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India head into ICC Men’s T20 World Cup with high hopes of claiming second title 

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India head into the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, with high hopes of ending their 15-year drought and claiming their second title thanks to a side packed with talent with both bat and ball.   They’ll be looking to reach the semi-finals for the fourth time at their eighth appearance at an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup before powering on to victory in Australia.  But do India have what it takes to claim their second crown? We take a look at them in focus.

2022 Prospects  

There is only one aim for India in World Cups, to win, and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 is no different.  Failure to qualify for the semi-finals at the 2021 edition, including a ten-wicket defeat to rivals Pakistan, still stings and serves as motivation to go at least one better this time around – not that any more will be needed.

They face Bangladesh, South Africa, and Pakistan in Group 2 of the Super 12, alongside Netherlands and the winner from Group B from the First Round. Much will likely be decided by the opening match, where India play Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground today.

A win there would at once banish the demons of 12 months ago and produce plenty of momentum for Rohit Sharma’s men.  Should they get in their stride, they will be a formidable force for any team as they look to clinch their first title since the inaugural edition in 2007.

T20 World Cup History  

India’s T20 World Cup history has been one of frustration since claiming the first-ever title in 2007.  Irfan Pathan was the hero 15 years ago, as he took three for 16 as India edged Pakistan by five runs in Johannesburg.  It was a crown that was hard-earned, with wins over England and South Africa in the group stage setting up a semi-final with Australia, where Yuvraj Singh hit 70 off 30 to power India through to the final.

But that was as good as it would get for India, with a Super 8s exit in the next three World Cups.  Yet India have been edging closer in more recent editions, finishing as runners-up to Sri Lanka in 2014 before a semi-final defeat in 2016 to West Indies.  A Super 12s exit in 2021 denied them a third consecutive semi-final appearance, and they will be raring to put that right this time around.

Current Form 

 There are very few nations whose cricketers play as much T20 cricket as India thanks to the success of the IPL and depth of homegrown talent at its disposal.  And while some sides have played little white-ball cricket in recent months, India have got a number of series under their belts to make sure they are in the best possible form heading to Australia.

A tour of England in July saw an impressive 2-1 series victory, including a comprehensive 50-run victory over the hosts in Southampton before following that up with a 49-run win in Birmingham.  A 4-1 series win over West Indies then came a few weeks later before a 2-1 home series win over Australia kept up the side’s good form heading into the World Cup. Defeat by four wickets in the opening match was responded to with consecutive six-wicket victories as Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav starred with the bat for the hosts.  Another home series victory came against South Africa, this time KL Rahul the standout, before a warm-up series with hosts Australia seeing the tourists win by six runs in the first match.

Best Batters  

India have a wealth of options with the bat, the task will be to get selection right and ensure those trusted perform at the crease.  Captain Rohit will almost certainly open alongside Rahul, where they will be one of the most fearsome partnerships should they put together lengthy stands.

Should they fall, all eyes will be on the talismanic Kohli at number three. One of the best batters in the world on his day, India will be hoping he will be firing on all cylinders in Australia. And at number four, India have the world number two men’s T20 batter, Yadav.   He has more than 1,000 runs in 32 T20I innings and showed everyone just how good he can be with a knock of 117 off 55 balls against England this summer.  Should India require it, the middle order is brimming with hard-hitters such as Hardik Pandya, wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant, and all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin to power them to a big total.

Best Bowlers  

The injury of star bowler Jasprit Bumrah is a blow, but they will take solace in having the outstanding Bhuvneshwar Kumar to lead the bowling attack.  Bhuvneshwar is one of the most electric pace bowlers on his day, with the ability to swing the ball both ways a potentially key skill Down Under.

He will be joined by 23-year-old Arshdeep Singh, who will be hoping to announce himself on the international stage with his death bowling.  Bringing the spin will be Yuzvendra Chahal, who took the most wickets in the IPL this year, plus Axar Patel and Ashwin, arguably one of the world’s best all-rounders, giving India a wide range of options with ball in hand.

(ICC)



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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My best knock for Sri Lanka – Asalanka

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By Rex Clementine

If you had no idea why Roy Dias identified Charith Asalanka as a Test captain in the waiting some seven years ago, there was proof for his claims at Pallekele on Wednesday as the diminutive left-hander from Elpitiya pulled off a stunning run chase against Afghanistan.Sri Lanka chased down a target of 314 in the last over with Asalanka finishing things off in style with a pulled six. What’s so special with the win is that it is Sri Lanka’s highest successful run chase ever at home.

“I was struggling with cramps. The heat was too much in the afternoon.

Once Dunith came in, I told him not to do too much running and target the gaps. There was a good partnership with Dasun too before that and that helped us to get back into the game,” Asalanka noted.

Most players when they get into the Sri Lankan cricket set up they get themselves tattooed and buy fancy cars and luxury apartments. Asalanka has remained grounded and he is very much close to his roots at Elpitiya.

In fact, he married his childhood sweetheart, whom he fell in love with at the age of 15. The pair met at the school bus when Asalanka was playing under-17 cricket and despite money and fame the captain in waiting hasn’t forgotten his past. Asalanka took a break middle of the series to get married on the 28th of November, the day of their tenth anniversary of falling in love. However, there was no honeymoon as Asalanka had to return to Pallekele for the rest of the series.

