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Sri Lanka to tour England in June

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by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka will tour England in June next year for a bilateral series. While three ODIs are confirmed, they could also end up playing Tests and T-20s depending on the fate of the World Test Championship final.

The English and Wales Cricket Board on Wednesday announced their schedule for the summer of 2021 and it includes bilateral series against the three leading Asian cricket playing countries – India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

SLC officials said that whether Sri Lanka will play a two Test series in England will be known later this week as ICC’s Directors make a call on whether to delay the finals of the World Test Championship. In that case, Sri Lanka’s stay in England will be extended by at least three more weeks where they will play two Tests and possibly a couple of T-20s.

At the moment, Dimuth Karunaratne’s side is slotted to play just three ODIs. Sri Lanka will start off their campaign in the north of England in Durham, where they were based for the most part of last year’s World Cup campaign. The Sri Lankans played West Indies and South Africa in Durham and travelled to the nearby Leeds for their games against India and hosts England.

The Sri Lankan side was put up at a hotel in the nearby Newcastle and most players struggled to deal with the extreme cold, which was mostly on single digit celsius.

After the opening encounter on the 29th of June, Sri Lanka will be in London for the second ODI on the 2nd of July at The Oval. Then they will travel to Bristol for the third and final game on the 4th of July.

There is going to be an overdose of cricket between England and India next year. ECB will host India for five Tests. They are also scheduled to tour India for five Test matches in February next year which means the two teams will be engaged in ten Test matches in 2021.

ECB will also host Pakistan for three ODIs and three T-20s.

England are also set to tour Sri Lanka next January for a two match Test series that was postponed due to the outbreak of the pandemic.

Sri Lanka will have a busy schedule in 2021. Soon after returning from a tour of South Africa in January, they will take on England and then will tour West Indies.

In between April and June – either side of tours of West Indies and England – SLC will try to finish postponed bilateral series involving India, Bangladesh and South Africa.

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Angelo Perera stars as Dambulla earn hard fought win

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A change of tactics by Dambulla Viikings earned them a much needed win in the Lanka Premier League over Kandy Tuskers at Suriyawewa yesterday.

Dambulla had been relying on their big hitters to bat most of their overs in the competition but yesterday they promoted Angelo Perera to number three although he had batted at six previously. 

Perera was scratchy to start with not being able to time the ball sweetly but as he spent time at the middle, his knock gained momentum and soon he cashed in putting the loose balls and not so bad ones away.

Perera was eventually dismissed for 67 that came off 49 deliveries but by that stage, Dambulla were cruising needing only a further 22 off 23 balls. In the end, Dambulla won with four balls to spare. 

There was a scare as Perera and skipper Dasun Shanaka were dismissed in successive overs but chasing a mere 157, they could afford a few mistakes. There will be no lapses against stronger teams like Jaffna Stallions though and Shanaka admitted the need to for set to batsmen to finish things off.

Although Kandy managed only 156, there was some superb batting on display earlier in the day. 

In order to be meaningful in T-20 cricket these days, you need to at least maintain a strike rate of 100 plus. What is so special about Kusal Mendis is that he fulfills that requirement without having to slog. His elegant cricket strokes are finely timed, bisects the fielders and more importantly mighty effective as well.

Mendis has been the mainstay of Kandy Tuskers batting and he held the innings together posting a half-century with his 55 coming off 45 balls.

But Tuskers lost three wickets in the space of seven balls for the addition of four runs including Mendis and Brendan Taylor to hand Dambulla the initiative.

A target in the range of 170 would have made it a close encounter.

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Galle Gladiators problems compound after fourth straight loss

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Game one of yesterday’s double header proved to be a stalemate with Jaffna Stallions proving their might and Galle Gladiators struggling to make an impact yet again. Jaffna continued their impressive run collecting their fourth win in the competition and despite them having four more games in the league stage, they are through to the semis. Galle meanwhile now have lost all four encounters and there’s not much indication that they can fix the problem.

Galle got a few things wrong in their campaign and selections is one of them. To quote Sanjay Manjrekar they have got too many, ‘bits and pieces cricketers’ and their over reliance on all-rounders has resulted in absence of a couple of solid batsmen.

