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Sri Lanka in shambles in second Test

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Rex Clementine in Bangalore

India have not just got the world’s best franchise tournament, they also have a robust Test team and Sri Lanka with a bloated First Class system were no match for the hosts as they were heading for a heavy defeat in the second Test here in Bangalore inside three days.

You can pardon Sri Lanka’s players for not being fit to hold a candle to the Indians as their opponents’ skill levels are far superior. But what is unpardonable is their mindless selections and sloppy cricket.

Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis are making a comeback since being suspended and a close look would tell you that they have learned little although they have been doing time for more than six months.

On the first day’s play, Mendis walked out to the field wearing a floppy hat although it’s a tradition for players to wear their Test cap on the first session of a Test match. It’s a tradition started by one of the nation’s exemplary leaders by the

name of Marvan Atapattu and maybe we should not expect lesser mortals like Mendis to follow suit. It is a man of Mendis’ stature the current selection committee appointed as vice-captain in May last year giving us a clear indication that here’s a future Test captain. Just in case that doom’s day dawns, Sri Lanka’s team meetings will be happening at the Cheers Pub.  To their credit, the rest of the Sri Lankan players were wearing their Test caps.

Sri Lanka have done some bizarre things this tour and they opened batting with Mendis on day one and that experiment lasted less than three overs. Then there’s Niroshan Dickwella, his partner in crime.

Dickwella’s reviewing has been horrendous for many years but Sri Lankan captains continue to depend on him. His counterpart Rishab Pant has been excellent giving skipper Rohit Sharma sound advice. In India’s first innings, Dickwella prompted his captain to review leg before wicket decisions on three occasions and on all three occasions it emerged that the batsmen had nicked the ball. The only advice you should be getting from Dickwella is which restaurants in Colombo have free corkage.

India’s lower middle order batsmen have cleverly farmed the strike from the tail-enders and helped the team score significant totals. Dickwella meanwhile is happy to give the strike back to the lower order batters. He is more content in finishing not out to boost up his average. The suspension has meant nothing for Dickwella. He continues to be impulsive, impatient, incompetent and incorrigible.

On a track where the bowlers had lot of assistance, India managed to score 252 runs having won the toss. Sri Lanka had reduced them to 126 for five but the last five batsmen contributed another 126 to help the team to a competitive total.

Sri Lanka were shot out for 109 runs in their first innings and at one stage were in danger of being bowled out for their lowest score against India. None of the batters managed a half-century as Jasprit Bumrah was on the money finishing with five wickets.

India declared their second innings on 303 for nine. Rishab Pant was like batting on a different wicket as he smashed 50 off 27 balls with six fours and two sixes. He broke Kapil Dev’s Indian record for fastest half-century in Tests. Kapil had scored in 30 deliveries against Pakistan 40 years ago. Pant’s record means nothing much against this hapless bowling attack.

Sri Lanka finished day two on 28 for one chasing an improbable target of 447. They still need 419 runs with nine wickets in hand.



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Spin bowling coach concedes Sri Lanka under bowled Dhananjaya

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Rex Clementine in Galle

The question in everyone’s mind watching the second day’s play of the first Test between Australia and Sri Lanka was why off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva was not bowled enough as he was creating opportunities. The part-timer sent down just two overs on the day while the rest of the spinners took a hammering.

Dhananjaya had started off the day well claiming the wicket of Travis Head when he took a return catch but skipper Dimuth Karunaratne hardly bowled him thereafter even when Australian batsmen went on the rampage. Sri Lanka’s Bowling Coach Piyal Wijetunga conceded that Dhananjaya was under bowled.

“When Ramesh was bowling well, I thought we could have used Dhananjaya more. I thought we under bowled him. Had he bowled more, it could have been lot more different,” Wijetunga, a former Test cricketer told reporters.

Lasith Embuldeniya has been disappointing. While he has not been able to make breakthroughs, he also sent down too many loose deliveries which were duly punished. The left-arm spinner had struggled in the recent Test series in Bangladesh as well and the question was asked whether he would have been better off playing against Australia ‘A’ lead up to the Test series.

“Lasith has bowled well in training. The problem is when he goes out to the middle he struggles. It’s a matter of handling the pressure. The Bangladesh setback maybe is working on his head. When something of this nature happens, the player has to sort it out. A spinner more than a fast bowler or a batsman needs to be mentally strong. We need to address that issue,” Wijetunga stressed.

