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Silver jubilee celebrations of World Cup win in full swing



The silver jubilee celebrations of Sri Lanka’s World Cup triumph is in full swing with several activities organized in Colombo and Jaffna. The state will felicitate the nation’s World Cup heroes at an official function to be held at Temple Trees on Wednesday morning with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in attendance.

That evening there will be a dinner organized by members of World Cup winning team at Colombo’s Shangri-La. There are several other activities organized with the main event being a cricket match in Jaffna involving the World Cup winning team followed by a dinner.

Sri Lanka beat Australia in the finals of the WILLS World Cup on the 17th of March in 1996 with Aravinda de Silva’s unbeaten 107 setting up a comprehensive seven wicket win. Sanath Jayasuriya’s swashbuckling batting and his tidy left-arm spin won him the Player of the Series award as Sri Lanka became unbeaten champions with the highlight of their campaign being beating India twice in their own backyard.  In the process, Jayasuriya ended the careers of a few players; Manoj Prabhakar and Philip DeFreitas.

Apart from India, Sri Lanka beat Kenya and Zimbabwe in their group games while Australia and West Indies conceded points having refused to play in Colombo due to security reasons. Having topped the group, Sri Lanka beat England in the quarter-finals, India in the semis and Australia in the finals, who qualified having beaten New Zealand in the quarters and West Indies in the semis.

Arjuna Ranatunga’s side defied many odds when they won the final chasing although no team batting second had won a World Cup final previously.

In the five previous World Cups, Sri Lanka had never reached the second round, when they did ultimately in 1996, they went onto become champions.

Sri Lanka’s attacking style going after the bowling when fielding restrictions were on in the first 15 overs caught many teams by surprise. The ploy did not work all the time and when it backfired, the team had enough resources to post decent totals or mange run chases.

The team’s bowling resources were limited but they compensated for that with some excellent fielding. Improved fitness levels also helped the side immensely.

Sri Lanka’s tour of Australia just prior to the World Cup toughened up the team and incidents such as the ball tampering allegations in Perth and the chucking controversy on Boxing Day at the  MCG brought the side together. It was fitting that Sri Lanka met Australia in the  final and beat them comprehensively.

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Ryan Crouser breaks world shot put record with 23.56m in Los Angeles




Ryan Crouser (pic World Athletics)

USA’s Ryan Crouser threw 23.56m* to improve his own world shot put record at the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix, this season’s sixth World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting, on Saturday (27).

That mark adds 19cm to the previous world record of 23.37m that Crouser recorded at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene in June 2021.

The world record had looked under threat when the world and Olympic champion opened his series with 23.23m. He went even farther in round two, throwing 23.31m and edging closer to the barrier at the back of the throws area.

After a third-round throw of 22.94m, Crouser took to the circle for his fourth attempt and launched the implement 23.56m, raising his arms and clapping when the distance was confirmed.

He completed a sensational series with 22.80m in the fifth round and 22.86m in the sixth.

(World Athletics)

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Gill gets ready to spoil Dhoni’s farewell party




Mahendra Singh Dhoni wouldn’t mind a ‘Farewell to Remember’ but a young Shubman Gill, oozing grace, would do everything under his control to prevent Chennai Super Kings from beating Gujarat Titans to its fifth IPL title, in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

Nearly 19 summers back when a young Dhoni was making his first strides in India blue, a four-year-old Gill was taking stance on a vast farmland in Punjab’s Fazilka village on Pakistan border, with a handmade customised bat, prepared by his doting grandfather.

On Sunday, at the 1,32,000-seater Narendra Modi Stadium, the soon-to-be 42 Dhoni will have one last assignment in his favourite Canary Yellow jersey – to stop Indian cricket’s megastar-in-waiting and do a ‘High Five’.

Three hundreds and 851 runs don’t happen every season but on a batting belter at the Motera, what will be Dhoni’s strategy to rein in the ‘Mohali Marauder’?

Will it be Deepak Chahar’s swing or Ravindra Jadeja’s wicket-to-wicket bowling? Or will it be Moeen Ali, who could be the ‘Joker in the Pack’ with his enticing flighted deliveries outside the off-stump which could sharply break back. Can Matheesha Pathirana bowl some incisive toe-crushers?

A technically near-perfect batter against a captain known for thinking out of the box. It can’t get more exciting than this.

His die-hard fans might expect him to come back again next year but even Dhoni, who has played the entire season with a heavily strapped left knee might find it extremely difficult to keep up with the demands of the shortest format.

So for every ‘Thala’ (elder brother in Tamil) fan, it’s all about savoring the Dhoni moments till it lasts. In this CSK set-up, he could afford to bat at No. 8 in most games but entering the finals with a bowling line-up that missed Deepak Chahar for the better part of first half and had to turn a profligate Tushar Deshpande into a dependable wicket-taker.

