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We wanted a score in the range of 160 – Pathum Nissanka

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Rex Clementine in Sharjah

One of Sri Lanka’s stars during the ICC T-20 World Cup campaign, Pathum Nissanka admitted that his team was a few run short in their epic second round clash against South Africa on Saturday in Sharjah. There has been lot of criticism on skipper Dasun Shanaka’s option to bowl the last over and Lahiru Kumara’s choices with regard to his line and length against Killer Miller (David Miller).

Sri Lanka lost a close contest by three wickets as Kagiso Rabada brought up the winning runs in the penultimate ball.

The 2014 champions looked set to post in excess of 160 when Chairth Asalanka and Nissanka were involved in 41-run partnership for the second wicket. But Asalanka was run out and then Sri Lanka’s middle order could not handle the wrist spin of Tabraiz Shamsi; with numbers four, five and six; Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Avishka Fernando and Wanindu Hasaranga falling to him.

“We lost a few wickets early and I wanted to bat deep. Targeted the last five overs to score some runs. We wanted to get 160 but realized the wicket was a bit slow and then decided to get something in the range of 140 to 145,” Nissanka told a group of Sri Lankan journalists yesterday.

During the water break, Head Coach Mickey Arthur had come along and had revised the target. “The coach came over and said that we will reassess things and go for 140 as it is not easy batting. He wanted me to bat till the 20th over as it was tough for new batsmen to get set.”

“The wicket was slow yesterday and if you see they needed to bat till the last over to score the winning runs,” Nissanaka explained.

This has been a dream year for Nissanka so far. He became the only Sri Lankan to score a Test hundred overseas and was a late inclusion to the T-20 set up and has done well having emerged as the competition’s highest run scorer.

“It’s my best knock in T-20 cricket so very pleased with the effort. There’s been lot of help from senior players and coaches. Trained hard and the results are there to be seen. The presence of Mahela was quite good. He gave me a few tips on how to plan things and when to attack and when to defend.”

The result was a bitter pill to swallow for the team as Sri Lanka’s chances of a semi-final berth is almost over. “We are gutted with the result. But we gave a good fight and it was a good comeback from us. Lahiru had bowled well and we backed him to bowl the last over. We backed him and we gave him all the support but there were a few errors and the game slipped away from us. We have done fairly well. We hope to finish off the campaign well by winning the next two games and try and see whether there’s any chance to reach the semis.

Seven members of Sri Lanka’s World Cup squad were members of the class of 2016. Sri Lanka Under-19 team under Charith Asalanka toured England and won a series there and the team comprised Nissanka, Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Avishka Fernando, Lahiru Kumara, Kamindu Mendis and Praveen Jayawickrama. They are all now delivering for the senior side..

“There’s lot of good understanding between us. It helps when you bat and stuff and when you run between the wickets.”

With men like Roy Dias in charge of our young players, the future is in good hands.



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Dimuth on the verge of several batting milestones

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Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne will equal the World Record for most consecutive fifties in Test match cricket if he scores a half-century in the first innings of the second Test against West Indies in Galle starting Monday.

by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka’s Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne has hit a purple patch this year and the 147 he scored against West Indies in the first Test in Galle this week was his fourth hundred in 2021. The 33-year-old came up with an equally solid 83 in the second essay as Sri Lanka won by 187 runs and a session to spare.

His exploits have seen him accumulating 854 runs this year in Test cricket at an average of 77. Only Joe Root and Rohit Sharma have scored more runs in 2021 although they have played more games with the England captain featuring in 12 Tests and the Indian star appearing in 11 games compared to Dimuth’s six Tests.

Dimuth has now scored six consecutive half-centuries and a 50 in the second Test starting on Monday will see him equaling a World Record shared by six other players. Everton Weeks, Kumar Sangakkara, Andy Flower, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, Chris Rogers and K.L. Rahul have all scored seven consecutive fifties in Test cricket.

In the list of most runs in Test cricket for Sri Lanka, Dimuth went past former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga this year and he is currently the ninth highest run scorer. He’s on 5406 runs and if he scores 96 more runs in the second Test, he will knock off three more Sri Lankan greats; Tilan Samaraweera (5462), T.M. Dilshan (5492) and Marvan Atapattu (5502). That will see him sitting at number six among the highest run scorers for the country.

Dimuth is hungry for runs and he wants to finish his career with 10,000 Test runs. Only two other Sri Lankan greats have achieved the milestone. Kumar Sangakkara with 12,400 runs and Mahela Jayawardene with 11,814 runs are the only members of the exclusive 10,000 club.

