11th South Asian Games
Lanka’s largest sports contingent leaves for Dhaka
By Dhammika Ratnaweera
The Sri Lankan contingent to the 11th South Asian Games (SAG), comprising 204 men, 90 women and 69 officials making a total of 363 persons, will be the largest ever local squad to participate in any international event. They are ready to take part at the 11th SAG scheduled to be held from January 29 to February 9 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The team will be led by champion middle-distance athlete Chaminda Wijekoon. Gamini Jayasinghe will accompany the team as Chef de Mission with Olivia Gamage as the Lady Chaperon.

For the first time 23 disciplines are included for this event and eight South Asian countries India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will compete during the 12-day event. For the first time cricket, handball and golf have been introduced for this mega event organised by the Bangladesh Olympic Committee. This will be the third time Bangladesh will host the event. Previously they conducted the second Games in 1984 and the sixth Games in 1993. India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal have already conducted this event twice each since it was first held in 1984 in Nepal.

The Bangabandhu National Stadium will be the main venue for this event. Two major sports athletics and football will be played at this venue which was formally known as the National Stadium or the Dacca Stadium. In addition 18 other venues will be used to conduct the Games.

Chef de Mission Gamini Jayasinghe said: “Our team is very talented and they have prepared well for this major event. Our first aim is to do better than the last occasion we are confident of doing it. The National Olympic Committee, Sports Ministry and Sports Development Department have given their maximum support to all 23 teams in the last six months.

“The preparation is very high compared to the previous years. Our only concern about Bangladesh is their weather. I am sure our athletes are ready to take up any challenge. The Bangladesh officials have so far not informed us of the accommodation facilities and the proper venues for the athletes. So we have to adjust to Bangladesh conditions very soon before the events start,” Jayasinghe who is also the Treasurer of the National Olympic Committee.

“As the team’s Chef de Mission I got the opportunity to visit the SAG venues last month and some of them were still under constructions at the time. But the Bangladesh officials said they could finish them before the event. When we went to Bangladesh for the observations the Bangladesh army was making all security arrangement. I am sure we can be assured of the athletes’ security during the Games,” he said.

Sri Lanka was placed third at last SAG held in 2006 in Sri Lanka. At that time there were 20 disciplines. At Dhaka, three new disciplines have been added - cricket, golf and hand ball for the first time in the Games’ history. However some throwing events of the athletics and women’s volleyball are excluded this time. Rowing is also not included. On the last occasion Sri Lanka won 37 gold medals, 63 silver and 78 bronze. Fourteen of the gold medals were won by our athletes. Sri Lankan champion swimmer Mayumi Raheem came to the limelight during the last SAG with 11 medals including three golds while athletes Rohan Pradeep Kumara and Susanthika Jayasingle also won three golds each in their respective events. However this time Susanthika has retired from athletics and Mayumi is out of swimming due to higher studies. Our youngsters have to perform to obtain honours.

In their absence Sri Lanka will be looking for gold from Chintana Widanage who won a weightlifting gold at the last SAG and the overall captain Chaminda Wijekoon in the men’s 1500m. Wijekoon returned from Kenya after a successful training course. In addition promising athletes Shehan Ambepitiya (100m, 200m), Chandrika Subashini (200m, 400m), Ajith Kumara (marathon) and Dilrukshi Priyadharshani (long jump) are the other medal prospects.

Last time Sri Lankan swimmers won 24 medals including five golds. The medal prospects this time are Heshan Unamboowa, Miniruwani Samarakoon, Mineka Karunaratne and experienced Conrad Francis.
Sri Lanka can expect more gold medals from Wushu, Karate and Taekwondo. Shuhali Keshia who won gold at the recently concluded Korean open Taekwondo championship is a bright prospect while there is also high expectations from experienced Gayathri Sandamali who has international experience.

Boxers were unlucky last time returning without a gold medal. This time our boxers are confident of winning at least five golds according to a senior boxing official of the association. Kamal Sameera, KK Jayasundara and TMC Tennakoon are the top boxers in the side. SAG gold medal winning cyclist CP Meemanage will once again be looking for a repeat success along with Den Nugera and Suwaris Premachandra.
Other sports where Sri Lanka is expected to figure prominently among the medals are golf, badminton, table tennis, archery, football, volleyball, cricket and handball.


Rupasinghe steers Sri Lanka ‘A’ to victory
By M Naushad Amit
A blistering knock of 74 not out off just 72 balls (5 fours, 4 sixes) by left-hander Gihan Rupasinghe steered Sri Lanka ‘A’ to a convincing six wickets victory with 17.2 overs to spare against the touring Canadian side at Maitland Place on Saturday. The Sri Lankans chasing an easy target of 176 runs for victory were 75-4 when Rupasinghe turned rescuer sharing an unbeaten 105 runs partnership for the fifth wicket with in-form batsman Jeewan Mendis (29 not out).

