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.
Novak Djokovic takes on Carlos Alcaraz in Paris semi-finals today
From the moment the French Open draw was made a fortnight ago, the tennis world licked its lips at the prospect of one blockbuster match. The countdown towards Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the 22-time Grand Slam champion, against Spanish world number one Carlos Alcaraz was on.
Today (09), the two men – at opposite ends of their careers but in the same stunning form – finally go head-to-head at a Grand Slam when they meet in the Roland Garros semi-finals.
“That’s the match that a lot of people want to see,” said 36-year-old Djokovic, who is bidding for a third French Open title and a men’s record 23rd major.
Alcaraz, 20, won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open in September and is contesting his maiden semi-final on the Paris clay. “Since the draw came out, everyone was expecting that match. Myself as well. I have really wanted to play this match,” Alcaraz said.
The pair have long been considered the main contenders to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires on Sunday, even before 14-time champion Rafael Nadal withdrew with a hip injury.
Whoever wins in the last four will be favourite to beat the victor of Friday’s other semi-final between Norwegian fourth seed Casper Ruud and Germany’s 22nd seed Alexander Zverev.
Bowlers extend Australia’s dominance in WTC final
Australia extended their dominance in the World Test Championship 2021-23 final on Thursday (June 8), with their bowlers taking the centre stage after a massive partnership between Travis Head and Steve Smith.
India did limit the damage from the Australian batters as they picked up the last seven wickets for 108 runs. But Australia, who finished with 469, ensured they did not let any substantial partnership develop in India’s innings as the Rohit Sharma-led side ended Day 2 at 151/5, trailing by 318
The day began with Smith bringing up his 31st Test hundred with two successive fours off Mohammed Siraj in the opening over. A short while later, Head registered his fourth 150-plus score as they extended their partnership to 285. India, though, came back strongly as they picked up three for 26 which started with the dismissal of Head. While there were a few boundaries scored, India persisted with short-ball tactics and the move paid off when Siraj had Head caught down the leg-side to dismiss him for 163. Cameron Green edged a Mohammed Shami delivery to second slip and Smith chopped Shardul Thakur onto the stumps to depart for 121. Australia lost their fourth wicket in the first session as Mitchell Starc was run out.
Alex Carey, who had seen off the opening session along with Pat Cummins, began with a flurry of boundaries at the start of the second, including three in an over off Shami. He also struck a six off Ravindra Jadeja to power Australia past the 450 mark and raise the half-century stand with Cummins. But he missed a reverse-sweep off the left-arm spinner and was out leg-before, with India using the review to reverse the onfield call of not out. Siraj bagged the last two wickets, accounting for Nathan Lyon and Cummins, as he bagged a four wicket haul and reached the 50-wicket milestone in the process.
India made a confident start with the bat, with Rohit and Shubman Gill dealing in regular boundaries. But it didn’t take Australia long to get on top again as the openers departed in quick succession. Cummins trapped Rohit leg-before while Gill was bowled by Scott Boland shouldering arms. Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara faced a couple of probing overs but got through the testing period unscathed before the Tea break.
Pujara began confidently in the final session, clipping a Boland delivery wide of mid-on and then playing a square drive off the backfoot off Green. But much like Gill, a poor judgement ended Pujara’s outing as he was bowled shouldering arms to a Green delivery. A rising delivery off a length from Mitchell Starc clipped Kohli’s thumb en route to the ‘keeper, leaving India in further trouble as they slipped to 71/4. Ajinkya Rahane, meanwhile, had a lucky break as he was trapped in front by Cummins but upon review it was clear that the bowler had overstepped.
Rahane, meanwhile, needed the physio’s attention a couple of times as he was struck on his fingers by a Cummins delivery while he was struck on the helmet after missing a hook off Green. Ravindra Jadeja, on the other hand, batted positively as he dealt in regular boundaries and also flicked a Boland delivery over the fence. Rahane, however, did capitalise on anything in his zone as he executed a cover drive off Boland en route to a half-century partnership. The fifth wicket pair extended their stand to 71 before Jadeja edged a Nathan Lyon delivery to slip to fall two short of a fifty. Rahane and KS Bharat were unbeaten at Stumps, having their work cut out for Day 3.
Australia 469 (Travis Head 163, Steve Smith 121, Alex Carey 48; Mohammed Siraj 4-108, Shardul Thakur 2-83) lead India 151/5 (Ravindra Jadeja 48, Ajinkya Rahane 29*; Nathan Lyon 1-4, Scott Boland 1-29) by 318 runs
Mathews left out of World Cup qualifiers
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka’s selectors have left out former captain Angelo Mathews from the World Cup Qualifiers that will begin in Zimbabwe shortly. There was not much change from the squad announced for the bilateral series against Afghanistan with the only omission being that of Mathews.
Mathews had made a comeback to the ODI side when Sri Lanka toured New Zealand a couple of months back and was dropped after the first ODI against Afghanistan. Since making a comeback to the ODI side in more than two years, Mathews had managed scores of 12, 0 and 18.
However, if hard hitting batsman Kusal Perera hadn’t recovered from a hamstring injury, Mathews was expected to be part of the squad for Zimbabwe, despite not having a big knock to his name. It was leg-spinner Dushan Hemantha who was expected to miss out but the selectors have chosen to pick two leg-spinners with Wanindu Hasaranga being the number one pick.
As for Kusal Perera, the hopes of him recovering in time for the qualifiers have faded away. The batsman returned to international cricket after shoulder surgery in New Zealand but featured only in T-20 cricket. Even if he wasn’t picked for the Afghanistan series, he was tipped to make it to the World Cup Qualifiers but his hamstring is continuing to give trouble.
Sri Lanka will be pleased that Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara have recovered from injuries and the team’s hopes of earning one of the two remaining slots for the World Cup are very much high. Extra pace is going to be vital against associate countries who’ll be featuring in the qualifying round. Even Afghansitan were shaken up by the pace as Chameera and Kumara claimed the top six wickets with the new ball in the deciding third ODI where the tourists were shot out for 116.
The lack of left-arm variety in the attack is cause for some concern but the selectors seem to be adamant that they have got all bases covered. The return of Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne to the ODI side is the biggest plus point as Sri Lanka had struggled to bat out their 50 overs in recent months. The irony is that the same selectors who axed him have recalled him.
Sri Lanka Squad:
Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Kusal Mendis (Vice-Captain), Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya De Silva, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Dushan Hemantha, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Matheesha Pathirana, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha
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