Since its launch in 2008, the popularity of Indian Premier League has gone through the roof. Some boards like the English and Wales Cricket Board, Cricket Australia and even the International Cricket Council did not take kindly to the idea that the IPL should have its own window where all international cricket ceased. But such is India’s clout in world cricket today that there’s little international cricket scheduled during the time the IPL is played.
This year’s edition has produced some cracking games that have resulted in Super Overs. With virtually no cricket being played elsewhere, the talk of the town is about Ravichandran Ashwin not Mankading Aaron Finch and M.S. Dhoni losing his golden touch and much more. Sadly, there is very little representation from Sri Lanka in recent IPL events and this year there is just Isuru Udana.
Time was when the entire Sri Lankan team and even the reserves featured in the IPL. The likes of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene even captained IPL sides and did terrific jobs.
Business tycoon Mukesh Ambani paid almost US$ 1 million a year to acquire the services of Sanath Jayasuriya. There was fierce bidding for Jayasuriya, who is immensely popular in India and eventually Mumbai Indians paid him US$ 975,000. Always wonder how much Aravinda de Silva would have fetched if IPL was there during his time?
Other popular Sri Lankans in the IPL were Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, T.M. Dilshan and Chaminda Vaas. Even, Suraj Randiv, who played a handful of T-20 Internationals for Sri Lanka had an IPL contract with N. Srinivasan acquiring his services for his Chennai franchise.
It is no secret that it has been all downhill for Sri Lankan Cricket in the last decade and it is reflected by number of their players attracted by the IPL. Meanwhile, the South Africans, Australians and even Englishmen are in high demand for the franchise based T-20 tournament. We have made some blunders down the line.
Of all three formats of the game the one in which Sri Lanka have done poorly is the T-20 format. Six years on from winning the World title, they have been so bad that they have got to play a qualifying round to enter the tournament proper in next year’s event.
While the money is attractive in the IPL, the extremely competitive nature of the tournament brings the best out of players and this is an area that Sri Lankans are missing out. You see the amount of high pressure games the Indian players are exposed to at a young age and then they turn up at the international level like ducks taking to water as they have already got a taste of the international flavour thanks to IPL.
That is why Sri Lanka’s efforts to conduct a franchise based tournament of their own needs to be commended. We know that SLC’s effort to launch an event has failed on a few occasions now but they have got to start somewhere. Boards like West Indies, Australia, Pakistan and even Bangladesh have started a franchise based competition of their own in small scale and the players are benefiting by it.
Sri Lanka men’s and women’s teams ready to contest FIBA Asia Tournament
by a Special Sports Correspondent
The Sri Lanka Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took flight to Singapore on Tuesday for the FIBA Asia 3×3 Basketball tournament.
The two teams have been in preparation since April and are being coached by Ajith Kuruppu.
The men’s team has to first prove its worth against China and Tonga and one more team before qualifying for the main tournament. “It’s going to be a tough tournament, but the men’s and women’s teams have been practicing well. Our preparations were good and we want to make an impact at the tournament,” said Kuruppu. According to the Sri Lanka teams’ coach China will be a tough challenge in the men’s segment of the tournament.
“We’ve been gelling together as a team during training and the players have a good understanding when playing as a unit,” said Sri Lanka’s Mens’ Team skipper Shehan Fernando.
Sri Lanka’s women’s team has made a direct entry into the tournament. Sri Lanka Women’s team skipper Anjali Ekanayake said that the ranking of the players in the national 3×3 team is good. “These players have got much exposure playing in this format of the game. We’ve been focusing on nutrition and shooting over the past few months. Training went well for the tournament,” said Ekanayake.
Coach Kuruppu took this opportunity to thank Vaaj Fitness for sponsoring the two national teams to Singapore and for making their gym available for the players to do strength and conditioning training.
Chathurya, Dinara, Saajida, Vishmi advance to second round
ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament
Chathurya Nilaweera ousted India’s Dhanush Varma to reach the second round of the ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament continued at the SSC Tennis Courts on Tuesday.
Nilaweera was the only player in the boys’ category from Sri Lanka to advance from the first round as he beat Varma 6-2, 6-0.
In the girls’ category Dinara de Silva, Saajida Razick and Vishmi Serasinghe reached the second round when they won their respective first round matches on Monday.
Dinara beat Yu Ching Wang of Taipei 6-3, 7-6(4) and Razick beat Indian Anushka Bhola 6-1, 6-1, while Serasinghe ousted Wei Chiao-Chen also from Taipei 6-1, 6-1.
In the other matches Dinethya Dharmarathe, Dahamna Methnadi, Nesangi Hemakumara, Vinethya Dharmarathne and Gehansa Metnadi conceded first round defeats.
In the boys’ category Vichinthya Nilaweera, Methwan Wijemanne, Abdul Bashit Cader, Thilina Dissanayake and Zahid Zihar were eliminated in the first round.
The boys’ and girls’ second round matches will be played today.
The tournament which commenced on July 4 will culminate on Friday.
Sri Lanka add more spin options after first Test disaster
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka have taken some desperate measures leading up to the second Test against Australia in Galle by adding more spin options indicating that the team management and the selectors are willing to make wholesale changes after the pathetic performance in the first Test which they lost before lunch on day three.
Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya has been sent home after he failed to make an impact following the ten-wicket loss last week. In an inexperienced attack, the 25-year-old with 17 Test caps is the senior most bowler but he had got his lengths wrong in a game dominated by Australian spinners. Embuldeniya had struggled in Bangladesh as well and was dropped. Instead of letting him fight his way back, he was drafted into the first Test against Australia and it wasn’t surprising to see him failing to make an impact. Now with the series at stake, Sri Lanka have pressed the panic button.
Even if Dimuth Karunaratne’s side win the second Test, Australia will retain Warne-Murali Trophy since they are the holders having blanked Sri Lanka 2-0 in 2019.
Sri Lanka’s desperation is evident by the fact that they have recalled Maheesh Theekshana, who hasn’t played a First-Class game in four years. In fact, Army had been told not to consider Theekshana for the ongoing one-day competition to help him recover from niggles but suddenly he finds himself in the hot seat with a Test series at stake.
Uncapped Dunith Wellalage also has been added to the squad giving the left-arm spin option that has been taken away following the axing of Embuldeniya. Support left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama had tested positive for COVID.
Former captain Angelo Mathews who was in isolation after testing positive for COVID has returned a negative test and has rejoined the team.
Off-spinner Lakshitha Manasinghe is the third player to be added to the group. He had an impressive series against Australia ‘A’ too. It is expected that Wellalage will make his Test debut while the slot for the third spinner is a toss-up between Jeffrey Vandersay and Maheesh Theekshana. The leg-spinner was untidy in the opening Test and the more realistic option seems to be that Theekshana debuting alongside Wellalage.
Although three replacement spinners have been added, some wonder why Sri Lanka have not thought of some batting replacements. It was a pathetic display by the team in the second innings where they were shot out inside a session and faced only 22.3 overs.
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