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16th May 1999

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Murali gets thumbs up on Cup eve

Muttiah Muralitharan spearheaded Sri Lanka's World Cup challenge against England at Lord's on Friday heartened by timely revelations that fresh video evidence has again found nothing illegal in his bowling action.

Further official scrutiny of Muralitharan's unique bowling style became essential after he was called for throwing last winter during a one-day international in Adelaide.

Now, confirmation by Sir Clyde Walcott, the chairman of the International Cricket Council, that the illegal bowling panel has again ruled Muralitharan's action as valid has surely banished fears that the hill-country Tamil, who has risen above the disability of a deformed right arm to become the world's finest off-spinner, will not endure further trauma during the World Cup.

'Murali has been studied again since Adelaide,' Walcott confirmed, 'and still there is no evidence that he is transgressing the law as it stands.' It would be an extraordinarily dogmatic World Cup umpire who did not take on board the fact that the ICC's latest ruling regards Muralitharan's basic bowling action as legal.

Rudi Koertzen of South Africa and Srinivas Venkataraghavan of India officiated at Lord's on Friday.

After breaking the news to Muralitharan as the team coach left Lord's on Friday, Sri Lanka's captain Arjuna Ranatunga felt vindicated for his Adelaide protest, which caused a 15-minute suspension of play, brought him a six-match suspended ban and incurred the wrath of England's captain Alec Stewart.

'As far as we are concerned, Murali has always been clean,' Ranatunga said, 'but the announcement that the panel still sees nothing wrong with his bowling action could not have come at a better time.

'Murali's confidence is high, but this might stop some of the whispering. He has always received a much fairer welcome in England than Australia, so I had no fears about the behaviour of English crowds. I fancied him to take five wickets; now I think he might take seven.' Muralitharan's last Test brought 16 wickets at Lord's in Sri Lanka's defeat of England. Following the Australian triangular series, he underwent a successful shoulder operation.

Walcott emphasised that no one can ever be cleared and that umpires therefore are within their rights to no-ball any bowler for throwing as part of what he called an 'ongoing process'.

But an umpire's automatic authority to call a bowler for throwing does not justify the Australian witch-hunt that took place against Muralitharan last winter. Ross Emerson told an England player three days before the Adelaide game that he intended to call Muralitharan for throwing, an action which now looks even more foolish than it did at the time.

Resentment still lingers over the affair. Darrell Hair, the Australian World Cup umpire, also called Muralitharan in Melbourne three years ago and criticised the bowler's action in his autobiography. Hair has since received death threats and will be given additional security protection during the tournament, although he is not due to stand in any Sri Lankan games in the first round of World Cup matches.

Royal in easy win

By Ravi Nagahawatta

Royal romped home to an easy 28-12 victory over St Peter's in their Milo inter school rugby encounter played at Longden Place last evening.

The Royalist produced polished rugby in both halves and enjoyed a nine point lead at the breather, where they led 14-5.

Winger Viraj de Silva scored with two tries and also put his team in the lead when he punched the first hole in the opposition defence for the first try. Third row forward Sajeev Fernando was the only other try scorer for Royal in the first half when he went over the line following a well executed break.

The Peterites hit back before lemons when prop Miyaz barged over the goal line off a scrum in the opposition goal in area.

The experienced Viraj de Silva gave Royal a healthy lead just after the resumption when he put the finishing touches to a promising three quarter move.

Dave Wijewardena who came good with all the conversions added the extra points.

The Peterites showed signs of making a late come back with a try by Linkaman Niroshan Wickremasekera when he slipped away to touch down following a forwards maul.

Lakala Perera added the extra points.

The Royalists however sealed the game in their favour with their final try which came through the effort of Chamith Perera.

S.Navaratne refereed.

SSC register outright victory

By Marlon Fernandopulle

An unbeaten century from allrounder Tilan Samaraweera coupled with some penetrative bowling by medium pacers Nuwan Zoysa,Suresh Perera and Ruchira Perera helped SSC to an easy innings and 158 run victory over Antonians SC in a Premier Championship game at Maitland Place yesterday. It also marked the return of lanky medium pacer Nuwan Zoysa.

