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Dickwella counterattack helps Sri Lanka wrestle back initiative



Niroshan Dickwella with his audacious stroke play helped Sri Lanka to reach 469 for six at stumps on day two of the second Test against Bangladesh at Pallekele yesterday. The wicketkeeper batsman brought up his half-century in 48 balls and was unbeaten on 64.


Rex Clementine at Pallekele

There are a few things that will never change; Ranil giving up the UNP leadership; Vatican electing a black Pope; US speaking so much on gender equality but not voting a woman as President. In cricket too some things never change. Niroshan Dickwella and his sweep shot for example. The first ball he faced yesterday from a spinner, Dickwella swept Mehidy Hasan to the square-leg boundary. When Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haque placed a fielder at square leg, Dickwella played the paddle sweep, sending the ball finer to the vacant fine-leg boundary.

Dickwella is one of the cheekiest players around and fans love to see him bat. Mickey Arthur, however, must be very nervous when he is in the middle.

Sweep wasn’t Dickwella’s bread and butter. He played some forceful drives against spin and the ramp shot to good effect against pace. While he was doing all that Sri Lanka recovered from 382 for six to 469 for six as he added 87 runs with Ramesh Mendis. The unfinished seventh wicket partnership came in double quick time as it took only 117 balls.

Dickwella reached his 18th half-century in just 48 balls and he was unbeaten on 64 when play was called off early due to bad light.

Bangladesh started off the day so well. The morning session saw Sri Lanka managing only 43 runs in 26 overs while losing three wickets. Taskin Ahmed was on the money generating pace and accounting for three leading batsmen. His figures should have looked much better than three for 119. Najmul Shanto put down two chances – Mendis yesterday and Karunaratne on day one, both at slip.

Dickwella’s brilliance has put Sri Lanka in a solid position. He should now help himself as well. Having been dismissed on 90s twice this year, here’s a fine opportunity for him to score his maiden hundred. Whether he would make it count remains to be seen.

The seamers benefited from the cloud cover in the morning moving the ball making things difficult for the Sri Lankans. There was more assistance for spinners as well than in the first Test that produced a tame draw.

Sri Lanka will be hoping that the weather stays good for them to have enough time to push for a win. If the conditions remain overcast, ideally, they should declare overnight and let Suranga Lakmal have a crack. Dimuth Karunaratne is a traditional captain and he is unlikely to do so. He will bat on until the team crosses the 550 mark or until they are bowled out.

Dickwella one day when he succeeds Karunaratne might think different. To get there, he’s got to get his act together, off the field. Sri Lankan cricket will be in good hands with a bold captain; Arjuna Ranatunga for example.

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Himasha’s ban extended to six years



Himasha’s doping violation

by Reemus Fernando

The Appeals Committee of the Sri Lanka Anti-Doping Agency that heard sprinter Himasha Eshan’s appeal against his suspension, has decided to extend the ban against the former national 100 metres champion to six years.

SLADA has informed the athlete that the Appeals Committee had decided to extend the ban to six years after the appeal hearing conducted on November 3.

According to the letter sent by SLADA, Himasha will now be banned till 25th October 2027 which effectively closes the former national 100 metres record holder’s chances of competing for Sri Lanka again.

The 28-year-old was tested positive for a banned substance during a random test conducted by SLADA on October 26, 2021. The Disciplinary Committee of SLADA first banned him for four years from October 26, 2021 to October 25, 2025. That ban has now been extended by two years.It was the second time that the South Asian Games medallist has been found positive for a banned substance and he is also the only Sri Lankan athlete to be tested positive twice.

He was first found positive for a banned substances when he was 17 years old. He was slapped with a two year ban which was reduced considering his young age. The World Anti-Doping Agency introduced four years bans for first time offences in 2013. According to Anti Doping authorities any reduced terms are added to the suspension when an athlete is found positive for the second time.

This time Himasha was tested positive during a random test conducted by SLADA on October 26, 2021. The Anti-Doping authorities collected Himasha’s urine samples at the Army quarters at Narahenpita. He was involved in several impressive performances including a wind assisted 10.29 seconds feat to win the men’s 100 metres during the Army Athletics Championships which was held around that time.

