The writing was on the wall for Sri Lanka in their World Cup warm-up game against Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday when they were reduced to 75 for six chasing a target of 148. All the big guns; Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Dasun Shanaka had fallen for low scores but a stunning unbroken seventh wicket stand between Avishka Fernando and Chamika Karunaratne rescued them and in the end Sri Lanka cruised to a four wicket win with six balls to spare.
There was no television coverage of the game and to make matters worse, there were no updates of the scores either in any of the online scoring platforms. So fans had to entirely depend on a couple of Sri Lankan journalists in UAE to know the outcome of the game. There was a sigh of relief in the middle of the night when photographer Sameera Peiris, who is doing some freelance work for The Island, broke the news that Sri Lanka had secured a hard fought win.
The partnership between Avishka and Chamika was worth 73 runs and came off 55 balls. Avishka finished unbeaten on 62 off 42 balls with four fours and three sixes while Chamika was 29 not out off 25 balls with one four and a six.
Avishka was expected to open the batting but on Tuesday, he batted at number four and it remains to be seen what Sri Lanka will do with the 23-year-old prodigy when the qualifiers start.
While some feel that he is better off opening the innings to exploit the field restrictions during Power Play, others believe that Aravinda’s heir should bat where the greatest batsman produced by the nation batted – number four.
Chamika, meanwhile, needs to make a lot of improvements to his game but in the brief time he has been with Sri Lanka, he has shown a lot of promise and looks to be the kind of player who needs to be given the long rope.
Dushmantha Chameera did not play a single IPL game despite being called up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for the second leg of the IPL. He showcased what RCB lacked by bowling a superb spell on Tuesday and finished with three wickets.
Wanidu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Maheesh Theekshana and Dasun Shanaka finished with a wicket each as Sri Lanka restricted Bangladesh for 147. Soumya Sarkar top scored for Bangladesh with 34 runs.
A hamstring injury to Kusal Perera last month was a huge worry for Sri Lanka ahead of the World Cup. But he has recovered and played Tuesday’s warm-up game although he only made four runs.
Sri Lanka’s second warm-up game is today against Papua New Guinea in Abu Dhabi.
Bangladesh, Oman and Papua New Guinea are playing the qualifying round in Group ‘B’ and two teams will go through.
The former champions will remain in Abu Dhabi for their first two games of the qualifying round in Group ‘A’ against Namibia and Ireland. They will move to Sharjah for the third game against Netherlands. Sri Lanka need to win two of the three qualifying games to progress to the World Cup.
Sri Lanka had reached the finals of the T-20 World Cup on three occasions; 2009 in London, 2012 in Colombo and 2014 in Dhaka. They were champions in the 2014 edition beating India in the finals.
Bangladesh 147 for seven in 20 overs
(Sayumya Sarkar 34, Dushmantha Chameera 3/27)
Sri Lanka 148 for six in 19 overs
(Avishka Fernando 62*, Chamika Karunaratne 29*)
Gateway felicitates coach for making Sri Lanka proud
Pradeep Nishantha, Assistant Head of Sports of Gateway College Colombo was felicitated by the school for his remarkable contribution in producing two medal winners at the recently concluded Paralympic Games in Japan.
The national anthem was played for the very first time at an Olympics when Dinesh Priyantha Herath who was trained by Pradeep Nishantha won a gold medal with a new world record. Pradeep has been employed at Gateway since 2005 and he has been responsible for producing many national athletes from Gateway.
Gateway students are blessed to be coached and guided by professionals of the highest caliber. Thilaka Jinadasa, the Team Leader – Sports development for the entire group represented Sri Lanka in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.
Among Gateway’s team of coaches are a number of top Sri Lankan coaches. Tharindu Fernando, who was recently appointed National Basketball Coach for the Under 23 Sri Lankan side is among them.
Dialog and SLC release T20 World Cup song ‘Ape Kollo’
The national cricket team’s sponsor and Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata, together with Sri Lanka Cricket, recently released ‘Ape Kollo’ the T20 World Cup song in support of the Team on their T20 World Cup campaign which will commence on the 18th of October 2021 in the United Arab Emirates.
