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Sri Lanka one step closer to World Cup qualification

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Sri Lanka completed a seven wicket win over Namibia yesterday in Abu Dhabi.

Rex Clementine in Abu Dhabi

They say, well prepared is half done. Sri Lanka’s intense preparation ahead of the ICC T-20 World Cup stood in good stead for them as they cruised to a seven-wicket win with 39 deliveries to spare winning their first qualifying game against Namibia here at Sheikh Zayed Stadium yesterday. Following the comprehensive win, the former champions are one more win away from qualifying for the showpiece event.

Sri Lanka’s bowling was too strong for the Namibians as they were shot out for 96 with three deliveries to spare.

Maheesh Theekshana was going to be their trump card in the qualifying round and he was on the money picking up a wicket off his first ball and finished with figures of three for 25.

Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and Lahiru Kumara, a last minute addition to the squad finished with two wickets each. However, the bowler who impressed most in the game was Dushmantha Chameera, who bowled a quick spell clocking 149 kmph at one point.

Sri Lanka’s obvious target would be to qualify but if they need to go further in the competition, Chameera with his ability to pick up early wickets is going to be the key.

Sri Lanka chased down the target in 13.3 overs and the big win helping them to sit comfortably with a healthy Net Run Rate.

There was bit of a scare as Sri Lanka lost three wickets for 26 runs inside the Power Play. But a 74 run unbroken stand in 51 balls between Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Avishka Fernando helped them to get over the line comfortably.

Avishka has been scoring heavily leading up to the competition and he has been the in-form batsman. Sri Lanka will be feeling happy that Bhanuka ended up top-scoring with 42 runs as his form has been patchy. He ended the game with a flicked six. His unbeaten 42 came off 27 balls and contained four fours and two sixes.

Avishka Fernando was unbeaten on 30 off 28 balls with two sixes.

As expected, Sri Lanka held Avishka back playing him at number four. With their batting sorted, Sri Lanka, written off by many, look to make an impact in the competition.

Sri Lanka’s next game is on Wednesday where they take on Ireland at the same ground. They will move to Sharjah for the final qualifying round game against Netherlands on Friday.



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Djokovic sets up Alcaraz rematch in Wimbledon final

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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

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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

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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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