Rex Clementine at Pallekele
Last month in the Caribbean, Sri Lanka unearthed a fine talent in Pathum Nissanka, who became the first Sri Lankan to score a hundred on debut overseas. He learned his cricket at Kalutara Vidyalaya. A few meters from his school, at Holy Cross College, a left-arm spinner was plying his trade. Praveen Jayawickrama is his name. Both Pathum and Praveen are the same age – 22. As if one gem from Kalutara in Pathum was not good enough, Sri Lanka have unearthed another gem in Praveen. He has claimed eight wickets for 150 runs in the ongoing Test match against Bangladesh at Pallekele and should go onto get a match bag of ten, or more.
Praveen on Saturday claimed the best figures in an innings by a Sri Lankan on debut. He should have the best figures in a match as well by a debutant by the time you have lunch today as Sri Lanka need five more wickets to wrap up the Test match and the series.
Today’s lunch should be good because Sri Lanka have not won a Test match in more than a year now. Since beating lowly Zimbabwe in January last year, Sri Lanka have played eight Tests without a win. That’s going to change thanks to young Praveen.
With just ten First Class games to his name, there were doubts how well he would fare. But credit to the selectors for backing him and it has paid off. Praveen was on the money. Bowling from Hunnasgiriya End throughout the game, he flighted the ball, found drift and with change of angles outsmarted the batsmen.
The delivery that he bowled to dismiss first Test centurion Najmul Shanto was a beauty. Pitched outside off-stump from over the wicket, the ball turned sharply, went through bat and pad of the left-hander and knocked top of leg-stump. The Sri Lankans loved it. It was classical bowling. This was ample indication that the team got their act wrong in the first Test where they backed seam instead of their traditional strength – spin.
Praveen should have claimed a ninth wicket but Lahiru Thirimanne dropped Mushfiqur Rahim at slip when he was on six.
Ramesh Mendis although not as accurate as Praveen was getting extra bounce that troubled the batsmen. He finished with three wickets in the innings. Both spinners play for Moors SC in domestic cricket and there was good understanding between them.
When day four ended 30 minutes before stumps due to bad light with still 12 overs remaining, Bangladesh were down to their last recognized pair.
Sri Lanka do not have any reviews left but that should not be a concern with plenty left in the game. Reviews are something that the Sri Lankans use so poorly. Bangladesh have been clever with their reviews. Both Mehdiy Hasan and Liton Das who remained unbeaten at stumps had been given out. But they overturned the decisions having successfully challenged the calls.
Bangladesh finished on 177 for five chasing a target of 437. They need another 260 runs.
Dharmasena reaches singles final
Ranjan Dharmasena booked a berth in the singles final against Korea’s Sung Bong Han as he beat Sagg-Ho OH 6-1, 6-2 in his semi-final in the Sri Lanka Open International Wheelchair Tennis Tournament at Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Tuesday.
Sung Bong Han of Korea prevented an all-hosts final as he beat Gamini Dissanayake 6-1, 6-2 in the other semi-final.
New champions add spice to tennis singles events
By A Special Sports Correspondent
Tennis star Sharmal Dissanayake (26) made a comeback to the racquet game in Sri Lanka when he won the Men’s Singles event at the First Capital SSC Open Championships worked off in Colombo recently.
The annual SSC Open tournament gave a great start to the tennis scene in the island for the New Year. It was also a new start for champion player Dissanayake after being away from playing on Sri Lankan courts at local tournaments for a while. He overcame stiff resistance from Chaturya Nilaweera in the finals, which went for four sets. Dissanayake won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and 7-6 in the pulsating final which was scheduled to go for five sets if required. This is the first time five-set tennis was introduced at a local tournament in the island.
