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Rumesh set to take over as coach for Zimbabwe series



Former fast bowling great Rumesh Ratnayake is tipped to take over the coaching duties of the national cricket team for the upcoming home series against Zimbabwe, SLC sources told The Island.

SLC is yet to finalize on the replacement of Mickey Arthur, who did not get a renewal to his contract that ended in December.

While SLC has started the interview process of the applicants, it is unlikely that the officials will settle on Arthur’s successor by the next couple of weeks.

Hence Ratnayake will fit in as interim head coach. Ratnayake has fulfilled similar coaching roles, most notably in 2011 when he was caretaker coach between Australians Trevor Bayliss and Geoff Marsh.

More recently the 58-year-old has worked as Fast Bowling coach developing several young talents.

Not just the post of Head Coach, but several other positions have become vacant after a decision was taken to request everyone attached with the senior side to reapply for their respective roles.

Former captain Mahela Jayawardene will be back in the dressing room when the bilateral series against Zimbabwe takes place in a fortnight. Jayawardene is only a Consultant Coach but will have a larger say on how the team is run and on deciding rest of the coaching staff including Head Coach of the national cricket team.

Sources said that there is a possibility of SLC not considering any of the applicants for the post of Head Coach but instead would go for someone whom they know well.

South African Graeme Ford is much respected in cricket circles and has done two stints with Sri Lanka although the ending on both occasions were rather bitter.

Months after helping Sri Lanka to beat Australia 3-0, some powerful men in cricket circles were pulling in different directions and that forced Ford to step down in 2017.

However, Ford is a huge fan of Sri Lankan cricket and he has recently resigned as the Head Coach of Ireland. Jayawardene is also an admirer of Ford and was Sri Lanka’s captain during his first stint from 2012 to 2014. While it is too early to speculate, it seems all roads are leading towards Ford.

Sri Lanka will host Zimbabwe for three ODIs from the 16th January to the 21st. All games will be played at Pallekele.

Next month the national cricket team will tour Australia for five T-20 Internationals followed by a tour of India for two Tests and three T-20 Internationals. SLC is expected to name a Head Coach before the Australian tour.

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New Zealand cruise past Pakistan’s 345 with five wickets in hand




Despite not being full fit, Williamson looked in rhythm during his half-century (Cricbuzz)

Kane Williamson’s return to action headlined New Zealand’s first official warmup match of the 2023 World Cup as they hit the right notes with the bat in a high-scoring game in Hyderabad. Mohammad Rizwan (103) and Babar Azam (80) provided a good platform and the middle order got amongst the runs to help Pakistan post 345. The total, however, proved insufficient as New Zealand, led by Rachin Ravindra’s 97 and three other half-century scores, including that of Williamson, pulled off the chase with 6.2 overs to spare

After Devon Conway was dismissed by Hasan Ali for a golden duck, Ravindra and Williamson got together and added 179 runs in just 22 overs to power New Zealand’s chase. Williamson decided to retire after crossing fifty while Ravindra was dismissed by Agha Salman before he could get a ton. Usama Mir then picked up the wickets of Tom Latham and Glenn Phillips in quick succession but fifties from Mark Chapman and Daryl Mitchell, and an important 33 from James Neesham, helped New Zealand over the line in the 44th over.

Earlier, After opting to bat, Pakistan lost Imam-ul-Haq in the second over to Matt Henry while Mitch Santner had Abdullah Shafique out stumped. Babar, who started watchfully, found his groove while Rizwan also scored at a steady rate as they raised a century partnership to set things up nicely for Pakistan. Babar, however, missed a hundred while Rizwan retired after reaching three figures, giving Pakistan’s lower middle order some time out in the middle. Saud Shakeel (75) and Agha Salman (33*) came up with handy contributions to propel Pakistan past 340.

Brief scores:
Pakistan 345/5 in 50 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 103, Babar Azam 80; Mitch Santner 2-39) lost to New Zealand 346/5 in 43.4 overs (Rachin Ravindra 97, Mark Chapman 65; Usama Mir 2-68) by 5 wickets

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Mahedi, Tanzid, Litton and Mehidy star in breezy Bangladesh win




Kusal Perera looked in good touch before retiring hurt (pic Cricinfo)

Half-centuries from Bangladesh’s top three of  Tanzid Hasan, Litton Das and Mehidy Hasan Miraz took their side to a comfortable win over Sri Lanka in their first warm-up fixture ahead of the ODI World Cup, in Guwahati on Friday.

