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Dilruwan leaves having not fulfilled immense potential

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by Rex Clementine

Of all Jesus’ disciples, Peter is the most famous one. Peter was there at every sermon, at every miracle Jesus performed and even cut off an ear of a guard when Jesus was about to be arrested. But, Peter was  not Jesus’ favourite disciple. The favourite disciple of Jesus was John. Like Jesus, every leader had his favourite disciple. Some of our political leaders had Mervyn Silva while some other leaders had Sagala Ratnayake. Cricketer Dilruwan Perera was one such having been coaches’ favourite disciple. He announced his retirement from international cricket yesterday.

The national cricket team had many match winners since the big three retired in 2015. There was Dimuth Karunaratne, who was prolific overseas. Angelo Mathews was cut above the rest while Rangana Herath became the most successful left-arm bowler in the history of the game, pace or spin. But for Sri Lanka’s coaches from Graham Ford to Mickey Athur, their favourite was Dilruwan Perera.

Why is that the case you may wonder? That’s because Dilruwan did all the ‘dirty work’. If you needed a bowler to hold one end up, Dilruwan was your man. If there was an end from which your star bowler didn’t want to bowl, Dilruwan would gladly accept the role. If you needed someone to step up as night-watchman when Wahab Riaz was reverse swinging the ball to deadly effect, Dilruwan was your man. All the donkey’s work and thankless tasks were kept at the doorstep of Dilruwan and how well he performed them.

Dilruwan was a classical off-spinner. If you have no idea his impact on Sri Lankan cricket, be mindful that he was the nation’s fifth highest wicket taker in Test match cricket. The press often asked him why he didn’t try the doosra. His answer was curious. He used to say that it would be the end of his career if he tried the doosra. It could be taken in many contexts. One is that all his contemporaries who bowled the doosra chucked. Two is that ICC wanted to weed chucking out of cricket. Three is  that it is impossible to bowl the doosra without bending your arm. Dilruwan would never explain his theory. He made us to find out the answer. He was quite a cheeky bloke.

You also tend to get the feeling that here was a man who never fully realized his potential. Dilruwan scored 95 runs on his Test debut against Pakistan in 2014. He should have scored more than the seven half-centuries he ended up with in Test cricket. His Test average of 18 hardly does justice to the immense talent he possessed as a batsman.

Some famous names of Sri Lankan cricket have been opening partners of Sanath Jayasuriya. There’s Roshan Mahanama, Romesh Kaluwitharana and Marvan Atapattu. Dilruwana opened batting as well with Sanath in an ODI against Australia at MCG. Such was his potential.

Dilruwan’s best game with the ball was against the Aussies in 2016 in Galle when he claimed a match bag of ten wickets for 99. Well, he did claim another match bag of ten wickets for only 78 against South Africa two years later also in Galle, but any performance that helps you beat the Aussies is special.

Some problems Dilruwan never overcame. He claimed more wickets in Test match cricket off no balls than the number of gazettes that Mahindananda has revoked as Minister of Agriculture. His fielding remained horrendous and there have been some costly drops

It’s been more than a year since Dilruwan last played for Sri Lanka. The demand to finish the kilometer run in less than eight minutes and 35 seconds was a killer blow for a 39-year-old. But to his credit, Dilruwan didn’t throw in the towel as soon as the time limit was set in place. He tried. He’s leaving the game having given some fine memories. But the question will always be asked could he have done more? He surely could have.



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Mushfiqur, batters and late Taijul show give Bangladesh tiny advantage

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If day three of the first Test in Chattogram belonged to Tamim Iqbal, the fourth day was all about Mushfiqur Rahim. Not only did he become the first Bangladesh batter to reach 5000 runs in Test cricket, his eighth century in the format also made sure Bangladesh stayed ahead in Chattogram at the end of day four.

Mushfiqur’s 105, to go with Tamim Iqbal’s 133, and half-centuries from Litton Das and Mahmudul Hasan Joy helped Bangladesh end their first innings on 465 , and secure a lead of 68 runs in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 397.

Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando then started their second innings steadily before the latter was run out needlessly for 19. Lasith Embuldeniya, the nightwatchman, had a few nervy moments but did his job before being bowled off the final ball of the day by Taijul Islam. At stumps, Sri Lanka had reached 39 for 2, still trailing Bangladesh by 29 runs. Karunaratne was unbeaten on 18, and will be joined by Kusal Mendis, in all likelihood, tomorrow morning.

The start of the day’s play was delayed by 30 minutes because of rain but once play resumed, it did not take long for Mushfiqur to reach the 5000-run mark. He began the day just 15 runs away from the landmark and breached the milestone with a deflection off his gloves down to fine leg shortly after the first drinks break. Adopting a cautious approach, Mushfiqur surged ahead and soon reached his century after lunch, his first in Test cricket in more than a year.

Bangladesh resumed their day on 318 for 3, with Litton and Mushfiqur picking up from where they had left on the third evening. Both batters were cautious but made sure no wickets were lost as Bangladesh reached 385 for 3 at lunch. The Sri Lankan bowlers, much like the third evening, lacked the bite and could not get much out of the surface.

However, the visitors came back well in the second session. Rajitha struck straight after lunch, first removing Litton before uprooting Tamim’s middle stump the very next ball. Litton, in particular, would be kicking himself for missing a third Test hundred after edging an innocuous short and wide first ball after lunch to the wicketkeeper. The ball to Tamim, though, was a good one. Coming back to bat after retiring hurt at tea on the third day, Tamim went for the expansive drive to a fuller delivery. However, Rajitha, bowling from around the wicket, got the ball to angle in and it crept between Tamim’s bat and pad to hit the middle stump.

