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Sri Lanka’s Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal promises to play fearless cricket

Posted on 18 July 2017 by admin

by Rex Clementine – Courtesy: The Island.


Former great Aravinda de Silva always speaks of trusting your instincts and playing an aggressive brand of cricket that often upsets the rhythm of the opposition. As Sri Lanka completed a stunning four wicket win chasing down a mammoth 388 run target to keep their unbeaten record against Zimbabwe intact, new captain Dinesh Chandimal echoed similar sentiments.

Dinesh Chandimal

"We’ve played on these kinds of pitches before in Sri Lanka, in India and Bangladesh. On these pitches, it’s with sweeps and reverse sweeps that we can score runs. There’s a risk in that, but if we are chasing scores, we should trust our instincts and play those shots. At training we had practiced those things, and those things bore results today," noted Chandimal.

"When it came time for us to bat yesterday, most of what we talked about was playing your own game as batsmen. We know that it was tough for us to bat out the time and draw the match. If we tried that, it was likely we’d lose. So we said: play your own game. As a captain I told them that I’d take the responsibility for any mistakes, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Kusal Mendis, Dimuth Karunaratne and Upul Tharanga played well. Then at the end, Asela and Dickwella were excellent," noted Chandimal.

"Zimbabwe put huge effort into winning this match, and it wasn’t easy for us. In a Test match you can’t make mistakes across the five days. At times we made mistakes, and at other times we did well. That changed from session to session. We wanted to win the game. We are very happy with the result."

Asela Gunaratne kept his nerve to remain till the end as he finished unbeaten on 80. "I am very glad a player like Asela is in the team. He’s a cushion for any captain or team. If he bowls, he gets the wickets the team needs. I’m very happy he’s in the team. He has performed his responsibilities well. I’m hoping for those things from him in the future as well."

"I gave responsibilities to all the players – whether they were juniors or seniors. Everyone can have good ideas, so even in the team meetings, we gave them that room to talk. We have a good start now. We saw the character of the team – how they picked themselves up. We have that mentality to achieve victory even when things look grim. My main goal is to win every game."

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Mathews stepping down a sad saga

Posted on 13 July 2017 by admin


Courtesy: By Srian Obeyesekere.

The great game called cricket is also about heartbreak! Heartbreak off the field as much as it is about the ecstasy of high performance and defeat and the bonding camaraderie the centuries long noble game manifests. Indeed, the ups and downs in criowncket like in life is a part and parcel cycle. As much as the sport has endowed as a spirit raising high intensity competition that has thrust countless players from Mr. Nothing to celebrity status, some of whom in fairytale rags to riches success stories, it has seen many greats in tatters like the famous Kevin Pietersen saga. In this instance, of course, the name that makes misty eyes is Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews who has stepped down from the captaincy following the home series 2-3 ODI defeat to minnows Zimbabwe having been in the job for nearly 5 years, at the age of 30.

The bad feeling to digest is that the country marks the parting from the hot seat role of a player who arrived on the stage with a bang and his stocks soared fast raising great expectations to take Sri Lanka out of the tunnel in team rebuilding following senior player retirements. The  blockbuster batsman image he hogged that saw his batting averages mount to the phenomenal with a terrific strike rate saw Mathews rated as a tremendous find for the future. That the former St. Joseph’s product had starred like a loner in taking Sri Lanka out of crisis situations like his epoch match winning century against England at Old Trafford for a famous series triumph was the anointment of winning the selectors and Sri Lankan cricket establishments faith. Effectively, Mathews was regarded as the torchbearer of his country’s cricket following the retirements of stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillekeratne Dilshan. That the lion has bearded himself in the climes of his countrymen’s  great expectations is thus the stunning low that has descended. Though committing himself for his country as a batsman, his effective  abdication of the crown has come as a blow to Sri Lanka in a critical phase of its cricket that is in the crossroads of raising its standings in the ICC rankings; of keeping its status intact to avoid disqualification from the 2019 World Cup.

