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Wide-open Group A sets the tone for highly anticipated World Cup

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Group A is sure to make intriguing viewing in the first round of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 as Namibia, Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) battle it out for the right to qualify for the Super 12.The teams will play each other once in a round-robin format from October 16-20, with the top two advancing onto the next stage.By virtue of their world ranking, Sri Lanka are favourites to progress but face a tricky first test in the form of Namibia, who progressed to the Super 12 stage in their first ever ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 12 months ago.UAE’s return to the competition comes against Netherlands, who are desperate to make up for a disappointing campaign last time out.

All six fixtures will take place at Kardinia Park in Geelong, with the winners joining reigning champions and hosts Australia, as well as Afghanistan, England, New Zealand and the Group B runners-up in Group 1 of the Super 12 stage.The team who finishes second will enter Group 2 and face Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, South Africa and the Group B winners.Namibia are fast establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.

They were firm underdogs in their Round 1 group at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 but comfortable victories over Netherlands and Ireland ensured their progression to the latter stages.Since then, they have claimed their first-ever series win over a Full-Member nation, beating Zimbabwe (3-2) in a five-match T20I series in May. Captain Gerhard Erasmus was the star of the show in the win that secured qualification over Ireland, notching an unbeaten half-century before David Wiese hit the winning runs.

Wicketkeeper-batter Lohan Louwrens is one new addition to keep an eye on this time around. He has captained his country at the under-19s level previously and has already made a mark for the Eagles at the senior level, scoring 111 runs in a seven-wicket win against Hong Kong in June.Another new face already has a World Cup qualifying hat-trick to his name – Tangeni Lungameni was the scourge of the Mozambique top order during a qualifier for the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and now gets his chance at the marquee tournament.

Though Sri Lanka will be a daunting first test, Namibia will hope that they get the better of the Netherlands in their second fixture, as they did last year, which could well set up a second consecutive Super 12 appearance.Ever-presents at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Sri Lanka are going to have to do it the hard way if they want to become champions for the second time.

The Lions reached the final on three occasions between 2009 and 2014 and struck gold at the third time of asking thanks to a typically assured innings from Kumar Sangakkara. But two consecutive eighth-place finishes – their lowest in the history of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup – means expectations have been tempered ahead of their next campaign.

The Asia Cup win in September suggests the side have turned a corner, however. Wanindu Hasaranga impressed with the ball there as only India’s Bhuvneshwar Kumar took more wickets than the wily leg-spinner, who will want to retain his place in the ICC Men’s T20I Team of the Year.Topping the group is the expectation for Sri Lanka, who will then be targeting a deep run in the knockout stages, which they hope will culminate in a second piece of silverware in as many months.

One of the final two teams to book a spot at the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, the Netherlands are out to right a few wrongs in Australia. Slow starts in each of the previous two tournaments have cost them a place in the Super 12 stage.A defeat to Bangladesh and a washout against Oman saw them eliminated before their final first round fixture at the 2016 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Then, in 2021, they were soundly beaten in each of their three fixtures and were skittled out for less than 110 on two occasions.

That means a fast start is a must this year for the lowest-ranked side in the group and they will want to be in a strong position prior to their clash with Sri Lanka on October 20.One of those who struggled to get going in the UAE was Bas de Leede, who failed to make double figures in either of his group stage innings.

The summer was a much brighter time for the 22-year-old, though, who struck two T20I half-centuries against New Zealand and 89 against Pakistan in an ODI. If he and opener Max O’Dowd can find their best form, the Netherlands could well spring a surprise.After an eight-year hiatus, the UAE are back on the T20I world stage and looking to make history.

Their only previous ICC Men’s T20 World Cup appearance, in 2014, yielded three defeats, and so a win this time around would be their first in this event and only their second ever in a global ICC tournament, with their sole success to date coming against the Netherlands in the 1996 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.The Netherlands will be keen to avoid a repeat of that outcome when the pair meet in their opening fixture on October 16th, though the UAE do have the recent form on their side, having won four of their five previous meetings.

Bar a change in captain, preparations for the tournament have been smooth, and they gave two-time world champions West Indies a stern test in their penultimate warm-up fixture, with spinner Junaid Siddique impressing with figures of five for 13.They ultimately came up 17 runs short chasing 152 despite the best efforts of Muhammad Waseem (69 from 52) and Zawar Farid (29 from 14). It was a promising and morale-boosting team performance and one that suggests they have what it takes to ruffle a few feathers in Group 1.



