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Dhananjaya drags Sri Lanka to 241

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Dhananjaya de Silva came up with a vital 91 to drag Sri Lanka to 241/9 in the second ODI at the Oval on Thursday (July 1). At one stage, it appeared as if the visitors would struggle to even touch three figures after Sam Curran struck thrice with the new ball in front of his home crowd to leave Sri Lanka reeling at 21/4. Eventually, the youngster went on to collect his first five-fer in ODI cricket with Sri Lanka also making a commendable comeback, which is still unlikely to prevent them from going 2-0 down in the series.

The Sri Lankans were rocked very early in the game after England opted to field first as Sam trapped Kusal Perera leg-before-wicket. Losing the captain, who top-scored in the first ODI, for a duck was a massive blow and the seamer hardly gave them any breathing space by striking again after two balls. Avishka Fernando fell prey to a sharp inswinger and was dismissed lbw as well. To make matters worse, both Kusal and Avishka ended up wasting two reviews while getting dismissed. Another inswinger from the left-armer accounted for Pathum Nissanka’s wicket in just the fourth over and David Willey opened his account shortly as well with Charith Asalanka mistiming a pull in tame fashion.

At 21/4, the visitors were badly in need of a partnership with a familiar story unfolding. Dhananjaya then found an able partner in Wanindu Hasaranga as the duo began rebuilding. Dhananjaya, who has been looking to cement his spot in the ODI XI, did his chances no harm as he kept picking up boundaries to get the scorecard moving. He played some exquisite shots off the seamers punishing anything that was bowled full and short as well. Hasaranga, who was watchful at the other end with Dhananjaya doing the bulk of the scoring, finally found his groove as he picked up a couple of boundaries off Sam to bring up the half-century stand.

The left-arm seamer persisted with a short-ball ploy against Hasaranga despite getting pulled for a boundary once but his patience did yield in a wicket eventually. Against the run of play, Hasaranga took on the short ball only to find the fielder at deep midwicket. It was then Dasun Shanaka’s turn to aid Dhananjaya as the two batsmen began guiding Sri Lanka to safety. Shanaka had to curb his natural instincts with plenty of overs left in the innings but did chip in with timely boundaries. Dhananjaya on the other hand continued to look fluent, went past his highest ODI score, and was on course to getting to his maiden hundred before a lapse in concentration resulted in his downfall.

Just nine short of three figures, the right-hander pulled Willey but failed to connect it to perfection and was caught by Joe Root near deep square leg. With Shanaka also getting dismissed before he could open up, Sri Lanka had to settle for a par score of 241 but they have certainly given their bowlers something to fight for which looked unlikely after the first 20 minutes of play.

 

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka

241/9 in 50 overs (Dhananjaya de Silva 91, Dasun Shanaka 47; Sam Curran 5-48, David Willey 4-64 )



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Are the selectors scared of Bhanuka Rajapaksa? 

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by Rex Clementine

With sheer pace and skill Kagiso Rabada cut the big talking Bhanuka Rajapaksa to size. Bhanuka had made us all believe that the entire cricketing fraternity was against him and that he wasn’t getting a fair deal. Bhanuka can not walk the talk. The whole nation watched it live. Mickey Arthur  was spot on in assessing him. Bhanuka is a lazy, overhyped; sloppy cricketer who is not just had troubles with the Sri Lankan team management but even his own club; BRC.

In this series against South Africa Bhanuka got three ducks in a row. He should have been axed but the selectors persevered with him.

Well, you can understand the selectors’ dilemma. Bhanuka has met their fitness criteria, he is one of the few players who can clear the boundary and more importantly he has a powerful social media network. So the selectors have all the reasons to be scared of him and preserve with him.

But at the same time what wrong has Avishka Fernando done? For Bhanuka to be continued after scoring three successive ducks and Avishka to be axed three innings after he had scored a hundred doesn’t make sense. Bhanuka will turn 30 next month. Avishka is 23. He certainly is the future. You are willing to give the long rope to Bhanuka, but you are not prepared to do the same to Avishka.

Then there is this ridiculous argument put across that Avishka’s numbers in T-20 cricket are not that spectacular although he has done exceptionally well in ODIs. Is that so? Then how come you give Bhanuka a place in the ODI side having initially brought him to the T-20 team? There can be only two reasons. Either the selectors are scared of Bhanuka or they have got no clue.

When Pramodaya Wickramasinghe axed a whole bunch of seniors promising to rebuild he created the image of a tough guy who will not take any nonsense. Four months later, he has been taken for a ride by an average First Class cricketer who can not pass a simple  fitness test on the first time.

The press has so many questions to ask Pramodaya, but he has avoided the media like the plague. If you think that in these days of the pandemic there’s no room for media briefings, let us tell you that SLC has a vibrant media unit that has conducted over 100 media briefings virtually since the pandemic restricted movements.

Pramodaya has to come out and explain his policies. At the moment it looks as if the he is groping in the dark.