Leading up to their game against the in form Jaffna side, Galle had to come out all guns blazing but they were dealt a heavy blow when captain Shahid Afridi flew back to Pakistan due to personal reasons.

They got off to a good start with Danushka Gunathilaka posting yet another half-century. But Galle depend too much on Gunathilaka and although a few batsmen chipped in with useful contributions nobody was able to take on the bowling and put pressure back on Jaffna.

Shehan Jayasuriya often said to be not being given enough opportunities by Sri Lanka’s selectors; despite his impressive shows in domestic cricket and here was a perfect opportunity for him to make an impact. But his seniority has not meant much in this competition and he was run out off the last ball of the innings for eight that came off 13 balls.

Then during a crucial stage of the run chase, Jayasuriya made a mess of a chance off Man of the Match Avishka Fernando not attacking the ball. The very next ball, Fernando was put down by the wicket-keeper with Dhananjaya Lakshan being the unlucky bowler.

Jaffna had a scare or two especially when they needed 18 off 12 balls. But they got home with four balls to spare.

Avishka Fernando was in red hot form. Together with Minod Bhanuka he added 99 runs for the second wicket as both batters found the boundary frequently.

Given Thisara Perera’s big hitting skills, often fans have wondered why Sri Lanka do not promote him up in the order to get them some quick runs. They have been very conventional limiting him to number seven or eight, but yesterday, Perera – with little pressure on his side – promoted himself to number four. He managed only nine off nine but the experimentation is commendable nevertheless.

Fernando was Man of the Match. He made 84 off 59 balls with seven fours and five sixes.

 

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Pandemic forces Sri Lanka Athletics to take unprecedented steps

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Two banned athletes included pending Appeals Committee decision

by Reemus Fernando

The current pandemic situation has forced Sri Lanka Athletics to take an unprecedented step in including two track athletes, who are currently serving drug bans, in the list of eligible athletes to compete at the forthcoming National Athletics Championships.

Names of sprinter M.G.C.M. Jayasekara and 800 metres specialist S.K. Wedagedara, who were banned for failed drug tests appear in the list of eligible athletes published by Sri Lanka Athletics.

“The two athletes had been included in the list pending an Appeals Committee decision,” a senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics said in reply to The Island queries.

“The pandemic situation has forced us to limit participation. Only the top ranked athletes are allowed to compete. We have already published the top list to avoid confusion and only those who are in that list wiil be allowed to enter the Stadium. In the event the Appeals Committee take a decision within these few days to allow the two banned athletes to compete, they would not be able to enter the stadium if we do not include them in the list now. They are included, pending the Appeals Committee decision,” said the official.

When contacted in this regard the Sri Lanka Anti Doping Agency sources confirmed that M.G.C.M. Jayasekara and S.K. Wedagedara have both appealed their bans.

The senior official also said that the athletes whose names are not listed in the eligible list to compete at the 98th National Athletics Championship can appeal for their inclusion before December 8 as the sport’s governing body struggles amidst the pandemic to provide top athletes with the final opportunity to earn ranking points for this year.

“There is no need to panic if your name is not there. What you need to do is to make an appeal. Then we will consider including them,” said the official.

Sri Lanka Athletics released a list of top athletes who are eligible to compete at the flagship event following a series of cancellations throughout the year due to the Covid 19 pandemic. The track and field governing body took the decision to limit the number of participants due to the spread of the Covid 19 pandemic.

The eligible list includes the highest ranked athletes who are currently in Sri Lanka.

“All top athletes excluding those who are based overseas are included in the eligible list. There are a few athletes who had gone out of our radar during the last few months. They can appeal if they consider themselves fit to compete,” said the official.

The championship will commence on December 26 with only athletes, coaches and masseurs allowed inside the Sugathadasa Stadium.

Top athletes winning their respective National Championship events earn 100 ranking points which augur well for those aspiring to earn better World Athletics rankings and qualifying standards for the Tokyo Olympics.

If held as scheduled the 98th National Championship will be the first track and field event at which local athletes are taking part after the South Asian Games in Nepal in December 2019.

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