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Dambulla Viikings gear up to conquer

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While a captain is to be officially named this team is not short on leadership; in Dasun Shanaka, Upul Tharanga and Ireland international Paul Stirling, Dambulla boast three players who have captained their sides on the international stage.

Hard work, innovation, team work. These are the three pillars on which the Dambulla Viiking franchise has sought to build their squad for the upcoming inaugural Lanka Premier League. As such their 21-man squad, led by head coach former England cricketer Owais Shah, sees a truly competitive blend comprising the cream of Sri Lankan talent, international experience, and youthful exuberance.

While a captain is to be officially named this team is not short on leadership; in Dasun Shanaka, Upul Tharanga and Ireland international Paul Stirling, Dambulla boast three players who have captained their sides on the international stage. This strong leadership base is supplemented by the considerable international experience of players such as Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha, Afghanistan duo Aftab Alam and Samiullah Shinwari, and veterans Anwar Ali from Pakistan, India’s Sudeep Tyagi and Englishman Samit Patel.

The team’s collective of promising Sri Lankan youngsters will no doubt benefit from rubbing shoulders with players of such international stature. Ashen Bandara, Kavindu Nadeeshan, Ramesh Mendis, Sachindu Colombage, Dilshan Madushanka and Pulina Tharanga, may not yet be household names, but given the right opportunity and guidance they are poised to flourish.

Strong Sri Lankan base While possessing a wealth of international talent, the team nevertheless is built around a strong Sri Lankan spine. In Shanaka, Dickwella, Oshada Fernando and Tharanga, Dambulla have four batsmen who have delivered at the highest level, while the big-hitting offered by the likes of Stirling, Patel, Shinwari and Lahiru Madushanka, provide punch in the middle and lower order.

In Angelo Perera and Mendis, Dambulla can also lay claim to two immensely talented players hitting the peak years of their careers; notably, Perera recently became the first player in history to hit two double centuries in a first-class game, while Mendis earlier this year hit an unbeaten first-class triple hundred.

The pace department meanwhile is led by the express Kumara and the precise Rajitha, who are fast becoming mainstays in the national team setup. Supported by bowlers the calibre of Ali, Alam and Tyagi, who are capable of swinging and seaming the ball, Dambulla’s pace attack boasts many strings in its fast-bowling bow.

In the spin-bowling department, it’s Malinda Pushpakumara that will likely lead the way, the veteran left-arm spinner who has taken an astonishing 793 first-class wickets in his career.

Aiding him will be a plethora of spin options, namely the wise old heads of Shinwari and Patel, who will also no doubt play a major role in guiding some of the raw spin talent in the squad.

Crucially many of Dambulla’s bowlers are more than capable with the bat, which will give head coach Shah a pleasant headache when putting together the team.

“We have a great blend of youth and experience, with a lot of complementary skill sets. Once the tournament starts and each teams strengths and weaknesses become clearer, we’re confident of being able to field a strong XI in every game,” said Shah.

Dambulla will play their first match of the LPL on 28 November against the Kandy Tuskers



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Gateway win three Basketball Championships in a row

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Standing (L-R): Mr. Kevin Bennet (Coordinator), Mr. Tharindu Fernando (Head Coach), Sashein Perera, Seth Abeysekara, Yoosuf Nazih, Abhee Witharana, Samuel Tsung, Mathisha Udumalgala, Julan Senvitha, Mikyle Reza, Giyan Fernando, Mr. Fawzan Thariq (Coordinator) Seated (L-R): Usman Shafraz (Vice-Captain), Abdullah Jazeel, Aadhil Ammar, Taresh Samarasinghe, Ashain Thevarapperuma (Captain)

Gateway College Juniors comfortably beat Elizabeth Moir School 31-8 at the Semi Final and Colombo International School 19-10 to win the Under 13 Inter-International Schools’ Basketball Championship that was hosted by the Colombo International School. Earlier in the year, Gateway College secured the Under 17 and Under 19 Championships.

During the group stages, Gateway College Colombo had little resistance as they beat Wycherley International School 40-2, Lyceum International School Nugegoda 35-0, Gateway College Kandy 48-7 and the British School in Colombo 40-11.

Usman Shafraz was named as the Best Defensive Player and Ashain Thevarapperuma as the Most Valuable Player.

Gateway’s outstanding performances during the recent years include several National and International School tournaments which has set the stage for a few of it’s players to represent the country in Basketball.

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Glenn Maxwell added to Australia Test squad after Travis Head joins injury list

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Glenn Maxwell has been added to Australia’s Test squad ahead of the opening match against Sri Lanka in Galle after Travis Head joined a lengthy injury list with a hamstring strain which ruled him out of the final ODI.