For the last World Cup in the UK, we entered uncharted territories rather than going with the flow. Swimming against the current seems to be the trend in our backyard as we fielded half a dozen players who had at least not played an ODI in more than a year. Remember Eoin Morgan’s tongue in cheek comment that Sri Lanka were the surprises package in the World Cup. You reckon something similar is in store this time around too. Teams put out their best outfits for World Cups after years of planning. Sri Lanka are taking a bunch of rookies. Half of the team picked for the World Cup have played less than a handful of T-20 Internationals and that is recipe for disaster.

Dimuth Karunaratne was one guy who was doing a decent job as one-day captain. What was the mighty hurry in sacking him? What wrong had he done?  Then you get someone who has not even captained his school to lead the side. The trial with Kusal Perera lasted just one month. Then the job is handed to Dasun Shanka who is not sure of his place in the ODI side. The selectors have run out of options.  There are no more leaders to be given the job.  The game is at its lowest ebb.

We can not afford to have a bunch of amateurs doing selections. We need professionals and people who are well respected in the game to do one of sport’s toughest tasks.

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Chameera and Hasaranga to miss Oman T-20s due to IPL

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by Rex Clementine

Sri Lankan cricketers Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga will miss Sri Lanka’s tour of Oman next month due to their IPL commitments. The two Sri Lankans are with Royal Challengers Bangalore and they have been given clearance to remain with the franchise till 10th October.

Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur told The Island he had no issues in the players missing the two games in Oman.

“It’s a great opportunity for them and I have not raised any objections. They will join the team on the 10th of October and be ready for the first warm-up game on the 12th of October,” Arthur said.

The IPL was suspended in May due to the rise of COVID cases within the bubble with still 31 matches remaining. The tournament will resume in UAE on Sunday and will finish on the 15th of October, just before the ICC T-20 World Cup.

Sri Lanka will play two T-20 Internationals in Oman on the 7th and 9th of October and then travel to UAE to play warm-up games ahead of the World Cup. The two players are expected to join the team in UAE.

RCB have seven games left in the competition and will take on Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday. Their last league game is on the 8th October.

RCB are currently third in the table with ten points behind Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings.

If they make the plays offs, the tournament will go beyond 10th October. If necessary, RCB will ask clearance from SLC to have them in the franchise set up and the board is unlikely to object as Sri Lanka’s first game in the World Cup is on the 18th of October. The IPL final is scheduled on the 15th of October.

No Sri Lankan had been picked for this year’s IPL at the start of the season, but after Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa and left-arm quick Daniel Sams pulled out, the franchise signed up the two Sri Lankans for the remainder of the competition. Both Chameera and Hasaranga had done well when India visited Colombo for a bilateral series last month.

Meanwhile, SLC has agreed to a request by the national selection panel to carry five additional players to UAE in case of injuries. Kusal Perera is doubtful for the World Cup and Lahiru Madushanka has been ruled out. SLC will bear the additional costs for the extra players.

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CFSL ready to organize its biggest Online Chess Championship 

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Western Asian Youth Chess Championship 2021 

Sri Lanka has the luxury of fielding a World Champion in their team when the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka (CFSL) organizes the Western Asian Online Youth Chess Championships from 18 to 20 September on the Tornelo Platform.

Ferguson High School, Ratnapura player Oshini Devindya Gunawardena, who won the Under-10 title of the FIDE Online Youth Chess Cup 2021 recently, is among some 300 participants fielded by Sri Lanka.

Luxman Wijesuriya, the president of the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka said that his federation was ready to organize the biggest Asian Online Event, the Western Asian Online Youth Chess Championships and the event which is conducted by the Asian Chess Federation has attracted more than 1000 players from 14 Western Asian Countries.

The event open for girls and boys will be held under six age categories, namely, the Under 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18. The Asian Chess Federation has categorized, South Asia, Arab and Russian-speaking countries of Asia as Western Asian Countries. More than 1000 players from the region have fielded their entries to participate in the event.

India has fielded the biggest contingent of 378 players while Sri Lanka field more than 300 players. Iran has entered a team of 161 players. Other countries registered for participation are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Oman, Kuwait, Palestine, Jordan and UAE. One player is joining under FIDE, the World Chess Federation flag.

Sri Lanka team includes players who excelled at recently held online competitions and at the CFSL Online Youth Chess Championship 2021.

The Championships will be conducted on the Swiss System in nine rounds, having three games a day. The Newly approved FIDE Online Chess regulations will be followed and the time control will be 15 minutes a side with 10 seconds increment for each and every move played. Only the laptop/desktop computers are allowed to be used while all games will be closely monitored by the arbiters via zoom. Players will be switching on two cameras during the competition. According to CFSL one camera (Webcam) will monitor the player while the other will observe his or her surroundings.

The Virtual Opening Ceremony will be held at 11.00 a.m via Zoom on Saturday. Namal Rajapakse, the Minister of Sports is expected to participate as the Chief Guest with Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nehyan, the President of Asian Chess Federation.

The CFSL will be awarding attractive cash rewards to the Sri Lankan players who win medals of any colour.

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