by Reemus Fernando
Ratnayaka Central, Walala won the girls’ overall title by a margin of 23 points and Maris Stella College, Negombo returned to winning ways after a lapse of several years to clinch an overall boys’ title in an athletics event as the three-day Relay Carnival concluded at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Monday.
As expected, the athletics stronghold of Walala dominated middle and long distance relays and Maris Stella bagged the gold medals in sprint events including two age category 4×400 metres relays during the final session on the final day to beat their closest rivals Trinity by 35 points.
For Trinity too, the boys’ runner up title was their first an all-island athletics championship in many years.
For the third consecutive day, Ratnayake Central’s Asian Junior Championships medallists Tharushi Karunaratne and Shehan Dilranga continued to dazzle as they anchored the Under 20 girls’ and boys’ 4×400 metrs relays to victory.
The Under 16 relay quartert of Sesath Ranthisa, Dilanka Devinda, Dineth Sandeepana and Sahas Fonseka won Maris Stella the 4×400 metres relay, while Arosh Shakya, Tishan Nethmina, Chanuka Vithana and Mark Roshen combined to clinch the gold in the Under 18 boys’ 4×400 metres relay as their school enjoyed trophy success at national level after five years.
In a rare feat Ratnayake Central won all six relays from 4×100 metres to long distance medley in the Under 20 girls’ category. Karunaratne, who has secured a place in the national team for several international events played a key role in their success.
Ratnayake Cental were a little unlucky in the boys’ category as a dropped batton in the medley relay cost them a possible overall boys’ runner up title.
Nepal smash records with fastest century and fifty in men’s T20Is
Nepal’s batters smashed a number of records in the opening match of the Men’s Asian Games against Mongolia in Hangzhou, in a record 273-run win. Here is a quick look at some of the major records broken by them.
0 – Number of times a team had scored 300 in a men’s T20 innings before this. Nepal’s 314 for 3 against Mongolia in the Asian Games is the first such instance. Afghanistan’s 278 for 3 against Ireland in Dehradun in 2019 was the highest T20 total before this. These are also the biggest totals in men’s T20 internationals.
34 – Balls taken by Nepal’s Kushal Malla to reach his hundred, which is the fastest in T20Is. The previous record of 35 balls was jointly held by David Miller, Rohit Sharma and Czech Republic’s Sudesh Wickramasekara.9 – Balls taken by Nepal’s Dipendra Singh Airee to hit a fifty. Airee’s innings featured eight sixes and no fours. This is the fastest fifty in all T20s, beating the previous record of 12 balls, which was jointly held by Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle and Hazratullah Zazai. While Yuvraj’s fifty came in a T20I, the other two were scored in T20s.
273 – Nepal’s margin of win against Mongolia. This is the highest margin in terms of runs in all T20s. The previous biggest margin was Czech Republic’s 208-run win against Panama in 2021.
520 – Airee’s strike rate in his unbeaten knock of 52 off 10 balls. This is the first instance in T20s when a batter has scored at a 500-plus strike rate in an innings of 10 or more balls. The previous best was Malcolm Waller’s strike rate of 430 in a ten-ball innings agsinst Matabeleland Tuskers in 2016 Zimbabwe’s domestic T20 competition.
26 – Sixes hit by Nepal batters in this match – the most in a T20 international by a team. The previous highest were 22, by Afghanistan against Ireland in Dehradun in 2019 and by West Indies against South Africa in Centurion earlier this year. These are also the most in any T20 match, beating the 23 sixes hit by Balkh Legend batters against Kabul Zwanan in the Afghanistan Premier League in 2018.
19y 206d – Malla’s age on Wednesday, making him the second youngest batter to score a century in men’s T20Is. The youngest is Gustav Mckeon of France, who scored two centuries before turning 19 in July 2022.
56 – Percentage of Mongolia’s total to have come through extras – 23 of the 41 all out were extras. It is the highest proportion of team runs to have come via extras in a men’s T20I innings (min: five overs bowled). The previous highest was 34.6% for China, who had nine extras during their 26 all out against Thailand earlier this year.
Rain wrecks game after Ben Duckett’s maiden ODI ton
England claimed a 1-0 ODI series win against Ireland in farcical circumstances after the third ODI at Bristol was abandoned 31 overs into the first innings due to rain, with water also getting onto the pitch.
