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Prasad’s eccentrics will be missed not his service

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There is a bus stop in Nagoda, just before Kandana junction on Negombo road. It’s called ‘No ball Handiya’. Not because of Dilhara Fernando but as even Dhammika Prasad, who represented Sri Lanka in 25 Test matches, hails from the same vicinity. Both fast bowlers attended the same school – De Mazenod. They had a fine coach – Vernon Senanayake, even he couldn’t rectify their overstepping problems.

Prasad was quite a handful with the new ball as he could generate genuine pace. Once in Galle he dismissed Chris Gayle and celebrated it by lying down on the pitch with outstretched arms. The embarrassment was just around the corner. Umpire Richard Kettleborough approached him to inform that it was a no ball. Gayle would go onto score a career best 333 with 34 fours and nine monstrous sixes with most of them landing on the Galle bus halt!

Not sure whether any other Sri Lankan fast bowler has had an impressive debut as Dhammika Prasad. It was against India at P. Sara Oval. He took three wickets in the first innings. Guess the names? Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag.

There was lot of bad blood during Sri Lanka’s tour of England in 2014. The England and Wales Cricket Board had reduced Sri Lanka’s Test matches to two and instead hosted India for five Tests. Sri Lanka’s Head Coach Paul Farbrace had defected to England ranks just two weeks prior to the tour. Then, there was the Mankading of Jos Buttler, ordered by of all people Marvan Atapattu, one of the nicest guys to play the game of cricket.

The first Test at Lord’s was a thrilling draw. Kumar Sangakkara playing his last Test at The Home of Cricket scored a hundred. Sri Lanka’s last pair saw off some tensed moments thanks to the DRS.

The tourists fought tooth and nail in the second Test at Headingley. After conceding a lead of over 100 runs in the first innings, they fared better in the second innings. Sri Lanka were 150 runs ahead with four wickets in hand and needed 100 or so more to set England a decent target. Captain Angelo Mathews was their biggest hope. When Dhammika Prasad joined him, the instructions were clear. Mathews was going to do the scoring, Prasad had to block. But our man had a brain fade. The first ball he faced, Prasad slashed Liam Plunkett and was caught at third man. Mathews was furious and threw his bat away.

As Prasad was nearing the dressing room, team manager late Michael De Zoysa told all his players and support staff to give the batsman, who had just collected a pair, the cold shoulder. Not a single person in the dressing room spoke to Prasad that afternoon.

This angered Prasad. What followed was an aggressive spell of fast bowling. Prasad finished with career best figures of five for 50. More importantly, Sri Lanka went onto win their first ever Test series in England.

By 2015, Prasad had emerged as Sri Lanka’s leading fast bowler. That year he finished as one of the top ten wicket takers in the world in Test match cricket. We weren’t short of Prasad’s eccentrics. He picked up a fight with India’s Ishant Sharma at SSC. Prasad peppered Ishant with a barrage of short pitched bowling and exchanged words. Team mate Dinesh Chandimal came to Prasad’s aid and even brushed shoulders with the lanky Indian fast bowler. All three were charged by the Match Referee Andy Pycroft.

Later that day, as Pycroft entered Taj Samudra he saw a sight that warmed his heart. Prasad and Ishant were having coffee at the lobby. The Match Referee treated Prasad with kid’s gloves but banned Chandimal for one match. Chandimal did not speak with Prasad for several weeks.

We never saw Prasad’s full potential. He was very unlucky with injuries; like ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015. On the eve of the curtain-raiser in Christchurch, Prasad hurt his hand attempting a return catch and was sent home. He played little cricket from thereon.

Despite all eccentrics, Prasad’s team mates vouch that the bloke has a heart of gold. Successive Sri Lankan captains have valued his service for he makes their jobs so easy.

Most cricketers can be found in Colombo-7s posh clubs socializing with friends when they have day-offs. To trace Prasad you have to go to the local bar. He will either be found spending time with his villagers at Sensasia in Peralanda or CASA in Ragama. Once established, most players prefer to move to Colombo. Prasad has remained in his village – Ragama, not too far away from No Ball Junction.

Prasad feels the pain of his fellow Sri Lankans. As the country went into a lock-down following the outbreak of the pandemic last year, Prasad was busy collecting dry rations and distributing them among daily wage earners. Jesus fed 5000 people in Capernaum. Prasad fed 2000 families in Gampaha, week after week. He will announce his retirement from cricket today. He will be missed.



