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Cracking the Avishka Fernando code



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.


Lions beat Giants in Legends League Cricket final




Asia Lions clinched the Legends League Cricket title (pic LLC)

Upul Tharanga (57) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (58) hit half centuries as Asian Lions beat World Giants to win the Legends League Cricket (LLC) Masters. In the final held in Doha, Asia Lions scored an emphatic seven-wicket victory with 23 balls to spare.

Earlier, the Lions restricted World Giants to 147 for 4 despite Jacques Kallis’ unbeaten 78 off 54 balls with five boundaries and three sixes. Kallis also had a 92 runs partnership in 11.1 overs for the fourth wicket with Ross Taylor, who hit 32 off 33 balls with three boundaries but that was not enough for the World Giants.

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Spinners lead turnaround as Australia clinch series




The series-clinching victory propelled Australia to no.1 in the ICC ODI rankings (pic BCCI)

Australia put on a clinical show with the ball on Wednesday (March 22) as they clinched the ODI series decider at the MA Chidambaram stadium by 21 runs that helped them go past India and reach the top spot in the ICC ODI rankings.

Brief Scores:

Australia 269 all out (Mitchell Marsh 47; Hardik Pandya 3-44, Kuldeep Yadav 3-56) beat India 248 all out (Virat Kohli 54, Hardik Pandya 40; Adam Zampa 4-45) by 21 runs

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St. Sebastian’s Katuneriya, Holy Cross earn Division I promotion  



St. Sebastian’s College, Katuneriya with their officials.


By Reemus Fernando

St. Sebastian’s College, Katuneriya with a sensational last-ball victory and Holy Cross College, Kalutara with a marathon first innings performance earned their much-awaited Division I promotion as they outdid their opponents in the Under 19 Division II Tier ‘A’ semi-finals worked off at Surrey Village Ground, Maggona and Kirimandala Mawatha, Colombo respectively.

At Surrey Village, Sri Sumangala dominated the first innings and a better part of the second but St. Sebastian’s fought back through their seventh wicket pair to record three wickets victory. Chasing a target of 172 runs to win, the boys from Katuneriya were troubled by spinner Mevindu Kumarasiri who took six wickets. But after being 135 for seven wickets at one stage, the seventh wicket pair of Gayan Harshana (26n.o.) and Vihanga Theekshana fought back scoring less than run-a-ball knocks to secure their passage to Division I.

Sri Sumangala, considered the most consistent team in the Division II tournament were without their key player Vishwa Lahiru who is with Sri Lanka Under 19 team in UAE.

At Kirimandala Mawatha grounds, Holy Cross earned first innings points against Sri Devananda as their tail-enders stretched their first innings almost to the end of the second day, batting for 141 overs. In reply to Sri Devananda’s 138 runs, Holy Cross posted 251 runs.

Holy Cross College, a former Division I school were the champions of the last Division II Tier ‘A’ Limited Overs tournament. They beat Sri Sumangala in the semi-final on their way to that title. Now they will be facing St. Sebastian’s in the Two-Day tournament final. The result of that match will have no bearing on their promotion to the top Division of the Under 19 tournament as the finalists are guaranteed the Division I promotion according to tournament rules. The top teams in the Division II Tier ‘A’ tournament were waiting for nearly three years to get their promotion as promotions and demotions were not done during the last two years due to the pandemic.

Hansaja Brian who also took four wickets, played a crucial role in anchoring the batting lineup with a marathon innings (58 runs in 231 balls) for Holy Cross to overtake their opponents in the first innings. He was ably supported by Nadeera Deshan as they added a vital sixth wicket stand of 60 runs. Later skipper Sasindu Kaushan put on a last wicket stand of 76 runs with Amash Fernando, who contributed with an unbeaten 15 runs in as many as 135 balls. Kaushan scored 78 runs facing 205 balls as the last wicket pair frustrated the boys from Ambalangoda for 48 overs.

Holy Cross College, Kalutara with their officials.

The tenth wicket pair denied an opportunity for the boys from Ambalangoda to make a comeback in the second innings as they extended their innings almost to the close of play on the final day.


 St. Sebastian’s beat Sri Sumangala by three wickets at Surrey Village



Sri Sumangala

185 all out in 64.3 overs (Kishan Eranga 62, Sachira Demian 43; Chathumal Nimesh 4/45, Tharuka Manaram 5/30) and 135 all out in 48.5 overs (Kavindu Gayathra 25, Vidusha Peiris 21, Imalka Fernando 59; Chathumal Nimesh 5/59, Malindu Daham 2/29, Tharuka Manaram 3/39) 

St. Sebastian’s

149 all out in 50.1 overs (Thisara Madushan 43, Ashen Dinuka 38; Mevindu Kumarasiri 3/41, Imalka Fernando 3/13) and 174 for 7 in 39 overs (Hasith Kavinda 27, Nimesh Madusanka 26, Chathumal Nimesh 35, Gayan Harshana 26n.o., Vihanga Theekshana 15n.o.; Mevindu Kumarasiri 6/66) 

 Holy Cross in first innings win over Sri Devananda at Kirimandala Mawatha


Sri Devananda

138 all out in 60.4 overs (Sithum Vihanga 36, Kaveesha Kalpana 31; Pasindu Wimansa 3/38, Hansaja Brayan 4/20, Rashan Kethaka 2/17)  

Holy Cross

251 all out in 141.5 overs (Gayantha Nadeesha 40, Hansaja Brian 58, Nadeera Deshan 31, Sasindu Kaushan 78, Amash Fernando 15n.o.; Kaveesha Kalpana 5/50, Ravindu Jeewanka 2/50) 

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