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Sri Lankan fans to turn up in yellow to thank Aussies

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by Rex Clementine

Gold has always been an expensive commodity. These days with a hand to mouth existence many Sri Lankans can’t afford it whatsoever. So they seem to settle for yellow, the closest thing to gold. Australia’s team colours are gold and green. As an appreciation for the Australian cricket team for touring Sri Lanka, spectators are going to turn up at RPS in numbers today wearing yellow shirts. An appeal was launched to all cricket fans through social media yesterday and Sri Lankans agreed in unison. For a change they will be keeping their navy blues at home.

Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka was hanging in balance after political uncertainty and the economic crisis. To make matters worse, the May 9 attack on peaceful protesters at the Gotagogama happened a mere three weeks before the tourists landed in Colombo. The team hotel was just a stone’s throw away from where people were attacked. Many suspected that Australia will at least ask Sri Lanka Cricket to shift games from Colombo. But to their credit, the Aussies decided to stick to the original schedule. The Australian High Commission in Colombo too has played a major role in ensuring that their team toured the island and the five time World Champions have been welcomed warmly. Today RPS is expected to put up a grand show knowing too well that Australia’s refusal to tour would have sent the country into cricketing isolation.

The Sri Lankan camp will leave out Dushmantha Chameera, who has a swollen ankle. The quick didn’t play the fourth game as well, but MRI scans showed no fracture. The team will not take any chances with their fastest bowler with the World Cup around the corner. With the series already won, there’s no point in risking Wanindu Hasaranga as well. The leg-spinner missed a few games with a groin strain but played the series clinching fourth ODI and could be left out from today’s game too.

The tourists have been hampered by several injuries and the latest casualty is middle order batsman Travis Head, who has a hamstring problem. Australia will be looking for a consolation win today having suffered their first ever five match series defeat to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Head Coach Chris Silverwood is a happy man indeed. Five months ago, he was going through the Ashes campaign down under and lost his job after England surrendered the Ashes. That was in January this year. In June, his new international team Sri Lanka have completely outplayed the Aussies.

“I had a rough winter in Australia. They are a very tough team to beat in their backyard. Winning here was satisfying. But more important is the progress we have made. The run chase that day was great. The way we have handled the pressure is superb and we have forced results in our favour. The good thing is that we are no where near the potential that we have and we can do much better,” the former Yorkshire fast bowler told journalists yesterday.

Silverwood felt that the series win will give his side confidence lead up to the two match Test series that gets underway next week in Galle.

“It will give the guys confidence moving forward for the Test series. The guys who play all formats will have an idea as to what kind of challenge they can accept from the opposition. We know the Aussies would come hard at us. Its going to be an exciting series,” said Silverwood.



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Sri Lanka men’s and women’s teams ready to contest FIBA Asia Tournament

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by a Special Sports Correspondent

The Sri Lanka Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took flight to Singapore on Tuesday for the FIBA Asia 3×3 Basketball tournament.

The two teams have been in preparation since April and are being coached by Ajith Kuruppu.

The men’s team has to first prove its worth against China and Tonga and one more team before qualifying for the main tournament. “It’s going to be a tough tournament, but the men’s and women’s teams have been practicing well. Our preparations were good and we want to make an impact at the tournament,” said Kuruppu. According to the Sri Lanka teams’ coach China will be a tough challenge in the men’s segment of the tournament.

“We’ve been gelling together as a team during training and the players have a good understanding when playing as a unit,” said Sri Lanka’s Mens’ Team skipper Shehan Fernando.

Sri Lanka’s women’s team has made a direct entry into the tournament. Sri Lanka Women’s team skipper Anjali Ekanayake said that the ranking of the players in the national 3×3 team is good. “These players have got much exposure playing in this format of the game. We’ve been focusing on nutrition and shooting over the past few months. Training went well for the tournament,” said Ekanayake.

Coach Kuruppu took this opportunity to thank Vaaj Fitness for sponsoring the two national teams to Singapore and for making their gym available for the players to do strength and conditioning training.

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Chathurya, Dinara, Saajida, Vishmi advance to second round

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ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament

Chathurya Nilaweera ousted India’s Dhanush Varma to reach the second round of the ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament continued at the SSC Tennis Courts on Tuesday.

Nilaweera was the only player in the boys’ category from Sri Lanka to advance from the first round as he beat Varma 6-2, 6-0.

In the girls’ category Dinara de Silva, Saajida Razick and Vishmi Serasinghe reached the second round when they won their respective first round matches on Monday.

Dinara beat Yu Ching Wang of Taipei 6-3, 7-6(4) and Razick beat Indian Anushka Bhola 6-1, 6-1, while Serasinghe ousted Wei Chiao-Chen also from Taipei 6-1, 6-1.

In the other matches Dinethya Dharmarathe, Dahamna Methnadi, Nesangi Hemakumara, Vinethya Dharmarathne and Gehansa Metnadi conceded first round defeats.

In the boys’ category Vichinthya Nilaweera, Methwan Wijemanne, Abdul Bashit Cader, Thilina Dissanayake and Zahid Zihar were eliminated in the first round.

The boys’ and girls’ second round matches will be played today.

The tournament which commenced on July 4 will culminate on Friday.

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Sri Lanka add more spin options after first Test disaster

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Maheesh Theekshana and Dunith Wellalage are likely to make their Test debuts in the series-deciding second Test in Galle.

by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka have taken some desperate measures leading up to the second Test against Australia in Galle by adding more spin options indicating that the team management and the selectors are willing to make wholesale changes after the pathetic performance in the first Test which they lost before lunch on day three.

Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya has been sent home after he failed to make an impact following the ten-wicket loss last week. In an inexperienced attack, the 25-year-old with 17 Test caps is the senior most bowler but he had got his lengths wrong in a game dominated by Australian spinners. Embuldeniya had struggled in Bangladesh as well and was dropped. Instead of letting him fight his way back, he was drafted into the first Test against Australia and it wasn’t surprising to see him failing to make an impact. Now with the series at stake, Sri Lanka have pressed the panic button.

Even if Dimuth Karunaratne’s side win the second Test, Australia will retain Warne-Murali Trophy since they are the holders having blanked Sri Lanka 2-0 in 2019.

Sri Lanka’s desperation is evident by the fact that they have recalled Maheesh Theekshana, who hasn’t played a First-Class game in four years. In fact, Army had been told not to consider Theekshana for the ongoing one-day competition to help him recover from niggles but suddenly he finds himself in the hot seat with a Test series at stake.

Uncapped Dunith Wellalage also has been added to the squad giving the left-arm spin option that has been taken away following the axing of Embuldeniya. Support left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama had tested positive for COVID.

Former captain Angelo Mathews who was in isolation after testing positive for COVID has returned a negative test and has rejoined the team.

Off-spinner Lakshitha Manasinghe is the third player to be added to the group. He had an impressive series against Australia ‘A’ too. It is expected that Wellalage will make his Test debut while the slot for the third spinner is a toss-up between Jeffrey Vandersay and Maheesh Theekshana. The leg-spinner was untidy in the opening Test and the more realistic option seems to be that Theekshana debuting alongside Wellalage.

Although three replacement spinners have been added, some wonder why Sri Lanka have not thought of some batting replacements. It was a pathetic display by the team in the second innings where they were shot out inside a session and faced only 22.3 overs.

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