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Sri Lanka misread Pallekele wicket

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Sri Lanka’s captain Dimuth Karunaratne has admitted that his team misread the Pallekele wicket.

Rex Clementine at Pallekele

Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne has conceded that his team misread the wicket ahead of the opening Test match against Bangladesh at Pallekele that concluded in a tame draw on Sunday. A thick grass cover had indicated that the wicket was going to heavily favour seam bowling, but eventually the batsmen made merry with Bangladesh posting 541, the highest total at Pallekele, only for Sri Lankans to raise the benchmark to 648 when they batted. Despite the grass cover, the wicket was dry and had little carry and bounce.

Bangladesh seemed to have read the pitch well as they opted to bat first after winning the toss. Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunartne, meanwhile, said he wanted to bowl first during the toss. At conclusion, however, Karunaratne, whose middle name is Frank, admitted it was a wrong call. “We misread the wicket. We thought it will help seam bowlers, that’s why we wanted to bowl first but it was not to be so,” Karunaratne said after the game.

The Sri Lankan skipper, however, was the cynosure of all eyes after posting a career best 244, the first double hundred scored at Pallekele. He was involved in a record breaking 345 run partnerships with Dhananjaya de Silva during a crucial stage of the match.

Karunaratne’s concentration levels and application was appreciated by all and sundry after he batted for 11 hours and 28 minutes. The Sri Lankan skipper was on the field on all five days of the Test match. On day one, two and three he was captaining and fielding while on day three, four and five he was batting.

“When you play a Test you have to be mentally prepared to be on the field all five days, whether that’s fielding or batting. Yes, you can feel it in your body when you’ve been fielding a couple of days, but when you get a chance to bat, you’ve got to take that opportunity,” Karunaratne said.

“In the West Indies I was trying to score runs quickly in the first few overs and really get among the runs,” Karunaratne said. “But because that was unsuccessful I talked to the coach and asked him what I was doing wrong. He said as an opener just wait until you get set, because when you do that you make a big score, and that’s your game.”

“I tried to leave the ball a lot when I started here, and properly get settled. I know that when I get set, I can catch up on the scoring rate later. That’s what I applied here,” Karunaratne, who faced 437 balls during his knock, added.

Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haque who scored his first Test hundred overseas was happy with the result. “We lost a home series to West Indies pretty badly so we are happy that we are able to come overseas and draw a game. Pretty happy with my own performance as it was my first hundred overseas. There were contributions from all the players and it was a very good team effort. When everyone contributes, we do well,” Mominul said.

The teams are in Kandy in a ‘bio-bubble’. The second Test begins on Thursday.



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Himasha’s ban extended to six years

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Himasha’s doping violation

by Reemus Fernando

The Appeals Committee of the Sri Lanka Anti-Doping Agency that heard sprinter Himasha Eshan’s appeal against his suspension, has decided to extend the ban against the former national 100 metres champion to six years.

SLADA has informed the athlete that the Appeals Committee had decided to extend the ban to six years after the appeal hearing conducted on November 3.

According to the letter sent by SLADA, Himasha will now be banned till 25th October 2027 which effectively closes the former national 100 metres record holder’s chances of competing for Sri Lanka again.

The 28-year-old was tested positive for a banned substance during a random test conducted by SLADA on October 26, 2021. The Disciplinary Committee of SLADA first banned him for four years from October 26, 2021 to October 25, 2025. That ban has now been extended by two years.It was the second time that the South Asian Games medallist has been found positive for a banned substance and he is also the only Sri Lankan athlete to be tested positive twice.

He was first found positive for a banned substances when he was 17 years old. He was slapped with a two year ban which was reduced considering his young age. The World Anti-Doping Agency introduced four years bans for first time offences in 2013. According to Anti Doping authorities any reduced terms are added to the suspension when an athlete is found positive for the second time.

This time Himasha was tested positive during a random test conducted by SLADA on October 26, 2021. The Anti-Doping authorities collected Himasha’s urine samples at the Army quarters at Narahenpita. He was involved in several impressive performances including a wind assisted 10.29 seconds feat to win the men’s 100 metres during the Army Athletics Championships which was held around that time.

