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Prasad’s eccentrics will be missed not his service



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.


Saajida Razick clinches Under-16 girls’ title



SSC Open Ranking Tennis

Bishops College player Saajida Razick out played Dinara de Silva to clinch the Under-16 girls’ singles title of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament in Colombo on Thursday.

The number two ranked Under-16 player beat the St. Bridget’s Convent player 6-2, 6-1 to claim her first title of the year in her age category.

Razick was out played by Hasali Gajaba at last month’s Colombo Championships and was eliminated in the quarter-finals at the Tennis Nationals 2020 (U16) which was played in January.

Though the finalists are from two schools they represent the same tennis school, namely the Dineshkanthan Tennis School.

In the Under-12 boys’ singles Elizabeth Moir School’s Saha Kapilasena won the title with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Jayin de Saram in the final.

Meanwhile, Dulkini Ranasinghe and Arushi Thomas overcame stiff resistance to advance to the Under-14 girls’ singles final. Ranasinghe beat Jayami Thambugalage 4-6, 7-5, 10-7, while the other semi-final too was decided in three sets. Arushi Thomas beat Onali de Silva 6-7, 7-5, 10-6.


Under-16 girls singles final

Saajida Razick beat Dinara de Silva 6-2, 6-1

Under-12 boys singles final

Saha Kapilasena beat Jayin de Saram 6-3, 6-4

Under-14 girls singles semi-finals

Dulkini Ranasinghe beat Jayami Thambugalage 4-6, 7-5, 10-7

Arushi Thomas beat Onali de Silva 6-7, 7-5, 10-6 (RF)


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Ahan, Sadeesh in record-breaking stand as Royal recommence cricket



Under-19 Cricket

by Reemus Fernando

Captain Ahan Wickramasinghe scored an unbeaten double century and put on a record breaking partnership with Sadeesha Rajapaksha as Royal recommenced First XI cricket in style against Trinity at Reid Avenue on Thursday.

Royal reached 403 for two wickets at stumps as Wickramasinghe and Rajapaksha put on an unbroken third wicket stand of 362 runs.

According to Royal statistician M.L. Fernando ‘it is the highest stand by a Royal College pair against any opposition in more than their 140 year old history.

They broke the record held by Sumithra Waranakulasuriya and Ajith Dewasurendra.

“In 1981 Sumithra Waranakulasuriya and Ajith Dewasurendra put on 304 runs for the third wicket. Ajith walked in when the score was 10 for two and their stand helped the school win by an innings and 62 runs,” Fernando told The Island. Incidentally, the previous record too had been established against Trinity.

According to Fernando the partnership is also a new ground record at Reid Avenue, a venue which had witnessed the rise of a number of Sri Lanka national players.

The 19-year-old Wickramasinghe who was part of the Sri Lanka Under-19 team that featured in the last Youth World Cup faced 223 balls and stroked 17 fours and two sixes in his knock.

Rajapaksha’s knock which came in 259 balls contained ten fours.

The match started on Thursday was Royal’s first official cricket encounter since the 141st Battle of the Blues played last March. Though the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association is set to start a limited overs tournament instead of the customary league tourney of innings format, schools which respect their historic traditional encounters have resumed their First XI cricket matches.

The Royal-Trinity cricket series, which according to Royal statistician had been played uninterrupted, had commenced in 1893.


Royal 403 for 2 in 98 overs

(Ahan Wickramasinghe 210n.o., Ashen Gamage 22, Sadeesha Rajapaksha 152n.o.,)


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SLT-MOBITEL Southern Eliyakanda Hill Climb 2021 Concludes Successfully



SLTMOBITEL Speedup Southern Eliyakanda Hill Climb 2021’ Motorbike and Car racing championship powered by the ultra-high speed fibre broadband and fastest mobile internet services provider in Sri Lanka SLT-MOBITEL concluded successfully amid much fanfare, on the 27th and 28th February, 2021 at the Eliyakanda racing circuit in Browns Hill Matara.

SLT-MOBITEL joined hands with the Southern Motor Sports Club (SMSC) for the 25th edition of the ‘SLTMOBITEL Speedup Southern Eliyakanda Hill Climb’.

The exciting racing spectacle comprised of 16 motor cycle events and 17 motor car events, on an uphill course covering a distance of 540 metres, The Bike races were conducted on 27th February and the Car races took place the next day, on 28th February, 2021.

Jaden Gunawardena took pole as the faster rider among 103 racers, marking a new race record of 33.63 seconds. Moreover, Ashan Silva made history at the car race as the first person in the event’s 25 year history to complete the race in 31.26 seconds. The race was made extra special as Ashan had in his first run beat Dilan Seneviratna’s record of 31.783 seconds.

The SLTMOBITEL Speedup Southern Eliyakanda Hill Climb is a national championship event which functions under the purview of the Sri Lanka Automobile Sports (SLAS), the governing body for motor sports in Sri Lanka.

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