By Naushad Amit in Nepal
With an unbeaten record, the Sri Lanka Men’s Under-23 cricket team effortlessly booked a place in the final, but the Women’s side suffered a shocking two-run defeat and had to settle for silver on the eighth day of the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal on Sunday.
At Pokhara, the experienced Sri Lanka women cricketers had to eat humble pie, as the Bangladeshi women defended a low total of 91 to snatch the gold medal.
Electing to bat, Bangladesh failed to post a decent total as off-spinner Umesha Thimashini rattled the opponent’s batting lineup with four scalps, to curtail them to a low total. Sathya Sandeepani, Tharika Sewwandi, Kavisha Dilhari and Malsha Ranatunga supported well to claim a wicket each, as Nisar Sultan played a stubborn knock to remain unbeaten on 29 off 38 deliveries, hitting two fours and a six.
Returning to chase an easy target, the Lankan lasses were taken out of their comfort zone as they started losing wickets at regular intervals and were reeling at 30 for 4 at one stage.
The target was still achievable with skipper and wicketkeeper Harshitha Samarawickrama anchoring one end to put Sri Lanka on the winning path. But her dismissal when Sri Lanka was on 53 put the lasses on the defensive. Samarawickrama hit 32 off 33 deliveries with four boundaries.
Despite the useful knock of middle-order bat Lihini Apsara, who hit 25 runs off 28 balls inclusive of two boundaries, the rest of the batters failed to deliver the goods, as Sri Lanka ended their 20 overs on 89-9, two runs short of the victory target. Left-arm spinner Nahida Akther, who played a key role to contain Sri Lanka batters to claim two wickets, was named the Player of the Match.
While the women’s team suffered a shocking defeat that prevented an obvious gold medal, the Sri Lanka Under-23 Men’s team, registered a comfortable 9-wicket win against Bangladesh Under-23s in the final first round match played at the Thibuvendra University ground in Kathmandu. The two sides will meet again in the gold medal match tomorrow at the same venue, at 1.00pm local time. Sri Lanka Under-23s won all four matches to top the table, while Bangladesh U-23s are in the second place with a loss and three wins.
They completed their lead up to the cricket gold in a convincing manner managing to curtail their opponents to 150-6 after winning the toss and raced to victory with 23 deliveries remaining and losing just a wicket.
The Bangladesh U-23s could not cope up on a slow turning wicket, and lost three quick wickets at 21. But a useful 80-run partnership between Mahidul Islam and Yasir Ali for the fourth wicket put the Bangladesh team back on track and on course to a respectable total. Ali smashed 51 runs off 45 deliveries with five boundaries and a six and Islam clobbered 4 off 38 balls with four boundaries and two sixes before they were returned to the pavilion in quick sessions.
Paceman Asitha Fernando picked two wickets while Kavishka Anjula, Jehan Daniel and Sammu Ashan claimed a wicket each.
Sri Lanka lost the wicket of opener Nishan Madushka at 17, but an unbeaten 134-run stand between opener Pethum Nissanka and Lasith Croosepulle, saw Sri Lanka to victory. When Sri Lanka reached the winning post Nissanka was unbeaten on 67 in 52 balls with five fours and three sixes, while Croosepulle faced just 41 deliveries for his enterprising knock of 73 not out, hitting seven fours and four sixes.
Meanwhile, in other sports, the wrestling team added six silver medals and a bronze medal to their tally as Sri Lanka remained in third position with 31 golds, 59 silver and 87 bronze medals, behind table leaders India and hosts Nepal.
Sri Lanka won silver medals in the Women’s 76kg, Men’s 70kg, Men’s 79kg, Women’s 50kg, Men’s 57kg and Men’s 65kg categories and the bronze medal came in the Women’s 53kg category.
In weightlifting W.P.U. Charuka won a silver medal in the Senior Men’s +109kg weight class with a total lift of 320 kilos. He lifted 140kgs in the snatch and in the clean and jerk he achieved 180kgs to finish behind Pakistan’s Muhammad Noor, who won the gold medal.
D. D. F. Herby, M. K. K. Wanasinghe and D. D. K. Arawwalage finished with 1588-29x to claim the bronze medal in Men’s 25metre Rapid Fire Pistol in Shooting. India won the gold medal with a total of 1721-47x while Pakistan finished with 1699-35x to claim the silver medal.
The Men’s handball team beat Bangladesh 26-23 to win the bronze medal at the Covered Hall in Pokhara.
At Pokhara: Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka by 2 runs in the Women’s gold medal match
Bangladesh Women 91 for 8 in 20 overs (Nisar Sultan 29n.o., Umesha Thimashini 4/8)
Sri Lanka women 89 for 9 in 20overs (Harshitha Samarawickrama 32, Lihini Apsara 25, Nahida Akther 2/9)
At Kathmandu: Sri Lanka U-23 beat Bangladesh U-23 by 9 wickets
Bangladesh U-23 150 for 6 wickets in 20 overs (Islam Ankon 44, Yasir Ali 51, Asitha Fernando 2/29)
Sri Lanka U-23 151 for 1 wicket in 16.1 overs (Pethum Nissanka 67n.o, Lasith Croosepulle 73n.o.)