Sri Lanka’s junior athletes will commence their World Under-20 Championship campaign when they make the country’s debut in mixed relay on day one of the event in Nairobi today.
Ananda Sastralaya Matugama sprinter Isuru Kaushalya, Wekada MV, Chilaw sprinter Dilshan Bandara, Ratnayaka Central, Walala runner Tharushi Karunaratne and Holy Cross College, Gampaha athlete Lakshima Mendis will form Sri Lanka’s mixed relay team. They will line up against, Jamaica, Czech Republic, India, Poland and Ethiopia in heat one of the 4×400 metres mixed relay, which will be the first discipline of the meet.
With only the first three finishers and the top two fastest finishers from the rest of the teams from the two heats advancing to the final Sri Lanka will have a tough ask qualifying. Nigeria, Italy, Kenya, South Africa and Ecuador are the teams competing in the other heat.
It is the first time that Sri Lanka compete in a mixed relay, the newest addition to track and field sports. The event won the global attention at the last World Championships in Doha and at the Tokyo Olympics. Sri Lanka’s senior athletes are yet to compete in a mixed relay after the Asian Relays and the Asian Athletics Championships were not held due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Sri Lanka will bank heavily on the relay quartet to produce the best and book a final berth as there will be tougher competition in the individual events.
Lumbini College sprinter Medhani Jayamanne and Isuru Kaushalya will also compete in their individual events today.
Jayamanne will compete in the fourth heat of the women’s 100 metres while Kaushalya runs in heat two of the men’s 400 metres.
Jayamanne is drawn against sprinters from Jamaica, Bahamas, Italy, Czech Republic and Canada in her heat, with Jamaica’s Tina Clayton bringing a personal best of 11.17 seconds as the fastest of the heat. A personal best performance will be a realistic target for Jayamanne who clocked 11.85 seconds to qualify for the World event in July. Her coach, the South Asian Games medallist Umanga Surendra was hopeful that she would achieve her personal best mark in Nairobi.
Anthony Pesela of Botswana carries the fastest personal best (46.10 secs) to the men’s 400 metres second heat, while Zambia’s David Mulenga (46.14) and Nigeria’s Dubem Amene are the other serious contenders that Kaushalya has to fight against. Kaushalya has a personal best of 46.90 seconds from the last months’ selection trial. His coach Danushka Munasinghe backs him to do well in both the mixed relay and the individual event.
Dr. Dhammika Senenayake who is accompanying the team as the Covid 19 liaison officer told The Island that the athletes and the officials namely the manager Jagath Gnanasiri and coaches Umanga Surendra, Danushka Munasinghe and Sunethra Karunanayake have all returned negative results when tests were conducted for Covid 19. (RF)
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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