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Pallekele wicket a nightmare for bowlers

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Rex Clementine at Pallekele

The first Test at Pallekele saw just 17 wickets fall over five days and it looks like the second Test could be heading for a tame draw too after just one wicket fell on the opening day of the second Test here yesterday. This wicket is so batsmen friendly that even Sanath Jayasuriya, a decade into his retirement, will manage to play his favourite cut shot over point, Wasim Akram even in his prime would have struggled to get a wicket and Ian Chappell, one of the finest cricket brains, would have run out of ideas.

Bat has dominated this series so much that some of the nation’s ardent cricket fans were turning off their television, even though this has been a complete contrast of the national cricket team’s recent sloppy batting performances.

The Pallekele track has already received a warning and there is the danger of the venue being blacklisted. ICC Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle rated the pitch below average and the venue received one demerit point. A similar conclusion could result in another adverse rating. A venue once it collects five demerit points will be banned from hosting international games for one year. Demerit points will remain active for five years.

Sri Lanka’s openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne made most of the docile pitch posting hundreds and their 209 run stand is a record for the first wicket at this ground improving on the 188 run partnership between India’s Shikhar Dhawan and K.L. Rahul in 2017.

Karunaratne, fresh from a maiden double hundred, went onto post his 12th century while Lahiru Thirimanne continued his red hot form this year scoring his third century. Thirimanne has scored over 600 runs in seven Tests this year and only Joe Root with 794 runs in six Tests has scored more than him.

Karunaratne was dropped on 28 by Najmul Shanto at first slip to deny Taskin Ahmed a wicket. The Sri Lankan skipper made most of the reprieve finishing on 118.

Thirimanne was unbeaten on 131 having successfully reviewed a decision after being given out in the last over of the day leg before wicket.

Debutant Shoriful Islam claimed the only wicket to fall on day one

Sri Lanka did two changes from the side that drew the first Test strengthening their spin department. They brought in off-spinner Ramesh Mendis while handing left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama a Test debut. It remains to be seen how the two rookie spinners perform. Mendis has played one Test while Jayawickrama has featured in only ten First Class games. Sri Lanka also have Dhananjaya de Silva as a spin option.

Karunaratne made his intentions clear at the post match interview saying that a total of 600 runs is his target, which means, Sri Lanka would look to bat the whole day today. He also added that the wicket might offer more assistance for spinners than in the first Test.

Bangladesh batting coach Jon Lewis echoed similar sentiments.



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Dharmasena reaches singles final

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Ranjan Dharmasena(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

Ranjan Dharmasena booked a berth in the singles final against Korea’s Sung Bong Han as he beat Sagg-Ho OH 6-1, 6-2 in his semi-final in the Sri Lanka Open International Wheelchair Tennis Tournament at Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Tuesday.

Sung Bong Han of Korea prevented an all-hosts final as he beat Gamini Dissanayake 6-1, 6-2 in the other semi-final.

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New champions add spice to tennis singles events

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The First Capital SSC Open Men’s and Women’s Singles championships were won by Sharmal Dissanayake and Sajida Razick respectively (Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

By A Special Sports Correspondent

Tennis star Sharmal Dissanayake (26) made a comeback to the racquet game in Sri Lanka when he won the Men’s Singles event at the First Capital SSC Open Championships worked off in Colombo recently.

The annual SSC Open tournament gave a great start to the tennis scene in the island for the New Year. It was also a new start for champion player Dissanayake after being away from playing on Sri Lankan courts at local tournaments for a while. He overcame stiff resistance from Chaturya Nilaweera in the finals, which went for four sets. Dissanayake won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and 7-6 in the pulsating final which was scheduled to go for five sets if required. This is the first time five-set tennis was introduced at a local tournament in the island.

Dissanayake has played at peak condition in past tournaments. Fitness was not a cause for Dissanayake at this tournament, but he can reach top playing condition as the months roll away this season. The talk doing the rounds in the tennis circles is that Dissanayake wants to raise his game and fitness and make himself available for the country at overseas assignments too. Meanwhile, Nilaweera, an up-and-coming player with much promise, had to sweat his way into the final with a tough semi-final fixture against Kiran Vairawanathan. It was good to see seasoned players like Guyanga Weerasekare contesting the SSC Open Men’s event. The men’s open tennis event overall in the country has just got the needed boost with the competition that’s raised by so many talented players entering and wanting a share of the pie.

