by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka ‘A’ tour of South Africa in 2008 was a resounding success and coach Chandika Hathurusinghe earmarked three players to have an impact with the senior side. Less than a year later, two of those players – Tharanga Paranavithana and Suranga Lakmal were taken to Pakistan on their maiden tour. Literally, it was a baptism of fire as the Sri Lankan team bus came under a terroist attack at Liberty roundabout in Lahore.
Both Paranavithana and Lakmal were badly hurt. Medical experts advised Lakmal to take a break from cricket to remove the splinters on his right arm from the gunfire. Lakmal asked how long he will be out of cricket. Doctors opined that he will be out for close to two years as it was a complicated surgery with splinters spread all around his leg. It was a killer blow as Lakmal had barely started his career. In desperation, Lakmal asked for a second opinion, he was told that he could continue playing cricket as the ‘foreign objects’ are not life threatening and that he could eventually go under the knife when he is done with cricket. Lakmal chose that path. And he was a sensation.
Lakmal has a few tricks up his sleeves. Over the years, he has given us a few surprises. Last night as sports reporters were quietly retiring to taste their arrack came the news that Lakmal is retiring from all forms of international cricket at the end of the upcoming tour of India later this month. And the good news is having waited for 13 long years, he will finally go under the knife.
Carrying ‘foreign objects’ in his body had many challenges. During Lakmal’s overseas travels he needed to take with him all sorts of medical reports as he faces numerous obstacles passing security. He can not go pass metal detectors as they warn of presence of ‘foreign objects’ in the body and security thoroughly check him. Being from rural Debarawewa in the Hambantota district, Lakmal is not the most fluent in English and often the team manager has to come to his rescue.
Lakmal has been a terrific servant of Sri Lankan cricket. His 168 Test wickets is the fourth highest among Sri Lankans and he is the second most successful fast bowler produced by the nation.
A son of a farmer, Lakmal came to Colombo to try his luck in cricket. He was fortunate to meet President’s Counsel Dinal Philips, who was a father figure to him and he looked into every need of the youngster. Soon as Lakmal cemented his place in the side following the retirement of Chaminda Vaas money and fame followed him. It was thanks to Philips that he didn’t go out of track. Temptations for a youngster coming from a rural village to go astray in the city are many. Lakmal firmly focused on his cricket.
Lakmal has been a loyal servant of Sri Lankan cricket. He’s been an absolute team player and hugely popular among the playing group. His biggest achievement in the sport came at Kensington Oval in 2018 when he skippered Sri Lanka to a thrilling four wicket win. He is the only captain from Asia to have won a Test match in Barbados, the fortress of West Indies cricket.
The only blemish in Lakmal’s career remains his involvement in card games in Galle as Sri Lanka were slipping to a painful defeat against England last year. It was a rare moment of indiscretion. Overall, he has been a terrific bloke, champion bowler, inspirational captain and above all a good human being.
Will Smeed hits the Hundred’s first hundred to get Birmingham Phoenix off the mark
Will Smeed hit the first hundred in the Hundred as Birmingham Phoenix thrashed reigning champions Southern Brave by 53 runs in a sun-soaked Second City.On NHS Heroes Night at Edgbaston, with NHS workers and support staff invited along as a thank you for their brilliant work, a 14,000 crowd was royally entertained as Smeed socked an unbeaten 101 off 50 balls to lift his side to 176 for 4.Brave replied with a paltry 123 all out as Henry Brookes enjoyed a dream debut on the ground he has always called home. The Edgbaston product took 5 for 25 and two excellent catches in the outfield as Phoenix banked their first victory of the campaign and handed James Vince’s side their first defeat in nine matches.
After Phoenix were put in, they leaned heavily on Smeed after Chris Benjamin, promoted to open, and Moeen Ali each raced to 17 but then perished. Benjamin sent up a skier off Marcus Stoinis before Moeen, having lifted George Garton deep into the crowd at midwicket, chopped James Fuller’s first ball on to his stumps.Smeed galloped to a 25-ball half-century, reached with six over long off off Jake Lintott in a stand of 80 in 44 balls with Liam Livingstone. Livingstone was the top six-hitter in last year’s Hundred, but this time never really hit his stride, scoring just two from his first seven balls and 21 from 20 before lifting Lintott to extra cover.
Into the last ten balls, the big question was whether Smeed could complete his first professional hundred. He needed five runs from the last three, and a four and a two took him to the landmark from 49 balls.Phoenix set about defending their total with an increasingly depleted seam attack, Adam Milne (Achilles) having joined Matt Fisher, Chris Woakes and Olly Stone on the absentee list. But Kane Richardson soon stepped up, bowling Vince with his first ball after the Brave captain had smote Moeen for 16 in three balls in the first set.
