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Plans underway to keep uninterrupted series alive



142nd Battle of the Blues from September 9 to 11

The Joint Royal-Thomian Match Organizing Committee (JOC) has started planning to conduct the postponed 142nd Battle of the Blues behind closed doors from September 9-11 at Hambantota.

“The match is to happen very strictly behind closed doors / without any spectators present and sans any associated events, keeping in line with all COVID-19 restrictions and health and safety guidelines of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and the Government Health Authorities,” a statement from the JOC said yesterday.

The historic cricket Big Match played between Royal College, Colombo and S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia has been played uninterrupted even during the two World Wars and civil insurgencies. The Battle of the Blues, which is generally played during the second weekend of March was scheduled for May due to the Covid 19 pandemic this year. But organizers had to postpone it after four Thomian cricketers were found to be positive for Covid-19 days before the match.

The statement issued yesterday by the JOC said that both teams, coaches and support staff along with umpires and match officials will be in a Bio Secure Environment (BSE) for 21 days, adhering to COVID-19 protocols under the supervision of the Regional Health Services.

“The safety, health and well-being of the school boys will be the priority of both Heads of Schools and a joint Health & Safety (H&S) team advised by senior medical professionals has drawn up very comprehensive H&S plans to ensure a maximum BSE,” the statement said.

“The two Heads of Schools have given their consent for the JOC to proceed with making plans to play the postponed match after approvals had been given for the restart of all sports activities apart from contact sports in June 2021. The JOC thereafter applied to the relevant Ministries for further necessary approvals that have now been obtained.

“Both the School Heads and the JOC will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation of the country very carefully over the next few weeks given the seriousness of the pandemic environment that is currently escalating and will consider the re-scheduling/postponement of the event if necessary. Both school communities are very conscious of the health and safety of the children and also their responsibility to the community.”

The JOC is making arrangements to broadcast the match live.

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Jadeja stars in CSK’s sensational last-ball win over KKR



In a game full of twists and turns, Ravindra Jadeja’s sensational finish helped Chennai Super Kings beat Kolkata Knight Riders by two wickets. CSK chased down 171 on the last ball with Jadeja smashing 22 off 8 before falling on the penultimate delivery. CSK picked up their eighth win and also took the top spot away from Delhi Capitals.

Good start. Bad progress.

KKR, having opted to bat, made a scratchy beginning. Shubman Gill struck two consecutive boundaries against Deepak Chahar, overturned an lbw call with the help of DRS but was eventually run out. Venkatesh Iyer couldn’t really find the rhythm he had in the last two matches and made just 18. KKR had 50 in the opening five overs and had lost just one wicket. In the next five, they scored only 28 for 2 as Shardul Thakur dismissed Iyer in the sixth. Eoin Morgan fell in the tenth as KKR slipped to 78 for 3.

Rana builds, Karthik finishes

While other batsmen failed to get going, it was Rahul Tripathi’s assault that kept the scoreboard moving for KKR. He struck 45 off 33 but had his share of luck. He was caught behind trying to upper-cut a Sam Curran bouncer. The umpires deemed the pacer had delivered his second bouncer of the over and signalled a no ball. Tripathi fell in the 13th with 89 on the board. The stage was set for Andre Russell but the slow nature of the track didn’t allow the allrounder the pace he needed. Russell did strike two boundaries and a six but fell for 20 off 15.

At one stage, Nitish Rana was batting on 22 off 21. KKR needed a move on and it came from Dinesh Karthik. In the 19th, Karthik struck 19 against Curran to lift the side past 150. Rana finished strong and ended with unbeaten 37 off 27.

CSK’s solid start

At the 10-over mark, batting coach David Hussey felt 170 was going to be a winning score. Ruturaj Gaikwad (40 off 28) and Faf du Plessis (43 off 30) made 74 in 8.2 overs. The plan was clear as they not only took on the pacers but also put pressure on Varun Chakaravarthy (4 overs, eight dots, 22 runs and one wicket) in the first over. The spinner was struck for two boundaries by du Plessis and leaked nine in the over. Sunil Narine’s first two overs too proved to be expensive with 25 runs.

