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Tharanga leaves with unfulfilled promises



by Rex Clementine

You can see why some of the finest brains in our cricket are pushing for Tom Moody to be Director of Cricket. Moody is pretty good at spotting talent and once he picks a player, he backs him no matter what. He has this ability to convince all concerned – selectors, board, captain, media and even fans that someone is worth investing on. Upul Tharanga was one such. What a start he had to his career. The elegant left-handed batsman announced his retirement from cricket yesterday. His 6941 runs in ODI cricket is the most by a current Sri Lankan batsman. Only seven other Sri Lankans scored more runs than him.

Tharanga hails from Ambalangoda and made his First Class debut at the age of 15 for his native Singha Sports Club. Later he moved to Colombo and represented NCC with whom he has stayed for 18 seasons now and could go on for a few more.

No Sri Lankan player had the impact that Upul Tharanga had in the first year of his international career as he scored hundreds in places like Christchurch, Lord’s, Leeds, Ahmedabad, Mohali and Bogra. Tharanga’s ability to excel in tough conditions was hailed as a hallmark of a player who would go onto make a big impact in the game. Moody’s theory was that anyone who scores runs overseas is going to be a vital cog in the wheel.

But Tharanga didn’t go onto have a prolific career and should have averaged more than 33. When The Island met Moody a few years ago when he had landed in Colombo on a commentary assignment, he pointed out that leaving Tharanga out of the side was a blunder. He went onto add that once you identify talent you needed to persevere with them giving them assurance that they are being well looked after.

Tharanga was so pleasing to the eye like most left-handers. There have been hundreds scored by him when he did not score a single boundary in the on-side. In fact, the on-side was used only to rotate the strike. The boundaries came through exquisite cover drives, powerful cut shots and the occasional straight drive.

Viv Richards’ favourite opposition was England. So was Upul’s as he averaged 48 against them. Some of his knocks against England attacks had a telling impact on the game – like during the quarter-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011 at RPS.

England were so horrible in one-day cricket those days. They managed only 229 in their 50 overs batting first. Sri Lanka responded by chasing down the target without losing a wicket with more than ten overs to spare. That was some beating. Both Tharanga and T.M. Dilshan finished with unbeaten hundreds.

When Sri Lanka completed a 5-0 whitewash in England in 2006, Tharanga scored two hundreds in the series. One at Lord’s and the other at Leeds. The second one was special as this was the game that completed the 5-0 drubbing. England had posted a highly competitive 321 batting first and were confident they could avoid the humiliation of a whitewash at home. But Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya were devastating that day adding 286 runs for the opening wicket in some 191 balls. Sri Lanka won with 12 overs to spare and so brutal was the attack that Kabir Ali and Vikram Solanki never played for England again.

Tharanga also had a brief spell as Sri Lanka’s captain and unselfishly went lower down the order to accommodate young players top of the order. His stint was troubled by slow over rate offences with allegations emerging that a senior fast bowler slowed down the over rate deliberately in order to get the captain suspended. Crooks are everywhere in cricket. Poor Tharanga suffered in silence. He was a gentleman par excellence.


Open semis today, semi-finalists found in U12 category



SSC Open Ranking Tennis

The men’s and women’s open singles semi-finals of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament will be played today with fifteen-year-old Dinethya Dharmarathne seeking a final berth against fancied counterparts.

Dharmarathne, who is also competing in the Under-16 age category singles, will encounter Janali Manamperi in the top semi-final of the women’s open singles. The other match will be between Savini Jayasuriya and Tania Doloswala.

Sankha Atukorale, who is the top seed in the men’s singles, will meet the Vibuda Wijebandara in the top semi final. Kiran Vairavanathan will take on Luca Knese, the champion of the recently held 105th Colombo Championships.

Meanwhile, the semi-finalists were found in the Under-12 girls’ singles, the lowest age category event, of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament as two girls from Negombo schools and two girls from Musaeus College won their respective quarter-finals on Friday.

Movindi Fernando from Newstead College, Negombo, Githmi Fernand1o of Ave Maria and Musaeus College players Sandithi Usgodaarachchi and Gehansa Methnadi booked their spots to fight for a place in the final


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More crisis as SLC forced to name new captain



Sri Lanka’s T-20 skipper Dasun Shanaka  could miss the T-20 series in the Caribbean.

