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Pradeep's career best saves Sri Lanka the blushes

Lasith Malinga walked off a relieved man. These are, after all, not the best of days for his side. Having made his disappointment pretty clear, in a press conference, and on the field, he saw Sri Lanka bounce back to secure a 34-run win by DLS method over Afghanistan in Cardiff on Tuesday (June 4). Sri Lanka's bowlers saved the batsmen major blushes after they posted just 201. Rain intervened and reduced the clash to 41-overs-per-side, giving Afghanistan a revised target of 187 out of which they could only manage 152.

Sri Lanka, at one stage, lost 4 for 6 as Kusal Perera, the highest scorer in the game, saw the middle-order get wiped out by Mohammad Nabi. It all started with the tentativeness of Lahiru Thirimanne as Sri Lanka, horribly short on confidence, found a way to shoot themselves in the foot after putting it on Afghanistan's throat. Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews were both caught at first slip as Nabi's 22nd over read - dot, Wicket, 2, Wicket, dot, Wicket.

Sri Lanka had raced off the blocks after being asked to bat, managing 52 for no loss after five overs and then 79 after the powerplay with the openers going strong. Although Dimuth Karunaratne fell with the score on 92 in 13.1 overs, Perera continued with his assault to help Sri Lanka make steady progress and put Afghanistan under pressure. While the opening pacers were poor, Rashid Khan too found it hard to make an impact with no pressure on the batsmen.

But the fortunes turned quickly in favour of Afghanistan thanks to Nabi's inspired spell while more recklessness followed for Sri Lanka as Dhananjaya de Silva bagged a duck, Thisara Perera fell after scoring two while Isuru Udana also gifted his wicket away. Meanwhile, Afghanistan bowlers were inconsistent with their lines as well, conceding 35 extras - which included 22 wides and three no-balls - as Sri Lanka huffed and puffed their way past 200.

During the chase, Sri Lanka's bowlers found swing early on but weren't able to make optimum use of it. Hazratullah Zazai consistently plonked his right foot out of the way and swung across the line to give the team a fast start. But Mohammad Shahzad made a timid start and fell to Malinga after a 34-run opening stand.

And that's when Karunaratne's side made an exceptional comeback as Afghanistan lost their top five with just 57 on the board. While Malinga started the slide, Pradeep and Thisara dealt the knockout blows.

Pradeep dismissed Zazai and then nipped out Hashmatullah Shahidi. Zazai's wicket was also a moment of redemption for Thisara at a venue where his mistake cost his side a place in the 2017 Champions Trophy semifinal.

This time though he plucked a tough chance at deep fine-leg to give his side the much-needed boost. Nabi chopped one back off Thisara as Afghanistan nosedived further. If Sri Lanka lost their wickets to recklessness, Afghanistan's inability to bat on testing tracks was pretty apparent.

Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran scored 64 for the sixth wicket to revive the hopes but Pradeep struck again to produce his career-best. In consecutive overs he dismissed Naib and Rashid to put Sri Lanka back on top. Dawlat Zadran batted valiantly with a hamstring issue but Malinga too produced some magic, producing the perfect yorker to get rid of Dawlat. Najibullah tried to keep the team in the hunt with some big hits but an ill-timed mistake sealed Afghanistan's fate.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka 201 in 36.5 overs (Kusal Perera 78; Mohammad Nabi 4-30) beat Afghanistan 152 in 32.4 overs (Najibullah Zadran 43; Nuwan Pradeep 4-31) by 34 runs (DLS method).

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Sangakkara becomes first non-British President of MCC

Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has been named as the next president of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).Sangakkara, 41, will be the first non-British president of the MCC and his one-year stewardship will begin on 1 October, 2019.

"It is a huge honour," said Sangakkara.

"2020 is going to be yet another significant one in cricket, especially at Lord's, and I am thrilled I am going to be able to play a part in supporting its future as president of MCC."

The MCC, who are based at Lord's, remain the guardians of the laws of the game and uphold the spirit of cricket.

Sangakkara's tenure will include two Tests at Lord's - against West Indies and Pakistan - and the launch of The Hundred competition.

