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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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Elena Rybakina beats Victoria Azarenka to reach final of Australian Open 2023

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Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina reached another major final as she beat two-time winner Victoria Azarenka in the Australian Open semi-finals.Rybakina, 23, won 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 to end Azarenka’s hopes of winning the title 10 years after her last triumph.

The Kazakh regained her composure in a nervy end to the first set before confidently dominating the second.She will play either Belarusian fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka or unseeded Pole Magda Linette in Saturday’s final.

The pair followed Rybakina and Azarenka – who is also from Belarus – on to court in Thursday’s second semi-final at Melbourne Park.

“I’m super happy to be in the final and play one more time here,” said 22nd seed Rybakina, who will contest her second major final.

“It was different conditions, I couldn’t play aggressive tennis and couldn’t go so much for my shots but I was happy to win.

“I got a lot of experience from Wimbledon and I want to come on court for the final and enjoy the moment.”

Rybakina has been one of the most unheralded Wimbledon champions in recent history as a result of her low profile and a lower-than-expected ranking caused by points not being awarded at the All England Club last year.

At Melbourne Park, the tall Kazakh has been reminding people once again of her outstanding talent.At the US Open last year, Rybakina said she did not “feel like” a major winner because she was ranked outside of the world’s top 20 after points were stripped because of Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarusian players.

Rybakina was also stuck on a small outside court for her Australian Open first-round match – although she insisted she “did not care” – but since then there has been no escaping the threat she posed in the draw.

She was responsible for knocking out world number Iga Swiatek in the last 16, either side of other notable wins against 2022 runner-up Danielle Collins and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.Big serving has been one of the keys to her success and it teed up what many expected to be a fascinating contest against 33-year-old Azarenka, whose returning game has been a key to her success.

Rybakina laid down a marker in the first game of the match with three aces and produced another comfortable hold before 24th seed Azarenka – absorbing her opponent’s power which helped her switch defence into attack – broke for 3-2.

An instant reply swung the momentum back to Rybakina but, as she tried to serve out the set at 5-3, her first-serve percentage suddenly plummeted.That enabled Azarenka to fight back to 5-5 and earn three break points in the 11th game, only for Rybakina to regain her composure to hold and giving her the confidence to take control of the tie-break.

Azarenka was not helped by several costly errors and they continued in the second set as Rybakina imposed herself with two breaks for a 5-2 lead.

While she could not serve out the match, Rybakina sealed victory with another break and – rather fittingly – produced a low-key celebration as she ended the prospect of an-all Belarusian final.

(BBC Sports)

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Savinka, Rashmi win U-19 singles titles

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Under 19 boys’ runner up Jason Homer(left) and champion Savinaka Weerasekara.

38th National Junior Badminton Championships

Savinaka Weerasekera of D.S. Senanayake College and Rashmi Mudalige of Gateway International School emerged Under-19 boys’ and girls’ champions respectively while Pulina Wellalage of St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa clinched a triple crown at the 38th National Junior Badminton Championships held in Colombo.

At the annual event conducted by Sri Lanka Badminton in association with Sri Lanka Schools Badminton Association, Weerasekera defeated Jason Homer of the Royal Institute International School 21-11, 21-11 in the Under-19 boys’ singles final at the Sugathadasa Indoor Sports Complex.

Weerasekera then teamed up with Homer to beat Ashinsa Herath and Vidusha Sumanadasa of Royal College 21-18, 21-16 to win the doubles title in the same age group.

In the Under-19 girls’ singles final, Rashmi Mudalige beat Ondi Sethuki (Southland’s College, Galle) 16-21, 21-14, 21-14.

Mudalige also secured her second title when she teamed up with young badminton sensation Wellalage to defeat Shenuk Samararatne and Sithuki Onadee 17-21, 21-19, 21-19 and win the U-19 mixed doubles final.

In the U-19 girls’ doubles final, Thisuni Liyanarachchi and Lawandi Umagiliyage of Sangamitta College, Galle, denied Mudalige a third title when they defeated the latter and her Gateway College partner Natasha Gunasekara 21-15, 21-18 in the final.

Meanwhile, Wellalage, the younger brother of national cricketer Dunith, beat Thilina Rajakaruna in straight sets (21-10, 21-16) to win the U-17 boys’ singles title, his second in the Championships.

Wellalage’s Triple Crown was completed when he and partner Shenuk Samararatne defeated Sanjula Handapangoda and Thilina Rajakaruna 21-13, 18-21, 25-23 in an all-Sebastianites Boys’ U-17 doubles final.

Meanwhile, the young national shuttle sensation Ranithma Liyanage of the Christ Church College, Baddegama, who later went on to be crowned national Champion, defeated her Girls’ U-17 singles opponent Ranumi Manage (Musaeus College) in the final with ease (21-2, 21-13).

The presentation ceremony was held with Director General of Sports Development, Amal Edirisuriya as the chief guest in the presence of Sri Lanka Badminton President Rohan de Silva, SLB officials and former players.