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Silverwood applauds problem solver Asalanka

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His ability to debate makes him a cut above the rest – Arthur

By Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka’s Head Coach Chris Silverwood and his predecessor Mickey Arthur heaped high praise on middle order batsman Charith Asalanka, whose stunning 83 not out helped Sri Lanka to complete the highest successful run chase ever at home on Wednesday.Set an improbable target of 314, Asalanka played a blinder smashing five fours and four sixes during his 72-ball knock with the last six sealing Sri Lanka’s victory with two balls to spare.

Asalanka made his Sri Lanka debut in England during Arthur’s time as Head Coach last year. Although a top order batsman, Arthur made him to bat at number five, a position where you have to absorb pressure, especially during run chases. What factors in Asalanka impressed Arthur?

“Charith worked so hard when he came into the team. He is always willing to take on information, listen and ready to debate if he wasn’t convinced on something. That’s a very good feature in a young player. I like that kind of attitude. He has this aura about him. Dasun Shanaka is doing a fine job right now but one day when he is finished Charith is the guy who is going to take on the reins of leadership,” Arthur told Sunday Island.

The former Head Coach currently lives in UK where he coaches English county Derbyshire. He is in Colombo for the Lanka Premier League that gets underway next week.

“What prompted us to fit him in the middle order is that a left-hander gives you so many positives. Charith has this ability to switch gears. Increase and decrease the tempo. He is a wristy player and can manipulate things when he is out in the middle. He can hit boundaries at any given time with his ability to find gaps and he is good at rotating the strike. He has worked very hard on sweeping and he is now able to score all-around the wicket.”

While Arthur is in Colombo, Silverwood is back in the UK spending time with family for Christmas. Although he is from Yorkshire, he lives now in Essex, half hour drive from London. Silverwood won the County Championship with Essex, a title that they won after 25 years.

“I am looking for people who want to put their hands up and get the team over the line. The way Charith went about his business was superb. The influence he had on Dunith was a strong one as well during the run chase. He took calculated risks and showed what a fine player he is,” Silverwood added.

“Charith is a problem solver. He can find answers for any tough situation. He is a strong character and a good thinker.”

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World Cup 2022: Did it cross the line? Germany out as Japan and Spain progress

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Did the ball cross the line?

That is the age-old World Cup question for Germany, who crashed out as Japan beat Spain thanks to an opinion-dividing winner that left many scratching their heads.Kaoru Mitoma’s cutback for Ao Tanaka’s tap-in happened just after the ball looked to have crossed the byeline.

Even after cropping and zooming it looked incredibly close. Eventually it was ruled that the ball had not fully crossed the line.

In other words, if you drew an imaginary line upwards at 90 degrees from the far edge of the whitewash, it would have still passed through the curve of the ball – albeit only just – even though the part of the ball that touched the ground had fully crossed the line.The goal was initially ruled out by the assistant referee after a long pause, then the video assistant referee (VAR) intervened and ultimately Japan’s lead would stand – and they would go on to win.

“I have seen a photo that must have been tampered with, it cannot be that this photo is real. It has to be manipulated,” said Spain boss Luis Enrique.

“I felt that something fishy was going on when the VAR took as much time as it did to decide… I have nothing to say.

“Luckily, the team only goes into collapse mode once every four years, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to cope.”

The controversy evoked memories of Frank Lampard’s “ghost goal” against Germany in 2010, when England went out in the last 16, and – no doubt for German fans of a certain vintage – of 1966 and Geoff Hurst’s extra-time effort when England won the World Cup.

In Qatar, those three points for Japan meant Germany were out, the four-time winners falling at the group stage for a second consecutive tournament.It was just one moment on a World Cup night full of spine tingling drama.

(BBC)

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Vishen Halambage could be next big thing in cricket

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St. Peter’s take on Thurstan College in the under-19 finals today at Colts Cricket Ground and all eyes will be on young Vishen Halambage, who has been making headlines as a prolific run scorer in schools’ cricket.
The right-handed opening batsman is the leading run scorer in the competition having scored 456 runs with two hundreds and one fifty. He is also a handy leg-spinner and has taken 18 wickets in the tournament.
Vishen hails from Ambalangoda, a town that has produced many fine cricketers. He had his initial education at Stafford International before shifting to St. Peter’s to pursue his cricketing ambitions. He has done well in all age groups at St. Peter’s and has got one more year in the under-19 set up.
Vishen is in the national selection panel’s radar and has been shortlisted in the initial pool of 30 to take on West Indies in the bilateral series. He is also expected to feature in the next ICC Under-19 World Cup and could go onto skipper the Sri Lankan team having already captained the national under-15 side.
Cricket is in Vishen’s blood. His father Kumara Halambage played cricket for Dharmashoka, Ambalangoda and First-Class cricket for Singha SC. His uncle, Premasiri Halambage, was the President of Galle District Cricket Association.

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