Turning an inconsistent Shivam Dube into a six-hitting bully or overseeing the return of Ravindra Jadeja, the T20 bowler, the legend of Dhoni will never cease to exist. It will only grow and his captaincy stories will also be burnished with coats of myth decades down the line.

They say familiarity breeds contempt but contempt would be the last word in Dhoni and CSK’s mind when they face Hardik Padya’s Titans.

The CSK logo features a “Roaring Lion” but they would take the team from Land of Gir Forest lightly at their own peril.

After 73 games, the two of the most consistent teams are pitted against each other in the summit clash.

No team has emulated the structural and team building ethos of Chennai Super Kings as minutely as Gujarat Titans, another team, where cricketing decisions are based on sound logic, consistency and no interference from overbearing owners.

There is a skipper in Pandya, who believes that there is only one way to lead the team. It’s called ‘The Mahi Way’.

Batters win matches but bowlers win tournaments is an old saying and it couldn’t be more apt when one tracks Titans’ performance.

Mohammed Shami (28 wickets), Rashid Khan (27 wickets) and Mohit Sharma (24 wickets) have executed plans more often than not and thus it hasn’t really effected the Titans that second highest run-scorer after Gill’s 851 runs is skipper Hardik Pandya (325), who is more than 500 runs behind.

Wriddhiman Saha, a keeper-par-excellence, woukd consider himself lucky, that team management never thought of replacing him despite a strike-rate of 127 opening the batting and only one fifty plus score in 16 knocks.

And herein, Dhoni would try to seize the opportunity. If they can get Gill out early, none of the other batters have shown wherewithal to fight hard and bowlers would need a decent total on board.

Under Dhoni, if players like Ajinkya Rahane (299 runs in 13 matches, two fifties) and Shivam Dube have found their groove this season, young bowlers such as Sri Lanka’s Matheesha Pathirana (17 wickets in 15 matches) and India’s uncapped Tushar Deshpande (21 wickets in 15 matches) have also been able to find their feet at the IPL stage.

In CSK’s batting line-up, Devon Conway (625 runs in 15 matches, six fifties) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (564 runs in 15 matches, four fifties) have time and again provided CSK with resolute starts at the top.

The big-hitting Dube (386 runs in 15 matches, three fifties) is the second joint-highest six-hitter for CSK in this IPL with 33 sixes, joined by Gill in the list.

There are no clear favourites and it could be one of the finest finals in history of IPL.

Teams (from):

Gujarat Titans:

Hardik Pandya (c), Shubman Gill, David Miller, Abhinav Manohar, Sai Sudharsan, Wriddhiman Saha, Matthew Wade, Rashid Khan, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph, Yash Dayal, Pradeep Sangwan, Darshan Nalkande, Jayant Yadav, R. Sai Kishore, Noor Ahmad, Dasun Shanaka, Odean Smith, KS Bharat, Shivam Mavi, Urvil Patel, Joshua Little and Mohit Sharma.

Chennai Super Kings:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c&wk), Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Sisanda Magala, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Ajay Mandal, Nishant Sindhu, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Mitchell Santner, Subhranshu Senapati, Simarjeet Singh, Matheesha Pathirana, Mahesh Theekshana, Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Shaikh Rasheed, Tushar Deshpande.

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Winners of WTC final between Australia and India to take home US$ 1.6 million




India went past Australia at the top of the Test rankings earlier this month (pic Cricinfo)
The winners of the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and Australia is set to become richer by US$ 1.6 million, while the runners-up will get $800,000, the ICC announced on Friday.
The winners’ cheque is the same as that in the 2019-21 cycle, where  New Zealand beat India in the final in Southampton.
The ICC’s total purse for the current WTC cycle, which ends with the final next month at The Oval in London, is $3.8 million. With $2.4 million being distributed between the two finalists, the remaining amount will be given out based on the teams’ standings on the WTC table.
Third-placed South Africa will earn $450,000, while England, who ended fourth, will get $350,000. Sri Lanka, with a fifth-place finish, will earn $200,000, and numbers six to nine, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh, in that order, will get $100,000 each.
The final of the 2021-23 WTC will be played from June 7 to 11, with June 12 as reserve day. While Australia had finished as table-toppers after winning 66.67% of their allotted points, India were second with 58.80%. The two teams had also met in a four-match series in India earlier this year, which India won 2-1.
Earlier this month, India also went past Australia in the ICC Test rankings, taking back the No 1 slot. This happened despite neither side playing any Test cricket recently, since the rankings consider a specific period and series completed before that period lose some of their value. In this case, the rankings considered all series completed since May 2020, with series completed before May 2022 weighted at 50% and everything since weighted at 100%.
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