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Chandimal axed as captain: Dimuth to lead Sri Lanka on SA tour 

Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne has replaced wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal as Sri Lanka’s captain for this month’s Test series against South Africa.

Chandimal, who struck a mere two dozen runs during Sri Lanka’s series whitewash to Australia earlier this year, has not been named in the squad for February’s two Tests in Durban and Port Elizabeth.

‘We are a young team and always learning how to play, especially in these tough conditions. We will bounce back in South Africa,’ said Chandimal, prior to Tuesday’s omission.

‘I mean, these are three tough tours, we have finished two and now South Africa. South Africa is similar to these conditions and with very good bowlers. We know that as a team we have to play in tough conditions and we need to adjust to those conditions and step up as a team.

‘We all know what went wrong as a team and I’m sure the boys will learn from that and they will come good in South Africa.’

Karunaratne was the sixth-highest run-scorer in Test cricket last year, after countryman Kusal Mendis, Indians Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, England’s Joe Root and Jos Buttler.

Squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Niroshan Dickwella, (vice-captain), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Dhananjaya De Silva, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohamed Shiraz, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Embuldeniya.

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Lucian wins World Bodybuilding Championship

Sri Lankan bodybuilder Lucion Pushparaj won the 10th World Bodybuilding and Physique Federation's (WBPF) Championships held in Bangkok, Thailand yesterday. He was competing in the men's over 100KG category at the world championships.

Pushparaj, arguably Sri Lanka's premier bodybuilder, previously claimed the gold at the 51st Asian Body Building and Physiques Sports Championship held in South Korea last year and was placed also fourth at the coveted ‘Mr & Ms Atlas and Fitness Expo’ held in Texas, USA.

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Thisara calls for SLC intervention after social media vendetta

Sri Lankan cricket is far from the glory days of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene and now the turmoil has hit a new low.

Star all-rounder Thisara Perera has raised questions about the leadership of the ODI team after he was involved in a social media back-and-forth with his captain Lasith Malinga's wife.

Malinga's wife, Tanya Perera, took to Facebook to make a post where she alleged that Thisara had sought the help of the country's sports minister to ensure his selection in the national side.

In response, Thisara took to his own Facebook account to set the record straight, pointing to his excellent 2018-19 season which saw him plunder 323 runs in eight matches at an average of 53.83 and a strike rate of 131.83.

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Perera enjoyed an excellent tour of New Zealand and is a key part of Sri Lanka's team (AAP) 

However, after another post from Perera seemingly attacked him, the 29-year-old took the matter straight to the top, penning a letter to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) CEO Ashley de Silva.

In excerpts of the letter, posted on ESPN Cricinfo, Thisara unloaded on the morale of the Sri Lankan locker room that has appeared worryingly disjointed just months out from the 2019 ICC World Cup.

"When these kinds of accusations are made by the incumbent captain's wife on social media, it is hard to prevent the general public from believing and slandering me in various ways," Thisara wrote.

"There has been a general sense of unease in the dressing room ever since [the Facebook post] and to be honest the environment was rather unpleasant for the youngsters especially when two senior players were not on the same page.

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Dimuth, Mathews & Dickwella take Sri Lanka to 275 in first NZ Test

Tim Southee took 5-67 as New Zealand exploited an influential toss but Sri Lanka fought back to 9-275 at stumps on Saturday's opening day of the first Test in Wellington.

A late unbeaten 73 by wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella helped to swing momentum for Sri Lanka. Dickwella hit 10 fours but lost his last partner Kasun Rajitha to the final ball of the day.

Southee had claimed three wickets inside the first four overs, leaving the tourists at 3-9, as the ball swung in overcast and humid conditions at the Basin Reserve.

The innings was revived by a gallant fourth-wicket partnership of 133 between Dimuth Karunaratne (79) and Angelo Mathews (83), who frustrated the New Zealand bowlers for much of the first two sessions.

Southee claimed two more wickets after tea to stifle the Sri Lankan fightback and completed his eighth five-wicket haul in Tests.

"There's still four hard days to go," Southee said. "I think (the key) was just to pitch it up. Anytime you have the Basin on day one, historically over the last couple of years, there's been assistance for the new. Ball but, if you can get through that, it becomes easy."

