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Concerns about Sri Lanka’s spin trio

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Sri Lanka's spinners struggled in the recent Test series in Bangladesh.

by Rex Clementine

The great game of uncertainties that cricket is, stranger things happen in this sport more often than not. By strange, we don’t mean things like computer hacking where mails are delivered to television partners to deposit hundreds of thousands of US Dollars to offshore accounts or well known underworld figures being sponsored to watch the game’s showpiece event at Lord’s. To be exact we mean what we witnessed last week in Dhaka.

For decades Sri Lanka have heavily depended on their spin bowlers to win Test matches. Even in some of their most famous overseas Test wins like – The Oval 1998, Trent Bridge 2006, Basin Reserve 2007, Kingsmead 2011, or St. George’s Park 2019 – spin has played a vital part. Spin legends Muttiah Muralitharan and Rangana Herath have rarely disappointed the team. But what if the nation had given a fair deal for quicks as well.

Not just preparing good wickets where seamers too will have a stake. But in domestic cricket ensuring that fast bowlers are not made redundant on rank turners where the new ball is in fact shared by spinners.

Cricket’s stakeholders had something serious to think about as, during the recent Test series in Bangladesh, the team’s quicks won them the series while the spinners were hardly effective. To be precise among the three spinners – Ramesh Mendis, Praveen Jayawickrama, and Lasith Embuldeniya – they shared just two wickets in two Test matches.

Usually, Sri Lankan captains have used their quicks for the containing job. The fast bowlers’ role was merely to hold one end up unless of course, you had a Chaminda Vaas in your ranks.

But in Dhaka and before that in Chittagong, the quicks were on the money. Asitha Fernando may have got all the accolades after becoming the first Sri Lankan right-arm quick to claim a match bag of ten wickets, but Kasun Rajitha, who is four years Asitha’s senior, was impressive too showing a lot of character and heart.

Bangladesh would have been happy with a couple of draws as they know that tracks that turn square could backfire against Sri Lanka. So they prepared flat decks and were caught off guard by the quicks.

Sri Lanka’s three spinners have been quite handy at home and they had finished with a rich haul of wickets in last year’s home series as they beat Bangladesh and West Indies. But those were in helpful conditions. Suddenly when the wickets are flat and not offering much of a help, the spinners lose patience and struggle.

They are not going to get helpful conditions when travelling overseas. That’s why they need to learn the art of drying up runs and creating the dot ball pressure. This Sri Lankan trio failed to do but they are still young and you hope that they learn moving forward.

More than Mendis or Jayawickrama, you felt disappointed with Embuldeniya as he had been in the system for three years now having played 16 Test matches.

Spin was a vital card that Sri Lanka used in whitewashing Australia 3-0 the last time they were here. But then that was when Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera were still around. Both of them are retired now and it will be interesting to see what Sri Lankan curators will do for the upcoming series. Will they back their spinners and prepare turning tracks or will they give fair pitches where everyone will have some stake?



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Mihiranga, Charuka shine as Richmond secure quarter-final place 

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Under 17 Division I Cricket  

by Reemus Fernando   

Spinner Pubudu Mihiranga produced a five wicket haul to lead Richmond to 60 runs victory over Sri Devananda in the Under 17 Division I cricket pre-quarter-final played at Ambalangaoda on Sunday. Richmond were in danger of missing the quarter-final berth after Ravindu de Silva triggered a middle order collapse to restrict them to 166 runs. But Mihiranga’s counter attack helped them earn the crucial victory as they restricted the home team to 106 runs.

Chasing a target of 167 runs to win, Mayura Malshan, Lahiru Kavinda and Sithum Vihanga were the only batsmen to reach double figures as Devananda were bowled out in the 25th over. After doing well in the field, their batsmen failed to back up, with five batsmen getting out without scoring.  For Richmond, Thamindu Pradeeptha and Yuri Koththigoda did early damage before Mihiranga came up with his impressive spell to complete a five wicket haul.  Mihiranga’s 8.5 overs included four maidnes and he gave away just 23 runs for his five wickets.

Deciding to bat, Charuka Gunasekara stood out with a valuable knock of 81 runs (94 balls, 14x4s). With Gunasekara going great guns Richmond were looking at posting a challenging total. But Ravindu de Silva had other ideas.

Introduced to the attack as the ninth bowler, de Silva rattled the Richmond batting line up with a five wicket haul. Richmond were 133 for two wickets at the end of the 30th over but their last eight wickets could add only 33 runs during the remainder of the innings as Ravindu De Silva joined Sithum de Silva to contained the formidable line up to 166 runs.

