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Sri Lankans face COVID scare lead up to Zimbabwe series

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The national cricket team is facing a COVID scare prior to the three match ODI series against Zimbabwe that gets underway later this week. Following random testing that was conducted, top order batsman Avishka Fernando tested positive while uncapped Janith Liyanage’s PCR test also turned positive.

The Sri Lankan team will enter the bio-secure bubble today in Kandy before the series while Fernando and Liyanage have been withdrawn and replacements will be named for them. Fernando is one of Sri Lanka’s key players but his participation was anyway in doubt after he had failed the skin fold test.

Sri Lanka’s selectors had warned of dire consequences for anyone who did not meet minimum fitness standards.

Fernando was in good nick having made match winning knocks of 100 off 64 deliveries and 64 off 41 balls in his last two LPL games as Jaffna Stallions stormed to victory. Liyanage was drafted into the squad on his good performances in LPL.

Captain Dasun Shanaka also had tested positive on the 27th of December while leading paceman Dushmantha Chameera had a positive result two days later. There were several tests carried out on both players on Sunday and they are expected to enter the bubble in Kandy.

With the bans of Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka lifted, the trio’s return will strengthen Sri Lanka.

The three players were serving a year’s ban that was supposed to end in June this year, but Sri Lanka Cricket lifted the ban after six months having receiving positive feedback on their rehabilitation.

The three match series gets underway on Sunday (16th January) at Pallekele followed by the next two games on the 18th January and 21st January.

Former fast bowler Rumesh Ratnayake has been named as the Head Coach for the series as SLC is in the process of finalizing a Head Coach for the next two years. Ruvin Peiris has been named as Batting Coach.



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Shoriful ruled out of SL Tests with wrist injury

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Bangladesh’s injury woes continue as pace bowler Shoriful Islam has now been ruled out of the remainder of the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka due to a wrist injury. Shoriful is the latest addition to the hosts’ injury list as they earlier lost Taskin Ahmed (shoulder) and Mehedy Hasan (finger).

“Shoriful Islam had a contusion of the right hand while batting. After the fourth day’s play an X-ray was carried out which has revealed a fracture on the base of the 5th metacarpal bone,” physio Bayjedul Islam said in a statement on Thursday.

“Such injuries tend to take around three weeks to heal followed by a couple of week’s rehab. He will not be available to play for four to five weeks.”

Shoriful was retired out on Day 4 after pacer Kasun Rajitha’s short delivery hit him on the gloves. Bangladesh were forced to end their innings at 465 following his injury.

Cricbuzz has learnt that Shoriful is unlikely to be available for the Test series against West Indies as well. Bangladesh will leave on June 6 to take part in the full fledged tour of West Indies, comprising two Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is.

Meanwhile, the BCB has retained the same squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka that will begin on May 23. The board opted to not name a replacement for Shoriful since they have a big squad to pick from.

“We did not take any replacement for Shoriful as we have got a big squad in hand,” BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin told Cricbuzz. ‘’We have to see fitness of Hasan Mahmud (who was in discussion as a possible replacement of Shoriful) and though we are not considering him in this series, if he is fit we might pick him for the Bangladesh ‘A’ team tour of West Indies.”

Squad:

Mominul Haque (C), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Litton Kumar Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Nayeem Hasan, Taijul Islam, Syed Khaled Ahmed, Yasir Ali Chowdhury, Quazi Nurul Hasan Sohan, Musaddek Hossain, Ebadot Hossain Chowdhury, Shohidul Islam, Rezaur Rahman Raja.

( Cricbuzz)

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Yupun enters World Championship qualifying fray with a superb start

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by Reemus Fernando  

National record holder of the men’s 100 metres Yupun Abeykoon produced a superb sprint performance to commence his season proper at the World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger meeting at Savona’s Fontanassa Sports Centre on Wednesday.

In a race where Marcell Jacobs also made his first 100m appearance since his Tokyo Olympic triumph, Abeykoon clocked 10.16 seconds to finish fourth. That was after the sprinter clocked a wind assisted 10.04 seconds in the heats.

His 10.04 seconds performance is the fastest sprint a Sri Lankan has run according to Sri Lanka Athletics statistician Saman Kumara Gunawardana.

In 2019 former record holder Himasha Eshan, who is currently serving a suspension, had a 10.11 seconds feat to a tailwind measured at +3.1.

With his superb season open performance, Abeykoon has entered the race to earn qualification for the World Championships which will be held in Oregon in July. The Italy based sprinter enters the fray at the 56th position in the ‘Road to Oregon 2022’ rankings.

The athletics’ showcase discipline will have 48 slots for the World Championships. While 26 spots will be filled by athletes who reach the tough qualifying standard of 10.05 seconds, the other positions will be filled according to ranking positions in the ‘Road to Oregon 2022’ list.