“Scoring 10,000 runs is my dream. I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve that, but that’s what I’ve got in my mind. If I can continue this form, I’ll be able to get close to 10,000 runs. I like to improve as much as I can, and whenever I finish a match, I’ll go and check where I am on the Sri Lanka run charts, to figure out how many I need to score to pass someone,” Karunaratne explained.

The Sri Lankan captain was Man of the Match as Sri Lanka took a 1-0 lead to retain the Sobers-Tissera Trophy. The win also enabled Sri Lanka to collect 12 points in the ICC Test Championship.

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Amasha smashes Susanthika’s Army record, Roshan dazzles with hurdles feat

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Amasha de Silva smashed Susanthika Jayasinghe’s meet record in the women’s 100 metres.(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

57th Army Athletics Championships  

by Reemus Fernando  

Sprinter Amasha de Silva smashed Olympian Susanthika Jayasinghe’s longstanding Army Athletics Championship 100 metres record and Roshan Dhammika Ranatunga came almost close to breaking his national record in the 110 metres hurdles as they blazed the track on the final day of the Army Athletics Championships at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Friday.

Amasha clocked 11.67 seconds to win the women’s 100 metres final ahead of Susanthika’s niece Medhani Jayamanne in the afternoon. She broke Susanthika’s 1994 hand-timed record of 11.6 seconds. With yesterday’s feat, Amasha has now taken both the 100 and 200 metres records of the Army Championships under her belt. The athlete trained by Sanjeewa Weerakkody has a personal best of 10.55 seconds from 2020 and is the fourth fastest athlete in history in the 100 metres behind Susanthika, Damayanthi Dharsha and Rumeshika Ratnayake.

In the morning, Roshan Dhammika produced the second-fastest legal time ever run by a Sri Lankan in the men’s 110 metres hurdles.

Dhammika, who broke Olympian Mahesh Perera’s 24-year-old 110 metres hurdles record at the National Championships four weeks ago, clocked 13.91 seconds to win the gold in the 110 metres hurdles final. The SLEME athlete’s effort had a minus 1.9 wind reading as he finished the event just two milliseconds slower than his national record.

His coach Thiron Gamage was confident that Dhammika would improve his national record once again and he almost achieved the target running against the wind. “He missed the record but with this feat, Dhammika has proved beyond doubt that his national record was not a fluke,” Gamage told The Island after the new meet record performance.

How much he has got to offer was evident from the time Dhammika ran a relaxed heat in the morning. Despite breaking the second hurdle he was still leading when he cleared the last hurdle but slowed down to finish third in the heat.  In the final his only blemish was breaking the last hurdle. Still, he was metres ahead of the rest. With his third sub 14 seconds run (13.97 secs and 13.89 secs at the Nationals) the former Kularatne Central, Godakawela athlete has become the only Sri Lankan to run the distance under that mark legally.

All three athletes who had previously run the distance under 14 seconds, namely Chaminda Fonseka, Supun Viraj Randeniya and Mahesh Perera had wind readings above the legal limit.

Those were not the only impressive track performances as Pabasara Niku produced his personal best with a 46.36 seconds to finish first in the men’s 400 metres final which was minus national champion Kalinga Kumarage and the other leading contender Aruna Dharshana. Dharshana pulled out from the competition due to injury in the semi-finals on Thursday. Harsha Karunaratne who won the 800 metres, finished second behind Niku in a time of 46.83 seconds. In the corresponding women’s event, Nadeesha Ramanayake bagged the gold medal. She clocked 54.54 seconds.

There were two other individual meet record performances from Sarangi Silva in the women’s long jump and Samith Fernando in the men’s shot put.

Sarangi cleared a distance of 6.14 metres to win the long jump. Fernando cleared 16.60 metres to create his record.

Nilani Ratnayake, whose steeplechase feat was adjudged the most outstanding performance in the female category won her third individual gold medal when she clocked 4:25.20 seconds to finish the 1,500 metres. While Samantha Pushpakumara (RMS) won the men’s 10,000 metres in a time of 31:12.28 seconds, H.A.M. Dilrukshi was the winner in the women’s discus throw. Men’s 100 metres winner Himasha Eshan (10.29 secs), who was involved in many victories for the Artillery regiment- the winners of the championship- won the award for the most outstanding performance in the men’s category.

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From the Army Athletics Championships

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The 57th Army Athletics Championships concluded at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Friday. The five-day event witnessed several record breaking performances by leading national athletes. Here are some action pictures from day five of the championships.

(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi) 

 

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