By Naushad Amit in Nepal
Despite playing almost 300 kilometres apart the Sri Lanka Men’s Under-23 side and the Women’s team recorded identical, commanding, yet smashing victories in the Cricket Competition of the 13th South Asian Games yesterday.
Sri Lanka Under-23s recorded a smashing 173-run victory against Bhutan, while the Women beat a hapless Maldives side by 249 runs, as in both games the Lankan teams scored above 245 runs, a rare feat in the Twenty20s.
At the Tribuvan University ground in Kathmandu, Sri Lanka Under-23s were probably spoilt purposely by Bhutan skipper Jigme Singye, who opted to field after winning the toss. A thrashing was obvious for an emerging side as Bhutan against from an ICC Full Member, who has more exposure playing against matching opponents.
So did Sri Lanka Under-23s oblige by posting 248 for the loss of 4 wickets in 20 overs and skittling out Bhutan for 75 with eight deliveries to spare.
The Lankans only had to offer fireworks, as they roared their bats at will to score at a rate, in which the lowest strike rate recorded by them was from opener Pathum Nissanka, who was still at 158.33. He was the top scorer for the Lankans with a brilliant 76 off 48 balls, which included eight boundaries and two sixes.
Nissanka put on an opening stand of 148 runs with Nishan Madushka, who equally fired his guns to hit 65 off 38 deliveries, inclusive of 10 fours and a six. Skipper Charith Asalanka joined in Nissanka to 31 runs for the second wicket while hitting a cameo 25 off 15 deliveries with four boundaries.
Kamindu Mendis hammered 27 off 11 deliveries inclusive of four boundaries and a six, before Sammu Ashan and Ashen Bandara remained unbeaten on 14 each, just facing six and five deliveries respectively, to help Sri Lanka post a commanding total of 248-4.
Bhutan used seven bowlers, but Thiunley Jamtsho, Karma Dorji, Tobden Singye and Tenzin Wangchuk managed to claim a scalp each.
Chasing an impossible target of 249 for victory Bhutan’s mission was to bat through the entire 20 overs, which they almost did right, before being bowled out for 75 runs in 18.4 overs. Mikyo Dorji (22) and Sonam Tobgay (10) were the only two batsmen who managed to reach double digures, while others failed.
Sri Lanka too used nine bowlers, mostly with the intention of letting them warm up for the upcoming important game against Bangladesh Under-23s, as Sachin Colombage and Jehan Daniel claimed two wickets each. Asitha Fernando, Duvindu Tillakaratne, Ashen Bandara and Kamindu Mendis picked a wicket each.
At Pokhara, a similar approach by an underdog side, and probably a wrong decision to let the much experienced take the privilege of attacking, gave Sri Lanka Women a commanding and comfortable win of 249 runs against the hapless Maldives Women.
The Maldives skipper Zoonya Mariam probably took a wrong gamble to let Sri Lanka Women bat first after winning the toss, as they were in the receiving end the whole time. Sri Lanka took a quick start when openers Umesha Thimashini and Janadi Anali put on 44 runs for the first wicket in just four overs. It was then that Harshitha Samarawickrama walked in and added further 14 runs for the second wicket, before Janadi Anali was sent back.
The fireworks display began short after Sathya Sandeepani joined in as they duo put on an unbroken stand of 221 runs for the third wicket, probably a record in Women’s Cricket. Samarawickrama smashed 106 runs off just 47 deliveries, hitting 15 boundaries and three sixes, one of the best knocks produced in the recent times by a women’s cricketer. Not falling back to her partner’s performance, Sathya Sandeepani too almost came close to scoring a century, but ran out of deliveries, before closing her knock at 96 not out. Her knock came off 48 deloiveries and included 11 fours and three sixes.
Sri Lanka women had very little work to do during Maldives’ run-chase as five of the batsmen failed to score, and with the best knock of 6 from Sajaa Fathimath. Anali returned to capture three wickets conceding just two runs off 1.5 overs and Sandeepani too claimed two wickets. Tharika Sewwandi, Sachini Nisansala and Umesha Thimashini claimed a wicket each.
At Tribuvan University ground, Kathmandu: SL U-23 beat Bhutan by 173 runs
Sri Lanka Under-23 248 for 4 wickets (20) (Pathum Nissanka 76, Charith Asalanka 25, Nishan Madushka 65, Kamindu Mendis 27, Sammu Ashan 14, Ashen Bandara 14)
Bhutan 75 all out (18.4) (Mikyo Dorji 22, Sonam Tobgay 10, Sachin Colomboge 2/6, Jehan Daniel 2/8)
At Pokhara: Sri Lanka Women beat Maldives Women by 249 runs
Sri Lanka Women 279 for 2 wickets (20) (Umesha Thimashini 18, Janadi Anali 32, Harshitha Samarawickrama 106n.o., Sathya Sandeepani 96n.o.)
Maldives Women 30 all out (14.5) (Janadi Anali 3/02, Sathya Sandeepani 2/13)