Wheelchair tennis team shine with creditable sixth place finish at World Cup
Sri Lanka wheelchair tennis team led by Tokyo Paralympian Suresh Dharmasena concluded the World Cup campaign with a creditable sixth place finish after former World Champions Japan beat them in the fifth place match in Sardinia, Italy on Sunday.
The team inclusive of Dharmasena, Lasantha Ranaweera and DM Gamini created history when they reached the knockout stage in this top 16 nation’s competition. They finished the group stage as runners up to France.
Sri Lanka beat Belgium 2-1 and Brazil 3-0 during the round robin stage. France were the only team to beat Sri Lanka (3-0) during that phase.
They reached the fifth place match when Gamini and Dharmasena inflicted defeats on Poland’s M Szary (6-0, 6-0) and P. Jaroszewski (6-1, 6-3) respectively.
The trio who represented Sri Lanka at this event have world rankings from 64 to 85.
Dharmasena who hails from Kahatagasdigilya is ranked 64th in the ITF World Rankings. Ranaweera who is from Pasyala is ranked 85th, while Gamini from Ampara is ranked 81th.
The Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) along with the SL Army initiated the Wheelchair Tennis Programme in 2002 as a social project for injured soldiers. Head Coach Jagath Welikala has been part of the program since its inception and has produced over 30 internationally-ranked players.
The SLTA President Iqbal bin Issack, General Secretary Pradeep Goonasekera, VP Wheelchair Tennis Major General Shiran Abeysekera and main sponsor Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT) were instrumental in housing the players in Colombo, arranging specialist training with Head Coach, Jagath Welikala, Consultant Coach, Guyanga Weerasekera and European training with legendary wheelchair coach Aad Zawan in the lead up to the event.
A note from SLTA said that it intends to invest further into the development of the Wheelchair Tennis Program to fulfill the goal of a Paralympic Medal in Paris 2024.
Jadeja’s nerveless hitting gifts Chennai Super Kings fifth IPL title
Chennai Super Kings became IPL champions for the fifth time in a game befitting a title clash. With 10 needed off the last two deliveries, Ravindra Jadeja smacked a six down the ground and a four to fine leg off Mohit Sharma to seal one of the most dramatic finales in the history the tournament.
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Chameera returns after surgery but no place for KJP
Fast bowler Dushmanta Chameera returns to the side after a seven month layoff having undergone ankle surgery as the selectors picked a balanced squad for the three-match series against Afghanistan starting later this week at Suriyawewa.
Although Chameera has been named in the squad, there was no place for top order batsman Kusal Janith Perera, who had returned to 20 side in New Zealand two months ago. KJP on that occasion had only been picked for T-20s and there are question marks about his fitness for the 50 over format.
Fans will be hoping that by the time the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe begin next month, KJP will be cleared to feature in the 50 over format as well. One of the most destructive batters in the side, KJP has been in and out of the team due to injuries.
Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne also makes a comeback to the ODI outfit having been axed from the 50 over format two years ago. Sri Lanka’s problems of not being able to bat out 50 overs in recent times is seen as the reason for Dimuth’s return to the side.
Uncapped leg-spinner Dushan Hemantha has also been named in the squad but now that Wanindu Hasaranga has recovered from an injury, he’s expected to play ahead of the 29-year-old.
There’s no place for left-arm quick Dilshan Madushanka either although there was lot of excitement when he first made an impact during last year’s Asia Cup. Young all-rounder Dunith Wellalage has also been overlooked for the three-match series.
The selectors are not expected to do too many changes from the 16-member squad chosen for the Afghanistan series for the World Cup qualifiers.
The first ODI gets underway Friday (2nd June) followed by games on June 4th and 7th. The series was drafted in to give the Sri Lankan team some competitive games ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
Sri Lanka Squad:
Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Kusal Mendis (Vice-Captain), Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya De Silva, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Dushan Hemantha, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Matheesha Pathirana, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha
Hashmatullah Shahidi (Captain), Rahmat Shah (Vice-Captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhail (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujib ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Abdul Rahman, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Farid Ahmad Malik.
Yupun out of competitions for few weeks due to injury
by Reemus Fernando
Sprinter Yupun Abeykoon who suffered an injury during last week’s 100 metres final of the Savona International Meet will ‘stay away from competitions for few weeks.’
“After the MRI test which I took after my race in Savona, it is unfortunate that I have to inform you all that due to a minor hamstring injury I have to stay away from competitions for a few weeks due to medical advice given by experts,” said the Italy based sprinter in a statement yesterday.
Abeykoon was placed second behind Reece Prescod of Britain in the final of the Savona International Meet last week. The national record holder returned a wind-assisted 10.01 seconds (+2.7) performance to open his season in the 100metres. However, despite placing second in the final, he was seen struggling during the last few metres of the race. The injury means he must skip one of the major 100 metres events this week.
The first South Asian Sprinter to break the ten seconds barrier in the men’s 100 metres, Abeykoon was expected to compete against a star-studded lineup at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea in Florence later this week.
The world-class lineup includes world champion Fred Kerley and Kenyan world leader in the 100 metres this season, Ferdinand Omanyala.
“I have already started my rehab process with my physio, doctors and the rest of the staff and I am looking forward to coming back stronger than I was in the upcoming competitions,” he further stated.
The highest-ranked Sri Lankan male athlete, Abeykoon is the prime medal hopeful at this year’s Asian Games. Sri Lanka Athletics is relying heavily on Abeykoon to end the country’s medal drought in track and field at the quadrennial event.
He is also the only male athlete to be in the required range in the world rankings to be eligible for selection for this year’s World Championships.
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