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Indian cricket has become a formidable force  

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by Rex Clementine

In cricket we have had some teams that set the benchmark in the sport. First it was ‘The Invincibles’ of Don Bradman, who went through a tour of England where they played 32 matches and were never defeated.

Then there was Clive Lloyd’s champion outfit in 1980s. His fast bowlers instilled fear among opposition batsmen while his carefree batsmen threw caution to the wind. After several series of total domination of England, the lexicon had a new word thanks to West Indies; ‘blackwash’.

Steve Waugh’s Aussies at the start of the new millennium took the sport to a new level encouraging ambidextrous players and targeting 400 runs on day one of a Test match. They ended up winning 16 Test matches in a row, a record that will be hard to match.

Are we seeing the sport’s next best team in India? Well, they have not won the series in England as yet but they played out of their skins at Lord’s earlier this week and you tend to get the feeling that you are seeing something special. India under Virat Kohli have been truly remarkable.

Early this year, they did something even special; winning a series in Australia; that too after being bowled out for 36 runs in Adelaide. It was a remarkable achievement to lift the spirits from such lows. Mind you they sealed the series of all places at the Gabba in the final Test.  Brisbane is a venue where Australia had been unbeaten for 30 years.  It was the first time an Asian team won at the Gabba after 16 attempts.

So, what have the Indians been doing right in recent times? Quite a few actually. They are fortunate to have a good leader of men in Kohli. This throw down coach that India lifted from Sri Lankas Nuwan Seneviratne better known as Bawwa to most, was Kohli’s idea.

India were to play Australia in 2018 and Kohli knew Mitchell Starc was going to create problems. So he insisted on having Bawwa on board. Bawwa is left-handed and can give you a torrid time at the nets while doing throw downs. So, torrid that apparently apart from Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella no Sri Lankan padded up to him.

Kohli is a different beast. After a couple of deliveries struck on his ribcage, Bawwa lowered the intensity only to be called up by the Indian captain who gave him an earful and wanted him to go high intensity. Small things matter. Then of course there is Kohli’s insane gym work and stuff to be the best player he can be. It is he who is calling the shots when it comes to fitness standards in India and although there is a hue and cry made in our part of the world about the two kilometer run, the Indian standard is supposed to be more intense than ours.

The options are simple. Fall in line or get lost. Over here, players who fail fitness tests go to the social media and blast the coaches. Then they find themselves recalled to the team! This Pramodaya Wickramasinghe is truly setting new standards. With friends like him, Kumar Sangakkara doesn’t need any enemies.

Going back to India, apart from Kohli, there is of course Ravi Shastri. The former Indian captain has little coaching experience. Since retiring, he has been a broadcaster for nearly three decades. The Indian board realized that coaching at this level was more managing players than helping with any technical brilliance. So they took Shastri out of the commentary box and put him in charge of the team. Shastri-Kohli combination is a match made by the cricketing gods in a bid to bring Aussies and Poms to their knees.

The IPL obviously has been a godsend to Indian cricket. Time was when India played just one seamer and included a seamer all-rounder to share the new ball and depended on spin to cover up their bowling. But what IPL has done is that young Indian quicks get a chance to spend time with world’s leading fast bowlers and coaches picking their brains. As a result, India is able to put up a formidable four-pronged pace attack. The consequence of that is someone like Ravichandran Ashwin, who has 400 Test wickets at an average of 24, is unable to get into the team.

So, there is Shastri factor, Kohli factor and the IPL factor that has contributed to India’s success. There is one more factor that has put cricket in India back on track; the intervention of Indian Supreme Court.

In the year 2015, the Indian Supreme Court appointed a retired judge to give recommendations as to how cricket in India could be improved. The court appointed someone with stature – Rajendra Lodha, the 41st Chief Justice of India. He presented to court in what is known as Lodha Committee report several recommendations.

Some of the prominent recommendations of the Lodha committee report are term limits for office bearers, limiting the number of votes at the BCCI AGM and an independent governing body for IPL. These recommendations were implemented resulting in the CEO having greater control over the matters and hence more responsibility. That has certainly been a welcome move. Indian cricket is nowadays run like a business.

In Sri Lanka too, several past administrators and former players got together and moved the Court to bring constitutional changes to our cricket. The learned judges’ observations remain to be seen.



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Chameera and Hasaranga to miss Oman T-20s due to IPL

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by Rex Clementine

Sri Lankan cricketers Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga will miss Sri Lanka’s tour of Oman next month due to their IPL commitments. The two Sri Lankans are with Royal Challengers Bangalore and they have been given clearance to remain with the franchise till 10th October.

Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur told The Island he had no issues in the players missing the two games in Oman.

“It’s a great opportunity for them and I have not raised any objections. They will join the team on the 10th of October and be ready for the first warm-up game on the 12th of October,” Arthur said.

The IPL was suspended in May due to the rise of COVID cases within the bubble with still 31 matches remaining. The tournament will resume in UAE on Sunday and will finish on the 15th of October, just before the ICC T-20 World Cup.

