Aaron Finch conceded that Australia’s hopes of defending their men’s T20 World Cup title may already be out of their hands because of the huge margin of the loss to New Zealand and its impact on their net run-rate.Although the table is in its most embryonic stage after the first day of the Super 12s, Australia’s NRR is -4.450 following the 89-run hammering at the SCG, where they were bundled for 111.They had one huge blowout on their way to the title last year in the UAE when they were beaten heavily by England, but by then they had two wins on the board and had just two group matches left. So it was a shorter sprint to the line than they potentially face this time, starting with the match against Sri Lanka in Perth on Tuesday.
“That’s a big loss in the context of the tournament,” Finch said. “We were just totally outplayed in all three facets. It hurts our net run-rate… but we’re still going to be positive. I think we still back ourselves that we can win four, and you need a little bit of luck along the way in such a brutal tournament.”
Australia had little choice but to bat aggressively in their chase when faced with a target of 201, but both Finch and Mitchell Marsh fell trying to target the short boundary, which New Zealand had done to good effect, after David Warner was unlucky to be bowled via his pad and the back of the bat.
This was Australia’s fifth defeat in their last nine T20Is but Finch said there would not be a reassessment of how they go about their game. “You can’t go into a shell in T20 cricket,” he said. “You have to be able to transfer pressure back on the opposition as quick as you can, and at times that comes with risk. So you have to be prepared to wear the consequences of taking risks at times.
“We haven’t got it totally right. We’ve got to look at ourselves in that regard. But I’m still committed to playing the same way that won us the last World Cup and has given us a bit of a setback here. We’ve taken the fate out of our own hands I think, to a point. We need to be ultra-positive, ultra-aggressive, and I’m sure that we’ll all do that.”
One of the talking points when Australia were in the field was the absence of Glenn Maxwell from the attack just two days after Andrew McDonald pinpointed him as a key part of the bowling unit. Finch indicated the absence had largely been down to an unfavourable match-up with Devon Conway, who batted through the innings, which meant Marcus Stoinis bowled his full quota of four overs.
“We felt that Marcus Stoinis bowling quite a bit of pace off was working really well,” Finch said. “Devon Conway is a really good player at spin. So while he was in and he’d faced 25, 30 balls, it can be hard to stop any batter hitting to that short side. And there wasn’t any spin in the wicket in that first half of the game, so it felt it would be a little bit of a bigger risk with Devon being able to access that side. We felt as though Stoinis would be able to defend himself a little bit better.”However, Adam Zampa suggested Australia may have been slow to take pace off the ball when New Zealand were away to a flying start from Finn Allen.
“Making the right decisions earlier, it’s probably ‘do we take the pace off the second, third or fourth over just to change it up a bit’. Probably in hindsight we could have,” Zampa said. “Maxi’s a great option for us as well, think we made some poor decisions, took us a little longer to assess the conditions. You saw Tim Southee, Trent Boult in their powerplay… they just used the pitch, Tim Southee bowled off-pace really well and made it hard for us to score.” (ESPN)
Dharmasena reaches singles final
Ranjan Dharmasena booked a berth in the singles final against Korea’s Sung Bong Han as he beat Sagg-Ho OH 6-1, 6-2 in his semi-final in the Sri Lanka Open International Wheelchair Tennis Tournament at Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Tuesday.
Sung Bong Han of Korea prevented an all-hosts final as he beat Gamini Dissanayake 6-1, 6-2 in the other semi-final.
New champions add spice to tennis singles events
By A Special Sports Correspondent
Tennis star Sharmal Dissanayake (26) made a comeback to the racquet game in Sri Lanka when he won the Men’s Singles event at the First Capital SSC Open Championships worked off in Colombo recently.
The annual SSC Open tournament gave a great start to the tennis scene in the island for the New Year. It was also a new start for champion player Dissanayake after being away from playing on Sri Lankan courts at local tournaments for a while. He overcame stiff resistance from Chaturya Nilaweera in the finals, which went for four sets. Dissanayake won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and 7-6 in the pulsating final which was scheduled to go for five sets if required. This is the first time five-set tennis was introduced at a local tournament in the island.
