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Sri Lanka Under 19s looking to keep unbeaten status intact against hosts

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by Reemus Fernando  

Sri Lanka Under 19s will enter today’s final group ‘D’ encounter almost assured of their quarter-final place and fates of Australia and hosts West Indies in the ICC Under 19 World Cup in their hands. Despite leading the points table in their group the team will look forward to registering a win against the hosts.

“The team will try to enter the quarter-finals unbeaten and will field a team that can counter West Indies’ strengths,” a team official told The Island from St. Kitts yesterday.

Mahinda Halangoda, the manager of Sri Lanka Under 19 team was speaking to The Island after fellow Group ‘D’ team, Australia beat Scotland to remain in contention for a place in the quarter-finals.

“You need to win to avoid looking at net run rates to earn your quarter-final place. The team will not take chances,” Halangoda said.

Sri Lanka will meet hosts as the only unbeaten team in Group ‘D’. While Scotland are out of contention, West Indies will be looking to register a victory to secure a place in the quarter-final in the tournament proper.

Despite Australia’s big win against Scotland on Wednesday giving them a net run-rate boost, they are not assured of qualification. If West Indies beat Sri Lanka in a very close finish, then Australia could be eliminated to the Plate round. If Sri Lanka beat West Indies, Australia will qualify.

Sri Lanka registered a four-wicket win against Australia in their second tournament match on Monday to lead the points table. “No one expected us to beat Australia as they were a strong team, one of the favourites. Dunith Wellalage did really well to guide the team. A victory on Friday will be the ideal way to conclude the group stage,” said Halangoda.

Wellalage picked up his second five-wicket haul of the tournament on Monday before scoring a crucial half-century to lead the side to victory.

The tournament’s decisive phase has seen one of the team’s leading batsmen failing to deliver while a batsman replaced him producing results. Pawan Pathiraja who was the team’s most consistent batsman until the team reached West Indies was dropped after he failed to impress. It would be interesting to see if the team would recall him for the final group match.

Sakuna Liyanage who replaced wicketkeeper-batsman Anjala Bandara did a rescue job in the first match he played scoring a match-defining half-century. Liyanage also kept wickets for Sri Lanka as both wicketkeepers were not fit to play during the initial stages. Liyanage’s form has seen him retain his place despite Bandara returning to the match against Australia.

Sri Lanka banked on spinners to earn results in this World Cup and it would be interesting to note how the team from the land of legendary fast bowlers would take the final group encounter.



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Dominant Zverev wins second Italian Open title

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Alexander Zverev won his last Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati in 2021 (BBC)

Alexander Zverev produced a dominant serving display to clinch a straight sets victory over Nicolas Jarry and claim his second Italian Open title.

The German third seed dropped just five points on serve in a 6-4 7-5 win to seal a sixth Masters 1000 crown.

Zverev will now move up a place to fourth in the world rankings and served a warning to his rivals ahead of the French Open, which begins on 26 May.

But he said: “The focus is on Paris for sure, but let me enjoy this one for a few days first.  “Rome is a very special place for me. Obviously it’s a very, very special week.”

Chilean Jarry was competing in his first final at this level.

The world number 24 had knocked out sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals, but while he battled hard to stay in the match he had no answer to his opponent’s arrow-like serve, as Zverev landed 80% of his first serves in.

“He’s playing huge,” said Zverev of his opponent, who also beat America’s Tommy Paul en route to the final.  “I can see by the opponents he has beaten this week, that he is playing incredible tennis.  “I told him that if he carries on playing like that then he is going to have many more titles at this level.”

(BBC)

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Rajasthan Royals consigned to Eliminator after washout in Guwahati leaves them third

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There was a toss late in the evening, but there was no play (BCCI)

Rain in Guwahati denied hosts Rajasthan Royals a shot at a top-two finish in the final league fixture of IPL 2024. The game was abandoned, without a ball being bowled, at around 10.50pm local time, meaning RR ended the league phase with four losses in a row, followed by this washout, to finish third with 17 points.

