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Future of Sri Lankan cricket bright says coach Mubarak



Rex Clementine in Derby

When Sri Lanka under-19 landed in UK for a month long tour, they were the underdogs as the hosts had named quite a few players who had represented their counties in First Class cricket, one-day competition on the Hundred.  Despite a strong opposition, the tourists won the Test series.

The first Test in Chelmsford turned out to be a nail biting contest where after being set 273 runs in 59 overs, Sri Lanka slumped to 48 for four before Trinity’s Ranuda Somaratne played a blinder to help his team win by three wickets with 11 deliveries to spare. The second Test, it looked Sri Lanka had it in the bag heading into the final session as England had lost five wickets and had only a lead of 28 runs. There was some stubborn resistance by the lower order to ensure  a draw but Raveen de Silva’s side won the series.

Apart from captain de Silva (Nalanda), Somaratne (Trinity), opening batsman Asitha Wanninayake (St. Anthony’s), top order batter Shevon Daniel (St. Joseph’s), fast bowler Duvindu Ranatunga (Mahanama) were some of the players to impress.

“They are all very different batters. Ranuda Somaratne was very impressive with the way he controlled the chase in the first Test. He rotated the strike, ran well between the wicket and has got a lot of potential. Asitha Wanniarachchi played a grinding innings, typical innings you would like to see in England. He pulled us out of a tricky situation. Same with Shevon in the second Test. Everyone got hit on the head and gloves and they fought well. Asitha maybe is a long format player, Shevon and Ranuda can switch into both formats. With Raveen the runs he scored and the way he bowled,  he is good all-round potential.”

The youngest in the team is Duvindu Ranatunga. Hailing from Ratnapura,  he landed at Mahanama College after passing the Grade Five Scholarship. While studies took him from Ratnapura to Colombo, cricket has  taken him to UK. “Duvindu has been very impressive. He’s not been under pressure at all whether it’s the opposition, or the batsmen, language or the pitch. He has been very confident. He will always give you 110 percent. He was willing to go as night watchman in the second Test. He is only 17. We had got the AL results yesterday and hopefully we will get his OL results soon and I hope he has done well.”

Although England players were physically intimidating, young Duvindu didn’t  mind firing them up by using the short ball to good effect.

“We  were prepared to give as much as we got.  We knew that we were going to get a lot of short balls. We said look our bowlers have got to help our batters out.”

“It was a fantastic effort by the boys. We played together as a team that was the difference I thought. In difficult times on and  off the field we helped each other and I thought that was the hallmark of the success of the team.”

After winning the first Test, it was somewhat surprising to see Sri Lanka making two changes.  Mubarak explained why. “The plan is  to make sure that everyone gets a game. We believe that they are all good to play at this level. We expect everyone to maintain standards. Everyone who has come on tour will get a game.”

Several players on tour have come out of Sri Lanka for the first time and it’s no easy task to look after as they struggle with food and weather. “With the food, we have had a lot of help and support from the Sri Lankan community wherever we go. In Loughborough, Essex and in Derby as well the Sri Lankan community has been able to get Sri Lankan food from restaurants or home cooked meals. That has helped us to look after the boys.”

Foreign News

China censors ‘Tiananmen’ image of Asian Games athletes hugging




The race numbers for Lin Yuwei and Wu Yanni form '64' (pic BBC)

A photo of two Chinese female athletes that made an inadvertent reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre has been censored on Chinese social media.

The race numbers for Lin Yuwei and Wu Yanni form ’64’ – a common allusion to the incident which happened on June 4.

Discussions of the incident remain taboo in China, with authorities routinely scrubbing any mention of the topic from the internet.

In 1989, troops shot dead hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. It remains unclear how many people actually died that day, but human rights groups’ estimates range from several hundred to several thousand killed.

The athletes had embraced each other after a 100m hurdles race at the Asian Games in which Ms Lin won gold. She was wearing her lane number 6 next to Ms Wu’s lane number 4 in the photo.

Users had posted on Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media platforms, congratulating Ms Lin. However, posts which included the photo were replaced with grey squares. However, the photo does not appear to have been completely scrubbed off the internet, with some Chinese news articles still showing a photo of the two athletes.

