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Dhananjaya Lakshan– a star in the making

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There was a major upset in the Lanka Premier League yesterday as table toppers Colombo Kings were sent packing by Galle Gladiators, who won a thrilling contest to book their place in the finals of the competition. Chasing a target of 151, Galle Gladiators won with two wickets to spare in the penultimate delivery of the game.

Dhananjaya Lakshan, a seam-bowling all-rounder from Richmond College, Galle emerged the match winner when it looked all lost for Galle. When the in form Danushka Gunathilaka was dismissed cheaply too much was left to be done and Lakshan rose up to the occasion admirably.

He had taken two wickets earlier in the day and then contributed with 31 runs not out as Colombo Kings cracked under pressure. He is only 22 and with his performance in this competition will come into the consideration of national selectors. He was named Man of the Match.

Bhanuka Rajapakasa, who stepped up as captain in the absence of Shahid Afridi was brilliant as well.

Galle started off the campaign poorly losing five games in a row. But towards the tail end of the league stage, they gained momentum and now they are in the final.

It all looked impossible at one stage. After their back to the wall effort in the must win encounter against Kandy Tuskers, Galle Gladiators had momentum behind them and it was a commendable effort to restrict the opposition for 150 runs.  But the run chase was a farce and running between the wickets was comical.

Shehan Jayasuriya is said to be the guy who didn’t get a fair run at the senior level despite excellent records in domestic cricket. LPL was a perfect opportunity for the 29-year-old to make an impact but his performances were hardly inspiring. Jayasuriya first ran his partner out before throwing away his wicket – run out trying a cheeky single to point. There was a misfield and he attempted a suicidal run.  The old saying, ‘never run on a misfield unless there’s a run and half of it’, came to mind.

 Lakshan was a sensation taking some calculated risks. The winning runs were scored by the other Lakshan though – Sandakan.

Sandakan was impressive with the ball too claiming three wickets. Wrist spin seems to be the norm of the day globally when it comes to white ball cricket and Sandakan will certainly be in discussion of authorities. He needs to work on his fielding though as it remains well below par.

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Eight Sri Lanka cricketers fail fitness tests

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Avishka Fernando has failed a second fitness test inside ten days.

By Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka Cricket has issued an ultimatum to its contracted players after eight of them failed a fitness test in Colombo. A pool of 20 shortlisted players for the upcoming tour of West Indies underwent fitness tests in Colombo and eight of them did poorly failing the tests. The list includes several permanent members in the side and some senior players.

The players have now been given an ultimatum to get their act together before another fitness test on February 3rd. If they failed the second fitness test, they will be ineligible for selection for the tour of West Indies. Sri Lanka will play two Tests, three ODIs and three T-20s in the Caribbean.  

Fitness has been a growing concern within the team and Head Coach Mickey Arthur has demanded excellence in this aspect. Opening batsman Avishka Fernando was sent home from Galle lead up to the Test series against England after he failed the fitness test. It is believed that Fernando had failed a second fitness test as well conducted yesterday.

It has been argued that players remaining at home during COVID times had resulted in poor fitness levels. But question marks about fitness standards had been there for a while now.

Meanwhile the bio-bubble in Galle has been pruned to 17 players after Sri Lanka Cricket informed team management to send home five players. The bubble will be reduced by a further two on the day of the match making the squad to 15 players, like during pre-Covid days.

The reserves engaging in card games when the batting was collapsing on day one of the Test match had angered fans and former players. It is believed that the drastic measure to send players home was taken as a reaction to it. The players were not in the dressing room when cameras caught them playing cards but in a floor above the dressing room.

Accordingly, Dimuth Karunarante, Kusal Mendis, Nuwana Pradeep, Minod Bhanuka and Lahiru Kumara have been sent home. Karunaratne and Mendis were not involved in card games. The former has been released as he is injured while the latter has been sent to the High Performance Center at RPS to work on technical aspects of the game. Mendis picked up four ducks in a row.

Suranga Lakmal and Oshada Fernando, two players who engaged in card games, have recovered from their injuries and are expected to feature in the second Test match. While Lakmal is expected to share the new ball with Asitha Fernando, Oshada is expected to fill the vacant number three slot.

Niroshan Dickwella will continue to bat at number six but has been asked to provide more consistency.

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Yasitha, Anika looking to add doubles titles

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Tennis Nationals 2020

Men’s and women’s singles champions Yasitha de Silva and Anika Seneviratne will look to secure the doubles titles as well as they booked final spots in the respective doubles tournaments of the Tennis Nationals 2020 at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Monday.

Just a day after winning his first men’s singles national title de Silva paired Sankha Atukorale to beat Nishendiran Sivendran and Michael Siyaguna 9-1, 6-3 in the men’s doubles semi-final. Now they will meet giant killers 16-year old Chathurya Nilaweera and 17-year-old Thehan Wijemanne in today’s final.

Nilaweera and Wijemanne ousted defending champions Sharmal Dissanayake and Rukmal Cooray in the quarter-finals before edging out Dhilvan Herath and Archana Lokuge in a closely contested semi-final. They bounced back from a 5-7 defeat in the first set to secure their final place they scored 6-2, 11-9.

Meanwhile Anika Seneviratne, who won her second women’s singles national title on Sunday, advanced to the women’s doubles final with her sister Alalna as they secured a 6-1, 6-3 win over Oneli Perera and Sethmi Sumanaweera. Seneviratne sisters are the defending champions.

They will meet Janali Manamperi and Savini Jayasuriya in the final. Manamperi and Jayasuriya beat Neyara Weerawansa and Tuvini de Alwis 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 in the semis. (RF)

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Dimuth ruled out of second Test  

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Dimuth Karunaratne (R) has been ruled out of second Test against England.

Rex Clementine in Galle Fort

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne has been ruled out of second Test against England that will get underway later this week. The opening batsman missed the first Test as well.

Karunaratne was hit on the hand by Wiaan Mulder during the second Test match at Wanderers leaving him with a fractured left thumb. That didn’t deter him from going onto post a hundred.

However, the  recovery has been slow and Karunaratne who missed the opening Test match has been ruled out of the series as well. He’s expected to return to lead the side for the series against West Indies. Another player who was injured South Africa – Dhananjaya de Silva has  started  rehabilitation. De Silva who tore a thigh muscle is expected to return for West Indies series.

Meanwhile,  Sri Lanka Cricket has expressed dissatisfaction towards team management after several players were seen engaging in card games while wickets were falling in a hurry on the opening day of the Test match. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 135 after winning the toss. Although they bounced back and fought hard over the next three days, they were always catching up having conceded too much advantage to the opposition.

The four players involved in card games are Suranga Lakmal, fellow fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, top order batsman Oshada Fernando and left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan.

The extended Sri Lanka squad during COVID times contains 22 players and these four players were not in the dressing room when cameras captured them but on a floor above the dressing room.

Five players who are not going to be part of the second Test match will return home today.

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