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.
Murali hospitalised for cardiac treatment
Muralitharan was at the Chepauk when Sunrisers played Mumbai Indians on Saturday, incidentally his 49 birthday. © BCCI/IPL
Sri Lankan cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who is part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad support staff in the ongoing IPL, has undergone an angioplasty in Madras.
It was reported that the champion off-spinner “had a stent fitted to unblock an artery, and will rejoin Sunrisers Hyderabad when discharged.
He has been the bowling coach and mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2015. His team has suffered three losses in a row this season.
Dilhara Lokuhettige gets eight-year ban for corruption
Dilhara Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019
“The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate”
Dilhara Lokuhettige, the former Sri Lanka allrounder, has been banned from all cricket for eight years by the ICC anti-corruption tribunal after being found guilty of breaching the ICC’s anti-corruption code on three counts.
Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019, five months after the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) had also charged him. The charges relate to the 2017 T10 tournament played in the UAE, which is why the ECB had been first to lay charges.
In January this year, the tribunal found Lokuhettige guilty of:
Article 2.1.1 – for being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of a match.
Article 2.1.4 – directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach code article 2.1.
Article 2.4.4 – failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the code.
“Having represented Sri Lanka in international cricket, Dilhara had attended a number of anti-corruption education sessions and would have known his actions were a breach of the Code,” Alex Marshall, the ICC general manager – anti corruption, said. “The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate and should serve as a deterrent for anyone considering getting involved in corruption of any kind.”
An Al Jazeera documentary on cricket corruption in Sri Lanka had initially raised concerns about Lokuhettige. In that, Lokuhettige was seen to be in the room when another former Sri Lanka cricketer was talking to an alleged corruptor, as well as an Al Jazeera journalist posing as a prospective bettor.
Former Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Zoysa was also found guilty of three corruption-related offences to do with that T10 tournament in November last year. Zoysa has since denied any wrongdoing.
Zoysa and Lokuhettige are the third and fourth former Sri Lanka players to be charged with corruption. Sanath Jayasuriya was the most high-profile cricketer to cop charges, and has served out a two-year suspension from the game, while former offspinner and sometime Galle curator Jayananda Warnaweera was the first to be charged with corruption by the ICC.
As Lokuhettige has been living in Australia and held no positions with Sri Lankan cricket, he has not faced a sanctions from the SLC so far.
He played 11 white-ball internationals for Sri Lanka, picking up eight wickets to go with 101 runs with the bat. His last competitive game was a first-class fixture for Moors Sports Club in February 2016.
Royal, Trinity march into semis as Ahan continues top form
Royal College marched into the semi-finals of the Under-19 Division I Tier ‘A’ tournament with a convincing six wickets victory over Nalanda as they stopped the team inclusive of at least two leading players of the tournament at the quarter-final hurdle on Monday.
Chasing 190 runs to win, the tournament’s leading batsman Ahan Wickramasinghe scored an unbeaten 71 runs for Royal to seal the semi-final place with 11 overs to spare. Dasis Manchanayake who took three Nalanda wickets also chipped in with 22 runs.
Wickramasinghe has scored over 400 runs now in six matches. Raveen de Silva who scored an unbeaten half century and Vinuja Ranpul who chipped in with 22 runs for Nalanda are the tournament’s second and third highest run scorers. .
In the other Tier ‘A’ quarter-final played on Monday, Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa by seven wickets to book their semi-final place.
While Royal meet the winners of the match between St. Anthony’s, Katugastota and Mahanama, Colombo in the semi-final, Trinity will encounter the winners of the quarter-final between Richmond and St. Joseph’s.
In the Division II Tier ‘A’ tournament, Lyceum International School, Wattala continued their impressive run as they edged out Rahula College, Matara in the quarter-final.
Division I Tier A
Royal beat Nalanda at Mount Lavinia
189 for 7 in 50 overs (Rashan Dissanayake 30, Nadil Jayakody 32, Vinuja Ranpul 22, Raveen de Silva 59n.o.; Dasis Manchanayake 3/17)
191 for 4 in 39 overs (Sineh Jayawardena 60, Isiwara Dissanayake 21, Ahan Wickramasinghe 71n.o., Dasis Manchanayake 22; Dineth Samaraweera 2/32)
Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s at Reid Avenue
131 all out in 43.2 overs (Yashan Avishka 51, Savindu Rodrigo 30; Dinuka Thennakoon 4/23, Abishek Anandakumar 3/37)
133 for 3 in 30.1 overs (Thevin Amarasinghe 39, Umair Raizan 60, Pawan Pathiraja 21n.o.; Sadeesh Fernando 3/39)
Division II Tier ‘A’
Lyceum beat Rahula at Darley Road
148 all out in 42.1 overs (Gamitha Pawan 61, Jaron Fernando 20, Theekshana Shehan 26; Binura Sanketh 2/17, Sandew Rithmaka 3/27)
117 all out in 42.2 overs (Tharindu Rajapaksha 52, Binura Sanketh 24; Mohammed Rifnaz 2/23, Mithush Lakshman 3/14)
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