Dissanayake has played at peak condition in past tournaments. Fitness was not a cause for Dissanayake at this tournament, but he can reach top playing condition as the months roll away this season. The talk doing the rounds in the tennis circles is that Dissanayake wants to raise his game and fitness and make himself available for the country at overseas assignments too. Meanwhile, Nilaweera, an up-and-coming player with much promise, had to sweat his way into the final with a tough semi-final fixture against Kiran Vairawanathan. It was good to see seasoned players like Guyanga Weerasekare contesting the SSC Open Men’s event. The men’s open tennis event overall in the country has just got the needed boost with the competition that’s raised by so many talented players entering and wanting a share of the pie.
Dissanayake won the Arjun Fernando Challenge Trophy for his efforts at the tournament which was witnessed by an appreciative crowd.
Schoolgirl Sajida Razick made a giant kill in the women’s open singles by beating seasoned player Neyara Weerawansa (6-3, 6-4). Despite taking the first set with her power play Razick saw the experienced Weerawansa breathing down her back in a well-contested second set. Both players made their share of unforced errors, but that didn’t take the punch away from the game Razick looked so confident throughout the game and brilliantly negotiated Weerawansa’s spirited late rally during the second set before winning her first major title in senior tennis. Razick overcame Vishmi Serasinghe in the semis while Weerawansa got the better of Dinara de Silva. Razick won the Sriya Munasinghe Challenge Trophy for her efforts.
Razick has raised her game tremendously and plays some powerful shots and also uses the full court. It would have been interesting to see how she would have fared against Anjalika Kurera had the latter taken part in this tournament. Incidentally, Kurera was not available for the SSC Open this season because she was busy preparing for a vital examination.
The tournament not only attracted its title sponsor in First Capital, but also saw Perera & Sons and Dimo coming in as co-sponsors. It’s one of the most looked forward-to events in the local tennis events calendar; having recorded its start in the 1980s. The SSC Open also serves as a category 1 ranking tournament.
The tournament was organized by the SSC Tennis Home Committee and held under the auspices of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association.
Amameth scores back-to-back centuries
Under 19 Cricket
by Reemus Fernando
Kavindu Amameth scored back-to-back centuries and put on a partnership over 200 runs for the second time in the match as Mahanama College earned major honours against De Mazenod in the Under 19 Traditional cricket encounter which ended in a draw at Kandana on Tuesday.
Amameth followed up his first innings score with an identical knock. In the first essay, he conceded 173 balls for his knock. But in his second he consumed only 101 balls as he cracked 11 fours and seven sixes to boost the score. He also put on a first-wicket stand of 209 runs with Anjala Bandara as Mahanama posted 323 for three wickets at close on a pitch where the home team could muster only 150.
It is also the first time this season that a batsman scored back-to-back centuries in a match.
At Ananda Mawatha, Mahinda College restricted the home team to 159 runs as Dhanuja Induwara picked up five wickets for the visitors to dominate day one of the traditional encounter.
Mahanama take major honours
363 all out in 92.1 overs (Kavindu Amameth 126, Inuka Karannagoda 75, Rashmika Perera 52, Chamika Heenatigala 24, Eshan Withanage 24; Kavindu Kaushalya 4/97, Thushan Udayanga 3/64, Sithum Fernando 3/71) and 323 for 3 in 54 overs (Kavindu Amameth 126, Anjala Bandara 84, Koojana Perera 55, Inuka Karannagoda 52n.o.; Thushan Udayanga 2/56)
2 for 1 overnight 150 all out in 49.0 overs (Neshan Dias 65, Shevan Menusha 25, Uvindu Perera 20, Thareen Perera 20; Chamika Heenatigala 4/12, Inuka Karannagoda 2/26, Rashmika Perera 2/29)
Mahinda dominate day one at Ananda Mawatha
159 all out in 53.1 overs (Viduna Wijebandara 27, Iruth Gimshan 25, Ayesh Shahimal 42; Dhanuja Induwara 5/33, Tharusha Dilshan 2/37, Arosha Udayandga 2/18)
142 for 5 in 44 overs (Hareen Achintha 36, Hiruna Gallage 38n.o., Tharusha Dilshan 21n.o.; Ashinsa Deshan Nainayaka 4/40)
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