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Have to take the team forward from where Virat’s left it: Rohit

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India captain Rohit Sharma has credited his predecessor, Virat Kohli, for the success of the Test team in recent times and believes that the side hasn’t done “anything wrong in the last two-three years”. He’s looking forward to the challenges of Test captaincy and wants to pick up the threads from where Kohli left it.

“As a Test team at the moment, we stand in a very good position. If you look at the last five years of our Test cricket, the whole credit goes to Virat himself to get us going in this particular format,” Rohit said ahead of India’s opening Test against Sri Lanka in Mohali.

“You know what he’s done with the Test team over the years was brilliant to see. For me, I have to honestly just take it from where he’s left. The team stands in a very good position. Of course, we are somewhere midway in the World Test Championship table, but honestly, I don’t see that we’ve done anything wrong in the last two or three years of Test cricket. Of course, we want to improve as a team, every game that we play, and that is always going to be the benchmark that we’re going to set for ourselves moving forward. We’re looking forward to correct all our mistakes that we made in the past. No team I believe is perfect. You always try and improve every game. So that will be the sole purpose of us moving forward in the right direction.”

This will be Rohit’s first match as India Test captain and as excited as he is for this new challenge, he’s hoping to do right by the players and ensure that the team is focused on the present and not looking too far ahead.

“Honestly, I’m looking forward to just win games as much as possible and do the right things with the right players in the squad. That is the whole point,” Rohit said. “It’s a completely different ballgame – limited-overs and Test cricket. But my philosophy of captaincy will remain the same. I wouldn’t go away from that. And that is just staying in the present, understanding the situation that the team is in and what is the right call to make at that particular time. I’ll be thinking about all those things. It’s five-day cricket, so obviously things will change every day. So you have to do a lot of analyzing about how the first day went, what you need to do on day two, day three, and thereon. So I think a lot of things depend on how we react to a particular situation and then whatever planning or whatever strategy that we need to create, we will create that. That has been my philosophy, not to think too far ahead.

“It’s important to stay and think one thing at a time and not go too far ahead. Like we all know, it’s a different format, Test cricket and limited-overs. So there is no comparison there. It will be a challenge of course, it’s the first time I’m leading in red-ball cricket for India. I’ve captained a few games in Ranji Trophy but again, a whole lot of different challenge it is when you’re captaining the test team. But it’s something I’m really looking forward to. it’s going to be very exciting. And I really can’t wait.”

India are also in a tight spot in the WTC points table and have an uphill task at hand if they are to make the finals for the second time in a row.

“It’s gonna be a challenging one, no doubt about that. it’s going to be important that those nine Test matches that we’re going to play, I feel like we have to win almost every game. There will be a lot of pressure. But I think that is where you know you will build a lot of character as a team. You will see some of the champion cricketers coming out from these situations and that’s my belief; you thrive under pressure and you turn out to be a solid cricketer for the future.”

Rohit also spoke about the void left by Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, both of whom have been dropped for his series, and was excited to see how the likes of Hanuma Vihari, Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill fare. Rohit said that these players have been “waiting for a while” and he is looking forward to giving these guys a long run.

“Mayank, Shubman, Vihari, all these guys are brilliant. They are the future of Indian cricket. You know, and I think they need to be given a solid run for them to excel in this particular format. It’s important for us to do that and it will start from the management to show enough support, enough backing.

“Wherever there are changes in the squad, it’s always a fresh start for the guys who are coming in and it’s never easy. But those guys who are going to replace these two guys, Pujara and Rahane, have done exceedingly well whenever they’ve gotten an opportunity, whether it’s first-class cricket back home, or the India A tours or the limited opportunities that they’ve got playing Test cricket. I think we need to just back these guys to come good for us. You know, at times, you always need to look forward and I think those guys have been waiting for a while now. So hopefully, if they get an opportunity, they can turn things around for us. And it’s just not about one or two games but I’m looking at a number of years for them playing for India and doing well for us.”

Glad that the crowds have been allowed for the Test, which will also be Kohli’s 100th, Rohit harked back to his most favourite memories of his colleague.

“As a team, my favourite memory is the series which we won in Australia in 2018. It was a great series and Virat was the captain,” Rohit reminisced. “As an individual, my best memory of him is his Test hundred in South Africa in 2013. The pitch we were playing on was very challenging, it had a lot of bounce and a lot of us were playing a Test in South Africa for the first time. To then face Steyn, Morkel, Philander and Kallis… it was never going to be easy but the way Virat batted in that match, scoring hundred in the first innings and 90 odd in the second, was sensational. It was one of his best knocks. He had made a hundred in Perth in 2018 too but I think the one in South Africa beats that.”



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Joes and HFC win Under-20 basketball titles

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Due to the pandemic, there wasn’t much sporting activities in schools for two years and basketball players showed lot of enthusiasm as their sport was in full swing since April holidays. Sri Lanka Schools Basketball Association despite many challenges successfully conducted the All Island Under-20 basketball tournament at Sugathadasa Stadium this week. Girls and boys in ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Divisions competed over a month and there were some thrilling encounters.St. Joseph’s College, Darley Road and Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya cruised to victory in the ‘A’ Division final. While St. Joseph’s beat Royal College in the boys’ final, HFC overcame Mahamaya College, Kandy. Both teams cruised to victory and were hardly troubled throughout the campaign. Interestingly, both teams are coached by the same individuals with Roshan Randima as Head Coach and Shane Daniel as his deputy. Their teams over the last decade or so have come up with consistent performances and have always remained among the top three.

