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Putting together a formidable outfit

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Oshada Fernando is the ideal Test match batsman having proved himself at number three. But he was expected to convert his success in white-ball cricket as well and when he failed, he was thrown out of the Test team too.

by Rex Clementine

You may have not liked everything about National Super League (NSL), but at least the Cricket Advisory Committee addressed the concerns about the lack of competitiveness in our First-Class cricket. Having promised to make selections for the national team on the performances of the NSL, the national selection panel has made some bold moves.

Middle-order batsman Roshen Silva showcased his appetite for big runs by posting an unbeaten 174 for Colombo against Jaffna. That was the highest score in the competition and he finds himself in the extended squad for the two-match Test series in Bangladesh. He should be part of the Test squad and should go onto nail that number six slot for Pakistan and Australia Tests as well.

Often, players categorized as ‘fine talents’ have got a long rope in Sri Lankan cricket than players like Roshen Silva whose match-saving and match-winning abilities have not got proper attention. A solid player of spin bowling with excellent temperament and an ability to play the waiting game should have played lot more than the 12 Tests he has been involved in so far. The only reason why he has played in fewer Tests is that he doesn’t have any godfathers in cricket.

Also back in the extended squad is Oshada Fernando. One of Sri Lanka’s heroes when they became the first Asian nation to win a series in South Africa, Oshada had been identified as a Test match player but after his success in the longer format of the game with the team struggling to compete in white-ball cricket he was drafted into the limited-overs sides as well and he was clearly out of depth. Eventually, he was thrown out of the Test side afte r his failures in white-ball cricket. Oshada should only play Test match cricket and we have an ideal number three in him.

Sri Lanka’s batting will look formidable once they get the right players in the midst and a top-six of Karunaratne, Nissanka, Oshada, Mathews, Dhananjaya and Roshen will be good enough to post competitive totals.

It looks a tough call on Charith Asalanka, a player earmarked for the future. Again, Asalanka was picked for Test match cricket on his excellent form in white-ball cricket and he needs to do much more than a First-Class average of 26 or one century to earn a place in the Test line-up. What needs to be welcomed is the axing of Lahiru Thirimanne. After 44 Tests, he has posted three centuries and averages 26 and the Indian series was proof that against quality bowling, he’s just a sitting duck.

A lot of people feel that Kamindu Mendis has got a raw deal. He was the best batsman in NSL having amassed over 800 runs in six games at an average of 80 with four hundreds and four fifties. In to the bargain, his imaginative leadership came in for high praise as well. Mendis will be feeling disappointed but then, rather than warming the bench during a Test match, he would be better off going to England and playing some competitive cricket.

Kasun Rajitha also finds himself back in the squad. Attributes of Rajitha being the ideal Test match quick are many but he did disappoint when he broke down halfway through his third over during the Boxing Day Test at Centurion in 2020. People don’t seem to trust him after that. However, he’s done pretty well to prove his fitness during the NSL and should go on to replace Suranga Lakmal in the side. There’s also Vishwa Fernando who has been Lakmal’s understudy and along with Asitha Fernando, the team can rely on the trio with the new ball while Ramesh Mendis, Lasith Embuldeniya, and Praveen Jayawickrama will do the job as spinners.

Many were the blunders that were committed by selectors during the Indian series. Some improvements have been made moving forward.



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Gurukula shock Bens, Koththigoda shines for Richmond

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Under 17 Division I Cricket Pre-quarter-finals

by Reemus Fernando

Playing on a matting wicket Gurukula shocked St. Benedict’s with a ten wicket win, S. Thomas’ ended Moratu Vidyalaya’s impressive run, while Richmond, St. Peter’s, St. Joseph’s and St. Sebastian’s had it easy against their rivals in the Under 17 Division I cricket tournament pre-quarter-finals played on Tuesday.

Gurukula delivered the knockout punch when Daham Vimukthi and Tharusha Kodikara grabbed three wickets each to bundle St. Benedict’s out for 71 runs. Gurukula openers Thathsara Eshan and Poorna Kalhara then kept their wickets intact to reach the target in just over ten overs.