China has won nearly 300 medals so far in the Asian Games, which are currently taking place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. It is due to go on until 8 October.


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All-round Afif helps Bangladesh survive Malaysia scare




Afif Hossain starred with both bat and ball

Afif Hossain put on an all-round show as Bangladesh beat Malaysia by two runs to confirm their semi-final fixture against India at the Asian Games. Malaysia needed five in the last over with Virandeep Singh batting on 52 off 35, but Afif gave away just two runs to keep the upset at bay.

Afif varied the pace in each of the first three balls of the final over to frustrate Virandeep before lobbing one up outside his hitting arc. Virandeep tried to break the shackles but holed out to long-on with Malaysia still needing five. Afif then nailed two yorkers to give away just two runs and end the contest.

Chasing 117, Malaysia were reduced to 18 for 3, with Afif striking twice in the fifth over. Virandeep then stitched two key partnerships, adding 34 for the fifth wicket with Vijay Unni and then 40 for the seventh with wicketkeeper-batter Ainool Hafizs, to take his side close. But Malaysia faltered in the last over.

Earlier in the day, Afif found himself in the middle with Bangladesh three down inside three overs. He struck a 14-ball 23 with two fours and two sixes and added 38 in just four overs with captain Saif Hassan. Hassan struck a steady half-century – 50 off 52 balls – on a surface that slowed down considerably after the earlier game, between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, in the day.

Pravandeep Singh, Virandeep’s elder brother, finished with two wickets for Malaysia but Bangladesh managed to get to 116, which eventually proved to be just enough.

Brief scores:
Bangladesh 116 for 5 in 20 overs (Saif Hassan 50*, Afif  Hossain 23, Shahadat Hossain 21;  Pavandeep Singh  2-12) beat Malaysia 114 for 8 in 20 overs (Virandeep Singh 52, Syed Aziz 20;  Afif Hossain 3-11, Ripon Mondol 3-14) by two runs


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Naib, Qais knock Sri Lanka out to take Afghanistan into semi-final




[File photo] - Gulbadin Naib dealt early blows

Afghanistan knocked an inexperienced Sri Lanka side out of the Asian Games to book a spot in the semi-final in Hangzhou. On a slow-turner, Noor Ali Zadran struck a steady fifty before three-fors from Oais Ahmad and Gulbadin Naib dealt the final blow to Sri Lanka, who had nine debutants.

After opting to field, Sri Lanka struck with the seventh ball of the match when Nuwan Thushara cleaned up Sediqullah Atal. Noor and Mohammad Shahzad then added 54 for the second wicket but both batters struggled against left-arm spinner Nimesh Vimukthi and took their time in the middle.

After Shahzad fell to seamer Lahiru Samarakoon, Shahidullah struck some lusty blows during his 14-ball 23. But then a collapse ensued that saw Afghanistan slide from 92 for 2 to be bowled out for 116. Thushara, with his slingy action and accurate yorkers, finished with 4 for 17.

In reply, Sri Lanka raced off the blocks, with Lasith Croospulle hitting Naib for a four and a six in an 11-run second over. Even though he fell in the next over, Sri Lanka reached 59 for 3 by the end of the ninth over.

That’s when Qais came into the attack and turned the game around with a two-wicket over. Ashen Bandara fell to a googly and played on while attempting a drive. Three balls later, wicketkeeper-batter Lahiru Udara was lured into playing a heave across the line to be bowled.

Captain Sahan Arachchige showed some resistance with his 22 off 29, and later, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth kept the slim hopes alive when 15 were needed from 12 ball and then nine in the final over. But Karim Janat knocked Thushara over with the first ball of the 20th over to kick-start celebrations in the Afghan camp.

Brief scores:
Afghanistan 116 in 18.3 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 20, Noor Ali Zadran 51, Shahidullah 23; Nuwan Thushara 4-17, Sahan Arachchige 2-26) beat Sri Lanka 108 in 19.1 overs (Sahan Arachchige 22, Qais Ahmad 3-16, Gulbadin Naib 3-28) by eight runs

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