Heartbreak for Sri Lanka as Kiwis win last ball thriller
New Zealand conjured up a remarkable victory for the second time in two weeks by chasing down a target of 285 runs on the final ball of the rain-shortened final day to beat Sri Lanka by two wickets in the first Test in Christchurch yesterday.
The dramatic win, which came on the back of the one-run victory over England after following on in Wellington, put the hosts 1-0 up in the two-match series and ended Sri Lanka’s hopes of playing in the World Test Championship (WTC) final.
Kane Williamson played the leading role by notching up his 27th Test century in a beautifully controlled innings of 121 not out after the first four and half hours of play at Hagley Oval had been washed out by rain.
The winning run came when the former captain and the injured Neil Wagner ran a bye, Williamson securing the victory by diving full length to get his bat down in the crease before a direct hit broke the stumps.
The Black Caps went into the final day on 28-1 needing 257 more runs for victory and after the rain finally cleared were allowed 52 overs in one extended session to achieve the task.
First-innings centurion Daryl Mitchell contributed 81 to a stand of 142 with Williamson for the fourth wicket that put victory within grasp but there were plenty of nervous moments before the win was finally secured with eight wickets down.
Sri Lanka were still chasing a win that would keep them on course for a spot in the WTC final and Prabath Jayasuriya put them on the front foot with two early wickets.
The left-arm spinner bowled Tom Latham for 25 and had Henry Nicholls caught in the deep for 20 but that only brought Williamson and Mitchell together in the middle.
Seamer Asitha Fernando (3-63) gave Sri Lanka renewed hope with yorkers to dismiss Mitchell and Tom Blundell (3) before having Michael Bracewell (10) caught at deep midwicket.
That set up the dramatic finish with New Zealand needing 15 runs from the last two overs, and local nerves intensified when skipper Tim Southee holed out in the deep and Matt Henry was run out.
Williamson kept his own nerve and clubbed a four off the fourth ball of the final over but Fernando’s last two deliveries were short and high, giving the batsmen no option but to go for an undignified scramble to secure victory.
Sri Lanka would have qualified for the WTC final if they had swept New Zealand in the two-match series.
The second Test between New Zealand and Sri Lanka starts at Wellington’s Basin Reserve on Friday.
Sri Lanka level series with big win in second ODI
Sri Lanka bounced back to beat Afghanistan by 132 runs on Sunday to square the three-match one-day series in Suriyawewa yesterday. It was Sri Lanka’s biggest win over Afghanistan in ODIs and makes amends for its disappointing performance in the first ODI on Friday, which they lost by six wickets,
Having set Afghanistan a stiff 324-run target, fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera dismissed the dangerous Rahmanulah Gurbaz cheaply for two runs to give his side an early advantage. Although Afghanistan put together two strong partnerships after that, the required run rate kept climbing and the Afghans lost their way trying to keep pace.
Opening batsman Ibrahim Zardan continued his good form, posting 54 runs while captain Hashmatullah Shahidi top scored with 57 runs, but once Sri Lanka dismissed the top order there was not much resistance from the rest of the batters.From 146 for two, Afghanistan collapsed to be bowled out for 191 runs in 42.1 overs, losing their last eight wickets for just 45 runs.
Spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Dhananjaya de Silva shared six wickets between them to seal a comprehensive win for the home side. Sri Lanka’s batting put on a show giving the team confidence ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe this month.
Afghanistan have already qualified for the World Cup and despite the heavy defeat on Sunday, will feel positive with star Rashid Khan expected to feature in the final game on Wednesday. The leg-spinner was ruled out of the first two games with a back injury.
Half-centuries by Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne helped Sri Lanka post their commanding total. While Mendis top scored with 78 runs off 75 balls with seven fours and one six, Karunaratne, who was recalled for this series to stabilize the batting, made 52 off 62 balls with seven fours. Opener Pathum Nissanka contributed 43 runs while Sadeera Samarawickrama, featuring in an ODI for the first time since 2019, made 44 off 46 balls.
There was some big hitting by the lower middle order with captain Dasun Shanaka chipping in with 23 runs while Wanindu Hasaranga finished things off in style with an unbeaten 29 off 12 balls with four fours and a six. Dhananjaya de Silva was named Man of the Match for his unbeaten 29 and three wickets.
Tharushi wins silver, Uththra clinches bronze Asian Junior Athletics Championships
By Reemus Fernando
Ratnayake Central, Walala runner Tharushi Karunaratne and Holy Cross College, Gampaha sprinter Jayeshi Uththara shared the silver and bronze medals respectively of the women’s 400 metres to give a winning start to Sri Lanka’s Asian Junior Athletics Championship campaign on day one of the event in South Korea on Sunday.
Karunaratne and Uththara reached the final as the second and third fastest from the heats held in the morning and those positions remained unchanged as they finished second and third respectively in the final.
Karunaratne clocked 53.70 seconds to finish second behind India’s Rezoana Mallick Heena who returned a time of 53.31 seconds for the gold. Uththara clocked 55.51 seconds for her bronze.
Commenting on their achievements Sri Lanka Athletics in a statement said that it was the first time in almost three decades that two Sri Lankan female athletes had won medals in a single event at the Asian Junior Championships.
The track and field governing body was referring to the gold and silver doubles of legendary Susanthika Jayasinghe and Damayanthi Dharsha who shared the gold and silver medals in the 100 metres and 200 metres with championship records at the 1994 edition held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
At the last edition held in Gifu, Japan Sri Lanka’s men’s pair of Aruna Dharshana and Pasindu Kodikara won the gold and silver medals in the men’s 400 metres. Karunaratne who is trained by veteran coach Susantha Fernando is set to compete in the women’s 800 metres final today where she will be the favourite for gold.
She returned an Asian leading time of 2:01.39 seconds at the selection trail held in March though her preparation for the event was plagued by a sickness forcing her to skip the recently held Junior National Championships. Tharushi will enter today’s race as the third fastest 800 metres runner in the world this year.
Dominant Sri Lanka claw back to level series
Sri Lanka came up with a dominant show with both bat and ball to stage a strong comeback and level the three-match series against Afghanistan on Sunday (June 4). Having lost the first ODI, the hosts staged a commendable comeback with their top four laying the platform for a 300-plus total which was then defended with ease as Afghanistan fell short by 132 runs.
Sri Lanka 323/6 in 50 overs (Kusal Mendis 78, Dimuth Karunaratne 52; Mohammad Nabi 2/52) beat Afghanistan 191 in 42.1 overs (Hashmatullah Shahidi 57, Ibrahim Zadran 54; Dhananjaya de Silva 3/39) by 132 runs
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