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Ashantha de Mel steps down as Sri Lanka’s chief selector

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Ashantha de Mel steps down as Sri Lanka's chief selector

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Jerome Jayaratne has been appointed team manager, but there is no news yet as to the selection panel’s composition

Ashantha de Mel has resigned as Sri Lanka’s chief selector following the 2-0 loss to England in the home Test series that concluded on Monday. Sri Lanka had also recently lost 2-0 in South Africa. De Mel said it had always been his plan to resign as selector at the conclusion of this series.

He had also stepped down as team manager – a post he had simultaneously held – several days prior. He had held both roles since November 2018.

“I was planning to resign from both anyway, so I was waiting for the second Test [against England] to be over,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “With the manager’s role, they needed the next manager to get visas ready for an upcoming tour. So I announced that earlier. I feel now it’s time for me to move on. It’s been two years.”

Sri Lanka Cricket has confirmed that Jerome Jayaratne, who has held various roles within the team, including as interim head coach in 2015 and 2016, will take up the manager’s position. There is no news yet as to who might be part of a fresh selection committee.

As chief selector and manager, de Mel had overseen the elevation of Dimuth Karunaratne to the Test and ODI captaincy, but the team has had largely poor results, particularly in Test cricket. They lost nine Tests and won just four during his tenure, suffering three 2-0 whitewashes against Australia (away), South Africa (away) and England (home). But in the first six months of his stint, Sri Lanka also won their first ever Test series in South Africa, in February and March 2019.

It is likely that the loss of their last four Tests, and particularly the two at home to England, has hastened the end of de Mel’s tenure. He blamed Sri Lanka’s rushed schedule and inability to prepare for those lossesm however. Sri Lanka’s squad had left to South Africa two days after the Lankan Premier League had concluded, and because of complications arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, had had no practice matches there.

They had also returned to Sri Lanka just eight days before the start of the England series, and had managed only one nets session before the first Test began in Galle.

“Considering the last two tours, we were not prepared to go and play in South Africa,” de Mel said. “We played the LPL and next day flew off. We had one day’s practice. Who goes and plays at The Wanderers’ without having at least a three- or four-day practice game to get used to the conditions? People have to acclimatise to the high altitude, and then the physical fitness – no one checked for one month.” At least five Sri Lanka players broke down during the South Africa tour.

“Even the England series, they are saying our guys can’t play spin. Well where did they have the time to play spin? We had one practice session. England were doing their preparation.”

De Mel said that if it had been up to him, he would not sent the team on the tour to South Africa, and used that time to prepare for England instead. Cancelling that tour at the last moment is likely to have caused a major rift between boards, however.

Sri Lanka’s ODI and T20I series results were not much better over the past two years. Sri Lanka won only one T20 trophy – a series against Pakistan in 2019. And although they outdid expectations at the 2019 ODI World Cup to finish sixth on the table, the only multi-match ODI series they won was against West Indies, whom they beat 3-0 at home in February last year.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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EngVsPak- England defeated Pakistan by three wickets

Pakistan has struggled with their batting, putting up scores of 141 and 195 as they were outplayed in the first two ODIs.

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EngVsPak

James Vince scored a hundred and Lewis Gregory contributed 77 as England defeated Pakistan by three wickets to complete a clean sweep of the three-match ODI series.

Vince raced to 102 off 95 deliveries and Gregory struck his 77 of 69 balls as hosts England, chasing Pakistan’s challenging score of 331 for seven wickets, reached 332 for seven with two overs to spare.

Opener Phil Salt scored 37 while skipper Ben Stokes added 32 as England held their nerves to register a comfortable win in third and final ODI.

Earlier, skipper Babar Azam struck a career-best 158 (139-ball) and helped Pakistan’s batting finally came good in this series.

Opener Imam-ul-Haq scored 56 and Mohammad Rizwan 74 as Pakistan posted 331 for nine wickets in their allotted 50 overs.

Playing against a makeshift England squad, after the originally selected player went into isolation after three players tested positive for COVID-19, Pakistan has struggled with their batting, putting up scores of 141 and 195 as they were outplayed in the first two ODIs.

Babar came in after Fakhar Zaman was out early for 6, caught by Zak Crawley off Saqib Mahmood. He raised 92 runs for the third wicket with opener Imam-ul-Haq and then put together a partnership of 179 with Rizwan.
However, they suffered a collapse soon after Rizwan was out, caught by wicketkeeper Simpson off seamer Brydon Carse, with the score 292/3. Only one of the remaining seven batsman managed to reach double digits.

But Babar kept blasting runs from the other end and was the eighth batsman out with the score 328 in the 50th over.

