by a Special Sports Correspondent
Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) did well to strike a deal with Nippon Paint Company (NPC) early this month to boost its domestic rugby tournaments. NPC threw its weight behind rugby at a time when a leading communication giant didn’t come through as the sponsor for domestic rugby in Sri Lanka; this was despite much communication between the two parties.
Rugby in Sri Lanka has such a rich history it doesn’t have to be a loser when it comes to finding a sponsor. What’s needed is for SLR to have a good marketing team which is able to entice sponsors. The word ‘entice’ perfectly suits a description of rugby because the game has ideal attributes like speed, power, glamour and color to paint a picture full of energy where ever rugby is played. These are qualities that attract players, spectators and sponsors.
The sponsor is basically on board to sponsor the inter-club league rugby tournament, the Clifford Cup knock-outs and the inter-club rugby sevens. The sponsor came in at a time when the world of sports was slowly opening up after the worse phase of the Covid 19 pandemic. We passed a time when wearing masks, maintaining distances and isolating ourselves had damaged human relationships to a great extent. The worse was we never trusted anyone during the most challenging times of the pandemic. The fact that NPC accepted to come on board following an invitation by SLR should be hailed. Sport builds trust and rugby has the credentials to go beyond trust and look at lasting relationships. There again we read in the print media that one party in the sponsoring company was a past rugby player and that was one factor that helped the two parties to come together and form a partnership within a short period of negotiating.
Rugby at the senior level has eight clubs and all these are established institutes. Apart from the main title sponsor some of the clubs might have their private sponsors. This was the norm for many years during the past. The same can be said about the school rugby scene. Just a few years ago a well-known rugby playing school in Maradana-despite playing in Division 11 tournament- had three sponsors during a single season. The company logos were sported all over the players’ jerseys and shorts. The major rugby playing schools that year-playing in the division 1 tournament-had plenty to carry during that season. Rugby is a money spinning den and sports clubs and schools only have to find the right man to go hunting for potential sponsors.
Many years ago rugby attracted sponsors in the likes of John Player Gold Leaf and Carlsberg. But the Sri Lankan Government’s policy of moving sport away from liquor and tobacco made rugby suffer at that stage. But slowly the game rose to earn finances through other sponsorships and after a few years of struggle most teams had their private sponsors. Apart from that the rugby controlling body in the country gave away chunks from the title sponsor to clubs to strengthen their chances in the tournament and meet expenses. We are living in an era where even the society of rugby referees has its own sponsor.
It would be a miss if this writer doesn’t mention that there was a time in Sri Lanka rugby where local clubs fielded professional foreign players and these clubs needed huge finances to employ them. But at present the tournament committee running the domestic tournament doesn’t allow clubs to field foreigners hence their budgets are exhausted in maintain the local players and the coaching staff.
Rugby is an expensive sport and receives the patronage of a rich community. Even now we see that members of the Prime Minister’s family are involved in the game. At one time all the three sons of the lawmaker Mahinda Rajapaksa (at that time he was the head of state) were involved in Division 1 club rugby.
Unlike others sports rugby gets its fare share of media attention. So no sponsor can complain about not getting mileage out of being involved in rugby. Now the SLR must try to rope in NPC to sponsor national rugby. There are huge prospects for a sponsor in getting involved in national rugby because Sri Lanka contests the Asian Sevens Series and the Asian Rugby Tournament. Apart from that Sri Lanka is a popular rugby team in any version of rugby in the international scene. SLR President Rizly Illyas was quoted in newspapers saying that NPC was keen on sponsoring rugby’s assets like the International Rugby Sevens (Men’s and women’s and Men’s 15-a-side, Women’s rugby and provincial under 21 and 24 tournaments. For all that to come up in the future the first assignment-which is the league rugby tournament- has to see an end without any hiccups.
Anuga, Rajindu shine with centuries
Under 17 Division I Cricket
by Reemus Fernando
Wesley’s Anuga Pahansara and Rajindu Thilakaratna of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia scored match defining centuries as their schools reached the quarter-finals of the Under 17 Division I cricket tournament yesterday.
In the pre-quarter-finals played yesterday, St. Joseph’s, De Mazenod, St. Anthony’s (Wattala), Moratu Vidyalaya, S. Thomas’, Wesley, Mahanama, Gurukula, St. Benedict’s, Mahinda and St. Peter’s registered victories to confirm their places in the quarter-finals of the Division I tournament.
