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Hasaranga and Asalanka named in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup team 

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ICC T20 World Cup Tournament’s highest wicket taker Wanindu Hasaranga and Charith Asalanka have been named in the official ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Most Valuable Team of the Tournament.

While Babar Azam has been named captain of the team, players from six countries have been named in the team.

Stars from champions Australia, runners-up New Zealand, semi-finalists England and Pakistan as well as Sri Lanka and South Africa feature in the star-studded line up.

Opening batter David Warner, leg-spinner Adam Zampa and seamer Josh Hazlewood all make the cut for Australia after helping steer their side to their first ever ICC Men’s T20 World Cup title.

There are also spots for England ace Jos Buttler as wicketkeeper, Pakistan’s Babar Azam as captain, New Zealand left-armer Trent Boult and Sri Lanka star Wanindu Hasaranga – the tournament’s leading wicket-taker – in the line-up.

The side was pulled together by a selection panel featuring commentators, former international players and journalists Ian Bishop (Convenor), Natalie Germanos, Shane Watson, Lawrence Booth – of Wisden, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday – and Shahid Hashmi of Agence France Presse and ARY Channel.

Ian Bishop said: “As with any team selection there will be varying opinions, and robust discussion on the final composition of the squad. The panel respects that, and we encourage the strong debate that will ensue. This team was incredibly difficult to select over such a highly competitive tournament. Selections were based predominantly on the Super 12 onward to the final.”

The team of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 (in batting order) is:

David Warner (Australia) – 289 runs at 48.16

Jos Buttler (wk) (England) – 269 runs at 89.66, five dismissals

Babar Azam (Captain, Pakistan) – 303 runs at 60.60

Charith Asalanka (Sri Lanka) – 231 runs at 46.20

Aiden Markram (South Africa) – 162 runs at 54.00

Moeen Ali (England) – 92 runs at strike rate of 131.42, seven wickets at 11

Wanindu Hasaranga (Sri Lanka) – 16 wickets at 9.75

Adam Zampa (Australia) – 13 wickets at 12.07

Josh Hazlewood (Australia) – 11 wickets at 15.90

Trent Boult (New Zealand) – 13 wickets at 13.30

Anrich Nortje (South Africa) – nine wickets at 11.55

12th: Shaheen Afridi – seven wickets at 24.14

Warner came into the tournament in uncharacteristically patchy form but laid those demons to rest in style with a power-packed set of performances.

The left-handed Australian opener racked up a tally of 289 runs – the second most of the tournament – at a healthy average of 48.16 to help propel his team to victory in Sunday’s Dubai final.

Warner struck 65 against Sri Lanka in the Super 12 stages, before a breath-taking 89 not out against the West Indies and then 49 against Pakistan in the semi-finals placed his team on the cusp of global glory.

And his 53 in the final provided the perfect support act for Mitchell Marsh – 77 not out – as Australia chased down a total of 173 to clinch their maiden ICC Men’s T20 World Cup crown.

England star Buttler was in similarly blistering form throughout, scoring just 20 runs fewer than Warner at a brilliant average of almost 90.

He cracked a perfectly-paced century against Sri Lanka – off just 67 balls – when his team needed him most, while his brutal knock of 71 not out against Australia helped fire England to an emphatic eight-wicket victory against the eventual champions.

Captaining the side at No.3 is Pakistan skipper Babar, who was the only batter to break the 300-run barrier throughout the duration of the competition.

His 68 not out against old rivals India powered Pakistan to a memorable 10-wicket victory, while three further half-centuries in the Super 12 stages helped book his team’s slot in the semi-final against Australia.

And while they were unable to battle past Aaron Finch’s outfit, Babar helped himself to 39 in the first innings to finish his campaign in typically consistent fashion.

Asalanka slots in at No.4 after his match-winning innings against Bangladesh in the Super 12s.

With his team in pursuit of 172 to win, Asalanka cracked a scintillating 80 not out off just 49 balls to guide Sri Lanka over the line and solidify his reputation as one of his country’s brightest talents.

A further innings of 68 against the West Indies soon followed as Asalanka scored 231 runs at an average of 46.20 throughout the course of the tournament.

