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Black Magic

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by Rajitha Ratwatte

Bledisloe 2 would be a close-run thing we thought. Maybe the aura of Eden Park the bastion of the All Blacks would have lost its sheen as this was the second game in two weeks. Well, it started like that with a closely contested first half. The Wallabies playing with the wind behind them, suffered an early setback with Rikko Ioane in his makeshift position of no13 intercepting a long pass from the hapless Noah Lolesio and streaking down 70 meters or so to score under the posts inside the first five minutes. 7–0 to the ABs but the Aussie scrum had given a good account of itself earlier and even won a penalty off the first scrum inside two minutes. Marika Korobiete stamped his class on the game just three minutes later with a penetrating run and Lolesio tried to make up for his mistake by a clever cross-kick to Kellaway on the wing who scored far right for a five pointer that Lolesio couldn’t convert. 7–5 and the Kiwis seemed to have changed their game plan not taking a very kickable penalty and choosing the touch option. However, the Wallaby defence stood up to the task so much so that Sam Whitelock the All-Blacks skipper chose to try for points off the next penalty they got but Ritchie Mo’uanga was not able to convert from the left of the posts as has been a consistent issue with him. It was only in the 23rd minute that we saw the magnificent sight of Brodie Retallick that huge second row forward running twenty meters untouched, off a good pass delivered by Rikko Ioane and scoring under the posts for the Blacks. 14-5 but the New Zealand defence were still getting caught offside inside their 22 and a penalty in the 30th minute was duly slotted, and the margin reduced to 14–8. Ardie Savea the ABs no8 was probably enjoying the absence of Wilson in the Aussie ranks and made a great break, showed amazing pace for such bulk, and scored mid left, this time Mo’uanga was able to convert taking the score to 21–8 with around five minutes to go in the first half. On the halftime hooter McDermott that nippy little Aussie half back justified his selection over Nick White with a great darting run off a five-meter scrum, playing with the referee signalling advantage, to score under the post, taking the half time score to 21–15.

The second half started badly for the ABs, playing with the wind behind them with Ardie Savea getting yellow carded less than two minutes after the start for consistent infringements inside the ABs 22-meter line. Ardie was the victim of the referee losing patience with this fault in the ABs play. It really needs to be looked at by the defensive coaches as does the fact that opposing sides score too many points overall. However, the Blacks scored twice playing with one man short. Firstly, by Codie Taylor their hooker running 20 meters aided by a great break by Aaron Smith and scoring under the posts and then through Damian “clutch” Mackenzie slotting a 60 meter plus penalty with the wind behind him and obviously only taken to wind the clock down until Ardie could finish his time in the bin. Score 31–15 and the irrepressible Seevu Reece took his cue with another intercept off a long pass, a scathing run and a try under the posts taking the score to 38–15.

The game was approaching the last 20 minutes and the much-vaunted NZ bench came on. Three Barret brothers and a refreshed front row supplanted by two fresh props proved too much for the Wallabies. The Black scrum began to dominate. Codie Taylor helped himself to another try-scoring far right, the conversion missed by Ritchie Mo’uanga in the rain which was bucketing down by this stage. Ardie Savea helped Will Jordan over the line to score far-right and Beauden Barret who was in for Mo’uanga gained the additional two points with a great kick taking the score to 50–15 and virtually ensuring that the Bledisloe cup remains in NZ for another year. Kalloway on the Aussie wing scored his second try for the game taking the score to 50-22 but David Havili had the last laugh going over mid-right off a great run by Will Jordan and Barret senior signalled the curtain call with another impeccable conversion. Final score 57–22 with 79 points in total being scored in 82 minutes of scintillating rugby.

Full kudos to the All-Black coaches and selectors. There were some great moves off line outs and the only near-disaster from the selection of Rikko Ioane at no13 came from a characteristic wild pass on the All Blacks line at the closing stages of the game. Those of us who thought we knew better and were enraptured by the long odds offered by the bookies and laid the money down on a Wallaby victory, saw our money sizzle its way out of our hands and into the capricious pockets of the worthies!

supersubsports@gmail.com



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Gateway felicitates coach for making Sri Lanka proud 

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Gateway’s top coaches Tharindu Fernando, Thilanka Jinadasa and Pradeep Nishantha are pictured here

Pradeep Nishantha, Assistant Head of Sports of Gateway College Colombo was felicitated by the school for his remarkable contribution in producing two medal winners at the recently concluded Paralympic Games in Japan.

The national anthem was played for the very first time at an Olympics when Dinesh Priyantha Herath who was trained by Pradeep Nishantha won a gold medal with a new world record. Pradeep has been employed at Gateway since 2005 and he has been responsible for producing many national athletes from Gateway.

Gateway students are blessed to be coached and guided by professionals of the highest caliber. Thilaka Jinadasa, the Team Leader – Sports development for the entire group represented Sri Lanka in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

Among Gateway’s team of coaches are a number of top Sri Lankan coaches. Tharindu Fernando, who was recently appointed National Basketball Coach for the Under 23 Sri Lankan side is among them.