Canada opting to bat first was bowled out for 175 runs with contributions coming from opener Trevin Bastiampillai (33 off 78 balls), Umar Bhatti (34) and Khurram Chohan (28 n.o.). Fast bowlers Nuwan Pradeep (3/28) and Farveez Maharoof (3/37) shared six wickets between them while off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake claimed two wickets.

Canada 175-9 (50) (Trevin Bastiampillai 33, Shaheed Keshvani 18, Umar Bhatti 34, Khurram Chohan 28 n.o., Nuwan Pradeep 3/28, Farveez Maharoof 3/37, Sachithra Senanayake 2/31)
Sri Lanka ‘A’ 180-4 (32.4) (Tharanga Paranavitana 20, Kaushal Silva 26, Gihan Rupasinghe 74 n.o., Jeewan Mendis 29 n.o.)


17th Singer-MCA Premier League Cricket
Sampath Bank regains title
Sampath Bank regained the 17th Singer-MCA Premier League Cricket championship from last year’s winner East West Marketing who withdrew their participation this year when their final match of the tournament ended in an exciting tie against Janashakthi at Havelock Park on Saturday. Batting first Sampath Bank scored 253 and Janashakthi were given a revised target of 252 runs in 49 overs after the match was constantly interrupted by change of balls. According to an MCA official the ball had to be changed thrice after it got separated from the seam area on three occasions. It was further changed several times until it was found suitable to play. Hasantha Fernando (64) and Charith Sylvester (53) hit valuable half centuries for Sampath Bank. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath produced a good bowling spell to end up with 4/36 but the Janashakthi batsmen chipped in with valuable partnerships to have the game running under their control. The match came to a climax when Janashakthi’s Tyron Gamage was run out when attempting to make the winning run in the final over after equaling the scores.

Powered by a ton from Saman Jayantha (103) and a brilliant all-round effort by Shanuka Dissanayaka (68 & 4/38) helped Hatton National Bank record a 21 runs victory against John Keells at P Sara Oval. HNB in their allotted overs piled up 257 while in reply John Keells were bundled out for 236 despite half centuries from Jeevantha Kulatunga and Angelo Mathews. In the final week’s play Seylan Bank will meet Unichela at Maitland Place and John Keells will take on Janashakthi at P Sara Oval on Sunday.

  • At Havelock Park: Sampath Bank v Janashakthi – match tied (Target reduced to 252 in 49 overs)
    Sampath Bank 253 (48.5) (Hasantha Fernando 64, Charith Sylvester 53, Muwan Perera 44, Sameen Kandanarachchi 39, Malinga Surappullige 23, TN Sampath 3/46, Sajith Fernando 2/32, Dilshan Munaweera 2/24)
  • Janashakthi 251 (49) (Dilshan Munaweera 36, Yohan de Silva 25, TN Sampath 27, Sajith Fernando 30, Naveen Perera 22, Bhathiya Perera 20, Gihan de Silva 25, Muditha Madhuwantha 20n.o., Rangana Herath 4/36, Thilina Kandamby 2/33, Nuwan Perera 2/42)
  • At P Sara Oval: HNB beat John Keells by 21 runs
    HNB 257 (49.2) (Saman Jayantha 103, Shanuka Dissanayaka 68, Upul Indrasiri 4/37, Thissara Perera 2/48)
    John Keells 236 (47.4) (Jeevantha Kulatunga 68, Michael Vandort 36, Angelo Mathews 56, Shanuka Dissanayaka 4/38, Sajeewa Weerakoon 2/33, Sujeewa de Silva 2/42) - [MNA]


5th Age Group/Novices Swimming Championship
Trinity, Mahamaya Girls emerge champs
By M. Minhaz in Kandy
Trinity College (855 points) and Mahamaya Girls College (635 points) became overall champions in the boys and girls groups respectively at the 5th Age Group/Novices Swimming Championship conducted by the Central Province Aquatic Sports Association (CEPASA) in association with Rivira Media Corporation and concluded at the Peradeniya University Swimming pool on Saturday.

Former Sri Lanka swimmer and coach Julian Bolling was the chief guest. Nayanthika Jayawardane received the championship trophy for Mahamaya and S Ettipola received the trophy on behalf of Trinity.

