98th National Athletics Championship- Day 1
by Reemus Fernando
Sprinters Nadeesha Ramanayake and Kalinga Kumarage and long jumper Sarangi Silva commenced from where they left exactly a year ago as they produced outstanding feats on day one of the 98th National Athletics Championship at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Saturday.
Ramanayake, who missed the South Asian Games in Nepal after being diagnose with dengue fever on her arrival there, recorded her personal best in winning the women’s 200 metres. Aided by a 1.8 tail wind, Ramanayake clocked 24.15 seconds to better her previous personal best recorded in August last year. The 26 year old sprinter from Southern Province was part of the Asian Championship 4×400 metres relay team which established a new national record in Doha in early 2019 and was expected to win medals in Nepal last December before dengue derailed her plans. She is expected to come all guns blazing when her pet event, the 400 metres, is held on the final day.
Kalinga rises, Vinoj crashes
Equally impressive was Kalinga Kumarage’s dash to win the men’s 200 metres title as the defending champion and National record holder Suranjaya de Silva crashed to a disappointing sixth place finish. Kalinga who was cleared of doping charges by a disciplinary committee in December last year was taking part in a meet after more than two years. He was temporarily suspended by SLADA in January 2019.
From the time he set the pace in the heats, Kalinga (21.08 secs) looked the athlete in form and returned an impressive 20.79 seconds to claim the 200 metres title. For a while it looked as if he had shattered Prasanna Amarasekara’s long standing meet record (2004- 20.80 secs). The wind gauge showed that his impressive effort had been supported by a tail wind of +2.4 which prevented it from being called a record.
The women’s long jump gold and silver were shared by South Asian Games medallists Sarangi Silva and Anjani Pulwansa respectively. SA Games gold medallist Sarangi cleared 6.33 metres to break Indian Anju B Marcos’s record created at the 1999 Nationals. Pulwansa, who cleared 6.06 metres was the only other athlete to go beyond the six metres mark.
Olympian Sumeda Ranasinghe registered a 76.10 metres throw to win the javelin title while former national record holder Waruna Lakshan settled for silver with a throw of 71.86 metres. Others failed to clear the 70 metres.
Olympic hopeful Nilani Ratnayake was easily the best in the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase but gusty winds prevented her from reaching her best as she returned a time of 10:15.86 seconds to retain her title.
In the men’s 5000 metres R.M.S. Pushpakumara was the winner as he clocked an impressive 14:29.45 seconds. He was eight seconds behind the 25 year old meet record held by Saman Weerawardana.
Sri Lanka Athletics is conducting the 98th National Athletics Championships under trying conditions due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Absence of competitions due to the pandemic has prevented top athletes from improving their world rankings which is a must to realize their Olympic aspirations.
Day 1 Results
Women’s 200m: 1. Nadeesha Ramanayake (SL Army) 24.15 secs, 2. Fathima Shafiya Yamick (SL Army) 24.30 secs, 3. W.S.H. Fernando (SL Navy) 24.83 secs.
Women’s Long Jump:
1. S.L. Sarangi Silva (SL Army) 6.33m (NMR), 2. Anjani Pulwansa (Unattached) 6.06m, 3. E.M.S. Upeksha (SL Universities) 5.63m.
Women’s 3000m Steeplechase:
1. U.K.N. Rathnayake (SL Army) 10:15.86secs, 2. H.K.I.T. Udayakumari (SL Army) 11:13.35 secs, 3. W.H.N. Kumari (SL Navy) 11:36.02 secs.
Men’s 200m: 1. Kalinga Kumarage (SL Army) 20.79 secs, 2. A.S.M Safan (SL Army) 21.41 secs, 3. S. Aruna Darshana (SL Army) 21.49 secs.
1. R.M.S. Pushpakumara (SL Army) 14:29.45 secs, 2. A.K. Tharanga (SL Air Force) 14:36.39 secs, 3. S.M.D.M. Samarakoon (SL Air Force) 14:46.07 secs.
Men’s Long Jump:
1. L. Sreshan Dhananjaya (SL Army) 7.71m, 2. K.K.M.K. Karunasekara (SL Army) 7.59m, 3. J.H.G. Sampath (SL Army) 7.58m.
Men’s Shot Put:
1. W.S.M. Fernando (SL Army) 16.12m, 2. R. Samitha Jayawardene (SL Army) 15.07m, 3. A.M.M. Perera (SL Police) 14.07m.
Men’s Javelin 1. R.M. Sumeda Ranasinghe (SL Army) 76.10m, 2. R.P. Waruna Dayarathna (SL Army) 71.86m, 3. Ranjith Nuwan Kumara (SL Army) 69.43m.
