The Mace for Aotearoa
By Rajitha Ratwatte
Two years of Test matches to find the World Test Champions came down to a one-off six-day Test match in Hampshire. The English weather of course playing a part and everything down to the final session of play on the last day.
On a freezing cold winter day in Aotearoa, hunched over the TV, New Zealand needing 100 runs in the last session with the Baharat army in full voice, the drums pounding and New Zealand’s two most experienced batsmen at the crease.
Technically a sixth day wicket although less than four days have been played on it, slowing down, showing uneven bounce, and making shot playing difficult. Ravichandran Ashwin of India in the middle of a brilliant spell of spin bowling backed up solidly by Mohammed Shami. Even the experienced Sunil Gavaskar in the commentary box, rooting for India!
New Zealand with its five million people holds America’s Cup for sailing and is runners-up in the World Cup of Rugby and Cricket in the one-day format. Overachievers some may say and others say the opposite.
Small town boys can’t handle the pressure and choke at vital times is an assessment we have often heard. Kane Williamson the captain and the number two ranked Test batsman in the world in his bubble and fighting hard.
Ross Taylor the most senior batsman showing signs of panic at a minor collapse orchestrated by Ashwin and the resultant inability to get ahead of the run rate required. The best possible combination for NZ but notorious for running each other out under pressure!
Commentators speculating on a change in the batting order for the Kiwis with may be Colin De Grandhomme or even Tim Southee coming in early with a license to hit and break the back of this relatively small target.
A much-hackneyed phase but this is the ultimate form of the game and although it is scoffed at by younger and more populist sports reporters and others, Test cricket will never die in the hearts of the purists and true lovers of the game.
Virat Kohli the Indian skipper playing the crowd and chatting to his bowlers all the time. A marked opposite from the conduct of Ajinkya Rahane his deputy who did such an exceptional job in Australia.
The New Zealand public doesn’t rate cricket very high. It ranks way below rugby union of course and probably below rugby league and netball, with sailing also giving a good fight in the eyes of the sponsors.
India forced to rest the best bowlers and the advent of Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja to the attack resulted in a few runs and an eerie silence from the Bharat army.
Cheteshwar Pujara dropped Taylor off Jaspreet Bumrah, a sitter at first slip in the 20th over with 60 runs needed! Have theydropped the mace?
Drinks break before the last hour of the game and New Zealand were needing 35 runs in 15 overs to win with eight wickets in hand. Do the Gods of cricket and the “glorious uncertainties of the game” have any more surprises to deliver?
A flurry of runs off a Sharma over forced the Indian skipper to bring back his best bowlers. Williamson pulling Shami imperiously from outside off-stump for two, skipping down the track and driving Jadeja classically through the v and getting a little carried away with a wild swing that goes straight up in the air but eludes Bumrah.
Even Mr. Ice Cool is human after all. The small Kiwi contingent at the ground starts to believe and the chills of winter begin to get less depressing at home. Ross Taylor finishes it off with a regal front flick off his pads through the mid-wicket region to prove that sometimes the nice guys win!
Second ODI between New Zealand and Sri Lanka abandoned
The second ODI between New Zealand and Sri Lanka has been called off due to rain in Christchurch.
Lahiru takes five wickets as Joes take lead
Under 19 Cricket
Off-spinner Lahiru Amarasekara produced a five-wicket haul as St. Joseph’s restricted Mahinda to 127 runs on day one of the Under 19 traditional cricket encounter at Galle on Monday.
Amarasekara was ably supported by spinner Yenula Dewthusa and Muditha Dissanayake who shared the other five wickets.
With wickets falling at regular intervals, batting opener Ranmina Hettiarachchi anchored the top order with a knock of 33 runs. Chandupa de Silva with 29 runs, Tharusha Dilshan (15) and Hiruna Gallalge (17) were the only other batsmen to reach double figures.
In their essay St. Joseph’s were comfortably placed at 132 for two wickets but back-to-back wickets in the last two overs placed them at 132 for four wickets at stumps.
At Welisara, Dinuka Tennakoon took five wickets but Maris Stella managed to post 268 runs as Shean Adithya top-scored with 83 runs. In reply Trinity were nine without loss.
Vihanga Nimsara and Rasindu Ilukshana were the heroes for Moratu Vidyalaya as their half-centuries helped them score 249 runs against St. Sylvester’s at Boyagane.
At Galle: Mahinda 127, St. Joseph’s 132/4
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)
132 for 4 in 42.1 overs (Sadeesh Jayawardena 53, Naren Muralidaran 41; Shehan Hasaranga 2/39)
At Welisara: Maris Stella 268, Trinity 9/0
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)
Trinity 9 for no loss in 4 overs
At Boyagane: Moratu Vidyalaya 249, St. Sylvester’s 5/1
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)
5 for 1 in 4 overs.
Sowmiya clinches a triple crown, Silvijan bags a double
Northern Badminton Championship 2023
T. Silvijan Dalima was crowned men’s singles champion while S. Sowmiya clinched a triple crown at the Northern Badminton Championship 2023 in Kilinochchi during the weekend.
At the Provincial Indoor Stadium in Kilinochchi, Silvijan met K Thusan in the final clash in which the latter retired in the second set with scores reading 21-14, 16-11 in favour of the champion. L Hentry and K Kajan were the losing semi-finalists.
Meanwhile, S. Sowmiya won all three of her open events, the women’s singles, doubles and mixed doubles with respective partners.
Sowmiya clinched the women’s singles crown with a 21-15, 21-13 win over R. Ragavi in the final following her doubles title win with B. Oliviya. Sowmiya and Oliviya overcame Athmika and M. Kavinaya 21-9, 21-15 to seal the women’s doubles crown.
Earlier, Sowmiya and Silvijan, the best singles duo in the tournament, also won the mixed doubles title by defeating R. Sulacsan and S . Thanojana 21-12, 21-16 in the final.
The men’s doubles final was won by L. R. Reminsan and T. Thusyanthan who beat G. Thanukanth and R. Yuthakaran with a 21-13, 21-9 score line.
The tournament, organised by the Northern Province Badminton Association, was conducted under the guidance of Sri Lanka Badminton (SLB). SLB President Rohan de Silva and a host of top officials were among the special guests at the presentation ceremony.
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