The overall final table of points: (Girls): Mahamaya Grils College (635), Hillwood Grils College (312), Girls High School (114), Mowbray Girls College (63), Colombo International School (42). (Boys): Trinity College (855), Kingwood College (222), Gateway College (60), St. Sylvester’s College and CEPASA tied (42).

Mahamaya Girls also won the Novices championship with 204 points and St. Anthony’s Girls finished runner-up with 135 points. Mowbray Girls ended up third with 132 points. Trinity also annexed the boy’s championship with 231 points and Kingswood finished runner-up which 225 points. Over 130 events were worked off during the day which produced a very high standard of swimming.


ICC might scrap neutral umpires system
LONDON: The International Cricket Council might do away with the concept of neutral umpires by this year’s Ashes as it feels the Decision Review System would clear the decks for officials to stand in matches featuring their home country.
ICC President David Morgan has hinted that top umpires like Simon Taufel of Australia could get to stand in games featuring his home country very soon.
“I think the progress with the DRS has been extremely good indeed, to the extent that I think we should be thinking about the best umpires being appointed to Test match cricket irrespective of whether they come from the participating teams or not,” Morgan said.
Taufel, the winner of ICC’s Umpire of Year trophy for five of the past six years, has not stood in an Australia match since 2001.
Five of the 12 umpires on the ICC’s elite panel are from Australia and England, which leaves only seven neutral officials to choose from when the two countries meet.
Morgan said scrapping the neutral system is a possibility which might come true by the Ashes.


Honours for Wesley
Wesley took the honours in their drawn second eleven cricket match against S Thomas’ at Mt Lavinia yesterday. A fine all-round performance by Wesley’s Sadeem Thawfeeq (5/24 and top score of 65) and a double century partnership between Thomian third wicket pair Umesh Fernando (108 n.o.) and Pasan Wijewardene (95) were the highlights of the match.

S. Thomas’ 69 (Pasan Wijewardene 23, Sadeem Thawfeeq 5/24, Imesh Jayaratne 3/22, Kavin Prasath 2/24) and 233-4 at stumps (Pasan Wijewardene 95, Umesh Fernando 108 n.o.)
Wesley 248-6 decl (Mukthi Kankanthantri 41, Lahiru Perera 51, Kavin Prasath 50 n.o., Sadeem Thawfeeq 65, Nilaksha Fernando 2/29)


Kavindi, Jayasundara wins TT triple crowns
By V. Harishchandra
BNB Jayasundara of MAS Intimates and Kavindi Sahabandu of Holy Family BMV, Kurunegala won triple crowns at the BJIS Samarasekara Memorial Triangular Table Tennis Tournament held at Kurunegala Indoor Stadium recently. The tournament was conducted by the North Western Province Table Tennis Association. Players from three districts namely Kandy, Kegalle and Kurunegala participated in this two-day tournament.
Sri Lanka Junior National Poolist Kavindi Sahabandu stole the lime light by bagging under 15 girls under 18 girls and open women’s titles in the tournament.

The winners: U-8 Boys: Lasitha Werallagama (St. Anne’s College), Girls: Piumi Dewdini (Holy Family BMV Kurunegala); U-10 Boys: PDU Thennakoon (Dharmaraja College), Girls: Sheshala Bandara (St. Joseph’s Convent Kegalle); U-12 Boys: Udaya Ranasinghe (Vidyartha College), Girls: N Nayanathara (St. Joseph’s Convent Kegalle); U-12 Boys Doubles: Udaya Ranasinghe/K. Wickramaratna (Vidyartha College); Girls Doubles: Heshani Dunusinghe/Buddhipani Rajaguru (Holy Family BMV/Maliyadeva BMV); U-15 Boys: Supun Sirisena (Maliyadeva College), Girls: Kavindi Sahabandu (Holy Family BMV Kurunegala), U-18 Boys: MD Hameed (St. Anthony’s College Kandy), Girls: Kavindi Sahabandu (Holy Family BMV Kurunegala); Open Men: BNB Jayasundara (MAS Intimates); Open Women: Kavindi Sahabandu (Holy Family BMV Kurunegala); Open Men’s Doubles: Supun Sirisena/N Jayasundara (Maliyadeva College), Open Women’s Doubles: Kavindi Sahabandu/Lakshmi Wickramasinghe (Holy Family BMV Kurunegala); Open Mixed Doubles: BNB Jayasundara/Lakmini Karunaratne; Open Women’s Doubles: Kavindi Sahabandu/Lakshmi Wickramasinghe (Holy Family BMV Kurunegala); U-21 Boys: MD Hameed (St. Anthony’s College Kandy), Girls: Nirmani Silva (Sri Lanka Air Force).