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Cricket’s most memorable 30 days



The Wills Cricket World Cup got underway on the 14th of February and 30 days later Sri Lanka were crowned champions.

by Rex Clementine

February 14th; what’s so special about that date? Well, it’s the feast day of St. Valentine. But for cricket buffs, their most memorable 30 days in the sport began on a day like this 25 years ago. In 1996, it was on the 14th of February the Wills Cricket World Cup got underway and 30 days later Sri Lanka were crowned champions.

Not many had predicted Sri Lanka making it to the semis leave alone winning the championship. But this was a campaign where they did little wrong.

Despite limited bowling resources, Sri Lanka’s policy of chasing any total stood in good stead with Sanath Jayasuriya firing and Aravinda de Silva coming up with crucial match winning knocks.  When nothing worked, the lower middle order hung in there, stitched enough runs which were defended so brilliantly.

The charm of Sri Lankan players saw them winning many fans all over the world. Everyone supports the underdog  and Arjuna Ranatunga’s side had plenty of them; the whole of Gaddafi Stadium in the final. The team was brilliantly led as well; not just on the field but off it as well.

Ranatunga admonishing an overjoyed Kumar Dharmasena after Clive Lloyd awarded the semi-final to Sri Lanka with some 100,000 fans rioting remains one of the iconic images of the sport. So does the stumping of Sachin Tendulkar by Rumesh Kaluwithara, probably the greatest stumping in the history of Sri Lankan cricket. As long as Sachin batted, India were sailing smooth but once he was expertly stumped, the wicket misbehaved and India crumbled.

Diplomatic ties between Sri Lanka and Australia was stained after Australia’s refusal to honour their fixture in Colombo. West Indies followed suit. Both teams wanted the games to be shifted to Madras. The Sri Lankan government came up with an offer to airlift both teams from Madras and to be sent back to the south Indian city straight after the game. The suggestion was turned down.

Board President Ana Punchihewa had to fight tooth and nail to ensure that points from these two games weren’t split. Both West Indies and Australia wanted points shared but Punchihewa with the help of tournament chief Jagmohan Dalmiya ensured that Sri Lanka  got full points

There was anger among fans. One of them put out  a banner;

 ‘Aussie PM is Keating

Aussies are cheating.’

Arjuna got under the skin of Aussies. After being the first team to qualify for the finals, he was asked which team he preferred in the finals – Australia or West Indies. Arjuna said, ‘Bring on the Aussies.’ On the day of the final, he sent word to the Aussie camp as well calling Warne an overrated bowler.

George Steuart Travels having realized that there will be lot of Sri Lankans wanting to attend the final, arranged a chartered flight and tickets were selling fast. Sunil Wettimuny, who scored Sri Lanka’s first ever World Cup half-century in 1975 was the pilot of the aircraft.

The team was scheduled to fly back home the day after the final but on the insistence of some players they flew down the same night on the chartered flight. Some Ministers and well wishers readily gave up their seats. Some of the happenings on that flight can not be put on print.

There are few functions organized to celebrate the occasion. There’s one happening on the 17th of March in Colombo and there’s another in Jaffna on the 26th of  March. The next day – on the 27th, the World Cup winners will be involved in a game in Jaffna.  A lot to look forward  to over the next 30 days.

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SLT-MOBITEL Southern Eliyakanda Hill Climb 2021 Concludes Successfully



SLTMOBITEL Speedup Southern Eliyakanda Hill Climb 2021’ Motorbike and Car racing championship powered by the ultra-high speed fibre broadband and fastest mobile internet services provider in Sri Lanka SLT-MOBITEL concluded successfully amid much fanfare, on the 27th and 28th February, 2021 at the Eliyakanda racing circuit in Browns Hill Matara.

SLT-MOBITEL joined hands with the Southern Motor Sports Club (SMSC) for the 25th edition of the ‘SLTMOBITEL Speedup Southern Eliyakanda Hill Climb’.

The exciting racing spectacle comprised of 16 motor cycle events and 17 motor car events, on an uphill course covering a distance of 540 metres, The Bike races were conducted on 27th February and the Car races took place the next day, on 28th February, 2021.

Jaden Gunawardena took pole as the faster rider among 103 racers, marking a new race record of 33.63 seconds. Moreover, Ashan Silva made history at the car race as the first person in the event’s 25 year history to complete the race in 31.26 seconds. The race was made extra special as Ashan had in his first run beat Dilan Seneviratna’s record of 31.783 seconds.

The SLTMOBITEL Speedup Southern Eliyakanda Hill Climb is a national championship event which functions under the purview of the Sri Lanka Automobile Sports (SLAS), the governing body for motor sports in Sri Lanka.

