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Pressing the self destruction button

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by Rex Clementine

The Cricket Committee chaired by former great Aravinda de Silva and comprising some of the finest brains to have played the game is one of the best things to have happened for the game in the last ten years. Methodically, they seem to be building up a structure which will make domestic cricket and the game at grass root levels stronger and it will help in the longer run. But there are also one or two areas they need to bring their expertise in and maybe put their foot down. They simply can not let amateurs handle key aspects of the sport.

You can understand the fact that the Cricket Committee does not want to interfere in selections but certain things they can not simply let go. At the moment, there is little clarity on some of the selections that are being done. Even K.M. Nelson, not the most popular cricket selector around, would have fared better.

Sri Lanka’s batting looked thin in England where they failed to bat out their 50 overs. Now that Kusal Janith Perera is out of the series, batting looks even thinner. There are just four front line batsmen for the 50 over format and it remains to be seen what’s the team’s strategy going to be to utilize their full quota of overs leave alone beating India. Against the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal this is going to be a tough ask.

Some say that this is a second string Indian team and Sri Lanka should fare better but make no mistake. This is a well drilled side under Rahul Dravid, who is known for his meticulous planning. Having tasted success with India Under-19 team and the ‘A’ team, this is Dravid’s first international exposure and he would be wanting to prove his credentials that he is the right man to take over the senior side from Ravi Shastri.

Sri Lanka’s planning has to improve leaps and bounds. You can be assured that some schools that are playing cricket do much better planing than the national cricket team. Here’s why. With KJP on the mend, the indications were that he was going to miss out on the series. The authorities did not bother to include a wicketkeeper in the squad.

Eventually, Minod Bhanuka was pulled out from the Dambulla bubble and rushed to Colombo. But giving someone who has featured in just one ODI a mere 48 hours ahead of the game is poor planning. It is like asking Basil Rajapaksa to fix the economy in two months.

It was also strange that KJP had to be named in the squad and then we had to be told that that he is injured. Media reported that KJP will not be part of the series two days before the squad was announced.

The selectors seem to be not keen to pick the players who are on war path. So leaving out the likes of Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne and all others is understandable. But then, should they have picked some of the players like Roshen Silva, Angelo Perera or Ashan Priyanjan. They had been already in a bubble and surely once KJP was out, at least one of them should have been retained.

The first ODI will get underway today at RPS. All games will be played at RPS. The T-20 will follow the ODIs.



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Chathurya, Kiran, Anjalika reach quarter-finals  

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ITF Junior Circuit Week II Tourney  

Chathurya Nilaweera, Kiran Viravanathan and Anjalika Kurera ousted their foreign counterparts to reach the quarter-finals of the boys’ and girls’ singles of the ITF Junior Circuit week II event continued at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Wednesday.

Nilaweera outplayed number two seed Caymus Hei Tung Choi from Hong Kong 6-4, 6-0 in his second round match, while Viravanathan beat Sergiy Rafiee from Great Britain 6-4, 6-2 to secure his quarter-final place.

In the girls’ singles, National Champion Kurera was the only local player to make the quarter-finals as she beat Kazakhstan’s Marina Omarova 6-2, 6-0 in the second round match.

In the boys’ doubles, Vichinthya Nilaweera and Zaidh Zihar edged out top seeds Hayden Khoo Menon from Malaysia and Caymus Hei Tung Choi from Hong Kong. They scored 6-7, 6-1, 10-5 victory to reach the semi-finals. Chathurya and Kiran reached the semi-finals of the boys’ doubles with a 3-6, 6-4, 10-6 win over Devaharshith Neelam (USA) and Arjun Premkumar (India).

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Kusal and Asalanka star in big Colombo win

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Kusal Mendis (67) and Charith Asalanka (52) posted half-centuries as Colombo beat Dambulla by seven wickets in a National Super League one-day match at P. Sara Oval yesterday.

