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Redemption for skipper Karunaratne

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Rex Clementine in Galle

In April this year, skipper Dimuth Karunaratne guided Sri Lanka to a series win over Bangladesh. His form was Bradmansque. In three innings he produced scores of 244, 118 and 66. He was richly rewarded by the selectors. How? By being sacked as the ODI captain. Since his terrific knocks against Bangladesh, he hasn’t played any international cricket for seven months. He was rusty starting off yesterday but soon got into the grove to finish with an unbeaten 132 as Sri Lanka compiled 267 for three at stumps on day one in the first Test against West Indies.

Dimuth’s marathon lasted for more than six hours. He was dropped on 14 by Jermaine Blackwood at slip and West Indies were made to pay a heavy price with the left-hander posting his 13th Test hundred. It was his fourth Test century this year. In 2021, Dimuth has compiled over 750 runs in just ten innings. Only two other batsmen have scored more runs than him this year. Joe Root and Rohit Sharma, but the England captain has done it in 23 innings while India’s Test captain in waiting has required 21 innings.

Dimuth added 139 runs for the first wicket with Pathum Nissanka. The youngster was opening for the first time in Test match cricket but looked comfortable in his new role and should have gone onto get a big one. But he chased a full and wide Shannon Gabriel delivery and nicked one to first slip and found Rahkeem Cornwall. The West Indian giant resembles local politician Nishantha Muthuhettigama. Wonder how Cornwall is fairing in the two kilometer run and skin fold tests.

West Indies saw an opening. Oshada Fernando was not comfortable against spin and was dropped on three but the reprieve didn’t cost Windies like that of Dimuth as he fell on the same score to a terrific catch at short by leg by Nkrumah Bonner.

Angelo Mathews came in next and the pressure was created by Jason Holder, who bowled five successive maidens. The former captain too didn’t look comfortable against spin and close in fielders were keeping the pressure on. Mathews then tried to hit a boundary but the execution was flawed as he found the lone fielder in the leg-side boundary.

Dhananjaya de Silva joined Karunaratne and ensured Sri Lanka didn’t spoil the good work done earlier on adding 97 runs for the fourth wicket with Karunaratne.

Dhananjaya was unbeaten on 56 off 77 deliveries with five fours. Dimuth was on 132 off 265 balls with 13 fours.



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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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