Dilshan, Tharanga thump tons as ….

Lanka marches into WC semis with compelling win

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Sri Lanka marched into the semi-finals of the 2011 Cricket World Cup with a compelling performance defeating a deflated England by ten wickets in the fourth quarter-final played at the R Premadasa Stadium under lights yesterday.

Sri Lanka will now play New Zealand in the first semi-finals on Tuesday at the same venue. They’ll be favourites and strong contenders for the title based on their performances in the tournament so far.
Both openers completed hundreds as Sri Lanka waltzed past England’s total of 229-6 in the 40th over sharing their second double century partnership of the present World Cup. They put on 282 against Zimbabwe at Pallakele in a Group A match.

Both batsmen took the England attack by the scruff of the neck and creamed the bowlers to all parts of the field.
Dilshan finished on a brilliant 108 scored off 115 balls with 10 fours and two sixes.
Tharanga who needed the aid of a runner (Chamara Silva) after suffering from cramps made the winning hit a four which also brought up his century off 122 balls with the aid of 12 fours and a six.
Both batsmen were exhausted after their wonderful batting display.

Dilshan sank to his knees no sooner the winning hit was made and could barely move.
He and his partner had to be helped off the ground to the roaring cheer from the crowd.
Sri Lanka finished on 231-0, the highest total chased without a single wicket lost in a World Cup match surpassing the 221 by West Indies against Pakistan in 1992.
England was never in the game after scraping through to 229-6. They struggled for momentum throughout their innings after losing early wickets and looked a spent force.
England had flirted with danger in the World Cup holding India to a tie and losing to Ireland and Bangladesh before squeezing into the last eight. Yesterday they finally met their waterloo when Sri Lanka handed them a thumping defeat.

Sri Lanka’s powerful batting performance somewhat compensated for their poor catching on the field during the England innings. Despite their shoddy display they yet managed to keep England down to a reasonable total.
England’s batting was strangled by Sri Lanka’s three-pronged spin attack (of Muthiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath) that never allowed them the luxury of boundaries bowling a tight line and length. Only a dozen fours were hit in the entire England innings, four of them coming off the bat of Eoin Morgan who made use of Sri Lanka’s sloppy fielding to score a fifty off 55 balls.

Morgan was dropped thrice at 16 (by Thilan Samaraweera) and twice at 33 (Angelo Mathews) and 34 (Rangana Herath) off one over off the infuriated Muralitharan.
Television replays also showed Morgan lbw to Lasith Malinga, a decision which Sri Lanka did not appeal.
Morgan’s let offs enabled England to cross the 200-run mark which at one time looked a distant dream when they lost their first three wickets for 95 in 37 overs.

Jonathan Trott anchored the innings scoring 86 off 115 balls but he found the boundary only twice. His knock typified how difficult it was for England’s batsmen to score runs against the accurate bowling and fielding.
Trott and Morgan restored England’s pride with a fourth wicket stand of 91 off 96 balls, after Trott and Ian Bell (25) who opened the innings had added 64 for the third wicket.
Sri Lanka managed to pick themselves up from that brief period of madness to restrict England to just 23 runs in the batting power play and also capture two wickets.
As it has been the trend in the World Cup so far Sri Lanka opened bowling with a spinner and Tillakaratne Dilshan obliged his captain with the wicket of England captain Andrew Strauss for five.

The R Premadasa Stadium became the fourth international cricket venue to host a century of ODIs since it held the first one in 1986. Sharjah, Sydney and Melbourne are the other four venues which has hosted over a hundred ODIs.


Mills, Vettori and du Plessis fined

New Zealand players Kyle Mills and Daniel Vettori along with South Africa’s Francois du Plessis have all be found to have breached the ICC Code of Conduct following an incident during the third ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 quarter-final in Dhaka.
Mills has been fined 60 per cent of his match fee for breaching Article 2.2.4 of the ICC Code of Conduct which is a Level 2 offence relating to “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players”. He has also been fined a further 60 per cent of his fee for breaching Article 2.2.11 of the code, a Level 2 offence which relates to conduct that is “contrary to the spirit of the game” or “brings the game into disrepute”.

