by Rex Clementine
Cabinet Minister Bandula Gunawaradene once said that Rs. 2500 is sufficient for a person to live a month. The argument did not go down well with the public. This is what happens when successful tuition masters try their hand in guiding the national economy. On the same note, it is a tricky subject for not so successful cricket writers to give suggestions on how the national cricket team should function. Nevertheless, it is good to be an armchair critic once in a while as long as you don’t get your calculations totally wrong like Bandula sir.
So, we have been sold this theory that Avishka Fernando has a chink in his armour opening the innings and that he is better off playing at number four. With gents like Mickey Arthur and Mahela Jayawardene being the theorists, the press took the bait, hook, line and sinker. Well, the two gents were asked to explain their theories. They played their cards close to their chests. Apparently, they did not want to let the cat out of the bag. Fair enough.
The closest it came to was that during Power Plays with field restrictions on and the inner circle cramped, Avishka struggled to find the gap and rotate the strike.
Some did not buy into that theory. Jaffna Kings, Avishka’s franchise owners certainty didn’t. They batted him at his usual position and the Moratuwaite came up with a stunning display hitting five consecutive sixes in an over this week. The bowler at the receiving end was T.M. Sampath, the younger brother of former captain T.M. Dilshan.
Avishka has always batted top of the order. He is so exciting to watch and there’s little doubt that he’s Aravinda’s heir given the time he has got to play his strokes and the natural flair. If it is true that why Sri Lanka wanted him to go down the order was because he was struggling to rotate the strike when field restrictions were on, it is defensive thinking, some could argue. We are a nation that got hold of not just one opener but two of them and told them to go helter-skelter upsetting the bowlers’ rhythm. Why can we not do the same with Avishka? Fair question.
You can not criticize Avishka’s demotion altogether for that tactic allowed Pathum Nissanka to move up the order and how well he has performed there. Sri Lanka were desperately searching for someone to bat through the 20 overs, often getting bowled out without utilizing their quota of 20 overs. Pathum has solved that problem. He plays the anchor role so well and occasionally brings up Steve Smith like strokes that you can only sit back and marvel.
Over the years, in Sri Lankan cricket we have converted some of our finest talents as opening batsmen. They have all done terrific jobs top of the order. But to get an opening batsman to bat at in the middle order is almost unheard of. Also the theory that Avishka is fine to open batting in ODIs but not in T-20s doesn’t add up. One of Dav Whatmore’s theories was that your best players needed to ‘consume the larger amount of overs’ when it came to white ball cricket.
There’s some fault in Avishka too. He was going to make his Test debut early this year against England in Galle but was sent home having failed a fitness test. Apparently the Sri Lankan team manager at that time, former fast bowler Ashantha de Mel, had lower skinfolds than Avishka! A little bit of discipline, common sense and interest in what you are supposed to do can take you places. On the other hand, lack of intent will see your talent going down the drain and if you are not disciplined you have so much to lose.
Mickey Arthur’s fitness regime needs to be commended. No Sri Lankan coach has stressed on fitness as much as Mickey and his theory of ‘my way or the highway’ worked wonders. Mickey after all was someone who sacked Mitchell Johnson of all people for failing to do his ‘homework’. Taking on Avishka would have been child’s play for him. There is only one language that some players understand.
Coming back to the question whether Avishka should open or bat at four, it is an interesting debate. People like Mickey, who has coached four international teams and Mahela, who has turned everything he touched in coaching into gold need to be given the benefit of the doubt. But then, they taught us at school that only the Pope is infallible. Maybe MJ too when it comes to cricket.
Dialog powers SLAF ‘Commander’s Cup 2022’ golf tournament
The Sri Lanka Air Force will commence its sports program for the new year with the prestigious ‘Commanders Cup 2022’ golf tournament powered by Dialog Enterprises.
The 9th edition of the Commander’s Cup golf tournament will take off at the picturesque Eagle golf links at China Bay on the 22nd of January with the participation of over 100 local and foreign golfers. The 18-hole course offers nearly seven kilometers of challenging rounds of golf for a par of 72. (Competitors will have the opportunity to play a practice round on the 21st).