By Rex Clementine

Less than a month after Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) severely censured officials of Sri Lanka Cricket for inefficiency and lack of transparency, the sport’s governing body has been exposed once again after the captain they named for the upcoming series in the Caribbean has been left stranded in Colombo unable to get a visa to fly to West Indies.

Dasun Shanaka was named as the captain for the three match series in the Caribbean and there was indication that he might hold onto the job at least till this year’s World Cup in India.

The team, however, travelled to the Caribbean on Tuesday without the captain. Sri Lanka team arrived in Antigua on Thursday after transits in Qatar and New York but the man who is supposed to lead them is still in Negombo.

The laws in Antigua, the home for Sir Viv Richards and Sir Curtly Ambrose is that tourists need to be in isolation for 72 hours before being allowed to train and the Sri Lankan team’s quarantine period ends tomorrow.

The first T-20 International begins on Wednesday (3rd March) and even if Shanaka leaves Colombo today, he is unlikely to meet quarantine regulations in time ahead of the game. Sources said that Shanaka could end up missing the entire T-20 series if he is unable to fly by Monday.

The latest development comes as another blow for SLC who were involved in a bitter public spat with former great Chaminda Vaas hours before the team departed for the Caribbean. Vaas was a last minute replacement for Australian David Saker as Bowling Coach and requested for a raise of his daily allowance. SLC would have ended up only paying US$ 5000 but took the fight onto Vaas and stopped short of calling him a traitor in a media release that went viral.

As for Shanaka, why only his visa had been delayed is because the all-rounder had been issued a previous US visa but he had lost that passport. The US embassy in Colombo is investigating whether anyone had misused the visa on the stolen passport.

Sources said given the issues that Shanaka would face in obtaining a US visa, the practical thing to do would have been to fly Shanaka to London and let him catch a flight to the Caribbean after he was unable to fly with the rest of the team. Gatwick airport in London flies to all Caribbean islands from Antigua to St. Vincent’s.

When contacted by The Island, a senior official of SLC said that there was a delay in Shanaka submitting his passport to the US embassy as he was made to quarantine after attending the wedding of cricketer Sadeera Samarawickrama.

However, another source said that the selectors had submitted the names of 35 probables for the Caribbean as early as 20th January. The practice is to get visas for all 35 but for some reason, SLC had severely delayed the process.

The selectors will consult Head Coach Mickey Arthur before naming a new captain. Sources said that the choice is between two players who had captained the team before.

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Dinethya shocks seniors to book semi-final place



by Reemus Fernando

Fifteen-year-old Dinethya Dharmarathne turned tables on Oneli Perera and Vonara de Alwis to secure a place in the women’s singles semi-finals of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament in Colombo on Thursday.

The Visakha Vidyalaya player beat Vonara de Alwis 7-5, 6-3 in the quarter-final yesterday after turning tables on Oneli Perera, the Under-18 champion of the recently concluded Colombo Championships.

In the third round, Dharmarathne overcame a first set defeat to beat Perera 3-6, 6-0, 10-4. The semi-final place is the highest achievement by the emerging player so far. Incidentally, it was Perera who eliminated Dharmarathne in the quarter-finals of the Colombo Championships.

Dharmarathne is the youngest in the semi-final line up now.

She is set to meet number one seed Janali Manamperi who beat Sethmi Sumanaweera 6-1, 6-0 in her match. The other semi-final will be between Savini Jayasuriya and Tania Doloswala who recorded victories in their matches.

In the men’s singles, Luca Knese, Sankha Atukorale, Vibuda Wijebandara and Kiran Vairavanathan completed the semi-final line up.

Atukorale is the number one seed of this Championship, which will conclude on March 7. While Knese beat number four seed Thehan Wijemanne, Wijebandara eliminated number three seed Savit Weerasinghe.



Men’s Singles Quarter-finals

Luca Knese beat Thehan Wijemanne 6-2, 6-4

Sankha Atukorale beat Dumindu Dilum 6-2, 6-0

Vibuda Wijebandara beat Savit Weerasinghe 6-4, 6-2,

Kiran Vairavanathan beat Gayanath Senadeera 7-6, 6-2

Women’s Singles Quarter-finals

Janali Manamperi beat Sethmi Sumanaweera 6-1, 6

Dinethya Dharmaratne beat Vonara de Alwis 7-5, 6-3

Savini Jayasuriya beat Dewmini Warnasuriya 6-0, 6-1

Tania Doloswala beat Nelini Jayasuriya 6-4, 6-3

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