During his playing career, Sangakkara scored 12,400 Test runs, more than 14,000 one-day international runs and almost 1,400 T20 runs for Sri Lanka.

He succeeds Anthony Wreford in the role.

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Mahela rejects SLC's World Cup offer

Mahela Jayawardene has stated that everything is done and dusted in Sri Lanka’s World Cup preparation and thus he declined SLC’s offer to be with the team during the World Cup. Jayawardene in the past produced plans to overhaul Sri Lanka's domestic system, only for those to be rejected by SLC.

Sri Lanka's sports minister and SLC's CEO invited Mahela Jayawardene to play a role in Sri Lanka's World Cup campaign but the former skipper declined the offer largely because he is disillusioned with Sri Lanka Cricket's general direction. Earlier in the past, Jayawardene produced plans to overhaul Sri Lanka's domestic cricket system, even before a committee featuring Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Aravinda de Silva made a detailed report on the Lankan cricket, but those proposals were rejected by SLC.

"I was [invited] but I have several other commitments. More than that, I didn't understand the role I am expected to play. There's no point in me getting involved tactically, or whatever if I don't have a say in the whole structure. The team is selected and everything is done and dusted. There is no room for me to come in and add something,” Jayawardene told Sunday Times.

"I am still happy to contribute in my little way with the management of the team, but nothing to do with the SLC. That's something I have told myself as well. I just don't have the appetite to come and work for anybody when I know that it's not the right place for me.

The anger in Jayawardene's part is mostly due to the fact that the structure was entirely ignored by the board, even though talented Lankan players are steadily moving out to England and Australia to play league cricket. Jayawardene strongly criticised that and said their efforts were in vain.

"We created a professional cricketing structure spending eight months. We offered to set it up for them but they rejected it. We did it because we don't want to lose our cricketers going to Australia and to league cricket in England. We need those experienced players in our system.

"There are some teams in our first class system where the average age is 25, which is sad. When we played, we had so many senior cricketers to guide us. Without them in our system, we cannot build a strong domestic cricket structure. And without doing that, there's no point in building stadiums."

In no uncertain words, Jayawardene criticised Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal's leadership who he believes could have been more responsible and their failures contributed to the rapid recent turnover of captains in the Sri Lanka side. Mathews was captain in all three formats when Jayawardene retired in 2015, but since then, Chandimal, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Chamara Kapugedara and - most-recently - Dimuth Karunaratne have held the reins.

"The only advice we gave Angelo was not to give in to cricket politics. He needs to be a stronger leader, to be with the players and do the right thing. But he gave in to cricket politics. He allowed other people to make decisions and did not stand up for his players. I am being honest. I have told him this as well and he accepts it. If he hadn't given in, we would probably not be in this situation today. Even if I see him today, that's the only complaint I will have against him," Jayawardene said.

"The number one rule in Sri Lanka is, if you are the captain, lead by example and do not allow any outsiders coming into that setup. That's the only way we ran the show and survived. It was unfortunate and it was not easy, either. You need to deal with a lot of unwanted elements. But if you are a strong character, that's something you have to do. I have nothing against him. He is a brilliant cricketer and a wonderful person but he did not handle this situation well. He should be the one who is leading this team at the World Cup. He had to give up because it was too much for him. But it was his fault.

"I think [Chandimal] was another victim of cricket politics. In the sense, he was another player like Angelo Mathews who was snared to elements behind the scene and went along with them rather than taking control of the team and being a strong leader."

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With team spirit, Sri Lanka will do well in World Cup: Vaas

Member of the 1996 World Cup winning team, Chaminda Vaas believes with “team spirit”, Sri Lanka will do well going in the marquee event, beginning May 30. 

“Sri Lanka is an unpredictable team. They need to be united, and there are special cricketers who can perform extremely well there (in England). If they have the team spirit, unity amongst the team, I think Sri Lanka will do well in the World Cup,” ICC quoted Vaas, as saying.

The 45-year-old, who featured in 322 ODIs and picked up 400 wickets, is part of Sri Lanka’s coaching set-up. Vaas called on the players to take responsibility, overcome recent ODI struggles and prove their capabilities at the World Cup, which is scheduled to be held in England. 

