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Ten years on from the inspired gamble that won the World Cup for India

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A decade on from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, relive the showpiece final of the incredible tournament.

MS Dhoni steered India to World Cup glory with a majestic innings, smashing the winning runs with a huge six over long-on.

The winning moment was a fitting finale for a spectacular roller-coaster of a match between the tournament joint-hosts, with a packed crowd in Mumbai put through the emotional ringer before the celebrations could truly get underway.

The First Innings: Sri Lanka recover to 274/6

Zaheer Khan’s remarkable opening five overs put Sri Lanka in trouble early on, with the Indian seamer going for just six runs in the spell and taking the scalp of opener Upul Tharanga – who fell for two runs off a painful 20 deliveries.

Tillakaratne Dilshan (33) and Kumar Sangakkara (48) got the innings going, but their dismissals put huge pressure on Mahela Jayawardene to deliver a potentially match-winning score from No. 4. But deliver is exactly what he did, finishing with an unbeaten 103* and putting on 63 from the last five overs alongside the power-hitting Thisara Perera (22*).

Khan was on the receiving end of much of the late damage, coming back from his impressive opening five overs to concede an eye-watering 54 off his remaining five to spoil what could have been special figures.

The Second Innings: Gambhir and Dhoni shine in India’s reply

Some supporters even left the ground as a brilliant opening spell from Lasith Malinga had India reeling at 31/2. The Sri Lankan strike bowler removed Virender Sehwag (0) with just the second delivery of the chase, and the Wankhede Stadium was reduced to pin-dropping silence when he had hometown hero Sachin Tendulkar caught behind for just 18.

Gautam Gambhir dug in to rebuild the innings, and was joined by captain MS Dhoni at the crease when Virat Kohli fell to leave the score 114/3 with 28.2 overs remaining.

There was some surprise to see that Dhoni had taken the brave gamble to promote himself above the in-form Yuvraj Singh in the batting order. But the decision – based on Dhoni having a better chance to bat through Muttiah Muralitharan’s remaining overs – paid off, with the skipper and Gambhir putting on a partnership worth 109 runs to give India a real chance.

There was still plenty of work to do when Gambhir fell to Perera just three runs shy of his century, but Yuvraj played a steady 21* from 24 balls at one end while his captain let fly at the other to guide India to victory.

The fact India reached their target with ten deliveries remaining makes the final overs look comfortable in hindsight, but it was Dhoni who removed that pressure, with the wicketkeeper-batsman smoking 20 runs off his last seven balls to avoid facing a potentially tricky final over against Malinga.

How the Captains Reacted

Sangakkara: “I’m very proud of everyone, especially Mahela who rose to the occasion and put up a great hundred. Both Sri Lanka and India will be proud with the way they have played, but India deserved this title, the way they played in front of a great crowd. The only way to stop India is to get at least seven wickets. Gautam was outstanding and Dhoni stepped up and performed. Congrats India, you were the better side today.”

Dhoni: “I took a quite few decisions tonight, if we hadn’t won I would have been asked quite a few questions: Why no Ashwin? Why Sreesanth? Why no Yuvraj, why did I bat ahead?! That pushed me and motivated to do well. I had a point to prove to myself. Virat and Gautam batted brilliantly; lots of singles. Then with the help of bit of dew we put pressure on the spinners. I would have liked Gautam to go on and get that big hundred.”

Tendulkar’s Crowning Glory

India’s greatest ever batsman was carried around his home stadium on the shoulders of his team-mates after winning the World Cup in his own city – a special moment for a special player.

A score of just 18 runs in the final wasn’t what the crowd at the Wankhede Stadium had been hoping for. But Tendulkar had already produced a tournament-defining performance to get the team to the final, picking up the Player of the Match award against Pakistan, and his teammate Kohli summed up the overriding sentiment when he said:

“Tendulkar has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years. It is time we carried him on our shoulders.” (ICC)

 

 



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Sri Lanka seek results after hard work  

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by Rex Clementine  

Sri Lanka have competed well in patches in their recent outings in Test match cricket, but they have lacked the killer blow instinct. Too often we have seen, Mickey Arthur’s side doing all the hard work in a game and spoiling that all – often in a session. A dramatic collapse, dropped catches, poor reviews, injuries or lackluster bowling have hurt the team. The main issue they need to address is that lack of application by batsmen who have thrown it away with some brainless cricket.

