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Jaffna look to break Galle hoodoo in final showdown

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Lanka Premier League 2021 – Final 

By Roscoe Thattil Reporting from Suriyawewa 

Jaffna Kings finished the league phase at the top of the table, they have seemed to be the most consistent team throughout LPL 2021 and they definitely look the best all-round team on paper. But for some reason they haven’t been able to get past the Galle Gladiators in each of their three previous encounters in this edition. However, it all comes down to who plays the better cricket in the final 40 overs of the competition to be crowed the champions of the LPL 2021.

The Afghanistan pocket rocket Rahmanullah Gurbaz has found his mojo in the latter part of the tournament and will be a threat to the Gladiators at the top of the order, while his opening partner Avishka Fernado hit a memorable century in the second qualifier on Tuesday(21). Fernando’s century is also the only time a batter reached the three figure mark this season.

The Kings have a devastating batting line up to follow in the likes of Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Shoaib Malik, Thisara Perera and Wanindu Hasaranga, while the less known soldier Ashan Randika could be devastating and win a game on his own with the bat too.

There seemed to be plenty of life for the fast bowlers at the Sooriyawewa Stadium in the second Qualifier and the Kings might be tempted to replace Chathuranga de Silva with youngster Chamika Gunasekara who is a decent right arm quick bowler. Jayden Seales seems to be a handful on this pitches and the Kings missed a trick by not playing him in the first Qualifier.

The ever reliable Wanindu Hasaranga has gone under the radar a bit during the past couple of games and is due a performance while Maheesh Theekshana’s stocks continue to rise with continuous impressive performances and will be a man to watch out for in the final.

The Galle Gladiators had their ups and downs during the league phase but a smooth game in the first Qualifier meant they reached the final without breaking a sweat thanks to a stunning century opening stand between the returning duo of Danushka Gunathilake and Kusal Mendis. These two will hold the key once again in the batting department for the boys from the south while the likes of skipper Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Mohammad Hafeez and Samit Patel will need to step up with the bat.

Nuwan Thusara also known as “podi Mali” had a dream game in the first Qualifier capturing five Kings’ wicket and will once again be a threat to the same opposition. He has the experienced Mohammad Amir as his opening bowling partner who will look to swing the new ball to breakthrough early while also be the key for the Gladiators at the death.

Patel has been the star spinner for the Gladiators and skipper Rajapaksa has plenty of other spin options too in the likes of Hafeez, Pulina Tharanga and Sahan Arachchige. Isuru Udana has gone under the radar but he has been very smart with the ball for the Gladiators and his variations will be a key once again in the final.

Interestingly, this is also a repeat of the final of the 2020 Lanka Premier League, where the Jaffna Kings went on to clinch the inaugural LPL title.

Probable XIs

Jaffna Kings:

Rahmanullah Gurbaz(wk), Avishka Fernando, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Shoaib Malik, Ashan Randika, Thisara Perera(c), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chathuranga de Silva/Chamika Gunasekara, Jayden Seales, Suranga Lakmal, Maheesha Theekshana

Galle Gladiators:

Kusal Mendis(wk), Danushka Gunathilaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa(c), Mohammad Hafeez, Sahan Arachchige, Samit Patel, Anwar Ali, Pulina Tharanga, Isuru Udana, Mohammad Amir, Nuwan Thushara 



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Joes and HFC win Under-20 basketball titles

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Due to the pandemic, there wasn’t much sporting activities in schools for two years and basketball players showed lot of enthusiasm as their sport was in full swing since April holidays. Sri Lanka Schools Basketball Association despite many challenges successfully conducted the All Island Under-20 basketball tournament at Sugathadasa Stadium this week. Girls and boys in ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Divisions competed over a month and there were some thrilling encounters.St. Joseph’s College, Darley Road and Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya cruised to victory in the ‘A’ Division final. While St. Joseph’s beat Royal College in the boys’ final, HFC overcame Mahamaya College, Kandy. Both teams cruised to victory and were hardly troubled throughout the campaign. Interestingly, both teams are coached by the same individuals with Roshan Randima as Head Coach and Shane Daniel as his deputy. Their teams over the last decade or so have come up with consistent performances and have always remained among the top three.

St. Joseph’s took an early 24-09 lead in the first quarter and although Royal contained them in the second quarter conceding just seven points, they themselves could not score big. Both teams scored 16 points each in the third quarter and Royal matched St. Joseph’s skills in the final quarter but the damage done in the first quarter proved to be costly as Joes won by 16 points with the final score being 68-52.Mahamaya scored 14 points compared to HFC’s 16 in the first quarter in the girls’ final but from thereon HFC were unstoppable winning by a comfortable 31 points. The final score was 70-39.

In the boys’ category, St. Joseph’s captain Shehan Fernando was adjudged the Most Valuable Player while Keith Costa also from St. Joseph’s was declared the Best Defensive Player. Royal’s Yuganan Baskaran was named Best Offensive Plyaer. In the girls’ segment, Onela Dunuwille and Minoli Direkze of HFC emerged as Most Valuable Player and Best Defensive Player respectively. Chithera Samarakoon of Mahamaya was the Best Offensive Player. The tournament was sponsored by Gaja Group. The Group’s CEO Gayath Jayasinghe, a former Sri Lanka basketball player was the Chief Guest.