With the new ball, Southee put on an outstanding swing-bowling display, dismissing Danushka Gunathilaka (1), Dhananjaya de Silva (1) and Kusal Mendis (2) in his first two overs.

The remainder of the first session and most of the second were dominated by Karunaratne and Mathews, who batted for 42.3 overs or almost three-and-a-half hours.

New Zealand resorted to a barrage of short-pitched bowling, led by third seamer Neil Wagner and then by Southee, who bowled around the wicket to try to force the batsmen to play, with fielders behind square.

Karunaratne and Mathews were both out, indirectly, to that tactic. Both were caught down the legside by wicketkeeper BJ Watling while attempting to play pull shots.

The partnership ended on 133 and the total at 4-142 when Karunaratne sparred at a short ball from Wagner, giving Watling one of his four catches.

Mathews fell similarly shortly after tea, lured into an injudicious pull by Southee.

While Southee completed his five-wicket bag with Mathews and captain Dinesh Chandimal's scalps, the Sri Lankan resistance didn't end.

Dickwella unleashed an array of innovative shots to reach his 10th Test half-century.

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Sri Lankans may not trust each other: Arnold

Former player Russel Arnold has claimed Sri Lanka's Test players may not be able to trust each other in their upcoming series against Australia due to a cricket corruption scandal gripping their country.

Arnold conceded an ICC Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) investigation launched in Sri Lanka would be a distraction and may lead to players questioning one another's motives and even game plans in Australia.

While Australia may appear vulnerable before the two-Test series gets underway in Brisbane on Thursday as they rebuild from the sandpaper controversy fallout, Arnold said Sri Lanka had their own problems. 

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Russel Arnold says the Sri Lankan team will struggle to cope with the corruption scandal.Credit:Jacky Ghossein

The ACU launched the probe in the wake of a series of corruption cases involving former Sri Lanka internationals and administrators. 
Sri Lankan cricketers have been granted a 15-day amnesty and have until the end of the month to report previously undisclosed information.

"I would be surprised if none of this is in the back of their mind," said Arnold, who played the last of his 44 Tests for Sri Lanka in 2004.

"Whether they can trust their teammate, whether they can trust anyone's instructions or game plans to carry out. It has to worry them.
"Trust does take a beating. You tend to wonder what the hell is going on."

Following last month's ICC meeting in Dubai, Sri Lanka's sports minister Harin Fernando said the world body had ranked the country's cricket administration "corrupt from top to bottom".

The ICC said players can be suspended for up to five years for failing to pass on information but anything reported during the January 16-31 amnesty would not attract a charge.

Asked if Sri Lanka's players could block out the controversy while in Australia, Arnold said: "It is easy to say but I doubt it happening because anything around [the team] will certainly worry players.

"They are all human. Even we [outside the team] are feeling a little nervy about what we are hearing."

The ACU probe has been bubbling since late 2017 when 40 cricketers - including national captain Dinesh Chandimal - petitioned Sri Lanka Cricket to investigate allegations made by ex-player and selector Pramodya Wickramasinghe.

Former quick Wickramasinghe alleged there were "unnatural match patterns" and player selections.

Former captain and selector Sanath Jayasuriya was charged in October by the ICC for refusing to co-operate with the ACU but denied any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, ex-Sri Lankan bowler Dilhara Lokuhettige was also charged last year for violating the anti-corruption code relating to a 10-over league clash in the United Arab Emirates.

And ex-paceman and bowling coach Nuwan Zoysa was provisionally suspended by SLC over match-fixing accusations.
(The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Malinga appointed as T20 and ODI skipper

Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga has been appointed as the Sri Lanka Cricket ODI and T20 Captain ahead of the Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand.

President Maithripala Sirisena has also approved the following 17 players to represent the National ODI and T20 Squad of Sri Lanka during their tour in New Zealand.

