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Kohli: Skillsets of Hasaranga and Chameera will be of huge help in UAE

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Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli believes that the additions of Sri Lanka duo Wanindu Hasaranga and Dushmantha Chameera, especially in the UAE conditions, will be a “huge help” for the team’s campaign in the second leg of IPL 2021.

Kohli said that missing the likes of Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson should not have that big an impact on the team, considering they have roped in players who have a significant understanding of subcontinent conditions.

“Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa who were with us in the first leg for a bit, were an integral part of the team, they made a decision not to play in the second leg for reasons which are absolutely understandable,” Kohli said during the unveiling of the team’s blue jersey on Saturday. “The replacements we have got for those guys are two players who know these conditions. The conditions in subcontinent this time of the year are pretty similar. Wanindu Hasaranga and Dushmantha Chameera are two guys who have played so much cricket for Sri Lanka and they understand how to play on pitches like these and their skillsets will be of huge help for us playing in Dubai. Understanding how hot and humid conditions can be and how the pitches will play out, they know everything.

“The guys coming in blend into the team culture and the plan of the team very well. The core group is also motivated. We haven’t focused at all on what we’ve missed out on but we feel stronger as the new additions have given us few other dimensions.”

Legspinner Hasaranga could straightaway slot into Royal Challengers’ first XI – that’s the sort of impression he has made in recent times with his bowling smarts coming to the fore especially during Sri Lanka’s recent series against India. He has played 17 of his 25 T20Is in the subcontinent, and he also has numbers to show how impactful he has been in these conditions: 26 wickets at an outstanding average of 14.65 and an economy rate of 6.60. During the tour of England, he also showed off his batting skills, contributing some handy runs from the lower order.

Seamer Chameera, who made a comeback into the Sri Lanka side in all three formats earlier this year after missing out on selection for two years, has also been among the wickets, particularly impressing in England in June and then against India at home. He has picked up 15 wickets in 12 matches at a 17.86 average and 6.51 economy rate since his return to the T20I side this year.

Kohli, along with his India and Royal Challengers team-mate Mohammed Siraj, flew to the UAE from England following the postponement of the Manchester Test last week. He spent six days in mandatory quarantine, following which he joined the rest of the squad in the bubble for his first practice session on Friday. He found the team to be in great spirits during training despite meeting them after months.

“After quarantine, I stepped out to practice yesterday for the first time,” Kohli said. “I did not feel that we went away at all. I felt like this is just an extension of where we left. The camaraderie was the same, there was excitement in the air, players understanding what they work hard for at the start of the IPL in the first leg. It was a high-intensity practice that we had and everyone was giving everything they had. I was very pleased to see that and very happy to finally be out of quarantine and get into the groove of the IPL.”

Royal Challengers are currently third on the table, having won five out of the seven matches during the first leg. Kohli said that the team was keen on playing with the same kind of passion and commitment as they begin their second leg on September 20 against Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi, when they will be wearing blue jerseys to pay tribute to frontline workers.

“We’ve had a great start to the campaign and that is our value factor and our motivating factor knowing that we can play a certain brand of cricket which we have shown in the first leg, with really strong and consistent performances and every player chipping in somewhere or the other, and people standing up and making impact performances for the team.

“Having played this game for so long at this level we understand that whether you have seven wins in the row, you have to start the next game with the same passion and commitment. And if you have no wins in five games which we have experienced as a team, you still have to find motivation. You just cannot afford to take things for granted. The reason why we played that way was because we were not looking beyond the day that we were part of – we never looked at how many games are left, how many points we need to qualify. We did not focus on that at all. What we focused on was the culture of the team, enjoyment among the players.”

(ESPN)



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Youth Athletics Selection Trial will weigh the impact of pandemic

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The First Youth Athletics Selection trial will be held at the Sugathadasa Stadium on November 13 and 14.

First Youth Athletics Selection Trial on November 13,14 

by Reemus Fernando  

The First Selection trial for the Asian Youth Athletics Championship 2022, scheduled for mid November, will be an ideal opportunity to weigh the impact the Covid 19 pandemic has dealt on schools sports.

There had been no schools competitions for track and field athletes since March 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Only a very few coaches had continued training junior athletes amidst trying conditions due to lockdowns and other restrictions during the last two years. Some of the athletes who were aspiring to compete at the Asian Youth Athletics Championship 2021 continued their training only to be disappointed later when the event was postponed to 2022 meaning the athletes who were eligible for competitions in 2021 will not be entitled to compete in 2022 due to the age group difference.

Sri Lanka were almost certain of top medals in at least two events at the Asian Youth Athletics Championships including the women’s 800 metres as young aspirant Tharushi Karunaratne was in top form. She is the top ranked 800 metres athlete in Asia in the Under-18 age category this year according to World Athletics listings but the postponement of the event to 2022 prevents her from emulating her brother Harsha who won a medal at a previous edition.

Sri Lanka Athletics announced November 13 and 14 as dates for the first Youth Trial for the Asian event to be held in Kuwait in March 2022. The eligible athletes are those who were born in 2005 and 2006 and Sri Lanka Athletics has provided entry standards to apply for trials. But almost all eligible athletes in this age category have last competed at national level in 2019 making it impossible to provide proof of their true current abilities to apply for entries. Due to this Sri Lanka Athletics will consider performances registered from August 01 2019 making the forthcoming trial an ideal opportunity to test the impact the pandemic has had on country’s junior sporting structure.