Vettori has been fined 50 per cent of his match fee, also for breaching Article 2.2.4 of the Code and a further 40 per cent of his match fee for breaching Article 2.1.8 which is a Level 1 offence that relates to conduct “contrary to the spirit of the game” or “brings the game into disrepute”.
Du Plessis, meanwhile, has been fined 50 per cent of his match fee for breaching Article 2.2.4 of the code (a Level 2 offence).

The incidents occurred at the end of the 28th over of the South Africa innings when there was an altercation between du Plessis and some of the New Zealand players following the fall of a wicket. Mills, who was not in the playing 11 for New Zealand, was on the field as a water carrier as there had been a fall of wicket.
The charges were laid by on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Rod Tucker, third umpire Kumar Dharmasena and fourth umpire Nigel Llong. They were considered by Roshan Mahanama from the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees who imposed the sanctions.

Commenting on his findings, Mr Mahanama said: “It was a very important time of a crucial match for both sides but there is never any excuse for deliberate physical contact in international cricket.
“Vettori and Mills continued to act inappropriately and contrary to the spirit of the game throughout, hence the second charges were laid against them.

“In determining the punishment I have taken into consideration the fact that none of these players has previously been involved in similar breaches of the code.”
Mills pleaded not guilty to the charges and his case was thus considered in a full hearing by Mr Mahanama in the presence of the four umpires, Mills and the New Zealand team manager. He was found guilty after Mr Mahanama heard oral submissions from Mills and the match officials and considered video evidence of the incident. Mills has a right to appeal both findings and has 24 hours from receipt of the decision to lodge a notice of appeal.
The other two players pleaded guilty to the offences and accepted the proposed sanction so there was no need for a formal hearing in respect to those charges.


Presence of top politicos will not put pressure on players: Imran

KOLKATA: Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan on Saturday denied that presence of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during the Indo-Pak semifinal clash would put extra pressure on the Pakistani cricketers, stating that last thing on the players’ mind would be the face of their politicians.

“I don’t think it’s going to have any effect on the cricketers. Knowing what it is like to play a World Cup and knowing what it is like playing against India, I can tell you that the last thing on Pakistan cricketers mind would be the face of Asif Zardari,” said Imran Khan.

“They (Pakistanis) would not be thinking of it. All they would be thinking is to win the match. And believe me the sight of Zardari will neither take away or add pressure on the Pakistan team,” he added.
The cricketer-turned-politician felt that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s invitation to Pakistan’s top politicians is a positive move and a step in the right direction.

“At least two countries have started talking. Any dialogue is better than no dialogue. That’s a positive sign.”
PM Manmohan Singh on Friday invited Gilani and President Zardari to join him in watching the semifinal clash between the two arch-rivals in Mohali on March 30.
Cricketing ties between the two countries were suspended in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. – [PTI]


Rugby legends Lomu, Kirwan to coach in Sri Lanka

New Zealand rugby legends Jonah Lomu and John Kirwan were the star attractions as this year’s 15 stop HSBC ARFU (Asian Rugby Football Union) Rugby Coaching Tour launched in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
The Coaching Tour will engage thousands of children in Asia and introduce them to rugby, while HSBC will provide coach education, kit and equipment to ensure a sustainable legacy is left within each community.
From April to June, the Coaching Tour will visit many of the host venues for this year’s HSBC Asian 5 Nations tournament, including Top Five competitors Sri Lanka (April 21 and 23), Kazakhstan (April 21), Hong Kong (March 23 and April 28), UAE (May 12, 13) and Japan (May 19 and 21), as well as Korea (May 30) and Thailand (May 5), which will host Divisions I and II respectively. The tour is set to visit Macau in June.