“I played for 20 years and enjoyed my game and as a coach, I’m enjoying what I’m doing for the youngsters. I tell young fast bowlers, ‘Do not take short cuts, give 100 percent, focus on fitness, focus on endurance stuff and bend your back and bowl. Don’t keep it for the next game, what you can do today, do it. Do it for your country, remember where you come, don’t give excuses, make sure you are humble and when people try to criticise, you take it in the right way,” Vaas said.

Vaas played a vital role in Sri Lanka’s 1996 campaign and since then the team has reached two finals in 2007 and 2011. Emphasising the impact that a successful campaign can have on the country, he said: “We knew if we won the World Cup it was going to be a huge factor for Sri Lankan cricket. When we won it and brought the trophy back to Sri Lanka, we realised we had done something for the country and it’s huge. After 1996 until now, we have got to finals and semi-finals, and when it comes to important games such as the World Cup, our guys have done really well.”

“It is now time for young guys to take the initiative to perform well and I am sure when given the chance they will grab it from both ends and perform well for Sri Lanka,” he said. Ranked at eighth, Sri Lanka will play against South Africa and Australia in their warm-ups, before opening their World Cup campaign against New Zealand on June 1 at Cardiff Wales Stadium.

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SLC analyst charged under ICC anti-corruption code

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has charged Sanath Jayasundara with two counts of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.

Jayasundara, a performance analyst at Sri Lanka Cricket, has been provisionally suspended with immediate effect. 

The charges are as follows:

1.
Article 2.1.3 – offering a bribe or other Reward to the Sri Lankan Sports Minister to contrive in any way or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of an International Match
OR (in the alternative)

Article 2..1.1 – contriving in any way or otherwise influencing improperly the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of an International

Match

AND

2. 

Article 2.4.7 – obstructing or delaying an ACU investigation into possible corrupt conduct under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code Jayasundara has 14 days to respond to the charges.

The ICC will not make any further comment in respect of these charges at this stage.

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Malinga hints at retiring before World Cup 2019 on players' whatsapp group

Just one day ahead of Sri Lankan World Cup squad selection, the senior pacer Lasith Malinga has indicated to retire from international cricket just before the upcoming World Cup.

The national selectors are set to meet on Thursday (18th April) evening to select the 15-member Sri Lankan squad for the upcoming World Cup.

According to media reports, Malinga sent a message to the players’ group on Wednesday (17th April) morning where he indicated to not return to the national squad.

He sent that message in the Sinhala language, where he wrote, “yali api pitiye hamuvanne natha.Ma pasupasa siti saha vachanayakin ho sahayogayak labadun siyalu denatama theruvan saranayi." (We won’t be able to meet again on the ground. God bless to everyone who was behind me and supporting me. May the triple gem bless you).

malinga 1

The 35-year-old right-arm pacer sent that message at 11:22 a.m. One hour earlier of that message, he had a call from the chief selector Ashantha de Mel.

According to the sources, the chief selector asked him for his availability in the upcoming World Cup only as a pacer, not as a captain. After that conversation, Lasith Malinga sent that message to his national teammates.

Later, on the same day, the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) announced the new ODI captain for the upcoming World Cup. The current Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne will lead the Sri Lankan side in the forthcoming World Cup. However, the 30-year-old cricketer hasn’t played an ODI match since the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.

Lasith Malinga had a poor record in his recent captaincy tenure

In last January, the national selectors appointed Lasith Malinga as the limited-overs captain. However, Sri Lanka failed to win a game this year under his captaincy. While he led the Sri Lankan side this year in 12 limited-overs matches, they suffered defeats in all matches, including one in Super Over.

Malinga 2Lasith Malinga has led the national side in nine ODIs, and they suffered defeats in all those matches.

According to the Deccan Chronicle source, the selectors still can select Lasith Malinga in the World Cup squad. If the senior pacer later backs out officially, they have enough time to replace him.

Sri Lanka will begin their World Cup journey on 1st June

England and Wales will host the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup from 30th May to 14th July. A total of ten teams, including the 1996 World Cup winners Sri Lanka, will participate in this tournament. Sri Lanka will begin their upcoming World Cup journey on 1st June against New Zealand at Cardiff.

