Tag Archives: sri lanka

How did Sri Lanka fare in 2016?

It’s been a distinctly mixed year for Sri Lankan cricket. There were many highs as well as many lows – from being totally outclassed by England in all formats to breezing past the Aussies in the Test series. 

The year started in preparation for the 2016 ICC World T20, hosted by India. Sri Lanka had a mammoth task in trying to defend their crown without the likes of the retired Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Before the World T20, they had a short tour of India and made the journey to Bangladesh to compete in the 2016 Asia Cup.

South African Graham Ford returned as head coach – a position he left in 2013 – and he and the selectors picked a bunch of fresh names for the challenge.

Vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal took charge, and the side to face seasoned stars such as MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma included young fast bowlers Kasun Rajitha and Binura Fernando.

The tour started well, and Sri Lanka surprised the Indian spectators as they won the first game by five wickets. However, India went on to win the series 2-1.

The Asia Cup provided worryingly little improvement, and the only game Sri Lanka won was against the UAE.

World T20 shambles

That turned out to be a taste of the disastrous things to come at the World T20.

Sri Lanka went into the tournament without feared fast bowler Lasith Malinga – out with a knee injury – who would have played a key role in their title defence. The Lankans were also in a tough group along with England, West Indies, South Africa and Afghanistan.

“The tour of England came around and with it a chance to see some new faces prove their worth”

They defeated minnows Afghanistan in the first game but went on to lose all their others, although there was some close encounters.

They nearly handed a defeat to England but crashed to bad losses against West Indies and South Africa to make a humiliatingly early exit. The Windies went on to win the tournament, defeating England in the final.

Much soul-searching followed, with speculation about whether the veteran Tillakarante Dilshan would retire, and questions asked about the calibre of some of the players picked.

As it was, Dilshan carried on but veteran bowler Rangana Herath decided to retire from T20s, and then the tour of England came around and with it a chance to see some new faces prove their worth.

Skittled in England

Going to England, Sri Lanka were always seen as the underdogs in all of the formats – and so it proved as the tourists failed to win a single game against the hosts.

“The one-dayers were no different, with lacklustre displays throughout”

For their fans, it was miserable to see poor performances in pretty much every match. The last time Sri Lanka toured England was in 2014, when they made a winning clean sweep of the one-day, T20 and Test series.

But there were still some individuals who managed to stand out and have a pretty good tour. Kusal Mendis impressed many, scoring 53 in the first Test in a pressure situation.

Captain Angelo Mathews showed some consistency with the bat, scoring 34 in the first Test and 80 in the second.

Those were the only positives to take from the Test series, however, and the one-dayers were no different, with lacklustre displays throughout aside from a few good individual performances such as that of wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal.

Steamrolling Australia

The home Test series, beginning in July, gave Sri Lanka a chance to get back on track with victory over the mighty Australians.

Herath remains one of Sri Lanka’s best bowlers. Pic by Jumpy News, flickr creative commons

That lofty aim became a reality as Sri Lanka won the series 3-0.

Herath was the best bowler, taking 28 wickets in the three matches as well as being name player of the series, and a new hero came to light in the shape of Dhananjaya De Silva.

De Silva scored 325 runs with a best of 129. Kusal Mendis was also in scintillating form, with a top score of 176 in the first Test.

For the first time this year, Sri Lankan supporters had something to cheer and be proud about.

Whitewashing Australia in a Test series will certainly be a top memory for many fans, and one of the most memorable achievements in the country’s cricketing history.

The one-day series that followed felt like a close encounter despite the fact that Sri Lanka lost the series 4-1.

Dominance

Months after the Australia tour, Zimbabwe presented a new challenge. Chandimal and Mathews did not travel due to injury, so it was a chance for other players to gain some experience. Herath was named as captain for the Test series and guided his side to a 2-0 win.

The whole team clicked and once Mathews and Chandimal come back, there will certainly be tough competition for places in the starting XI.

The Sri Lankan side are currently still in Zimbabwe competing in a tri-series along with the West Indies and Zimbabwe.

The Lankans end 2016 with a really tough tour to South Africa, with the first Test beginning on Boxing Day.

With good form since defeating Australia, you never know, they could rise to the occasion and win a Test series against South Africa for the first time.

Beach volleyball – Sri Lankan style

Obviously, the national sport of Sri Lanka is cricket, right? Well, actually, it’s not. Try swapping the sound of leather on willow for that of hand on volleyball… 

Yes, despite the fact that cricket is played everywhere, from beaches and backstreets to parks and school playgrounds, volleyball is officially the nation’s the No.1 pastime.

On a trip to visit family in Sri Lanka this summer, I decided to give it a go – but with the Rio Olympics and the Copacabana in mind, it had to be the beach version.

So we headed for Unawatuna, a coastal spot near the town of Galle, to play the with a couple of locals and some of my relatives.

Mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness were running through my mind as we made the bus trip from Hikkaduwa, but I was determined to have a fun time and enjoy a new sport.

Popularity

Beach volleyball originated in Hawaii in 1915 but made its name in Santa Monica, California, in the 1920s.

The sport began to gain popularity and was played across Europe in the 1960s and finally made its way to Sri Lanka in the 1990s. It has been part of the Olympics since 1996.

The best achievement in beach volleyball by Sri Lankans came at the 2010 Asian championships in Lipanshui, China, where the pair of Mahesh Perera and Wasantha Rathnapala achieved a silver medal.

The sport is played in teams of two rather than the six in volleyball itself, and the scoring system is different too, with matches being played in the best of three sets to 21 points. In addition, 15 points for a deciding set.

Finding a spot

Once we arrived at Unawatuna, we made the short walk to the beautiful beach nearby. The heat was intense and it was only midday.

“Other guys playing were making suicidal dives and flips in the scorching heat to save or win a point”

There was certainly a touristy feel to the area as there were many restaurants serving western-style food, as well as hotels, and shops selling souvenirs.

Finding a spot to play volleyball was not that hard. There were a couple of nets that were free to use or you could bring your own.

I decided to get warm up, get used to the conditions and have a feel of the ball before we actually played.

There were other guys playing too, and they were making suicidal dives and flips in the scorching heat to save or win a point.

Time to play

It was time to play and I teamed up with my uncle to take on a couple of locals who were willing to play us.

I was made to serve in the first set – and put my first effort straight into the net. My uncle was laughing as he knew I never played the sport before.

“I managed to leap in the air and unleash a powerful forearm smash”

However, after that poor start, I managed a better serve and the rally was underway.

There were many challenges as the match was happening. A language barrier was one of them. The guys and my uncle were speaking Sinhalese and I didn’t really understand what they were saying, having only a few basic phrases myself.

So our main means of communication was my uncle pointing and showing me what to do and where to be. I began to pick up the pace and manage to get involved in a long rally of about 10-15 hits.

Running barefoot on the sand was hard too, as it was really hot and dry.

Smash!

As the match continued, I managed to leap in the air and unleash a powerful forearm smash to earn a point. My uncle was laughing and the locals smiling at my joy.

That smash left my hand stinging in pain, but I shook it off and continued to play until about 3pm. I enjoyed every minute of it and would definitely play again.

Beach volleyball was a new experience for me and I would recommend anyone to give it a go. It’s a good way to be active, have fun with friends and family and a great chance to feel really competitive.

You can play beach volleyball in London – check out the London Beach Volleyball Club website, and British Volleyball also has a beach volleyball section on its site.