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The talent is in outstations



Young spinners Praveen Jayawickrama and Ramesh Mendis shared 17 wickets between them to give Sri Lanka their first Test win in more than a year at Pallekele yesterday. 

Rex Clementine at Pallekele 

Sometimes you wonder whether Arjuna Ranatunga has lost it. Even now, he keeps saying that the talent is in outstation and it is where we should invest. He’s old fashioned, you think. But then, with performances like yesterday’s, the old fox is proved right, again. 

It was two boys from outstations who spun Sri Lanka to their first Test win in 16 months. 

Praveen Jayawickrama, a left-arm spinner is from Kalutara and Ramesh Mendis, an offie is from Ambalangoda. Together they took 17 wickets in the game to give Sri Lanka a 209 run win and with that the series. 

But not much has been invested in outstations. The school that produced Suranga Lakmal and Dhananjaya de Silva, Debarawewa Central nearly stopped cricket. Ambalangoda, one of our leading talent bases doesn’t have a proper cricket ground. Money is not invested there because that’s not where the cricket vote is. 

Sri Lanka needed five wickets to win the game when play resumed yesterday morning. There was a bit of urgency as well with rain expected after lunch.  Praveen was on the money from the start. He set up Liton Das nicely, sending down a delivery that spun away and then slipped in the arm ball that went straight on. The Batsman was playing for turn when there was none and he was a dead duck. He reviewed more in hope than any conviction. 

Spinners to succeed obviously need skill. More importantly, they need to be shrewd as well. That Praveen has although he’s not quite across the Bentara river. There is an old Sinhala saying not to bring even a kitten beyond Bentara River. 

But the guy who is actually across the Bentara river is Ramesh, a product of Dharmasoka. He tied one end up and was quite happy to play second fiddle; not a trait that we often see in southerners. All ten wickets to fall went to spinners. While the two rookies claimed nine victims, Dhananjaya de Silva chipped in with the wicket of Taijul Islam.  Praveen finished with 11 for 178, the tenth best figures by a debutant in Test cricket. It’s also the second time in this millennium a bowler has finished with a match bag of ten wickets or more with Australia’s Jason Krejza being the other. 

Praveen was named Man of the Match. It’s hard to think of another Sri Lankan bowler who has impressed so much on debut. There’s a problem though. You won’t see young Praveen in action at least until November again. Why? Sri Lanka do not have any Teat matches until then. By the way, this was supposed to be a three match series. But SLC cut down a Test match because this wasn’t a ‘profitable’ series. Hell with Praveen, Ramesh and Test cricket. Let’s play the LPL, that’s where the money is. Who wants this boring Test cricket? That’s not what we are saying. That’s what the Silvas are thinking; Shammi and Ashley. 

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Himasha’s ban extended to six years



Himasha’s doping violation

by Reemus Fernando

The Appeals Committee of the Sri Lanka Anti-Doping Agency that heard sprinter Himasha Eshan’s appeal against his suspension, has decided to extend the ban against the former national 100 metres champion to six years.

SLADA has informed the athlete that the Appeals Committee had decided to extend the ban to six years after the appeal hearing conducted on November 3.

According to the letter sent by SLADA, Himasha will now be banned till 25th October 2027 which effectively closes the former national 100 metres record holder’s chances of competing for Sri Lanka again.

The 28-year-old was tested positive for a banned substance during a random test conducted by SLADA on October 26, 2021. The Disciplinary Committee of SLADA first banned him for four years from October 26, 2021 to October 25, 2025. That ban has now been extended by two years.It was the second time that the South Asian Games medallist has been found positive for a banned substance and he is also the only Sri Lankan athlete to be tested positive twice.

He was first found positive for a banned substances when he was 17 years old. He was slapped with a two year ban which was reduced considering his young age. The World Anti-Doping Agency introduced four years bans for first time offences in 2013. According to Anti Doping authorities any reduced terms are added to the suspension when an athlete is found positive for the second time.

