31st December 2000
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Sri Lankan spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan (C) is congratulated 
by his teammates after taking his 300th Test wicket on the final 
day of the Test against South Africa in Durban December 30, 2000. 
Sri Lanka hung on grimly to force a draw. (AFP)

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Murali's millennium milestone

Sri Lanka hang on grimly for a draw 

Durban, Saturday. (Reuter) Sri Lanka's ace off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan spun his way to a millennium milestone in the first Test against South Africa here today - but the visitors puffed and stumbled to survive for a draw.

Record breaker Murali-tharan turned in a sensational spell at King's Park, sending South Africa reeling to 140 for 7 before they declared leaving Sri Lanka with a virtually impossible target of 344 in 82 overs. 

The more significant factor was whether Sri Lanka's shaky batting could survive the 82 overs. Sri Lanka started reasonably well but all over again there was a sudden collapse and they were crashing in at 80 for 4 with almost 50 overs remaining. 

But Russel Arnold and Tillekeratne Dilshan dug in and held out for about 30 overs. Yet again two wickets fell in quick succession and South Africa again had a chance. But Dilshan joined by allrounder Chaminda Vaas held on grimly until the matchwas called off with eight overs to spare. 

Muttiah Muralitharan made history on Saturday when he became the first Sri Lankan to take 300 wickets.

But South Africa struck back shortly before tea and at the interval Sri Lanka, set 345 to win, were 85 for four after losing three quick wickets in the space of seven overs. 

Kumar Sangakkara was given out stumped for 17 by television umpire Ian Howell off left-arm spinner Nicky Boje in the 27th over. Four overs later, Boje struck again to have opener Marvan Atapattu caught behind by Boucher for 20.

Mahela Jayawardene, on seven, suffered a similar fate at the hands of fast bowler Makhaya Ntini without a run added to the total.

South Africa had resumed the day on 47 for one and attacked the bowling to score 93 runs in the 21.3 overs they faced before the declaration came at 140 for seven.

The South Africans' approach aided the cause of off-spinner Muralitharan, who took six for 39 to finish with match figures of 11 for 161 - the fifth time he has taken 10 or more wickets in a test. 

Muralitharan's 300th victim was Shaun Pollock, who was caught at silly point for 11. Fast bowler Pollock, the South African captain, reached 200 wickets on Thursday. 

Muralitharan, playing in his 58th test, reached 300 wickets faster than any other bowler except for former Australian pace great Dennis Lillee, who made it in 55 matches. He is the fastest spin bowler to reach the milestone, and the 17th cricketer to do so. South Africa threw caution to the wind in an attempt to score runs quickly, as evidenced by Pollock promoting himself up the order to number four. Gary Kirsten top-scored with 34, and Boeta Dippenaar's 22 was the only other South African score above 20.

Scoreboard{tc "Scoreboard"}

South Africa first innings 420

(G.Kirsten 180, D.Cullinan 59, L.Klusener 50; D.Fernando 5-98, M.Muralitharan 5-122)

Sri Lanka first innings 216

(K.Sangakkara 74, M.Jawarardene 98, S.Pollock 3-40)

South Africa second innings

H.H. Dippenaar lbw b Muralitharan 22 

G. Kirsten c Arnold b Muralitharan 34 

J.H. Kallis b Muralitharan 15 

S.M. Pollock c Dilshan b Muralitharan 11

N. Boje c Sangakkara b Fernando 8

M.V. Boucher c Vaas b Muralitharan 10

N.D. McKenzie lbw b Muralitharan 13

L. Klusener not out 11

D.J. Cullinan not out 2 

Extras (b 4, lb 3, nb 7) 14 

Total (7 wickets dec, 34 overs, 155 mins) 140 

DNB: M Ntini, M Ngam

. FoW: 1-46, 2-75, 3-91, 4-92, 5-108, 6-114 , 7-132

Bowling: Vaas 9 1 25 0 Zoysa 5 0 21 0 Fernando 10 0 48 1 (6nb) Muralitharan 10 1 39 6

Sri Lanka 2nd innings (target: 345 runs)

M.S. Atapattu c Boucher b Boje 20 

S.T. Jayasuriya c Cullinan b Ngam 26

K. Sangakkara st Boucher b Boje 17

D.P. M. de S. Jayawardene c Boucher b Ntini 7

R.P. Arnold c Dippenaar b Pollock 30 

T.M. Dilshan not out 28

R. S. Kaluwitharana c Boje b Pollock 1

W.P.U.J.C. Vaas not out 3 Extras (b 4, lb 7, nb 6) 17 

Total (6 wickets, 74 overs, 297 mins) 149 

DNB: Zoysa, RD Fernando, M Muralitharan.

FoW: 1-41, 2-69, 3-80, 4-80, 5-132, 6-140. 