Winners and Runners-up

Under 11 Boys Singles

Champion –

Prithish Abeygunawardena (Richmond), Runner-up – Nesandu Hapukotuwa (Dharmaraja)

Under 11 Girls Singles

Champion –

Gajali Padmabandara (St. Anthony’s Girls, Katugastota), Second Runner-up – Sanumi Metsara (Musaeus)

Under 13 Boys Singles

Champion

– Hasandu Fernando (St Sebastian’s, Moratuwa), Runner-up – Amawan Amarasinghe (Panadura Lyceum)

Under 13 Girls Singles

Champion –

Fatima Amani (Hill Country Girls, Kandy), Runner-up – Thenuki De Silva (Siridhamma College)

Under 13 Boys Doubles

Champions –

Duvindu Edirisinghe/ Satsara Pubudu (St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa), Runners-up – Tenuja Galahitiawa/ Satish Avishka (St. Anthony’s, Katugastota)

Under 13 Girls Doubles

Champions –

Fatima Amani/ Netsara Yenuri (Hill Country Girls/ Sujatha Girls, Nugegoda), Runners-up – Inuki Bandara/ Divyadharani Dayaratne (Musaeus/ Lyceum, Wattala)

Under 15 Boys Singles

Champion –

Tejana Herath (St. Anthony’s Katugastota), Runner-up – Senut Sethmina (Ananda College)

Under 15 Girls Singles

Champion

– Viswani Vanniarachchi (Gateway International), Runner-up – Lakshya Sajeevakumar (Lyceum Wattala)

Under 15 Boys Doubles

Champions –

Janeesha De Silva/ Mihila Jayaweera (St. Joseph’s/ Wattala Lyceum), Runners-up – Akash Shamal/ Tejana Herath (St. Anthony’s Katugastota)

Under 15 Girls Doubles

Champions –

Sanuti Gurusinghe/ Pavani Ileperuma (Sanghamitta Galle), Runners-up – Dihini Mendis/ Lakshya Sajeevakumar (Southland Galle/ Wattala Lyceum)

Under 17 Boys Singles

Under 19 girls’ champion Rashmi Mudalige (left) and runner up Sithuki Onadee.

Champion –

Pulina Wellalage (St. Sebastian’s Moratuwa), Runner-up – Thilina Rajakaruna (St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa)

Under 17 Girls Singles

Champion –

Ranithma Liyanage (Christ Church Girls, Baddegama), Runner-up – Ranumi Manage (Musaeus)

Under 17 Boys Doubles

Champions –

Pulina Wellalage/ Shenuk Samararatne (St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa), Runners-up – Sanjula Handapangoda/ Thilina Rajakaruna (St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa)

Under 17 Girls Doubles

Champions –

L.A. Dinethya/ Devmi Ubesirivardhana (Sujatha Balika, Matara), Runners-up – Dilini Ambalangodage/ H.G. Sandani (Anula College/ Sujatha College Matara)

Under 19 Boys Singles

Champion –

Savinaka Veerasekera (D.S. Senanayake), Runner-up – Jason Homer (Royal Institute)

Under 19 Girls Singles

Champion –

Rashmi Mudalige (Gateway), Runner-up – Ondi Sethuki (Southlands, Galle)

Under 19 Boys Doubles

Champions –

Jason Homer/Savinaka Weerasekera (Royal Institute/ DS. Senanayake), Runners-up -Ashinsa Herath/ Vidusha Sumanadasa (Royal)

Under 19 Girls Doubles

Champions –

Tisuni Liyanarachchi/ Lavandi Umagaliyage (Sanghamitta, Galle), Runners-up – Natasha Gunasekara/ Rashmi Mudalige (Gateway)

Under 19 Mixed Doubles

Champions –

Pulina Vellalage/Rashmi Mudalige (St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa/Gateway), Runner-up – Shenuk Samararatne/ Situki Onadi (St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa/ Sujata Vidyalaya Matara)

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Wanindu only SL player in ICC’s teams of the year

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Wanindu Hasaranga

Wanindu Hasaranga, who took more wickets than anybody at the Men’s T20 World Cup, is the only Sri Lanka male player selected in any of the ICC’s teams of the year announced on Tuesday.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) completed announcements of the ICC Teams of the Year, a feature of the ICC Awards 2022 which captures the best-combined XIs across the different formats of men’s and women’s international cricket after an action-packed year of competition.

Two days of staggered announcements have seen five lineups revealed; the ICC Men’s and Women’s T20I Teams of the Year, the ICC Men’s and Women’s ODI Teams of the Year and the ICC Men’s Test Team of the Year. In total, 11 countries are represented across the various lineups, which feature a number of World Cup winners, ICC Players of the Month and some of the most exciting emerging talents from the past calendar year.

Teams were identified from selections submitted by the specialist panel of media representatives that make up the ICC Voting Academy. The esteemed panel made their selections based on player performances throughout the calendar year, nominating their one to 11 and choosing a captain and a wicketkeeper for each.

Wanindu is selected in the ICC Men’s T20I Team of the Year which includes three Indian players. The others in the team are Jos Buttler (captain -Eng), Mohammad Rizwan (Pak), Virat Kohli (Ind), Suryakumar Yadav (Ind), Glenn Phillips (NZ), Sikandar Raza (Zim), Hardik Pandya (Ind), Sam Curran (Eng), Wanindu Hasaranga (SL), Haris Rauf (Pak) and Josh Little (Ire).

In the women’s category, Inoka Ranaweera has been selected in the ICC Women’s T20I Team of the Year.

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