Anuga Pahansara’s century was crucial in setting up the stage for Wesley to post 240 runs before off spinner Rashmika Amararathna and left-arm spinner Jathon Wieman joined to reduce St. Sebastian’s to 117 runs at Moratuwa.
For S. Thomas’ Thilakaratna anchored the batting line up with an unbeaten century (101 runs in 132 balls, 13x4s, 1×6) and put on a fourth wicket stand of 116 runs with Dineth Goonawardena for them to record a five wickets win over President’s College at Kotte.
The day’s lowest score came in the match between St. Joseph’s and Holy Cross as paceman Maanasa Madubashana and spinner Yenula Dewthusa rattled the visitors for 43 runs at Darley Road.
St. Joseph’s beat Holy Cross at Darley Road
Holy Cross 43 all out in 28.2 overs (Akash Gamage 15; Maanasa Madubashana 4/16, Yenula Dewthusa 3/09)
St. Joseph’s 46 for 2 in 8 overs (Sahan Dabare 22)
De Mazenod beat St. Servatius’ at Kandana
St. Servatius ’ 139 all out in 44 overs (Risinu Kithnuka 36, Raveen Kavintha 28n.o.; Jude Shenal 3/37, Thareen Sanketh 3/25)
De Mazenod 143 for 1 in 30 overs (Kenul Dhananjaya 82n.o., Janith Karindra 22, Hasintha Dasunpriya 30n.o.)
St. Anthony’s (Wattala) beat St. Sylvester’s at Lake View Scores:
St. Anthony’s Wattala 148 all out in 48.3 overs (Shehara Dewthilina 21, Chamod Sandeepa 47, Dilanka Madushan 29; Kashyapa Dissanayake 2/35, Thimira Liyanage 4/24, Nimesha Silva 3/31)
St. Sylvester’s 126 all out in 30.3 overs (Yoshitha Isuranga 47, Dilanka Madushan 3/36, Chamod Sandeepa 3/16)
Moratu Vidyalaya beat Thurstan at Moratuwa Scores:
Moratu MV 289 for 6 in 50 overs (Hasindu Senanayaka 41, Deneth Sithumina 87, Dulen Silva 48, Malith Fernando 22, Shehara Fernando 49n.o.; Thanuga Palihawadana
Thurstan 244 for 9 in 50 overs (Kaushala Balasooriya 30, Thanuga Palihawadana 53, Vihas Thewmika 85; Vihanga Nethsara 4/40, Malith Fernando 4/44)
S. Thomas’ beat President’s at Kotte Scores:
Presidents 226 all out in 47.1 overs (Dinal Induwara 61, Tanuja Rajapakse 55, Punsara Nethmina 29, Kaveesha Yashmika 25; Achintha Rumean 3/35, Darien Diego 2/21, Kavindu Dias 2/39, Dineth Goonawardena 2/40
S. Thomas ’ 227 for 5 in 47.3 overs (Rajindu Thilakaratna 101n.o., Dineth Goonawardena 48; Sanithu Nethmina 4/50)
Wesley beat St. Sebastian’s at Moratuwa Scores:
Wesley 240 for 8 in 50 overs (Anuga Pahansara 104, Senila Senarathne 36, Rukshan Tharanga 29, Manuth Samarakoon 28; Malindu Daham 2/43, Maheesha Sithum 2/44)
St. Sebastian’s 117 all out in 42.4 overs (Vihanga Theekashana 47, Venuth Kavimira 28, Rashmika Amararathna 4/07, Jathon Wieman 3/17, Ravindu Sigera 2/29)
St. Peter’s beat Maliyadeva at Kurunegala Scores:
St. Peter’s 247 for 8 in 50 overs (Dilana Damsara 68, Nethan David 35, Ethan Ransiluge 27, Ovin Salgadu 23, Erosh Peterson 27, Sasindu Silva 29n.o.; Thaveesha Balasooriya 3/45, Vinuda Mapa 3/52)
Maliyadewa 205 all out in 48.5 overs (Sandeepa Bandara 66, Vinuda Mapa 42; Lashmika Perera 2/26, Dilana Damsara 3/35, Salith Gallage 3/49)
Mahanama beat Prince of Wales at Moratuwa Scores:
Mahanama 243 for 9 in 50 overs (Dulnith Sigera 59, Gimantha Dissanayake 56, Sithika Kulathunga 24, Uden Rajapaksha 22; Prince Fernando 4/40, Nishel Hewajulige 2/24)