Once the fastest man in the South Asian region, Himasha was coached by Chaminda Perera. He won the gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games and set a South Asian regional record of 10.22 seconds in 2019. He was also part of Sri Lanka’s 4×100 metres team that established the current national record in the 4×100 metres relay.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Al Nassr knocked out of Saudi Super Cup

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr were knocked of the Saudi Super Cup on Thursday after a 3-1 semifinal loss to Al Ittihad in Riyadh.The 37-year-old Portugal international, five-times Ballon D’Or winner, had a couple of chances to score but was well shackled by the Al Ittihad defence for most of the match.

Anderson Talisca’s goal for Al Nassr in the 67th minute was not enough to turn around the deficit from two first-half goals for Al Ittihad from Romarinho and Abderrazak Hamdallah.

Muhannad Al-Shanqeeti added the third three minutes into stoppage time.Al Nassr next travel to Al Fateh in the Saudi Pro League on Feb. 3.

(ESPN)

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Karen Khachanov to reach final of Australian Open 2023

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Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas has another chance to land his first Grand Slam title after reaching the Australian Open final by beating Russian Karen Khachanov in the Melbourne last four.Third seed Tsitsipas, 24, won 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 against Khachanov, who was going for a maiden major final.Tsitsipas lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final and might have the chance to avenge that loss.

Serbia’s Djokovic plays American Tommy Paul in Friday’s other semi-final.Tsitsipas, who will become the world number one if he wins the title, eventually booked his place after recovering from Khachanov saving two match points in the third-set tie-break.

Another tight forehand saw a third chance disappear in what proved to be the final game, before he regained his composure to convert his fourth when a first serve was batted long by the 18th seed. Asked what he was thinking when the match went into a fourth set, Tsitsipas said: “I thought about how hard I’ve worked to get to this position.

“But if you stick around, dedicate yourself even more, and concentrate even more in the important moments it pays off.”

Nine-time champion Djokovic is the favourite to face Tsitsipas and takes on the unseeded Paul, who is competing in his first major semi-final, at 08:30 GMT on Friday.

The 35-year-old former world number one has won in Melbourne every time he has reached the last four and is aiming for a record-extending 10th title which would equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 major men’s titles. At a tournament with a hard-court surface on which he thrives, and in a city where he is warmly backed by its large Greek population, Tsitsipas has long appeared destined for success at the Australian Open.

The towering youngster announced his arrival there with a famous 2019 win over defending champion Roger Federer in the fourth round, only for a captivating run to be ended when he was crushed by Rafael Nadal in his first semi-final appearance.

Long-time rival Daniil Medvedev ended his dreams at the last-four stage in both 2021 and 2022, with another Russian – this time, the powerful Khachanov – standing in his way this time.

Backed by a vocal crowd who waved Greek flags after virtually all of his winning points, Tsitsipas started confidently against a player who he had beaten in all of their five previous encounters.

Khachanov could not cope with Tsitsipas’ pounding ground-strokes and dynamic athleticism as the world number four moved two sets ahead.

When Tsitsipas broke early in the third set and moved into a 5-4 lead which left him serving for the match, few on Rod Laver Arena expected anything other than a straight-set win.However, nerves kicked in for Tsitsipas, who suddenly looked unsure with his ground-strokes, and Khachanov cut loose to extend the contest.

After a bathroom break before the fourth set, Tsitsipas returned free of the weight of expectation and broke Khachanov’s serve at the first opportunity.Dominant service games from that point ensured there would be no repeat of the previous set as he finally reached the final of what he calls his “home” Grand Slam event.

“I feel blessed for the fact I’m able to play tennis at this level and for many years I’ve wanted to put Greek tennis on the map – Maria [Sakkari] and I have done that, I think,” Tsitsipas said.

“Coming from a small country like Greece I feel so grateful I get support like this.

“I never thought I would be treated so well here so I’m extremely happy I’m in the final now – let’s see what happens.”

(BBC Sports)

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