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One of the best innings I’ve played: Rajapaksa

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Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 23 runs to win the Asian Cup in Dubai on Sunday.

Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup final hero Bhanuka Rajapaksa reckoned his knock – 71not out off 45 balls – was one of the best he’s ever played as it revived the team’s innings and pushed them towards a winning total. The hosts were down to 58 for 5 in the ninth over and were staring at a lowly total and the runners-up medal until Rajapaksa stepped up and steered his team clear.

He and Wanindu Hasaranga forged a stand worth 58 runs off 36 balls. When Hasaranga fell in the 15th over, Rajapaksa was batting on 37 off 28. He hit the next gear at the death overs as Sri Lanka smashed 53 off the last five overs. Rajapaksa accounted for 34 of those runs, in just 17 deliveries as he finished with a six to walk back on an unbeaten 71 off 45 balls – laced with six fours and three sixes. It powered the side to 170 for six that proved to be a winning total in the end.

“Of course it’s a wonderful moment and one of the best innings that I’ve played in a very short period of time,” Rajapaksa said in the post-match press conference. The left-hander said he and the team wanted to show their aggression in the game and hoped to ride on this success leading to the World Cup next month.

“We wanted to show the world… A couple of decades back, we had some sort of aggression in our side. And we wanted to create those moments again. I think as a unit we’re doing it fantastically well at the moment and we just want to look forward to the World Cup as well and to keep up this momentum,” Rajapaksa said.

“As a nation, I think it is a great win with all the crises happening back home. These are tough times for Sri Lankans and we are glad and we hope we brought some smiles to their faces,” he added.

Sri Lanka have enjoyed quite the journey at this tournament that culminated in them clinching their sixth Asia Cup title. Captain Dasun Shanaka revealed there were serious discussions that ensued following their absolute thrashing at the hands of Afghanistan in the tournament opener.

“After the first loss, we had a serious discussion. We knew that we had the talent so it was about applying during the game scenarios. I think the players stood up, and each and everyone contributed. That’s the environment we’ve created with the coaching staff,” Shanaka said.

“Before coming to the game, we knew that 170 would be a good score on this wicket because of the bowling we’ve got. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve got that variety in our line-up. It’s always tough to chase 170 in a final. There’s some mental aspect to it as well. I think the last six that Bhanu hit was special as well,” Shanaka added.

One of the selection masterstrokes from Sri Lanka has been the inclusion of the fast bowler Pramod Madhshan. The 28-year-old hadn’t got a game until Friday’s fixture against Pakistan, where he returned figures of 2 for 21 – including the wicket of Mohammad Rizwan. Shanaka and Co. opted to retain him instead of Asitha Fernando for the final as well as reaped rewards as he rattled Pakistan early in their chase with the wickets of Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman off consecutive deliveries in the fourth over. He was also the one who provided the next breakthrough – in the 14th over – to break Pakistan’s revival process in chase. He finished the final with figures of four for 34.

“He’s got promising skills. He’s a matured bowler so we knew him from the start of his domestic career. As a team we always have to take a risk to get a reward. So Madhushan, his skills were always there. I think he’s got a good career ahead. This was only his second game and he delivered. I am glad that he has rewarded us for the risk that we’ve taken,” Shanaka said.

Shanaka now hopes the victory in the Asia Cup will hold them in good stead at the T20 World Cup, where they have to cross the first round hurdle to get to the Super 12s. The Sri Lanka captain is not too worried about that and feels it will help them get used to the conditions better.

“We played the World Cup qualifiers last year as well. With the team that we’ve got, it’s a set up that came through from 3-4 years ago. Last two years have been really good for us I think. The momentum is there, and winning the Asia Cup will really help us going to the World Cup. Qualifiers will help as well because we’ll play in those conditions before the main tournament happens. It will be really good for us,” Shanaka said.



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St. Joseph’s have a slight edge over Trinity 

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Under 17 Division 1 Cricket Final 

by Reemus Fernando   

Two unbeaten teams, St. Joseph’s and Trinity will bank on some of the leading performers of the tournament for success when they clash for the title of the Under 17 Division I cricket tournament at Surrey Village ground, Maggona today. The two teams have in their ranks a number of players who are among the leading batsmen and bowlers of this tournament. Their performances have helped the two teams remain unbeaten.

St. Joseph’s, who have a slight edge over their rivals, are equipped with a formidable bowling unit. They have the leading spinner of the tournament in left-arm spinner Yenula Dewthusa, who has captured 19 wickets. Offie Kaven Pathirana is also among the tournament’s leading bowlers.

The Joes pace attack is led by Dunick Perera, who too is among the top ten bowlers of the tourney. He will spearhead the pace attack with Manasa Madubashana.  In the batting department the Joes were depending on shared responsibilities. Sahan Dabare, Rishma Amarasinghe, Abhishek Jayaweera, Kenath Liyanage and Dewthusa are the batsmen to watch.

