Save the Blushes, Please

Sri Lanka and Afghanistan teams walking into the ground for the national anthems prior to their match in the 2015 Cricket World Cup on 22 February 2015 at the picturesque University Oval, Dunedin, New Zealand. (© Ranjan Mellawa)


Ranjan Mellawa thinks it’s not all doom and gloom for Sri Lanka, and they can still make a good fist of the next World Cup.

 

 

In an all-time low, Sri Lanka capitulated to Afghanistan by 91 runs in the Asia Cup 2018. Angelo Mathews, already tipped to lead in the forthcoming World Cup, was axed from both captaincy and the one-day squad.

Previously, Sri Lanka had played Afghanistan in the 2015 World Cup. Lethargic fielding by the Sri Lankans helped Afghanistan post 232 runs.

The first ball of the Sri Lanka innings, trapped Thirimanna lbw. Next over, Dilshan edged a back-of-a-length delivery and was caught behind for no score. Sri Lanka were tottering at 2 for 2 after 1.2 overs. It was only the second time in ODIs that both openers were dismissed for first-ball ducks.

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So Near…

Sri Lanka and Afghanistan teams walking into the ground for the national anthems prior to their match in the 2015 Cricket World Cup

Ranjan Mellawa believes that injury prevention and management, along with the quality of bench strength would be critical success factors at the next World Cup.

 

 

Mahela Jayawardena’s masterpiece (103*) gave Sri Lanka a commanding total of 274 for 6 in the 2011 World Cup final. Never before had a Jayawardena century led to a losing cause for Sri Lanka.

The 275 target looked imposing for India. No team batting second had scored more than 250 runs under lights at Wankhede Stadium. Sri Lanka’s varied bowling attack seemed geared to defend the highest run chase in a World Cup final.

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Mind Over Matter

Ranjan Mellawa anticipates most teams to be on par at the next World Cup

In the group stage at the 2003 Cricket World Cup, Sri Lanka scored an imposing 268 after a magnificent 124 (129 balls) by Marvan Atapattu, solidly supported by Aravinda de Silva’s 73 (78).

Having lost their sixth wicket at 212, South Africa needed 57 off 45. With rain falling steadily, it was all but certain that the method used to decide weather affected matches – Duckworth Lewis, would come into play at any moment. At the end of the 44th over with the score at 216, the South African dressing room relayed a message to Mark Boucher in the middle – a win needed 229 by end of the 45th, assuming no further wickets fell.

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When Gilchrist Squashed Sri Lanka

Adam Gilchrist waves to show a squash ball in his left glove at the 2007 Cricket World Cup Final

After scoring his century, Adam Gilchrist waves to show a squash ball in his left glove at the 2007 Cricket World Cup Final, Australia v Sri Lanka at Kensington Oval, Barbados 28th April 2007. (© Getty Images)

When the euphoria of 17 March 1996 sank in, most of us believed that Sri Lanka’s crack at a future World Cup Final was a pipe dream. But less than a decade hence, amidst administrative chaos and limited resources, Sri Lankans proved otherwise by illuminating the 2007 World Cup with unorthodoxy and skill.

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Can Sri Lanka rise from the ashes?

Ranjan Mellawa believes that Sri Lanka can rise from the ashes

The year in which Sri Lanka was reeling from bomb blasts and bloody battles was also a watershed in the history of the island’s sporting career. An improbable Cricket World Cup victory in 1996 was an unlikely balm for all Sri Lanka’s wounds – and fittingly, the islanders celebrated together.

Paradoxically, the rise to the top in the cricketing field triggered an avalanche of politicos, businessmen, and sundry others in committee rooms who began competing for honorary positions to administer the game on behalf of the nation.

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Mas Piganak Arapan (මස් පිඟානක් ඇරපන්)

Mas Piganak Arapan

Granville de Silva double-capped for Sri Lanka over a quarter century ago, basketball and cricket, concurrently.

That is the line “Barman, send him a beef plate;” it sure triggered me to punch on a think-pad an extraordinary tale connected to cricket and basketball at the National level. Here I am in Melbourne, cruising conversations of old times with old friends and out comes the repetition of a fairy tale I knew so well. Yes, as in most things in life the gems gather soot in the back-burners while irrelevant mediocrity bash in the limelight. Let me change the scoreboard.

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Wandering and Wondering in Dunedin

Endangered and elusive: Beautiful, quirky yellow-eyed penguins found only on the south-east coast of New Zealand

Endangered and elusive: Beautiful, quirky yellow-eyed penguins found only on the south-east coast of New Zealand

In the first thriller of the 2015 cricket World Cup, Afghanistan were so near to creating history but still so far, due to three missed run-outs. My cricket travel partner, Jagath and I were lucky to be there at the University Oval, Dunedin to enjoy a pulsating game of cricket, amidst unprecedented hospitality of the host city. Where else would you get sweets and drinking water delivered to your seat for free?

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