The English expedition: puzzles to unravel
The number five slot will be occupied by Dananjaya de Silva who is fast evolving in to Tilekeratne Dilshan lite version.
by Aravinthan Arunthavanathan
Nuwan Pradeep nails an accurate yorker. The ball trickles down to fine leg. It must be just two, but inexplicably turns into a three. The game that was almost sealed is yet alive. Next ball, the final ball of the innings, Pradeep cannot repeat the same. Liam Plunkett, England’s number ten smacks it over long off to tie the game. Early in the day England were six down for 92 and eight down for 235 requiring more than 50 from 28 balls. Still, they managed to tie. This is how the first game of the last bilateral ODI series Sri Lanka and England played in the UK began. This in a way symbolizes the journey both teams have taken ever since. England have found ways to win from hopeless situations whereas Sri Lanka have managed the opposite. This is mainly because England have always managed to find answers to all the questions they were faced with. In fact, they have provided distinction answers thinking out of the box, resulting in them being crowned as the World Champions in 2019. Sri Lanka on the other hand have not even figured out which subject the questions are being asked from. As both teams square off this week their priorities are opposite. England possess squads which outweigh Sri Lanka in every aspect. Most of them are hot picks in T20 leagues. Sri Lanka on the other hand is composed of a bunch of players who do not even find a mention during most auctions. Nothing to be disheartened. Sri Lanka have often punched above their weight when unnoticed. Post 2015, that is the only hope that has kept fans attached to a team which has forever being on life support. But there is hope, in fact plenty of it. The law of averages should correct the trend sooner rather than later. That statement too is more out of hope than conviction. The selectors have walked the talk for once. Almost the same team apart from Ashen Bandara have found a place in the flight to UK. Pathum Nissanka looked set to be another casualty, but thankfully the selectors have chosen otherwise. He need not play, but merely existing in the set up will benefit him. Consistency in policies will be the key to build trust in a broken system where mistrust is the norm. Sri Lanka have plenty of questions. The consistency at the top, combinations to overcome the middle overs muddle with bat and ball and players to step up under pressure at the death are problems of highest priority. With plenty of options at the top of the innings Danushka Gunetileke will be looked upon with keen interest. It’s time to put aside his inconsistencies and deliver. With a top-heavy unit Danushka isn’t indispensable. Avishka Fernando on the other hand ever since hooking Joffra Archer out of the ground in 2019 has grown not on only in stature but apparently in circumference too. Now that the latter is addressed, fans would hope Avishka would be in the news for his batting and not fitness. The two Kusals have been entrusted with massive responsibility of leadership and forming the backbone of the batting. Kusal Perera’s ambidexterity with the bat and Kusal Mendis’s fleet footedness have the potential to help Sri Lanka break the shackles in the middle overs as batsmen they can’t ask for more than the true surfaces of UK. It is worth noting Mahela Jayawardena too heralded a golden run for Sri Lanka in 2006 with some high-class batting on the England tour. It was a turn around for a struggling unit at that point. Both the Kusal’s can do well to orchestrate a revival following those footsteps. The number five slot will be occupied by Dananjaya de Silva who is fast evolving in to Tilekeratne Dilshan lite version. An ultra-lite version even would do a world of good for the team balance. Danajaya’s bowling adds much needed balance to the side. If Niroshan Dickwella is to play in the middle order it will be a race between Dickwella and Dasun Shanaka for the number six slot. Dickwella’s busy approach at the crease would make him an ideal option in the middle overs as well. A phase Sri Lanka have struggled for an eternity. He may well help overcome the spin strangle that often throttles Sri Lanka. Dasun and Dickwella whoever plays would play a huge role if Sri Lanka are to turn the tide. In a team which lacks muscle Dasun and Wanindu Hasranga have a major role in propelling the tail end of the innings. Being able to do so consistently under pressure will be the key for Sri Lanka’s turn around in fortunes. Sri Lanka would have to try different combinations to crack the code to succeed in this pivotal phase. All teams that are performing well are relying on a superstar allrounder. If there is one person who can be Sri Lanka’s savior in this regard it has to be Wanindu Hasaranga. Proper batting capabilities with a hard to pick googly makes Wanindu a hot stock in international cricket. How successful would he be on the biggest stage against the masters of white ball format makes a case for compelling viewing. The fast-bowling all-rounder’s role would be taken by Isuru Udana, who has promised a lot in recent past. So much so that even Virat Kohli and Mike Hesson entrusted him with closing the death overs for Royal Challengers Banglore not so long ago. Ever since his performance has been attracting denigration. But in the interest of Sri Lankan cricket, we shall hope Isuru finds his charm back leaving no room for the above. Isuru and Wanindu will provide the additional dimension Sri Lanka is looking for, to be a force to reckon with. Dananjaya Lakshan is a name sure to keep Udana on his heels. Especially following the praise heaped by Lasith Malinga who without a doubt has one of the best cricketing brains. Laskhan will surely get a look in at some point. How easily he graduates to international cricket is to be seen with interest.