Trinity too have relied heavily on a left arm spinner for wickets during the tournament. Malith Rathnayake, who is the joint third highest wicket taker of the tournament will lead their bowling unit. Trinity did not have the service of Kaveen Gamage this season due to injury. Lakwin Abeysinghe, Wathila Udara and Oshana Lokuge who shared the responsibilities in the spin department will look forward to back Rathnayake today.  Their pace attack will be led by Kavindu Jayarathna and Thisal Yapa.  In the batting department Dimantha Mahavithana, Lakvin Abeysinghe, Pulisha Tilakaratna, Aadham Hilmy and Jayavi Liyanagama have scored the bulk of runs for them.

How they reached the final  

The Joes reach the final after ousting one of the favourities, Gurukula in the semi –final. Their quarter-final against St. Sebastian’s was washed off and they reached the semi-final on merit of the bonus points they had.  They were the champions in their group in the first round and during the first two knockout games in the second round they beat Holy Cross College, Kalutara and Mahanama College, Colombo.

Trinity too were the champions in their group in the first round. During the knockout stage they beat D.S. Senanayake College and St. Anthony’s College, Wattala. In the quarter-final against Mahinda, no play was possible due to rain and they advanced to the semi-final as they had more bonus points.  In the semi-final they beat S. Thomas’.

Teams  

St. Joseph’s (from): Kenath Liyanage (Captain), Abishek Jayaweera, Naren Muralidaran, Yenula Dewthusa, Sahan Dabare, Hiran Ranaweera, Kaven Pathirana, Senodh Soysa, Oshada Gunasinghe, Dihen De Silva, Manasa Madubashana, Dunick Perera, Rishma Amarasinghe, Shenal Anuradha. Officials: Asiri Caldera (Master in Charge), Dylan Ramanayake (Head Coach), Torin Pitigala (Asst. Coach)

Trinity (from): Malith Rathnayake (Captain), Jayavi Liyanagama, Thisal Yapa, Oshana Lokuge, Kavindu Jayaratna, Aadham Hilmy, Sweath Anurajeewa, Dimantha Mahavithana, Pulisha Tilakaratna, Lakvin Abeysinghe, Wathila Udara, Thisum Rajaratna, Kadesh Anton. Officials: V. Raveendran (Master in Charge), Brain Senarathne (Master in Charge), Naveen Ekanayake (Head Coach).

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Spain women’s players call for coach to be sacked

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Spain’s football federation says 15 players have said they will resign from the women’s national team unless head coach Jorge Vilda is sacked.The RFEF said the players claim his tenure is affecting their emotional state and health.

However, the RFEF said it “is not going to allow the players to question the continuity of the national coach”.

“These types of manoeuvres are far from exemplary and outside the values ??of football and sport,” they said.

“Making those decisions does not fall within their powers.”

It warned refusing to play for the national team was “a very serious infraction and can carry sanctions of between two and five years of disqualification” and went on to say it would not call up the 15.

“The Federation will only have committed footballers even if they have to play with youth,” it added.

“This fact has gone from being a sporting issue to a dignity issue. The selection is non-negotiable. It is an unprecedented situation in the history of football, both male and female, in Spain and worldwide.

“The national team needs players committed to the project, defending our colours and proud to wear the Spain shirt.”

It ended by saying the players – who have not been named – would only be called up again in the future “if they accept their mistake and ask for forgiveness”.

Vilda, 41, has been the national team coach since 2015 and led his side to the quarter-finals of Euro 22, where the pre-tournament favourites lost in extra time to eventual winners England. In 2015 Vilda’s predecessor Ignacio Quereda resigned after Spain’s players called for him to be sacked. The move came after Spain finished bottom of their World Cup group.

(BBC Sports)

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New Zealand survive scare to complete series win

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New Zealand women survived a major collapse to down West Indies by two wickets and with almost 10 overs to spare in a hard-fought encounter in Antigua. With this victory, New Zealand also took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match ODI series.

The bowlers had laid down the foundation for New Zealand’s win. Eden Carson returned figures of 3 for 31 while Hayley Jensen bagged a two-for. Fran Jonas, Sophie Devine, Amelia Kerr and Lea Tahuhu also took a wicket each as the West Indies could muster only a modest total of 169 for 9 in their allotted 50 overs. Hayley Matthews, batting at No. 5, top scored with 46 while Chinelle Henry accumulated a brisk 35-ball 30. No other batter crossed the 20-run mark for the home side.

In the chase, New Zealand lost their skipper Devine, alongside Suzie Bates and Kerr within the first 10 overs. Green and Lauren Down then strung together an alliance of 66 to put New Zealand on course for a rather comfortable win. Even after Down was dislodged by Stafanie Taylor, Green and Brooke Hallday put on a stand of 47 to take the visitors within just six runs of victory. However, at that stage, New Zealand lost wickets in a heap to suddenly find themselves in some trouble.

Green fell in the 37th over to Afy Fletcher. Her batting partner, Halliday and Tahuhu were dismissed in the very next over by the off-spinner Karishma Ramharack. Ramharack wasn’t done yet as she also castled Isabella Gaze for no score. Eventually, Jensen calmed down the nerves in the New Zealand camp by cracking a boundary off Fletcher in the 41st over to take New Zealand past the finishing line.

Brief scores:

West Indies 169/9 in 50 overs (Hayley Matthews 46; Hayley Jensen 2-27) lost to New Zealand 171/8 in 40.1 overs (Maddy Green 48; Karishma Ramharack 3-22) by two wickets

(Cricbuzz)

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