Australia vs Sri Lanka an enthralling ODI series
by Anura Tennekoon
The recently concluded 0DI series between Australia and Sri Lanka was one of the best if not the best cricket series witnessed on Sri Lankan soil. I am of this opinion due to the highly competitive and attractive cricket played by both sides.
1st ODI at Pallakelle Stadium Kandy
This contest was won by Australia by two wickets on the Duckworth & Lewis method as the game was affected by rain.
Sri Lanka batting 1st scored 300 for seven in 50 overs, with Kausal Mendis returning to form with a commanding innings of 86 not out.
Agar bowled best for Australia with figures of two for 49. Australia in its turn scored 282 for eight in 42.3 overs with the revised target being 282 in 44 overs. Maxwell led the way for Australia with a belligerent 80 not out. Hasaranga captured four wickets for 58.
2nd ODI at Pallakelle Stadium Kandy
Sri Lanka batted first to notch up 220 for nine in 47.4 overs. Once again Kusal Mendis was the top scorer with 36 runs. Pat Cummins was the main wrecker with four for 59. Australia in their turn were all out for 189 in 37.1 overs in response to a revised target of 216 in 43 overs. Chamika Karunaratne showed his prowess as a bowler in capturing three wickets while Chameera, Wellalage, and Dananjaya took two wickets apiece. This was a comprehensive win for Sri Lanka and signalled to Australia that they were up for a fight.
3rd ODI at Ketharama
Australia batted first and made 291 for six in 50 overs. Travis Head being the main scorer with a well compiled unbeaten 70. Vandersay three for 49 compensated for the absence of Hasaranga due to injury. Sri Lanka chasing a stiff target batted brilliantly to overhaul the Australian total in 48.3 overs for the loss of four wickets. Pathum Nissanka played a master class innings of 137 runs which made the difference in this game. I described his innings more comprehensively in a previous article of mine. Jhye Richardson was the only bowler to withstand the Sri Lankan onslaught taking two wickets for 39 runs. Sri Lanka going two up in the series must have been looking forward for the next match to seal the series.
4th ODI at Ketharama
In this game Sri Lanka batting first, lost early wickets, when Asalanka and Dananjaya associated themselves in a big partnership and pulled Sri Lanka out of trouble. Asalanka went onto score his maiden ODI century while holding the Sri Lankan innings together for a total of 258 all out in 49 overs. Australia in chasing down this moderate score were doing well when suddenly they lost three wickets in a space of two overs which turned the game on its head and Australia were all out for 254 loosing by four runs. Thus Sri Lanka registered a historic series win. Warner was unlucky to miss a well deserved century by one run.
5th ODI at Ketharama
The final game of this absorbing series was one in which Australia had to play for pride. Sri Lanka batting first kept loosing wickets regularly and looked like being restricted to a score of under100 runs. Chamika Karunaratne had other thoughts and established two partnerships with Vandersay and debutant Madushan and took the total to 160. Chamika batted aggressively with authority to stamp himself as a more than useful all-rounder in scoring 75 runs in 74 balls. Now this recovery in the Sri Lankan innings gave heart to its bowlers and they made batting tough for the Aussies on a wicket taking vicious turn. The Australians huffed and puffed in scoring the required runs winning by four wickets. Credit must be given to the Sri Lankan bowlers who almost defended a meagre score. 19 year old Wellalage was a revelation in this series showing an abundance of talent and temperament.
He is bound to do well in the future. Taking facts and figures I have enumerated it is evident that this series was hard fought and Sri Lanka came on top due to them winning more key moments. If this relatively young team keeps improving they will be strong contenders in the 2023 fifty overs World Cup which is being staged in India. The wickets and conditions there will be to our liking.
I would like to pay a tribute to Sri Lankans who turned up for the final game of the series in Aussie colours. This was a magnanimous gesture which is what sport is all about. In conclusion I say that the players and spectators made Cricket the winner in this series.
Junior squash players excel in Thailand
29th Asian Junior Individual Squash Championship 2022
Sri Lankan squash players went on to better their previous record at the 29th Asian Junior Individual Squash Championships held from June 15 to 19 in Pattaya, Thailand. Sri Lanka finished with five of their players, namely Linuka Silva, Bihandu Nanayakkara, Matheesha Wijesekara, Anargi Perera and Nevindu Lakman winning their matches and being placed among the top 16 players in the Asian circuit. At the last edition only two players reached that level.