Antonians SC-110 & 56 (Charles Silva 24 n. o. Ruchira Perera 3/25 Suresh Perera 4/14 Tilan Samaraweera 2/3)

SSC - 324/5 decl.(Avishka Gunawardene 30 Shantha Kalawitigoda 54 Hemantha Wickremaratne 37 Tilan Samaraweera 100 n o Ruwan Galapathy 74 Charles Silva 3/73)

Century opening stand

Openers Sagara Kumara(49 n o) and Nayantha Weeraman (56 n o) helped Tamil Union to 121 without loss against Police SC in a Premier Championship game at the Oval yesterday.

Earlier Police scored 262 all out with R. Wimalasiri top scoring with a fluent 63.Sajeeva Weerakoon was the pick of the bowlers claiming 4/90.

PoliceSC-262 (R. Janaka 30 C. Liyanage 37 R. Wimalasiri 63 C. Silva 44 S. Weerakoon 4/90 N. Bandaratileke 2/57 D. Rajapakse 3/29)

Tamil Union -121/0 (Sagara Kumara 49 n. o. Nayantha Weeraman 56 n. o.)

First ever women's six-a-side cricket on May 23rd

Sri Lanka's first ever women's leather ball six-a-side cricket tournament will be held on May 23 at Colts Cricket Grounds. The tournament which is held as part of the 125th year celebrations of Colombo Colts Cricket Club will feature 14 teams from all parts of the country. Colts pioneered women's cricket in Sri Lanka.

The teams taking part in the tournament will be Colts A, Colts B, Slimline A, Slimline B, Young Ladies, Moratuwa SC, Kalutara PCC, Samudra - Wennappuwa, Negombo, Dankotuwa, Polonnaruwa, Shakthi - Anuradhapura, Colombo Ladies, Lanka Ladies.

The tournament comprises 13 matches and the winners will receive Devon Trophy and Rs. 10,000. The runners Up will receive Devon Trophy and Rs. 7,500.

Player of the tournament will get a trophy plus a gift and so will the best batter, bowler, the player who hits the highest number of sixes.

Colombo Colts, the oldest Ceylonese Cricket Club had a double wicket cricket tournament, Dance and a Billiards tournament to celebrate their anniversary. Sushilo de S Wijeratne, the organiser of the tournament pointed out the participation of seven teams from the outstations as the outstanding feature of the tournament. Wijeratne said that all national players representing all the leading clubs will take part.

The draw will be held tomorrow at the club pavilion.

M.W.Rajasingham, Chairman of the Rajasingham Industries handed over the sponsorship cheque for the tournament to Gamini Goonesena, President of Colts at press conference held recently.

Last shot to rekindle old glory

By Arjuna Ranatunga

This month will prove whether once again I can be a winner. But one thing is certain: I am definitely a survivor. I played in the World Cup the last time it was held here in 1983 and on Friday had the chance to lead Sri Lanka, as defending champions, in the opening game against England at Lord's. It was a meeting of two quite different cricketing cultures.

England have consistently proved themselves to be the best hosts in the world, but even with home advantage they are not among the favourites. I sense that this World Cup could be the making or breaking of England as a cricketing force.

Either their style of play will triumph or they will face yet more soul-searching. If they do not win, England must radically change the way they play if they want to lead the world again.

Where England once led, others have now taken command. We revolutionised the game in the last World Cup - the adventurous hitting of Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana in the opening overs, where once there had been only caution, left many observers amazed - and we will continue to uncover new talents and tactics.

For Sri Lankans, winning is inseparable from entertaining. We would rather go down with all bats blazing than grind out results, which so often seems to be the England style. When I made my Test debut as a schoolboy against England in 1982, the likes of David Gower, Ian Botham and Graham Gooch were household names. When I was a child, the daring exploits of every dashing England batsman used to be carried to us over the World Service and BBC highlights. All that England did was held in great admiration and affection. We aspired to play as well as them.

I have seen only two substantial innovations by England's cricketers, and they were both in the early 1980s: flat-trajectory spin-bowling and the use of heavy bats. England so often seem to play to an inflexible plan.

We have become dramatically better since my first World Cup, but England have not. Today's generation would be hard pressed to name any contemporary English heroes.

There are only three English players I wish I had in my side: Neil Fairbrother, Graeme Hick and Darren Gough.