South African Markram and England all-rounder Moeen occupy the No.5 and 6 positions, with Markram’s quickfire 52 not out against England helping down Eoin Morgan’s team in Sharjah.

Another half-century against the West Indies helped him reach a total of 162 runs at an average of 54 while for Ali, a haul of 92 – at a strike rate of 131.42 – provided a valuable contribution for England.

His economical off-spin also went for just 5.50 per over as his seven wickets at 11 saw him function as a crucial string to England’s T20I bow.

Completing the middle order is Hasaranga, who stands tall as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with a stunning 16 from his eight matches.

The skilful leg-spinner bagged a brilliant hat-trick against South Africa as he dismissed Temba Bavuma, Markram and Dwaine Pretorius – across two separate spells – to etch his name into ICC Men’s T20 World Cup folklore.

And a further three wickets against England, bolstered by two against Australia, saw him emerge as the most prolific bowler of the tournament and firmly deserving of his place in the Team of the Tournament.

Australian pairing Zampa and Hazlewood line up at No.8 and 9, with fellow leg-spinner Zampa lying closely behind Hasaranga in the tournament’s leading wicket-takers.

Conceding an average of his 5.81 runs an over, the Australian ace removed 13 victims across his seven matches – including a memorable five-wicket haul against Bangladesh in the Super 12s.

Zampa ended with figures of 5 for 19 off his four overs and after Australia navigated their way to the final, teammate Hazlewood followed in his footsteps with a record-equalling three for 16 against the Black Caps.

Hazlewood dismissed Kane Williamson, Daryl Mitchell and Glenn Phillips in Dubai and his figures represented the joint-best of any seamer in an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Final alongside Indian Irfan Pathan in the 2007 showpiece.

And that helped cap a haul of 11 total wickets as the skilful right-armer proved a crucial weapon in guiding Justin Langer’s team to their maiden tournament title.

Rounding off the side at No.10 and 11 are fellow pace bowlers Trent Boult and Anrich Nortje, who both took 13 and nine wickets respectively for New Zealand and South Africa.

Left-armer Boult took three-fers against both India and Afghanistan, while grabbing both of his team’s wickets in the final helped him finish the tournament with an average of 13.30.

Nortje’s express pace sees him slot into the team at No.11, with his nine wickets at 11.55 featuring a barnstorming performance that blew away Bangladesh.

He took three for eight off his 3.2 overs to help bowl the Tigers out for just 84 and further enhance his reputation as one of the short format’s most blockbuster bowlers.

Taking his place as 12th man is Pakistan prodigy Shaheen Afridi, who started his tournament in style with a blistering new ball spell against old foes India.

Afridi, 21, removed the talismanic top three trio of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and captain Virat Kohli to end with figures of three for 31 and lay the foundations for a memorable victory.

The left-arm pacer finished the tournament with seven wickets at 24.14 and will no doubt continue to star at multiple more ICC World Cup events throughout an exciting future career.



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Cricket’s finest gentleman Michael Tissera

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Michael Tissera and Sir Garry Sobers give away the trophy named after them to Angelo Mathews as Sri Lanka won the maiden

by Rex Clementine

Next week, as the second Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies comes to a conclusion, Michael Tissera will be in Galle to give away Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne a trophy that bears his name and that of West Indies legend Sir Garry Sobers. Irrespective of the result of the second Test, Sri Lanka will retain the Sobers-Tissera Trophy having won the first Test. West Indies can only square the series and as the holders of the trophy, Sri Lanka will retain the title.

Sri Lanka’s current cricketers will do well to pick the brains of Tissera, an iconic figure in our game. He played the game at a time when the sport had no money and the perks that the current generation is enjoying, because of men like Tissera, Anura Tennekoon and many others of their generation who laid a solid foundation for the sport. Built on that strong foundation is the brand name called Sri Lankan cricket.

Tissera respects the game and he has taken the values of cricket to his personal life and to his business. That’s why he is so successful. These are factors that are missing in some young players for whom cricket is their profession and nothing beyond. Not just players, but there are many of us who make a living out of cricket, but do we take values of the game beyond our working spaces? That’s the best thing that we can learn from Tissera – respect the game, value it and stay humble.

Talent itself is a great blessing and it is important to respect that. That’s why Tissera is an exceptional role model.

