Smiling Sri Lanka stun South Africa to seal historic away series win

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Sri Lanka's bowler Oshada Fernando, centre, celebrates with teammates after taking a wicket during day two of the second cricket test match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at St. George's Park in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Friday Feb. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sheehan)
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Sri Lanka's Oshada Fernando plays a shot in front of South Africa's Quinton de Kock during their third day of the second cricket test at St. George's Park in Port Elizabeth, South Africa between South Africa and Sri Lanka Saturday Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sheehan)
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Sri Lanka's Oshada Fernando plays a shot in front of South Africa's Quinton de Kock during their third day of the second cricket test at St. George's Park in Port Elizabeth, South Africa between South Africa and Sri Lanka Saturday Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sheehan)
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Sri Lanka's bowler Oshada Fernando, centre, celebrates with teammates after taking a wicket during day two of the second cricket test match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at St. George's Park in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Friday Feb. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sheehan)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Smiling Sri Lanka stun South Africa to seal historic away series win

LONDON: Dimuth Karunaratne’s Sri Lanka were given no chance before their Test series against South Africa — they were injury-hit and out-of-form — but stunned everyone on Saturday by clinching their first away series win against the Proteas.
And it was the first victory for any Test team on South African soil other than England and Australia.
It was more than just a win, too, because it meant the plucky Sri Lankans swept the two-match series.
The highly-rated Proteas were shut out in a home series for the first time in more than ten years and for only the second time since returning to international cricket after the end of apartheid.
Indeed, before this series, South Africa’s home record against teams other than England and the Baggy Greens since they first faced another team (New Zealand in 1953) was played 36, won 33, drawn three.
You can now add “one defeat,” thanks to the historic success from the first Asian team to win in South Africa — even the mighty India and Pakistan have never managed to win an away series there.
“I think it’s really a great feeling for me and the team,” new captain Karunaratne said.
“It’s not easy when you come to South Africa and to win a series 2-0, it’s a lot of hard work. I think the guys enjoyed it a lot, that’s why we created history.”
Karunaratne hailed the achievements of his happy, united team.
“We told them, ‘play your normal game, if you can hit over the fielder go for it,’ when you play like that, South Africa are on the back foot.
“Our bowling line-up did a really good job, especially the youngsters,” he said.
Appointed only as an “interim” captain, Karunaratne said he had a simple message for his players when he took over at a time of apparent turmoil in Sri Lankan cricket.
“When I started, I said to my boys, ‘whatever happens you have to keep smiling, keep enjoying. If you’re not enjoying you don’t get to a hundred percent’.”
Kusal Mendis and Oshada Fernando dominated South Africa’s famed fast-bowling attack to seal the victory, with Mendis finishing on 84 not out and Fernando, in his debut series, 75 not out. Their partnership of 163 saw Sri Lanka home and they pummeled the South African bowlers for good measure. The partnership came off just 213 balls as Sri Lanka raced to victory.
“I’m happy about today because we were down in the dumps,” Mendis said.
If anyone had a right to be down in the dumps, it was South African captain Faf du Plessis who described the series defeat as the “biggest low as a player in the Proteas team.”
Du Plessis said he was at a loss to explain how 31 wickets fell on the first two days.
“When I was batting in both innings I felt it was a really good batting pitch,” he said.
“Mentally we were a bit soft in giving wickets away pretty easily.”
Sri Lanka made it four wins in a row against South Africa after winning two matches at home last year.
“They have been better than us home and away,” admitted Du Plessis. “We were outplayed in their back yard but there’s no excuse when Sri Lanka come here.”


Unai Emery wants Arsenal to treat Al-Nasr friendly as if it was a Premier League clash

Updated 40 sec ago
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Unai Emery wants Arsenal to treat Al-Nasr friendly as if it was a Premier League clash

  • Gunners to open Al-Maktoum Stadium with friendly against Dubai side.
  • Emery calls for focus ahead of such for Champions League spot.

LONDON: Unai Emery has told his Arsenal team to take today’s friendly against Al-Nasr seriously as they aim to grab a top-four spot in the Premier League.
The north London side are in Dubai for warm-weather training during the international break. They currently lie fourth in the Premier League and would qualify for the Champions League if they were to stay there. And Emery wants Mesut Oil and Co. to treat the Al-Nasr match as if it was a key clash in the battle for a European spot.
“For us it’s very important to continue being competitive in each match,” the Gunners boss said.
“It’s a friendly against Al-Nasr, but we can use different players and take more confidence and rhythm for the next matches that are coming. And the first of that is against Newcastle.
“If we were in London, then we would have been doing the same things that we are doing here.
“The main thing for us is to have the continuity going into this friendly match where all of our players get an opportunity (to play).
“We need to give the players a platform to remain confident and keep their rhythm heading into the remainder of the season.”
The players have been out and about in Dubai trying to get some relaxation in before the final straight of the season. They have been spotted on a bus tour of the emirate, visited the Dubai Frame and four players — Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck, Hector Bellerin and Petr Cech — visited a children’s hospital to dish out gifts.
Of the trip to Dubai Emery added: “The atmosphere is continuing like in London and we’re also enjoying a big city and the very kind people with us. They’re giving us all the good things to continue our work.
“We are happy to see our fans and happy with our work here with the big facilities.
”And in preparing also for the match on Tuesday with Al-Nasr and enjoying the city. We are also very happy with all the people who are giving us everything to make it easy to work and to stay here.”
The Gunners will face Benat San Jose’s Al-Nasr side to officially open Al-Maktoum Stadium — which was refurbished for the Asian Cup.
Emery will be without a number of first-team faces, with many currently on international duty. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mohammed Elneny just four of the names who will be missing.
The lack of many first-team regulars means Emery has a chance to look at some young players as he readies the squad for the last two months of the season. Of all the top-four hopefuls — the Gunners are battling it out with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United — Arsenal’s run-in is the easiest. They no longer have to face any top-six side and, but they do have five away games out of their remaining nine matches.
Of the training in Dubai striker Alexandre Lacazette added: “It’s interesting for the club. We have to say thank you. For us, it’s a pleasure to play in this match.”