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History that wasn’t made in the Windies 



A look back at Sri Lanka’s first Test tour of West Indies

by Aravinthan Arunthavanathan  

March 26th marked the 13th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s first Test victory in the Caribbean. Ever since, Sri Lanka has gone on to record only one more victory during the last tour in 2018. Despite these two special wins, the most intriguing Sri Lanka- West Indies Test match overseas remains to be the second Test of Sri Lanka’s maiden tour in 1997. It’s a Test which often goes unnoticed but was special in many ways. 

When Sri Lanka set foot in the West Indies in 1997, they were the reigning ODI champs. But the eagerness to prove their mark in white flannels, resulted in an odd schedule consisting of two Tests and a solitary ODI. The late Tony Cozier would call that the equivalent of bringing down Michael Jackson to perform for an opera. 

During the first Test In Antigua Sri Lanka were in with a great chance to bat the West Indians out. With a thirty plus lead and the best of batting conditions in hand, Sri Lanka succumbed to the famous West Indies line up for a paltry 152 leaving the Windies with an easy chase. The loss by six wickets on paper did not reveal the closeness of the game. With a golden opportunity lost Sri Lanka moved to the scenic Arnos Vale in St. Vincent’s, one of the most picturesque venues in the world hosting its first Test match. 

Ravindra Pushpakumara who had been drafted in as replacement for Chaminda Vass who was injured wreaked havoc by giving the Winides their own medicine bowling fast and straight. The often erratic and colourful Pushpakumara had a great outing claiming five West Indian wickets.

Pushpakumara dealt early blows by blowing away the top-order with short pitched and full-length deliveries ably supported by Sajeeva de Silva who had the big fish Brian Lara caught and bowled leaving the opposition at five  for three. Carl Hooper’s back to the wall half-century propelled West Indies to a paltry 147 leaving Sri Lanka in the driver’s seat. 

Sri Lanka got off to a solid start propelled by Sanath Jayasuriya’s fireworks getting them to a lead of ten runs with only three wickets down at the end of the day. However tight bowling by the West Indies did not let Sanath go on his merry way and pegged back the Lankan juggernaut the following morning. This resulted in a flurry of wickets and another golden opportunity missed to seal the deal as Sri Lanka were bundled out for 222 with a lead of 75, which was inadequate given the solid start Sri Lanka had. Sri Lanka in fact had lost seven wickets for 44 runs with Hooper claiming a five wicket haul. 

Sri Lanka’s grip started to loosen as the opposing openers put on 62 almost wiping out the deficit before Pushpakumara cleaned up Sherwin Campbell to provide an opening. However, the Sri Lankan comeback was short lived as Lara recovered from a slump of form and dominated the bowling in a sign of what was in store for the future by scoring a century. With Lara back in the hut holding out to Jayasuriya at square leg off Dharmasena the lead was 197 with five wickets left. The Sri lanka resurgence was again thwarted by the West Indian pair of Ambrose and Holder who put up a fifty plus stand for the eighth wicket. Murali came to Sri Lanka’s rescue picking up five wickets and keeping the lead to a manageable 268 leaving an achievable target. Nevertheless, it was an era where even chasing 200 in the last innings was a challenge as India realized only weeks prior being bowled out for 81 chasing a mere hundred in Barbados.

The fortunes had fluctuated with the upper hand being rather handed on a platter to the opposition by both teams as opposed to being wrestled back. Nevertheless, with Sanath, Aravinda and Arjuna in good nick there was a good chance Sri Lanka were on the verge of making history posting their fourth overseas win. It would be a remarkable moment given the momentum Sri Lanka had built during the period. 

The Sri Lankan chase was dealt a severe blow as Walsh cleaned up Sanath attempting a flick which had fetched tons of runs in white ball formats. This was followed by the dismissal of Atapattu bringing Aravinda to the crease. The maestro showcased his absolute brilliance by smacking eighteen runs off Ian Bishop’s penultimate over of the day. 

With less than 200 to chase on the final day with Aravinda at the crease in prime form, Sri Lankan hopes were high. Despite the loss of Mahanama in the morning session Aravinda and Arjuna formed a solid partnership smacking the Windies attack to all parts of the ground prior to lunch deflating the morale of the West Indians. With rain intervening and killing Sri Lanka’s momentum the resumption saw them needing a mere 80 runs with seven wickets in hand. Finally, the game seemed to have been sealed by the Lankans. 

True to the pattern of events that had preceded, Walsh nailed a perfect yorker to clean up Aravinda immediately after resumption of play. He made a classy 78. Calamity struck the Sri Lankan camp as a cluster of wickets followed as had been the case with both teams during the series which saw Sri Lanka succumb to 231 for eight from a commanding 189 for three. From a position of dominance Sri Lankans were pushed against the wall hoping for divine intervention to win or at least escape unscathed. The rain gods came to Sri Lanka’s rescue immediately after Murali lobbed a short, pitched delivery to short leg and conceded Sri Lanka’s eighth wicket to the West Indies attack, who were going all out for the kill. 