A disciplined man, he has set the standards and others have simply followed. His unquestionable integrity as Chairman of Selectors ensured fair-play in team selections and politicians dare not challenge him.

When Tissera took over as Chairman of Selectors in 2002, Aravinda de Silva had faded away. His cricket was over. He was heavily focusing on his business. But having realized that Aravinda still had much to offer the game, he threw down a challenge to Aravinda. If you are interested, the number four position of the national cricket team is all yours. But on one condition. ‘You are overweight and you need to get fitter.’ Aravinda loves those challenges. He knew he had cricket in him and apparently in two months he lost 15 kilos. A lot of running around Independence Square and no fancy stuff like lamb, pork sausages, cakes and of course his favourite Kandos.

On his comeback, he was a revelation. Aravinda produced a double hundred in his last Test match, he was the star as Sri Lanka reached the finals of the Champions Trophy in 2002 beating Australia in the semis. Basically he carried the team on his shoulders during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. Making runs on those bouncy tracks was child’s play for Aravinda. And Tissera knew the man better than many others. Some of those knocks were out of this world. They are the stuff that you dream of. All that was possible because of Tissera. He gave Aravinda a second chance. Every young man deserves a second chance. Had Tissera been managing the Sri Lankan cricket team, Kusal Mendis would have been like Babar Azam of Pakistan leading Sri Lanka not serving a suspension.

Tissera’s two year tenure as the Manager of the national cricket team was highly successful. Tom Moody was the Head Coach and the team reached new heights. England were thrashed 5-0 in their own backyard in 2006 and the team won many Test matches overseas. It all culminated with Sri Lanka reaching the finals of the 2007 World Cup.

That team had some tricky customers. Tissera’s brilliant man management skills saw there was smooth sailing. Moody can be ruthless, like a typical Aussie. You needed the calm head of Tissera to ensure that things did not get out of hand. Well, they did get out of hand at certain points, but no one spilled the beans. What happened on tour, stayed on tour. None dared leaking information.

Tissera is tough when he needs to be, but he is also a father figure when players need support. Straight out of school when Sanath Jayasuriya from Matara ended up at CCC it is people like Tissera who looked after him. He has done much more to help up and coming players. All silently though.

Good on Sidath Wettimuny as President of Sri Lanka Cricket for naming this trophy after one of the iconic figures of our game. It takes one great man to respect another.

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Dimuth on the verge of several batting milestones

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Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne will equal the World Record for most consecutive fifties in Test match cricket if he scores a half-century in the first innings of the second Test against West Indies in Galle starting Monday.

by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka’s Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne has hit a purple patch this year and the 147 he scored against West Indies in the first Test in Galle this week was his fourth hundred in 2021. The 33-year-old came up with an equally solid 83 in the second essay as Sri Lanka won by 187 runs and a session to spare.

His exploits have seen him accumulating 854 runs this year in Test cricket at an average of 77. Only Joe Root and Rohit Sharma have scored more runs in 2021 although they have played more games with the England captain featuring in 12 Tests and the Indian star appearing in 11 games compared to Dimuth’s six Tests.

Dimuth has now scored six consecutive half-centuries and a 50 in the second Test starting on Monday will see him equaling a World Record shared by six other players. Everton Weeks, Kumar Sangakkara, Andy Flower, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, Chris Rogers and K.L. Rahul have all scored seven consecutive fifties in Test cricket.

In the list of most runs in Test cricket for Sri Lanka, Dimuth went past former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga this year and he is currently the ninth highest run scorer. He’s on 5406 runs and if he scores 96 more runs in the second Test, he will knock off three more Sri Lankan greats; Tilan Samaraweera (5462), T.M. Dilshan (5492) and Marvan Atapattu (5502). That will see him sitting at number six among the highest run scorers for the country.

Dimuth is hungry for runs and he wants to finish his career with 10,000 Test runs. Only two other Sri Lankan greats have achieved the milestone. Kumar Sangakkara with 12,400 runs and Mahela Jayawardene with 11,814 runs are the only members of the exclusive 10,000 club.

