“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.”
China censors ‘Tiananmen’ image of Asian Games athletes hugging
A photo of two Chinese female athletes that made an inadvertent reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre has been censored on Chinese social media.
The race numbers for Lin Yuwei and Wu Yanni form ’64’ – a common allusion to the incident which happened on June 4.
Discussions of the incident remain taboo in China, with authorities routinely scrubbing any mention of the topic from the internet.
In 1989, troops shot dead hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. It remains unclear how many people actually died that day, but human rights groups’ estimates range from several hundred to several thousand killed.
The athletes had embraced each other after a 100m hurdles race at the Asian Games in which Ms Lin won gold. She was wearing her lane number 6 next to Ms Wu’s lane number 4 in the photo.
Users had posted on Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media platforms, congratulating Ms Lin. However, posts which included the photo were replaced with grey squares. However, the photo does not appear to have been completely scrubbed off the internet, with some Chinese news articles still showing a photo of the two athletes.
China has won nearly 300 medals so far in the Asian Games, which are currently taking place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. It is due to go on until 8 October.
All-round Afif helps Bangladesh survive Malaysia scare
Afif Hossain put on an all-round show as Bangladesh beat Malaysia by two runs to confirm their semi-final fixture against India at the Asian Games. Malaysia needed five in the last over with Virandeep Singh batting on 52 off 35, but Afif gave away just two runs to keep the upset at bay.
Afif varied the pace in each of the first three balls of the final over to frustrate Virandeep before lobbing one up outside his hitting arc. Virandeep tried to break the shackles but holed out to long-on with Malaysia still needing five. Afif then nailed two yorkers to give away just two runs and end the contest.
Chasing 117, Malaysia were reduced to 18 for 3, with Afif striking twice in the fifth over. Virandeep then stitched two key partnerships, adding 34 for the fifth wicket with Vijay Unni and then 40 for the seventh with wicketkeeper-batter Ainool Hafizs, to take his side close. But Malaysia faltered in the last over.
Earlier in the day, Afif found himself in the middle with Bangladesh three down inside three overs. He struck a 14-ball 23 with two fours and two sixes and added 38 in just four overs with captain Saif Hassan. Hassan struck a steady half-century – 50 off 52 balls – on a surface that slowed down considerably after the earlier game, between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, in the day.
Pravandeep Singh, Virandeep’s elder brother, finished with two wickets for Malaysia but Bangladesh managed to get to 116, which eventually proved to be just enough.
Bangladesh 116 for 5 in 20 overs (Saif Hassan 50*, Afif Hossain 23, Shahadat Hossain 21; Pavandeep Singh 2-12) beat Malaysia 114 for 8 in 20 overs (Virandeep Singh 52, Syed Aziz 20; Afif Hossain 3-11, Ripon Mondol 3-14) by two runs
Naib, Qais knock Sri Lanka out to take Afghanistan into semi-final
Afghanistan knocked an inexperienced Sri Lanka side out of the Asian Games to book a spot in the semi-final in Hangzhou. On a slow-turner, Noor Ali Zadran struck a steady fifty before three-fors from Oais Ahmad and Gulbadin Naib dealt the final blow to Sri Lanka, who had nine debutants.
After opting to field, Sri Lanka struck with the seventh ball of the match when Nuwan Thushara cleaned up Sediqullah Atal. Noor and Mohammad Shahzad then added 54 for the second wicket but both batters struggled against left-arm spinner Nimesh Vimukthi and took their time in the middle.
After Shahzad fell to seamer Lahiru Samarakoon, Shahidullah struck some lusty blows during his 14-ball 23. But then a collapse ensued that saw Afghanistan slide from 92 for 2 to be bowled out for 116. Thushara, with his slingy action and accurate yorkers, finished with 4 for 17.
In reply, Sri Lanka raced off the blocks, with Lasith Croospulle hitting Naib for a four and a six in an 11-run second over. Even though he fell in the next over, Sri Lanka reached 59 for 3 by the end of the ninth over.
That’s when Qais came into the attack and turned the game around with a two-wicket over. Ashen Bandara fell to a googly and played on while attempting a drive. Three balls later, wicketkeeper-batter Lahiru Udara was lured into playing a heave across the line to be bowled.
Captain Sahan Arachchige showed some resistance with his 22 off 29, and later, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth kept the slim hopes alive when 15 were needed from 12 ball and then nine in the final over. But Karim Janat knocked Thushara over with the first ball of the 20th over to kick-start celebrations in the Afghan camp.
Afghanistan 116 in 18.3 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 20, Noor Ali Zadran 51, Shahidullah 23; Nuwan Thushara 4-17, Sahan Arachchige 2-26) beat Sri Lanka 108 in 19.1 overs (Sahan Arachchige 22, Qais Ahmad 3-16, Gulbadin Naib 3-28) by eight runs
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