Prince of Wales 159 all out in 39.3 overs (Rivith Jayasuriya 54, Kenul de Zoysa 39, Oshan Maneesha 24; Dulnith Sigera 2/20, Osanda Muthugama 4/20, Sihan Karunarathne 2/25)
St. Benedict’s beat Vidyartha at Kotahena Scores:
Vidyartha 167 for 9 in 50 overs (Pubudu Tharaka 23, Nishmika Kaveesha 57n.o.; Mevan Dissanayake 3/25)
St. Benedict’s 168 for 1 in 49.2 overs (Dumindu Yehen 38, Yohan Edirisinghe 22, Sharujan Shanmuganathan 23, Onesh Michael 29n.o.; Kalana Kumarasiri 4/23)
Gurukula beat St. Anthony’s (Katugastota) at Wattala Scores:
Gurukula 261 for 8 in 50 overs (Thathsara Eshan 80, Pasindu Dilshan 37, Daham Vimukthi 28, Janith Mihiranga 42n.o.; Tharusha Dasun 2/57, Senura Abeysekara 3/37)
St. Anthony’s 127 all out in 34.1 overs (Januka Bandara 34, Dinura Oshan 30; Tharusha Kodikara 3/31, Hiruna Fernando 3/18)
Mahinda beat Maris Stella at Galle Scores:
Maris Stella 187 all out in 47.5 overs (Levin Fernando 55, Mineth Fernando 31; Arosha Udayanga 4/20, Senuka Dangamuwa 2/31, Nikil Jayaweera 2/29)
Mahinda 188 for 5 in 35.1 overs (Nikil Jayaweera 52, Dineth Pahasara 32, Senuka Dangamuwa 50n.o.; Hasthika de Silva 2/27, Ramith Bandara 2/18)
Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo join UAE’s ILT20
Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Nicholas Pooran are the latest big names from the Caribbean to sign up for the UAE’s International League T20 (ILT20), along with Sri Lanka’s Dasun Shanaka, England’s Ollie Pope and Afghanistan’s Fazalhaq Farooqi.
The league also said that its six franchises – owned by Reliance Industries, Kolkata Knight Riders, Capri Global, GMR, Lancer Capital, and Adani Sportsline – have finalised contracting players through the “directly acquire players” option, though the details of who has gone to which team is not yet known.
Some of the other latest signings up for the ILT20 are: Will Smeed, Rehan Ahmed, Jordan Thompson, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Bas de Leede, Chris Benjamin and Bilal Khan.
The ILT20 is set to begin in January next year in the UAE and is competing with South Africa’s T20 League for players.
On August 8, the ILT20 had announced its first list of signed players which included Andre Russell, Moeen Ali, Wanindu Hasaranga, Alex Hales, Shimron Hetmyer, Chris Jordan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Dawid Malan, Sunil Narine, Evin Lewis, Colin Munro, Fabian Allen, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Dushmantha Chameera, Akeal Hosein, Tom Banton, Sandeep Lamichhane, Rovman Powell, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Lahiru Kumara, Seekugge Prassanna, Charith Asalanka, Isuru Udana, Niroshan Dickwella, Kennar Lewis, Ravi Rampaul, Raymon Reifer, Dominic Drakes, Sherfane Rutherford, Hazratullah Zazai, Qais Ahmad, Noor Ahmed, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Naveen-ul-Haq, Dan Lawrence, Jamie Overton, Liam Dawson, Richard Gleeson, James Vince, Saqib Mahmood, Ben Duckett, Benny Howell, Blessing Muzarabani, Sikandar Raza, Brandon Glover, Frederick Klaasen, David Wiese, Ruben Trumpelmann, Colin Ingram, George Munsey, Paul Stirling and Ali Khan.
Each squad of 18 will have two players from Associate countries and four players from the UAE.
