by Rex Clementine
After more than two years of stubborn resistance, the selectors have been forced to bite the bullet and admit that their strategies have been faulty and the top order of the ODI outfit needs stability. Hence the return of Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne for white ball cricket for the upcoming three match series against Afghanistan and he should retain his place for the World Cup qualifiers later next month in Zimbabwe too.
One of the troubles with the 50 over side is that the batting department has been found wanting not able to bat out the 50 overs. Dimuth provides the stability opening the innings with his ability to bat through the 50 overs. Other stroke makers can bat around him.
In 2021 April, Dimuth Karunaratne posted his career best Test score of 244 against Bangladesh. A month later, Sri Lanka’s white ball team was touring Bangladesh and Dimuth was sacked from the captaincy as the leadership of the white ball teams was handed to Kusal Perera. It was a left field choice. That was an experiment that didn’t last long.
Not only was Dimuth removed from the captaincy he lost his place in the side as well. It didn’t dawn to the selectors that the batters will be encountering the same bowlers and in Karunaratne they had a man who was in good touch, having smashed a double hundred against the Bangladeshis. The result was catastrophic. Sri Lanka lost the series and in both games they lost, the batting had collapsed.
It is these senseless moves that has resulted in Sri Lanka being forced to play the qualifying round of the World Cup. By the time the selectors wisened up, the horse had bolted. The recalling of Dimuth is an admission by the selectors that they had got their act wrong in axing him.
It will be early winter in Zimbabwe in June and with day games teams will encounter some dew in the morning and need to adjust accordingly. On paper, Sri Lanka should go through, but they are a team that has got everything to lose having won the World Cup once and featured in two other finals. For smaller nations, this is a massive opportunity and if they win, there’s nothing like that but if they lose, they can always try next time. Not for Sri Lanka though, who have featured in every World Cup since the tournament was launched in 1975.
Complacency is the only thing that Sri Lanka need to guard themselves against. A mindset that this is not a tough challenge could see them losing the plot as we have seen it happening to many teams time and again.
In Chris Silverwood the team has someone who knows what to expect in Zimbabwe as he started his coaching stint there having overseen Mashonaland (Harare). The Head Coach will be tapping into the brains of his contacts in Zimbabwe as to what his team can expect when they travel for the qualifiers.
Danushka Gunathilaka found not guilty
Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka has been found not guilty of sexual intercourse without consent following an accusation of “stealthing” involving a Tinder date in Sydney.
The 32-year-old was arrested in November while in Australia for the T-20 World Cup, after he went for drinks with a woman near the Opera House.
He had chatted online for several days and then had dinner with the woman, who can’t be identified for legal reasons, before being invited back to her eastern suburbs home, the NSW District Court heard.
The Crown’s case was that he removed a condom during intercourse without the woman’s knowledge when she had consented only to protected sex.
The complainant told the court she did not see the batsman remove the condom, but saw it on the floor shortly after the intercourse stopped.
Judge Sarah Huggett today found evidence about the “genesis” of the woman’s complaint undermined the reliability of her evidence. The judge said the woman had given different accounts in her two statements; the second, given in April this year, went into further detail about the issue of ‘stealthing’ and added that the complainant did not have a “clear memory” of what happened around the time she saw the condom on the floor.
“The evidence establishes there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom during the intercourse because that intercourse was continuous,” she said.
Judge Huggett considered the woman’s first conversations with two close friends, which seemed to frame the complaint in terms of the roughness of the sexual activity.
Gunathilaka’s defence counsel argued the woman lied, gave self-serving evidence and appeared to not remember parts of the night that were inconsistent with a “narrative” she created, which morphed over time.
Murugan Thangaraj SC told the judge the Crown failed to establish the woman’s reliability and highlighted what he said were inconsistencies and implausibility in her version of events.
He said it was “completely illogical” to claim she felt ambushed before lighting candles in her bedroom, effectively setting it up for “a romantic sexual liaison”.
In court, the woman alleged Mr Gunathilaka kissed her “forcefully” on the way home and on her couch, where she felt “ambushed” before moving to the bedroom.
She further alleged he choked her three times during sex, leaving her fearful for her life, and ignored requests to go slow.
Judge Huggett found the woman was an “intelligent witness who gave evidence in a considered way”, and was overall a “calm and responsive” witness.
But the judge said there were times when it appeared the complainant was motivated by a desire to paint the accused in an unfavourable light.
In his police interview, Mr Gunathilaka said he told her his preference generally was to not use condoms but wanted to on the night because it was their first meeting.
In the interview, the cricketer made mention of there being two condoms because one malfunctioned — which the Crown said was a deliberate mistruth.
