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Head’s blistering century buries feeble England

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Hackneyed though the phrase is, this truly was a day to forget for Joe Root and Co. As they dragged themselves off the Gabba amid scenes of general delirium, the colour had literally and metaphorically drained off their faces by a Travis Head century that had pushed them so far behind in the game that they were but a tiny speck in the hosts’ rear-view. For the record, Australia stretched their lead to 196 with Head and two other wickets still available.

Head’s maiden Ashes century, his third in Test cricket, was achieved off 85 balls. It followed a more serene imposition of reality – a 156-run stand for the second wicket between David Warner (94) and Marnus Labuschagne (74) and a sudden collapse. His 112* off 95 was a counter-attack borne out of a period of brief England renaissance that saw the visitors claim 4 for 29 either side of the Tea interval to spark thoughts of a comeback that had seemed unlikely since the day began.

For until then the order was mightily maintained. When Australia’s openers had come out, so had the sun. The curdled cream of England’s batting line-up looked on enviously while taking their positions in the field. There was, though, still the patented Gabba bounce and seam movement to work with.

Robinson struck an early blow by dismissing Marcus Harris using angle across the left-hander to wreak havoc and forcing the opener to nick a ball from off-stump for a sharp catch at third slip from Dawid Malan. Hope, however, faded quickly enough when Warner was reprieved for the first of three times by Ben Stokes’ foot fault. The inswinger had breached the opener’s defence and hit the off-stump via the thigh pad. It was a portent of the things to come.

Warner, then on 17, began growing into his innings. His partner, Labuschagne too did the same after earning a mini-reprieve himself when a genuine edge off Chris Woakes fell just short of Joe Root at first slip, who’d stationed himself a bit too deep.

A wicket denied, Stokes produced a loose second spell, giving away 15 from two overs and forced Root’s hands into bringing on the lone spinner, Jack Leach into the attack. The pressure valve was suddenly released with both batters bloody-mindedly intent on not letting the left-arm spinner settle. After giving away just 1 run from his first over, Leach was taken for 30 from his next two with Warner hitting him over his head for a pair of sixes. Labuschagne added one of his own and got to his half-century before the Lunch break.

Warner got to his 50 early in the second session but not before earning a second reprieve when Rory Burns put down a straightforward catch at second slip. Robinson was the unlucky bowler. Warner offered another chance when on 60 when he overbalanced after flicking a ball and slipped, losing possession of his bat. But forward short leg fielder Haseeb Hameed couldn’t hit the stumps from close range.

At the other end, Labuschagne was at his fluent best on home soil before he was dismissed against the run of play to Leach, who after being launched over his head for another six bowled a rank half-tracker but was mysteriously cut straight to point. It paved the way for England’s comeback as Mark Wood returned for another of his short bursts to dismiss Steve Smith before Robinson took two in two straight after Tea. Warner was deceived by a slower one to fall six short of his century while Cameron Green shouldered arms to an inswinger and lost his off-stump.

Australia were ahead by only 48 then and here was a chance for a famous England fightback. But Head, reinstated at No.5 ahead of this Test, was in no mood to relinquish his side’s control. In the company of debutant Alex Carey, he led a thrilling counter-attack, the pair adding 41 runs as Root struggled to rotate his bowlers with Leach (11-0-95-1) copping punishment and Stokes carrying a niggle. The all-rounder volunteered to bowl with a shortened run-up but was dispatched for three fours in an over and the pressure England had built dissipated.

Head sparkled with a series of drives as a beaming sun taunted the visitors for their inability to survive long enough to benefit these conditions. Wood kept coming back for bursts without much success while Robinson himself could manage just one over in his next spell before returning to the dressing room to tend to his aching body. That meant Root had to bring himself on in a bid to get to the second new ball as quickly as he could. Quick on the uptake, Head kept the scoring rate, adding 70 with Pat Cummins off just 69 balls, with the captain scoring 12 off 27 in that stand. In all, Head hit 13 fours and two sixes and got his second fifty off just 34 balls before letting out a guttural roar as meek England faded away behind the noisemaker of the day.

Brief scores:

Australia

343/7 (Travis Head 112*, David Warner 94, Marnus Labuschagne 74; Ollie Robinson 3-48) lead England 147 by 196 runs.