Richardson conceded just a single from his first five balls and Phoenix struck again when Stoinis was brilliantly caught by Brookes at short fine leg off Tom Helm.Brookes followed that up in sensational style by striking with his second, tenth, 13th, 15th and 17th balls. Quinton de Kock sent back a return catch, Tim David lifted to deep square leg, Alex Davies was bowled through an attempted scoop and Fuller and Garton were pinned lbw. Who needs Milne, Fisher, Woakes and Stone?
Brookes hadn’t quite finished. At 108 for 7, Brave’s one sliver of remaining hope lay in some pyrotechnics from the big-hitting Ross Whiteley, but when he hoiked Benny Howell to long leg who was waiting underneath the ball? Brookes made no mistake and Phoenix closed out a victory which owed everything to the precocious talent of two young Englishmen.Birmingham Phoenix 176 for 4 (Will Smeed 101*) beat Southern Brave 123 (Alex Davies 33, Henry Brookes 5-25, Kane Richardson 3-19) by 53 runs
Niroshan Dickwella stars in Greens 8-run win over Reds
Opening batsman Niroshan Dickwella hammered an unbeaten 76 off 56 balls packed with 8 boundaries as Team Greens defeated Team Reds by 8 runs to register back to back wins in the SLC Skyexchange Invitational T20 League 2022 at the R. Premadasa International Stadium yesterday. Batting first the Greens ran up 161 for 6 off 20 overs with Dickwella dominating the innings. Skipper Dasun Shanaka struck 21 off 12 hitting 3 boundaries before getting run out followed by Dhananjaya de Silva 19 off 12 with 3 boundaries and Ramesh Mendis 11 off 8 (1×4).
The Reds did make a match out of it making 153 for 5 but lacked the final charge to make it despite having enough wickets in hand. Bhanuka Rajapaksa top scored with 34 off 28 with 2 boundaries while skipper Kusal Mendis made 30 off 28 with 3 boundaries and Kamindu Mendis 24 off 22 hitting a six.Upfront opening batsman Lasith Croospulle struck 31 off 24 inclusive of 3 boundaries for the Reds. Dickwella was adjudged Player of the Match.
Team Greens 161/6 (20 Overs) (Niroshan Dickwella n.o. 76, Dasun Shanaka 21, Dhananjaya de Silva 19,.Dinesh Chandimal 15, Ramesh Mendis 11, Asitha Fernando 2/32, Sahan Arachchige 1/13, Matheesha Pathirana 1/25, Wanindu Hasaranga 1/30).
153/5 (20 Overs) (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 34, Lasith Croospulle 31, Kusal Mendis 30, Kamindu Mendis 24, Sahan Arachchige n.o. 19, Ramesh Mendis 1/22, Nimesh Vimukthi 1/23, Nuwan Thushara 1/32, Dhananjaya Lakshan 1/39).
New Zealand juggernaut rolls on with another all-round win
Odean Smith’s all-round show went in vain as West Indies’ batting once again did not manage to come to the party. Chasing 186, West Indies fell 13 runs short in the opening T20I in Jamaica as New Zealand’s juggernaut rolled on.
New Zealand had their returning skipper Kane Williamson put up a solid 47 off 33, and with Devon Conway’s 29-ball 43, the pair gave New Zealand a solid foundation to pile on the runs. There was a rain interruption in the 12th over for almost two hours, and although New Zealand lost momentum, briefly then, they recovered pretty quickly. Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell got starts but couldn’t convert them. It was, however, Jimmy Neesham’s 15-ball 33 in the end that propelled New Zealand towards the finish they wanted. Odean Smith finished with a career-best 3-32, striking at vital junctures to dismiss New Zealand’s top three; else the West Indies could’ve been chasing a lot more.
Tim Southee struck in the second over to dismiss Kyle Mayers, but West Indies would take heart from Shamarh Brooks’s fighting 42 off 43 while wickets fell at the other end as all of New Zealand’s bowlers cashed in. West Indies were reduced to 114/7 with the inevitable end drawing closer, but resistance came, albeit late, of 50 off 23 balls from the eighth-wicket stand Smith and Romario Shepherd.
Smith smashed four boundaries and a six in his unbeaten 27 off 12, while Shepherd struck three sixes and a four in his 31 not out off 16 balls. New Zealand’s spinners shone through once again on a wicket that assisted them, returning four wickets. Santner was the pick with 3-19 in his four leading New Zealand’s defence, making the most of the knowledge gained from his CPL experience.
Brief scores:New Zealand 185/5 in 20 overs (Kane Williamson 47, Devon Conway 43; Odean Smith 3-32) beat West Indies 172/7 in 20 overs (Shamarh Brooks 42; Mitchell Santner 3-19) by 13 runs.
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