But Judge Huggett disagreed, finding that his answers were the result of “confusion, fatigue, a language barrier and possibly memory”.
“I formed the distinct impression he was doing his best to be truthful and assist the police,” she said.
Sitting in the interview room, Gunathilaka told police the woman had organised him a taxi and he kissed her before leaving. “She didn’t even text me, I didn’t text her also,” he said. “And that’s it, then I’m here.”
Gunathilaka has been in Australia on bail since mid-November.
Jayantha Paranathala passes away
Cricket administrator Jayantha Paranathala has passed away at the age of 72. He captained Police, rose to the rank of Senior DIG and was a Vice-President of SLC. He also had a stint as Team Manager of the national cricket team and served as a member of the National Selection Panel.
He was instrumental in bringing BRC to its current glory.
In remembrance of his service to the club, the remains of Mr. Jayantha Paranathala will be brought to BRC today (28) from 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM, providing an opportunity for friends, family, and colleagues to pay their last respects to a man whose legacy will endure in the annals of Sri Lankan cricket.
Clinical Australia sign off World Cup preparations with consolation win
Having posted the highest ODI total at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium, Rajkot on Wednesday (September 27), Australia’s bowlers led by Glenn Maxwell put up a disciplined performance as the visitors registered a 66-run win over India to end the series with a much-needed consolation victory. The result is a morale-booster for Australia, given that this was the last international game before the World Cup that starts next week.
Chasing a strong target of 353, India started with an unconventional move of using Washington Sundar as the makeshift opener with skipper Rohit Sharma. With both Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan unavailable, the think tank had to try a new opening pair but the move didn’t really work. The opening stand went past fifty but it was dominated by Rohit who looked in sublime touch. Anything remotely short was dispatched and the ball-striking from the captain was lethal. Sundar, meanwhile, was scratchy and eventually fell to Maxwell after the first Powerplay.
Like the first innings where the older ball was tougher to score off, the pattern repeated and with the track slowing as well, the chase wasn’t easy. Rohit and Kohli stitched a stand to keep things going but neither were able to exert any sort of dominance on the Australian bowlers. The visitors used the surface cleverly, mixing up their pace and lengths to stifle the scoring rate. However, as long as Rohit and Kohli were together, India had their chance of getting across the line. Maxwell turned the tide with two diametrically opposite bits of incredible cricket.
It needed magic to get rid of Rohit the way he was batting and Maxwell produced a stunning one-handed return catch to send back the Indian skipper. It was almost a reflex action than anything else but crucially for Australia, Maxwell held onto it, showing as much surprise himself as the others who saw him do the feat. If the Rohit wicket had a huge slice of luck, the Kohli strike was the result of brilliant defensive bowling. Maxwell stifled the India no.3 by keeping the radar right. Kohli tried to use his feet multiple times but failed to do so as the length was pulled back. Eventually, a desperate pull found the top-edge and Smith took a good catch.
The twin strikes gave Australia the much-needed momentum and India were never really able to stage a comeback from there. Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul were able to get starts but the run rate kept mounting before the former was dismissed by Maxwell with a lovely arm-ball. With a long tail today, India couldn’t have afforded to leave too much for the end and unfortunately for them, that’s what happened. Tanveer Sangha was impressive alongside Maxwell while the other Aussie bowlers all did their parts perfectly well.
Earlier on, Australia put up their best batting performance of the series thanks to fifties from their top-four. Mitchell Marsh’s 96 was the cornerstone of the innings that was set up by David Warner’s early blitzkrieg. The left-hander was the aggressor for a change in his stand with Marsh and the tone was set up there. Although he fell in the first Powerplay itself, the platform was laid for Marsh and the others to do their bit. Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne also produced fifties, the latter’s being a vital one as it came in the backdrop of a mini-collapse. Smith looked in prime touch, as did Marsh with both batters making full use of the good early batting conditions.
Australia were 215/1 at one stage, looking set for a score in excess of 375, if not 400. However, the surface slowed down a touch and wasn’t as easy to score off against the older ball. With the dimensions of the ground also being bigger than Indore, the Indian bowlers managed to pull things back in the middle overs. Jasprit Bumrah bowled a brilliant second spell although he eventually ended up with his joint most expensive figures in the ODI format. That comeback from India briefly gave them hopes of restricting Australia to a 320-330 score but Labuschagne anchored the innings to a very strong score. With a slowing pitch and lack of batting depth, India needed their top order to go big but that wasn’t to be.
Australia 352/7 in 50 overs (Mitchell Marsh 96, Steve Smith 74, Marnus Labuschagne 72; Jasprit Bumrah 3-81) beat India 286 in 49.4 overs (Rohit Sharma 81, Virat Kohli 56; Glenn Maxwell 4-40) by 66 runs
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