Harbhajan six gives India historic win

HAMILTON, (AFP) - India broke a 33-year drought when a six-wicket haul by Harbhajan Singh spun them to a 10-wicket victory over New Zealand in the first Test here Saturday.

Harbhajan’s 6-63 wizardry, following an iconic 160 by Sachin Tendulkar, formed the cornerstone of India’s first Test success in New Zealand since 1976.

They wrapped the game up with more than a day to spare after New Zealand were all out in their second innings for 279, and India knocked off the required 39 runs in 5.2 overs.

Brendon McCullum kept the Test alive longer than expected with a fighting 84 at the New Zealand tail, but it had been a lopsided match from day one when the hosts’ top order crashed to 60-6 on a benign wicket.
That highlighted the huge gulf in Test experience between the sides where India’s top six batsmen boast a combined 502 Tests between them, compared to 54 for New Zealand.

The hosts went into the fourth day at 75-3, fighting for survival after India had posted 520 in their first innings for a 241 run lead.
On a pitch which offered minimal turn, Harbhajan had India on the verge of victory midway through the middle session when New Zealand was seven for 161.

However, McCullum had other ideas, delaying the inevitable with a 38-run partnership with Daniel Vettori for the eighth wicket and 76 with Iain O’Brien for the ninth.
In doing so he ensured India would have to bat again and spared New Zealand the embarrassment of an innings defeat.
In his second over Harbhajan had Ryder trapped leg before wicket for 21 and he followed with the dismissals of Franklin (14), Flynn, Vettori (21) and O’Brien (14).

It was the 23rd time the 28-year-old off-spinner had claimed a five-wicket bag.
But it was Yuvraj Singh who ended the New Zealand innings with a quicker ball to McCullum which was top-edged to VVS Laxman at short fine-leg and his defiant 168-minute stand was over.

Gambhir, not out 30, and Rahul Dravid with eight then wasted no time wrapping up the match.

Scores: New Zealand 279 and 75-3 contd 279 (102.3) (D Flynn 67, J Ryder 21, B McCullum 84, D Vettori 21, M Patel 2/60, Harbhajan Singh 6/63)
India 520 and 39-0 (5.2) (G Gambhir 30 n.o.).


Run crawl at Galle ends
in a draw

By Samiddha Rathnayake
The 104th ‘Battle of the Lovers’ cricket encounter played between Richmond and Mahinda ended in a drab draw at the Galle International Stadium yesterday. In a low scoring match replying to Richmond’s first innings total of 143 Mahinda resuming at 30-1 declared their innings at 148-6. Vice-captain Denuwan Rajakaruna hit an unbeaten half-century off 124 balls inclusive of four fours on a slow pitch where batting was not easy. By stumps Richmond were reeling at 44-6 when the match ended with only two innings completed in the two days.
Richmond 143 and 44-6 (39) (Yashoda Lanka 12, Nisala Tharaka 3/13, Kaushalya Gajasinghe 2/2)
Mahinda 30-1 contd 148-6 dec (78.5) (Denuwan Rajakaruna 55 n.o., Tharaka Nimesh 23 no, Irosh Samarasooriya 4/59)

93rd Battle of the Blues in Kandy

A draw at Katugastota

By Hafiz Marikkar
Trinity’s Akila Jayasundara came up with a fine bowling performance to reach the one hundred wicket mark when he picked up four wickets for 64 on the second day of the 93rd annual ‘Battle of the Blues’ cricket encounter against St Anthony’s College which ended in a draw at Katugastota yesterday.

Three declarations failed to produce a winning result in the match which was highlighted by Trinitian Shameera Wijesooriya’s maiden century in the first innings.

Trinity 296-7 decl and 71-6 decl. (24) (Kithmal Wimalaweera 19, Shameera Wijesooriya 27, Adil Reyal 3/34, Sahan Palihakkara 2/17)

St Anthony’s 5-1 contd 197-9 decl (80.3) (Hiram Wickramasekara 45, Jerome Siegertz 41, Yohan Woods 12, Kasun Ekanayake 37, Akila Jayasundara 4/64, Rushan Jaleel 2/41, Suresh Wickrama 2/33) and 43-1 (9) (Adil Reyal 20, Hiran Wickramasekara 19 n.o., Rushan Jaleel 1/19)


Royal ends four-year drought - regains Mustang trophy

Royal led by Yasith Abeykoon recorded a comfortable five-wicket win to regain the ‘Mustangs Trophy’ for the 17th time in their annual limited overs encounter against arch rival S. Thomas’ at the SSC grounds yesterday. Best batsman at the 130th ‘Battle of the Blues’ encounter Kusal Perera hit a match-winning knock of 55 off 52 balls (4 fours and 1 six) to steer Royal to the winning post. Opener Sahan Hettiarachchi contributed 32 and hard hitting batsman Bhanuka Rajapakse scored a run-a-ball 28 helping Royal with timely knocks. Faahim Saleem was the only successful Thomian bowler taking 3 for 32 with his off breaks.

Earlier S. Thomas’ were in tatters when they struggled to build a substantial total after being put into bat. Rajapakse caused the batsmen to struggle grabbing four Thomian scalps for 32 with his off breaks. Regular spinner Maneesha Thantrigoda took 2 for 33 as the Thomians were restricted to a score of 158-9. Opener Saleem resisted to top score with 26. Royal reached their victory target of 159 in the 34th over losing half the side.

The last occasion Royal won the ‘Mustangs Trophy’ was in 2004 under Tharaka Kottehewa. S. Thomas’ have won the limited overs encounter on 16 occasions, one less than Royal while one ended in a tie. Kusal Perera won the Man-of-the-Match award for his innings of 55.