In the spin department mystery is mysteriously missing in a nation that churned out masters of spin. Ramesh Mendis looked impressive in the final game in Bangladesh. With confidence behind him, Mendis deserves at least a run in the first few games. Akila Dananjaya and Lakshan Sandakan have promised for long but not yet become reliable. Will they ever graduate is an eternal question plaguing many fans. If England provides a hint regarding the answer either way, it would be a welcome relief. Pravin Jayawickrama can wait. It would be in the best interest of the youngster not to expose him to a monster line up. The same can be applied to the other youngsters who have got a well-deserved look in as well.
In the fast-bowling department, Dushmantha Chameera will be expected to lead as he did in Bangladesh. The rest of the slots will be up for grab on rotation. Death bowling and breakthroughs in the middle remain a concern. Whether the selectors will fall back on Nuwan Pradeep’s experience going forward will be interesting to see. Sri Lanka have enough ammunition. Who decides to take the opportunity is what is left to be seen. England haven’t been a happy hunting ground for bowlers. Hence the hopes can be subdued. Attitude and the heart for the fight would be what fans would love to see. Hasaranga will be the key in the middle with Chameera and Udana expected to look after the death overs. Overall Sri Lanka’s present state is not a reflection of scarcity of resources. It is instead an outcome of a messed up eco system. It’s not a problem arising out of scarcity but a problem arising out of no clear-cut role descriptions and lack of trust. Talent is plenty but that’s the least that matters on the international stage. The bigger nations have thrived upon proper systems being put in place, supplemented by carefully crafted strategies built upon big data. While we have no insight about the later, Sri Lanka clear lacks a framework. For long we have been the troubled child who promises but fails to deliver. The child has the genes to succeed but the chaos at home is not providing the ideal launching pad. We have spoken a lot about getting the home in order, nothing seems to have changed. Chances are it may not any time soon. But at least there is a group of decision makers in selectors who are showing signs of consistency. Would that be adequate to make the English tour any better? Only time will reveal. But for the diehard fan there are enough puzzles to be unraveled to make a compelling case to view the proceedings in UK sacrificing precious sleep
(The Author’s blog can be found at Cricketing perspectives on facebook)
Pasindu wins digital stimulator E Racing in Thailand
Pasindu Marasinghe, the delegate of the Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC) at the Federation Internationale De L’Automobile (FIA) organized Region II Ideas Forum, won an ECARS Digital Racing Car Stimulators competition at the 44th International Motor Show in Thailand Organized by Motor Sports Club of Thailand (RAAT) on Saturday.
Twelve members from the Asia Pacific region participated in this competition. The winner was presented a Medal by Anothai Eamlumnow, Executive Committee Member and Chief Production Officer of the Grand Prix International Public Company Limited.
The world’s largest mobility and motorsports organization, Federation Internaionale De L’Automobile (FIA) organized Region II Ideas Forum was held from March 22 to 25 in Thailand. Automobile Association of Ceylon, which is the affiliated club in Region II was invited for this conference programme.
This programme commenced on March 24 at Studio 4 MAA-LAI Kimpton Hotel Thailand. It was a knowledgeable and effective forum with discussions by experts on insights with capacity building in regions and resources available to clubs through FIA University Mentoring Programme and also to discuss AA Philippines Tourism Start up Experience. AA delegates attended this Conference.
On Saturday (25), the AA Delegates, who were invited to attend the 44th International Motor Show in Thailand Organized by the Motor Sports Club of Thailand (RAAT) as VIP Guests and were introduced to take part in the ECARS Digital Racing Car Stimulators, which was a grant offered to this club by Federation Internaionale De L’Automobile (FIA). Simulator training provides experience to drive Formula Grand Prix.
Kalutara Lawn Tennis Club is 85 years old
One of the oldest outstation tennis clubs in the whole country, the Kalutara Lawn Tennis Club (KLTC) celebrated its 85th anniversary at a special function held at Kalutara Garden Beach Hotel on Saturday, 25 March with the participation of its senior and junior membership.
The event was presided over by the club’s current Acting President Roche Fernando and Vice President Dulip Wijayanayake.
The Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) President Iqbal Bin Issack also addressed the gathering on video conferencing and congratulated the club on reaching the remarkable milestone.