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Dialog and SLC release T20 World Cup song ‘Ape Kollo’ 

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Amali Nanayakkara, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC hands over the first CD of the ‘Ape Kollo’ song to Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, Vice President, SLC. Also in picture artistes and Dialog brand ambassadors who performed the ‘Ape Kollo’ song, (L-R) Madhuvy, Sanka Dineth, Sanuka, Sajitha, Santhush, Upul Nawaratne Bandara, Head of Marketing, SLC, Harsha Samaranayake, Senior General Manager, Brand and Media – Group Marketing, Dialog Axiata PLC, Bathiya, Umaria, Senali and guest performer, Roy. Absent - Yohan

The national cricket team’s sponsor and Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata, together with Sri Lanka Cricket, recently released ‘Ape Kollo’ the T20 World Cup song in support of the Team on their T20 World Cup campaign which will commence on the 18th of October 2021 in the United Arab Emirates.

The song will be sung by a stellar line-up of artistes and Dialog brand ambassadors including, Bathiya and Santhush, Umaria, Yohani, Sanka Dineth, Sajitha, Sanuka, Madhuvy and guest performer, Roy Jackson. With lyrics written by Triad, the Sri Lanka Cricket T20 World Cup song is an initiative powered by Dialog Axiata connecting the wishes of every Sri Lankan.

Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, Vice President of Sri Lanka Cricket said, “I would like to thank Dialog Axiata for materializing the T20 World Cup song into existence. This tribute will be an immense morale boost for players and fans alike. The team over the past few months have been playing tourneys and trial games which have been instrumental in selecting the best combination for the T20 World Cup in UAE.”

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Sri Lanka will qualify, but can they reach semis?  

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by Rex Clementine

The cricket fans of Sri Lanka are truly amazing. They know pretty well that the chances of the team reaching the semi-finals in UAE is as low as that of Maithripala Sirisena winning a future Presidential election, but they keep believing that their team will deliver. It is only fair that the players come up with a decent show, unlike Maithripala.

If the IPL is any indication, there aren’t going to be too many high scoring games over the next four weeks and spin is going to play a huge part. That will certainly be a good indication for Sri Lanka’s bowlers.

Their batsmen, however, it remains to be seen what lessons they have learnt on sweeping. Grant Flower seemed to be having little tricks up his sleeve on the advantage of the sweep, both the conventional, paddle and reverse. Hopefully, now that Sri Lanka have a fine sweeper in their coaching staff in Mahela Jayawardene, the issue has been discussed at length.

Lack of smart options against spin has been one reason for Sri Lanka’s decline in the shorter formats of the game. Ours was a team where the sweep was the batsmen’s bread and butter and it’s quite perplexing how the current lot have forgotten to sweep and the coaching staff have failed to address the issue.

Avishka Fernando has been tremendous to watch. He has always been an exciting player and such a shame that he failed a fitness test in January and was banished from the team hotel. He was so close to making his Test debut against England and failing the fitness test was a bitter pill to swallow. But glad that the selectors and the coaching staff had the conviction to do it. They have spared the rod and spoilt too many young children. Avishka has bounced back; leaner, fitter, stronger and hungrier. IPL teams will be watching and the gut feeling is we are talking of a future billionaire in this space.

There is some school of thought that Avishka should bat at number four. He has come up with some consistent performances in that position this week. It’s true that he is Aravinda’s heir apparent, but Sri Lanka has to make the most of the Power Plays and Avishka should open batting with Kusal Perera to make most of the field restrictions. You sense that you have enough fire power in Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne to take care of the death overs.

Oppositions will focus a lot on Hasaranga’s leg spin as he has had quite a bit of success in the lasts 12 months and ended up earning a contract in the IPL. World Cup is a superb occasion for him to stamp his authority as one of world’s leading wrist spinners.

Maheesh Theekshana, the new kid, has a bit of surprise element in him and could trouble teams that have not seen him much as he proved during his debut against Proteas last month. It will be interesting to see how teams that do not play spin that well handle him.

The last minute decision to include Akila Dananjaya while axing Praveena Jayawickrama hasn’t gone down too well with some supporters. But it’s a smart move. There’s no denying of the fact that Akila has looked a pale shadow of his former self since remodeling his action and in recent months has looked awful. But then, Sri Lanka have to qualify. The team is thin on experience after our selectors chased away half a dozen seniors and Akila has a surprise element about him and that could come in handy; particularly in the qualifying round.

The spin trio is not Sri Lanka’s only strength. Their main weapon is pace with Dushmantha Chameera picking up wickets with the new ball consistently and he will be their key weapon. Such a shame that the team will miss the services of Nuwan Pradeep, a clever bowler in death overs.

All hope is not lost for Sri Lanka though. One good thing is that they are not playing any Asian teams. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are all in Group ‘B’. Sri Lanka will have Australia, England, West Indies, South Africa and one more qualifier and if their spin fires, they could spring a few surprises. Can they go onto book a semi-final berth?

In T-20 cricket anything can happen. So don’t just rule out the Sri Lankan team. The same can be said of our voters. Don’t rule out Maithripala.

A land like no other!

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