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What’s up MJ’s sleeve?

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by Rex Clementine

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the national cricket team. They were thoroughly outplayed in Australia while the Indians have given them a  hiding in the opening encounter of the three match series in Lucknow. The manner in which young Indian players walk into the senior side and punish the bowling has stunned many. There’s nothing to be surprised as India’s domestic structure is one of the best in the world whereas we have a system where players score more triple hundreds in a year than Sir Don Bradman has done his entire career.

Sanga and MJ are big stakeholders of the sport having considerable say in how cricket is run in the country. However, under their watch instead of the number of teams engaged in domestic cricket being reduced, it has increased. When they were not in administration they were vocal critics when Thilanga Sumathipala doubled the number of First Class teams in 2015.

Sanga and MJ have argued that the number of teams will be reduced eventually thanks to the promotion and relegation system. It’s only wishful thinking. They should know better. There are enough Sumith Pereras hanging around Maitland Place to get an interim injunction stopping First Class tournaments once their team is relegated. Then, it will be all back to square one. Instead, you should have the single mindedness of Imran Khan who wasted no time in bringing down the number of domestic teams in Pakistan to put cricket back on track. Shame on our legends!

The highest paid employ of any cricket board is their captain or the senior most player. But in Sri Lanka it is not Angelo Mathews or Dimuth Karunaratne. It’s MJ. But his commitment to Sri Lankan cricket could be questioned. Tours of India and Australia are the toughest ones. But he’s not in the dressing room when players need him most. He’s supposed to be providing instructions virtually. When he pulled out after the qualifying round of the World Cup in UAE due to family reasons, people didn’t ask questions. But now you get the feeling whether he’s pulling a fast one. Surely, Ambanis are not going to allow him to take a break middle of IPL.

MJ has basically got everything that he has asked for. The Chairman of Selectors is his puppet who has little clue. All coaching appointments are made after consultation with MJ. That’s too much power given to one man. That’s not bad. But with too much power one should also be held accountable.

You also sense that with MJ being a central figure in decision making coaching positions are given to those whom he can control. Chaminda Vaas not being given an extension probably is not a coincidence. It maybe that Vaas is too tough for MJ to handle. Hence, enter Lasith Malinga, no matter how much doubt you have about him being able to fit in as a team man.

Is cricket headquarters heading back to Perera Gardens?

Rumesh Ratnayake is one of the nicest men in cricket circles but him as a head coach was no brainer. He is so outdated that one day the Aussies had announced their playing eleven the day before the match while Rumesh was playing his cards close to his chest. Maybe he was thinking that he was letting out a state secret.

Clearly Sanga and MJ have faulted in not naming a Head Coach on time. The problem with these gents is that they are fixed with certain theories. They want us to believe that a crook like Charlie Austin is in fact a paragon of virtue. They would not look beyond Tom Moody, Graham Ford and Paul Farbrace when given a chance to headhunt a coach.

It is their fault that Sri Lanka does not have a Head Coach at the moment. Having too many sharp brains is one of the best things that happened to cricket. But at the same time, having too many cooks can mess things up.

A professional organization to succeed you can’t just have yes men. There will be people who disagree with your opinions. Healthy rivalry is in fact good for an organization.

Soon Sanga and MJ  will be joining their IPL franchises. Their contribution towards Sri Lankan cricket over the next two months will be little. But there are other former captains who can make contributions. Is there any chance we can make use of their services?

Sanga and MJ stand accused of blocking the return of Sanath Jayasuriya back into the cricket fold. Let them be reminded that there’s no saint without a past and no sinner without a future.



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Karunaratne solid in Sri Lanka reply after Mushfiqur heroics

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Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne made an unbeaten 70 as Sri Lanka reached 143 for two at stumps on day two of the second Test against Bangladesh on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando struck half-centuries to help the visitors end the second day of the first Test against Bangladesh on 143 for two in Dhaka on Tuesday. While Oshada Fernando fell for 57, Dimuth Karunaratne stayed unbeaten on 70 with Sri Lanka still trailing by 222 after restricting Bangladesh to 365.

The day, however, belonged to Mushfiqur Rahim, who struck an unbeaten 175, and Kasun Rajitha, who bagged his maiden five-wicket haul. Bangladesh had staged a remarkable recovery in the opening day when they went from being 24 for five to ending the day on 277 for 5.

Litton Das was the first to fall on the second day – for 141 – as the 272-run stand with Rahim came to an end. Taijul Islam resisted for a bit while Rahim kept the runs coming but Sri Lanka too kept chipping away. Asitha Fernando ended with four with Ebadot Hossain becoming the last man to fall – to a run out as Rahim was left stranded.

Both Fernando and Karunaratne came out attacking and scored 84 in the first 22 overs to take the side to tea without any loss.

Fernando successfully reviewed a caught-behind decision against him to survive a close call while Karunaratne fetched his first boundary of the innings when he flicked Hossain behind square. The start was completely in contrast to the one Bangladesh made against the new ball on the first day. With wickets not appearing to come anytime soon, Mominul Haque turned to spin as early as in the eighth over as he brought on Shakib Al Hasan and Mosaddek Hossain.