Mathews led Sri Lanka in 34 Tests, 98 ODIs and 12 T20Is, having taken the reins at the age of 25, in 2013.

He had a rollicking 2014 scoring 1,317 runs at an average of 87.8, and his average as captain d50.94 despite injury bugging him in the last year in the saddle. Though critics claim his form had dropped, Mathews’ back from long injury unbeaten 40 odd in taking Sri Launka to victory toppling favourites India in the Champions Trophy was an inication he remained in good nick. The bottom-line of quitting the captaincy was apparently triggered by mounting pressure by critics. It is lamentable that he did not use his potential to greater effect having preferred to play a low profile batting at No. 5 when he should have moved to No.3 with Jayawardene and Sangakkara gone. On the field he seemed to lack the leadership grain of the right rotation of his bowlers. Perhaps injury sting had lulled his verve having longtime ago also forced Mathews to give up his role as a regular fast bowler.

Photo Credit : Daily News

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Dinesh Chandimal named Sri Lanka’s new Test captain – Upul Tharanga leads country in ODI & T20 formats

Posted on 13 July 2017 by admin

Dinesh Chandimal was named skipper of Sri Lanka's Test team on Wednesday (July 12), while fellow batsman Upul Tharanga has been tasked with leading the limited-overs squads after Angelo Mathews relinquished the captaincy across all formats on Tuesday. Both Chandimal and Tharanga have led the country on prior assignments on Mathews absence due to injury.

By: Upali Obeyesekere – Editor, TSL.

Sri Lankan cricket captain Angelo Mathews leave the grounds after Zimbabwe’s victory in the fifth one-day international (ODI) cricket match between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe at the Suriyawewa Mahinda Rajapakse International Cricket Stadium in the southern district of Hambantota on July 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Dinesh Chandimal won Man of the Match Award

Consequent to Angelo Mathews stepping down as captain, Sri Lanka Cricket has named two players who will now take over the Test and limited over formats. Dinesh Chandimal has been named Sri Lanka's new Test captain, and Upul Tharanga will take over in ODIs and T20s. Chandimal had served as Mathews' deputy and led the T20 team in the past, while Tharanga led the ODI team when Mathews had been injured.

Speaking at the press conference to announce the new captains, Mathews, who quit following the 3-2 ODI defeat at home to Zimbabwe, said: "Yes, there have been significant poor performances, and I'm humble enough to accept it. In the past also there were instances where I wanted to step down but I didn't want to let the team down at that time, mainly because there were no replacements. The team's interests supercede my personal interests.

"There were two things working in my mind. The first is whether this was the right time considering the team. My honest opinion is that there are candidates who can take over the reins. I'm pretty sure that they will be more successful and better captains than me. I also wanted to give my successor enough time until the World Cup, to build up a team. Those were the main reasons for me to step down."

Mathews said that although he was disappointed with Sri Lanka's results in 2017, he resigns having given his best to the job.

"I have at all times played in the exclusive interest of Sri Lankan cricket, and have not at any time compromised my national duties for any personal gain," he said, reading a portion of his letter of resignation to the board. "I have at all times given utmost priority to making myself available over any franchise commitment, and have at times pre-terminated franchise commitments in order to fulfill national obligations. Subject to me being selected for national duty, I would ensure my fullest commitment to the national cricket team. Moreover, I would at all times support and guide our profusely talented young team, as well as my successor, in every way."

Chandimal was always a top contender to take over from Mathews, particularly because he had been groomed as a leader in the past. Though Chandimal's patchy form in ODIs led to his exclusion from the recent squad to play Zimbabwe, he has matured as a Test batsman – most recently making a difficult ton against Bangladesh at the P Sara Oval. He averages 41.17 since the start of 2015, and has scored 2540 runs at an average of 42.33 all told. Chandimal had also been a successful captain at school level, leading Ananda College to record number of outright victories in his senior year.

