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Mohammad Amir and Nuwan Thushara set tone with new ball to knock Kandy Tuskers out

Galle Gladiators 130 for 1 (Gunathilaka 94*) beat Kandy Tuskers 126 (Mendis 68) by nine wickets

How the match played out

After winning the toss and choosing to bowl, Galle Gladiators’ captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa could not have asked for a better start from his opening bowlers in this effective quarter-final.

Mohammad Amir did not concede a run until the 12th ball he bowled, while Nuwan Thushara, the fast bowler with a slingy action that evokes Lasith Malinga, made two early breakthroughs. First, he trapped Kusal Perera lbw, before having Rahmanullah Gurbaz caught at backward point to leave Kandy Tuskers reeling at 9 for 2.

Brendan Taylor led the rebuilding job with Kusal Mendis, surviving an lbw shout which was not reviewed but would have been given out if it had been, before he played on against Lakshan Sandakan to leave the Tuskers 58 for 3 at the halfway stage of the innings. Seekkuge Prasanna was bowled through the gate by Dhananjaya Lakshan two balls later.

That left Mendis to cut loose, sweeping and slog-sweeping his way to a 32-ball half-century. Thushara was unable to bowl after his initial two-over burst, hobbling off with a knee injury as he attempted to start a third over, and his absence was telling as Mendis tucked into Sahan Arachchige’s part-time offspin in the 18th over before holing out to deep midwicket.

Amir took two wickets in his fourth over to clean up the tail and finish with parsimonious figures of 2 for 11. Shehan Jayasuriya was tasked with bowling the final over, and trapped Vishwa Fernando lbw on review with his only delivery to bowl the Tuskers out for 126, which looked a long way short of par.

Coming into this match with a superior net run rate, the Gladiators knew that victory would be enough to send them through to the semi-finals, regardless how long it took. But Danushka Gunathilaka, the competition’s star batsman and leading run-scorer, was in no mood to hang around: he hit 10 fours and scooped a six in racing to a 28-ball fifty.

While Hazratullah Zazai struggled for fluency at the other end, there was never any scoring pressure on the Gladiators, with the required rate dipping below a run a ball as early as the fifth over.

Zazai fell to Dilruwan Perera in the 15th over for a painstaking 20 off 34 balls, but Gunathilaka did not let up. He clubbed Dale Steyn for six over midwicket in the 16th, and only fell six runs short of the second hundred of the competition and the day, despite the modest target. He had taken a single to move to 94, hoping to hit a six to reach his hundred, but Gurbaz – standing in as wicketkeeper after Perera had gone off injured – conceded four byes with the scores level and Ahsan Ali on strike, thus denying him the opportunity.

Star of the day

While the Gladiators’ win was set up by their bowlers – Amir and Thushara were particularly impressive with the new ball – it was Gunathilaka’s night once again. He gave little concern to turning over the strike, instead focusing on putting away the loose balls that came his way, scooping well and hitting cleanly down the ground.

He is now 199 runs clear at the top among the leading scorers in this competition, and has almost single-handedly underpinned the Gladiators’ batting line-up this season to fire himself back into contention for national selection. “He’ll definitely be on our radar – he’s certainly put his name up in lights,” admitted Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur on commentary.

Where the teams stand

Kandy Tuskers have been eliminated from the competition on net run rate, with two win and six defeats from their eight games. Galle Gladiators have snuck into the semi-finals in their place, and will play the winner of Friday’s fixture between Dambulla Viiking and Colombo Kings.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98

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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs England 2nd Test 2020/21


Tea Sri Lanka 381 (Mathews 110, Dickwella 92, Dilruwan 67, Chandimal 52, Anderson 6-40) vs England

An ageless James Anderson bagged six wickets while delivering England the breakthroughs they needed against Sri Lanka on the second day of the second Test. The home side fought their way into a strong position, however, through impressive innings from Niroshan Dickwella and Dilruwan Perera.

By shortly after lunch, Anderson, the 38-year-old seamer playing his 157th Test, had doubled his tally from the first day, adding three more wickets to help end Sri Lanka’s innings on 381 and finish with figures of 6 for 40 off 29 overs.

They were important wickets, too, as he removed centurion Angelo Mathews with his sixth ball on day two and denied Dickwella an elusive Test century. Dickwella gifted Anderson his five-for, chipping to Jack Leach at mid-off for 92, his highest score in 41 Test appearances. Anderson then drew Suranga Lakmal into a poke outside off-stump and Zak Crawley took a sharp catch at gully.

It was Anderson’s second straight five-wicket haul in Tests away from home, following his 5 for 40 in Cape Town a year ago, and the 30th of his career – only Richard Hadlee has more among pace bowlers with 36.

Still, Sri Lanka’s performance represented further improvement with multiple contributors and a stubborn tail. Dilruwan made an impressive fifty from No. 8, taking to Leach in particular, dancing down the pitch three times to plunder fours through mid-on and mid-off and a six down the ground. He helped add 89 in partnership with Dickwella and then another 49 for the last two wickets to frustrate England.

Anderson picked up where he left off the night before but, where Mathews could not, Dickwella stepped up to keep Sri Lanka in an engaging tussle through the morning session.

Mathews added just three runs to his overnight score before a subdued England appealed for what appeared to be lbw, with the ball appearing to pass the inside edge and deflecting via the knee roll to Jos Buttler behind the stumps. Mathews was originally given not out but Joe Root called for a review and UltraEdge revealed a spike as the ball passed the bat to end Mathews’ fine innings and give Anderson his fourth wicket for the match.

Anderson continued in miserly fashion, conceding just five runs from his four-over spell.

