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Gill, pacers inflict first defeat on Rajasthan Royals



Kolkata Knight Riders handed Rajasthan Royals their first loss in IPL 2020 as Steve Smith’s men fell short by 37 in a chase of 174. Shubman Gill and Eoin Morgan helped the Knight Riders build a strong total before Pat Cummins and Shivam Mavi landed blows after blows to leave Royals in a hole.

Pace like fire …

Even before KKR got going, Jofra Archer bowled absolute bullets at Gill and Sunil Narine in the first over. In the opening over, he bowled three deliveries over 150 kph and the lowest speed he hit was 147 kph. In his first three overs, he had figures of 3-0-4-2 but Morgan and Cummins hit a six and a four in Archer’s last over to spoil his figures a bit. Despite leaking 14 in his final over, he ended with 4-0-18-2 to keep KKR to a par score.

So how did KKR get 174?

Gill continued to impress and even with Narine struggling from the other end, there were no unnecessary risks from the right-hander. Narine made 15 off 14 as the opening partnership fetched the team 36. KKR were well placed after ten overs with 82 on the board with two wickets down. Gill had moved to 47 off 34 but fell to Archer.

Andre Russell had more than ten overs to face and showed plenty of promise. He hit three mighty sixes to race to 24 off 13 but fell trying to go for more. KKR were in a tricky situation but Morgan steadied things a bit and took it deep. KKR were 127 for 5 after 16 overs and then hit 47 in the last four overs. Morgan went from 6 off 10 to end with 34 off 23 to give the bowlers a fighting chance.

What went wrong for RR then?

Sharjah hangover?The RR top-order seemed in a hurry. Steven Smith looked ungainly and played ugly swipes on five of the seven deliveries he faced. Sanju Samson looked sublime during his nine-ball stay but three his wicket away trying to pull Mavi. Buttler decided against taking the conservative approach and fell trying to chase a wide one from Mavi. At 39 for 3 in 6.1 overs, RR middle-order was under too much pressure.

Robin Uthappa and Riyan Parag crumbled under pressure while Rahul Tewatia failed to repeat his Sharjah heroics. RR were 67 for 6 after 11 overs and out of the contest by then.

Was there a standout performer?

Two actually. Cummins and Mavi. If Archer was on fire, Cummins was absolutely sublime. Smith tried to put the Australia pacer under pressure and tried to hit him off his length. Cummins, however, stuck to his Test match lengths, continued to ask questions and created three opportunities. On the third, Smith eventually inside-edged the delivery and was caught behind.

Mavi was put under pressure by Buttler but continued to impress with his skills. He was a touch lucky with the dismissal of Buttler was took out Samson to leave RR gasping.

Should RR have batted first?

Probably. All six games in Dubai so far have been won by the side batting first. RR probably were guilty of taking the conservative approach and hoping for dew to settle in in the second innings. The RR top-order was dismantled way too quickly during the chase for the dew to give any scares to KKR on the night.

Where next then?

RR will play Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi on October 3 in the first afternoon encounter of the tournament. KKR will play the second game that day – against Delhi Capitals – in Sharjah.

Brief scores:

Kolkata Knight Riders 174/6 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 47, Eoin Morgan 34*; Jofra Archer 2-18) beat Rajasthan Royals 137/9 in 20 overs (Kamlesh Nagarkoti 2-13, Shivam Mavi 2-20) by 37 runs.


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Sri Lanka men’s and women’s teams ready to contest FIBA Asia Tournament



by a Special Sports Correspondent

The Sri Lanka Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took flight to Singapore on Tuesday for the FIBA Asia 3×3 Basketball tournament.

The two teams have been in preparation since April and are being coached by Ajith Kuruppu.

The men’s team has to first prove its worth against China and Tonga and one more team before qualifying for the main tournament. “It’s going to be a tough tournament, but the men’s and women’s teams have been practicing well. Our preparations were good and we want to make an impact at the tournament,” said Kuruppu. According to the Sri Lanka teams’ coach China will be a tough challenge in the men’s segment of the tournament.