Lasith Malinga – Captain

Niroshan Dickwella – Vice Captain

Angelo Mathews

Danushka Gunathilaka

Kusal Janith Perera

Dinesh Chandimal

Asela Gunaratne

Kusal Mendis

Dhananjaya De Silva

Thisara Perera

Dasun Shanaka

Lakshan Sandakan

Seekkuge Prasanna

Dushmantha Chameera

Kasun Rajitha

Nuwan Pradeep

Lahiru Kumara

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Seven-year-old Archie Schiller gets his wish to be Australian cricket captain

Australia has an honorary co-captain for its Boxing Day test - seven-year-old Archie Schiller, who has put his congenital heart battles aside for an amazing time at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Just a year ago, Archie was breathing through a tube in a hospital bed after his third heart operation. But on Wednesday, he joined the Australian test team on the MCG as they took on India.
Thousands of cricket fans watched as he received his baggy green cap from off-spinner Nathan Lyon and he also shook hands with the Indian captain Virat Kohli at the coin toss.
And when he was asked on the match broadcast what his advice to the Australian team was, he replied: "Hit sixes and get wickets".Archie was his granted his dream to "to captain Australia" by Cricket Australia and the Make-A-Wish Foundation charity. Archie was diagnosed with a heart condition at birth and underwent open-heart surgery at three months and he has undergone 13 surgeries in total.

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Sri Lanka Artillery beats Army Ordinance Corps to win inter-regiment T20 championship

Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army, signalling a new chapter for the promotion of Army Cricket, declared open the newly-constructed cricket ground at the Sri Lanka Army Ordinance Corps (SLAOC) Headquarters in Dombagoda.  

The final match of the Inter Regiment T-20 Cricket Championship was played between Sri Lanka Army Ordinance Corps (SLAOC) and Sri Lanka Artillery (SLA) teams who gained prominence after competing with 20 regimental teams.

In a close tussle, Sri Lanka Artillery defeated the Army Ordinance Corps by 15 runs to take home the inter-regiment T20 championship.

The state-of the art, cricket ground lies in a 10-acre area and will be be equipped with two dressing rooms to accommodate the two teams, a cafeteria and 04 side practice pitches.

A swimming pool and an indoor stadium is also expected to be completed under a three-year development plan.

Army said that the new ground can be also be used for school cricketers and club cricketers on request. 

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Stunning Sri Lanka make history to deny Black Caps

For two straight days the Black Caps have re-written the record books – but today, they were on the wrong side of history.

For the first time in the history of cricket tests played in New Zealand, a full day went by without a wicket falling, as the Sri Lankan pair of Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews put on a batting masterclass at the Basin Reserve.

It came at a superb time for the visitors - the Black Caps were marching towards victory in the first test, but now, an incredible fightback and a bleak weather forecast looks to have rained on their parade.

After all of the twists, turns and incredible comebacks of the Pakistan series, it looked like the Black Caps' return home would produce far more formulaic tests, but Sri Lanka had other ideas.

A 246-run partnership between Mendis [116*] and Mathews [117*] lasted the entire day – it was also the first wicketless day in any test since 2008 - allowing Sri Lanka to get to stumps at 259-3, and surely denying New Zealand an expected victory.

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Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews celebrates with Kusal Mendis after their historic day. Photo / Photosport 

Sure, Sri Lanka are still 37 runs behind with a day to go, but weather looks set to have the final say, with the forecast predicting steady rain for the whole day. Besides, even if it cleared – what evidence would there be to suggest the Black Caps could snap their partnership?
Still, rain would be a limp conclusion to a strangely compelling test. A day after Tom Latham sent records tumbling, Mendis and Mathews compiled the biggest partnership of all time for Sri Lanka against New Zealand, barely offering a chance in their marathon stay at the crease.

The pair displayed the type of discipline Latham had displayed in his 264, and after losing three wickets in 12 overs the night before, it was like a new wicket had been inserted overnight, such was the ease they batted with. 

Mendis was the early aggressor, pulling with aplomb and negating – and angering – Neil Wagner, whose usual short-ball danger soon turned into monotonous surety as he went for 100 runs in 21 overs.

So long the Black Caps' fail-safe when their first option wasn't working, Wagner couldn't muster any chances, and his combination with a tidy Ajaz Patel couldn't repeat their heroics from the United Arab Emirates.

