Sri Lanka’s leading light fly weight (49kg) pugilist Sajeewa Nuwan Kumara of the Army lived up to his promise to deliver on the international stage by winning a bronze medal at the 58th World Military Boxing Championships in Russia. Armed with sound technique, the 29-year-old Lance Corporal has been almost unbeatable at home but has been found wanting against international opposition even failing to win a medal at the 2019 South Asian Games in Kathmandu. However, the two-time national champion who has carried away the Best Boxer awards in all three major local meets – Layton Cup, Clifford Cup and the Nationals – in the recent past, dispelled any doubts that he lacked the temperament to perform on the big stage when he fought the fight of his life to beat Mozambique’s Yassine Nordine Issufo in the quarter-final.
Sajeewa Nuwan dominated the opening round out-boxing and outscoring the southpaw and displaying quicksilver footwork to slip away when his opponent attacked. However, he changed tactics in the next two rounds fighting toe-to-toe and aggressively with tenacity against his tough adversary. It turned out to be a scrappy affair with the referee having to break them from clinching often. Nonetheless, the Sri Lankan soldier landed enough scoring blows especially solid rights to earn a split decision. Sajeewa lost to Leanderso Conceicao Siqueira of Brazil in the semifinals.
Army’s Ishan Bandara who has displayed indifferent form since winning a bronze medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, showed that he is not a spent force when he advanced to the quarter-finals in the fly weight (52kg) category defeating Pakistan’s Muhammad Dawood with the bout being stopped in the third round because of an injury. Up against a southpaw Damir Abdikadir from Kazakhstan who stopped Aliaksandr Butrym of Belarus, Bandara gave another good account of himself though the volume of punches he threw was less. The Kazak fighter craftily maintained his distance to outbox Bandara who attempted to stun his opponent with solid rights. Bandara did finish strongly being on target in the final round but it was too little too late, missing out on a podium finish.
Sri Lanka were also assured of another bronze medal when Gayani Nisansala competed in the semifinals of the middle weight (75kg) category against Viktoriya Kebikava of Belarus.
The rest of the 15-member strong Sri Lanka team were eliminated in the preliminaries with leading woman pugilist Sajeewani Cooray failing to go the distance against France’s LoryeRuyer in the light weight (57kg) contest.
Fly weight boxer Sanduni Priyadarshani was outpointed by world champion Ekateria Paltseva of Russia while Barbara dos Santos from Brazil had a fast victory over Kashmi Thiwanka in the first round of 69kg contest. The other Sri Lankan boxers lost unanimous decisions to fighters from Jordan, Kazakshtan and Iran.
Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) president Dian Gomes was buoyed by the medal winning effort of Sajeewa Nuwan.”We have three bronze medals from the recent past. Nadeeka Ranasinghe at the Asian Championships in Dubai and Sajeewa Nuwan Kumara and Saduni Kaluarachchi at the World Military Championship, proving yet again that boxing has the potential to win medals in the international arena,” said Gomes.
Gateway felicitates coach for making Sri Lanka proud
Pradeep Nishantha, Assistant Head of Sports of Gateway College Colombo was felicitated by the school for his remarkable contribution in producing two medal winners at the recently concluded Paralympic Games in Japan.
The national anthem was played for the very first time at an Olympics when Dinesh Priyantha Herath who was trained by Pradeep Nishantha won a gold medal with a new world record. Pradeep has been employed at Gateway since 2005 and he has been responsible for producing many national athletes from Gateway.
Gateway students are blessed to be coached and guided by professionals of the highest caliber. Thilaka Jinadasa, the Team Leader – Sports development for the entire group represented Sri Lanka in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.
Among Gateway’s team of coaches are a number of top Sri Lankan coaches. Tharindu Fernando, who was recently appointed National Basketball Coach for the Under 23 Sri Lankan side is among them.
Dialog and SLC release T20 World Cup song ‘Ape Kollo’
The national cricket team’s sponsor and Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata, together with Sri Lanka Cricket, recently released ‘Ape Kollo’ the T20 World Cup song in support of the Team on their T20 World Cup campaign which will commence on the 18th of October 2021 in the United Arab Emirates.