At the just concluded edition four players went on to reach the Plate semi-finals, another two players plate finals and two players eventually moving forward to winning the plate event in their respective age groups.
In the boys U-13 category Linuka Silva beat Thailand’s Chayapob Nilobol before losing to top seed Shiven Agrawal of India. Bihandu Nanayakkara beat Kuwaiti Abdulla Alkandari before losing to tournament runners up, Farkhur Razi of Malaysia.
In the boys U-15 category, Matheesha Wijesekara who was adjudged the most promising junior player at last year’s Junior Nationals went on to beat Mingi Park from Korea before losing to Pakistani Mubeen Khan in a closely contested encounter where the first set went on finish with scores reading 14-12.
In the girls U-19 category Anargi Perera went on to beat Lin Yu Chun from Chinese Taipei before losing to tournament champion Aira Azman. Current Junior National Champion Nevindu Lakman went on to beat Korean Kangin Lee but lost to Lap Man Au from Hong Kong after a hard fought four setter winning the third set in the boys U-19 category.
Yeheni Kuruppu after losing to Tournament semi-finalist Heng Wai Hong went on to beat Sonya Bajaj from Singapore and Dami Kim from Korea to win the girls U-19 plate championship. Chanithma Sinaly who lost to Indian Shameena Riaz in a tightly contested four setter winning the second set and narrowly losing the last by just two points went on to beat Sana Bahadar from Pakistan, Arichaya Chujith from Thailand and Putri Yataqi from Indonesia to win the girls U-17 plate championship. Hiruna Coralage who lost to Thailand’s Patarapam Prampai in a close five setter went on to win again with Thailand’s Natthapat Theeraslip before losing to Korean Pan Yi An in the plate final. Adithi Gunesekara who was adjudged the most promising junior player at last year’s Junior Nationals lost to tournament semi-finalist Tsz Ching Cheung from Hong Kong but beat Warisara Chujit from Thailand before losing to Waka Tachibana from Japan in the U-15 plate final.
Kaveen Kohombange, Kavithma Silva, Nethmi Wickramasinghe and Thinura Randina qualified for the semi-finals in the plate event in their respective age groups. Asian Junior Squash Championship was held after a lapse of three years (since 2019) due to the outbreak of Covid 19.
Vandersay set to debut as Sri Lanka pack side with spinners
Buoyed by the ODI series win, Sri Lanka will be looking to take on the momentum for the longer format of the game as the two match Test series against Australia gets underway today (Wednesday) at the Galle International Stadium. Australia are the holders of Warne-Murali Trophy and they are also world’s number one ranked team in Test match cricket and it will be quite a task for the Sri Lankans to challenge them.
Sri Lanka blanked Australia 3-0 in the last series at home in 2016 but that was with the experienced spin duo of Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera in the side. The current side is entirely different with Dimuth Karunaratne needing to depend on an inexperienced spin attack that struggled during the recent series in Bangladesh.
Australia completed a series win in Pakistan in March this year and are expected to play the same side that won the last Test in Lahore. Travis Head, who missed the latter part of the ODI series with a hamstring injury, is expected to go through a fitness test on the morning of the game. Glenn Maxwell is on standby.
Leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay, who had a good outing in the ODI series, is set to make his Test debut. According to Sri Lankan standards 32 maybe bit too old for someone to debut. Vandersay came close to making his debut on a couple of occasions but he has frequently got into trouble with the authorities for his off the field excesses. But as the saying goes, there’s no saint without a past and no sinner without a future.
Vandersay is expected to share the spin duties with off-spinner Ramesh Mendis and left-arm orthodox spinner Lasith Embuldeniya with Praveen Jayawickrama likely to sit out. Sri Lanka also have a back up spin option in middle order batsman Dhananjaya de Silva, who bowled superbly in the ODI series.
Opener Pathum Nissanka, who missed the Bangladesh Tests with injury will return to the side with Oshada Fernando, who had a decent outing in the last series facing the axe.
Sri Lanka have a chance to climb up the ICC Rankings if they win the series 2-0. They are currently at number seven and a series sweep will enable them to move up to number six. Australia, meanwhile, will lose their number one slot if they lose both Tests.
Sri Lanka (Probable XI)
Dimuth Karunaratne (Captain), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Ramesh Mendis, Lasith Embuldeniya, Jeffrey Vandersay and Asitha Fernando.
Australia (Probable XI)
David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head or Glenn Maxwell, Cameroon Green, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson.
Nitin Menon (IND) and Kumar Dharmasena (SL)
Michael Gough (ENG)
Javagal Srinath (IND)
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