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Second ODI on a knife edge



Charith Asalanka top scored with 65 runs as Sri Lanka posted 275 in the second ODI against India at RPS yesterday.


By Rex Clementine

The second ODI between Sri Lanka and India was on a knife edge with the tourists needing 112 runs in 132 deliveries with four wickets in hand to wrap up the series 2-0 when this edition went to print yesterday. Set a target of 276 to win, India had reached 164 for six at the end of 28 overs at RPS.

Despite some sloppy fielding efforts and bowling displays, Sri Lanka put India under pressure thanks to some clever bowling by Wanindu Hasaranga.

Skipper Dasun Shanaka boldly introduced the leg-spin of Hasaranga in the third over of the game and Prithvi Shaw was castled for 13 after he had hammered three boundaries off the first over of the innings bowled by Kasun Rajitha.

Rajitha replaced Hasaranga after just one over and accounted for Ishan Kishan as the wicketkeeper batsman dragged one onto his stumps.

Hasaranga then trapped Shikhar Dhawan leg before wicket for 29 to reduce India to 65 for three.

A 50 run partnership followed between Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav before Shanaka produced a run out with Pandey backing up too far. In the same over, Shanaka dismissed the dangerous Hardik Pandya, who was caught at short mid-wicket by Dhananjaya de Silva.

Despite impressing in patches, Sri Lanka were horrible on the field with Rajitha constantly misfielding. He wasn’t the only sloppy fielder with Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Lakshan Sandakan not living up to international standards.

Sandakan was awful with his line serving full tosses that Indian batsmen were quick to dispatch to the boundary. He did claim the big wicket of Suryakumar Yadav when he trapped the batsman leg before wicket but continued to bowl too many wides.

A maiden half-century by Charith Asalanka was the highlight of the Sri Lankan innings. Avishka Fernando and Minod Bhanuka added 77 runs for the first wicket in 80 deliveries. Fernando threw away his wicket soon after completing the half-century.

Bhankua Rajapaksa was dismissed for a first ball duck and Sri Lanka’s middle order did not give the team a solid platform.

However, Asalanka teamed up with the lower middle order to help reach a decent total of 275. He added 50 runs for the seventh wicket with Chamika Karunaratne, who has been impressive with the bat this series.

Karunaratne, who had posted an unbeaten 43 in the first ODI, was 44 not out yesterday. Apart from a sensible knock, he showed lot of character as well on the field and while bowling. He could be someone who needs to be persevered with.




How lending a bat to Murali landed Flintoff in trouble



Muttiah Muralitharan and Andrew Flintoff were team mates at Lancashire. During a tour of Sri Lanka in 2003, Flitnoff lends one of his bats to Murali, a gesture that would get him in trouble with England hierarchy.

by Rex Clementine

Spin icon Muttiah Muralitharan is a fiercest competitor in cricket, but he is also known for his friendly nature. He is hugely popular among both team mates and opponents. You would hardly come across someone who has something nasty to say about Murali; it’s like finding a needle in haystack. Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya gifting a bat to his Sri Lankan counterpart Chamika Karunaratne made headlines both here and across the Palk Strait. However, much before this, England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff lending Murali a bat made headlines.

Murali and Andrew Flintoff were great mates. They were team-mates at Old Trafford when Murali was Lancashire’s overseas signing.

In 2003, when England came to Colombo for their winter tour, Flintoff was a rising star. Three years later he would go onto become England captain. In his book ‘Second Innings’, Flintoff recalls his camaraderie with Murali.

“In that series, it panned out that I wasn’t bowling too much short stuff at Murali and he wasn’t bowling too many doosras at me. Which was a bit naughty, I can see that. I’d had dinner with him the night before one match. Murali said, ‘Fred, I haven’t got any bats left. Can I borrow one of yours?’ It was a bit tricky because Nasser Hussein had put a ban on us even talking to Murali. We were supposed to be freezing him out,” Flintoff recalls.

“Murali tried again on the morning of the match, asking for a word. Nasser was glaring at me from a distance, clearly very unhappy. So I said to Murali as quickly as possible, ‘When we go out to field, go into the England dressing room. Just nip in the back door and take one of my bats – but keep the whole thing under your hat.’

“Once the match was under way and we took a few Sri Lankan wickets, Nasser brought me on to bowl out the tail, as was the plan in those days. Out strides Murali, carrying my bat. Nasser, meanwhile, talks me through the plan. ‘I want you to go at him. Short stuff.’

“Hmm. Tricky one this, on lots of levels, especially given the status of bouncers and doosras for me and Murali.

‘Nasser, I think I can get a yorker through him, nice and full will do the job here,’ Flintoff tells Hussein.

But he doesn’t get an approval. ‘No, I just told you,’ Hussein says. ‘I want you to go at him.’

Flintoff doesn’t sour his relationship with Murali. So he decides to pin Sri Lanka’s number 11 with a yorker instead of a bouncer. ‘No, I’m going to try and bowl him. Hit the stumps. Job done,’ he tells himself.

“So, I ran in, trying to bowl a yorker, directly against instructions. Didn’t get through. In fact, it found the middle of the bat, my bat – good middle it had, too.”

“Nasser threw all his toys out of the pram. I was taken off. Then Murali started charging the other bowlers, smashing them.

“After one huge six, Murali walks between me and Nasser at the change of ends. I can see Nasser ready to explode. Murali has a huge grin on his face: ‘F****** good bat, Freddie.”

Sri Lanka won the match by an innings and 225 runs to seal the series. Any guesses about Player of the Series; Muttiah Muralitharan.

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Suresh who captained Thomians to President’s Trophy triumph passes away



The Thomians won the inaugural President’s Trophy Day-Night Tourney under Suresh Goonesekere’s captaincy

Former S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia cricketer Suresh Goonesekere who was the captain when the school won the Inaugural President’s Trophy passed away. He was living in the UK.

The S. Thomas’ Sports officials said that Goonesekere will always be remembered as a very good sportsman who brought honour to the school.

A batting opener Goonesekere played in the S. Thomas’ First XI team from 1990 to 1992, captaining the team in his last year. The names of both Suresh Goonesekere and his father P.N.W. Goonesekere are etched in the Battle of the Blues Big Match history.

The Thomians won when P.N.W. Goonesekere captained the team in 1964. When Suresh Goonesekere captained the school in 1992 the Thomians amassed massive 328 for nine wickets and restricted Royal to 145 runs in the first innings. While Royal had scored over 300 runs previously, it was the first time the Thomians had scored over 300 runs in the historic Battle of the Blues.

The Thomians were the winners of the Inaugurai President’s Trophy Day-Night Tourney when Goonesekere skippered team beat Ananda in the final in 1992.

Goonesekere also played for SSC in the Division I tournament.

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Isuru Udana retires from international cricket



Sri Lankan left-arm pacer Isuru Udana has announced his retirement from international cricket, Sri Lanka Cricket confirmed on Saturday (July 31). Udana’s last appearance for the national side came in the second T20I against India earlier this week.

Udana first made his debut for Sri Lanka in the 2009 World T20 in England and played five games in the competition including the final. He made his ODI bow against India in 2012 where he played two games but had to wait for almost seven years to break into the XI again.

The pacer managed to feature regularly only towards the latter part of his career after developing a reputation for being a white-ball specialist. Apart from being a wily customer with the ball using his variations to good effect, the 33-year-old also was known for being a hard-hitter lower down the order that helped him fetch gigs in T20 leagues around the world. (cricbuzz)

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