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POSTED AT 10:44 AM 02-04-2019

SLC invests big in Super Provincial Tournament

From left: Kandy team Manager Balan Asirwathan, Kandy team Captain Dimuth Karunarathne, Dambulla Team Manager Vinothen John, Dambulla team Captain Angelo Mathews, SLC Vice President Ravin Wickramarathne, SLC Secretary Mohan De Silva, Tournament Director Jayantha Paranathala, Colombo team Captain Dinesh Chandimal, Colombo team Manager Charith Senanayake, Galle team Captain Lahiru Thirimanne and Galle team Manager Shammi Gunasekara seen during the launch of the Super provincial one-day tournament at Hilton Colombo recently - Pic by Chamila Karunarathne

- Rs. 63 m invested
- Winning team to receive Rs. 1 m, second place gets Rs. 750,000
- Tournament to take place from 4-11 April

With Angelo Mathews back and fit, at least on a batting front, and 65 more of Sri Lanka’s finest cricketing talent at its disposal, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has invested over Rs. 60 million in putting together the Super Provincial Tournament. 

Set to start later this week, the tournament is in many senses a final throw of the dice towards bringing together a cohesive squad for the World Cup, following a dismal past few months in limited overs cricket.

“We are confident that this competition is going to give our players a fantastic platform in order to prepare them, because Sri Lanka Cricket has endeavoured to give them all the necessary facilities, spending more than Rs. 63 million, and playing at the best of venues with the best of facilities,” said SLC Secretary Mohan De Silva at the tournament launch event in Colombo last evening.

“We’re confident that this tournament will not only give the players a platform to display their skills, but also an opportunity for the selectors to select the best team for the World Cup.”

The 50-over tournament, which starts this Thursday, will see four teams – Colombo, Kandy, Galle, and Dambulla – each equipped with a 22-man squad. Over the course of the proceeding week, each team will play three matches each, with the final set for 11 April and the third place playoff a day earlier.

“This tournament is going to be to an international standard tournament with the Board having spent a lot,” noted Tournament Director Jayantha Paranathala. “We expect this tournament to produce the results in terms of achieving the desired objective.”

The winning team will receive Rs. 1 million in prize money, while the runners-up will get Rs. 750,000. However, likely of more value to the players will be a coveted spot in Sri Lanka’s final World Cup squad.

“After the club season, the next level is the provincial tournament. So this is definitely going to be a high level of competition. There’s also a lot of incentive for the young players to perform because the World Cup squad is far from finalised, and everyone knows they’re in with a chance of making the final squad,” noted Lahiru Thirimanne who will be standing in as Galle Captain in lieu of the absent Lasith Malinga, who is away on IPL duty and expected to only play a role in the latter part of the tournament.

Colombo Captain Dinesh Chandimal added: “I think for all of us players this sort of tournament is very useful in terms of being able to highlight your skills. It especially good for the younger players to showcase their skills and abilities.”

With all the matches set to be played either in Dambulla or Pallekele, Kandy Captain Dimuth Karunaratne was also hopeful that the variety in the types of pitches will provide the players with decent preparation ahead of what promises to be a tough English Summer.

“Before the World Cup we only have two warm-up matches, and there are a lot of players who have a desire to join the national team. So I think this is the perfect platform for a lot of players to make their case,” said the Sri Lankan Test Captain.

“Playing in places like Dambulla and Kandy will provide us with good preparation, because before the World Cup playing we’ll have limited opportunities to play on English pitches.”

The major boon for Sri Lanka is the return to fitness of Angelo Mathews, who says he is now “100% fit”, though for the time being he is only focusing on his batting.

“I’ve played three club matches, and I have also been practicing [at the R. Premadasa Stadium] over recent weeks. I haven’t started bowling yet however, and I’m not looking at the bowling side as at yet. That was a decision I came to after speaking with the selectors. So for the time being I’m simply looking to play as a batsman,” said the Dambulla skipper.

“If I can I will obviously start bowling, but as of now it depends on how I feel. In terms of fitness I’m 100% in terms of batting.”

The Super Provincial Tournament will be telecast live on Dialog TV, ThePapare.com, and SLC’s official YouTube channel. All matches are set to start at 9.45 a.m.

Madushka Balasuriya

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