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Australia edge South Africa to set up final against India

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Five-time champions Australia battled through to Sunday’s final of the 50-over World Cup against India with a nervy three-wicket win against South Africa in the second semi-final on Thursday.

Australia laid the foundations for a place in the final after bowling out South Africa for a below-par 212 despite David Miller’s defiant 101 at the Eden Gardens.

The chase, however, was not as straightforward as Pat Cummins and his team would have liked.

Man-of-the-match Travis Head (62) led their rollicking start before a mid-innings wobble put Australia in a spot of bother.

South Africa did not let big partnerships bloom but their inadequate total meant Australia eventually prevailed with 16 balls to spare to make the final for the eighth time.

“Nerve-wracking couple of hours but great effort and a great game,” said Cummins, who was especially pleased with his side’s fielding. “It’s something we talk a lot about. It wasn’t up to scratch at the start of the tournament.”

The chase has not been South Africa’s forte in the tournament and Temba Bavuma’s decision to bat first under an overcast sky seemed to be a no-brainer.

Bavuma played the match despite not having fully recovered from a hamstring strain and his four-ball duck suggested sitting out would probably have been a wiser decision for him.

Australia ramped up the pressure with their electric fielding and Cummins led by example, taking a brilliant catch to send back the other South African opener Quinton de Kock.

Australia were so dominant that South Africa had to wait until the ninth over for their first boundary and were 18-2 after their 10 powerplay overs.

It soon snowballed into a full-fledged crisis and South Africa slumped to 24-4 in the 12th over.

Play interrupted

Drizzle held up play after 14 overs and when the action resumed Heinrich Klaasen (47) and Miller rebuilt the innings, taking South Africa past the 100 mark in 28 overs.

Klaasen hit Adam Zampa for back-to-back sixes but Australia regained control after part-time spinner Head broke the 95-run stand, claiming two wickets in two balls.

Miller brought up his hundred with a six off Cummins but departed in the same over trying to clear the rope again.

In contrast, Australia got off to a flyer, plundering 60 runs from the first 10 overs with Warner smashing four sixes in his 29.

Bavuma introduced spin in the seventh over and the move immediately paid off as Aiden Markram bowled David Warner with his first delivery.

Kagiso Rabada dismissed Mitchell Marsh in the next over but South Africa’s catching was rather sloppy and Head was the beneficiary on two occasions either side of his fifty.

Just when Australia appeared to be cruising to a comprehensive victory, South Africa’s spinners injected fresh excitement into the contest.

Keshav Maharaj bowled Head through the gate and Tabraiz Shamsi dismissed Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell to jolt Australia out of any complacency that might have crept in.

Steve Smith made 30 and Josh Inglis scored 28 but South Africa kept fighting back. However, Cummins and Starc combined to foil the Proteas and get Australia over the line.

“Quite hard to put into words,” a dejected Bavuma said. “Our character came through. It was a dog fight.

“The way we started with the bat and the ball was probably the turning point, we lost it quite badly there.”

(Reuters)

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Sri Lankan ground staff awarded promised cash reward – SLC

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Sri Lanka Cricket states that they have commenced the distribution of the US$50,000 award (LKR 16 million) money promised during the Asia Cup to the ground staff of the RPICS, Colombo, and PICS, Kandy.

Accordingly, 138 members of the ground staff of the RPICS, Colombo, who worked during the Asia Cup 2023 (permanent and contract employees) were rewarded for their effort, while 115 members of the ground staff of the PICS, Kandy, will receive their reward this Friday.

A media statement by the SLC further notes : 

The staff of both venues did a yeomen service during the tournament to ensure the practice facilities, outfield, pitches, covering and uncovering of the ground, and related services were in place and in time to conduct the tournament successfully, despite the bad weather conditions that prevailed during that time.

Curators, turf supervisors, ground staff, and technical staff are among the recipients of the reward payment.

The rewards were granted to the RPICS ground staff by the National Curator, Mr. Godfrey Dabrera, this morning.

The rewards were awarded jointly by the Asian Cricket Council and Sri Lanka Cricket, with each institution contributing US$25,000.

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Weak judgement mars Katukurunda Speed 2023

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The much awaited Nippon Paint Katukurunda Speed 2023 held last weekend (Dec. 02- 03). However, eyebrows have been raised over a racer being declared as the winner despite flouting rules and regulations of the tournament.

The event was organised by the Sri Lanka Automobile Sports (SLAS), the governing body for motorsports in Sri Lanka for the 3rd consecutive year.

Nippon Racing Brand Ambassador Ushan Perera was declared as the winner of the SL GT 3500 event. However, live footage of the race had showed Ushan overtaking Dilantha Malagamuwa in a questionable manner. Despite even the commentators pointing out that the action deserved a penalty, all 03 track marshals had stayed mum, reports say.

However, Dilantha was given a penalty over a false start.

Rumours state that Ushan’s action had been overlooked as Nippon Paints is the main sponsor of the event.

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Upul Tharanga to chair cricket selection committee

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Sports Minister Harin Fernando today (04) announced that Upul Tharanga will replace Pramodya Wickramasinghe as Chairman of the Cricket Selection Committee.

The minister added that 10 names have already been recommended as selectors and that a new selection committee would be appointed soon.

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