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Fitness failures to be axed for West Indies  

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Those players who had failed fitness tests will not be  considered for the tour of West Indies.

by Rex Clementine  

Sri Lanka Cricket will be requesting the national team management and the selection panel to strictly implement fitness guidelines for contracted players, a board official told Sunday Island. Accordingly, the four prominent players who failed the fitness test will be axed for the tour of West Indies that will take place later this month.

Of the 32 players who were tested on Friday, four failed the two kilometer run that they had to finish in eight minutes and 35 seconds.

While Kusal Janith Perera is the most high profile casualty as he features in all three formats of the game, eyebrows have been raised at the poor standards shown by opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka. Dilruwan Perera at the age of 38 has been treated with some sort of sympathy while there have been suspicions about the fitness standards of Bhanuka Rajapaksa.

Gunathilaka had a prolific LPL and was expected to make it to Sri Lanka’s ODI and T-20 squads but now those plans will be held back. 

Avishka Fernando who had emerged as Sri Lanka’s leading opening batsman since the 2019 World Cup had skipped the fitness test due to an ankle strain and he will have to go through the fitness test again in order to be eligible for selections. Earlier, he had failed two fitness tests in the space of ten days.

Once the new selection panel is finalized, they will hold discussions with the coaching staff with the way forward on fitness issues but SLC is under pressure to show no leniency. Earlier, the board had threatened to cut down on salaries of players who fail fitness tests.

The initial idea was to test players every 40 days and repeated fitness test failures were to result in players becoming ineligible for selections.

Head Coach Mickey Arthur wasn’t present when the fitness test took place as he was recovering after testing positive for COVID-19. He is expected to rejoin training next week. While being overall happy with the outcome, Arthur is expected to be tough on those who failed the test.

“I will be having very tough conversations with the guys who are not up to scratch and won’t tolerate it,” Arthur told Sunday Island.

Arthur is credited for raising fitness standards of Pakistan players during his time with them and Grant Luden who worked as Strength and Conditioning Coach in Pakistan was roped in to SLC last month to oversee physical fitness of players.

The two kilometer run under eight minutes and 35 seconds was Luden’s brainchild and most players responded remarkably well for the challenge despite being made to do self quarantine after attending Sadeera Samarawickrama’s wedding.



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Thewin, Pawan help Trinity as Gishan bags eight wickets  

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Under-19 cricket

by Reemus Fernando

 A laboured 44 runs by Thewin Amarasinghe in the first innings and an unbeaten 76 by Pawan Pathiraja helped Trinity avert defeat in the traditional Under-19 cricket encounter dominated by Royal at Reid Avenue on Friday. 

Royal declared their innings on the overnight score of 403 for two and spinner Gishan Balasooriya picked up five wickets to rattle the Trinity batting line up.  A painstaking 44 runs by Thewin Amarasinghe (in 155 balls) was the only highlight in Trinity’s first innings. 

Following on Pawan Pathiraja scored an unbeaten 76 (in 105 balls, 11x4s) as they reached 115 for six wickets when bad light forced an early end.  

Balasooriya was the pick of the bowlers as he collected a match bag of eight wickets. 

The match will be remebered for the record breaking partnership between Royal captain Ahan Wickramasinghe (210n.o.) and Sadeesha Rajapaksha (152n.o.). They broke the Royal record for the highest partnership held by Sumithra Waranakulasuriya and Ajith Dewasurendra when they put on an unbroken 362 runs stand for the third wicket against Trinity in 1981 which was won by Royal by an innings and 62 runs.   

Scores: 

Royal 403 for 2 in 98 overs

(Ahan Wickramasinghe 210n.o.,  Ashen Gamage 22, Sadeesha Rajapaksha 152n.o.)  

Trinity 133 all out in 62.3 overs

(Thewin Amarasinghe 44, Matheesha Pathirana 16, Ranuda Somaratne 16; Gishan Balasooriya 5/41, Kavindu Pathirathna 2/18) and 115 for 6 in 32 overs (Pawan Pathiraja 76n.o.; Prashan Kalhara 2/29, Gishan Balasooriya 3/44) 

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Dhananjaya returns for West Indies Tests  

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By Rex Clementine

Stylish Dhananjaya de Silva’s calm presence in the middle order had brought so much assurance to the Sri Lankan batting in recent times but he has been out of cricket for almost three months now after pulling a thigh muscle during the Boxing Day Test against South Africa at Centurion. De Silva was cruising on 79 when he attempted a run and pulled the muscle ruling him out of the series and the subsequent home Tests against England. His absence resulted in Sri Lanka struggling to balance the side.