“We’ve been gelling together as a team during training and the players have a good understanding when playing as a unit,” said Sri Lanka’s Mens’ Team skipper Shehan Fernando.

Sri Lanka’s women’s team has made a direct entry into the tournament. Sri Lanka Women’s team skipper Anjali Ekanayake said that the ranking of the players in the national 3×3 team is good. “These players have got much exposure playing in this format of the game. We’ve been focusing on nutrition and shooting over the past few months. Training went well for the tournament,” said Ekanayake.

Coach Kuruppu took this opportunity to thank Vaaj Fitness for sponsoring the two national teams to Singapore and for making their gym available for the players to do strength and conditioning training.

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Chathurya, Dinara, Saajida, Vishmi advance to second round



ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament

Chathurya Nilaweera ousted India’s Dhanush Varma to reach the second round of the ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament continued at the SSC Tennis Courts on Tuesday.

Nilaweera was the only player in the boys’ category from Sri Lanka to advance from the first round as he beat Varma 6-2, 6-0.

In the girls’ category Dinara de Silva, Saajida Razick and Vishmi Serasinghe reached the second round when they won their respective first round matches on Monday.

Dinara beat Yu Ching Wang of Taipei 6-3, 7-6(4) and Razick beat Indian Anushka Bhola 6-1, 6-1, while Serasinghe ousted Wei Chiao-Chen also from Taipei 6-1, 6-1.

In the other matches Dinethya Dharmarathe, Dahamna Methnadi, Nesangi Hemakumara, Vinethya Dharmarathne and Gehansa Metnadi conceded first round defeats.

In the boys’ category Vichinthya Nilaweera, Methwan Wijemanne, Abdul Bashit Cader, Thilina Dissanayake and Zahid Zihar were eliminated in the first round.

The boys’ and girls’ second round matches will be played today.

The tournament which commenced on July 4 will culminate on Friday.

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Sri Lanka add more spin options after first Test disaster



Maheesh Theekshana and Dunith Wellalage are likely to make their Test debuts in the series-deciding second Test in Galle.

by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka have taken some desperate measures leading up to the second Test against Australia in Galle by adding more spin options indicating that the team management and the selectors are willing to make wholesale changes after the pathetic performance in the first Test which they lost before lunch on day three.

Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya has been sent home after he failed to make an impact following the ten-wicket loss last week. In an inexperienced attack, the 25-year-old with 17 Test caps is the senior most bowler but he had got his lengths wrong in a game dominated by Australian spinners. Embuldeniya had struggled in Bangladesh as well and was dropped. Instead of letting him fight his way back, he was drafted into the first Test against Australia and it wasn’t surprising to see him failing to make an impact. Now with the series at stake, Sri Lanka have pressed the panic button.

Even if Dimuth Karunaratne’s side win the second Test, Australia will retain Warne-Murali Trophy since they are the holders having blanked Sri Lanka 2-0 in 2019.

Sri Lanka’s desperation is evident by the fact that they have recalled Maheesh Theekshana, who hasn’t played a First-Class game in four years. In fact, Army had been told not to consider Theekshana for the ongoing one-day competition to help him recover from niggles but suddenly he finds himself in the hot seat with a Test series at stake.

Uncapped Dunith Wellalage also has been added to the squad giving the left-arm spin option that has been taken away following the axing of Embuldeniya. Support left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama had tested positive for COVID.

Former captain Angelo Mathews who was in isolation after testing positive for COVID has returned a negative test and has rejoined the team.

Off-spinner Lakshitha Manasinghe is the third player to be added to the group. He had an impressive series against Australia ‘A’ too. It is expected that Wellalage will make his Test debut while the slot for the third spinner is a toss-up between Jeffrey Vandersay and Maheesh Theekshana. The leg-spinner was untidy in the opening Test and the more realistic option seems to be that Theekshana debuting alongside Wellalage.

Although three replacement spinners have been added, some wonder why Sri Lanka have not thought of some batting replacements. It was a pathetic display by the team in the second innings where they were shot out inside a session and faced only 22.3 overs.

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