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.
Gateway win three Basketball Championships in a row
Gateway College Juniors comfortably beat Elizabeth Moir School 31-8 at the Semi Final and Colombo International School 19-10 to win the Under 13 Inter-International Schools’ Basketball Championship that was hosted by the Colombo International School. Earlier in the year, Gateway College secured the Under 17 and Under 19 Championships.
During the group stages, Gateway College Colombo had little resistance as they beat Wycherley International School 40-2, Lyceum International School Nugegoda 35-0, Gateway College Kandy 48-7 and the British School in Colombo 40-11.
Usman Shafraz was named as the Best Defensive Player and Ashain Thevarapperuma as the Most Valuable Player.
Gateway’s outstanding performances during the recent years include several National and International School tournaments which has set the stage for a few of it’s players to represent the country in Basketball.
Glenn Maxwell added to Australia Test squad after Travis Head joins injury list
Glenn Maxwell has been added to Australia’s Test squad ahead of the opening match against Sri Lanka in Galle after Travis Head joined a lengthy injury list with a hamstring strain which ruled him out of the final ODI.
It means the prospect of Maxwell playing his first Test since 2017, against Bangladesh in Chattogram, and his first first-class match since 2019 if he is included for the game next Wednesday. All seven of his Tests have come on the subcontinent with a top score of 104 against India in Ranchi.
Before the tour, national George Bailey kept the door open for Maxwell’s return. He has been in good touch during the ODIs with a match-winning unbeaten 80 in the opening game followed by 30 and 33.
“We know Glenn has had some red-ball success in these types of conditions and we’re looking forward to him getting back and playing a good block of cricket through the T20s and one-day cricket,” Bailey said. “If he shoots the lights out or anyone else does particularly well, there’s always going to be opportunities.”
Head sustained his injury late in the fourth match and has just six days to recover before the first Test in Galle. GPS data showed that Head had run 26km in the field across the third and fourth matches of the series. The strain is said to be on the minor side, but if he is not available for the opening game next Wednesday, it would require Australia to rejig their middle order.
Maxwell has been called up ahead of any of the Australia A batters who have been taking part in the four-day matches against Sri Lanka which includes Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Nic Maddinson.
However, three spinners from the A squad – Jon Holland, Matthew Kuhnemann and Todd Murphy – will remain in Sri Lanka with the Test squad to assist with preparations and to further their development. Kuhnemann has already been part of the ODI squad following Ashton Agar’s side injury and if Australia opt for three spinners during the Tests there could be further chance for promotion. (Cricinfo)
Dickwella; brilliant with keeping, hopeless with batting
by Rex Clementine
One of the game’s modern day greats Ricky Ponting used to be a riot in his early days. Late night brawls at pubs left him with bloody nose and sanctions from Cricket Australia. It was Steve Waugh who took him to a side and told him to get his act together. Ponting went onto play a record 168 Test matches, won two World Cups as captain and today he is a successful cricket coach.
Similarly, with Virat Kohli there were lots of hope when he came onto the big stage having captained India to the ICC Under-19 World Cup title. But he was overweight and underperforming with India’s senior side. One Sachin Tendulkar mentored him and today Kohli is in a different league. It’s such a pity that none of our greats have done the same with Niroshan Dickwella.
When Sampath Perera, one of the country’s most successful school cricket coaches, took on a bigger responsibility we asked him which young player we should keep an eye for. He told this newspaper to watch out for Niroshan Dickwella. This was some talent that will take Sri Lankan cricket places, Perera suggested. But he also warned us. He feared that Dickwella will get into trouble due to his off the field antics.
After nearly a decade in Sri Lankan colours, Dickwella has rarely delivered. While wicketkeepers like Quinton de Kock and Rishab Pant have gone places winning games to their sides, Dickwella is struggling to hold onto his place. He has been just average. Anywhere else in the world if you had not scored a hundred after 50 Tests, you’d be kicked out. He’s been tolerated with the hope that the prodigal son will finally deliver.
There was proof of what Sampath Perera was trying to tell us during the fourth ODI at RPS. Dickwella pulled off a stunning stumping with David Warner on 99. Until that moment, the Aussies were on cruise mode to square the five match series. Dickwella turned the game and the series in Sri Lanka’s favour in a flash with the stumping of the year.
Sri Lanka have often backed batsmen who could do the job behind the stumps. In the process, they have turned a blind eye towards their best keeper who is Dickwella. Tuesday we saw why Dickwella should be backed as he is the team’s best keeper. Players of the caliber of Warner are going to give you just a half chance and you need to grab them like Dickwella did.
While Dickwella’s keeping is flawless, the problem is with his batting. There’s no consistency and worse, most of the time his ways of getting out are irritating.
Despite the excellent Warner stumping, the selectors have sent a strong message that unless he shows application with the bat, he is not going to be tolerated as he was dropped for the next game. They seem to want him to take more responsibility. At least this will bring the best out of him.
The other area that Dickwella has not made any improvement is his reviewing. True that the ultimate choice of reviews rests with the captain but the manner in which Dickwella urges the skipper leaves him with little choice. Dimuth Karunaratne, the Test captain, seem to be taking Dickwella’s inputs on reviews with a pinch of salt. White ball captain Dasun Shanaka seem to be still trusting his keeper but it’s only a matter of time before he too loses faith.
Reviews sum up Dickwella – impulsive, immature and even incorrigible. That’s seen in his overall cricket too. Fans will be hoping that the day comes where Dickwella is spoken of in the same breath as Pant and de Kock.
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