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Sri Lanka looking for consolation win over Dutch




Rex Clementine in Miami

Sri Lanka’s World Cup campaign ended in bitter disappointment even before they departed to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia on Thursday. Their game on Sunday against the Netherlands is a dead rubber, but pride is at stake against the Dutch.

It’s been a campaign filled with hurt and disappointment for a team that had done reasonably well in white ball cricket this year. Sri Lanka simply failed to get going in the World Cup the moment Wanindu Hasaranga won the toss and opted to bat against South Africa.

It has been discussed over and over again how the team set themselves bigger totals and failed to realize that US wickets weren’t going to produce high scoring games.

Another issue that has gone unnoticed is how bowling let the side down. True, bowlers did well to put up a fight defending below par totals, but the 12 wides bowled in the Bangladesh game was costly. Apart from the runs, it obviously means that they sent down two additional overs due to the excessive amount of wides and the second game was lost with an over to spare. Then, obviously, the number of full tosses that were sent down during crucial stages of the game was a bitter pill to swallow.

The team’s strategy of banking on just two quicks didn’t work and perhaps the addition of Dushmantha Chameera may have helped them although the games were lost with batting.

While the selectors expressed confidence that they have enough fire power to clear boundaries, a requirement in T-20 cricket, it was evident that the batters chosen for the 20-nation competition weren’t capable of executing the big hits.

Wanindu Hasaranga had promoted himself up the order and had done quite well in his role as a ‘floater’ but he was a flop during the World Cup picking consecutive ducks.

Hasaranga’s handling game situations too has a lot to be desired, especially his bowling changes. Nuwan Thushar looked to be the most threatening of all bowlers against Bangladesh. The captain instead of holding onto his overs to be used in the death overs exhausted all his four overs and was forced to rely on Dasun Shanaka to send down the penultimate over. The Sri Lankan captain has much to learn from the likes of Rohit Sharma. The Indian captain used Jasprit Bumrah superbly during the epic clash against arch-rivals Pakistan.

When Sri Lanka lost the warm-up game to Netherlands all lead bowlers had been rested. You would expect all of them to be on show for Sunday’s game.

Conditions in St. Lucia might tempt the team to back the two-spin combination, but it will be tough to leave out Chameera after back to back losses. He was expected to play the Nepal game which was rained out in Florida.

Sri Lanka’s players were left stranded in Florida due to the floods. They were expected to fly out from Fort Lauderdale airport on Wednesday evening, but due to torrential rain and subsequent floods they were unable to leave their hotel rooms. They were expected to fly out to St. Lucia at 8:30 pm on Thursday on a chartered flight.

Their luggage had been already dispatched to the airport on Wednesday so the players had to live on the stuff that were there on their hand luggages.St. Lucia is a tiny Caribbean island that has a population of 180,000. The size of St. Lucia is 617 square kilometers but the country has its own Prime Minister and currency; East Caribbean Dollar.

St. Lucia is not a stronghold of West Indian cricket like Barbados, Antigua, Guyana or Trinidad. The only notable cricket from there is former captain Darren Sammy. In fact, the cricket ground in St. Lucia is named after him.

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Djokovic sets up Alcaraz rematch in Wimbledon final




Novak Djokovic is trying to match Roger Federer's total of eight Wimbledon titles [BBC]

Novak Djokovic outclassed Italian underdog Lorenzo Musetti to reach the Wimbledon final and set up a showdown with reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz in a repeat of last year’s final.

The 37-year-old impressed as he stayed on course for a record-equalling eighth men’s singles title at Wimbledon with a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory on Centre Court.

Musetti, 22, had one chance to get the break back in the final set but sent a forehand into the net and crouched down with his head in his hands, knowing the end was near.  Djokovic made sure his opponent did not get another opportunity.

Under pressure, Musetti sent a shot long before Djokovic walked to the net, knowing he had reached his 37th Grand Slam final and 10th at Wimbledon.

The Serb then moved his racquet over his shoulder and imitated playing a violin, in a gesture aimed at his six-year-old daughter Tara, with television cameras showing her grinning along.

Some fans, however, started booing, thinking Djokovic, who produced the same celebration following his win over Holger Rune in the last 16, was being disrespectful.

Alcaraz beat Djokovic in last year’s showpiece, winning 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 3-6 6-4 in a five-set epic, which lasted four hours 42 minutes and is regarded one of the best matches in the tournament’s history.

The pair meet again on Sunday in what could be another amazing chapter in Wimbledon folklore.

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Top ICC official Chris Tetley and Claire Furlong resign




There was a lot of scrutiny of the matches in the US leg of the World Cup, particularly the games held in New York

A couple of senior officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC), who were closely involved in organizing the Twenty20 World Cup in the US and the West Indies, have resigned. On Friday, it came to light that Chris Tetley, the ICC’s Head of Events, and Claire Furlong, the General Manager of Marketing and Communications, have announced their departures from the organization.

The resignations, coming as they did immediately after the conclusion of the World Cup and just about a week ahead of the ICC’s annual conference in Colombo, are believed to be related to the conduct of the championship. However, ICC insiders say the resignations are several months old.

One particular source has claimed that both Tetley and Furlong decided to leave the world body at the end of the last commercial cycle itself but stayed on in view of the Twenty20 World Cup in the US. The source went on to add that the two quit quite some time back but will continue to be with the ICC for a few more months ‘to ensure smooth transition of charge in a crowded event cycle.’ They will also attend the Annual Conference in Colombo from July 19 to 22.

The World Cup in the US, and particularly in New York, was a major project of the ICC and the two officials were closely involved in it. Many members of the ICC were priming to raise the issue of the New York games, which were low-scoring affairs due to the ‘up and down’ nature of the drop-in pitches at the NY stadium, at the Colombo conclave. A key member of the ICC board is learnt to have raised the issue through a letter to the members.

The number of fours and sixes, which are generally expected to be high in numbers in the Twenty20 games, was significantly low in the New York games. The Indian team, the eventual champions, however, did not comment on the nature of the pitches, stating that the conditions were equal for all the participating teams.

The matches in the US were conducted by an entity called T20 World Cup Inc which had built a modular stadium in the Nassau County of New York’s Long Island in record time. The stadium was dismantled immediately after the NY leg of the championship. NY hosted eight of the 16 games allotted to the US.

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Junior National Athletics Championship commences today



The spotlight will fall on the Under 20 age category when the Junior National Athletics Championship commences at Diyagama today as the four-day championship will be the final opportunity to qualify for the World Junior Championships.

Six athletes have already reached entry standards for the world event to be held in Lima, Peru in August.

Sri Lanka Athletics has spelt out the plan to form a team for the costly tour also leaving a space for those athletes who excel in the Under 18 age category. The World Junior Championship is open to Under 20 age category.

The day one programme includes at least ten events in the Under 20 age category.

However, it is not only the athletes in the Under 20 age category that will compete for honours.

The event will be vital for athletes in the Under 16, Under 18 and Under 23 age categories as well.

The Junior National Athletics Championship was earlier scheduled for June but inclement weather forced Sri Lanka Athletics to postpone the event to July. This postponement has affected athletes of some areas as some zonal championships commence during the Junior National.

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