It means the prospect of Maxwell playing his first Test since 2017, against Bangladesh in Chattogram, and his first first-class match since 2019 if he is included for the game next Wednesday. All seven of his Tests have come on the subcontinent with a top score of 104 against India in Ranchi.

Before the tour, national George Bailey kept the door open for Maxwell’s return. He has been in good touch during the ODIs with a match-winning unbeaten 80 in the opening game followed by 30 and 33.

“We know Glenn has had some red-ball success in these types of conditions and we’re looking forward to him getting back and playing a good block of cricket through the T20s and one-day cricket,” Bailey said. “If he shoots the lights out or anyone else does particularly well, there’s always going to be opportunities.”

Head sustained his injury late in the fourth match and has just six days to recover before the first Test in Galle. GPS data showed that Head had run 26km in the field across the third and fourth matches of the series. The strain is said to be on the minor side, but if he is not available for the opening game next Wednesday, it would require Australia to rejig their middle order.

Maxwell has been called up ahead of any of the Australia A batters who have been taking part in the four-day matches against Sri Lanka which includes Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Nic Maddinson.

However, three spinners from the A squad – Jon Holland, Matthew Kuhnemann and Todd Murphy – will remain in Sri Lanka with the Test squad to assist with preparations and to further their development. Kuhnemann has already been part of the ODI squad following Ashton Agar’s side injury and if Australia opt for three spinners during the Tests there could be further chance for promotion. (Cricinfo)

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Dickwella; brilliant with keeping, hopeless with batting

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Niroshan Dickwella pulled off a stunning stumping of David Warner on Tuesday as Sri Lanka secured a series win against Australia with a game to spare

by Rex Clementine

One of the game’s modern day greats Ricky Ponting used to be a riot in his early days. Late night brawls at pubs left him with bloody nose and sanctions from Cricket Australia. It was Steve Waugh who took him to a side and told him to get his act together. Ponting went onto play a record 168 Test matches, won two World Cups as captain and today he is a successful cricket coach.

Similarly, with Virat Kohli there were lots of hope when he came onto the big stage having captained India to the ICC Under-19 World Cup title. But he was overweight and underperforming with India’s senior side. One Sachin Tendulkar mentored him and today Kohli is in a different league. It’s such a pity that none of our greats have done the same with Niroshan Dickwella.

When Sampath Perera, one of the country’s most successful school cricket coaches, took on a bigger responsibility we asked him which young player we should keep an eye for. He told this newspaper to watch out for Niroshan Dickwella. This was some talent that will take Sri Lankan cricket places, Perera suggested. But he also warned us. He feared that Dickwella will get into trouble due to his off the field antics.

After nearly a decade in Sri Lankan colours, Dickwella has rarely delivered. While wicketkeepers like Quinton de Kock and Rishab Pant have gone places winning games to their sides, Dickwella is struggling to hold onto his place. He has been just average. Anywhere else in the world if you had not scored a hundred after 50 Tests, you’d be kicked out. He’s been tolerated with the hope that the prodigal son will finally deliver.

There was proof of what Sampath Perera was trying to tell us during the fourth ODI at RPS.  Dickwella pulled off a stunning stumping with David Warner on 99. Until that moment, the Aussies were on cruise mode to square the five match series. Dickwella turned the game and the series in Sri Lanka’s favour in a flash with the stumping of the year.

Sri Lanka have often backed batsmen who could do the job behind the stumps. In the process, they have turned a blind eye towards their best keeper who is Dickwella. Tuesday we saw why Dickwella should be backed as he is the team’s best keeper. Players of the caliber of Warner are going to give you just a half chance and you need to grab them like Dickwella did.

While Dickwella’s keeping is flawless, the problem is with his batting. There’s no consistency and worse, most of the time his ways of getting out are irritating.

Despite the excellent Warner stumping, the selectors have sent a strong message that unless he shows application with the bat, he is not going to be tolerated as he was dropped for the next game. They seem to want him to take more responsibility. At least this will bring the best out of him.

The other area that Dickwella has not made any improvement is his reviewing. True that the ultimate choice of reviews rests with the captain but the manner in which Dickwella urges the skipper leaves him with little choice. Dimuth Karunaratne, the Test captain, seem to be taking Dickwella’s inputs on reviews with a pinch of salt. White ball captain Dasun Shanaka seem to be still trusting his keeper but it’s only a matter of time before he too loses faith.

Reviews sum up Dickwella – impulsive, immature and even incorrigible. That’s seen in his overall cricket too. Fans will be hoping that the day comes where Dickwella is spoken of in the same breath as Pant and de Kock.

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