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Avishka Gunawardene denies ICC corruption charges 

Sri Lanka's suspended coach Avishka Gunawardene is all set to deny the corruption charges. Following International Cricket Council's (ICC) recent allegation against him, the former opening bastman is set to defend his case in his first press conference to be held at the SSC (Sinhalese Sports Club) on Monday at 3.00 PM.He will be accompanied by his lawyer Chrismal Warnasuriya.  

Ex left-arm fast bowler Nuwan Zoysa and left handed batsman Avishka Gunawardene have become the victims of the ICC's Amnesty Scheme.
Both have been charged by the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) on the basis of the revelation made by one of the Sri Lankan players who opted the ICC's Amnesty Scheme a few months ago, it is reliably learnt here.  

Earlier this year, for the first time the ICC had announced this scheme in Sri Lanka cricket corruption for those who had previously failed to report any information concerning corrupt activities in Sri Lankan cricket.

According to the highly placed sources in Sri Lanka, the 27-year-old left-handed batsman, who is a close relative of the former minister opted to share the corruption information to the ICC.

Under the amnesty, any information reported by the said player will not attract a charge for failure to report previously.  

The player, whose identity is known to this reporter, was a member of the touring party to UAE, where the first edition of the T-10 was played.

Interestingly, the "official status" of the first edition of this tournament is debated. The said player, who has made this complaint is now not a member of the World Cup squad.

Avishka Gunawardene was a head coach and Nuwan Zoysa was a fast bowling coach of the Sri Lankan players.

Both Zoysa (who in November was also charged for breaching ICC code) and Gunawardene are charged under Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) have been given 14-days to respond to the various charges because the tournament was played in UAE.  

Despite repeated attempts, both didn't respond to calls.

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Malinga juggles IPL and domestic cricket; bags 10 wickets in 12 hours

At a time when workload management of the players are keenly monitored ahead of the World Cup, Sri Lanka’s veteran pacer Lasith Malinga, in a rare incident, played two matches inside 12 hours — a T20 game in India and a domestic 50-over match in Sri Lanka.

Malinga, 35, helped Mumbai Indians win against Chennai Super Kings in an Indian Premier League (IPL) clash on Wednesday night in Mumbai, returning figures of 3/34. The match ended close to midnight, but early on Thursday morning Malinga was on a plane to Kandy to take part in Sri Lanka‘s domestic Super Four tournament.

Not only did he play the game, Malinga even recorded career-best List A figures of 7/49 to help Galle beat Kandy by 156 runs. He took rest only when Galle batted first and put up 255 runs on the board. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had allowed Malinga, their ODI skipper, to take part in the IPL for the entire month of April. But the ace fast bowler decided to play the provincial one-day tournament in order to have a closer look at some of the World Cup hopefuls.

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Former cricketers Zoysa and Avishka charged for match-fixing

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has charged two former Sri Lanka players with match-fixing.

Nuwan Zoysa has been hit with a charge of four breaches of global cricket's anti-corruption code, while Avishka Gunawardene is alleged to have been in breach twice.

Both men have until May 23 to respond. Zoysa had already been provisionally suspended by the ICC because of previous charges laid against him in November, and Gunawardene has now joined him.

Both men are alleged to have briefed article 2.1.4 of the code, which relates to "directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach Article 2.1."

Zoysa is also accused of breaching article 2.1 - "being party to an agreement to influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspects of a match".

The ICC undertook an intensive investigation of Sri Lankan cricket earlier this year, including offering an amnesty to those who came forward with information about match-fixing in the country.

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In-form South Africa look to inflict more pain on struggling Sri Lanka in T20 series

South Africa reacted in an expected manner when they convincingly beat Sri Lanka in the five-match ODI series after the shock Test series defeat.

Now, Faf du Plessis’ side will look to keep their momentum and form intact and pile on the misery on the Lankans in the three-match T20I, beginning Tuesday, (March 19).