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Wenuka wins all Thomian final to clinch U16 boys’ singles title



SSC Open Ranking Tennis

by Reemus Fernando

Wenuka Kithnula clinched the Under-16 boys’ singles title with a win over top seed Zaidh Zihar at the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament in Colombo on Wednesday.

In an all Thomian final Kithnula scored 7-5, 6-4 against Zihar, who had to be content with the runner up title for the second consecutive time within weeks.

For Kithnula, it was the first title in this age category after being eliminated in the quarter-finals of two consecutive tournaments this year. He has however tasted title victory in lower age category events at the SSC Open Raking Tournaments before.

Both Zaidh Zihar and Wenuka Kithnula have been performing consistently since tennis resumed following a long hiatus due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The S. Thomas’ College players were also among the top contenders when they were competing in the Under-14 age category often sharing the champion and runner up titles between them.

At the Tennis Nationals 2020 which was played in January this year, Kithnula was eliminated by eventual champion Kiran Viravanathan in the quarter-finals of the Under-16 tournament. Zihar reached the semi-finals in that tournament.

At the last month’s Colombo Championships, Kithnula was knocked out in the quarter-finals, while Zihar reached the final where he was beaten by Viravanathan.

Meanwhile, in the Under-16 girls’ singles, Dinara de Silva and Saajida Razick from Dineshkanthan Tennis School are set to meet in the final as they won their semi finals.

In the Under-14 girls’ singles Arushi Thomas, Onali de Silva, Jayami Thambugalage and Dulkini Ranasinghe advanced to the semi finals.


Under-16 boys’ singles final

Wenuka Kithnula beat Zaidh Zihar 7-5, 6-4

Under-16 girls’ singles semi-finals

Dinara de Silva beat Anithra Dharmaratne 6-2, 6-4

Saajida Razick beat Dinethya Dharmaratne 6-2, 6-3

Under-14 girls’ singles quarter-final

Arushi Thomas beat Melasha Randini 7-5, 6-4,

Onali de Silva beat Inuki Jayaweera 1-6, 6-2, 13-11

Jayami Thambugalage beat Brinda Fernando 6-3, 6-1,

Dulkini Ranasinghe beat Akeesha Silva 3-6, 6-4, 10-8


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Top seeds Zihar, Wenuka book final berths



SSC Open Ranking Tennis

Top seeds Zaidh Zihar and Wenuka Kithnula advanced to the final of the Under-16 boys’ singles as they won their respective semi-final matches at the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament in Colombo on Tuesday.

Zihar, the top seed, beat Hasal Ahangama 6-4, 6-5 to book his second consecutive Under-16 boys’ singles final berth. Zihar was the runner up to Kiran Viravanathan at the last month’s Colombo Championships.

The second seed Kithnula ousted Ransath Peiris 6-2, 6-2 to advance to his first final after being eliminated in the quarter-finals at both the Colombo Championships and the Nationals (U16) in January.

In the Under-12 boys’ singles Saha Kapilasena edged out his bother Tyee 3-6, 6-2, 10-6 to book a place in the final. Kapilasena will now meet Jayin de Saram who won his semi final against Aahil Kaleel (7-6, 2-6, 10-5).

In the Under-16 girls’ singles, third seed Dinethya Dharmaratne secured a semi-final place against number two seed Saajida Razick when she overcame a set defeat to beat Nelini Jayasuriya 3-6, 6-2, 10-8. Razick advanced to the semis with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Nesangi Hemakumara.

In the other semi-final Anitra Dharmaratne is set to meet Dinara de Silva who beat Ruvi Lewkebandara 0-6, 6-1, 10-7. Anitra Dharmaratne secured her spot when she ousted top seed Dewmini Warnasuriya 6-2, 1-6, 12-10.


Under-16 boys’ singles semis

Zaidh Zihar beat Hasal Ahangama 6-4, 6-5

Wenuka Kithnula beat Ransath Peiris 6-2, 6-2

Under-16 girls’ singles quarter-finals

Dinethya Dharmaratne beat Nelini Jayasuriya 3-6, 6-2, 10-8

Saajida Razick beat Nesangi Hemakumara 6-2, 6-2

Dinara de Silva beat Ruvi Lewkebandara 0-6, 6-1, 10-7

Anitra Dharmaratne beat Dewmini Warnasuriya 6-2, 1-6, 12-10

Under-12 boys’ singles semi-finals

Saha Kapilasena beat Tyee Kapilasena 3-6, 6-2, 10-6

Jayin de Saram beat Aahil Kaleel 7-6, 2-6, 10-5

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