The song will be sung by a stellar line-up of artistes and Dialog brand ambassadors including, Bathiya and Santhush, Umaria, Yohani, Sanka Dineth, Sajitha, Sanuka, Madhuvy and guest performer, Roy Jackson. With lyrics written by Triad, the Sri Lanka Cricket T20 World Cup song is an initiative powered by Dialog Axiata connecting the wishes of every Sri Lankan.
Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, Vice President of Sri Lanka Cricket said, “I would like to thank Dialog Axiata for materializing the T20 World Cup song into existence. This tribute will be an immense morale boost for players and fans alike. The team over the past few months have been playing tourneys and trial games which have been instrumental in selecting the best combination for the T20 World Cup in UAE.”
Sri Lanka will qualify, but can they reach semis?
by Rex Clementine
The cricket fans of Sri Lanka are truly amazing. They know pretty well that the chances of the team reaching the semi-finals in UAE is as low as that of Maithripala Sirisena winning a future Presidential election, but they keep believing that their team will deliver. It is only fair that the players come up with a decent show, unlike Maithripala.
If the IPL is any indication, there aren’t going to be too many high scoring games over the next four weeks and spin is going to play a huge part. That will certainly be a good indication for Sri Lanka’s bowlers.
Their batsmen, however, it remains to be seen what lessons they have learnt on sweeping. Grant Flower seemed to be having little tricks up his sleeve on the advantage of the sweep, both the conventional, paddle and reverse. Hopefully, now that Sri Lanka have a fine sweeper in their coaching staff in Mahela Jayawardene, the issue has been discussed at length.
Lack of smart options against spin has been one reason for Sri Lanka’s decline in the shorter formats of the game. Ours was a team where the sweep was the batsmen’s bread and butter and it’s quite perplexing how the current lot have forgotten to sweep and the coaching staff have failed to address the issue.
Avishka Fernando has been tremendous to watch. He has always been an exciting player and such a shame that he failed a fitness test in January and was banished from the team hotel. He was so close to making his Test debut against England and failing the fitness test was a bitter pill to swallow. But glad that the selectors and the coaching staff had the conviction to do it. They have spared the rod and spoilt too many young children. Avishka has bounced back; leaner, fitter, stronger and hungrier. IPL teams will be watching and the gut feeling is we are talking of a future billionaire in this space.
There is some school of thought that Avishka should bat at number four. He has come up with some consistent performances in that position this week. It’s true that he is Aravinda’s heir apparent, but Sri Lanka has to make the most of the Power Plays and Avishka should open batting with Kusal Perera to make most of the field restrictions. You sense that you have enough fire power in Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne to take care of the death overs.
Oppositions will focus a lot on Hasaranga’s leg spin as he has had quite a bit of success in the lasts 12 months and ended up earning a contract in the IPL. World Cup is a superb occasion for him to stamp his authority as one of world’s leading wrist spinners.
Maheesh Theekshana, the new kid, has a bit of surprise element in him and could trouble teams that have not seen him much as he proved during his debut against Proteas last month. It will be interesting to see how teams that do not play spin that well handle him.
The last minute decision to include Akila Dananjaya while axing Praveena Jayawickrama hasn’t gone down too well with some supporters. But it’s a smart move. There’s no denying of the fact that Akila has looked a pale shadow of his former self since remodeling his action and in recent months has looked awful. But then, Sri Lanka have to qualify. The team is thin on experience after our selectors chased away half a dozen seniors and Akila has a surprise element about him and that could come in handy; particularly in the qualifying round.
The spin trio is not Sri Lanka’s only strength. Their main weapon is pace with Dushmantha Chameera picking up wickets with the new ball consistently and he will be their key weapon. Such a shame that the team will miss the services of Nuwan Pradeep, a clever bowler in death overs.
All hope is not lost for Sri Lanka though. One good thing is that they are not playing any Asian teams. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are all in Group ‘B’. Sri Lanka will have Australia, England, West Indies, South Africa and one more qualifier and if their spin fires, they could spring a few surprises. Can they go onto book a semi-final berth?
In T-20 cricket anything can happen. So don’t just rule out the Sri Lankan team. The same can be said of our voters. Don’t rule out Maithripala.
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