His wife is an English teacher and that gives us hope that press conferences are going to be interesting again although the good old days of Sanga will never come.Asalanka received a scholarship to Richmond College after passing the Grade Five scholarship and he is known as a sharp thinker of the game.

“First game the ball swung a lot. It was a grassy pitch. We knew this wicket was not going to do much for the bowlers. The main thing we wanted was to bat 50 overs. Everyone contributed from top to the lower middle order, and it was great to watch.”

Sri Lanka have a settled top order when it comes to white ball cricket and the middle order could be built on Asalanka who can accelerate and rebuild an innings. “Dasun is the one who told me that I’d be batting at number five and to feel comfortable. I was going to get the long rope. I had never batted at number five before that and glad I have cemented my place now.”

“This is my best innings in international cricket. Dunith Wellalage was outstanding as well. Afghanistan have a very experienced side. They have lot of players who are involved in league cricket. Dunith showed lot of maturity.”

“We had identified that Rashid Khan was their key players. We didn’t want to take risks against him. We got out for some good balls. We made sure that we didn’t give wickets to him, and it got easier to score runs.

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Richmond, Trinity clash for Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ cricket title  

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by Reemus Fernando  

The stage is set for a thrilling climax when unbeaten Richmond meet formidable Trinity in the final of the Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ cricket tournament at the Thurstan College ground today.

There are two factors indicating to a thrilling climax. Both teams know what it takes to win a championship title as they have players who have featured in finals before. It was not long ago that a few players in the Trinity team guided their Under 17 team to joint champions title of the Division I cricket tournament of that age category. The team from Galle have in their ranks a number of players who had to be content with the runner up position after reaching the final of this tournament during the last season.

For the final, Trinity are likely to stick to the same team which won the semi –final against their arch rivals St. Anthony’s at the same venue early this week. During this tournament captain Rahal Amarasinghe has seen Manula Kularathne, Theeraka Ranatunga, Dinusha Pieris  and Janith Warnakula sharing most of the batting responsibilities for the team’s success.

In the bowling department, Ranatunga (with over 20 wickets) has topped the wicket takers list. Dinuka Thennakoon, Tharana Wimaladharma and Manula Kularathne are the others shouldering most of the wicket taking duties.

During the semi-final Ranatunga was joined by skipper Amarasinghe, Peiris, Wathila Udara and Vibhavith Ehelepola to play crucial roles with the bat, while the former and deputy skipper Ehelepola took two wickets each to contain St. Anthony’s to 202 runs.  A prominent feature of Richmond during this tournament was the dominant role played by their Sri Lanka Under 19 player Malsha Tharupathi. Tharupathi produced outstanding all-round feats to beat defending champions St. Joseph’s and St. Benedict’s in the quarter-final and the semi-final.

They have a strong batting line up from skipper Tharinda Nirmal, Helitha Edirisinghe, Thamindu Pradeeptha, Kavindu Nirmana, wicketkeeper batsman Janeth Kaushal to Tharupathi.

While Tharupathi is easily their top wicket taker, Nalaka Jaywardena, Nirmal and Sharon Abishek have all shared bowling responsibilities. Maheesha de Silva and Kaveesha Induwara have been economical with the new ball.

How they reached the final 

Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa and St. Anthony’s, Katugastota during the knockout stage after completing their first round matches as the third placed team in their group. They won five out of the eight matches during that phase.

Richmond have remained unbeaten during this tournament. They won all their eight matches in the first round to be the champions in their group. During the knockout stage they ousted defending champions St. Joseph’s and St. Benedict’s in a row to reach their second consecutive final.

Teams:

Richmond (from): Tharinda Nirmal  (Captain), Kavindu Nirmana (Vice Captain), Ruwan Jayawardena, Janeth Kaushal, Maheesha De Silva, Malsha Tharupathi, Sharon Abhishek, Thamindu Pradeeptha, Chehan Subasinghe, Sihath Ramanayake, Sasindu De Silva, Seneth Sisan, Kaveesha Induwara, Manuja Dulneth, Helith Edirisinghe, K.K Yuri, Pubudu Mihiranga,  Charuka Gunasekara. 

Officials:

Nuwan Jayasinghe (Master in Charge), Lakmal de Silva (Head Coach), Umal Udayanga (Asst. Coach), Lahiru Madhuwantha (Asst. Coach) 

Trinity (from):  Rahal Amarasinghe (Captain), Vibhavith Ehelepola (Vice Captain), Theeraka Ranatunga, Supun Waduge, Manula Kularatne, Tharana Wimaladharma, Kusal Wijetunga, Dinusha Pieris, Dinuka Tennakoon, Jayavi Liyanagama, Janith Warnakula, Malith Rathnayake, Lakvin Abeysinghe, Wathila Udara, Yewan Hulangamuwa, Viduka Dhammage. 

Officials:

Brian Senaratne (Master in Charge), Naveen Ekanayake (Head Coach),  Lakshitha Alahakoon (Asst. Coach) 

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