Fairbrother's zip and zap are what every middle-order needs. I fancy him to be one of the big run-getters in this tournament. He should have been the model for the England batsmen of today ever since he headed their aggregate and averages in the 1992 World Cup. Instead, many view him as a maverick.

In one-day cricket every ball is a chance to seize the initiative.

Each team needs someone with a shock factor, someone who can be incredible in the heat of the game.

In my eight tours of England I have seen the deep love which exists for cricket. Australia, by contrast, despite its strong Sri Lankan expatriate community, is becoming increasingly unpleasant. I can live with being booed when I go out to bat, but when thousands chanted 'No Ball' every time Murali ran in to bowl, that was really shameful behaviour.

It was a tough tour for us, with injuries, poor results and an abrasive atmosphere. We intend to show England better form in the weeks ahead.

To Aussies, I am seen as uppity and over-sensitive in my condemnation of sledging and boorish behaviour. I'm accused of throwing my weight around and, I admit, there's quite a bit of it. But I have never been as popular with them as when I defended Murali against umpire Ross Emerson and the ICC match referee, causing the match in Adelaide to be suspended for 15 minutes. That act of rebellion must have appealed to the anti-establishment nature of the average Australian. Then it was back to the cricket and I was public enemy No1 again.

But back to the game: a clash between two different ways of thinking; a country formerly patronised against one desperately trying to recapture former glories.

For ourselves, it is another chance to win honour and respect after years of not being rated. To prove, in case anyone had forgotten, that we are still world champions.

We may only have one lion on our chest, compared to England's three, but that lion is huge and it means everything to us.

Arjuna Ranatunga will write regularly for the Guardian throughout the World Cup.

Look out for a humdinger at match

By Saif Izzadeen

It is going to be the match of the season and the match rugby spectators have been waiting for as Royal take on their arch rivals Isipatana for the Major Milroy Fernando Trophy at the Sugathadasa stadium next Saturday (May 22).

On the same day Sri Lanka will be taking on South Africa in the World Cup in England. Many of the spectators coming to the Sugathadasa stadium will almost certainly carry pocket radios along to listen to the proceedings in England

Royal will be led by hooker and fourth year player Dinesh Rahim. Rahim's deputy will be the speedy wing-three quarter Viraj de Silva who has so far scored 16 tries.

The green jerseys will be led by scrum-half and fourth year player Krishantha Chandran.

Krishantha's deputy will be the No 8 of the side Janaka de Silva.

There is bound to be a classic battle between two of the most outstanding wing three-quarters among schools this season between Viraj de Silva of Royal and Hamesh Gunaratne of Isipatana. Hamesh has also scored 16 tries for the season so far.

Last year a try by winger Viraj de Silva two minutes before the long whistle resulted in the Blue and Gold Jersey ruggerites regaining the title after nine years. The final score read 14-10 in favour of the Reid Avenue school.

Rubber firms at cricket

The annual six a side cricket tournament of Plastics and Rubber Institute of Sri Lanka will be held at the Shalika Grounds on May 16.

The tournament will start at 8.30 a.m.

Nalanda in a scrum

The Nalanda College rugger team has been suspended from participating during the on-going inter-school rugby season. The decision was taken by the Nalanda College principal.

The suspension follows on the Nalanda rugby team having played a match against a Nalanda Old Boys' team without obtaining permission from the rugby Master-in-Charge.

Nalanda College have played one match against S.Thomas' Mt.Lavinia. S.Thomas' won the match.

First Sports Festival

The maiden Sports festival organised by the Divulpitiya Youth Society has made arrangements to conduct an open bicycle race on Sunday the 23 May 1999. This race will be conducted under the auspices of the Sri Lanka Cycle Federation. This consists of twelve rounds making a total of one hundred and twenty kilometres.

Entry forms for the Standard Bicycle Race will be available at the venue. The prizes for the winners will be as follows:

1st prize - Fifteen thousand rupees.

2nd prize - Ten thousand rupees.

3rd prize - Seven thousand five hundred rupees.

Cash prizes will be awarded upto the 10th winner.

Milo Netball National on May 21

One hundred and eight teams will battle it out for supremacy in the 8th Milo National Schools Netball Championships in the age groups of 12,14,16 and 18 from May 21 to 23 at the Vincent Dias Stadium Badulla.