Chakaravarthy gave five in his second – the eighth of the innings – and that out pressure on the openers to keep going at a sustained higher pace. Gaikwad fell in the ninth – to Russell – but CSK eased past 100 in the 12th. Du Plessis fell in the 12th to Lockie Ferguson but Moeen Ali’s brisk start ensured CSK continued to stay ahead.

The KKR choke and Jadeja’s grand finish

Narine continued to be expensive but dismissed Ambati Rayudu in the 15th to start CSK’s wobble. Iyer too did a great job as he gave away just five in the 16th. CSK needed 40 off 24 and lost Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni from there on. That was the only joy for KKR as Ravindra Jadeja turned things around in grand style in the penultimate over.

Prasidh Krishan crumbled under pressure 6, 6, 4, and 4 to leave CSK needing 4 off 6. The drama, though, didn’t end there. Narine dismissed Curran and Jadeja before Deepak Chahar got the one run needed for the win on the last ball. (cricbuzz)

Brief scores:

Kolkata Knight Riders 171/6 in 20 overs (Rahul Tripathi 45; Shardul Thakur 2-20) Chennai Super Kings 172/8 in 20 overs (Faf du Plessis 43; Sunil Narine 3-41).

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Sajeewa wins bronze at the World Military Boxing Championships  



Sri Lanka’s leading light fly weight (49kg) pugilist Sajeewa Nuwan Kumara of the Army lived up to his promise to deliver on the international stage by winning a bronze medal at the 58th World Military Boxing Championships in Russia. Armed with sound technique, the 29-year-old Lance Corporal has been almost unbeatable at home but has been found wanting against international opposition even failing to win a medal at the 2019 South Asian Games in Kathmandu. However, the two-time national champion who has carried away the Best Boxer awards in all three major local meets – Layton Cup, Clifford Cup and the Nationals – in the recent past, dispelled any doubts that he lacked the temperament to perform on the big stage when he fought the fight of his life to beat Mozambique’s Yassine Nordine Issufo in the quarter-final.

Sajeewa Nuwan dominated the opening round out-boxing and outscoring the southpaw and displaying quicksilver footwork to slip away when his opponent attacked. However, he changed tactics in the next two rounds fighting toe-to-toe and aggressively with tenacity against his tough adversary. It turned out to be a scrappy affair with the referee having to break them from clinching often. Nonetheless, the Sri Lankan soldier landed enough scoring blows especially solid rights to earn a split decision. Sajeewa lost to Leanderso Conceicao Siqueira of Brazil in the semifinals.

Army’s Ishan Bandara who has displayed indifferent form since winning a bronze medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, showed that he is not a spent force when he advanced to the quarter-finals in the fly weight (52kg) category defeating Pakistan’s Muhammad Dawood with the bout being stopped in the third round because of an injury. Up against a southpaw Damir Abdikadir from Kazakhstan who stopped Aliaksandr Butrym of Belarus, Bandara gave another good account of himself though the volume of punches he threw was less. The Kazak fighter craftily maintained his distance to outbox Bandara who attempted to stun his opponent with solid rights. Bandara did finish strongly being on target in the final round but it was too little too late, missing out on a podium finish.

Sri Lanka were also assured of another bronze medal when Gayani Nisansala competed in the semifinals of the middle weight (75kg) category against Viktoriya Kebikava of Belarus.

The rest of the 15-member strong Sri Lanka team were eliminated in the preliminaries with leading woman pugilist Sajeewani Cooray failing to go the distance against France’s LoryeRuyer in the light weight (57kg) contest.

Fly weight boxer Sanduni Priyadarshani was outpointed by world champion Ekateria Paltseva of Russia while Barbara dos Santos from Brazil had a fast victory over Kashmi Thiwanka in the first round of 69kg contest. The other Sri Lankan boxers lost unanimous decisions to fighters from Jordan, Kazakshtan and Iran.

Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) president Dian Gomes was buoyed by the medal winning effort of Sajeewa Nuwan.”We have three bronze medals from the recent past. Nadeeka Ranasinghe at the Asian Championships in Dubai and Sajeewa Nuwan Kumara and Saduni Kaluarachchi at the World Military Championship, proving yet again that boxing has the potential to win medals in the international arena,” said Gomes.

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When the referee gets bigger than the game… 



by Rajitha Ratwatte 

The 100th All Black vs Springbok test match was played in Townsville to a sold-out stadium of 25,000 spectators. The referee from the UK Luke Peirce. The All Blacks started in style with Codie Taylor in the number two jersey making a great break off a long passage of play from the kick-off and sending Will Jordan over line mid-right. Jordie Barret converted 7–0 to the Kiwis in the first three minutes of the game. Two minutes later the Springboks triggered off what was going to be their game plan throughout the game with a high spiralling kick into the opposition 22 resulting in George Bridge being unable to collect clean and Sbu Nkosi (no 14) capitalising on the mistake and dotting down mid-right. Handre Pollard was unable to convert, and the score read 7–5 inside the first six minutes. That was it as far as running rugby and try-scoring went, as is to be expected when the South Africans’ call the shots and play to their preferences. The game was slowed down deliberately, and the referee probably used to this style of play from his Northern hemisphere background either chose not to react or simply didn’t do anything about the medical staff coming on almost after every single set-piece. The blood bin seemed to be a thing of the past and this combined with extremely slow forming up for lineouts was exactly how the ‘Boks wanted it to be.

 The rest of the half consisted of a series of penalties mostly against the Kiwis for discernible and sometimes unfathomable reasons. The AB’s ball-handling left much to be desired and the ‘Bok forwards pack definitely had the edge in both the set pieces and in loose play. A yellow card dished out to the South African try-scorer almost on half time for what should in the opinion of many, been a penalty try as well the only notable feature in a very scrappy and largely forgettable half. The lead changed twice, and the Kiwis were unable to capitalize in being a man up for six minutes in the first half. The halftime score read 13–11 to the Blacks.

The second half saw the South African go into the lead on penalties again 13–14 until the 56th minute when the ABs finally took a kickable penalty having turned down two earlier and went ahead by 16–14. The Boks’ kicked one more 16–17 and the Blacks retaliated 19–17. The lead had changed six times in the game so far and the Black bench came on with Quentin Tupaea was able to force a turnover penalty in the closing minutes of the game and Jordie Barret stepped up and into the history books by slotting the kick from the extreme left of the field and around 40 meters out. A slim victory 19-17 but all you can expect when you allow the Springboks to play their brand of rugby!

This victory ensures a win in this year’s rugby championship to the All Blacks with a game to spare and retention of the freedom cup which is awarded for the series against South Africa. The Kiwis definitely missed some of their stars who had chosen to stay at home for personal family reasons and it is hoped that the likes of Mo’uanga, Smith, and Whitelock join the team for the forthcoming European tours.

 When a team that has been holding on to the world champion of rugby union title for two years depending on a game plan that consists of high kicks and relying on the mistakes of the opposition and the vagaries of the referee to win, it does not bode well for the game. Rugby union may soon follow in the footsteps of Test cricket, into oblivion as a popular spectator sport.

 The second game of the double header was the Australian Wallabies hosting the Argentinean Pumas. A definitely improved Australian team never looked in trouble against the Pumas and even on the few occasions that the Pumas looked dangerous their discipline let them down. The Australians owe a lot to their Pacifica players led by Taniela Tupou in the front row, Valetini at number eight and backs Samu Karevi and Marika Korombeiti, who have brought a new and exciting dimension to their game.

The final score was 27–8 to the Australians. Three goals (Korombeiti, Karevi and Kalloway) and two penalty conversions to one try from the Argentinian skipper Julian Motoya and a penalty. 

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