Among last eight in All-island Inter-club Tournament –
By the time the KLTC celebrated its 85th birthday, the club tennis team, led by Ashan Fernando, had already reached the 2023 All-island Inter-club Doubles Tournament Division-5 Quarter-finals. That too by finishing as table leaders of their Group, Group B of Division-5. The Quarter-final stage of the Tournament, organised by the SLTA, is to be staged from mid next month onwards.
During Saturday’s celebrations, the KLTC Committee felicitated its distinguished former Presidents and members such as Camillus Silva, the late Elmo Fernando, Sumanasiri Fernando, Renuk Nanayakkara, Srimantha Fernando, Priyantha Fernando, Laksiri Peiris, Dasantha Fonseka, Janaka Fonseka, Sunil Geeganaarachchi, Chaminda Fernando and Chamila Iddagoda.
The KLTC is one of the handful of British colonial-era public tennis-playing institutions presently surviving in the island. It was founded as the ‘Senior Officials’ Club’ or SOC in 1928 by the then British government officials working in the area. In 1938, it was rechristened the Kalutara Lawn Tennis Club and opened its doors to non-government-service members too.
St. Joseph’s beat Mahinda, Kusal hammers 168 for Trinity
Under 19 Cricket
Kusal Wijethunga top scored with 168 runs for Trinity to amass 449 against Maris Stella and spinner Lahiru Amarasekara completed a match bag of 11 wickets in an outright victory for St. Joseph’s as they shared the batting and bowling honours of the day in the Under 19 traditional cricket encounters on Tuesday.
In reply to Maris Stella’s 268 runs, Trinity amassed 449 runs in 83 overs with Wijethunga and Dinusha Peiris scoring centuries. Wijethunga and Peiris were involved in a partnership of 171 runs for the third wicket. Wijethunga’s knock included 16 fours and eight sixes. With batsmen dominating in both innings the match ended in a draw.
At Galle, St. Joseph’s declared their innings on 255 runs (9wkts) after adding 123 runs to their overnight total. Muditha Dissanayaka and Lahiru Amarasekara were responsible for the bulk of it. Amarasekara then joined Yenula Dewthusa to restrict the home team to 142 runs leaving their batsmen a target of just 15 runs to chase.
At Boyagane, Moratu Vidyalaya earned first innings honours against St. Sylvester’s as they restricted the latter to 177 runs.
Meanwhile, in another traditional match started at Katugastota, St. Anthony’s posted 352 for nine wickets declared against St. Peter’s as their top order batsmen, namely Mohomed Aaqil (32), Kavindu Shehan (54), Induwara Galapitage (47), Thisara Ekanayake (54) and skipper Lahiru Abeysinghe (73) clicked together.
At Galle: St. Joseph’s record ten wickets win against Mahinda
Mahinda 127 all out in 57 overs (Ranmina Hettiarachchi 33, Chandupa de Silva 29; Lahiru Amarasekara 5/34, Muditha Dissanayaka 2/23, Yenula Dewtusa 3/32) and 142 all out in 51.4 overs (Hareen Achintha 32, Dhanuja Induwara 26, Dulana Rajapaksha 32; Lahiru Amarasekara 6/79, Yenula Dewtusa 3/23)
St. Joseph’s 132 for 4 overnight 255 for 9 decl. in 67.5 overs (Sadeesh Jayawardena 53, Naren Muralidaran 41, Muditha Dissanayaka 64, Lahiru Amarasekara 41; Shehan Hasaranga 3/72, Dhanuja Induwara 2/09) and 15 for no loss in 1.2 overs
At Welisara: Trinity amass 449 against Maris Stella
Maris Stella 268 all out in 93.5 overs (Kaveen Fernando 26, Shean Adithya 83, Anshen de Silva 28, Ramith Bandara 33, Nethum Basnayake 26, Levin Fernando 22; Jayavi Liyanagama 2/40, Dinuka Tennakoon 5/74) and 30 for no loss in 5.2 overs
Trinity 9 for no loss overnight 449 all out in 83 overs (Kusal Wijethunga 165, Rahal Amarasinghe 39, Dinusha Peiris 105, Vathila Udara 28, Jayavi Liyanagama 45; Sadew Hasthika 5/113, Chirath Adithya 3/51)
At Boyagane: Morau Vidyalaya take first innings honours
Morau Vidyalaya 249 all out in 93.1 overs (Vihanga Nimsara 82, Rasindu Ilukshana 54; Isuru Gunasekara 2/28, Pansilu Bandara 2/50, Akila Wickramasinghe 3/48, Khanka Wickramasinghe 2/31) and 99 for 4 in 21 overs (Isuru Fernando 20, Vihanga Nimsara 38; Akila Wickramasinghe 3/16)
St. Sylvester’s 5 for 1 overnight 179 all out in 59.3 overs (Charuka Ayeshan 77; Malith Shehan 2/29, Isuru Fernando 2/27)
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