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Second Sri Lanka – Afghanistan ODI called off

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By Rex Clementine

Heavy rain forced match officials to call off the second One-Day International between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan at the Pallekele International Stadium on Sunday.Set a target of 229 runs to win, Sri Lanka had reached 10 for no loss in 1.4 overs when rains came down forcing the players indoors.

Rain didn’t stop and at 8:57pm local time play was called off. SLC said in a statement that the ground staff needed more than one hour to clear the covers due to the amount of water collected on the covers and weren’t able to start by 9:56 pm, the latest cut-off time.

Afghanistan lead the three-match series 1-0 having won the opening fixture on Friday by 60 runs.

The series is part of the World Cup Super League and the no result meant that both teams collected five points each. That means, Afghanistan are edging closer to automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup. They are at seventh in the table currently. Sri Lanka are in the danger zone placed at tenth position. Only eight teams earn automatic qualification for the sport’s showpiece event.

Afghanistan opted to bat first after winning the toss and half-centuries by Rahmanullah Gurbaz (68) and Rahmat Shah (58) helped them to post 228 all out in  48.2 overs. Mohammad Nabi chipped in with 41 off 34 balls with two fours and two sixes.

Sri Lanka’s bowling was wayward to start with, but they bounced back well claiming the last five wickets for 33 runs.Seamer Kasun Rajitha finished with career best bowling figures as he claimed three wickets for 31 runs in his nine overs, which included two maidens.

Maheesh Theekshana and Lahiru Kumara chipped in with two wickets each as Sri Lanka bowled out Afghanistan.The game was being played on the same surface as Friday’s game and there was quite a bit of purchase for the spinners and Sri Lanka would have faced a tough challenge during the run chase.

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Gayana, Charuka, Anjala excel

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Under 19 Cricket

by Reemus Fernando

A remarkable match saving effort by Gayana Weerasinghe for Maliyadeva and a match bag of ten wickets by Charuka Peiris to guide S. Thomas’ to their third outright victory of the season were among the highlights of the Under 19 traditional matches played over the weekend.

Weerasinghe stood out scoring unbeaten knocks in both innings to avoid defeat in the match against Royal. In reply to Royal’s 302 for seven wickets declared, Maliyadeva collapsed but Weerasinghe scored an unbeaten century (135 in 204 balls, 18x4s) to defy the home team at Reid Avenue. Following on, he was joined by Jayamin Muthukumarana (25), Chandupa Abeysinghe (24) and Amesh Tennakoone (40) to force a draw. In the second innings, Weerasinghe batted for 134 minutes and remained unbeaten on 61 runs (in 122 balls, 4x4s).

Peiris completed a match bag of ten wickets with a six wicket haul in the second innings as S. Thomas’ cruised to victory with a session remaining in the match. S. Thomas’ posted 289 runs in reply to Mahinda’s 101 runs and in their second essay the visitors were bowled out for 174 runs.

It was S. Thomas’ third outright victory of the season. In the match between St. Servatius’ and Mahamana the latter earned first innings honours as Anjala Bandara scored 126 runs for them to post 241 runs in reply to St. Servatius’ 126 runs.

Results

On Sunday

St. Servatius’, Mahanama ends in draw

St. Servatius’ 126 all out in 42.3 overs (Kushan Wijerama 23, Chathum Bimsara 23, Thisan Dewmith 21n.o.; Duvindu Ranatunga 3/23, Dasith Gunathilake 3/36, Venuk Hettiarachchi 2/24, Omesh Udara 2/28) and 147 for 4 in 42 overs (Chamarindu Nethsara 41n.o., Mithila Charles 29, Denuwan Pramod 26, Diniru Sanushka 21, Vishwa Supun 21n.o.; Dasith Gunathilake 2/49).

Mahanama 241 all out in 72.3 overs (Anjala Bandara 126, Duvindu Ranatunga 36, Omesh Udara 35; Tharush Damindu 4/48, Thisan Dewmith 4/66)

On Saturday

St. Thomas’ beat Mahinda by an innings and 14 runs at Mount Lavinia

Scores:

Mahinda 101 all out in 30.1 overs (Dhanuja Induwara 53; Nathan Caldera 5/27, Charuka Peiris 4/21) and 174 all out in 46 overs (Hiruna Gallege 40, Dinura Kalupahana 36, Chandupa de Silva 20, Shenuka Dangamuwa 29; Charuka Peiris 6/66, Akash Fernando 2/33, Nathan Caldera 2/32)

S. Thomas’ 289 all out in 69 overs (Thisen Eheliyagoda 40, Romesh Mendis 117, Senesh Hettiarachchi 72; Tharusha Dilshan 5/71, Sanuka Dangamuwa 3/51)

