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Athapaththu brushes off draft snub, wins player of WBBL|09

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Overlooked in the inaugural overseas player draft, Sri Lanka’s Chamari Athapaththu took her eventual chance with both hands in WBBL|09

Chamari Athapaththu had a point to prove when she arrived in Australia in early October.

That is no longer the case, with the Sri Lanka superstar crowned the Weber WBBL|09 Player of the Tournament.

The Sydney Thunder import won a tight race by a single vote over Adelaide Strikers opener Katie Mack for the award, voted on a 3-2-1 basis by the standing umpires in each match.  

Athapaththu finished the regular season second on the runs table with 511 runs at 42.58, striking at 129.69– an incredible return for a player overlooked in the inaugural overseas player draft following similar snubs at the WPL and The Hundred.

She also picked up nine wickets including 3-20 against the Sixers and maintained an economy rate of 6.79.

Meanwhile, Brisbane Heat allrounder Charli Knott has been named the WBBL|09 Young Gun after a breakout season with bat and ball.

Athapaththu was a last-minute addition to WBBL|09, brought on by the Thunder as a replacement overseas player, a move made possible because they had room in the salary cap.

She got a run first game when No.1 draft pick Marizanne Kapp was unwell and kept her spot ever since, with English quick Lauren Bell, drafted 18th overall, forced to the sidelines.

Athapaththu has long been a force at international level, with nine centuries to her name.

But the left-hander never quite managed to translate those performances into the WBBL. In 34 Big Bash innings prior to this season, she had hit just two half-centuries and averaged 18 with a strike rate of 95.

But confidence drawn from a superb year at international level – both personally and for Sri Lanka – has been key in unlocking Athapaththu’s best so far in WBBL|09.

Her twin unbeaten tons led Sri Lanka to their first ever ODI series win against New Zealand in July, before she was again the leading run scorer as her team shocked England and claimed an historic T20I series victory in September.

The backing of Thunder coach Lisa Keightley and captain Heather Knight has also given Athapaththu the conviction to stick to her natural game.

“The last year I’ve been playing really good cricket in Sri Lanka as a captain and as a team, so I’m enjoying that and I’m keeping that momentum (going),” Athapaththu told cricket.com.au earlier this month.

“Always positive and fearless – that’s my game plan every time.

“I’ve worked hard in the nets in the last six, seven months and we beat New Zealand in Sri Lanka, we beat England on their home soil.

“So as a captain and as a player, I’m feeling pretty good and confident about myself and my team so I keep continuing this form in the WBBL.

“(Lisa) always says to play my natural game and play like a leader because I’m the Sri Lankan skipper … I love that responsibility because when I was playing for Sri Lanka, I always have responsibility – the whole batting line-up depends on my shoulders – so I love that energy.”

(cricket.com.au)

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England into T20 WC semi-finals

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England charged into the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup with a dominant 10-wicket victory over the United States in Barbados. 

Chris Jordan’s hat-trick, the first for England in men’s T20s, helped dismiss the USA for just 115. 

Jordan, born in Barbados, claimed 4-10, including a run of five wickets in six balls.

Defending champions England chased down the target in just 9.4 overs, thanks to Captain Jos Buttler’s explosive 83 not out, featuring five sixes in a single over from Harmeet Singh.

England’s net run-rate guarantees their semi-final spot, with their match set for Wednesday in Trinidad or Thursday in Guyana. 

They could top Group 2 if the West Indies beat South Africa later on Sunday.

The semi-final picture will become clearer after Australia faces India on Monday. 

England could face either of those teams, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh as they pursue their third T20 title.

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New record for Tharushi

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Tharushi Karunarathna set an Asian Continental record in the Women’s 600m event at the Bilbao International Invitational Track and Field Athletic Meet in Spain.  

Karunarathna, participating in a Women’s 600m event for the first time, returned a time of 1:24.84s and went on to secure second place in this event.   

The meet was held targeting the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in France. The previous Women’s 600m Women’s Asian Continental record of 1:28.06s was held by Ayano Shomi of Japan in 2022.  

Bender Oboya of Australia with a time of 1:24.53s won first place while Maria de Lima of Brazil clocked 1:25.34s to claim third place.  

Meanwhile,  Kalinga Kumarage, participating in the Men’s 400m event, came third, clocking 45.91s. 

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SL cricket team returns

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The Sri Lanka cricket squad returned to the island this morning after a disappointing run at the ICC T20 World Cup.

The team reached the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake.

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