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Captain Dasun has helped Sri Lanka turn things around

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by Rex Clementine   

Cricket’s most successful captains had some remarkable factors that made them successful leaders. Mike Brearley was a good thinker. Clive Lloyd was inspirational. Imran Khan had a good eye for picking talent. Arjuna Ranatunga was a fighter and two of his prodigies Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene had factors unique to them. While Sanath led by example, MJ was a brilliant tactician. All successful players don’t become good captains either. Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Inzamam-ul-Haq are cases in point.

Sri Lanka’s white-ball captain Dasun Shanaka has been the subject of discussions by cricket analysts for turning the fortunes of an inexperienced, young and underperforming Sri Lankan team into a successful unit. Last week he sealed the fate of Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the Asia Cup and this week he provided another shock when India were sent home packing. What makes him successful?

Dasun wasn’t the choice to lead Sri Lanka when the national selection panel benched half a dozen seniors two years ago. He wasn’t even the deputy. Kusal Perera turned out to be the chosen one with Kusal Mendis as his deputy. The selectors argued that KJP was the only player in the team who was sure of a place. That argument is ancient. When you try to be progressive, you don’t stick to age-old theories. For a selection panel that had been ruthless in leaving out so many seniors, they needed an equally aggressive captain. When you have revamped a team you needed a new direction.

KJP is one of the nicest blokes you’d come across in cricket, but his leadership qualities were found wanting. To start with he was injury prone. He’s also a bit of an introvert. The new captain found himself in a bit of a storm following the contract crisis coupled with injuries and that experiment didn’t last long.

Dasun had become captain by default with the team in total chaos. A heavy defeat in England in 2021 saw commentators ridiculing the team and to make matters worse three players were sent home for breaching COVID protocol. When Dasun agreed to take the captaincy it was demanded that he signed contracts. He agreed. This was a gamble and perhaps angered some of the players who were on the war path with the board. He was on a tightrope. The initial few series were tough but he gradually turned things around.

Dasun-Mickey Arthur combination worked well. Although their disagreements were once seen in public the duo were quick to patch things up and move forward. They picked young players and backed them and more importantly persevered when things were falling apart.

“Dasun is special in that he has great belief in himself and empowers the team. He leads by example in his performance, training and practice and has the ability to take people on the journey with him,” Arthur told Sunday Island.

As captain, he’s not the sharpest guy when it comes to tactics. His strength is his focus and getting others to focus. He’s also not the most naturally talented player. He’s one of the fiercest hitters in the team but his defence can be breached. The best thing that has happened to Dasun the batsman is he has identified his strong areas and sticks to them. You don’t see him cutting, but you’ll see him clearing the boundary with straight hits or pulling over mid-wicket. Those are strokes that he has mastered and they fetch most of his runs.

As a bowler, he doesn’t cover himself in glory. Again, his strength is that he puts in the hard yards and wants to improve.  Those are Dasun’s strong points. Since Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup in 2014, it’s been all downhill in white ball cricket. Leave alone winning tournaments, the team is nowadays struggling to qualify for events like the World Cup. Dasun has given new hope to the nation with his unique leadership qualities. He needs to be backed.



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Avishka and Sadeera power Jaffna Kings to nine wicket win

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Half tons by Avishka Fernando and Sadeera Samarawickrema powered Jaffna Kings to a nine wicket win over Dambulla Aura in the 3rd match of the LPL2022  at MRICS Hambanthota on Wednesday (07)

Dambulla Aura 121/9 in 20 overs (Jordan Cox 43; Maheesh Theekshana 3/20, Vijayakanth Vijaskanth 3/24, James Fuller 2/16, Zaman Khan 1/28)

Jaffna Kings 122/1 in 15.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 51 , Sadeera Samarawickrema 62 not out; Noor Ahamed 1/28)

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All Island Schools Games Athletics Championships

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The All Island Schools Games Athletics Championships concluded at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Tuesday. Here are some action pictures from the morning session of the final day.

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Jaffna win low scoring thriller

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Dunith Wellalage scored 30 runs as Jaffna Kings beat Galle Gladiators in the curtain-raiser of the Lanka Premier League at Suriyawewa yesterday.

Defending champions Jaffna Kings got off to a superb start as they defended 137 runs to win the curtain-raiser of the third edition of Lanka Premier League tournament against Galle Gladiators at Suriywawewa yesterday. Jaffna Kings managed only 137 runs batting first but their bowling was too good as they bowled out Galle Gladiators for 113.

Seamer Binura Fernando who returned home from Australia halfway through the ICC Men’s T-20 World Cup with a hamstring injury picked up three wickets for 22 runs while leggie Vijayakanth Viyaskanth picked up two for 20.

Galle Gladiators got off to a good start with openers Kusal Mendis and Nuwanidu Fernando adding 58 runs for the first wicket in 45 balls. Mendis made the only half-century in the game posting a 43 ball 51 with five fours before being trapped leg before wicket by Maheesh Theekshana. His dismissal saw Galle Gladiators losing their way as they collapsed. At one stage they were 97 for four and needed 41 in 24 balls but lost their last six wickets for 16 runs to go down to the strongest team in the competition.

There was not much support for Mendis as the next best score was Imad Wasim’s 17. Mendis is leading the Galle Gladiators.

Shoaib Malik and Dunith Wellalage made 30 runs each for Jaffna while Dhananjaya de Silva posted 29 from 19 balls with three fours and two sixes.

Brief Scores:

Jaffna Kings

137 all out in 19.5 overs

(Dhananjaya de Silva 29, Dunith Wellalage 30, Shoaib Malik 30, Ifthikar Ahmed 2 for eight)

Galle Gladiators

113 all out in 20 overs (Kusal Mendis 51, Imad Wasim 17, Binura Fernando 3 for 22, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth 2 for 20)

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