"I want to take this team and Sri Lanka forward, so I will put my heart and soul into the job," Chandimal said after the announcement. "I'm very thankful to the job that Angie [Mathews] has done for us. Captaincy is not an easy job and he was an excellent leader for us over four-and-a-half years. He's also a terrific batsman and a match-winner for us, and I have huge hopes that he will continue to be one in the coming years as well."

Tharanga's rise to the limited-overs captaincy has been sharper. He had been dropped from Sri Lanka's limited-overs sides as recently as the first half of 2016, but has since led the team in 14 ODIs, as acting captain in Mathews' absence. He has been in excellent form in recent months, however, averaging 49 in ODIs since November. He has been moved around the batting order during that time, sometimes opening the batting, and batting in the middle order at others. Sri Lanka have won four and lost eight of the ODIs Tharanga has captained – six of those losses coming against South Africa.

Tharanga also thanked Mathews for his leadership, and the selectors for giving him the opportunity to lead. He acknowledged that Sri Lanka's recent performances had been modest.

"I don't want to say that as a team we've done poorly in the recent past, but we have had some ups and downs," Tharanga said. "Some matches we do well, and others we don't. In future we have to be more consistent. We all want to take Sri Lanka forward."

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Angelo Mathews steps down as Sri Lanka captain in all three formats

Posted on 11 July 2017 by admin




Angelo Mathews has led Sri Lanka in 34 Tests, 98 ODIs and 12 T20Is © AFP



Sri Lankan cricket captain Angelo Mathews leave the grounds after Zimbabwe's victory in the fifth one-day international (ODI) cricket match between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe at the Suriyawewa Mahinda Rajapakse International Cricket Stadium in the southern district of Hambantota on July 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Angelo Mathews has stepped down as Sri Lanka captain in all three formats, following his side's 3-2 ODI series loss to Zimbabwe. Mathews, who called the defeat "one of the lowest points" of his career and said in its aftermath that he would discuss his captaincy future with the SLC selectors, conveyed his decision to the selectors on Tuesday.

Mathews has led Sri Lanka in 34 Tests, 98 ODIs and 12 T20Is, having taken the reins at the age of 25, in 2013. Though Sri Lanka have been modest in limited-overs cricket through the latter half of his tenure, they have, on his watch, tasted rare success in the Test format. In 2014, Mathews had personally played a pivotal role in the Test series triumph in England. Last year, Sri Lanka had also whitewashed Australia – a side they had won only one Test against previously.

There have also been significant lows under Mathews, however. Sri Lanka's campaigns in the 2015 World Cup, the 2016 World T20 and the 2017 Champions Trophy were disappointing, and even in the Test format, they suffered two 0-2 whitewashes in New Zealand, and a 0-3 result in South Africa. All told, Mathews has 13 Test victories to his name as captain, against 15 losses. On the batting front, Mathews had an outstanding 2014, in which he scored 1,317 runs at an average of 87.8, but his form had since fallen away, though his average as captain still remains 50.94. With the ball, he was only sporadically effective in Tests, but much more valuable a limited-overs bowler.

The last year of Mathews' captaincy was characterised by injury, however. He missed two Tests and an ODI tri-series in Zimbabwe as a result of multiple leg injuries, was absent for a five-match ODI series against South Africa thanks to a torn hamstring, missed Bangladesh's tour of the island, and was most recently unavailable for Sri Lanka's Champions Trophy fixture against South Africa – though it is possible he was prevented from playing that game by the board. The injuries have usually come when Mathews has had a high bowling workload, which he has attempted to carefully manage during his captaincy.

The announcement that he would resign from the captaincy was not unexpected. The paucity of Sri Lanka's returns in 2017 had placed substantial pressure on Mathews, and applied fresh scrutiny on his on-field strategising and decision-making, which has largely been seen to be Mathews' weakest suit as captain. The series loss against Zimbabwe has been particularly chastening to the Sri Lanka team – they had never lost a match to Zimbabwe at home before, let alone a series.