For the Proteas, the first of the three T20s, which will be played in Cape Town, serves as the last chance to finalise their side for the upcoming ICC World Cup, as a chunk of the regulars will be plying their  trade in the glitzy Indian Premier League, beginning March 23.

“I think the squad is settled, but we still need to confirm the squad (for the World Cup). Maybe next month,” du Plessis, who was the second highest scorer for his side in the ODI series with 272 runs said after completing the series win.

South Africa have through the course of the last five games upped the ante with their batsmen and bowlers all hitting form at the right time.

The Proteas, however, will be without the services of the inform lot of du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi for the second and third T20 at the Centurion and in Johannesburg as they will all be afforded some rest before they join their respective IPL franchises.

The South African captain and Ngidi will join the defending IPL champions Chennai Super Kings while Quinton de Kock will turn out for Mumbai Indians and Rabada for the Delhi Capitals.

In their absence South Africa will be captained by JP Duminy, who has decided to call time on his ODI career post the World Cup, and will see a host of new players looking to further their case for a regular spot in the national set-up.

Ranked fifth in T20 cricket, South Africa not only have good form on their side but also the benefit of playing at home which they are good at using to their advantage.

Visitors Sri Lanka at the moment are a very demoralised bunch, as wickets and runs both seem hard to come by for the injury plagued side.
The visitors have recalled Suranga Lakmal after a long absence from the limited overs side, while Jeffrey Vandersay, Sadeera Samarawickrama and Asitha Fernando are among the other additions.

The likes of Angelo Perera, Avishka Fernando and Priyamal Perera have been included, while Oshada Fernando has not been considered despite his good performances in the Tests.

Along with Fernando, Upul Tharanga, Vishwa Fernando and coach Chandika Hathrusingha will be at home chalking out World Cup plans.

Led by Lasith Malinga and coached by Steve Rixon, the Lankans are approaching the series with caution as a whole host of changes have been made with an eye on the World Cup.

“I feel that finally the batters have realized what they need to do. Isuru and Kusal Mendis did well. We have a local tournament ahead of the World Cup and that will be important. But before that, we are looking forward to do our best in the T20Is,” Malinga had said after defeat in the fifth ODI.

Sri Lanka are ranked ninth, below Afghanistan, and are in dire need of some good fortune with the bat and the ball.

The experienced heads in Malinga, Mendis, Angelo Perera and Thisara Perera will be expected to play a key role as they look to end what has been a tough tour on a high.

South Africa Squad: (for 1st T20I): Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.

South Africa Squad: (for 2nd and 3rd T20Is): JP Duminy (capt), Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Sinethemba Qeshile, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.

Sri Lanka T20I squad: Lasith Malinga (c) Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Avishka Fernando, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Priyamal Perera,  Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Isuru Udana, Asitha Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lakshan Sandakan.

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West Indies rewrite history with highest opening stand ever 

West Indies openers John Campbell and Shai Hope shattered the record for the highest ever opening partnership in ODIs of all time on Sunday as they moved past Pakistan‘s Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq‘s 304-run stand against Zimbabwe registered last year, during the first ODI against Ireland in the Tri Series opener at Dublin.

Put into bat, both Campbell and Hope dominated a hapless Ireland bowling attack with utmost ease finding the boundaries at will. The massive 365-run partnership ended in the 48th over when Campbell top edged it Ireland captain William Porterfield at mid-off to give Barry McCarthy his first wicket. Campbell, who registered his maiden ODI century in 99 balls, departed for 179, his 137-ball stay laced with 15 boundaries and six towering hits over the fence.

Hope followed his partner two balls later adding 170 off 152, his innings studded with 22 boundaries and two sixes.

Campbell and Hope’s innings is the first time in ODI history that both openers have made 150 in an innings.

Here are the top five opening partnerships in ODIs:

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SLC head coach Hathurusinghe to return mid tour

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has informed Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha to return to Colombo, following the completion of the 05th ODI of the ongoing series in South Africa.

He is being asked to come back in order to discuss Sri Lanka team’s preparation plans for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, SLC said today.

Sri Lanka's fielding coach Steve Rixon has been appointed as the acting Head Coach of the national team for the upcoming T20 Series in South Africa.

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