As Mendis slowed down, showing good discipline, Mathews stepped up. In his second resurrection of the test – having scored 83 after coming in at 9-3 in the first innings –Mathews first battened down the hatches, then also joined in on the short-ball fun – scoring the bulk of his runs via pull or hook shots.

New Zealand's bowlers couldn't even muster appeals, as session by session went by without any hope of breaking the partnership. From starting the day at 20-3, Sri Lanka reached 122-3 at lunch, then 197-3 at tea – constant, steady, easy accumulation.

By then, Mendis had brought up his sixth test hundred from 215 balls – aptly pulling away a short ball to fine leg – and Mathews similarly brought up three figures – from 248 deliveries – with a flick through mid-wicket.

After Sri Lanka had gone 11 test innings without a century, suddenly two had come along at once, and adding to New Zealand's frustration was the fact just one breakthrough could have sparked something – Sri Lanka have a long tail – but they never even got close.

Mathews celebrated his hundred with push-ups – a pointed celebration to critics of his fitness – and rightly so, as it took a powerful and indefatigable effort to deny New Zealand.

Rain would seem a harsh way to decide the test - and both teams would love to settle the back-and-forth battle on the field. But, the Black Caps were in a prime position to end it today, and Sri Lanka weathered the storm.

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Sri Lanka appoints new fielding coach

Sri Lanka on Saturday announced the appointment of former Australian cricketer Steve Rixon as their fielding coach, in a bid to boost preparations for the Cricket World Cup next year.

The 64-year-old will begin his new assignment later this month and join the team in New Zealand where, starting December 15, Sri Lanka are scheduled to play two Tests, three one-day internationals and one Twenty20.

They will later play two Tests in Australia from January 24.

"We are happy to welcome Steve into the team," Sri Lanka Cricket CEO Ashley de Silva said.

"I am sure he will be able to help the team moving forward, with his expertise in the area of fielding which is a vital component of the game."

De Silva said Rixon will work with the national team until the end of the 2019 World Cup.

Sri Lanka have been struggling for form recently, losing the home ODI and Test series to England.

They have also been hit by crisis off the field.

Bowling coach Nuwan Zoysa was suspended by the International Cricket Council in October after he was accused of match-fixing and other "corrupt conduct".

Earlier that month, ex-chief selector and former captain Sanath Jayasuriya was charged for failing to cooperate with a match-fixing probe and concealing information.

The country recently sought help from neighbouring India to draft laws to combat cheating in the game.

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Will not contest SLC elections: Thilanga

Former Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) president and UPFA parliamentarian Thilanga Sumathipala said that he will not be contesting the upcoming SLC election.

Sumathipala made this announcement during a press conference held in Colombo today (17).

It is reported that new regulations imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) requires elected members to respective cricket boards have no connection to the gaming industry.

However, A report of the defamation case filed by Thilanga Sumathipala against parliamentarian Arjuna Ranatunga had revealed his connections to the gaming industry.

The Ceylon Today reported that Sumathipala had accepted the fact that ‘Sporting Star‘ is a book making business that was associated with his family. 

The newspaper also reported that Sumathipala and his family members also owned a leading media company as well as a sports gear company.

According to Sri Lanka's sports law, a person who is associated with the gaming industry, who owns a media company or a sports goods selling company, is not eligible to hold a post in a national sports association.

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Army launches its maiden Handball Tournament 

Sri Lanka Army's Handball Committee for the first time in its history launched the maiden ‘Sri Lanka Handball Fiesta - 2018’ on Tuesday at the Panagoda Indoor Stadium. 23 Men's teams and 5 Women's teams took part in the island wide competition.

The entry free Sri Lanka Handball Championship will run from 4th to 8th of December .

Directorate of Sports in the Sri Lanka Army and Sri Lanka Army Handball Committee have played a significant role to promote handball as a sport in Sri Lanka since it was introduced to Sri Lanka in 2009. Sri Lanka Army is the only organization that has staged handball tournament of this magnitude to date.

Major General Bimal Vidanage, Quarter Master General of the Sri Lanka Army graced the brief inaugural ceremony of the ‘Sri Lanka Handball Fiesta - 2018’ as the Chief Guest.

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