There have been suggestions that the space for Pakistani players in the league might be limited because franchises owned by IPL owners were wary of picking them for worries of a backlash in India. One ILT20 official said the franchise owned by Lancer Capital – the Glazers family that owns Manchester United – were still hopeful of signing up some Pakistan players, though the official acknowledged that not getting the NOCs from the PCB might be the obstacle. The PCB said in a statement last week that two Pakistan players had applied for NOCs to play in the league but were not granted them because the board expected the players to be involved in Pakistan’s home season.
The 2023 edition of the ILT20 will have 34 matches – all the teams will play each other twice, before four playoffs, including the final – spread across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Bowlers, Balbirnie steer Ireland to comfortable win
Josh Little, Mark Adair, Curtis Campher and Gareth Delany picked up two wickets each before Andy Balbirnie’s 46 off 36 balls broke the back of a 123-run chase to give Ireland a five-wicket win in the second T20I in Belfast. The hosts now lead the five-match series 2-0.
Afghanistan opted to bat first for the second time in two games but their innings never really took off. Both openers – Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Usman Ghani – were back in the pavilion by the third over. At the end of ten overs, they were hobbling at 62 for 4. The second half of the innings was no different and they finished with 122 for 8. Extras, with 19, the second-highest contributor.
Afghanistan needed early wickets to put Ireland under pressure but Balbirnie ensured that didn’t happen. The target was never going to challenge Ireland, and Afghanistan’s sloppy fielding made their task even easier. That meant despite a late wobble, they won with an over to spare.
For the first time in his T20I career, Rashid Khan went wicketless in back-to-back games. After none for 25 in the first T20I, he ended with none for 27 from his four overs today.
On what Mohammad Nabi described as a dry pitch at the toss, the Ireland seamers found movement as well as extra bounce with the new ball to pick up three wickets in the powerplay.
Adair struck with the first ball of the second over as Gurbaz sliced a full delivery to short third. In the next over, Little got one to jag back in to Ghani. The batter was looking for a cut but was cramped and ended up chopping the ball onto his stumps.
Ibrahim Zadran walked in at No. 4 and tried to up the scoring rate. He took on Barry McCarthy, hitting the seamer for three fours in his first over. In the next over, he steered Campher to the deep-third boundary for his fourth four in nine balls. However, a stunning catch from Andy McBrine cut short his counterattacking knock. Ibrahim tried to loft Curtis over wide long-on on the final ball of the powerplay but ended up miscuing it towards deep midwicket. McBrine sprinted in from the deep and put in a full-length dive to take the ball just above the ground, leaving Afghanistan 41 for 3 at the end of six overs.
Afghanistan needed a partnership to stabilise the innings; instead, they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Najibullah Zadran started in his usual positive manner, reverse-sweeping McBrine for a four, but ended up uppercutting Campher straight to deep point soon after. Nabi didn’t last long either and holed out to long-on for 9 against Delany.
Hashmatullah Shahidi did occupy one end but struggled for timing throughout his 42-ball 36. Ironically, when he nailed a reverse sweep, it went straight into the hands of deep point. With Rashid failing to provide any fireworks, Afghanistan could manage only 22 from the last four overs.
Ireland lost Paul Stirling early in their chase and were 8 for 1 after three overs, but Balbirnie struck four fours in the next 11 balls to calm the nerves. A couple of overs later, he swept Mujeeb Ur Rahman in front of square leg for the first six of the match.
Along with Lorcan Tucker, he added 65 off 54 balls for the second wicket; Tucker’s contribution was 19 off 20 balls. Mujeeb eventually broke that stand when Balbirnie attempted a fine sweep but the ball lobbed up off the back of the bat and Gurbaz pouched it.
With 42 required from as many balls, Nabi brought himself on for the first time in the 14th over and made an immediate impact. In the space of four balls, he sent back Harry Tector and Tucker. But his second over, which featured four leg-byes, went for 13. That left Ireland with 20 needed from 24 balls. Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen gave away only 12 in the next two overs, with Farooqi also dismissing Campher. But George Dockrell kept his calm. On the final ball of the 19th over, bowled by Farooqi, he chipped a full toss over wide long-on to seal the game with a six.
Ireland 125 for 5 (Andy Balbirnie 46, Lorcan Tucker 27, Mohammad Nabi 2-15) beat Afghanistan 122 for 8 (Hashmatullah Shahidi 36, Ibrahim Zadran 17, Mark Adair 2-12, Curtis Campher 2-13) by five wickets
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