Lanka gains psychological boost

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Sri Lanka gained a good psychological boost for next week’s decisive third Test against the West Indies to be played at Test cricket’s new venue in Pallakele, Kandy when they set the tourists a target of 202 to chase off 22 overs in the fourth innings and grabbed the prize wicket of Chris Gayle cheaply for three runs before the rain hit second Test petered out into a draw at the R Premadasa Stadium yesterday.

With five sessions of the Test lost due to bad weather a draw seemed the most likely result and so it was, but not before Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan captain had sprung a surprise at the West Indies by declaring his team’s second innings at 57-1 and setting them a target to chase in the fourth innings.

The plan worked to a point when part time spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan who had displayed his skills as a spinner in the first innings by grabbing two wickets for four runs was given the honour to open the bowling and he obliged with the big wicket of Gayle who edged a catch to slip.

Ajantha Mendis who has been causing a few problems to the West Indian batsmen in the series picked up Adrian Barath’s wicket for eight and West Indies were soon 11-2 in the sixth over. Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul defended stoutly the next five overs with neither being able to get off the mark and during that period West Indies could add only one run through a Mendis no-ball.

“If it had gone the full distance of a Test match it would have been great to see our spinners working on it. We hardly played 2 1/2 days cricket on this wicket and it’s almost turning square,” said Sangakkara. “Sometimes you’ve got to take a gamble on a wicket like this and it would have paid off. I am sure of it had it gone the full five days.

“We declared mainly to gain a psychological advantage. We had to try and get a couple of wickets back especially we wanted to target Gayle to see if we could get him out early. Dilshan bowled a beautiful spell with the new ball and it was a great wicket at the end for us,” he said.

“Dilshan always has that magic touch of picking up wickets. He bowled four magnificent deliveries in this game among others that were really good. He is an exceptional performer in anything that he does. He is a valuable asset.”

Gayle was dismissed in both innings for 30 and 3 after his monumental knock of 333 at Galle.
Following fourth day’s wash out West Indies resumed their first innings in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings of 387-9 declared at 165-5 after lunch on the fifth day when more rain had washed the entire morning session yesterday.

Their first task was to reach the follow-on target which they did through their overnight pair Dwayne Bravo and Carlton Baugh before the spinners broke through to bring a swift end to their innings for 243. Only Baugh put up any sort of resistance reaching a fighting half-century before left-armer Rangana Herath finally bowled him with a carrom ball reminiscent of Mendis.

Herath captured three of the five wickets to fall yesterday to end with figures of 3 for 76. Mendis and Suranga Lakmal took the other two.

One of the positives to come out of the Test was the discipline the bowlers showed in their line and length.
“The fast bowlers bowled tighter lines and executed the game plans a lot better in this Test match,” said Sangakkara. It doesn’t matter whether you have the most talented players in the world its finally you’ve got to go out there and stick to those basic lines and lengths.

“Any fast bowler in the world for 100 years has concentrated on line and length and any good ball is a good ball to any batsman. Those are things you’ve got to keep working on, not try to bowl magic deliveries but good old fashioned line and length.”

West Indies captain Darren Sammy said, “We didn’t play as well as we wanted to. It’s always difficult when you are on and off the cricket field. Today it looked like we wouldn’t have any play, but the weather cleared up. That’s something as professionals we have to master. It’s all well and good that we are still in the series and we are going into the third Test 0-0 and everything to play for.”


Secret of starting on time

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
The secret behind play starting on schedule each day at the R Premadasa Stadium despite the heavy downpours experienced each afternoon and sometimes throughout the night is the 90-1 gradient from the pitch to the boundary line which allows the water which falls on the covers to flow freely onto the drains. The pitches were raised by three feet for this purpose and as a result no water remains on the surface of the covers as has been the case previously.

This system has been utilised at the other two World Cup venues as well Sooriyawewa in Hambantota and Pallakele in Kandy where the gradients are 100-1.
Sri Lanka cricket chief curator Anuruddha Polonowita stated the practice facilities at these three World Cup venues were highly commended by ICC official Clive Lloyd who was on an inspectional visit to Sri Lanka last week. “Lloyd told me that he has never seen such practice facilities anywhere in the world,” said Polonowita.

