“He is a very talented cricketer; he’s got great hands and superb hitting ability. His fielding, however, is not international standards. His fitness levels too are not at required standards.”
Coach wants Bhanuka to give up chocolates
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka Head Coach Mickey Arthur comes out as a friendly, jovial and nice guy but when it comes to work ethic, he does not tolerate anything below par. He is famous for dropping of all players Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson during the tour of India in 2013 for breach of discipline. As a result, cricket’s lexicon had a new term – ‘Homework gate’. Arthur, a stern advocate of fitness, during his previous stint with Pakistan axed Umar Akmal in 2017 for poor fitness levels. A team known as not the fittest in world cricket improved their standards remarkably and went onto win the Champions Trophy in England beating arch-rivals India in the final.
Arthur’s fitness regime in Sri Lanka has resulted in a few players getting axed for failing fitness tests such as Dilruwan Perera, Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa. It has upset a few people and after being overlooked for the tours of West Indies and United Kingdom, Rajapaksa expressed his disappointment in a YouTube interview with journalist Danushka Aravinda.
“When you run on the gym or work out on the gym, I don’t think you can improve your performance… For 12 years I have not suffered a major injury or broken down during a game. I have been given step motherly treatment. The board sorts out my visa and everything to go on tours, but in the last moment I am told that I can not make the tour because my skin folds are high,” Rajapaksa had said.
“When I was dropped, the Head Coach told me that I was running with the gloves in hands and that I didn’t have commitment for running between the wickets,” Rajapaksa had added.
asked Arthur for a comment. “First of all, I want this on record. I don’t want discuss players on public forum. But when a player has a one-sided interview, I feel I need to respond. Bhanuka is a comfort zone player. In Sri Lanka we cannot afford that. His fitness levels are not there where it has to be,” Arthur said.
“He is a very talented cricketer; he’s got great hands and superb hitting ability. His fielding, however, is not international standards. His fitness levels too are not at required standards. We are building a culture to push the players to be the best they can be. We want our best players on the field. He would be in our T20 squad. But at the moment his skin folds have gone up and he’s got to work on it,” Arthur explained.
“Bhanuka has got to make some commitments and he’s got to look after his diet. His excuse has been that he loves chocolates. If you want to be one of the finest cricketers, then you have got to make some sacrifices. We had a diet plan for him and we expected him to look after himself but his skin folds have gone up again.”
Asked on his reservations about Rajapaksa having gloves in his hands while running between the wickets, Arthur was unimpressed with the sloppy attitude. “I was upset that he was running with gloves in hand. It highlights the fact that he didn’t push the first run hard. It was just sloppy cricket and I don’t like sloppy cricketers. That shows me his attitude as he jogs the first run. If someone has scored 120 in 40 degrees heat, I can understand that. But I want our players to get out of their comfort zones.”
“Bhanuka failed the skin folds test and went home without doing the rest of the tests. Just shows me the attitude and the short cuts he is looking to take.
“Kusal Janith has lost 15 percent of his skinfolds. In that humidity of Dhaka, the other day, he batted for 42 overs and scored a match winning hundred. If he is not at the best standards, he gives it away at 60 odd. Fitness gives you the base to score those runs and be electric on the field.”
Dates announced for India’s tour of Sri Lanka
by Rex Clementine
India will send a second string team to Sri Lanka later this month for a six-match bilateral series. The teams will be involved in three ODIs and three T-20 Internationals with all games taking place in a bio-secure bubble at RPS. It is unlikely that spectators will be accommodated for the series due to current rising numbers of COVID cases. RPS underwent extensive renovation recently and hasn’t hosted a game in two years.
India have made tremendous progress in the game in the last ten years that they are able to send their main team to England, that too an extended squad and then send a second string team that looks not too bad on paper to Sri Lanka. IPL has opened up a whole lot of new opportunities for India.
India must be confident of winning in Sri Lanka even with a second string side. For example, their main team whitewashed Sri Lanka 5-0 in ODIs when they toured here in 2017 and the following year at the Nidahas Trophy, they sent a second string team and won the competition where Sri Lanka even failed to make it to the finals.
Sri Lanka’s players or SLC will not be complaining. Tours by India will result in huge profits for SLC. Board of Control for Cricket in India has been extremely generous in helping out Sri Lanka coming in for hastily arranged series previously to bail out SLC that was feeling the pinch. This tour, however, was part of the Future Tour Programme.
In the three match ODI series, 30 points will be up for grabs in the ICC World Cup qualifiers and pitted against a weaker Indian team, Sri Lanka will be fancying their chances to win and boost their opportunities of automatic qualification for the sport’s showpiece event. At the moment Sri Lanka are languishing last at 13th position.
India will arrive on the 28th of June and after mandatory quarantine they will be allowed to train. The ODIs will be played on the 13th, 16th and 18th of July followed by the T-20s on the 21st, 23rd and 25th of July.
