by Rex Clementine
The fun filled festive season has many highlights and one of them obviously is the Boxing Day Test match. There were three happening at the same time and while the Indians turned things around remarkably to catch the Aussies off guard at the MCG, Pakistan stretched the game to the final day before going down fighting at the Bay Oval. At Centurion, the Sri Lankans, meanwhile, failed to show up. Not only did they suffer an innings defeat, half their side broke down as well making the Test match a mockery. The national cricket team has become a laughing stock.
It is not a sensible idea to run a team down before the series concludes. There have been instances where the Sri Lankans have turned things around remarkably after losing the opening Test match of a series. But the issue here is that we are left with too many questions and not too sure whose going to answer them.
The amount of pictures Sri Lanka’s cricketers post on social media of them doing gym work makes you believe that these are super fit athletes. But when they go onto the field, they are like the Kerawalapitiya Power Plant; always break down. The list is long. Given the lucrative insurance schemes now in place, you suspect that some may be even faking injuries. That simply is not cricket. Sri Lanka Cricket needs to investigate whether players are misusing the Insurance scheme and if so this needs to be done away with.
You also tend to get the feeling that trainers and physiotherapists feel that their future depends on the recommendations players provide and they may not be totally honest with their injury assessments.
As a result of the pandemic, little cricket was played this year. But all contracted players – some with retainers in excess of US$ 100,000 – were told to look after their fitness by coaching staff. It appears that not everyone was professional with the approach and they were well and truly exposed at the Centurion.
It started with Dhananjaya de Silva pulling a thigh muscle and he has been ruled out of the series. Kasun Rajitha lasted just two overs while Lahiru Kumara is making a habit of breaking down middle of a game. The previous instance it happened was last year in Brisbane. Dinesh Chandimal is also down with a groin strain and it’s not known whether he will be available for Wanderers. Suranga Lakmal and Oshada Fernando are on the mend and it remains to be seen whether they will be fit for the second Test.
There are huge question marks over the modern day training methods. A fast bowler during training does not send down more than 30 deliveries as the team management fears burn out. Perhaps they need to take a look at how some of Sri Lanka’s most successful bowlers trained to be supremely fit.
Chaminda Vaas played international cricket for 15 years and into the bargain played County Cricket in England for ten years but he had just one major injury throughout his career. His training methods were insane and ten kilometer runs were a daily routine for him. Today it’s such a shame that you find fast bowlers with excess weight and no body wants to put them in their place.
Not often teams lose a Test match leave alone by an innings after posting 400 runs in the first innings. When you make 400 runs, you give yourself a good chance to win the game. Had all bowlers been firing on all cylinders, this Test match would have been a closer contest than what it turned out to be. There were positives, like posting their highest total ever in South Africa and all-round skills of Wanindu Hasaranga. But the team was losing a player almost every session and it was painful to watch.
Sri Lanka were asking for trouble when they played a T-20 tournament ahead of a Test series. The gap between the LPL final and the opening Test was ten days. Mickey Arthur has conceded that in hindsight they would have been better off pulling out the fast bowlers from the LPL. Is there a better example of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted!
Dates announced for India’s tour of Sri Lanka
by Rex Clementine
India will send a second string team to Sri Lanka later this month for a six-match bilateral series. The teams will be involved in three ODIs and three T-20 Internationals with all games taking place in a bio-secure bubble at RPS. It is unlikely that spectators will be accommodated for the series due to current rising numbers of COVID cases. RPS underwent extensive renovation recently and hasn’t hosted a game in two years.
India have made tremendous progress in the game in the last ten years that they are able to send their main team to England, that too an extended squad and then send a second string team that looks not too bad on paper to Sri Lanka. IPL has opened up a whole lot of new opportunities for India.
India must be confident of winning in Sri Lanka even with a second string side. For example, their main team whitewashed Sri Lanka 5-0 in ODIs when they toured here in 2017 and the following year at the Nidahas Trophy, they sent a second string team and won the competition where Sri Lanka even failed to make it to the finals.
Sri Lanka’s players or SLC will not be complaining. Tours by India will result in huge profits for SLC. Board of Control for Cricket in India has been extremely generous in helping out Sri Lanka coming in for hastily arranged series previously to bail out SLC that was feeling the pinch. This tour, however, was part of the Future Tour Programme.
In the three match ODI series, 30 points will be up for grabs in the ICC World Cup qualifiers and pitted against a weaker Indian team, Sri Lanka will be fancying their chances to win and boost their opportunities of automatic qualification for the sport’s showpiece event. At the moment Sri Lanka are languishing last at 13th position.
India will arrive on the 28th of June and after mandatory quarantine they will be allowed to train. The ODIs will be played on the 13th, 16th and 18th of July followed by the T-20s on the 21st, 23rd and 25th of July.