In hindsight, it was an opportunity which Sri Lanka would regret missing. Still with Arjuna at the other end remaining on 72 not out there was the remotest of possibilities of pulling of a miracle, but it was a situation Sri Lanka should never have got into given the commanding positions they were in during the game. Despite the most favorable result being obtained it remains by fast the most intriguing duel between both sides which the nation did not witness due to a coverage black out. 

Sri Lanka may not have created history, but they gave the West Indians who were still a force to reckon especially at home a good fight which showed the world that Sri Lanka were not merely a white ball oriented team but had what required to fight it out at the Test level too.

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The brand of cricket we want to play is free and relaxed:  – Sangakkara



The 2008 IPL champions employed five opening pairs in the previous edition.

As many as five opening pairs were experimented with by the Rajasthan Royals last season. Ahead of their season opener against Punjab Kings, Sanju Samson, the newly-appointed captain of the franchise says that this year around, more stability can be expected from the side that chopped and changed so much to the extent of being unable to settle on a side until much later in the tournament.

“Myself and Sanga will try to give the best combination,” said Samson on Sunday (April 11). “From my point of view, it’s crucial to give an individual or a pair of opening partners enough time in the tournament. So, I think a bit of stability will be seen in this tournament. The rest it depends on how we go.”

Much has been debated about the batting order. Whilst Jos Buttler’s record at the top speaks for itself, Ben Stokes has been their go-to man for the opening slot. With Robin Uthappa gone this year, will they persist with Stokes at the top with Yashasvi Jaiswal, or will they promote Buttler up to a position he loves? Without committing too much either way about their preferred sequence, Kumar Sangakkara, the director of cricket at the Royals said the combination will be a decision they will undertake with the “full buying of the players involved”.

“We look to finalise (combinations) later on today before we go for training and we want we want to keep our options open,” said Sangakkara. “The most important thing is that players are communicated to clearly as to what their roles are and get them to commit to it.

“What we planned to do is get a balanced side, everyone available, a full squad, try and have a consistent philosophy of cricket. The brand of cricket that we want to play is quite free and relaxed. Also in terms of preparing well and executing well… to get everyone prepared to think and to be problem-solvers. To think for themselves. It helps Sanju a lot on the field when people are thinking for themselves and know what’s going on. It builds a lot of trust within the group as well. Everyone has individual strengths that they bring into the side which are highly valued. We try and build that into a good unit where everyone knows what they’re doing, what their value is and what their roles are. Then we’ll go and try to play some good cricket.”

An overhaul in how the Royals went about their business was needed, having had finished last in 2020. Rajasthan just couldn’t crack the code of winning matches consistently and a lot of it had to do with the lack of the team striking together. There were moments of brilliance before they fell back.

“We have a lot of match-winners who are absolutely wonderful players…in Sanju Samson, Rahul Tewatia, our fast bowlers. The key is to have different people who do something a little bit special on the day and the point of a great team performance is to have your regular players performing consistently and once in a while. Someone stepping in to do a little bit extra. If it’s a different player most of the time and not the same person, it’s even better.”

Another area of concern last year was the lack of support from the contingent of pace bowlers around Jofra Archer, who was named MVP. Archer missing the first few games will be a big blow for Rajasthan. Sangakkara, however, threw his support behind the inexperienced Indian bowlers in their squad to come good.

“I think inexperience sometimes can work for you and against. Inexperience would probably mean that the opposition has not really seen them either, but fast bowling, specially in the IPL is not an easy task and we saw that yesterday as well. Sometimes the wickets are really good for batting or most of the wickets are, so you have to be quite skillful. So I’m pretty confident that our young fast bowlers will step up. We’ve had Kartik Tyagi who did very well last season in patches in various phases of the game and this year we have a new additions in Kuldip Yadav and Chetan Sakariya. So I think it’s about you know keeping them again focused on what their job is really and get them trained and prepared to execute all the different deliveries and scenarios and match plans for the opposition. But at the same time concentrate in giving them confidence of their own strengths.”

When asked if despite all his years in the game, the highs and lows, he feels pressure of expectations in his new role, Sangakkara didn’t mince his words.

“I think there are always expectations and pressure. You can’t get away from that and you got to accept it. And the only way you deal with it is really, you know ticking off the boxes that you want in terms of training, in terms of preparation, getting combinations right. Get the players involved take ownership of not their own roles, but also the team plans and that makes things a lot easier. You can’t guarantee what will happen on the day of a match, but what you can guarantee is that you can go out and control what you control. Take a great attitude out, and Sanju always talks about playing with passion and with heart. I think that’s a very important point as well. That can really lift a team to do some special things out there when the pressure is on.

“So for me personally, know my job is to get everyone ready and once they get on the field my job is actually secondary. It’s about them going out there and expressing themselves playing really good smart cricket. But we wait and see. I think everyone’s really looking forward to starting the tournament,” he added.



