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22nd August 1999

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Susanthika in second round

Sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe qualified for the second round in the 100 metres at the IAAF championships at Seville in Spain yesterday.

Weather and wicket uncertain, anybody's game in Galle

Testing match for Sanath today

Channaka de Silva reporting from Galle

The weather was bright and fine in Galle yesterday and the international cricket stadium was bustling with activity in preparation for the curtain raiser of the Aiwa tri-nation tournament between world champions Australia and new-look Sri Lanka today.

Both squads for today's opener and India who will meet Australia in tomorrow's second match had full practice sessions at the stadium where construction work was taking place everywhere.

The new permanent stand in front of the indoor net was nearing completion while temporary stands were also coming up.

The scoreboard was just a crude structure of a few metal rods but organisers here were confident of completing it by dawn today.

Another new feature is the artificial hill built on the west side. The wicket appeared flat though a faint tinge of green suggested some early assistance for pace and bounce for pacies.

However rain, the biggest problem the venue faces constantly was not just a remote possibility as dark clouds forced the covers to be drawn up late last evening a few times, though heavy showers did not come down yesterday.

If yesterday was anything to go by to get a clue to weather here there should be fireworks on field today at Galle. Addressing a joint news conference in Colombo on Friday, Australian captain Steve Waugh said he hoped the series would mark a fresh chapter in Sri Lanka-Australia cricketing ties which went through some strains in recent years. Waugh said some disputes on the field a common feature in high-pressure international cricket had been blown up and he hoped the current tour with new captains and lots of new faces would be turning point.

Responding warmly, Sri Lanka's new captain Sanath Jaysuriya also said he felt the two teams should enjoy a drink together, let bygones be bygones and build a new cricketing relationship.

Words apart, it will be the first major test for Jayasuriya with the team coming out for the first time without its three top veterans former captain Arjuna Ranatunga, former vice captain Aravinda de Silva and senior player Roshan Mahanama.

Sri Lankan fans and the cricketing world would also be keen to see what the world's top coach Dav Whatmore has done during the past three weeks with a team that hit the bottom after the world cup.

Without the veterans to advice him, Jaysuriya's biggest test will be his skill as a captain to take vital decisions that could make or break a match in one-day cricket. Jaysuriya is known and admired as one of the most aggressive batsmen in the world and cricket fans would be hoping to see the same power and dynamism in his captaincy also.

For Australia, this will be their international after the world cup victory and they would obviously go flat out to maintain their status. But with the weather uncertain and so too the pitch, anything coudl happen.

The two squads are:

Australia - Steve Waugh(captain), Shane Warne(vice captain), Michael Bevan, Damien Fleming, Adam Gilchrist, Jason Gillespie, Darren Lehmann, Glenn Macgarth, Damien Martyn, Tom Moody, Ricky Ponting, Paul Reiffel, Andrew Symonds, Mark Waugh

Sri Lanka - Sanath Jayasuriya(captain), Mahela Jayewardena (vice captain), Indika de Saram, Suresh Perera, Marvan Atapattu, Avishka Gunawardena, Pramodaya Wickremasinghe, Chamara Silva, Upul Chandana, Russel Arnold, Nimesh Perera, Muttiah Muralitharan, Nuwan Soysa, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Chaminda Vaas

Kandy gear for Nittawela showdown

By Aubrey Kuruppu

The CR and FC have been and still are, one of Sri Lankan rugby's elite clubs - Kandy, on the other hand, are in a sense late developers. Their assault on the Trophies really began around 1992 with the infusion of Fijian blood.

Ever since, almost all the honours in local rugby have been contested by these two clubs. Thus it comes as no surprise whatever that this year's Clifford Cup final will be hotly fought out by Kandy SC, the reigning league champions and the CR and FC the runner-up.

The respective paths to the final could not have been more diverse, Kandy, as was expected, flew high above the Airmen to shoot them down 94-8. However, in the next game, the Army, aided by some rugged play (with some verbal volleys thrown in!), were able to keep Kandy to a moderate 24-6 margin of victory.

The CR squeezed out a 25-24 win over the Navy who played above themselves to surprise all and sundry. They next had a fairly close call against the resurgent CH and FC who had earlier effectively put paid to their chances of winning the league title.

Head to head, these two clubs stand at one all in their encounters this season. CR beat Kandy quite convincingly in their first round game, while Kandy came back at them with ferocity and vengeance to take the second round match by a large margin. Thus, today's clash at Nitttawela (a ground by the way that is anathema to the CR) will settle once and for all the issue of which is the better club in 1999.

Kandy has talent in abundance but, funnily enough, sometimes they fail to put it all together in a rugby sense.

They could be contained for short periods by offering a resolute defence and by not allowing them much freedom of movement. But, ultimately, the superior abilities of the players will see them through.

Possession is the key, and hooker Buksh, who is terrific in the loose, and jumpers Amerasinghe, Jayasena (and Basnayake) will certainly obtain a lot of it, even as they have been doing all season. Skipper Omar is a bustling, rampaging forward who seldom has a bad game. Mallikarachchi, the fly half, has lent a cutting edge to Kandy's attack by forcing his way through gaps and side-stepping his way to the line. Bandaranaike and Wijesuriya, the centres, are superb runners, in their different styles. The former has fitted in well to the centre's berth and his blazing speed is a terrific asset.

Weerakkody, injured in the first game, sat out the second. If he has not recovered, Kandy will have to play a big gap. Besides, Ibrahim's kicking prowess falls well short of Weerakkody's.

CR could surely play better than they did a couple of weeks ago at Bogambara. They have made a positional switch, playing Rodrigo in the last line of defence. Their three quarters may lack the expertise and experience of their opponents', yet they are not to be trifled with. Veediya Bandara and Aruna Dhammika as centres, form an interesting combination.

One feels the battle will be won or lost up front, and hooker Viraj Prasantha together with jumpers Wijegunawardena and Kapila de Silva will have to deny Kandy the possession they dearly love.

First it was the 'Sevens' title. Next came the win in the league. Kandy can, and should, make it a triple - a feat they achieved a couple of seasons ago under the leadership of Lasantha Wijesuriya.

Rowing Club roars back

Colombo Rowing Club led by John de Niese won back the huge Madras / Colombo Boat Race Trophy in the event held at Chennai last Saturday.

Mithila Gunawardena of the Colombo Rowing Club won the Ladies Scull while the Veterans team too beat Madras. Madras Boat Club, won the mens B fours, A & B pairs and A & B sculls while their ladies won the fours and pairs too.

The Colombo Rowing Club team will be in regular training with a hope of regaining the Far East Roving Association Regatta (FEARA) in the race to be held in Colombo on December 4.

The Hong kong Rowing Club has been winning this trophy for many years.

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