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3rd October 1999

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Series victory: Lanka singing in the rain

By Marlon Fernandopulle

Sri Lanka were on the threshold of their first series victory against Australia and creating history after heavy rains abandoned the third day's play of the third and final Test at the SSC grounds yesterday.

Only 43 minutes of play were possible yesterday as the rains lashed out in the morning session at the SSC soaking the covers and leaving the outfield with puddles of water. Despite bright sunshine hours later and a stupendous effort by the ground staff, umpires K T Francis and Peter Willey decided to call off the game for the day after inspecting the ground at 1.30 p.m.

Already more than nine hours of play have been lost from a possible 18 hours and with only two days left Sri Lanka is poised to record their first series win against the Australians.

Australia began the day at 318 for 7 and progressed to 335 before Damien Fleming (32) departed when he attempted to take the aerial route off a vicious turner from Muralitharan, but only succeeded in giving Atapattu a catch at mid on. Fleming added 80 runs for the 8th wicket with Ricky Ponting which helped the Aussies build a challenging total.

Ponting continued on the other end to accumulate runs and reached his century driving Muralitharan to the boundary. The stylish right hander ones again proved his ability to play both spin and pace with ease as he scored his 4th test century with the help of 10 boundaries in 168 balls.

Medium pacer Chaminda Vaas then wrapped up the Kangaroo tail when he took two wickets in three balls in his 24th over. Collin Miller was trapped LBW and Glen McGrath fended a rising delivery to give Atapattu at cover point his 3rd catch. Chaminda Vaas finished as the most successful bowler with 4/54.

Rain hit game ends in draw

Only one innings was completed as the rain hit inter school cricket match between Trinity and St.Sylvester's ended in a draw at the Asgiriya stadium recently.

Rain and bad weather has been the spoiling factor for this match in recent times. This year as well rain affected the game and only three hours of play was possible. There was on play on the second day.

Trinity taking first lease of the wicket made 112 runs for loss of six wickets mainly due to a fighting 47 by opener R. Fernando.

Fernando was given good support by D.Rodrigo(19), M.Rajaratne (14) and skipper K.Weeraratne(17). Trinity made their 112 in 58 overs.

For St.Sylvester's off spinner Mohammed Rifai had excellent figures of 20-10-17-2 he was well supported by skipper Arosha Perera who also scalped two batsmen giving away 38 runs.

Chief scores

Trinity - 112 for 6 in 58 overs(R. Fernando 47, D.Rodrigo 19, M.Rajaratne 14 , skipper K.Weeraratne 17; Mohammed Rifai 2 for 17, Arosha Perera 2 for 38) (AK)

Natasha, Radeesha win four silver medals at SAF games

Sri Lanka's women swimmers did Lanka proud at the 8th South Asian Federation Games in Kathmandu, Nepal by winning 20 medals with Natasha Kodituwakku and Radeesha Daluwatta winning four silver medals each.

The boys were only able to win 13 medals with Gheffari Dulapandan the overall captain together with Asela Pradeep and Conrad Francis winning three silvers each and Eranga Fernando, Marlon S. Delano and Sean Lee, winning two silvers and Sujendra Mather 1 silver.

Theeshana Ratnasekera also won two silver medals for the women and Rasansi Lankage winning two silvers in the relays.

Henry not surprised by stuttering start

CARDIFF, (Reuters) - Wales's stuttering start in the World Cup opener against Argentina was a disappointment for the expectant host country, but for coach Graham Henry it came as no surprise and maybe even a relief.

The New Zealander repeated his mantra that his team are an improving but not yet world class side, despite notching their ninth successive victory in the 23-18 defeat of the Pumas.

Perhaps Welsh fans would now listen to his words of warning that the tournament was going to be very tough to win.

"Hell, we are a long way from that," he said when asked if Wales could capture the Cup. "This is the message I've been trying to put out for a long time.

"It was always going to be difficult with the eyes of the world on us and the weight of expectation from the Welsh public and now things should improve."