This time Himasha was tested positive during a random test conducted by SLADA on October 26, 2021. The Anti-Doping authorities collected Himasha’s urine samples at the Army quarters at Narahenpita. He was involved in several impressive performances including a wind assisted 10.29 seconds feat to win the men’s 100 metres during the Army Athletics Championships which was held around that time.

Once the fastest man in the South Asian region, Himasha was coached by Chaminda Perera. He won the gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games and set a South Asian regional record of 10.22 seconds in 2019. He was also part of Sri Lanka’s 4×100 metres team that established the current national record in the 4×100 metres relay.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Al Nassr knocked out of Saudi Super Cup



Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr were knocked of the Saudi Super Cup on Thursday after a 3-1 semifinal loss to Al Ittihad in Riyadh.The 37-year-old Portugal international, five-times Ballon D’Or winner, had a couple of chances to score but was well shackled by the Al Ittihad defence for most of the match.

Anderson Talisca’s goal for Al Nassr in the 67th minute was not enough to turn around the deficit from two first-half goals for Al Ittihad from Romarinho and Abderrazak Hamdallah.

Muhannad Al-Shanqeeti added the third three minutes into stoppage time.Al Nassr next travel to Al Fateh in the Saudi Pro League on Feb. 3.


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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Karen Khachanov to reach final of Australian Open 2023



Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas has another chance to land his first Grand Slam title after reaching the Australian Open final by beating Russian Karen Khachanov in the Melbourne last four.Third seed Tsitsipas, 24, won 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 against Khachanov, who was going for a maiden major final.Tsitsipas lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final and might have the chance to avenge that loss.

Serbia’s Djokovic plays American Tommy Paul in Friday’s other semi-final.Tsitsipas, who will become the world number one if he wins the title, eventually booked his place after recovering from Khachanov saving two match points in the third-set tie-break.

Another tight forehand saw a third chance disappear in what proved to be the final game, before he regained his composure to convert his fourth when a first serve was batted long by the 18th seed. Asked what he was thinking when the match went into a fourth set, Tsitsipas said: “I thought about how hard I’ve worked to get to this position.

“But if you stick around, dedicate yourself even more, and concentrate even more in the important moments it pays off.”

Nine-time champion Djokovic is the favourite to face Tsitsipas and takes on the unseeded Paul, who is competing in his first major semi-final, at 08:30 GMT on Friday.

The 35-year-old former world number one has won in Melbourne every time he has reached the last four and is aiming for a record-extending 10th title which would equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 major men’s titles. At a tournament with a hard-court surface on which he thrives, and in a city where he is warmly backed by its large Greek population, Tsitsipas has long appeared destined for success at the Australian Open.

The towering youngster announced his arrival there with a famous 2019 win over defending champion Roger Federer in the fourth round, only for a captivating run to be ended when he was crushed by Rafael Nadal in his first semi-final appearance.

Long-time rival Daniil Medvedev ended his dreams at the last-four stage in both 2021 and 2022, with another Russian – this time, the powerful Khachanov – standing in his way this time.

Backed by a vocal crowd who waved Greek flags after virtually all of his winning points, Tsitsipas started confidently against a player who he had beaten in all of their five previous encounters.

Khachanov could not cope with Tsitsipas’ pounding ground-strokes and dynamic athleticism as the world number four moved two sets ahead.

When Tsitsipas broke early in the third set and moved into a 5-4 lead which left him serving for the match, few on Rod Laver Arena expected anything other than a straight-set win.However, nerves kicked in for Tsitsipas, who suddenly looked unsure with his ground-strokes, and Khachanov cut loose to extend the contest.

After a bathroom break before the fourth set, Tsitsipas returned free of the weight of expectation and broke Khachanov’s serve at the first opportunity.Dominant service games from that point ensured there would be no repeat of the previous set as he finally reached the final of what he calls his “home” Grand Slam event.

“I feel blessed for the fact I’m able to play tennis at this level and for many years I’ve wanted to put Greek tennis on the map – Maria [Sakkari] and I have done that, I think,” Tsitsipas said.

“Coming from a small country like Greece I feel so grateful I get support like this.

“I never thought I would be treated so well here so I’m extremely happy I’m in the final now – let’s see what happens.”

(BBC Sports)

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