Sri Lanka Athletics has reduced the number of events limiting it only to the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 3,000m, 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 2,000m steeplechase, high jump, long jump, triple jump and the javelin for both girls and boys.

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There Are No Clear Favourites, Any Team Could End Up Lifting The Trophy – Muralitharan

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Sri Lanka spin icon Muttiah Muralitharan stated there are no clear favourites for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 which starts from Sunday. The T20 World Cup will begin with the Round 1 Group B encounter between hosts Oman and Papua New Guinea on Sunday, with Scotland and Bangladesh, the other teams in Group B, clashing in the evening match.

“The most exciting thing about the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 is that there are no clear favourites. Coming into the competition in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, it feels like there is no standout side and as a result, any one of a large number of teams could end up lifting the trophy,” Muralitharan said in an ICC column.

“I’m obviously delighted to see the importance that spinners have taken on in T20 cricket. It is a fast game and is meant to be a batter’s game, but the bowlers have adapted in the 18 years since the format first started in England. Fast bowlers are bowling slow balls and cutters and different balls. Those are the skills you have to develop.”

Muralitharan also shared his experience of T20 cricket as a player and coach/mentor and said one has to approach the shortest format of the game with a ‘defensive mindset’.

“My experience, both as a player and a coach or mentor in T20 cricket, was that you have to approach it with a defensive mindset, whereas in ODIs or Tests, the aim is to take wickets. Defending is attacking in T20 in my mind, you need to aim to go for 6 or 6.5 runs an over and if you can manage that, you will probably take a couple of wickets as well,” he said.

“I have been out in the UAE for the IPL and looking at the wickets, it is clear that the spinners are going to have a huge role to play in the World Cup. It will depend a lot on how the curators have prepared the wickets, but it looks like the spinners will be key as the batters were finding it hard to connect and it made for some low scoring,” the Sri Lankan pointed.

Sri Lanka is placed with Ireland, Netherlands, and Namibia in Group A. The Round 1 matches will run till October 22. The top two teams in each group will proceed to the Super 12 stage of the tournament, beginning on October 23.

“From a Sri Lankan perspective, the team will have to go through qualifying in the first round. The team has gone down in the last five or six years and it’s the first time in our history that it has happened to us. Frankly speaking, we were not good enough, and have not played good enough cricket which is why we are in this position. But the team has capable players who can reach the Super 12s and have an impact, but first they have to qualify,” Muralitharan opined.

“The spinners are very good, whereas the batting is a little bit weaker, but if they can step up and manage decent totals, then the bowlers can defend them. If they make it through, I think they will upset a few teams,” he added.

The first semi-final of the T20 World Cup will be held in Abu Dhabi on November 10. The second semi-final will be hosted by Dubai on November 11. Both semi-finals have reserve days. The marquee clash of the tournament will take place in Dubai on November 14, Sunday, with Monday acting as the reserve day for the final.

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Youth cricketers in action today

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by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Under 19 will play their first match since the last Youth World Cup when Dunith Wellalage led outfit take on Bangladesh Under 19 in the first Youth ODI at Dambulla today.

The team coached by Avishka Gunawardene have been together for just one month while their opponents had been training since October 2020 though their training has been hampered by Covid 19 related issues occasionally.

While the Bangladesh team had competed together before (against Afghanistan) the hosts are meeting an international team for the first time after the last Youth World Cup, which was played in January 2020.

Matheesha Pathirana who bowls with a sling arm action, S. Thomas’ Mount Lavinia paceman Yasiru Rodrigo, Nalanda College all-rounder Raveen de Silva and skipper Wellalage are the only players who have previous experience playing Youth International matches.

“This will give their first match exposure against an international team. This will be the opportunity for them to come together and bond together,” said Avishka Gunawardena speaking to The Island on the eve of the match.

The hosts are likely to field three pacies with Pathirana who is the only player returning from the last Youth World Cup spearheading the attack.

Wellalage will be joined by offie Traveen Mathew from St. Anthony’s, Katugastota to make the spin attack. Mathew is one of the least experienced players in the squad.

Sri Lanka Under-19 will play five Youth ODIs against Bangladesh in this series. With the Under-19 Asia Cup not confirmed yet, the series starting today will be crucial as it will be the final preparation for the Youth World Cup.

Sri Lanka Under-19 From: Dunith Wellalage (Captain), Shevon Daniel, Pawan Pathiraja, Sadisha Rajapaksa, Ryan Fernando, Sadeesh Jayawardena, Raveen de Silva, Jeewaka Shasheen, Traveen Mathew, Yasiru Rodrigo, Matheesha Pathirana, Chamidu Wickramasinghe, Lahiru Abeysinghe.

Others in the squad: Harindu Jayasekera, Lahiru Dawatage, Wanuja Kumara, Malsha Tharupathi, Sasanka Nirmal, Danal Hemananda, Vinuja Ranpul.

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