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Pathum’s  arrival gives new hope



By Rex Clementine

There’s new found excitement as young Pathum Nissanka became the first Sri Lankan to score a hundred on debut overseas. There’s been a lot of talk about him when he was snubbed for South Africa after a prolific domestic season and then for the home series against England. His opportunity finally came in the Caribbean and he has shown what he’s capable of.

Pathum is good enough to be an all format player like he was made to do in this series. The way he adapted from white ball cricket to the longer format was remarkable, exhibiting patience in abundance during his century.

Former greats have been quick to congratulate him particularly making mention of his appetite for runs; he averaged 67 in First Class cricket in the last three seasons. A point noted by former captain Sanath Jayasuriya took the attention of many followers of the game. Jayasuriya reminded the need for young Pathum to be ‘managed well’.

For Jayasuriya to say that he needs to be ‘managed well’ there must be something wrong with the way young players are being managed at the moment.

The likes of Jayasuriya when he started his cricket and when he was at the peak of his prowess, had many well wishers like S. Skandakumar, Sidath Wettimuny and Jayantha Dharmadasa to support him. Currently they are replaced by player agents some of whom have clearly mismanaged players.

We are left with too many examples and the fans will be hoping that Pathum Nissanka’s will not be the same story. Sri Lanka needs some solid players to come out from their current mess and the game’s main stakeholders – the players and their agents need to fall in line.

Now that Pathum has made a dream debut selections for the home Test series against Bangladesh is going to be really tough with Angelo Mathews and Kusal Janith Perera expected to return to the side.

 It was so good to see Niroshan Dickwella showing maturity that he has been lacking all these years. A clear message has been sent to him and Dickwella knows that more is expected of him. He’s been excellent behind the wickets and since the second England Test has taken more responsibly with his batting. If only he can get his act together with his reviews, Sri Lanka will have someone solid in their ranks.

Sri Lanka fought back in the first Test after being blown away for 169 runs in the first innings. Suranga Lakmal was brilliant with career best figures of five for 47 to restrict West Indies’ lead just over 100 runs. Then Sri Lanka took the game away from the hosts in the second innings with significant contributions from Lahiru Thirimanne, Oshada Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva, Pathum and Dickwella.

If they win the second Test, history will be created in the Caribbean as a Sri Lankan side has never won a Test series in West Indies.


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Gill gets ready to spoil Dhoni’s farewell party




Mahendra Singh Dhoni wouldn’t mind a ‘Farewell to Remember’ but a young Shubman Gill, oozing grace, would do everything under his control to prevent Chennai Super Kings from beating Gujarat Titans to its fifth IPL title, in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

Nearly 19 summers back when a young Dhoni was making his first strides in India blue, a four-year-old Gill was taking stance on a vast farmland in Punjab’s Fazilka village on Pakistan border, with a handmade customised bat, prepared by his doting grandfather.

On Sunday, at the 1,32,000-seater Narendra Modi Stadium, the soon-to-be 42 Dhoni will have one last assignment in his favourite Canary Yellow jersey – to stop Indian cricket’s megastar-in-waiting and do a ‘High Five’.

Three hundreds and 851 runs don’t happen every season but on a batting belter at the Motera, what will be Dhoni’s strategy to rein in the ‘Mohali Marauder’?

Will it be Deepak Chahar’s swing or Ravindra Jadeja’s wicket-to-wicket bowling? Or will it be Moeen Ali, who could be the ‘Joker in the Pack’ with his enticing flighted deliveries outside the off-stump which could sharply break back. Can Matheesha Pathirana bowl some incisive toe-crushers?

A technically near-perfect batter against a captain known for thinking out of the box. It can’t get more exciting than this.

His die-hard fans might expect him to come back again next year but even Dhoni, who has played the entire season with a heavily strapped left knee might find it extremely difficult to keep up with the demands of the shortest format.

So for every ‘Thala’ (elder brother in Tamil) fan, it’s all about savoring the Dhoni moments till it lasts. In this CSK set-up, he could afford to bat at No. 8 in most games but entering the finals with a bowling line-up that missed Deepak Chahar for the better part of first half and had to turn a profligate Tushar Deshpande into a dependable wicket-taker.

Turning an inconsistent Shivam Dube into a six-hitting bully or overseeing the return of Ravindra Jadeja, the T20 bowler, the legend of Dhoni will never cease to exist. It will only grow and his captaincy stories will also be burnished with coats of myth decades down the line.

They say familiarity breeds contempt but contempt would be the last word in Dhoni and CSK’s mind when they face Hardik Padya’s Titans.

The CSK logo features a “Roaring Lion” but they would take the team from Land of Gir Forest lightly at their own peril.

After 73 games, the two of the most consistent teams are pitted against each other in the summit clash.

