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Rajitha stars as Colombo secure much needed two points

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Back to back wins at Pallekele have given Colombo Stars much needed momentum in the Lanka Premier League after a disappointing start in this year’s competition. Angelo Mathews’ side started off the tournament poorly losing three of their first four games, but at Pallekele they beat Dambulla Aura by nine wickets on Wednesday and Galle Gladiators by two wickets on Tuesday to get back into contention. All five teams travelled back to Colombo yesterday and today is a day off and the competition resumes on Saturday at RPS.

Colombo owed their win to fast bowler Kasun Rajitha who ran through the opposition to return career best figures of five for 22 as Damublla Aura were bowled out for 89 runs inside 14 overs. Rajitha was benched for Colombo’s first couple of games despite doing really well in the recent World Cup in Australia.

During the run chase, Niroshan Dickwella was dismissed for a first ball duck but an unbeaten 90 run stand for the second wicket helped them to reach the target with more than eight overs to spare. The big win enabled Colombo to improve on their Net Run Rate.

Kandy Falcons are leading the points table having secured ten points. They lost only one out of six matches so far. Wanindu Hasaranga’s side won three games straight before suffering a 12 run loss to Galle Gladiators. However, they found their momentum back winning their last two games.

Kandy Falcons have got two games left in the group stage but are certain of a semi-final berth. Dambulla Aura need a miracle to revive their campaign having lost all their five games so far. They have an outside chance of making it to the knockout stage by winning their last three games, however, their Net Run Rate of -2.5 could come back to haunt them even if they win their remaining games.

Dambulla will take on Galle Gladiators in the first game of Saturday while Kandy Falcons will play Colombo Stars in the second game. Jaffna Kings are second in the points table with eight points behind Kandy Falcons while Colombo Stars are third with six points. All three teams have played three games each. Galle Gladiators and Dambulla Aura have played five games each.



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Jaffna Kings beat Kandy Falcons in seven over game

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Jaffna Kings defeated Kandy Falcons by four wickets in a  seven overs per side match played at the RPICS in Colombo.

Brief scores:
Kandy Falcons 78/5 in 7 overs [Dinesh Chandimal 21, Nohammad Harris 30, Angelo Mathews 11; Jason Behrendorff  3-10, Asitha Fernando 1-19, Azmatullah Omarzai 1-20] lost to Jafffna Kings 79/6 in 5.5 overs [Avishka Fernando 16, Charith Asalanka 26, Azmatullah Omarzai 24* ; Angelo Mathews 2-22, Dasun Shanaka 1-26, Wanidu Hasaranga 2-18] by four wickets

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Jaiswal and Gill wrap up series in style for India

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India had plenty to cheer about in Harare [Cricinfo]

Zimbabwe’s most-assured batting effort wasn’t enough to mount a challenge against India’s young IPL stars. Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill made light work of a 153-run target, sauntering home in just 15.2 overs in a sensational exhibition of intent-laden batting of the kind we hadn’t seen in the series so far.

Where Zimbabwe hit all of 10 fours in their 20 overs, Jaiswal and Gill smashed as many in their first four overs en route a ten-wicket thumping that delivered an unassailable 3-1 lead for India with one more game to play on on Sunday.

Zimbabwe had lost at least two wickets in the powerplay in each of the three T20Is in the series before this game. Today, though, Wesley Madhevere and Tadiwansabe Marumani rode their luck to add 63 in 8.4 overs to give them a platform.

In the third over, Marumani was dropped by Shivam Dube at mid-on while on 3. He also benefited from an overthrow that went to the boundary in the same over, and Marumani appeared to change gears after the reprieve by going after debutant Tushar Deshpande, who conceded 21 off his first two overs. Gill quickly turned to spin inside the powerplay and they managed to rein in the scoring; eventually an effort to up the ante against India’s part-time bowlers, who needed to fill the fifth-bowler’s quota, got Marumani.