Sri Lanka are due to name a successor to Mathews – in the Test format at least – early on Wednesday. Upul Tharanga, who has led the ODI team when Mathews has been injured, and Dinesh Chandimal, who has served as Mathews' deputy and led the T20 team in the past, are prime candidates. Rangana Herath, who captained the most-recent Sri Lanka Test, may be an option as well.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe in 2nd ODI at Galle

Posted on 02 July 2017 by admin

Spinners Lakshan, Hasaranga bamboozle Zimbabwe to defeat.

Monday, July 3, 2017.

Courtesy: SA’ADI THAWFEEQ reporting from Galle

NEW CAP: Wanindu Hasaranga receives his Sri Lanka ODI cap from chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya prior to the commencement of the second ODI against Zimbabwe at the Galle International Stadium yesterday.

NEW CAP: Wanindu Hasaranga receives his Sri Lanka ODI cap from chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya prior to the commencement of the second ODI against Zimbabwe at the Galle International Stadium yesterday.

Zimbabwe who treated the Sri Lankan spinners with disdain to pull off a shock win in the first ODI on Friday were suddenly all at sea against two spinners whom they had never come up against Lakshan Sandakan who bowls left-arm chinaman and debutant Wanindu Hasaranga, right-arm leg break and googly prior to yesterday’s second ODI at the Galle International Stadium.

The result was more or less a foregone conclusion when Zimbabwe succumbed to 155 all out in 33.4 overs and Sri Lanka despite losing two early wickets cantered home to win by seven wickets with nearly 20 overs to spare and level the five-match series one-all.

It was a remarkable turnaround by Sri Lanka after being swept away two days ago by a team ranked lower than them. It was a test of their character and they came back fighting with flying colours.

Upul Tharanga followed his unbeaten knock of 79 on Friday with another sensible innings of 75 not out to add stability to the middle order after Danuskha Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis had thrown their wickets away off successive balls playing indiscreet shots to Tendai Chatara making Sri Lanka 10-2.

Tharanga was involved in two half century stands with Niroshan Dickwella (35) and Angelo Mathews (28 not out) to completely seal the match in Sri Lanka’s favour.

Sandakan finished with career best figures of four for 52 off 10 overs and 19-year-old Hasaranga marked a memorable ODI debut by performing the hat-trick – only the third to achieve the feat after Taijul Islam of Bangladesh (v Zimbabwe 2014) and Kagiso Rabada of South Africa (v Bangladesh 2015) to end up taking three wickets for 15. He became Sri Lanka’s 180th ODI cricketer when he was presented his cap prior to the commencement of play by chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya.

Hasaranga who was brought onto bowl in the 26th over cleaned up the Zimbabwe tail by capturing the wickets of Malcolm Waller (bowled), Donald Tiripano (lbw) and Tendai Chatara (bowled) off successive deliveries.

The difference in Sri Lanka’s approach to yesterday’s game and the one played on Friday was that there was more intensity and purpose on the field by the players and they brought in Sandakan and Hasaranga to replace Akila Dananjaya and Amila Aponso who together had leaked 138 runs off 18 overs.

Sandakan especially presented a different threat to the Zimbabwean batsmen. The sweep and reverse sweep that Zimbabwe employed so successfully in the first ODI on Friday didn’t quite work out to plan as three of their top six in the order perished attempting to play it.

Sandakan who took the Man of the Match award was playing his first match after sitting out the entire Champions Trophy without a game and being forced to miss the first ODI due to ’flu. He made it a memorable one for him taking important wickets in the middle period to help Sri Lanka to level the series.

The Zimbabweans already baffled by Sandakan’s dexterity were further confounded by Hasaranga’s leg-spin and googlies as their batting crumbled under pressure.

Asela Gunaratne who has the knack of picking up wickets whenever he is brought on held a brilliant one handed return catch to send back the dangerous Hamilton Masakadza. That catch alone compensated for the three that were put down during the Zimbabwe innings. Masakadza was missed before he had scored by Kusal Mendis at slip off Lasith Malinga off the third ball of the match. Thankfully unlike in the first ODI it didn’t prove to be too costly.

