Sri Lanka set up final day thriller against New Zealand

New Zealand's bowler Ajaz Patel, left, celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Lahiru Thirimanne. (AP)
Updated 17 August 2019

Sri Lanka set up final day thriller against New Zealand

  • Openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne were involved in a record opening stand of 133 runs

GALLE, Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka’s batters set the stage Saturday for a thrilling final day, reaching 133 without loss at stumps on day four as they chased 268 to beat New Zealand in the first Test in Galle.
Openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne were involved in a record opening stand of 133 runs and benefited from some sloppy fielding by the tourists.
It leaves Sri Lanka needing a further 135 runs to record their first win in the World Test Championship.
Karunaratne was unbeaten on 71 off 168 balls with two boundaries while Thirimanne was on 57 having faced 132 deliveries and hit four fours. They were in no mood to withdraw to the dressing room but bad light ended play 34 minutes before schedule.
Batting fourth in Galle is not the prettiest thing for batsmen and the highest successful run chase here is 99. But this track held together and there weren’t any demons for batsmen making life difficult.
Both openers were slow off the blocks with the first boundary coming in the 22nd over. Karunaratne was the first to reach half-century with a cut shot off William Somerville. It was the Sri Lankan skipper’s 23rd Test fifty.
Thirimanne reached his sixth half-century with a flick for four off Ajaz Patel. After a series of low scores, he was under pressure to post a decent figure and the half-century will have saved his place for the next Test in Colombo.
A bat pad chance off Thirimanne when he was on 29 fell just short of short leg fielder Tom Latham. But the luckier of the two openers was Karunaratne, who was put down twice. Latham spilled a chance at short leg when he was on 58 off the bowling of Patel and in the very next over B.J. Watling missed a stumping chance off Somerville.
The duo went onto establish the highest partnership by a Sri Lankan opening pair in the fourth innings. The previous best was 110 by Roshan Mahanama and Chandika Hathurusingha against Australia at R. Premadasa Stadium in 1992.
It is also the highest partnership by a Sri Lankan pair for the first wicket against New Zealand. Mahanama and Hathurusingha had posted 102 in 1992 at SSC against the late Martin Crowe’s side.
Earlier, resuming from the overnight score of 195 for seven, New Zealand posted 285 with Watling top scoring with 77 runs. He was well supported by the tail with William Somerville hitting his highest score in first class cricket — 40 not out.
Lasith Embuldeniya finished with four wickets while Dhananjaya de Silva claimed three.


Gasol clinches rare NBA-World Cup double as Spain down Argentina

Updated 16 September 2019

Gasol clinches rare NBA-World Cup double as Spain down Argentina

  • Toronto Raptors center Mark Gasol becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year

 

BEIJING: Three-time All-Star Marc Gasol became only the second man to win an NBA crown and the World Cup in the same year after Spain brushed aside Argentina 95-75 on Sunday.

Spain, who survived double overtime against Australia to reach the final, led throughout in Beijing to win international basketball’s biggest prize a second time.

The only previous occasion was in 2006 with the two Gasol brothers, Marc and older sibling Pau, on the team.

Pau did not feature in China because of injury.

The latest triumph was particularly sweet for the 34-year-old center Gasol, who three months ago also played a key part in the Toronto Raptors’ run to the NBA title.

Gasol, who had 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, joins Lamar Odom, a double winner in 2010 with the US and Los Angeles Lakers.

Surprise finalists Argentina had not triumphed since they hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1950.

As a contest, the final was over by the fourth quarter — although the Argentines did rally belatedly to reduce Spain’s previously mighty lead.

Fans of both teams had made it feel more like a football match, decked out in their national colors, chanting loudly and refusing to sit down.

Spain, for whom Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns has been one of the leading players of the tournament in China, surged into a 14-2 lead.

In front of a capacity crowd, Argentina’s 39-year-old talisman Luis Scola could not escape the attentions of Pierre Oriola.

Led by their slick-haired Italian coach Sergio Scariolo, Spain were up 21-14 going into the second quarter and increased their advantage to 43-31 at halftime.

With Rubio prominent, drilling 20 points, Spain never looked like surrendering their lead, repeatedly thwarting Argentina’s suffocated offense.

France roared back after halftime to defeat Australia 67-59 and claim a second World Cup bronze in a row — and extend the Boomers’ long wait for a major medal.

Turkish-based guard Nando De Colo led all scorers with 19 points for France and Nicolas Batum had nine points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals.

The French, one of the tallest teams at the tournament, defeated reigning two-time holders the US in the quarterfinals, but then lost heavily to Argentina.

“For us it’s something very, very special and important we did it after a very difficult first half,” French coach Vincent Collet said.

“Many teams could have given up, even easy shots we were missing in the first half.

“We started to move the ball better in the second half and that’s why we won this game.”

It was hard on Australia, who similarly led for long periods in their semifinal against Spain.

It is still the best finish for the Boomers, who had never gone beyond the quarterfinals at 11 previous World Cups, but they are yet to claim a medal at the worlds or Olympics.

Deposed champions the US, who were missing their elite names, finished seventh, their lowest position in tournament history.

They did, at least, qualify to defend their Olympic title in Tokyo next summer. With 32 teams, this was the biggest Basketball World Cup ever.

The next one will be in 2023 in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.