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Sri Lanka take on Pakistan in a crunch match tomorrow (Monday) that would keep the winning teams hopes alive of a berth in Fridays final of the Singer Champions trophy cricket tournament at the Sharjah stadium.
Despite the loss to a rejuvenated Kiwi side in the opener, the Sri Lankan bowlers backed by good fielding overshadowed their batting, to come out best against Pakistan in the second, and still remain the crowd-favourite to enter the final..
The world champions will need more batting fluency to come out top in the three-nation tournament than they did in the first two matches. They progressed erratically to pose a decent score against Pakistan after the usual kick-start given by opener Sanath Jayasuriya.
Roshan Mahanama once again confirmed his status as a useful batsman with his rescue act against Pakistan and should continue to be in the side despite being rested in the opener against New Zealand.
The injury to Kumara Dharmasenas bowling arm (a torn ligament) has cast a doubt on the wily all-rounders fitness to play in the rest of the competition. Upul Chandana could fill the void.
Although Sri Lanka and New Zealand successfully defended a modest total of 206 it certainly is not a total that any team would like to defend in this tournament. A 250 plus score for a side batting first can put them in the box seat despite the Sharjah Stadium known to have posed bigger totals.
The slow pitch and the heavy outfield have been the reason for the uncharacteristically low totals. But it is certain that these teams with their batting depths will pose bigger totals in the coming games.
Jayasuriya, despite getting out for low scores, did show the way, and it wont be long for him to come out blazing in at least one of the remaining encounters. And so will Aravinda de Silva.
Sri Lanka is yet to see a famous De Silva knock. He played a over cautious knock against the Kiwis and was out to a good ball and a good catch against Pakistan. It wont be long before he comes out with a knock that has made him the best five batsman in the world today.
It is also high time that the world champions, who have been very successful with their opening pair to change their tactic a bit. In chasing a modest total it may be worth bringing back Mahanama to open with Jayasuriya and then send both Romesh Kaluwitharana and Chaminda Vaas in order to accelerate the run-rate if the situation required, and yet create another revelation in the one-day games.
Skipper Arjuna Ranatunge, earlier said that every tournament is a new beginning and every encounter is another game in these one-day internationals.
Sri Lanka A skipper Marwan Atapattu was called for national duty in Sharjah, while he was marshalling his men, against West Indies A at Welagedara Stadium yesterday.
Atapattu will replace, injured Kumara Dharmasena who broke his shoulder in Fridays game against Pakistan after a spectacular double catch with Mahanama to dismiss danger man Saheed Afridi.
Atapattu will have to report to Colombo airport this morning. Atapattus duties in Kurunegala will be looked after by his deputy, Sanjeewa Ranatunga for today.
In another sparkling performance by a school boy cricketer, Thurstanist Hemantha Boteju scored twin centuries against S.Thomas in their drawn game at Mt. Lavinia yesterday.
In the first innings Boteju slammed 117 runs and went on to get an unbeaten 100 in the second.
S. Thomas continuing their overnight score of 84 for 1, declared at 331 for 4 in reply to Thurstans 249 for 7 declared. Upeka Fernando who had scored two centuries earlier hit 137, his highest for the season. It included 24 boundaries and a six. He was associated with Bhatiya Karunaratna (33) in a partnership of 112 for 2 wickets.
Romesh Fernando (58) and Nilanka Pieris (57 n.o.) put on 115 runs for the fourth wicket.
Thurstan in the second innings were in trouble at 104 for 6. But Boteju and Tarudu Wickramasingha (22 n.o.) put on an unfinished partnership of 84 runs for the seventh wicket and steered Thurstan out of danger.
This is the second time in recent weeks that a school boy from a lesser known school had hit twin centuries against a more prominent school. Two weeks ago Dharmapalas Chintaka Jayasinghe hit twin centuries against Royal.
Scores: Thurstan 248 for 7 dec. (H. Boteju 117, S. Jayawardana 35) and 188 for 6 in 50 overs (H. Boteju 100 n.o., C. Liyanage 22, S. Jayawardana 20, T. Wickramasinghe 22 n.o., N. Ratwatte 4/52).
S. Thomas 333 for 4 dec. (Upeka Fernando 134, B. Karunaratna 38, R. Fernando 58, N. Pieris 57 n.o., H. Boteju 2/57).
The 8th South Asian Federation Games will be held in Kathmandu, Nepal as scheduled in mid September next year, Senior official of the Sports Ministry said.
