Lahiru Kumara: all brawn and no brains
by Rex Clementine
This Lanka Premier League (LPL) has produced some thrilling contests and probably the best of them all was the clash between Colombo Stars and Kandy Warriors with Seekkuge Prasanna helping Stars to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat this week.
Some inexplicable fast bowling by Lahiru Kumara did contribute to Warriors getting knocked out of the competition. Kumara got a lot of flak for the manner in which he handled the pressure against South Africa in Sharjah in that World Cup game last month having been called up to deliver the last over.
On the positive side, people thought that Kumara would have learned his lessons. Many fans actually felt for Kumara as holding your nerve against someone like David ‘killer’ Miller is not something easy.
But this week it emerged that Kumara has learned little lessons. That LPL game taught us two lessons.
One, captains should not trust Kumara with the last over. Two, his brain is as thick as a mustard.
With Colombo Stars requiring 16 off the last over, Kandy Warriors skipper Angelo Perera entrusted his most experienced bowler to do the job. But Kumara went about things like a rookie not like someone who has been representing Sri Lanka for five years.
When third man and fine-leg was brought up, it looked that Kumara was going for the wide yorker. But he sent down a bouncer.
Why would you bring up your third man and fine-leg and send a bouncer that too with the square boundary short. Seekkuge Prasanna made most of it by depositing the ball for a six. There were two more sixes in the next two deliveries to seal a stunning run chase with two deliveries to spare and seal the fate of Kandy Warriors.
Kumara was a sensation with Sri Lanka Under-19 where he bowled with raw pace and was one of the stars in the series win in 2016. Everyone knows that he took 11 wickets at Chelmsford in a County game but little is known about what happened behind the scenes. On a wicket assisting quicks, Kumara was spraying it all over and fast bowling coach Ravindra Pushpakumara had to fetch a bottle of water and go towards the boundary to tell him to stick to the basics.
Basically he tends to get carried away and needs a lot of mentoring. Surely, when you have graduated to the senior side you are expected to do a better job.
For some reason cricket gods have given us a lot of fast bowling talents but they have been gifted with only talent and little brain. There was Ravindra Pushpakumara, nicknamed ‘Baby Waqar’ who once attempted a dive in the pool and hurt his head. He did not know the meaning of ‘shallow end’. Then there was Dilhara Fernando who floored Jacques Kallis with a vicious bouncer at Centurion but never rectified his overstepping problems.
Kumara is a precious talent. He needs constant mentoring both on and off the field so that he could go onto achieve his potential. At 24, we are yet to see the best out Kumara. He has produced some terrific spells over the years but consistency is missing. Bit of hard work and smart choices can take him places.
Tharushi shocks seniors, breaks own record and sets world-leading time
By Reemus Fernando
Ratnayake Central, Walala prodigy Tharushi Karunaratne blazed the track with the country’s second fastest time ever in the women’s 800 metres to provide a sensational start to the 2023 season proper as the Junior and Senior track and field trials commenced at Diyagama on Monday.
The athlete trained by Susantha Fernando clocked 2:01.39 seconds to beat reigning national champion and national record holder Gayanthika Abeyratne. The 18-year-old’s winning time was only 19 milliseconds shy of the national record established by the veteran runner last year.
Incidentally, Karunaratne’s feat is the world-leading time in her age category this year.
Abeyratne led the race for a better part but Tharushi beat her in the last few metres in the home straight to produce one of the fastest 800 metres races on home soil.
Tharushi who emerged as a future prospect with notable performances at the Under 16 level at Junior school competitions has been on a record-breaking sphere.
Competing in the senior category she shattered her own National Junior Record and announced her readiness even to make her senior debut for Sri Lanka at international competitions.
Her winning time yesterday stands out as it ranks above the women’s 800 metres Asian Junior Championship record. No one has run the women’s 800 metres faster than China’s Lang Yinglai (in 1997- 2:02.66 secs) at Asian Junior Championships.
Tharushi, who has represented Sri Lanka at back-to-back World Junior Athletics Championships has not only secured a place in Sri Lanka team for Asian Junior Championships but has also emerged as a strong contender to make the teams for the Senior Asian Championships and the Asian Games.
Sri Lanka Athletics conducts the two-day event as a precursor for the final selection for the Asian Junior Championships, Asian Senior Championships and the Asian Games taking place this year.
Meanwhile, in yet another notable feat Janindu Lakvijaya broke the national record in the men’s 110 metres hurdles as he clocked 13.82 seconds in the heats.
After Big Match duties Sineth, Tharupathi guide Sri Lanka U19s to big win
Just a day after finishing their Big Match duties Royal College batsman Sineth Jayawardena and Richmond College spinner Malsha Tharupathi featured prominently in Sri Lanka Under 19s five-wicket victory over their Bangladesh counterparts in UAE on Monday.
