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Sri Lanka sign off with win



Charith Asalanka hit five sixes to power Sri Lanka [Cricinfo]

Sri Lanka ended their 2024 T20 World Cup campaign in a resounding fashion with a dominant 83-run win over Netherlands in Gros Islet. It meant they ended on three points and third place in Group D behind South Africa and Bangladesh, who had confirmed their place in the Super Eight after beating Nepal in Kingstown.

Sri Lanka’s victory set up by their batters and finished off clinically by the bowlers. Nuwan Thushara was the pick of the bunch with figures of 3 for 24, but each of Maheesh Theekshana, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dasun Shanaka and Matheesha Pathirana also got in on the act as Netherlands were knocked out and bowled out 118 in chase of 202.

Charith Asalanka had led the way for Sri Lanka with a blistering 46 off 21, which itself followed solid efforts from Kusal Mendis (46 off 29) and Dhananjaya de Silva (34 off 26). Jet fuel was then poured on proceedings by Angelo Mathews (30 off 15) and Hasaranga (20 off six), as Sri Lanka became just the second team to breach 200 this tournament.

Netherlands briefly flirted with an improbable chase when Michael Levitt was going strong in the powerplay, but once the first wicket fell the rest offered up little resistance as Sri Lanka’s varied attack proved too tough to handle.

Losing Pathum Nissanka second ball put paid to any notion that Sri Lanka might come out all guns blazing, but a steady rotation of strike in the powerplay mitigated the lack of early boundary striking – the powerplay saw four fours and a solitary six, but they managed to score 45 runs despite losing two wickets.

By the end of the tenth over Sri Lanka’s boundary count remained in single digits, but the continued consistent running between the wickets ensured that they maintained a healthy run rate. Between overs seven and ten only two boundaries were struck, but Sri Lanka nevertheless found themselves at a healthy 74 for 2 at the halfway stage of their innings.

A shift in gears was however necessary on a ground in which 181 was chased down just a day prior, and this occurred swiftly and suddenly in the 13th over, as Dhananjaya pounded Paul van Meekeren for three consecutive boundaries – using the strong cross breeze to great effect.

Sri Lanka’s batting had been under heavy scrutiny coming into this game, particularly their middle order, which had been guilty of not showing enough intent and purpose. Here though they fired on all cylinders.

From the 13th to the 20th over only one of those went without a six being scored, as Sri Lanka plundered 77 runs off the final five overs. Asalanka, Mathews and Hasaranga all had impressive showings, feasting on the Dutch bowlers’ inability to nail their lengths with most deliveries proving either too full or too short.

The result was a score that was always likely to be a stretch too far against this Sri Lanka bowling attack.

He might have had only 12 T20Is to his name, but 20-year-old Michael Levitt had already made quite the impression, having made his debut earlier this year. Leading up to this game, in just 12 T20Is he had already racked up 368 runs at an average of 33.45 and strike rate of 150.20, including two fifties and a century.

Regardless of opposition those are impressive numbers, and here against a challenging Sri Lankan attack, he (briefly) lived up to the hype. He took on both Thushara and Theekshana in his 23-ball 31, the highlight of which was a sumptuous back-foot lofted-cover drive off the latter for six.

His inexperience showed when he charged and was stumped off Theekshana, but the future certainly does seem to be bright for the youngster.

Levitt ‘s wicket towards the end of the powerplay followed Max O’Dowd’s an over prior. It meant two new batters were at the crease, but the required run-rate remained as steep as ever. What followed was a crash course in intent without execution.

Vikramjit Singh fell pulling as Kamindu Mendis completed a very unique bobbling, juggling catch, while Sybrand Engelbrecht – having managed a sweet straight six off Hasaranga – would fall a short while later trying the same off Matheesha Pathirana Pathirana.

A double-strike an over later from Hasaranga then suddenly left Netherlands reeling on 71 for 6. Scott Edwards hung around for a stubborn 31 off 24, but wickets kept falling around him as Netherlands were eventually bundled out in the 17th over.

Brief scores:
Sri Lanka 201 for 6 in 20 overs (Kusal Mendis 46, Dhanajaya de Silva 34, Charith Asalanka 46, Angelo Mathews 30*, Wanidu Hasaranga 20*; Vivian Kingma 1-23, Aryan Dutt 1-23, Logan van Beek 2-45, Paul van Meekeren 1-37, Tim Pringle 1-41) beat Netherlands 118 in 16.4 overs (Scott Edwards 31, Michael Levitt 31; Nuwan  Thushara 3-24, Maheesh Theekshana 1-25, Matheesha Pathirana 2-12, Wanidu Hasaranga 2-25, Dasun Shanaka 1-10) by 83 runs


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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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US space agency NASA releases Webb telescope photos of entwined galaxies




In this photo provided by NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute, two interacting galaxies are captured by the Webb Space Telescope in the infrared. Scientists say the neighnouring galaxies, nicknamed Penguin, right, and the Egg, left, have been tangled up for tens of millions of years

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released photos from the James Webb Space Telescope showing a pair of entangled galaxies.

The space agency released a photo of the two galaxies — one named Penguin and the other Egg — on Friday, marking the two-year anniversary of Webb’s activities capturing images of space.

“In just two years, Webb has transformed our view of the universe, enabling the kind of world-class science that drove NASA to make this mission a reality,” said Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA, said in a news release.

“Webb is providing insights into longstanding mysteries about the early universe and ushering in a new era of studying distant worlds, while returning images that inspire people around the world and posing exciting new questions to answer. It has never been more possible to explore every facet of the universe.”

NASA says that the two galaxies — about 326 million light-years away — have been wrapped up with each other for tens of millions of years. One light year, a reference to distance rather than time, is about 5.8 trillion miles.

The Webb Telescope, which specialises in capturing infrared light, is considered the successor to the famous Hubble Space Telescope and has helped bring about a series of discoveries and ae-inspiring images from space over the last two years.

The cosmic dance between the two galaxies was set in motion between 25 and 75 million years ago, according to a news release from NASA.

“They will go on to shimmy and sway, completing several additional loops before merging into a single galaxy hundreds of millions of years from now,” it reads.


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