Dambulla were shot out for 143 inside 40 overs with Prabath Jayasuriya claiming three wickets and in reply, Colombo hardly broke a sweat winning in the 21st over.

Mendis was in superb form smashing 67 off just  44 deliveries with six fours and four sixes. After his dismissal in the 16th over, Asalanka ensured that Colombo reached the target with plenty to spare. His 52 came off 48 deliveries and contained eight fours.

Meanwhile, at SSC, Kandy chased down a 247 run target with more than ten overs to spare after an excellent batting display by Niroshan Dickwella (69), Pathum Nissanka (32) and Kamindu Mendis (57*).

Dickwella and Nissanka added 105 in just 86 deliveries for the first wicket and that set the tone for the run chase. Kamil Mishara (34) and Oshada Fernando (18) made useful contributions before Kamindu (57*) and Sahan Arachige (28*) finished things off adding an unbroken 68 runs for the fifth wicket.

Brief Scores:

Colombo beat Dambulla by seven wickets

Dambulla

143 all out in 40 overs

(Lasith Abeyratne 41, Prabath Jayasuriya 3/35, Kalana Perera 2/18, Charith Asalanka 2/19)

Colombo

144 for three in 20.4 overs

(Kusal Mendis 66, Charith Asalanka 52*)

Kandy beat Jaffna

Jaffna

247 for eight in 50 overs

(Lahiru Thirimanne 56, Janith Liyanage 41, Santhush Gunathilaka 45, Nipun Ranskia 3/41)

Kandy

248 for four in 39.4 overs

(Niroshan Dickwella 69, Kamindu Mendis 57*)

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Wellalage leads World Cup wicket tally as team meet Afghanistan

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ICC Under 19 World Cup quarter-finals 

by Reemus Fernando   

When Sri Lanka Under 19s met Afghanistan in an Under 19 Asia Cup semi-final in 2018, Dunith Wellalage played second fiddle in the spin department taking a solitary wicket in a crucial victory. Now more than three and half years later, the St. Joseph’s College spinner will be leading Sri Lanka Under 19s against the same opposition as the leading wicket-taker of the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.

Sri Lanka Under 19s can rely on the leading wicket-taker of the ongoing Under 19 World Cup and the rest of the bowling attack when they take on an ‘unpredictable Afghanistan’ in the quarter-finals of the biennial event in Antigua today. But Wellalage said that the ‘self-confidence’ will be the key to their success.’

“Self-confidence is our key. All 15 of us are confident of our abilities. We always keep faith in our abilities and are going to do our best to accomplish something that will be good to Sri Lanka,” said Wellalage in an online interview with Sri Lankan media on Tuesday.

Wellalage currently has 13 wickets from this World Cup. That is three wickets more than that of the next highest wicket-taker Joshua Boyden of England. Boyden has ten wickets against his name.

Wellalage played key roles with his spin bowling in all three Group matches and strengthened the middle-order batting with a crucial half-century in the match against Australia when some of the top-order batsmen failed to deliver.

Team coach Avishka Gunawardena said that he was expecting one of the top-order batsmen to bat throughout the innings. Except for Sadeesha Rajapaksa, who scored a half-century in the last group match, the top-order batsmen are yet to come up with big knocks, though the likes of Shevon Daniel, Raveen de Silva and Chamindu Wickramsinghe have made 20s and 30s.

Gunawardena said that Afghanistan were an “unpredictable team’ and his charges were not taking any team lightly in this knockout stage. The team were expecting to consider combinations after inspecting ground conditions in the evening yesterday, hence it was not clear whether Pawan Pathiraja who was dropped for the last two matches would make a comeback.

Sri Lanka emerged champions in group ‘D’ beating Scotland, Australia and West Indies to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2016 and are expected to clear that hurdle to reach the semi-finals. In 2016, Sri Lanka Under 19s reached the semi-finals where they were beaten by India.

Afghanistan, who are likely to bank on spin, were the runners up to Pakistan in group ‘C’. They beat Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea to earn their quarter-final place.

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