Sithum who completed his quota of ten overs gave away just 19 runs for his three wickets. Ravindu bowled seven overs taking five wickets for 19 runs, while Mayura Malshan and Sithum Vihanga too bowled economical spells. Malshan’s seven overs (7.2) cost him just 12 runs. In the other two pre-quarter-final matches played on Saturday, Revata College, Balapitiya pulled off an exciting three runs victory over St. Thomas’, Matara and Trinity scored two wickets victory over D.S. Senanayake.

Scores:  

Richmond 166 all out 43.2 overs (Helith Edirisinghe 19, Charuka Gunasekara 81, Extras 24; Sithum de Silva 3/19, Ravindu de Silva 5/19) 

Sri Devananda 106 all out in 24.5 overs (Mayura Malshan 28, Lahiru Kavinda 30; Pubudu Mihiranga 5/23, Yuri Koththigoda 2/11) 

Results of the Matches played on Saturday 

Revata beat St. Thomas’ Matara by three runs at Matara  

Scores: 

Revata 140 all out in 49.1 overs (Kaveesha Mendis 59, Malith Mihiranga 23; Loshitha Diksith 3/26, Manuga Yonal 2/22, Pesandu Sanjan 2/14) 

St. Thomas’ 137 all out in 37.5 overs (Abdul Majid 26, Manuga Yonal 23, Sanju Dilshan 21; Kaveesha Mendis 2/32, Malith Mihiranga 2/18, Shehan Madusanka 3/18, Purna Ranyuru 3/18) 

 Trinity beat DSS by one wicket at Mount Lavinia  

Scores: 

DSS 144 all out in 45.3 overs (Shanal Binuksha 23, Sohan Senarathyapa 39, Chanul de Alwis 20, Extras 24; Malith Rathnayake 2/25, Sweaph Anurajeewa 2/24)

Trinity 145 for 8 in 49.5 overs (Sweaph Anurajeewa 27, Jayavi Liyanagama 32; Akidha Weerasuriya 2/19, Randisha Bandaranayake 2/22) 

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Man United’s David de Gea after Brentford defeat: Last season’s horror show still in our minds

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David de Gea has said Manchester United are struggling to get over last season’s traumatic campaign and added the hangover is contributing to a nightmare start to life under Erik ten Hag.Ten Hag is the first United manager in more than 100 years to lose his first two games in charge after back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Brentford.

The 4-0 humiliation at the Gtech Community Stadium on Saturday left Ten Hag’s team bottom of the Premier League table and De Gea said the dismal end to last season, when United lost seven of their final 12 games, is playing a part.

“It was a difficult season and probably it’s still in our minds,” he said. “When something goes wrong people get panicky, it’s difficult. But we have to learn, we have a new manager, some new players, we need to be more positive, keep learning and improve.”

All four goals at Brentford were conceded in the opening 35 minutes, prompting Ten Hag to replace Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez and Fred at half-time. The Dutchman said afterwards he wanted to change his entire starting lineup following a disastrous first 45 minutes and De Gea said the United boss relayed his anger to the players at the break.David de Gea endured a miserable afternoon as Manchester United were thrashed at Brentford. Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

“He said it was unacceptable, what we were doing on the pitch,” De Gea said. “Nothing else to be honest. It was horrible, then some tactical things. It was horrible from us.

“I must take responsibility, I think I cost two goals to the team today. That first goal cannot happen. As a team we should react much better than we did, but I think I cost the team two goals.”

It won’t get any easier for United with Liverpool their next opponents at Old Trafford on Aug. 22. United haven’t beaten Liverpool in a league game since 2018 and the last three fixtures against Jurgen Klopp’s side have ended in three defeats and a combined score of 13-2.

“It’s about winning games,” De Gea added. “As soon as we win one game, two games, we’re going to start feeling better and more positive.

“We’re training really well, people are training hard, everyone is giving everything, to be honest, but then in the games we are not performing. For sure we’re going to learn, we have to learn and we have to play much better.”

(ESPN)

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Godamanne retires as Sri Lanka secure Group III promotion

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Sri Lanka registered a 2-0 victory over Iraq to earn promotion to Group III as they won the vital encounter in the Asia Oceania Zone Group IV Event, which was also the final Davis Cup match for Harshana Godamanna at the SLTA clay courts in Colombo on Saturday.

In the singles Yasitha de Silva beat Abdullah Ali Hatem 6-4, 6-2 and Harshana Godamanna beat Adel Mustafa Al-Saedi 6-3, 6-2.

Godamanna who represented Sri Lanka for 20 years made his retirement from the game a memorable one. He was presented with a plaque with many pictures of him in action and his parents in appreciation. The presentation was made by Iqbal bin Issack president of SLTA.

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