Sri Lanka was lucky they finished the match as early as half past three because an hour later the heavens opened out and the rains came down heavily.

Both teams now travel to Hambantota for the remaining three ODIs commencing July 6.

Hat-tricks by Sri Lanka bowlers in ODIs

Richmond College, Sri Lanka Under 19 and CCC right-arm leg-spin and googly bowler Wanindu Hasaranga became the fifth Sri Lankan bowler to perform the hat-trick in One-Day Internationals during the second ODI against Zimbabwe at the Galle International Stadium yesterday.

The list is:

Chaminda Vaas v Zimbabwe (SSC) 2001

Chaminda Vaas v Bangladesh (Pietermaritzburg) 2003

Lasith Malinga v South Africa (Georgetown) 2007

Farveez Maharoof v India (Dambulla) 2010

Lasith Malinga v Kenya (R Premadasa Stadium) 2011

Lasith Malinga v Australia (R Premadasa Stadium) 2011

Thisara Perera v Pakistan (R Premadasa Stadium) 2012

Wanindu Hasaranga v Zimbabwe (Galle) 2017

Spinners Lakshan, Hasaranga bamboozle Zimbabwe to defeat 

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Graham Ford steps down as Sri Lanka coach

Posted on 24 June 2017 by admin

Courtesy: Andrew Fernando – ESPN Cricinfo:

Graham Ford has stepped down as Sri Lanka coach, ending his second tenure with the side after 15 months. SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala said the decision had been arrived at mutually, "after careful consideration and deliberation".

Ford's relationship with SLC was understood to have been strained due to what he felt were unacceptable intrusions into team matters by the board. Ford had already left the island on leave, which would have ended early next week.

One of his grievances was the expanding powers of Asanka Gurusinha, who in February was appointed "cricket manager" – a position with a broadly defined range of duties, some of which Ford is understood to have felt infringed upon his freedom as a coach. In the time since his appointment, Gurusinha was also made a selector.

Though there were no reports of a personal rift between the two men, it is understood Ford was made to feel less than fully in control of his team during the recent Champions Trophy. Ford had since met with the board in Colombo but, before his departure from Sri Lanka, struck an optimistic tone about the team's prospects, saying: "The character that [the team] continues to show is really exciting. If we get a bit of experience among the younger players and we continue to keep that fight – that kind of spirit is really important if we're going to build and become a highly competitive team."

Ford's contract was slated until the end of the 2019 World Cup, a duration he insisted on when he took up the role last year because of the instability surrounding the job. Since 2011, Sri Lanka have had eight head coaches (including interim appointments) in nine separate stints – Ford having worked two shifts: from 2012 to 2014, then again from February last year to now.

SLC had hired Ford largely because of his excellent global reputation for managing young players – a skill seen as vital to Sri Lanka's progress following some high-profile player retirements. He oversaw one of the team's greatest ever Test series victories, against Australia last year, but many of the remaining assignments Sri Lanka have had under his watch have produced disappointing results.

Ford, however, has always insisted that it would be years before Sri Lanka becomes a top cricketing nation again, and saw his role as a long-term facilitator of the rebuilding process. The lack of short-term results, however, had prompted SLC to appoint of new coaching and management staff. This difference in expectation is what has partly led to the loss of faith.

Sumathipala acknowledged Ford's role in handling the team at a time when Sri Lanka cricket faced a "volatile and uncertain" period.

"We have to thank Fordy for his invaluable contribution to Sri Lanka Cricket," Sumathipala stated in the SLC press release. "He joined us at a time where we were quoted by the ICC as being on the 'verge of suspension' and at a time where things were volatile and uncertain, Ford had faith in us and has given us his fullest support.

"This was a decision arrived at mutually after careful consideration and deliberation and we are both confident of its propriety."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

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