By A Special Sports Correspondent
St. Anthony’s led by fly-half Sahan Keerthisiri will be put to the test against the promising St. Joseph’s College rugby team in the curtain raiser to the interschool 15-a-side league rugby tournament for 2023 which is scheduled to take place at the Bogambara Stadium this evening.
The Anthonians have a strong side this year on paper, but the stakes are high in school rugby as of now and no team can be taken lightly; even when one enjoys the home advantage. St. Joseph’s know this truly well and their coach Nilfer Ibrahim will use his heavy and experienced forwards to the maximum in this grudge battle which is sure to go down to the wire. Much is expected from skipper and big boy Naveen Marasinghe as the side’s playmaker, but St. Joseph’s would also expect a captain’s role from him and see how he handles the 14 others on the field when the pressure starts mounting.
Joes had a strong season in 2022 where they finished as runners up in the league and knockout tournaments, but there were occasions when they lost some focus in the two crucial games which were against Royal and St. Peter’s ; two games that handed them defeats.
This season they are brimming with confidence and some of the players to watch are Janith Marasinghe, Jehan Athukorala, Vihanga Randeepa, Ruchith Rodrigo, Daham Dias and Sachinthana Waidyarathne apart from skipper and number eight Naveen Marasinghe. Should Marasinghe keep running in tries as he did last year or should he focus on upgrading himself to be a more complete thinking player who can walk into the senior national side this year itself? Isipatana’s Hisham Abdeen and Bandula Mallikarachchi were two players who did that while still being schoolboys; but that was during an era where breaking into the national side as teenagers was unthinkable.
St. Anthony’s have to handle their nerves because this game is no limb loosener. Joes have the forwards power, but the season is still in it’s infancy; hence the strengths of all teams is yet to be known or untested. Traditionally the Anthonians have fast backs and this must be anticipated. Up in the hills the Oxygen advantage is there for the hosts and the vociferous Kandy crowd can rattle visiting teams. But rugby at present is not playing entirely up to ones strengths but also involves exposing the weaknesses in the opposition. Joes may have all areas covered in this key encounter; which may demand some individual brilliance from players like skipper Keerthisiri, number eight J. Realando, linkman O. Guneratne, centres Welagedara and Tiron and full-back Mohammed Amjath if they are to keep the Anthonians scoreboard ticking. Coach Srinath Sooriyabandara has done much hard work with the boys and would be expecting a win at the first outing itself.
The tournament is conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association. The other teams in Division 1 Segment A along with St. Anthony’s and St. Joseph’s are Isipatana, Wesley, S. Thomas’, Wesley, Kingswood and D.S. Senanayake.
St. Anthony’s College:
S. Kothalawela, T. Gallanga, S. Athukorala, R. Pillai, Y. Gamage, S. Kotuwila, A. Rashik, J. Realando, O. Guneratne, S. Keerthisiri, O. Dissanayake, R. Welagedara, M. Tiran, R. Kumara, M. Amjath, A. Munasinghe.
St. Joseph’s College:
N. Rodrigo, C. Kavindya, J. Athukorala, S. Liyanage, J. Marasinghe, S. Waidyarathne, V. Fernando, N. Marasinghe, V. Randeepa, B. Jayasekara, B. Fernando, R. Rodrigo, I. White, S. Cooray, S. Marc, D. Dias, D. Fernando, N. Guneratne, S. Eran, U. Robinson.
Priyadharshani’s four-for the highlight as Sri Lanka cruise into Asian Games semis
Chasing 79 in the rain-reduced 15-overs-a-side quarter-final, Sri Lanka coasted to a win in 10.5 overs. Rain and a wet outfield had delayed the start of the game by close to an hour-and-a-half. Once the weather cleared, Sri Lanka opted to field under grey skies.
Udeshika Prabodhani found some movement in the air, but it was Priyadharshani who inflicted the early damage, accounting for four of the first five wickets to fall. She struck twice in her first over – the second of the innings – dismissing Suwanan Khiaoto and Natthakan Chantham. In her next over, she removed Nannapat Koncharoenkai before accounting for Naruemol Chaiwai with a smart caught and bowled.
At 37 for 6, Thailand were sinking rapidly but a 29-run stand between Chanida Sutthiruang and Phannita Maya arrested the slide a touch. Sutthiruang top-scored with an unbeaten 31 and was the only batter to get into double-digits as Thailand managed to reach 78 for 7 in 15 overs.
Chamari Athapaththu and Sanjeewani then made light work of the chase. They brought up their 50 partnership in the sixth over before Thipatcha Putthawong accounted for Athapaththu, who top edged a slog sweep.
Putthawong also removed Sanjeewani but the damage had been done by then. Thailand were not helped by their ground fielding; they committed a number of mis-fields and dropped chances. Harshitha Samarawickrama closed the game in the 11th over with a pull over deep square leg.
Sri Lanka will face Pakistan in the second semi-final on Sunday.
