Can Galle Gladiators emulate Imran’s ‘cornered tigers’ of 1992?
Former Pakistan captain and Galle Gladiators coach Moin Khan during a training session. Galle Gladiators will take on Jaffna Stallions in the LPL final tonight at Suriyawewa.
by Rex Clementine
The finals of Lanka Premier League will take place tonight with tournament favourites Jaffna Stallions taking on giant killers Galle Gladiators at Suriyawewa. Galle Gladiators had a horrible start to the competition losing five games in a row. Their campaign is a reminder of Pakistan’s stunning World Cup win in 1992. Imran Khan’s side was almost eliminated from the competition in the first round itself when their captain urged the team to fight like ‘cornered tigers’ and they went onto win the World Cup beating favourites New Zealand in the semis and England in the finals.
Galle Gladiators narrowly edged Kandy Tuskers out on Net Run Rate and then in the semis they created a major upset beating table toppers Colombo Kings. A win in the final would complete one of the finest comebacks in the game.
Opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka has carried the Galle side single-handedly having scored 475 runs at an average of 67 and Strike Rate of 145. No other batsman has managed 300 runs in the tournament.
Galle’s heavy dependence on their spin bowling all-rounders has not given them the desired results and against a well grilled unit like Jaffna Stallions mistakes will be costly.
Jaffna Stallions have most bases covered and one of their weak-links is absence of a batsman who could play the anchor role. But their bowling is so versatile and skillful that they defend any modest target.
With 16 wickets to his name, Wanindu Hasaranga is the highest wicket taker in the competition and Thisara Perera has used him well as an attacking option. Not many have picked his wrong’un but even if they do, batsmen have to deal with his leg-break which has caused trouble.
When T-20 cricket was mushrooming, many believed that spin will have little impact in the game. To the contrary, wrist spinners have thrived.
So if Hasaranga is Jaffna Stallions key man, Lakshan Sandakan has done a fine job for Galle Gladiators. He has 11 wickets in the tournament but has played two games lesser than Hasaranga. Sandakan may not have the control of Hasaranga, but he still could be handful.
Mohammad Amir bowled a couple of hostile spells when the team most needed him and Galle Gladiators will be hoping he makes some early inroads for the likes of Sandakan to put pressure.
An interesting contest is on the cards tonight.
Sri Lanka level series with big win in second ODI
Sri Lanka bounced back to beat Afghanistan by 132 runs on Sunday to square the three-match one-day series in Suriyawewa yesterday. It was Sri Lanka’s biggest win over Afghanistan in ODIs and makes amends for its disappointing performance in the first ODI on Friday, which they lost by six wickets,
Having set Afghanistan a stiff 324-run target, fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera dismissed the dangerous Rahmanulah Gurbaz cheaply for two runs to give his side an early advantage. Although Afghanistan put together two strong partnerships after that, the required run rate kept climbing and the Afghans lost their way trying to keep pace.
Opening batsman Ibrahim Zardan continued his good form, posting 54 runs while captain Hashmatullah Shahidi top scored with 57 runs, but once Sri Lanka dismissed the top order there was not much resistance from the rest of the batters.From 146 for two, Afghanistan collapsed to be bowled out for 191 runs in 42.1 overs, losing their last eight wickets for just 45 runs.
Spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Dhananjaya de Silva shared six wickets between them to seal a comprehensive win for the home side. Sri Lanka’s batting put on a show giving the team confidence ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe this month.
Afghanistan have already qualified for the World Cup and despite the heavy defeat on Sunday, will feel positive with star Rashid Khan expected to feature in the final game on Wednesday. The leg-spinner was ruled out of the first two games with a back injury.
Half-centuries by Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne helped Sri Lanka post their commanding total. While Mendis top scored with 78 runs off 75 balls with seven fours and one six, Karunaratne, who was recalled for this series to stabilize the batting, made 52 off 62 balls with seven fours. Opener Pathum Nissanka contributed 43 runs while Sadeera Samarawickrama, featuring in an ODI for the first time since 2019, made 44 off 46 balls.
There was some big hitting by the lower middle order with captain Dasun Shanaka chipping in with 23 runs while Wanindu Hasaranga finished things off in style with an unbeaten 29 off 12 balls with four fours and a six. Dhananjaya de Silva was named Man of the Match for his unbeaten 29 and three wickets.
Tharushi wins silver, Uththra clinches bronze Asian Junior Athletics Championships
By Reemus Fernando
Ratnayake Central, Walala runner Tharushi Karunaratne and Holy Cross College, Gampaha sprinter Jayeshi Uththara shared the silver and bronze medals respectively of the women’s 400 metres to give a winning start to Sri Lanka’s Asian Junior Athletics Championship campaign on day one of the event in South Korea on Sunday.
Karunaratne and Uththara reached the final as the second and third fastest from the heats held in the morning and those positions remained unchanged as they finished second and third respectively in the final.
Karunaratne clocked 53.70 seconds to finish second behind India’s Rezoana Mallick Heena who returned a time of 53.31 seconds for the gold. Uththara clocked 55.51 seconds for her bronze.
Commenting on their achievements Sri Lanka Athletics in a statement said that it was the first time in almost three decades that two Sri Lankan female athletes had won medals in a single event at the Asian Junior Championships.
The track and field governing body was referring to the gold and silver doubles of legendary Susanthika Jayasinghe and Damayanthi Dharsha who shared the gold and silver medals in the 100 metres and 200 metres with championship records at the 1994 edition held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
At the last edition held in Gifu, Japan Sri Lanka’s men’s pair of Aruna Dharshana and Pasindu Kodikara won the gold and silver medals in the men’s 400 metres. Karunaratne who is trained by veteran coach Susantha Fernando is set to compete in the women’s 800 metres final today where she will be the favourite for gold.
She returned an Asian leading time of 2:01.39 seconds at the selection trail held in March though her preparation for the event was plagued by a sickness forcing her to skip the recently held Junior National Championships. Tharushi will enter today’s race as the third fastest 800 metres runner in the world this year.
Dominant Sri Lanka claw back to level series
Sri Lanka came up with a dominant show with both bat and ball to stage a strong comeback and level the three-match series against Afghanistan on Sunday (June 4). Having lost the first ODI, the hosts staged a commendable comeback with their top four laying the platform for a 300-plus total which was then defended with ease as Afghanistan fell short by 132 runs.
Sri Lanka 323/6 in 50 overs (Kusal Mendis 78, Dimuth Karunaratne 52; Mohammad Nabi 2/52) beat Afghanistan 191 in 42.1 overs (Hashmatullah Shahidi 57, Ibrahim Zadran 54; Dhananjaya de Silva 3/39) by 132 runs
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