St. Joseph’s took an early 24-09 lead in the first quarter and although Royal contained them in the second quarter conceding just seven points, they themselves could not score big. Both teams scored 16 points each in the third quarter and Royal matched St. Joseph’s skills in the final quarter but the damage done in the first quarter proved to be costly as Joes won by 16 points with the final score being 68-52.Mahamaya scored 14 points compared to HFC’s 16 in the first quarter in the girls’ final but from thereon HFC were unstoppable winning by a comfortable 31 points. The final score was 70-39.

In the boys’ category, St. Joseph’s captain Shehan Fernando was adjudged the Most Valuable Player while Keith Costa also from St. Joseph’s was declared the Best Defensive Player. Royal’s Yuganan Baskaran was named Best Offensive Plyaer. In the girls’ segment, Onela Dunuwille and Minoli Direkze of HFC emerged as Most Valuable Player and Best Defensive Player respectively. Chithera Samarakoon of Mahamaya was the Best Offensive Player. The tournament was sponsored by Gaja Group. The Group’s CEO Gayath Jayasinghe, a former Sri Lanka basketball player was the Chief Guest.

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Sri Lanka Athletics to seek private sector support to send team for World Junior Championships

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Ambagamuwa Central hurdler Dhanuka Dharshana has bettered the World Junior Championship qualifying standard on several occasions.

Junior Nationals Athletics Championships rescheduled to June 7-10

by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Athletics will seek support from the private sector to meet the massive costs involved in sending all athletes reaching qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships which will be held from August 1-6 in Cali, Colombia.The track and field governing body, which met this week to reschedule the Junior National Championship which was postponed due to the curfew imposed on May 9, also discussed ways of finding funds to send all athletes who reach qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships.

Sri Lanka Athletics has been sending all athletes reaching qualifying standards for the World Junior events in recent years. But the massive cost of airfare in the midst of the prevaling economic crisis has made it difficult for the sport’s governing body to bear the full cost involved in sending a strong team.So far nine athletes have reached qualifying standards for the biennial event and there is opportunity for other athletes to reach entry standards for the event when the postponed Junior National Athletics Championship is held from June 7 to 10 at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

“There is a massive cost involved in sending athletes for the Cali event. With the increased airfare it will cost around 1.5 million rupees per athlete. If we opt to send only the top two athletes and those who can find funds by their own it will not be fair by the others who reach qualifying standards. Because of that we will seek private sector support to send the full team,” a senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics told The Island on Friday.

Earlier there were plans to send a pruned down team but a couple of athletes have obtained private sponsorships for their travel compelling athletics officials to find sponsorships for others as well.Of the nine athletes who have reached qualifying standards so far, four are from three schools in Colombo.  At least one athlete from outstations and an athlete from a school in Colombo have received the support of sponsors to meet their expenses during the meet.

“We will request leading private sector firms to support junior athletes. We will also seek the support of friendly sports federations like Sri Lanka Cricket to support us at this difficult moment,” said the official.

Tharushi Karunaratne (800m, 400m), Jayeshi Uththara (400m) and Amesha Hettiarachchi (400m hurdles) in the girls’ category and Sithum Jayasundara (400m), Dhanuka Dharshana (400m hurdles), Kaveesha Bandara (110m hurdles), Pasindu Malshan (triple jump), Hirusha Hashen (long jump) and Rumesh Tharanga  (javelin throw) in the boys’ category are the athletes who have reached qualifying standards for the Cali event. Incidentally, Tharushi Karunaratne and Sithum Jayasundara will be taking part in their second consecutive World Junior Championships after having represented the country at the last edition in Nairobi. Sri Lanka did well to reach the final in the mix relay in Nairobi where they were ranked fifth with a time of 3:26.39 secs.

Junior National Championships from June 7 to 10

The Junior National Athletics Championship which was postponed after the morning session on May 9 will commence from where it stopped on June 7. According to athletics officials the events which could not be completed on May 9 will be held on June 7 and there will not be any changes to the schedule of the next three days.

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Shoriful ruled out of SL Tests with wrist injury

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Bangladesh’s injury woes continue as pace bowler Shoriful Islam has now been ruled out of the remainder of the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka due to a wrist injury. Shoriful is the latest addition to the hosts’ injury list as they earlier lost Taskin Ahmed (shoulder) and Mehedy Hasan (finger).

“Shoriful Islam had a contusion of the right hand while batting. After the fourth day’s play an X-ray was carried out which has revealed a fracture on the base of the 5th metacarpal bone,” physio Bayjedul Islam said in a statement on Thursday.

“Such injuries tend to take around three weeks to heal followed by a couple of week’s rehab. He will not be available to play for four to five weeks.”

Shoriful was retired out on Day 4 after pacer Kasun Rajitha’s short delivery hit him on the gloves. Bangladesh were forced to end their innings at 465 following his injury.

Cricbuzz has learnt that Shoriful is unlikely to be available for the Test series against West Indies as well. Bangladesh will leave on June 6 to take part in the full fledged tour of West Indies, comprising two Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is.

Meanwhile, the BCB has retained the same squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka that will begin on May 23. The board opted to not name a replacement for Shoriful since they have a big squad to pick from.

“We did not take any replacement for Shoriful as we have got a big squad in hand,” BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin told Cricbuzz. ‘’We have to see fitness of Hasan Mahmud (who was in discussion as a possible replacement of Shoriful) and though we are not considering him in this series, if he is fit we might pick him for the Bangladesh ‘A’ team tour of West Indies.”

Squad:

Mominul Haque (C), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Litton Kumar Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Nayeem Hasan, Taijul Islam, Syed Khaled Ahmed, Yasir Ali Chowdhury, Quazi Nurul Hasan Sohan, Musaddek Hossain, Ebadot Hossain Chowdhury, Shohidul Islam, Rezaur Rahman Raja.

( Cricbuzz)

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