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Afghanistan wins by 60 runs



Ibrahim Zadran struck 106 as Afghanistan’s top order set them up for a commanding 294 for 8, before the bowlers – Fazalhaq Farooqi, Yamin Ahmadzai, and Gulbadin Naib – ripped through Sri Lanka’s batting order, sharing nine wickets between them.

Sri Lanka provided some resistance, primarily through Pathum Nissanka, who kept the score moving in the early overs while wickets fell around him, and later through Wanindu Hasaranga, who was in scintillating batting form, even as he ran out of partners. But Afghanistan’s seamers had done too much damage. The margin of victory was a gaping 60 runs, Sri Lanka having been thoroughly outplayed on home turf. They never really seemed to have the measure of this big chase.

The loss now makes Sri Lanka’s automatic qualification into next year’s ODI World Cup even more unlikely, as they have only 62 points on the Super League table (which leaves them at 10th, with only the top eight qualifying), with just five matches to go. Afghanistan, meanwhile, take a big step towards sealing their World Cup place, with 110 points now (they are seventh), and plenty of games to play.

Before the quicks dismantled Sri Lanka’s top order, Afghanistan had laid a mighty platform. On a Pallekele surface that had decent pace and carry, but not a lot of turn, Afghanistan were rarely troubled by Sri Lanka’s seamers, in the first 40 overs at least. In addition to Ibrahim’s century, Afghanistan had half-centuries from Gurbaz, who hit 53 off 55, and Rahmat who made 52 off 64. The opening partnership was worth 84 off 88 balls; the second-wicket stand 118 off 141. After 38 overs, they were 202 for 8.

They didn’t quite nail the finish, even after Najibullah Zadran had them flying into the death overs with his 25-ball 42 that featured a six and five fours. But 295 was always going to be a tough target.

Where Gurbaz had had a little fortune, having been dropped at slip in the fifth over (by Dhananjaya de Silva, off the bowling of Kasun Rajitha), Ibrahim’s innings was chanceless. His first boundary was a sweetly-struck drive that went wide of mid-off, but he really got into it against Rajitha in the seventh over, crashing him square through the legside off successive deliveries.

Gurbaz was more aggressive through the powerplay, but Ibrahim was perhaps better through the middle overs, finding risk-free singles all around the wicket as he worked his way conscientiously to a 62-ball fifty. That milestone came up in the 24th over; he had not added to his boundary tally since the ninth.

There was one edge off Lahiru Kumara that flew past the keeper when he was on 55, but otherwise, the progress to triple figures was pretty smooth too. He got there not long after Rahmat – who had also accumulated nicely through the middle overs – departed, getting to the milestone with a swivel-pulled four off Kumara, off the 116th delivery he faced. He holed out against the bowling of Maheesh Theekshana in the 42nd over.

Sri Lanka pulled a little back through the death, conceding only 31 runs in the last five overs, in which they also claimed five wickets. This was largely down to Rajitha, whose last three overs cost only 12 runs. But Afghanistan had gained too much ground in the first 45.

The response was nervy from the early overs. Nissanka was given lbw but was saved by a review, in the third over. Next over, Kusal Mendis also reviewed an lbw decision against him off the bowling of Ahmadzai, but was unsuccessful. Dinesh Chandimal struck some nice boundaries, but was bowled by Farooqi in the seventh over. De Silva struck some even nicer boundaries, but was bowled by Gulbadin, off the inside edge, in the 11th.

Sri Lanka were well ahead of the required rate, but were 75 for 3. Then 90 for 4 when Gulbadin had Asalanka edging to slip. Then 137 for 5 when Dasun Shanaka holed out to deep midwicket off the same bowler.

They just kept losing wickets, though the required rate never climbed to unmanageable levels. Nissanka was out for an excellent 85 off 83 balls, edging Farooqi back on to his stumps. Dhananjaya Lakshan was bowled by a Farooqi yorker soon after.

This was all a shame, because Hasaranga was starting to go nuts. In the 31st over, bowled by Mohammad Nabi, Hasaranga banged a six over long off first ball, faced a dot, then cracked four consecutive fours through the offside to take 22 off the over. He kept finding the boundary, but Afghanistan kept finding wickets.

By the end, Hasaranga was turning down singles to keep the strike, but even what little balls the tailenders had to face, they did not deal with particularly well. Hasaranga was bowled for 66 off 46 at the end of the 38th over, ending Sri Lanka’s innings.

