by Rex Clementine
Four Sri Lankan cricketers who are set to begin training ahead of the tour of West Indies have failed yesterday’s fitness test conducted by the national cricket team’s new trainer Grant Luden. There was lot of emphasis placed on fitness following Sri Lanka’s humiliating series defeat at the hands of England a fortnight ago and Luden announced that he will be from this point on, measuring fitness through the two kilometer run.
Accordingly, the players had to finish two kilometers in eight minutes and 35 seconds. The 400 meter track of Sughathadasa Stadium was utilized for the fitness test yesterday and effectively the players had to run five rounds within the stipulated time.
While 38-year-old off-spinner Dilruwan Perera and injury prone Kusal Janith Perera failing the test in the first attempt was understandable, young players like Danushka Gunathilaka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa failing the test came in for immediate criticism.
Gunathilaka, one of the brightest talents in the country has been a serial offender having been sent home in middle of a series for misconduct on two occasions. Head Coach Mickey Arthur has a reputation of not tolerating indiscipline or poor fitness and it remains to be seen what action he will take when he rejoins training. Arthur is currently receiving treatment after testing positive or COVID-19.
Altogether 32 players of the 36 member pool underwent the fitness test with Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Avishka Fernando and Lahiru Thirimanne being excused.
These are expected to be minimum fitness standards and Luden is likely to reduce the timing as he spends more time with the team. Elite sportsmen are expected to complete the two kilometer run below seven minutes and 30 seconds.
The national selection panel that will be announced next week will discuss the fitness standards before finalizing selections for the West Indies tour.
Sources said that players will be given another opportunity but if they fail a second test in the space of 40 days, they will be unavailable for selections.
SLC had initially spoken about cutting down on players salaries if they failed fitness test.
Afghanistan elect to bat first in third T-20 International
Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first in the third T-20 International against Sri Lanka at Dambulla on Wednesday. The Afghan captain won all three tosses in the series but this is the first time he has opted to bat first.
The game is a dead rubber with Sri Lanka having already secured the series 2-0.
Sri Lanka made four changes from the side that won on Monday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match series.
They left-out Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Binura Fernando and Maheesh Theekshanka and brought in top order batter Kusal Perera, all-rounder Kamindu Mendis, off-spinner Akila Dananjaya and seamer Nuwan Thushara.
Afghanistan also made four changes leaving out Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq.
They brought in all-rounder Sharfuddin Ashraf, left-arm seamer Fareed Malik, right-arm quick Wafadar Momand and batter Mohammad Ishaq, who is making his debut.
The tourists are yet to win a game in the multi-format bilateral tour. They lost the one off Test match in Colombo and suffered a 3-0 whitewash in the ODI series at Pallekele before conceding a 2-0 advantage in the three match T-20 series in Dambulla.
Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (Wicketkeeper), Kusal Perera, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Kamindu Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga (Captain) Matheesha Pathirana, Akila Dananjaya and Nuwan Thushara.
Ibrahim Zadran (Captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (Wicketkeeper), Azmatullah Omarzai, Karim Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Noor Ahmad, Hazratullah Zazai, Sharfuddin Ashraf, Mohammad Ishaq, Fareed Malik and Wafadar Momand.
Lyndon Hannibal (SRI) and Ravindra Wimalasiri (SRI)
Ruchira Palliyaguruge (SRI)
Chris Broad (ENG)
Sri Lanka teams reach tennis quarter-finals
The girls and boys teams of Sri Lanka reached the quarter-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup Junior and Junior Davis Cup Asia Oceania Pre Qualifying tournaments continued at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Wednesday.
The girls team beat Maldives 2-0, as Ivanka Samarasinghe (beat Nishan Naba 6-1, 6-2) and Dinara de Silva (beat Azim Araa Aasaal 6-2, 6-2) registered straight set victories in the singles.
The boys team edged out Iraq 2-1. Ganuka Fernando beat Shammama Faisac 6-1, 6-2 in his singles match before joining Lithum Jayabandu to win the doubles against Shammama Faisac and Bakr Akam 6-2, 6-1.
In the second singles Jayabandu went down to Bakr Akam (6-3, 6-2).
Dialog powers Royal – Thomian for 19th time
Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, has extended corporate backing for the 19th year as official sponsor of the country’s blue ribboned cricket encounter, the ‘Battle of the Blues’ between Royal College, Colombo, and S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia on March 7, 8 and 9 at the SSC Grounds, Colombo. The limited-over ‘Mustang’s Trophy’ match will be on March 16, also at the same venue.
The 145th cricket encounter will be aired live on Dialog Television – ThePapare TV HD (Channel Number 126), live-streamed on ThePapare.com and the Dialog ViU App.
Further, Dialog initiated the ‘Play for a Cause’ charity initiative with a mission to uplift school cricket across Sri Lanka. Through a generous pledge of Rs. 1,000 for every run scored and Rs. 10,000 for every wicket taken, last year’s encounter raised a substantial donation of Rs. 1,128,000. The proceedings were distributed in consultation with the Principal of Royal College and the Warden of S. Thomas’ College. This commendable effort helped support and empower four deserving schools in the country.
In this year’s encounter, the boys from Mt. Lavinia will be led by Mahith Perera, while the lads from Reid Avenue will play under the captaincy of Sineth Jayawardena, the U-19 Sri Lanka skipper. The ‘Royal-Thomian’ series spans an impressive 144 years, making it the second longest uninterrupted cricket series in the world, behind the annual encounter between St. Peters College, Adelaide, and Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, Australia, which began just a year earlier.
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