Bowling: Pollock 16 5 35 2 (2nb) Ngam 13 3 34 1 (4nb) Ntini 10 4 18 1 Kallis 6 1 14 0 Boje 24 12 30 2 Klusener 5 1 7 0. 


Kalpani is the new star

By Bruce Maurice
The standard of badminton in the country was stagnant this year, as it has been during the last couple of years. Although some of our shuttlers fared very well in certain international tournaments. 

However, as the saying goes, 'Every cloud has a silver lining', a future star appeared on the badminton horizon of Sri Lanka this year. She is none other than teenager Kalpani Herath of Girls' High School, Kandy. In a tournament played this year, she even beat the top seed Deepika Rodrigo and the bottom seed Dilini Madawala. 

A special committee headed by the President of the Sri Lanka Badminton Association Dr. A. R. L. Wijesekera and comprising five other Thomas Cup players, have been appointed to look into the shortcomings and recommendations on how to improve the standard of the game in the years to come. 

A meaningful and very good step was taken by the SLBA this year. It was the decision to popularise the game in the outstations and bring out any lights that may be hidden under bushes. 

With the blessings of the Ministry of Sports, five indoor stadiums are being constructed at Kurunegala, Polonnaruwa, Poramadulla, Ratnapura, Ambalangoda and Matara. These should be completed very soon. Formation of District Associations this year by the SLBA is also a step taken by the parent body to take the game to the outstations.

Already, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Monaragala, Ratnapura, Nuwara Eliya, Gampaha and Puttalam have formed District Association. It is certainly heartening to note that a number of several youngsters with promise and potential have emerged from the outstations. 

Looking to the future, the Association hopes to participate in the XII World Championships to be held in Spain and the 9th SAF Games in Pakistan. In addition, a sattelite circuit is on the cards to be held in Colombo from August 3 to 7 next year.

The Secretary, Mr. Karu Amarasinghe informs that the Minister of Sports, Mr. Lakshman Kiriella has promised all assistance to improve the game in the country and has already allocated funds to obtain the services of a foreign coach. 

Finally the Sri Lanka Badminton Association is thankful to Commercial Bank Ltd., for their continued sponsorship towards the sport in the country.


A very busy year

The Squash Federation conducted many tournaments during the past year and also participated in many tournaments overseas. In January a referees clinic was conducted by Mr. Mnir Shah, Director ASF Referees' Committee.

In April the Inter Club Tournament was conducted, two players took part in the ASF Junior Grand Final in India and the Otters open tournament was conducted. An ASF Level 1 Coaching course was also conducted by Maj. S. Maniam, Director of Coaching ASF.

In May the Inter Sport Open Tournament was conducted. In June, the Inter Schools Squash Tournament was conducted by the S.L. Schools Squash Association with the assistance of the SLSF. In July, four men and 5 women represented the country at the Asian Senior Squash Championships in Hong Kong. At this tournament, Saman Tilekaratne won the Plate event for men. This was the first time a Sri Lankan won an event since its inauguration. At the World Junior Men's Championships in Italy, Navin Samarasinghe was beaten in the Quarter Final of the Plate event by Neal Raval of Luxumbourg in a thrilling five-setter. In August, the Le Kandyan Open Tournament and a Squash training clinic for the Kandy schools was also conducted.

In the same month, the Junior Nationals were also held. In September, The 2nd Inter Club Tournament was conducted and the Otters Club won both the A and B divisions, and in India, a large contingent of boys and girls were sent to participate in the Little Masters Junior Tournament and the Indian Junior Open Championships. In the boys' under-19 age group, Navin Samarasinghe was semi-finalist in the Wellingdon Cup and Tehani Guruge the runner-up in the Indian Junior.

In November, The Sri Lanka Junior Open Championships were conducted and players from Hong Kong also took part in this tournament. The SSC Open Tournament was also conducted in November and a Squash Coaching Clinic was also held by the SLSF at the Sri Lanka Air Force, Katunayaka. In December, the Sri Lanka National Championships were held. Navin Samarasinghe was the men's champion and Yasmin Zarook the women's champion. 

The progress shown by the Junior Boys' at Asian level was most encouraging. At the 9th Asian Junior Championships held in Malaysia, Sri Lanka was placed 5th out of eleven countries.

Navin Samarasinghe was ranked No. 77 in the European Junior Circuit (Under-19) and his performance at the British and Scottish Junior Open where he was placed 8th. He became the first Sri lankan Junior to be ranked in Europe. He was also ranked 3rd in the Asian Junior (Under-19) circuit this year and kavinda Cooray was ranked No. 16. Tehani Guruge was placed 3rd at the Scottish Junior Open in the girls' under-13 event. 

With greater exposure and participation by Sri Lankan Juniors at International Tournaments there is bound to be much improvement in our standards and achievements which have so far been due to the efforts of individuals and parents and at their own expense.

