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
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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.


Iran assures FIFA that women can attend football qualifier

Updated 22 September 2019
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Iran assures FIFA that women can attend football qualifier

  • FIFA traveled to Iran ahead of the weekend for talks on the matter of women and football
  • The Islamic republic has barred female spectators from football and other stadiums since 1981

MILAN: FIFA has been “assured” that Iran will lift its 40-year ban and allow women to attend a World Cup qualifying game next month.

Football’s governing body wants Iran to end its ban on women entering stadiums that breaches international football statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Global attention on the ban followed the death this month of a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire outside a courthouse. She had been detained for dressing as a man to enter a football stadium in Tehran and faced six months in prison.

“There is women’s football in Iran but we need Iranian women as well to be able to attend the men’s game,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a speech at a conference on women’s football on Sunday. “And we need to push for that with respect but in a strong and forceful way. We cannot wait anymore.

“We have been assured, that as of the next international game of Iran, women will be allowed to enter football stadiums. This is something very important, it is 40 years that this has not happened, with a couple of exceptions, but it is important to move to the next level and to the next stage.”

FIFA sent an inspection team to Iran this week to meet government and football officials ahead of Iran’s match against Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10 — its first home match of the 2022 qualifying competition.

Infantino’s comments drew praise from United States outgoing coach Jill Ellis, who was at the same FIFA conference in Milan, two months after leading the American women’s team to a second successive World Cup title.

“I think it’s huge,” Ellis said. “FIFA has enough of a pull and ability to influence change and I think it’s absolutely the right thing. I mean I don’t think there should be any discrimination period and to not allow women to go see football I think is, I just can’t even wrap my brain around it in terms of it being something. I think if FIFA can influence that, I think it’s great.”