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Pietermaritzburg is a distant memory

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by Rex Clementine

Pietermaritzburg is a lovely city in South Africa, a short drive from Durban. It’s known mostly for one reason. It was here a young Indian lawyer was thrown off a train for travelling in a white only compartment. He’s known to the world as Mahathma Gandhi. Pietermaritzburg is also known for cricketing reasons. Chaminda Vaas took a hat-trick here off the first three balls of a World Cup game against Bangladesh. The game was over early and we filed our copies and were back in the hotel for lunch. Pietermaritzburg of course is a distant memory. Nowadays, Bangladesh is giving Sri Lankans a taste of their own medicine.

Sri Lanka lost the three match ODI series against Bangladesh without a fight. The first two games were painful to watch as the run chase had little planning and the batsmen caved in after being put under pressure.

Pace and bounce used to be Sri Lanka’s problems but suddenly you find that young players struggling against spin. The batting coach’s explanation was that there’s nothing wrong with technique or skill levels. They seem to be having no issues in the nets but suddenly out in the middle they run out of options.

In the first two games something that was evident was that the batters were unable to rotate the strike and the dot ball pressure resulted in them taking the aerial route.  On a track that is two paced, it is just a matter of time you miss time one attempting to clear the field. That is what happened to the Sri Lankans in the first two games.

That is why your domestic cricket has to be so important. Young players struggle to find their feet when they graduate to international cricket from domestic cricket and unless we fast track the Inter-Provincial tournament, make it an annual event; young players are going to struggle. Thankfully the Cricket Committee headed by former captain Aravinda de Silva are pushing for the Inter-Provincial tournament to be introduced without any delay.

The desired result, which is a series win, wasn’t achieved in Bangladesh. But that should not force us to go back to square one for our next assignment in England. Despite the defeat, the energy levels that were shown by this side was good to see. Based on this and given the fitness standards, the selectors have something to build up for the 2023 World Cup.

Yes, there’s the danger of the team missing out on automatic qualification. But that was a danger that was present even had they persisted with seniors. What will happen now is even if Sri Lanka is relegated to the qualifying round, they have given exposure for young players who will be up for the challenge against weaker nations and earn the team a slot for the World Cup.

Bangladesh currently are formidable opponents. Four of their players have gone onto play over 200 ODIs each and that’s quite a lot. Sri Lanka’s most experienced player has barely 100 games to his name. So while the defeat is hard to stomach, you have got to look at the larger picture than crying over spilt milk.

It doesn’t mean that everything is honky-dory. For example not playing Niroshan Dickwella was a mistake. On a wicket where spinners were dominating his sweeps and reverse sweeps were missed. Also the team was depending too much on all-rounders than sticking to specialists. Ramesh Mendis looks a class act and his off-spin helped dismiss Mushfiqur Rahim in the third ODI. The series was lost by then. Mushfiqur made more than 200 runs in the first two games. Should they have played Ramesh from the start?

Whilst looking at the long term plan, the selectors also need to keep an eye on the short term plans.  For example, before the 2023 50 over World Cup, we will have two T-20 World Cups this year and next year. Can some of the seniors still contribute in the T-20 format or are we in good hands with the youngsters is an interesting question.

For some time the team has underachieved and not put in their best efforts you sensed from the outside. They perhaps needed a jolt like this to drive home some harsh points.



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Mihiranga, Charuka shine as Richmond secure quarter-final place 

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Under 17 Division I Cricket  

by Reemus Fernando   

Spinner Pubudu Mihiranga produced a five wicket haul to lead Richmond to 60 runs victory over Sri Devananda in the Under 17 Division I cricket pre-quarter-final played at Ambalangaoda on Sunday. Richmond were in danger of missing the quarter-final berth after Ravindu de Silva triggered a middle order collapse to restrict them to 166 runs. But Mihiranga’s counter attack helped them earn the crucial victory as they restricted the home team to 106 runs.

Chasing a target of 167 runs to win, Mayura Malshan, Lahiru Kavinda and Sithum Vihanga were the only batsmen to reach double figures as Devananda were bowled out in the 25th over. After doing well in the field, their batsmen failed to back up, with five batsmen getting out without scoring.  For Richmond, Thamindu Pradeeptha and Yuri Koththigoda did early damage before Mihiranga came up with his impressive spell to complete a five wicket haul.  Mihiranga’s 8.5 overs included four maidnes and he gave away just 23 runs for his five wickets.

Deciding to bat, Charuka Gunasekara stood out with a valuable knock of 81 runs (94 balls, 14x4s). With Gunasekara going great guns Richmond were looking at posting a challenging total. But Ravindu de Silva had other ideas.

Introduced to the attack as the ninth bowler, de Silva rattled the Richmond batting line up with a five wicket haul. Richmond were 133 for two wickets at the end of the 30th over but their last eight wickets could add only 33 runs during the remainder of the innings as Ravindu De Silva joined Sithum de Silva to contained the formidable line up to 166 runs.

