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Ramesh Mendis set to debut in Galle



Rex Clementine at Galle Fort

Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda has presented the nation with some exceptional talents be it cricket, basketball, swimming, military, public service or politics. Ramesh Mendis could be the latest sensation to come from the school as he is expected to make his Test debut today against England in the second Test here in Galle.

The 25-year-old Mendis is expected to play instead of Dasun Shanaka as Sri Lanka strengthen their spin department. He has been more than a reliable player with the bat too in First Class cricket having posted five hundreds for Moors SC.

Mendis, a son of a policeman, is yet another cricketer to benefit from the scholarship scheme of Foundation of Goodness run by philanthropist Kushil Gunasekara. Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan rates him highly. He has got a good reputation as a leader as well having captained SSC for the Under-23 title a few seasons ago. The last three seasons he has been with Moors.

Sri Lanka will make two other changes for the must win game briniging in seamer Suranga Lakmal and Oshada Fernando. Both players return to the side after injuries and replace Kusal Mendis and Wanindu Hasaranga.

England only need a draw to win the series but a draw will be the last thing in their minds. They are currently fourth in the ICC Test Championship standings and a win here will give them 60 points. That will enable them to move above Australia to third place. Their 412 points would be just behind second placed New Zealand (420).

England are expected to do three changes. All three seamers who played the last Test are expected to be left out with James Anderson, Olly Stone and Chris Woakes expected to return. None of the seamers did badly in the last Test but it shows England’s depth.

Sri Lanka need to pull up their socks, especially after a pathetic show in the first innings where they were bowled out for 135. The hosts came up with an improved performance in their second innings but they were only catching up.


Sri Lanka (Probable XI)

Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Perera, Oshada Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (Wicketkeeper), Ramesh Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Asitha Fernando, and Suranga Lakmal.

England (Probable XI)

Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (Captain), Daniel Lawrence, Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper), Chris Woakes, Jack Leach, Dom Bess, Olly Stone and James Anderson


Kumar Dharmasena (SL) and Ruchira Palliyaguruge (SL)

Third Umpire:

Lyndon Hannibal (SL)

Match Referee:

Ranjan Madugalle (SL)

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South Africa ace record run chase to level series




De Kock and Reeza Hendrics added 152 off just 65 deliveries for a partnership scoring rate of 14.03

In what was another incredible run fest at Centurion, South Africa brushed aside West Indies by six-wickets with a record-breaking run chase in the second T20I on Sunday (March 26).

Set an unrealistic target of 259 on a perfect batting surface with short boundaries, South Africa’s openers made a mockery of the assignment, racking up a century stand inside the PowerPlay itself. It was the sort of assault that West Indies were least expecting and the the Quinton de Kock-Reeza Hendricks partnership did it with minimum fuss, using the pristine conditions to the fullest.

By the time the stand was broken, the chase seemed to be a formality of sorts, considering the hosts’ firepower in the middle order and despite losing a few wickets in the middle overs, skipper Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen got the job done with seven balls to spare.

The freak batting show from the Proteas overshadowed West Indies’ unreal batting performance earlier in the game, with the visitors posting their highest-ever total in the shortest format of the game. It was an exhibition of brutal power-hitting, led by Johnson Charles who smashed the joint-second fastest century of all time.

He got good support from the others, notably Romario Shepherd and skipper Rovman Powell as the South African bowlers were taken to the cleaners. Only Kagiso Rabada managed to withstand the onslaught to some extent but even he went at over 10 runs-per-over.

At the halfway stage, it seemed like West Indies had closed the door on this series but South Africa led by de Kock broke that open with a historic batting effort. A total of 46 boundaries and 35 sixes were hit in this mind-boggling contest.

The final game of the series will be played at The Wanderers, Johannesburg on Tuesday (March 26).

Brief scores:

South Africa 259/4 in 18.5 overs (Qintotn de Kock 100, Reeza Hendricks 68, Aiden Markram 38*) beat West Indies 258/5 in 20 overs (Charles 118, Mayers 51, Shepherd 41*) by six wickets

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Spinners, Sciver-Brunt guide Mumbai Indians women to WPL title




Mumbai Indians were crowned the inaugural champions of the Women’s Premier League after a tense, low-scoring final at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai. In a nervy title clash between the two best teams of the competition, it was the experience of Nat Sciver-Brunt that helped Mumbai get across the line, the star all-rounder following up her Eliminator blitz with a more measured knock of 60* off 55 balls. Sciver-Brunt’s half-century and her crucial partnership of 72 with Harmanpreet Kaur (37) came after an excellent bowling performance, particularly from Hayley Matthews and Melie Kerr, that restricted the Delhi Capitals to a modest total of 131.

Brief scores:

Delhi Capitals women 131/9 in 20 overs (Meg Lanning 35, Radha Yadav 27*; Hayley Matthews 3-5, Issy Wong 3-42, Melie Kerr 2-18) lost to Mumbai Indians women 134/3 in 19.3 overs (Nat Sciver-Brunt 60*, Harmanpreet Kaur 37; Radha Yadav 1-24) by seven wickets.

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Where have all the mystery bowlers gone? 



by Rex Clementine 

It’s been a while since a mystery Sri Lankan spinner bamboozled the opposition batsmen. Not just batsmen but coaches went on a frenzy decoding these bowlers while Times of India and Daily Telegraph dedicated headlines praising how well Sri Lanka groomed these sensational talents.

Ajantha Mendis was the last global sensation with bit of mystery as his carrom ball humbled India’s fabulous batting line-up comprising Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly. After him T. M. Dilshan opening the batting with field restrictions on came up with a scoop shot over the head of the wicketkeeper that later became popular as Dilscoop.

Not exactly mystery but Sri Lanka promoting unorthodox style of play totally contrary to the coaching manual had been appreciated and encouraged. Not just Dilshan and Mendis but Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya all broke convention and were extremely successful.

Credit to selectors and captains for encouraging these natural talents and more importantly for the coaches, especially at lower levels, for not sidelining them for being different.

Mendis and Malinga weren’t hits at school cricket and they were more or less groomed after they left school. But Jayasuriya and Murali were entirely different. Thankfully their early coaches did not tinker too much with their style.

Coaches nowadays are too engaged in the sport. They roam around the boundary rope providing ball by ball instructions making the captain redundant. Imagine how much impact they’d be having on players at training and there’s little room for creativity.

Cricket Academies are mushrooming as well with little monitoring done and you sense that not many players with unorthodox style are going to be accepted and as a result succeed. There are few rare talents with unorthodox styles. Some bowlers have copied Lasith Malinga and Matheesha Pathirana has earned an IPL deal even before he’s become a permanent fixture in the Sri Lankan side.

Paul Adams earned a nickname ‘frog in the blender’ for his action  and anyone who sees Sri Lankan spinner Kevin Koththigoda from down south will remember the South African wrist spinner.

Funnily Richmond College, Galle seem to be nurturing these special talents and Kamindu Mendis is another player who can  make a big impact. He’s nowadays mostly in the Test squad and nearly featured in the second Test in Wellington. He’s there in the team for his batting but he’s ambidextrous and bowls both left-arm spin and off-spin with good accuracy. That makes him an ideal candidate for shorter formats of the game and that’s where he should perhaps focus more at succeeding.

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