It was also very encouraging to note that the Men's Senior events are now being dominated by the 18-20 year olds, i.e., Navin Samarasinghe, Hirantha Goonasena and Kavinda Cooray. However, the women's event are still being dominated by veteran Yasmin Zarook with consummate ease in all tournaments, overcoming the younger and more energetic. (BM) 

Lanka flattered to deceive

By Aubrey Kuruppu
The Under 19 World Cup, whose organisation was favourably commented upon by almost all and sundry, was by way of starters: the aperitif as it were. The hosts, Sri Lanka, reached the final only to come a cropper against a far more experienced and seasoned team in India. Mubarak, Ganegama, Daniels, Dhammika and Lokuarachchi impressed while Weeraratne made it a spring-board for entry into the national one-day squad. 

For the Indians, skipper Kaif, Reetinder Singh, Sodhi and the man of the tournament, Yuwaraj Sing, progressed to bigger deeds. The strides made by the last-named in such a short space of time bespeak a tremendous talent that was waiting to be tapped. 

In February-March, Jayasuriya's men took on Saeed Anwar's Pakistanis and repeated their series victory of '95-'96. The opening Test at Rawalpindi was a close-run thing, but the injured Ranatunga in tandem with Kaluvitharana steered their team home by two wickets. Aravinda de Silva excelled with the bat to carry away the Man of the Match award while debutant Younis Khan compiled a century defying great odds. 

The second Test at Peshawar was also claimed by the visiting team for a series triumph. Trump card Muralitharan came into his own, returning figures of 4/77 and 6/71 and the Man of the Match award was simply a no-contest. Muralitharan also became the first Sri Lankan to take 10 wickets in a Test against Pakistan on their soil. 

The Sri Lankans seem to have gone off the boil in final Test at Karachi which was convincingly won by the Moin Khan led Pakistanis. However, for the home team, it was a case of winning a battle but losing the war. 

A rather weak Zimbabwean 'A' team pitted their skills against their local counterparts in April-May. Avishka Gunawardena came in from the cold to reel off a couple of centuries with some strikingly aggressive play. Others such as Thilan Samaraweera, Hewage, Sangakkara and Weeraratne made use of the opportunities to stake claims for higher honours. 

Sri Lanka's run of success in the Pepsi Asia Cup held in Dhaka was terminated by a spirited Pakistan performance in the final. Their all out aggression with the bat put the match beyond the reach of Jayasuriya's team. Atapattu salvaged some pride with a century. 

Shortly after, the teams met again in a three Test series, the first of which at the SSC happened to be Sri Lanka's hundredth Test. Ranatunga went down in history as being the only player to appear in a country's first and hundredth tests. Aside from the hype and hoopla surrounding the event, Wasim Akram turned the spotlight on himself with two contrasting innings to steer his team home in a close contest which Muralitharan threatened to win for Sri Lanka. Centuries by Anwar, Inzamam and, inevitably, Wasim Akram, in a total of 600/8 took the Pakistanis to an overwhelming win at Galle. They had thus paid us back in the same coin. 

In a truncated final Test at Asgiriya, Jayasuriya and Atapattu almost achieved immortality by putting together an opening partnership of 335. Jayasuriya's 188 was a mixed bag - some glorious shots interspersed with some sketchy, mundane ones. Atapattu survived a torried working over by Akram. 

The South Africans had arrived by then and the triangular ODI series got under way. The Sri Lankans performed confidently and competently to reach the final. It was touch and go as to who would oppose them. Finally, the South Africans won through. Yet hard as they tried, they found the local team just too good on the day. This series saw the coming of age of Sangakkara who inpressed most with his free-flowing shots. 

The Proteas were sure to give a closer run in the Test series though the first Test at Galle belied that impression. Once again, Jayasuriya (140 and Atapattu 54) blasted off with a stand of 193. Jayawardena played with a kind of lazy elegance in his 167. Cullinan 114 not out stood alone while all others deserted him. Muralitharan 6-87 first time round, ensured that there was no way back for Pollock's men. 

Kandy's weather gods were kinder this time and the players made it a magnificent Test. At the half won stage, Sri Lanka had a bit more than their nose in front. A hitherto dormant Kallis sped to 87 and the Sri Lankans had a mere 175 to get with oodles of time. But Hayward struck early blows to have Sri Lanka back-pedalling at 21/4, cometh the hour, cometh the man. Ranatunga, who had announced his impending retirement, met fire with fire and counter punched superbly to strike a dazzling 88. Klusener, 118 not out in the South African first innings, now took over and chipped away. The visitors won by a mere seven runs and, fittingly. Ranatunga and Klusener shared the Man of the Match award. The final Test at the SSC promised to deliver much but failed. Neither team could draw away from the other. Pollock threw down the gauntlet but it wasn't exactly picked up. Jayawardena came good with a classy, stroke-filled hundred. The series ended one all but the cricket was tough and at times quite absorbing. 