Dissanayake won the Arjun Fernando Challenge Trophy for his efforts at the tournament which was witnessed by an appreciative crowd.

Schoolgirl Sajida Razick made a giant kill in the women’s open singles by beating seasoned player Neyara Weerawansa (6-3, 6-4). Despite taking the first set with her power play Razick saw the experienced Weerawansa breathing down her back in a well-contested second set. Both players made their share of unforced errors, but that didn’t take the punch away from the game Razick looked so confident throughout the game and brilliantly negotiated Weerawansa’s spirited late rally during the second set before winning her first major title in senior tennis. Razick overcame Vishmi Serasinghe in the semis while Weerawansa got the better of Dinara de Silva. Razick won the Sriya Munasinghe Challenge Trophy for her efforts.

Razick has raised her game tremendously and plays some powerful shots and also uses the full court. It would have been interesting to see how she would have fared against Anjalika Kurera had the latter taken part in this tournament. Incidentally, Kurera was not available for the SSC Open this season because she was busy preparing for a vital examination.

The tournament not only attracted its title sponsor in First Capital, but also saw Perera & Sons and Dimo coming in as co-sponsors. It’s one of the most looked forward-to events in the local tennis events calendar; having recorded its start in the 1980s. The SSC Open also serves as a category 1 ranking tournament.

The tournament was organized by the SSC Tennis Home Committee and held under the auspices of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association.

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Amameth scores back-to-back centuries

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Anjala Bandara (left) and Kavindu Amameth

Under 19 Cricket

by Reemus Fernando

Kavindu Amameth scored back-to-back centuries and put on a partnership over 200 runs for the second time in the match as Mahanama College earned major honours against De Mazenod in the Under 19 Traditional cricket encounter which ended in a draw at Kandana on Tuesday.

Amameth followed up his first innings score with an identical knock. In the first essay, he conceded 173 balls for his knock. But in his second he consumed only 101 balls as he cracked 11 fours and seven sixes to boost the score. He also put on a first-wicket stand of 209 runs with Anjala Bandara as Mahanama posted 323 for three wickets at close on a pitch where the home team could muster only 150.

It is also the first time this season that a batsman scored back-to-back centuries in a match.

At Ananda Mawatha, Mahinda College restricted the home team to 159 runs as Dhanuja Induwara picked up five wickets for the visitors to dominate day one of the traditional encounter.

Results

Mahanama take major honours

Scores:

Mahanama

363 all out in 92.1 overs (Kavindu Amameth 126, Inuka Karannagoda 75, Rashmika Perera 52, Chamika Heenatigala 24, Eshan Withanage 24; Kavindu Kaushalya 4/97, Thushan Udayanga 3/64, Sithum Fernando 3/71) and 323 for 3 in 54 overs (Kavindu Amameth 126, Anjala Bandara 84, Koojana Perera 55, Inuka Karannagoda 52n.o.; Thushan Udayanga 2/56)

De Mazenod

2 for 1 overnight 150 all out in 49.0 overs (Neshan Dias 65, Shevan Menusha 25, Uvindu Perera 20, Thareen Perera 20; Chamika Heenatigala 4/12, Inuka Karannagoda 2/26, Rashmika Perera 2/29)

Mahinda dominate day one at Ananda Mawatha

Scores:

Ananda

159 all out in 53.1 overs (Viduna Wijebandara 27, Iruth Gimshan 25, Ayesh Shahimal 42; Dhanuja Induwara 5/33, Tharusha Dilshan 2/37, Arosha Udayandga 2/18)

Mahinda

142 for 5 in 44 overs (Hareen Achintha 36, Hiruna Gallage 38n.o., Tharusha Dilshan 21n.o.; Ashinsa Deshan Nainayaka 4/40)

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