“Scoring 10,000 runs is my dream. I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve that, but that’s what I’ve got in my mind. If I can continue this form, I’ll be able to get close to 10,000 runs. I like to improve as much as I can, and whenever I finish a match, I’ll go and check where I am on the Sri Lanka run charts, to figure out how many I need to score to pass someone,” Karunaratne explained.

The Sri Lankan captain was Man of the Match as Sri Lanka took a 1-0 lead to retain the Sobers-Tissera Trophy. The win also enabled Sri Lanka to collect 12 points in the ICC Test Championship.

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Amasha smashes Susanthika’s Army record, Roshan dazzles with hurdles feat

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Amasha de Silva smashed Susanthika Jayasinghe’s meet record in the women’s 100 metres.(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

57th Army Athletics Championships  

by Reemus Fernando  

Sprinter Amasha de Silva smashed Olympian Susanthika Jayasinghe’s longstanding Army Athletics Championship 100 metres record and Roshan Dhammika Ranatunga came almost close to breaking his national record in the 110 metres hurdles as they blazed the track on the final day of the Army Athletics Championships at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Friday.

Amasha clocked 11.67 seconds to win the women’s 100 metres final ahead of Susanthika’s niece Medhani Jayamanne in the afternoon. She broke Susanthika’s 1994 hand-timed record of 11.6 seconds. With yesterday’s feat, Amasha has now taken both the 100 and 200 metres records of the Army Championships under her belt. The athlete trained by Sanjeewa Weerakkody has a personal best of 10.55 seconds from 2020 and is the fourth fastest athlete in history in the 100 metres behind Susanthika, Damayanthi Dharsha and Rumeshika Ratnayake.

In the morning, Roshan Dhammika produced the second-fastest legal time ever run by a Sri Lankan in the men’s 110 metres hurdles.

Dhammika, who broke Olympian Mahesh Perera’s 24-year-old 110 metres hurdles record at the National Championships four weeks ago, clocked 13.91 seconds to win the gold in the 110 metres hurdles final. The SLEME athlete’s effort had a minus 1.9 wind reading as he finished the event just two milliseconds slower than his national record.

His coach Thiron Gamage was confident that Dhammika would improve his national record once again and he almost achieved the target running against the wind. “He missed the record but with this feat, Dhammika has proved beyond doubt that his national record was not a fluke,” Gamage told The Island after the new meet record performance.

How much he has got to offer was evident from the time Dhammika ran a relaxed heat in the morning. Despite breaking the second hurdle he was still leading when he cleared the last hurdle but slowed down to finish third in the heat.  In the final his only blemish was breaking the last hurdle. Still, he was metres ahead of the rest. With his third sub 14 seconds run (13.97 secs and 13.89 secs at the Nationals) the former Kularatne Central, Godakawela athlete has become the only Sri Lankan to run the distance under that mark legally.

All three athletes who had previously run the distance under 14 seconds, namely Chaminda Fonseka, Supun Viraj Randeniya and Mahesh Perera had wind readings above the legal limit.

Those were not the only impressive track performances as Pabasara Niku produced his personal best with a 46.36 seconds to finish first in the men’s 400 metres final which was minus national champion Kalinga Kumarage and the other leading contender Aruna Dharshana. Dharshana pulled out from the competition due to injury in the semi-finals on Thursday. Harsha Karunaratne who won the 800 metres, finished second behind Niku in a time of 46.83 seconds. In the corresponding women’s event, Nadeesha Ramanayake bagged the gold medal. She clocked 54.54 seconds.

There were two other individual meet record performances from Sarangi Silva in the women’s long jump and Samith Fernando in the men’s shot put.

Sarangi cleared a distance of 6.14 metres to win the long jump. Fernando cleared 16.60 metres to create his record.

Nilani Ratnayake, whose steeplechase feat was adjudged the most outstanding performance in the female category won her third individual gold medal when she clocked 4:25.20 seconds to finish the 1,500 metres. While Samantha Pushpakumara (RMS) won the men’s 10,000 metres in a time of 31:12.28 seconds, H.A.M. Dilrukshi was the winner in the women’s discus throw. Men’s 100 metres winner Himasha Eshan (10.29 secs), who was involved in many victories for the Artillery regiment- the winners of the championship- won the award for the most outstanding performance in the men’s category.

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