England had reached 280 for 4, with Ben Duckett striking a maiden ODI ton to build on a fast start by Phil Salt, who blitzed 61 off 28 at the top of the order, before the rain arrived during the drinks break at 2.48pm. After a brief pause to see if it would pass, the umpires decided to call on the groundstaff.
There was a further issue when the covers were caught in the wind leaving the pitch exposed, before the three mobile covers came on from Ashley Down Road End. The tractor dragging the covers ended up driving down what would have been just outside off stump for a right-hander batting from the Pavilion End. There was also a delay in closing the gaps between the covers allowing the rain to get onto the playing surface.
Members of the groundstaff then had to squeeze under the covers where they were passed mats to towel down the damaged areas at both ends. Standing umpire Paul Reiffel and third umpire Rod Tucker emerged with reserve umpire David Millns at around 3.15pm to survey the damage. After looking under the covers, and assessing the standing water on the square, the decision was made to call off the match at 3.21pm. The rain relented five minutes later.
An overnight deluge had saturated the outfield, but although play did get underway on time at 12.30pm, fears the ground could not take any more rain were eventually realised.
“It caught everyone by surprise,” Zak Crawley, England’s captain for this series, said. “The ground was already a bit wet this morning after the rain that happened last night, so it didn’t need a lot more rain to get abandoned like that. And obviously a lot of rain fell in not a long space of time.
“I went on the outfield just now and it was soaking wet as well. I think it was all unfit.”
Ireland skipper Paul Stirling echoed those sentiments, having initially hoped the delay would allow his side to turn their fortunes around after a chastening start in the field.
“I think we were all pretty happy when the rain came, but we weren’t quite expecting it to end the game,” he said. “We thought we might get a bit of a break or a bit of a rest and try and regroup and come out there and change it up a little bit. But no, we weren’t expecting the game to be called off.
“We were having a bit of a joke in the dressing room, I think we’re more used to it in Ireland because there is more rain probably. We haven’t really come across that in England where it was so sudden. We wanted to get out there.”
This was the fourth consecutive men’s ODI abandoned at Bristol, following a 2021 no-result against Sri Lanka and two of their three 2019 World Cup matches (Pakistan versus Sri Lanka and Bangladesh versus Sri Lanka) washed out without a ball being bowled. Gloucestershire chief executive Will Brown lamented what he regarded as an unavoidable situation given the volume of rain in the last 24 hours.
“We always had the sense that if we had something similar to last night, 20-30 minutes of rain could be what killed it off. You can see all along the bottom of the square the water is running off in big puddles.
“It is just gutting. We’ve had our fair share of rain offs such as in World Cups and you wonder if we give it a bit longer maybe it can dry out, but it is what it is. The umpires and the match ref know what they are doing, the ground staff are working their backsides off to get it right.”
Brown defended the response from the ground staff, who struggled to fully cover the pitch and surrounding areas in challenging conditions.
“It was hard conditions for them. You could see by how the covers were moving that it was pretty tough for them. It is one thing getting the covers on speedily, but in those conditions it is a different ball game altogether. They were certainly heavy and wet from this morning.
“No one wants to see a match end in that way and we are just collectively gutted for a season-ender for English cricket like that and a season-ender for Gloucestershire in Bristol.
“The conditions last night were shocking. The covers were heavy and wet, and they were trying to move them in tough conditions. It was blowing a hooley, which makes it a lot harder to move. I think they did and admirable job in difficult circumstances.”
In what play was possible, England had been given a bumper start by Salt on his way to his country’s fourth-fastest half-century in the format, from 22 deliveries. He crashed three fours and a six off Mark Adair in the first four balls of the match, with 19 off the first over and, thanks to his 87-run stand with Will Jacks, 100 up after eight overs – both England records in this format.
Duckett had brought up three figures with a six over wide long-off from his 72nd delivery, the penultimate ball of the 30th over. And though Sam Hain fell to Craig Young – the most impressive Irish bowler on show with 3 for 31 – at the end of the next over, Duckett had a shot at becoming England’s first double-centurion and, in turn, the team an outside chance of beating their world-record ODI score of 498 for 8, made against Netherlands last year. Neither got the chance to play out.