Welsh reaction was generally phlegmatic.

"A win is a win" was the headline of the Western Mail newspaper and most fans, dampened literally and metaphorically by the relentless rain and the uninspiring game, were just happy to have avoided disaster.

Wales had to overcome a nervous start and allowed the Pumas to get too close for comfort in the closing stages.

Flyhalf Neil Jenkins scored 13 points with his boot and Wales scored two tries. Argentina had flyhalf Gonzalo Quesada to thank for all their points - six penalties from seven attempts.

Henry said his players had been expecting a very tough game against an Argentine side that was much improved from the one beaten 2-0 by the Welsh in Buenos Aires in June, but he knew that the public had expected an easy victory.

Fiji win 67/18

Namibia's coach Rudi Joubert said he was disappointed by his team's performance in their 67-18 defeat by Fiji in a World Cup group C match.

"It wasn't the start we have been training for, we lost a lot of first phase possession and first time tackles. We've got a lot of hard work in the next week before meeting France," said Joubert.

He praised Fiji's exciting style of play but said: "I wasn't surprised by Fiji, but rather I was disappointed by my team and the mistakes we made."

Joubert told his team at halftime to "focus on keeping the ball and winning first phase play. We won a lot more ball in the second half and so we were able to play a bit more."

Fiji's New Zealand coach Brad Johnstone said: "That was physically a reasonably good work-out. Any first game overseas is difficult to get into, we had not played a test for a month.

"Obviously Canada will be stronger and then France. We'll take each match as it comes.

Asked about Fiji relaxing in the second half, he said: "I'm not trying to make Fiji into the All Blacks. I'm trying to find a balance between the Fijian game and New Zealand's.

"If we can win and keep the ball we know how to use it. I was disappointed by the amount of ball we lost and the amount of penalties we conceded in the second half.

"But that gives us something to work on."

France win 33/20

France made an unconvincing start to their World Cup campaign with a 33-20 victory over tough-tackling Canada in pool C yesterday.

The French won the try count 4-2 - Canada's scrumhalf Morgan Williams touching down twice - but their flowing rugby only clicked once Christophe Lamaison came on in the 57th minute to take over the playmaking role.

For lengthy periods of the first half Canada matched France and led at one stage 10-8.

Today's matches

Today's matches will see two former World champions and the present World Champions in action.

Australia who won the World Cup in 1991 will take on Romania, Samoa will take on Japan, New Zealand who were winners in the inaugural championship in 1987 will meet Tonga while the present holders of the Cup South Africa will take on Scotland.

India will meet South Africa in final today

NAIROBI, (Reuters) - Sourav Ganguly struck a century as India hammered Zimbabwe by 107 runs in the last group match of the four-nation Safari Cup.

India, who will meet South Africa in today's final, were never in trouble from the moment they were put in.

Ganguly, ably assisted by Sadagoppan Ramesh (31) and Robin Singh (41), nonchalantly destroyed an under par Zimbabwe attack.

Dropped on 66, Ganguly completed his century off 125 balls. He then accelerated to score his last 39 runs off 22 balls before he was caught by Zimbabwe captain Alistair Campbell off Henry Olonga. His 139 included 11 fours and five sixes.

Sunil Joshi, who hit two massive sixes in 25 runs off 13 deliveries, boosted India to 277 for six off their 50 overs.

"It just shows how useless our bowling is at the moment," Campbell said. "We're putting so much pressure on our batting."

Zimbabwe, needing to win in 42 overs to reach the final at the expense of South Africa, made a solid start with 52 for the first wicket.

But after Grant Flower fell to Venkatesh Prasad for 38, his colleagues were no match for India's spinners.

Nikhil Chopra took four for 33 and Vijay Bharadwaj three for 34 as Zimbabwe slumped to 170 all out off 38.3 overs. Opener Neil Johnson made the top score of 52.

"Our performance in the tournament has been an absolute disaster," Campbell added. "We're playing worse than when we came into international cricket in 1992."

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