Off Abhishek Sharma’s fourth ball, he looked to pull and ended up hitting it towards the longest part of the boundary where Rinku Singh was waiting at deep midwicket. This allowed Gill to bring on Dube from the other end in a bid to get the fifth-bowler’s quota out of the way, but he too struck – in his first over, he had the other set batter, Madhevere, pulling a short ball to Rinku at deep square leg.

Abhishek could have had a second wicket in T20Is, but for Ruturaj Gaikwad shelving a dolly at extra cover to reprieve Brian Bennett. The missed opportunity didn’t cost India much though.

Raza needed to rescue Zimbabwe as they had suddenly lost 4 for 33 after the solid opening. Having been guilty of running out Jonathan Campbell, Raza’s industry kept the runs ticking until he flicked the switch with five overs remaining.

On 21 off 17 at that point, he launched Washington Sundar over deep midwicket for a 90-metre six, and then went after Khaleel Ahmed in his next over, hitting a four and a six. Overs 16 and 17 produced 31 as Zimbabwe charged towards 160. That they fell eight short was thanks to two excellent overs from Deshpande, who dismissed Raza for his maiden international wicket, and Khaleel. Zimbabwe had a competitive, if not match-winning, total.

India’s chase was kickstarted with Jaiswal hitting three fours off left-arm seamer Richard Ngavara in the first over. Jaiswal was in no mood to stop there, hitting Tendai Chatara for four more fours off his first over, the third of the innings. The seamers kept giving him width and he kept crashing them away through point, alternating between hitting them along the ground and playing the full-blooded cuts. India raised their fifty in just 3.5 overs with Jaiswal contributing 39.

Jaiswal got to his half-century off 29 balls, and then unfurled one of the shots of the day when he sent Raza inside-out over extra cover. Having been beaten in flight, he quickly adjusted to loft him through the line and bisect the tiny gap between deep cover and wide long-off.

Gill then took over, helping himself against Faraz Akram’s gentle seam-ups in a exquisite display of hitting-on-the-up. Gill’s second straight half-century, off 35 balls, was mellow in comparison to Jaiswal but effective nonetheless.

As the match raced towards the finish line, the only point of interest was if Jaiswal could get the 17 of the 18 remaining runs needed to get to a hundred. He couldn’t; ended up 93 not out, having displayed his full range in an exhilarating display reflecting the type of intent that won India the T20 World Cup last month after 17 years.

Brief scores:
India 156 for 0 in 15.2 overs (Yashaswi Jaiswal 93*, Shubman  Gill 58*) beat Zimbabwe 152 for 7 in 20 overs (Wessley Madhevere 25, Sikanda Raza 46, Tadiwanashe Marumani 32, Khaleel Ahmed 2-32, Tushar Deshpande 1-30, Washington Sundar 1-32, Abhishek Sharma 1-20, Shivam Dube 1-11) by ten wickets

[Cricinfo]

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Djokovic sets up Alcaraz rematch in Wimbledon final

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Novak Djokovic is trying to match Roger Federer's total of eight Wimbledon titles [BBC]

Novak Djokovic outclassed Italian underdog Lorenzo Musetti to reach the Wimbledon final and set up a showdown with reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz in a repeat of last year’s final.

The 37-year-old impressed as he stayed on course for a record-equalling eighth men’s singles title at Wimbledon with a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory on Centre Court.

Musetti, 22, had one chance to get the break back in the final set but sent a forehand into the net and crouched down with his head in his hands, knowing the end was near.  Djokovic made sure his opponent did not get another opportunity.

Under pressure, Musetti sent a shot long before Djokovic walked to the net, knowing he had reached his 37th Grand Slam final and 10th at Wimbledon.

The Serb then moved his racquet over his shoulder and imitated playing a violin, in a gesture aimed at his six-year-old daughter Tara, with television cameras showing her grinning along.

Some fans, however, started booing, thinking Djokovic, who produced the same celebration following his win over Holger Rune in the last 16, was being disrespectful.

Alcaraz beat Djokovic in last year’s showpiece, winning 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 3-6 6-4 in a five-set epic, which lasted four hours 42 minutes and is regarded one of the best matches in the tournament’s history.

The pair meet again on Sunday in what could be another amazing chapter in Wimbledon folklore.

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