Dickwella, meanwhile, shifted gears into drive, quite literally at times, as he assumed the lead upon debutant Ramesh Mendis’ arrival at the crease. Dickwella unfurled a series of well-timed boundaries, carving Sam Curran through backward point and punching Mark Wood through long-on.

A fantastic take by Buttler had Mendis out for a duck, a faint edge off Wood going down the leg side and finding Buttler’s glove at full stretch to his left.

Sri Lanka had lost two wickets for 11 runs in the space of 19 balls but Dickwella remained in excellent touch, piercing the covers with two beautiful drives, first off Wood then Anderson. He used Wood’s pace to guide the ball effortlessly to the rope at fine leg before bringing up his fifty with a single off Dom Bess, whom he then swept twice to the boundary.

Leach joined Bess in the attack as England opted for dual spinners after the first hour, to Perera’s delight. Bess was also on the receiving end of some harsh Perera treatment after lunch, spilling a return catch struck so hard it caused considerable pain to Bess’s non-bowling hand.

The spinners went wicketless as Wood’s hard graft was further rewarded with the wicket of Lasith Embuldeniya and Curran finally accounted for last man out Perera, who holed out to Leach at deep backward square leg.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Badgers’ third period rally falls short against Penn State

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After falling behind by three goals in the first period, the Wisconsin Badgers rallied late, but fell short in a 5-4 loss to Penn State on Friday night.

The Badgers pulled within one goal twice in the third, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

Dylan Holloway got the Badgers on the board in the second period, but Penn State restored its three-goal lead, scoring a few minutes later to make it 4-1.

Roman Ahcan scored halfway through the third period and Ty Pelton-Byce brought the Badgers within one at 12:02.

Penn State took advantage of an open net and regained their two-goal lead before Cole Caufield added a goal in the final minute of the game.

Cameron Rowe made 13 saves in net for the Badgers, while Robbie Beydoun, who entered the game in the first period, ended the night with 21 saves.

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Olympic Football Tournaments 2020 – Men – News – Ripoll: France’s youngsters are gifted, dependable and committed


Men’s Olympic Football Tournament

© imago images

  • Men’s Olympic Football Tournament kicks off in exactly six months
  • We talk to Sylvain Ripoll, coach of France’s Espoirs (U-21) team
  • “I’m part of a generation that dreamed of going to the Olympics”

This Friday 22 January marks six months to the day before the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament kicks off in Tokyo. The tournament will see France back on the Olympic stage 25 years after reaching the quarter-finals at the Atlanta Games in 1996.

So what has caused such a prolonged absence from the Olympics? “I can’t give you an exact answer, since I wasn’t there,” says Sylvain Ripoll, coach of the France Espoirs (U-21) team since 2017. “Qualification for such a prestigious competition is always on a national federation’s wish-list, but for some reason we’ve been unsuccessful in recent times. In any case, we’re delighted to be back with the French team in a major tournament like the Olympics,” said the 49-year-old strategist.

“I’m part of a generation that dreamed of the Olympics – just talking about it always makes our eyes light up,” says the man who was not yet 13 when Les Bleus won gold at Los Angeles 1984. “And I think it’s the same with my players,” he adds. “It generates so many memories and great moments that just being part of it is bound to be an honour.”

The France football team pictured wearing their gold medals

© Getty Images

For now, though, it is still too early to be focusing on Tokyo, with tournaments looming before then both for the U-21s and senior team. “We have the EURO (11 June-11 July) taking place shortly before the Olympic Tournament (22 July-7 August), so one event will influence the other. Before that, there’s the European U-21 Championship, which we’ve qualified for, starting in March in Hungary and ending in June. So, the best thing we can do is to deal with those in the order they come.”

There is no point then in Ripoll looking too far ahead or contemplating which three players over the age of 23 he might include in his squad for Japan, as permitted under the rules of men’s tournament. “Logically, the priority will always be the France senior team,” says the Rennes native, who was nevertheless amenable to remarks last year by Kylian Mbappe, who expressed his desire to take part in the Tokyo Olympics. “We can only rejoice that we have a player in France of the calibre of Mbappe who thinks this way.”

An insatiable talent scout, Ripoll carefully monitors a good 60 players, including 20 who play abroad. He works closely with France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps, who is always looking for new blood to energise his squad. “Didier and I talk a lot about the Espoirs’ potential to establish themselves into the senior team. You need to be performing regularly at the highest level for some time to break into the senior side, whereas with the Espoirs, that process can happen much more quickly,” he explains.

France coach Sylvain Ripoll looks on Serravalle 21-06-2019 Stadio San Marino Stadium Football UEFA Under 21 Championship Italy 2019 Group Stage - Final Tournament Group C France - Croatia.

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“Didier and his staff keep a very close eye on the Espoirs and watch a lot of their matches. We talk a lot about the players’ mentality, commitment and potential,” adds Ripoll, who takes immense pride in seeing one of his young players called up. He also regularly talks with the selectors of the younger age-category teams to try to progress the most promising talents through the ranks.

If we add to the mix the exemption that allows the inclusion of the 1997 generation that was eligible for the postponed Olympics last summer, then there will be a particularly large group to choose from when deciding on the final squad for Tokyo.

For all that, Ripoll already has grounds to be satisfied with his current crop. “This is the second generation I’ve been in charge of since I arrived four years ago. Apart from being gifted, which has been the case for many years in France, given our enormous reservoir of talent, I find them to be very dependable and committed. For now, I feel my players are very focused on their goals, and I hope that remains the case,” says the coach, whose aim is not to assemble only a squad of big names for Tokyo.

“There are a lot of criteria that come into play when you put together a squad for a tournament like this. There are performances, of course, but the priority is to have the best possible squad, which doesn’t always mean you only take the best players. We have to assess how squad members complement each other and perform together.”

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