He struck 14 boundaries and four sixes during his innings.
Carse was the best England bowler on display as he claimed five wickets for 61 in his 10 overs.

Brief scores: Pakistan 331/9 in 50 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 56, Babar Azam 158, M Rizwan 74; Brydon Carse 5/61).

England 332/7 in 48 overs (Phil Salt 37, James Vince 102, Ben Stokes 32, Lewis Gregory 77; Haris Rauf 4/65).

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Corona hit – India-Lanka ODI matches were postponed for four days

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Corona hit - India-Lanka ODI matches were postponed for four days

India’s tour of Sri Lanka has hit a roadblock after two Covid-19 positive cases in the home team’s camp delayed the start of the ODI series by at least four days, and canceled due to more cases. The possibility has been left open. Sri Lankan batting coach Grant Flower and the team’s performance analyst Shirantha Niroshna have both tested positive and the entire team that arrived from England this week has been put in isolation.

Though both the boards have not made any official statement yet, it seems that all the six matches will be played within a period of 10-11 days if there is no scope for any more positive cases. There are also concerns that the series could be called off if more positive cases emerge in the Sri Lankan camp. This means that the Indian team, which has already spent 12 days in Sri Lanka, will have to return home without playing a single match.

The tentative dates for the ODIs have been set as July 17, 19 and 21. The report states that the T20 Internationals will be played on July 24, 25 and 27. However, neither Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) nor the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has given any confirmation regarding the dates.

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Indonesia lacks oxygen, seeks help as virus cases rise

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Indonesia lacks oxygen, seeks help as virus cases rise

Just two months ago, Indonesia came forward to India’s aid with thousands of tanks of oxygen. Today, the Southeast Asian country is running out of oxygen as it grapples with a devastating wave of coronavirus cases and the government is seeking emergency supplies from other countries, including Singapore and China.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister in charge of Indonesia’s pandemic response, said a shipment of more than 1,000 oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ventilators and other health equipment arrived from Singapore on Friday, followed by another 1,000 ventilators from Australia.

In addition, Pandjaitan said, Indonesia plans to purchase 36,000 tons of oxygen and 10,000 concentrators — equipment that generates oxygen — from neighboring Singapore. He said he was in contact with China and other possible oxygen sources. The US and the United Arab Emirates have also offered help.

Overall, Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has reported more than 2.4 million infections and 63,760 deaths from COVID-19. Those figures are widely believed to be a huge undercount due to low testing and poor tracing measures. On Thursday, Indonesia reported nearly 39,000 confirmed cases, its biggest single-day jump.

Indonesia’s hospitals have been flooded, with increasing numbers of sick people in isolation at home or waiting to receive emergency care. In Indonesia’s most populous island, Java, hospitals began setting up temporary intensive care units in mid-June. Many patients are waiting for several days to get admitted. Oxygen tanks rolled on the sidewalks for the lucky few, while others were told they’d have to find their own.

The city’s deputy mayor Yaya Mulyana said emergency rooms at a public hospital in Bandung city were closed earlier this week amid panic buying over rising infections in the West Java provincial capital.

“The panicked people bought oxygen tanks, though they didn’t need them yet,” said Muliana. “This has exhausted the supply of oxygen.”

At a hospital in Yogyakarta in central Java, 63 COVID-19 patients died in one day – 33 of them during its central liquid oxygen supply, although the hospital switched to using oxygen cylinders was, spokesman Banu Harmawan said.

When a brutal outbreak ravaged the country, Indonesia donated 3,400 oxygen cylinders and concentrators to India. As its own cases rose, Jakarta scrapped plans to send another 2,000 oxygen concentrators to India in late June. The daily requirement of oxygen has reached 1,928 tonnes per day. According to government data, the total available production capacity of the country is 2,262 tonnes per day.

“I asked for 100% oxygen first for medical purposes, which means all industrial allocation should be shifted to medical,” said Panjaitan, a minister in the government. “We are racing against time, we have to act fast.”

Noting the rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant, he warned that Indonesia could face a worst-case scenario with 50,000 cases a day. The next two weeks will be crucial, he said.

The industry ministry responded by issuing a decree that all oxygen supplies be sent to hospitals packed with coronavirus patients and asked industry players to cooperate.

Oxygen is used to make many products including textiles, plastics and vehicles. Oil refineries, chemical makers and steel makers also use it. But industry leaders are clamoring to support government efforts to maximize supplies for hospitals.

The government has redirected oxygen supplies from industrial plants at Morowali in Central Sulawesi, Balikpapan on the island of Borneo, and Belawan and Batam on the island of Sumatra, Pandjaitan said. Small oxygen industries have also been directed to produce pharmaceutical oxygen.

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