There’s a selection dilemma with former skipper Angelo Mathews returning to the side after missing the West Indies Tests due to personal reasons. Pathum Nissanka, who came in for his place, grabbed the opportunity from both hands with a hundred on debut. He became the first Sri Lankan to score a Test hundred in his maiden Test away from home.

It remains to be seen whom the selectors will leave out.  It could be Oshada Fernando with Nissanka swapping places for the number three slot. Or it could be Niroshan Dickwella, from whom wicketkeeping gloves could be taken away and given to Dinesh Chandimal.

The move has been something that has been discussed for a while now but since being put under pressure, Dickwella has not only contributed with the bat but shown more responsibility as well. The first Test match against Bangladesh gets underway on Wednesday in a bio secure bubble. Expect a bit of rain during the series, particularly in the evenings as it is always the case in the hill capital. Well, we were actually told when the ground was built that it was located in one of the driest areas in the Central Province. Very little the press realized that we were being taken for a ride. And of course the venue is located in the electorate of the then Sports Minister.

Bangladesh need to raise their game in this series after a disappointing few months at home. That they will not have the services of Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman is a further blow for them.

Pallekele will host both Tests and could be a major hub throughout this year when limited over games take place in ‘bio bubble’ environment.

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Sri Lanka back pace for Bangladesh Tests

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by Rex Clementine

Having conducted the England Test series so well in a ‘bio-secure bubble’ in Galle, Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to move the Bangladesh series to Pallekele. Did any technical reasons prompt SLC to move from the coastal town to the hill capital?  Not really. The move is a tactical one. The Sri Lankans would be thinking that spin is Bangladesh’s strength so the best way to beat them is through pace. Hence, the shift to Kandy where seamers get much more purchase and value for money for their efforts.

The move may look somewhat defensive. Given the England experience where the Somerset duo of Dom Bess and Jack Leach made a mockery of Sri Lanka’s top and middle order, the hosts seem to be not wanting to play into Bangladesh’s hands whose spinners have been quite formidable in recent years.

Hence having shifted base to Kandy, Sri Lanka could go all out with a  pace heavy attack when the Test series gets underway next week. Wanindu Hasaranga could be the only spinner in the side with Dhananjaya de Silva’s part time off-spin as back up.

Lahiru Kumara has returned to the squad having missed the West Indies tour after being tested positive for COVID-19. There was a lot of excitement that Sri Lanka would be able to see two of their quickest bowlers in action in the same match but Dushmantha Chameera, has pulled out from the series due to personal reasons.

Suranga Lakmal, who was named Player of the Series in the Caribbean after his impressive performance, will spearhead the attack. Vishwa Fernando will add variety with his left arm bowling and it remains to be seen how well he does in helpful conditions having fared well in South Africa early this year.

There are a few issues with the spin department after Lasith Embuldeniya was ruled out with injury. Duvindu Tillekeratne is also down with injury while Prabath Jayasuriya, who had shown la ot of promise was almost picked for the series but he became ineligible for selection after failing the skin fold test marginally. That opened up a slot for rookie Praveen Jayawickrama who is thin on experience having played just a handful of First Class matches

Bangaldesh will be handicapped as Shakib Al Hasan their biggest match winner is in India playing the IPL. They will also miss the services of Mustafizur Rahman, the spearhead of the attack.

Still, the tourists have some solid players. Off-spinner Mehidy Hasan recently became the fastest Bangladeshi to claim 100 Test wickets and at the age of 23 a  lot is expected of him.  He is more than a  handy bat having already posted a hundred and three half-centuries in Test match cricket.

Tamim Iqbal, Mominul Haque and Mushfiqur Rahim are the mainstay of their batting. Mushfiqur has been ever present in the Bangladeshi side having made his Test debut 16 years ago at the age of 18.