Chasing a target of 230 runs to win Sineth Jayawardena top-scored with 101 runs to secure a five-wicket victory with 33 balls to spare. Jayawardena put on a first-wicket stand of 95 runs with St. Joseph’s batsman Hirun Kapurubandara who scored a half-century.
When Bangladesh Under 19s decided to bat first, Sri Lanka bowlers did well to restrict them to 229 runs. Tharupathi with three wickets was the pick of the blowers.
Sri Lanka Cricket had given exemptions for Sri Lanka Under 19 players Jayawardena, Tharupathi and Mahinda College Galle player Dinura Kalupahana to join the team in UAE after completing their Big Match duties.
Jayawardena took two wickets in the second innings though he was off colour with the bat in Royal College’s victory at the historic 144th Big Match. Tharupathi took six wickets for Richmond in the drawn Lovers’ Quarrel Big Match against Mahinda. All rounder Kalupahana who scored a half century and took three wickets for Mahinda in the Big Match, contributed with 10 runs yesterday, while his five overs could not yield wickets.
229 for 8 in 50 overs (Chowdhur Md Rizwan 38, Jishan Alam 40, Ahrar Amin 50; Malsha Tharupathi 3/35)
Sri Lanka U19s
234 for 5 in 44.3 overs (Hirun Kapurubandara 52, Sineth Jayawardena 101, Hiran Jayasundara 35; Jishan Alam 3/31)
New Zealand seal 2-0 whitewash despite Sri Lanka’s lower order resistance
Despite a strong resistance by Sri Lanka’s lower order, three wickets apiece by Tim Southee and Blair Tickner helped bundle out the visitors for 358 to help New Zealand clinch the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington by an innings and 58 runs, on Monday. With the win, the hosts also sealed the two-match Test series 2-0.
The visitors, who were asked to follow on after bundling out for 164 in the first innings, in response to New Zealand’s 580 for 4, provided a strong fight for most parts of the first two sessions, led by Dhananjaya de Silva’s 98 – and well supported by Dinesh Chandimal’s 62 and Nishan Madushka’s 39. However, on either side of the two partnerships – for the fifth and sixth wicket respectively – the hosts triggered collapses.
They struck in the first over of the day itself, with Kusal Mendis mistiming a pull off Matt Henry to mid wicket, without adding to the overnight score. The short-ball which got them the success early in the day, was used rather generously by the New Zealanders throughout the day, especially Blair Tickner who filled in that role in the absence of Neil Wagner.
In the fourth over of the day, the other overnight batter – Angelo Matthews – departed pulling Tickner to square leg. Despite losing two wickets early in the day, Sri Lanka continued to be on the offensive, with Chandimal and Dhananjaya taking on the short-pitched attack. The duo stitched a 126-run stand for the fifth wicket, in what proved to be a high-scoring session where Sri Lanka picked 136 runs.
The attacking approach that the two batters maintained also helped them quickly take advantage of the loose deliveries as well. However, late in the morning session, Chandimal eventually fell to the ploy, top-edging a pull off Tickner to the fine leg fielder.
Madushka, on debut, got off the mark by going down the track off Michael Bracewell and hitting the offspinner for a six in the last over before Lunch. He attempted to drive the next delivery, but was tricked by the dip and eventually hit it just short of the fielder. The approach post Lunch though was rather cautious. Against the moving new ball, the batters were tested by Matt Henry and Tim Southee. However, apart from a couple of leg before appeals and a few beating the bat, there wasn’t much threat posed to them.
They slowly kept chipping away at the deficit with a 76-run partnership for the sixth wicket before Madushka fell at the stroke of Tea – yet again dismissed pulling against Tickner, this time caught at mid on.
Sri Lanka’s chances of wiping off the deficit took a massive hit when Dhananjaya was dismissed in the second over after tea. Looking to sweep Michael Bracewell, he got a top edge to the short-leg fielder. Thereafter, the lower order only delayed the inevitable. They kept the New Zealand bowlers at bay for nearly two and a half hours from thereon to hand them the last three wickets, two of which were eventually scalped by Southee.
Kasun Rajitha played out 110 deliveries in the company of Prabath Jayasuriya and Lahiru Kumara, both of whom added 45 balls each. Rajitha’s dismissal – caught at second slip poking at an away-going delivery – ended Sri Lanka’s innings soon after play was extended for the day.
580/4 decl. in 123 overs (Kane Williamson 215, Henry Nicholls 200n.o.; Kasun Rajitha 2-126)
164 all out in 66.5 overs (Dimuth Karunaratne 89; Matt Henry 3-44, Michael Bracewell 3-50) and 358 all out in 142 overs (Dhananjaya de Silva 98, Dinesh Chandimal 62; Tim Southee 3-51, Blair Tickner 3-84)
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