What is so special about the practice facilities is that at the Premadasa Stadium there are 30 practice pitches ready and a further 25 being built which means that more than two teams can practice at any given time any day.
Polonowita said that similar facilities have been made available at Sooriyawewa and Pallakele where there are 30 practice pitches at each venue. He said the there were 10 centre wickets at each of the three venues but only the centre four will be utilised for matches because of TV cameras positioning.

With the advancement of technology Sri Lanka it seems have fallen in line and upgraded their international venues to the present requirements. SSC, Sara Stadium and Galle Stadium which were built well ahead of the 2011 World Cup have no such facilities, although Galle could be said to be an exception.


Favourites qualify for the Cup

Carlton International 7s

By Dinesh Kulatunga
In the 2nd edition of the Carlton International 7s worked off at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday, as expected favourites and defending champions Digicel Fiji Barbarians, Australia Legends, Samoa Barbarians and South African Vipers went through to the Cup competition with their unbeaten record intact. Spain from Pool ‘A’ though least known in sevens rugby gave a spirited display to hold the much experienced Fijian side 12-all as it was the pick of the matches in the first round. And in Pool D another favourite outfit New Zealand Legends lost to South African Vipers in a close game 5-12.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka had a poor day though displaying fighting qualities in their games against South African Vipers and China. And in their game against New Zealand Legends they were annihilated by 5-52. The team lacked coordination and support play. Anuruddha Vilwara, Srinath Sooriyabandara, Vishwamithra Jayasinghe and Sajith Saranga excelled for the home team. Sri Lanka ended last in Pool ‘D’. The highest score in the first round was recorded by Samoa Barbarians 59-0 against Kazakhstan. The tournament will continue today from 10.15am.

Yesterday’s results:
Group A: Spain bt Malaysia 29-0, Digicel Fiji Barbarians bt Korea 52-5, Spain bt Korea 34-0, Digicel Fiji Barbarians bt Malaysia 42-0, Korea bt Malaysia 19-7, Digicel Fiji Barbarians drew with Spain 12-12
Group B: Australia Legends bt Chinese Taipei 45-0, Kenya Shajuu bt Germany 10-5, Australia Legends bt Germany 21-5, Kenya Shajuu bt Chinese Taipei 26-5, Germany bt Chinese Taipei 35-14, Australia Legends bt Kenya Shajuu 26-7

Group C: Japan bt Kazhakstan 10-7, Samoa Barbarians bt UAE 24-5, Japan bt UAE 32-31, Samoa Barbarians bt Kazakhstan 59-0, Kazakhstan bt UAE 21-7, Samoa Barbarians bt Japan 35-15
Group D: South Africa Vipers bt Sri Lanka 33-19, New Zealand Legends bt China 37-0
South Africa Vipers bt China 22-7, New Zealand Legends bt Sri Lanka 52-5, China bt Sri Lanka 26-19, South Africa Vipers bt New Zealand Legends 12-5

Today’s matches:
Cup/Plate competition: Digicel Fiji Barbarians v Kenya Shajuu, South Africa Vipers v Japan, Samoa Barbarians v New Zealand Legends, Australia Legends v Spain
Bowl/Shield competition: Korea v Chinese Taipei, China v UAE, Kazakhstan v Sri Lanka, Germany v Malaysia


Work on Pallekele Stadium progresses steadily

By M Minhaz in Kandy
Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in the outskirts of Kandy owned by Sri Lanka Cricket will be the seventh Test venue in Sri Lanka when the third Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies commences here on December 1.

The work on this stadium which commenced last year is still in progress and should be ready by the end of next month for three World Cup matches which are due to be played in February 2011.
A seven-storied scoreboard is under construction. The work on the four-storied media centre is almost completed. The dressing rooms are already complete. There are seven turf strips with Australian blue grass and the outfield is planted with Santana Cruz grass which also covers the vacant area to prevent the growth of grass of another variety from that area.

The filter drainage system has been installed with some 6000 feet of tubes which will drain off the water in just 45 minutes in case of a heavy shower and play could commence in 45 minutes.
Former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd representing the International Cricket Council on his visit to this venue last month remarked that ‘this is the most beautiful ground’ he’s seen in the world.
This ground could accommodate over 30000 spectators and has floodlit facilities for day-night matches.