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HNB chairperson resigns




In an unexpected development, Hatton National Bank Chairperson Ms. Aruni Goonetilleke submitted her resignation yesterday (Friday) at a special meeting of the board and a new chairperson was appointed.

The move surprised the stock market.

Following her resignation, the board decided to appoint Non-Executive/Non-Independent Director Nihal Jayawardene PC as the new Chairman of HNB, with effect from June 9, 2023.

HNB also announced the appointment of Non-Executive/Independent Director Parakrama Devaka Cooray as a Senior Independent Director of the board of HNB, with immediate effect.

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Boris Johnson resigns from UK parliament




Boris Johnson, Britain’s former prime minister and one of the most divisive leaders of his generation, has resigned as a member of Parliament after accusing a committee of attempting to “drive me out,” he said in a letter on Friday.

The former Conservative party leader said he was “bewildered and appalled” after receiving a letter from the from a House of Commons committee, which is investigating whether he lied to British lawmakers over lockdown-breaking parties during the pandemic, known as ‘Partygate.’

Johnson, one of the main architects of Brexit, said the letter made “it clear, much to my amazement, that they are determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of Parliament.”

The former leader said the committee’s Partygate report, which has yet to be released publicly, “is riddled with inaccuracies and reeks of prejudice but under their absurd and unjust process I have no formal ability to challenge anything they say.”

“I have today written to my association in Uxbridge and South Ruislip to say that I am stepping down forthwith and triggering an immediate by-election,” he said.

Last year, the Metropolitan Police issued Johnson and then-finance minister Rishi Sunak – who is currently Prime Minister – with a fine for attending a gathering in Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdown, making Johnson the first sitting UK prime minister to be found guilty of breaking the law.

This March, Johnson admitted to the committee that he misled Parliament about what happened, but claimed he did so unintentionally.

His resignation means Johnson gets to write the script to the end of his political career himself. Rather than face a by-election – should the investigation into his conduct during the pandemic demand it – or risk losing his seat at the next general election, he will avoid the indignity of public rejection.

The fact he won’t be booted out of parliament but leaves on his own terms will help Johnson and his supporters tell a story: That Johnson did great things in office, was betrayed and then forced from office by people like Sunak. If only he could have come back, the next general election and fate of the Conservative party would be saved, they’ll say.

Johnson’s current approval ratings suggest that might not have been true. But the point is that now we will never know. And that suits Johnson and his acolytes just fine.

In the lengthy statement on Friday, Johnson said he was a victim of “a witch hunt” that was taking revenge “for Brexit and ultimately to reverse the 2016 referendum result.”

Johnson also criticized Sunak’s government, saying that when he left office last year “the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls” but “that gap has now massively widened.”

“Just a few years after winning the biggest majority in almost half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk. Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do,” he said.

Johnson’s entire political career was built on his personality. He was the jovial, optimistic Conservative that even a liberal city like London could tolerate as mayor.

His TV persona – part clown; part pseudo-intellectual; part loveable-but-out-of-touch-poshboy – won Johnson fans beyond the traditional Conservative base. He loved being loved, and his supporters in the Conservative party still believe he is a once-in-a-generation vote winner who would romp to victory at the next election if he were still in power.

But Johnson was also desperate to be taken seriously – and his time as prime minister offered him plenty of opportunities. Brexit, arguably his greatest victory, required diplomacy and statecraft that eluded his predecessor Theresa May.

The Covid-19 pandemic put matters of life and death in the hands of national leaders. Johnson was criticized for being slow to act at first. But the UK’s rapid vaccine rollout – made possible by a huge gamble Johnson took – boosted his popularity at a critical moment in his premiership.

Johnson has also played a leading role in supporting Ukraine. So popular is he that some streets in Kyiv have been renamed after him.

This Johnson – the one that wins elections, delivers on the biggest policy issues of a generation, stands tall on the world stage – is the one he will want to be remembered. Not the person who broke his own Covid rules and became a political irrelevance. (CNN)

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Flights between Jaffna and Chennai are going to start during the whole week




Discussions are underway to increase the number of flights between Jaffna and Chennai.

At present, only four flights are operated between India and Jaffna throughout the week.

The Ministry of Aviation has given the green light for the new arrangement to operate flights on all seven days throughout the week between India and Jaffna, and arrangements are underway to increase the frequency of flights between Jaffna and India in the near future.

These operations have been increased to cater to the growing demand from passengers travelling between Jaffna and Chennai and vice versa.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation had stated that no sooner Sri Lanka gets the Government of India loan facility for the development of Jaffna International Airport, the existing facilities in the airport will be further enhanced.

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