– 13th July – RPS – 2.30pm
– 16th July – RPS – 2.30pm
– 18th July – RPS – 2.30pm
– 21st July – RPS – 7.00pm
– 23rd July – RPS – 7.00pm
– 25th July – RPS – 7.00pm
Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (Wicket-keeper), Sanju Samson (Wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Vice-captain), Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Chetan Sakariya
Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh.
Ranindu draws with grandmaster, settles for third place
Asian Zonal Hybrid Chess Championship 2021
National Champion Ranindu Dilshan Liyanage fought hard to secure a draw against grandmaster Enamul Hussain on the final day as he settled for the third position of the Asian Zonal Hybrid Chess Championship 2021.
Starting with the Sicilian Defense the grandmaster sacrificed a pawn and got a strong knight against Ranindu’s bad bishop early in the game. He used all tricks available to earn points as a win would have earned him the gold medal and the possibility to play in the Chess World Cup 2021. But Ranindu had other ideas as the Anandian achieved the third spot winning six points from nine games.
Bangladesh grandmaster Ziaur Rahman (2434) also secured a draw in a hard fought game against 11-year-old, Manon Reja Neer who is also from Bangladesh and settled for eight points. Bangladeshi grandmaster Enamul Hussain needed a full point to tie with the leader but finally settled for the second position as he drew with Ranindu. He had 7 ½ points.
Grandmaster Ziaur won the gold medal and the ticket to the FIDE Chess World Cup. A total of US$ 3,000.00 is distributed among the winners. While the champion receives US$ 1,000.00, the runners up wins US$ 700.00. Ranindu is entitled for US$ 500.00 as he was placed third.
FIDE master Susal de Silva of Nalanda College met his colleague A.A.C.B. Amarasinghe of SJP Chess Club and the game ended in favour of Amarasinghe. Amarasinghe scored six points out of nine games. There were five other players who had scored six points each but he was placed eighth according to the tie breakers. Susal had a total of five points after nine games. Amarasinghe too is entitled for US$ 100.00.
The Asian Zonal Chess Championship 2021, the preliminary event for the FIDE World Chess Cup 2021 for the South Asian region started on June 1 and was held on the Tornelo platform. A total of 39 players from South Asian countries of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka participated in the event. India is considered a single zone by FIDE and has a direct entry to the FIDE World Cup.
The Bangladesh Chess Federation conducted the event from Dhaka and the Sri Lankan players competed from the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka headquarters, Gangodawila, Nugegoda. The event which concluded on Wednesday was conducted according to the Swiss System of nine rounds.
Yupun set to climb up Road to Olympic rankings
Yupun Abeykoon would be delighted to have placed fourth against a solid field that included American veteran Mike Rodgers and Ivorian Arthur Cissé.
by Reemus Fernando
Sri Lanka’s top ranked sprinter Yupun Abeykoon did well to finish fourth at the Rome Diamond League meeting on Thursday. Brushing shoulders against some of the world’s fastest sprinters, the national record holder clocked 10.16 seconds.
The fourth place finish will augur well for the sprinter as he aspires to earn a Tokyo Olympic berth. The 26-year-old is currently placed 65th in the Road to Olympics rankings and needs to secure a spot within the first 56 positions as only 56 athletes are selected for Tokyo Olympic 100 metres. To earn a direct qualification Abeykoon has to clock 10.05 seconds.
With Diamond League competitions guarantying more points, analysts believe that Abeykoon would secure a better position in the Road to Olympic rankings when the World Athletics update the rankings.
To secure the fourth place Abeykoon edged out some leading athletes who are placed higher in the Road to Olympic rankings.
He would be delighted to have placed fourth against a solid field that included American veteran Mike Rodgers and Ivorian Arthur Cissé.
US World Relay champion Michael Rodgers who is ranked 15th in the Road to Olympic rankings was placed fifth in a time of 10.25 seconds.
South African Akani Simbine clocked 10.08 seconds to win while Great Britain’s Chijindu Ujah finished second in a time of 10.10 seconds. Emmanuel Matadi was placed third in 10.16 seconds.
None of Sri Lanka’s male athletes have reached qualifying standards for the Tokyo Olympics so far while Nilani Ratnayake is the only Sri Lankan athlete who is within the required ranking positions to book a berth. The steeplechase athlete is currently ranked 37th in the Road to Olympics rankings.
Rio Olympic participant Sumeda Ranasinghe is also closer to an Olympic berth in the men’s category. The javelin thrower is currently ranked 43rd in the list. High jumper Ushan Thivanka who has produced a superb 2.30 metres is ranked 51st in the list.
At the Rome Diamond League on Thursday one of the highlights of the night was Dutch long-distance star Sifan Hassan’s performance in the women’s 1 500m. The 10,000 metres specialist showed her prowess in the 1,500 metres, beating Olympic 1 500m champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya in a new meeting record of 3:53.63. It was also a world lead. Kipyegon was placed second in a personal best of 3:53.91.
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