– 13th July – RPS – 2.30pm
– 16th July – RPS – 2.30pm
– 18th July – RPS – 2.30pm
– 21st July – RPS – 7.00pm
– 23rd July – RPS – 7.00pm
– 25th July – RPS – 7.00pm
Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (Wicket-keeper), Sanju Samson (Wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Vice-captain), Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Chetan Sakariya
Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh.
Ranindu draws with grandmaster, settles for third place
Asian Zonal Hybrid Chess Championship 2021
National Champion Ranindu Dilshan Liyanage fought hard to secure a draw against grandmaster Enamul Hussain on the final day as he settled for the third position of the Asian Zonal Hybrid Chess Championship 2021.
Starting with the Sicilian Defense the grandmaster sacrificed a pawn and got a strong knight against Ranindu’s bad bishop early in the game. He used all tricks available to earn points as a win would have earned him the gold medal and the possibility to play in the Chess World Cup 2021. But Ranindu had other ideas as the Anandian achieved the third spot winning six points from nine games.
Bangladesh grandmaster Ziaur Rahman (2434) also secured a draw in a hard fought game against 11-year-old, Manon Reja Neer who is also from Bangladesh and settled for eight points. Bangladeshi grandmaster Enamul Hussain needed a full point to tie with the leader but finally settled for the second position as he drew with Ranindu. He had 7 ½ points.
Grandmaster Ziaur won the gold medal and the ticket to the FIDE Chess World Cup. A total of US$ 3,000.00 is distributed among the winners. While the champion receives US$ 1,000.00, the runners up wins US$ 700.00. Ranindu is entitled for US$ 500.00 as he was placed third.
FIDE master Susal de Silva of Nalanda College met his colleague A.A.C.B. Amarasinghe of SJP Chess Club and the game ended in favour of Amarasinghe. Amarasinghe scored six points out of nine games. There were five other players who had scored six points each but he was placed eighth according to the tie breakers. Susal had a total of five points after nine games. Amarasinghe too is entitled for US$ 100.00.
The Asian Zonal Chess Championship 2021, the preliminary event for the FIDE World Chess Cup 2021 for the South Asian region started on June 1 and was held on the Tornelo platform. A total of 39 players from South Asian countries of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka participated in the event. India is considered a single zone by FIDE and has a direct entry to the FIDE World Cup.
The Bangladesh Chess Federation conducted the event from Dhaka and the Sri Lankan players competed from the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka headquarters, Gangodawila, Nugegoda. The event which concluded on Wednesday was conducted according to the Swiss System of nine rounds.
Yupun set to climb up Road to Olympic rankings
Yupun Abeykoon would be delighted to have placed fourth against a solid field that included American veteran Mike Rodgers and Ivorian Arthur Cissé.
by Reemus Fernando
Sri Lanka’s top ranked sprinter Yupun Abeykoon did well to finish fourth at the Rome Diamond League meeting on Thursday. Brushing shoulders against some of the world’s fastest sprinters, the national record holder clocked 10.16 seconds.
The fourth place finish will augur well for the sprinter as he aspires to earn a Tokyo Olympic berth. The 26-year-old is currently placed 65th in the Road to Olympics rankings and needs to secure a spot within the first 56 positions as only 56 athletes are selected for Tokyo Olympic 100 metres. To earn a direct qualification Abeykoon has to clock 10.05 seconds.
With Diamond League competitions guarantying more points, analysts believe that Abeykoon would secure a better position in the Road to Olympic rankings when the World Athletics update the rankings.
To secure the fourth place Abeykoon edged out some leading athletes who are placed higher in the Road to Olympic rankings.
He would be delighted to have placed fourth against a solid field that included American veteran Mike Rodgers and Ivorian Arthur Cissé.
US World Relay champion Michael Rodgers who is ranked 15th in the Road to Olympic rankings was placed fifth in a time of 10.25 seconds.
South African Akani Simbine clocked 10.08 seconds to win while Great Britain’s Chijindu Ujah finished second in a time of 10.10 seconds. Emmanuel Matadi was placed third in 10.16 seconds.
None of Sri Lanka’s male athletes have reached qualifying standards for the Tokyo Olympics so far while Nilani Ratnayake is the only Sri Lankan athlete who is within the required ranking positions to book a berth. The steeplechase athlete is currently ranked 37th in the Road to Olympics rankings.
Rio Olympic participant Sumeda Ranasinghe is also closer to an Olympic berth in the men’s category. The javelin thrower is currently ranked 43rd in the list. High jumper Ushan Thivanka who has produced a superb 2.30 metres is ranked 51st in the list.
At the Rome Diamond League on Thursday one of the highlights of the night was Dutch long-distance star Sifan Hassan’s performance in the women’s 1 500m. The 10,000 metres specialist showed her prowess in the 1,500 metres, beating Olympic 1 500m champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya in a new meeting record of 3:53.63. It was also a world lead. Kipyegon was placed second in a personal best of 3:53.91.
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