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22nd October 2000
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Cricket from Nairobi to Sharjah

By Aubrey Kuruppu
By common consent, the Aussies are top of the pops in both versions of the game. The Proteas are almost as good but they seem destined to come out second best when it comes to the crunch.

The Pakistanis, excessively talented yet infuriatingly unpredictable, scaled the heights one day and plumbed the depths the next. India's talented trio churned out the runs rapidly and attractively, yet their bowling was a bit flat.

It was left to the low profile New Zealanders to inherit the earth - in this case, the ICC knock-out tournament. For sometime now, the Kiwis have adduced evidence of their one day capabilities and have proved to be far from easy meat for their more favoured opponents. Going back in time, did they not reach the semi-finals of some World Cups, initially, in the glory days of Glenn Turner, Geoff Howorth, Richard Hadlee and Lance Cairns? When the World Cup tournament came to their door-step in the early nineties, didn't the Kiwis, led by Martin Crowe stun one and all with their tactical manoeuvers and all round efficiency?

In a Test, it is sometimes possible to be outplayed over three days and yet come back and win. One has only to think of the SSC grounds one August day in 1992. Border's redoubtable team had all but been humbled. Yet they won the Test by a mere 16 runs. Not so in a one day match. There is neither time nor spirit to come back from the dead as it were.

Fleming had gone off the boil: Astle had threatened but briefly: Those had been a comparative "failure" (a mere 31 after innings of 85 and 87!). It all boiled down, to the exploits of the massive, amazingly talented and hitherto erratically temperamental Chris Cairns. As long as he was in, there was hope for them. He betrayed no excitement and nerves as he kept his team in the hunt with a mixture of fluent drives, crisp cuts and hugely struck sixes. It is fit to rank with Viv Richard's superb 184 against England in the 80s, during which the master blaster and the Rolls Royce of fast bowlers (as Boycott termed Holding) took the West Indies from rags to riches in a bewildering last wicket stand.

Yuvaraj Singh came of age. His cricket displayed a maturity way beyond his years. He struck the ball sweetly and seemingly nervelessly. More importantly, he consigned Azahruddin to the ranks of the has-beens. However stardom in the one-sday format does not always give rise to supreme talent in the longer version.

The Aussies opted for a full hand of bowlers and paid the price. There was a sameness about the attack and with Ganguly on song, there was little the champs could do. To compound matters, Mark Waugh continued his less-prolific trend and the 'terminator' Bevan was probably thrown into the fray a bit too early. To their credit, the Indians came up with a brilliant performance in the field which enhanced the quality of the attack. In hindsight, would Symonds' inclusion for Gillespie have helped matters? The latter's ten overs could have been bowled by part-timers Martin, Bevan, Ponting, the Waughs and Symonds himself. A mouth-watering prospect for batsmen?

The Sri Lankans raised hopes of going far in the tournament by demolishing a below-strength West Indian side. Batsmen make their own luck and Gunawardene certainly did so with an eye-catching hundred. Jaywawar-dena's knock was less productive but more accomplished. Zoysa rocked the opponents with that early burst.

Expectations were high when the Sri Lankans met the Pakistanis. There must have been a degree of trepidation in some because you never know when they will really turn it on. Wasim's gem of a delivery to Gunawardena, and Azhar's brutish freakish delivery to Atapattu put Sri Lanka on the back foot straightaway. Jayasuriya, as his wont, blazed away as only he can. The trade-mark six over deep backward point was in evidence. Talk of a batsman's strong point also being his Achilles' Heel and Akram delivered the killer punch by luring Jayasuriya to his doom. Kaluvitharana could feel hard done by, but that is the rub of the green.

Faced with a total of 195, the Pakistanis proceeded on cruise mode. Anwar helped himself to another century and moved past Haynes in the pecking order, Nazir thrashed around and, Youhana stroked sans effort. Muralitharan didn't produce the goods for once and all Lanka failed with him. The luck of effectiveness was most striking.

On this day (Am I flogging a dead horse!) the Pakistanis were far too superior. We were outplayed pure and simple. On another day, we could perhaps return the compliment.

So the scene shifts to Sharjah. Forget the Zimbabweans. This all boils down to a battle between two wounded combatants. The one nursing wounded pride and the other suffering from self-inflicted wounds. India has a trio of magnificent strikers while Sri Lanka seems to have greater batting depth, Jayasuriya has a formidable task. He has to match brilliance with brilliance, yet stay out there for much longer than he has been doing.


Senior players dropped from national pool

Three senior men's players and one woman player has been dropped from the National Tennis pool picked by P.S.Kumara (Chairman), Jehan Perera, Sanjaya Wijemanne and Iqbal Bin Issack.

The players dropped from the national pool are Davis Cup players Jayendra Wijesekera, Rohan de Silva, Asiri Iddamalgoda and Federation Cup player Vajira Premaratne.

According to the selection committee these players have been dropped as they have not fulfilled the criteria for selection, which is participation in the stipulated number of locally ranked tournaments.The Sri Lanka Tennis Association will be contacting a number of overseas players with the hope of strengthening the men's and women's teams.

The newly picked men's pool will comprise, Dinuka Ranaweera, Sanjeev Paramanathan, Ganendran Subramaniam, Chamara Wijesinghe, Harshana Godamanna, U. Walgampaya, Eran Weerakoon, Dilahad Abeygunawardena.

The women's pool will comprise Sobhini de Silva, Dushinka Subramaniam, Shalini Pereira, Maheesha Seneviratne, Nadeera de Silva and Shamanthi Wjesekera.

The men's team will participate in the Davis Cup in 2001 February in Philippines, where they will participate with seven other countries in the Asia Oceania Group 111. The women are expected to participate at the Federation Cup Asia Oceania Group 11 in April next year.

Upset victory

Maligawatte Youth pulled off an upset 4 goals to 2 win over York in their Premier League Football fifth round encounter conducted by the Foootball Federation of Sri Lanka and played at Police Park.

The scores were 1 all at half time.

In the other matches in an all Kandy affair Hyline SC held Red Diamonds to a 1 all draw, while Jupiters beat Blue Stars Kalutara by 4 goals to 1, Old Bens beat Pelicans SC Kurunegala 3/1 in Kurunegala, Negombo Youth beat Pettah United 3/1.

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