Dissanayake has played at peak condition in past tournaments. Fitness was not a cause for Dissanayake at this tournament, but he can reach top playing condition as the months roll away this season. The talk doing the rounds in the tennis circles is that Dissanayake wants to raise his game and fitness and make himself available for the country at overseas assignments too. Meanwhile, Nilaweera, an up-and-coming player with much promise, had to sweat his way into the final with a tough semi-final fixture against Kiran Vairawanathan. It was good to see seasoned players like Guyanga Weerasekare contesting the SSC Open Men’s event. The men’s open tennis event overall in the country has just got the needed boost with the competition that’s raised by so many talented players entering and wanting a share of the pie.
Dissanayake won the Arjun Fernando Challenge Trophy for his efforts at the tournament which was witnessed by an appreciative crowd.
Schoolgirl Sajida Razick made a giant kill in the women’s open singles by beating seasoned player Neyara Weerawansa (6-3, 6-4). Despite taking the first set with her power play Razick saw the experienced Weerawansa breathing down her back in a well-contested second set. Both players made their share of unforced errors, but that didn’t take the punch away from the game Razick looked so confident throughout the game and brilliantly negotiated Weerawansa’s spirited late rally during the second set before winning her first major title in senior tennis. Razick overcame Vishmi Serasinghe in the semis while Weerawansa got the better of Dinara de Silva. Razick won the Sriya Munasinghe Challenge Trophy for her efforts.
Razick has raised her game tremendously and plays some powerful shots and also uses the full court. It would have been interesting to see how she would have fared against Anjalika Kurera had the latter taken part in this tournament. Incidentally, Kurera was not available for the SSC Open this season because she was busy preparing for a vital examination.
The tournament not only attracted its title sponsor in First Capital, but also saw Perera & Sons and Dimo coming in as co-sponsors. It’s one of the most looked forward-to events in the local tennis events calendar; having recorded its start in the 1980s. The SSC Open also serves as a category 1 ranking tournament.
The tournament was organized by the SSC Tennis Home Committee and held under the auspices of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association.
Amameth scores back-to-back centuries
Under 19 Cricket
by Reemus Fernando
Kavindu Amameth scored back-to-back centuries and put on a partnership over 200 runs for the second time in the match as Mahanama College earned major honours against De Mazenod in the Under 19 Traditional cricket encounter which ended in a draw at Kandana on Tuesday.
Amameth followed up his first innings score with an identical knock. In the first essay, he conceded 173 balls for his knock. But in his second he consumed only 101 balls as he cracked 11 fours and seven sixes to boost the score. He also put on a first-wicket stand of 209 runs with Anjala Bandara as Mahanama posted 323 for three wickets at close on a pitch where the home team could muster only 150.
It is also the first time this season that a batsman scored back-to-back centuries in a match.
At Ananda Mawatha, Mahinda College restricted the home team to 159 runs as Dhanuja Induwara picked up five wickets for the visitors to dominate day one of the traditional encounter.
Mahanama take major honours
363 all out in 92.1 overs (Kavindu Amameth 126, Inuka Karannagoda 75, Rashmika Perera 52, Chamika Heenatigala 24, Eshan Withanage 24; Kavindu Kaushalya 4/97, Thushan Udayanga 3/64, Sithum Fernando 3/71) and 323 for 3 in 54 overs (Kavindu Amameth 126, Anjala Bandara 84, Koojana Perera 55, Inuka Karannagoda 52n.o.; Thushan Udayanga 2/56)
2 for 1 overnight 150 all out in 49.0 overs (Neshan Dias 65, Shevan Menusha 25, Uvindu Perera 20, Thareen Perera 20; Chamika Heenatigala 4/12, Inuka Karannagoda 2/26, Rashmika Perera 2/29)
Mahinda dominate day one at Ananda Mawatha
159 all out in 53.1 overs (Viduna Wijebandara 27, Iruth Gimshan 25, Ayesh Shahimal 42; Dhanuja Induwara 5/33, Tharusha Dilshan 2/37, Arosha Udayandga 2/18)
142 for 5 in 44 overs (Hareen Achintha 36, Hiruna Gallage 38n.o., Tharusha Dilshan 21n.o.; Ashinsa Deshan Nainayaka 4/40)
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