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Sheran’s back to back half centuries help Joes



Under-19 Cricket

Back to back half centuries by Sheran Fonseka stood in good stead for St. Joseph’s as they forced a draw to their First XI cricket encounter against S. Thomas’ at Darley Road on Monday. Thus they retained the Gilmore Jayasuriya Trophy which they won under the captaincy of Sameera Weerasinghe in 2009.

Commencing from 344 for nine overnight, the Thomians declared their innings after Yasiru Rodrigo completed his century, an unbeaten 103 runs.

It was Rodrigo’s day as he followed up his century with a three wicket haul to trouble the home team.

The Joes lost wickets at regular intervals but Fonseka’s contribution helped them post 176 for nine wickets declared. Soon they were asked to follow on but the open batsmen put up a healthy stand to prevent a repetition of first innings disappointments.

Fonseka scored an unbeaten 57 runs and was involved in a first wicket stand of 123 runs with Sadeesh Jayawardena who scored 62.

Meanwhile the match between Mahanama and St. Anne’s ended in a draw at Kurunegala after the home team posted 164 for nine wickets in reply to visitors’ 169 runs.

Match Results

S. Thomas’ V St. Joseph’s at

Darley Road

S. Thomas’ 344 for 9 overnight 350 for 9 decl. in 103 overs (Anuk Palihawadena 54, Ryan Fernando 71, Thenuka Liyanage 36, Yasiru Rodrigo 103 n.o., Gunaratnam Caniston 53; Dunith Wellalage 3/111, Shenuka de Silva 2/13)

St. Joseph’s 176 for 9 decl. in 51 overs (Sheran Fonseka 92, Mithira Thenura 20; Yasiru Rodrigo 3/48, Gunaratnam Caniston 3/42, Anuk Palihawadena 2/48) and 127 for 1 in 31 overs (Sadeesh Jayawardena 62, Sheran Fonseka 57n.o.)

Mahanama V St. Anne’s at Kurunegala

Mahanama 169 all out in 71.2 overs (Sadishan Chamodya 22, Pavan Rathnayake 81, Sachira Weliwatta 23; Pasindu Tennakoon 4/51, Manaan Muzammil 2/49, Kalindu Wijesinghe 2/28)

St. Anne’s 79 for 1 overnight 164 for 9 in 69 overs (Dilhara Deshabandu 39, Kavindu Ekanayake 43, Pivithu Fernando 22, Shevan Nimantha 20; Devindu Kekirideniya 4/57 ) (RF)

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Dahamdi, Esha win Round Robin stage



Sri Lanka Girls U-14 Chess Grand Prix 2021

Sanudula Dahamdi of Musaeus College and Esha Pallie of Visakha Vidyalaya were the winners of Group ‘X’ and ‘Y’ respectively at the end of the Round Robin stage of the Sri Lanka Youth Girls’ (Under-14) Chess Grand Prix 2021

Dahamdi was outstanding right throughout as she remained unbeaten to score nine points in nine games. Pallie won Group ‘Y’ with a score of 7 ½ points.

Dahamdi beat L.H.M.G.S. Somarathne, Nemindi Linaya Ramanayake and Sasmi Sithumsa in the second session to remain unbeaten.

Esha had a tough competition in last three rounds with a win against Piyumi Uthpala Amarathunga and a draw against Onwli Vithanawasam. She lost her encounter Tenuli Dahamna Rathnayake.

Nemindi Linaya Ramanayake( Central College, Veyangoda), Tharuli Vihansa Ranganath(Yoshida International School) and Oshini Devindya Gunawardhana (Pushpadana High School) scored 5.5, 5.0 and 5.0 respectively and managed to win second, third and fourth places in Group ‘X’ respectively by selecting to the quarter finals.

Oneli Vithanawasam (Lyceum International, Wattala), Desandhi Dhihansa Gamage (Sirimavo Bandaranayake BV) and Tenuli Dhahamna Rathnayake (Gothami Balika Vidyalaya) were placed second, third and fourth in Group ‘Y’.

Esha Pallie, Oneli Vithanawasam, Desandhi Gamage and Dhahamna Rathnayake are now in the quarter-finals.

The top four players in Group ‘X’ and ‘Y’ will play a knocked out rounds.

The Youth Girls Chess Grand Prix 2021 which commenced on April 2 with 18 leading Girls Under 14 Chess players will culminate on April 16.

Quarter Finals

A – Q/F 1 – X winner V Y 4th – Dahamdi V Tenuli

B – Q/F 2 – Y Winner V X 4th – Esha Pallie V Oshini

C – Q/F 3 – X Runner Up V Y 3rd – Nemindi V Desandi

D – Q/F 4 – Y Runner Up V X 3rd – Oneli V Tharuli

The Chess Federation of Sri Lanka is offering Rs. 55,000/= as cash awards for the winners.

The event is held according to the strict health guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health and The Medical Unit of Ministry of Sports.

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