30th July 2000
A hug all right but not a friendly one.
Reporting From Kandy
Taking an early lead in a truncated series is almost a sure-fire guaranteed of success. The surge of confidence induced by that initial triumph should, under normal circumstarnces carry them through. Sri Lanka find themselves in that happy situation after their innings and 15 run victory at Galle.
Everything clicked for Jayasuriya's teem in the first Test - the toss, the batting and the bowling. The pace bowlers may not have provided the breakthrough or picked up a wicket or two. That was only to be expected given the heart break nature of the track. Muralitharan was at his curling, devastating best while Chandana put a poor batting display behind him to chip in with vital wickets second time round. Dharmasena did not produce prolific results with either bat or ball, but he seems to be good value to the side
Jayasuriya led from the front cutting slashing, diving and lofting whenever the mood seized him or when the bowlers erred in line or length. The runs simply cascaded. The momentum set in motion by the skipper was continued by Jayawardena who batted elegantly. Atapattu, who is currently enjoying a good run, and Vaas, whose innings deserves recognition with a step up the order, also profited. Vaas was very correct and selective in his stroke play. His only blemish was that ungainly heave which cost him his wicket.
Outbatted, outbowled and possibly outfielded as they were, can the South Africans come back? It's not an impossible task, but the chances are that they will not. To begin with, their opponents must be supremely confident. The flip side of the coin is that the South African psyche has been wounded as a result of the traumatic loss.
From a South African point of view, the clear drawback is the track (Aye, there's the rub!). Their pace attack, which could be a handful on a pace-friendly track, has had its effectiveness blunted. Spin is the answer but basically Adams and Boje have miles to go before they can win matches with their spin. Adams is profligate. He does skid the ball through and needs watching as he has a faintly bewildering mix of deliveries. The exertion he puts his left arm and shoulder through is considerable. But one full toss an over is fatally excessive at this level of cricket. Boje, the more orthodox, is steady al best.
The South African batting is their stronger suit and it is up to the batters to bale them out. Cullinan tackled the spinners with a reasonable degree of skill and great tenacity. Kirsten and Rhodes also contributed, the latter more aggressively. Kallis was the big disappointment, making 28 and then, throwing away his hand at 40. Occupation of the crease is of the essence and Kirs–ten, Kallis and Cullinan are the key players in this context. Klusener cannot go on and on probing and pushing at the spinners. He has to hit his way out of trouble with his powerfully executed blows. Faced with Mura–litharan, that surely is dicing with death. Boucher at the moment does not seem to have the foggiest idea of how to combat the dreaded office.
The best case scenario for the visitors is to win the toss, occupy the crease at least for two days and then to hope that Adams and Boje can deliver. But the dice is heavily loaded against them. Sri Lanka has four left handers in the top six and, as Adams and Boje will mainly be coming into them, the latter could be meat and drink to the free-scoring Sri Lankans.
The visitors have to pick themselves up off the floor. The Sri Lankans, having learned winning ways, have to persevere in that quest. South African pride is at stake. But restoring it in the post Cronije, Gibbs era, (especially without pace spearhead Donald) is going to be very difficult indeed.
By Bernie Wijesekera
The gritty Police SC forwards played their hearts out and had table leaders CH&FC on the hop to lose by 22 points (a goal and 5 penalties) to 10 (a goal and a penalty) in a Caltex 'A' second leg match at Police Park, last evening.
In the end referee lost some control in the second half which was marred by incidents. At the break Police led 10-6.
The score line was no indication how the game went about as the Police forwards played like terriers in the loose to match their reputed opponents.
They put on tremendous pressure on the CH defence when they kept on cycling the ball for nearly 10 minutes but were unlucky to score.
The CH as a result lost their rhythm and failed to adjust their mode of play and was seen constantly back pedalling. They did well to win much good ball but failed to utilise it in the first half, where the Police forwards tackled them to a stand still.
CH opened scoring with the kick-off off a penalty put over by Dinuk de S. Wijeratne. Police equalised also with a penalty put over by flay half Udesh Dissanayake. The blue shirts inspired by this success scored a fine try where the forwards got their act together for Ude–sh Dissana–yake to go over the line. Dissa–nayake himself added the extra points to lead 10-6 at the break.
After the turnaround, the game was marked by incidents and referee Fernando lost control. Police flanker Wekadapola was sent to the sin bin during the dying stages of the game. After being recalled he was again sent to the sin bin when the touch judge Roshan Deen spotted him again for unwarranted play. But could a player be sent to the sin bin on two occasions? This was the question asked by knowledgeable rugby followers who witnessed the game. He should have been ordered off the field, but not to the sin bin, they pointed out.
Ironically it was an off day for referee Fernando. CH on resumption after the break scored again off a penalty put over by Wijeratne to make it 10-9. The Crescent Club followed up with a try off a five yard scrum.The ball changed hands for centre Lasantha Ediriweera to fall over. Nalin Dissanayake, after a couple of lapses, made amends to add the extra points from an oblique angle, to lead 16-10.
With play hotting up, both teams suffered injuries on either side and were constantly warned. But as a result Police were unlucky.
CH went further ahead with two more penalties to lead 22-10.
CH's workhorse Thushara Jayalath was the pick, whilst Police SC's evergreen Norman Silva who led from the front in the absence of skipper Chintaka Perera held the team together despite constant hiccups. It was a moral win for Police but CH in the end were lucky winners.
Today: Havelocks SC play hosts to Navy atthe 'Park'. Kickoff at 5 p.m.
By Jatila Karawita.
An outstanding individual performance by crack fullback Nalaka Weerakkody who contributed no fewer than 34 points piloted defending champions Kandy to a fluent 54 points to 9 win over Air Force in a lop-sided Caltex rugby union second round clash at Katunayake last evening.
Kandy's points were made up of four goals, four tries and two penalties while Air Force gathered their points through three penalties.
Kandy led 18-9 at the short whistle of referee Shamrath Fernando.
Weerakkody, a gifted ruggerite, proved his all round rugby skills in style by scoring four classy tries and he topped it off by converting four out of a total of eight tries scored by them apart from putting over two penalties for good measure.
Kandy who were fancied to go on a try feast from the kick-off took time to settle down scoring just 18 points in the first half but having sized up the opposition, opened out in breathtaking fashion through superb open rugby to nail the service team without much fuss.
Air Force though being the underdogs matched their erstwhile counterparts from the hills in the opening exchanges but the overwhelming superiority of the reigning champions saw them succumbing sans a whimper.
For the winners Nalaka Weerakkody stole the day with his four scintillating tries and apart from the dynamism of the full back, lock Asoka Jayasena, centre Lasantha Wijesuriya, scrum half Nilluffer Ibrahim, and flanker Kapila Silva also planted a try each.
For the losers full back Roshan Anthony fired over three penalties.
Rain, that ever-present bogey when it comes to Test cricket at Asgiriya, made its presence felt, but mercifully in a small dose or two in Kandy yesterday.
However it did not prevent both teams from having their final knock-up in the morning.
There could be a shower or two in the night, but the chances of a full or nearly full day's play are very good.
The wicket, brown and bare, was given its final touch-up bythe curator Roger Abeyratne.
Secretary of the Regional Board, Janaka Pathirana was optimistic that a good holiday crowd will be in attendance.
Both teams were hosted to a dinner on Friday night at the Le Kandyan Hotel by the Kandy District Cricket Association. –AK
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