The preliminary rounds saw over 10,800 girls participate with more than 2,200 players participating in the final round from the 12 districts with the final four teams from each group qualfying.

The championships will be declared open by D.B. Wijetunga the Provincial Director of Education, Uva Province while the Governor of the Uva Province, Ananda Dassanayake will be the chief guest at the closing ceremony.

The organisers of this championships are the Sri Lanka Schools Netball Association the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and the Uva Provincial Department of Education. A best player will be picked in the four age groups at the completion of the championships.

St. Joseph's BMV Nugegoda, Sacred Heart Convent Galle, Kegalu BMV and Kalutara BMV have qualified for the final round in all age groups.

The schools that have qualified for the final round from the 12 districts are:


Welimada MMV, Kudakusum MMV, Gamini MMV, Dihigolla Vidyalaya, Good Shepherd BMV, Poramadulla MMV, Welimadagama Vidyalaya, Sri Pragnasena MV and Keppitipola MMV.


Royal MMV, Baragama Janapada Vidyalaya, Marijjawela MMV, Bolana MV, Wijayaba MV, Theraputta MV, Mahanama MV, Rajapaksa MMV, St. Mary's MV and Dehigahalanda MV.


Tissa MMV, Kalutara MV, Ananda Matugama, Taxila MMV, Miriswatta MV, St. Anthony's BMV and Vidyaloka MV.


Mahamaya BMV, Sri Sangamitta MV, Girls' High School, St. Anthony's BMV and Swaranamali BMV.


Ananda Balika MV, Swaranapali BMV, Eppawella MV, Talawa MV, Giritalegama MV, Niwanthakachetiya MV, Galnewa MV, Central MV, Galkulama MV, and K.B. Ratnayake MV.


Visakha BMV, St. Anne's Kurana, Niwandama Jinarajah MV, Nalanda Balika MV, Vidyaloka Vidyalaya, Henegama MMV, Galahitiyawa Hemammali MV and D.S. Senanayake MV.


St. Joseph's BMV, Sirimavo BMV, Visakha Vidyalaya, Baudda Vidyalaya Mulleriyawa, Kalubowila MV, Anula Vidyalaya, Pueakpitiya North MV and Musaeus.


Sacred Heart Convent, Sangamitta BMV, Mawadawilla Maliyadeva MV, Sujatha BMV, Olcott Vidyalaya, Rippon BMV, Prajapathi Gothami BMV and Vijitha MMV.


Carmel Faithma MV, Malwatta Tissapura MV, Galahitiyagoda MV, Bandaranaike BMV, Nugelanda Vidayalaya, D.S. Senanayake MMV, Ruhunugama Vidyalaya, Maydunna Vidyalaya and Nawagiriyawa Vidyalaya.


Maliyadeva BMV, St. Paul's BMV, Holy Family BMV, Holy Family Wennapuwa, National School Pannala, St. Paul's Kurunegala and St. Sebastian's BMV.


St. Agnes BMV, Infant Jesus Convent, Kegalu BMV, Ranjan Wijeratne MV, Dharmpala Vidyalaya, Hunuwala Dharmarajah, Sumana BMV and Fergusion High School.


Gantalama MV and Agrabodhi Jathika MV.

Rover pinpoints

Something fishy

A leading figure of a state run electronic media body rumoured to be facing financial problems was seen taking into his office a worker interdicted on a fraud charge. This worker debarred from entering the premises was seen taken in this official's car much to the dismay of the Security personnel on duty. Over to you Director General for action.

What a saving.

A top cricket official with much clout these days, Rover learns' is rumoured to have taken US $ 350 p.d. as probable expenses for his trip to England to watch the World Cup. The amount of money the official has taken for 47 days amounts to Rs 1.9 million. For what purpose is his stay in England, God knows best.

A sinister move?

The day the Sri Lankan cricketers were to leave for England for the World Cup, a reputed former cricketer from the South under the influence of liquor wearing a tee shirt with the Cricket Board's Presidents picture on it and supported by his cronies was seen ordering the persons out of the Cricket Board Office.

He even ordered a parent of a senior cricketer out. Those orders of his deprived the Rupavahini and ITN of taking shots of the Sri Lanka team. He shouted saying that even if Budu Hamudoruwa has given permission he would not permit photographs to be taken.

