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When Sanath nearly pulled off the impossible



The Asgiriya Anti-Climax

by Aravinthan Arunthavanathan

The picturesque Kandy has been home to many key moments in Sri Lanka-Australia rivalry. While Asgiriya played host to Sri Lanka’s first Test win over Australia, Pallekelle was home for a famous win in 2016 leading to a whitewash thereafter. While these two encounters grab the limelight, an epic duel between both nations in 2004 is often overlooked.

The Aussie side of 2004 was one of the greatest units in modern era. Later that year they would go on to conquer their final frontier in India as well. Given the strength of the visitors, the 2004 series was promising to be an enthralling encounter. However, the first Test in Galle saw the Sri Lankan fortress being bulldozed by the rampant Aussies.

On the back of the Galle mauling, when both teams faced off in Kandy, there was a lot at stake for the home team. A confident Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat at Asgiriya. With Muttiah Muralitharan on the verge of 500 wickets all eyes were on the Sri Lankan bowling unit. The home side came to the party in grand style, courtesy of a resurgent Nuwan Zoysa and the ever-reliable Muralitharan supported by the consistent Chaminda Vass. The Australian line up was blown away for a meagre 120, their lowest against Sri Lanka. Muralitharan managed to grab the limelight by reaching his 500th wicket, clean bowling Michael Kasprowicz through the gate, a characteristic off spinner’s dismissal.

With a superlative bowling effort, the Sri Lankan morale was sky high. With the onus on the batsmen to drive home the advantage the Sri Lankan reply began. The response was jolted early as the Aussies breathed fire blowing away the Lankan line up in no time, leaving the tail fighting to salvage some respect. Vass came to the fore smacking an impressive unbeaten 68 aided surprisingly by Muralitharan, who scored 43 as if to celebrate his monumental achievement earlier in the Test. The Sri Lankans who looked not even good enough to post a lead at one stage with top seven wickets falling for less than 100, posted a 90-run lead thanks to Murali and Vass.

Sri Lanka managed to raise the expectations high by sending back the dangerous duo of Justin Langer and Mathew Hayden with the score not even reaching thirty. It was at this point that the aggressive instinct of Australians took over with Adam Gilchrist being promoted up the order. A rampant Gilchrist in the company of a classy Damien Martin employed the sweeps and drives to great effect, stitching a massive partnership putting Sri Lanka on the backfoot. The Australians notched up an impressive 442 setting Sri Lanka a 350 plus chase to create history.

At that time, the highest Sri Lanka had chased in the fourth innings was 326 against Zimbabwe six years prior. A chase of this magnitude was herculean given the prowess of the Australian line up. Two early wickets meant Sri Lankan expectations were diminishing fast. But there was a certain Sanath Jayasuriya who had other plans.

Jayasuriya had relinquished leadership in 2003 and was entering into a phase of his career where his contributions were under the scanner for the first time ever. Jayasuriya was having a lean patch and failures in the first three innings of the series were enough to raise speculations amongst skeptics. Like many times before Jayasuriya decided to answer the critics in style tearing into the strong Aussie line up.

Jayasuriya displayed his prowess on the offside partying with square cuts and drives scoring at a scintillating rate. Jayasuriya was specifically severe on Stuart McGill, heaving and lofting the leg breaks handsomely in the arc between long off and midwicket. With wickets falling at the other end Jayasuriya’s onslaught kept Sri Lanka in the hunt. Towards the end of day four Jaysuriya edged an attempted cut to Gilchrist severely impacting the Lankan chase. Following his exit rookie Tillakaratne Dilshan showed his promise scoring an impressive 43 leaving Sri Lanka in with a real chance.

As the final day began Vass and Kaushal Lokuarachchi, no mug with the bat at the crease the chase was a reality. Vass and Lokuarachchi scraped their way towards the target successfully bringing it down to under 40. With few edges going Lanka’s way the tide seemed to be turning towards, which could arguably have been Sri Lanka’s greatest Test win.

With expectations soaring, Vass tried to loft a classic Shane Warne leg break over the mid-wicket boundary only for the ball to land in the fielder’s hands. This saw the remaining wickets tumble in the hands of Warne’s mastery. Warne’s five wicket haul ensured there were no surprises, sealing a hard-fought victory which helped the visitors close off the series as well.

The Kandy Australia-Sri Lanka duel ended in disappointment but had its own share of highs. Australia went on to thrash Sri Lanka 3-0, but the series was far more closely contested than what the score line suggested. It was a series which witnessed highest quality of cricket with riveting battles. The Asgiriya duel stood out as one of the most intriguing encounters Sri Lanka has been part of. Especially given the strength of Australia at that time, not many teams managed to stretch that outfit, but Sri Lanka managed not only do so but almost topple the mighty Australians. For that reason the Asgiriya duel should be celebrated.


IPL 2023 rule change: teams will name their playing XI after the toss



IPL captains this year will walk out to the toss with two XIs handy

Captains in IPL 2023 will walk in with two different team sheets before handing in their final XI after the toss. That is one of the significant tweaks from the last season in the IPL’s playing conditions, which will soon be shared with the teams. The change, the IPL said in an internal note listing the various changes to playing conditions, would allow franchises to pick their best XIs based on whether they end up batting or bowling, the appropriate impact player included.

“Currently the captains have to exchange the teams before the toss,” the note, seen by ESPNcricinfo, said. “This has been changed to exchange of teams immediately post the toss, to enable teams to choose the best XI depending on whether they are batting or bowling first. It will also assist the teams to plan for the impact player.”

