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Sri Lanka focus on automatic World Cup qualifications after off the field distractions

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By Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka have had lot of off the field distractions this month but will try to set them aside in the lead up to the three match ODI series against Afghanistan with the opening game getting underway on Friday at the Pallekele International Stadium. All three games will be played at Pallekele.

Sri Lanka’s campaign in the ICC Men’s T-20 World Cup ended exactly three weeks ago after a hard fought defeat at the hands of eventual champions England. Less than three hours after the game ended, there were dramatic scenes at the Sri Lankan team hotel in Sydney as their opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka was arrested by New South Wales police and was charged with sexual assault. The batsman is on bail but he is unable to leave Australia until the case is finished.

SLC launched an investigation into the conduct of the players on tour and all-rounder Chamika Karunaratne has been fined US$ 5000 and handed a one year suspended sentence for breaching the code of conduct. The player is alleged to have been involved in a fight in a Brisbane casino.

The members of the national selection committee and the team management are also under fire for not being firm and their fate will be known following the investigations carried out by the probe committee. Middle order batsman Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s withdrawal from the squad on the eve of the ODI series was further distraction. Off the field incidents will be the last thing on Sri Lanka’s mind as they are seeking automatic qualification for next year’s 50 over World Cup in India.

Sri Lanka are placed tenth in the World Cup Super League with 62 points while Afghanistan are seventh with 100 points. Only the top eight teams automatically qualify for the World Cup and Dasun Shanaka’s side would want to improve their chances of going through.

“We have played a lot of cricket here at Pallekele and we know how the conditions will be here. It won’t be easy to bat under lights as the ball moves around a lot. We have a decent attack and some experience in the middle order with the return of Dinesh Chandimal and we are expecting a good contest,” Shanka told journalists.

Along with Chandimal, who missed the World Cup due to injury, all-rounder Dunith Wellalage also returns to the side.Afghanistan, meanwhile have included left-arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmed in the squad. The Chinaman bowler is popular around the world having established himself in league cricket as an economical bowler. The 17-year-old made his international T-20 debut in June this year and he is expected to make his ODI debut during this series.

“We have prepared well for the series. Obviously there’s a lot of focus on Sri Lanka’s spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana and I’m sure our batters will be up for the challenge as we play a lot of spin ourselves at the nets against the quality spin bowlers we have,” Hashmatullah Shahidi the Afghanistan captain said.

Sri Lanka (From)

Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dinesh Chandimal, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara. Dunith Wellalage, Ashen Bandara, Asitha Fernando, Pramod Madushan and Dhananjaya Lakshan.

Afghanistan

(From) Hashmatullah Shahidi (Captain), Rahmat Shah, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Azmatullah Omarzai, Fareed Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Gulbadin Naib, Ibrahim Zadran, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Noor Ahmad, Rashid Khan, Riaz Hassan, Shahidullah Kamal, Yamin Ahmadzai and Zia-ur-Rehman



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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My best knock for Sri Lanka – Asalanka

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By Rex Clementine

If you had no idea why Roy Dias identified Charith Asalanka as a Test captain in the waiting some seven years ago, there was proof for his claims at Pallekele on Wednesday as the diminutive left-hander from Elpitiya pulled off a stunning run chase against Afghanistan.Sri Lanka chased down a target of 314 in the last over with Asalanka finishing things off in style with a pulled six. What’s so special with the win is that it is Sri Lanka’s highest successful run chase ever at home.

“I was struggling with cramps. The heat was too much in the afternoon.

Once Dunith came in, I told him not to do too much running and target the gaps. There was a good partnership with Dasun too before that and that helped us to get back into the game,” Asalanka noted.

Most players when they get into the Sri Lankan cricket set up they get themselves tattooed and buy fancy cars and luxury apartments. Asalanka has remained grounded and he is very much close to his roots at Elpitiya.

In fact, he married his childhood sweetheart, whom he fell in love with at the age of 15. The pair met at the school bus when Asalanka was playing under-17 cricket and despite money and fame the captain in waiting hasn’t forgotten his past. Asalanka took a break middle of the series to get married on the 28th of November, the day of their tenth anniversary of falling in love. However, there was no honeymoon as Asalanka had to return to Pallekele for the rest of the series.

His wife is an English teacher and that gives us hope that press conferences are going to be interesting again although the good old days of Sanga will never come.Asalanka received a scholarship to Richmond College after passing the Grade Five scholarship and he is known as a sharp thinker of the game.

“First game the ball swung a lot. It was a grassy pitch. We knew this wicket was not going to do much for the bowlers. The main thing we wanted was to bat 50 overs. Everyone contributed from top to the lower middle order, and it was great to watch.”