The ICC tournament in Kenya was the big let down. Sri Lanka flattered to deceive. The West Indians, who included Lara but missed Walsh, were shown their place by a masterful Sri Lankan team. But the joy was short-lived. The Pakistanis bowled superbly to restrict us and then their batters took over - only three of them, in fact. Sri Lanka was shown the door and the mood among the fans was decidedly despondent. Efficient, unglamorous New Zealand, by the way, took top honours here. 

The mood swing from the despondent to the joyous, came in a matter of days. Sri Lanka thrashed India and Zimbabwe most comfortably and maintained a perfect run of success. Jayasuriya's bat was like a magician's wand as he blazed his way to 189 in the final, on top of some hefty scores in the other games. Muralitharan weaved a couple of magical spells and the Indians were puffed away. But this was a strange, lacklustre Indian side. When the big two were picked up, the rest folded up. The bashing was sad to say the least. The Zimbabweans were honest toilers but simply incapable of meeting the Sri Lankan challenge. 

Came the South African tour and sterner Tests lay ahead. At the time of writing, the Sri Lankans are about in to the opening Test, having gone down 0-2 in the one dayers played to date. South African confidence is at a high. Their batsmen are firing and even their Donald-less pace attack is bowling with discipline and efficiency. Bouncy Kingsmead may be right up their street. The Sri Lankans will have to dig deep into their reservoir of experience and come up with something special. Jayasuriya, Atapattu, Jayawardena and of course Muralitharan hold the key. 

U 19 ruggerites surpass all records

By Jatila Karawita
The year that Sri Lanka first made it to the World Cup Finals, in the long history of local rugby, is how 2000 will best be remembered here.

The feat achieved by the Under 19 Sri Lanka rugby team, when they ended being the third best behind Korea, and Japan, at the Junior Rugby Asiad this month, surpassed all other records in the year. 

Sri Lanka led by Thomian flanker Jivan Gunathileke, turned in a professional display against Asian heavyweights and eventual champions Korea (0-15), Japan (10-29), after getting better of Hong Kong (15-12), before signing off with a handsome victory over Taiwan (26-8). 

Their effort earned for them the right, to scrum in the Junior World Cup in Chile in April in 2001. 

That Junior ruggerites created history, during the course of the Youth Rugby showpiece, contrasted sharply with what was achieved by the Seniors, representing the country in national caps. 

Sri Lanka of whom much was expected at the Rugby Asiad held in Amori, Japan, cut a sorry figure ending the tournament being placed one before the last, hardly the ranking which was anticipated by the rugby fraternity, in the Island nation. 

Asoka Jayasena's side grouped along with China, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, managed to scrape only a consolation win over newcomers to Asian rugby China, before losing as usual to teams as Thailand and Singapore.

That setback suffered by the national team, at the senior Asiad in June was somewhat put into perspective, by an improved display during a two Test home rubber, with Chinese Taipei in October. 

With scorelines of 34-27, in the first Test and 46-30 in the second, the home team brought a smile back to the faces of local rugby lovers, albeit partially following unconvincing performances, in either versions of the game for much of the year. 

The shorter format of the game, known the world over as Sevens rugby also brought nothing but depression to spectators at home as one pasting after another, in no fewer than five Sevens tournaments, painted a dismal picture of Lanka's ability overseas. 

The main focus as in previous years fell on the domestic rugby season, and it was pleasing to see CH & FC led by Nazim Mohammed, managing to end the stranglehold maintained hitherto, by Kandy SC and clinch the local league after seven years. The Maitland Crescent lads coached by Tony Amith, stole the thunder from Kandy and CR, and though they failed to live up to expectations in the knock-out tournament which followed soon after, CH proved beyond all doubts that they were the best club team in 2000.

Kandy also known as the dazzling glamour boys from the hills, ended the year by clinching the Clifford Cup Knock-Out as if to compensate, for their failure to defend the league title a month earlier. 

Among the rest of the teams only Army SC, made a worthy impact creating a few upsets in the league, before going into the final of the Knock-Out, but teams as CR and Havelocks were left to lick their wounds, for yet another year. 

In the Schools arena it was refreshing to see an outstation school as Kingswood, emerging as the Milo Knock-Out champions for the first time, toppling one of the giants in the arena S.Thomas' College in the final. Thomians led by Gavin Jayasekere, not to be outdone were able to win the Milo league title, in the process ending an 11-year jinx. Lastly taking a look at the year of rugby in 2000, which ends today one has no option but to give the kudos, to the Junior ruggerites for putting Sri Lanka rugby on the World map, in a manner that no one has done before.


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