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Spinners in focus as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh jostle for WTC points in Mirpur

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On a flat Chattogram surface, neither Bangladesh nor Sri Lanka had the kind of superlative attack that would have swung the game decisively. The result being the first Test ending in a draw with not even three innings completed after five days. Although Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have both had their bowling stocks depleted – Sri Lanka unlikely to field Vishwa Fernando; Bangladesh having lost Nayeem Hasan to a finger injury and Shoriful Islam to a fractured hand – the Mirpur surface has very rarely hosted draws. Both squads are awash with spin options. Historically, Bangladesh have picked three slow bowlers and one seamer in Mirpur. The pitch, this time around too, is expected to take sharp turn.Bangladesh have won five of their last eight Tests here, but perhaps that stat is slightly misleading, because they are on a two-game losing streak in Mirpur. Last year, finger spinners Rahkeem Cornwall and Sajid Khan took them down, delivering wins for West Indies and Pakistan respectively.

The problem for Sri Lanka, however, is that neither left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya, nor offspinner Ramesh Mendis, were especially impressive in Chattogram, taking just 1 for 123 between them. They do have another frontline spinner in the squad though – slow left-armer Praveen Jayawickrama has already helped win a match against Bangladesh, when he took 11 wickets against them in Pallekele, last year.The batting order for both teams is in decent shape heading into this game. Oshada Fernando and Dhananjaya de Silva continue to be short of big runs for Sri Lanka, but the other batters have made solid contributions. For Bangladesh, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim struck hundreds, while Mahmudul Hasan Joy and Liton Das made half-centuries in the first Test.

Both teams have busy schedules coming up. While Bangladesh go to West Indies for another World Test Championship series post the Test, Sri Lanka host Australia, then Pakistan, at home. These teams are so far back on the Championship table that it seems unlikely either can make a serious run for that top two, but a victory here will at least help keep the dream alive.

Bangladesh (possible):

1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Mahmudul Hasan Joy, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Mominul Haque (capt), 5 Mushfiqur Rahim, 6 Liton Das (wk), 7 Shakib Al Hasan, 8 Mosaddek Hossain, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Khaled Ahmed, 11 Ebadot Hossain

Sri Lanka (possible):

1 Oshada Fernando, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Dananjaya de Silva, 6 Dinesh Chandimal, 7 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8 Ramesh Mendis, 9 Lasith Embuldeniya, 10 Praveen Jayawickrama, 11 Asitha Fernando/Kasun Rajitha (cricinfo)



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Sri Lanka men’s and women’s teams ready to contest FIBA Asia Tournament

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by a Special Sports Correspondent

The Sri Lanka Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took flight to Singapore on Tuesday for the FIBA Asia 3×3 Basketball tournament.

The two teams have been in preparation since April and are being coached by Ajith Kuruppu.

The men’s team has to first prove its worth against China and Tonga and one more team before qualifying for the main tournament. “It’s going to be a tough tournament, but the men’s and women’s teams have been practicing well. Our preparations were good and we want to make an impact at the tournament,” said Kuruppu. According to the Sri Lanka teams’ coach China will be a tough challenge in the men’s segment of the tournament.

“We’ve been gelling together as a team during training and the players have a good understanding when playing as a unit,” said Sri Lanka’s Mens’ Team skipper Shehan Fernando.

Sri Lanka’s women’s team has made a direct entry into the tournament. Sri Lanka Women’s team skipper Anjali Ekanayake said that the ranking of the players in the national 3×3 team is good. “These players have got much exposure playing in this format of the game. We’ve been focusing on nutrition and shooting over the past few months. Training went well for the tournament,” said Ekanayake.

Coach Kuruppu took this opportunity to thank Vaaj Fitness for sponsoring the two national teams to Singapore and for making their gym available for the players to do strength and conditioning training.

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Chathurya, Dinara, Saajida, Vishmi advance to second round

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ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament

Chathurya Nilaweera ousted India’s Dhanush Varma to reach the second round of the ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament continued at the SSC Tennis Courts on Tuesday.

Nilaweera was the only player in the boys’ category from Sri Lanka to advance from the first round as he beat Varma 6-2, 6-0.

In the girls’ category Dinara de Silva, Saajida Razick and Vishmi Serasinghe reached the second round when they won their respective first round matches on Monday.

Dinara beat Yu Ching Wang of Taipei 6-3, 7-6(4) and Razick beat Indian Anushka Bhola 6-1, 6-1, while Serasinghe ousted Wei Chiao-Chen also from Taipei 6-1, 6-1.

In the other matches Dinethya Dharmarathe, Dahamna Methnadi, Nesangi Hemakumara, Vinethya Dharmarathne and Gehansa Metnadi conceded first round defeats.

In the boys’ category Vichinthya Nilaweera, Methwan Wijemanne, Abdul Bashit Cader, Thilina Dissanayake and Zahid Zihar were eliminated in the first round.

The boys’ and girls’ second round matches will be played today.

The tournament which commenced on July 4 will culminate on Friday.

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Sri Lanka add more spin options after first Test disaster

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Maheesh Theekshana and Dunith Wellalage are likely to make their Test debuts in the series-deciding second Test in Galle.

by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka have taken some desperate measures leading up to the second Test against Australia in Galle by adding more spin options indicating that the team management and the selectors are willing to make wholesale changes after the pathetic performance in the first Test which they lost before lunch on day three.

Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya has been sent home after he failed to make an impact following the ten-wicket loss last week. In an inexperienced attack, the 25-year-old with 17 Test caps is the senior most bowler but he had got his lengths wrong in a game dominated by Australian spinners. Embuldeniya had struggled in Bangladesh as well and was dropped. Instead of letting him fight his way back, he was drafted into the first Test against Australia and it wasn’t surprising to see him failing to make an impact. Now with the series at stake, Sri Lanka have pressed the panic button.

Even if Dimuth Karunaratne’s side win the second Test, Australia will retain Warne-Murali Trophy since they are the holders having blanked Sri Lanka 2-0 in 2019.

Sri Lanka’s desperation is evident by the fact that they have recalled Maheesh Theekshana, who hasn’t played a First-Class game in four years. In fact, Army had been told not to consider Theekshana for the ongoing one-day competition to help him recover from niggles but suddenly he finds himself in the hot seat with a Test series at stake.

Uncapped Dunith Wellalage also has been added to the squad giving the left-arm spin option that has been taken away following the axing of Embuldeniya. Support left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama had tested positive for COVID.

Former captain Angelo Mathews who was in isolation after testing positive for COVID has returned a negative test and has rejoined the team.

Off-spinner Lakshitha Manasinghe is the third player to be added to the group. He had an impressive series against Australia ‘A’ too. It is expected that Wellalage will make his Test debut while the slot for the third spinner is a toss-up between Jeffrey Vandersay and Maheesh Theekshana. The leg-spinner was untidy in the opening Test and the more realistic option seems to be that Theekshana debuting alongside Wellalage.

Although three replacement spinners have been added, some wonder why Sri Lanka have not thought of some batting replacements. It was a pathetic display by the team in the second innings where they were shot out inside a session and faced only 22.3 overs.

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