Sri Lanka was on standby to host the Games if Nepal pulled out.
The twelve disciplines agreed upon, including the three compulsories, athletics, swimming and football, table tennis, volleyball, karate, taekwende, weightlifting, wrestling, shooting, kabbidi and boxing.
Sri Lanka are certain to lose many medals with the female participation restricted to athletics, swimming, table tennis, shooting and volleyball only.
Royal roared to regatta glory yesterday when they won the Battle of the Blues against S. Thomas on the Beira to take the trophy after three years.
Royal last won this trophy in 1992.
They drew with S. Thomas in 1993, and lost it in 1994 and 95.
The Thomians working for the trophy for the third year running had their hopes kept alive when they won the Junior Scull with S. de Silva beating P. Abhayaratne by 2 1/2 lengths in a time of 4 minutes 23 seconds to get their first two points.
Royal piled up the points thereafter, winning the Senior Pairs, Senior Sculls, Junior Pairs and Junior Fours too, to aggregate 26 points.
The Old Boys Race too, was won by the Royalists by 3 lengths in a time of 3 minutes 55 seconds.
Junior Pairs - Y. Nanayakkara, K. Abhayaratne and Shevantha Tennekoon (Cox) - Royal - beat A. Jayasuriya, D. Perera and E. Muthuthanthri (Cox) - S. Thomas by 2 1/2 lengths in 4 minutes 36 seconds.
Senior Scull - Z. Kamil (Royal) beat S. Ganegoda (S. Thomas) by 1/2 length in 4 minutes 11 seconds.
Senior Pairs - I. Ferdinando, A. Abhyaratne, T. Cooray (Cox) - Royal beat R. Wanigatunga, D. Seneviratne, R. Vannitambi (Cox) - S. Thomas by 1/2 length in 4 minutes 21 seconds.
Junior Fours - S. Mohammed, P. Abhayaratne, C.Galappaththi, D. Sri Chandrasekera, Shevantha Tennekoon (Cox) - Royal beat D. Perera, P. Kariyawasam, A. Jayasuriya, M. Muzrook, E. Muthuthanthri (Cox) - S. Thomas by 2 lengths in 3 minutes 46 seconds.
Senior Fours - K. Seneviratne, D. Seneviratne, R. Waingatunga, S. Ganegoda and R. Vannitambi (Cox) - S. Thomas beat Z. Kamil, A. Abhayaratne, I. Ferdinando, R. Jayasekera, T. Cooray (Cox) Royal.
Sri Lanka A batsmen will have to bat a whole day today, if they want to save the first unofficial four-day cricket test against West Indies A being played at Welagedara Stadium, Kurunegala.
It will be a tough task. They have lost the services of their in-form skipper Marvan Atapattu, who has to leave the team for Sharjah with undefeated 30 to his credit.
Atapattu, rejuvenated by his first century at international level (104 in the fist innings) batted with grace for his 30 yesterday evening. Sri Lanka A had 86 runs on the board at close of play. Yesterday after wobbling at 49 for 2 in twelve overs Atapattu was ably supported by Saman Jayantha (19 n.o.) after he had a painful blow by Cameron Cuffy.
Sri Lanka A have to get 201 to avoid innings defeat.
The West Indians soared to 470 for 9 to gaini a first innings lead of 201. Philo Wallace (124), hit his second successive century.
West indies A began the day at 264 for 3 with skipper Roger Harper (25.n.o.) and Tony Powell (27.n.o.) at the crease. The Lankans had to struggle 50 minutes to claim their first wicket in the morning when Harper edged Soysa into the hands of Saman Jayantha at second slip. Harper contributed a well compiled 51 to the total while adding 109 runs to the fourth wicket stand with Tony Powell.
Powell who was more aggressive yesterday and hit 10 boundaries in his 254 minutes stay at the crease, was brilliantly caught and bowled by Sri Lanka test cap Ruwan Kalpage for 87. Floyd Riefer who retired at 27, on the previous day because of a cramp, returned to the middle yesterday. He batted with authority in his second appearance completing his 50 in 204 minutes. He, however, gave a simple catch to skipper Atapattu at slip while trying to loft Arnold.
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