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Sri Lanka leave for Bangladesh for two Tests

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The two Test series in Bangladesh will be Chris Silverwood’s first assignment as Head Coach.

By Rex Clementine

The national cricket team left for Dhaka in the early hours of yesterday for a two match Test series against Bangladesh. The Tests are part of the World Test Championship and Sri Lanka will be looking to maintain their unbeaten run in Bangladesh in Test match cricket.Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, who is contracted with English county Yorkshire  did not travel with the team. He is expected to join  the team straight from London today after a game at Chelmsford against Essex.This is Chris Silverwood’s first assignment as the Head Coach of the national cricket team. The former England boss has put down building up a strong crop of fast bowlers as one of his priorities. He also stressed on improving the team’s ICC Rankings, which does not reflect too good currently as Sri Lanka are ranked seventh in Tests, eighth in ODIs and ninth in T-20s. If Sri Lanka fail to win one of the Test matches, they will slip down in rankings and slump to number eight, below West Indies.Silverwood, the former Yorkshire fast bowler replaced Mickey Arthur last month after the national cricket team was without a Head Coach for five months.

There are couple of spots up for grabs in the line-up with Suranga Lakmal retired from Test cricket and Pathum Nissanka not part of the touring party due to injury. Lahiru Thirimanne, who opened batting during the recent tour of India is also missing. Oshada Fernando has returned to the squad after an impressive domestic season and so has Kasun Rajitha.

Although Sri Lanka’s batting flopped during the tour of India, it’s expected to deliver the goods against a weaker Bangladesh attack. However, the team’s bowling remains a concern with doubts over whether they are capable of taking 20 wickets in a Test match. The return of Ramesh  Mendis is some consolation for the tourists. The off-spinner missed the India Tests due to injury.The  national cricket team has a packed schedule in the next five months. Soon after the Bangladesh series, Sri Lanka will host Australia and Pakistan in bilateral series involving all three formats.The nation is also set to host the Asia Cup and the qualifiers but the fate of that competition hangs in the balance as Board of Control for Cricket in India has raised concerns due to the economic crisis in the country. The Asia Cup will be followed by the T-20 World Cup in Australia. In between, Sri Lanka will also host the Lanka Premier League. The franchise tournament that was played in December in the last two years has been moved to August this year.



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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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