Afghanistan’s captain Asghar Afghan became his country’s second Test centurion after Rahmat Shah and played an entertaining innings to cap a commanding opening day for his team in the second Test against Zimbabwe. Afghan shared a record 186-run fourth-wicket partnership with Hashmatullah Shahidi, who is 14 away from becoming Afghanistan third centurion, and built on the foundation laid by young opener Ibrahim Zadran.
The 19-year old scored his third Test fifty and dominated a 50-run second-wicket partnership with Shah, which put Afghanistan on track to go big on a dry, flat track in Abu Dhabi.
Although the venue is the same as the one used for the first Test, the pitch is entirely different. While last week’s strip was green tinged with extra bounce on offer, this week’s is placid though there is suggestion it could take turn later on, perhaps in time for Afghanistan’s legspinner Rashid Khan, who recovered from a finger injury to make the XI, to come into play.
For Zimbabwe, the going was tough and they made use of all seven bowlers at their disposal, with little success. Apart from a hint of swing in the morning, there was no assistance for the seamers and with the cracks only expected to come into play later in the match, the spinners did not have much to work with either.
Blessing Muzarabani adjusted to a fuller length relatively well and Victor Nyauchi found movement with the new ball. Nyauchi enjoyed early success when he found Javed Ahmadi’s outside edge as the opener searched outside offstump and nicked off to Sean Williams at third slip.
Zadran’s technique was tighter than his opening partner’s and he was discerning in his shot selection. He drove an overpitched delivery from Muzarabani down the ground, chipped a half-volley on the pads over midwicket and found the gap between third man and gully. In attempting a different length, Nyauchi tried the short ball to Zadran and he was sent to the midwicket fence.
Shah provided Zadran good support and forced Williams to introduce the change bowlers earlier than he may have liked. After using Muzarabani for an eight-over spell upfront in the first Test, Williams only gave him a five overs here and Donald Tiripano was brought on in the 11th over.
for 3 (Asghar Afghan 106*, Hashmatulllah Shahidi 86*, Burl 1-34) vs Zimbabwe
Dimuth, Mathews, Lakmal and others get pay cuts
Several Sri Lankan cricketers have refused to sign central contracts after significant pay cuts.
Dickwella and DDS secure US$ 100,000 contracts
by Rex Clementine
Former captains Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal and Dinesh Chandimal along with current Test skipper Dimuth Karunaratne and a few regulars will not sign contracts offered by Sri Lanka Cricket after they were forced to undergo significant pay cuts, The Island learns.
The biggest gainers in the new contracts that will be announced shortly will be wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella and Dhananjaya de Silva, who will each earn US$ 100,000. In fact, they are the only two players in the top category.
Mathews will lose as much as US$ 50,000 after his retainer was cut from US$ 130,000 to US$ 80,000. He will turn 34 next month and with the selectors indicating that they intend to move on with a younger crop of players for limited over games, there will be little motivation for him to accept the contract especially with Sri Lanka set to play just two more Tests for this year.
Dimuth Karunarante, who has made rapid strides in Test match cricket this year, will also receive a pay cut of US$ 30,000. Following his stunning hundred at the Wanderers in January and after finishing the Bangladesh series with 427 runs in three innings, Karunaratne, would have at least expected to stay on par with his previous contract of US$ 100,000, but his pay has been brought down to 70,000.
Suranga Lakmal will also get a pay cut of US$ 45,000 having been demoted to the second category from the first tier where he earned US$ 100,000 the previous year.
Everything about the contracts are not gloomy though with someone like Pathum Nissanka, who made a stunning debut in the Caribbean two months ago receiving a retainer worth US$ 55,000.
Kasun Rajitha would consider himself that he has won a lottery with him finishing with US$ 50,000. The quick from Matara, who recently shifted clubs, represented Sri Lanka in just two games last year across all three formats but he ends up with a lucrative pay package. Dinesh Chandimal is in a lower category than Rajitha earning just 45,000 US$.
Danushka Gunatilleke probably gets the unkindest cut of all having been lowered to the last category where he will earn a mere US$ 30,000. The left-hander has emerged as the most consistent batsman in white ball cricket in recent times having had a good tour of West Indies.