Sri Lanka have a settled top order when it comes to white ball cricket and the middle order could be built on Asalanka who can accelerate and rebuild an innings. “Dasun is the one who told me that I’d be batting at number five and to feel comfortable. I was going to get the long rope. I had never batted at number five before that and glad I have cemented my place now.”

“This is my best innings in international cricket. Dunith Wellalage was outstanding as well. Afghanistan have a very experienced side. They have lot of players who are involved in league cricket. Dunith showed lot of maturity.”

“We had identified that Rashid Khan was their key players. We didn’t want to take risks against him. We got out for some good balls. We made sure that we didn’t give wickets to him, and it got easier to score runs.

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Richmond, Trinity clash for Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ cricket title  

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by Reemus Fernando  

The stage is set for a thrilling climax when unbeaten Richmond meet formidable Trinity in the final of the Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ cricket tournament at the Thurstan College ground today.

There are two factors indicating to a thrilling climax. Both teams know what it takes to win a championship title as they have players who have featured in finals before. It was not long ago that a few players in the Trinity team guided their Under 17 team to joint champions title of the Division I cricket tournament of that age category. The team from Galle have in their ranks a number of players who had to be content with the runner up position after reaching the final of this tournament during the last season.

For the final, Trinity are likely to stick to the same team which won the semi –final against their arch rivals St. Anthony’s at the same venue early this week. During this tournament captain Rahal Amarasinghe has seen Manula Kularathne, Theeraka Ranatunga, Dinusha Pieris  and Janith Warnakula sharing most of the batting responsibilities for the team’s success.

In the bowling department, Ranatunga (with over 20 wickets) has topped the wicket takers list. Dinuka Thennakoon, Tharana Wimaladharma and Manula Kularathne are the others shouldering most of the wicket taking duties.

During the semi-final Ranatunga was joined by skipper Amarasinghe, Peiris, Wathila Udara and Vibhavith Ehelepola to play crucial roles with the bat, while the former and deputy skipper Ehelepola took two wickets each to contain St. Anthony’s to 202 runs.  A prominent feature of Richmond during this tournament was the dominant role played by their Sri Lanka Under 19 player Malsha Tharupathi. Tharupathi produced outstanding all-round feats to beat defending champions St. Joseph’s and St. Benedict’s in the quarter-final and the semi-final.

They have a strong batting line up from skipper Tharinda Nirmal, Helitha Edirisinghe, Thamindu Pradeeptha, Kavindu Nirmana, wicketkeeper batsman Janeth Kaushal to Tharupathi.

While Tharupathi is easily their top wicket taker, Nalaka Jaywardena, Nirmal and Sharon Abishek have all shared bowling responsibilities. Maheesha de Silva and Kaveesha Induwara have been economical with the new ball.

How they reached the final 

Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa and St. Anthony’s, Katugastota during the knockout stage after completing their first round matches as the third placed team in their group. They won five out of the eight matches during that phase.

Richmond have remained unbeaten during this tournament. They won all their eight matches in the first round to be the champions in their group. During the knockout stage they ousted defending champions St. Joseph’s and St. Benedict’s in a row to reach their second consecutive final.

Teams:

Richmond (from): Tharinda Nirmal  (Captain), Kavindu Nirmana (Vice Captain), Ruwan Jayawardena, Janeth Kaushal, Maheesha De Silva, Malsha Tharupathi, Sharon Abhishek, Thamindu Pradeeptha, Chehan Subasinghe, Sihath Ramanayake, Sasindu De Silva, Seneth Sisan, Kaveesha Induwara, Manuja Dulneth, Helith Edirisinghe, K.K Yuri, Pubudu Mihiranga,  Charuka Gunasekara. 

Officials:

Nuwan Jayasinghe (Master in Charge), Lakmal de Silva (Head Coach), Umal Udayanga (Asst. Coach), Lahiru Madhuwantha (Asst. Coach) 

Trinity (from):  Rahal Amarasinghe (Captain), Vibhavith Ehelepola (Vice Captain), Theeraka Ranatunga, Supun Waduge, Manula Kularatne, Tharana Wimaladharma, Kusal Wijetunga, Dinusha Pieris, Dinuka Tennakoon, Jayavi Liyanagama, Janith Warnakula, Malith Rathnayake, Lakvin Abeysinghe, Wathila Udara, Yewan Hulangamuwa, Viduka Dhammage. 

Officials:

Brian Senaratne (Master in Charge), Naveen Ekanayake (Head Coach),  Lakshitha Alahakoon (Asst. Coach) 

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