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Rain prevents England push after Sri Lanka struggle with bat again



Charlie Dean bagged the key wicket of Chamari Athapaththu (pic Cricinfo)

England showed off their burgeoning depth to take command of the second ODI against Sri Lanka before rain descended on Northampton and rendered it a washout with one game left in the series.

Offspinner Charlie Dean and allrounder Alice Davidson-Richards came into the home side for a resting Mahika Gaur and injured Emma Lamb and claimed two wickets each with Lauren Filer, the 22-year-old quick who impressed on her ODI debut in the opening match of this series, also taking two as England moved within one wicket of bowling Sri Lanka out well inside their 50-over allocation for the second time in a row. Then the morning drizzle which had delayed the toss by half an hour returned much heavier, just as some stealthy fielding by Kate Cross ran out Achini Kulasuriya for the ninth wicket, and play never resumed.

After England had opted to bowl, Cross conceded nine runs first up, fours from Chamari Athapaththu – threaded fine and slammed in front of point – bookending a wide. Athapaththu peeled off two more fours through the covers in Cross’s next over, but Cross responded with the last ball – her first to right-hander Vishmi Gunaratne – who edged behind to Amy Jones, punctuating a bright start by Sri Lanka at 26 for 1.

Filer chimed in with the wicket of Harshitha Samarawickrama with a fuller ball that found a faint edge and Jones’ gloves. But Athapaththu was looking dangerous, particularly against Cross. Her four lofted over mid-on sounded like a gun going off and two balls later, she despatched a full delivery over the rope at deep midwicket.

Dean had been called up as part of England’s workload management of Gaur, the 17-year-old seamer who was Player-of-the-Match on ODI debut as England thumped Sri Lanka by seven wickets in Durham on Saturday, and she entered the action in the 10th over to devastating effect. Dean’s first three balls were dots and followed immediately by the prize wicket of Athapaththu, trapped lbw in front of middle and leg stump, ending her innings on a run-a-ball 34 and putting the tourists in trouble at 53 for 3.

Davidson-Richards, making her first England appearance since the winter tour of the Caribbean after Lamb was struck down with a back spasm, accounted for Hansima Karunaratne, who top-edged an excellent short ball to Sarah Glenn at fine leg and Sri Lanka’s slide continued.

Kavisha Dilhari was yet to score when Heather Knight spilled a chance at slip off Dean, but Dean covered her skipper’s error two balls later with a return catch that was a lot simpler than it looked as she fell to her left in her follow through. Davidson-Richards then had Anushka Sanjeewani out chopping on and Sri Lanka were six wickets down with only 79 runs on the board.

Tammy Beaumont put down a chance at point off Hasini Perera, on 19, after Filer had been brought back into the attack. But Filer and Jones combined again to remove Udeshika Prabodhani and when Cross pounced on the chance to run out Kulasuriya at the bowler’s end with a direct hit from midwicket as the batter strolled back to her crease without grounding her bat, Sri Lanka were 106 for 9 from 30.5 overs.

At that moment, the rain that had been hovering round the ground began to fall and the players left the field, only for it to set in and leave the hosts heading into Thursday’s final match in Leicester still with a 1-0 series advantage.

Davidson-Richards received her call-up on Friday and promptly scored a century for South East Stars as they upset competition leaders Blaze in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy on Sunday. And while she felt that playing her first international match this year was like going back to “business as usual”, she said a return to grassroots cricket had been key to her most recent innings with the bat.

“I was out on a bike ride so I could see it coming and I was like, ‘I’ll just deal with this afterwards’,” she laughed when talking about her latest England selection after being released from the Ashes squad ahead of the June Test. “I went to some club cricket on Saturday and remembered how wonderful cricket is seeing it in its actual true form, which obviously put me in quite a nice position for Sunday. I just remembered how fun cricket is and what it’s like to play on those little club grounds. So it’s been quite fun a few days and I tried to bring that into today.

“If I put pressure on myself that’s when it tends to go a bit tits up. I think just remembering how relaxed I was when I was playing club cricket, I was watching mates I used to play with when I was 15 and stuff and just seeing people playing just for fun… seeing it played in that sort of way, on Sunday I was actually just envisioning playing on that little club ground and remembering how stress-free it was. That really helped calm my brain down and not let Alice get in the way of Alice.”

Competitions like the RHFT, Charlotte Edwards Cup and the Hundred have been crucial in developing England’s talent pool, including the likes of Gaur and Filer, and Davidson-Richards said that would be a “massive factor” for the international side.

“The best teams come from environments where there’s a lot of competition for places,” she said. “You don’t want the same people being picked every single time. You want people pushing the XI that are there and I’m doing my job if I’m making it difficult for them to pick an XI.

“Charlie Dean’s exactly the same. If you’re leaving her out then you’re probably in quite a good place aren’t you because she’s an unbelievable player. The more people that we can get up to that level, the better for the England team, then obviously we’ll just keep pushing each other on.”

Brief scores:
Sri Lanka 106 for 9 in 30.5 overs (Chamarie Athapaththu 34, Charlie  Dean 2-12, Alice Davidson-Richards 2-16, Lauren Filer 2-25) vs England Match abandoned


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United Republic Front presents ‘A united step for the country’ to the President




Leader of the United Republic Front Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, presented the proposal titled “A United Step for the Country” to President Ranil Wickremesinghe , at ‘Srikota’, the United National Party headquarters in Colombo this morning (24).

