Series with India offers Sri Lanka hope

SUPER SKIPPER: Virat Kohli’s brilliant century in the first Test averted the chance of India’s first home Test defeat to Sri Lanka. (AFP)
Updated 24 November 2017
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Series with India offers Sri Lanka hope

BANGALORE: India’s tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year followed the same pattern as Mike Tyson’s heavyweight title bout against Michael Spinks in June 1988. Just over a minute into the fight, a barrage of punches from Tyson made Spinks sink to the canvas on one knee. After the referee’s mandatory count, the two boxers moved toward the center of the ring.
Spinks tried to throw a punch and missed. Tyson lined up a left-right combination and didn’t. This time, as Spinks swayed to the floor, it was obvious he wouldn’t get up. The lasting image of the fight is of Spinks prone on the canvas, glassy-eyed, dazed and confused.
Cricket, sadly, doesn’t have the provision to call off such unequal contests. The tone for India’s rout was set on the opening day in Galle, when India piled up 399 for three before stumps. Shikhar Dhawan contributed 190 off just 168 balls, knocking the stuffing out of the Sri Lankan attack before tea. In their first innings in the three Tests, India would score 600, 622 for nine declared, and 487. Sri Lanka went past 300 just once. Three times in six innings they were bowled out for under 200. After winning the first Test by 304 runs, India won the next two by an innings. It wasn’t a contest, it was roadkill.
Those results went a long way to explaining the almost complete lack of interest in the return series, which began at Kolkata’s iconic Eden Gardens last week. Sri Lanka may have gone to the United Arab Emirates after that home drubbing and beaten Pakistan 2-0, but few gave them any hope against an Indian side that has lost one home Test in the past five years.
Sri Lanka’s record on India soil was also dismal, with 10 defeats and seven draws dating back to the first series in 1982. Even the great Muttiah Muralitharan struggled here. India survived his wiles in 2005 — when his tussle with Sachin Tendulkar in Delhi was one of the highlights — and then ruthlessly took him apart four years later. On both those tours, Sri Lanka had the better of drawn opening Tests before India stormed back to take the series 2-0.
In Kolkata, a game Sri Lanka dominated for long periods, it finished up with them hanging on to the edge of a cliff by their fingernails. Virat Kohli’s dazzling unbeaten 104 on the final day — the other batsmen on both sides managed 140 runs for the loss of 14 wickets — flipped the game on its head, allowing Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami to give Sri Lanka a real fright in the fading light.
There was still much for the visitors to savor. Suranga Lakmal bowled with impeccable control and skill in both innings. In the first, after Sri Lanka elected to bowl in overcast conditions on a green pitch, India couldn’t score off the first 46 balls he bowled. By then, he had accounted for KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli with both swing and subtle seam movement.
That India eventually got to 172 after being 50 for five was largely down to Cheteshwar Pujara’s defiant half-century, and the support for Lakmal — Lahiru Gamage and Dasun Shanaka — being fairly ordinary.
In an ideal scenario, neither man would have lined up against India. But such have been Sri Lanka’s pace-bowling woes over the past few years that selection has become a carousel ride. Nuwan Pradeep, who bowled superbly in the Galle loss to India, has been rested for this series, while Shaminda Eranga has battled both injury and the legality of his action. Dhammika Prasad, the best of the experienced lot, hasn’t played a Test in more than two years, and doubts persist as to whether he will ever complete the long road back from injury.
For the second Test in Nagpur, Sri Lanka could well bring in Vishwa Fernando, whose left-arm pace could provide a better foil for Lakmal. How Lakmal bounces back after his exertions at the sauna-like Eden Gardens also remains to be seen. India, having had their wake-up call, will be desperate to extend a frightening home record, at a venue where Dale Steyn bowled South Africa to an innings win in 2010.
The hosts will make two changes, with both Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who’s getting married, exiting the XI for personal reasons. Murali Vijay will open alongside Rahul, and the experienced Ishant Sharma will take Bhuvneshwar’s place. But after his heroics in Kolkata, all eyes will once again be on Kohli, India’s Captain Fantastic who is now serenaded in much the same way that Sachin Tendulkar once was.
 


Women’s Bowling Championship 2018 wraps up in Jeddah

Dr. Razan Baker, 3rd left standing, with participants at the Third Women’s Bowling Championship 2018, in Jeddah on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 21 October 2018
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Women’s Bowling Championship 2018 wraps up in Jeddah

  • Sixty-three competitors, many of them amateurs, participated in the competition which consisted of four rounds

JEDDAH: The first Women Bowling Championship in Saudi Arabia took place in October in three cities, Riyadh, Alkhobar, and Jeddah, where it finished at Ice Land Bowling Center on Saturday. Gada Nemer, 42, from Riyadh, who came first in the competition, told Arab News: “I participated in all three tournaments, in Riyadh, Alkhobar, and today in Jeddah. I won first place in Alkhobar too. “I am not a professional bowler, but I used to bowl with my kids. Two of them bowl on the national team. I am very glad to have the chance to participate in these tournaments, and look forward to future ones.”
It was the first tournament of its kind in the Kingdom, as the country is rapidly developing sporting facilities for women and increasing women’s involvement in sports by making reforms that have included allowing physical education for schoolgirls and opening female-only gyms. Sixty-three competitors, many of them amateurs, participated in the competition which consisted of four rounds. All competitors took part in the first round, 33 made it into the second round and 16 qualified for the third.
Participants were between 11 and 56 years of age. Nemer received a cash prize of SR5,000 ($1,335) and those in second and third place received SR3,000 and SR2,000 respectively.
The last round had the best three competitors competing for first place with Nemer winning first prize, followed by Meshael Alabdulwahed (second) and Wissam Al-Harbi (third).

Growing interest
Bowling is still a growing sport for women in Saudi Arabia. The first female bowling team officially registered in the Saudi Bowling Federation, and the Eastern Province bowling team is only seven months old, according to Dr. Razan Baker, member of the board of directors and head of media and women’s participation at the federation.
Baker told Arab News: “We were surprised by the excitement of the participants. The numbers were beyond our expectations.
“Many participants would like to become professional bowlers. With this high turnout I expect bowling centers to start supporting new female bowling teams.”
Abeer Abdulmalik, from Al-Qassim, participated in the tournament. Although she is new to bowling, she made it to the third round.
“I never bowled before in my life, and I did not prepare myself for the game. I am surprised and happy with what I scored, although I was hoping to be in the final round,” she told Arab News. “I would like to take part in future championships.”
Aminah Khan, who participated in the tournament with her two sisters, told Arab News: “I came here for fun, and to try my luck before I go to my midterm exam.”
Khan did not make it to the second round, but said she would start working to improve her skills and take bowling more seriously as a sport.
The championship was organized by the Saudi Bowling Federation, the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, and General Sports Authority, and in partnership with Arab News as the exclusive English media partner for the event.