(Cricbuzz)



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Dialog powers SLAF ‘Commander’s Cup 2022’ golf tournament

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The Sri Lanka Air Force will commence its sports program for the new year with the prestigious ‘Commanders Cup 2022’ golf tournament powered by Dialog Enterprises.

The 9th edition of the Commander’s Cup golf tournament will take off at the picturesque Eagle golf links at China Bay on the 22nd of January with the participation of over 100 local and foreign golfers. The 18-hole course offers nearly seven kilometers of challenging rounds of golf for a par of 72. (Competitors will have the opportunity to play a practice round on the 21st).

In addition to the ‘Commander’s Cup’  tournament male and female golfers presently serving in the tri-forces will vie for the Eagle’s Challenge Trophy.

The awards ceremony will take place on the 22nd evening.

At a media briefing held at the SLAF headquarters to announce the tournament,  Group Chief Officer of Dialog Enterprises Navin Peiris said that Dialog was honoured to partner Sri Lanka Air Force to make the prestigious Commander’s cup golf tournament a success. He added that the tournament brings together the top ranking players and provides players from the tri-forces to hone their skills.”Throughout the past year Dialog Enterprises has maintained a close association with the sport of golf in Sri Lanka by sponsoring golf clubs, tournaments,  golf development clinics for children, supporting leading golfers at national and international level and uplifting the livelihood of communities connected to the sport,” he said

Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana and Group Chief Officer of Dialog Enterprises Navin Peiris unveiled the ‘Commander’s Cup’ after which Pieris handed over the sponsorship check to the Air Force Commander.

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Sakuna, Dunith guide Sri Lanka to hard-fought victory 

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ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup

Skipper Dunith Wellalage and middle order batsman Sakuna Liyanage played vital roles as Sri Lanka Under 19s registered a 40 run victory over Scotland in their opening match of the ICC Under 19 World Cup in Georgetown on Friday.

Wellalage’s canny left-arm spin saw him rack up formidable figures of five for 27 from nine overs as Scotland were unable to ever get going in pursuit of their 219 target.

Liyanage was the hero with the bat, striking a majestic run-a-ball 85 to haul his side up to a total that left the game intriguingly poised at the halfway mark.

Raveen de Silva (30) delivered some important runs from the tail while contributions from top order batters Chamindu Wickramasinghe (28) and Sadisha Rajapaksa (24) left Charlie Peet’s Scots with considerable work to do.

Sean Fischer-Keogh (3-56), Jack Jarvis and Oliver Davidson – two wickets apiece – starred with the ball but underdogs Scotland were unable to mount a viable attempt with the bat as Sri Lanka’s spinners turned the screw.

Spearheaded by Wellalage’s brilliance, the 2000 runners-up suffocated the Scots as Shevon Daniel (2-16), Matheesha Pathirana and Wanuja Sahan also took important wickets.

Only middle-order batter Jarvis, who notched 55 off 61 balls after arriving at the crease with scoreboard pressure intensifying, scored over 20 for Scotland after the top four failed to fire in the face of some accurate Sri Lankan bowling.

A flurry of late wickets saw Scotland eventually dismissed with eight balls of the innings remaining, 40 runs short of Sri Lanka who will look to build valuable momentum ahead of their mouth-watering Monday meeting with fellow Friday winners Australia.

Australia delivered a dominant early statement of intent as the hotly-anticipated ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup kicked off on Friday.

The three-time champions breezed past West Indies by six wickets to get their tournament off to a flyer and inflict an early blow on the hosts in Guyana.

Cooper Connolly’s side required just 40.1 overs to take all ten West Indian wickets and spearheaded by opener Teague Wyllie, chased down their target of 170 to win with ease.

West Indies were punished for a below-par batting performance as Australia cruised to a comfortable triumph at Providence.

After Ackeem Auguste’s side had been bowled out for just 169 – with almost ten full overs to spare – Wyllie’s polished 86 not out helped Australia complete the most impressive display of the day and win within 45 overs.

Australia’s seamers had caused havoc with the new ball as opening bowlers Tom Whitney – three for 20 – and William Salzmann – one for 19 – reduced the hosts to 12 for three after 5.1 overs. Skipper Auguste’s defiant 57, bolstered by wicket-keeper Rivaldo Clarke’s 37, propelled them to a fourth wicket partnership of 95 but wickets at regular intervals after Clarke’s dismissal proved the West Indians’ downfall.