Former captain Angelo Mathews is back in the side having returned home from the West Indies early. Which of the seven batters will miss out to accommodate Mathews remains to be seen.

Sri Lanka have won 16 of the 20 Tests against Bangladesh and lost just one game. However, most of those wins were in the early days and in recent years Bangladesh have done well competing and drawing games. 

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Sebs’ cricket stalwart Cooray retires after more than three decades of service

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by Reemus Fernando

Franklyn Cooray, the former Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association official, retired as the Master in Charge of Cricket of St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa after completing more than three and half decades of yeoman service recently. Franklyn Cooray who was popular in cricket circles as Frank Cooray, was the longest serving team official at the time of his retirement. During his 37 year association with schools cricket, Cooray witnessed the evolution of First XI cricket from mere Traditional matches to present day tournaments of varying divisions and was involved in St. Sebastian’s cricket as a coach and Master in Charge guiding the destiny of many future national cricketers.

Cooray played First XI cricket for St. Sebastian’s from 1962 to 1966 and was among the very few Sebs cricketers of his era to have tasted Big Match success. He captained all age group teams of St. Sebastian’s. After leaving school he worked at the Irrigation Department as a Senior Technical Officer and played in the Government Services ‘A’ Division Cricket tournament until making a premature retirement in 1983.

He was entrusted with the responsibility of training cricketers of St. Sebastian’s in 1984 by Rev. Bro. Nimal Gurusinghe, when coaching was voluntary. Three years later Cooray was included in the tutorial staff by Rev. Bro. Granville Perera. He was the coach cum Master in Charge of St. Sebastian’s from 1987 to 1994 and held the latter position until his retirement this year.

During his tenure as a coach, Cooray provided guidance at different levels to several Sebs who later became household names. Of them Dulip Mendis, Roger Wijesuriya, Susil Fernando, Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sajeewa de Silva went on to play Test cricket. “Kaluwitharana was coached by Brother Gurusinghe before he came under my supervision at senior level,” Cooray recalled in an interview with The Island.

Cooray was the Master in Charge of Cricket when the likes of Prasanna Jayawardena, Dinusha Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Amila Aponso, Avishka Fernando and Oshada Fernando learnt their ABC of cricket at St. Sebastian’s.

While being the MIC, Cooray was also entrusted with the responsibility of the curator after a turf wicket was laid at the St. Sebastian’s ground in 1990.

He was selected to SLSCA Executive Committee in 1988 and a year later became the Under-19 tournament secretary, a position he held until 2006. He was among the leading officials of SLSCA who were instrumental in introducing the two-day league tournament and the Under-19 tournament structure with three Divisions. As of late it has undergone many changes.

However he was against introducing the points system that determined winners on first innings points. “That system would promote the culture of playing for trophies. I never encouraged the point system for first innings wins. We gave points only for outright victories. During our time we hardly batted after tea. We would try to score as much as possible in the morning and declared and get the opposition to bat in the afternoon. That way we would try to win outright. That was lost after the points system was introduced,” opined Cooray.

Cooray also lamented the absence of natural stroke play among present day cricketers. “Players going for their natural strokes is something that we are missing greatly these days. You must encourage batsmen to go for their natural strokes,” said Cooray.

He was the Under-19 tournament secretary of the SLSCA at a time when computers were yet be utilized for calculation of points and to make points tables of the league tournaments. Yet as schools cricket reporters would recall he was readily available with a near accurate points table of the tournament at the end of every week during the schools cricket season.

Apart from holding the Under-19 tournament secretary position, Cooray also held the junior national coach position briefly. He was the coach of the Sri Lanka Under-15 side that toured England for the Under-15 Lombard World Challenge.

His contribution to cricket was recognized by the International Cricket Council in 2009 when he was presented with a medal during its Centenary Medals Presentation for Volunteers.

As he steps in to retirement with loads of fond memories from cricket, Cooray thanked former administrators of St. Sebastian’s Rev. Bro. Nimal Gurusinghe and Rev. Bro. Granville Perera, late Rev. Fr. Bonnie Fernandopulle who made it possible for him to take up coaching and cricket administration and coaches including Kanishka Perera who helped during his tenure.

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