series in the world, behind the annual encounter between St. Peters College, Adelaide, and Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, Australia, which began just a year earlier.

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