Your guess is as good as mine about this unsavoury incident.


Two so-called international rugby referees did not present themselves when the Referees Society conducted a fitness test early this month. Is it an indication that a change of administration in both the Rugby Union and the Referees Society are worrying these two referees one of whom enjoyed favourable clout in the recent past that caused some hiccups. By the way Rover learns that many new faces have produced splendid recordings in the fitness test with one of them, Nizam Jamaldeen junior, notching 14.40 when the stipulated level for domestic club matches is 9.50. But some of the old hands like Dilroy Fernando (international), Anil Jayasinghe, Aruna Jayasekera, Nizam Jamaldeen senior, Shamrath Fernando and D. Nimal have also entered double figures.


The newly appointed interim board of a popular sport met to sort out matters on the instructions of the Sports Minister.

At the meeting held at Kirullapone at an office on the main road, saw a member called another member a rogue and in the clash thereafter the hand phone of one of the members was dashed on the ground which resulted in the meeting ending in disarray.

Crying foul

A leading rugby club in Colombo has refused to allow Ceylon Breweries Limited, the sponsors of the Carlsberg League season, to advertise its main product at their venue during matches. The reason Rover learns, is that this particular Club is not pleased the way the sponsoring company and the Rugby Union are running and funding the on-going tournament. An insider has remarked that his club has become a pawn in the whole game. It seems somebody is benefiting at the expense of another.

Family ties

Who is this top official of a Colombo rugby club who is causing some uncertainty among his members by trying to bring in a close relative to function in an important position.

A look at Sri Lanka performance at the Cricket World Cup

By losing the crucial toss Arjuna Ranatunga and Sri Lanka lost the opportunity of exploiting a rain-affected wicket and they themselves fell victims to lose the opening 1999 World Cup match by eight wickets, at Lord's. The wide margin of defeat is, however, not truly indicative of the relative strengths of these two teams. Had the toss gone in Sri Lanka's favour the best would certainly have been on the other foot! There were a few other factors that kindled ones curiosity in this defeat. What prompted the parting of the world-famed opening pair of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana? Hashan Tillekerathne took from the more experienced Aravinda de Silva and Ranatunga rolled into the cross at No. 6. Why? Mahanama, usually a solid and slow accumulator of runs, displayed aggressive intent, and scored three boundaries all of which were 'iffy'. Was this approach by accident or design? It is the easiest thing to be wise after the event! But Sri Lankan cricket fans are left wondering whether these are the surprise packets that were to be displayed at the much boosted 1999 World Cup. Despite the wide margin of defeat I do not despair. The sweaty wicket, which encouraged seam and swing in the early hours, gradually rolled out into a good batting strip. England benefited in no small measure and justified the odds of the Bookmakers! Chaminda Vaas and Pramodya Wickremasinghe too would have revelled under such conditions and Stewart and Hick would not have strutted around with half-centuries against their names. Vaas and Wickremesinghe bowled admirably but the wicket had, meanwhile, turned benevolent to batsmen. The effects of the roller had converted it into a flat and even strip, devoid of any encouragement to bowlers. Vaas showed us that he is returning to his usual nagging line and length. This definitely augurs well for our remaining games and the quality of his bowling is reflected in his final figures of 10 overs 27 runs for one wicket. Wickremesinghe has been at the butt-end of many jokes until recently. Today's bowling did him a credit and we can confidently expect him to deliver the goods in the weeks to come. We then focus on our newcomer Eric Upashantha, the lanky right-arm medium-pacer. My evaluation of Upashantha is diametrically opposite to that of the Sri Lankan Selectors, even though it does not matter one 'jet' to most readers. Upashantha brings back nostalgic memories of my youth several decades ago. Bowling a 'friendly' medium-pace on well prepared County League grounds, opposing batsmen eagerly looked forward to my occasional brief bowling spell for gathering some easy runs. Having watched Upashantha just once I am inclined to believe that we are both in the same league as bowlers! Perhaps he may still prove me wrong before the World Cup draws to a close! I shall be delighted for it.