Shakib, having survived a close chance at short leg, was rattled by a bouncer barrage from Asitha Fernando. He was hit by the pacer on the helmet, and soon after was dismissed going for the pull shot for 26.

Mushfiqur, meanwhile, held his own at the other end even as things started heating up in the middle. There were a few glares and words exchanged with Asitha, but the batter remained firm. He reached his century with a faint tickle off Asitha down the leg side and celebrated wildly.

Mushfiqur’s 282-ball vigil finally ended after tea, when looking to play the sweep against Embuldeniya, he missed the line and found his stumps in a mess. Taijul Islam and Shoriful frustrated the Sri Lankans with a 26-run stand before Asitha sent Taijul back. Bangladesh innings ended on 465 after Shoriful, struck on the hand by a bouncer, retired out.

Sri Lanka toiled away and bowled well in patches, particularly in the middle session on both the third and fourth days. However, a couple of wicketless sessions cost them. Rajitha, who was not even part of the playing XI and came in as a concussion sub for Vishwa Fernando, was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with 4 for 60.

Sri Lanka started their second innings well with both Karunratne and Oshada looking comfortable. However, a direct hit at the bowler’s end from Taijul sent Oshada packing. Karunaratne also had an escape when he mistimed a drive back to Nayeem Hasan, but replays showed the ball had just fallen short of the bowler.

Embuldeniya gave Karunaratne good support, but the surface started to show tricks late in the day with the odd-ball staying low. How Sri Lanka survive the final day remains to be seen.

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Tamim century puts Bangladesh in control over Sri Lanka 

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Bangladesh's Tamim Iqbal celebrates after scoring a century during the third day of the first Test match against Sri Lanka in Chittagong on May 17, 2022. 

Opener Tamim Iqbal hit his tenth Test century to help Bangladesh take control on day three of the first Test against Sri Lanka, reaching 318-3 on Tuesday.

Tamim made 133 off 217 balls before being retired hurt due to a muscle cramp. Then, Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das put on a 98-run unbroken stand to keep Bangladesh in a commanding position.

Liton was batting on 54 with Mushfiqur on 53 at stumps as Bangladesh cut the first innings deficit to 79 runs.

Sri Lanka were bowled out for 397 in the first innings, with Angelo Mathews scoring 199.

Tamim, who recorded 15 fours, aggressively went after the Sri Lankan bowlers after Bangladesh resumed on 76-0, hitting Vishwa Fernando for consecutive boundaries in the first two balls he faced.

Fernando, who was hit on the helmet during Sri Lanka’s innings, went for a medical checkup after bowling four overs in the morning.

He was later ruled out of the match and Kasun Rajitha replaced him as a concussion sub.

Tamim raised his 32nd Test half-century off just 73 balls, cutting off-spinner Ramesh Mendis for a boundary past point.

Mahmudul was restrained but never hesitated to punish the loose deliveries.

He reached his half-century from 112 deliveries, flicking paceman Asitha Fernando through mid-wicket. Mahmudul was on 51 when he got a reprieve in Asitha Fernando’s next over, with Lasith Embuldeniya dropping a catch at fine-leg.

But Mahmudul (58) couldn’t survive long, hitting a delivery of Asitha that went down the leg-side to give the visitors their first breakthrough.

Tamim, however, continued in attack mode and brought up a century off 162 balls, flicking Asitha for a single through mid-wicket.

Rajitha then troubled Bangladesh for a brief period and got the reward, dismissing Najmul Hossain (1) and captain Mominul Haque (2), leaving Bangladesh at 184 for three.

Mominul has produced five straight single-digit figures and 10 in the last 13 innings.

Tamim and Mushfiqur Rahim helped Bangladesh regain control despite losing three wickets for 22 runs.

But Sri Lanka could have removed Tamim for 114 had Dhananajaya de Silva not dropped him at slip after Tamim went for an expensive drive.

Tamim retired hurt on 133 after suffering from a muscle cramp but Liton and Mushfiqur kept the side going, frustrating the Sri Lanka bowlers further.

Liton in fact played the role of Tamim, going after the visiting bowlers in an aggressive fashion while Mushfiqur was largely watchful.

The contrasting batting approach served the team well and put Bangladesh in a strong position.

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Wasim remembered at Galle Face protest site

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A vigil service was conducted at Galle Face Green protest site remembering former rugby star Wasim Thajudeen, who was brutally murdered ten years ago.

Yesterday marked the tenth death anniversary of former S. Thomas’ College, Havelock and Sri Lanka rugby star Wasim Thajudeen. Wasim was 28-years-old when his body was found burnt in his vehicle in Narahenpita in 2012. Although his death was initially called an accident, investigations conducted later in 2015 found that he had been in fact murdered. Police claimed that earlier investigations were shelved due to political pressure.

A vigil service was conducted in memory of Wasim at the protest site at the Galle Face Green by the rugby fraternity yesterday.

Wasim’s friends at S. Thomas’ College addressed a large gathering at the presence of his parents and other family members.

Wasim, a former vice-captain of S. Thomas’ College went onto captain Havelock Sports Club and in 2009 become the nation’s Most Popular Rugby player.

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