Sri Lanka will play two T-20 Internationals in Oman on the 7th and 9th of October and then travel to UAE to play warm-up games ahead of the World Cup. The two players are expected to join the team in UAE.

RCB have seven games left in the competition and will take on Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday. Their last league game is on the 8th October.

RCB are currently third in the table with ten points behind Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings.

If they make the plays offs, the tournament will go beyond 10th October. If necessary, RCB will ask clearance from SLC to have them in the franchise set up and the board is unlikely to object as Sri Lanka’s first game in the World Cup is on the 18th of October. The IPL final is scheduled on the 15th of October.

No Sri Lankan had been picked for this year’s IPL at the start of the season, but after Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa and left-arm quick Daniel Sams pulled out, the franchise signed up the two Sri Lankans for the remainder of the competition. Both Chameera and Hasaranga had done well when India visited Colombo for a bilateral series last month.

Meanwhile, SLC has agreed to a request by the national selection panel to carry five additional players to UAE in case of injuries. Kusal Perera is doubtful for the World Cup and Lahiru Madushanka has been ruled out. SLC will bear the additional costs for the extra players.

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CFSL ready to organize its biggest Online Chess Championship 

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Western Asian Youth Chess Championship 2021 

Sri Lanka has the luxury of fielding a World Champion in their team when the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka (CFSL) organizes the Western Asian Online Youth Chess Championships from 18 to 20 September on the Tornelo Platform.

Ferguson High School, Ratnapura player Oshini Devindya Gunawardena, who won the Under-10 title of the FIDE Online Youth Chess Cup 2021 recently, is among some 300 participants fielded by Sri Lanka.

Luxman Wijesuriya, the president of the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka said that his federation was ready to organize the biggest Asian Online Event, the Western Asian Online Youth Chess Championships and the event which is conducted by the Asian Chess Federation has attracted more than 1000 players from 14 Western Asian Countries.

The event open for girls and boys will be held under six age categories, namely, the Under 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18. The Asian Chess Federation has categorized, South Asia, Arab and Russian-speaking countries of Asia as Western Asian Countries. More than 1000 players from the region have fielded their entries to participate in the event.

India has fielded the biggest contingent of 378 players while Sri Lanka field more than 300 players. Iran has entered a team of 161 players. Other countries registered for participation are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Oman, Kuwait, Palestine, Jordan and UAE. One player is joining under FIDE, the World Chess Federation flag.

Sri Lanka team includes players who excelled at recently held online competitions and at the CFSL Online Youth Chess Championship 2021.

The Championships will be conducted on the Swiss System in nine rounds, having three games a day. The Newly approved FIDE Online Chess regulations will be followed and the time control will be 15 minutes a side with 10 seconds increment for each and every move played. Only the laptop/desktop computers are allowed to be used while all games will be closely monitored by the arbiters via zoom. Players will be switching on two cameras during the competition. According to CFSL one camera (Webcam) will monitor the player while the other will observe his or her surroundings.

The Virtual Opening Ceremony will be held at 11.00 a.m via Zoom on Saturday. Namal Rajapakse, the Minister of Sports is expected to participate as the Chief Guest with Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nehyan, the President of Asian Chess Federation.

The CFSL will be awarding attractive cash rewards to the Sri Lankan players who win medals of any colour.

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Wheelchair tennis team to leave for World Team Cup on Saturday 

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The Sri Lanka Wheelchair Tennis team led by Tokyo Paralympian Suresh Dharmasena will leave for the World Team Cup on Saturday.

The BNP Paribas World Team Cup is the premier team competition for Wheelchair Tennis with four qualifiers and two wildcards joining the top ten teams in the world for the 16 nation competition being held in Sardinia, Italy.

Great Britain, France, Japan, Argentina, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, USA, Korea Rep. and Brazil are the top ten teams.

When the Team Cup qualification event was held in May, Sri Lanka beat Croatia 3-0 in the quarter-finals to be in the last four alongside Israel, Greece and Poland but was beaten by Israel in the semi finals.

In the qualifying event Gamini Dissanayake beat Croatia’s Sven Maretic 6-0, 6–2, while Suresh Dharmasena beat Anto Joskic 6-2, 6-0, before joining Lasantha Ranaweera to oust Anto Joskic and Sven Maretic 6-0, 6-0 in the doubles.

The World Team Cup will be held from October 4-10.

The Sri Lanka Tennis Association said that the team were engaged in final preparations at Green Path, ahead of their departure to Europe. The team comprising of Suresh Dharmasena (ITF Rank #64), DM Gamini (#81) Lasantha Ranaweera (#85) have been undergoing specialist training under coaches Jagath Welikala and Guyanga Weerasekera since July.

The Wheelchair Tennis Program is a project run by the Sri Lanka Tennis Association initiated in 2002. The project is overseen by the President of SLTA Iqbal bin Issack, General Secretary Pradeep Goonasekera, VP Wheelchair Tennis Major General Shiran Abeysekera and principal sponsor Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT).

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