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Sri Lanka Athletics to seek private sector support to send team for World Junior Championships

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Ambagamuwa Central hurdler Dhanuka Dharshana has bettered the World Junior Championship qualifying standard on several occasions.

Junior Nationals Athletics Championships rescheduled to June 7-10

by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Athletics will seek support from the private sector to meet the massive costs involved in sending all athletes reaching qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships which will be held from August 1-6 in Cali, Colombia.The track and field governing body, which met this week to reschedule the Junior National Championship which was postponed due to the curfew imposed on May 9, also discussed ways of finding funds to send all athletes who reach qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships.

Sri Lanka Athletics has been sending all athletes reaching qualifying standards for the World Junior events in recent years. But the massive cost of airfare in the midst of the prevaling economic crisis has made it difficult for the sport’s governing body to bear the full cost involved in sending a strong team.So far nine athletes have reached qualifying standards for the biennial event and there is opportunity for other athletes to reach entry standards for the event when the postponed Junior National Athletics Championship is held from June 7 to 10 at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

“There is a massive cost involved in sending athletes for the Cali event. With the increased airfare it will cost around 1.5 million rupees per athlete. If we opt to send only the top two athletes and those who can find funds by their own it will not be fair by the others who reach qualifying standards. Because of that we will seek private sector support to send the full team,” a senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics told The Island on Friday.

Earlier there were plans to send a pruned down team but a couple of athletes have obtained private sponsorships for their travel compelling athletics officials to find sponsorships for others as well.Of the nine athletes who have reached qualifying standards so far, four are from three schools in Colombo.  At least one athlete from outstations and an athlete from a school in Colombo have received the support of sponsors to meet their expenses during the meet.

“We will request leading private sector firms to support junior athletes. We will also seek the support of friendly sports federations like Sri Lanka Cricket to support us at this difficult moment,” said the official.

Tharushi Karunaratne (800m, 400m), Jayeshi Uththara (400m) and Amesha Hettiarachchi (400m hurdles) in the girls’ category and Sithum Jayasundara (400m), Dhanuka Dharshana (400m hurdles), Kaveesha Bandara (110m hurdles), Pasindu Malshan (triple jump), Hirusha Hashen (long jump) and Rumesh Tharanga  (javelin throw) in the boys’ category are the athletes who have reached qualifying standards for the Cali event. Incidentally, Tharushi Karunaratne and Sithum Jayasundara will be taking part in their second consecutive World Junior Championships after having represented the country at the last edition in Nairobi. Sri Lanka did well to reach the final in the mix relay in Nairobi where they were ranked fifth with a time of 3:26.39 secs.

Junior National Championships from June 7 to 10

The Junior National Athletics Championship which was postponed after the morning session on May 9 will commence from where it stopped on June 7. According to athletics officials the events which could not be completed on May 9 will be held on June 7 and there will not be any changes to the schedule of the next three days.

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Shoriful ruled out of SL Tests with wrist injury

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Bangladesh’s injury woes continue as pace bowler Shoriful Islam has now been ruled out of the remainder of the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka due to a wrist injury. Shoriful is the latest addition to the hosts’ injury list as they earlier lost Taskin Ahmed (shoulder) and Mehedy Hasan (finger).

“Shoriful Islam had a contusion of the right hand while batting. After the fourth day’s play an X-ray was carried out which has revealed a fracture on the base of the 5th metacarpal bone,” physio Bayjedul Islam said in a statement on Thursday.

“Such injuries tend to take around three weeks to heal followed by a couple of week’s rehab. He will not be available to play for four to five weeks.”

Shoriful was retired out on Day 4 after pacer Kasun Rajitha’s short delivery hit him on the gloves. Bangladesh were forced to end their innings at 465 following his injury.

Cricbuzz has learnt that Shoriful is unlikely to be available for the Test series against West Indies as well. Bangladesh will leave on June 6 to take part in the full fledged tour of West Indies, comprising two Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is.

Meanwhile, the BCB has retained the same squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka that will begin on May 23. The board opted to not name a replacement for Shoriful since they have a big squad to pick from.

“We did not take any replacement for Shoriful as we have got a big squad in hand,” BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin told Cricbuzz. ‘’We have to see fitness of Hasan Mahmud (who was in discussion as a possible replacement of Shoriful) and though we are not considering him in this series, if he is fit we might pick him for the Bangladesh ‘A’ team tour of West Indies.”

Squad:

Mominul Haque (C), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Litton Kumar Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Nayeem Hasan, Taijul Islam, Syed Khaled Ahmed, Yasir Ali Chowdhury, Quazi Nurul Hasan Sohan, Musaddek Hossain, Ebadot Hossain Chowdhury, Shohidul Islam, Rezaur Rahman Raja.

( Cricbuzz)

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