I now bring Arjuna into the reckoning. Down the years I had formed the opinion that he was second to none in the "One-Day" game as a captain. In this match against England his captaincy reached its nadir. I do not attribute the questionable team selection and planning tactics to him. For that the Tour Management Committee is at the receiving end of my accusing finger. But Arjuna must take the blame for all on-field lapses. Kaluvitharana, a natural strokeplayer, with much success, was replaced by Mahanama, who has been bandied around ever since he entered the International stage. Hashan Tilekeratne was sent to the chopping block at No.4 while two of the most experienced batsmen in world cricket in Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna himself, were back- pedalling to avoid playing the moving ball. After being dismissed for 204 runs Arjuna forgot that defensive tactics will not bring victory unless the opposing side was bowled out. To defend 204 runs against 300 deliveries (50 overs) plus No Balls plus Wides on a rapidly improving wicket was well nigh impossible. But Arjuna and his advisers thought otherwise. When Muralitharan was brought on he quickly mesmerised Nasser Hussain for 14 runs. Then Arjuna won the hearts of many millions of English fans and the wrath of all Sri Lankans by sending the successful bowler into dry docks in the outfield!! Graeme Hick breathed a sigh of relief! So did Stewart! But Arjuna did not entirely forget Murali. He brought him on again to bowl the 27th over by which time the England captain and Graeme Hick had settled themselves, and paved the way for victory.

That 'Mighty Atom' Kaluvitharana was Sri Lanka's saving grace. Adopting bold tactics he put the Englishmen to the sword. Admittedly the wicket had by then lost its venom and, except for Mullaly, the others reduced to up and down trundling. Arjuna, as usual,maintained a level head and gave Kaluvitharana advise and support. The 'Mighty Atom' raced to his 50 off 52 balls with seven hits to the ropes. His partnership of 68 with Arjuna raised Sri Lankan hopes until the latter was well caught for 32 runs out of 42 balls. The 50-stand occupied a mere 7.3 overs! Earlier in the day we saw our 'Human Dynamo' Jayasuriya and that "guinea pig" Mahanama survive the opening overs by divine providence. Gough, in particular, could have been excused for uttering the unprintable! Many were the times that the Sri Lankans found themselves completely at sea against the moving and rising balls. Jayasuriya, Atapattu, Aravinda de Silva and Kaluvitharana were victims of deliveries that gained in 'bounce'. But that alone was not the reason for the dismissals. They also failed to get behind the line on this wicket of uneven 'bounce', during the early hours. Yes, Mullaly with his drooping shoulders, babyface and saintly looks, was a handful in conditions ideal for him. That England gave Gough and Austin the new ball, instead of Mullaly, could be considered a blessing! And now to Northampton where a good batting strip and the South Africans and Hansie Cronje await us. Could we provide the fireworks on this batting paradise and raise Sri Lankan hopes?

All eyes on Marlon

Competition is expected to be fierce among those vying for places in Sri Lankan contingent for the South Asia Federation Games to be held in Nepal from September 22 to October 4 this year.

The 23rd national age group swimming and diving championships from August 20 to 24 at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium Pool will serve as a trial.

These will be worked out in two stages one commencing at 9 am and the other from 2 pm.

Over 750 swimmers and divers will be seen in action in age groups of under 10,12,14, 16 and 19 open for both boys and girls.

Last year S.Thomas' carried off the overall championship in the boys'events and Mahamaya won the girls' championships.

Those who will battle out for places in boys' swimming events will be: Gheffari Dulapandan, Gihan Ranatunga, Marlon S. Delano, Conrad Francis, Asela Pradeep, H.E. Nishantha, Eranga Fernando, Upul Shantha, Duleeka Nanayakkara, Sean Lee, Jayamal Wijeyaratne, Shevantha de Silva, Ajith Weerakody.

Women: Natasha Kodituwakku, Ranansi Lankage, Radeesha Daluwatte, Theekshana Ratnasekera, Asangi Wijesundera, Tahire Edirisinghe, Chami Wickremasinghe, Chandri Haputanthri, Ruchira Mony.

All eyes will be on Marlon Delano who will no doubt be victorious in the men's 1500 metres free style, the 400 Individual medley which he won last time out in an improved timing of 5 minutes 2 seconds bettering his silver medal timing at the SAF Games and the 200 metres breast stroke which will be a battle between him and Gheffari Dulapandan.

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