Australian captain Connolly and off-spinner Nivethan Radhakrishna took three wickets apiece as West Indies, winners of the ICC U19 Men’s CWC in 2016, were unable to muster a match-winning total.

And that inability was ruthlessly capitalised on by the Australians, who overcame the early dismissals of top order batters Corey Miller and Isaac Higgins to power to a straightforward victory.

Wyllie’s impressive innings was assisted by Radhakrishnan’s 31 and Connolly’s 23 as Australia, crowned champions back in 1988, 2002 and 2010, got their tournament off to the perfect start in the Caribbean.

Sri Lanka U19 beat Scotland

Brief Scores:

Sri Lanka U19

218 all out in 45.2 overs (Chamindu Wickramasinghe 28, Sadeesha Rajapaksa 24, Sakuna Liyanage 85, Raveen de Silva 30; Sean Fischer-Keogh 3/56, Jack Jarvis 2/27, Oliver Davidson 2/50) 

Scotland U19

178 all out in 48.4 overs (Jack Jarvis 55; Dunith Wellalage 5/27, Shevon Daniel 2/16) 

Australia U19 beat West Indies

Brief Scores:

West Indies U19

169 all out in 40.1 overs (Rivaldo Clarke 37, Ackeem Auguste 57, McKenny Clarke 29; Tom Whitney 3/20, Nivethan Radhakrishnan 3/48, Cooper Connolly 3/17) 

Australia U19

170 for 4 in 44.5 overs (Teague Wyllie 86n.o., Cooper Connolly 23, Nivethan Radhakrishnan 31)  

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Chandimal and Asalanka star in thrilling Sri Lankan win

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Rex Clementine at Pallekele

Having been given a fresh life in white ball cricket, former captain Dinesh Chandimal grabbed the opportunity with both hands posting a match winning 75 to help Sri Lanka to a thrilling five wicket win over Zimbabwe at Pallekele last night.

Set a daunting target of 297, the hosts got home with nine deliveries to spare as Charith Asalanka and Chandimal starred sharing a 129 run stand for the fourth wicket to help Sri Lanka go 1-0 up in the three match series. It’s now the highest successful run chase at Pallekele improving on Sri Lanka’s 288 for eight against Pakistan in 2015.

Çhandimal was not part of the ODI squad but was a late replacement as a COVID scare forced the selectors to withdraw several players.

Pathum Nissanka had batted superbly for his less than run a ball 75 but with his dismissal Sri Lanka were down to 147 for three in the 25th over. With the hosts not having much batting depth, the fourth wicket pair of Chandimal and Asalanka had to rise to the occasion and they did it so well.

Going into the last ten overs, Sri Lanka needed a run a ball and without taking any undue risks Chandimal and Asalanka finished off the job. When the partnership was eventually broken, Sri Lanka needed 21 runs.

The fourth wicket stand was worth 129 and came off 127 deliveries as Sri Lanka started off the new year with a win.

Earlier, the experienced Sean Williams was the mainstay of Zimbabwe innings hitting his fifth ODI century and in the process he became the seventh Zimbabwean to score 4000 runs. He is the fourth fastest Zimbabwean to the milestone behind the Flower brothers and Brendan Taylor.

Williams  half-century came in 52 balls and he required only 34 more deliveries to complete his hundred. His knock contained nine fours and two sixes.

Williams  knock followed after a good partnership by the openers. Regis Chakabva was dropped on two by Charith Asalanka at slip off Nuwan Pradeep and he went onto post his third half-century.  Chakabva made 72 and shared a 80 run stand for the first wicket with Takudzwanashe Kaitano, who was on debut.

Sri Lanka were sloppy with their fielding putting down two straight forward chances and their over rate too was well below par taking 20 minutes more time than the stipulated time limit.

The hosts handed ODI debut to Chamika Gunasekara but after sending one over, the 22-year-old quick returned to the pavilion with a left hamstring strain and never returned.

At 248 for four with six overs remaining, Zimbabwe were threatening to post a total beyond 300 but Sri Lanka pulled things back as there was a flurry of wickets.

Chamika Karunaratne was the pick of the bowlers finishing with three for 69. He picked up two wickets in the last over of the innings and his figures were spoilt as last man Richard Ngarava smashed a six and a four off the last two deliveries of the over.

SLC had decided to allow half of the capacity crowd and close to 10,000 supporters turned up.

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