Sri Lanka 84 for 2 (Chamari Athapaththu 27, Anushka Sanjeewani 32, Harshitha Samarawickrema 14*; Thipatcha Putthawong 2-21) beat Thailand 78 for 7 (Chanida Sutthiruang 31; Inoshi Priyadharshani 4-10, Sugandika Kumari 1-13, Chamari Athapaththu 1-13, Kavisha Dilhari 1-14) by eight wickets
France rout Namibia 96-0 in Rugby World Cup match
France are on the brink of reaching the World Cup quarter-finals after claiming their biggest-ever win with a 96-0 victory over Namibia in Pool A.
Damian Penaud scored a hat-trick, while Jonathan Danty, Charles Ollivon and Louis Bielle-Biarry all scored twice.
Antoine Dupont, Thibaud Flament, Baptiste Couilloud and Melvyn Jaminet also crossed before a penalty try took their total tally to 14 in Marseille.
The only French cause for concern was the loss of Dupont to injury. The hosts’ captain was withdrawn during the second half following a head-on-head tackle by Johan Deysel, whose yellow card was upgraded to a red by the bunker-review system.
France head coach Fabien Galthie’s decision to keep his talisman on the field despite his side’s huge 54-point half-time advantage could be scrutinised if Dupont’s injury keeps him on the sidelines with the knockout stages looming.
France: Ramos; Penaud, Fickou, Danty, Bielle-Biarry; Jalibert, Dupont; Baille, Mauvaka, Atonio; Woki, Flament; Cros, Ollivon, Jelonch.
Replacements: Bourgarit, Wardi, Aldegheri, Taofifenua, Boudehent, Couilloud, Moefana, Jaminet.
Namibia: Van der Bergh; Mouton, Deysel, Burger, Greyling; Loubser, Theron; Sethie, Van der Westhuizen, Coetzee, Tjeriko, Ludick, Katjijeko, Retief, Gaoseb.
Replacements: Nortje, Benade, Shifuka, Van Lill, Hardwick, Blaauw, Izaacs, Rossouw.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Bangladesh discover Mustafizur’s success with the new ball in rainy Dhaka
In a called-off game, disrupted due to rain on several occasions, Bangladesh lucked out. Amidst the rain breaks in the three-match ODI series opener between Bangladesh and New Zealand at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, the hosts found out their experienced campaigner Mustafizur Rahman had something to offer with the new ball.
In the recent past, Mustafizur had hardly looked dangerous with the new ball and in the present setup – comprising Taskin Ahmed, Hasan Mahmud and Shoriful Islam – it looks he’ll hardly have the chance to open the bowling attack. Mustafizur’s recent performances also validate the fact that his role is to hold the batters during the middle overs, and he is doing that quite efficiently with his cutter and slower deliveries.
Mustafizur, who was rested after the opening game against Sri Lanka in the recently-concluded Asia Cup, made a comeback against India in their last game of the tournament after team management rested several first-choice fast bowlers and it also opened an opportunity for him to bowl with the new ball.
Though he put up an impressive show with the ball picking up 3-50 he turned out to be more effective with the old ball. He had given away 31 runs in the first four overs against India without any success but returned strongly when he was asked called in during the death overs.
It’s true that the two-paced wickets in Sri Lanka helped him against India, being suitable for cutters and slowers which were too hot to handle for the lower-order batting unit of their Asian neighbours. However, on Thursday against New Zealand, Mustafizur proved he still has something to offer with the new ball. What was more heartening for the hosts was the way he attacked to pickup a wicket – an instinct that had been missing for a while.
The way the 28-year-old got rid of Finn Allen (9), courtesy of a brilliant catch by Nurul Hasan Sohan behind the stumps, only showed he can still make the new ball talk as the New Zealand opener hardly had an answer to the length delivery that was pitched on the leg-stump and took the edge.
Since picking the wicket of Allen, Mustafizur was keen on trying different things that included bowling some short balls while he also tested the batters with his angled deliveries and quite surprisingly it was different from the way he bowled in the recent past where his major focus only remained on keeping a check on the flow of runs rather than going for wickets.
“Potentially, yeah. I thought Mustafizur bowled really nicely and hit the seam with the new ball,” New Zealand skipper Lockie Fergusson said after the first ODI was called off.
For Bangladesh, it was a breath of fresh air seeing him remove Chad Bowes (one) when the batter failed to negotiate his swinging delivery while he trapped Henry Nicholls (44) plumb in front to end the day with 3-27 from his seven overs.
Although the overcast conditions helped Mustafizur a lot to shine with the new ball, Bangladesh can definitely heave a sigh of great relief after his terrific performance just before the World Cup. Their interim head coach Nick Pothas echoed the same sentiment.
“Yeah he was very tidy. You know Fizz has been working very hard the last month or so to try and find some rhythm. We know his credentials bowling at the death. You can ask him to wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and bowl death overs and he will do them with the best in the world,” said Pothas.
“He has just been trying to get back some rhythm with the new ball and he has worked very hard himself along with Allan Donald and you can see the fruits. Just coming good at the right time just before the World Cup and very happy for him,” he added.
Pothas added that switching roles for Mustafizur is not a problem for him considering the vast amount of experience he has.
“No they are very specific, those two roles (bowling with new ball and old ball). They are almost living in two different boxes. These guys are professionals and have to be able to do everything. He does it and prioritizes that very well and he got a lot of experience.”
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