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Ireland dump two-time winners West Indies out of the T20 World Cup



Two-time champions West Indies suffered an unceremonious early exit from the T20 World Cup as Ireland thumped them by nine wickets to make it to the Super 12s. After the bowlers kept West Indies down to 146/5 despite Brandon King’s 62, Paul Stirling and Andy Balbirnie laid down the marker with an incredible opening stand. West Indies broke it but that’s as far as they could get with the ball as Ireland completed the chase comfortably with 15 balls to spare.

West Indies needed early wickets to make a match of their sub-par total but the Irish openers had other plans. They went hell for leather, bringing up their 50-run stand in just the fifth over. The carnage started in the second over – from Akeal Hosein – when the pair hit 16 off it. Nicholas Pooran brought on Odean Smith in the PowerPlay even before Jason Holder and that move was thoroughly punished too as Balbirnie smashed four, six, four in the first three balls of a 14-run over.

The fifty partnership came off an incredible pick up shot from Balbirnie against a full and wide ball from Obed McCoy, deposited over point fence. West Indies’ hero from the win over Zimbabwe too was not spared as Alzarri Joseph conceded 20 off his first two overs. The pair took Ireland to 64/0 – the team’s highest PowerPlay score in all T20 World Cups.

Akeal Hosein put an end to Balbirnie’s blitzy innings in the eighth over when he got him caught at backward point, but that was a mere consolation. Stirling carried on the Irish juggernaut, even as Pooran brought back Joseph in search of breakthroughs. To make matters worse, Odean Smith bowled a sharp bouncer and took a catch off his own bowling to dismiss Lorcan Tucker, only for the umpires to stop him from walking away as Smith appeared to have overstepped on the delivery. That summed up West Indies’ flat outing as Tucker too played some big shots on his way to a 35-ball 44 – while also getting the winning runs. Stirling meanwhile, finished unbeaten on 66 off 48 deliveries, with six fours and two sixes.

Barry McCarthy recovered from the thrashing he got in the previous game to hit the good length hard and eke out an early wicket as Kyle Mayers holed out to mid-off. Johnson Charles then hit back in the following over – off Curtis Campher – with two fours and a big six off a cutter. But off-spinner Simi Singh offered width and got the right-hander to slice one to backward point. West Indies got 41/2 in the PowerPlay, and went into the middle-overs with the need to shift gears quickly.

West Indies got just 26 runs in the four overs after the PowerPlay as Evin Lewis and Brandon King – back in place of Shamarh Brooks – revived the West Indies innings rather slowly against the Irish quicks. They got to 67/2 in 10 overs and needed to up the ante, but Ireland targetted West Indies’ recent weakness – spin bowling – to turn the screws further. Lewis didn’t read Gareth Delany’s googly and miscued a big hit to mid-off. Nicholas Pooran, who made a confident start and even pulled a Joshua Little delivery into the stands, was undone by the flight offered by Delany too as he sliced one to deep point. Delany had his third when Rovman Powell slog-swept him straight to the deep square leg fielder in the 17th over. He finished with figures of 3 for 16 in 4 overs, including 12 dot balls.

Despite the wreckage around him, King went on to get a 39-ball half-century and joined forces with Odean Smith for a three-over flourish at the end. The duo hit 34 off the last three overs to push West Indies to 145/6. As it turned it, that total proved to be grossly insufficient.

Brief Scores:

West Indies 146/5 in 20 overs (Brandon King 62, Johnson Charles 24; Gareth Delany 3-16) lost to Ireland 150/1 in 17.3 overs (Paul Stirling 65*, Andrew Balbirnie 37) by 9 wickets


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



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



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


– 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


– 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



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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