No team has emulated the structural and team building ethos of Chennai Super Kings as minutely as Gujarat Titans, another team, where cricketing decisions are based on sound logic, consistency and no interference from overbearing owners.

There is a skipper in Pandya, who believes that there is only one way to lead the team. It’s called ‘The Mahi Way’.

Batters win matches but bowlers win tournaments is an old saying and it couldn’t be more apt when one tracks Titans’ performance.

Mohammed Shami (28 wickets), Rashid Khan (27 wickets) and Mohit Sharma (24 wickets) have executed plans more often than not and thus it hasn’t really effected the Titans that second highest run-scorer after Gill’s 851 runs is skipper Hardik Pandya (325), who is more than 500 runs behind.

Wriddhiman Saha, a keeper-par-excellence, woukd consider himself lucky, that team management never thought of replacing him despite a strike-rate of 127 opening the batting and only one fifty plus score in 16 knocks.

And herein, Dhoni would try to seize the opportunity. If they can get Gill out early, none of the other batters have shown wherewithal to fight hard and bowlers would need a decent total on board.

Under Dhoni, if players like Ajinkya Rahane (299 runs in 13 matches, two fifties) and Shivam Dube have found their groove this season, young bowlers such as Sri Lanka’s Matheesha Pathirana (17 wickets in 15 matches) and India’s uncapped Tushar Deshpande (21 wickets in 15 matches) have also been able to find their feet at the IPL stage.

In CSK’s batting line-up, Devon Conway (625 runs in 15 matches, six fifties) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (564 runs in 15 matches, four fifties) have time and again provided CSK with resolute starts at the top.

The big-hitting Dube (386 runs in 15 matches, three fifties) is the second joint-highest six-hitter for CSK in this IPL with 33 sixes, joined by Gill in the list.

There are no clear favourites and it could be one of the finest finals in history of IPL.

Teams (from):

Gujarat Titans:

Hardik Pandya (c), Shubman Gill, David Miller, Abhinav Manohar, Sai Sudharsan, Wriddhiman Saha, Matthew Wade, Rashid Khan, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph, Yash Dayal, Pradeep Sangwan, Darshan Nalkande, Jayant Yadav, R. Sai Kishore, Noor Ahmad, Dasun Shanaka, Odean Smith, KS Bharat, Shivam Mavi, Urvil Patel, Joshua Little and Mohit Sharma.

Chennai Super Kings:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c&wk), Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Sisanda Magala, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Ajay Mandal, Nishant Sindhu, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Mitchell Santner, Subhranshu Senapati, Simarjeet Singh, Matheesha Pathirana, Mahesh Theekshana, Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Shaikh Rasheed, Tushar Deshpande.

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Winners of WTC final between Australia and India to take home US$ 1.6 million




India went past Australia at the top of the Test rankings earlier this month (pic Cricinfo)
The winners of the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and Australia is set to become richer by US$ 1.6 million, while the runners-up will get $800,000, the ICC announced on Friday.
The winners’ cheque is the same as that in the 2019-21 cycle, where  New Zealand beat India in the final in Southampton.
The ICC’s total purse for the current WTC cycle, which ends with the final next month at The Oval in London, is $3.8 million. With $2.4 million being distributed between the two finalists, the remaining amount will be given out based on the teams’ standings on the WTC table.
Third-placed South Africa will earn $450,000, while England, who ended fourth, will get $350,000. Sri Lanka, with a fifth-place finish, will earn $200,000, and numbers six to nine, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh, in that order, will get $100,000 each.
The final of the 2021-23 WTC will be played from June 7 to 11, with June 12 as reserve day. While Australia had finished as table-toppers after winning 66.67% of their allotted points, India were second with 58.80%. The two teams had also met in a four-match series in India earlier this year, which India won 2-1.
Earlier this month, India also went past Australia in the ICC Test rankings, taking back the No 1 slot. This happened despite neither side playing any Test cricket recently, since the rankings consider a specific period and series completed before that period lose some of their value. In this case, the rankings considered all series completed since May 2020, with series completed before May 2022 weighted at 50% and everything since weighted at 100%.
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Unstoppable Gill sends Titans to summit clash




A terrific century from Shubman Gill, his third in four games, stood in the way of an El Clasico final as defending champions Gujarat Titans reached the summit clash once again after dismantling Mumbai Indians in the second qualifier.

Gill put on a show in the first half of the game and went past 800 runs in the season as Titans posted a mammoth 233 on the board. While Mumbai Indians did come up with a commendable performance in the chase, given the numerous setbacks they suffered, they eventually fizzled out after Mohit Sharma’s entry at the death, crashing to a 62-run defeat.

Brief scores:

Gujarat Titans 233/3 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 129, Sai Sudharsan 43) beat Mumbai Indians 171 in 18.2 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 61, Tilak Varma 43; Mohit Sharma 5/10) by 62 runs

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