Yupun clocks year’s third fastest time in Asia
Breaks national 100 metres record
Italy based sprinter Yupun Abeykoon improved his Sri Lanka National record in the 100 metres with Asia’s third fastest time of the season at the 10th edition of the Memorial Giulio Ottolia at the Fontanassa Sports Centre in Savona, Italy on Thursday.
Abeykoon clocked 10.15 seconds to break the national record in what turned out to be his first competition of the year at the northwestern Italian city.
Abeykoon bettered his previous record by 0.01 seconds. His previous record of 10.16 seconds was established in September last year.
Competing in Thursday’s final he was placed second behind Italian sprinter Lorenzo Patta who clocked 10.13 seconds to win in the absence of European indoor 60m champion Marcell Jacobs who stole the show early with a new Italian national record in the heats.
Jacobs clocked 9.95 seconds to break the Italian record in the heats but pulled out due to a calf cramp. Abeykoon too clocked a wind assisted faster time in the heats.
Abeykoon’s performance is just 0.10 seconds shy of the direct Olympic entry standard but it is the third fastest time by an Asian sprinter this year.
China’s Bingtian Su with a feat of 9.98 seconds (in April ) has the fastest 100 metres time in Asia this year. While Japanese sprinter Ryota Yamagata’s 10.14 seconds (also in April) is the second fastest time, Yupun’s time of 10.15 seconds is ranked third above Zhenye Xie (China 10.16 secs) and Tosin Ogunode (Qatar 10.21 secs).
Abeykoon’s feat is the second Sri Lanka record registered within days after US based high jumper Ushan Thivanka broke the national record in his event. While European and US training and competitions have helped the duo produce their best, lack of quality competitions due to the Covid 19 pandemic have held back the progress of a number of top local athletes who are on the edge of Olympic qualifying standards.
KJP urges to play fearless cricket
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka’s newly appointed ODI captain Kusal Janith Perera has urged his team to play without fear of losing in the lead up to his first assignment. The national cricket team will be heavily involved in limited overs cricket during the next two months traveling to Bangladesh for three ODIs on Sunday and then playing three ODIs and three T-20s in the UK. In July, they will be hosting India for three ODIs and possibly five T-20 Internationals.
KJP was named as captain with an eye for the 2023 World Cup as six seniors were axed following a string of poor performances in limited overs cricket.
“We have to play fearless cricket. Can’t be playing to protect your place in the side. When you do that you don’t give 100 percent. What I am telling the team is to give your best and that will work in crunch situations,” KJP told journalists yesterday.
“What I want is to create a winning culture. Fear of losing is not going to help us and we need to adopt a brand of cricket where we play fearless cricket. Personally, I have been successful batting fearlessly and I want the team to follow the same method. We won’t be hundred percent successful, but the important thing is that we need to be positive,” KJP explained.
KJP has struggled with fitness and injuries in recent years particularly hurting his hamstring too often. However, the reasoning behind the think tank of Sri Lankan cricket is clear as they want the team to adopt a bold approach without playing it safe.
One of the best knocks in Test match cricket in the history of Sri Lankan cricket was produced by KJP in Durban two years ago when he threw caution to wind batting with last man Vishwa Fernando and pulled off a stunning win against South Africa. His unbeaten 153 set the tone for the rest of the series as Sri Lanka became the first Asian country to win a Test series in South Africa.
However, he has not been able to hold onto his place in the Test side but the move has been criticized by some of the finest brains in the sport. His elevation to the captaincy seems to have come with their blessings.
KJP’s appointment is a bold move and it’s an indication that Sri Lanka need to cast away their traditional way of playing limited overs cricket.
Fielding has been one area that has been sloppy and has received little attention but with a new captain and a crop of young players in the side, this is an area that should improve vastly.
Exciting times are ahead for Sri Lankan cricket and it remains to be seen whether KJP with his attacking style is able to bring the team back to winning ways.
KJP is expected to keep wickets as well. It is the first time Sri Lanka have appointed a wicketkeeping captain since Kumar Sangakkara quit in 2011.
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