Sithum who completed his quota of ten overs gave away just 19 runs for his three wickets. Ravindu bowled seven overs taking five wickets for 19 runs, while Mayura Malshan and Sithum Vihanga too bowled economical spells. Malshan’s seven overs (7.2) cost him just 12 runs. In the other two pre-quarter-final matches played on Saturday, Revata College, Balapitiya pulled off an exciting three runs victory over St. Thomas’, Matara and Trinity scored two wickets victory over D.S. Senanayake.

Scores:  

Richmond 166 all out 43.2 overs (Helith Edirisinghe 19, Charuka Gunasekara 81, Extras 24; Sithum de Silva 3/19, Ravindu de Silva 5/19) 

Sri Devananda 106 all out in 24.5 overs (Mayura Malshan 28, Lahiru Kavinda 30; Pubudu Mihiranga 5/23, Yuri Koththigoda 2/11) 

Results of the Matches played on Saturday 

Revata beat St. Thomas’ Matara by three runs at Matara  

Scores: 

Revata 140 all out in 49.1 overs (Kaveesha Mendis 59, Malith Mihiranga 23; Loshitha Diksith 3/26, Manuga Yonal 2/22, Pesandu Sanjan 2/14) 

St. Thomas’ 137 all out in 37.5 overs (Abdul Majid 26, Manuga Yonal 23, Sanju Dilshan 21; Kaveesha Mendis 2/32, Malith Mihiranga 2/18, Shehan Madusanka 3/18, Purna Ranyuru 3/18) 

 Trinity beat DSS by one wicket at Mount Lavinia  

Scores: 

DSS 144 all out in 45.3 overs (Shanal Binuksha 23, Sohan Senarathyapa 39, Chanul de Alwis 20, Extras 24; Malith Rathnayake 2/25, Sweaph Anurajeewa 2/24)

Trinity 145 for 8 in 49.5 overs (Sweaph Anurajeewa 27, Jayavi Liyanagama 32; Akidha Weerasuriya 2/19, Randisha Bandaranayake 2/22) 

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Man United’s David de Gea after Brentford defeat: Last season’s horror show still in our minds

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David de Gea has said Manchester United are struggling to get over last season’s traumatic campaign and added the hangover is contributing to a nightmare start to life under Erik ten Hag.Ten Hag is the first United manager in more than 100 years to lose his first two games in charge after back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Brentford.

The 4-0 humiliation at the Gtech Community Stadium on Saturday left Ten Hag’s team bottom of the Premier League table and De Gea said the dismal end to last season, when United lost seven of their final 12 games, is playing a part.

“It was a difficult season and probably it’s still in our minds,” he said. “When something goes wrong people get panicky, it’s difficult. But we have to learn, we have a new manager, some new players, we need to be more positive, keep learning and improve.”

All four goals at Brentford were conceded in the opening 35 minutes, prompting Ten Hag to replace Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez and Fred at half-time. The Dutchman said afterwards he wanted to change his entire starting lineup following a disastrous first 45 minutes and De Gea said the United boss relayed his anger to the players at the break.David de Gea endured a miserable afternoon as Manchester United were thrashed at Brentford. Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

“He said it was unacceptable, what we were doing on the pitch,” De Gea said. “Nothing else to be honest. It was horrible, then some tactical things. It was horrible from us.

“I must take responsibility, I think I cost two goals to the team today. That first goal cannot happen. As a team we should react much better than we did, but I think I cost the team two goals.”

It won’t get any easier for United with Liverpool their next opponents at Old Trafford on Aug. 22. United haven’t beaten Liverpool in a league game since 2018 and the last three fixtures against Jurgen Klopp’s side have ended in three defeats and a combined score of 13-2.

“It’s about winning games,” De Gea added. “As soon as we win one game, two games, we’re going to start feeling better and more positive.

“We’re training really well, people are training hard, everyone is giving everything, to be honest, but then in the games we are not performing. For sure we’re going to learn, we have to learn and we have to play much better.”

(ESPN)

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Godamanne retires as Sri Lanka secure Group III promotion

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Sri Lanka registered a 2-0 victory over Iraq to earn promotion to Group III as they won the vital encounter in the Asia Oceania Zone Group IV Event, which was also the final Davis Cup match for Harshana Godamanna at the SLTA clay courts in Colombo on Saturday.

In the singles Yasitha de Silva beat Abdullah Ali Hatem 6-4, 6-2 and Harshana Godamanna beat Adel Mustafa Al-Saedi 6-3, 6-2.

Godamanna who represented Sri Lanka for 20 years made his retirement from the game a memorable one. He was presented with a plaque with many pictures of him in action and his parents in appreciation. The presentation was made by Iqbal bin Issack president of SLTA.

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