Avishka Fernando century puts first ODI beyond Proteas

By Sports Desk September 02, 2021

Avishka Fernando's third ODI century set Sri Lanka on course for a 14-run win in the opener of their three-match series against South Africa.

The Proteas were always fighting a losing battle in Colombo after allowing Sri Lanka to make 300-9 – their highest total in 50-over cricket in 2021.

Avishka (118) was the star with the bat, putting on 79 in a partnership with Dhananjaya de Silva (44) that was disrupted briefly by a rain delay, with better to come as he was joined in the middle by Charith Asalanka (72).

That stand of 97 for the fourth wicket put Sri Lanka in command, as a bowling attack led by Kagiso Rabada (2-66) struggled to keep them in check.

South Africa were no more than steady in reply and keenly felt the dismissal of Aiden Markram to an outstanding Wanindu Hasaranga catch after 96 runs, including four sixes.

Captain Temba Bavuma had already retired hurt after taking a blow to his hand, and Rassie van der Dussen's departure preceded some superb death bowling to see Sri Lanka comfortably over the line – the Proteas short of their target on 286-6.

Profitable partnership

With the exception of Keshav Maharaj, who gave up 30 runs in 10 overs for his most economical ODI return, South Africa's bowlers were really poor. But Avishka and Asalanka still had to capitalise and did exactly that with a vital partnership that scored at 8.19 an over.

Denied at the death

South Africa required 41 off 25 when Van der Dussen departed, yet they mustered only two more boundaries – both fours from Rabada in the final over when the chase was up. Hasaranga started well and finished strongly, too, slowing Heinrich Klaasen in giving up just three from the 47th over.

Related items

  • Patriots beat Bills in wild weather for seventh straight win Patriots beat Bills in wild weather for seventh straight win

    The New England Patriots stayed hot in the NFL on Monday after extending their winning streak to seven games after prevailing 14-10 against the Buffalo Bills.

    Not even wild and windy weather could stop the red-hot Patriots, who are the AFC's number one seed thanks to their success away to the Bills.

    Entering the matchup, New England had won six straight games – the franchise's longest winning streak since they celebrated eight successive games to start 2019.

    Bill Belichick's Patriots continued where they left off at Bills Stadium, where the team improved to 9-4 despite rookie quarterback Mac Jones only throwing two-for-three passing for 19 yards and no touchdowns, while tallying another five carries for minus three yards.

    It was a gruelling battle between the top two teams for fewest points allowed this season – Buffalo had conceded just 182 points, with New England giving up 190.

    An eventful opening quarter saw the Patriots and Bills trade touchdowns after Buffalo's Gabriel Davis caught a 14-yard pass from Josh Allen (15-of-30 passing for 145 yards and a TD), having seen Damien Harris complete a dazzling 64-yard run.

    Harris' touchdown was the longest rushing TD by a Patriots player since Hall of Famer Curtis Martin (70 yards) in 1997.

    The game was eventually decided by the kickers – Nick Folk converting a field goal in each of the second and fourth quarters to sink the Bills (7-5).

  • PSG boss Pochettino not unsettled by Man Utd rumours PSG boss Pochettino not unsettled by Man Utd rumours

    Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino said he is not settled by ongoing Manchester United rumours.

    Pochettino has been heavily linked with Premier League giants United, who are eyeing a long-term manager following the interim appointment of Ralf Rangnick until the end of the season.

    Reports have claimed Pochettino is interested in returning to England, where he previously guided Tottenham to the 2019 Champions League final, having also worked for Southampton.

    Ligue 1 leaders PSG have been criticised for their performances this season following a 1-1 draw at Lens, while speculation has claimed Lionel Messi has grown unhappy with Pochettino's approach.

    But as PSG prepare for Tuesday's Champions League fixture with Club Brugge, Pochettino insisted he is calm in the mist of the rumours.