Speaking at the event President Ranil Wickremesinghe, highlighted the government’s concerted efforts over the past two years to stabilize the country’s economy, which had faced significant challenges. Stressing the government’s commitment to steering the economy towards recovery through strategic reforms, the President expressed his determination to continue these initiatives with the collective support of everyone.

Recalling his open invitation to all political parties to unite under a common agenda for the country, regardless of political differences, the President reiterated his willingness to embrace constructive proposals from all political parties as part of the nation-building efforts.

The President responded positively to the request made by Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka to allow other political parties to participate in the upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month concerning the restructuring of foreign debt.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, responding queries about the scheduling of elections, affirmed that the Presidential Election will proceed as scheduled, with the General Election anticipated to take place early next year.


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Spinners put England in command on Day 2




Shoaib Bashir bagged four wickets on Day 2 (Cricbuzz)

England’s spin duo of Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley put India in trouble on the second day of the fourth Test in Ranchi by sharing six wickets between them. After getting bowled out for 353 in their first innings, England kept striking at regular intervals despite Yashasvi Jaiswal’s efforts at the other end.

England made a positive start to the day with Ollie Robinson opening up to hit a flurry of boundaries to catch India off guard. He ended up stretching the stand over 100 runs alongside overnight centurion Joe Root with the latter taking a backseat on the second morning. In the process, Robinson ended up registering his first-ever fifty in Test cricket with India desperately searching for a breakthrough. That breakthrough arrived in the form of Ravindra Jadeja as Robinson gloved one to the ‘keeper while attempting to reverse sweep.

Jadeja then made quick work of the tail as Bashir first miscued one hoick and James Anderson got trapped lbw, leaving Root stranded on 122. England would have still been fairly pleased with the score of 353 though given they were reeling at 112/5 at one stage on the opening day. They received a massive boost with the ball too as Rohit Sharma ended up nicking Anderson behind very early in his innings.

Jaiswal on the other hand though got off to a bright start yet again. Having already smashed two double tons in the series, the opener was in great touch prior to the lunch break. He carried on the same vein post resumption as well but ended up watching a procession from the non-striker’s end. Bashir hurt India big time in the second session as he first trapped the well-set Shubman Gill lbw before getting rid of Rajat Patidar and Jadeja, who had smashed successive sixes prior to that.

Those three wickets put India on the backfoot and the onus was on Jaiswal again to revive the innings. The opener did  continue to pile on the runs but England managed to keep Sarfaraz Khan quiet at the other end. The visitors then took full control of the game when Jaiswal dragged one back on to his stumps to fall for 73. With half the side back in the pavilion and almost 200 runs still behind England’s tally, India needed a massive contribution from the lower order. However, England cashed in on their advantage as Hartley drew the outside edge of Sarfaraz before trapping R Ashwin leg-before-wicket. Kuldeep Yadav and Dhruv Jurel put up a brave fight batting out almost 18 overs before stumps but India still need a huge effort from the duo on the third morning to bridge the gap.

Brief scores:
219/7 (Yashasvi Jaiswal 73, Shubman Gill 38; Shoaib Bashir 4/84) trail  England 353 in 104.5 overs (Joe Root 122*; Ravindra Jadeja 4/67) by 134 runs

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Senegal’s President Sall agrees to step down in April but sets no poll date




People nationwide gathered to watch President Sall being interviewed on Thursday evening (BBC)

Senegal’s President Macky Sall has said he will leave office when his term comes to an end on 2 April, but tensions remain over an election date.

His recent decision to delay the vote, originally scheduled for Sunday, to mid-December sparked deadly protests. In a televised interview, Mr Sall said an election date would now be decided in political talks to start on Monday.

But the opposition has refused to take part in the proposed dialogue dashing hopes of resolving the turmoil.

Sixteen of the 19 presidential hopefuls have said they will not be turning up for what the president has termed a “national dialogue”. A number of civil society organisations have also declined to take part in the exercise.

Mr Sall, who is on his way to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, for an extraordinary summit of the regional bloc Ecowas, has been under pressure to announce a new date since Senegal’s highest court declared last week that the postponement of the poll was illegal.

His original decree to delay the vote received strong condemnation from the international community. Many feared the postponement would lead to President Sall’s remaining leader of the country indefinitely in a region plagued by coups and military governments.

Speaking on national television on Thursday evening, Mr Sall said he felt there was not enough time to vote in a new president by the time he steps down on 2 April. He said that the dialogue forum would decide what should happen if this was the case.

In a show of good faith, the president said he was prepared to release the popular opposition politician, Ousmane Sonko, from prison. His arrest sparked nationwide protests last year. Dozens of the president’s opponents have already been set free since Senegal’s Constitutional Council ruled that his decision to postpone the election was illegal.

But the fact that the president did not set a new election date has further fuelled suspicions by his critics that this is just another stalling tactic.

President Sall has served two terms as Senegal’s leader and when he was first elected in 2012 he promised he would not overstay.

His televised interview has not yet restored his country’s reputation as a bastion of democracy in an increasingly totalitarian region.


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