Bangladesh finally struck in the fourth over post tea when Fernando fell to a poor shot against Ebadot. The pacer could have had two in the over but the team decided against a review against Karunaratne on the second ball of the over. Karunaratne was then given another reprieve when a sharp chance was dropped by the short leg fielder off the bowling of Taijul Islam.

Three overs before close, Kusal Mendis fell lbw to Shakib al Hasan after a patient 49-ball 11as Bangladesh managed to even things out but will be well aware there’s plenty of work remaining to be done on the third day, especially on a good track.

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Kamil Mishara expelled from Dhaka after having ‘visitor’ in hotel room

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Promising wicketkeeper batsman Kamil Mishara has been expelled from the national cricket team currently involved in the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka. In a statement, Sri Lanka Cricket said that Mishara, who turned 21 last month, has been withdrawn from the 18 member tour party for breach of code of conduct and he will face an inquiry after arriving in the country.

Players and coaching staff in Dhaka are in what’s called a ‘semi-bubble’ and although their movements are not as strict as what they used to be during the height of the pandemic, there are certain protocols that the players need to follow.

A cricket official told The Island that Bangladesh authorities had complained about the player taking a ‘visitor’ to his hotel room, an area considered out of bounds for outsiders. The incident had been recorded in CCTV footage. The Island learns that the team management in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka’s senior cricketers too had expressed their disappointment at the distraction during a keenly contested Test series.

There was anger and disappointment among cricket officials as only last year they had to deal with three players including the team’s vice-captain breaching the bio-security bubble during their tour of UK. The three players were withdrawn immediately and were handed heavy penalties and suspensions although the suspensions were later reduced. A cricket official told The Island that some players had not learned their lessons and Mishara will face sanctions.

Ironically, Mishara had been drafted into the squad to keep regular wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella on his toes. Dickwella has faced his share of disciplinary issues in recent months.

Mishara has a prior having been handed a one year suspended sentence and a one match ban after being found drunk along with some of his under-19 team mates during the Asia Cup in 2019.

An immensely talented young player, Mishara made his debut against Australia at the MCG early this year during the T-20 series. He also was part of the side that toured India in February and was expected to be retained for the upcoming home series against Australia and possibly for the ICC T-20 World Cup as the selectors had backed quite a few young players.

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Liton, Mushfiqur slam centuries to put pressure back on Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka's Kasun Rajitha (L) celebrates after dismissing Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan (R) during the first day of the second Test cricket match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on May 23, 2022.

Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das hit centuries and shared a record stand to turn the tide for Bangladesh in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Dhaka on Monday after a disastrous start.

At stumps, Liton was unbeaten with a career-best 135 with Mushfiqur on 115, his second hundred in as many innings, as Bangladesh reached 277 for five on the first day after electing to bat at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium. The two added 253 in their unbroken sixth-wicket stand after Sri Lanka’s pace bowlers Kasun Rajitha and Asitha Fernando shared five wickets between them to leave Bangladesh in tatters on 24 for five in a chaotic first hour of play.

Mushfiqur played a part in Bangladesh’s previous highest sixth-wicket stand when he shared 191 runs with Mohammad Ashraful, also against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2013. Liton brought his third Test hundred off 149 balls owing to a misfield, which yielded Bangladesh five runs.

Mushfiqur, who also scored 105 runs in the drawn first Test in Chittagong, then reached his ninth Test hundred off 218 balls.

The two gave the only chance to Sri Lanka during their partnership for over two sessions when Liton lofted a catch on 47 off Fernando. But substitute fielder Kamindu Mendis dropped the chance at backward square leg.

Kamindu came to the field after Kusal Mendis left for hospital after complaining of chest pain. Mendis was cleared later to continue playing as his physical condition was found not to be serious, according to Sri Lankan management.

The host made a nightmarish start to the game as Kasun Rajitha bowled opener Mahmudul Hasan for a duck with the second ball of the morning. Fellow opener Tamim Iqbal, who scored a century in the drawn first Test in Chittagong, also fell for a duck as he sent a leading edge off Fernando in the next over to be caught brilliantly by Jayawickrama at backward point.

Skipper Mominul Haque tried to settle the nerves with two fours, including one off the first ball he faced, but soon edged Fernando to wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella when on nine. Rajitha then found a big gap between the bat and pad of Najmul Hossain, sending his middle-stump cart-wheeling with an inswinger as the left-hander was dismissed for eight. Rajitha delivered a body blow next ball to trap Shakib Al Hasan leg-before for a first-ball duck, leaving the Bangladesh batting line-up in disarray.

Rajitha finished the day with three for 43 while Fernando claimed two for 80.

Sri Lanka had rewarded Rajitha with a place in the eleven after he impressed in Chittagong by taking four for 60, playing the match as a concussion substitute for Vishwa Fernando. He was one of their two changes, with Jayawickrama replacing Lasith Embuldeniya.

Bangladesh made two changes from the first Test as Mosaddek Hossain and Ebadot Hossain replaced the injured Nayeem Hasan and Shoriful Islam.

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