It was a tough debut for Ireland’s left-arm spinner Theo van Woerkom, who conceded 47 runs in his four overs. That included having his last four balls hit for 16 by Duckett to bring up England’s 250 after 27 overs. Van Woerkom did at least emerge from the wreckage with a maiden wicket when Crawley scythed a wide delivery to third after bringing up his maiden ODI fifty.
However, for the second time in the series the rain curtailed any prospects of a result. With more than 30 overs of play achieved, spectators were not entitled to a refund.
“It worries me greatly that this is a sign of things to come,” Brown said, looking ahead to next summer with Bristol due to host an ODI between England and Australia on September 29.
“We’ve got a lot of cricket being played in September next year and with climate change we’ve seen heavy rain in June and July, and I think the game needs to be thinking innovatively about how we get games on or prepare pitches and surfaces using different things to get cricket away.”
England 280 for 4 in 31 overs (Ben Duckett 107*, Phil Salt 61, Zak Crawley 51; Craig Young 3-31) vs Ireland – Match abandoned
Milne, Young and Nicholls power New Zealand’s 2-0 finish
A clinical performance from New Zealand, led by Adam Milne’s four-wicket haul and half-centuries from Will Young and Henry Nicholls, helped the visitors seal the series 2-0 in Dhaka on Tuesday (September 26). Opting to bat in the third ODI, Bangladesh could only manage 171 as the New Zealand bowlers kept chipping away at regular intervals despite a well-compiled 76 from stand-in skipper Najmul Hossain Shanto. Young then came up with a 80-ball 70 while Nicholls finished unbeaten on 50 as New Zealand reached the target in 34.5 overs.
Finn Allen struck three fours on the trot off Shoriful Islam in the first over to hit the straps straightaway. Hasan Mahmud and Shoriful bowled a maiden each but it was still a positive start for New Zealand with 48 runs coming in the first nine overs. Bangladesh hit back with quick wickets as Shoriful got Allen to top-edge a pull and then bowled Dean Foxcroft off the next ball. A good partnership between Young and Nicholls ensued, with New Zealand continuing to maintain a healthy run-rate.
Nicholls was given out caught-behind off Khaled Ahmed when he tried a pull but he reviewed immediately and replays revealed the ball struck his arm and brushed the helmet. There was a leg-before shout in the same over, again off Nicholls, with Bangladesh reviewing this time. But the ball pitched outside leg, allowing the No.3 to continue. He slowed down as he went 13 deliveries without scoring, although it didn’t matter with no scoreboard pressure on New Zealand. Young, meanwhile, got to his fifty with a boundary over mid-on off Nasum Ahmed and then hit two successive boundaries off Hasan.
An 81-run association for the third wicket was ended by Nasum who defeated Young’s outside edge to have him bowled. Nicholls then guided New Zealand towards the finish line, getting a fifty en route, with Tom Blundell assisting him in an unbroken 45-run stand that came off 34 deliveries.
Earlier, a revamped batting order didn’t serve Bangladesh too well as openers Tanzid Hasan and Zakir Hasan fell inside the first three overs. Zakir was bowled by Milne while Tanzid got an outside edge to first slip off Boult. Towhid Hridoy started positively, striking three fours but his outing was ended by Milne as he sliced a catch to cover-point. Najmul and the experienced Mushfiqur Rahim steadied Bangladesh with a brisk half-century stand, with the former scoring regular boundaries and the latter hitting two sixes. But the partnership was ended by Lockie Ferguson who got Rahim to play the ball onto the stumps.
Najmul and Mahmudullah then added 49, rotating the strike well and also hitting fours from time to time, as the Bangladesh captain got to a 55-ball half-century. But this stand too came to a premature end, when Milne returned to the attack and got Mahmudullah to edge to the ‘keeper. Mahedi Hasan started off with a couple of boundaries but in his attempt to cut a slower ball from Boult without much room, the batter edged it behind. Bangladesh were in further trouble as Najmul’s attempted reverse sweep resulted in Cole McConchie getting an lbw shout in his favour. Rachin Ravindra, McConchie and Milne cleaned up the tail as Bangladesh lost their last five wickets for just 15 runs to be bowled out in the 35th over.
Bangladesh 171 in 34.3 overs (Najmul Hossain Shanto 76; Adam Milne 4-34, Cole McConchie 2-18) lost to New Zealand 175/3 in 34.5 overs (Will Young 70, Henry Nicholls 50; Shoriful Islam 2-32) by 7 wickets.
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