The IPL thus becomes the second T20 franchise tournament after the SA20 to allow teams to announce their XI post the toss. In the SA20, which recently staged its inaugural season, teams put 13 names on the team sheet initially before announcing their final XI after the toss. Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith, the SA20’s tournament director, had also said then that the move was designed to “lessen the impact of the toss” and allow a level-playing playing field based on the conditions.

The IPL has adopted a similar thought process now, with another key factor being neutralising the effect of dew, which has traditionally had a big impact at some venues in India, with teams bowling second adversely impacted.

While the toss will still matter, it should not be a case of “win toss, win match” in certain conditions with the new rule. For example, if a team that wanted to bat and then defend a total on a slow track in turning conditions is forced to bowl first, it can play an extra spinner in the starting XI, and then replace a specialist bowler with a batter in the second innings to help with the run-chase.

Other IPL playing conditions tweaks

Over rate penalty of only four fielders outside the 30-yard circle for every over not completed in the allocated time. Unfair movement of the wicketkeeper will result in a dead ball and 5 penalty runs. Unfair movement by a fielder will result in a dead ball and 5 penalty runs.


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Litton, Tamim make light work of small chase after Mahmud’s maiden five-for



Tamim Iqbal and Litton Das never gave Ireland a chance

Openers Litton Das and Tamim Iqbal made light work of a 102-run target as Bangladesh beat Ireland by ten wickets in the third ODI in Sylhet and completed a 2-0 series win. The visitors were bowled out for 101 in 28.1 overs after the Bangladesh fast bowlers took all ten wickets in an innings for the first time in the format.

The short chase was enlivened by Tamim and Litton, who put on an exhibition of strokeplay, finishing the game in just 13.1 overs, Bangladesh’s second-shortest chase in ODIs. After Bangladesh beat Ireland by a record margin of runs in the first ODI, this was also their first ten-wicket win in ODIs.

A small crowd turned up at the picturesque Sylhet venue on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan starting, and went home shortly after sunset. Ireland’s 101 broke a sequence of five successive 300-plus totals by the side batting first on this ground.

Hasan Mahmud’s maiden five-wicket haul, Taskin Ahmed’s three-wicket burst and Ebadot Hossain’s two-for summed up the absolute dominance by the Bangladesh fast bowlers. The spinners were needed for only four overs in all with Shakib Al Hasan not getting a chance to bowl for only the third time in his ODI career. It was a day out for the quicks on the hard and bouncy Sylhet surface, a rarity among grounds in Bangladesh. The conditions prompted the team management to pick six bowlers including the three seamers.

Mahmud removed openers Stephen Doheny and Paul Stirling in a disciplined opening burst. Doheny was caught behind for 8 after scratching around for 20 balls before Stirling, dropped on 5, got to 7 before Mahmud trapped him lbw in the ninth over. The skiddy fast bowler soon picked up his third when he trapped Harry Tector lbw later in the same over. Taskin got captain Andy Balbirnie caught at first slip for just 6 as Ireland collapsed to 26 for 4 before the first powerplay was up.

Then came their only partnership of note. Lorcan Tucker and Curtis Campher added 42 runs for the fifth wicket, which effectively helped Ireland reach the three-figure mark. Campher top-scored with 36, while Tucker made 28, the only two double-figure scores in the innings.

But it was soon over. Ebadot’s in-dipper had Tucker lbw. Next ball, Ebadot clean-bowled George Dockrell for a golden duck as Ireland slipped to 68 for 6.Taskin then took a brace in his seventh over, first getting Andy McBrine to top-edge a quick bouncer before Adair inside-edged his second ball onto the stumps.

Campher was the ninth wicket that fell, top-edging Mahmud towards fine leg. Taskin took a comfortable catch, celebrating the younger team-mate’s first four-wicket haul. It soon became five when Mahmud trapped Graham Hume lbw for 3.

Tamim started the chase with a slashed four over point, before pasting the Ireland fast bowlers for boundaries through cover and square-leg. Most of Litton’s boundaries came through the covers, including a back-foot punch that looked scrumptious from every angle. Left-arm spinner Matthew Humphreys then went for two expensive overs, before the Bangladesh opening pair calmed down briefly.

Tamim lofted Humphreys for a straight six in his third over, before Litton drove Campher through the covers. Then he struck two fours off Humphreys to reach his ninth ODI fifty, before Tamim hit the winning runs.

Brief scores:

Bangladesh 102 for 0 (Litton Das 50*, Tamim Iqbal 41*) beat Ireland 101 (Curtis Campher 36, Lorcan Tucker 28, Hasan Mahmud 5-32, Taskin Ahmed 3-26, Ebadot Hossain 2-29) by ten wickets


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AA Sponsors 68th National Billiard Championship



President AAC Dhammika Attygalle hands over the sponsorship to the Secretary of the B & SASL Kumar Lanerolle in the presence of P.H. Liyanage – Billiard Chairman AAC, Lasitha Gunaratne – Exco Member - AAC and Member of the National Sports Council, Devapriya Hettiarachchi – Secretary AAC and Anton Kandiah – Treasurer of the B & SASL and Billiard Secretary of the AAC.

The Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC) will sponsor the 68th National Billiard Championship, conducted by the Billiards and Snooker Association of Sri Lanka (B & SASL) this year.

The Automobile Association of Ceylon established in 1904 is the oldest Motoring Organization in Sri Lanka,and is afiliated to the Federation Internationale De L’ Automobile, world largest Mobility Organization in Geneva, which has 150 countries under its umbrella. AAC’s prime object is to make all Road users safe.

AAC conducts annual Billiard and Snooker Tournaments for its members and also takes part in the inter-club tournaments in order to promote the cue sports. In the past, AAC members have excelled in several National Billiard and Snooker Tournaments and brought glory to the association.

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