In addition to the ‘Commander’s Cup’ tournament male and female golfers presently serving in the tri-forces will vie for the Eagle’s Challenge Trophy.
The awards ceremony will take place on the 22nd evening.
At a media briefing held at the SLAF headquarters to announce the tournament, Group Chief Officer of Dialog Enterprises Navin Peiris said that Dialog was honoured to partner Sri Lanka Air Force to make the prestigious Commander’s cup golf tournament a success. He added that the tournament brings together the top ranking players and provides players from the tri-forces to hone their skills.”Throughout the past year Dialog Enterprises has maintained a close association with the sport of golf in Sri Lanka by sponsoring golf clubs, tournaments, golf development clinics for children, supporting leading golfers at national and international level and uplifting the livelihood of communities connected to the sport,” he said
Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana and Group Chief Officer of Dialog Enterprises Navin Peiris unveiled the ‘Commander’s Cup’ after which Pieris handed over the sponsorship check to the Air Force Commander.
Sakuna, Dunith guide Sri Lanka to hard-fought victory
ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup
Skipper Dunith Wellalage and middle order batsman Sakuna Liyanage played vital roles as Sri Lanka Under 19s registered a 40 run victory over Scotland in their opening match of the ICC Under 19 World Cup in Georgetown on Friday.
Wellalage’s canny left-arm spin saw him rack up formidable figures of five for 27 from nine overs as Scotland were unable to ever get going in pursuit of their 219 target.
Liyanage was the hero with the bat, striking a majestic run-a-ball 85 to haul his side up to a total that left the game intriguingly poised at the halfway mark.
Raveen de Silva (30) delivered some important runs from the tail while contributions from top order batters Chamindu Wickramasinghe (28) and Sadisha Rajapaksa (24) left Charlie Peet’s Scots with considerable work to do.
Sean Fischer-Keogh (3-56), Jack Jarvis and Oliver Davidson – two wickets apiece – starred with the ball but underdogs Scotland were unable to mount a viable attempt with the bat as Sri Lanka’s spinners turned the screw.
Spearheaded by Wellalage’s brilliance, the 2000 runners-up suffocated the Scots as Shevon Daniel (2-16), Matheesha Pathirana and Wanuja Sahan also took important wickets.
Only middle-order batter Jarvis, who notched 55 off 61 balls after arriving at the crease with scoreboard pressure intensifying, scored over 20 for Scotland after the top four failed to fire in the face of some accurate Sri Lankan bowling.
A flurry of late wickets saw Scotland eventually dismissed with eight balls of the innings remaining, 40 runs short of Sri Lanka who will look to build valuable momentum ahead of their mouth-watering Monday meeting with fellow Friday winners Australia.
Australia delivered a dominant early statement of intent as the hotly-anticipated ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup kicked off on Friday.
The three-time champions breezed past West Indies by six wickets to get their tournament off to a flyer and inflict an early blow on the hosts in Guyana.
Cooper Connolly’s side required just 40.1 overs to take all ten West Indian wickets and spearheaded by opener Teague Wyllie, chased down their target of 170 to win with ease.
West Indies were punished for a below-par batting performance as Australia cruised to a comfortable triumph at Providence.
After Ackeem Auguste’s side had been bowled out for just 169 – with almost ten full overs to spare – Wyllie’s polished 86 not out helped Australia complete the most impressive display of the day and win within 45 overs.
Australia’s seamers had caused havoc with the new ball as opening bowlers Tom Whitney – three for 20 – and William Salzmann – one for 19 – reduced the hosts to 12 for three after 5.1 overs. Skipper Auguste’s defiant 57, bolstered by wicket-keeper Rivaldo Clarke’s 37, propelled them to a fourth wicket partnership of 95 but wickets at regular intervals after Clarke’s dismissal proved the West Indians’ downfall.
Australian captain Connolly and off-spinner Nivethan Radhakrishna took three wickets apiece as West Indies, winners of the ICC U19 Men’s CWC in 2016, were unable to muster a match-winning total.
