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Unbeaten Southern Stars shine as favourites

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Li Ning – Lanka Shuttle Challenge

by Reemus Fernando

Southern Stars led by Sachin Dias advanced to the semi finals as favourites by keeping their unbeaten tag intact on day three of the inaugural Li Ning – Lanka Shuttle Challenge in Colombo on Friday.

Southern Stars won all their five ties to collect five points and were the only unbeaten team in the tournament. Western Warriors captained by Kavidi Sirimannage was the only team to pose a serious threat to the Southern Stars as they almost beat them in their tie on Thursday. Southern Stars had a slender two point lead over the Warriors to retain their unbeaten status.

The second placed Warriors, who won four out of the five ties, Central Crusaders and Island Titans were the other teams to advance to the semi finals which will be played today.

According to the semi-final draw Southern Stars are set to meet Western Warriors in the first match while Central Crusaders encounter Island Titans. The winners of the first semi final (between the top two teams) will advance to the final. The looser will meet the winner of the second match between Central Crusaders and Island Titans for a place in the final on Sunday.

The first two matches will be played simultaneously at the Sri Lanka Badminton Association and Mercantile Badminton Association courts starting at 9.00am.

Central Crusaders skippered by Buwaneka Gunetileke collected three points after recording victories against Eastern Eagles, Northern Knights and Island Titans. In their last tie yesterday, they beat Island Titans 5-2 and had an aggregate of 273 against 214 collected by the Titans. However despite yesterday’s defeat, Titans led by Dinuka Karunaratne secured a deserving place in the semis. Dinuka, in his only match yesterday, paired Nadeesha in the mixed doubles to beat Buwaneka and Hasara.

However, his brother and Tokyo Olympic hopeful Niluka had to bow out from the tournament without reaching the business end as the Northern Knights were placed fifth after securing just a solitary tie win. In a competition between brothers on Thursday, Niluka won the singles for Northern Knights but Titans won the tie.



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Methwan wins marathon encounter

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ITF Junior Circuit Tennis

Methwan Wijemanne overcame Josh Hinton of Great Britain in a marathon three and half hour battle to win the first-round encounter of the ITF Junior Circuit Week 1 Tennis Event at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Tuesday.

Wijemanne scored 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 against Hinton.

ITF Junior Circuit Tennis Tournament which is currently underway in Colombo will conclude on February 5.

Meanwhile, in another first-round encounter, Nithila Goonathilake beat Aryan Mehata of India 6-3, 6-0.

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England Lions strongly placed

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Sadeera Samarawickrama with 43 runs was the top scorer for Sri Lanka.

Top-order batsmen Alex Lees, Haseeb Hameed and Tom Haines scored half-centuries for visiting England Lions to reach 249 for three wickets at stumps after they dismissed the hosts for 136 on day one of the unofficial Test at Galle on Tuesday.

Sadeera Samarawickrama with 43 runs was the top scorer for Sri Lanka.

Scores:

Sri Lanka ‘A’

136 all out in 35.4 overs (Oshada Fernando 21, Sadeera Samarawickrama 43, Lakshaitha Manasinghe 26; Matthew Fisher 5/34, Liam Patterson-White 3/51)

England Lions

249 for 3 in 48 overs (Alex Lees 56, Haseeb Hameed 81, Tom Haines 62, Josh Bohannon 26n.o.; Lasith Embuldeniya 2/89)

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Hathurusingha named Bangladesh head coach

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Bangladesh Cricket Board, on Tuesday (31), said that Chandika Hathurusingha has been named as the new head coach for a two-year period. He is expected to join the set-up in February.

“We have appointed Hathurusingha for two years as across the format head coach,” BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury was quoted by Cricbuzz as having said.

The former Sri Lanka all-rounder had earlier served as the head coach of Bangladesh from 2014 to 2017. He has also served in various coaching positions with Sri Lanka, Canada, NSW and Sydney Thunder.

In his previous coaching tenure, Bangladesh had won ODI series against India, Pakistan and South Africa, alongside achieving Test victories versus Sri Lanka, England and Australia. During his stint, Bangladesh also reached the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in 2017.

“It’s an honour to have been given this opportunity to coach the Bangladesh national team once again. I really loved the warmth of the people and the culture of Bangladesh whenever I have been there. I’m looking forward to working with the players once again and enjoy their successes,” he said in a press release.

Cricbuzz had earlier reported that BCB is unlikely to continue with split coaching and Hathurusingha is the front-runner to replace Russell Domingo, who resigned before completing his stint that ran until the end of the 50-over ICC World Cup.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan remained tightlipped on the return of Hathurusingha as the head coach. No comments,” it’s all right,” he said, without elaborating further.

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