Bangladesh bowled Sri Lanka out for 263 and chased it down with eight overs to spare; other than all the issues these facts point to, Sri Lanka will also worry about their opener Kusal Perera, who walked off the field in the 10th over of their innings with a strain in his right shoulder. He hit 34 off 24 before retiring hurt.

Apart from the result, Bangladesh would have been pleased with Tanzid – who made his debut during the Asia Cup in August and has played just five ODIs so far – as he eases into the international scene. His breezy knock of 84 off 88 balls, which included ten fours and two sixes, blunted a Sri Lanka attack that struggled to exert any pressure. His 131-run opening stand off 124 balls with Litton, who notched up 61, laid a fine platform for the team to chase down Sri Lanka’s 263. Mehidy, who was Bangladesh’s captain for the game, followed the openers’ efforts with an unbeaten 67. He had also bowled 10 tight overs, taking 1 for 32.

After they opted to bat, Sri Lanka began promisingly, with Pathum Nissanka adding a combined 104 with Perera and Kusal Mendis, before they lost their first wicket in the 15th over. Nissanka top-scored with an aggressive 68 and Dhananjaya de Silva made 55 at No. 6 but most of the middle order struggled to get going, with offspinner Mahedi Hassan picking up 3 for 36 in his nine overs. Tanzim Hasan Sakib, Shoriful Islam, Nasum Ahmed and Mehidy also chipped in with a wicket each to bowl Sri Lanka out for in the final over.

Bangladesh will play their next warm-up game against England on Monday while Sri Lanka will meet Afghanistan on Tuesday. Both matches will be played at the same venue.

Brief scores:
Bangladesh 264 for 3 in 42 overs (Tanzid Hasan  84, Mehidy Hasan Mirza  67*, Litton Das 61, Mushfiqur Rahim 35*) beat Sri Lanka 263 in 49.1 overs (Pathum Nissanka 68, Kusal Perera 34, Kusal Mendis 22,  Dhananjaya de Silva 55, Mahedi Hassan 3-36) by seven wickets

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Danushka Gunathilaka found not guilty in sexual assault trial



Danushka Gunathilaka had been arrested last November following Sri Lanka’s T20 World Cup campaign

Sri Lanka batter Danushka Gunathilaka has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a Tinder date through the act of “stealthing”.Judge Sarah Huggett acquitted the 32-year-old as he sat at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Thursday listening to the decision. He said he was looking forward to returning to playing after his acquittal.

“The evidence establishes that there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom during intercourse because that intercourse was continuous,” the judge said in handing down the verdict.

Judge Huggett found the complainant, who cannot be legally named, appeared to be an intelligent, calm and responsive witness who did not deliberately give false evidence.

However, at times the woman gave the impression she was “motivated by a desire to paint the cricketer in an unfavourable light”, the judge said.

“I find that the evidence regarding the complaint far from supports the complainant. Rather it undermines the reliability of her evidence.”

The cricketer’s defence team signalled he will apply for the Crown to pay his legal costs of defending the allegation.Outside court, Gunathilaka thanked his lawyers, parents and others who supported him during what he described as a very hard 11 months.

“I’m happy my life is normal again,” he said. “I can’t wait to go back and play cricket.”

Gunathilaka and the woman matched on the dating app and met for drinks at Opera Bar in November 2022 before having pizza together in the Sydney CBD and then catching a ferry to the woman’s eastern suburbs home.

Police initially brought four charges against Gunathilaka, who was arrested at the Hyatt Regency hours before the Sri Lankan cricket team was due to fly out of the country. Prosecutors later dropped three of those charges.

In statements to police and the court, the woman accused the batsman of various acts of aggression and violence such as slapping her buttocks, forcefully kissing her and bruising her lips and choking her during sex.There was no suggestion by prosecutors at trial that any of these acts constituted an offence, although the woman in her evidence said the sex was non-consensual.

Gunathilaka always maintained his innocence, pleading not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent relating to the cricketer’s alleged “stealthing”, or removing his condom during sex without the woman’s consent.

During the judge-alone trial, defence lawyers questioned the credibility of the complainant, claiming her story shifted over time and that she edited her version of events to paint Gunathilaka as an aggressive person.

Judge Huggett also heard evidence from two of the woman’s friends who described her as fragile and distraught the day after the cricketer attended her home.Police officers who spoke to the woman were also questioned about the way they handled the case, including omitting crucial details, throwing out notes and potentially contaminating witnesses.

Judge Huggett on Thursday described the conduct of police in prosecuting Gunathilaka as “very concerning” and “far from satisfactory”.

Gunathilaka has been on bail during the trial but was unable to play international cricket or return to his hometown of Colombo.


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