Improving rankings, Chris Silverwood’s long term plan
by Rex Clementine
There’s a school of thought among those who follow Sri Lankan cricket that the country is not short of talent. There’s Kusal Mendis who with barely a handful of First Class games to his name dismantled Australia’s champion bowling attack comprising Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon as a 21-year-old. Then, there’s Niroshan Dickwella, who scoops Kagiso Rabada thunderbolts clocking 150kmph over the head of the wicketkeeper. The list goes on. However, the guidance the players get has often been questioned. Sri Lanka’s new Head Coach Chris Silverwood acknowledged that the country is not short of talent and his main aim is to work with players giving them confidence to be the best they can be. He put down his long term plan as improving on Sri Lanka’s ICC Rankings. Currently, the team is not covering themselves in glory ranked seventh in Tests, eighth in ODIs and ninth in T-20s.
Silverwood, a former Yorkshire fast bowler, is a respected coach in England having helped Essex to their first County Championship in 25 years. He was understudy to Trevor Bayliss when he joined England in 2019 and soon succeeded the Australian as Head Coach. Silverwood was in charge of England when Joe Root’s side won 2-0 in the two match Test series in Galle in 2021 January.Silverwood’s expertise is fast bowling and the young crop of quicks that we have will benefit immensely.Silverwood has been in Colombo for two weeks now and has been conducting training sessions.
The new coach’s first assignment will be Bangladesh where Sri Lanka will play two Test matches. Silverwood will have someone who knows the conditions in Bangladesh well in Navid Nawaz as his Assistant Coach. Navid is no stranger to SLC having had a long stint before joining Bangladesh Cricket Board. He coached Bangladesh Under-19 for the ICC Youth World Cup in South Africa two years ago.Nawaz at one point was tipped to become Head Coach of Sri Lanka as well, but there was a school of thought that the national team still needed a foreigner instead of a local and hence the appointment of Silverwood.Sri Lanka has a hectic schedule ahead of them with back to back home series against Australia and Pakistan soon after the Bangladesh tour. The nation is also set to host the Asia Cup prior to the ICC T-20 World Cup in Australia.
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, Uththara clinches bronze at 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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