The song will be sung by a stellar line-up of artistes and Dialog brand ambassadors including, Bathiya and Santhush, Umaria, Yohani, Sanka Dineth, Sajitha, Sanuka, Madhuvy and guest performer, Roy Jackson. With lyrics written by Triad, the Sri Lanka Cricket T20 World Cup song is an initiative powered by Dialog Axiata connecting the wishes of every Sri Lankan.
Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, Vice President of Sri Lanka Cricket said, “I would like to thank Dialog Axiata for materializing the T20 World Cup song into existence. This tribute will be an immense morale boost for players and fans alike. The team over the past few months have been playing tourneys and trial games which have been instrumental in selecting the best combination for the T20 World Cup in UAE.”
Sri Lanka will qualify, but can they reach semis?
by Rex Clementine
The cricket fans of Sri Lanka are truly amazing. They know pretty well that the chances of the team reaching the semi-finals in UAE is as low as that of Maithripala Sirisena winning a future Presidential election, but they keep believing that their team will deliver. It is only fair that the players come up with a decent show, unlike Maithripala.
If the IPL is any indication, there aren’t going to be too many high scoring games over the next four weeks and spin is going to play a huge part. That will certainly be a good indication for Sri Lanka’s bowlers.
Their batsmen, however, it remains to be seen what lessons they have learnt on sweeping. Grant Flower seemed to be having little tricks up his sleeve on the advantage of the sweep, both the conventional, paddle and reverse. Hopefully, now that Sri Lanka have a fine sweeper in their coaching staff in Mahela Jayawardene, the issue has been discussed at length.
Lack of smart options against spin has been one reason for Sri Lanka’s decline in the shorter formats of the game. Ours was a team where the sweep was the batsmen’s bread and butter and it’s quite perplexing how the current lot have forgotten to sweep and the coaching staff have failed to address the issue.
Avishka Fernando has been tremendous to watch. He has always been an exciting player and such a shame that he failed a fitness test in January and was banished from the team hotel. He was so close to making his Test debut against England and failing the fitness test was a bitter pill to swallow. But glad that the selectors and the coaching staff had the conviction to do it. They have spared the rod and spoilt too many young children. Avishka has bounced back; leaner, fitter, stronger and hungrier. IPL teams will be watching and the gut feeling is we are talking of a future billionaire in this space.
There is some school of thought that Avishka should bat at number four. He has come up with some consistent performances in that position this week. It’s true that he is Aravinda’s heir apparent, but Sri Lanka has to make the most of the Power Plays and Avishka should open batting with Kusal Perera to make most of the field restrictions. You sense that you have enough fire power in Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne to take care of the death overs.
Oppositions will focus a lot on Hasaranga’s leg spin as he has had quite a bit of success in the lasts 12 months and ended up earning a contract in the IPL. World Cup is a superb occasion for him to stamp his authority as one of world’s leading wrist spinners.
Maheesh Theekshana, the new kid, has a bit of surprise element in him and could trouble teams that have not seen him much as he proved during his debut against Proteas last month. It will be interesting to see how teams that do not play spin that well handle him.
The last minute decision to include Akila Dananjaya while axing Praveena Jayawickrama hasn’t gone down too well with some supporters. But it’s a smart move. There’s no denying of the fact that Akila has looked a pale shadow of his former self since remodeling his action and in recent months has looked awful. But then, Sri Lanka have to qualify. The team is thin on experience after our selectors chased away half a dozen seniors and Akila has a surprise element about him and that could come in handy; particularly in the qualifying round.
The spin trio is not Sri Lanka’s only strength. Their main weapon is pace with Dushmantha Chameera picking up wickets with the new ball consistently and he will be their key weapon. Such a shame that the team will miss the services of Nuwan Pradeep, a clever bowler in death overs.
All hope is not lost for Sri Lanka though. One good thing is that they are not playing any Asian teams. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are all in Group ‘B’. Sri Lanka will have Australia, England, West Indies, South Africa and one more qualifier and if their spin fires, they could spring a few surprises. Can they go onto book a semi-final berth?
In T-20 cricket anything can happen. So don’t just rule out the Sri Lankan team. The same can be said of our voters. Don’t rule out Maithripala.
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