Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Women cagers bag Gold at inaugural South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Cup and Sri Lanka record breaking four medals in Commonwealth games 2022 in Birmingham by putting the cherry on the top.
Truly amazing couple of months for the all Sri Lankans live in all around the world to proud themselves and smile throughout the tears. As always Sri Lankan sports brought the glory to the crisis nation that gave everyone a moment to celebrate and release the stress and the pain. Young Sri Lankan cricketers were not the Asia cup tournament favourites in the beginning, where they lost to Afghanistan in the opener by eight wickets and left the media to criticise them heavily. Die hard Lankans stepped in against Bangladesh to stay alive in the tournament and beat them by 2 wickets. This was the turning point for the boys where they met Afghans once again in super four. Sri Lankans took the revenge swiftly by wining 4 wickets and 5 balls to left. Next against one of the tournament favourite’s prolific India. Lankans reduced Indians to 173 and reached the target losing only 4 wickets and booked their place in the finals. This was the eye opener for the world media who started to talk about our young guns. Former Pakistan cricketer Wasim Akram was the only one confidently said that “Sri Lankans back to their old rhythm and will shock the world soon”. Pakistan who beat India and Afghans came for the match with the massive support. Lions reduced Pakistan to 121 by putting the ground silent and reached the target end of over 17 losing only 5 wickets to show that they are ready for the finals. Massive crowd witnessed the finals where Sri Lanka bated first and scored 170/6. Bhanuka Rajapakshe made 71N.O of 45 balls and Wanidu made 36 of 21. Sri Lankans were top of the game since beginning and Promod Madushan grabbed 34/4 while Wanidu got 27/3 to reduced Pakistan to 147. The 23 Run historic win brought the tears to both Pakistan and Sri Lankan fans in different ways. According to Captain cool Dhasun Shanaka this is the first big step towards the upcoming T20 world cup and he was pleased about the team moral. Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Bhanuka Rajapakshe and Dhasun Shanaka from the bat and Promod Madushan, Wanidu, chamika were shined from the ball. Man behind the success is Chris Silverwood and the team. Firecrackers burst, cars honked and fans danced at Galle Face promenade in the capital, where the tournament was televised live on a giant screen.
Then the Netballers put the icing on the cake by winning the Asian Championship for the sixth time when they beat host nation Singapore 63-53 in the finals on the same day that cricketers won the Asia cup. The team was unbeaten in the whole tournament and the most successful team in the history of the games. Tharjani Sivalingam among the superstars in the tournament and Gayanjali Amarawansa led the team. Sri Lanka had beaten Hong Kong 67-43 in the semi-final to reach their sixth straight ANC final. Sri Lanka coach Hyacinth Wijesinghe said the win gave the players and country something to celebrate amid the nation’s economic crisis. She noted that the team has not had a smooth build-up to the ANC as they were unable to go on an exposure tour before a major tournament for the first time and sometimes had to train in the dark when the power supply at their facility was disrupted. She said: “Whatever the disturbance, I was trying my best to keep on going. I must salute the girls, they really did their best and I think the country will be very happy.” Sri Lanka and Singapore booked their places in the world cup 2023 in South Africa.
Commonwealth games 2022 were a record breaking event for Sri Lankans. Lankans grabbed 4 medals in Birmingham and Promising weightlifter Dilanka Isuru Kumara won Sri Lanka’s first medal at the 22nd Commonwealth Games. Kumara produced a fine performance to secure the bronze medal in the 55kg weight class as he lifted 105kgs in the snatch and 120kgs in the clean and jerk to finish in third place with an aggregate of 225kg. Sprinter Ypun Abeykoon won the Bronze in 100M clocking 10.14sec ranked him 20th fastest men in the world while Para-athlete Palitha Bandara threw 44.20 metres in his fifth attempt, marking his personal best to secure a silver medal in the Men’s F42-44/61-64 Discus Throw. 18 year old Nethmi Poruthotage created the history by winning a bronze medal in the Women’s 57 kg event, it marked Sri Lanka’s first ever medal in the sport of wrestling and becoming the youngest ever Sri Lankan medalist at the Commonwealth Games.
Finally the women cagers produced their best ever performance to win the SABA (South Asian Basketball Association) cup. Sri Lanka retained the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Women’s Championship when they defeated giant killers and the host nation the Maldives 72-59 in the deciding encounter played at the Social Centre in Male City. The 2016 inaugural champions were faced with a must-win situation to retain the crown and they delivered an outstanding performance to finish on top of the points table in this four-nation tournament. Sri Lanka and the 2016 runners-up Nepal of course, ended the tournament with the identical record of having won two games and one defeat from their three outings. However, Sri Lanka topped the points table having accumulated a total of 219 baskets and secured the Gold Medal once again while Nepal were able to collect only 167 baskets and had to be content with the Silver Medal for the second time.
There may be many other Lankans around the world working really hard to make the mother nation proud in different fields and areas in this difficult time and we have to praise them for their amazing work. However, in the last few months cricketers, Netballers, chargers and Athletes made an extra effort to give us a true reason to smile throughout our tears. Thank you and we respect you all.
By Nilanga Daldeniya