With the qualifying period closing on June 26th Abeykoon who also set a new Asian record in the 150 metres recently, will have just over a month to achieve the rare honour.

Currently, javelin thrower Sumedha Ranasinghe (25th) and high jumper Ushan Thiwanka are the only Sri Lankan male athletes to have secured a top position in the Road to Oregon 2022 Rankings. The US-based high jumper has come closer to accomplishing the target with back to back 2.20 metres feats. Thiwanka is currently ranked 30th on the list of high jumpers. Both athletes need to remain within the top 32 positions until June 26th to qualify for the event.

In the women’s category, steeplechaser Nilani Ratnayake is the only Sri Lankan athlete to be ranked within the top 30 places.

At the World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger meeting on Wednesday where Abeykoon finished fourth, Marcell Jacobs made a victorious return winning the final in 10.04 seconds after a wind-assisted 9.99 (2.3m/s) in the heats.

Ivory Coast sprinter Arthur Cisse finished second in 10.10 seconds beating former European record-holder Jimmy Vicaut (10.12).

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Dickwella, Chandimal help Sri Lanka draw opening Test

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Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella dug deep with the Chattogram surface staying true to its nature of being a batting paradise as the first Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, ended in a draw. Things, however, could have been different if not for the pair’s dogged 99-run stand for the seventh wicket on the fifth and final day.

Having started the morning on a brisk note, Sri Lanka lost two wickets each on either side of the lunch interval to stumble to 161 for 6, with a narrow lead of 93. But both Chandimal and Dickwella showed grit and determination keeping the Bangladesh bowlers at bay for 203 deliveries to eke out a draw. Dickwella, more adventurous with his shot-making, brought up his 20th Test half-century and finished with an unbeaten 61 off 96 balls. Chandimal, on the other hand, was more measured during his 135-ball 39 not out. The two teams shook hands an hour before the scheduled close of play, with Sri Lanka on 260 for 6 in 90.1 overs.

The Bangladesh bowlers, particularly Taijul Islam and Shakib Al Hasan, stuck to their lines, but were unable to break the seventh-wicket stand. Taijul was the pick of the bowlers returning 4 for 82. Angelo Mathews was named Player of the Match for his 199 in the first innings.

It took Sri Lanka all of 24 balls to wipe off the 29-run deficit in the first session with Kusal Mendis taking the attack to Bangladesh. He was the aggressor while Karunaratne, more circumspect in his approach, rotated the strike well as runs came at a premium in the first hour of the morning.

Kusal started off the day by clattering Taijul for two fours in the first over before slamming Khaled Ahmed for a hattrick of four either side of the wicket as Sri Lanka scored 59 runs in the first nine overs of the first session. It did not help that Bangladesh were a bowler short with Shoriful Islam ruled out of the series, after fracturing his right hand courtesy a Kasun Rajitha bouncer late on day three.

Shakib and Taijul then restored some parity with the latter striking twice. He first removed Kusal Mendis with a peach of a delivery that pitched on middle stump to turn and trim the off bail for a 43-ball 48 before accounting for Mathews with a stunning return catch for a duck. Mathews, who was visibly frustrated having not scored for 14 balls launched a straight drive back at Taijul, who somehow got both hands to it and completed the catch above his head.

Sri Lanka, ahead by 60 runs at lunch, started off after the break on a positive note collecting seven runs from each of the first two overs. Karunaratne reached his 28th half-century with a thick outside edge off Shakib. However, his joy was short-lived as he fell soon after to Taijul. Going the aggressive route, Karunaratne skipped down the track but his mistimed flick could only travel as far as Mominul Haque at midwicket, who completed a good catch diving to his right.

Dhananjaya de Silva continued taking the attacking option and he did succeed to an extent before falling to a rank long-hop for 33. Shakib, to his credit, floated the short of a length delivery, enticing the batter, who took the bait and pulled straight to Mushfiqur Rahim. Shakib could have had another wicket the very next ball but Dickwella’s sweep just evaded a leaping Taijul at backward square.

Sri Lanka were staring down the barrel at that stage but Chandimal and Dickwella dug in to rescue the visitors.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 397

(Angelo Mathews 199, Dinesh Chandimal 66, Kusal Mendis 54; Nayeem Hasan 6/105) & 260/6 (Niroshan Dickwella 61*, Dimuth Karunaratne 52, Kusal Mendis 48; Taijul Islam 4/82) drew with Bangladesh 465 (Tamim Iqbal 133, Mushfiqur Rahim 105, Liton Das 88; Kasun Rajitha 4/60, Asitha Fernando 3/72).

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