S. Thomas’ 158-9 (50) (Faahim Saleem 26, Pasan Wijewardena 16, Ashen Fernando 17, Bhanuka Rajapakse 4/32, Maneesha Thantrigoda 2/33)
Royal 159-5 (33.3) (Kusal Perera 55, Sahan Hettiarachchi 32, Banuka Rajapakse 28, Faahim Saleem 3/32) - (MNA)


9th Battle of Centrals

Tharindu, Sameera steer Piliyandala to victory

A resurrecting innings of 91 off 161 balls from Tharindu Madushanka followed by an excellent bowling performance from off-spinner Sameera Chathuranga (6/48) saw Piliyandala Central turn tables on Taxila Central and record a three-wicket win in their 9th ‘Battle of Centrals’ cricket encounter concluded at Horana yesterday.

Batting first Taxila scored 213 in their first innings and Piliyandala Central replied with 199 courtesy of Madushanka’s hard fought innings which comprised three sixes and 13 fours. Chathuranga then devastated the Taxila batting in the second innings routing them for 117. His six wickets in the second innings gave him a match bag of 10/101. Piliyandala Central had a challenging task of chasing 132 to win off 18 overs. The match went to the wire as they reached the target with a ball and three wickets to spare. This is Piliyandala Central’s second win in the series. Their last win came in three years ago. They lead the ‘Big Match’ tally 2-0 with the rest ending in draws.

Taxila Central 213 and 117 (44) (Nirosha Harshana 28, Sameera Chathuranga 6/48) Piliyandala Central 138-4 contd 199 (62) (Tharindu Madushanka 91, Sujith Meebindu 38, P Chathuranga 23, Pasidu Saranga 5/11) and 132-7 (17.5) (Chanaka Ruwansiri 38, Tharindu Madushanka 24, Oshada Jayasekara 22, Pasidu Saranga 3/40)


SLC Inter-Provincial final

Pushpakumara, Mathews fashion out Basnahira North triumph

All rounder Muthumudalige Pushpakumara took four top order wickets for 49 runs to help Basnahira North clinch their first ever Inter-Provincial league title when they beat Wayamba by a comfortable margin of ten wickets with a day and two sessions to spare in the four-day final concluded at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday. Wayamba resuming their second innings at 39-0 on day three were shot out for 181. This left Basnahira North an easy target of 16 runs for victory which they achieved in two overs just before tea.

Pushpakumara ended a steady partnership of 66 runs by taking the wicket of Wayamba opener Mahela Udawatte for 28. Udawatte’s partner Michael Vandort soon followed top scoring with a valiant 50. Kaushal Lokuarachchi and skipper Jehan Mubarak stalled the innings for some time but could not hold out for too long both being dismissed in their twenties.
Jeevantha Kulatunga delayed the inevitable defeat with a plucky knock of 37 before the innings was terminated.

Earlier Basnahira North made 389 in reply to Wayamba’s score of 223 to enjoy a first innings lead of 166 runs. Basnahira North all rounder Pushpakumara slammed his third first class century with an elegant 103 and in-form batsman Angelo Mathews scored his fourth century in the tournament with a stylish 152.

Wayamba 223 and 39-0 contd 181 (57.2) (Michael Vandort 50, Mahela Udawatte 28, Kaushal Lokuarachchi 20, Jehan Mubarak 20, Jeevantha Kulatunga 37, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara 4/49, Nuwan Kulasekara 2/29)
Basnahira North 389 and 16-0 (2) (Ian Daniel 10 n.o.) - (MNA)


Fielding coach

Sri Lanka’s fielding coach Manoj Abeywickrema who was unceremoniously dumped by the former interim administration headed by Arjuna Ranatunga is tipped to be reinstated to his former position. The Nation learns that a request for a fielding coach has been made by the newly appointed captain and vice captain of the team following Sri Lanka’s poor fielding display during the recent one-day series against India at home which they lost by a margin of 4-1.

Unofficial advisor

Employees of Sri Lanka Cricket headquarters are perturbed by the sudden appearance of an individual who has started questioning their credentials and work and taken important files from various departments. This individual Suraj Dandeniya who happens to be a relative of SLC’s interim committee chairman DS de Silva has no official status at SLC but has been a regular visitor to the headquarters of cricket since the appointment of the new interim committee. He is a former UNP organizer and is alleged to have a dubious bribery record.

SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga told The Nation that as far as he is aware Dandeniya is not an employee of SLC but is helping de Silva in an advisory capacity. Any official appointment made by SLC has to be ratified by the Minister of Sports.

Lengthy suspension

The suspension of SLC employee BH Perera may take longer than expected. With the appointment of a new interim committee fresh sub committees have to be formed and one of them is the disciplinary committee which will inquire into the incident that led to Perera’s suspension. SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said that it would take about 2-3 weeks before they can get together a list of persons to serve in the disciplinary committee. Perera has been issued a letter of suspension from all duties related to Sri Lanka Cricket pending the inquiry. Only the tournament and umpires committees appointed by the previous interim administration are functioning at the moment because of the ongoing domestic cricket season. All the other sub committees will be reappointed.


India third in Women’s World Cup

India recorded its second successive victory over Australia when it defeated the dethroned world champions by three wickets in the third-fourth play-off at the ICC Women’s World Cup 2009 at Bankstown Oval on Saturday.
In a match reduced to 46-over-a-side, due to rain, Australia was all out for 142 in 44.4 overs. India reached the victory target with 13 balls and three wickets to spare.