The 29-year-old has been named in the 17 member squad that also includes Lahiru Thirimanne, who tested positive for COVID-19. Roshen Silva, Vishwa Fernando and Lasith Embuldeniya also have been named in the Test squad. All five players will fly to Antigua on Sunday via Doha and New York.

The selectors were contemplating of retaining an 18th player for the two match series. Lahiru Kumara had been named in the squad but he had to be withdrawn after testing positive for COVID. Sources said that either Nuwan Pradeep or Dilshan Maudhsanka could be retained as the additional player. However, no final decision had been made yet.

The players will have to go through 72 hours of quarantine in Antigua before being allowed to resume training.

All-rounder Dasun Shanaka will also travel to the Caribbean on Sunday but he will be taking an entirely different route – literally four flights. He will travel to Dubai from Colombo and will get connecting flights to Paris and St. Martin before reaching Antigua.

Shanaka was unable to get a US visa in time and was not able to be present in Antigua to lead the side. The all-rounder had lost his passport containing a valid US visa and the US High Commission in Colombo was investigating whether his previous visa had been used by someone else.

Sri Lanka will play three ODIs in Antigua prior to the two match Test series. All five games will be played at Sir Viv Richards Stadium. The T-20 series is being played at Alan Stanford Stadium, named after the Antiguan businessman who is currently serving a 110 year jail term in the United States for financial fraud.

Sri Lanka squad for West Indies Tests:

Dimuth Karunaratne (Captain), Niroshan Dickwella,  Angelo Mathews, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dinesh Chandimal, Dasun Shanaka, Dushmantha Chameera, Asitha Fernando, Ramesh Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Lasith Embuldeniya, Vishwa Fernando, Roshen Silva and Suranga Lakmal.

 

 

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Arushi going from strength to strength to clinch U14 title

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Arushi Thomas receives her trophy from Nishan Gunasekara, Honorary Chairman SSC Tennis House Committee while runner up Dulkini Ranasinghe and Manoj Lakmal, Assistant Referee look on. (Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

 

SSC Open Ranking Tennis

by Reemus Fernando

Newstead Girls School, Negombo player Arushi Thomas toppled top seeds and top ranked players on her way to clinch the Under-14 girls’ singles title at the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament in Colombo on Friday.

Thomas beat Dulkini Ranasinghe 6-2, 6-2 to win the title after ousting top seeds in the last two stages.

In the quarter-finals, Thomas beat top seed and number two ranked Under 14 player Melasha Randini 7-5, 6-4 before scoring a hard fought 6-7, 7-5, 10-6 to edge out Onali de Silva in the semis.

Thomas commenced the year reaching the last 16 at the Tennis Nationals (Under-14 tournament) in January and improved to reach the semi-finals at last month’s Colombo Championships where she was eliminated by Dinara de Silva.

Meanwhile, top ranked Under-14 player Lisal Goonethlleke ensured a Royal-Thomian clash in the semi-finals when he beat Aweesh Ganegoda 6-3, 6-3 in the quarter-final. The S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia player is set to meet Tharuk Marasinghe of Royal College. The third seed Marasinghe beat Senuk Herat 6-3, 2-6, 10-6 for his semi final place.

Sandas Usgodaarachchi beat fourth seed Dhanushka Dias in his match to meet number two ranked Methwan Wijemanne in the semi-final. Wijemanne advanced to the semi finals on Thursday when he beat Janava de Saram.

 

Results

Under-14 girls singles final

Arushi Thomas beat Dulkini Ranasinghe 6-2, 6-2

Under-14 boys singles quarter-finals

Methvan Wijemanne beat Janava de Saram 6-3, 6-4,

Tharuk Marasinghe beat Senuk Herat 6-3, 2-6, 10-6

Lisal Goonetilleke beat Aweesh Ganegoda 6-3, 6-3

Sandas Usgodaarachchi beat Dhanushka Dias 6-2, 6-3

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