In the match played at Karandeniya, Richmond’s Yuri Koththigoda and Pubudu Mihiranga picked up four wickets each to restrict De Mazenod’s to 99 runs and record 99 runs victory. Koththigoda produced remarkable bowling figures (10-6-7-4) giving away just seven runs in his ten overs which included six maidnes.

At Bambalapitiya, the right-arm left-arm spin combination of skipper Lashmika Perera (5/29) and Sasindu Silva helped St. Peter’s restrict Wesley to 119 runs before Nethan Devid scored an unbeaten half century to seal a comfortable seven wickets victory.

Moratu Vidyalaya’s impressive run in the tournament came to an end when S. Thomas’ registered a hard fought victory at Moratuwa. After restricting them to 234 runs Dineth Goonawardena and Kavindu Dias scored unbeaten half centuries to secure a six wicket victory.

Match results

Gurukula shock St. Benedict’s

at Kandana

Scores

St. Benedicts

71 all out in 28.2 overs (Nilakshana Nawam 16; Daham Vimukthi 3/18, Tharusha Kodikara 3/20, Thathsara Eshan 2/05)

Gurukula

74 for no loss in 10.2 overs (Thathsara Eshan 39n.o., Poorna Kalhara 28n.o.)

St. Sebastian’s in eight wickets win over St. Anne’s at Moratuwa

Scores:

St. Anne’s

102 all out in 35.1 overs (Buddima Nanadasiri 33, Nimantha Jayasundara 20, Navod Fernando 3/27, Jenen De Silva 2/15, Akash Dissanayake 2/26, Rayan Dissanayaka 2/11)

St. Sebastian’s

104 for 2 in 20.2 overs (Adesh Almeida 58, Rayan Dissanayaka 39, .o.; Jashmin Jayasundara 2/23)

S. Thomas’ beat Moratu Vidyalaya

at Moratuwa

Moratu MV

234 for 8 in 50 overs (Isuru Fernando 74, Hasindu Senanayaka 35, Deneth Sithumina 24, Ilukshan Silva 23, Rajindu Thilakaratna 2/46, Vihanga Rodrigo 2/47, Kavindu Dias 2/50)

S. Thomas’

236 for 4 in 48.1 overs (Sadev Soysa 48, Dineth Goonawardena 71n.o., Rajindu Thilakaratne 41, Kavindu Dias 55n.o.)

St. Joseph’s record seven wickets win

at Darley Road

Scores:

Mahanama

124 all out in 40.3 overs (Eshan Vithanage 53, Osanda Muthugama 17; Dunick Perera 2/15, Maanasa Madubashana 2/26, Yenula Dewthusa 3/09)

St. Joseph’s

125 for 3 in 22.4 overs (Abhishek Jayaweera 20, Sahan Dabare 43, Kenath Liyanage 33n.o.; Chamika Heenatigala 2/28)

Richmond beat De Mazenod by 99 runs at Karandeniya

Scores:

Richmond

198 all out in 49.1 overs (Pubudu Mihiranga 34, Thamindu Pradeeptha 31, Charuka Gunasekara 25, Lehan Subasinghe 24, Tinura Abeysekara 22, Malitha Perera 20; Savinu Chanthula 3/47, Nipuna Theekshana 2/05, Kavindu Kaushalya 2/20, Neshan Dias 2/27)

De Mazenod

99 all out in 27.1 overs (Kenul Dhananjaya 23, Neshan Dias 20; Yuri Koththigoda 4/07, Pubudu Mihiranga 4/26)

St. Peter’s beat Wesley

at Bambalapitiya

Scores:

Wesley

119 all out in 36.4 overs (Ravindu Sigera 32, Manuth Samarakoon 23, Lashmika Perera 5/29, Sasindu Silva 4/14)

St. Peter’s

123 for 3 in 30.5 overs (Oween Salgado 37, Nethan Devid 50n.o., Lashmika Perera 18n.o.; Jathon Wieman 2/32)

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Navy SC crowned champions of the Invitational Women’s T20 tourney

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Navy Sports Club with their trophies.

The Navy Sports Club (Navy SC) won the title of the Sri Lanka Cricket conducted Invitational Women’s T20 League tournament on Monday.