Sri Lanka’s spinners haven’t been able to send down even a single maiden over in the innings and Wijetunga said that it was due to the fact that the opposition batsmen were looking to attack. But in reality, every over the spinner offered loose balls and they were put away.

“I accept the fact that we didn’t bowl single maiden over in this innings. On spinning tracks batters try to be aggressive. This is not an excuse. We could have bowled a few maiden overs. According to my opinion the reason is the batsmen trying to be aggressive. They were looking to sweep and reverse sweep. Their batsmen handled spin better than our batters.”

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Science in search of first win this season

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By a Special Sports Correspondent  

S. Thomas’ College will be looking for a better performance this week when they confront St. Joseph’s College in their Division 1 Segment A Group 1 A match scheduled for Saturday (June 2) which could be rated as one of the key matches to be worked off in the second week of the inter-school league rugby tournament.

The match scheduled to take place at Havelock Park will be played for the Lady Jayatilake Shield. The Thomians went down fighting last week to Trinity. Much is expected from the lads from Mount Lavina tomorrow if they are to get the better of Trinity; a team which proved last week that they are one of the sides to watch this season.

Trinity meanwhile lock horns with St. Anthony’s Katugastota at Nittawela today (Friday). Royal take on Kingswood which is the other game scheduled today.

In a key game in the Division 1 Segment A Group 1 B this week Science take on Dharmaraja. In this fixture Science is set to record its first win for the season. Last week the lads from Mount Lavinia went down fighting to Isipathana 18-9 and earned much respect for the spirited performance.

Vidyartha host St. Peter’s on Sunday at Nittawela. At the time of writing the venue for the Wesley vs Isipathana match was not released to the media by the tournament organizers.

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Sri Lanka lose plot as Australia lead goes past 100

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Rex Clementine in Galle

Spin had done the job against Australia in the limited overs series and with the opposition vulnerable against the turning ball, the quartet of spinners that Sri Lanka had picked were expected to put the brakes on the batsmen in the first Test in Galle. But the hosts were poor as they bowled too short and sent down too many loose balls to hand the initiative of the Test match to Australia, who finished day two on 313 for eight with a healthy lead of 101.

Sri Lanka were unable to tie down the attacking batsmen as none of the spinners managed a maiden over. Left-arm orthodox spinner Lasith Embuldeniya was expensive conceding 73 runs in his 15 overs giving away almost five runs an over while leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay went  for more than six runs an over with his ten overs costing 68 runs.

Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne’s bowling changes were also poor. Off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva had provided an early breakthrough when he took a return catch to dismiss Travis Head but soon after that he was taken off the attack on a rain curtailed day. Shockingly, Dhananjaya bowled just two overs on day two and the most economical and experienced bowler in the team has sent down only five overs in the innings.

Ramesh Mendis finished with four wickets and looked the most threatening among the bowlers, particularly against the left-handers. Jeffrey Vandersay claimed two including the big wicket of Usman Khawaja, world’s highest run getter this year, but lacked discipline.

Only 44 overs were bowled in the day of the scheduled 90 due to rain and a wet outfield. Sri Lanka had reduced Australia to 157 for five and were looking to knock the lower order cheaply, but there was little pressure from the spinners despite the pitch offering assistance.

Alex Carey and Cameroon Green added 84 runs for the sixth wicket with the wicketkeeper smashing 45 off 47 deliveries with six fours. There were questions asked at the start whether Australia would have been better off with the spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell instead of seaming all-rounder Green. But the Perth based big man justified his selection top scoring with 77 runs.

Green, considered a long term investment by Australia with a solid First Class record, could play a role of someone like Michael Bevan, who was an expert batting with the tail in limited over games.

Green and Mitchell Starc were dismissed in the space of three deliveries and with the total on 278 for eight, Sri Lanka looked to knock off Australia before they reached 300. But skipper Pat Cummins with a few mighty blows took the score beyond 300 and the lead past 100. He remained unbeaten on 26 in 16 deliveries with one four and three sixes. All three sixes came off Vandersay including two in an over.

Play will get underway early today at 9:45 am to catch up for lost time on day two.

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