Maliyadeva force a draw after Royal enforce follow on at Reid Avenue

Scores:

Royal 302 for 7 decl. in 77.2 overs (Ramiru Perera 85, Uvindu Weerasekara 60, Dasis Manchanayake 100n.o., Bulan Weeratunga 33; Gayana Weerasinghe 4/76, Charuka Herath 2/80)

Maliyadeva (52 for 3) 201 all out in 63.4 overs (Jayamin Muthukumarana 18, Chandupa Abeysinghe 17, Gayana Weerasinghe 135n.o.; Sandesh Ramanayake 2/60, Dasis Munchanayake 4/33) and 198 for 5 in 66 overs (Jayamin Muthukumarana 25, Chandupa Abeysinghe 24, Amesh Tennakoone 40, Chamod Sathsara 17, Gayana Weerasinghe 61n.o.; Menaka Heyyanthuduwa 2/28).

Dharmasoka and Nalanda settle for draw at Campbell Park

Scores:

Nalanda 105 all out in 34.4 overs (Rusiru Vilochana 22, Kushmitha Silva 23; Pathum Malitha 2/19, Senitha Halambage 5/17) and 309 for 9 in 90.5 overs (Rusiru Vilochana 65, Kushmitha Silva 80, Eranga jayakody 90, Sajitha Vithanage 38, Sathmina Serasinghe 17n.o.; Chanaka Jananga 4/59, Senitha Halambage 4/100)

Dharmasoka (210 for 6) 238 all out in 78.5 overs (Manasa de Silva 39, Senitha Halambage 97, Chandupa Kavisha 27; Chanul Athukorale 2/43, Minod Caldera 3/71, Janula Indusara 3/12)

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Trinity, St. Anthony’s clash for final spot  

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Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ Cricket  

Arch rivals Trinity and St. Anthony’s Katugastota will clash in Colombo today to secure a final berth in the Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ tournament. Both teams have seen some of the leading teams in their respective groups in the first round being eliminated in the knockout stage and will be eager to last the full distance to earn the coveted title.

St. Anthony’s captained by Lahiru Abesinghe were able to eliminate one of the favourites to the title, Mahanama in their quarter-final match thanks largely to the heroics of their top order batsman Mohamed Aaqil. With the rest of the batting line up failing to impress, Aaqil scored a dogged knock of 80 runs to secure their semi-final berth. The team inclusive of a couple of Sri Lanka Under 19 players will be looking forward to avoid the mistakes in that department in the crucial encounter.

St. Anthony’s were the fourth placed team in Group ‘Y’ after they ended up with a card of just four victories and four defeats during the first round. St. Sebastian’s and Maliyadeva, who finished second and third respectively in their group, were eliminated early in the knockout stage. In the event of St. Anthony’s advancing to the final they will be meeting Richmond, the champions of their group in the first round.

Trinity skippered by Rahal Amarasinghe eliminated St. Sebastian’s in the quarter-final after advancing to that stage with a third place finish in their group in the first round. During the first round they recorded five victories in eight outings.  Trinity have a number of players who were part of the Under 17 team adjudged the joint champions of the Under 17 tournament with St. Joseph’s. The experience of playing in that final where the scores were tied is likely to stand in good stead.

Teams:  

Trinity (from):  Rahal Amarasinghe (Captain), Vibhavith Ehelepola (Vice Captain), Theeraka Ranatunga, Supun Waduge, Manula Kularatne, Tharana Wimaladharma, Kusal Wijethunga, Dinusha Pieris, Dinuka Tennakoon, Jayavi Liyanagama, Janith Warnakula, Malith Rathnayake, Lakvin Abeysinghe, Vathila Udara, Yewan Hulangamuwa, Viduka Dhammage. 

Officials:

Naveen Ekanayake (Head Coach),  Lakshitha Alahakoon (Asst. Coach), Bryan Senaratne (Master in Charge). 

 St. Anthony’s (from):  Lahiru Abesinghe  (Captain), Travin Mathew (Vice Captain), Mohommed Aaqil, K.S. Bandara, Thisara Ekanayake, Ravindu Kapukotuwa, Ryan Anthonys, Induwara Galapitage, Kaveesha Piyumal, Janith Rathnasiri, Charuka Ekanayake, Kevan Fernando, Januka. Rathnayake, Dasun Welanga, Ravindu Kasthuriarachchi, Nik Fonseka, Senura Abesekara, Dinura Ganegoda, Kaushika Kumarasinghe, Sanuka Kalpana. 

Officials:

Suneth Gunathilake (Head Coach), Priyantha Kumara (Asst. Coach), Lenin Jayasinghe (Master in Charge). 

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