    "I feel good," Pochettino said during his pre-game news conference. "And I feel calmer because I have the backing of my players, I have the backing from the club which knows what we are trying to do.

    "We are part of a growth process. There are two things growing, one is visible, which is the team's style of play. And the tactics, and communications, and links within the playing style. And then there is those links in the dressing room, and our day-to-day experience, and that takes time.

    "Both things need to improve at the same time, and with the right balance. There is an internal process going on in terms of settling in, and the players getting to know one another. We have built a solid group that is battling for the same target, and everyone wants to be a part of the group. That way, everyone can give as much as they can in order to achieve targets. That is the process we are part of.

    "There are highs and lows. And we need to do better in terms of our play. We need to develop our ideas more, and have that flexibility that teams need to face the obstacles posed by the opposition. That is what we are going through. Based on that, I feel calm.

    "This is Paris Saint Germain, and I understand that. It is a shining light so that having qualified in the Champions League, and with an 11-point lead in the league, there are still things that aren't going well, and I agree that we have to do better in many areas.

    "As for the noise surrounding the club, that is what you get when you are at a club like Paris Saint Germain. We have the coaching staff and players who know what they want and what we are working on here, so nobody will take us away from our beliefs. We are clear about our ideas and we respect everything around us. But we continue down our path."

    Messi could become just the third player – after George Weah in 1994 and Neymar in 2017 – to score in his first three consecutive home games for PSG in the Champions League.

    Kylian Mbappe has five goal involvements in three matches against Brugge – his joint-most against a single opponent in the competition, along with Red Star Belgrade and Istanbul Basaksehir.

    Since the start of the 2012-13 season, PSG have only been beaten once in 29 home games in the Champions League group stage (W23 D5) – 2-1 against United in October 2020. The French side have scored 79 goals across these fixtures, at an average of 2.7 per game.

  • Napoli's Insigne offer unacceptable but renewal still possible – agent Napoli's Insigne offer unacceptable but renewal still possible – agent

    Lorenzo Insigne's agent Vincenzo Pisacane said Napoli's contract offer for their star captain was not "acceptable" nor "appropriate", though he insisted it is not too late to sign a renewal.

    Insigne, who emerged from the youth team of boyhood club Napoli in 2010, is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.

    Negotiations over a new deal have proved fruitless so far amid reported interest from Serie A rivals Inter and Milan as well as La Liga giants Barcelona and Premier League quartet Tottenham, West Ham, Arsenal and Newcastle United.

    Pisacane was asked about Insigne's future at Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

    "An offer has been made that is not considered acceptable, not considered appropriate," Pisacane told Canale 21. "But it doesn't mean we don't talk to each other anymore.

    "Everyone plays their part, there are those who ask questions and those who request. The best thing is to talk to each other.

    "I have read several times that Lorenzo has asked for the moon, but no request has ever been made. He feels Napoli as part of him, he perhaps holds Napoli excessively close. I struggle to find a player more attached to the shirt."

    Insigne – a Euro 2020 winner with Italy – has continued to perform for Napoli, playing a key role in the team's strong start to 2021-22.

    He has scored four goals and supplied five assists in Serie A this term as Napoli sit third in the standings, two points behind leaders Milan.

    The 30-year-old ranks third for xG per 90 minutes (0.76) in Serie A, while he is also third for assists per 90 minutes (0.43).

    Only Milan's Rafael Leao (21) has managed more shot-ending carries than Insigne (17) this season.

    On the chances of Insigne remaining at Napoli, Pisacane added: "I can't give a percentage, I just can't. Marriages are made in two, therefore I think it's right to meet again, to talk about it and see if there's a possibility or not.

    "I find it strange that we are in December, it's not too late but if I want something and I want to get it, I start working on it.

    "Lorenzo has been a top player in the same team for many years and he always finds incentives to do better. I think it's very difficult to find a symbol like him. I think Lorenzo deserved a little more time."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.