Sunrisers Hyderabad also had 17 points, having successfully chased down 215 against a severely depleted Punjab Kings side earlier in the day, but they stayed second, thanks to a superior net run-rate. Pat Cummins’ SRH will now face table-toppers Kolkata Knight Riders in the first qualifier in Ahmedabad on May 21. As for Royals, they will run into a red-hot Royal Challengers Bangalore side, which is on a six-match winning streak, in the Eliminator the next day at the same venue.

KKR’s players might have to rock up cold in the playoffs, with their last two league games having been abandoned without a ball being bowled. Especially Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Phil Salt’s potential replacement, who is yet to play his first game this IPL. His last outing with the bat was for Afghanistan in mid March.

Royals have similar concerns around their overseas players. Their finisher Shimron Hetmyer was originally deemed fit for Monday’s fixture, but eventually didn’t make it to the XI or the Impact subs bench, with RR captain Sanju Samson suggesting that they had to make some last-minute changes to their team.

Hetmyer hasn’t played since failing to finish a tense chase against SRH along with Rovman Powell on May 2. Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who is somewhat of a like-for-like replacement for Jos Buttler, had a fairly rough initiation into the IPL, managing 18 off 23 balls against Punjab Kings in much drier conditions in Guwahati on May 15.

The Guwahati surface was under covers for the most of Monday evening before the rain briefly relented to allow the toss for a seven-over shootout, which was scheduled to restart at 10.45pm local time. However, soon after KKR won the toss and chose to bowl, the rain returned to force a damp end to the league phase.

(Cricinfo)

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Silverwood’s final hurrah

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Looking back at his tenure as Sri Lanka’s Head Coach, you would notice that the team won the Asia Cup under his watch. There were other highlights like squaring a Test series against Australia and beating the same opponents in an ODI series.

by Rex Clementine

The team that has won most County Championships in England is Yorkshire. Generally, Yorkshire’s players are snobbish often blowing their own trumpets and looking down upon others. But Chris Silverwood, Sri Lanka’s Head Coach, has been the complete contrast. A friendly, unassuming man, Silverwood hardly gives you the impression that he was a former fast bowler; that too from Yorkshire. He has been very passionate about his coaching and has embraced the Sri Lankan culture. More than anything, he is a good man.

While the coaching staff of the national cricket team was completely overhauled after last year’s World Cup debacle, Silverwood survived.

Having got an extension till the World Cup in the United States and Caribbean, the upcoming tournament will be his swansong. Will there be a final hurrah for Silverwood?

With Mickey Arthur done with Sri Lanka two years ago, when one of our former captains was entrusted the job of head hunting a successor for Arthur, he opted for Englishman Paul Farbrace. There was bad history between Farbrace and SLC as he had abandoned the team after just a few months into his stint in 2014. That he walked straight into the England dressing room as Assistant Coach from the Sri Lankan dressing room as Head Coach with a tour of England on the cards was a bitter pill to swallow. Farbrace abandoned Sri Lanka a second time too and then it was decided to settle for Silverwood.

Silverwood had been England’s Head Coach but was sacked after the disastrous Ashes tour. When a coach is sacked, the last thing he would want to do is to take up another struggling team. If things went south with the new team, that would be very bad to the reputation of the coach. Silverwood, however, took up the challenge.

Looking back at his tenure as Sri Lanka’s Head Coach, you would notice that the team won the Asia Cup under his watch. There were other highlights like squaring a Test series against Australia and beating the same opponents in an ODI series. But on paper, by and large, you would declare that his tenure wasn’t an overwhelmingly successful one. However, you need to look beyond results.

Despite the drawbacks, one thing that has stood out well for Sri Lanka in the last two years is fast bowling. That’s credit to Silverwood for bringing the best out of some young quicks that Sri Lanka have introduced in recent years.

The team also has had several discipline issues over the years and fitness has been a major concern. There is so much a coach can do at the highest level and the initiative has to come from the players themselves. You can only take a horse to the water. You can’t make it drink.

There’s another school of thought that a team that had so many discipline issues needed someone in the mold of Tom Moody, a taskmaster as Head Coach and not the nice guy in Silverwood. But in his own imitable style, Silverwood has groomed the team well giving young players confidence and backing the ones that had impressed him to the hilt. He deserves to go out on a high note.

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