In the final of the tournament held at the Thurstan Ground, Colombo, the Navy SC edged out the Air Force SC by eight runs to clinch the title.

Batting first, the Navy SC scored 121 runs for the loss of six wickets in their quota of 20 overs. For the Navy Umesha Thimeshani top scored with a knock of 30 runs. In reply, the Air Force SC only managed to score 113 runs for the loss of seven wickets in 20 overs. In the bowling department, Madhuri Samuddhika and Sathya Sandeepani took two for 21 and two for 23 respectively for the Navy.

Meanwhile, Madhuri Samuddhika and Sathya Sandeepani of the Navy Sports Club won awards for Women’s Player of the Final and Women’s Player of the Tournament respectively. In addition, Hansima Karunarathne, the skipper of Navy SC, was adjudged the Best Bowler of the tournament.

Sri Lanka Navy Sports Club were also the winners of the women’s division one 50 over cricket tournament organized by SLC.

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Isipatana find winning rhythm to take ‘league’ rugby crown

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Members of the unbeaten Isipatana College rugby team celebrate winning the Division 1 Segment A school rugby tournament by beating Royal College in the decider last Sunday.

By a Special Sports Correspondent

School rugby this season produced joy, realised expectations and tears for teams as Isipatana College brought the curtains down on the league rugby tournament with a memorable win against Royal College in the decider played on August 14 (Sunday).

Isipatana College, very different from the sides of yesteryear, displayed all the qualities of modern rugby which is spiced with speed, power, and brute size. Skipper and number eight Dahan Nithina showed that rugby is a game for the big boys and rallied his team during the season to finish on top after seven grueling weeks of rugby. The Green Shirts also had small made players, but this Isipatana side-when compared with the other Division 1 sides- was never wanting for size. In positions where players were lacking in size the lads from Havelock Town made up for it with guts, courage and intelligence.

Overall, Isipatana was the side to watch and perhaps was drawn onto a group where competition was the stiffest. Vidyartha and Science in the league stage of the tournament produced some anxious moments for them, but the side came through with collective efforts. Till the final Isipatana’s best performance came when they beat Viyartha up in Kandy.

Another reason why this side slowly became the side to watch was that they improved with each game. Much credit must go to the coaches Saliya Kumara (Head coach), Dhanushka Botheju (Forwards Coach) and Heshan Gomex (Trainer) for the inputs made to the side.

It always looked professional when the Green Shirts were running the ball and there was a knack in almost all these players to create openings for tries. Some of the players who were outstanding in running with the ball and creating scoring opportunities for the team were Rinesh Silva, Wewala Pandith, Skipper Daham Nithina, Sonal Sansoni, Praveen Stephan, Venura Sangeeth, Sooriya Dodangoda, Dinsara De Costa and Naveen Kanishka.

School rugby is played with many support services and Isipatana College too has that support. When a team walks into a stadium with a large contingent it underscores that things are in order. Isipatana like most of the other teams showed their rugby at school is both well nurtured and nourished.

Efforts made to compile this article would not be complete if the mention is not made of Isipatana’s past glories even in capsule form. The Green Shirts first won the schools’ league crown under Chandana Deepthi when the tournament officially commenced in 1985. They had many glorious seasons there onwards and took home the league and also the knock-out titles on many occasions. The last time the lads from Havelock Town won the league crown was in 2016.

Royal too played well and spent all their ‘petrol’ on the field despite knowing that the all-important Brady Shield vs Trinity is to take place in a few days. It’s creditable that all teams hung on till the end and completed their matches in the league given that this is the first year after the pandemic that a school rugby season was played in full.

The other two teams which made it to the Super League Round are Wesley and St. Joseph’s College.

For the record Zahira and D.S Senanayake College playing in the Division 1 Segment B Tournament finished unbeaten and earned a promotion to play in the Segment A Tournament next season.

Mention must be made of Lalith Athulathmudali MV which came on top in Division 2 Group A after clearing their final hurdle against President’s College Maharagama on Sunday. Lalith Athulathmudali MV coached by Ajith Fernando won the match 13-10.

The Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association which did well to organize the tournament also received some brickbats from critics for failing to control unruly spectators during matches; on several occasions this season.

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