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Fruitful home series

The two one day internationals at Premadasa International Stadium turned out to be nightmares for Sri Lanka as Pakistan came from behind to register back to back victories.

Sri Lanka team returned from Dambulla with high hopes, having won the first three games of the five-match series to take a winning 3-0. True that the hosts had already won the series by then but the aim of the hosts was to win the two flood-lit games in Colombo.

Sri Lanka had all reasons to dream of a complete whitewash, having won the first three matches played at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium. But it was not so as Pakistan came back strongly to regain lost prestige.

Whatever the disgrace Pakistan team had to face in the first three games were well compensated after those thumping wins under lights at the Premadasa International Stadium - by 146 runs and by 132 runs respectively.

On both the occasions, Sri Lanka were dismissed within 37 overs as the hosts totalled only 175 and 147 runs respectively.

The main reason for Sri Lanka's pathetic performance in the last two one day internationals were the mercy shown by their bowlers towards Pakistan batsmen. Sri Lanka's bowling was at misery as Pakistan batsmen made merry with their willows, posting healthy totals of 321 for 5 and 279 for 8 respectively. Those targets were too much for Sri Lanka, when batting under lights. The home team's batsmen were under tremendous pressure and they never recovered from early shocks.

Had Pakistan won the third one day international at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, they would have well won the five-match series. It was so close and yet so far for Pakistan in the third match. Having made a healthy 288 for 8 in their 50 overs, Pakistan were right on top but a double century opening stand between former captain Mahela Jayawardena and Upul Tharanga earned Sri Lanka a creditable win.

In fact, young Tharanga had a lone effort in the fourth one day international, scoring 80 out of Sri Lanka's miserable total of 175 all out.

In contrast, Chamara Kapugedara had an unimpressive comeback. Despite scoring 67 not out in the second game, in which Sri Lanka dominated right throughout, he had innings of 8, 8 n,o, 8, 1 in the other four games.

It seems the team is over dependent on skipper Kumar Sangakkara. Unless Sangakkara or former captain Jayawardene come good with their willows, the rest of the batting has often failed. Sangakkara made 39 and 16 in the last two games and Sri Lanka could not even go past the 200-run mark.

Nevertheless, Sri Lanka has a fruitful home series under Sangakkara's dynamic leadership. The host won the three-Test series 2-0 and the five-match one day international series 3-2.

The Lankans must now capitalise on that to beat New Zealand in the upcoming Test series and also to emerge champions at the Triangular home series scheduled for early next month.


Badminton glory

It was another prod moment in the annals of Sri Lanka's badminton history when Achini Ratnasiri and Upuli Samanthika bagged gold medal in the Girls Doubles Event at the Asian Under-16 Junior Continental Badminton Championships concluded at S. Thomas' gymnasium last Sunday.

Ratnasiri and Samanthika beat Oshadie Kuruppu and Sushmita Ilangakoon 21-5, 21-11 in the all-Sri Lankan girls doubles final.

August 9 appears to be a happy hunting day for Sri Lanka badminton.

Ratnasiri and Samanthika won the gold medal on August 9 and exactly the same day last year, Thilini Jayasinghe rewrote local badminton history by becoming the first Sri Lankan woman shuttler ever to compete at Olympic Games.

It was a creditable achievement by the Lankan lasses as this was the first occasion in local badminton history that Sri Lanka has won the Gold and Silver Medals in an international Badminton Tournament.

Ratnasiri also won the bronze medal, partnering Omal Vishvanath Dharmawardena in the Mixed Doubles. Ratnasiri first came to the limelight, beating her childhood idol Jayasinghe at last year's Sri Lanka National Championships.

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