And that inability was ruthlessly capitalised on by the Australians, who overcame the early dismissals of top order batters Corey Miller and Isaac Higgins to power to a straightforward victory.
Wyllie’s impressive innings was assisted by Radhakrishnan’s 31 and Connolly’s 23 as Australia, crowned champions back in 1988, 2002 and 2010, got their tournament off to the perfect start in the Caribbean.
Sri Lanka U19 beat Scotland
Sri Lanka U19
218 all out in 45.2 overs (Chamindu Wickramasinghe 28, Sadeesha Rajapaksa 24, Sakuna Liyanage 85, Raveen de Silva 30; Sean Fischer-Keogh 3/56, Jack Jarvis 2/27, Oliver Davidson 2/50)
178 all out in 48.4 overs (Jack Jarvis 55; Dunith Wellalage 5/27, Shevon Daniel 2/16)
Australia U19 beat West Indies
West Indies U19
169 all out in 40.1 overs (Rivaldo Clarke 37, Ackeem Auguste 57, McKenny Clarke 29; Tom Whitney 3/20, Nivethan Radhakrishnan 3/48, Cooper Connolly 3/17)
170 for 4 in 44.5 overs (Teague Wyllie 86n.o., Cooper Connolly 23, Nivethan Radhakrishnan 31)
Chandimal and Asalanka star in thrilling Sri Lankan win
Rex Clementine at Pallekele
Having been given a fresh life in white ball cricket, former captain Dinesh Chandimal grabbed the opportunity with both hands posting a match winning 75 to help Sri Lanka to a thrilling five wicket win over Zimbabwe at Pallekele last night.
Set a daunting target of 297, the hosts got home with nine deliveries to spare as Charith Asalanka and Chandimal starred sharing a 129 run stand for the fourth wicket to help Sri Lanka go 1-0 up in the three match series. It’s now the highest successful run chase at Pallekele improving on Sri Lanka’s 288 for eight against Pakistan in 2015.
Çhandimal was not part of the ODI squad but was a late replacement as a COVID scare forced the selectors to withdraw several players.
Pathum Nissanka had batted superbly for his less than run a ball 75 but with his dismissal Sri Lanka were down to 147 for three in the 25th over. With the hosts not having much batting depth, the fourth wicket pair of Chandimal and Asalanka had to rise to the occasion and they did it so well.
Going into the last ten overs, Sri Lanka needed a run a ball and without taking any undue risks Chandimal and Asalanka finished off the job. When the partnership was eventually broken, Sri Lanka needed 21 runs.
The fourth wicket stand was worth 129 and came off 127 deliveries as Sri Lanka started off the new year with a win.
Earlier, the experienced Sean Williams was the mainstay of Zimbabwe innings hitting his fifth ODI century and in the process he became the seventh Zimbabwean to score 4000 runs. He is the fourth fastest Zimbabwean to the milestone behind the Flower brothers and Brendan Taylor.
Williams half-century came in 52 balls and he required only 34 more deliveries to complete his hundred. His knock contained nine fours and two sixes.
Williams knock followed after a good partnership by the openers. Regis Chakabva was dropped on two by Charith Asalanka at slip off Nuwan Pradeep and he went onto post his third half-century. Chakabva made 72 and shared a 80 run stand for the first wicket with Takudzwanashe Kaitano, who was on debut.
Sri Lanka were sloppy with their fielding putting down two straight forward chances and their over rate too was well below par taking 20 minutes more time than the stipulated time limit.
The hosts handed ODI debut to Chamika Gunasekara but after sending one over, the 22-year-old quick returned to the pavilion with a left hamstring strain and never returned.
At 248 for four with six overs remaining, Zimbabwe were threatening to post a total beyond 300 but Sri Lanka pulled things back as there was a flurry of wickets.
Chamika Karunaratne was the pick of the bowlers finishing with three for 69. He picked up two wickets in the last over of the innings and his figures were spoilt as last man Richard Ngarava smashed a six and a four off the last two deliveries of the over.
SLC had decided to allow half of the capacity crowd and close to 10,000 supporters turned up.
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