Once the fastest man in the South Asian region, Himasha was coached by Chaminda Perera. He won the gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games and set a South Asian regional record of 10.22 seconds in 2019. He was also part of Sri Lanka’s 4×100 metres team that established the current national record in the 4×100 metres relay.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Al Nassr knocked out of Saudi Super Cup



Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr were knocked of the Saudi Super Cup on Thursday after a 3-1 semifinal loss to Al Ittihad in Riyadh.The 37-year-old Portugal international, five-times Ballon D’Or winner, had a couple of chances to score but was well shackled by the Al Ittihad defence for most of the match.

Anderson Talisca’s goal for Al Nassr in the 67th minute was not enough to turn around the deficit from two first-half goals for Al Ittihad from Romarinho and Abderrazak Hamdallah.

Muhannad Al-Shanqeeti added the third three minutes into stoppage time.Al Nassr next travel to Al Fateh in the Saudi Pro League on Feb. 3.


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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Karen Khachanov to reach final of Australian Open 2023



Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas has another chance to land his first Grand Slam title after reaching the Australian Open final by beating Russian Karen Khachanov in the Melbourne last four.Third seed Tsitsipas, 24, won 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 against Khachanov, who was going for a maiden major final.Tsitsipas lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final and might have the chance to avenge that loss.

Serbia’s Djokovic plays American Tommy Paul in Friday’s other semi-final.Tsitsipas, who will become the world number one if he wins the title, eventually booked his place after recovering from Khachanov saving two match points in the third-set tie-break.

Another tight forehand saw a third chance disappear in what proved to be the final game, before he regained his composure to convert his fourth when a first serve was batted long by the 18th seed. Asked what he was thinking when the match went into a fourth set, Tsitsipas said: “I thought about how hard I’ve worked to get to this position.

“But if you stick around, dedicate yourself even more, and concentrate even more in the important moments it pays off.”

Nine-time champion Djokovic is the favourite to face Tsitsipas and takes on the unseeded Paul, who is competing in his first major semi-final, at 08:30 GMT on Friday.

The 35-year-old former world number one has won in Melbourne every time he has reached the last four and is aiming for a record-extending 10th title which would equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 major men’s titles. At a tournament with a hard-court surface on which he thrives, and in a city where he is warmly backed by its large Greek population, Tsitsipas has long appeared destined for success at the Australian Open.

The towering youngster announced his arrival there with a famous 2019 win over defending champion Roger Federer in the fourth round, only for a captivating run to be ended when he was crushed by Rafael Nadal in his first semi-final appearance.

Long-time rival Daniil Medvedev ended his dreams at the last-four stage in both 2021 and 2022, with another Russian – this time, the powerful Khachanov – standing in his way this time.

Backed by a vocal crowd who waved Greek flags after virtually all of his winning points, Tsitsipas started confidently against a player who he had beaten in all of their five previous encounters.

Khachanov could not cope with Tsitsipas’ pounding ground-strokes and dynamic athleticism as the world number four moved two sets ahead.

When Tsitsipas broke early in the third set and moved into a 5-4 lead which left him serving for the match, few on Rod Laver Arena expected anything other than a straight-set win.However, nerves kicked in for Tsitsipas, who suddenly looked unsure with his ground-strokes, and Khachanov cut loose to extend the contest.

After a bathroom break before the fourth set, Tsitsipas returned free of the weight of expectation and broke Khachanov’s serve at the first opportunity.Dominant service games from that point ensured there would be no repeat of the previous set as he finally reached the final of what he calls his “home” Grand Slam event.

“I feel blessed for the fact I’m able to play tennis at this level and for many years I’ve wanted to put Greek tennis on the map – Maria [Sakkari] and I have done that, I think,” Tsitsipas said.

“Coming from a small country like Greece I feel so grateful I get support like this.

“I never thought I would be treated so well here so I’m extremely happy I’m in the final now – let’s see what happens.”

(BBC Sports)

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